Toby Damon (Chris Sullivan) has been a shiny bright light amidst the melancholy darkness of This Is Us' first two seasons. His good-natured attitude, comic relief, fun fedoras, and penchant for loud prints make every scene he's in on the NBC drama that much more delightful to watch. But This Is Us has hinted that Toby's existence isn't always a sunny one and that he's facing much more than meets the eye. Why is Toby depressed on This Is Us? It appears that Season 3 will focus on a side of the character that audiences have seldom seen thus far, and give further insight into his backstory.
Season 2's This Is Us finale offered up flash-forwards of the characters' future, including a heartbreaking moment that showed Kate (Chrissy Metz) taking care of Toby as he dealt with a deep depression. Aside from passing comments about his past and the introduction of his parents in the big wedding finale, viewers really don't know much about Toby's history. That is something that's apparently going to change as the series moves forward.
"I'm looking forward for the audience to see both the light side and the side where he holds his pain and suffering," Chris Sullivan revealed to TV Insider at the May 14 NBC Upfronts about what's in store for Toby. "I think through that, the audience will get a much more grounded view of who he is and why he is the way he is."
Toby hinted at childhood family drama last season when he confessed to Randall and Kevin that the estranged younger brother he adored growing up sadly wanted nothing to do with him. And although his parents haven't gotten much screen-time so far, they did express concerns about his nuptials in Season 2's "The Wedding." They warned Toby not to marry Kate because she might be "unstable" and worried that his constant state of "bending over backwards" for her could ultimately be a detriment to his mental health.
Sensitive nice guy Toby has been Kate's unwavering rock throughout their relationship, though it seems there could be a role reversal down the line. Chrissy Metz explained to EW following March's finale:
I think we’ll come to find why he might be battling that depression on a much deeper level through Season 3. But I think it’s also important to note that in relationships there’s always somebody that might be a little stronger at one time, and then that dynamic switches. He’s helped Kate get through so much of her stuff that she’s really ready to show up for him, and while it might be difficult, it’s going to be necessary because they’re going to contend with some hardships. Yet again. Life on life’s terms.
Kate and Toby seem strong enough to get through whatever comes their way, but the marital road ahead is bound to be a bumpy one. Since when has This Is Us made life look easy breezy?
"Depression is something that Toby struggled with before, and it’s something that he’s gotten a hold of. But I think as many people can attest to, the path of dealing with depression isn’t always a straight line, and sometimes you get off-course. And especially when there are stressful situations going on, things can sort of come to a head. And Kate and Toby will be thrust into some stressful situations as we move forward, and that will definitely have an impact on Toby’s state of mind," executive producer Elizabeth Berger teased to EW about his upcoming arc.
Season 3 is slated to cover a lot of untapped ground outside of the KaToby-verse — Jack's Vietnam experience, Beth and Randall's marriage, and Kevin's new relationship will all be explored when the show picks up.
This Is Us returns to NBC this fall. Make sure your tissue stash is re-stocked by then.