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Top 10 Saddest Shameless Moments

VO: Lisa Yang WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
In this dramedy, the darkness sometimes wins out over the laughs. For this list, we’re looking at the most gut-wrenching and heartbreaking moments from Showtime’s Shameless. As these moments feature crucial plot points, a spoiler warning is definitely in effect. Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Saddest Shameless Moments.
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Top 10 Saddest Shameless Moments



In this dramedy, the darkness sometimes wins out over the laughs. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Saddest Shameless Moments.
For this list, we’re looking at the most gut-wrenching and heartbreaking moments from Showtime’s Shameless. As these moments feature crucial plot points, a spoiler warning is definitely in effect.

#10: Ian Confronts Mickey at His Wedding

“Order Room Service”
Such is the number of tear-jerking scenes viewers have had to go through with these two characters, a list could be comprised simply of the saddest moments between just this pair. Ian and Mickey pursued a relationship in secret, but they were discovered by Mickey’s father, and Mickey was forced to marry Svetlana. But Ian wasn’t going to give up on him without a fight. The journey to Mickey’s acceptance of his feelings for the young Gallagher was a long one, with Ian having to confront him more than once(xref). But this scene, right before he gets married, is highlighted supremely by Cameron Monaghan, as Ian begs Mickey not to go through with it.

#9: Carl Tries to Heal Frank

“Survival of the Fittest”
By the time we caught up with the Gallagher family at the start of the show, most members of the clan had already learned the hard way how terrible their father was. But for the younger ones, it took a bit more time. In one of his more despicable schemes, Frank told Carl he had cancer in order to scam a charity foundation. He even shaved his son’s head. But when Frank ended up in the hospital from alcohol abuse, Carl did the shaving as a way to help cure his father. Carl may not exactly be the sweetest of the Gallagher kids, but seeing him do what little he could to help his dying father showed a much softer side to him.

#8: Ian and Mickey Break Up

“Love Songs (in the Key of Gallagher)”
As noted, for years, fans watched in heartache as the writers threw one complication after another at Ian and Mickey. And considering they’d been through so much together, we couldn’t help but assume that they could withstand anything. Sadly, that wasn’t the case here. After disappearing for some time with his mother, Ian returned to break things off with Mickey. He believed that his bipolar condition was too much for Mickey to handle, and thought it best to end things then and there. The heartbreak on actor Noel Fisher’s face is so real. That being said, the sadness may have been slightly undermined by Sammy’s interruption. At least we know that this wasn’t really the end.

#7: Frank Thinks Emily Is Fiona

“Emily”
It isn’t too often that audiences feel bad for the Gallagher patriarch, given how despicable his behavior normally is. But this episode showed a different aspect of the character. During a hospital stint where he acquired a new liver, Frank’s medication made him mistake the young Emily for his daughter Fiona. It’s a touching moment, as this connection isn’t something we normally see with his actual daughter. And given that Emily’s father had recently abandoned her, it made the whole thing all the more tragic. The real gut punch though? When the sweet little Emily doesn’t make it and Frank thinks he’s watching his actual daughter pass.

#6: Ian Says Goodbye to His Family

“Face It, You’re Gorgeous”
Ian Gallagher has always been one of the more complex and beloved characters on the show. So saying goodbye to him, as well as Cameron Monaghan, was always going to be tough. After an act of vandalism resulted in a van exploding in Season 8, Ian pleaded not guilty due to insanity; regardless he would still end up having to serve some jail time. The blow may have been somewhat softened by Monaghan’s announcement that he was leaving the show, but watching a character we had all grown up with over 9 years say goodbye to his family was absolutely crushing. The exchange between Ian and Lip hit us hardest.

#5: Frank Calls DFS

“Cascading Failures”
Frank has let each one of his children down in various ways, but never quite like his betrayal of Fiona in this season 3 episode. Wanting revenge on his children for not letting him back into the house, Frank calls Child Protective Services on Fiona, his eldest daughter who has worked so hard to care for the family. This causes her to have to jump through multiple hoops in order to get them back. The moment when she listens to the recorded phone call and hears her father’s voice is absolutely heartbreaking. Selfish might be Frank’s default, but no one, Fiona included, could have imagined him stooping so low.

#4: Monica Dies

“Happily Ever After”
“Shameless” has mastered the art of making the audience feel conflicted about its dishonorable characters, and Monica Gallagher made us all question our feelings more than once. In the final episode of Season 7, the family was forced to say goodbye to her after she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and wouldn’t wake up at the hospital. She was far from perfect, but the loss of her was felt by every family member. Fiona’s conversation with her troubled father afterwards put words to what we were all feeling, but there’s no single moment of grief stemming from this incident that can compare to Frank’s reaction to Monica’s stillness.

#3: Liam Almost Dies

“There’s The Rub”
When it rains, it pours. After making one terrible decision after another about her boyfriend and boss’s brother, Fiona’s secrets are found out. And having her new job and relationship tarnished because of it makes her want to blow off steam. Sadly, the result of the party she throws leaves her wishing she hadn’t indulged; Liam, the youngest member of the family at 3, gets into a stash of cocaine. Seeing his motionless body and the looks of shock on each character’s face is enough to take any viewer’s breath away. He’s never been the most crucial character to the show but seeing a child in such a state sent every viewer into a panic.

#2: Monica’s Suicide Attempt

“Just Like the Pilgrims Intended”
Before her passing, Monica traumatized the entire family at Thanksgiving. The show would go on to address the topic of mental illness with Ian in a respectable and more appropriate way, but this moment served to showcase one of the darkest events that could come from it. After going off her meds, Monica attempted to take her own life. The previous image, of family and friends gathered happily around Thanksgiving dinner, was almost serene; and it’s this juxtaposition that makes it all the more sad. The sheer terror that comes from this moment, as well as Fiona’s mournful state as she wipes up her mother’s blood afterwards, was chilling.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
Fiona and Frank’s Conversation at the Hospital After Finding Out He’s Dying
“Survival of the Fittest”

Revealing at Fiona and Sean’s Wedding That He Is Still Doing Heroin
“Familia Supra Gallegorious Omnia!”

Fiona Saying Goodbye to Jimmy on His Voicemail
“Survival of the Fittest”

#1: Fiona’s Speech to Monica

“Nana Gallagher Had an Affair”
Fiona would spend the majority of the show unraveling the destructive actions of her mother, and her confrontation in this moment is one of the most crucial. After Monica comes back into their lives to take Liam away and begin anew, Fiona lets all of her pent-up feelings about her mother out. There would be several moments later in the series of aggression and disappointment surrounding Monica, like when she stole the family’s squirrel fund, but this scene made us appreciate just how much weight Fiona had to carry. Of course, a scene, no matter how well written, is only as good as the performer, and Emmy Rossum sure delivers.

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