It's the primary question ahead of Season 2 — a secret more closely guarded than matters of national security. Yes, creator and executive producer Dan Fogelman already has this figured out; and naturally isn't sharing one peep about how Jack meets his maker. But he doesn't have to. We know how. We know exactly how, and it's because of his zodiac sign. Ready? Hold your head as you read this so your brain doesn't explode.
First, we know Jack's birthday, and therefore his zodiac sign, thanks to a scene in Episode 12, "The Big Day." This is when a heavily pregnant Rebecca (Mandy Moore) flips through a calendar and learns she has forgotten her husband's birthday. It's August 31.
Having a birthday on August 31 makes Jack (like this writer!) a Virgo. Whether you know what that means or not — and whether you believe in astrology (like this writer!) or not — Jack being a Virgo makes perfect sense. Virgos are sensitive people people whose natural station in life is to be helpers. Serving others makes them feel good and needed — particularly friends or family, who they'll bend over backwards to help do anything.
That's definitely Jack. Virgos can also be fussy, critical and demanding, and they have a habit of covering up their true feelings until one day, some small thing sets them off and they explode in a messy, uncomfortable way. Jack meets all the above criteria. Remember how he shoved down his anger about Rebecca going on tour, expressing his frustration only to Miguel (Jon Huertas) but later unloading a drunken volcanic eruption of rage at Rebecca when it was too late to speak calmly? Classic Virgo.
What's that got to do with how he dies? Don't be so impatient! (You're an Aries, aren't you?)
First, let's get into how he doesn't die. According to this highly scientific and extremely reputable yet completely unverifiable study summarized on the Internet, Virgos are least likely to die in a car accident. I'll wait while you let that sink in. A great many of us fell for that red herring in the penultimate episode, when the sight of Jack drinking and driving — right after Kate admitted she was responsible for her dad's death — made a fatal drive a possibility. But he lived of course, confirming that Jack will die some other way, and making this astrological prediction good, so far.
Some astrologists say Virgos are most likely to die from health conditions inflicted by stress. They're notorious workaholics and worriers, prone to intestinal troubles and other stuff brought on by carrying heavy mental loads that wear a body down from the inside out. Jack's problem drinking is certainly a consequence of him worrying over, and overthinking everything — a typical Virgo malady. But that's not how he dies. He died when his kids were teenagers, i.e. still pretty young and not from like, Late-Onset Worryin' Disease. Clues suggest Jack's death was sudden, and surprising. So how'd he die?
Jack was murdered.
According to that same study — which mentions that Virgos tend to have serious problems with inter-personal relationships (Oh hey, Jack!) — Virgos are the most likely to die an unnatural death and most likely to be murdered. An "unnatural death" is defined as one that's "unexpected, sudden or not from natural causes — the type that usually comes to the attention of the police, sheriffs and medical examiners." Jack was cremated, you'll remember, and at his funeral, we see a framed photo of his face. It's the type of service loved ones opt for when a) the deceased said they wanted that, or b) the body is not in any shape to be seen. So it's feasible Jack died in some horrible accident.
But it's even more possible that Jack was murdered. Virgo, according to the study, "is the sign most likely to be murdered, coming first in the rankings for being shot or stabbed." Somewhat incredibly, the study says that a Virgo's incessant nagging, overthinking and obsessive list-making can make people to want to kill them, which anyone who's lived with a Virgo would agree with 1000%. This demise sounds right for Jack, and it has nothing to do with pseudoscience.
That's because someone promises to kill him.
In Episode 18 — the season finale, entitled "Moonshadow" — Jack pisses off some scary gangster-looking dudes at a poker game when he wins a big stack of cash and promptly leaves. Before Jack and his pal could even buy a cold brew with their haul, the goons come from out of nowhere, give Jack a beatdown and take his money. One of them says, "Ray sees either one of you again, he'll kill you."
Does the idea that Jack will be killed by some guy he beat at a poker game decades earlier sound too crazy to believe? Maybe. But it's even crazier to think that ominous, serious threat would've been written into the story for nothing. That would disobey the "Chekhov's gun" principle of dramatic writing, which bans unnecessary elements. If you put a loaded gun in the story, the rule goes, said gun has to go off. Writers don't make promises they don't keep. And of all the ways that've been proposed (and debunked), murder still seems the most likely.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Jack's murder is written in the stars.
Also, fellow Virgos: maybe cool it with the nagging? It could get us killed.
This Is Us returns for Season 2 this fall on NBC.