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The Best This Is Us Characters Introduced After Season 1

Family drama "This Is Us" has been a big hit for NBC since it made its debut back in September 2016. One thing that makes the heartfelt drama work so well are the dynamic relationships between the characters created by Dan Fogelman and his team. Now in its sixth and final season, the show is focused on the Pearson family — father Jack, mother Rebecca, twins Kevin and Kate, adopted brother Randall — and those in their orbit. This has included romantic partners, children, extended family members, friends, co-workers, health care workers, and so forth. These characters are often written with a richness and complexity that is comparable to the main characters, demonstrating the level of care the writers put into every piece of the "This Is Us" stories.

Since the show alternates between multiple timelines, "This Is Us" has accumulated plenty of supporting and recurring characters over the years. Aside from the five key Pearsons, many of the other key characters were introduced in Season 1. Lucky for viewers, plenty of interesting characters have continued to be developed in later seasons. Here are the best "This Is Us" characters who were introduced after Season 1.

Déjà Pearson

When we first met current-day Randall Pearson (Sterling K. Brown), "This Is Us" quickly established him as a devoted husband to Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and a loving father of two girls, Annie (Faithe Herman) and Tess (Eris Baker). He is still both of those things, only now, Randall is portrayed as the adoring dad of three daughters, not two. This is because Randall and Beth adopted teenager Déjà (Lyric Ross) in Season 3 of the show.

Déjà was first introduced in the Season 2 episode "Déjà Vu," which was the third episode of the season. She is the biological daughter of Shauna Andrews (Joy Brunson), who birthed her as a teenager and who was in jail when we first met Déjà. Déjà had been in and out of the foster system for years by the time Randall and Beth brought her into their home, and so she was reluctant to let them in. Once she softened, she forged bonds with everyone in the family — but it is her sweet connection to Randall that is the most special.

While Déjà started off as the Pearsons' foster child, she was eventually adopted when Shauna realized she simply could not provide Déjà with the life she deserved. In the 17th episode of Season 2, we learned more about Shauna's backstory, and by the end of this episode, Shauna decided to leave Déjà with Randall and Beth after she was evicted. Shauna terminated her parental rights in the following episode, and the adoption process started early in Season 3.

Malik Hodges

One of the best parts of Déjà's story has been seeing her courtship and relationship with teenage father Malik Hodges (Asante Blackk). Malik was introduced in the Season 4 premiere episode, "Strangers," and he has since appeared in dozens of episodes. He is the primary caregiver of his daughter, Janelle, which he had with a former girlfriend, and lives with his parents Darnell (Omar Epps) and Kelly (Marsha Stephanie Blake). Sparks immediately flew when Déjà and Malik met at a barbecue, and he has played an integral role in the development of Déjà's character.

While Randall and Beth originally objected to Déjà dating Malik — due to the fact that he had a daughter and that he and Déjà skipped school — they eventually warmed to him after a tense dinner with his parents and Déjà's undeniable happiness. Randall has developed his own relationship with the teen, and he has been depicted having candid conversations with Malik on numerous occasions. He also offered Malik an internship (despite Malik accidentally live streaming Randall changing clothes!), as well as advice on how to handle parenting and dating. Malik was accepted to Harvard at the end of Season 5, but we know little about where he ends up in the future storyline.

Nicky Pearson

Viewers did not meet Jack Pearson's (Milo Ventimiglia) younger brother Nicky in Season 1 of "This Is Us," and even if we had, we would have assumed it would be in the past storylines, since Jack had told his family that Nicky died during the Vietnam War. So, color us surprised that current-day Nicky, as played by Griffin Dunne, is heavily featured on the show today. We got our first glimpse of a very young Nicky (Donnie Masihi) in Season 2's fifth episode, "Brothers," when Jack's childhood was further explored.

In Season 3, we (and Kevin) found out that Nicky did not, in fact, die in the war — a disclosure that was made in "The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning." This was also the episode that dove deep into Nicky's life during the war, including a struggle with addiction and a tragic explosion where a young Vietnamese boy was killed. Michael Angarano played Nicky at this life stage, beginning with the fourth episode of the season — "Vietnam" — which explored Nicky's early life, how Jack became his protector, and how Jack followed Nicky overseas after the latter was drafted.

Later in Season 3, Kevin (Justin Hartley) and his siblings drove to Pennsylvania to find Nicky, who originally wanted nothing to do with them, but eventually bonded with Kevin. Season 4 saw him struggling with his addiction and mental health, but he was in a much better place by Season 5. Nicky has been seen in the future storyline, sitting at Rebecca's bedside.

Jack Damon

In the pilot episode of "This Is Us," Milo Ventimiglia made a memorable entrance when he appeared fully nude. The adult version of Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby's (Chris Sullivan) son, Jack Damon (Blake Stadnik), made a similar impression when he was introduced lying naked in bed, butt exposed. Of course, viewers did not know his identity at the time — something we only learned at the end of the episode, which was Season 4's premiere entitled "Strangers." In the episode, we learned a lot about who Jack turned out to be — he is blind, he is a famous musician, and he is married to a woman named Lucy (Auden Thornton).

Stadnik has only appeared in four episodes of "This Is Us," but we expect him to be in more as the final season fills us in on more of the future storylines. Even then, we have seen baby Jack quite a bit in the show. He was born three months early via C-section in "The Waiting Room," the 15th episode of Season 3, and we have seen Toby and Kate struggle to give him a "normal" life despite his blindness. Here is hoping that teenage Jack shows up in Season 6 to fill us in on more of his rise to fame.

Zoe Baker

Kevin is the Pearson we have seen cycle through the most romantic partners, including high school girlfriend and onetime wife Sophia Inman (played as an adult by Alexandra Breckenridge) and the mother of his twins and onetime fiancé Madison Simons (Caitlin Thompson). There was also Olivia Maine (Janet Montgomery), Sloane Sandburg (Milana Vayntrub), and Cassidy Sharp (Jennifer Morrison). And then, there was Zoe Baker (Melanie Liburd) — the most fascinating of them all, if you ask us. Zoe – who was a guest star in Season 2 and 5 and a main character in Season 3 — was first seen in the Season 2 finale, "The Wedding," when she served as the photographer at Kate's wedding to Toby.

Zoe is Beth's cousin, a free-spirited documentarian who began a casual relationship with Kevin that turned serious. It was later revealed that Zoe had been sexually abused by her father, which she told Kevin had contributed to her commitment and relationship issues. The duo traveled to Vietnam in search of information about Jack's time in the war, and even moved in together before breaking up due to their clash in future goals regarding parenthood. Zoe helped us better understand not only Kevin, but also high-strung Beth, who often clashed with the cousin with whom she grew up.

Jae-won Yoo

Jae-won Yoo (Tim Jo) has only appeared in a dozen episodes of "This Is Us" so far, but he has made a distinct impression ever since making his debut in the Season 3 episode "Kamsahamnida." He was introduced as Randall's campaign manager, and later became his chief of staff after Randall won his run for city council. Early on, Jae-won and Beth clashed over the campaign and expectations for Randall and the family, and Randall admitted he had been taking Beth's side even when he did not think it was the right one.

After winning the election, Randall was encouraged to fire Jae-won, who was a less experienced chief of staff than a new councilor may want. He instead fired the assistant who told him to get rid of his sidekick, and together, he and Jae-won committed to learning the ropes as a team. We have not seen Jae-won since early in Season 5 (in "A Long Road Home"), but he will hopefully make an appearance in the final season as Randall's political career either develops further or crashes.

Cassidy Sharp

"This Is Us" never really knew what to do with Cassidy Sharp (Jennifer Morrison), who was involved in both Kevin and Nicky's lives but exited the scene before her time seemed finished. Even still, she made quite the mark in her short time (10 episodes, thus far) on the show. Cassidy was introduced in the Season 4 premiere episode — the same episode where we met other new characters, Jack Damon and Malik Hodges. She is depicted as a tough but troubled woman, a marine dealing with alcoholism and PTSD upon her return home from war.

Cassidy and her husband Ryan (Nick Weschler) separated after she hit their child, but she is in AA when we first meet her in the present day. It is through this group that she formed a bond with Nicky — who vandalized the VA during Cassidy's support group meeting — and Kevin, with whom she had a one-night stand. Kevin bonded with Cassidy's son and seemed to like her, but they decided to be friends after he realized she wanted to be with her estranged husband. It was really nice to see Kevin have an actual friend — and a female one at that — and to watch the way that Nicky's character developed through bonding with another veteran.

Marc McKeon

We want to be clear — Marc McKeon (Austin Abrams) is not a "best" character in that we like or endorse him, but best in the sense of really advancing our understanding of Kate's confidence issues and general outlook on life. Marc was first seen in the Season 4 episode "Flip a Coin," when he flirted with and then hired Kate at the record store at which he was employed. He met the family as Kate's official boyfriend in the following episode, to the immediate disapproval of Randall and Kevin.

We saw the true depth of Marc's verbal abuse and cruelty toward Kate in Season 4's 13th episode, "A Hell of a Week: Part Three," and we also saw her take him back after a half-assed apology. Their toxicity continued, but it seemed like we had finally seen the end of Marc after episode 14, "The Cabin." Alas, Marc popped up again in Season 5 — in a really important storyline relative to Kate's parenthood struggles. In the episode "Honestly," Kate confessed to Toby that she had gotten pregnant toward the end of her relationship with Marc (and found out after their breakup). Abrams returned in the next episode, "A Long Road Home," when current-day Kate went to confront Marc in San Diego and teenage Kate decided to get an abortion without telling him.

Phillip

We don't know enough about Phillip (Chris Geere), but that is obviously going to change in Season 6, since it was revealed at the end of Season 5 that Kate marries Phillip at some point. We have started to see a softer side of Phillip, but he still seems insufferable, so here is hoping that the crusty Brit softens in new episodes. We first met Phillip in Season 5's "Both Things Can Be True," when Kate started her new job as a teaching assistant at a school for the blind. Phillip is the music teacher with whom Kate works –a man who does not seem to appreciate Kate at all, but who would not let her quit when she tried to resign in the season finale, "The Adirondacks."

We have a lot of questions about Phillip and Kate that we need to be answered before the show ends. First, and most importantly, why do Kate and Toby end things? While it is possible that Kate and Toby simply drift apart, it is also possible that she cheats on him with Phillip. But in any case, we also need to see how they got together, both the first time and in terms of how it all developed into marriage. Also, did they have a child together? It seems unlikely, given Kate and Toby's fertility struggles, but it is possible. Finally, we need to know if Kate and Phillip are still together in the future storyline with Rebecca on her deathbed.

Carol Clarke

Beth Pearson is one of our favorite characters on "This Is Us," and so it feels like a win any time we get to explore more of Beth's backstory. Meeting her mother, Carol Clarke (Phylicia Rashad) has allowed us to understand new layers of Beth, as well as her interactions with her own daughters. Carol was introduced in Season 3's 13th episode, "Our Little Island Girl," which was an episode entirely focused on Beth's family. Current day Carol had hurt her hip at work — she is a high school principal — and Beth and Zoe went to visit her.

Through flashbacks, we learned that Beth went to a prestigious ballet school and had dreams of becoming a prima ballerina. When her father died, Carol was unable and unwilling to keep up with Beth's tuition. After she missed out on a critical dance showcase, Carol convinced Beth to quit. In the present storyline, the mother and daughter had it out about lost dreams, sacrifices, and the way things turned out.

Carol has popped up three more times since this initial episode. In "Flip a Coin," Carol is shown disapproving of teenage Randall and appreciating his current-day self, as well as middling in support for Beth's dance studio. She is also featured in two Season 5 episodes — most notably "I've Got This," when Carol came to visit the family for an extended period of time. After initially clashing, Beth invited Carol to stay indefinitely, so it is very possible there is more Carol to come.

Hai Lang

We technically met Randall's birth mother Laurel in Season 1, so she is ineligible for our list. Nonetheless, we learned a lot more about the woman in later seasons, and the key to much of this disclosure was another character, Hai Lang (played by Vien Hong and Kane Lieu). Hai is a Vietnamese American fisherman who contacts Randall in "A Long Road Home" to let him know that Laurel did not die as a result of his birth, as he was told. In fact, Laurel lived until 2015, which prompted Randall and Beth to drive to New Orleans the following episode in order to meet Hai and get more information. The first time we met Hai was in the episode "Changes," where we see him teaching his granddaughter to fish and telling her about a woman he once knew named Laurel. In the next episode, "Honestly," Hai encountered Randall's viral video, wherein he mentioned his father by name, and realized he was Laurel's son.

In New Orleans (in the episode "Birth Mother"), we learn all about Laurel's history, including a strict upbringing, a youthful love affair with Hai, and her eventual arrest and imprisonment on drug charges after overdosing shortly after Randall's birth. We also learn that Laurel never came to find Randall because she felt like she did not deserve to be his mother, and that she spent the last two years of her life reunited with Hai. Laurel died of cancer, so Randall could not meet her, but he did inherit her farmhouse — which would have never happened had Hai not reached out.

Ellie

Despite only appearing in four episodes, Ellie (Annie Funke) is a crucial character in the "This Is Us" universe. It is because of Ellie that Toby and Kate had a second child, after all. Ellie first appeared in Season 5's third episode, "Changes," where we learned that she was a widowed single mom who was pregnant as the result of a one-night stand and looking for a home for her unborn child. She ultimately decided that Kate and Toby were the right fit, which is why she hung around for the next handful of episodes.

In "Honestly," Ellie confirmed her commitment to the adoption after Kate accompanied her to her ultrasound appointment. She also mentioned having considered an abortion, which was a catalyst for us finding out about Kate's past pregnancy. Ellie was induced in the episode "There" and gave birth in "In the Room." That episode, the 8th of the season, was the last time see saw Ellie. Ellie did not want to be in baby Hailey Rose's life, at least for the time being.

Dr. Leigh

Dr. Leigh (Pamela Adlon) is a relatively minor character as far as "This Is Us" recurring stars go, but she was an integral part of Randall's story these last couple of seasons. Dr. Leigh's first episode was Season 4's 15th, "Clouds." Randall originally walked out of the therapists office, but he returned at the urging of Beth. Two episodes later, in "After the Fire," much of the focus was on Randall's therapy, which led to Randall reimagining past events and confronting his mother's deception.

In Season 5's two-part opener, "Forty: Part One" and "Forty: Part Two," we saw the continuation of Randall's sessions with Dr. Leigh. However, toward the end of the episodes, Randall told Dr. Leigh that he was leaving her as her patient. Based upon the world around him — including COVID-19 but mostly due to the George Floyd case and the resulting social justice discussions of 2020 — Randall decided that he needed an African American therapist. Part of his realization came from his interaction with his daughter's boyfriend, Malik, with whom Randall was able to relate in ways he never could with his White siblings and parents.

Gregory

Beginning with Season 4's third episode "Unhinged," Gregory (Timothy Omundson) has thus far appeared in six episodes of "This Is Us." We anticipate he will continue to be featured in the final season, but it is unclear how much more story there is to mine. When we first met Gregory, we were meant to get the impression that he was unreasonable and mean. He demanded that Toby not park in a certain spot, but we soon learned that this was because it interfered with his recovery after having a stroke. After learning of this, Kate started regularly walking alongside her neighbor.

The unlikely friendship between Gregory and Kate continued and began to create tension in "Sorry," when it was revealed that Gregory had fed Jack an avocado without Toby's knowledge and that Jack had begun eating solid foods. This was only an extension of the strain that had developed between Kate and Toby after he started secretly doing Crossfit and losing weight. Since Toby and Kate are going to break up in Season 6, perhaps Gregory will be a shoulder on which Kate leans.