‘This Is Us’ Fans React To Bombshell Nicky Pearson Cliffhanger That No One Saw Coming

Ron BatzdorffNBC

Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from the This Is Us Season 3 episode “The End Is the Beginning is the End.”

This Is Us fans will have a lot to chew on over the show’s six-week hiatus. The NBC drama threw a major curveball at fans with a cliffhanger ending that revealed Jack Pearson’s (Milo Ventimiglia) beloved brother Nicky (Michael Angarano) is alive and living in Pennsylvania.

While the This Is Us writers have long hinted that Nicky Pearson died in the Vietnam War, the fall finale episode ended with a shot of an older, bespectacled man living in a home in Bradford, Pennsylvania. A close-up of a piece of mail addressed to Nicholas Pearson confirmed that Nicky is alive, shortly after a present-day Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley) was told by a Vietnamese guide that there was no record of a deceased Nicholas Pearson, 46th Infantry, in the war memorial database.

It is unclear if Nicky Pearson faked his death or if his brother was in on it. But in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, This Is Us star Michael Angarano said the biggest tragedy from the storyline is that Jack Pearson may have died believing he was unable to save his brother.

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It’s no surprise that This Is Us fans had a huge reaction to the shocking Vietnam War twist and the possibility that a broken-hearted Jack died with the belief that his brother died in the war. Others pointed to a scene last season in which Jack got emotional when looking at a name at the Vietnam War memorial.

You can see some of the social media response to the latest This Is Us twist below.

This Is Us executive producer Isaac Aptaker told the Hollywood Reporter fans won’t have to wait long to get the remaining pieces to the Pearson brothers’ Vietnam story, revealing it will play out “pretty immediately” when the show returns in January.

“We’re going to pick right up in the New Year with Kevin continuing on this quest to get answers. He’s armed with this tiny shred of information that he’s gotten from this hotel clerk, that his uncle didn’t in fact die in Vietnam. It’s about what he does with that nugget of information to start peeling back the layers of this mystery and trying to get some answers. That’s the immediate drive of our first couple of episodes back.”

Aptaker also confirmed that viewers will see an elderly Nicky Pearson before the third season of the NBC drama ends.

We will be seeing grown-up Nicky relatively soon in the back half of our season.”

As for why Nicky and Jack may have never spoken to each other again after the war, Angarano told EW, “You’re going to find an answer to that question very soon…. I think Jack carries enough guilt with him to never mention Nicky or want to speak about the situation. This ends in a way in which Jack never wants to talk about it ever again, and rightfully so.”

You can see the surprising ending to the This Is Us fall finale episode below.

This Is Us returns to NBC on January 15.