‘This Is Us’: 5 Things That Could’ve Prevented Jack Pearson’s Death

Milo Ventimiglia’s portrayal of Jack Pearson on NBC’s hit drama, This Is Us, is a stark reminder that life is short. Jack’s season 2 death still haunts the minds of many because the cause was due to an ordinary string of events that could happen to anyone. What could Papa Pearson have done differently?

Jack could’ve treated his tachycardia upon diagnosis

Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson on 'This Is Us'
Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson on ‘This Is Us’ | Ron Batzdorff/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

In season 3, viewers got a little more backstory about the heart condition that caused Jack’s sudden death. Everyone eventually knew about his struggle with alcoholism, but Jack kept a lifelong secret about his heart, too.

When Jack goes for a physical to enlist in the Vietnam war (to protect little brother, Nicky, whose unlucky number was called during the draft), the doctor notices something. Jack’s heartbeat is irregularly fast and he is diagnosed with tachycardia.

Future flashback scenes show Jack during childhood struggling with the irregular heartbeat as well, so he was aware something had not been right for many years.

The Mayo Clinic says “in some cases, tachycardia may cause no symptoms or complications. But if left untreated, tachycardia can disrupt normal heart function and lead to serious complications. Jack died of cardiac arrest, so maybe if he’d treated the symptoms sooner, he’d still be alive.

Jack could’ve refused the slow cooker offering

We realize it’s an obvious decision that could’ve changed everything (and totally un-Pearson-like). But, the kind neighbor, George, who gave the gift never intended any ill will.

Did he know it had a faulty switch? Did Jack realize he set the washcloths next to it before bed? Slow cookers everywhere got a bad wrap because of George’s gift.

Fans everywhere are still angry about it. Honestly, they’re not wrong. Thanks a lot, George.

Jack could’ve gotten batteries for the smoke detector

The Superbowl episode is a grim reminder that the smallest of things can have dire consequences. Jack and Rebecca previously discussed needing battery replacements for their detectors but never bought them.

The ominous conversations mirror those that so many others have in real life. The episode not only triggered most to toss their slow cookers, but to have real conversations about fire safety and prevention.

Following the episode, U.S. Fire Administrator G. Keith Bryant told Time, “The most common thing you will see in a fatal house fire is the lack of a working smoke alarm. I don’t think you can check them enough.”

Rebecca could’ve decided to buy the house Jack wanted

Season 3 of This Is Us also gave another piece of Jack’s death puzzle. Rebecca and the Big 3 move into an apartment following Jack’s death. She’s obviously struggling, hearing his voice in the room, and having flashbacks of a an important event she hadn’t spoken of.

Jack and Rebecca went to an open house months before the fire. Jack did his best to convince Rebecca this was the house for them.

“This house does get a lot more light than our place,” Jack said from the living room area. “You can grow anything you want: tomatoes, herbs, maybe some basil for pesto,” he said later, from the kitchen window.

Rebecca wasn’t interested. “OK, we saw it. Can we go? I’m sorry, I know I’m being a bad sport but I just love our house, Jack, even though it’s old and too small and doesn’t get enough light and there isn’t any room to grow basil. It’s our house,” she said.

“So we’re just going to stay there forever?” Jack asked.

“Sounds pretty good to me,” Rebecca replied.

“Me too..,” Jack said, disappointed. “Yeah, I just wanted to hear you say it.” 

Had they bought the house, Jack might still be around.

Jack could’ve let Rebecca clean up the kitchen

Being the good man Jack Pearson is, of course, he offered to clean up the kitchen so Rebecca could go to bed. It’s admirable, sure.

If he hadn’t offered, or if Rebecca stuck around to make sure the slow cooker was unplugged (or in the trash where it belongs), and the washcloths were nowhere near it, things could’ve turned out differently for the Pearsons (and Miguel wouldn’t be such an outlier).

The beauty of This Is Us is that it shows how the small nuanced moments can make big waves through the course of a lifetime. The truth is, even if Jack did everything differently, he still could’ve died. That’s the thing about life — you don’t know when your time is up.

That said, we’re not even going to suggest he shouldn’t have gone back into the burning house for the dog, OK?