The show of the moment is This Is Us, and, as it returns for its second season on Sept. 26, the mystery of the moment is figuring out just how Jack Pearson — the patriarch to end all patriarchs — dies. Viewers know he is not alive in the present timeline segments of the show, but we don’t know why or when he kicks it. Considering that the show has made him as close to perfect as possible, fans are in a tizzy about trying to find out when Jack Pearson dies. (We need to be prepared OK?) Therefore, fans have plenty of theories about how Jack dies for This Is Us Season 2.
But before we dive into the best ones, let’s talk about what we already know, because sometimes the timeline of this show can get confusing. Jack is dead (duh), Kate thinks that she killed him (why, we still don't know), and his ashes live in Kate’s house, where she and the ashes watch the Pittsburg Steelers every Sunday during football season. Jack and Rebecca were together when he died, and the kids were young adults at the funeral, so there lies a more accurate timeline of when he died. Creator and producer Dan Fogelman said that Season 2 will fill in some more of the blanks, according to Entertainment Weekly. “The first episode of the season holds not all the answers but a huge piece of the puzzle,” Fogelman said a panel before the Emmy Awards, per EW. He continued on, noting that Jack’s death will be answered “over the course of the season, [but] that’s not to say new questions won’t start being asked.” When asked about the many “Jack’s death” fan theories that litter the Internet, Fogelman said that none of them were “in the vicinity of being right.”
Is Fogelman telling the truth, though? Spoilers for Lost and Pretty Little Liars ahead. Is this like when the producers of Lost said that the show wouldn’t end with all of the characters dead or in purgatory when, in fact, the show ended with all of the characters being released from purgatory because they were dead? Pretty Little Liars ended with a twin reveal, and I. Marlene King stayed mum until the very end, even though many predicted Spencer and her sister early on. It would ruin a show to say, “Yes, you guessed how the show is going to end,” so Fogelman could be trying to throw everyone off the scent.
Speaking of theories, here are some of the best ones trying to get to the bottom of Jack’s death.
Jack Died In A Plane Crash
A few theories floated around last year about Jack dying in 9/11. Kate and Kevin both hate planes, and this would make sense if their dad was killed in a plane crash. But as the Pearson Big Three were teens/young adults at Jack's funeral, that puts his death in the 1990s. But there was another big plane crash in the Pittsburgh (their hometown) area around that time — USAir Flight 427, traveling from Chicago to Pittsburgh, crashed during landing at Pittsburgh International Airport, killing everyone on board. If any plane crash theory of Jack's death makes sense, it's this one — the timeline works out and it's in the right place. Given that the kids were teens at the end of Season 1, this could happen in Season 2.
Jack Died From Dementia Or Alzheimer's
Reddit user Ts8579 noted that in the "Best Washing Machine Ever" episode in Season 1, Jack seems like he's losing his memory a bit — he "forgot to kiss Rebecca good bye, forgot to tell her about the deal he was closing, forgot Kevin's number (12), [and] forgot they didn't eat dinner." He was also tired just from watching a football game. When Kate told Toby about her dad's death, she said he got sick, and according to HopkinsMedicine.org, early onset Alzheimer's can affect people in their 30s and 40s. A slow season 1 decline could show its face in Season 2.
Jack Was Murdered
If you want an elaborate death theory, TV Guide has one for you! Apparently, Jack is a Virgo, and Virgos are allegedly prone to being murdered (the study TV Guide cites is dubious at best, though). In the Season 1 finale, Jack and his buddy go to a poker game, win, and then get beat up, but not after being told, "Ray sees either one of you again, he'll kill you." Season 2 could bring money trouble or Jack falling further off the wagon, and Ray, should he still be alive, could have followed through on that promise.
Jack Died From Complications From Alcoholism
A few theorists have honed in on this one, and it's easy to see why — Jack had problems with alcohol earlier in his life, and at the end of Season 1, he's back on the bottle, even driving drunk to Rebecca's concert. According to Buzzfeed user taylormariel2, at the beginning of the season, Randall says something to William about not wanting another sick father. Kate also makes reference to Jack getting sick. If it were cancer, they would call it cancer — William had it, after all. But this is more insidious, and it could be that Jack drank himself to death. This Is Us showed Jack falling off the wagon in Season 1, and Season 2 could be the real end.
Jack Died In A Fire
Everything on This Is Us is intertwined, and they don't just add characters out of nowhere. That's why reddit users FullOfHope30 and Malhavoc430 think Jack died in a fire of some sort and viewers will see the fireman that brought Randall to the hospital once more. Why give that fireman a whole episode arc if you're not going to do anything with him again? The fireman wants to do something great, and while bringing Randall to the hospital was indeed great, he could try to save Jack. Also, the show never really explains why the family ditches Pittsburgh and moves — the house could have burnt down, sending them packing in Season 2 and beyond to escape the memories.
Is all of this guessing for naught? In an interview with Us Weekly, Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin, said that viewers will never guess Jack's fate. "It's unexpected and it's extremely heartbreaking and sad and deep and moving and, ugh, it's painful. It's painful. It'll stay with you," he said. Great! Can't wait to cry my eyes out in Season 2 of This Is Us.