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After eleven seasons, we're saying goodbye to our favorite characters on 'Shameless'. Find out why the series ended the way it did from one screenwriter.

‘Shameless’ series finale: Where do our favorite characters end up?

Eleven seasons. 134 episodes. Showtime’s Shameless is a memorable series full of characters we loved or loved to hate. Now, the ride is over. The series finale has come crashing down with a bang. While it’s the final curtain call – literally and figuratively for some characters – other plot threads shamelessly feel like the open-ended conclusion of HBO’s The Sopranos

The Hollywood Reporter got the scoop on Shameless’s ending, sitting down with showrunner John Wells about the fate of your favorite characters. Turns out, COVID-19 is to blame for some of their endings – all to show that there had to be consequences. 

So grab your dirty laundry basket and let’s sift through the finale of Shameless, plus the fate of your favorite characters. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD, so if you haven’t watched the series finale yet, turn back now! 

Corona catching up with you

Thanks to coronavirus, Shameless showrunner John Wells had to scrap the entire second half of the final season. Wells had the entire script ready to go. It was three days before shooting . . . then, lockdown. New filming restrictions meant some aspects of Wells’ script couldn’t work anymore. 

In true COVID-19 fashion, Wells told The Hollywood Reporter he rewrote the script over Zoom with the cast, having to rehash the fate of some of the characters. Wells even detailed how the struggles of his working-class characters had to be revisited & reconsidered, stating he wanted to consider how his characters would handle COVID IRL: 

“But the impacts on all of us – particularly on working-class and poor communities – have been significant and we’re trying to deal with those issues in a satirical way but also taking an honest, dry-eyed look at what has actually happened to these communities and specifically to our characters.” 

Keeping a promise

However, Wells mentioned a silver lining. COVID-19 gave him the perfect storyline to honor a promise he made to William H. Macy about how his character, Frank, would go out. Macy reportedly told Wells that Frank needed to pay with a hefty dose of karma for his bad parenting and alcoholism. And Wells delivered. 

In the series finale, Frank ends up dying alone in a hospital thanks to complications from COVID, exacerbated by Frank’s long-term alcoholism and unhealthy lifestyle. As he’s dying alone, the other characters – including Frank’s own children – have no idea he’s been hospitalized. Wells further explained: 

“With all the comorbidity that Frank had, Bill and I both talked about it and said, ‘It would be unrealistic to not have anybody in this community actually suffer severe consequences of the pandemic.’ And Frank seemed like the logical choice. It could have been one of many things; it was the last thing that pushed him over the cliff, but he was barely hanging on. It’s not like we took out the healthiest individual you’ve ever seen.” 

Did Emmy Rossum come back? 

In an emotional Facebook post in 2018, Emmy Rossum revealed she was calling it quits on Shameless. Her character, Fiona, was a fan-fave on the series and it was heartbreaking for fans to see her go. However, she doesn’t appear in the series finale. 

Wells told THR he had “like, twenty” storylines fleshed out for what would happen to Fiona. Being the oldest sister in a dysfunctional family, she has tons of unhealthy levels of responsibilities heaped on her as a kid. Wells told THR that if she were part of the series finale, she’d have coordinated Frank’s death and the alleged selling of their family house. For now though, Wells said he has a good idea where she is: 

“I think she’s down in Florida. We joked in the room that she ended up getting a job at Disney World, probably in Epcot Center because she would never get a job on the better side. We had a lot of jokes for her but we never actually nailed it down. But she would have a life and be pursuing her own things. That’s how people move on with their lives”, Wells revealed to THR

The $64,000 question

Did they or didn’t they? Did the characters on Shameless sell the family house or the Alibi and move onto the bigger & better things they had planned in their lives? Much like the dining room scene at the end of The Sopranos, where it’s open-ended whether Tony’s gunned down or not, viewers can decide. Wells left it completely open-ended on purpose. 

“I want to think what I want to think about the characters, where they end up and what happens with them and have the audience have those conversations with others over drinks. I think that’s more fun, personally. Shameless is obviously outrageously exaggerated but we tried to ground it in a real-world in which you felt like if you turned the right corner of Chicago you could run across some Gallaghers and their whole world.” 

Poignantly, Wells leaves Shameless and its unforgettable characters in a bar, having drinks over Ian & Mickey’s wedding anniversary, ending the series on a high, if not uncertain, note. “Their lives continue”, Wells explained. “Many wonderful novels end and you’re still thinking about the characters and what they do. And that makes me feel good as a viewer and a reader.” 

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