Over the last two years, This Is Us has become one of the most talked about television series in the nation. The NBC family-drama that revolves around the heartwarming and emotional story of the Pearson family, including a set of triplets (played by Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, and Justin Hartley) and the dedicated parents who raised them (played by Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia), has been receiving heaps of positive reviews, garnering numerous awards and nominations.
If you have been keeping up with the tear-jerker, which just finished its second season, chances are you are well-aware of the incredible writing and talented cast that makes this show stand out among the rest. For the last two seasons, the series’ creator, Dan Fogelman, has been keeping viewers on their feet, and the sales of Kleenex on the rise, by bringing us back and forth in time, truly letting us get to know the Pearson family, while slowly revealing devastating secrets along the way.
Recently, one of the show’s longest-lasting mysteries, involving how the beloved father of the family Jack Pearson died, has finally been uncovered. While Jack’s death had been stirring a great deal of talk and not to mention fan theories, it is in no way the focal point of the series. The writers have made it clear that there will be even more shocking secrets to come post Jack’s death, and Dan Fogelman himself has said, “We’re not even at our halfway mark with the series, and this was always the plan. There’s a big plan for the series.”
Besides making us sob uncontrollably during nearly every episode, This Is Us has become known for its insane attention to detail. As the plot jumps from the past, to the present, and now even the future of the Pearson gang, the show’s writers leave plenty of significant hints and details. Many of these little Easter eggs or clues that are left for us are so brief, that we don’t even notice them. Of course, hardcore fans, like us, love digging deeper into each episode in order to discover the show’s many hidden, meaningful details. For example, no, it is not a coincidence that Randall chooses to see the movie Titanic shortly before Jack dies…
Continue reading to discover some of the biggest details that you have probably missed on This Is Us so far. Just a fair warning, this article contains (a lot of) spoilers. So you may just want to catch up before reading this…
In season two, viewers were finally revealed the truth about how Jack died. SPOILER ALERT: After saving his family from a devastating house fire, he and his wife Rebecca go to the hospital to treat a burn on his hand. While Rebecca is off buying him snacks at the vending machine and booking a hotel for the family, Jack goes into an unexpected cardiac arrest and dies alone. Now, that we know how Jack died, we can see a huge connection between his death and Randall’s last moments with his biological father, William…
Randall’s words to William
Realizing that Jack passed away without anyone by his side definitely burdened the family with some serious guilt. In the first season shortly before William’s death, William gets into an argument with his nurse and Randall tells him, “You’re a sick old man and sick old men need nurses to make sure they take their meds, and eat their meals on time, and don’t die when nobody’s looking.” In retrospect, those last words are haunting, and explain why he didn’t want to leave William alone.
Jack’s note to Kevin
Kevin was the only family member who was not home at the time of the fire. After having an argument with his parents, Kevin goes over to his girlfriend Sophie’s house. Although Kevin calls home and apologizes to his mom, he tells her that he will talk to his dad “tomorrow.” Later that night, Jack hangs a note on Kevin’s bedroom door that says, “Kevin, if I don’t see you before tomorrow, I love you.” There is no tomorrow for Jack – and the note is shown very briefly being engulfed in flames during the fire, never to be read.
Jack’s final look
Just as Rebecca is leaving Jack’s hospital room in season two’s Super Bowl Sunday, which we now know is the last time she sees him before he dies, Jack has a slightly awkward look on his face before jokingly telling her that she is standing in front of the television. Was it a look of pain? Did he want to get Rebecca out of the there so she didn’t have to witness his death? Milo Ventimiglia who portrays Jack seems to thinks so. He said, “I think Jack absolutely knew something was wrong.”
Did you hear Jack say something?
In the same episode, there was one devastating detail that many viewers missed. As Rebecca is at the vending machine, and viewers catch a glimpse at nurses running frantically behind her with her unaware, you can hear Jack say “Bec.” She even turns around right after. Milo said in an interview that he believes Jack had already passed by that point. He said, “My belief is that it’s a presence.” This makes sense, especially since Rebecca has told Kevin that she continues to feel Jack’s presence long after his death.
As if the whole episode of Jack dying wasn’t emotional enough, we have yet another small detail to give you even more chills. As Rebecca is looking at the vending machine and sees that it is almost empty, and before we hear Jack saying “Bec,” we hear Rebecca say under her breath “Sorry babe.” Of course, she is just talking about the lack of snack options at the vending machine, but the fact that she never stops feeling sorry for not being with Jack when he died, makes those words all the more meaningful.
In season two’s episode That’ll Be The Day, teen Randall asks his dad if he can take his new girlfriend to the movie theater to see the movie Titanic. Of course, the film happened to be one of the most popular during the time, so it is not so odd that he picked that movie. However, we are pretty sure that the writers did not just choose that film by random, considering that the leading man, named Jack, tragically dies at the end.
At the beginning, and end of season two, Rebecca is shown screaming out in emotion as she is sitting in her car in front of her recently demolished house. She then takes out the bag of prized possessions that Jack had managed to save from the fire. One of those items, just happens to be the necklace shaped as a crescent moon that he gave her after promising to put an end to his drinking habits. It is the same necklace that Rebecca continues to wear in present-day, the same one that she refuses to ever take off again.
During the season two episode Number One, we painfully watch Kevin break down after he loses the necklace his father gave him. All we know about the necklace so far is that someone gave it to Jack during the Vietnam War. Although we can assume that it is Nicky, his late beloved brother who dies in the war, we can’t be sure. When Jack gifts Kevin the necklace, he says, “I was feeling very lost when I got that.” Doesn’t that seem like Nicky had already passed away when he received the necklace?
A “special person”
If you were paying close attention, you may have noticed that Jack also tells his son that “someone very special” gave it to him while he was in Vietnam. If Nicky was already dead by the time he received the necklace, we are left wondering who that “special” person who gave him the necklace could have been? Of course, Jack’s time in Vietnam and his brother’s death still maintain a mystery in the series, and we are hoping we will discover more information soon!
If the writers of This Is Us are known for anything, it has to be their spot-on attention to detail. In the season two episode Super Bowl Sunday, the camera moves to scenes of the present-day Pearson family watching the Super Bowl game in their homes. In case you missed it, those were actual scenes from the actual Super Bowl game between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, which had finished immediately before the This Is Us episode aired! Talk about some serious TV magic and last-minute editing.
In the first season, Kevin gives a painting to Randall’s daughters Tess and Annie after William dies. The splatter painting was supposed to symbolize the cycle of life and death. He had told his nieces, “It’s kind of beautiful isn’t it? The idea that even when people die, just because you can’t see them or talk to them – it doesn’t mean they’re not still in the painting.” Flash-forward to the season two episode of Jack’s death, and the camera briefly shows the painting, which is now mounted in Tess’ bedroom. Coincidental timing? We think not.
Not bound to time
Up until recently, we have seen only past flashbacks and present-day scenes on This Is Us. However, you may have noticed that for the first time ever, in the iconic Super Bowl Sunday episode, we were suddenly brought to the future, where we get to see an older Randall visiting his now adult daughter who is working as a social worker. This is a big clue from the writers that the show is not bound by time, meaning the possibilities are endless. Just how far into the future will the series take us?
In the season two finale, we finally get to watch Kate and Toby walk down the aisle. The This Is Us team along with Chrissy Metz, the actress who plays Kate, decided to add a very small, but very touching detail in tribute to Jack on the day of the wedding. On her nails, are the letters “J” and “P,” Jack’s initials. It was so tiny, that Chrissy took to Twitter to share a close-up.
Kate’s manicure wasn’t the only tribute to Jack on Kate and Toby’s big day. Perhaps, as Kate was walking down the aisle, you noticed something inside of Kate’s bouquet? No, your eyes weren’t just playing tricks on you, that was Jack’s old screwdriver, the one he used to repeatedly fix Kate’s window as a child and teen, right smack there in the middle of her floral arrangement. Chrissy shared the photo on Twitter, for those who may have missed it.
Kate and Rebecca’s fight
Near the beginning of season two, we discover Kate is pregnant. Although we didn’t know it at the time, it would most likely mean that she had found out she was pregnant right around the time of Rebecca’s visit to LA, when Kate lashes out at her mom and criticizes her parenting after her singing gig. Kate and Rebecca are known for having their issues, but Kate seemed to be particularly harsh – possibly because being pregnant made her reflect on the way her own mother raised her?
During the finale of the first season, we learn how Rebecca and Jack first met – at a bar that Rebecca went to sing at after ditching her blind date, and where Jack went planning to rob. The song she was singing was Cat Steven’s Moonshadow, hence the moon-shaped necklace Jack gave her. The song also holds meaning to actress and former pop star Mandy Moore herself, because it is a song she covered on her 2003 album coverage, which represented a big moment in her life – when she broke away from pop music.
Taking the blame
Kate revealed to Toby early on in the series, way before we knew how Jack died, that she is the one responsible for her father’s death. Now we know that Kate blames herself because Jack reentered the burning house in order to save her dog after seeing how distressed she was. Of course, it isn’t really her fault, as Jack, who is an adult, made the decision to reenter the house and not only rescue the dog, but several other family keepsakes as well.
Not Kate’s fault
During season two’s midseason premiere, there was a subtle clue that Jack’s death was not Kate’s fault after all. During the scene where Kate and Toby are getting ready to visit Kevin in rehab, Kate tells Toby, “I let Kevin get sent to rehab.” Of course, she had nothing to do with Kevin going to rehab, it was his DUI that got him there, not her. This brief interaction reveals a trait about Kate, that she is quick to put the blame on herself, just like she did with her dad’s death.
Big Three Homes
Not long before Jack’s death, he is seen telling Rebecca that he wants to try again to make his dream construction business Big Three Homes into a reality. Jack’s plan was to start small by flipping houses, and working up from there. Now jump to present day, and Randall has quit his job as a weather trader and decides to buy and fix up William’s old apartment building. Kevin even comes to help… is this a hint that the Pearson children could one day bring Big Three Homes to life?
The plastic bag
Now that we finally know how Jack died, we can see some of the clues that the writers were slowly feeding to us before revealing the gut-wrenching truth. Of course, the biggest clue of all was shown during season two’s premiere, when we see the burned down Pearson house. However, in that same episode were more hints. For example, Rebecca is seen driving by the house with a small plastic bag of Jack’s belongings. If he had died in the fire, like we initially assumed, wouldn’t the possessions have be charred?
Another clue of Jack’s death that the genius writers of the show hinted on was the Pearson family pet. During the season two premiere, we see teen Kate crying while she is holding onto a dog, which is the first time we see him. We see the dog more and more after his first appearance, and see Kate’s specific attachment to him. Then, we see how painful it is for present-day Kate to adopt a dog for Toby in That’ll Be the Day – which now makes sense seeing how Jack went back into the fire to save the dog.
This Is Us has been hooking in its viewers with its twists and surprises since the very first episode. Safe to safe, everyone was shocked during the pilot’s big twist, that everyone is related and that the scenes of Jack and Rebecca take place in 1979, not present-day. There were a few clues leading up to the pilot’s surprise ending. For example, this box of family photos from ’75-’79 in their apartment that isn’t as old as we thought.
Another hint from earlier on in the pilot, before the shocking ending, is seen on Randall’s computer. The camera quickly shows Randall’s inbox, and since we are so focused on the email he is opening – that his biological father was located, we probably missed the email that was directly above. It is from Kevin with the subject line “It’s Our Birthday Bro,” which gives away the fact that Kevin and Randall are brothers, and have the same birthday.
A bit outdated
Yet another moment from the pilot that makes us say, “How did we miss that?” is the oddly out of date equipment that is seen in the hospital where Rebecca is giving birth. That is some extremely vintage obstetrical equipment that they have there. And what about the hospital’s television set? These little hints should have easily clued us in on the fact that it was not present-day.
Chances are, we also weren’t paying attention to the background in this scene from the pilot right before Rebecca does her traditional “birthday dance” for Jack. If we were, we probably would have noticed their ‘80s-looking vacuum cleaner standing against the wall. Not many people have those kinds of vacuums anymore. In the same scene, take a look at the old-fashioned suitcase Rebecca had packed ready for the hospital. Of course, they could have just been really into vintage stuff.
Miguel’s true feelings
How could we forget that unpredictable scene early on in the first season when we find out that present-day Rebecca is now married to Miguel, Jack’s best friend. Although Miguel denies having feelings for Rebecca when Jack was still alive after Kevin asks him during season two’s Clooney, there are moments we don’t believe him. For example, the way he looked at her during her and Jack’s wedding vows, and when he told Jack that he married “way, way, way above his station.”
Something in common
In season two’s The Fifth Wheel, when Kevin’s family visits him in rehab after getting a DUI, he tells his mother, brother, and sister, “We are a family of addicts.” Although at the time, most of us dismissed this assuming it was Kevin over exaggerating, looking back – he is actually telling the truth. Kevin has a problem with drinking and illegal substances, Kate struggles with an eating addiction, and Randall is obsessed with being perfect. Not to mention, his father Jack also had his issues with drinking, as did Jack’s dad.
Each one of the Pearsons received something of Jack’s after his death. Rebecca has the necklace he gave her, as well as his old wedding ring and miscellaneous items she took home from the hospital. Kate has his urn, and Kevin has his Vietnam necklace. For a while, we were wondering what Randall got. We find out in season two’s The Car that he got his dad’s watch, the same one both Jack and present-day Randall are wearing in many of the scenes they are in.
Jack’s first sign
During Super Bowl Sunday, Rebecca tells Kevin that Jack always gives her a sign on the anniversary of his death. During Jack’s funeral in The Car episode, Rebecca surprisingly sees Dr. K, the doctor who delivered the twins and inspired Jack to adopt Randall. He reveals to Rebecca that Jack used to pay him a visit every time he needed some guidance. Could it be that Jack sent Dr. K to her, during a time he thought she needed a shoulder to lean on? Was this his first sign to her?
Dr. K’s wife
In the same episode of Rebecca and Dr. K’s emotional talk, Dr. K introduces her to his wife named Anne. You might have forgotten, but we have actually seen her before. In season one’s The Big Day episode, we painfully watch Dr. K mourn the death of his wife. Remember he was in the supermarket when a woman named Anne came up to him and invited him out to dinner? Although at the time he turned down the invitation, he must have eventually accepted because that is the same Anne who is now his wife.
The writers of This Is Us knew how Jack would die from the very beginning, and were even leaving us clues as early as the beginning of the first season. During the opening scene of season one’s second episode, The Big Three, we are given the first tiny clue. When Rebecca is shown making breakfast for the triplets, who are about 10 years old at the time, the camera zooms in on a Crock-Pot slower cooker, not just any Crock-Pot…the same exact Crock-Pot that causes the fire years later.
The red towel
Another clue from the fire that we were given in the first season is the infamous red towel. This red dish towel, as you may recall, is the same exact red towel that was the first thing in the kitchen to catch on fire after the Crock-Pot disaster. In season one’s episode The Best Washing Machine in the World, we get a brief glimpse of the towel hanging by the kitchen sink. In That’ll Be the Day, it is revealed that Jack also used that particular towel to hide a Christmas jewelry gift from Rebecca.
Miguel and Rebecca
During Jack’s funeral episode in season two, we see Miguel giving an incredibly emotional eulogy for his best friend. Right before he says “I’m not sure if there’s enough water in this world to get me through today,” he makes direct eye contact with Rebecca. Then, the camera focuses on Rebecca’s moon necklace. This particular sequence of events seems significant since Rebecca and Miguel end up getting together. Could this be a way to show viewers that Jack divinely intervened for Miguel and Rebecca to be together one day?
In season two’s The Car, we watch Rebecca close her eyes in fear as Jack drives over a bridge. The kids, who are about ten, and Jack help take her mind off it by singing. Flash forward to the day of Jack’s funeral, and they are on their way to a Bruce Springsteen concert – the one Jack planned on surprising them with, and Rebecca is forced to drive over the same bridge, she winces, but keeps on driving. This symbolic scene demonstrates her newfound strength as the leader of the household.
If we have learned anything by now, it is that no detail should be ignored on This Is Us. During The Car, we see Rebecca nervously waiting for the results of some medical tests she had done after having several dizzy spells. Jack helps her stay positive, and in the end we discover the results came back negative and that all is okay. However, could this be a possible clue that we will see more health issues with Rebecca in the future?
Although this clue is not from an episode per se, it shouldn’t go unnoticed. If you are following the cast on social media, you may have noticed that Sterling K. Brown, who plays adult Randall, tweeted a photo of future him and wrote, “Ready to see what the future holds?” Although we have already seen a couple mysterious scenes with future Randall and Tess, this particular picture has us worried. Look at the background, he is in a hospital. Is someone sick? Dying? Could it be Rebecca? Beth? Time will only tell…
Number one fan
In season two’s Vegas, Baby, there are three separate references to Julia Roberts, who is a huge fan of This Is Us. The first is when Kate quotes a famous Roberts line from Ocean’s Eleven, “You are a thief and a liar.” The second is when young Kate says to Rebecca, “I think dad should wear a tux and you should look like this,” while holding a VHS of Pretty Woman. The third is when Toby tells Kevin to tell his recent film’s director that he made a “Pretty Woman-sized mistake. Big. Huge.”
In Vegas, Baby, we are also shown an adorable flashback to the triplets setting up a romantic anniversary for Jack and Rebecca. The kids use Christmas lights and big arrows to direct them towards the window and onto the roof, where they are sent to lie down and look at the meteor shower. This scene is actually quite eerie, considering it is the same exact roof and window that the Pearson family used to escape their burning house.
Vegas, Baby definitely gave us a ton of details. For example, when Kevin discovers he might have been cut from an upcoming film, he calls the director to see what’s up. Kevin is surprised to learn that his scenes were not cut, and will actually play a central part. He tells Kevin, “The father-son story is the movie.” Kevin will be in a movie about a son’s relationship with his father (Sylvester Stallone), on a series that closely follows his relationship with Jack, who by the way, was a huge fan of Stallone.
In the season two episode, This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life, viewers finally get to see Deja’s (Randall and Beth’s foster child) backstory. Although witnessing her and her mom’s struggles was definitely not easy, there was one small detail that made viewers smile. In a flashback scene when Deja is making a birthday dinner for her mom, we quickly see that an episode of Kevin’s former show The Manny is playing on her TV. This could explain why she fan-girled over Kevin when she first met him.
Police Academy 3
Deja watching The Manny was not the only TV detail viewers got during that episode. In one scene, we watch as Randall, Beth, their daughters, and Shauna and Deja are watching TV in the living room. Shauna sees Deja laugh, which she says to Beth is the first time she saw her daughter act like a kid in a long time. Did you notice what they were watching? It was Police Academy 3, the same movie that we learned in season one’s Pilgrim Rick episode, became a Pearson Thanksgiving tradition when Randall and his siblings were kids.
William and Shauna
Randall has told Deja several times that they have a lot in common, as do their parents. If you think about it, both Randall’s biological father William, and Deja’s mother, Shauna, were young, single parents who were forced to give up their kids so that they could have a better life. Of course, Shauna gave up her parental rights when Deja was a teenager, unlike William, who gave up Randall when he was a newborn. But we still can’t deny the similarities between these two significant characters.