20 Things Wrong With Ian We All Choose To Ignore

Over the past eleven seasons of Shameless, viewers have grown to love every member of the 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 the audience on the edge of their seats.

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Ian has always been one of the fan-favorites. The redheaded Gallagher has overcome countless relatable relationship, career, and mental health struggles since Shameless began. His capacity for compassion and constant efforts to help his family and other loved ones helped him become one of Shameless‘ most likable characters, but Ian’s definitely made some questionable choices over the years.

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Updated on November 14th, 2021 by Amanda Suarez: With the final season of Shameless coming to an end this past year, there has been even more drama for the Gallagher family. Ian’s return to the show has meant that there have been some wonderful moments, like his beautiful wedding with Mickey Milkovich, but there have been some dicey moments for the military runaway turned Gay Jesus turned ex-convict. 

He Was Sleeping With A Married Man

Ian and Kash in Shameless

When viewers were introduced to Ian Gallagher in the very first and one of the best seasons of Shameless, they immediately discovered that he was 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 with two children.

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.

 He Secretly Dated His Good Friend’s Brother

Ian and Mandy talking

Mandy Milkovich, a character fans think was gone too soon on Shameless, once had a huge crush on Ian. When he didn’t 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 sexuality to her so she’d call off her family. 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 entered into a relationship with Mandy’s closeted brother Mickey. He saw Mickey for weeks before finally confessing, which was a sign that he knew he was doing something wrong. Luckily, Mandy had gotten over her feelings for Ian and reacted well to the potentially friendship-ending news.

 He Dated Jimmy’s Married Father

Lloyd and Ian looking tense in Shameless

In Shameless‘ second season, Ian began seeing Ned, an older man. 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. Secrets seemed to run in the family, as Jimmy’s identity was one of the biggest kept secrets on Shameless

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. 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.

He Impersonated Lip To Get Into The Army And Tried To Steal A Helicopter

Ian Gallagher from 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 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.

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While impersonating Lip, Ian started experiencing mania and tried to steal a helicopter, 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 he was wanted for the crimes and he initially was okay with that blame being placed on Lip, who was trying to go to college.

He Wouldn’t Commit To Mickey

Mickey Milkovich's profile in 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 insecurities about being attracted to men and developed into a very supportive and loving partner, but Ian struggled with recklessness and impulsivity, leading him to be unfaithful.

Ian ended up with many complete strangers whom he had no feelings for and didn’t care how much he hurt Mickey by doing so. Although these two characters have the best romantic partner potential, Ian resented Mickey for trying to take care of him.

He Kidnapped Yevgeny And Could Have Hurt Him

Ian looks at Yevgeny in the car in Shameless

When Mickey confronted Ian about his erratic behavior, Ian was so upset that he took Mickey’s son Yevgeny on a “drive” and left Chicago with him. Ian made some questionable parenting decisions and failed to bring any sort of food or supplies for their “road trip” and even accidentally left Yevgeny in his hot car.

Luckily, a woman noticed the baby in the locked vehicle and called the police, who came and took Yevgeny away. When Lip, Fiona, and Mickey arrived at the police station to explain Ian’s actions, it was a wake-up to Ian to finally take his bipolar diagnosis more seriously and he entered into treatment.

He Wasn’t A Responsible Sex Partner

Ian and Caleb in Shameless

When Caleb revealed to Ian that he was HIV positive and asked if he’s ever been tested, Ian admitted that he’d never bothered to get himself checked at a clinic, and his first visit ends up being one that Caleb takes him to, to make sure that everything is okay.

Ian was having unprotected sex with multiple partners for quite a while, which was not only dangerous to himself, but to the people that he slept with. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with people exercising sexual freedom, they should practice safe sexual practices and Ian could have been unknowingly transmitting diseases to multiple people.

He Helped Throw Frank Off A Bridge

Frank being pushed off the bridge in Shameless

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 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.

He Left A Healthy Relationship To Be With Mickey

Ian and trevor talking on 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 taught Ian all about the LGBTQ+ community and helped give him purpose, but Ian 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 his relationship with Trevor didn’t survive.

He Tried To Blackmail An Old Client For Money

Ian in 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. Ian may be one of the most intelligent Gallaghers, but he routinely gets himself into trouble.

Instead of raising the money honestly, Ian chose to visit an old client from his time working at the Fairy Tail dance club 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.

He Got Caught Up In His Fame And Forgot About Trevor

Ian at a protest in 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 caught off-guard by the sudden wave of support at first, but it didn’t take very long for him to embrace his new title.

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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 Gay Jesus.

He Blew Up A Car In A Fake Miracle

Ian in front of a burning car on Shameless

While Ian was busy being Gay Jesus, he stopped taking his bipolar medication as he said it held back his creative potential. 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 sexuality as one of his followers blew up the father’s vehicle so it’d look like Ian performed another miracle.

Ian refused to acknowledge how clouded his judgment was or the consequences of his actions, and he was perfectly content with getting arrested after this incident. The arson made him even more popular with his ever-expanding army of fans, so Ian was happy to take credit for it.

He Actively Tried To Stay In Jail, Then Solitary

Ian and Mickey arguing in jail on Shameless

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, wanting to stay. 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.

When Mickey and Ian are locked up together, things are great at first. But, after they become irritated being stuck with each other 24/7 in a cramped cell, they each devise a plan to stab one of the bed-ridden prisoners to get transferred to solitary. They actually race on the way down to the prisoner, shivs in hand. Stabbing someone instead of talking about his grievances is not what Ian should have done and the poor prisoner ended up getting stabbed by both of them multiple times.

He Abandoned His Cause To Get A Reduced Sentence

Ian pointing up in the street in Shameless

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 mania, a truth which he knew would do irreparable damage to the so-called Church. By taking a plea 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.

He Gets In His Own Way

Ian in Shameless

Ian wasn’t as ambitious as Fiona, as intelligent as Lip, or as crafty as his father, but he may have 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 developed a strong enthusiasm for it and excelled.

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Ian had a passion for the military his whole life, but going AWOL closed that door. When Ian wanted to be an EMT, he put a tremendous about of effort into training. But that potential was wasted when he chose to become a criminal. Even after he’s released, he routinely works jobs that are nothing like what he pictured for himself, like warehouse jobs, a scammer with his parole officer, and then weed profit transport and security.

He Never Discussed Finances With Mickey Before They Got Married

Shameless - Ian and Mickey Wedding

Marrying Mickey was one of the best things that happened to Ian, but they aren’t in much of a honeymoon phase in season 11. Ian is aggravated that Mickey seems to be spending all of the money that they received from the wedding and refuses to get a legitimate job. It’s obviously an area of high tension for the two, and they make several sharp jabs at each other about it.

When Lip asks Ian if the two ever discussed finances before they got married, Ian tells him no and that he didn’t think it was necessary. That’s a really important and integral part of a marriage and the fact that it didn’t cross either of their minds speaks to how little thought they put into providing for a future.

He Wanted An Open Marriage When Mickey Really Didn’t

Shameless Series Finale Ian and Mickey

The list of things that the two didn’t discuss before getting married gets longer as season 11 continues. Although Ian and Mickey were monogamous while dating and during their engagement, Ian voices that he wasn’t expecting to only sleep with Mickey for the rest of his life, and says that he thinks they should still see other people.

Although Mickey eventually agrees, it’s clear that it’s not what he really wants to do. Mickey has been shamelessly in love and dedicated to Ian since they were younger, and since he committed himself to Ian he hasn’t slept with anyone on the side. While he isn’t necessarily uncomfortable with the idea, he obviously wasn’t planning on it.

He Went Against Debby To Sell The Family Home For Profit

Shameless Season 10 Lip and Debbie

A huge area of conflict in the last season of the show was that part of the Gallagher family wanted to sell the family home and split the profits, and others wanted to keep the house. Because Ian and Lip both eventually move out to their own apartments and homes, they want to say goodbye to the Gallagher house to help out with their debts.

This completely ignores Debby, Carl, Liam, and Franny. Debby, as one of the most powerful Gallaghers, takes charge and fights to stay. Ian has started his own family with Mickey and turns a blind eye to the problems that Debby and the other kids are having with the home. The family has done a lot to support Ian when he’s needed them, but he selfishly chooses to just follow Lip’s lead.

He Stole An Ambulance For His And Mickey’s Security Job

Ian by an ambulance in Shameless

Ian finally gets a more serious security job with Mickey transporting profits for legal marijuana businesses like Kev and V’s and working general security detail. However, after their robbed one day during a job, Ian thinks they need a more secure and unassuming mode of transportation.

Instead of doing the responsible thing and borrowing, leasing, or buying a vehicle for their gig, Ian calls in a fake 911 emergency and takes their ambulance while they run upstairs to save an imaginary patient. Ian is usually the voice of reason between him and Mickey, opting for legitimate ways of doing things, but his anger about being stolen from drives him to a less legal solution.

He Didn’t Say Goodbye To Frank Before He Died

Shameless Season 11 Finale Frank Gallagher Death

As one of the best things about the final season, Frank spent a lot of time with Liam and Franny during his last few weeks. However, he barely sees the other kids. When he discovers that he has alcoholic dementia, he gives himself an overdose and leaves a note to the family. Although he doesn’t die from the overdose, he is hospitalized and diagnosed with COVID as well.

Although Frank was anything but a good father, it was sad to see his health and mind decline. Not only were Ian and the other Gallagher kids unaware of what was going on with Frank, but they also didn’t care very much. None of them bothered to wonder where he was, and his note wasn’t seen by anyone but Franny, who drew all over it. Ian and his siblings missed their opportunity to say their goodbyes to their only living parent, and he died alone.

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