This Is Us has already proven that it can make you cry at the drop of a hat, but it can also get confusing with the multiple timelines.
The show switches back and forth between the present day (and sometimes the ambiguous future) and the past to show how the Pearson children's upbringing has influenced their journeys as adults. While the present timeline stays linear, the stories from the past that center on Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) hop around to different milestones in the family's past.
TVGuide.com is here to help keep track of those important Pearson family moments. We've gone back through each episode and made a timeline of the major events that have occurred so far. The timeline will be updated as new stories unfold or currently ambiguous dates are solidified. Spoilers are ahead, but you also might want to grab a box of tissues just in case bringing some of these things up causes the tears to flow.
~ 1975: Jack and Rebecca meet
This is speculation because the show hasn't revealed the actual date of the meet-cute of the show's central couple, but the pilot has a box that says "Family photos '75-79," which suggests that Jack and Rebecca either met or got married around that time.
~ 1979: William Meets Randall's biological mother
We know that William (Ron Cephas Jones) and Randall's (Sterling K. Brown) mother had a courtship before they got addicted to drugs or she became pregnant. We only know when Randall was born, so we speculate that William and Randall's mother met on the bus in approximately 1979.
- Sunday, Jan. 20, 1980: The twins are conceived
Thanks to Kate, we know that the twins were conceived on Superbowl Sunday of 1980. Jack and Rebecca had sex in the bathroom of the bar after the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the L.A. Rams 31-19.
~ May 1980: Jack goes to his father for money to buy Rebecca a house
When Rebecca is four months pregnant, she and Jack realize they are having triplets and need a much bigger living space than the apartment they're renting. Rather than move in with Rebecca's parents, Jack sucks up his pride and goes to his abusive father to ask for a loan so that he can buy Rebecca the house he'll refurnish into a home for her and their kids.
- Aug. 31 1980: The kids are born / Rebecca and Jack lose their third child
The show premiered on the Pearson children's 36th birthday — Sept. 20, 2016. The date would have made Rebecca eight months pregnant, but both Rebecca and Jack were surprised when her water broke and early deliveries are very common for multiple birth pregnancies. It was also established that Randall was born on the same day as the twins, making this his birthday too. Unfortunately, it was also the day that the third triplet died.
~ Late September/Early October 1980: Rebecca asks William to stay away from Randall
We don't know the exact day that Rebecca tracked down William, but we know it was shortly after she and Jack left the hospital with the babies, which would put their important meeting about a week after the kids were born. Rebecca asking William to stay away from his biological son would have a very big impact on Randall growing up, and thus is a key moment in not only Rebecca's and William's lives, but their son's.
~ 1982/1983: Jack takes a cubicle job
The show didn't specifically say how old the kids were when Jack went from building homes to office management, but we know they were toddlers. Jack taking a desk job where he has to wear a tie every day was a big sacrifice that he made for his family to make sure he could provide for them.
- Spring 1989: Jack quits drinking
The kids are 8 years old when Jack decides to stop drinking and step up to be a better dad, meaning the decision happened after Sept. 20, 1988. We know that this milestone happens only shortly before Episode 4, "The Pool," because Jack mentions how serious he is about not drinking in that episode.
- Summer 1989: "The Pool" — Kate loses her self-confidence and Rebecca reaches out to find Randall black play mates
The Pearson family day at the pool in the late '80s became an influential moment for their children. It was the day that Kate's (Chrissy Metz) friends told her that her weight embarrassed them. It was also the day that Rebecca realized how lonesome Randall had become being the only black kid growing up in a white suburb.
- Fall 1989: Randall starts his new school
We know that Randall was transferred to his new school for gifted kids after Kate already established insecurities about her weight, which would place it after "The Pool." The new school was a big moment for Randall because he realized he couldn't be just like his brother and sister, and it was also when Jack put off starting "Big Three Homes" for the first time.
~ Late fall 1989: Rebecca meets William for a second time
Randall starts asking about his biological parents at around 9 years old, prompting Rebecca to reach out to William once more. However, she gets cold feet at the last minute and writes to William to say she's not interested in letting him have a relationship with Randall because he already has an amazing father. This is the event that will lead to Randall finding out about Rebecca and William's relationship 27 years later.
- Thursday, Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving) 1989: The Pearson family traditions are born
During a disastrous road trip to see Rebecca's parents, the Pearsons end up stuck in a cabin on the interstate with no Thanksgiving dinner — but Jack proves himself to be the best dad ever and manages to rally everyone to a Thanksgiving they'll remember forever. It is on this night that the annual hike, hot dogs with cheese and saltines, watching Police Academy 2 and saying what you're thankful for with the yarn from Kate's sweater were born.
- Dec. 24, 1989: Kate has her appendix taken out
Kate is rushed to the hospital after she complains of stomach aches and Jack realizes she's running a high fever. She has her appendix taken out as Jack and Rebecca realize that Dr. K (Gerald McRaney) is also a patient in the hospital. Both Kate and Dr. K make it through their surgeries successfully.
- Aug. 31, 1990: Kevin falls in love with Sophie
Kevin's first love was Kate's childhood best friend, Sophie. He decides that he loves her at the Big 3's tenth birthday party — a Princess Bride/Madonna themed bashed designed just to impress the 10 year old. We find out later that Kevin and Sophie later get married.
~ Fall of 1993: Kevin officially moves out of Randall's room / Secretary flirts with Jack
The teenage years serve only to further the distance between Kevin and Randall and the eldest Pearson child decides to bail on his adopted brother and live in the basement after they get into a fight at a football game. Meanwhile, a secretary takes an interest in Jack at his office.
~ 1996/1997: Jack ruins Rebecca's tour and admits he's an alcoholic
We know that Rebecca left for tour when the kids were too young to drive themselves to a sleepover, making them 15 or 16. Jack dropped the kids off and then drove to Rebecca and ruined the tour by punching her ex-boyfriend in the face. That leads to a huge fight and they separate for a day before Jack admits that he's an alcoholic and Rebecca promises to help him fix it. It's implied this is only months before his death.
~ Spring of 1998: Jack dies in Pearson family home fire
After the Season 2 premiere, we know that Jack died in a fire at the house when the Big 3 were 17. Rebecca is wearing short sleeves when she picks up Jack's personal effects and the flashback to the funeral in Season 1 implied that it was sometime in Spring due to the lush scenery surrounding the memorial service and the light clothing.
- Aug. 31, 2016: Kate's, Kevin's and Randall's 36th Birthday
Not only is this the kick-off point of the series, but it also began new journeys for each of the characters. It was the day that Kate began her new weight-loss journey and met Toby, the man who could end up being her true love. It was the day Kevin (Justin Hartley) quit The Manny and decided to pursue a career that better fit his artistic integrity. For Randall, it was the day he finally went to meet his biological father, William.
~ Early Oct. 2016: We learn Rebecca has remarried
A few weeks after Randall's 36th birthday, Rebecca visits him with her new husband Miguel (Jon Huertas). We still haven't learned when or why Rebecca and Miguel first became an item, but this was the first time the audience learned that she was no longer with Jack.
- November 21, 2016: Beth finds out about Rebecca and William / Randall and Kevin break ground /
During a night of hanging out and smoking weed, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) finds out that William has known Rebecca since Randall was born. She decides to keep the secret to give Rebecca a chance to come clean to Randall. Meanwhile, Randall and Kevin finally have an honest conversation about their relationship and make the first steps towards becoming real brothers.
- Nov. 23, 2016: Kate dumps Toby
Kate realizes she can't deal with Toby's binge eating relapse and decides to end their relationship so that she can focus on her own weightloss goals.
- Nov. 24, 2016 (Thanksgiving): Randall discovers Rebecca and William's secret
Randall makes a quick trip to Philadelphia to retrieve some belongings of William's, and it's there he discovers a letter from Rebecca that proves that his mother and biological father have known each other since he was a baby. He confronts his mother at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
-Nov. 25, 2016: The Pearson kids return to the family cabin
After finding out that Rebecca plans to sell the family cabin, Randall, Kate and Kevin all head up there to get some space and allow Randall to start processing the gigantic truth bomb he had dropped on him. While there, Randall accidentally drinks a smoothie laced with hallucinogenic mushrooms and has an imaginary conversation with his father, Jack. Jack is able to help his adopted son understand why Rebecca kept the secret for so long, but Randall still isn't able to forgive her. Kevin also sleeps with his playwright Sloan for the first time.
- Dec. 24, 2016: Toby collapses / The Pearsons meet William's boyfriend
Toby decides that he can't live without Kate and flies all the way to New Jersey from LA to tell her that. Unfortunately, the flight has unforseen complications for Toby's health and he collapses in the middle of Randall's living room. He is rushed to the hospital but it is unclear whether he lives or not.
This is the same day where William also brings his "friend" to spend Christmas Eve with the family, and we discover they were lovers until William came to live with Randall.
~ Spring of 2017: William dies
William requests that Randall take him on a trip to Memphis to see his hometown. While they are there, William collapses and dies in the hospital, leaving Randall to drive home by himself.
- Aug. 31, 2017: Beth and Randall agree to adopt an older child / Kate goes on her first professional singing audition
Randall wants to adopt a child to honor his two fathers. He thinks that a newborn is the way to do it but Beth convinces him that if they are going to do this right then they should take in a kid that no one else cares about. They begin looking for their new child that night.
Meanwhile, Kate continues to pursue her dream of singing by going to her first professional audition. She doesn't make the cut, but it's because she can't sing well enough instead of because of her weight and that's a huge win for her.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.