"I am thankful for my family. I'm thankful that we're all safe and there's no one in the world that I'd rather be too hot or too cold with." ― Jack Pearson
October 18, 1948 (11:58 p.m.): Nicky Pearson is born. Almost immediately, Jack Pearson takes full responsibility for keeping his younger brother safe from life in general, and their angry, abusive dad (who wasn’t always that way!) specifically. Mr. Pearson grows more awful by the day, and is especially tough on Nicky, and so Jack spends most of his childhood standing up for his mother and brother.
Jack builds a tree fort for Nicky.
The Pearsons are just out there slicing ice cream like it’s cake. It’s one of the few childhood memories involving Stanley that the Pearson brothers can look back on fondly.
Jack and Nicky hide under the stairs during a particularly awful Pearson-family Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving 1969: Jack and Nicky have the best day ever. Jack and Nicky escape another terrible Thanksgiving and they use Nicky’s football-bet winnings to buy and eat five pounds of shrimp. They end the night with Nicky explaining meaning behind Leonard Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne,” and the brothers promise to make this evening their new Thanksgiving tradition for years to come.
December 1, 1969: Nicky gets drafted into the Vietnam War. Nicky’s birth date gets pulled fifth in the lottery. Jack attempts to help Nicky flee to Canada, but ultimately, Nicky decides he’s not running from this. He becomes a medic in the army and things go bad fast.
1970: Jack enlists in order to save his brother. After receiving a distressing letter from Nicky, Jack decides to enlist, even though he was considered a 4F (unfit for war) due to his irregular heartbeat. Jack gives a speech the doctor about Nicky and the doctor lets him enlist.
Fall 1971: Staff Sergeant Jack Pearson learns a calming trick that will come in handy in the future. After tragedy befalls Jack’s unit, his friend Robinson , who has to be airlifted out after losing his foot, holds Jack’s face and tells him to breathe in order to calm down — something he’ll use when his son Randall starts having anxiety as a child.
November 1971: Jack finds Nicky and takes him under his care. Nicky is struggling — he’s been “Article-15’d” for dangerous behavior, and is not happy to see his brother. He wants to be left alone. Jack pleads with Nicky’s CO to let him take his brother back to the village he’s stationed at for two weeks and try to straighten him out. The CO allows it.
Thanksgiving 1971: Jack receives a very important piece of jewelry. Jack’s time with Nicky is not going well. When a Vietnamese boy in the village gets injured, Nicky refuses to help him and chides Jack when he does. The mother of the boy gives Jack her necklace — a Buddhist symbol of purpose.
The fallout. One morning, while high, Nicky befriends a boy in the village and accidentally blows him up with a grenade. He’s too shocked to explain what happened before he’s medevaced out of Vietnam and lands in a vet hospital for a while. Jack believes his brother did it on purpose and never forgives him. He tells everyone Nicky died in the war.
Jack returns from the Vietnam War. He’s forced to take a series of odd jobs that are at times deflating, and even turns to some high-stakes card-playing.
After Jack & Rebecca Meet
December 23, 1972: That night Jack heard Rebecca singing “Moonshadow” and shrugged off a potential life of crime because he fell in love at first sight . They go on a horrible first date that Jack saves in the end by telling her that she feels like home to him. They have their first kiss.
Jack moves his mother out of their house as his father’s abuse gets worse.
Jack and Rebecca do the dishes together for the first time.
Jack and Rebecca take a road trip to Los Angeles. After like a week of knowing each other, they decide to drive across the country together. They sleep together for the first time. Jack calls Rebecca “Bec”. They dont find Joni Mitchell’s Laurel Canyon home.
Jack and Miguel meet when Jack needs a sport coat for dinner with the Malones at their country club, he walks into a suit store only to be helped by Miguel. Miguel lets him borrow the jacket for the dinner when Jack tells him he can’t afford it.
Jack meets Rebecca’s parents. Jack talks about protecting his brother from the monster in his bedroom,and about Vietnam, and confirming that he’s going to be in Rebecca’s life for a while and he really wins Rebecca over After the meal, Mr. Malone tells Jack that he wont let him to get close to his daughter.
Jack plays golf with Rebecca’s dad and tells him he is marrying his daughter. The golfing doesnt go well and Mr. Malone gets into Jack’s head. So Jack dumps Rebecca because he’s poor.
After a pep talk Mrs. Malone, Rebecca goes after Jack and Rebecca makes an epic speech in the middle of an auto shop and they make up.
1974 Jack gets invited to a get-together to celebrate his lieutenant's engagement. Jack tells the lieutenant, Sheehan, he wants to propose to his girl but wonders if he should first confess the things about the war and his related situation with Nicky that he's lied about or kept from her (including claiming Nicky died). Sheehan says veterans can't let themselves get lost in their memories of the war horrors. Continuing his speech, Sheehan tells Jack he owes his girl the future, not the past; he should separate the war from the life he's building. He urges Jack to propose. Nicky heads toward the bar , the exact moment Jack exits, presumably to go see Rebecca, as he stares at an engagement ring before getting in his car. Nicky doesn't call out… He almost took one small step to change his life, but ultimately failed. One Small Step ...
Jack and Rebecca tie the knot at City Hall.
Jack and Rebecca celebrate their first anniversary in a very Jack and Rebecca way. Rebecca does something nice, and then Jack does something that blows Rebecca’s thing out of the water. This time they go bowling and Rebecca gives Jack a nicely bound journal of his doodlings. Jack turns the bowling alley into their own private dance floor.
Jack gives Rebecca some red dish towels with a bracelet for Christmas.
January 20, 1980: Rebecca gets knocked up in a bar bathroom after Super Bowl XIV.
Jack and Rebecca learn they’re having triplets, they freak out. Jack goes to his estranged father for money so he can afford a house in which the family of five will fit.
Jack and Rebecca have their first meal in their new house. Jack fights a pigeon.
Jack and Rebecca’s friendly neighbors gift them a slow cooker.
On their fourth anniversary, Rebecca gives Jack a hammer engraved with his name and Jack one-ups his wife by … giving her a piano.
August 31, 1980: Jack Pearson’s 36th birthday and Rebecca goes into labor. Jack and Rebecca lost one child, then Jack finds baby Randall in need of a family.
Jack and Rebecca bring the newborn Big Three home. Stressed by an aggressive driver, Jack drinks whiskey and has Rebecca drive them. Each doubting their own parenting ability, they reassure each other.( The Ride)
When the Big Three are infants, Jack vies for a promotion by covering an expensive work dinner. Jack acquiesces to Rebecca's decision to manage the family's finances. I've Got This
Big Three’s first birthday. Jack and Rebecca are having trouble dealing with their grief over losing Kyle a year ago, so they pay Dr. K a visit and beg him for advice. He gives a speech about wrapping tragedy and joy together.
The Pearsons officially adopt Randall.
Jack’s signing a life insurance policy, he makes Miguel promise that should something happen to him, he’d look after Rebecca and the kids.
Jack takes a desk job to make more money.
The Big Three get their big-kid beds.
After Rebecca gives Jack an ultimatum to Jack stop drinking. Jack gets his act together and wins Rebecca’s forgiveness. He also gives her that moon necklace and she promises to never take off.
The Pearsons buy a shiny new Jeep Grand Wagoneer because salesmen are helpless against Jack Pearson’s speech.
Jack visits Little Kate at school.
Jack takes up boxing in order to fight his drinking problem.
The Pearsons attend a school talent show.
Little Kate is so intimidated by her mother’s talent and overbearing enthusiasm, she gives up singing without even trying. Meanwhile, everyone thinks it’s cool for Kevin to do a terrible Mr. T impression.
July 1988: There’s a heat wave in Pittsburgh, and the Pearsons meet Yvette. The gang heads to the local. Randall makes friends with some of the other black kids at the pool.
Jack’s dad dies. It happens while Jack is off on a camping trip with the boys. Rebecca and Kate head to the nursing home, where Rebecca meets her father-in-law, Stanley, for the first time. They reach Jack before Stanley passes, but he wants nothing to do with his dad. Rebecca has to tell Stanley that Jack isn’t coming — she also mentions that Jack is a great father, despite what Stanley did to him.
Jack gives up dreams of his own company so Randall can go to private school.
Jack teaches Randall how to tie a tie.
The Pearson Thanksgiving traditions begin.
Randall joins a dojo.
December 24, 1989: Kate needs an appendectomy.
August 31, 1990: The Big Three celebrate the big 1-0. Rebecca and Jackthrow a big party for Big Three . Kate has some issues with her friends so Jack cheers Kate up with voguing.
October 31, 1990: Kate holds Billy Palmer’s hand while Jack accompany her and Kevin to trick and treating.
Winter 1990-91: The Big Three get the chicken pox and Rebecca outs her mother as a racist.
February 1992: Jack sees Nicky for the last time. After receiving multiple postcards from his estranged brother, Jack goes to see Nicky for the first time since Vietnam, but still does not want to hear Nicky’s side of things. Jack can see Nicky is truly hurting, but his desire to protect his family from some of his demons is stronger than his desire to help his brother. He makes a choice and sticks to it. Nicky never sees Jack again.
Pearson Pizza is invented! Jack feels off after meeting with Nicky. He gets angry with Kate and Randall, but after Jack and the kids do a sequin fight
May 16, 1992: The kids beat Jack at his own gift-giving game. The Big Three throw their parents an anniversary party complete with a meteor shower.
Jack teaches Randall how to box.
The Pearsons go to the cabin for the first time. Randall gets his glasses. Jack tells Kate that she’s his most favorite-looking person in the world .
The Pool sequel. Pearsons go to the pool ahead of seventh grade. Kevin wonders if he’s a good person and Jack teaches Kevin about the Pearson men being “complicated”. Rebecca faces the fact that her kids are growing up and want nothing to do with her
Miguel saves Jack’s ass when Jack is almost fired for messing up at work.
Jack teaches Randall to golf. After seeing Randall take an interest in Tiger Woods, thanks to Mr. Lawrence, Jack wants to relate more to his son. He wants Randall to be prepared for a life that will surely involve wheelin’ and dealin’ on the golf course.
Jack invites Mr. Lawrence and his wife over for dinner.
Fall 1993: The Pearsons bury a time capsule at the cabin. Kate buries a game of MASH, Kevin buries a picture of him and Sophie, Randall picks a puzzle piece, Jack makes a recording about how much he loves Rebecca, and Rebecca secretly buries a sketch Jack drew of his dream house to build near the cabin .
Jack also teaches Randall to run to get through his anxiety.
The Pearsons spend the day in NYC.
Rebecca has a cancer scare and Jack introduces The Tree into the Pearson family history. Rebecca ends up being fine, but not before Jack brings her to “his favorite tree” to calm her down. Of course, he made up the whole story about The Tree and only selected it because it was closest to a payphone, so they could wait there for her test results.
Jack encourages Kevin's weight training, remembering his own father's less supportive approach. Kevin secretly exercises more at night. (Changes)
1994 In eighth grade, Kevin wants to quit football after his coach criticizes him for not knowing the plays. Rebecca would let him; Jack says Rebecca's coddling has made Kevin "soft." Kevin overhears the discussion and asks Randall for help studying the plays.(Honestly)
Teenaged Jack plays Little League Baseball, dreading Stanley's inevitable drunkenness. Stanley demands Jack drive them home; en route, Jack yells at Stanley after continued disparagement over his team's loss. Jack brings eighth-grader Kevin to football camp. Kevin worries football is his only merit, having overheard Jack call him "soft." On learning Kevin's coach calls him "stupid," Jack tells Kevin how Stanley's behavior displaced Jack's love of baseball. He worries he has become like Stanley, but Kevin reassures him he is a better father. Jack orders the coach never to call Kevin "stupid." (There)
Rebecca and Jack take a romantic getaway to the cabin after the eighth-grader Big Three opt out. A burst pipe damages the kids' childhood artwork, embodying Jack's fears that the family is growing apart. Rebecca salvages a paper depicting their five handprints, now running together; she tells him their family will endure despite changes. (In the Room)
Rebecca joins her old band. Jack feels threatened.
Miguel gets a divorce. The news from Miguel throws both Jack and Rebecca into a bit of a spiral.
Rebecca decides to go on tour with her band.Alongside her ex-boyfriend Ben. Jack’s jealousy pushes him back to the bottle.
Rebecca leaves for her tour and Jack goes after her. Jack drives completely drunk all the way to Cleveland.
Rebecca and Jack decide to separate. After an intense screaming match in which Rebecca admits to feeling like a ghost in her own life and Jack calls her “music career” ridiculous, they decide it is best to take a breather. The couple has a discussion with their children, in a diner, about them needing time apart. Kate doesn't react to this news well, and Kevin tries to comfort her. Jack asks Randall to give him and Rebecca time alone. Jack reaches for Rebecca's hand, but she flinches and says that she needs time, and "Soon. We'll talk soon."
Rebecca and Jack decide not to separate. Rebecca shows up at Miguel’s door looking for her husband. Jack admits he’s been drinking again. He’s an alcoholic and he needs help. Rebecca gets her reluctant husband in the car and promises him that in a few months, everything will be better.
Jack goes to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Rebecca takes Jack on a romantic date. At first, it bombs. But Jack finally begins to open up to Rebecca about some of the pain he’s feeling, and the two chat in the car.Jack and Rebecca find a stray dog outside of their home.
Randall visits Howard University with Jack.
Kevin shatters his knee and his dream. When he gets hurt during a high-school game and told he’ll never play again. The only one who can really comfort him is his dad. Jack tells Kevin if he could take on his son’s pain for him, he would. He passes on the Buddhist necklace he got while in Vietnam.
Jack’s last Thanksgiving. He and Miguel have a heart-to-heart about Miguel not giving up on being part of his kids’ lives.
Family mall trip. Kate and Rebecca go to buy a dress, Randall asks Allison out with a Magic 8-Ball, Kevin realizes the sacrifices Jack has made for him, and Rebecca and Jack forget to pick up batteries for the smoke detectors in the house.
January 25, 1998: Super Bowl XXXII. On this night the children are out at various parties for the first time instead of staying home to celebrate and watch the event with their parents. Jack and Rebecca stay home to watch the game together, later on agreeing that Rebecca should join him as his partner in the future Big Three Homes business venture. They go upstairs to make love and fall asleep.
A little later, Jack wakes up and sees Kate and Randall have returned home. He goes downstairs to clean up the kitchen, including turning off the old, quirky crockpot an elderly couple had gifted to them when they had moved in years ago. Jack returns to bed; unbeknownst to him, the crockpot clicks back on and sparks a fire. Later, Jack wakes up to the smell of smoke and opens the bedroom door to see flames have already engulfed the house. He yells at Rebecca to wake up, the house is on fire, and to wet the towels and bedsheets.
He screams across the hallway for Kate and Randall to wake up but wait for him to retrieve them. He goes for Randall first, bringing him back to the master bedroom at the front of the house. He goes to Kate's room, but the flames are getting bigger and harder to avoid. He has to strip her mattress and use it as a shield to cross back to the master bedroom.
Jack verifies that Kevin is not home before they make their way onto the porch roof just outside the window. He lowers Randall to the ground first so he can help get Rebecca and Kate down safely. Jack hears Kate screaming for her dog, Louie, who is still inside; Jack realizes he is probably close enough to get him. Jack goes back inside the house. He is able to retrieve the dog along with a pillowcase full of photo albums, the important things, and exit the house from the front door.
January 26, 1998 The firefighters and paramedics arrive, and they instruct that Jack to the hospital immediately for further evaluation since he took in quite a bit of smoke. The couple is focused on getting their kids to Miguel's house first before they go to the ER. Once they get to the ER, the doctor is shocked at how well Jack is doing despite the smoke he took in, saying he has minimal swelling. As Rebecca goes out to the lobby to get some snacks from the vending machine, Jack suddenly goes into cardiac arrest―and does not survive. The doctor notifies Rebecca that Jack has died, but she has trouble grasping the reality of it until she sees Jack's lifeless body on the bed. She breaks down.
Jack is cremated (a flashback revealed that Jack didn't want to be buried in the ground and instead wanted to be outside).
January 31, 1998 A memorial service is held for the loved ones before Rebecca takes their children to "Jack's Tree"; there, they spread some of his ashes at the base of it to honor his wishes. At some point, Kate gains possession of Jack's urn which she keeps in her living room so he is always with her.
He was married to Rebecca Pearson, and it is unknown if he had any romantic relationships with anyone else. He met Rebecca in a bar soon after he had returned from the war. Low on money and trying to leave his abusive father's home, he was at a bar with a friend where he had planned to steal money from the register while his friend distracted the bartender. Rebecca came on stage to sing, and he got distracted watching her ("Moonshadow") .
Once she finished, he asked her to join him at the local carnival despite having only $9. It was a pathetic first date which he admitted, and Rebecca agreed to give it another try. When he showed up at her house the next day, he saw her kissing another man and drove off. After a chance meeting at a grocery store later, Jack spontaneously agreed to accompany Rebecca on a road trip to LA.
They became intimate during the trip. Jack and Rebecca got married at City Hall. He introduced Rebecca to football and the Steelers at the local watering hole, Froggy's, where they liked to frequent for sporting events. During the 1980 Super Bowl, Jack convinced Rebecca to have children, and they conceived the triplets in the bathroom at Froggy's.
Jack and Rebecca were deeply in love and happy for the most part throughout their marriage, embodying the perfect married couple to their children, particularly Randall who wanted what his parents had one day. It wasn't until the children were seventeen that their relationship started to get bumpy. Jack had started drinking again (after being sober for many years), and he and Rebecca took a brief break from each other. Rebecca made Jack come back home because she wanted to be there for him this time while he got his addiction back under control.
Their marriage started to smooth out again with Jack digging up his old dream about starting his own construction company and wanting to bring on his wife as his partner. Tragically, the dream never went further than this, and Jack's death left Rebecca a grieving widow for nearly a decade before she found love again with his best friend, Miguel.
Jack often called Kate "Katie Girl." He couldn't stand seeing her sad and often bought her ice cream and other sweets to comfort her. Jack had a special bond with Kate which was always shown in multiple flashbacks. Jack couldn't bear the thought of disappointing his little girl which was one of the reasons he died. He bravely went back into the flames surrounding the Pearson house to retrieve Kate's dog, Louie, and some family mementos. Kate is the sibling most affected by his death, as she blames herself for it. Kate is in current possession of Jack's urn.
Jack helped Randall with his anxiety as a child by doing breathing exercises with him. Randall looks up to his father. Jack put his dreams on hold of opening his own business, so Randall could go to a prestigious private school. Randall sees his father as the perfect example of a great dad and husband, dreaming of one day having a family as Jack did. Randall feels guilty for allowing his father to go back inside the house.
Kevin was his father's #1, the nickname derived from Kevin being born first. Kevin often felt like neither of his parents had any time to focus solely on him since Kate had a weight/eating problem and Randall was adopted. Kevin had a special bond with his father, he supported his football career, his relationships, and always made the time to make model airplanes with him.
When Kevin injured his knee during a football game, effecting ending the possibility of a professional football career, Jack passed on his necklace to him, explaining it had helped Jack during the lowest point in his life and now it would help his son find his purpose like it did for him. Following his death, Kevin was very angry at his father so he threw all of the airplanes away. Kevin feels guilt for his father's death because they were in a fight the night of the fire and never got a chance to say goodbye to him. Kevin still wears his father's necklace to this day and never takes it off, but he doesn't openly grieve his dad as Kate does. As Randall explains, Kevin avoids it instead.
Jack and Nicky had a difficult childhood. Jack did all he could to protect his brother when they were children. As adults, he didn't hesitate to enlist to join Nicky in the Vietnam War after Nicky was drafted. He found his brother in Vietnam after Nicky had become addicted to drugs in order to forget the things he had seen (similar to how Jack later drinks to forget his own demons). He attempts to rehabilitate his brother but gives up when Nicky kills a child. Unbeknownst to Jack, it had been an accident, but since he didn't know this, he severs all ties with Nicky. Years later after Jack has his own family, Nicky attempts to reach out to him via postcards. When he sends a final postcard to Jack's house, Jack visits his brother but refuses to talk about the war. He shows Nicky a picture of his wife and children, and Nicky agrees to stay out of Jack's life. They never speak again.
Jack and Miguel were best friends and worked together for many years.
Notes and Trivia
- He was an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
- He shared a birthday with his children.
- Jack was dead in the 'modern-day' timeline ever since the series was created. The producers commented, "Having Jack be gone in the present day gives so much to the [adult] kids [to play with].”
- He would tend to his mustache meticulously, to the point where he once missed one of Kevin's soccer games when he (Kevin) was five.
- He would go to the local gym to box in order to take his mind off of his personal demons.
- Jack was terrified of birds.
"You've asked me a question before, you wonder what I love about you now, So I'm gonna start with the obvious. I love the mother that you are. I love that you are still the most beautiful woman in any room and that you laugh with your entire face. I love that you dance funny, not sexy, which makes it even sexier, but most of all, I love that you are still the same woman who all those years ago ran out of a blind date because she simply had to sing. You're not just my great love story, Rebecca, you are my big break. And our love story? I know it may not feel like it right now, baby, but I promise you, it's just getting started." -Jack Pearson
"Sometimes they'll make good decisions. Sometimes bad decisions. And every once in a while, they're gonna do something that's gonna knock us off our feet. Something that exceeds even our wildest dreams. Our kids are gonna be fine. Me? I can't go back to who I was before I met you." -Jack Pearson
"The kids are gonna be fine. We've shown them a healthy marriage. This is just gonna be a blip on their radar years from now. We're their parents, Bec, but at the end of the day, what happens to them, how they turn out, it's bigger than us." Jack Pearson "Next week, we're going back to that bar and we're going to get our money back. One way or another. I'm going to take the life I was supposed to have instead of waiting for it to come and find me." -Jack Pearson
"I got this at a very hopeless time in my life. Someone very special gave it to me back in Vietnam. It’s a Buddhist symbol of purpose. I was feeling very lost when I got that. But I put it on and I moved forward. And you know when I was wearing it? The day you were born. The moment you came out, my number one. And when I held you, for the first time, right here in this hospital, it hit me like a bolt of lightning. You were my purpose, Kevin. And I swear to you, son, I swear to you, you will find yours." -Jack Pearson
"You got to own your choices, boys. Choose them fully and don’t look back." -Jack Pearson
"You’re gonna find your balance, Randall. And then you’re gonna lose it, and then you’re gonna find it again. That’s the ride. And you’re gonna make a lot of choices, and I’m probably not gonna be around for all of them. The choices you make are gonna be spectacular, because you are spectacular, son." -Jack Pearson
“You’re not just my great love story, Rebecca. You were my big break. And our love story, I know it may not feel like it right now, but baby, I promise you, it’s just getting started.” -Jack Pearson
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