'Shameless' Showrunner Addresses Impact of Fiona's Exit on Gallagher Family

Shameless Season 10 kicks off Sunday night, beginning the first full season without Emmy Rossum's Fiona Gallagher. The eldest Gallagher sibling helped keep the family together, despite her own faults. In a recent Q&A, showrunner John Wells broke down how her exit will change the family dynamic as everyone tries to redefine their roles.

"Everybody has to figure out what their new roles are in the situation," Wells explained to TVLine. "So it’s very much like a big sister who always gets everything together leaving to get married or go to college or get a job in another city."

At the start, it will seem like it is impossible to live without the eldest sibling, but they will eventually figure things out, taking on new responsibilities and roles, he suggested.

"Suddenly, you’re not talking to them all the time anymore like you thought you would be. So that’s really what happens in the family," Wells continued. "They don’t think they can do it without her, and then everybody starts to move into taking different responsibilities. Debbie [Emma Kenney], very much, wants to feel that it’s her responsibility to now become Fiona, much to the irritation of all of her siblings. Lip’s [Jeremy Allen White] trying to pick up a little bit of the slack, but doesn’t really want the gig, and everybody else’s like, 'Debbie shouldn’t have anything to say to me.'"

Wells said fans will continue to "hear about her and hear from her" offscreen.

Rossum's final episode on Shameless was "Found," the Season 9 finale. Fiona suddenly realized that her siblings no longer needed a maternal figure after Debbie stepped up. Max (Neal Bledsoe) bought out her interest in their plot of land, so she really had no reason to stay in Chicago. Before leaving the Gallaghers behind, Fiona gave Debbie half of the $100,000 check she got. How that money changes Debbie will be at the center of Season 10's first episodes.

"She’s actually got some power in the family, and she plans to use it," Wells told TVLine of Debbie. "Fiona left her in charge of that dough that she left, so that’s a big part of the dynamic of the first part of the season."

Wells teased some possible issues breaking out between the siblings now that they have all that money.

"I’ve never been involved in any family situations in which somebody having more money didn’t cause all sorts of complications," he said. "So yeah, I think you could say that people are not pleased, particularly Frank, that Debbie has now got her hands on the purse strings."

Rossum announced plans to leave Shameless behind in August 2018, before Season 9 debuted. Rossum called playing the character a "gift." Although her performance was critically acclaimed, she was never nominated for an Emmy or Golden Globe for her performance. She received Critics Choice Television Awards nominations in 2012 and 2014.

"There are few characters — female or otherwise — as layered and dynamic. She is a mother lion, fierce, flawed and sexually liberated," Rossum wrote on Facebook. "She is injured, vulnerable, but will never give up. She is living in an economic depression, but refuses to be depressed. She is resourceful. She is loyal. She is brave."

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Shameless airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.

Photo credit: Chuck Hodes/SHOWTIME