Justin Hartley Says ‘This Is Us’ Fans Won’t Be Left Hanging Over Toby’s Fate

Justin Hartley says This Is Us fans won’t have to wait long to find out if their prayers for Toby worked. In an interview with TV Guide, Hartley, who plays Kevin Pearson on the hit NBC drama, said even he was blindsided by the show’s fall finale, but he promises fans won’t be kept waiting when it comes to the fate of Chris Sullivan’s character, who collapsed and was rushed to the hospital at the end of last week’s episode.

“I was pretty shocked,” Justin said of Toby’s midseason finale fate. “I didn’t see it coming. You know, it was that typical a-la-This Is Us style where they sort of give you that cliffhanger at the end. You’d think that by now I would’ve seen it coming, but I didn’t. And poor Toby, man! I mean of all people, he’s a good guy!”

[mage by Mike Windle/Getty Images for People]

The This Is Us midseason finale spawned the viral #PrayforToby hashtag as fans made it clear they couldn’t deal with another crushing blow, especially right before the holidays. While Hartley’s TV mom, Rebecca Pearson (Mandy Moore) promised her kids “nothing bad ever happens on Christmas Eve,” that sentiment was so 1980s. Fast forward to 2016, and something bad did happen.

Hartley hinted that the tragedy will “hopefully” pull the Pearson family even closer together, especially Kevin and his twin sister, Kate (Chrissy Metz).

“I think whenever any kind of hardship or tragedy comes along, it usually pulls a family closer together, or at least hopefully,” Justin told TV Guide. “These two are already so insanely close that I think he feels a lot of her pain and he wants to be there for her, and so it will probably keep them as close as they ever were. He’ll try to be there for her as much as he can.”

While fans will have to wait a few weeks to find out if Toby lives or dies (This is Us resumes in early January), Hartley told Entertainment Tonight the Toby storyline will not drag out over the second half of the season.

“I can tease the fact that you will find out right away what happens to him,” Justin told ET. “It’s not like we’re going to drag it out and all that, so you find out right away what happens to him.”

Hartley added that the This Is Us scripts are constantly surprising him, pointing out that even the most beloved characters may not be safe.

“I was like, what are we all of a sudden: Game of Thrones?” Justin joked.

“We’re killing off lead actors on our show? But it kept me up at night and no one’s safe. No one’s safe at This Is Us, but it’s amazing storytelling. You fall in love with these characters and then these tragedies happen.”

[Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly]

Speaking of tragedies, This Is Us fans already know that Justin Hartley’s TV dad, played by Milo Ventimiglia, won’t make it to the year 2016. Ventimiglia told ET that the impending death of his character, Jack, will hurt fans in a major way, but that Jack’s sad story probably won’t play out anytime soon.

“It’s going to hurt real bad!” Ventimiglia told ET of the circumstances surrounding his character’s death.

“I think it’s going to be a ways off. You’re going to forget about it, you’re going to get wrapped up in the lives of Jack and Rebecca and the big three, and then when you’ve forgotten that he’s gone, we’re going to hit you with it and it’s going to crush you.”

You can see the final scene of the This Is Us midseason finale, “Last Christmas,” below.

You can see Justin Hartley, Milo Ventimiglia and the rest of the cast when This Is Us returns Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

[Featured Image by Mark Davis/Getty Images]