"My dad put on a tie every day because he had to. I put one on every day because I want to. It’s important you know that. Maybe I don’t run into burning buildings for a living, but to me, my work is challenging and exciting. I will not apologize for the fact that it’s hard to explain to people."
Randall Pearson, Career Days
Randall Kenneth Pearson is Weather Trader in New York, an occupation which he admits is hard to explain. He's currently raising three young daughters with wife Beth and has an estranged father, William. He is the adoptive son of Rebecca and Jack and the adoptive brother of Kate and Kevin.
Randall's biological parents met on a bus route in the 1970s. While initially a poet, his father's writing declined as the couple became entangled in drugs. Randall was anonymously left on Fire Station Number 19's steps by his heroin-addicted biological father following his biological mother's death, presumably during childbirth. He was brought to a hospital nursery by a fireman, who met Jack Pearson at the viewing window, his own babies in the basinets right next to Randall.
Reeling from the loss of their third triplet, Jack and Rebecca adopt Randall from the hospital. Initially named Kyle, Rebecca renamed him Randall to give him a connection to his biological parents' favorite poet.
Throughout his childhood, Randall kept a running tally of black people he met. He secretly wondered if one of the men was his own biological father. He kept this a painful secret as he loved and respected his adopted father.
Randall struggles with insomnia and a compulsion to be perfect. He has known his wife, Beth for 17 years (met around 19). They purchased their home just prior to his promotion to partner in his firm.
He is portrayed by Sterling K. Brown
In the series premiere, Randall manages to track down his biological father, William, on his 36th birthday. His father is living in a rundown apartment in Philadelphia and now a recovering addict. While Randall attempts to only state his feelings and share that he is successful despite the man's best attempts, he finds himself wanting to introduce the man to his grandchildren. He brings William back with him to his Northern New Jersey home, introducing him initially to his children as a work friend. Later, he reveals him as their biological grandfather. William moves into one of the daughter's rooms, much to Randall's wife Beth's dismay; however, she relents when William states he has stage IV cancer and has little time left to live. Randall offers more sophisticated medical treatment for William, but William eventually requests to stop the treatment because he knows his time is near despite it.
In the past, William anonymously drops newborn Randall off at fire station after his biological mother had died, presumably during childbirth. A fireman takes Randall to a local hospital where he meets Jack Pearson. Jack, whose third triplet was stillborn, convinces his wife Rebecca to adopt Randall. Initially, they name him "Kyle" (the name intended for their third triplet), but Rebecca later renames him "Randall" after Dudley Randall, a favorite poet of William, whom Rebecca secretly meets with a couple times during Randall's childhood. This allows her to finally connected with her adopted son as an individual instead of as a replacement for her lost biological son.
Randall shares a closer bond with his adopted sister, Kate. His brother, Kevin, often was pressured by his peers to call him "Webster" after a television character who was adopted by a white family. Kevin also resents Randall for getting more attention from their mother, making Kevin feel invisible.
When he tests advanced scores, Randall transfers to a private school and later joins their football team as a teenager. He becomes friends with a black family at the pool, and his parents realize he needs more black influences in his life so he can know more about his identity and background.
Randall suffers from extreme anxiety and perfectionism. He begins to spiral down when he feels too much pressure from his job, his home life and his father's illness. In Jack Pearson's Son, he finally breaks down on the opening night of Back of an Egg, the play where his brother Kevin is the lead male role. Instead of performing, Kevin rushes to his brother's office to comfort Randall before taking Randall home to the family.
Once he has recovered, Randall and William decide to take a road trip to Memphis, William's hometown, before he no longer has the chance. Randall is excited to see where his father came from and possibly meet some extended family. Despite Beth's uncertainty following Randall's breakdown, they go on the trip with her blessing. On a pit stop, Randall takes William to Jack's tree where they spread some of his ashes during a memorial service. William pays his respects to Jack there before they continue on to Memphis. Once there, William shows Randall around the city, including the house where he once lived with his widowed mother. Then, they stop at a local club, and Randall meets William's estranged cousin. His cousin is initially angry at William for abandoning them and theoretically ruining their band's musical career, but he quickly forgives him and they have a grand evening playing together. The next morning, Randall finds William struggling to breathe and takes him to the hospital. Randall calls him "Dad" for the first and last time and helps William pass peacefully while using Jack's "breathe" technique.
Earlier in the season, Randall discovered his mother had known William his entire life but had kept it a secret. He forgives her once he realizes he got the time he needed with William before he passed.
Following William's death, Randall quits his job as a Weather Trader after receiving a sympathy basket of pears, even though they know he is allergic from a past experience, and a generic, unfeeling sympathy card from "The Team." He tells them he doesn't have a plan. Later, he realizes that he would like to adopt a baby so he can give that baby the same chance he had.
- Randall was born on the same day as Kevin and Kate, August 31, 1980. However, in Career Days, Randall's report card says that he was born on June 27, 1981.
- As a teenager, Randall calls his sister Kate "LL Cool K".
- Randall suffers from extreme anxiety and perfectionism. He has had two breakdowns: one during Beth's first pregnancy and another while suffering to juggle his job, his marriage, his father's illness, and his children.
- Randall is allergic to pears.
- Randall is the presumed favorite of his mother Rebecca, who is shown to coddle him throughout his childhood.
- He initially intended to attend Howard University, but after his adopted father's death, he chose to attend Carnegie Mellon University so he would be closer to his family. He met Beth here.
- Randall and Kevin get in a fight on the streets of NYC, and Kevin tells the onlookers that Randall is his brother. Randall reminds Kevin that this is the first he has acknowledge him as his brother.
- After William dies, Randall quits his Weather Trader job when the company sends him a sympathy gift of pears despite having an allergic reaction to them at work in the past.
- When Randall learns his father has musical talent, he attempts to learn the piano to see if he has the same but untapped talents.
- He names his first daughter Tessana after a ceiling fan.
"No hard feelings, man. I walk out of here in triumph. I came, I saw, I conquered." Randall Pearson ( What Now?)
"My father died, man, and on the day of his memorial you sent me pears, which I'm allergic to. And you know this because at the lunch when you hired me we at Roquefort salad and I went into anaphylactic shock. And along with the pears that could have killed me, you sent a card with a one-line Hallmark message and a typed out signature, from "The Team." And for all this, Tyler, I thank you." Randall Pearson ( What Now?)
"I hate going to grandma and grandpa's! Whenever we take pictures, they always say, 'Okay, okay, now one with just the twins.'" Randall Pearson, (Pilgrim Rick)
"Life feels like Pac-Man sometimes, I guess. It’s the same game over and over again. Same board. Same ghosts. Sometimes, you get a bunch of cherries but eventually and inevitably, those ghosts catch up with you." Randall Pearson (Number Three)
"My dad was a superhero. Man literally saved my life the day I was born. And he always took action. He never sat still. He was a superhero and then he died and we’ve all been scrambling ever since, scrambling to keep him alive however we can, scrambling for new ways to feel close to him. I pride myself on having a piece of my dad in me, always have. But my dad wouldn’t have sat still. And my dad wouldn’t have just made phone calls. If this councilman won’t do his job, then maybe I can. I think I’m gonna run against him, Beth." Randall Pearson (Katie Girls)
"All you can do as a parent is try to pack the days with as much good stuff as possible and hope that it outweighs the bad. You hope that the good stuff sticks." Randall Pearson (Songbird Road: Part Two)