9 Gut-Wrenching ‘This Is Us’ Twists (PHOTOS)

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This Is Us - Season Pilot
Paul Drinkwater/NBC
This Is Us
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Jack and Rebecca lose a child

The elder Pearsons faced an unimaginable pain in the NBC drama’s series premiere when only two of their three triplets survived childbirth. But just as Kate’s (Mandy Moore) doctor advised, she and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) made lemonade out of sour lemons and took home an abandoned baby that had just been dropped off at the same hospital. And thus, the Big Three were born!

Vivian Zink/NBC

Jack is dead

Jack was conspicuously absent from the present-day scenes of the first season’s first four episodes, and in the fifth installment, we found out why: He was dead, and Kate (Chrissy Metz) was keeping his remains in an urn at her place. It wasn’t until midway through Season 2, however, that fans found out how exactly he perished.

This Is Us - Ron Cephas Jones
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Rebecca kept William a secret

Not only had Rebecca already met Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones), by the time her adopted son tracked him down, but she had met him twice, as we found out over a Thanksgiving dinner midway through Season 1. She had covered up the second meeting because William had cleaned up his act and she was afraid she’d lose Randall.

This Is Us - Season 1
Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Toby has a heart attack

The Pearsons’ next holiday get-together wasn’t any less dramatic: Kate’s then-new boyfriend Toby (Chris Sullivan), with whom we had totally become smitten, keeled over and suffered a heart attack at Christmastime. (On a lighter note, you might be curious to know that episode was directed by none other than Helen Hunt.)


Rebecca is “her”

Something is up with Rebecca is This Is Us’ future timeline. In Season 3’s midseason finale, we found out that the “her” Old Randall and Adult Tess were going to visit in the Season 2 finale was Rebecca. Why do they seem so sad about it? And why isn’t Toby sure he wants to see her?

This Is Us - Season 3
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Nicky is alive

We’d long known that Jack followed troubled younger brother Nicky (Michael Angarano) into service in the Vietnam War; but we didn’t know until Season 3’s midseason finale that Nicky was alive and we, more or less, in the present-day timeline. Why would Jack have lied about his brother’s fate? Well…

This Is Us - Season 3
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Randall breaks his promise

Above all, Randall has always been a dutiful husband and father, which is why our hearts broke for Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) in that same episode when she asked him to end his councilman campaign — reminding him that he had promised to call it a day if the campaign came at the family’s expense — and he refused.

This Is Us - Season 3
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Nicky accidentally killed a young boy in Vietnam

When the Pearson sibs track down Old Nicky (Griffin Dunne), he reveals his actions led to the death of a young Vietnamese boy during the war. Nicky and the boy were on a boat at the time, and Nicky was showing the boy how to fish with grenades — never a good idea, by the way — when one of the grenades exploded and killed the kid. Horrified, Jack disowned Nicky, who never got a chance to tell him it was an accident.

This Is Us - Season 3
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Kevin relapses

Kevin (Justin Hartley) led the charge in the search for present-day Nicky, and he took it the hardest when Nicky turned out to be less of a doting uncle and more of an anti-social recluse. And once he was alone in Nicky’s trailer, he made significant eye contact with one of Nicky’s whiskey bottles, and we viewers knew the score from there.

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This Is Us always keeps its audience guessing, thanks in part to its decade-hopping storyline, which covers the Pearson family’s past, present, and future. Rare is the episode without a plot twist, in fact, but some twists are more devastating than others.

In the gallery above, presented in narrative order, are our picks for the show’s biggest bombshells from the Pearson chronology so far…