One of the very first twists This Is Us laid on viewers was Miguel. Initially introduced as Jack’s BFF, married to Shelley and living not far from Jack and Rebecca when their triplets were born, the show drew back the curtain to reveal in the present day that Miguel and Rebecca had gotten married. It took almost six full seasons to explain how the two got from A to B, but finally, the show gave viewers “This Is Miguel,” from his childhood all the way to his death. So, how exactly did Miguel die on This Is Us?
Warning: Spoilers for This Is Us Season 6, Episode 15 follow. Fans had suspected for years that Miguel wouldn’t make it to stay by Rebecca’s bedside when she passed. His absence was notable in the future, and the reveal he was on heart meds at Kate’s second wedding made his death seem inevitable. But long before the show reached his final years (set to Billy Joel’s “So It Goes,” naturally), it needed to put every loose end about Miguel’s history to bed.
From the decision by his family to immigrate from San Juan to Pittsburgh for work to his decision to marry Shelley, the episode hit all the big moments of Miguel’s early life. It also answered a few questions about the character fans have had, such as “What was with that very 1970s haircut?” and how Miguel went from suit salesman to construction foreman.
One of the unspoken subplots the show finally touched on is how much Miguel struggled with his Latino heritage and how much he pushed himself away from his family to be viewed as “American.” (The show also included a small easter egg, using the character’s original name “Michael Rivers,” which changed to Miguel Rivas after Jon Huertas was cast.)
But Miguel’s final years were the main focus of the hour. After his younger self told his mother he didn’t have it in him to be a caretaker for a loved one in their final years, he had become as dedicated to Rebecca’s care. Kevin tried to hire a nurse to help him; however, Miguel held on to being her primary caregiver as part of his core identity, having subconsciously absorbed his mother’s example with her sister.
The series also brought back Miguel’s children, Andy and Amber. Though the episode glazed over their births, Miguel’s move to Houston was centered around hoping to reconnect with his son and daughter, only to be rejected, which was part of what drove him back to Rebecca and the Pearsons. Their absence from his life was a quiet hole he and Rebecca pointedly avoided discussing.
But in what may have been the most beautiful full-circle moment, it turned out to be Kevin — the one Pearson sibling who initially rejected Miguel and his marriage to Rebecca the same way Andy and Amber did — whose outreach worked. He went to Andy, letting him know Miguel didn’t have long to live. Kevin asked him not to spend decades of regret for not patching things up before it was too late. By Miguel’s final years, the holidays grew to include the Rivas children and grandchildren alongside the Pearson children and grandchildren, allowing Miguel to have the large blended family of his dreams.
When he finally passed, his biological and step-children spread their father’s ashes, half under the apple tree at the cabin and the other on the home plate on the baseball field in San Juan where he played as a boy.
This Is Us: The Final Season continues with new episodes every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC and streaming the next day on Hulu.