How Many Episodes Is 'This Is Us' Season 1? Don't Panic Just Because It's Not On This Week

First, we learned that Jack and Rebecca were living in a different time period and actually the parents of Kevin, Kate, and Randall. Then we learned that, in the present, Rebecca is no longer married to Jack for some reason. But perhaps the biggest twist of all for NBC's This Is Us is that, after two weeks of terrific, tear-jerking television, the hit new show is mysteriously absent from the airwaves this Tuesday night. What gives? Did This Is Us get cancelled? And if not, then how many episodes of This Is Us are there this season, and why isn't it on this week?

First of all, don't panic. This Is Us has most definitely not been cancelled. In fact, so far it is the single highest-rated new show of the Fall 2016 TV season, delivering a 2.8 rating in the key 18-48 demographic — along with 10 million viewers — to NBC when it premiered in late September. (The show's lead over its fellow freshman series is only extended when you factor in the people who caught up on the premiere via DVR, bumping its rating up to an impressive 4.2.) The network didn't hesitate to reward the show and its cast and creator, Dan Fogelman, by officially picking up This Is Us for a full season before the second episode had even aired, as Deadline reported last week.

That puts the drama in good company, with other shows that have been granted full seasons including the NBC sitcom The Good Place and the network's sophomore comedy Superstore, as well as new ABC shows Designated Survivor and Speechless . But while those latter two shows each received the full broadcast standard 22-episode seasons, This Is Us will actually only run for 18 episodes in its inaugural season. But don't worry; that's not due to any lack of faith on NBC's fault. Rather, 18 episodes was always the plan for the show, according to Fogelman.

"We are thrilled. This order for a complete first season of 18 episodes is exactly what we’d wanted and hoped for," the show's creator said via Deadline. "We’d carefully mapped out an 18-chapter story for the first year of the show, and this allows us to follow through with our exact initial intent. And to get the order so early on is a tremendous show of confidence and a boost for our entire cast and crew."

So if NBC is so supportive of the show and it's going to be airing a full season, where did it disappear to this Tuesday? There's actually a very good reason why This Is Us is taking a week off: a little something called the Vice Presidential Debate. Hillary Clinton's running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, and Donald Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, will face off this Tuesday night at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, moderated by CBS News' Elaine Quijano.

Other shows that normally air on Tuesday nights — such as ABC's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., CBS' Bull, and FOX's Scream Queens — will also be ceding the floor to Kaine and Pence this week, so rest assured that This Is Us fans aren't alone in their misery. And who knows? There's a distinct possibility that the VP debate will be vastly more entertaining than all of those shows put together. And if not, at least we know they'll be back next week, and that This Is Us will be sticking around to make us uglycry for at least one full season… and probably many more seasons to come.

Images: Ron Batzdorff/NBC (3)