This Is Us ended its first season by leaving viewers with more questions than answers, and the biggest one is still looming: How did Jack Pearson die? While fan theories continue to run rampant, several This Is Us stars have dropped clues about the untimely demise of the Pearson patriarch played by Milo Ventimiglia—including Ventimiglia himself.
This Is Us star Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin Pearson on the hit NBC drama, recently told TMZ nothing is off the table when it comes to how Jack died. Hartley teased that every scenario This Is Us fans have come up with is still in play, including a car accident.
Hartley previously told Us Weekly that viewers will never figure out how the Jack ultimately kicks the bucket.
“You’ll never guess it,” Hartley told the magazine. “It’s unexpected and it’s extremely heartbreaking and sad and deep and moving and, ugh, it’s painful. It’s painful. It’ll stay with you.”
Many This Is Us fans are fixated on a plane crash theory, with some thinking Jack’s death may be related to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Viewers have pointed out that Kate (Chrissy Metz) has a fear of flying and that Kevin (Hartley) previously mentioned that after his dad died he destroyed all the model airplanes he made with him as a kid.
At the recent This Is Us PaleyFest panel, Sterling K. Brown (Randall Pearson on the show) said the timing is off for a 9/11 death. In the first season, fans were given a brief shot of Jack’s funeral, and his children — Kevin, Kate, and Randall — were teenagers in the scene, making it appear that Jack’s death occurred around 1996.
But Brown did confirm Jack’s death occurs in the Pearson family’s hometown of Pittsburgh, according to In Touch. In addition, the This Is Us cast confirmed that Kate isn’t “directly responsible” for her father’s death, despite the fact that she told her fiancé Toby (Chris Sullivan) that she’s “the reason” her father is dead. At the PaleyFest panel, Metz dismissed the idea that her character “accidentally” killed Jack.
Chrissy Metz also told In Touch she was caught off guard when she learned how her TV dad died. The actress said the cause of death will “definitely” surprise fans.
“When I did hear about how he passed, I was like, ‘Uh…whoa,'” Metz said. “But as Sterling [K. Brown] has said before, he passed away in the way that he lived his life.”
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Some This Is Us fans were disappointed that the show’s first season finale didn’t offer more clues as to how Jack died. In an interview with E! News, Mandy Moore said she was sad about the unexpected viewer backlash.
“That bummed me out,” Moore told E!
“I’m really proud of the work we did and proud of the episode, and anytime anybody asked me, I said, you’re not going to find out how Jack dies. I don’t know why people are so fixated on that!”
Moore also posted a message to fans on Instagram, asking them to be “patient” and noting that the show, which has already been renewed for two more seasons, has at least 36 more episodes to tell the story of the day Jack died.
“For those somehow frustrated with the finale not revealing how Jack passed, I would encourage patience,” Moore wrote. “Otherwise you might be watching the wrong show. Last night was fundamental to the bigger picture. The story deviated and ultimately landed on (I think) a more compelling question… what was the state of this relationship in the end? And as Milo so eloquently stated, let’s focus on how the man lived! Stay tuned ’cause it’s all leading somewhere and we’re just getting started.”
I stand in awe of this friend of mine. He is the ultimate partner in crime and he absolutely knocked it out of the park on every level in last night's finale. I am the luckiest. Can't believe we have 18 behind us and atleast 36 ahead, Mi. Wow. And for those somehow frustrated with the finale not revealing how Jack passed, I would encourage patience. Otherwise you might be watching the wrong show. Last night was fundamental to the bigger picture. The story deviated and ultimately landed on (I think) a more compelling question… what was the state of this relationship in the end? And as Milo so eloquently stated, let's focus on how the man lived! Stay tuned cause it's all leading somewhere and we're just getting started.
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Milo Ventimiglia told Entertainment Weekly the episodes leading up to the reveal of how Jack died could help provide clues to the audience as to exactly what day it happened. The actor didn’t rule out the possibility that viewers have already seen Jack on the day he ultimately dies.
“When people truly, really find out how it is that Jack died, then they’re going to go back and wonder, ‘Well, how did he get there? How did he get to that point in this life or that place in his life, that event in his life, and all of a sudden he is dead?'” Ventimiglia told EW. “And then they’ll cross-reference it: “Well, it should’ve happened this way! There were all these indications.” I think it’s a very clever, engaged audience, and I appreciate it.”
This Is Us returns to NBC in September.
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