Although the original UK version of Shameless lasted for 11 seasons, it was difficult to know if the US adaptation on Showtime could do the same. Not many shows make it past 10 total seasons and those that do often hit a point where the quality dips. For the most part, that wasn’t the case with Shameless.
Sure, certain seasons were better than others but the show was met with pretty strong reviews consistently from fans and critics alike. With the series recently wrapping up for good, there is no better time to look back and try to see when the show was at its best.
11 Season 8
As noted, no season of Shameless was flat-out bad but season eight is arguably at the bottom of the barrel. This was when Fiona became the landlord of a building and started a relationship with Ford, who many agree is the least interesting romantic partner for her in the series.
There were some other odd decisions as well. Svetlana departed the show, Carl’s romance with the problematic Kassidi got going, Debbie had her toes amputated, and Lip took in Xan. The most memorable thing from this season was Ian’s “gay Jesus” storyline, leading to his arrest.
10 Season 5
Following a stint in prison, Fiona got a job at Patsy’s Pies, which would become a staple going forward. This season saw characters make some truly bad decisions. Fiona got romantically involved with Sean, married to Gus after a week, and hooked up with Jimmy when he returned.
Debbie made her worst choice ever, tricking Derek into getting her pregnant and making her an unlikable character. Watching Lip self-destruct at college was hard to get through and the plot point involving Frank’s estranged daughter Sammi wasn’t the show’s best.
9 Season 6
The romance between Fiona and Gus came to an unruly end due to her relationship with Sean. By the time the finale rolled around, she was set to get married to him, only for Frank to show up and reveal that Sean was still using drugs and lying about being clean.
Lip officially went all-in on sabotaging his hopes at a successful future but Carl had a good arc. He went from selling weapons and drugs to realizing the error of his ways and changing his path towards something good while also helping his family keep their home.
8 Season 11
Filming season 11 had to be tough given the COVID-19 pandemic, which Shameless didn’t shy away from. It caused several rewrites but the show incorporated the pandemic into the plot. Though it probably could’ve been better, most fans enjoyed the final season.
Several characters got fitting endings and the emotional death of Frank Gallagher in the series finale was probably the highlight. Alas, fans were disappointed by the lack of appearances from past cast members, especially Emmy Rossum, who was the heart of the show for most of its run.
7 Season 10
There was always going to be an odd feeling regarding season 10 of Shameless. It was the first to not feature Fiona, which marked a huge change. However, the series found some really fun ways to keep things entertaining thanks to some new relationships.
For one, Frank and his buddy Mikey O’Shea were always a blast together and for another, Lip’s romance with Tami proved to be huge for him. Of course, the true highlight was how the season wrapped up with the huge wedding between Ian and Mickey that fans waited years for.
6 Season 9
Season 9 had the distinction of being the longest in Shameless history, lasting 14 episodes. It was basically split up into two halves and the main focus was on the departure of Fiona. She had a remarkable storyline where she lost everything, hit rock bottom, and was self-destructive.
Fiona ultimately climbed out, started getting help, and chose to leave Chicago, leading to an emotional farewell. Cameron Monaghan also set the stage for his official return as Ian and there were interesting guest stars like Courteney Cox and Katey Sagal.
5 Season 2
In its early days, Shameless was still able to shock viewers with just how outlandish a lot of the storylines would get. Season 2 included ones where Karen’s pregnancy led to her ex and mother taking the baby, as well as one where Frank’s mother came to town and bullied everyone.
“Just Like The Pilgrims Intended” is arguably the show’s saddest installment thanks to Karen giving birth and Monica attempting to take her own life. The season was also unique in that it gave viewers an early look at a summer setting after season 1 took place during cold months.
4 Season 1
Speaking of season 1, it still ranks as one of Shameless’s best. This was where the show let the audience know that they’d follow some UK plot points but with their own unique spin. Fiona’s position as head of the house while Frank spent his time boozing and neglecting his family were both set up.
Key relationships were forged with Lip and Karen and Fiona and Steve, though neither would last too long. Guest stars like Jane Levy (the original Mandy), Amy Smart, and Joan Cusack arguably stole the show when they appeared. The high point of the season was Fiona’s emotional speech when her mother came back to take Liam.
3 Season 7
Season 6 ended on downers for everyone with Fiona left at the altar, Lip struggling with his drinking, and Debbie not being a great mother. However, a lot of that changed during the seventh season and it was welcome to see good things happening.
Fiona became the owner of Patsy’s and started looking to better her own life. Lip forged a relationship with Sierra that helped him in some key ways. Debbie became a better mother and started taking welding classes. In the end, Monica’s death brought everyone together as the season wrapped.
2 Season 4
Season 4 proved that Shameless might’ve actually been at its best when it got really dark in its tone. A major story arc dealt with the possible death of Frank and that led to plenty of heartbreaking scenes involving various members of the family with him.
This season also saw the return of Joan Cusack and guest stars like Regina King and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Season 4 was when fans first got a look at self-destructive Fiona, as she cheated on a good man in Mike with his brother Robbie and then left cocaine out for Liam to take, which put him in the hospital and her in jail.
1 Season 3
By the time season 3 rolled around, the show was gaining popularity and the premiere was the most-watched episode in history. This season showed just how terrible Frank could be, going as far as to call Child Protective Services on his family, resulting in the kids going to various foster homes.
Things got even more gruesome as time went on, with Karen getting hit by a car, Ian and Mickey getting caught by Mickey’s father, and Steve/Jimmy presumably being murdered. There were also weird plot points like Kev and V enlisting the help of V’s mom to have a baby.
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