The 10 Most Emotional ‘This Is Us’ Episodes, Ranked

This Is Us will be remembered for many wonderful things, but one aspect of the NBC drama that stands out is its ability to make viewers cry with ease. Whether they were happy or sad tears, every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET for six years, fans tuned in with a box of tissues at the ready. And just in case anyone is looking to binge the most emotional This Is Us episodes after the series finale, we compiled them all in a list.

Ron Cephas Jones and Mandy Moore, in character as William and Rebecca in 'This Is Us' Season 6 Episode 17, share a scene where they look at one another and Rebecca has her hands on William's shoulders. William wears a black suit with thin white stripes. Moore wears a red dress.
Ron Cephas Jones as William and Mandy Moore as Rebecca | Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

10. Our Little Island Girl, ‘This Is Us’ Season 3 Episode 13

Beth Pearson is one of the most underrated characters in This Is Us. For a majority of the time, she is the comedic relief or the one who isn’t afraid to call it like it is. But in This Is Us Season 3 Episode 13, “Our Little Island Girl,” fans learned that Beth is way more complex than they ever thought.

In her first backstory episode, Beth traveled home to visit her mother, Carol, after she hurt her hip. We learned that her relationship with her mother wasn’t the greatest, per se. When Beth was younger, she dreamed of becoming a dancer, an aspiration that her father, Abe, supported. He told her, “Our little island girl would dance before she walked.” But when Abe died from lung cancer when Beth was a teenager, her dreams ceased to exist.

Still dealing with her grief, Beth lost a showcase solo at her ballet academy. Afterward, Carol stopped paying her tuition and convinced her to attend college. And in the present day, Beth confronted her mother for taking away her dream. They seemingly made amends in This Is Us Season 3 Episode 13, but their relationship would forever be complicated.

9. Jack Pearson’s Son

As fans of This Is Us know, Kevin and Randall’s relationship has been through the wringer over the years. It wasn’t until they were in their forties that they truly understood one another. However, the brothers always loved each other deeply, as seen in This Is Us Season 1 Episode 15, “Jack Pearson’s Son.”

The hour contains stories about Jack and Rebecca in the ’90s and Kate and Toby getting to know one another better. However, the most memorable moment came at the end of the episode.

Randall’s anxiety has always been a major part of his character. And all of the stress in his life sadly became too much for him in the first season. From William’s failing health to work troubles, Randall held the weight of the world on his shoulders. After a work presentation gone wrong, Randall called Kevin to inform him that he couldn’t make it to the opening night of his play. But Kevin sensed something was wrong and skipped his play to comfort his brother.

8. Birth Mother

Randall’s need to know who his birth mother was led him to New Orleans in This Is Us Season 5 Episode 6, “Birth Mother.” And as the show often does, the hour flipped back and forth between the present day and the past as Randall and the audience learned more about his mother, Laurel, from her former lover, Hai.

Laurel and Hai’s romance was tragic because she wanted to run away, but he needed to stay in Louisana to support his parents. And when Laurel left, she found herself in Pittsburgh, where she became addicted to drugs, met William, and they had Randall. After his birth, the cops arrested Laurel for drug possession, and she served five years in prison.

Once Laurel was released, she went back home to New Orleans because she didn’t want to ruin Randall’s life. Years later, Laurel and Hai reconnected after he became a widower. Unfortunately, she got cancer, and Laurel and Hai spent her final years together.

After Randall finally learned his birth mother’s story in This Is Us Season 5 Episode 6, he took a swim in the lake she used to go to. In an extremely powerful moment, Randall imagined Laurel with him, and he finally let go of his grief.

7. Songbird Road: Part One, ‘This Is Us’ Season 3 Episode 11

Jack and Nicky’s Vietnam experience in This Is Us was one of the heaviest stories that the series ever told. Their time in the war irrevocably changed not only them as people but also their relationship. And This Is Us Season 3 Episode 11, “Songbird Road: Part One,” explained how their brotherhood fractured.

The hour brought the audience back to the war when Nicky was addicted to drugs. One day, he took a young Vietnamese boy on a boat and used grenades to go fishing. However, the boat accidentally exploded, and the boy died. Jack misunderstood the situation, thinking Nicky killed the boy on purpose, and he severed all ties with his brother.

In the present day, Kevin, Kate, and Randall found Nicky in Pennsylvania. But he was a recluse who did not want anything to do with them. They left, but Kevin had a feeling that their uncle needed their help. And when they returned to his trailer, they found Nicky with a gun.

6. Miguel

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this list, it’s that This Is Us backstories are inevitably emotional. And after six years of waiting, the audience finally learned more about Miguel in This Is Us Season 6 Episode 15, “Miguel.”

The hour focused on Miguel’s move from Puerto Rico to Pittsburgh as a child, his blossoming relationship with Rebecca, and his dedication to taking care of his wife, even as his own health was failing. And Jon Huertas was brilliant throughout the episode, but Miguel’s heartbreaking talk with his father during Christmas was his shining moment. Huertas’ delivery of “You split me in half when you moved us here” will never fail to send chills down our bodies.

As a whole, “Miguel” was a beautiful dedication to a man who was unfairly hated in the first few seasons. Over the years, viewers grew to love Miguel, making his death one of the most tearful moments in the show. If you’re looking for a good, old-fashioned cry, This Is Us Season 6 Episode 15 is for you.

5. The Car

This Is Us followed one brutally devastating episode with another heartwrenching hour — “The Car.”

This Is Us Season 2 Episode 15 chronicled many meaningful moments between the Pearson family in their Wagoneer. The audience watched as Jack taught Kevin and Randall how to drive, Jack drove Kate to an Alanis Morissette autograph session, and Jack and Rebecca traveled to his favorite tree when she had a cancer scare.

These moments led to Rebecca driving her kids to Jack’s funeral. And at the memorial service, Rebecca and Dr. K had a tearful heart-to-heart where she expressed her doubts about taking care of her family without Jack. But Dr. K told her, “You’re as tough as they come, Rebecca Pearson,” reminding everyone why he is the best fictional doctor in television history.

Later in This Is Us Season 2 Episode 15, the tears kept streaming when Rebecca and the Big Three scattered Jack’s ashes at his favorite tree.

4. Number One, ‘This Is Us’ Season 2 Episode 8

Kevin seemed like a one-dimensional, self-involved character at the beginning of This Is Us. However, as time went on, the show dug deep under the surface to show his insecurities and complexities. And it all led up to one of the best hours of the NBC drama — This Is Us Season 2 Episode 8, “Number One.”

The episode follows Kevin, who was spiraling from his drug addiction, as he returned to his high school to accept an award. He didn’t believe that he deserved the achievement, so he tried to deny it. Instead, the crowd just commended Kevin for his humility.

Kevin then visited the football field, where he suffered a career-ending injury in high school. And Justin Hartley is masterful as he spun off a monologue about his repeated failures in the form of play-by-play commentary. This Is Us Season 2 Episode 8 broke the viewers’ hearts even further when Kevin lost the necklace his father gave to him before he died. As a result, Kevin broke down outside, pleading for someone to help him.

3. The Train

Many expected the This Is Us series finale to be one of the most challenging episodes to get through, but it turned out that the show’s penultimate hour was even worse. And we mean that as a compliment.

Rebecca’s health failed in This Is Us Season 6 Episode 17, which meant that the entire Pearson clan traveled to Pennsylvania to say goodbye to the matriarch. The hour was full of tearful farewells (Beth’s heartbreaking monologue stood out among the rest). However, the most emotional moments of the episode came on the train.

Rebecca’s consciousness had manifested itself on a vintage train full of people from her past and mementos from her life with her family. She encountered William, Dr. K, Miguel, and even multiple versions of her children. And her journey led Rebecca to the caboose, where she finally reunited with Jack as she died in the real world.

If This Is Us Season 6 Episode 17 taught us anything, it’s that the end doesn’t have to be only sad. But of course, there will always be tears.

2. Memphis

This list would not be complete without This Is Us Season 1 Episode 16, “Memphis.”

During the hour, Randall and William went on a road trip to Memphis, William’s hometown. As William reminisced on his past, Randall learned more about his birth father. And William even taught his son a thing or two about living and rolling the windows down now and then.

Unfortunately, one morning, William woke up in bad condition. And at the hospital, he died while Randall used Jack’s technique to calm him. Fans will never forget the final scene in This Is Us Season 1 Episode 16, as Ron Cephas Jones and Sterling K. Brown gave performances of a lifetime.

1. Super Bowl Sunday, ‘This Is Us’ Season 2 Episode 14

Without any doubt in the world, This Is Us Season 2 Episode 14, “Super Bowl Sunday,” is the most emotional episode of the series. The hour finally unveiled the cause of Jack’s death as fans witnessed the house fire play out on their television screens.

Even though fans knew Jack would die early in the show, that didn’t make his death any less difficult to watch. He was a hero who saved his wife, children, and dog. Unfortunately, although he made it out of the house, Jack died from a heart attack in the hospital. And Mandy Moore’s performance as Rebecca when she found out her husband was dead is something that will stick with us forever.

This Is Us Season 2 Episode 14 is not only heartbreaking, but it’s also one of the most important hours of the show. Jack’s death majorly affected every character and explained why Kevin, Kate, and Randall are the way they are. Plus, the episode began to tease the pivotal flash-forward scene that would play out over the rest of the series.

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