What Happens to Frank in the Shameless Series Finale?
It’s hard to believe that the Gallagher family has been a part of our lives for the past 10 years — we’ve literally watched the actors and their respective characters grow up right before our eyes every Sunday night. Now, as the group packs up their bags, their hula lamps, and moves on from the South Side of Chicago, Shameless fans prepare to say goodbye ahead of the series finale on April 11. The penultimate episode gave us some pretty strong clues as to how the Showtime series would wrap up, but one major cliffhanger had us wondering: does Frank die?
It’s a question we’ve asked about William H. Macy’s character more times than we’d like to admit, as his rambunctious behavior has left him with plenty of hospital stays and even at the bottom of a lake. But as he comes to terms with his alcoholic dementia diagnosis, the second to last episode shows Frank with drugs and what appears to be a note to his family. Frank is far from the supportive, nurturing parent his children hoped he would be; Frank is Frank. However, there’s no denying that his relationships with his children have grown over the last season, which is why this scene is decidedly painful.
At the beginning of series finale of Shameless, we see the kids sharing the news that “Frank OD’d again” as he’s passed out on the couch. None seem particularly concerned as they head off about their respective days. Eventually, Frank gets up from the couch and stumbles out the door in a daze. Liam tells Lip that he’s “sort of gone,” with Lip believing Frank has died. Frank continues wandering around the city in a daze, revisiting old haunts like Patsy’s Pies and a church where he believes he’s an altar boy. The priest calls an ambulance for Frank as he’s sent off to the hospital for a final time.
In the hospital, Frank’s fever spikes as he tests positive for COVID-19. Frank spends his final moments alone, remembering his family in flashbacks from the show’s earliest episodes. Sadly, the rest of the Gallagher clan never learn he is dying thanks to his ridiculously large hospital file, although Lip crosses paths with the ambulance without knowing it. They also never find the note he left before overdosing. True to the series and its dark humor, a midcredits scene sees the crematorium oven exploding due to Frank’s alcohol-ridden body. It’s unclear as to whether he dies from his alcoholic dementia, from COVID-19 complications, or as a result of his recent overdose.
“People say you can’t drink your troubles away,” Frank muses as he floats off into the unknown. “I say you’re just not drinking enough. Guess that’s it. Not much left to say really. Except time’s precious. Don’t f*cking waste it. Have a good time. I sure as hell did.” We’re not sure how we wish things would’ve ended with Frank, but we do know we’re going to miss the Gallagher family, especially all the laughs and F-bombs they brought to our screens on Sunday nights.