Over six seasons, NBC’s weepy family drama This Is Us presented the multigenerational saga of the Pearsons, a family full of people with an affinity for emotional speeches and nice, long cries. It was a saga that continually expanded, connected, and circled back through the past, present, and future until its very last episode. Keeping a timeline like that straight can feel like an overwhelming task. Honestly, who has time to think about dates and what happened before that other thing when there is so much crying to be done?
Admittedly, me. I do. I’ve recapped 106 episodes of this show, so I figure I might as well put all that Pearson knowledge to good use, sorting out all the major This Is Us moments chronologically. I’ve added actual dates where I can, but for some of them, I had to make my best guess. Know that investigation of facial hair length is a real and wonderful thing.
Additions from the final season are noted with a ➽.
Jack Pearson’s grandfather arrives in New York City.
As Kevin explains, the man has a son who has a son who has the Big Three. So he’s the dude who is to blame for all the crying. Mystery solved.
William Hill’s father dies overseas and leaves behind a pregnant war widow.
But not before singing the sweetest version of “You Are My Sunshine.” It’s obvious where Young William gets his musical talent.
William Hill is born.
He’s born with the gift of poetry, and eventually uses it to achieve minor success while in a cover band with his cousin Ricky. It is the first “almost” and “could’ve been” in a life full of them. Raise your hand if you downloaded William’s song “We Can Always Come Back to This” and listened to it on repeat. And if you didn’t, don’t judge.
October 18, 1948 (11:58 p.m., if you want to be exact): Nicky Pearson is born.
Almost immediately, Jack Pearson takes full responsibility for keeping his younger brother safe from life in general, and their angry, abusive dad (who wasn’t always that way!) specifically. Mr. Pearson grows more awful by the day, and is especially tough on Nicky, and so Jack spends most of his childhood standing up for his mother and brother. Jack is superman, Nicky always in need of rescuing.
The Pearsons are just out there slicing ice cream like it’s cake.
It’s one of the few childhood memories involving Stanley that the Pearson brothers can look back on fondly.
Rebecca watches a woman stare at John Singer Sargent’s Madame X at the Met.
Rebecca’s only around 8 or 9 years old here, but the image of this woman staring at a painting stays with her.
➽ The Rivas family moves from Puerto Rico to East Liberty, Pittsburgh.
We don’t know the exact year Miguel started his life in the U.S., but he’s old enough to immediately feel as though he’s been split in two, a feeling that stays with him for the rest of his life.
Stanley ruins baseball, driving, and probably fatherhood for Jack.
Not only is Stanley a monster when it comes to Jack’s baseball dreams, but he gets so drunk at one of his games that he forces the kid to drive them home in one of the most white-knuckle rides of Jack’s life.
William moves to Pittsburgh.
He promises his cousin that he’ll be back once he tends to his sick mother, but we all know that never happens. This is a huge move which sets into motion … well, everything.
Rebecca rocks bangs, smashes the patriarchy.
After years of watching her mother serve her father, Rebecca has zero time for high-school home-economics class and instead joins shop class. She’ll meet her high-school boyfriend Alan there — poor Alan gets dumped by Rebecca multiple times.
Summer 1969: Man walks on the moon; Nicky has a whirlwind romance that ends in heartbreak
Inspired by Neil Armstrong’s incredible feat, Nicky asks his crush and co-worker Sally out. They fall in love, but when she asks him to travel across the country with her, he balks. He’s scared of rejection, scared of leaving his parents alone together, just scared of everything, really.
Thanksgiving 1969: Jack and Nicky have the best day ever.
Jack and Nicky escape another truly terrible Thanksgiving and instead use Nicky’s football-bet winnings to buy and eat five pounds of shrimp. They end the night with Nicky explaining the devastatingly romantic meaning behind Leonard Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne,” and the brothers promise to make this evening their new Thanksgiving tradition for years to come. Things don’t work out as planned.
December 1, 1969: Nicky gets drafted into the Vietnam War.
Nicky’s birth date gets pulled fifth in the lottery, so there’s no question he’ll be going over to fight. Jack attempts to help Nicky flee to Canada, but ultimately, Nicky decides he’s not running from this. He becomes a medic in the army and things go bad fast.
1970: Jack enlists in order to save his brother.
Remember when we said Jack was superman? We are not lying. After receiving a distressing letter from Nicky, Jack decides to enlist, even though he was considered a 4F (unfit for war) because of his irregular heartbeat. (Jack has heart problems — hmmm, where have we heard this before? Hint: the future.) Jack gives a speech while in his underwear at the doctor’s office about having to at least be in the same place as Nicky because that’s what brothers do. People across America are confused about how to feel throughout this scene.
Fall 1971: Staff Sergeant Jack Pearson learns a calming trick that will come in handy in the future.
After tragedy befalls Jack’s unit, his friend Robinson, who has to be airlifted out after losing his foot, holds Jack’s face and tells him to breathe in order to calm down — something he’ll use when his son Randall starts having anxiety as a child. Yes, there are a few things Jack doesn’t come up with on his own.
November 1971: Jack finds Nicky and takes him under his care.
Nicky is struggling — he’s been “Article-15’d” for dangerous behavior and is not happy to see his brother. He wants to be left alone. That’s not really in Jack’s DNA, so he pleads with Nicky’s CO to let him take his brother back to the ville he’s stationed at for two weeks and try to straighten him out. The CO is no match for an impassioned Jack Pearson speech and allows it.
Thanksgiving 1971: Jack receives a very important piece of jewelry.
Jack’s time with Nicky is not going well. When a Vietnamese boy in the ville gets injured, Nicky refuses to help him and chides Jack when he does. On the one hand, the incident reveals just how far gone Nicky is, but on the other, the mother of the boy gives Jack her necklace — a Buddhist symbol of purpose — that becomes very important in the Pearson family mythology.
A nightmare situation takes place in Vietnam and the Pearson brothers are never the same.
One morning, while high, Nicky befriends a boy in the ville and accidentally blows him up with a grenade. He’s too shocked to explain what happened before he’s medevaced out of Vietnam and lands in a vet hospital for a while. Jack believes his brother did it on purpose and never forgives him. He tells everyone Nicky died in the war. Which, emotionally speaking, isn’t wrong.
Jack returns from the Vietnam War.
He’s forced to take a series of odd jobs that are at times deflating, and even turns to some high-stakes card-playing, but all of this leads to one very important moment …
December 23, 1972: Jack and Rebecca meet!
The world may remember this date for the Immaculate Reception in the AFC divisional playoffs, but This Is Us fans know it as the night Jack heard Rebecca singing “Moonshadow” and shrugged off a potential life of crime because he fell in love at first sight (sound?). They go on a horrible first date that Jack saves in the end (doesn’t he always?) by telling her that she feels like home to him. It’s all very swoony and they have their first kiss and Rebecca is super into it. Thank goodness, right?
Jack moves his mother out of their house as his father’s abuse gets worse.
Unfortunately, this probably doesn’t stick. There are also some historical inaccuracies happening here, in case you’re into that sort of thing: This is supposed to be the day after Jack and Rebecca’s date on December 23, but the trees in Pittsburgh are very green, there’s like one Christmas wreath to be found, and Jack’s dad is watching Nixon sign the first SALT agreement at the May 1972 summit in Moscow. Come on This Is Us, get your timelines straight!
Jack and Rebecca do the dishes together for the first time.
Jack and Rebecca doing the dishes together is iconic, you guys.
Jack and Rebecca take a road trip to Los Angeles.
This is not just any road trip, this is the road trip. After like a week of knowing each other, they decide to drive across the country together (kids, don’t do this), they have sex for the first time, Jack’s PTSD reveals itself, Jack calls Rebecca “Bec,” they certainly DO NOT find Joni Mitchell’s Laurel Canyon home, and Rebecca decides she wants to be wherever Jack is. Then she makes him cry for the first time in a long time by singing to him. Jack and Rebecca forever.
➽ Jack moves his mom to her cousin Debbie’s in Ohio.
They make a standing appointment for a 6 p.m. Sunday phone call.
The most momentous occasion on this timeline: Jack and Miguel meet!
When Jack needs a sport coat for dinner with the Malones at their country club, he walks into a suit store only to be helped by none other than his future BFF Miguel. Miguel lets him borrow the jacket for the dinner when Jack tells him he can’t afford it. We don’t deserve Miguel Rivas.
Jack meets Rebecca’s parents.
Oh wow, this is a roller-coaster event: On the one hand, Jack talking about protecting his brother from the monster in his bedroom, opening up a miniscule amount about Vietnam, and confirming that he’s going to be in Rebecca’s life for a while really wins Rebecca over — you can practically see her falling in love right there in front of that country-club lobster. On the other hand, after the meal, Mr. Malone tells Jack no way, no how is he ever getting close to his daughter. Game on, Malone.
➽ Miguel gets a job at Lundy.
He has to use the name “Mike Rivers” to do it, but Lundy does become an important fixture in the Pearson family history.
➽ Jack forces Rebecca and Miguel to find a way to be friends.
Jack maybe does too good of a job at this, if you know what I’m saying.
Jack plays golf with Rebecca’s dad and tells him he is definitely marrying his daughter.
Surprisingly, this does not go well at all.
Jack dumps Rebecca because he’s poor.
Okay, so Mr. Malone does get to Jack, but thanks to a surprise pep talk from Mrs. Malone, Rebecca goes after her man and they have an epic makeout in the middle of an auto shop. “Rebecca Malone, I love you. Don’t you ever forget it,” Jack says. You’ll learn later why his word choice is devastating.
Nicky makes a failed attempt to reconcile with his brother.
He gathers up all his strength to meet Jack at a party for one of their lieutenants, but never makes it out of the parking lot after realizing that Jack is moving forward with his life. It’s quietly devastating, as is so much of Nicky’s life!!
Jack preps a very Jack proposal; Miguel reveals himself to be the best best friend on the planet.
As if we needed more evidence that Miguel Rivas is a real sweetheart: He not only spends his day helping Jack recreate his and Rebecca’s first date so that Jack can propose, but when Rebecca’s dad becomes a real dick about it, as he is wont to do, it’s Miguel who stands up for his buddy and tells Mr. Malone that he doesn’t know how lucky he is that his daughter is marrying someone like Jack. That’s our Migs!
Laurel’s older brother Jackson dies in Vietnam, she is forever changed.
We aren’t told exactly when Jackson DuBois goes to Vietnam, but afterward, Laurel DuBois deals with her grief by walking into the lake in front of her Aunt Mae’s house and screaming out her feelings. This ritual puts her directly in the path of a Vietnamese refugee named Hai who she falls madly in love with before having to run away from her life in New Orleans.
May 16, 1976: Jack and Rebecca tie the knot at City Hall.
Flower crowns. Facial hair. Vows that make you believe in true love again. What were you expecting?
Jack and Rebecca celebrate their first anniversary in a very Jack and Rebecca way.
It’s basically a Pearson tradition now: Rebecca does something nice, and then Jack does something that blows Rebecca’s thing out of the water. This time they go bowling and Rebecca gives Jack a nicely bound journal of his doodlings. Jack turns the bowling alley into their own private dance floor.
William turns to drugs after losing his mother.
Sweet, soft-spoken William falls hard for Randall’s mother and pain-numbing drugs. Oh, William.
Jack gives Rebecca some red dish towels for Christmas.
The real gift is the bracelet inside those red dish towels, but the towels are much more important to our story. The towels are death.
January 20, 1980: Rebecca gets knocked up in a bar bathroom after Super Bowl XIV.
Probably not the only time Terry Bradshaw has acted as an aphrodisiac.
William and Laurel await the birth of their son and attempt to get clean.
They seem so happy here!
Jack and Rebecca learn they’re having triplets, proceed to freak out.
In order to be a provider for his growing family, Jack does the unthinkable and goes to his estranged father for money so he can afford a house in which the eventual family of five will fit. Meanwhile, we have to watch Jack be mistreated by this awful man again. Not a fun time for anyone involved.
Jack and Rebecca have their first meal in their new house.
Jack fights a pigeon — his greatest enemy — and reveals a squeal one might never have suspected to come out of our mustachioed baritone.
Jack and Rebecca’s friendly neighbors gift them a slow cooker.
THE MURDER WEAPON HAS ARRIVED.
Another Jack and Rebecca anniversary extravaganza!
On their fourth anniversary, Rebecca gives Jack a hammer engraved with his name and Jack one-ups his wife by … giving her a piano. Like, we love the guy, but also we hate him, right?
Laurel gives birth to Randall and then overdoses.
In a tragic turn of events, William believes Laurel is dead as the EMTs work to revive her and so runs off with their newborn son, panics, and leaves him at a fire station. William walks around for a long time after that and never learns that Laurel survives and is taken to a hospital.
August 31, 1980: Happy 36th birthday, Jack Pearson! And welcome to the world, Big Three!
For the big day in 1980, Jack receives a gross banana-nut muffin/Twinkie-filling cupcake concoction, a pseudo lap dance from his pregnant wife, and the most intense roller coaster of emotions in experiencing the elation at the birth of his children, the devastating loss of one child, and the hopefulness in recovery brought by finding baby Randall in need of a family. This is a very big day.
Dr. K and Firefighter Joe find ways to heal.
Thanks to the divine intervention of the Pearson family, Dr. K can finally move on from his paralyzing grief over the loss of his wife and goes on a very cute date with a very cute lady from the neighborhood. Firefighter Joe, realizing the baby dropped off at the station will not solve his marital problems, does the right thing by little Randall and then goes home to start rebuilding his marriage.
Rebecca meets Randall.
Jack was all in the moment he laid eyes on baby Randall, but Rebecca needed convincing. Eventually, she has a chat with that little man — the first of so many lovely heart-to-hearts between them — and she is in love. So are we.
A tense first family car ride!
Jack has to drink booze to survive the ride home from the hospital, Rebecca is teetering between her grief after losing a child and her fear of being a terrible mother because of it, but both assure one another that they will be better than their own parents. That’s nice because their own parents were pretty terrible. (No offense, Mrs. Pearson!)
Laurel is arrested for drug possession.
Laurel suffers tragedy after tragedy: She’s arrested at the hospital and eventually sentenced to five years in prison, she’s unable to get ahold of William to tell him where she is, due to overcrowding she’s moved to a prison across the country, and due to deep guilt and shame, she never tries to contact William again. Always remember this show could easily be titled Everyone Is Sad.
Rebecca meets William.
Unable to connect with her adopted newborn, Rebecca seeks out the man she believes to be his biological father. He’s in a very bad way, but still offers some helpful advice: Rebecca should give the baby his own name, not the name meant for the baby she lost. He 1also hands her a book of poetry by his favorite poet, Dudley Randall. You see where this is going, yes?
It’s the Big Three’s first birthday — and Mom and Dad aren’t doing so hot.
Jack and Rebecca are having trouble dealing with their grief over losing Kyle a year ago, so they pay Dr. K a surprise visit and beg him for advice. He obliges! It’s a speech all about wrapping tragedy and joy together. He should write a book or something, the man is very wise.
The Pearsons officially adopt Randall.
It’s not easy, but one year and an arts-and-crafts family photo later, Randall belongs to Jack and Rebecca in their hearts and in the eyes of the law. Speaking of eyes, are yours welling up, too?
William gets arrested for possession, but gets a reprieve.
A kindly judge is tired of seeing the same story play out over and over, and he wants to give William a chance to get clean and tell a different story. It works, mostly! William gets clean, stays clean, and because of this, he’s around when a certain biological child comes knocking.
Miguel jokes that Jack Pearson can never die and it’s really not funny, sir.
While Jack’s signing a life insurance policy, he makes Miguel promise that should something happen to him, he’d look after Rebecca and the kids. Oh boy, does that have some layers.
Jack takes a desk job to make more money.
On one hand, it is soul crushing. On the other, Jack looks nice in an Oxford and tie.
Kate loves fireflies?
It’s why Rebecca gives her the nickname “Bug.”
The Pearson boys go to a taping of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
At the time it just seemed like a fun thing to do because Randall is obsessed with the show. Looking back, the outing is fraught with interactions between the three Pearson boys that would have long-lasting effects.
May 15, 1985: Dynasty airs its fifth-season finale, “The Royal Wedding,” better known as the “Moldavian Massacre” episode.
The country can’t stop talking about it, but Rebecca has to record it since she is raising triplets. No spoilers, please!
About a week later: Rebecca discovers Jack taped over her recording, terrifies her children.
The tiny Big Three hear mom and dad fighting and are worried they aren’t in love any more. To prove that of course they are in love, they have a family wedding in the living room. They all promise to love each other forever. When you get over the no-context “family wedding” and focus on the sentiment of everyone pledging to love each other, the sentiment is less weird.
Laurel moves back to New Orleans.
Oh, Laurel. She finds her way back to New Orleans and lives with her Aunt Mae. She runs into Hai a lot at the farmer’s market, but he is married now and she is consumed by the tragedies that have befallen her.
➽ January 28, 1986: The Challenger explosion.
Jack and Rebecca have to navigate death with their kids for the first time, and while Rebecca’s especially worried about Kevin’s non-reaction, Jack’s all like, Oh, it’s fine, no way he’ll be a 40-year-old man still talking about the Challenger explosion — and, well, joke’s on him.
➽ Jack’s mom dies.
Emotionally devastating for Jack, emotionally devastating for us, emotionally devastating for Cat Benatar.
➽ May 16, 1986: Jack and Rebecca’s tenth anniversary, a babysitter’s nightmare.
Rebecca gets trashed at dinner, the kids lock their babysitter in the bathroom because she’s mean to Kate, and Rebecca is soothed by the fact that no matter what, her kids will take care of each other.
➽ The pool opens!
That local pool hosts a bevy of formative Pearson moments. That pool has done so much for us.
➽ Jack’s porn-stache is born!
Depressed about the routine of her life, Rebecca gets the Princess Diana haircut, and it is … not great. To make her feel better, Jack shaves his beard but leaves his mustache, and it is … surprisingly hot. The man can work a ’stache, people!
Jack promises Rebecca he’ll be a “12” for her, melts hearts everywhere.
After Rebecca gives Jack an ultimatum that he stop the drinking or else, Jack gets his act together, makes a big romantic speech, and wins Rebecca’s forgiveness. He also gives her that moon necklace — you know, the one she promises to never take off. This is all lovely and swoony, but almost immediately Jack gets a call from his boss and the real-world stressors that lead to him hitting the bottle don’t seem to care much about a big, romantic speech.
The Pearsons buy a shiny new Jeep Grand Wagoneer (because salesmen are helpless against a good Jack Pearson speech).
This may also be a bit of a continuity error. When the Pearsons buy the car, Rebecca is wearing the moon necklace. But Jack already has the Wagoneer the day he goes boxing and to the talent show, which seems to be the same day as the morning Jack gives Rebecca her necklace. Since the Pearsons have suffered enough, let’s say the talent show is a different day than the “I’ll be a 12 for you” speech, okay?
Jack visits Little Kate at school, all humans weep.
It’s a very intense conversation! Little Kate knows something is up with her dad, so she grabs his face! Jack talks to her about marrying the luckiest guy in the world and that he’ll be there! Spoiler: HE WILL NOT BE THERE.
Jack takes up boxing in order to fight his drinking problem.
Hot Sad Dads box, it’s just their thing.
The Pearsons attend an extremely awkward school talent show.
Little Kate is so intimidated by her mother’s talent and overbearing enthusiasm, she gives up singing without even trying. Meanwhile, everyone thinks it’s cool for Kevin to do a terrible Mr. T impression. Sophie likes it, so that’s something.
May 27, 1988: “Weird Al” Yankovic releases “Lasagna,” delights the Pearsons.
Delights all of us, really.
July 1988: There’s a heat wave in Pittsburgh, and the Pearsons meet Yvette.
The gang heads to the local pool for a healthy dose of drama. Randall makes friends with some of the other Black kids at the pool, but one of the mothers, Yvette, doesn’t warm up to Rebecca and her parenting style very easily. Don’t worry, though — they become buddies!
Jack’s dad dies.
It happens while Jack is off on a Be Nicer to Your Brother, Kevin Camping Trip. Rebecca and Kate head to the nursing home, where Rebecca meets her father-in-law, Stanley, for the first time. They reach Jack before Stanley passes, but he wants nothing to do with his dad. Rebecca has to tell Stanley that Jack isn’t coming — she also mentions that Jack is a great father, despite what Stanley did to him. That’s Rebecca for you, harsh but truthful.
Jack gives up dreams of his own company so Randall can go to private school.
Plans for Big Three Homes construction company are shoved in the bottom of a drawer when it’s clear Randall needs the challenge of a prestigious private school. The kid solves Rubik’s cubes, for goodness sake!
Jack teaches Randall how to tie a tie.
We are all grateful for this.
The Pearson Thanksgiving traditions begin.
Creepy guys named Pilgrim Rick and gas station hot dogs covered in fake cheese have never seemed so lovely.
Rebecca meets William, the sequel.
So important, so sad. It brings to light Rebecca’s greatest fear: that Randall could, at any moment, be taken away from Jack and Rebecca. Her fierce need to protect her family is understandable, but it doesn’t make the look of heartbreak on William’s face easier to take when he receives Rebecca’s letter denying him any interaction with Randall. What Rebecca doesn’t know is that William follows her home that day. He almost knocks on the door, but thanks to three little bikes on the front lawn, he decides it’s not right to inject himself into Randall’s life. What a different story this would’ve been if the Big Three had put their bikes away LIKE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO. Kids, am I right?
Randall joins a dojo, Jack proves that push-ups can make humans cry.
Just kidding! We’ve always known they can do that.
December 24, 1989: Kate needs an appendectomy.
Looky here: Dr. K turns up again, this time needing comfort from the Pearsons instead of the other way around. Both Kate and Dr. K make it out just fine. Rebecca’s right: Nothing bad ever happens on Christmas Eve!
Little Toby helps his mom through her depression.
We learn that depression runs in Toby’s family and also that he does a great Rodney Dangerfield impression.
August 31, 1990: The Big Three celebrate the big 1-0.
It is a day of partying in which Rebecca and Jack learn that Randall is the most self-aware and self-assured 10-year-old on the planet, that Kate has some issues with her friends but not with voguing, and that Kevin (Parker Bates) is madly in love with Kate’s best friend, Sophie.
Winter 1990–91: The Big Three get the chicken pox and Rebecca outs her mother as a racist.
Rebecca’s mother is the worst!
February 1992: Jack sees Nicky for the last time.
After receiving multiple postcards from his estranged brother, Jack goes to see Nicky for the first time since Vietnam, but still does not want to hear Nicky’s side of things. Jack can see Nicky is truly hurting, but his desire to protect his family from some of his demons is stronger than his desire to help his brother. He makes a choice and sticks to it. Nicky never sees Jack again.
Rebecca learns how thoughtful Kevin is.
You’d think a mother would know this about her son, but it takes an afternoon waiting in line to have John Smiley sign his rookie card to do so. This affects their relationship for the rest of their lives.
The Pearsons go to the cabin for the first time.
Equally important: This is when Randall gets his glasses. It’s also when Jack tells Kate that she’s his most favorite-looking person in the world and the world collectively rains down tears. And it’s the time when Kevin gets a snuggle session from his mother after feeling like the fifth wheel of the family. Kevin may not remember this, but we do. WE DO.
May 16, 1992: The kids beat Jack at his own gift-giving game.
It feels like the “first time at the cabin” should come after this, since the Big Three had clearly been out of school for a while in that episode, but Randall already has his glasses in this one! Alas, it cannot be. Anyway, the Big Three throw their parents an anniversary party complete with a meteor shower. Grand gestures run in the family. Jack tells Rebecca that he doesn’t “need an anniversary to see [her]” because he “[sees her] every day.” I immediately begin searching for a mustachioed boyfriend with an affinity for flannel.
The Big Three go to their first school dance.
Sometime in 1992, the Big Three go to their first school dance and Kevin gets his first kiss from Sophie.
Little Beth (sorry, Bethany) is accepted into an elite ballet academy.
Our little island girl, “who danced before she walked,” has some big dreams.
Jack teaches Randall how to box, makes us all cry again.
By my calculations, this Moment in Pearson History doesn’t exactly seem to fit. When Jack secretly teaches Randall how to box, Rebecca clearly states that the Big Three are 12. Maybe Rebecca is rounding up? That would mean it’s still pretty close to August, and yet Randall doesn’t have his glasses — glasses he was wearing in the anniversary episode from May 1992, when the kids were 11. Maybe Randall gets contacts as a child? Teen Randall doesn’t wear glasses. Is this the biggest mystery of This Is Us? But if they are 12, that puts Randall in seventh grade and Randall wanting to be his father’s son-son doesn’t quite match up with his other seventh-grade narrative of exploring his identity as a black man in this world. Also, that bookcase Jack builds for all of Randall’s seventh-grade books is nowhere to be found. Anyway, it could just be plot inconsistency, but my brain hurts and I’m going to have a rest and think about Jack teaching Rebecca how to box before making out.
The Pearsons have an eventful day at the pool ahead of seventh grade.
Kate has her first kiss (go, Stewart!); Kevin wonders if he’s a good person after deliberately humiliating Randall in front of his friends; Jack teaches Kevin about the Pearson men being “complicated”; Rebecca faces the fact that her kids are growing up and want nothing to do with her; and we, oh, we are treated to the best of all: Jack singing “Rump Shaker” while in a bathing suit. A blessed day!
Randall starts seventh grade and meets Mr. Lawrence.
Cory Lawrence is the only black teacher Randall’s ever had, and he wants to impress him. He becomes a mentor. Jack, per usual, feels threatened.
Miguel saves Jack’s ass when Jack is almost fired for messing up at work.
The purest love on this show is cemented.
Jack teaches Randall to golf.
Jack hates golf. Jack isn’t very good at golf. But after seeing Randall take an interest in Tiger Woods, thanks to Mr. Lawrence, Jack wants to relate more to his son. He wants Randall to be prepared for a life that will surely involve wheelin’ and dealin’ on the golf course.
Fall 1993: The Pearsons bury a time capsule at the cabin.
Kate buries a game of MASH, Kevin buries a picture of him and Sophie, Randall picks a puzzle piece, Jack makes a recording about how much he hearts Rebecca, and Rebecca secretly buries a sketch Jack drew of his dream house to build near the cabin — something he never gets a chance to do because life is cruel.
The Pearsons spend the day in NYC!
This whirlwind day starts with people yelling at each other while on public transportation and ends with a cheesy horse-drawn carriage ride in Central Park, but the big takeaway is that Rebecca doesn’t get to go to the Met to see Madame X and vows she will next time. Oh, the other takeaway is that Jack stinks at directions.
Jack does his best Hanz and Franz impression.
It’s because Kevin joined the football team and Jack’s teaching his son about getting ripped in one’s garage.
Jack threatens Kevin’s football coach in a public bathroom!!
Okay, this is more about Jack and Kevin bonding when Kevin goes to quarterback camp — and Kevin realizing that his father is really always there for him — but come on, Jack quietly but frighteningly telling Kevin’s coach to stop calling his son stupid is the highlight.
➽ The Pearsons have a regular Saturday.
It’s Rebecca’s dream: A Saturday with nowhere to go. Jack teaches the boys how to shave and about collecting moments, and while they may not understand either of those things very well at first, one day they will. One day they will!!
Madison’s mom leaves her forever.
She does give her some nice earrings, though. Does that make up for abandoning her with a father who does not know love?
Rebecca has a cancer scare and Jack introduces The Tree into the Pearson family history.
Rebecca ends up being fine, but not before Jack brings her to “his favorite tree” to calm her down. Of course, he made up the whole story about The Tree and only selected it because it was closest to a payphone, so they could wait there for her test results. It’s very cute and becomes an enduring part of the Pearson family story.
Rebecca joins her old band.
She feels alive again! Jack just feels threatened.
Kevin and Randall’s sibling rivalry boils over during a high-school football game.
All Randall wants is the love and respect of his brother. All Kevin wants is to be left alone in his new basement bachelor pad. Teen Kevin is so mean! Not even Teen Randall’s offering of Yoo-hoo and Pop-Tarts melt his brother’s icy exterior.
Miguel gets a divorce.
The news from Miguel throws both Jack and Rebecca into a bit of a spiral. Okay, it’s mostly just Jack, who realizes he and Rebecca have been getting complacent and he needs to fight for his marriage before he loses it. Rebecca, on the other hand, finds it upsetting but not upsetting enough to make her rethink her next big decision …
Rebecca decides to go on tour with her band.
Alongside her ex-boyfriend Ben, no less. Jack is less than enthused and his jealousy pushes him back to the bottle. Things are going downhill fast, people!
Rebecca leaves for her tour and Jack goes after her.
It sounds romantic until you realize Jack is completely drunk as he hops in the car to drive all the way to Cleveland to make things right with his wife. Hold me.
Rebecca and Jack decide to separate.
After an intense screaming match in which Rebecca admits to feeling like a ghost in her own life and Jack calls her “music career” ridiculous, they decide it is best to take a breather. They gather the Big Three for a family meeting and ruin diner breakfasts forever.
Rebecca and Jack decide not to separate.
It doesn’t take long for Rebecca to show up at Miguel’s door looking for her husband. They are Jack and Rebecca, dammit! They don’t give up on each other. That unconditional support will prove useful now that Jack admits he’s been drinking again. He’s an alcoholic and he needs help. Rebecca gets her reluctant husband in the car and promises him that in a few months, everything will be better. Spoiler alert: It will not.
Jack goes to Alcoholics Anonymous.
It’s a lot like Hot Sad Dad Boxing, but it may actually stick this time.
Rebecca pulls a Jack Pearson on Jack Pearson.
Things are still rocky for the world’s most romantic couple, and since her man is struggling these days, Rebecca fills the role of Swooniest Person to Ever Swoon and takes Jack on a romantic date to get the ol’ fire going. At first, it bombs. But Jack finally begins to open up to Rebecca about some of the pain he’s feeling, and the two chat in the car. Then they do other stuff in the car. Jack Pearsoning always works!
Welcome, Louie the Dog!
Jack and Rebecca find a stray dog outside of their home. He is cute in an “I’m so ugly and mangy please love me” sort of way.
Kevin shatters his knee and his dream.
Kevin had a plan: Go to college to play football and then go pro. When he gets hurt during a high-school game and told he’ll never play again, it’s heartbreaking — even if the kid can be an ass. The only one who can really comfort him is his dad. Jack! If Jack could take on his son’s pain for him, he would. He passes on the Buddhist necklace he got while in Vietnam. That necklace is only halfway through its journey.
Rebecca discovers Kate secretly wants to go to Berklee School of Music for singing.
Rebecca also discovers that her daughter really, really resents her.
Randall visits Howard University and has never been happier.
Seriously, did you see how big that kid’s smile was while he was standing in the middle of the campus library? A LIBRARY. We know Randall’s a nerd and all, but still. He finally found a place where he felt normal.
Beth’s dad dies, and so do her dreams of being a ballerina.
Beth is around 17 when all of this goes down, and losing her dad affects her enormously — although you wouldn’t know it from the way the Big Three act around her in the present. More than one person can have a sad Dead Dad story!
It’s Jack’s last Thanksgiving.
He and Miguel have a touching heart-to-heart about Miguel not giving up on being part of his kids’ lives. Is this their last BFF chat? Oh dear Lord, this is sad!
Family mall trip!
It’s an eventful afternoon: We learn about Kate’s eating disorder, Randall asks Allison out with a Magic 8-Ball, Kevin realizes the sacrifices Jack has made for him, and Rebecca and Jack forget to pick up batteries for the smoke detectors in the house. That last one really hurts.
Jack and his Katie girl share some diner fries.
It’s only days before Jack will die, so the conversation — one about how much Jack believes in his daughter and how much she lights up when she talks about music — will stick with Kate for a long time. And that diner will become a sort-of limbo for her because of it.
January 25, 1998: Super Bowl XXXII becomes everyone’s least favorite Super Bowl.
Jack and Rebecca spend the day getting shamed by a surly Kevin, ignored by Randall who skips the game to take Allison to see Titanic (and get his first kiss!), and Jack reminds his daughter that she is the most beautiful girl in the world. Oh, then Jack places a red dish towel next to a faulty slow cooker and the Pearson house goes up in flames while the family is sleeping. Real cool day.
January 26, 1998: The Pearson house burns down … and Jack dies.
Jack is the superhero we always knew he was. He runs through fire to get Rebecca, Randall, and Kate safely out of the house and then goes back in to save Louie the Dog and some family mementos. It looks like he’s fine, but he goes to the hospital to get his burns checked out, and never leaves. While Rebecca is on the phone in the waiting room, Jack Pearson has a heart attack due to smoke inhalation complications and dies.
January 31, 1998: The Pearsons honor Jack exactly how he would’ve wanted.
Okay, so the funeral starts out very tense—especially between Randall and Kevin—but after a visit from Dr. K, things turn around. Rebecca takes the kids to The Tree to scatter Jack’s ashes, and then she tells them that Jack had bought them all tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert for that night. Jack loved the Boss. It just feels right.
Things are very bleak at the Pearson house, and Randall has the worst prom experience in history.
Everyone is just so sad! Rebecca can barely function, Kate is eating her feelings, Kevin is drinking his, and Randall has to hold the family together. Miguel makes good on his promise to look after Jack’s family, but not even he can fix Randall having to deal with his girlfriend’s racist father. Randall decides to defer going to Howard even though it is his greatest dream. Look what you did, Jack!
Some rando dad who knows Jack just died hits on Rebecca in a RadioShack.
His name is Matt, and he reminds us that women can’t catch a break.
May 1998: The Big Three graduate!
It’s a horrible time for everybody since Kate has no college plans, she’s mad at Kevin for going to NYC to be an actor, Rebecca’s crying outside of school gymnasiums, and no one’s paying attention to Randall being valedictorian. It was a rough year. Hey, at least Rebecca — at Miguel’s insistence — starts grief counseling. That’s something, right?
Randall and Beth bump into each other at the Carnegie Mellon new-student mixer.
THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW.
Kevin helps Randall score a date with Beth.
Ah, the infamous phone call we heard talk about but didn’t get to see until season three. Kevin and Randall won’t truly bond until years later, but this is a nice foundational moment for the always-at-odds brothers. I mean, Kevin’s advice is horrible, but it kind of works.
Randall and Beth go on a disastrous first date.
Within ten minutes, Randall’s told Beth his entire life story and doesn’t spare any details. She is rightfully terrified, but eventually his charm wins her over.
It’s Parents Weekend at CMU!
Rebecca forces Randall to have lunch with Beth and Carol Clarke, which in turn helps Beth realize that Randall truly sees her, lemon slice and all, and they start dating. So I guess we have Rebecca to thank for R&B productions really getting off the ground. And Carol helps Rebecca realize she can move forward in her life after the loss of her husband. So I guess we have Carol to thank for Rebecca not remaining in a fetal position on her floor for the rest of her life. Thanks, ladies!
Kate gets a job at a record store and meets Marc.
He quickly becomes controlling and possessive because Kate Pearson cannot have nice things.
Kevin and Sophie get married!
He tells his mother on an answering machine, if you can even believe this child.
Rebecca and Kate move out of the Apartment of Sadness and into a new home.
The first dinner party, celebrating the newlyweds, is sort of a disaster thanks to Kevin and Sophie being cheesy as hell, Rebecca not knowing how to cook Cornish game hens after all these years, and Marc showing up to be weird. The evening is saved, however, by Miguel giving Rebecca a nice speech about being patient with her grief and Rebecca starting a Princess Bride sing-along.
Rebecca reenters the workforce.
With a huge assist from Randall, who is basically keeping his mother alive at this point.
Randall says the phrase, “Résumés are my jam.”
Marc turns out to be emotionally abusive and toxic and just the World’s Worst Boyfriend.
After he kicks Kate out into the freezing cold on the way to the Pearson Cabin because he gets insanely angry at her for not quitting her job when he tells her to, they “make up,” until later when he gets angry again and locks her out of the cabin in the snow. Thankfully, Rebecca’s spidey-sense tells her something’s wrong and she and the Pearson boys arrive and kick Marc to the curb.
Rebecca, Randall, and Beth head to New York for Kevin’s acting showcase.
Kevin tries to set Rebecca up with his acting teacher, Kirby. Just when you think these two beautiful people might make out, Rebecca is reminded of Jack and runs away. I mean, it’s only been a little over a year at this point, but good on Kevin for trying. (Randall does not share this sentiment.)
Kate has an abortion.
She almost tells Marc about it, but her first time seeing him since their breakup only reminds her that he is horrible, so she keeps it a secret from everyone in her life for decades.
Kevin moves to Los Angeles at the behest of his agent, ignoring sage advice from Randall.
Randall tells his brother that moving to L.A. will most definitely jeopardize his marriage. Kevin dismisses his brother’s warning. Kevin regrets this.
Randall and Beth celebrate their six-month anniversary.
Six-month anniversaries are a thing — Randall and K-Ci & JoJo say so.
Randall visits Kevin in L.A.
Their emotional issues both as individuals and within their relationship are fully on display, as evidenced by their physical fight on the street, but never actually dealt with, as evidenced by their verbal fight on the front lawn decades later.
Kate takes a job at the diner.
She’s consumed by her grief and so takes a job at the diner where she and Jack had one of their last heart-to-hearts, days before his death. She’ll work there for nine years, stuck in a purgatory of her own making.
Rebecca brings the Big Three back to the cabin.
Kevin makes a Jerry Maguire–inspired declaration of love to his wife, Sophie, about how in the end, it will always be the two of them. Rebecca encourages Beth to believe in herself and take that big urban planning firm internship. Rebecca also begins to think about thinking about possible love in her future and tells Miguel as much. So, like, a lot of big decisions being made at the cabin here.
➽ Miguel takes Rebecca to speed dating; she begins seeing a real snoozefest.
It’s Matt, the PTA guy who hit on her in RadioShack that one time! Miguel is immediately not a fan (surprise, surprise!), and Kate calls her mother a slut, so that’s a super-fun reentry into the dating world after tragically losing the love of your life.
➽ Kevin admits to cheating on Sophie days before Thanksgiving.
They end up getting divorced, Kate and Sophie’s friendship ends, and Beth begins her thesis on how all Pearson Thanksgivings are “dramatic as hell.”
➽ Miguel asks, “Brine not?”
➽ Rebecca and Miguel turn Taboo into a game of sexual tension that is so awkward Miguel must flee to Houston.
Okay, that’s not why he moves to Houston, but it’s not not why, you know? Everyone can see Rebecca and Miguel are in love with each other, but they are still too afraid to go there. Miguel has been hanging around only because of Rebecca, but it is torture. Also his kids are in Houston. He breaks the news on Rebecca’s front porch, in a teary-eyed speech in which he tells her she is his favorite person. They do not kiss here, and it is a damn travesty.
➽ The Big Three get trapped in the now-closed pool (R.I.P.!).
Kevin is a drunk who thinks he messes everything up, Kate is aimless and depressed, and Randall wants to be president one day.
Randall and Beth get engaged!
It takes several attempts, and surprisingly it is not body rolls to Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married” that win Beth over, but assurance from Rebecca that Randall would never let Beth lose herself in their relationship. Beth is scared that Randall has the power to charm her into giving up what she wants. She should be!
Deja is born.
Her mom Shauna is just 16 and relies on her grandma to take care of her and Deja, but when grandma dies, things really go downhill.
Randall and Beth have a backyard wedding!
Kevin’s plus-one is an awful soul patch. May it stay in the past, where it belongs!
October 31, 2008: Welcome to the world, Tess Pearson!
You were named after a ceiling fan.
The saddest game ever is invented!
When Tess is just 3 months old, Randall and Beth invent their “worst-case-scenario game.” It wasn’t fun then, it isn’t fun now.
Kate and Kevin decide it’s time to get their lives together.
For Kate, that means she’s going to stop sleeping with married men, eating fast food while sitting outside the old Pearson house, and move to Los Angeles to live with her brother. Kevin is going to join an improv group. You would think Kate’s plan is the sound one, but it’s Kevin who ends up getting cast in a successful television show and making millions. Go figure.
➽ Rebecca reconnects with Miguel on Facebook and then IRL.
They haven’t seen each other since Miguel moved to Houston. Facebook messages turn into long phone calls, which turn into dinner when Miguel is in town. Rebecca waited eight years — she isn’t waiting any more — so she kisses that fool right after he tells her leaving her made him feel homesick. They take things slow but not that slow.
Deja visits Philadelphia with her mom and grandmother.
Hold on to the memories of Boathouse Row and water ice, Tater Tot!
Toby gets divorced and becomes suicidal.
Things get rough for Mr. Damon, but he bounces back and eventually crosses paths with Kate Pearson!
William meets Jesse.
We don’t yet know how long these two dated, but gosh darn, is their first meeting on Thanksgiving cute. They fall for each other pretty quickly. That happens when “a nice boy offers you pie,” right, William?
2011: Kevin films the “Untitled Hot Babysitter Pilot.”
Here’s the big secret about the soon-to-be megastar of the hit TV series The Manny: In this moment, he doesn’t even know if he wants to act. But then he makes a baby laugh, and Kevin’s entire life changes.
➽ 2012: Rebecca and Miguel get married.
We don’t see the wedding, but we do hear their bilingual vows, and it’s very lovely.
2013: Laurel and Hai reconnect, and it is the most bittersweet.
Bitter because Laurel has an aggressive tumor and will only live for two more years, sweet because these two found each other again after all this time.
Deja enters the foster-care system.
Before she cuts her hand and Child Protective Services spot some red flags, Deja is watching The Manny, so this is pre-Kevin’s breakdown. She spends a lot of time being moved from home to home (and bed to bed) until she is reunited with her mother … and unfortunately, her mother’s deadbeat boyfriend.
➽ May 2015: Laurel dies.
Hai is by her side, and as always, she’s thinking of the son she loved but never got to know.
August 31, 2016: Happy 36th birthday, Kevin, Kate, and Randall!
Welcome to the big twist, everyone else!
Kevin goes full Jerry Maguire on the set of The Manny.
He doesn’t know the human head weighs eight pounds, but he does know he deserves more than a character whose basic function is to take off his shirt while tending to a child.
➽ Madison gets dumped by David, a man she was really in love with, then heads to a weight support group.
She meets Kate and a lifelong friendship is born! Just kidding, it takes a while for Kate to warm up to Madison, who is, uh, a lot.
Kate meets Toby.
She cannot fall for a person like Toby right now, but guess what? She totally does.
Randall knocks on William’s door.
William says it best: That was some thing Randall did, knocking on his door. After a lifetime of searching, Randall finally tracks down his birth father and bangs on his door, looking to confront the man who gave him up. Randall wants to heal his own wounds, but little does he know, he’s saving William from giving in to his drug addiction one last time. Of course, the timing isn’t exactly perfect, since William is dying of cancer and only has a few months left. It’s not the first unfair thing in Randall’s life, nor will it be the last.
Sterling K. Brown calls Mandy Moore “mommy.”
All of our lives are forever changed.
Rebecca meets William, part three.
This time with 100 percent more wrinkles! Rebecca wants William to keep their secret just a little bit longer, until she finds the right time to tell Randall. Girl, there will never be a right time to tell your son you’ve been lying to him about his birth father for his entire life.
Kate introduces Toby to Jack’s ashes.
The three of them watch the Steelers game together. Kate won’t say much about her father’s death, which eventually becomes a big problem for Toby, which eventually becomes a big problem for everyone else. Give the girl some space, dude!
Kevin finally calls Randall his brother.
It happens during a physical fight in the middle of New York City, but still, it is all Randall has ever wanted from Kevin. Let the fraternal healing begin!
William accidentally tells Beth that he’s met Rebecca.
In all fairness to William, he and Beth are totally high and he is moved by the poetry of Dudley Randall. But of course, Beth and Randall’s marriage is based on trust and not keeping secrets from one another, so she is in a tough spot. She tries to get Rebecca to tell Randall, but Rebecca doesn’t move fast enough.
November 24, 2016: Randall teaches us that a Thanksgiving Dad is a Hot Dad.
The greatest lesson to come out of This Is Us.
Kevin and Olivia Maine kiss.
Olivia is dark and twisty inside, but Kevin seems very into it. He calls the kiss one of the greatest of his life, but I’m pretty sure she was just in it for the pumpkin pie.
Kevin lets Miguel be Pilgrim Rick.
Of the three Pearson kids, Kevin’s relationship with stepdad Miguel is the most fraught. This not-so-small gesture of letting Miguel participate in Jack’s Thanksgiving tradition is a huge step for their relationship.
Kate dumps Toby and decides to get gastric bypass surgery.
Toby giving up on his diet is too much temptation for Kate to handle at the moment. She needs to focus on herself, so she kicks him to the curb. After a not-so-near-death experience on a plane, Kate decides life is too short and she wants to start living her best life immediately. Gastric bypass surgery, it is!
Randall discovers that Rebecca and William knew each other.
When Randall goes to William’s apartment to grab some music recordings that are part of his birth father’s Thanksgiving traditions, he happens upon Rebecca’s letter, which reveals her decision to never tell Randall about William. Randall confronts Rebecca at the Thanksgiving dinner table, tearing apart one of the most important relationships in his life.
Randall trips hard at the family’s cabin and chats with his dead father.
Hallucination Jack takes Randall’s face into his hands and tells his son that he was never a choice, he was a fact. He also tries to show Randall that Rebecca was constantly fighting to protect her family. Maybe that could offer some explanation as to her choices. Even in hallucinatory form, Jack Pearson is wonderful.
William tells Randall why he never came looking for him.
Who knew kids’ bicycles could be so moving?
William reconnects with his great love, Jesse.
These two guys! Jesse was heartbroken when William left to live at Randall’s without telling him, but is willing to forgive him as long as William promises not to shut him out anymore. Jesse wants as much time with him as William has left. Aww!
Kevin and Sloane decide to self-produce The Back of an Egg.
Kevin’s big shot at becoming a Serious Theater Actor almost slips away when Olivia Maine goes MIA but, terrible title be damned, the show must go on!
December 24, 2016: Toby collapses in Randall’s living room.
Toby flies out to New Jersey to try and win back Kate with a very lovely speech, but hours later he collapses to the floor. So it turns out Rebecca was wrong — bad things do happen on Christmas Eve!
Kate and Toby get engaged.
After Toby makes it through a second heart surgery, Kate unloads all of her feelings on the guy, assuming he is asleep. He’s not. He hears everything she says, including that part about wanting to marry him. He’d marry the hell out of her, too. And thus, an engagement!
William tells Randall he wants to stop his chemo treatments.
It is the beginning of the end.
Kate puts gastric bypass surgery on hold and goes to fat camp.
While in an aerobic drumming class (!), Kate has an emotional breakthrough and realizes that her weight issues are very much tied to the death of her father and her inability to deal with her grief and guilt. Don’t knock aerobic drumming class until you try it.
Kevin makes a grand, romantic gesture to win back … his ex-wife?
Kevin and his childhood sweetheart Sophie divorced after he moved to Los Angeles and cheated on her, and they haven’t seen each other in 12 years. She’s hesitant, but he wins her over by taking her to their old haunts and professing his love for her in a dramatic speech. He really is his father’s son!
Randall teaches William how to drive.
Randall begrudgingly gives his father the gift of his perfect day: driving a cool car while wearing a new pair of shades, sipping on his favorite drink (an egg cream) with the music up and the windows down. What a cool cat that William Hill is.
Randall has an anxiety-induced breakdown on Kevin’s opening night.
The mounting pressure at work, the pile of responsibilities at home, not to mention the emotional stress of watching his birth father slowly die after just meeting him all becomes too much for Randall. He becomes paralyzed with stress in his own office. Thankfully, Kevin realizes what’s happening and rushes to his brother’s rescue — even though it means ditching opening night of his play. Brothers come first, finally.
Randall and William take a road trip to Memphis, where William dies cradled by his son.
“Roll all your windows down, Randall. Crank up the music. Grow out that fro. Let someone else make your bed.” Be right back, need to go slide down a wall while ugly crying.
Randall forgives Rebecca.
The Pearsons honor William’s memory with a plethora of breakfast foods, balloons, and confetti, and a nice stroll through the neighborhood while wearing fedoras. During this walk, Rebecca stops her son to once again say how sorry she is that she kept William from him, denying Randall more time with his birth father. She did it because she was scared, but she knows how selfish that was. It was enough time to know William loved him, Randall tells her. And that’s enough. This new peacefulness also seems to be in honor of William’s memory.
Kevin has a second shot at opening night.
He finally makes his big stage debut with The Back of an Egg’s opening night redux, and it is quite the success. Almost unbelievably, Ron Howard happens to be in the audience that night and he calls Kevin to offer him a part in his next movie. Too bad he just told Sophie that he realized he moved to New York City to be with her and that he won’t mess this up a second time. Sounds like some drama is afoot!
Kate (almost) opens up about Jack’s death.
William’s memorial brings on another swell of emotions for Kate regarding Jack’s death. It’s Randall who encourages her to finally deal with her grief by talking about it with the people she loves … including Toby. Later, Kate tells Toby that she has such a hard time talking about Jack’s death because it was all her fault.
Randall quits his job.
William’s greatest gift to his son was showing him that life is short and we should enjoy every moment we have. With that in mind, Randall shows up at work and tells his awful co-workers that he’s had enough. It is a brave new world for Randall Pearson.
Randall decides to adopt.
Randall wants to adopt a baby to honor both his fathers, but Beth has a different idea: If they’re going to adopt, she wants to take in an older child who has been rejected by the world. A child who really needs them. It honestly is the better way to honor Jack and (especially) William. They’re going to become foster parents.
The world is forced to watch a grown man crawl around in a diaper.
By which we mean, the Pearson clan attends a very special taping of The Manny. No one knows why Kevin would want to do this, or why The Manny would allow him to do this, but we’ll go with it because it means all of our Pearsons are together in Los Angeles.
Kate has her first real singing gig!
She sings “Landslide” as Rebecca looks on with pride and maybe a tiny bit of jealousy. Rebecca is the last person Kate wants to see in the crowd, and afterward she basically tells her mother that she hates her for existing. You don’t know the whole story, Kate! Get off her perfectly postured back!
Beth and Randall’s first foster child arrives with a lot of emotional baggage. Even Mr. Type A, always-follow-the-plan Randall Pearson finds the transition difficult. There’s hair and hygiene issues, and a general unwillingness to connect on Deja’s part. She’s only 12, but the girl has been through a lot. Maybe Randall’s willingness to throw down at a bowling alley on her behalf will win her over.
Kevin injures his knee on set, begins his descent toward rock bottom.
The flare up of his old football injury and his co-star Sylvester Stallone’s insisting Kevin talk about his father dredges up a whole lot of emotion that he has worked his entire life to keep stuffed down. He begins taking pain pills to numb, well, everything. Things are about to get very bleak for Kevin Pearson.
Kate is pregnant!
Like most major life events, the news is exciting and wonderful but also terrifying. We’re all (cautiously) happy for Kate, but sad for ourselves because it means we have to watch Toby do a Flashdance routine in a coffee shop to a Hootie and the Blowfish song. None of that is made up, and it all seems very, very Toby.
The Pearson brothers attend a charity gala.
Kevin embarrasses himself and Sophie as he spirals further down with his addiction, while Randall reaches a turning point with Deja. She has a very sweet crush on Kevin, so Randall agrees to take her to the event, where he learns about her rough time in other foster homes and why she flinches around Randall. If you’re keeping track, the evening is a loss for Kevin, but a major win for his brother.
Kevin breaks up with Sophie.
On the very stoop where not too long ago he wooed the love of his life back with a grand gesture of swoony words. Salt, meet wound.
Kate has a miscarriage.
It’s devastating, but there are some silver linings: First, it bonds Kate and Rebecca together, and oof, did they need some bonding. The pain also makes Kate stronger — she’s not going to let this break her or her relationship with Toby. Finally, Kate and Toby decide they want to try again once they’re ready. It keeps the dream alive that Kate will have a little boy named Jack. We need that, show.
Kevin has a breakdown on the lawn of a one-night stand.
If you think that sentence is rough, try this one: While trying to get a prescription for fentanyl using a script he stole from that one-night stand, he realizes he lost his dad’s necklace — the one thing he has left of his father. As if visits back to your old high school weren’t bad enough on their own.
The Pearsons say good-bye to Deja.
She isn’t with Randall and Beth long before the charges against her mother are dropped and Deja returns home, but man, did she become a part of the family.
Kevin gets arrested for a DUI.
Post-breakdown, Kevin heads to Randall’s house to FINALLY ask for help, but news of Kate’s miscarriage steals his thunder. He chugs some vodka and goes for a ride instead. Poor little Tess, who is hiding the backseat of Kevin’s car, has to watch her uncle hit rock bottom. Can someone finally get this guy some help?
The Pearsons have an intense family-therapy session.
Kevin wants Rebecca to admit that Randall is her favorite and he goads her until she breaks down and tells him that it was easier to love Randall. Let’s never go back to this therapy room, okay? The revelation does, at least, bring the Big Three closer, and helps to heal Kevin and Rebecca’s relationship, which is a good thing because …
Kevin moves in with Rebecca and Miguel!
Kevin begins to see both his mother and Miguel in a new light. Kevin and Rebecca have never been closer. Kevin and Miguel have never been more, hmm, let’s say cordial? Kevin is trying! Also, Kevin is privy to all the LaCroix his heart desires. Not a bad deal, really.
Kate and Madison become friends and go wedding dress shopping.
They do not, thankfully, start a podcast.
Randall decides he wants to buy William’s old building and turn it into a business venture with Beth.
The first day does not go well, but R&B Properties will survive.
Randall delivers this gutting line about his father: “He’s been gone longer than we had him.”
Just when you think you’re done crying.
Kate adopts a dog for her and Toby.
The dog is named Audio and he is adorable. Still, the memories of Louie and Jack’s death loom large. But again, the cuteness.
Kevin makes amends.
The saddest talk is with Sophie, as he says what seems to be a very final good-bye. The most surprising is with Dr. Charlotte, who returns Kevin’s necklace, PRAISE BE. And the most heartbreaking is with his dad: Kevin can’t actually apologize to his dad, but he makes the best of it by going to The Tree to tell Jack that he’s going to make him proud. It might not be the right tree, but the sentiment is very nice.
February 4, 2018: Super Bowl LII
The Philadelphia Eagles win! Okay, some other things also happen: Rebecca makes Jack’s favorite lasagna, Mr. McGiggles dies (R.I.P.), Kate almost loses the only video she has of her father (you know, the one where he beams with pride and love while watching her sing), and Randall has a very sweet conversation with Tess about always being her No. 1. In that last one, Randall promises Tess that they’ll have dinner together once a week at her office when she is all grown up and fancy. It doesn’t feel like a monumental conversation, but it really is.
Deja arrives at the Pearson house.
She needs money to get the heat turned back on and didn’t know where else to go. Randall and Beth continue to worry.
The Big Three and their people head to Vegas for Kate and Toby’s simultaneous-but-definitely-not-together bachelorette and bachelor parties. Kate and Beth bond. Kevin finds out that his movie may change his life. Randall can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong with Deja.
Beth and Randall find Deja and Shauna asleep in their car.
They’ve been evicted, so Beth and Randall invite them to stay at their house for a while. After Shauna sees how happy Deja is, she decides to leave … and give up all parental rights. Deja does not take it well.
Somebody’s getting married! It’s Kate and Toby.
The KaToby wedding arrives, as coordinated by Kevin and Randall. They are delights. But before Kate can walk down the aisle at the family cabin in her gorgeous dress, she has something to do: She needs to let go of Jack, at least a little bit. She goes out into the woods and sits on the tree stump she used to share with her dad, and tells him she needs to make room for Toby. She finally spreads Jack’s remaining ashes, and then Kevin and Randall walk her down the aisle. She isn’t the only Pearson experiencing some catharsis, though: Rebecca and Kate discuss their issues head-on and have a misty-eyed makeup. Kevin uses his toast time to get himself, Kate, Randall, and Rebecca to finally release that deep breath it feels like they’ve been holding in since Jack died. Nice sentiment, but weird wedding toast.
Deja gets upset at the wedding.
Even a conversation with Beth’s very nice cousin Zoe about not hating the people who love you can’t stop Deja from taking out her anger on Randall’s car windshield. This does not bode well for the future.
Kevin and Zoe meet by the wedding punch bowl and start dating.
What a hot couple. Beth does not approve.
Deja gives Randall the best 38th birthday gift.
And we’re not just talking about those slick Nike sneakers she makes her biological father give her as payment for abandoning her — she tells Randall and Beth that they can formally adopt her. It took a lot of therapy and even more running to get to this place, but it pays off!
People love Hill 400!
According to Rebecca it has a 95 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and even NPR’s Terry Gross is into it. It’s her probing questions that send Kevin on a hunt to learn more about his father’s time in Vietnam.
Kate and Toby are successful with IVF.
There are several setbacks and Toby makes the boneheaded decision to quit his antidepressants cold turkey in hopes of upping his sperm count. Toby falls back into a depression, but Kate ends up pregnant and their relationship is stronger than ever.
Randall discovers that the Other Big Three (Beth, Miguel, and Toby) have a group text.
Not like we’re jealous or anything.
Randall decides to run for Philadelphia City Council.
After visiting the rec center near William’s building and learning some hard truths about the neighborhood from William’s friend Chichi, Randall is compelled to do something about it: He’s going to run for city council. Never mind that he and his family live in Alpine, New Jersey (he signed William’s lease, so), he’s going to defeat the longtime incumbent Councilman Brown.
Beth gets fired.
Poor Beth! She loses her job of 12 years, and realizes that William was right — she needs to tell Randall that she can’t be the strong one right now. She is not okay.
We learn that The Manny is the No. 1 show in South Korea.
Just a fun fact we should all be aware of!
Randall hires a campaign manager and a field director.
The campaign manager is a nice, politically active Korean-American from the neighborhood named Jae-won and the field director is Beth. They don’t get along.
Kevin meets Robinson.
He learns that his father was definitely not “just a mechanic” in the war. Robinson can’t answer any questions about Jack’s brother, but he does hand Kevin a photo of Jack with a Vietnamese woman wearing the Very Important Necklace that Jack gave to Kevin. There’s a mystery to solve!
Kevin and Zoe go to Vietnam.
Kevin has a lot to learn about what happened to his dad and uncle during the war, but he also has a lot to learn about his girlfriend. She confides in him that she was sexually abused by her father, and the two admit that they are falling deeply in love with each other.
Thanksgiving 2018: Randall appears only in his undies at a time when the world really needed it.
We are forever grateful that a Thanksgiving Dad is a Hot Dad.
Thanksgiving 2018: Miguel attempts to make amends with his kids; they are dicks.
Miguel has tried to stay in Andy and Amber’s lives, but they’ve made it very difficult. All of this leads to an extremely tense Thanksgiving dinner in which he ends up valiantly defending Rebecca and their relationship. Everyone realizes Miguel is a wonderful, gorgeous human and perhaps, one day, he and his kids can rebuild what they lost.
Tess comes out.
First, she tells Kate on Thanksgiving 2018, but makes it clear she isn’t ready to tell her parents. Tess realizes that Kate told Rebecca — since Kate lives so far away, she wanted someone looking after Tess. It seems like a shitty thing for an aunt to do, but it all works out in the end! Rebecca gives Tess a beautiful speech about what keeping a secret can do to you (she would know!), and it inspires Tess to come out to Randall and Beth. They are, as you may have guessed, wonderful with the entire thing.
Kate decides to go back to college.
It’s time for her to make some changes — to the bursar’s office!
Randall makes his failing campaign his top priority, sleeps on the couch.
Randall wins his debate against Councilman Brown, but campaign manager Jae-won informs him that based on polling, there’s just no way he can win this thing. Beth sees it as a blessing, Randall sees it as a challenge. Beth asks him to give up the politics and focus on family, but Randall refuses. So, he’ll be sleeping on the couch from now on. Mom and Dad!
Kate and Toby learn they’re having a boy!
If they don’t name this kid Jack, heads will roll.
Kevin’s trip to Vietnam ends with a surprising revelation.
No one at the ville recognizes Jack or the woman wearing the necklace and Kevin resigns himself to returning home having learned nothing. But wait! Thanks to a resourceful hotel proprietor, he learns one very huge, startling thing: There’s no record of Nicholas Pearson dying in the Vietnam War.
Old Nick Pearson brings his mail back to his trailer.
Nicky is alive.
Randall wins the election!
He’s very excited, but no one else, perhaps even including the audience, is. At least he and Beth seem okay … for now.
Kevin and Zoe move in together!
Who knew a John Stamos keychain would be so emotionally stirring?
The Pearsons go on a road trip to find their long-lost uncle.
Although not a complete disaster, it doesn’t go well. Nicky is finally able to tell them the story of what really happened in Vietnam, although, he discovers, he’ll never be able to tell his brother. Rebecca gets to meet Jack’s brother, so that’s nice. But Nicky is an alcoholic and very depressed and doesn’t want any help from Jack’s kids. Kevin tries to persuade him otherwise, and although he doesn’t get to save Nicky in any way, the door is left open for the future.
Finding his uncle in that state and grappling with the thought that Jack kept him a secret all those years is enough to make anyone feel helpless and lost, so Kevin starts drinking again while alone in Nicky’s trailer.
Nicky starts going to therapy at the local VA.
He may have played it cool with his nephew, but Kevin really got under his skin, and Nicky makes an attempt at putting his life back together. With the help of his therapist, Dr. Ruiz, he really makes some progress!
Beth figures out what she wants to be when she grows up!
After a very cathartic visit to her mother’s, Beth realizes that she only felt truly alive when she was dancing — so she becomes a dance teacher. Great for Beth, but it puts an intense strain on her marriage.
Kate graduates! But then goes into premature labor! While in the car with her drunk brother!
The most dramatic winter-mester graduation ever! Kevin’s drinking is outed and Kate goes into labor at only 28 weeks. Never a dull moment with the Pearsons.
Baby Jack Pearson Damon is born!
After a long, excruciating wait in which some grievances are aired, Kate gives birth to baby Jack. He has a long road ahead of him, which scares the hell out of Toby, but Kate is all over it. Plus, Rebecca and Miguel decide to move to Los Angeles to help Kate. That should be super helpful and not at all suffocating.
Beth and Randall hit the lowest of lows in their marriage.
It gets very intense there for a while, but eventually they decide they’re going to move to Philadelphia, where Randall can still be city councilman and Beth is going to open her own dance studio. They’re betting on themselves, baby.
Kevin and Zoe come to an impasse in their relationship.
Zoe never wants to have kids. Kevin goes along with that for, like, an afternoon because he loves her, but she can see how badly he wants to be a dad. She’ll never change her mind on this, and so there’s no hope for them. Zoe moves out.
Cassidy Sharp returns from deployment; it does not go well.
We do not know when or for how long Cassidy was deployed in Afghanistan. We do, however, know that she has done multiple tours. We also know that when she returns in 2019, her marriage is fraught, she is suffering from PTSD, and hits her son, Matty, out of frustration. She finds herself in group therapy at the local VA.
Kevin moves back to Los Angeles!
Post-Zoe-breakup, Kevin decides he wants to be where the action is: in L.A. with Kate, Toby, Rebecca, Miguel, and Baby Jack. Again: super helpful and not suffocating at all!
Baby Jack is diagnosed as blind.
Kate refuses to be anything but positive — her son will have a great, big life.
Randall and Beth Pearson move to Philadelphia.
This is not downsizing, folks.
His therapist is transferred and he feels abandoned, so he starts drinking again, and eventually throws a chair through the window of a group-therapy meeting being attended by Cassidy Sharp.
Malik Hodges meets Deja Pearson at a backyard barbeque.
Deja smiles for the first time in history.
Toby gets secretly super into CrossFit.
As if this dude could be any more annoying, now he’s CrossFit Toby. He’s losing a ton of weight, while Kate is stress-eating, and it’s all causing a rift in their marriage.
Kate meets her neighbor, Gregory.
He is recovering from a stroke, and she begins to go on walks around the block with him and Baby Jack.
Kevin gives up a new movie to go to Bradford, Pennsylvania, and help Uncle Nicky.
Nicky doesn’t want his help, but since when has that ever stopped Kevin?
Cassidy asks Kevin if he was in Who’s the Boss?
It remains devastatingly hilarious.
The Manny is canceled!
Sure, this sends Kevin into a tailspin, but has anyone checked on Morris Chestnut? Think about Morris Chestnut!
The Clarke School of Dance opens!
Sure, the place is all stunk up by a dead opossum, but at least it’s not a family of dead opossums, right? And sure, Beth and Randall learn that 14-year-old Deja wants to date a boy with a baby, but maybe for now just focus on the fact that Beth’s dreams are coming true?
Kevin really digs in during his stay in Bradford.
He buys a fancy trailer so he can live next to Nicky while they await his hearing, and he promises Cassidy that he’s going to help her get back together with her husband, Ryan. Of course they end up sleeping together first, but he does make good on his promise eventually!
Tess has a panic attack.
Beth teaches her husband and daughter that La Croix isn’t just a refreshing beverage. It’s here that she also begins to suspect Randall might be headed toward another breakdown, what with the leg tapping and ten-mile running and working extra late hours. He refuses to get any help.
Nicky cuts ice cream like cake for Kevin.
Not only does he tell a heartbreaking story about buying his trailer for his One True Love but never going after her, he also tells Kevin about how his dad would slice ice cream like a cake for him and Jack when they were kids, something Jack used to do for Kevin. He’s just opening up so much!
Randall and Kevin send Kate and Baby Jack a gift.
It’s their family piano! And it’s full of pictures of Kate and her old boyfriend Marc, who definitely was abusive somehow and now those memories are dredged up. The gift is not the best.
Toby calls Miguel “Miggy Stardust.”
Okay, he can stay now.
Randall pretends to be bad at golf to win over fellow councilmen. As if.
No way, no how could Randall Pearson ever willingly play a sport he’s bad at. He’s great at golf, thanks to his father’s insistence that he learn to play. He’s so good, in fact, that he knows exactly how to pretend to be bad enough to endear himself to fellow golfers on the City Council. The man has allies now. Thanks, Dad!
Deja and Malik go on an epic first date, become the cutest couple on this show.
These two lovebirds skip school so Malik can take Deja on a proper tour of Philadelphia and help her believe she is worthy of love. It is the sweetest. Though she disparages cheesesteaks, I will overlook it because everyone deserves to be seen the way Deja is seen.
The Pearsons have the Hodges over for the world’s most awkward dinner.
Each blames the other’s kid for being a bad influence, some hostile words regarding class are exchanged, but in the end, after a heartfelt speech from Deja, Beth, Randall, Kelly, and Darnell agree to let the kids see each other as long as there is a chaperone. Oh, and we learn about Beth’s secret Pantry Wine! A true gift.
Cassidy delivers the harshest truth of this entire series.
“Not all of us have to talk about our dead dads all the time,” she tells Kevin after he comments that she’s never spoken about her father. Boy, oh, boy. Cassidy saw the Pearsons; Cassidy knows the Pearsons.
Nicky has his court hearing!
After Kevin fixes Nicky’s tie, Nicky gives a gorgeous little speech about how throwing that chair was the best thing to happen to him because it got him sober and brought his nephew into his life. Nicky avoids prison and is finally turning his life around. Anyway, I’m crying about it. Our Nicky!
Cassidy reunites with her family.
Well, she is allowed to sit down at a diner with Ryan and Matty, even though she’s signed the divorce papers. It seems like they are poised for reconciliation, but who knows.
Randall notices his mother is having more than a few mental slipups when she arrives in Philly.
He and Rebecca have a blowout fight when Randall calls her on it, and implies that he’s the actual parent figure in this relationship.
Thanksgiving 2019: The Pearsons descend on Philadelphia, drama ensues.
Shauna comes to see Deja, which upsets Beth, but it ends up bringing Deja and Beth closer together. Kevin helps Tess come out to her classmates. Kate discovers that Toby is complaining about her to his CrossFit friends, especially someone named “LadyKryptonite.” After Nicky realizes Jack didn’t completely erase him from his life once he hears Randall tell the “So Long, Marianne” story, he tells the story of his and Jack’s perfect Thanksgiving and introduces the tradition of Thanksgiving Shrimp. Rebecca, after leaving all day to see a movie, confides to Randall that he was right and she needs to see a doctor, but to keep it between them. This is all before we’ve even had pie!
December 31, 2019: Randall doesn’t care if the New Year’s Eve ball’s about to drop, he has doctor’s appointments to schedule!
Randall has taken his mother’s care into his own hands and decides to let Miguel know about an appointment with the best doctor in Los Angeles while the rest of his family is literally counting down to 2020. This is why people complain about Randall.
Rebecca is diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
More testing is to be done, but she wants to keep this between herself, Miguel, and Randall for now. Anyone who has watched even a little television knows that’s going to be An Issue.
Kate throws Toby a Margaritaville-themed birthday party, their marriage falls apart.
I’m not saying the two things are related, but I am saying that at this party Kate learns Lady Kryptonite kissed her husband AND Toby admits that their son makes him sad. It is no Cheeseburger in Paradise, if you get me.
Randall finds an armed man breaking into his home.
It sends him hurtling toward another breakdown when he becomes obsessed with the new security system he intalls, has to keep his mother’s diagnosis a secret, and fights a mugger in a parking lot all in the same week!
Sophie’s mom, Claire, dies.
Kevin goes to the funeral — Claire was a big fan of his — and tries to help Sophie deal with her grief. They finally watch the end of Good Will Hunting, which seems like they’re saying good-bye to their relationship, but some of us will hold out hope because we don’t like them apples, not one bit.
Kate, Rebecca, and Baby Jack attend a retreat for families with blind children.
Kate brings Rebecca because Toby is the worst, but it ends up being a great thing: Rebecca gives Kate sage marriage advice, tells her daughter about her diagnosis, and most important, Rebecca and Kate duet to Alanis Morrisette’s “Ironic” at karaoke night. It is a time.
Kevin sleeps with Madison.
No one is surprised about this except Kate.
The Big Three realize they’re the Sad Three and head to the family cabin to have feelings together.
Here, Kevin learns the truth about Rebecca, Randall realizes he really needs therapy, and they all have a good cry listening to Jack’s tape after they unearth their time capsule. Kevin also takes the drawing of Jack’s dream house and makes some plans.
Randall finally goes to therapy!
In just one session, Dr. Leigh gets Randall to admit that he thinks he is the only person who can hold the Pearsons together. She is a blessing sent to us all!
Kevin and Rebecca’s fun day out!
Kevin is helping Rebecca live out her carpe diem dreams by taking her to Joni Mitchell’s old Laurel Canyon house where she sings us all a little tune. The day takes a wild swing, however, when they have to go get Rebecca’s test results and learn she has Alzheimer’s.
After receiving devastating news, Miguel suggests he and Rebecca unwind by watching Borat.
Randall calls a “code red” sibling video chat.
He’s found a nine-month long Alzheimer’s clinical trial in St. Louis and he wants everyone on board with making Rebecca go. He has zero time for Kevin’s misgivings about it. This will not end well.
Rebecca, Kevin, and Randall head to NYC for Kevin’s M. Night Shyamalan movie premiere.
Kevin’s trying to give his mother one great day, but Randall can’t help himself and so brings up the clinical trial to Rebecca in the middle of the movie premiere party. Kevin and Randall have a huge fight about Randall’s inability to trust anyone else with their mother’s care and also slams him with a dig about how Kevin’s funding all of their mom’s treatment. Things get tense and then Rebecca runs away!
Rebecca finally gets to see Madame X at the Met again.
She tells her sons that she doesn’t have a lot of time left, and what little time she has she wants to spend it joyfully and with her family. She’s not doing the trial. Kevin agrees. Randall seethes.
Randall guilt-trips his mother into going to the clinical trial.
After an illuminating therapy session in which his visions of what his life would’ve been like if Jack had survived the fire actually tell him that he has a lot of underlying resentment toward Rebecca for lying to him about William (yes, he needed a therapist to figure that out!), he tells Dr. Leigh that he refuses to reopen those wounds with Rebecca. He can’t lose his mother and he will do anything to make sure he doesn’t. And so he calls her and reminds her that he’s been a good son, he’s forgiven her for a lot of things, and has never asked for anything in return. He’s asking her to do this clinical trial. How can she say no?
It’s Baby Jack’s first birthday!
It starts out like a normal first-birthday party, with a baby eating cake and adults taking lots of pictures of that baby eating cake, but then it turns into a Pearson party, which means Rebecca tells everyone her news about the clinical trial, Kevin figures out it was Randall who made her change her mind, and the two brothers say pretty much the most awful things you could think of and completely sever their relationship. Party -favor bags for all Pearson parties should be filled to the brim with ibuprofen and tissues.
Madison is pregnant with Kevin’s children.
Madison is pregnant with twins, and thanks to a very sensitive OB/GYN (the gynos on this show truly go above and beyond) who tells her not to give up on the father without trying, she tells Kevin the news. He’s all in — he wants to be a father and thinks maybe the great love story he’s been looking for is the one he’ll have with his kids. This should be fun.
Kate and Toby decide they want to adopt!
After visiting the NICU on Jack’s birthday, and Toby seeing how meaningful it is to have siblings via the Pearsons, Mr. and Mrs. Damon decide they’d like to give Jack a sibling. They’re going to start the adoption process.
August 2020: The Big Three turn 40, but there is very little to celebrate.
Rebecca suffers an incident in relation to her meds mixing with an antihistamine and it gives everyone a glimpse as to what the future probably has in store for them. Meanwhile, in the wake of George Floyd’s death, Randall has been processing some unspoken issues he’s been burying since his childhood in relation to being a Black man raised by a white family, and has pretty much avoided speaking to his family since Baby Jack’s birthday. It’s this incident, on their 40th birthday, that brings the Big Three back into each other’s orbits.
Kevin proposes to Madison
After Madison has a scary fall (everyone is okay!), Kevin realizes he doesn’t want to lose this little family he’s creating — he proposes and Madison says yes.
Kate and Toby get a match at the adoption agency.
A pregnant woman named Ellie is having a girl and wants Toby and Kate as the adoptive parents. The three adults end up getting very close and things get tricky.
Miguel plants apple seeds outside the cabin for Rebecca.
He promises her that she’ll see those seeds grow into a big, beautiful tree one day, regardless of her diagnosis.
Randall accidentally strips on his city council livestream!
It’s honestly all for the best, because (1) the national attention puts him in the path of Hai, his birth mother’s great love, and (2) he looks great. That councilman’s got abs, ya know what I mean?
Kate decides to confront Marc about how toxic he was and opens up to Toby about her abortion.
Marc is still very much a dick, so he isn’t the most receptive to Kate trying to take her power back from him, but it is a healing confrontation on the Pearson end of things.
Kevin takes a role on a Jordan Martin Foster film.
Ooof, Foster is a pretentious weenie.
Randall and Beth travel to New Orleans to meet Hai and learn the story of Randall’s birth mother.
It’s both a tragic and healing time. Randall ends it with a nice scream in the lake and by the time they are making their way home, Beth can see Randall has a lightness to him. Oh, and they become owners of Laurel’s lake house, so that’s fun!
Madison goes into labor six weeks early, sings “MMMBop” with Randall.
Kevin’s stuck trying to get home from his movie set in Vancouver, Madison is freaking out about being alone at the hospital, so Randall and Beth — on their drive home from New Orleans — stay on video chat with her until he shows up. Randall proceeds to distract Madison from her contractions with a little ’90s throwback sing-a-long. This feels on-brand!
Kevin ditches a Robert De Niro film, saves a man from a burning car, sweet talks his way onto a plane without I.D., and makes it to Los Angeles in time for the birth of his twins, Nicholas and Frannie.
Is this the wildest entry on this timeline? Discuss!
Baby Hailey is born!
Birth mom Ellie decides she wants nothing to do with Kate and Toby after the birth, which is hard for the Damons to hear, but they need to move forward with their expanding family.
Kevin and Madison drive the twins home and Kevin has a very intense dream about his father.
The timeline loves a Dream Jack appearance! This one tells Kevin to go after what he wants and he decides he wants to fully be there for his family, so he re-proposes to Madison. That’s two proposals, no ring yet, if you’re keeping track.
Toby gets laid off.
It’s a tough blow for the Tobester, who then has to deal with feelings of inadequacy for not being able to provide for his family and resentment toward Kate once she goes to work and he becomes a stay-at-home dad.
Oh, right, Kate gets a job, meets Phillip!
She takes a teaching assistant job at the music school where they take Baby Jack. She loves it. The teacher she’s assisting, a grumpy English guy named Phillip, is not as enthusiastic about the whole thing … at first.
Welcome to the world, Isaac!
Isaac is Randall’s basil plant and we cherish him.
Nicky travels across the country to tell two cute babies that they are his moon.
God, Nicky will just break your heart in every era, won’t he? He’s so moved that Kevin would name one of his kids after him that he spends weeks working up the courage (and getting vaccinated, of course) to get on a plane for the first time since leaving Vietnam and come visit. The journey is arduous — it includes one especially hairy moment when the snow globes he spent weeks building for Nick and Frannie break at the airport — but worth it. Jack would be so proud!!
Nicky and Miguel plan a rehearsal dinner together, Nicky does not understand the beauty of small plates.
The planning is a disaster since Nicky uses any moment he can to make digs at how Miguel stole Jack’s wife, until Miguel finally has enough and sets him straight. Eventually, Nicky calls Miguel to apologize and the two make amends. Maybe Jack’s best friend and brother can become friends in their own right? Maybe??
Randall and Kevin begin to mend fences while on a sidewalk in Philadelphia.
The two have an intense heart-to-heart in which many grievances are aired, Kevin admits that some of his jealousy issues were tied up with race, and Randall apologizes for saying that their dad was ashamed of Kevin. It will take time to fully heal, but this was a great, honest step forward.
De Niro agrees to reshoots for the movie Kevin walked out on.
Just wild that De Niro is playing a real part in this timeline, huh?
Beth officially closes her dance studio.
And yet another dance dream dashed for dear Beth.
Kevin finally sees his movie with Foster in its entirety, and it is terrible.
Kevin fears for the future of his career, and it is even worse than he imagines: He now has a reputation for on-set blowups and walkouts. Running into Zoe during a meeting with his agents and her making a passing comment about how he compromises on what he wants all the time doesn’t help his general emotional state at that time, either.
Toby’s dad comes to fix a pipe, drops an astute if not obvious metaphor.
Even within one afternoon, Toby’s dad can sense that Toby is stuffing down all of his emotions (especially in regards to staying home with the kids) and eventually those emotions will come bursting out like water in a broken pipe. Beware, all!
Sophie calls Kevin to congratulate him on getting the life he always wanted; Kevin spirals.
And it all takes place during the saddest bachelor party in the history of bachelor parties! Kevin eventually deletes Sophie’s number from his phone and insists that he is madly in love with Madison and not just marrying her because she’s the mother of his children.
Nicky starts internet-stalking Sally Brooks.
Will Nicky learn to love again?
Toby secretly contemplates a job offer in San Francisco.
You know he knows this is a bad idea but he does it anyway.
Kate throws Madison a bachelorette party that might shed some light on imminent Kevison issues.
During a pretaped “Newlywed Game” activity, Kevin can’t answer the question about what his and Madison’s future looks like long-term and although Madison assures her bff Kate that she is wildly happy in her relationship, she can’t help but fixate on the panic in Kevin’s face in that video.
Rebecca apologizes to Randall for robbing him of his birth parents, and that chapter of the R&R saga is finally closed.
There are so! many! tears!
Malik gets accepted to Harvard.
Deja seems terrified as to what this means for their relationship.
Kate tells Toby to take that job in San Francisco because they can weather anything together.
She will not be quitting her job because (1) she loves it and (2) Phillip refuses to accept her resignation because she’s so dang good at her job.
Madison calls off the wedding.
She knows Kevin doesn’t really love her that way and she also knows she deserves something real.
Rebecca asks Kevin to build the house at the cabin Jack designed for her.
Kevin’s new chapter begins!
➽ Kevin joins The Manny reboot as the dad character, and Madison starts dating Elijah from her book club.
Kevin’s new chapter is a little sad!
➽ Nicky, Rebecca, and Miguel go on a road trip to find Sally Brooks!
There is no romantic rekindling, but it allows Nicky to move on with his life. Rebecca, too! She decides she isn’t dead yet — she wants to enjoy the time she has. Also everyone agrees Miguel has amazing hair.
➽ Deja sneaks off to Boston to see Malik.
She loses her v-card and is very in love, but Mom and Dad do not care about love when they find out about the lying.
➽ Nicky heads back to Pennsylvania and flirts with a flight attendant named Edie.
Ohhhh, this is a cute development …
➽ Rebecca starts teaching Baby Jack the piano.
This is also cute!
➽ Kevin breaks ground on Jack’s house.
He tasks both Nicky (who is very in love with Edie!) and Cassidy with managing the project.
➽ Deja informs her parents she’s quitting high school to move to Boston with Malik.
She’s hilarious, isn’t she? Randall tells Malik that if he really loved Deja, he’d let her go — this isn’t what’s best for her, and they all know it.
➽ Beth takes the job at the dance conservatory.
She also starts a scholarship program for low-income and marginalized groups. It goes very well.
➽ Kate makes amends with Sophie.
Thelma and Louise become friends again!
➽ Pearson Thanksgiving 2022!
Toby gets mad at Kate for feeding Jack sweet-potato casserole, and it becomes abundantly clear to the entire family that all KaToby does is fight now. More importantly, Rebecca makes a big speech to her three children: She informs them that Miguel is in charge of her medical decisions — if Miguel dies before her, then Kate is in charge (that one is a shocker) — and she demands that none of her children make their lives smaller because of this disease. They are ordered to proceed with their lives. “I’m your mother, and I’m sick, and I’m asking you to be fearless.” Everyone cries, Moore should be overnight-shipped an Emmy for this scene.
➽ Big Three Homes is born!
After spending time with Cassidy (and getting an intimate look at her mental-health situation) and the crew of veterans she hired to build Kevin’s house, Kevin gets an idea to start a nonprofit that hires vets for construction crews. Jack would weep into his mustache if he saw this!!
➽ Kate and Toby have the worst weekend in San Francisco imaginable.
Kate heads up there to save her marriage, but it just makes things worse. Toby is happier than he’s ever been, but Kate doesn’t recognize him anymore. He gives her an ultimatum: Their family needs to move to San Fran if they want any shot of surviving. She responds by calling Phillip and asking for an available teaching position at her school.
➽ Deja runs away to see Malik (again)!
No one knows how she escaped the cabin in the woods and got on a bus to Boston, but the girl did it. Perhaps being fueled by the anger of learning Randall planted the seed in Malik’s head that they should break up was enough.
➽ Randall and Rebecca and many tears go on a sweet road trip together.
Rebecca refuses to let Randall head up to Boston to collect his daughter alone and forces him to take his time with the drive. They drink dive-bar wine, take lots of selfies, and Randall tells his mom he’s going to run for senator and is going to win. Rebecca is so proud! She tells him he’s her hero. Honestly, just throw me into the gross motel pool, there is nothing left for me here!
➽ Deja and Malik break up.
It’s for the best, but Randall reminds Malik that just because it’s over now doesn’t mean it’s over forever.
➽ It’s Rebecca and Miguel’s tenth anniversary, and it is doozy.
I wish I had time to talk about Kevin’s wildly perfect impression of his mother, but bigger drama calls us: Baby Jack gets out of the house on his own and winds up walking all the way to the park. It’s Rebecca who realizes where he’s gone and races after him! Jack needs stitches and Kate and Toby scream things at each other on their godforsaken lawn of misery that they can never take back, and Toby has a tense standoff against the Big Three, but other than that, things are pretty chill.
➽ Kate and Toby go to couples therapy.
It does not go well.
➽ Sixteen months later: Kate and Toby call it quits.
After a dinner gone wrong in which Toby invokes the name of the Jack Pearson, KaToby ends things for good this time. Kate seems at peace with it almost immediately. For Toby, it takes a little longer.
➽ Kate and Phillip karaoke to “Tubthumping” together, and everything changes.
Ah, yes, Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping,” the song that launched 1,000 great romances. Kate and Phillip make an emotional connection the day she signs her divorce papers, and eventually, they end up on a date in which Phillip shares his deep, dark trauma with Kate, and they fall in love.
➽ Phillip proposes to Kate.
He uses Tween Baby Jack and Hailey, and it is very sweet.
➽ It’s Kate and Phillip’s engagement party!
There’s more tub-thumping, an awkward run-in between Kevin and Sophie which signals that Kevin is very much still in love with his ex-wife, Randall is in the middle of his senatorial campaign, and Rebecca’s health is deteriorating.
➽ Kevin and Sophie reconnect the night before Kate’s wedding.
Sophie’s divorced, Kevin is waiting for his one great love, and after a sunset walk through a vineyard, it is painfully obvious they are still so in love with each other. They almost have sex in Kevin’s hotel room, but it’s scary!
➽ It’s Kate and Phillip’s wedding day!
Sure, sure, it’s a big day for the bride and groom, but Kevin steals his sister’s thunder when he and Sophie — thanks to a little push from Rebecca and Senator Randall Pearson — finally realize they are meant to be together. Oh, and Rebecca sings the theme song to This Is Us, and everyone bawls their eyes out. A good wedding all around!
➽ Rebecca and Miguel move into the house Kevin built for his mom.
Rebecca really needs full-time care at this point, but Miguel takes his wedding vows seriously. So seriously that he neglects a lot of his own health issues to be there for Rebecca.
➽ The Big Three tell Miguel they love him.
AFTER EVERYTHING!!! I AM STILL CRYING ABOUT THIS!!
➽ Miguel reconnects with his kids.
Thanks to Kevin Pearson, of all people!
➽ Miguel dies.
And Rebecca gets yet another dead-husband tree to add to her list when the family scatters some of his ashes at the apple tree he planted for her (the rest are scattered in Puerto Rico by Kevin and Miguel’s son, Andy).
➽ Kevin and Sophie move into the house with Rebecca.
It’s really a no-brainer after a long “family meeting” between the Big Three. They don’t want to leave her there alone, and her wishes were to live in that house. Kevin knows he’s been a pain in the ass most of his life, and he wants to do this for his mom. They spend several years there taking care of her, fielding visits from the rest of the family to help out, and buying so much walnut-shrimp takeout. Rebecca raised some good kids!
➽ Kevin calls Randall to tell him this is the end.
Rebecca doesn’t have very long; it’s time to say good-bye.
Old Randall and Adult Tess have dinner, but it is full of angst!
Randall makes good on his promise to have dinner with his social-worker daughter once a week. The dinner we see isn’t very pleasant: Randall tells Tess, “It’s time to go see her,” but neither Tess nor Randall are really ready to do so. “Her,” is Rebecca, duh!
Adult Deja is pregnant and becoming a doctor!
Our tater tot is having her own tater tot! And guess what? It’s Malik’s! They ended up back together after all. Randall called it, baby.
The family gathers at Kevin’s house to begin their good-byes.
All the major players are there for the end of Rebecca’s life — even Kate, who rushes in after being stuck on a flight from London for work (she develops arts curriculum now). It’s the Big Three at Rebecca’s bedside as she takes her last breath.
➽ Rebecca dies.
Who will ever forget Rebecca’s trip through that train full of memories of her life? William and Dr. K are there, Miguel tells her she’s still his favorite person, and she gets to see all the versions of her three kids. When she’s finally ready to let go, she walks into the caboose and lays down on a bed next to Jack. “Hey,” she says. “Hey,” he says back. One tiny word, so many tears!
➽ It’s Rebecca’s funeral.
As Kate reaffirms her mission to start more music schools for the blind, Kevin decides to focus on the non-profit, and Randall contemplates a run for presidency (after learning that Deja’s having a boy and she wants to name him William, it’s a big day for him!), the Big Three promise one another that they’ll never drift apart. Big Three, forever.
The way, way future: Adult Baby Jack falls for a waitress named Lucy, becomes a huge music star.
Remember that great, big life Kate wanted for her son? Well, he got it. Adult Baby Jack is selling out stadiums, his wife just opened up a restaurant, there’s a baby on the way, and yes, they are still serving five pounds of shrimp at Thanksgiving.
Adult Baby Jack and Lucy have a baby girl!
Her name is Hope and her Aunt Hailey is very excited to meet her.
➽ Adult Baby Jack pushes Hope on a swing.
And we swing.