Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Shameless US Gallaghers

Go To

Index: Gallaghers | Neighbors | Others |

    open/close all folders 

The Gallaghers

     In General 
  • Abusive Parents: Peggy Gallagher abused Frank. Frank abused his kids. Even Fiona is not a perfect parental substitute. Lip dubs Debbie a "shittty Mom" at one point.
  • Berserk Button: Don't suggest that any of them see a shrink. According to Fiona, "Gallaghers don't do shrinks".
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: And how! Lampshaded in Season 5 when Ian and Lip state being a Gallagher is practically a disease unto itself.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Frank's three daughters fit this, with Sammi being the Blonde, Fiona the Brunette, and Debbie the Redhead.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: It's a rite of passage among Gallaghers to start calling Mommy and Daddy by their given names. Usually, it marks the point when they lose all trust and respect for them and start fending for themselves.
  • Characterization Marches On: The clan started out as more or less mere localized Expies and were closer in portrayal to their original UK counterparts. For example, shown mostly in Season One, the Gallagher children here were shown to actually give a damn about Frank enough to take actual active roles to help bail him out whenever he got himself in trouble doing so as a familial union. A stark contrast later on in-series, which the Gallagher clan is established to not only be fed up, but could not care less about what their "Patriarch" does or what trouble he gets himself into probably knowing he likely has it coming. They may still bail him out but probably only when he's in serious trouble and if they know about it, but less likely as a union. Or sadly, in the frame of mind to even care at such points.
  • Dysfunctional Family: A crude stitching of several family neuroses and a genuine, if twisted love: the Gallaghers, everyone.
  • Hands-Off Parenting: Mostly as part of The Chain of Harm, but it's a given the only reason why Gallaghers have a long line of descent was because of a slip of their parents, with most of them staying far away from their kids' lives.
  • Has a Type: Most of the Gallaghers have a habit of being attracted to crazy people. Lampshaded in Season 9 by Ian with Lip agreeing.
    • Frank and Monica.
    • Lip and Karen, Mandy, Amanda, and Tami.
    • Ian and Mickey.
    • Carl and Kassadi.
    • Debbie and Julia, Sandy, and Heidi.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: Everyone in the family has a tendency to self-sabotage in some way.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: The Gallaghers are a large family and individual members tend to be quite fertile. Frank, who has sired at least six kids (that we know of) and has a generous amount of siblings himself, likens the clan to Explosive Breeders, stating that the USA will eventually consist of mostly Mexicans and Gallaghers in the future.
  • Perpetual Poverty: One of the main plot points in the show is that the family is just barely getting by due to Frank having no incentive to work and spending whatever money he gets from welfare checks on drugs and booze, forcing the kids to scrape together money through whatever means necessary themselves.
  • Practically Different Generations: Fiona, who starts the series off in her early twenties, is at least a decade older than Debbie and Carl, who themselves are a little over a decade older than Liam.
  • The Scrounger: Mostly during the beginning of the series when the kids were younger and unable to work legitimately, but everyone (including even Frank when an irresistible opportunity presents itself) will do some sort of side hustle or "under-the-table" work to get a little more extra cash.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Fiona and Debbie were originally the only Gallagher daughters. That was until Sammi showed up.

     Frank Gallagher 
Portrayed by: William H. Macy
Seasons 1-11
"The best gift you can give is neglect. Neglect fosters self-reliance."

The (mostly) useless patriarch of the Gallagher clan, Frank is an alcoholic, drug addict and utter failure of a parent. Due to his alcoholism, laziness and astonishing selfishness (which borders on complete sociopathy), he has always prioritized getting drunk and pursuing a variety of bizarre schemes for scrounging up booze money or finding a place to sleep over raising his (many) children, leaving his daughter to pick up the slack.

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Neglects Debbie, Carl and Liam, emotionally abuses Fiona and Lip, and physically abuses Ian. He also had them himself, in the form of his mother.
    • Tries to strangle Debbie in the Season 7 finale when he learns she has hidden his drugs.
  • Addled Addict: By the last season, Frank's drinking has caught up to him and he is suffering from alcoholic dementia, causing him to lose his memory and get lost. This is unexpectedly hard to watch, because Frank has spent the whole series getting in scrapes and seemingly cheating death. By the last season, he's a sad old man who shits himself and cries.
  • The Alcoholic: Doubles as an Alcoholic Parent. Any money Frank can get his hands on inevitably go towards alcohol or other substances, and spends most of his time either drunk, hungover or both. Even learning in Season 3 that his alcoholism is literally killing him doesn't stop him, and it takes being physically unable to ingest any alcohol (because he coughs up blood when he does!) to force him off it. He swaps alcohol for vast quantities of pot, Oxycontin, heroin, and crack. Once he gets a new liver at the end of Season 4, he begins drinking again, although his aforementioned drug use seems to have helped him to succeed in significantly cutting down on his booze intake for the long-term. His boozing is so extreme that when he's cremated, his body is so soaked in alcohol that he blows up the oven.
  • All Take and No Give: He leeches off of anyone willing to tolerate him, not paying anyone back.
  • Altar the Speed: Marries Sheila on his deathbed in Season 4.
  • Ambiguously Bi:
    • When he believes a female doctor and her two male residents are propositioning him for sex, he's hesitant, saying that "it's been a while since [he's] been with a dude, never mind two".
    • Frank prostitutes himself at a local gay bar.
    • While high, he mistakes Steve for a woman and lusts after 'her.' When he finds out 'she' is a man, Frank doesn't seem to mind.
    • When asked if he's gay, Frank replies with "I am whatever I need to be at the time I need to be it".
  • Ass Shove: His relationship with Sheila leads to him being on the receiving end of this a lot. It works to his advantage when he wakes up in Mexico after a drunken bender and becomes a drug mule just to get back to the United States. His capacity for, er, storing foreign objects results in him being able to smuggle more drugs than any mule before him, earning him the nickname "El Gran Canon".
  • Billy Needs an Organ: A major plot point of Season 4 is he needs a liver.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: He's no Einstein, but he can be exceptionally clever when he needs to be, if only when scheming for his own personal gain. His children are also shocked to discover how smart he was when he was young, something that's long been eradicated by his addictions and lack of responsibility.
  • Butt-Monkey: While he never suffers the way he should, Frank often deludes himself into thinking his life is a series of lucky breaks when it's clear to everybody how much of a pathetic wastrel he really is. He's been pegged against his will, smuggled to Canada, locked in prison, thrown out the street, beaten up by practically everybody he knows, thrown out the street, sleeps wherever he can, is hated by everybody, frequently fails in his scams, is never taken seriously, thrown out the street... People may want him dead (and with good reason) but nobody envies his life.
  • The Charmer: Zigzagged - Although he is superficially charismatic, he's such a wastrel that everybody's patience for him has long since evaporated. Though when he really needs something, he can turn it on and get people to help him out.
  • Cheated Death, Died Anyway: Frank has cheated death many, many times, like when he nearly dies of liver failure, gets the liver, and immediately starts drinking again. But a particularly abrupt version occurs in the series finale, where he survives his attempted suicide by OD, then catches COVID and dies in the hospital.
  • The Chew Toy: Guy's such an asshole, it's a relief when he gets the shit kicked out of him.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: He often goes off on nonsensical rants, often about things only tangentially related to what everyone else is talking about.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Zig-zagged. His behavior can go from a Funny Moment to realistically depressing and serious, sometimes within the same episode.
  • Consummate Liar: While many residents know him well and know he's full of it, he's an exceptionally good liar (well, he is a sociopath) and has tricked a lot of people over the course of the series.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of his nonsensical rants often come accompanied with a bit of snark, trademark of the Gallagher family.
  • Dirty Coward: Whenever the going gets tough, Frank is the first one out of the door. The best example is when Monica attempted suicide - you see Jimmy, Kevin, Veronica and Fiona leap into action as Frank shuffles out the backdoor.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Thanks to his "extensive experience," he is barely functional. And he becomes even worse when he's drunk, or wanting to get high.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted; almost everyone in Chicago seems to have had a bad experience with Frank and want nothing to do with him, and those who have helped him in the past seem to have wised up. However, there are some examples in earlier season where he's warmly received by his family, at Veronica and Kevin's fake wedding reception, and at the marijuana bonfire, where Fiona playfully ruffles his hair — the latter happening in the same episode where the Gallaghers had to rescue Liam after Frank loses him in a bet.
  • Final Speech: In the form of a voiceover, also Book Ends with the opening voice over in the series Pilot.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: At the end of the series, when all his other children grew to hate him and largely don't care if he dies, Liam still cares about Frank. In the series finale, when Frank goes missing after he tried to commit suicide, Liam is the only one who goes looking for him.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • He's deeply disturbed when Karen forces him to have sex with her. He even questions what the age of consent is, and ends it with her because he can't ruin Lip's relationship with her.
    • In "Summertime", he tries to save Liam from being taken from Baby.
  • Freudian Excuse: His mother was pretty horrible, physically abusing him and regularly telling him that she wished he was never born.
  • Functional Addict: See-saws between this and being a full-blown incontinent Addled Addict.
  • Hate Sink: Honestly, one of the only points of Frank's continuous existence is to be a horrible human being for everyone to despise and to make the Gallagher children sympathetic for tolerating him.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: He once headbutted Ian because Ian asked him if Frank was wearing his shirt, which Frank was.
  • Hidden Depths: His brother reveals to Lip and Ian that he was actually a devout and intelligent youth.
  • Ignored Epiphany:
    • His Near-Death Experience in Season 4 should've taught him a lesson not only on not drinking anymore (since he physically can't), but on taking responsibilities seriously. However, he chooses to ignore this, runs away from the hospital and starts drinking whiskey by his own on the outskirts of town.
    • From Season 5 onwards, he has successfully cut down on the boozing, but only by replacing it with a variety of other drugs, particularly weed and Oxycontin.
  • Insult Backfire: Ian is getting drunk every day, Fiona says its the result of bad parenting. Frank bemusedly replies, "Don't be so hard on yourself."
  • It's All About Me: His defining characteristic, everything else stems from his extreme selfishness.
  • Jerkass: He is an incredibly selfish man.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • As meandering and unprovoked as a lot of his complaining is, now and then he does make some good or relevant points. Awful as he is for ruining Fiona's wedding, his public character assassination of Sean does prove to Fiona that Sean hasn't changed for her and is a remorseless addict.
    • When Monica returns in season 2, even he realizes it's not going to last; he nonetheless convinces Fiona to let the kids indulge in her being there because he knows that with him and Monica as parents, they need all the happy memories they can get.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: ...and despite (very occasional) Pet the Dog moments, he continues to find new lows to sink too.
  • Joker Immunity: More than a few doctors have expressed shock at the fact that he isn't dead yet, and Fiona sardonically remarks that he'll outlive everyone.
  • Karma Houdini: Played With. He rarely suffers much in the way of repercussions for his constant bastardry, apart from being disowned by most of his family and burning his bridges with nearly everyone else he knows. However, his life is a complete mess and it's clear people can't kick him any lower because he's already done it himself.
  • Kavorka Man: For someone so disheveled from decades of indulging in bad habits, he gets a lot of action.
  • Kick the Dog: A lot. Just when you think he does something bad, he does something even worse that is borderline sociopathic.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After a lifetime of drinking, Frank is hit by early onset dementia from drinking too much.
  • A Lighter Shade of Grey: He's an awful Father, but Lip gives the feint praise that Frank's "the good parent" compared to Monica. Justified assessment as Monica frequently abandons her children, and when she was present she traumatized them with manic bipolar episodes. At least Frank never outright abandons his kids.
    • When he feels like it, Frank pays more attention to the younger Gallaghers, especially Liam and later Franny, than they're used to getting elsewhere. He's also weirdly good at getting babies to sleep...then we find out he gives them valium.
Debbie: I don't think you're supposed to give valium to babies.
  • The Load: All the time, but when he does help, it's interesting to say the least.
  • Made of Iron: Has overdosed multiple times, is a frequent guest and legend at the hospital, was given Last Rites three times, spends most of Season 4 dying, and is still kicking until the series finale.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He doesn't always get his way (and for good reason), but he can do some pretty impressive manipulation when push comes to shove.
  • The Millstone: It's a lot easier for the Gallagher children when Frank's not around to spend much-needed funds or generally just be a Spanner in the Works. Though there are some (rare) aversions where he finds some way to contribute.
  • Momma's Boy: Zig-zagged. Though he constantly tries to get on his abusive mother's good side, he is also clearly damaged from how she raised him, and explodes at her for her how she treated him... Only to go back to the same behavior the next day.
  • Narcissist: See It's All About Me above.
  • Near-Death Experience: Spends most of Season 4 literally dying.
  • Never My Fault: Whenever things go wrong for him, he invariably finds ways to put the blame on everyone except himself.
  • Non-Action Guy: Frank gets his ass kicked by everybody.
  • Pet the Dog: He has his moments. He'll also occasionally use his schemes to benefit his children - always as a side effect to his own selfish desires, but it still counts in some ways.
    • Notably, when catching Ian and Mickey having sex, he passes no judgment on them despite their fear at what he might do with the information.
    • One of his biggest moments comes at the penultimate episode of season three where he takes responsibility for a heist he and Carl carried out, saving Carl from going to juvie. This shocks Lip so much that he comments "Hell just froze over."
    • When talking to Peggy alone, he genuinely compliments his children, showing that even though he's manipulative, narcissistic, and unreliable, he still notices their achievements and is proud of them.
    • His relationship with Emily is this, especially when a doped-up Frank thinks she's Fiona and apologizes for being such a horrible parent. When she dies, he's crushed.
    • He displays shockingly unusual selflessness and love when it comes to Bianca, and genuinely goes out of his way to help her. Contrast his coldly ratting out Chuckie to get back at Sammi for shooting him and his call to her family to let them know where she is, because he sincerely wants her to get help so that he has more time to spend with her.
    • In Season 6, he (reluctantly) abandons his newfound hippie paradise and risks being killed by drug dealers he ripped off to drive a heavily pregnant Debbie to the hospital.
    • In Season 7, he helps gets Liam into a nice private school for free, earning him a hug from his youngest child. He still has a paternal instinct, even if it's just barely there.
    • In Season 11 after sending Frannie to the wrong school, he takes her with him on a day in his life. The two bond and Frannie follows his advice, while Frank decides to get her name tattooed onto him.
  • Playing Possum: Incredibly good at pretending to be asleep to avoid confrontation.
  • The Sociopath: An unrepentant narcissistic Jerkass with a huge sense of entitlement, natural avoidance of personal responsibility for his actions and a semi-complete Lack of Empathy.
  • The Stoner: After his liver troubles in Season 4 leave him unable to drink more than the bare minimum, he turns to other drugs, the main one being pot.
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: Frank's role in any given episode tends to inevitably be this. While the rest of the family is coping with massive crises and personal dilemmas involving relationships, careers, financial difficulties, and even life and death that can span entire seasons, Frank is usually off on some unrelated comedic sub-plot where he's pursuing or dealing with the consequences of his latest bizarre scheme, and generally has no idea what is currently happening in his children's lives. This also works the other way, where his children usually have no idea what he's up to; in the Season 5 finale, when his new love Bianca commits suicide rather than succumb to cancer, he's genuinely heartbroken and numb while Lip and Ian just laugh at him, mocking his bizarre behavior.
  • Tough Love: His speech defending bullying is a magnificent mixture of this and Crosses the Line Twice as he insists that kids should be bullied to understand how harsh the world is and to avoid people like Carl. He insists that the bullied will emerge better while the bullies all end up losers.
  • Trauma Conga Line: After weaseling his way out of plenty of bad situations, he develops health problems at the end of Season 3 and spends all of Season 4 dying (though he gets better by the end). As much of an asshole as he is, seeing a chalk-pale Frank too weak to even stand and begging Sammi to not put him in the depressing hospice care is pretty rough.
  • The Un-Favourite: With the exceptions of Debbie, Carl and Sammi, none of his children have the slightest respect or affection for him, and by Season 5, even they all had their pedestals broken. When he desperately needs a liver in Season 4, Carl and Sammi are the only ones who care about his impending death and try to help out, with everyone else content to let him die. Liam barely even realizes that Frank exists. When he was in a coma in between Seasons 6 and 7, nobody bothered to search for him, and when Frank asks why, Carl outright tells him that everyone was hoping that he was dead. Not only that, but he's The Unfavorite among his own parents as well.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Even though he's the main character, he's the number one source of everyone else's problems and one of the most despicable characters on the show, a fact that is regularly played both for laughs and for drama.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: It's frequently implied that Frank was much smarter, kinder, and sane back when he was a little kid, with drugs, a horrible childhood, and his own repressed vices being what killed that part of him.
  • Useless Protagonist: Most of the time, Frank can't even be bothered to pitch in like the rest for anything in the house, even actively stealing from it when no one's looking.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Usually, when his children start calling him "Frank", it's usually the point where they stop respecting him as a father.

     Fiona Gallagher 
Portrayed by: Emmy Rossum
Seasons 1-9
"The minute you kids start following Frank's example is the minute I put a gun in my mouth."

The real parental figure of the Gallagher family, Fiona has been forced to raise her siblings since she was young, thanks to a mother that left them and an utterly useless father.

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: She was drawn to Jimmy/Steve over Tony because of this. This is most evident when right after Tony pulls them over (in a stolen car) for speeding, Jimmy/Steve does some illegal plays and Fiona is noticeably turned on by his display of criminal acumen. Hell, Jimmy/Steve won her favor the second time by revealing that he was a car thief. This also plays a part in why it doesn't work out with Mike in Season 4 or Gus in Season 5.
  • All-Loving Hero: While she has her rough patches, Fiona is one of the most generous and considerate characters in the entire show.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: She gives one to Gus in "Uncle Carl" to beg him to stay instead of going on tour without her, but it doesn't work, and their marriage doesn't last much longer.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Don't touch any of her siblings. In Episode 2 of Season 1, after Frank headbutts Ian, she warns him that if he ever hits one of "her kids" again, she'll end him.
  • Break the Cutie: In Season 4. Well, to be realistic, the show's been breaking Fiona since day one (remember that scene where she congratulates herself for a good day's work before breaking to tears?), but in Season 4 it's taken up to eleven.
  • Broken Tears: When she takes enough abuse and breaks down enough to cry, this is what they are. Her tears are heart-wrenching, mostly because they're rare and the situations are so miserable.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Does this numerous times to both Frank and Monica, but special mention should go to her speech to Monica at the end of Season 1, when Monica tries to take Liam away. It's awesome.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Makes quite a few bad decisions in Season 4, but none that leads to anything harrowing until she decides to keep and snort Robbie's cocaine instead of throwing it away. Liam gets into it, leading to his hospitalization and almost dying. Fiona herself is arrested, eventually put on house arrest, has trouble finding a job because of her status as a felon, and even her siblings briefly turn away from her.
  • Cool Big Sis: Her younger siblings all look up to her in one way or the other.
  • Deadpan Snarker: As a Gallagher, she naturally excels at snark.
    Fiona: (to Robbie) You call me when I'm with Mike, text me when I'm with Mike... why don't we just, cut off the middle man which is me and, you can fuck your brother.
  • The Determinator: You cannot stop Fiona Gallagher, especially when her family is involved.
  • Ethical Slut: Sees no shame in being sexually promiscuous in her personal life. Assuming she is a prostitute or that she's alright with cat-calling or harassment is a non-family Berserk Button for her, however. She broke down in tears after having to wear a stomach baring cheerleader outfit for a sleazy sports bar with handsy patrons, and this is a woman who is comfortable with her dad giving her partners condoms.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: A fair amount of plot stems from this, if the character doesn't have the last name Gallagher, you can assume they are attracted to Fiona. One of the most egregious examples was Jasmine who was set up as a Distaff Counterpart to her boyfriend, Jimmy/Steve, being overly generous, mysterious about their intentions, and harboring a desire to sleep with her (and expressing it).
  • Good Bad Girl: Like all the Gallaghers, she is successful sexually, accruing a wide variety of partners. When teased about sleeping with nearly a hundred guys, she responds that it's only 95. She's also a responsible guardian to five kids (plus whomever the Gallaghers are sheltering on a week by week basis).
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Despite being the most stable and sane Gallagher, when she gets to go out she usually parties hard. It's pretty harmless and normal until her decision to keep Robbie's cocaine leads to Liam's hospitalization and the end of a stable career path, and after failing to find a new job, she ends up going off the deep end, partying hard at Robbie's home before waking up somewhere she doesn't recognize with no memory of the night before, leading the family to search for her as they so often had to do with Frank.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With her neighbor and best friend Veronica.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Despite her relatively young age, she's the most responsible parent the kids could have asked for... Until she decides to leave cocaine lying out with a curious toddler running around.
    • Smart, savvy Fiona, who has already shown plenty of business acumen with managing the diner, is downright shocked when she hastily buys the dumpy, seedy laundromat, only to find that it needs repairs costing thousands. Not to mention that after the Gallaghers already faced homelessness, she puts the house up for collateral without telling anyone first.
  • It's All About Me:
    • While her heart is in the right place, she tends to blame herself for her siblings' problems that she has nothing to do with. Debbie at one point even asks her, "Why does everything need to be about you?".
    • Having to raise her siblings and make all the decisions for the family from a very young age almost inevitably results in an adult Fiona who believes she is at the center of every issue in her family, that every choice she makes is the right one, and that every decision her siblings make requires either her approval or involvement. As Debbie and her brothers get older, this starts to grate with them more.
  • Humiliation Conga: The fallout of her mistakes during Season 4 is one big heroic variant to this. Her cheating on Mike with his troubled brother Robbie leads to an unhappy breakup with one of her few decent boyfriends, leading to her realization that she doesn't deserve nice men. Though she manages to keep her job, she loses it anyway after she leaves some cocaine out, which Liam accidentally ingests and almost dies from, leading her to be labeled a felon. She's arrested, has the family briefly turn away from her, goes under house arrest involving having to urinate in front of her probation officer, has trouble finding a job under her felon status, and then gets a dressing-down from Mike's sister in front of all of her old coworkers. This culminates in her going off the rails at Robbie's home and ending up in a rather Frank-like situation. Fortunately, she comes out stronger at the end of the season.
  • Knight Templar Big Sister: Hurt any of her siblings and she will end you.
  • Mama Bear: To her siblings. Especially invoked with Carl, Debbie, and Liam, as the younger siblings who would've all been very young (and unborn, in Liam's case) when Fiona took over the family.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: With Jimmy/Steve. It's lampshaded various times, particularly by Frank.
    Lawyer: [looks at Fiona and Jimmy/Steve] Who are these?
    Frank: My daughter and... her girlfriend.
  • Misery Poker: It is undeniable that Fiona has had an incredibly hard life, but she has a tendency to believe that her experiences are as bad as it could possibly get for anyone and is often unsympathetic to people she thinks just need to work hard like she did to get out of their problems. When she and Ian have a major falling out over her finagling an abandoned church for a property development when Ian wanted to turn it into a shelter for homeless queer youth, Fiona explicitly compares her life to theirs and says she never had anybody to help her and made it out fine, ignoring the fact that many of the teens in question were kicked out of home by their families and weren't able to fall back on being a young, conventionally attractive white woman to secure club promoting jobs like she could.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Regularly appears onscreen in very revealing and/or non-existent clothing. She's often seen naked while changing clothes/getting dressed or walking around in her underwear and has plenty of sex scenes.
  • My Own Private "I Do": In Season 5, she impulsively marries Gus, a musician she had only recently met, after what she describes as an "all day sex bender." It doesn't work out.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Her main plot of Season 4 revolves around how badly she manages to screw up after finally starting to get things right in her life. She loses her stable job, cheats on her faithful boyfriend with his brother, accidentally causes her toddler brother to overdose on cocaine, and goes to prison. All of that over one season.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Seems to attract criminals, cowards, or other morally deficient or irresponsible individuals. She has realized it and has gotten pretty used to the men in her life abandoning/disappointing her.
    Veronica: Why are all the men you date pussies?
    Fiona: They are what they eat. [[waggles tongue between her fingers]
  • Only Sane Woman: Until Season 4, at least. She "gets her shit together", as she says, by the end of the season though.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The only time she's ever called Frank "Dad" was at Thanksgiving, after Monica slits her wrist and she needs his help to figure out what medication she's taking, underscoring how dire the situation is.
  • Promotion to Parent: Since Frank and Monica are a pair of irresponsible deadbeats, Fiona's been looking after her younger siblings for her whole life. This gets deconstructed more as the series goes on. Earlier seasons don't shy away from the stress Fiona has placed on her, but she keeps her head above water, and bravely and selflessly secures guardianship of the other children without much hesitation in Season 3. Season 4 sees her already getting overwhelmed and getting frustrated that nothing is ever about her, and by Season 7, she asserts that she's "done mothering everyone" — a far cry from her conversation with the judge while securing guardianship, where she accepts that she'll have to take care of them for most of her life.]]
  • Proud Beauty: Enjoys dressing sexily when she goes out or is spending time with her boyfriends.
  • Put on a Bus: Ultimately decides to leave Chicago at the end of Season 9, having decided her family has matured enough to fend for themselves and that she needs to go on her path. She before she leaves, she gives her family a large amount of money to support themselves.
  • Really Gets Around: Kev once commented she was nicknamed "First Date Fiona". She took no shame in that nickname.
  • Relative Error: A parent-child example, rather than siblings. She and Frank are mistaken for a couple on at least two occasions, much to the disgust of both of them.
  • Sex Goddess: We see Fiona get busy a lot, and she's always portrayed as being a very satisfying lover.
  • Stepford Smiler: A more positive portrayal than normal. No matter how tragic or terrible the situation is, Fiona keeps on smiling and pretending it's all fine for the sake of her siblings.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Fiona is very street smart, even bordering on the Guile Hero at times, but this happens to her numerous times.
    • A justified example would be her downward spiral in Season 4 after all Fiona's efforts to get parental rights in Season 3. She leaves cocaine out, which Liam ingests after cheating on Robbie. However, she herself is going through a very rough time.
    • The clearest example of this trope, though, is Season 7. Despite how close they came to losing the house in Season 2, she puts it up as collateral for her own poorly-conceived business venture.
    • Season 9, too. She goes bankrupt by crashing her car after finding out about Ford being married.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Season 7. Fiona risks homelessness for all the Gallaghers by putting the house up as collateral.
    • Season 9. After finding out Ford is married (a dick move), she goes absolutely apeshit, committing assault and being humiliated by just about everyone around her as they try to call her out.
  • Tough Love: She frequently practices this with her siblings. One standout example comes in "The F Word" where she tells Debbie in no uncertain terms that she will not be responsible for Debbie's baby if she goes through with becoming a teen mom. She follows through on her threat following Franny's birth, as after instinctively cleaning Debbie's room she then brings it back to the way she found it, and later demands that Debbie help contribute to paying for living expenses or she'll be kicked out. When Debbie asks how she can possibly raise her child while finding full-time work, Fiona states it's not her problem.
  • Tragic Drop Out: Having to take care of all of her siblings prevented her from finishing high-school, and her job opportunities and financial situation repeatedly suffer as a result. She receives her GED at the end of Season 2.
  • Unkempt Beauty: She's a Head-Turning Beauty, but she's often so tired and overworked that she neglects to brush her hair or get adequate sleep and often has an unkempt appearance as a result.
  • Unwanted Assistance: One of her problems is that she refuses to ask for help, even when Jimmy/Steve offers to help her out. Part of it is cause she doesn't want to rely on someone to the point that when she needs them the most, they're gone.

     Philip 'Lip' Gallagher 
Portrayed by: Jeremy Allen White
Seasons 1-11
"I believe the answer to that question, like the answer to most questions, is fuck you."

Frank's oldest son, Lip is very intelligent, but also has a massive chip on his shoulder and serious anger issues thanks to his impoverished upbringing and negligent parents.

  • The Alcoholic: He's always hit the booze pretty hard, having had his first drink when he was only ten. In Season 6, Lip transitions from hard-partying adolescent to a full-blown alcoholic, and it has some pretty severe consequences. Season 7 sees him attending AA and falling on and off the wagon.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Nearly everyone calls him Lip.
  • Badass Bookworm: Solves more of his problems with violence than with his intelligence.
  • Berserk Button: Much like the rest of the Gallaghers, he really doesn't like his father and is usually the first one to attack him whenever he screws up or hurts someone.
  • Big Brother Instinct: He's fiercely protective of his younger siblings.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Incredibly smart, but his poor parental role models and drug and alcohol use have meant he is often not motivated to fully take advantage of his skills. Indeed, he was fine with coasting by in life, with Mandy being the one to apply to colleges on his behalf to help him realize his potential. Once he starts going to college in Season 4, he quickly finds the workload to be a massive shock compared to high school, which he coasted through without a great deal of effort.
  • Chick Magnet: And boy does he get the crazy ones.
  • Commitment Issues: Mandy and Karen (at least for Season One for Karen) want to be in a committed relationship with Lip, he doesn't and is openly disturbed by Mandy semi-moving in and doing his laundry.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Though he was jealous of Jody, the "crazy" doesn't come up until he starts seeing Helene. He assaults her son (thinking that he's also a paramour) and comes to her house after they break up, drunkenly demanding for her to come out and talk to him, not understanding that he's already put her career in jeopardy. Eventually, he even gets to the point where he can't even get aroused unless he's thinking of Helene. He gets better eventually, though.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In the grand Gallagher tradition.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: In training, he's very smart, and uses his know-how to steal credit cards and fake tests.
  • Guile Hero: Whether this actually works out or not (it rarely does), this is what he sees himself as and strives to be.
  • He's Back!: After Lip's breakup with Helene, he can't get aroused even while living in a sorority unless he looks at a picture of her. It's after a very thorough foot massage by Queenie that he's shown in the stinger of the episode in a four-way with three sorority sisters.
  • Hot-Blooded: Has a very short temper that can cause him to explode into some really volatile, irrational rages.
  • I Am Not My Father: He really hates his father and really doesn't want to turn out like him, even though he likely will follow the same path. After several seasons where he's clearly living his life in the exact opposite way as Frank would (working his arse off in both college and part-time jobs, contributing to the family back home as much as he can, working towards a long-term career), Season 6 sees him at serious risk of turning into his dad. Not only is he developing a drinking problem that could rival Frank's, complete with embarrassing, bridge-burning blackouts and waking up in a hospital, but after being caught smashing up several cars in a drunken rage by campus security, and being expelled, his education is in serious danger as well. The finale of the show has him border on Generation Xerox as he flunked out of college, is romantically involved with a slightly unhinged blonde, is a young father and is financially lost, though Frank believes "he'll figure it out."
  • Jerkass: To people who aren't close to him in particular, but in truth he really is a...
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Fundamentally a very good and caring person, despite how abrasive he can be at times. Note how when he and Karen are finding potential adoptive parents for Karen's baby, she only cares about the money involved while he genuinely tries to find a good family, even though a few episodes earlier, he wanted her to get an abortion.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: On occasions. In particular, in Season 4 after Liam nearly dies, he's a passive-aggressive jerk to Fiona, but can you blame him for being angry at Fiona almost letting their baby brother die? He also tells Fiona point blank that she is guilty and if she goes to trial she will go to jail for years.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: He searches for pedophiles in the neighborhood after someone jerked off in front of Debbie on the bus. Once he finds one, he gathers people from the neighborhood and they go to beat them up.
  • Ladykiller in Love: After countless romantic conquests, he seems to have become committed to Tammi.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Tammi reveals in the series finale that she's pregnant. Lip is working as a delivery boy and struggling to find a house for his family. Still, he is mostly happy by the news.
  • Likes Older Women: Usually hooks up with women around his age, but in Season 5, he starts sleeping with his attractive older professor, who has a son his own age.
  • Love Martyr: For Karen, his dedication to her and what he thought was his child drove him to do some really stupid and asinine things.
  • Nice Guy: The episode in which he and Mandy take in Mandy's little half-sister at his place makes this particularly noticeable.
  • Only Sane Man: With the exception of Season 2. And Season 6, where a successive series of events - his affair with Helene ending, being kicked out of his dorm, being kicked out of his replacement accommodations, plus his rapidly growing alcoholism and the general sense that unappreciated by his superiors - see him seriously losing the plot.
  • Off the Wagon: After making a genuine effort to stay (mostly) sober during the first half of Season 7, losing his appeal to get back into college and his break-up with Sierra sees him fully relapse. He sobers up again by the end of the season, and starts attending AA regularly.
  • Promotion to Parent: Has generally been the surrogate father figure to the younger siblings alongside Fiona's surrogate mother role. In Season 4, he has to step up to the plate fully after Fiona went off the rails.
  • Really Gets Around: Sleeps with a lot of women over the course of the series.
  • Rejected Apology: He firmly refuses to accept any apologies from Monica and any attempts at reconciliation.
  • The Slacker: Would rather not live up to his responsibilities, and though he's brilliant, he doesn't like to take tests unless he's being paid to take someone else's.
  • The Smart Guy: He's extremely smart, but he doesn't fully embrace it because to him (and everyone else), Gallaghers don't succeed.
  • The Stoner: Indulges in a joint or three pretty regularly.
    Lip: (to Ian, after the latter asks if he has any ecstasy) You know that I've always preferred carcinogens over stimulants.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Gets more hostile in Season 7, where he seems almost annoyed that his family is finding success and he isn't.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: With Ian and Mandy.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Subverted on the last part, since unlike Frank, he finished high school and gets into college (partly thanks to Mandy though). The drunken benders and Frank-like ranting in Season 6 show that the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree, though. One scene in Season 7 shows him waking up on a train from a drunken stupor, and the resemblance to Frank is uncanny. Debbie even tells Lip that she doesn't want him to end up like Frank.

     Ian Gallagher 
Portrayed by: Cameron Monaghan
Seasons 1-9x06, Season 10-present
"You can’t fix me. Because I’m not broken. I don’t need to be fixed, okay? I’m me!"

The third-born of the Gallagher clan, an aspiring soldier who initially hides his sexuality before coming out as gay. In later seasons, he is revealed to be bipolar, much like his mother. After drifting for a while with no real goals for his life, he eventually becomes a paramedic in Season 6, and - after some initial hiccups - proves to have a real aptitude for it.

  • All Gays are Promiscuous:
    • In season 5, he cheats on Mickey, though this is Justified as he is in a manic state.
    • He cheats on his boyfriend Trevor the second he sees Mickey again.
    • He and Mick take part in an orgy.
  • Batter Up!: Although Fiona, Lip, and Carl have used the infamous Gallagher baseball bat on occasions, it seems to be Ian’s preferred weapon of choice when protecting himself and his siblings against attackers... and Frank.
  • Big Brother Instinct: He's fairly protective of Debbie and Carl.
  • But Not Too Gay: Played straight until around Season 3, but enforced for the first two seasons because his actor was not yet 18, and therefore could not perform any explicit sex scenes.
  • Closet Key: For Mickey Milkovich. He helped Mickey realize he is gay and come to terms with his sexuality.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: The opening sequence features Ian jerking off with a magazine in the bathroom before being abruptly interrupted by Kev who came in to look for something.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Both Kash and Ned are considerably older than him.
  • Generation Xerox: Develops Bipolar Disorder in Season 4, just like his mother.
  • Happily Married: With Mickey, as of the season 10 finale. They hit a bit of a rough patch after the honeymoon period is over and they are affected by the pandemic, but they get over it and are ultimately stable and very happy together.
  • The Idealist: Especially when compared with Lip. His whole military aspirations are filled with some pretty rosy expectations of life in the armed forces.
  • Informed Ability: Subverted. Ian supposedly knows how to kill people in a hundred different ways, is a good marksman and trains karate, but even armed with a tire iron, Mickey managed to get the upper hand of him easily and most of Ian's problems have been solved by either diplomacy or sex, so there's not much support for his alleged skills. However, Ian beats the living crap out of his brother, proving he does have some fighting abilities but just chooses not to. After Frank headbutts him, Lip tells him to fight back, but Ian says he won't because if he does, he will kill him. AND in Season 3 he knocked down Mickey with TWO fingers!
  • Informed Attractiveness: The way characters react to him, he's apparently the most irresistible gay man in Chicago.
  • Love Martyr: Being in love with Mickey Milkovich is no picnic. Averted in Season 7, when he decides to break up with Mickey for good and focus on his job as an EMT and date someone less complicated.
  • The Medic: As of Season 6, he's become a paramedic.
  • Mood-Swinger: It is unclear whether this is due to drugs, bipolar disorder or both, but Ian alternates between periods of almost manic enthusiasm and deep depression. Season 4 confirms this: he has bipolar disorder, just like Monica.
  • Morality Pet: He is this to Mickey from Seasons 1-5, before Mickey puts most of his criminal enterprise to bed.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Gives lap dances for a living no less!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: While a paramedic, he thinks he can connect with a woman having a mental breakdown well enough to where he can loosen her restraints against protocol... Only for her to immediately jump out of the back of the van and get hit by a car (non-fatally).
  • No Bisexuals: Seems to be a believer in this; he assumes Jimmy's dad is gay and doesn't seem convinced when he claims that he's more Anything That Moves, and also maintains that Mickey's gay and that he only sleeps with women so he can lie to himself.note  Season 7 has him breaking up with Caleb over him being bisexual.note 
  • No Medication for Me:
    • He initially refuses to acknowledge his bipolar diagnosis and take his medication, but finally realizes it's necessary for him after some time, especially when he sees how Monica's been doing without treatment.
    • He stops taking his meds in season 8, leading to a manic episode and the Gay Jesus movement, ultimatley resulting in a prison sentence.
  • Note to Self: Season 7 shows that he recorded a message to himself telling him to go home and take a break if his bipolar disorder is causing issues for him at work.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: We don't get to see any part of his life in the Army, including him trying to steal a helicopter.
  • Out of Focus: Goes in and out of this over the course of the show, most notably in Season 2 and the beginning of Season 4.
  • Pretty Boy: Especially when compared with the rougher looking (though still attractive) relatives. Justified, as his real dad is much finer featured than Frank.
  • Put on a Bus: Literally, at the end of Season 3 when he steals Lip's identity to join the Army, though he returns a few episodes into Season 4. Due to the actor’s decision to leave the show, Ian is sentenced to two years in prison after blowing up a van, and leaves halfway through Season 9, though he has a cameo in the season finale to say goodbye to Fiona.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: He had a relationship with his boss Kash.
  • Straight Gay: While he can play the gay stripper/club kid, in everyday life he is basically an average guy.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: With Lip and Mandy.
  • Took a Level in Badass: From Season 2 onwards, when he started to get serious about his intentions to join the army.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • The first half of Season 6 sees his attitude worsen as he constantly butts heads with Fiona and even eventually Lip, a side effect of his refusal to medicate. He gets better, though.
    • Toward the end of season eight when he stops taking his medication and his fame as "Gay Jesus" goes to his head.
  • Tragic Drop Out: Of the army. While Ian is not as intelligent as Lip or Fiona, he goes seriously off the rails once he is discharged.
  • Transparent Closet: While he didn't go flaunting it early on (because in his neighborhood, homophobia is quite common apparently), by Season 4, it's pretty obvious to everyone in the Gallagher house that he and Mickey were in some sort of relationship.
  • The Unfavorite: To Frank, for a multitude of reasons. For one thing, he looks like Monica, who Frank has had a troubled relationship with. There's also the fact that he isn't actually Frank's son. And most damningly, he is both A) not a Hero-Worshipper of Frank like Debbie and Carl were in the earlier seasons and B) still young enough to be vulnerable to Frank's crap. Notably, he is the only kid that Frank physically abuses.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: In Season 1, he finds out that Frank isn't actually his biological father: he is, in fact, the result of an affair between Monica and one of Frank's brothers.

     Debbie Gallagher 
Portrayed by: Emma Kenney
Seasons 1-11
"I have red hair, freckles, and crooked teeth. I don't need anymore character."

The youngest of the Gallagher girls. Debbie is awkward and dorky but also level-headed and (generally) mature for her age. In the Season 5 finale, she becomes pregnant, and gives birth to a daughter named Frances near the end of Season 6.

  • A-Cup Angst: Suffers from this before she hits puberty, very much gone in the later seasons when she has the largest bust of all the regular female cast.
  • Agony of the Feet: Three of her toes are badly crushed in an industrial accident, and at her request, Frank cuts them off.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Even though she's not the youngest, everyone still treated her as this. But as of season 4 she was desperately trying to outgrow this trope.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Debbie's a real sweetheart, but Season 3 proved that you "do not F with Debbie Gallagher!", as she puts it. She nearly drowned a girl who was mean to her at the pool, glued shut the eyes of an abusive foster mother, and claimed Cousin Patrick molested her in order to discredit him and force him to let the Gallaghers stay in the house for low rent.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Starts to develop some of the traits in Season 3, and is a full-blown one by Season 4.
  • Broken Pedestal: In season 3, she finally realizes who Frank really is and starts to distance herself from him. By Season 4, she hardly acknowledges his existence.
  • Character Derailment: Oh god, Debbie used to be sweet girl who is smart, kind, trying to support her family and tries to get love and attention for Frank for the last three seasons, but until in Season four she Took a Level in Jerkass when she hits puberty and starts hanging out with Holly and Ellie. Then she starts obessesing about boys and tricks Derek by having sex with her and GOT pregnant, and it only gets worse in the later seasons.
  • Chekhov's Skill: A minor gag for several episodes in season three has her training herself to hold her breath underwater for long periods of time to combat a fear of being drowned at the pool, which Frank instilled in her. She later uses this ability to hold her bully under the water until the other girl passes out.
  • Cute Bruiser: She beats two girls easily in 5.05.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: As with many cases of this trope on the show.... it's mostly played for laughs when Debbie loses her virginity to an older boy she likes by raping him while he is passed-out drunk and she is underage. When she confides in Fiona and Lip about it later, both are more bemused by the story than anything, although some of Debbie's bitchy friends do seem genuinely outraged by what happened (albeit probably because they were looking for a reason to mock Debbie, more than anything else.)
    Lip: Deb, I think any boy would be very lucky to be raped by you.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Debbie spends a day learning from her teen mom friends that their lives are miserable. Derek disconnects his phone and goes to Florida to be away from her and their child. Finally, she loses the "flour baby" that she was using to prove to Fiona that she could be a responsible mother. Debbie still packs a bag to go to Florida.
  • Everyone's Baby Sister: In the first 4 seasons she was this. Everyone was protective of her, and looked out for her well being. Hurting her was seen as a special kind of evil.
  • Growing Up Sucks: A major plot point for her in season four.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Seemed to be her preferred hairstyle in the early seasons.
  • Generation Xerox: Much of her Season 8 arc sees Debbie juggling work, school, and new friends. Until after an exam when she does a very Monica thing, and packs baby Frannie into the back of a car for an Ecstasy-fueled road trip to Joliet. By the Series Finale Frank outright says that she reminds him of Monica, and not in a complimentary way.
  • Hates Being Alone: Each of the Gallagher children copes with their parental neglect in different ways, and this is how it manifests in Debbie. As a child she clings on to loving Frank and Monica even as she starts to realise how awful they are, and she goes to extreme lengths to attach herself to boyfriends Matty and Derek by raping one and becoming purposefully pregnant to the other. In the final season, she is the one most opposed to Lip selling the house and everybody going their separate ways because she can't bear the family not being together, and when she does start looking for somewhere she and her daughter Franny can live, she doesn't even consider Franny's request to have her own room, deciding that her five-year-old daughter needs to live in the same room as her.
  • Hero-Worshipper: As a child, she idolizes her father and hopes for him to come back to normal. Until Season 3's "The American Dream" where he carelessly wrecks a homework project she'd been working hard on. She is still more forgiving towards Frank than her other siblings are, particularly during Season 6 when he's the only family member who supports her decision to keep her pregnancy... but then it all gets wrecked again by the time Season 7 rolls around, especially when Frank attacks her while trying to find where she stashed Monica's meth.
  • Jerkass: Unfortunately she majorly develops this around Season 5 at the earliest; she tricks her boyfriend into getting her pregnant, and she gradually becomes more and more violent.
  • Kavorka Man: A rare gender-swapped variant. Debbie is no beauty like Fiona and tends to be a bit dorky, but her boyfriends have all been very attractive.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: She later identifies as a lesbian and presents more femininely than not.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Develops her first major crush with Matty, who only wants to be friends due to her young age. After her Operation: Jealousy backfires, she starts harassing a girl Matty is seeing, complete with anonymous threats over the phone and leaving a snake in her car.
  • Love Makes You Stupid: So blinded by her feelings and influenced by her equally young and sexually active friends that she fails to see or understand why Matty (who is 20) would turn down a sexual relationship with a girl who is barely 13. Like most teenagers with their first crush, she also Took a Level in Dumbass and loses a lot of what made her Wise Beyond Her Years.
  • Mama Bear: Season 7 sees her ready to outright kill her daughter's grandmother and aunt after they take Franny away from her.
  • Minor Living Alone: There are other people in the house sometimes, but after Sammi leaves and Carl goes to juvie, Debbie and Liam are the only permanent residents of the Gallagher house.
  • Morality Pet: In the early seasons she was this to pretty much everyone.
  • No Bisexuals: After having multiple boyfriends, Debbie ultimately comes to the realization that she is a lesbian and begins dating a woman in Season 11.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted in Season 4, when she has her first one.
  • The Pollyanna: Although seems to be subverted as of Season 4.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • She develops this with Mandy in Season 3, after Mandy teaches her "Milkovich style" self-defense. Mandy also serves as a sort of Big Sister Mentor in Season 4 when Fiona's too busy with her new job to pay attention to Debbie, especially when Debbie starts reaching sexual maturity.
    • Also, with Sheila Jackson. Perhaps because she reminds her of Karen as a child, when she was young and innocent. Sheila often trusts Debbie with the care of her house or her plants, and would often stay with Carl and her in Season 4 when Fiona was working.
  • Operation: Jealousy: She tries to make ex-"boyfriend" Matty jealous and want to date her again by lying about having other dates, which backfires when Matty returns with a (real) date of his own.
  • Redheads Are Uncool: Although her half-brother Ian is also a redhead and seems much cooler, at least in the early seasons, Debbie was a firm believer in this.
  • She's All Grown Up: She desperately tries to be this in season 4. At just only 13 she's tired of being The Baby of the Bunch. She makes sure to let everyone know she's not a little kid anymore.
  • Stepford Smiler: No matter how horrible Frank and Monica treated her, no matter how much she or her family suffer, she always tries to smile so that others are not concerned about her.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Lies to her boyfriend Derek about being on birth control in Season 5 in an attempt to get herself pregnant. It works, and she gives birth to a baby daughter in the latter half of Season 6, when she was 15 years old.
  • Token Evil Teammate: She takes over the role from Carl. As Carl starts to seriously develop a conscience around Season 6, when he comes back from juvie, Debbie quickly loses hers in the end of season 5 when she becomes obsessed with getting pregnant and quickly becomes more and more manipulative and unlikeable.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: While she still displays some serious cunning and has enough book-smarts to pass her GED in one hour, ever since she became pregnant near the end of Season 5, Debbie's general common sense and maturity has taken some serious hits.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Hits this majorly in Season 4, coinciding with her hitting puberty and becoming a Bratty Teenage Daughter. Hits it again in Season 7 as her maternal demands turn her into a Jerkass.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: She originally was The Pollyanna but has become a Bratty Teenage Daughter and probably the most cynical of them all.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years:
    • Her maturity and responsibility are a running gag. She even gets a stress rash at one point from running a daycare at the house. At one point in the first season, she says to Carl, "You're 9, you need to start pulling your weight."
    • Starts to slip after hitting puberty and becoming obsessed with losing her virginity, leading her to act like a petty Jerkass over her first love, Matty. By the end of Season 5 she intentionally gets pregnant despite being very young.
  • Yandere: Goaded on by Mandy, she launches a harassment scheme against a girl who Matty is dating, leaving a snake in her car and leaving a note saying that the next one will be venomous if she doesn't leave Matty alone. Backfires when said girl launches an equally vicious scheme of her own.

     Carl Gallagher 
Portrayed by: Ethan Cutkosky
Seasons 1-11
"A shrink at school says I'm one of God's mistakes."

The second-youngest Gallagher, Carl is a bully and delinquent with sociopathic tendencies and very little book-smarts. As he gets older, he becomes heavily involved in a drug-dealing gang, which he initially proves very successful at. After things go badly, he manages to escape the gang, and he is now trying to stay on the straight and narrow.

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Frank explains to him what "masturbate" means in Season 4.
  • Ax-Crazy: He is... disturbed. He becomes somewhat more normal in later seasons, though.
  • Batter Up!: A Running Gag is Fiona taking the family weapon, a bat, out of his hands as he heads to school.
  • Berserk Button: Messing with any family member that's younger than him will certainly get on his bad side.
  • Birds of a Feather: With Bonnie; they meet in detention and discover they have a lot in common.
  • Blade Enthusiast: Tends to have a variety of shivs and other weapons hidden in various spots around his house.
  • Blood Knight: Carl used to be a bloodthirsty bully who enjoyed fighting and being violent. Even when he loses most of his appetite for destruction, he's still a vicious fighter.
  • Book Dumb: He's not the smartest when it comes to numbers and whatnot, but he's more than resourceful and cunning enough to accomplish goals.
  • Break the Haughty: It becomes this when he found out the Nick killed a kid, and has to go through because of it.
  • The Bully: To the other kids at his school.
  • Character Development: Receives a lot throughout the seasons, starting out as a borderline-psychopath, then going to juvie and joining a gang, before eventually quitting the thug life and deciding to become a cop. When he returns from military school at the end of Season 7, he has become a mature, dependable adult, a far cry from the psychopathic thug and bully he used to be.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: Carl gets a circumcision in Season 7 and while he's supposed to not have an erection for 72 hours, he keeps running into sexy ladies, requiring him to get his stitches redone.
  • Comically Missing the Point: He overhears Ian and Jimmy talking about Ian's relationship with Jimmy's dad in Season Three. This conversation then occurs.
    Carl: Ian's dick was in your dad's mouth?
    Jimmy: [nervously] It's a figure of speech, it's like sayin'... none of your business... your dick's in my dad's mouth, man.
    Carl: Who says that?
    Jimmy: [Pause] Gay dudes.
    Carl: Is Ian gay?
    Jimmy: No, no.
    Carl: Is that what gay people like to do?
    Jimmy: Jesus, forget it Carl. [walks away]
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Played straight at first, as Carl proves to have a serious aptitude for the criminal life and is raking in cash, but he soon discovers the downsides once his friend Nick is sent back to prison for killing someone who stole his bike and the head of his gang beats him for not wanting to work on a particular day. By the second half of Season 6, he's gotten out of the gang life and has gone straight.
  • Dumb Muscle: Carl is stupid, and it's not even a case of Brilliant, but Lazy as he even has trouble with stuff he's interested in (knowing the math behind selling drugs). Despite these difficulties, he does have a sort of low cunning that he can apply in immediate plans of violence and thievery. And to be fair, he's the only other Gallagher to graduate High School by the end of the series.
  • Expy: Had more than a few shades of Sid in his early characterization (such as melting his toys in the microwave and playing around with explosives).
  • First Kiss: Has his with his classmate Bonnie in Season 4.
  • Generation Xerox: Never explicitly stated, but Kassadi is his Monica.
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: His stint in juvie helps him make serious connections and become a much more skilled criminal. In fact, one of his reasons for antagonizing the judge at his trial was so he could get an "education" in juvie.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Tried to be a heroic cop but continually was disappointed by the corruption, laze or zeal in the police force. Was demoted into being a Meter Maid but actually realizes he can use his position to take pity on the poor car owners while vigilantly ticketing anyone with an expensive car.
  • Held Back in School: Is taking the sixth grade for the third time in Season 5.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Supports Frank the longest out of the siblings, until Season 7 when he couldn't care less about him and outright states that he (and everyone else) hoped Frank was dead during his disappearance.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Given the nature of the show as a Black Comedy with frequent dramatic interludes, Carl's... activities are played as either serious issues for the family to resolve (or resolutions to serious issues) or as jokes that the family just shakes their head at.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Nick. Carl is heartbroken when Nick murders the boy who stole his bike and is sent back to prison.
  • Hidden Depths: He's an extremely skilled marksman, as shown in his experience at the shooting range in Season 7.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: After four seasons of showing sociopathic tendencies, and being surrounded by a family that flagrantly disregards the law, he becomes a low-level drug dealer. He then willfully goes to Juvie, and leaves a more hardened criminal fully ingratiated with a gang.
  • Karma Houdini: Of being The Bully, courtesy of Frank. Averted in Season 5, where he gets caught by the police after using Chuckie as a drug mule, rejects legal advice, and demands to go to juvie.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Towards Liam. When he hears two kids in school laughing and making fun of Liam, calling Liam retarded, he beats them up to a pulp, despite them being older than Carl!
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Played with in Season 3, when Frank purposely convinces Carl that he 'caught' cancer from someone for monetary gain.
  • Morality Pet: Liam in earlier seasons, Nick and Dominique in Season 6.
  • Out of Focus: For part of Season 2, before having several storylines in Season 3, Season 4, and Season 6.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: After serving a stint in juvie and becoming a full-on gangster. He even has cornrows and talks in a manner reminiscent of a rap/hip hop artist. It's lampshaded by his nickname, "White Boy Carl".
  • Put on a Bus: Goes to military school halfway through Season 7.
  • Reformed, but Not Tamed: Even after learning his lesson about the brutality of the criminal gang life and dedicating himself to military school, he's still pretty ruthless.
  • Reformed, But Rejected: Even though he stops acting like a gangbanger, gets a job at the diner washing dishes and even has his cornrows undone, his girlfriend Dominique's Papa Wolf father makes it clear he will never accept him. Until Season 7, Dom's father realizes just how out-of-control his daughter is and starts bonding with Carl.
  • The Sociopath: He did try to kill Patrick at one point. Lampshaded by Fiona, of course.
    Carl: Option four was kill Patrick. Why waste an option?
    Fiona: [sighs] I'm raising a sociopath...
    • A Season 5 exchange revisits the idea:
    Fiona: What if he shows remorse?
    Carl: What's that?
  • Sadist: Carl seems to love causing pain towards others and was cold and ruthless towards his bullied victims.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Of the Gallagher clan. While every Gallagher causes trouble, Carl is notable for being the only one of them that's probably evil but also legitimately on the family's side (unlike Frank or Sammi). However, this seems to have been getting subverted in Season 6.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Starts developing a conscience in Season 6 after realizing he wasn't cut out for a life of crime.
  • The Unfettered: Carl's main positive trait is that he is absolutely willing to do anything to achieve his goals, and when his goals were "Save Frank" he proceeded to kidnap dogs to sell for drug money, which, upon failing, led to him stealing drugs, and then cripple Frank when he was unable to do it himself to get the insurance money to pay for surgery.

     Liam Gallagher 
Portrayed by: Brenden and Brandon Sims; Brennan Kane Johnson & Blake Alexander Johnson; Christian Isaiah
Seasons 1-11

Frank and Monica's youngest son. Due to his dark skin and African-American appearance, he was believed by the entire family (Monica included) to be a result of Monica sleeping with a black man, until a paternity test reveals that Frank genuinely is his father.

  • Ascended Extra: While still a minor character compared to the other Gallaghers, Season 7 has seen Liam's role in the series increase now that his actor(s) are old enough to regularly deliver dialogue. Even more so in Season 8, where he has his own story-line and a new actor.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Season 7's "You'll Never Ever Get a Chicken in Your Whole Life", in which Liam has his first day at school.
  • Children Are Innocent: Even Frank kinda likes him. In Season 7 starts to show some of Frank's influence rub off on him, but he's still generally a nice kid.
  • Chocolate Baby: Subverted when a DNA test reveals that Frank truly is Liam's biological father. Even Frank had never believed it before, but when the results come in he remembers an old rumor about his grandmother having had an affair with a black musician, and it all suddenly makes sense to him. It's so obviously a case of Hollywood Genetics, because neither Frank or any of his other biological children have any African-American features at all, that you might think it's just Played for Laughs, but following episodes seem to take it serious.
  • Cuteness Proximity: He's definitely one of the more popular Gallaghers. Even Baby, the drug dealer who holds him hostage after Frank loses him in a bet, can't get enough of him and seems reluctant to give him up.
  • The Cutie: A given from the start. However, the additional scenes and focus on Liam during the fourth season amps his cuteness factor up a few notches.
  • Harmful to Minors: He rather sees a lot of the daily life of the Gallagher clan... and this comes to a head in Season 4 when he accidentally snorts coke, causing him to go the hospital and Fiona to get arrested, causing her own downward spiral.
  • Hero-Worshipper: He seems to have some traits of this for Frank in Season 7 as he thanks him for getting him into a nice school and calling him a "good Dad". But he gets over it like all the rest of Frank's kids.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Is capable of conning Frank, he's impressed.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Averted. It's easy to assume he's not related to Frank, and even Frank originally thought he was the result of one of Monica's affairs, but a paternity test confirms he's really Frank's son.
  • Race Lift: Just like Veronica, his UK counterpart is white, while in the US version he is black.
  • The Stoic: Though almost entirely because of the youth of the actor, they wring a good deal of humor out of Liam's total nonchalance in the insanity that is his home life.
  • Token Good Teammate: Frank declares that Liam is "turning out alright" compared to his other deeply flawed children.
  • Undying Loyalty: Compared to all of the other Gallaghers he still vaguely cares about Frank enough to declare that he misses him at one point. He later looks after Frank after his dementia has become more destructive and is genuinely saddened when Frank tattoos "Do Not Resuscitate" on his chest. And spends a day trying to cheer Frank up before Frank attempts suicide.

     Monica Gallagher 
Portrayed by: Chloe Webb
Seasons 1-2, 5, 7

Frank's estranged wife and the mother of all of his children bar Sammi, Monica suffers from bipolar disorder, numerous substance abuse problems and general selfishness. She left Frank and the kids sometime prior to the start of the series, but even when she is around is a thoroughly useless and unreliable parent.

  • Berserk Button: Is always able to find Frank and her children's weak spot and infuriate them.
  • Cheated Death, Died Anyway: She has multiple substance abuse issues and tries to kill herself in Season 2, only to return in Season 7 and reveals that she has a brain tumor - and dies for real.
  • Compliment Backfire: Her attempts to give approval and support to Lip and Fiona just angers them.
  • Desecrating the Dead: Months after her death, Monica is dug up by her family to retrieve the meth Fiona stashed in her coffin. Carl makes a hash job of using a forklift to pull her out of the ground, and her coffin is dropped, spilling her rotting corpse out for her family to deal with.
  • Driven to Suicide: Slits her wrists at the end of Season 2, due to her manic depression, but the attempt is unsuccessful.
  • Dumb Blonde: While she's not especially stupid in any obvious way, she certainly is not an intelligent woman in any respect.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Averted in her first appearance, but played straight in the second, where she easily worms her way back into the hearts of her children, even convincing Fiona that she can be a responsible parent. It doesn't last.
    • For better or worse, Frank always forgives Monica when seeing her. Even though even Frank recognizes she's bad for him.
    • Somewhat played straight for Debbie thanks to helping her get Franny back. Though she tries not to be blindsided by her.
  • Jerkass: She's more Obliviously Evil than Frank, but it really says something that, despite the fact that Frank is a drunken irresponsible asshole, Lip considers him "the good one" in comparison to Monica.
  • Killed Off for Real: Dies at the end of Season 7.
  • Mama Bear: She was a shitty mother through and through, but she had a few moments of protectiveness for her children. She defended Ian from Frank and later from Terry Milkovich (a man twice her size). Also, she helped Debbie to get her daughter Franny back from the Delgados when they tried to kidnap her. With the family baseball bat.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl : A very, very dark version of the MPDG. Frank claims she introduced him to coke and other drugs, and it's implied that he may have gone to college if his addictions hadn't caught up to him. They fight more than they have sex, and they have sex most of the time. She is also bipolar, prone to sleeping in crackhouses and storage lockers, and Lip says she can find her way in and press "The one nerve that no one else can." She's played to perfection by Chloe Webb, but dealing with her in real life, even in the small doses we see in the show, would be exhausting.
  • Missing Mom: Ran off a while before the first episode, and only intermittently reappears before disappearing off again.
  • Mood-Swinger: Due to her manic depression.
  • Really Gets Around: Seems to be with somebody new every time she makes an appearance, and apparently cheated on Frank regularly when they were together. Neither she nor Frank assume that Liam's obviously African-American appearance is anything other than the result of Monica having an affair with a black man, and both are shocked when it is revealed that Liam is in fact Frank's biological son.
  • You See, I'm Dying: Season 7 has her reveal she has a brain tumor.

     Peggy Gallagher 
Portrayed by: Louise Fletcher
Season 2

Frank's criminal mother, who went to prison after her meth lab blew up and killed several teenagers. She was released in Season 2 for health reasons and died not long after.

  • Abusive Parents: Physically, verbally, and emotionally abuses Frank, and has been doing it since he was a child.
  • Affably Evil: Peggy might be a remorseless meth dealer and ex-con, but she's quite charming and amiable in her own blunt way.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Peggy Gallagher genuinely cared about her children and grandchildren. Except for Frank.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: she has Sheila do it instead.
  • It's All About Me: Refuses to accept any responsibility for the victims of her exploding meth lab, nor for the utter fuck-up of a human being that Frank grew into.
  • Mercy Kill: Allows Sheila to kill her so she won't suffer anymore from her cancer.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Has a gun, and, being a former career criminal, is probably well-versed in its use.
  • Odd Friendship: Develops one with Sheila, after they initially get off very much on the wrong foot.
  • The Sociopath: Doesn't seem to have any remorse for the deaths she was sent to jail for, nor does she see any problem with teaching pre-teen Carl how to make a meth lab.
  • Villainous Incest: Frank implies this when he is in hospital in Season 3.

     Samantha "Sammi" Slott 
Portrayed by: Emily Bergl
Seasons 4-5
"Fatherhood comes with responsibilities that go far beyond shooting sperm into a V hole. And I have decided it's time to teach your grandfather those responsibilities, because, clearly, he never learned them. He's like an untrained dog who keeps shitting all over the house, so we have three options— run the dog over, send the dog back to the pound to be gassed, or train the dog. And I am choosing to train this dog."

Frank's oldest daughter and the half-sister of the rest of the Gallagher kids, born before Frank hooked up with Monica. None of the other Gallaghers knew Sammi even existed, nor had she ever met Frank, until he tracked her down in Season 4 in an attempt to manipulate her into donating him a liver.

  • Alliterative Name: Samantha Slott.
  • Attention Whore: In Season 5, she openly has sex on Frank and Shelia's couch, to get Frank's attention. It doesn't work on Frank, but it doesn't win her any points on Sheila's account.
  • Ax-Crazy: Shot Frank in the shoulder to force him to need her. As pointed out by Frank:
    Frank: There's no way you're that batshit crazy!
  • Bait the Dog: Spends an episode bonding with Ian, before calling in the military to have him arrested.
  • Freudian Excuse: Frank, ironically not because he raised her, but because he didn't.
  • Generation Xerox: Is basically a female version of Frank.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Beats Carl up and then turns Ian in because of Chuckie's incarceration. She even tattoos a swastika on Chuckie's forehead and tells him to sexually gratify guards to earn their protection, the former actually working in getting him in with a group of white supremacists.
  • Long-Lost Relative: First appears in Season 4, after no prior mention of her even existing until Frank tells Fiona about her.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Frank drops this bomb on her, after she thinks he wants to date her.
  • Mama Bear: When Chuckie is arrested, she calls the police on Carl.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Holds all the Gallaghers responsible for Chuckie's arrest, even though only Frank and Carl were involved. Her further retaliation is getting Ian arrested by the military for going AWOL, justifying it as taking away someone they love just as "they" took away someone she loves.
  • Pet the Dog: Is an Ax-Crazy attention seeker, but in the end, she really does love Chuckie, even if he's often shoved to the side when she comes home with a one-night stand.
  • Put on a Bus: Imprisoned after trying to kill Mickey in Season 5.
  • Really Gets Around: Seems to be willing to sleep with just about anyone or offer sexual services for money, especially if it will help out Frank or get his attention. At one point, she mentions being a groupie in her youth, during which all the band members got to have "every hole."
  • Sanity Slippage: It's unclear just how composed she, if ever, really was, to begin with. But Season 5 clearly shows the descent of what sanity she had left or ever had. Notwithstanding, she certainly didn't start out quite as violent if only merely annoying and desperate which worsens as the Season progressed.
  • The Sociopath: Both Frank and her own mother describe her as being a psychopath.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: She hasn't seen enough of Frank to know it's never going to happen, and wants very badly to please him.

     Chuckie Slott 
Portrayed by: Kellen Michael
Seasons 4-6
"Are you my Dad?"

Sammi's overweight and not-particularly-intelligent son.

  • Ambiguous Disorder: Between his quietness and not being particularly bright (his IQ is 71), some in-universe have speculated that he's got something going on.
  • Big Eater: Which doesn't turn out to be much fun for anyone who has to share a bathroom with him.
  • Butt-Monkey: Especially in Seasons 5 and 6, which are not kind to poor Chuckie at all. He gets manipulated by Carl into being a drug mule, arrested and sentenced to a year in juvie without ever fully comprehending what had happened, has a swastika tattooed on his forehead by his own mother, becomes a Neo-Nazi in juvie without fully understanding what that means either, and by the time he is released, his mother is in jail for attempted murder and the rest of the Gallaghers have little to no interest in taking care of him, which results in him briefly living on the streets during a Chicago winter! He does get to live with his grandparents at a hippie commune, though. Then he gets attacked by a cougar and gets nasty scars on his face. To his credit, he's still just as cheerful and carefree as he has always been.
  • Catchphrase: "Are you my Dad?"
  • Disappeared Dad: It's unknown who his father is, with Sammi being his only present parent.
  • Fat Idiot: He is very chubby (even borderline obese) and isn't very bright. More than a few characters have openly speculated that he has some sort of disability.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: No one except Sammi and Queenie gives a shit about him. When the Gallaghers are temporarily kicked out of their home in Season 6, they all completely forget to keep Chuckie in the loop, and he winds up homeless as a result.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: In Season 5, his mother tattoos a swastika onto his forehead to help him survive an impending stint in juvie. He winds up being taken in by the resident Neo-Nazi gang there and by Season 6, he appears to fully (if obliviously) follow their doctrine, and even does a presentation at school about Mein Kampf in which he describes Hitler as a "great American hero."

     Queenie Slott 
Portrayed by: Sherilyn Fenn
Season 6

Sammi's hippie mother, who Frank knocked up and then abandoned when they were both young.

  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Her massage helps fix Lip's personal issue.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Does not like when other girls on the commune sleep with Frank.
  • Granola Girl: An aging version. She lives on a hippie commune, is obsessed with healthy eating and practices homeopathic medicine.
  • High-School Sweethearts: Apparently she and Frank were this, until he knocked her up with Sammi and then left her.
  • Really Gets Around: Appears to have slept with basically all of the men in her hippie commune, and on her first night after taking Frank, Chuckie, and Debbie there, she has a four-way with Frank and two other men who live there.

     Frances Gallagher 
Seasons 6-11

Debbie's baby daughter, who was born in the third-to-last episode of Season 6.

  • The Baby of the Bunch: She's now the youngest member of the family compared to how Liam was in earlier seasons.
  • The Cutie: Everyone thinks she's downright adorable.
  • Disappeared Dad: Derek, her father, flees to Florida well before her birth, once he realizes that Debbie fully intends to keep their baby.
  • Gender-Blender Name: During one of the many times Debbie is upset with Frank, she calls Franny by her middle name, Harry, short for Harriet.
  • Tomboy: She loves wearing pants, guns, a Dracula bouncy castle and even outright says she's "a boy" at one point with Frank.
  • Walking Spoiler: It's difficult to say much about this character without revealing a whole lot about Seasons 5 and 6.

     Freddie Gallagher 
Seasons 10-11

Lip's son with Tami.