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The Pearsons

     Jack Pearson 
Portrayed by Milo Ventimiglia
  • The Alcoholic: Developed into one in the 1980s, although he appears to held it at bay enough for about ten years until the revelation that her ex-boyfriend Ben is her band's leader drives him back to the bottle.
  • Black and White Insanity: Revealed to be a major moral failing of his as he assumed his brother Nicky deliberately murdered a child in Vietnam in what was actually an accident, and subsequently cut Nicky out of his life completely while lying to his family that he was dead until his own dying day, all because of his refusal to consider there could be nuances to morality in the world.
  • Death By Sigh Of Relief: The intentional Gut Punch used to really seal the deal that Jack is dead and pull a hard turn just as we think he's going to be okay. Jack survives the initial fire, but severe smoke inhalation puts a bad strain on his lungs, which also by extension puts a really bad strain on his heart. Out of nowhere, he suffers a "widowmaker" heart attack and codes in the hospital, with half a dozen medical staff racing in to save his life while poor Rebecca has no idea in the background that Jack's life is ebbing away. He is unable to be saved from cardiac arrest and dies moments later. It is horrendously jarring, totally unexpected, and Rebecca is rendered a widow.
  • Drunk Driver: He's drunk when he decides to drive to Rebecca's first tour stop. After he gets into a fist fight with Ben, Rebecca angrily drives him home and gives him another ultimatum to clean up his act.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: After waking up in the middle of the night to find the entire house ablaze, he expertly gets the entire family (minus Kevin, who wasn't there) to safety before going back in for their dog, also managing to grab several precious family mementos before actually making it out, only dying later from the effects of smoke inhalation.
  • Fatal Flaw: His jealousy over Rebecca's previous relationships is the driving force behind the strain in their marriage in the 1990s.
  • Good Old Ways: Both the producers and the actor have said that Jack is rather old-fashioned, likes a solid family routine, and doesn't handle change well. With Rebecca going on tour with her old band, leaving him and the kids behind, he's having trouble accepting the new change in their lives. He's also having difficulty accepting that she wants it for herself, not because one of the band members was her ex. He ends up relapsing back into alcohol.
  • Good Parents: Possibly justified, since his own father was abusive and he promised his mother that he would never turn out like his father.
  • Happily Married: He and Rebecca have a loving relationship, although not without its flaws. His jealous side and alcoholism being the two major factors in their strained relationship by the time he dies.
  • Killed Off for Real: Through the reveal that Rebecca is remarried in the present day, we learn Jack is long dead, and later see that Kate has possession of his ashes in an urn. The actual thing that led to his demise is not revealed for another season, and it is one hell of a way to go. Jack unknowingly leaves a malfunctioning crock pot plugged in and it shorts out, lighting the Pearson house on fire. He manages to get his entire family (sans Kevin, who was with Sophie) out of the house and later dies from a heart attack caused by inhaling smoke from the horrific blaze.
  • Looks Like Jesus: Especially during the flashbacks to The '70s.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Provides the most Shirtless Scenes in the series.
  • Nice Guy: He's definitely not perfect, but Jack is generally kind-hearted and good-natured. He does have a deeply hidden but intense jealous side and is a relapsed alcoholic. Before he met Rebecca, he was about to rob a bar after its owner beat him up for winning a poker game.
  • Odd Name Out: Kevin, Kate, Rebecca, Randall, and... Jack.
  • Off the Wagon: He resumed drinking after staying sober for ten years.
  • The Patriarch
  • Porn Stache:
    Toby: I saw a picture of the man and said his mustache made him look like a 70s porn star. I thought she was gonna deck me.
  • Posthumous Character: Died in The '90s, when the kids were teens. While he's not featured in any of the present-day segments, his presence is deeply felt throughout.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: He served as a mechanic in Vietnam and had trouble readjusting to normal life until he met Rebecca. Having his estranged and abusive alcoholic father back in the picture didn't help and he was considering turning to crime to make ends meet. His brother, who served with him, was among the many killed in the war.
  • Shrouded in Myth: After his death, Jack becomes (in Beth's words) "untouchable." The family refuses to talk about his flaws (re: his alcoholism) and he is idealized to a standard that anyone joining the family feels pressure to try to live up to.
  • Time-Passage Beard: His facial hair changes from a full beard to a mustache to a goatee during the decades.
  • The Vietnam Vet: Served the U.S. military during The Vietnam War, as detailed in Shell-Shocked Veteran above.
  • Workaholic: 1990s Jack starts spending more time at work while also trying to keep an eye on the kids while Rebecca tries to resume her singing career.
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     Rebecca Pearson (née Malone) 
Portrayed by Mandy Moore
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: She's approachable, but she has quite a defensive aura in her.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The state of mind she hits when she learns Jack dropped dead. Hearing her say she has to go ruin the rest of her kids' lives with total calm and bitterness pierces the soul.
  • Family Versus Career: Before she met Jack, she was going to open mics and sending demo tapes to studios in hopes of launching a singing career. Her friends thought she was strange for wanting to pursue a career instead of settling down. This became part of the strain in her and Jack's marriage when the kids were teens because she wanted to do something for herself for a change and Jack had trouble understanding.
  • Good Parents: She loves her children and will do anything for them, although her relationships with the kids have become strained in adulthood (Kate's weight, Randall's search for his biological parents, and Kevin's career).
  • Happily Married: She and Jack have a loving relationship, although not without its flaws.
  • Parents as People: Before they had the kids, she previously expressed misgivings about having children. She's not a bad mother, but her Mama Bear instincts to protect her children has the inadvertent side effect of straining her relationships with them as adults. She means well in keeping William out of Randall's life because of his drug addiction, but made the mistake of not letting him know sooner, confessing that she was just too afraid of losing him. She tries to help Kate with her self-esteem and Weight Woe, but sometimes it's not what Kate wants to hear. And, as season 2 reveals, her attention to Kate and Randall, and belief that she didn't need to worry about Kevin, hurt him far more than she knew in the long run.

     Kate Pearson 
Portrayed by Chrissy Metz
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Toby finds her attractive, although she's self-conscious about it.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: When she falls pregnant in Season 2, she suffers a miscarriage.
  • Daddy's Girl: Admits that she felt closer to her father than her mother, and keeps his ashes on her mantel. She also blames herself for his death.
  • Emo Teen: She was really into Weezer, wore dark clothes, and her brothers have poked fun at her heavy eyeliner use.
  • Generation Xerox: She inherits her mother’s ability to sing.
  • Happily Married: To Toby.
  • It's All My Fault: She blames herself for Jack's death because when the house caught fire, he went back inside to save her dog.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: A rare Big Beautiful Woman variant.
  • Stepford Smiler: While discussing the risks of gastric bypass, she blindsides Rebecca with the revelation that she's on Prozac for depression.
  • Weight Woe: Her desire to lose weight forms much of her character arc.

     Kevin Pearson 
Portrayed by Justin Hartley

     Randall Pearson 
Portrayed by Sterling K. Brown
  • Adorkable: He's a big dork and an embarassement to his daughter, but also a super nice guy.
    • It's later revealed that what attracted Randall to Beth was that her father had a very similar personality.
  • Happily Adopted: Played With, while he was happy with the childhood and life he had that Jack and Rebecca gave him, he did always wonder about his origins and questions about his biological parents.
  • Happily Married: His relationship with Beth is stable and supportive, and she reasons with him when he's distressed.
  • Nice Guy: A trait he seems to have inherited from both of his fathers. Randall is constantly kind, understanding, and along with his perfectionism just can’t stop helping people.
  • The Perfectionist: His overwhelming need to be absolutely perfect at everything nearly breaks him as he starts to have a nervous breakdown.
  • Replacement Sibling: He feels like he serves as one to the dead third Pearson child, although Jack has always reassured him that he's still his son nonetheless. Ironically, it's Randall who takes the most after Jack when he reaches adulthood.
  • Sibling Rivalry: With Kevin.
  • Token Minority: To the Pearsons, who are Caucasians.
  • Workout Fanservice: Shows his Mr. Fanservice credentials during his workout sessions.

     Beth Pearson 
Portrayed by Susan Kelechi Watson
  • Brutal Honesty: One of her defining character traits. When Kevin is staying at Randall's and her house, Randall wants him to leave but Can't Spit It Out so Beth just cuts him off with, "When you leavin'?"
  • Happily Married: Her relationship with Randall is stable, supportive and she reasons with him when he's distressed.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Beth does have some moments where she gets sassy.
  • Secret Keeper: Reluctantly. When she learns about Rebecca and William's connection, she tells Rebecca that Randall needs to know, or she will tell him. Rebecca promises to tell him but he finds out beforehand anyway.
  • Unconfessed Unemployment: Beth gets laid off her job earlier in the third season, and struggles to tell Randall. She does tell him and he invited her to be a part of his campaign to be a governor.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Well, wife. After William slips that Rebecca knows about him and is keeping it from Randall, she nearly goes ballistic.
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     Tess and Annie Pearson 
Portrayed by Eris Baker (Tess) and Faithe Herman (Annie)
Randall and Beth’s two daughters.
  • Cheerful Child: Both of them are quite upbeat and rarely unbothered by the family drama.
  • First Period Panic: In season 3, Tess has her first period. She freaks out when Toby sees her carrying a box with tampons and pantyliners.
  • Gayngst: For Tess, the realisation of being LGBT starts making her feel depressed and she isolates herself from her family. She eventually comes out to her parents.

Love interests

     Toby Damon 
Portrayed by Chris Sullivan

     Miguel 
Portrayed by Jon Huertas

     Sophie 
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     Olivia Maine 
Portrayed by Janet Montgomery
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: She's brunette but has her hair dyed blonde. She's also very rude, very blunt, and very hot.
  • Alpha Bitch: She's very arrogant and looks down on Kevin during their first meeting as he did not have a classical theater background.
  • Statuesque Stunner: She's tall and a hottie. Too bad she's also...
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: She's tall, rude and blunt.

     Sloane Sandburg 
Portrayed by Milana Vayntrub

     Jessie 
Portrayed by Denis O'Hare

Family members

     William Hill 
Portrayed by Ron Cephas-Jones
  • And Starring: In the opening credits.
  • Bi the Way: Genuinely loved Randall's biological mother but fell into drug addiction together, and has a male partner named Jessie that he reconnected through Narcotics Anonymous.
  • Disappeared Dad: He was absent from Randall's life until adulthood.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: He forms one with Kevin over the course of Season 1.
  • Posthumous Character: [[spoiler:He dies late in Season 1, but Jones remains a regular cast member through flashbacks.

     Deja 
Portrayed by Lyric Ross
A young girl who is put into Randall and Beth’s care.

  • Dark and Troubled Past: She was a result of a teenage pregnancy and was raised by her mother Shawna and her grandmother. The said grandmother died right in front of her when Deja was very young. When Shawna was out, Deja had to go to the hospital by herself when she got cut trying to open a can using a knife, which atttacted the attention of social services. Deja and a friend of hers were put in a temporary home of an abusive foster father, who would hit them. Shawna wasn’t able to pay the rent for the apartment, so the two were kicked out and had to live in their car, until Randall and Beth found them after returning from their Vegas trip.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: She was initially cold to Randall and Beth, but she eventually warmed up to them.
  • Disappeared Dad: Deja never had any idea of who her father was. When Toby’s mother thought that she was Randall’s daughter, she was infuriated and took her frustration out on Randall’s car, using a baseball bat. She eventually does track him down, but doesn't need or want any kind of relationship and just tells him what he's missing out on.
  • Teen Pregnancy: She was a result of one, as her mother Shawna was only sixteen when she gave birth to Deja.

     Nicky Pearson 
Portrayed by Michael Angarano and Griffin Dunne (Present day)
Jack’s younger brother who fought in Vietnam.

  • Beard of Sorrow: He develops a bushy beard after returning from Vietnam, and his PTSD is what gives the sorrow.
  • Death Is Faked For You: After the incident where the Vietnamese boy died from a grenade, Jack couldn’t even stand to acknowledge him and decides to tell everyone that Nicky died.
  • The Hermit: After returning from Vietnam, he decided to live in a trailer all by himself.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: As a result of being the cause of the accidental death of a young boy in Vietnam, he developed PTSD because of it.

     Zoe 
Portrayed By Melanie Liburd
Beth’s photographer cousin and Kevin’s girlfriend in Season 3.
  • Abusive Parents: Zoe’s dad sexually assaulted her when she was younger.
  • Cool Aunt: To Tess, Annie and Deja.
  • The Stoner: She used to hide marijuana in Beth’s parents house when she was living there. In the present day, she found one of the weed staches and smoked it with Beth.
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