The ‘This Is Us’ timeline explained, because we’re all struggling with it

Constantly crying, constantly confused.

By Katie Stow

This Is Us has the ability to make you sit on the edge of your seat, laugh until you can't breathe, and cry at the smallest thing (especially if that small thing is baby Randall). But no one can deny that This Is Us can get super confusing with the seemingly infinite timelines introduced every episode.

Kevin's speech in season one about how lives are stories, and stories have no real beginning or end as they stretch in in all directions, just hits a little too close to home when dealing with this frantic timeline.

The show flickers through the past, present and future to show how the Pearson's childhood and hectic upbringing has influenced their journey as adults.

Timelines showcased in the series include the emotional roller coaster that is the present, flash-forwards to futures (and Mandy Moore's phenomenal old-lady make-up), and the bittersweet glimpses at what could have been, but the next instalment is jumping way back to before the Big Three were in the equation and Jack hadn't even met Rebecca yet.

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Our theory on the best way to keep the storylines straight? Check out the length of Milo Ventimiglia's facial hair.

But beyond perving at Jack, there is a general framework for the This Is Us timeline that may help you out:

1980: The Big Three are born

Here we watch Jack and Rebecca navigate their new roles as parents, after we have to watch the heartbreaking scene that is the doctor telling Jack one of his triplets was a stillborn. It's a heart-breaking monologue about the child he himself lost, but has a happier ending when they choose to adopt and take three babies home anyway.

1989: The Pearson’s family Thanksgiving tradition is born

Here you'll find yourself wanting to be served by a serial killer-esque character named Pilgrim Rick and down hot dogs covered in fake cheese. It's also when we start realising that a Thanksgiving Dad is a Hot Dad.

2016: The Big Three turn 36

Here we are welcomed to the present with the #1 plot twist. Kate meet's the man of her dreams Toby, Kevin goes full Jerry Maguire on the set of The Manny, and Randall finally meets his biological father.


The season two finale introduces us to a new future timeline, with the writers alluding to sometime around 2027. This is where super (hot) dad Randall makes good on his promise to have dinner with his now adult daughter once-a-week, and we learn Tess and her dad have to see a "her" that they really don't want to see.

Season three honestly cannot come around fast enough to explain what's going on! Brace yourself and stock up on tissues before you catch up on This Is Us season two, coming to DVD on Wednesday September 12, 2018.