When Emmy Rossum announced that the ninth season of Shameless would be her last, she probably put the show's writers and showrunner John Wells in a bind. After all, the season premiered on September 9, so they likely had the whole thing written already, if not shot. So will they decide just to kill off Fiona to get back at her for making them rewrite her final episodes? Probably not.
"It's painful, wonderful, exciting and a little frightening," Wells told the Hollywood Reporter. "We're rewriting the end of this season. I'm rethinking episodes 13 and 14, so we can deal with Fiona leaving in a way that feels true to the show and also sets us up for more storytelling in the future. Everything that we'll do with Fiona leaving and then hopefully returning at some point in the future — should Emmy choose to — will be based on that basic premise that these are damaged people who still really love each other and pull together to get through things."
Phew! That "hopefully returning at some point in the future" is great news for fans of the feisty, flawed character. Her on-screen dad, William H. Macy, told THR it makes as much sense for Fiona to leave as it does for her to come back.
"It's sad, but people have been moving in and out, and they tend to come back," Macy said. “I can't tell you how close these imaginary circumstances are to real life. It doesn't feel like goodbye forever. Fiona's got to come back. She's going to leave clothes there!"
Just to calm our fears one more time, Wells promised, "We're not going to hit her with a bus!"
Wells knows from experience that when beloved characters leave Shameless, fans are bound to blame him. Macy even said that Wells got death threats when Mickey Milkovich, Ian's love interest, left the show.
As much as Rossum has been important to Shameless (both in front of the camera and behind it as she waged a battle to get paid as much as Macy), Wells is confident that it can survive without her.
Neither showrunner nor star would reveal details about how Fiona would say goodbye, but Macy explained how it would work for the Gallagher family, emotionally.
"The family is growing up and they don't need 'Mom' anymore," he said. "And Fiona was the mom. There's nothing holding her down."
For his part, Macy said he'd probably be interested in playing Frank for another season or two. And while Wells said he could find material for Shameless for another 10 years, he has no interest in continuing with a spin-off.
"The moment we all decide we've done what we wanted to do on the show, we'll walk the camera off down the street and give the impression that if you walk onto the right block in Chicago, you'd find the Gallaghers," he said.
Looking for more theories, recaps, and insider info on all things TV? Join our Facebook group, Binge Club. The community is a space for you to share articles, discuss last night’s episode of your favourite show, or ask questions! Join here.