'This Is Us': Keeping Track of the Timeline (So Far)

THR breaks down the key moments in the Pearson family ahead of the show's midseason return.
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

There are several ways to keep track of the various storylines on This Is Us; namely, the length of Milo Ventimiglia’s facial hair and hairstyle during any given year. Through the NBC drama's first 10 episodes, the storyline has jumped from the early 1980s, the late '80s, the early '90s and all the way to the present day to showcase the trials and tribulations of the Pearson family and all the characters they encounter along the way.

Heading into Tuesday’s midseason premiere, THR compiled a handy timeline of all the major story points so far and when they have taken place in a bid to serve as a mini refresher for the Dan Fogelman drama's return. 

January 1980: The triplets are conceived

The Super Bowl will never be the same, at least not to Jack (Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore). Since the Steelers' big win that year clearly wasn’t enough of a celebration for the young lovebirds, they also happened to conceive the triplets that night…in the bar bathroom, of all places.

Aug. 31, 1980: The Big Three are born

The end of the summer officially marks a big birthday for Jack, Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown). As viewers first saw in the twisty pilot, that’s the day the Big Three were born, which coincidentally also happened to be Jack’s birthday.

Early 1980: Rebecca meets William

Life with one newborn is tough; life with three newborns is pretty much impossible…especially if one of those babies is adopted and isn’t adjusting as well as the other two. It took just a few months for Rebecca to finally seek out William (Ron Cephas Jones) after glimpsing him outside of the hospital, but once she did, Randall’s life went down a whole new path.  

Spring 1989: Jack stops drinking

The couple that viewers fell in love with during the pilot wasn’t as picture perfect as they first appeared to be. Eight years or so after the Big Three arrived Jack had some personal demons haunting him. His drinking drove a huge wedge in his marriage, forcing him to sober up in order to make things work and get back on track.

Fall 1989: Randall goes to a gifted school

Poor Randall never wanted anything more than to fit in with his family, but it was obvious that he was different from his brother and sister from the beginning. After trying to hide his smarts from everyone, including his parents, Randall finally owned up to them when he was sent to a gifted school.

November 1989: The Pearson Thanksgiving tradition is born

Nine years from the time Dr. K (Gerald McRaney) advised Jack to make lemonade from lemons, the Pearson family turned the most horrible Thanksgiving experience into a tradition for the ages. Many hot dogs, cheese slices and bad movies later, and it continues to be a cherished time for this family.

December 1989: Kate’s appendix is taken out

It seems like the Pearsons have a history of turning bad holidays around; Christmas eve 1989 could have easily fallen apart when Kate was rushed to the hospital with appendicitis. Instead, the visit not only spawned magic mistletoe and the saying that “Nothing bad happens on Christmas Eve,” but it also marked another great Pearson family-Dr. K reunion.

August 2016: The Big Three turn 36

They say 35 is a big birthday, but for the Big Three their 36th year — which also happens to be how old Jack was when they were born — was a turning point in some pretty unique ways. Kate decided to lose the weight, Kevin faced an existential crisis and Randall found his birth father. (To that point, 36 was at one point an unofficial title for This Is Us.)

September 2016: Kevin quits The Manny, moves to New York

Speaking of existential crisis, Kevin’s Manny meltdown wasn’t a one-time thing. Despite urging from his agent (Katey Sagal) to suck it up and apologize, Kevin decided enough was enough. And so he bid farewell to L.A. and the small screen, and headed to New York to try his hand at theater instead.  

November 2016: Kate dumps Toby

Nothing was going to distract Kate from her mission to lose weight, including the awesome new guy she was dating. When Toby (Chris Sullivan) decided he was done with the weight loss it was a negative turning point for the new couple’s relationship, as it forced Kate to finally put herself first.  

November 2016: Randall learns his mother’s secret

It was obvious the truth behind Rebecca's and William’s first encounters all those years ago would surface at some point. Unfortunately for Rebecca, Randall happened to stumble across the truth over the Thanksgiving holiday, before she could tell him the reality of the situation first.

November: One last trip to the cabin

While the history of the Pearson family cabin and how it came to be is still something of a mystery, thanks to a present-day storyline viewers do know that Rebecca is selling the property. And so it was with sadness that the siblings headed to the cabin one final time, with Randall taking a psychedelic trip to the past after accidentally drinking a 'shroom shake.

December 2016: Toby has an attack

So much for nothing bad ever happening on Christmas Eve. Just when Kate and Toby reunited and Toby vowed to get back on the diet train, Toby collapsed in front of the family and was rushed to the hospital. The episode ended on a cliff-hanger with the character flat-lining, a storyline that showrunner Fogelman promises will be resolved early on in the show’s midseason return.

This Is Us returns Tuesday at 10 p.m. on NBC.

Twitter: @amber_dowling

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