You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘This Is Us’: When Will We Learn How Jack Died?

When creator Dan Fogelman first pitched NBC on the arc of “This Is Us,” he promised that every episode would have a watercooler moment that would have people talking the next day.

Recalls Jennifer Salke, NBC’s president of entertainment, “He did say that over the course of time, he would always have those big moments and those big hooks and surprises and reveals, but that they wouldn’t have to be every week because once you’re invested in these characters, a smaller moment could feel as big as those huge moments once you’re totally engrossed in the stories of these characters’ lives and the decisions that they make.”

But no one moment would feel as big as the reveal that the main character, Jack, was dead in the present day. That twist would wind throughout the entire first season, with Fogelman doling out clues like breadcrumbs as to Jack’s ultimate fate. (Who could forget the reveal of the urn in Kate’s living room?)

But the ultimate cause and timing of his death? Viewers are just going have to be patient, he says. He has a plan for answering the question, but it’s not going to come in the March 14 season finale.

“By the time we get to the end of the season, we’ll have done everything exactly as we set out to do,” he tells Variety. “Very few details changed from my initial plan. The second season is going to play out much the same way. Whether we’re going to be able to continue doing that without the audience ever becoming frustrated — that’s going to be one of our biggest challenges.”

But careful watching will be rewarded, he promises. “I describe it a little like pieces of information flying over the air and we let the audience grab them,” he says. “They’re slowly getting the shape of this big event in the family. Did it happen when the kids were in their 30s? Did it happen when the kids were younger? How did it happen? Was it sudden? Was it slow? We’ll get a lot of that information, but the real story of it will play out not in the near, near future. In terms of seeing the moment where something happened to Jack, that’s a little ways away. Where it will be finally all fully revealed, that’s a ways off.”

But what the audience doesn’t know, the cast does — especially Mandy Moore (Rebecca). “Mandy needs to know that,” he explains. “She’s playing an older version of herself. She needs to know when she lost her husband and how it happened.”

It will be “heartbreaking,” promises Moore. “What else can you expect from this show? Heartbreaking in the way that life is heartbreaking. That’s what I love about this show. The way he passes away is going to be heartbreaking for people.”

All the online speculation about Jack’s death, especially the fan fiction, has caught Fogelman by surprise, he admits. “I was expecting it would affect people,” he says. “I just wasn’t expecting the scope of the conversation would get this big.”

WATCH: This Is Us’ Cast on How They Reacted to Jack’s Death

More TV

  • Sacha Baron Cohen

    Why Sacha Baron Cohen Credits Donald Trump for ‘Who Is America?’

    Over the course of history, comedians have shared their take on current events with biting commentary on everything from class and gender to fashion and politics, and the current presidential administration is definitely no exception — with President Donald Trump regularly lampooned on shows like “Saturday Night Live” and by late-night TV hosts. But when [...]

  • Susan Rovner, Brett Paul Named Presidents

    Susan Rovner, Brett Paul Named Presidents of Warner Bros. Television

    Longtime television executives Susan Rovner and Brett Paul have been tapped to become presidents of Warner Bros. Television, ascending from their most recent roles as executive VPs of the studio. This means that they will continue to do double duty, simultaneously serving as presidents of Warner Horizon Scripted Television, roles they have occupied since 2014. [...]

  • Netflix Orders Japanese Animated Series 'Dino

    Netflix Orders Animated Series 'Dino Girl Gauko' From Japan (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has ordered a new kids animated series, “Dino Girl Gauko,” Variety has learned. The program is from creator and showrunner Akira Shigino, who previously served as a director on a number of popular Japanese animated TV series, including “Crayon Shin-chan,” “Line Town,” “Osomatsu-kun,” and a remake of “Yatterman.” The comedy series is set in [...]

  • TV Ad Sales Upfronts

    TV's Upfront Market May Be More Complex Than Networks Expected (EXCLUSIVE)

    TV’s “upfront” ad-sales market has started to simmer. What will be required to bring it to full boil? TV networks and media buyers hope to answer that question in coming weeks – if not days. In this annual market for advance commitments to buy commercial time, Madison Avenue and TV sales executives haggle over the [...]

  • The Rook

    'The Rook,' Shondaland, Ted Sarandos Among Programming for SeriesFest 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    The fifth edition of SeriesFest will deliver panels and programming designed to celebrate individual talent as well as companies who are “taking creative risks and leveraging advances in technology to reimagine storytelling.” On the linup is Starz’s upcoming supernatural thriller “The Rook,” a panel with the creatives behind Shondaland, a look at LGBTQ representation on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content