Shameless: 20 Things Wrong With Ian We All Choose To Ignore

Ian Gallagher from Shameless

Over the past nine seasons of Showtime's hit comedy-drama series Shameless, viewers have grown to love every member of the incredibly dysfunctional Gallagher family. Frank's kids aren't quite as problematic as their father, but they still get into all sorts of trouble that keeps their character arcs interesting and ensures the show's large audience will be remain invested in each of their futures.

One of the fan-favorite Gallaghers has always been Ian, the redhead who overcame countless relatable relationship, career, and mental health struggles since Shameless began back in 2011. In the show's eighth season, Ian stepped up to become a role model to teenagers, and his refusal to accept intolerance and willingness to do anything within his power to help others even led to thousands of followers viewing him as a sort of religious deity. Viewers sadly had to say goodbye to Cameron Monaghan's beloved character after an arson incident sent Ian behind bars, but his biggest fans found comfort in the fact that Ian earned somewhat of a happy ending with his old boyfriend Mickey Milkovich revealing himself to be his new cellmate and the iconic duo sharing a kiss before Ian's story came to a close.

Ian's capacity for compassion and constant efforts to help his family and other loved ones helped him become one of Shameless' most likable characters, but he's definitely made some questionable choices over the years. Even the most dedicated Ian fans can't deny that there have been a number of occasions where he acted selfishly or let his disorders guide him down some dark paths. Here are 20 Things Wrong With Ian We All Choose To Ignore.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Ian Gallagher Shameless
Start Now


Ian Gallagher Shameless

When viewers were introduced to Ian Gallagher in the very first episode of Shameless, we immediately discovered that he was in the closet and secretly having an affair with his convenience store boss, Kash. Their relationship was incredibly strained, as Kash was considerably older than Ian and he was married, claimed to be a devout Muslim, and had two children with his wife.

Ian didn't seem to care about how wrong his affair with Kash was or how much it could hurt Kash's wife Linda, whom he saw at the store regularly. The unlikely couple constantly snuck off during work to be with each other. Even after Linda found out about their relationship via security footage, they continued to be with each other, with the condition that Kash had to provide his wife with another child first.


Lip and Ian Gallagher Shameless

The Gallaghers are an incredibly tight-knit family, but it was made clear from the very start of Shameless that Ian and Lip have always been more than just brothers to each other. They were also best friends, and seemed to tell each other everything. Even after a DNA test revealed that Frank wasn't really Ian's father and Ian and Lip were merely half-siblings, they remained as close as ever.

Despite their amazing bond, however, Ian didn't tell Lip about his preferences and forced Lip to figure it out on his own. Lip was instantly accepting of his brother's truth and even offered to help him figure out any confusion he might be harboring, so it's really strange that Ian wasn't just upfront with his closest confidant from the start.


Ian and Mickey Shameless

Mandy Milkovich once had a huge crush on Ian, and when he refused to return her affections, she claimed he took advantage of her so her brothers would attack Ian out of revenge. Ian was forced to confess the truth about his preference to her so she'd call off her family, and from that moment on, Ian and Mandy became very close friends.

Most friends have an unspoken rule about not dating each other's siblings, but Ian broke this rule by secretly entering into a relationship with Mandy's closeted brother Mickey. He saw Mickey for weeks before finally confessing the truth to Mandy, which was a sign that he knew he was doing something she may not have approved of. Luckily, Mandy had gotten over her feelings for Ian and reacted well to the surprising, potentially friendship-ending news.


Ian and Mickey Shameless

Ian struggled to commit to either Kash or Mickey at first, and his indecisiveness caused both of his partners to become incredibly jealous of each other. One day, Kash caught Ian and Mickey together in the spot where they typically met up within his store. He was so upset that, when Mickey came back the next day to tell him to keep his mouth shut about what he saw, Kash shot Mickey in the leg and had him arrested for the theft of a mere candy bar.

Ian didn't do anything to stop Kash from shooting his new lover, and didn't even tell the police about his boss' over-the-top display of jealous action so proper justice could be served.



When Terry Milkovich found out that his daughter was pregnant, he immediately came after Ian because he didn't know that Mandy's "relationship" with Ian was a mere ruse she had created to help hide Ian's preference. Ian spent several days avoiding Terry's wrath, but it became increasingly more difficult because Terry also had several friends and sons who he could recruit to keep an eye out for Ian.

Lip advised Ian to plant a gun in the Milkovich home, as it'd violate Terry's parole and get him incarcerated. Ian followed through with this plan, even though it could have potentially sent his fake girlfriend and secret boyfriend's father behind bars.


In Shameless' second season, Mickey was temporarily sent to a juvenile detention center, Ian began seeing an older man who went by the name of Ned. When Fiona's boyfriend Jimmy arranged a dinner for the Gallaghers and his family, Ian discovered that Ned was really Lloyd, Jimmy's married and supposedly straight father.

Ian didn't bother telling Jimmy the truth about his father and didn't end his relationship with Lloyd upon finding out that he had a secret wife and family, either. In fact, he started seeing Lloyd more frequently after that point, and while he viewed Jimmy's dad as a mere friend with benefits, Lloyd developed genuine feelings for Ian that seemingly contributed to the end of his marriage.


Ian Gallagher Angry Shameless

One of Ian's goals in life at the start of the series was to join the army, but when he grew tired of waiting to be old enough to enlist, he stole Lip's identification and pretended to be his brother. This started out as a fairly minor case of identity theft, but things got serious when military police officers showed up at Lip's door to arrest him for crimes he didn't commit.

While impersonating Lip, Ian had tried to steal a helicopter and then proceeded to go AWOL. He claimed that he simply started the helicopter's rotors and didn't steal anything, but his crimes were severe enough that the military police came back to take him in the following season.


Ian spent the fourth season of Shameless constantly jumping from manic phases to depressive phases, so it wasn't too difficult for his siblings to figure out that he shared their mother Monica's bipolar disorder. Everyone who cared about Ian agreed with this diagnosis and wanted to do what was best for him, but Ian never fully came to terms with being bipolar.

He refused to take medications that could alter his personality or mood, and he couldn't identify when he was experiencing a manic episode. Ian felt that there was nothing wrong with him, and didn't care that his irrational behavior and temperament was hurting the people he loved. He began pushing away everyone that tried to get him to seek help, including Mickey, even though Mickey had finally started to embrace their relationship and be the boyfriend Ian always wanted.


Ian and Mickey arguing Shameless

At the start of Shameless' fifth season, Ian and Mickey were finally open about their relationship with all of their loved ones and living together in the Milkovich house. Mickey overcame his own insecurities about being attracted to men and developed into a very supportive and loving partner, but Ian's bipolar disorder made him very reckless and impulsive and led him to be unfaithful.

Ian ended up with a number of complete strangers whom he had no feelings for and didn't care how much he hurt Mickey by doing so. He resented Mickey for trying to change him during his manic phases, and he actually attacked Mickey for being too nice and caring at one point, telling him he preferred it when Mickey was a "piece of southside trash."


Ian and Yevgeny Shameless

When Mickey confronted Ian about his erratic behavior, Ian was so upset that he stole Mickey's son Yevgeny and left Chicago with him. Ian failed to recognize just how crazy he was acting until he accidentally left Yevgeny in his hot car while he went off to a bar and nearly ended his boyfriend's child's life.

Luckily, a woman noticed the baby in the locked vehicle and called the police, who came and took Yevgeny away. When Lip and Fiona arrived to tell the police that Ian had bipolar disorder, Ian finally recognized that he wasn't making good choices and accepted that his diagnosis may be legitimate.


Ian Gallagher and Caleb Shameless

When Ian's next boyfriend Caleb revealed to him that he was HIV positive and asked if he's ever been tested, Ian admitted that he'd never bothered to check if he has any ailments. The couple went to a doctor so Ian could get tested, but when a nurse asked Ian how many partners he'd had, he realized he couldn't even keep count of them.

Ian told Caleb that he couldn't guess a remotely accurate number, because during his time working at a local club, he was with many different people. He doesn't seem to care who he ends up with while in a manic state, and since he doesn't like taking his medication, he finds himself acting that recklessly very often.


Shameless Frank Bridge

Frank Gallagher was never a particularly good father to any of his children. He constantly ignored his kids, gave them bad advice, took advantage of them, and even stole from them, but that doesn't quite justify what Ian and his friends and siblings did to Frank at the end of the sixth season.

When Frank ruined Fiona's wedding day by revealing the truth about Sean's continued substance use, Ian and the others worked together to throw him off a bridge into the freezing Chicago river. Frank could have easily perished in the fall, but Ian didn't care. His relationship with Frank was understandably never the same after that, as Frank struggled to get over this act of betrayal and cruelty.


Ian Gallagher and Trevor Shameless

When Ian started dating Trevor, it seemed like he was finally on the right track and ready to be in a healthy, committed relationship. Trevor helped Ian learn all about the community and helped give him a purpose in life, but Ian simply cast Trevor aside when Mickey broke out of jail and returned to the South Side.

Mickey planned on running away to Mexico, and wanted Ian to go with him. Ian promised Trevor he wouldn't get involved with Mickey again, but he soon found himself staying with Mickey and driving with his ex to the border. He decided at the last second to say goodbye to his former flame and go back to Chicago, but when he told Trevor what he'd done, Ian found himself single and lost yet again.


Ian and Trevor Shameless

Ian spent most of Shameless' eighth season trying to help his ex Trevor launch a new youth shelter for teenagers. They found an abandoned church that would make for a great shelter, but they didn't have the funds needed to purchase it.

Instead of raising the money in an honest manner, Ian chose to visit an old client from his time working at the Fairy Tail and blackmail him into funding the shelter. When it turned out that the man's wife knew all about his time at the club, Ian stayed with the wife to ensure he'd still get their money. He grew up wanting to be nothing like his father, but this whole money-making scheme was straight out of the Frank playbook.


Ian and Followers Shameless

When Ian gave a priest CPR in front of a large crowd and saved his life, people in the community started believing that he could perform miracles and began to view him as an actual deity. Ian was set-back by the sudden wave of support at first, but it didn't take very long for him to embrace his new title.

Ian found himself spending more time trying to impress his followers than he spent with Trevor, the person who he'd spent months trying to win back. Before long, he just completely forgot about his ex and focused solely on being a deity, and Trevor was written off of the show.


While Ian was busy acting like the savior of the community, he stopped taking his bipolar medication as he felt it held back his creative potential and didn't consider that a manic episode could potentially hurt his cause. When the father of one of his shelter kids tried forcing his son to come home with him, Ian gave a dramatic speech about religion and preference as one of his followers blew up the father's vehicle so it'd look like Ian performed another miracle.

As Ian was off his meds and unable to accurately gauge how irrational he'd been acting, he was perfectly content about getting arrested after this incident. The arson made him even more popular with his ever-expanding army of fans, so Ian was happy taking credit for it.


When Fiona visited her brother in prison, she was shocked to discover that he hadn't been taking his medication and was actually enjoying his new life behind bars. He'd resumed his activities as a savior, and became a sort of leader to inmates as he forced their loves to comply with his demands.

Fiona told Ian that she was willing to pay for his bail, but Ian actually asked her to let him remain locked up. He felt that his work there wasn't complete, and when his followers raised the money to pay for his bail themselves, Ian was upset and seemed to resent them for their generosity and hard work.



For months, Ian fully embraced his role as a deity and encouraged his followers to worship him and believe him to be capable of creating miracles. They held rallies and burned cars in his name, and raised thousands of dollars to release him from prison so he could continue being the poster child for their cause.

In court, Ian admitted that most of his actions were completely irrational and the mere results of his bipolar disorder, an action which he knew would do irreparable damage to the so-called Church. By pleading insanity to ensure he'd get a reduced sentence, he diminished all of his work and made his followers question whether or not they should have supported him in the first place.


Ian EMT Shameless

Ian wasn't as ambitious as Fiona, as intelligent as Lip, or as crafty as his father, but he may have actually had the most potential of all his family members. He was often unsure of what he was supposed to do with his life, but whenever he set his sights on something, he proved that he had the best worth ethic of all the Gallaghers and reached his goals exceptionally quickly.

When Ian wanted to be an EMT, he put a tremendous about of effort into becoming a great one, even after his mental issues threatened to make that goal impossible to reach. When he started trying to help the community, it only took him a few weeks to create a shelter and inspire several teenagers to embrace their true selves. If Ian could just take his medication and focus on one thing, there isn't a limit to what he could achieve. Unfortunately, his refusal to accept he had any issues kept him from ever reaching his potential.


When Mickey Milkovich walked into Ian's cell in what may have been his final episode of Shameless, fans rejoiced that their favorite Gallagher was getting his somewhat happy ending with his first real love. Ian-lovers never took to Caleb or Trevor the way they embraced Mickey, so they were thrilled that their "one true pairing" got back together. Unfortunately, Ian and Mickey were never quite the great couple that some fans make them out to be.

Mickey spent the first several years of their relationship denying his feelings for Ian, and even after he finally embraced his true self, Ian's bipolar disorder kept them from becoming truly happy together. They couldn't seem to remain faithful to each other for more than a few weeks, and when Mickey asked Ian to run away to Mexico with him, Ian refused. Their relationship was simply never healthy, and being stuck in a cell together likely won't change that.

More in Lists