In a world rife with superhero dramas, high-concept police and legal procedurals, and plenty of series trying to emulate that last great hit, it can be really, really hard to stand out during the fall TV season.
But there’s no denying that last year’s feel-good freshman hit, This Is Us (Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV) defied, and even surpassed, all of our expectations. From the moment the trailer (and Milo Ventimiglia’s nude butt) went viral, right up until the controversial finale in which we still didn’t learn how Jack died, this show sucked us all in week after week. It sucked us all in hard as it made us reach for those darned Kleenex boxes, thanks to some pretty emotional and often surprising twists.
It’s those emotional, relatable moments that made us fall for this series, which finally ramps back up on Tuesday night. In celebration of the highly anticipated second season, here are the weepiest moments from the first season, ranked by how many Kleenex boxes we needed at the time.
Get ready to fall in love all over again.
10. Toby was married… to a skinny girl
1/10 Kleenex Boxes
When we learned that Toby used to have another wife, we were just as shocked as Kate was. So when she decided to cyber stalk that ex, and even meet up with her, we totally related. After all, Toby seemed like the perfect guy up until that point. Who knew he had this whole other life before Kate?
9. Kevin was married to his childhood sweetheart
2/10 Kleenex Boxes
We love the journey Kevin took in the first season, especially considering he was a hot-shot “Manny” who only seemed to care about himself when we first met him. Eventually though, through his sister, the play and then reconnecting with his first wife and childhood sweetheart Sophie, he softened up a lot. Now, we definitely like him a lot more for it, and we can’t help but root for this couple.
8. Jack is dead
3/10 Kleenex Boxes
In the original pilot of the show, Jack’s death was revealed early on, but by the time the series made it to air the script had been edited so that the reveal came out when Kate “introduced” her dad to Toby by showing him the urn. It was a sad and shocking moment, but at least we still get to see Jack in the past storylines. We’ll take it.
7. Jack does push-ups… with Randall on his back
4/10 Kleenex Boxes
We always melt whenever a father tries to connect with his son, but watching Jack perform those push-ups at a martial arts class with Randall on his back to signify that he is/was/always will be his father? Well that pretty much broke us.
6. Rebecca knew William
5/10 Kleenex Boxes
The relationship between Rebecca and Randall was always a special one, so we were almost as devastated as Randall when we learned that Rebecca actually knew William from the time Randall was a baby, and kept them separated for all of those years. Eventually we understood why she made the decision that she did, but that didn’t make all of that time lost any less emotional.
5. Jack and Rebecca’s epic fight
6/10 Kleenex Boxes
Before the heart-wrenching first season finale, creator Dan Fogelman was teasing that they had done a scene never done before on television. It turns out that this awful, hard-to-watch fight between Jack and Rebecca was it, and boy was it brutal. In fact, in order to get into the spirit of the thing Milo Ventimiglia took his chair and wouldn’t even sit in the same room as Mandy Moore before filming, because they wanted to get as much tension out of the thing as possible. Yeah… we’d say it worked.
4. Toby’s heart attack
7/10 Kleenex Boxes
We should have known that a show like This Is Us would never, ever let us leave a midseason finale – and a Christmas episode at that – on a high note. So just when it looked as though everyone was happy in the present-day montage, Toby went crashing through the coffee table and potentially flat-lined at the hospital, leading us all to wonder whether the character would still be alive when we returned in the new year. Thankfully, he was.
3. The Big Three’s connection is revealed
8/10 Kleenex Boxes
As if we weren’t hooked on these characters from the moment we met them, the surprise reveal that they were all related definitely sealed it. The fact that Jack took the “sourest lemon” life had to offer and made something “resembling lemonade” by adopting Randall wasn’t lost on us after that great speech by Dr. K. That’s when we knew we needed to see more of this family every freaking week.
2. Dr. K has his own episode
9/10 Kleenex Boxes
We knew This Is Us was a game-changing show, but we didn’t realize just how well-thought out it was until the writers threw a wrench at us with a standalone episode featuring Dr. K and his back story. While the whole episode was perfection from start to finish, we still get weepy eyed thinking about the man talking to his dead wife at the breakfast table.
1. William’s death
10/10 Kleenex Boxes
We can’t remember the last time we ugly cried so hard at a TV show as when we did during that “Memphis” episode. Even though we knew William’s death was imminent, Sterling K. Brown and Ron Cephas Jones played those scenes so brilliantly that there wasn’t a dry eye in North America when it actually went down. To this day the thought that we enter and exit this world looking up still haunts us.
Cue the freaking waterworks. If the second season is anything like the first — and we’re perfectly confident it will be from the previews we’ve seen so far — it looks like we’ll all need to stock up on our Kleenex boxes.