Since the moment This Is Us revealed superdad Jack was not alive in the present, fans have been trying to figure out what happened to the beloved character. Now Tumblr, via Buzzfeed, has unearthed the most troubling theory about This Is Us' Jack's death yet. Did the Pearson family patriarch die during the 9/11 attacks? Some fans believe the Big Three's plane fixation points to yes.
Before you start sobbing, there are a few things to consider. The most recent episode of the NBC tearjerker revealed Kate, Kevin, and Randall were teenagers at the time of their father's passing. That's not exactly a specific date, but since the kids were born in 1980, that means they lost their father roughly sometime between 1994 and 2000 — unless the show was being sneaky about the age range of The Big Three during the funeral scene. Doing the math, that means Jack most likely died before 2001.
Still, that doesn't explain the recurring theme of planes throughout Season 1. Both Kate and Kevin appear to be nervous about flying. Meanwhile, Kevin destroyed all of his model airplanes at some point in his childhood. The Pearson family is anti-plane for some reason, and if their father was on one of the doomed flights during the 9/11 terror attacks it would explain why air travel stirs up so much anger and fear in them.
Tying the loss of Jack to the 9/11 attacks feels like a step too far, even for This Is Us. The show has no problem playing on its viewers emotions, but mixing Jack up in the turmoil of 9/11 not only doesn't mesh with the timeline, it seems like a stretch to attach his death to an event that affected all Americans. I can't rule it out, but this is one theory that just feels off.
What does make sense is the plane connection. Jack's death could involve air travel unrelated to 9/11. There is no denying the show played up Kate's fear of flying for a reason, and if you go back to the pilot episode, Kevin remembers the Challenger explosion of 1986 as a pivotal moment in his childhood. Remember, as Kevin explained to his nieces, everything and everyone is connected, which makes this recurring theme feel like an ominous bit of foreshadowing for the biggest tragedy of the Pearson family's lives.
Rather than a crash, it could very well be Jack's heart that ended his life. Kate's reaction to Toby's fear of surgery and his own heart trouble after a flight, could be a bit of history repeating itself. Maybe Jack did die on a plane — that doesn't necessarily mean the plane crashed though.
However the Big Three lost their dad, it is going to be a heartbreaking reveal. This Is Us loves its twists, but just knowing Jack's death is looming in the future is tragic enough. There's not a theory out there that can truly prepare fans for Jack's big goodbye.