'Shameless' Ends Season 6 at a Crossroads — and With a Cliffhanger

Executive producer Nancy Pimental talks with THR about the surprising events for the Gallagher family and what to expect from season seven.
Warren Feldman/Showtime
Emmy Rossum in 'Shameless'

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season six finale of Showtime's Shameless.]

Showtime's Shameless wrapped its sixth season Sunday with a cliffhanger as Fiona's (Emmy Rossum) wedding day went anything but according to plan and she and other members of the Gallagher family faced uncertain futures.

While Frank's (William H. Macy) plan to kill Sean (Dermot Mulroney) was foiled, he still managed to ruin daughter Fiona's big day. He interrupts the nuptials (high, of course) and outs addict Sean for falling off the wagon again and, effectively, being just like Frank. It ruins the ceremony and Sean bolts in a last-ditch effort to retain joint custody of his son with his ex-wife.

When Sean returns to find Fiona alone on the curb in her wedding dress and smoking, he admits that everything Frank said was true and the former couple part ways, seemingly for good.

In the post-credits scene, Kevin (Steve Howey), Debbie (Emma Kennedy), Carl (Ethan Cutkosky), Svetlana (Isidora Goreshter), Vee (Shanola Hampton), Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and his boyfriend Caleb (Jeff Pierre) unlock Frank from their trunk and throw him off a bridge into the Chicago River in a bid to send yet another message that they're done with him.  

So is Frank gone for good? "People are going to have to stay tuned for season seven," executive producer Nancy Pimental tells THR with a laugh.

While the way in which Frank crashed Fiona's wedding was truly awful, he really served as a mirror for Fiona and may have saved her from marrying someone who was just like her deadbeat dad.

"In his own sick and twisted way, he believes he's a good dad and was doing the right thing," Pimental says. "But he's a sociopath who sees it that way. It's so frustrating to the family and Kev and Vee that he never gets it."

The reveal caps a season in which Fiona and all the Gallaghers were seeking their own version of normalcy. The latest example was Frank, who paid for the formal wedding in an attempt to do right by his family.

"They've all had their own moments of, 'Maybe Frank is different or can be a good dad,' but they always get disappointed," Pimental says. "It's this culmination of years of disappointment and trying to shake him out of his narcissism and prove this isn't the way to do it. It's a real buildup of frustration, anger and heartbreak."

Pimental, who has been with the Showtime dramedy since season one, says the writers recently returned to work to plot out the previously announced seventh season and are currently discussing the ways in which family influences everyone's respective future on the series.

Season six ended as both Fiona and Lip (Jeremy Allen White) hit rock bottom (again). The latter was left standing in front of rehab after he was expelled from college and, like Frank, has a drinking problem.

"As we're diving into season seven and, perhaps season eight, which one of the Gallaghers has the tools and the potential to get out of their circumstances and what would that look like?" Pimental says. "Do they end up falling back? It's something we're constantly exploring. It's a huge theme for us and it's a big statement in society — that you can be offered so much and have so much potential but your familial relationships influence you more than anything. The Gallaghers are not the kind of family that's getting any help or therapy so how much can they get out of their own way and their family legacy way?"

While it's too early to know anything concrete about season seven — the writers have yet to start storyboarding — Pimental says there has been talk about keeping serial dater Fiona single for a spell.  

"You get away with a lot of stuff in your early 20s where you can be a party girl and bounce from guy to guy and have every opportunity you want but getting into your late 20s it becomes not so cute anymore," she says. "How many times do you have to learn your lesson? It's a crossroads: Who are you going to be? Debs has a baby; Lip has choices — so what is your identity?"

Carl, too, is at his own crossroads after spending much of the season selling guns at school before ultimately witnessing the death of his friend from juvie. It forced him to clean up his act and ultimately land a girlfriend whose cop father has served as what may be his first respectable role model. The season ended with Carl stepping up to take care of not only himself but his loved ones in an effort to be on the up and up and prove himself to his girlfriend's dad.

"The Gallaghers have all had moments where they come out of a fog and can separate from their history, upbringing and where they live and circumstances, but does it stay that way?" Pimental says, noting Fiona's split with Sean will see her have to get yet another job. "We're talking about a future where Fiona will have more responsibility but gets her wages garnished because she hasn't paid taxes. She's worked hard to be on the up and up and it becomes a question of: Is it worth it? How do they get out of their circumstances?" 

To that end, producers are mulling how each of the Gallaghers can escape their circumstances and what kinds of jobs they could get that would afford them those opportunities.

"What is their potential? We'll explore that a lot with Carl and Fiona. They want to go straight, but it's hard," she says.

As for Ian, the bipolar character followed Caleb's advice and stood up for himself at work. In doing so, he found support from his boss and fellow EMTs and is back on the job, ending the season with a well-paying, respectable career and solid partner — and self respect. Pimental says Pierre will return as Caleb for season seven — but that doesn't mean the couple will remain happy.

"We definitely have more story for them but like with all the characters, how much can they handle a good thing?" she says, noting Lip's mentor and father figure Professor Youens (Alan Rosenberg) will also return. "How much do they end up having to explore it? Ian isn't someone who is escaping the Gallagher baggage — I don't think he can handle a good thing." (The producers also would like to see fan-favorite Noel Fisher return as Ian's ex, Mickey, though there are no current plans for that to happen and the actor is co-starring in NBC pilot Miranda's Rights.)

As for the future of Mulroney's Sean, that's not as clear since the actor booked the lead in CBS' Jason Katims medical drama pilot Bunker Hill. Pimental notes Mulroney's return will be contingent on two things: if his pilot goes and if the writers find they have more stories for Sean and Fiona. "I think we can still get him for a little bit, but I don't think we've landed on that one way or the other," she says.

In terms of Shameless' future beyond season seven, Pimental says producers have had conversations about a potential eighth season and beyond, though that's up to Showtime and studio Warner Bros. Television.

What did you think of the season six finale of Shameless? Sound off in the comments below.

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