Over the past nine seasons of Showtime's hit comedy-drama series Shameless, viewers have met and had to say goodbye to a very wide variety of dynamic characters from Chicago's South Side. Countless love interests, friends, and close acquaintances of Frank Gallagher and his children have come and gone, and while some of these character exits were welcomed or at least accepted by fans, a few memorable individuals definitely hurt the show when they were written off of it.
There are a variety of reasons why beloved characters may have disappeared from Shameless. Fiona and Ian's departures in the series' ninth season were likely due to Emmy Rossum and Cameron Monaghan's desire to pursue other projects after starring in over 100 episodes. They'll undoubtedly be missed, but the show's writers can't be blamed for coming up with an ending to the two fan-favorite Gallaghers' stories. Some other important characters were only meant to briefly enter into the Gallagher family's lives to guide them down a particular path or impact them in a substantial way and were never supposed to stick around for long. Fans may never know why the series' writers and stars have forced certain individuals to leave the Gallaghers or the South Side behind, but we can't help thinking that certain character exits did serious damage to the show that can only be repaired with their return. Whether these individuals vanished back in Shameless' first season in 2011 or more recently, we'll never stop hoping for their surprise reemergence.
Here are 10 Character Exits That Hurt Shameless (And 10 Fans Want Back).
In the first five seasons of Shameless, fans watched as kind-hearted Sheila Jackson struggled to cope with her agoraphobia and repeatedly let Frank use her for her wealth and hospitality. She was one of the series' most innocent characters, and it was always fun to watch her interact with the Gallaghers and develop into a more confident and outspoken woman.
When Frank accidentally blew up Sheila's house, she saw that as a sign to leave Chicago and fulfill her dream of seeing the world. Since she started the show completely unable to go outside, this proved how far she'd come and was the perfect end to her character's story. Her presence has definitely been missed as she was Frank's most likable love interest and the Jackson family's interactions with the Gallaghers were so important in the first few seasons, but fans understand why Sheila exited Shameless.
Shameless fans still can't agree on how they feel about Frank's surprise eldest daughter, Sammi Slott. When Frank's drinking forced him to get a liver transplant and his children refused to help, he turned to his secret eldest daughter for a donation. Sammi was so happy to finally meet her father, she didn't care that Frank only entered her life so he could get her liver and showed him instant, unwavering devotion.
Some viewers disliked the idea of another Gallagher child being in the show and were relieved when her character was written off the show. But Sammi provided the series with another entertaining, highly dysfunctional character, and it may have been better off if she stuck around as Frank's top supporter and an adversary for his children and their friends.
Sammi Slott often got on viewers' nerves and hasn't really been missed since her departure in the show's fifth season, but her unintelligent son Chuckie provided a great deal of entertainment and fans wouldn't mind seeing him back on Shameless.
When Carl told Chuckie to stick by him at school, Chuckie began viewing his uncle as his closest friend and protector. Carl took advantage of his nephew's admiration and used him for substance trade, and when they got caught, he and Chuckie found themselves on opposite sides of a race war in juvenile prison. All of Chuckie's scenes were memorably hilarious as it was easy to laugh at how witless he could be, and with Fiona and Ian both leaving Shameless, the show might need some comedic relief to stay afloat.
When Lip was reeling from heavy drinking and depression after being dumped by his professor girlfriend and kicked out of school, Sierra gave him the motivation he needed to start piecing his life back together. He wanted to be worthy of her and her son, so he started taking his sobriety seriously and tried becoming a better person.
For two seasons, fans watched anxiously as Sierra and Lip struggled to figure out their feelings for each other. When it finally seemed like they were ready to be a couple, Lip decided he couldn't be with her and advised Sierra to take back her ex. Even though she was such an important character in Lip's recovery arc, Sierra hasn't been seen or talked about since.
When Mickey Milkovich was first introduced in Shameless, he wasn't a particularly likable character. He was incredibly violent, didn't seem to take proper care of himself, and repeatedly left Ian unsure of the status of their relationship. Once Mickey started opening up and accepting his feelings for Ian, however, he became a fan-favorite.
Mickey did everything he could to try to help Ian with his bipolar disorder and stood by his boyfriend when Ian was at his absolute worst. When Mickey broke out of prison, he returned to the South Side to try to convince Ian to run away with him, and when he was sent back to prison, he made sure he'd share a cell with his soulmate. Mickey's growth was amazing to watch, and fans don't want to accept the possibility that his and Ian's story has come to an end.
Svetlana started out as the nameless woman Mickey's father forced him to be with in front of Ian, but when she became Mickey's wife, Shameless' writers surprised viewers by making her one of the series' main characters for several seasons. It was difficult to like her because she threatened to ruin Mickey and Ian's relationship and went on to manipulate and almost ruin Kevin and Veronica's relationship, but in a show about questionable people doing some seriously questionable things, Svetlana fit right in.
When Svetlana left the show, Kevin and V had to focus on fixing some of the messes she made in their lives, and since then, they haven't interacted with the Gallagher kids very often. In a show that's primarily about Frank and his family, this lack of connectivity has made their storylines less interesting.
Fiona hasn't left Shameless just yet, but ever since Emmy Rossum confirmed on Facebook last August that the show's ninth season will be her last, fans have been dreading her impending departure. We're not sure what will take her away from her siblings and the South Side, but many fans hope that the conclusion to her story will involve the return of Jimmy Lishman.
Jimmy definitely wasn't the best boyfriend, but Fiona isn't without her flaws and the couple often seemed perfect for each other. Fiona's been going through some seriously hard times on the series lately, and it'd be nice to see her get a happy ending with her first love the same way Ian did with Mickey.
Trevor was a very polarizing character on Shameless, with some fans loving that he helped teach Ian more about the community and inspired him to be more of a role model for fellow teenagers, and other fans resenting him simply because he wasn't Mickey. When Ian and Trevor broke up, Ian spent weeks trying to get back in his good graces and win his ex back, but as soon as he gained popularity in the community, Ian seemed to just forget all about the guy he claimed to care so much about.
Trevor was the whole reason Ian got into activism, but Ian let his newfound fame get to his head and Trevor just became a mere afterthought on Shameless. It was a very awkward way to write off his character, but now that Ian may be gone for good, there's no reason for Trevor to return.
Debbie spent her whole childhood watching her older sister raise a house full of kids, so she wrongly assumed being a teenage mother would be easy. When she fell for Derek Delgado, she decided to become pregnant so he'd be forced to stay with her forever and so she could get an early start at parenthood. Her plan didn't work quite so well, though, as Derek fled across the country to avoid having to be a father.
Derek was in and out of Shameless in only a few episodes, so it seemed like his character was just a weird plot device the writers used to help Debbie conceive a daughter. Derek was made out to be a good guy, so it'd be nice if he returned to help raise Franny and maybe give Debbie the love she's always craved.
Even though Monica was a very important part of Frank and his children's lives, she only played a small role in Shameless. She abandoned her family shortly after Liam's birth because she was never really ready to be a mother, and her kids spent most of their childhoods resenting her. But whenever she did come back to the South Side, Monica did a great job shaking things up and always kept the show interesting.
In the series' seventh season, she suffered from brain damage and passed away. Monica's passing helped several of her kids finally forgive her for some of her flaws as a parent, and while that was nice for fans to see, the show was better off with her in it.
As much as fans may not want to admit it, Shameless is the most interesting when the Gallaghers are experiencing some serious, tragic drama. Lip's storyline was the most captivating when he was trying to get his life back on track following his break-up with Helene and his expulsion from college, and now that he's got a steady job, a new love interest and has his sobriety in check, it may be time for someone to step in and add some chaos back to his life.
Karen would definitely be the best character to bring back to the show if the writers want to put Lip on tilt again. Lip loved her no matter how mean or manipulative she acted, and Karen's return would surely ruin his current success and cause him to become as much of a mess as the rest of the Gallaghers.
Tony was a major part of the first season of Shameless, as the Gallagher family loved using his status as a police officer to help them get out of some legal struggles. He had a major crush on Fiona, which she was fully aware of and often took advantage of.
Tony quickly grew suspicious of Fiona's boyfriend Steve, and when he caught him in the act of stealing a car, he forced Steve to leave Chicago—and Fiona—behind. Viewers assumed that he and Fiona would be a couple when the series returned for its second season, but Tony was nowhere to be seen. In fact, Tony didn't reappear until the sixth season, when Ian randomly discovered that he was a member of an all-gay baseball team of police officers.
When Monica first showed up in Shameless to reclaim Liam and raised doubt that the baby was actually Frank's son, Lip and Ian were inspired to take their own DNA tests to see if they were truly the offspring of the derelict man who claimed to be their father. Liam and Lip were revealed to be Frank's, but the DNA results showed that Ian was actually the son of one of Frank's siblings.
It became obvious that he was redheaded Clayton Gallagher's son, but nothing ever came of that realization. With Gallaghers starting to leave the series as their actors move on to pursue different projects, it'd be interesting to see Clayton return and potentially reveal himself to be Debbie's father as well, as she also shares his red hair.
Some Shameless characters disappeared from the show shortly after they were introduced because their sole purpose was to guide one of the Gallaghers down a particular path, and Dominique only seemed to exist to inspire Carl to enter military school and abandon his "thug" persona.
Carl was desperate to prove to Dominique's father that he was worthy of her, and his attempts to shape into a better person made him who he is now on the show, several seasons later. Her role in the series was undoubtedly important, but fans didn't appreciate how quickly she was written off after a season of being such an important part of Carl's life.
Kassidi was another character who got randomly booted from Shameless after being an important part of Carl's life, but fans haven't been quite as accepting of her exit and wonder when and if she's ever going to return. She actually managed to convince Carl to marry her before he went back to military school, and while her obsession with him definitely grew tiresome, it was very weird for the writers to simply end her life offscreen.
One of Carl's cadets claimed he "handled" the Kassidi situation and promised her body wouldn't be found. This was good for a laugh, but it was a very lazy and bizarre way for the wife of a major character to exit the series.
Fiona's life has been an absolute trainwreck so far in Shameless' ninth season. She's found out that her boyfriend Ford is actually married, she had to sell her apartment building, she got in a car accident and Debbie has been incredibly strict with making her pay her portion of the rent and utilities in the Gallagher house. To make matters worse, Fiona hasn't really had a friend to help her through this difficult time.
Fiona's relationship with Veronica hasn't been great for several seasons, and while she used to have Nessa to confide in during stressful times, her character disappeared from the show despite being one of Fiona's closest friends. Nessa's exit only made the tragedy that has been Fiona's life more difficult to watch.
If Shameless doesn't bring back Karen Jackson to bring some chaos back into Lip's life, Helene Runyon should pop up in the South Side to shake things up. Lip was head over heels in love with Helene, and when she ended their controversial relationship, he allowed his depression over their break-up to ruin his entire life. He turned to drinks for comfort despite vowing for his entire life to be nothing like his drink-loving father, he got kicked out of school, and he seemingly lost his reason for being and gave up on his future.
A mere one episode cameo by Helene would be all it'd take to throw Lip's life for a loop, and while it's been nice to see him happy lately, Shameless is better when the Gallaghers are struggling.
Fiona hasn't left Shameless yet, but fans are already mourning her departure. She's been one of, if not the most, important characters in the entire series, and it's really hard to imagine what it'll be like without her.
It's felt like Fiona has been gearing up for her upcoming exit for a few seasons now, as she's been distancing herself from some of her closest friends and encouraged her siblings to become less reliant on her. She's also become less of a fan-favorite character, as she seems to refuse to learn from her past mistakes and has become a lot more like the father she's disliked her whole life. But despite all that, fans still aren't ready to say goodbye.
When Cameron Monaghan and Emmy Rossum both revealed that the ninth season of Shameless will be their last, fans were understandably worried about how the show might suffer without two of the most important Gallaghers. Fiona is supposedly going to be gone for good, but fans can rejoice over recent news that there's still hope for Ian to come back to the show.
"I talked to [showrunner] John Wells about possible things we could do with the character in the future,” Monaghan explained at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “We got to a place, both creatively and financially, where I felt comfortable coming back."
Ian will reportedly be back as a season regular in Season 10.