Ever since the show first started airing in 2011, each member of the main cast of Shameless has committed acts which live up to the title name of the show. Each main character has done a good handful of things that can be classified as heinous, disrespectful, brass, outrageous, or, simply put, shameless. The ensemble has always been carried by leads Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy, who respectively play Fiona and Frank Gallagher. Common sense would lead one to assume that the lead characters would be the most shameless of the Shameless crew (or at least, certainly, the Gallagher household) and while that case can be argued to be true, some will argue that the most shameless among the cast happens to be Ian Gallagher.
Played monumentally well by Cameron Monaghan, Ian is perhaps the most explosive character among the cast. Just like the Gallaghers’ mother, Monica, Ian has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The disorder has often made Ian out to be an unpredictable ticking time bomb. Whether it be the workings of the disorder itself or just poor judgment on his part, Ian has made a flurry of bad decisions throughout the show. Whether it be carrying on an affair with his adult boss Kash while a minor during the first season, or the countless number of fights he had with his brother Lip, or starting a criminal enterprise with boyfriend Mickey that calls for them to threaten to out wealthy closeted gay men if they’re not paid off, Ian has done numerous things on Shameless that have inspired the controversy and ire of the show’s fans. Here are a few examples from the show’s long history of when Ian Gallagher crossed the line.
15. Forcing Mickey to B–w Him
Season 3 of Shameless saw Ian and Mickey’s relationship end on a bad note. There aren’t many worse ways for a relationship to end than for a redhead’s closeted boyfriend to be found out by his homophobic father, then said father beats up said redhead before forcing closeted son to marry a Russian prostitute. Mickey’s reluctance and refusal to come out to the world against his father’s wishes is what convinces Ian to run off and enlist in the army. When Ian finally does return to his family in Season 4, he confronts Mickey about how they ended, and Mickey apologizes, begging Ian to stay and never leave again. Taking control of the situation, Ian promises that they’d be on good terms on one condition: if Mickey gives Ian a blowjob whenever he asks no matter the circumstance. Mickey reluctantly obliges and begins to perform fellatio on Ian at that very moment. This inspired a bit of controversy from fans who believed Ian came off as uncharacteristically manipulative in this situation.
14. Cheating on Mickey Constantly
After Mickey’s coming out and declaration of love for Ian in Season 4, there was an impression that the two could start anew for Season 5 since their relationship is out in the open. Unfortunately, that wasn’t exactly the case. Ian found himself constantly having casual sex with random men any and every chance he got. In the Season 5 premiere alone, he had one-off liaisons with a random bar patron who gave Ian a handjob behind a grocery store and then an even more random diner employee who gave him a blowjob in one of the bathroom stalls. This would continue throughout the fifth season of Shameless, with Ian going as far to take part in a p–no. To be fair, much of this reckless and unprovoked behavior can be attributed to Ian’s bipolar disorder, but it’s still disappointing to see Ian stoop so low at a time when Mickey was at his utmost best behavior.
13. Sleeping with Jimmy’s Dad
In Season 3, after realizing that his love for Mickey isn’t being reciprocated, he starts seeing other men. One man he becomes particularly fond of is a wealthy, closeted man who calls himself Lloyd. The two fool around for awhile until one night, the two realize just how small of a world they live in. Lloyd’s real name is actually Ned, and he happens to be the father of Fiona’s boyfriend, Jimmy (who previously was going under his own pseudonym, Steve). After Lloyd gets drunk with Jimmy at a bar upon telling his son that he’s getting a divorce from Jimmy’s mother, Jimmy invites Lloyd to the Gallagher household. Lloyd locks eyes with Ian briefly, and later that night, he enters Ian’s room attempting to bed his boy toy, but accidentally enters Lip’s bed instead. That’s when the truth about Ian and Lip’s affair comes to light.
12. Cheating on Trevor with Mickey
Season 7 is off to a rocky start for Ian when he breaks up with Caleb for cheating on Ian with a woman. Nevertheless, he finds a way to bounce back halfway into the season by starting a relationship with the transgender Trevor. The two hit it off nicely and continue being a couple without any huge cracks in their relationship. That is, until Ian’s old flame, Mickey, breaks out of prison and goes after Ian immediately. Old sparks reignite between the two, and before they know it, they sleep together and go headfirst toward an adventure, like the good ole days. Ian even considers running off to Mexico with Mickey despite all the good that Trevor has provided for him. Ian reconsiders running off with Mickey at the last minute, but after confessing his infidelity to Trevor, Trevor is despondent, leaving their future uncertain for the time being.
11. Stealing His Brother’s Identity and Running Away
While Mickey and Ian continue their secret relationship in Season 3, Mickey’s homophobic father walks in on the two having sex in the episode “Cascading Failures” and proceeds to beat the holy hell out of both of them. He then hires a Russian prostitute to force herself onto Mickey and then makes Ian watch the two have sex. Giving into his father’s demands, Mickey cuts ties with Ian and marries the prostitute. Overwhelmed by his love life falling apart, he runs away from home in the season finale, “Survival of the Fittest,” and enlists in the army. Since he wasn’t 18 years old at the time, Ian forges his brother’s ID. Stealing his brother’s identity would prove to be an ill-advised move in Season 4 as Lip nearly gets roughed up and arrested by military police, who were looking for Ian for going AWOL and attempting to steal government property.
10. Avoiding His Family
In Season 4, the Gallagher family learned that Ian ran off to enlist in the army at the end of Season 3. Then, they found out that Ian came back to town but actively avoided his family. After a bit of snooping, they even found out that Ian went as far as to stay with their estranged mother, Monica, instead of even thinking about contacting his family. Debbie and Lip manage to track Ian down at his new job at The White Swallow, where he frequents as a stripper who also makes money by giving older men “party favors” after shows. Despite his brother and sister tracking him down, Ian acts as if he’s in a manic state and doesn’t even hint that he’s thinking about coming back home. He continues to ignore his family until his ex, Mickey, comes to The White Swallow and rescues Ian from being taken advantage of by one of these older men, then brings Ian back to the neighborhood.
9. Scamming an Older Man with Mickey
When Ian and Mickey rekindle their relationship in Season 4, it comes at the dismay of Mickey’s prostitute wife, Svetlana. Now that they have a child together, Svetlana warns Mickey in the episode “The Legend of Bonnie and Carl” that if he doesn’t get her $500 by the next morning, she’ll call up Mickey’s father and tell him that his son is still seeing Ian. To get cash fast, Mickey and Ian come up with a little scheme. Ian seduces a rich older man at a hotel bar, and they get a room together. Right before they can get down to business, Mickey hops out of the closet and snaps a picture. After getting a hold of the man’s cell phone, Mickey then threatens the man that if he doesn’t pay the two with cash immediately, he will out the man to his wife, child, and entire family. To add insult to injury, Mickey swiftly kicks the guy in the crotch after the guy calls Ian a “twink” that gave him blue balls.
8. Almost Kills Mandy’s Boyfriend
Anyone who has watched Shameless from the very beginning knows that Ian and Mickey’s sister, Mandy, have been through a lot together. While in high school, after finding out Ian was gay, Mandy agreed to be his beard, and the two became best friends from then on. In Season 4, Mandy starts dating a guy named Kenyatta. Ian finds out that Kenyatta has been beating Mandy, and she continues to live with him in spite of it. In the episode “Liver, I Hardly Know Her,” Ian tries to convince Mandy to leave the Milkovich household and come stay with him at the Gallagher house. Mandy venomously refuses, which leads to an altercation between Ian and Kenyatta, which subsequently leads to Ian grabbing a kitchen knife and holding it to Kenyatta’s throat. Ian is clearly tempted to kill Kenyatta, but it isn’t until Mickey steps in and cools down Ian long enough to allow himself to pull the knife from Ian’s tight grip. He and Ian begrudgingly leave Kenyatta and Mandy to their own devices afterward.
7. Crashing the Christening of Mickey’s Son
In the Season 4 episode, “Emily,” the relationship between Mickey and Ian takes a major turning point. Mickey’s baby boy gets christened, and his family celebrates at The Alibi bar, forcing Mickey to play father and husband with Svetlana. Ian crashes the occasion and has a few drinks while there. He lets Mickey know that this was the final straw for him. He’s tired of being a mistress for Mickey, living a lie and keeping their love a secret. He gives Mickey the ultimatum that if he forces Ian to leave like his wife advises, then their relationship is done. Knowing their relationship is in jeopardy, Mickey boldly tells the entire bar “I just want everybody here to know I’m f*cking gay!” Surprisingly, no one seems to care. Well, no one except his homophobic father, who breaks out into an unrelenting rage that causes a brawl. Following the fight, Mickey’s father is arrested just 4 hours after being released from prison. Meanwhile, Mickey and Ian start anew now that their love is no longer a secret.
6. Nearly Killing Lip in a Fight
In Season 2, Ian was obsessed with getting into the West Point military academy. It seems like his dreams are about to come true when a war hero comes onto his doorstep in the episode “Father’s Day.” However, Ian isn’t the Gallagher whom the vet wants to recommend into Westpoint. It’s Lip, who had only been talking to the former soldier as a means to get his brother into the school but didn’t have a chance to mention Ian’s name yet. Lip promises this was only a misunderstanding, but Ian takes it personally, assuming Lip thinks Ian can’t do anything on his own. The deafening blow comes when Ian calls Lip’s alleged baby mama, Karen, a whore. That’s when the physical blows start wailing in. The two tussle in the bathroom, and Ian gets the better of Lip. Ian nearly takes things too far when he grabs Lip by the head and almost slams it onto the edge of the bathtub. Thankfully, Ian catches himself before dealing the killing blow and thinks better of it, walking away instead.
5. Threatening to Kill an Anti-Gay Protest Group
In the Season 5 episode titled “I’m the Liver,” Mickey accompanies Ian to pay respects to a fallen gay soldier at his funeral. While there, they see an anti-gay church group protesting the funeral. Furious at the levels of disrespect and disruptions caused by the group, Ian goes ballistic by swearing and screaming at the group. He then grabs a large cross and threatens to bludgeon every one of the protesters with it. Mickey has to calm Ian down by promising they can do more damage with a proper revenge plan. Mickey brings Ian back home, and even then, Ian starts grabbing a handful of weapons (grenades, automatic guns, etc.) ready to go berserk on the protesters. Again, Mickey calms Ian down and convinces Ian to settle on a plan where they get one of their gay friends to give the protest leader a blowjob, and then take a picture for the internet to sully the leader’s reputation.
4. Fighting Mickey for Caring Too Much
In the Season 5 episode “South Side Rules,” after Ian is released from the psych ward, Ian is put on medication to control his bipolar disorder. This puts Ian at odds with Mickey after Ian deems Mickey to be overprotective of his well-being to the point Mickey acts like a caretaker. To hash out their differences, the two have a date night of sorts at their old screwing spot. Things go well until Ian pulls out some beers for them. Knowing that beer doesn’t mix well with Ian’s lithium medication, Mickey advises against it, which earns him a punch in the face from Ian. Ian criticizes Mickey for acting like a “whiny p*ssy” rather than the “sh*t-talking, b*tch-slapping piece of Southside trash that [Ian] fell in love with.” This leads to a full-on scuffle, and after a few minutes of beating the crap out of each other, they can’t help but laugh about it over a few beers. And just like old times in their old pot, they have sex right after.
3. Breaking Up With Mickey For Trying to Help Him
Season 5 of Shameless saw Ian’s bipolar disorder at its most erratic. Without the use of meds or even therapy, Ian found himself in a tailspin that saw him kidnapping babies and having mental breakdowns in public. Ian’s on-again-off-again boyfriend, Mickey, was his sole support system. Throughout Season 5, Mickey found himself going through any and all means to help his lover. This included preventing Ian from getting taken away by some pervy old dude who wanted to have his way with Ian’s limp drugged body, and Mickey even went as far as to come out as gay to his homophobic father in front of essentially the entire neighborhood at the bar. Mickey went through all the stops to please his lover and make their relationship official, but Ian’s love wasn’t reciprocated so kindly at times. It all culminated when Ian broke up with Mickey for wanting Ian to take medication for his bipolar disorder. Ian claimed he didn’t want Mickey to try and “fix” him, but Mickey was nearly trying to help. For that reason, Ian broke his heart.
2. Kidnapped a Baby
There are several instances in Season 5 when Ian’s bipolar disorder gets the best of him, and his condition leads him to make some poor decisions and outbursts. When confronted about it by his family, Ian is so overwhelmed that he runs away, but not alone. He kidnaps Mickey and Svetlana’s child and drives off. While on the lam in the episode “Crazy Love,” whatever future plans Ian has to live alone with the baby end up backfiring after leaving the baby in the car by himself to go hook up with a nearby guy. When he returns to the car afterward, Ian finds out that a bunch of civilians have called the cops over concern for the baby. An irritated Ian runs off with the baby and gets chased down by the police. The altercation puts Ian into police custody and taken to a psych ward.
1. Lying About His Bipolar Disorder
In Season 6, Ian manages to snag himself a job as a firefighter, and he passes his EMT with flying colors. The only problem that he runs into is when he receives paperwork that tells him he needs to disclose any mental illnesses that he may have. Fearing that his bipolar disorder may keep him from getting the job, his latest boyfriend, Caleb, convinces him to lie about it on his paperwork. Given his long history with the disorder and considering the numerous, frantic episodes which Ian has had, the last thing he should do is lie about it. Yes, it may have cost him the job, but that’s a risk that needs to be taken. It can be argued that his condition isn’t anybody’s business, but Ian being upfront about his disorder is for the safety of his co-workers and himself in the case of an emergency. Lying doesn’t help anybody; nor does it help his case. Lying proved to do more harm than good as his boss did a background check and found out about his disorder. She fired him on the spot not because of his disorder but because he lied about it, and she can’t have somebody on the force that she can’t trust.