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“This Is Us” Creator Dan Fogelman On Jack’s Death

***SPOILER ALERT – this article contains details about the episode airing 1/24/17***

You already knew that Jack Pearson does not make it to his kids’ 36th birthday. But last night’s episode gave us a little more information – answering the question of “When?” but still not “How?”

Information regarding Jack’s death has come slowly. First we were shocked to see that the “parents” who show up to Randall’s house are Rebecca and Miguel, Jack’s best friend from the flashbacks we’ve seen already. Kevin shares with a widow that he and his father used to make model planes together, but after his dad died he destroyed them.

“This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman originally planned to reveal Jack’s death in episode one, but changed his mind. Fogelman explained last year to Entertainment Weekly:

After we completed the pilot, I realized that people weren’t having a massive reaction to that bit of information. Because at that point in the pilot, you don’t know that Jack is Randall’s father….But bigger than that, yeah, it felt like I wanted to spread out the information in the course of the season. And not drag it out too long where it started getting frustrating, but also not give away at the opening.

The biggest reason I pulled it out was at the end of the second episode, Miguel is showing up at that door, and I wanted people to have the reaction that people had, which is: “What the hell?” And I thought by announcing that Jack was no longer alive, it would ease that in a way that was not good for the show.

Milo Ventimiglia, who plays Jack, said he didn’t even know about Jack’s death until NBC picked up the pilot. He was reassured by the creator that it didn’t mean he was leaving the show, because Jack will remain a part of the story through flashbacks.

Now we have another piece of the puzzle: when Jack dies. We see Kate scrap plans for gastric bypass, instead going to a weight-loss camp. At the camp she confronts her demons, which include the sight of teenaged Kate, Kevin, and Randall at their father’s funeral. The question of “How?” is still yet to come, but as Fogelman said above, he won’t delay the news to the point that viewers get frustrated.

For those fans of the show who can’t wait for Jack’s fate to be revealed, there are plenty of theories floating out there. The big one is that Jack died on 9-11. US Weekly shares the theory:

The theory from [Tumblr] user just-an-outlaw points out that Jack’s kids all seem nervous on planes, plus Kevin (Justin Hartley) destroyed the model airplanes that he had previously constructed with his father.

Could it be? That theory was floated before last night’s episode, and if the Big Three’s 36th birthday happened in present day that would make them 21 when their dad died. That theory might just have been busted.



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