Will the Showtime dramedy Shameless ever return for Season 12? Here's what's been said on the ending and spin-off possibilities so far.
Will Shameless Ever Return for Season 12?
Shameless Season 11 was firmly marketed as the "last call" for the Gallaghers and the "the FINAL season" of the show, meaning that, as of now, there are no plans for the Showtime dramedy to return for Season 12.
Explaining why Shameless was coming to an end in an interview with Variety in December 2020, executive producer John Wells explained how they "have to walk away" from the Gallaghers' lives "at some point:"
“With this, we’re just following people’s lives. We just have to walk away from them at some point.”
This seems to indicate contractual or viewership issues were not at the heart of bringing Shameless to an end. But rather it seems the Showtime dramedy had simply run its course after an impressive 11-season run.
As Shameless was not canceled by the network and the team was able to end the Gallaghers' story on their own terms with a satisfying conclusion, the chances of a revival for Season 12 seem rather slim.
That said, the Shameless team wasn't quite able to fulfill all their Season 11 plans, as the scripts had to be rewritten to work the COVID-19 pandemic into the story. He told Variety how even though they "had a lot of scripts" done, all of them had to be rewritten as it would have been "criminal" not to explore the situation:
“Those living barely above the poverty line or below the poverty line have been the most impacted by the pandemic, and we just felt it was something that we really had to do — to show the impact it’s having on our characters. It would have felt criminal not to.”
Even a spin-off continuation seems unlikely after Wells told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018 that he has "never been a big fan" of the notion. Instead, he would rather close out the Gallaghers' story with the impression the family is still wandering Chicago:
"I’ve never been a big fan of spinoffs. The moment we all decide we’ve done what we wanted to do on the show, we’ll walk the camera off down the street and give the impression that if you walk onto the right block in Chicago, you’d find the Gallaghers."
What Could Happen in Shameless Season 12?
Looking at Shameless' starring cast of Gallaghers, the team would have quite slim pickings for actors to bring back for a Season 12 revival of new antics.
For one, the show's original lead, Emmy Rossum's Fiona, had already left the series behind after Season 9. And while the actress was planning to come back for the show's conclusion but wasn't able to due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rossum probably wouldn't be looking to return for any long-term revival.
Not to mention, Shameless had closed out the story of a major staple in the finale as William H. Macy's Frank Gallagher succumbed to COVID-19 and passed away.
So, in terms of the main Gallagher family, that leaves Jeremy Allen White's Lip, Cameron Monaghan's Ian, Emma Rose Kenney's Debbie, Ethan Cutkosky's Carl, and Christian Isaiah's Liam as potential subjects for a continuation.
After the ending of Shameless, most of the Gallaghers have gone their own respective ways to start new lives. As a whole, the Showtime series ends on the notion that life simply goes on for these characters.
For one, Mickey and Ian are moving off to the West Side to enjoy the swankier lifestyle it offers as they prepare to possibly become parents someday.
Some of the Gallaghers have even left Chicago behind altogether, with Fiona still residing in Florida and Debbie possibly off to Texas with her ex-con girlfriend Heidi and her daughter Franny.
The only Gallaghers still really residing in the familiar neighborhood are Lip, Carl, and Liam, making reviving the show a rather tough concept. Unless the show were to explore these characters on their own paths, any potential Season 12 would need to find some reason to bring these characters back together.
But as that would only destroy the progression of these characters to take them back to their ghetto upbringing they fought so hard to escape, Shameless Season 12 seems damned to never come to pass.
All 11 seasons of Shameless are streaming now on Netflix.