7 tear-jerking moments from 'This Is Us,' ranked

While it seems like every episode of 'This is Us' has been an emotional roller coaster, these particular moments brought tears to our eyes. USA TODAY

First came me. And Dad said, 'Gee!'

And then came a LOT of used Kleenex.

NBC's This Is Us has provoked more than its fair share of tears — both happy and sad — over the course of its first season, which culminates in Tuesday's finale (9 ET/PT). Too many, in fact, to narrow them down to a Big Three. Instead, we've settled on seven of the show's most emotional moments.

7. Kate reveals that she watches Steelers games alone with her dad's ashes

Episode 5, "The Game Plan"

After leaving Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) football viewing party, which Kate (Chrissy Metz) begrudgingly attended, she reveals why she likes to watch her parents' beloved Steelers alone. “It’s just what I do now,” she tells Toby. “I watch the Steelers, and I watch them with my dad.” When Toby says he wants to meet him, Kate is so vulnerable removing the gold urn from her mantel that it tempts our tear ducts.

6. The Pearsons find Dr. Katowski in the hospital on Christmas Eve

Episode 10, "Last Christmas"

When Kate goes to the hospital for an appendectomy, the family sees that Dr. Katowski (Gerald McRaney), who delivered Jack and Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) children, is also a patient.  It’s nothing short of heartbreaking to see the man who taught Jack how to turn the loss of his third child into “something resembling lemonade” realize he may die before his family makes it in time to say goodbye.

5. Toby suffers a heart attack, also on Christmas Eve

Episode 10, "Last Christmas"

As we nestled into the picture-perfect image of the Pearsons singing karaoke and laughing at Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) home, we didn't expect Toby to collapse onto the coffee table. This shock was even more gut-wrenching following the beautiful monologue he delivered to Kate after surprising her by flying cross country, and in a middle seat no less.

“Kate, I am here to take the first steps in overcoming our insanity one last time for both of us. Because it’s Christmas and because we’re good together,” Toby said. The episode ended with doctors trying to revive Toby on an operating table. Tissues, please!

4. Kevin skips out on the opening night of his play to comfort Randall

Episode 15, "Jack Pearson's Son"

The rift between brothers Randall and Kevin (Justin Hartley) began in their preteen years when Kevin cemented his spot as the alpha male while Randall showed himself to be more academic and sensitive. In flashbacks, we learn that Kevin has known about his brother’s panic attacks but never tried to help him.

And that dynamic hadn’t changed much into their mid-30s. Even though a lonely Kevin had thrust himself upon Randall and his family, he couldn’t bring himself to see how stressed out his brother had become under the load of work, family and caring for his terminally ill father. Eventually, Kevin’s guilt catches up with him — and at the worst possible time. As he's supposed to be making his Broadway debut, Kevin's running to be with Randall, whom he finally realized was coming unglued. No words needed to be said. All Randall (and the audience) needed was for Kevin to finally act like a brother.

3. Dr. Katowski counsels Jack after he and Rebecca lose the third baby

Episode 1, "Pilot"

In the final moments of the series premiere, we learned how the Big Three came to be: Jack and Rebecca lost their third triplet during delivery and later made a spur-of-the-moment decision to adopt Randall, a foundling whose drug-addicted father left him at a fire station.

After breaking the news to Jack, Dr. Katowski keeps him company and shares the story of how he and his late wife had lost their first child. “I like to think that because of the child I lost – the path that he sent me on – that I have saved countless other babies. I like to think that maybe one day, you’ll be an old man like me, talking a younger man’s ear off, explaining to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, you’ll still be taking three babies home from this hospital – just maybe not the way you planned.”

2. Rebecca apologizes to Randall for keeping William from him for so long

Episode 17, "What Now"

During a pot brownie-fueled bonding session with his son’s wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), William (Ron Cephas Jones) lets it slip that he’d been in touch with his adoptive mother Rebecca for most of Randall’s life. Randall finds out before she could work up the nerve to tell him, leading to a heartbreaking confrontation between mother and son on Thanksgiving. They finally reconcile during the family memorial service for William when Rebecca apologizes for costing him valuable years in which he could have known his father. “I got enough,” he told her. “It was enough time to know that I loved him. And I know that he loved me.”

1. William's death

Episode 16, "Memphis"

Just because we knew William’s days were numbered didn’t make his last one any easier to bear. After bidding his sleeping granddaughters goodbye, he and a still-stressed Randall set off for Memphis, the birthplace of his once-promising music career, for their first and last father-son road trip. William makes peace and has one last jam session with his estranged cousin and bandmate. But the highlight of the episode may be Randall letting loose. He gets drunk, sings with the band and meets relatives he’d never known about. But that night at the bar turned out to be what Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars called “the last good day,” when cancer patients rally one final time. On his deathbed the next day, William tells his son that while he’d made bad decisions and experienced bad luck in his life, he didn’t consider his life sad, explaining, “The two best things in my life happened at the very beginning and the very end.”

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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