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Shameless boss explains why Emmy Rossum did not return for show finale

Louise McCreesh
·3-min read
Photo credit: Showtime
Photo credit: Showtime

Shameless spoilers, including for season 11, episode 12 'Father Frank, Full of Grace' follow.

Shameless showrunner John Wells has explained why Emmy Rossum did not return for the show's finale.

The Showtime series aired its final episode on Sunday night (April 11) after 11 seasons onscreen, with the finale failing to bring Rossum's character Fiona Gallagher back into the fold.

The actress departed the show in season nine but viewers did get to see old footage of her character in the finale in the visions conjured by Frank (William H Macy) before he died.

Wells had previously said he "would love" for Emmy to return to Shameless in the show's final season, but speaking after the finale, he admitted that COVID restrictions had a hand in Fiona's absence.

Photo credit: Showtime
Photo credit: Showtime

Related: Shameless may have just killed off a major character in latest episode

"Emmy and I had a lot of conversations about it, trying to make it work," Wells told Entertainment Weekly.

"She's been in New York with [husband] Sam [Esmail], where they live, and right about the time where we were talking about putting it all together was when the additional lockdowns kind of hit again, and it just didn't feel safe or practical for her to come back.

"So I think it's with a great deal of regret that we couldn't do it but it's just more minor casualty of our year of COVID."

Photo credit: Leon Bennett/WireImage - Getty Images
Photo credit: Leon Bennett/WireImage - Getty Images

Related: Shameless's Jeremy Allen White says Emmy Rossum "is never going to be replaced"

Wells also reflected on the show's decision to not share any updates on Fiona's life away from the South Side, saying that any references about her life off-screen may have come across as "too cheesy".

"We had conversations like, 'Should we write scenes for her in Florida and see if that works?'" he added.

"But having had characters leave on ER all the time and then occasionally having them come back, those episodes always felt a little like 'very special episodes' and they get you out of the rhythm of what you were doing.

"And when an actor leaves, and Emmy was so wonderful on the show and we were really happy to have her here and really sad when she reasonably decided to leave and pursue some other things, it's kind of done."

Photo credit: Showtime
Photo credit: Showtime

Related: Shameless' Emmy Rossum had a very unusual technique for directing episodes

He added: "A lot of times for the actors and the writers you go through a huge tearful goodbye and then you write them back and it's probably a little anti-climactic; it feels a little too beholden to what fans may want.

"So the timing just never worked out right, and it always felt strange to write too much of 'Oh, hey, we got this letter from Fiona,' or 'Here's a postcard from Florida.'

"It all seemed a little cheesy, so we didn't do it," he continued. "I don't know if it's the right decision, to be honest."

Shameless aired on Showtime in the US. Seasons 1-9 are available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

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