Dan Fogelman pays tribute to Ron Cephas Jones: 'I hope we've done you proud'

By Dan Snierson
February 22, 2017 at 08:30 AM EST
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[SPOILER ALERT: This story contains story details from last night’s episode of This Is Us.]

Tuesday’s episode of This Is Us was undeniably a multiple-Kleenex-box hour, as William and Randall embarked on a journey to Memphis that served as the terminally ill father’s last hurrah. At the end of the episode, following a whirlwind tour of his hometown, William (Ron Cephas Jones) was rushed to the hospital by Randall (Sterling K. Brown), the biological son who had only recently met the man who left him on a fire station doorstep 36 years ago. His organs failing, William told Randall what he needed to hear, “You deserve everything, Randall, my beautiful boy… my son,” and then, with Randall holding his head, telling him to just breathe, he passed away.

While Randall — and the This Is Us fandom — mourned the loss of his father last night, series creator Dan Fogelman, who wrote the episode, shared a note on Twitter that he put at the end of the “Memphis” script.

Addressing the message “to the reader and particularly Ron Cephas Jones,” Fogelman wrote, “It’s never easy writing the death scene of one of your favorite characters (and actors). I hope we’ve done you proud – you certainly always deliver for us. And if anyone is extra sad about this ending, I’d urge you to remember the wise words of a young actor named Justin Hartley who said: “People will die in our lives. People that we love. But it’s kind of beautiful if you think about it, the fact that just because someone died, it doesn’t mean they’re not still in the painting.” (The Hartley quote refers a meaning-of-life speech that his character, Kevin, gave to his nieces in the show’s fifth episode about a painting he made.)

It appears that William will still be in the painting in more ways than one. Fogelman tells EW that William will appear in next week’s episode, and will continue be a presence on the show next season.

Click here to see what else Fogelman had to say about “Memphis” and the plan for Ron Cephas Jones moving forward. Go here to read Jones’ thoughts on the death (and life) of William.

Episode Recaps

NBC’s beloved era-hopping drama tells the story of the Pearson family through the years.
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  • 4
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  • Tuesdays at 9:00pm
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  • 09/20/16
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