Although Shameless is still going strong, many of its characters have come and gone. After all, everyone's story eventually must arrive at its conclusion. If their journeys are dragged on for too long, they may bore the audience. Or, far worse, diminish what the audience liked about the show in the first place.
The writers behind this fantastic hit show have certainly gotten used to having to say "goodbye" to characters. The cast has grown significantly larger at times. It was inevitable for some to leave. Even with many Gallagher family members, friends, and enemies coming and going, it's still tough for the audience to part ways with them. Well, we'll have to get used to it. By the end of this current ninth season, we'll have to imagine Shameless without Emmy Rossum's Fiona Gallagher. Because of this, it's more than appropriate to delve into all of the most notable times characters have left the show.
Of course, not every single character who has left Shameless has been beloved. In some cases, the writers clearly wanted us to forget that a character even existed. That doesn't necessarily mean that the end of their character arc was poorly written. After all, that only harms the show itself. This list will delve into some of the times that loathed characters left the show in an entertaining way. Additionally, it will examine the moments where the writers completely lost interest and when they sent off cherished characters in the best way possible.
Here are 10 Character Exits That Saved The Show (And 10 That Hurt It).
20 Saved: Ian And Mickey
To say that Ian's "Gay Jesus" storyline from the last couple seasons was weird would be an understatement. Not only did it feel like an unnecessary plot development for the groundbreaking character, but it also wasn't particularly engaging. However, the writers completely rectified this for Cameron Monaghan's final episodes of the show. Firstly, the writers gave Ian a touching, honest, and triumphant courtroom scene that explained some of his recent behavior. The scenes of Ian preparing to go to jail weren't supremely interesting but his goodbye to his family was a tear-jerker.
The writers corrected the mistakes they had made with one of the greatest on-screen romances in modern history.
The cinematic reveal of Mickey sharing Ian's cell was rewarding and a beautiful send off for both characters.
19 Hurt: Karen
Karen often gets titled "the most disliked" in the Shameless universe. She's also one of the most important characters in the show's history and deserved a better send-off. After receiving brain damage due to being run-over by Mandy, Karen moved to Arizona with Jody and her baby in order to recover. She hasn't been seen since the end of season three.
Karen went through an important story arc that helped reveal Lip's character and endear us to a possible relationship between the two. After all, by the beginning of season three, she really did seem to want to be with him authentically. She just needed time to grow out of her dark period. Instead, everything that made her personality interesting was physically taken from her and she was sent out of state.
18 Saved: Jimmy #1
How do you end a story about a criminal struggling to break free from his world to be with the woman he loves? Well, you make him face the consequences of his past. Shameless didn't go for a fairytale ending when it came to writing Justin Chatwin's Jimmy off the show. They didn't let him escape his connections to the underworld. Sure, he may have wanted to clean up his act in order to be with Fiona, but it was far too late for that.
Having Jimmy walk onto Estefania's father's boat to face his apparent demise was the right decision. Not only was it mysteriously heartbreaking, but it also made complete thematic sense. If only this had been the permanent end for the character.
17 Hurt: Jimmy #2
Bringing Jimmy back wasn't necessarily a bad thing. However, Shameless didn't seem to have much of a plan for him once he returned for season five. Sure, the initial, "You came back after all?" line exchange with Fiona was rewarding, but everything that followed wasn't. After all, nothing of substance happened.
All Jimmy did in season Five was attempt to win Fiona back, but even that was brief.
After his plan was foiled, he got into a fist fight with Fiona's husband, Gus. Then he jumped on his motorcycle and drove away. That was how the show got rid of him the second time. Sure, he could come back in this current ninth season, but chances are that was his final scene.
16 Saved: Mandy
Mandy got boring. That's the simple way to describe a lot of the fans feelings on her relationship with Lip. Sure, the pair had some rewarding moments, but it was never as interesting at the Karen/Lip dynamic. The writers wrote her out, but did it in a way that made sense to her character and her tragic upbringing.
Giving Mandy a happy ending wouldn't have been true to the character. Not only that, but it was important that Mandy suffered some consequences for what she did to Karen. Mandy lost Lip, got involved with a man reminiscent of her father, and then became a nightworker. The consequences that she experienced made us continue to sympathize with her and were a powerful end to her story.
15 Hurt: Kassidi
What exactly happened to Kassidi? The answer is, no one knows. All that the writers of Shameless gave us was that one of Carl's wannabe-soldiers took her out, but we never saw it. We only heard that it happened.
This begs the question: "Is Kassidi really gone?"
Fans shouldn't have to ask that question. Nobody wanted Kassidi there to begin with. She was easily one of the most annoying characters, but she helped strengthen Carl's character, which was something that needed to happen. Thus, she deserved something more fitting. Instead, the writers literally cast her aside as if she never existed. This isn't a way to fix writing mistakes of the past. They could have found a more creative and rewarding way to end her arc.
14 Saved: Sammi
Before the writers of Shameless wrote Kassidi out, they should have referred back to how they rid themselves of Sammi. After all, Sammi was the most annoying character before Kassidi came along. Instead of unceremoniously offing her, they gave Sammi an end that suited her character.
Chucking Sammi in prison was a logical choice.
It was only a matter of time until her past caught up with her. Additionally, the reason why she was incarcerated was that she tried to shoot Mickey. It felt like Shameless breaking the fourth wall to tell the audience that the show still valued its stronger characters. Sammi's departure was great for the show because it removed her in a way that didn't denigrate the character but still freed us from her.
13 Hurt: Trevor
The inclusion of Ian's trans boyfriend, Trevor, was a major source of news. It was seen as a big step forward for television, especially since the character was portrayed by an actual trans actor, Elliot Fletcher. Soon, the writers seemingly realized that they didn't have anything of substance for him to do. Eventually, he was merely wallpaper.
Instead of coming up with a creative solution, they simply turfed him.
Trevor was given no "goodbye." He just disappeared. Not only that, but no character has mentioned his name since. With Ian's departure from the show, it's highly unlikely that Trevor will return. This choice not only did a disservice to the character and the show, but also to the community it attempted to represent.
12 Saved: Jody
Jody was goofy. It only made sense that he was given a goofy way to leave the show. Sure, the way that Shameless got rid of Karen may have hurt the story itself, but taking Jody along with her actually saved it. After all, it was a silly way of getting rid of a character. It wasn't suitable for her, but it was for him.
At the end of the day, it was time for Jody to leave. He was funny at first but quickly outstayed his welcome. In fact, his story ran its course long before he wanted to help Karen recover in Arizona. Although many fans were happy to see Jody finally disappear from the Shameless universe, the awkward, yet heartfelt, final interaction he had with Sheila was touching.
11 Hurt: Derek
Derek exiting after Debbie got pregnant felt like it was done purely to force Debbie into a life of single-motherhood. It seemed like the writers just wanted to arrive at that storyline and didn't care about Derek at all. That made sense since he was totally uninteresting from the start.
Instead of attempting to rectify their sloppy writing, they simply got him to move to Florida.
Sure, he popped up for a brief cameo in season eight, but his departure in season six was basically his final scene. How great would it have been to have actually cared about Derek? The story would have been just that much more heartbreaking. Maybe it would have even impacted Debbie's life long term. Nowadays, she seems fairly comfortable with being a single mom.
10 Saved: Monica
Monica's permanent exit from Shameless saved Frank. Although the show had been consistently finding ways of making Frank more engaging and sympathetic, offing Monica was an effective choice. Her passing was also a fitting way for the multi-dimensional character to leave us.
Fans were used to seeing Monica come and go from the series. It was kind of her thing. Each time, the writers came up with something interesting for her to do. In her final visit, she and Frank reconciled and renewed their vows before a total binge that ended her. All of this was touching and completely authentic. It was only a matter of time before Monica's bad habits caught up with her. The reality of her demise was a wakeup call for Frank, albeit a brief one.
9 Hurt: Sean
Sean's original exist in season six was beautifully tragic. Both he and Fiona had a tumultuous past full of mistakes, but they seemed to better one another. Their wedding should have been the pinnacle of this. Instead, Frank revealed that Sean was still into bad habits and everything fell apart. This was a great way of wrapping up the story. However, Sean returned in season eight to make amends with her. He revealed that he married and is clean and happy. Fiona couldn't handle this news so she attempted to ruin his marriage.
Not only did this story choice hurt Fiona as a character, but it also didn't do anything for Sean.
Most importantly, the show suffered as a result.
8 Saved: Estefania
Although Estefania may have annoyed some Shameless fans, she was the perfect living representation of Jimmy's struggle to overcome his criminal past and win Fiona. Estefania was there to come between Fiona and Jimmy. He was forced to marry her because his boss, Estefania's crime-lord father, wanted him to grant her a green card. Otherwise, she would be deported. This meant that Jimmy had to be very aware of keeping up appearances or risk significant punishment.
Jimmy's heart pulled him to Fiona, which got Estefania deported and sealed his fate. This near-perfect writing rid Shameless of a character most people didn't like and led to the most narratively rewarding close to Fiona and Jimmy's relationship.
7 Hurt: Eddie
At first, it seemed that Eddie was just an interesting face at Lip's bike shop. Soon, she evolved into a casual fling for him that didn't really do much other than cure Lip of some loneliness. Then things got weird. Without delving into any significant character reveals, Eddie became the third point in a love triangle with Lip and Sierra.
The next thing we knew, Eddie left town and dumped her niece on Lip's plate.
Essentially, Eddie was an utter waste of a character whose exit felt lazy. The fact that she abandoned her niece with Lip made us dislike her even more. On top of it all, the storyline with the niece seemed to go nowhere. The culmination of these events ended up harming the show.
6 Saved: Bianca
Season five contained an interesting journey for Frank. It involved helping a terminally ill doctor named Bianca embrace life. Of course, his way of embracing life involved a lot of bad activities that any sane or healthy person would avoid doing. Since Bianca had a tight deadline, she was game. Eventually, it was time for Bianca to leave. Instead of passing due to her illness, she went out on her own terms.
This was a very poetic end for the character. It should have held a mirror up to Frank, as he's been living on borrowed time for years. Instead, it just caused him to grieve her departure. Frank grieved authentically, causing us to truly sympathize with him. For a brief moment, Frank showed he cared about someone other than himself or Monica.
5 Hurt: Jasmine Hollander
Only the most dedicated Shameless fans remember Fiona's friend, Jasmine. Initially, she was the person who dragged Fiona out of her comfort zone. Eventually, she developed romantic feelings for Fiona and aggressively tried to put herself in Fiona's life. At the end of her storyline, Jasmine had been kicked out of her husband's house and gotten herself in trouble with the law. When she attempted to move in with Fiona and make moves on her, Fiona ended their relationship.
Jasmine was never seen again.
Although friends often come and go from our lives, it felt strange that Fiona never ran into her again. More importantly, Jasmine wasn't written to be very sympathetic, so it was hard to feel anything when she left. This showed that the writers could get lazy, even back in Shameless' strongest years.
4 Saved: Eddie Jackson
Eddie Jackson constantly got the sharp end of the stick. Not only did he have to live with his ex-wife Sheila and her boyfriend, Frank Gallagher, but he also had to suffer the wrath of his daughter, Karen. He may not have been innocent, but he was the punching bag for a lot of bad behavior.
Karen made sure to vent her unhappiness with her father in the most dastardly and creative ways imaginable. The final way she tormented him was so inappropriate that we can't even mention it. This event led him to jump in a frozen lake with a cinderblock tied to himself. Not only was his demise darkly funny, but it also summed up why Shameless was so groundbreaking in the first place.
3 Hurt: Clayton Gallagher
The truth behind the identity of Ian's true father went nowhere. This was a shame since it seemed like season one wanted to get into the fact that Monica probably had an affair with Frank's brother Clayton. Even though Clayton and Ian ended up sharing a scene together, it didn't amount to anything. Clayton then disappeared for a while, although none of the fans seemed to care. The only other scene that Clayton Gallagher was in didn't have anything to do with being Ian's true father. It simply depicted Frank and Monica going to Clayton for money. After that, Clayton was never seen again.
Introducing a character and a storyline like this and then doing nothing with them is a complete waste.
In fact, it actually harmed the show.
2 Saved: Sheila
How do you wrap-up a storyline about an agoraphobic? Well, you send her off to travel the world. This is exactly what the writers did with Joan Cusack's wonderful character, Sheila. In the later years of Sheila's role on Shameless, she didn't have a whole lot to do, but her storyline in season five gave her a great swan song.
It followed her debating whether or not to sell her house for double its market value. Although she wanted to use the money to finally see the world, she put it off to take care of Frank. Of course, Frank completely took advantage of this. His time with her led to him accidentally blowing up her house. This forced Sheila to leave the Southside and reclaim her life once and for all.
1 Hurt: Fiona
There's no way around it, Fiona's exit will hurt Shameless. Of course, Emmy Rossum still has a few episodes to further endear us to her beautifully written character.
No matter how the writers decide to permanently end her storyline, it's going to sting.
Fiona Gallagher was one of the main reasons why Shameless has been so beloved. Even though she had a different existence than a lot of us, she was always relatable. She is loving, hardworking, and capable of making mistakes. If the show continues on after this season, it will never be the same again. Let's just hope that Fiona gets the ending that makes the most sense for her character. If she does, the audience will feel rewarded. That will lessen the inevitable heartbreak that we will feel after she's gone forever.
Which character exit do you feel saved or hurt Shameless? Let us know in the comments!