This Heartbreaking 'This Is Us' Theory About Why Jack Went Back In The Fire Will Wreck You

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

The mystery surrounding Jack's death has been resolved. This Is Us audiences know by now how the Pearson patriarch's untimely passing came to be. The devastating slow cooker house fire led to his smoke inhalation, which caused eventual cardiac arrest. Jack valiantly braved the flames to help save his kids and wife, and then returned to the treacherous scene to rescue the family dog. This theory about why Jack went back into the fire on This Is Us tries to answer the resounding question of "why would he do that?," since the guy had so much to lose.

Reddit user leanney88 posits that Jack had a hunch he wasn't going to make it after so much damage to his body had been done:

Jack was IN the fire a lot before going back in. He kept everyone in bedrooms and went to get them one by one. He was coughing and struggling and had already inhaled a LOT of smoke.
WHAT IF... he already knew. He knew it was bad. He knew he might not make it, and that’s why he went back. He can’t let Kate’s dog and dad die on the same night. He can’t let them lose him without holding onto a few memories, and he can’t let Rebecca live the rest of her life without anything special to remember him by. This is the kind of man he was, so I wouldn’t doubt this being his mindset for a second.

It's a heartbreaking concept to examine, but here's the thing about Jack. We would say that his fatal action was an example of just the kind of man he was, and that's without calling him arrogant or headstrong. We truly believe he would do anything for his family and those he loved — including risk his life. Emphasis on the word risk. In the eyes of his children, especially Kate's, he was the ultimate hero. Sure, he probably was aware that smoke had gotten in his lungs and he was hurt badly beyond what the others could see, but we have to imagine that he always considered himself a fighter and ultimately, a survivor.

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

"Somehow he was always, always right. It's like he could see things before they happen. He could see you three before you happened," Rebecca told the teenage Big 3 following the funeral in Tuesday, Feb. 6's episode.

Jack clearly had the gift of gaining insight into his family's fate, as Rebecca noted in "The Car," but we don't think he had literal clairvoyant visions of the future. Or did he? Should we expect the spin-off Jack Pearson: Psychic Detective to premiere on NBC next fall?

The man behind Jack Pearson, actor Milo Ventimiglia, spoke toVariety about Jack's motivations and how his past may have played into his future:

Jack’s a man of action. He’s a man of immediate response — anything from the emotional duress of his children or his wife to a household fire. I think it’s in his core of who he is to be a protector. It’s in his DNA. He’s someone who doesn’t need a plan — he can formulate a plan and adapt very, very quickly. [His time in] the military is something that’s still to be defined. So it’s a possibility [to define it soon]. We’ve been at every age with Jack and granted, we’ve only known the man for 32 hours of television, there’s still a lot of room to know who this man is.

You can say that again. The promo for Feb. 27th's episode (the show will go on a brief break for the Olympics), teases that "Jack's story has just begun."

Oh, no. We're already sobbing.

No matter what you think was going through Jack's head the day he died, it probably won't make the sad situation any easier to handle.