Skip to Content

Why Did Emmy Rossum Leave Shameless? Her Exit Explained

Why Did Emmy Rossum Leave Shameless? Her Exit Explained

This post may contain affiliate links. We earn from qualifying purchases. Learn More

Being one of the leads on a hit TV series for eight years is a truly impressive feat. Emmy Rossum did just that with her role as Fiona Gallagher on Shameless.

But the show continued to run for two more seasons after that, and the hole that Rossum left was undeniable. To this day, fans wonder what caused her departure, especially considering her popularity on the show.

If you want to know the real reason Emmy Rossum left Shameless and what she’s been up to since, read our guide below for the answers.

Why Did Emmy Rossum Leave Shameless?

Emmy Rossum left Shameless because she felt Fiona’s character arc was finished after eight years on the show. She was also reportedly struggling to negotiate her salary to match her contributions to the show.

Based on certain interviews, she seemed to feel it was time to move on in her career. “I started on the show when I was 23 and now I’m not,” she laughingly told EW in 2018. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful amount of time and I feel incredibly proud of everything we have created.”

Emmy Rossum as Fiona in the Shameless TV series

Later, in 2019, she said, “I’m so close to my Gallagher family that to walk away is quite bittersweet, but it did feel like it was time for the character to spread her wings and that there was less need for her.”

“I never want something to just feel like a job and so I’m leaving while I still love it.”

So, not only was it time for Rossum to move on, but her character’s arc also felt complete enough that she could actually do so.

Emma Rossum was also reportedly having trouble renegotiating her salary for the show. Although she co-starred alongside veteran actor and Emmy award-winner William H. Macy, Rossum wound up being an equal if not more of a lead than Macy on Shameless.

A Variety source reported in 2016 that Emma Rossum was renegotiating her salary to be more than Macy’s. Showtime offered her equal pay for season 8, but Rossum allegedly wanted them to make up for past seasons when she made less than Macy.

According to Rossum, everything worked out, but whatever her salary, she still ended up feeling stagnated and chose to leave.

Cast and Fans React To Emmy Rossum Leaving Shameless

Shameless fans were sad to see their favorite Gallagher leave the show. Some used Emmy Rossum’s own face to show their feelings:

Others expressed mock anger, with one fan saying “DON’T YOU DARE LEAVE US:”

Even her co-star, William H. Macy, said he cried during their last table read together. “I’m the one that blew it. We did a table read for her last episode, I cried right in the middle of the table read in front of everyone.”

“[…] I was trying to muscle through it and then everybody else started crying, so at least I didn’t look like a complete jerk.”

He also said that he believes Rossum “made the right choice” as a young actor.

However, not all of her cast members were quite so gentle with their opinions. Emma Kenney, who played Debbie, the younger sister of Rossum’s character, spoke about Rossum in a 2021 interview. She said the set “became a more positive place” after Emmy Rossum left.

“I remember pre-her leaving, I’d go to set some days and I’d be very anxious having a scene with her because if she had a bad day, she made it a bad day for everybody.”

Kenney couched her opinion at the end of the interview by saying she still has “a lot of love for [Rossum].”

What Emmy Rossum Has Been Up to Recently

Emmy Rossum continued to act after leaving Shameless, most notably in two TV miniseries. She also gave birth to a daughter in 2021.

After leaving Shameless in 2018 after filming season 9, Emmy Rossum dedicated herself to the production of the miniseries Angelyne (2022).

Actress Emmy Rossum as Angelyne in the TV mini series, Angelyne
Emmy Rossum in Angelyne (2022)

Based on the life of enigmatic life of the Hollywood legend of the same name, Rossum transformed herself into a blonde bombshell for the role.

The real Angelyne is “famous for being famous” – in the 80s, she put up billboards of herself around Los Angeles, sparking everyone’s interest, despite the fact that no one really knew who she was.

Rossum and her husband, producer Sam Esmail, optioned Angelyne’s story in 2017, even before Rossum left Shameless. They worked tirelessly on the series since then, and Rossum appeared in the title role in 2022.

She also gave birth to her daughter during production. More recently, Rossum starred in the Apple TV+ series The Crowded Room. The series tells the story of Danny Sullivan as he gives his life story to an interrogator after being involved in a 1979 shooting.