Showtime's hit comedy series Shameless has one of the best ensemble casts on television, so it's no big surprise that fans have a hard time agreeing on a favorite character. While each member of the Gallagher family gets their fair share of screen-time, Fiona often comes across as Shameless' main protagonist, as her siblings' primary guardian and caregiver. Viewers initially hoped she'd find the love and success she seemingly deserved in the first few seasons, but her poor relationship choices and self-sabotaging behavior has since kept her from being a fan-favorite.
Once beloved characters like Veronica and Ian have similarly suffered from weak character arcs which damaged their popularity, but Lip Gallagher has managed to remain the tragic hero viewers love to root for in spite of some of his more glaring failings.
Lip is the most intelligent member of his family, and likely has the most potential in life out of his many siblings. Unfortunately, he often fails to live up to that potential and lets his poor dating choices and refusal to be his family's "golden goose" hold him back. His sense of obligation to his family and willingness to pour so much of his heart into his relationships make it nearly impossible to dislike Lip, but some fans fail to realize that much of Lip's unhappiness is his own fault and that he's not quite as perfect as they seem to think.
Here are 20 Things Wrong With Lip We All Choose To Ignore.
From the very first episode of Shameless, it was made clear to viewers that Ian and Lip Gallagher were far more than brothers. They seemed to spend all of their time together and share everything with each other, so they came off more like best friends than mere siblings. Despite their extremely close relationship, however, Lip failed to realize that Ian was actually solely attracted to men or that he was actually in a secret relationship with his married convenience store boss.
It didn't take long for Lip to accept his brother, but it's still very surprising that Lip didn't guess his brother's preference earlier and that Ian didn't feel comfortable disclosing the truth upfront with his closest confidante.
When Lip found out that Ian was attracted to other men, he wasn't initially supportive and didn't even fully believe his brother. He punched Ian for messing around with his boss out of fear that he was being taken advantage of, and brought him to Karen Jackson's house to "test" his orientation.
Lip asked Karen to try to pleasure Ian, to see if he might just be confused and could possibly enjoy being with a woman. This is offensive to both Karen, the girl he went on to fall in love with, and Ian, whose preference wasn't a choice and wasn't something he should have been forced to prove. They both cared for Lip, though, so they followed through with his twisted request.
Most of the Gallagher children grew up thinking that they couldn't possibly amount to anything in life. Fiona constantly struggled to balance her obligation to her family and her own personal ambition, Ian's difficulty accepting his own bipolar disorder held him back, Carl's fondness for his derelict father initially made him want to be just as wild as Frank and Debbie's only real goal was to be a teenage mother. Lip, meanwhile, knew that he could accomplish big things, but he simply didn't want to.
Lip was resentful of the fact that his family expected him to be their "golden goose" and make enough money to help them get by, so he didn't try particularly hard at anything. He seems to use his street smarts far more often than he utilizes his actual intelligence.
When Monica Gallagher left her husband and children and Frank started spending more time at the local bar than with his family, Fiona was forced to step up and take care of her siblings. She became their primary guardian, despite also having several jobs and a variety of other things on her plate. Lip was smart enough to help ease up Fiona's workload and take on some of the responsibilities around the house, but he didn't really seem to start doing so until his hand was forced.
After Liam overdosed as Fiona accidentally left substances lying around the house, Lip rose up to be his main caregiver. He started taking care of his baby brother and worked harder to provide for his family. It really shouldn't have taken such a major slip-up from Fiona for him to do that.
Lip is constantly praised for his intelligence, but he may actually show the least respect for the education system out of all of the characters on Shameless. While he was in high school, Lip took money from his fellow students to take their SAT's for them. A few months later, he simply dropped out of school, even though Fiona threatened to kick him out of his home if he did so.
Lip never would have graduated if it weren't for Fiona's constant nagging, and he wouldn't have attended college if Mandy didn't apply for him. He did actually put in some effort in college, but he quickly found himself expelled because he couldn't control his temper and failed to fully realize how his actions might affect his future.
Lip was so focused on being with Karen Jackson in the first three seasons of Shameless that he completely neglected Mandy Milkovich and failed to realize just how good she was to and for him. His relationship with Mandy started out as merely "friends with benefits," but the more time they spent together, the closer they became.
When Lip was kicked out of the Gallagher home for dropping out of high school, Mandy let him move in with her. She also applied to several colleges for him, to try to push him to reach his potential. Karen kept holding Lip back, but Mandy always wanted what was best for him. He sadly repaid Mandy's kindness by choosing to be with Karen behind her back.
All of the Gallagher siblings seem to be willing to throw fists when challenged or forced, but none of them are as eager to fight as Lip. Lip occasionally enters into staged brawls to make a little money, but he doesn't really even care if he wins or loses because he gets some sort of adrenaline rush from the experience.
Lip never backs down from anyone, and is entirely unafraid to fight people even if it's clear he's not a match for them. Fighting and destroying property are his two favorite ways to vent his frustration after yet another relationship or disappointment. He even punches his best friend Ian when Ian does something he doesn't agree with.
Lip is probably one of the most self-aware Gallagher kids. Fiona, Debbie, Ian and Carl often fail to realize in the moment when they're doing something that is going to inevitably have a negative consequence, but Lip is smart enough to know when he's doing something wrong. For some reason, however, he still hasn't figured out why he has a tendency to date emotionally unavailable women or proven capable of learning from his mistakes.
Lip never truly forgave his mother for leaving him and the rest of his family. His resulting abandonment issues have inspired him to be with a variety of women who will leave him the way Monica did, causing him to suffer from the same pain over and over again.
Frank is responsible for a significant number of the problems the Gallagher siblings encounter. He's the reason they struggle to save up enough money to make ends meet, he failed to instill a positive moral code in his children, and he often acts more like another child than a parent. He definitely deserves a lot of blame, but Lip seems to blame Frank for some things that weren't actually his fault.
In an attempt to upset her own father, Karen took advantage of Frank while he was too inebriated to try to stop her. When Lip found out, he attacked Frank. His resentment towards his father blinded Lip to the truth of what his girlfriend was capable of. He's reacted similarly toward Frank on a variety of occasions over the course of Shameless.
Lip frequently criticizes Frank for his reliance on substances, but it's clear that he suffers from some of his own addictions. It's perfectly normal for a teenager to want to experiment with a number of partners, but Lip has been with far too many women over the past nine seasons to count and he didn't even have feelings for the majority of them.
When Lip tried sobering up and putting a pause on his dating life, he found himself entirely incapable of focusing on work because all he could think about was how much he craved a relationship. He entered into a purely physical relationship with Eddie, whose company he barely even enjoyed, just to ease his raging hormones. He's not quite the hopeless romantic he seemed to be when courting Karen, Helene, and Sierra.
Lip can't seem to fall for the women who want to actually help him become the man he's meant to be. He constantly chose Karen over Mandy even though Karen didn't care about his future the way Mandy did. The same sort of thing happened when he moved away to college. He found the perfect girlfriend in Amanda, but ditched her to be with his married professor Helene Runyon.
Amanda and Lip seemed to loathe each other at first, but once they entered into a fairly random physical relationship, Amanda started developing real feelings for Lip. She helped him make a lot of money, organized his schedule and took care of Liam while Lip was in class, but Lip failed to recognize how good she was for him. He started neglecting her and solely focused on his relationship with Helene, a decision which eventually led to his downfall.
While Lip was with Amanda, it seemed like his life was finally on track. He was doing a great job being Liam's primary guardian, he earned a resident adviser position that granted him a private room on his college's campus, and he was doing well in his classes thanks to Amanda's willingness to help outline his schedule and ensure he focused on his studies. Then he started dating Helene Runyon, and his life plummeted into chaos.
When Amanda exposed Lip and Helene's relationship to the school, Lip suddenly found himself single and heart-broken. He started to like being intoxicated, and destroyed a professor's car and assaulted a security guard, causing him to get expelled. His life sadly hasn't been the same since.
Lip spent most of his life hoping to be nothing like his father. He once took a DNA test in the hopes of finding out that Frank wasn't his biological dad, but ever since his break-up with Helene, it's been very clear that he's Frank's son. In his depression, Lip a lot like Frank and he let his substance problems destroy his entire future.
Lip was forced to enter into rehab so he'd stop drunkenly lashing out and finding himself in legal trouble. He should have known how dangerous substance dependency is after watching Frank suffer from it his whole life, but yet again. Lip demonstrated an inability to learn from mistakes despite his great intelligence.
Lip gravitated towards women whom he felt compelled to fix throughout the first six seasons of Shameless, but in the seventh season, he finally found someone mature and stable. Sierra and Lip had great chemistry and it seemed like they could be really happy with each other, but unfortunately, the timing of their relationship couldn't have been worse as it began during the worst time in Lip's life.
When Lip started seeing Sierra, he was still struggling with his problems and his emotions about being expelled from college. She was hoping to find someone who could act as a father to her son, but Lip wasn't ready for that level of responsibility. He couldn't decide whether he should fight for Sierra or let her go, and when it seemed like they were finally ready to be with each other, Lip broke her heart and left her to try to find himself.
Lip really started to resemble Frank when he started relying heavily upon substances. He got dumped by Helene and expelled from college, but the similarity between Lip and his father was never clearer than when he tried sabotaging Charlie's relationship with Sierra.
Lip doesn't typically attempt the sort of heartless and emotionally manipulative schemes that his father loves to perform, but when Charlie tried getting back with Sierra, he resorted to some truly cruel tactics. He tried forcing his competition for Sierra's heart off the bandwagon by tricking him into doing substances, tempting him with a pizza topped with them. Something that twisted shouldn't be so easily forgiven by fans.
Lip and Professor Youens had a truly amazing relationship. Youens' always did everything in his power to help keep Lip on the right path—even after Lip got expelled for drunkenly destroying his car, Youens forgave Lip and secured him a tech start-up internship because he believed in his intelligence and potential. Youens suffered from his own problems, so he wanted to keep Lip from making the same mistakes he'd made in life. He helped Lip quit, and remained his mentor long after he stopped being his professor.
Unfortunately, when Youens died, Lip discovered that their relationship wasn't quite as special as he'd thought. Several students spoke at Clyde's funeral and talked about their similarly close bond with him. Lip found himself extremely jealous and upset by this, and refused to read a heartfelt recommendation letter Youens had written for him before his passing.
Most of the characters on Shameless would do anything to be as intelligent as Lip. Kevin and Veronica's lack of education made it easy for Svetlana to take advantage of them, Fiona has frequently found herself incapable of mentally handling some of the careers she wanted to pursue, and if Frank was as book smart as Lip, he probably couldn't have done anything he wanted in life.
For some reason, however, Lip actually seems to resent his own intelligence. Even though he loves his family, he hates the idea of them becoming reliant on him and dislikes having that expectation on his shoulders merely because of his brain. Unlike Fiona, who has a lot of personal ambition, Lip doesn't really try to make any plans for his future.
Ever since Fiona started ruining her stable relationships to be with men who were clearly manipulative and awful for her, it's been difficult for fans to truly like her as a character on Shameless. It's impossible to deny, however, that she really did do a solid job raising her siblings and should be appreciated for that.
Fiona put her family's happiness before her own on several occasions at the start of the series, but her siblings never really expressed any sort of gratitude for that. Lip was always especially critical of Fiona's parenting skills, and when she made a mistake that sent Liam to the emergency room, Lip lost all faith in her ability to watch over his siblings and never truly forgave her.
As much as Lip wishes he could deny it, he is very much Frank's son and is probably the Gallagher child that has the most in common with his father. It initially seemed like Carl would grow up to be the second coming of Frank, but only Lip shares both his father's love for substances and his ability to make money through questionable yet admittedly clever tactics.
Lip once made ten thousand dollars by convincing Amanda's parents that they were in a serious relationship and that he would need to be paid to break up with her. Before that, he and Kevin actually sold illegal substances out of an ice cream truck which they'd actually park in public parks filled with children. Lip comes off as noble, but his schemes and ideas aren't too different from Frank's.
Most Shameless fans see Lip Gallagher as some sort of tragic hero, but the sad truth about the variety of difficulties he's experienced over the past nine seasons is that almost all of them were entirely his fault.
Even though Lip grew up in a poor family without any real parental guidance, he was given the opportunity to go to college and truly make something of himself. Frank served as the perfect warning of what not to do to succeed in life, but as time went on, he became more and more like his father. He purposely failed to live up to his potential, and his very poor taste in girlfriends only made his life even more difficult. He shouldn't be viewed as an inspiration, because his greatest obstacles in life were of his own making.
What do you think about Lip from Shameless? Let us know in the comments!