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In a surprise announcement, Shameless star Emmy Rossum says she will leave the series at the end of season 9. The series is set to begin its ninth season in just over a week’s time, becoming one of Showtime’s longest-running original series, as well as one of its highest rated. A remake of the British series of the same name, Shameless was at the forefront of the premium network’s push to compete with the likes of HBO (as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon weren’t yet the behemoths they are now), launching the same year as multiple Emmy-winner Homeland, and even going on to earn a number of award nominations and a win (for Joan Cusak, in her guest-starring role as Sheila Jackson) for itself.
Rossum has appeared in over 100 episodes of the show as Fiona Gallagher, the eldest child of Frank (William H. Macy) and older sister (and ostensible mother) to a brood of siblings that includes Lip (Jeremy Allen White), Ian (Cameron Monaghan, Gotham), Debbie (Emma Kenney, The Conners), Carl (Ethan Cutosky), and Liam (Brenden sims). Consistency and high ratings aside, nine seasons is a long time to be on any series, which makes Rossum’s choice to leave the series at the end of the upcoming season understandable.
She made the announcement today via her Facebook page, wherein she discussed how much the cast and crew meant to her, and how being a part of the show was like being in a real family. Near the end, Rossum described the role of Fiona as “a gift” and described her years on the show as “the best of my life.”
“The opportunity to play Fiona has been a gift. There are few characters — female or otherwise — as layered and dynamic. She is a mother lion, fierce, flawed and sexually liberated. She is injured, vulnerable, but will never give up. She is living in an economic depression, but refuses to be depressed. She is resourceful. She is loyal. She is brave. I knew it the second I read the pilot script, this was different, this was special. I tirelessly prepped the audition with my coach Terry Knickerbocker. I walked to the appointment in the rain so I looked disheveled. During my third audition, when I got the part IN the room, I literally jumped up and down screaming in joyous relief and disbelief. Quite simply, the last eight years have been the best of my life.”
Rossum mentions the show continuing in her absence, which seems unlikely, but still possible.
“I know you will continue on without me, for now. There is much more Gallagher story to be told. I will always be rooting for my family. Try not to think of me as gone, just think of me as moving down the block.”
Just what kind of impact Rossum’s decision to leave will have on the show is unclear. The announcement comes not long after she successfully resolved a dispute regarding equal pay ahead of season 8. It’s safe to say that given how long the show has been on and the talent involved, Shameless is by no means a cheap show to produce. Though it’s ratings remain high for Showtime, it would not be surprising if season 9 was the show’s last.