Shameless: The 10 Most Inspirational Quotes

Warning: This article contains mentions of abuse.

Showtime’s Shameless explores the lives of the Gallagher family and their neighbors as they navigate the struggles of living below the poverty line on the South Side of Chicago. As the title suggests, the characters often commit outrageous crimes and schemes in order to survive an economy designed to keep them from rising in the social ranks.

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Armed with street smarts and experience beyond their years, these characters work together as a family to scrape by, providing unique inspiration with each pitfall and triumph.


Sean’s Advice For Fiona

“When You Focus On Other People’s Problems, It’s A Lot Easier To Ignore Your Own.”

Sean comes with his own unique set of baggage, having kept huge secrets from Fiona, but his observations about Fiona’s habits are spot on. Fiona learned from a very young age that her needs de ella had to be put on the backburner so her younger siblings could have her full focus, a pattern that follows her into adulthood. This piece of advice is beneficial outside of the context of the show, urging viewers to consider their own problems before passing judgment on the issues of others.

Mickey’s Promise To Ian

“I Love You. … It Means We Take Care Of Each Other. … It Means Thick And Thin, Good Times, Bad, Sickness, Health, All That S—.”

Mickey Milkovich's profile in Shameless

A fan-favorite among Shameless characters, Mickey Milkovich has an abundance of one-liners and observations over the course of his character arc that are memorable and inspiring. Having been raised by Terry, Mickey’s upbringing of him was riddled with abuse that caused Mickey to hide his sexuality from him for most of his young life. This declaration of love comes as Ian breaks up with him, not believing that Mickey is willing to accept every part of Ian. Mickey’s moving speech is reminiscent of wedding vows, a promise that foreshadows their future.

Lip’s MIT Interview

“Great Things Don’t Happen In Tiny Little Increments. They Happen When Someone Thinks Completely Differently.”

Lip’s intelligence is clear from the very first episode of Shameless as he helps contribute to the house funds by tutoring students at school. Despite his natural ability for test-taking and unique point of view, Lip finds himself in constant conflict with his own success, feeling an obligation to stay on the South Side to provide for his family.

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After Mandy pushes him to take an interview with an MIT recruiter, Lip proves just how unparalleled his level of ingenuity is. All it takes is one extraordinary idea to create great change.

Frank’s Nugget Of Wisdom

“Revolutions Don’t Come Wrapped In A Cute Ribbon. You Want To Bring Down Power Structures? You Want To Get In The Face Of People Who Are Peddling Corroded Ideals? You Need A Uniform That Screams Authenticity.”

Frank smiles walking down street in Shameless

Frank’s questionable parenting decisions and long-winded rambling make him a less than reliable character when it comes to inspiring quotes. However, amidst the chaotic flood of thoughts, Frank occasionally spouts a kernel of truth. Although Frank’s advice to Ian for tackling intolerance in the church is simply a scheme to profit from the sale of “Gay Jesus” T-shirts, his knowledge of power structures and the ways in which they work are accurate to our own societal reality.

Ian’s Mental Health

“I Didn’t Do Anything To Bring This On Myself. I Have A Disease. If I Show Up One Day, And I’m Acting All Freaky Then… You Tell Me To Go Home, And I Will Go. But Don ‘t Tell Me I Can’t Do This Job.”

Ian in Shameless

Ian’s EMT storyline is one that resonated with countless viewers who are all too familiar with the stigmatization of mental illness. Having found out that Ian left his bipolar disorder off his application of him, Rita fires him, claiming to her only have done so as a result of his omission of him. Ian’s experience and compassion prove crucial as he manages to calm a patient having a manic episode. Ian’s monologue in this scene offers solace to every viewer whose qualifications have been overlooked due to their mental disorders.

Fiona’s Philosophy

“If This Turns Out To Be A Big Mistake, Then Let’s Make It The Most Fun, Big F—ing Mistake We’ve Ever Made.”

Gus and Fiona Shameless

This quote exemplifies Fiona’s outlook on life and her often reckless way of making decisions. Fiona’s short-lived marriage to Gus is yet another instance of her tendency to sabotage her own happiness. Having spent the majority of her life with Frank and Monica as the only example of a relationship, Fiona subconsciously seeks out similarly destructive partners. Although this philosophy often ends in heartbreak for Fiona, it acts as a reminder for those who often play it safe to take a leap of faith.

Lip’s Advice To Fiona

“You Get Back Up. You Start Over.”

Lip and Fiona Shameless

As Fiona’s story on Shameless winds down in season nine, she finds herself at the lowest point in her life since doing jail time in season four. After her business deal falls through, Fiona is forced to foreclose on her apartment building, loses her job at Patsy’s Pies, and begins binge drinking as a result.

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While Debbie refuses to give Fiona any slack, Lip recognizes the signs of addiction and convinces Fiona to attend AA meetings. Fiona slowly rebuilds from the ground up, taking a job at a warehouse. When her fellow investor offers to buy her out of the deal, Fiona is presented with a $100,000 check and a fresh start.

Svetlana’s Advice For Debbie

“Don’t Be A Strong Woman. Strong Women Weather Storms. You Want To Be The Storm.”

Having been sold by her father and forced to scrap to survive in Chicago, Svetlana is no stranger to life’s hardships. When Debbie comes to her for advice, needing a job, Svetlana bluntly tells her to become a kept woman by using her natural talents to find a husband. Although the context for the quote is not the greatest source of inspiration, the quote itself encourages women to be proactive in their lives. Rather than endure hard times, this quote urges women to become powerful in their own right.

Mandy’s Evolution

“Just Because We Were Born Here Doesn’t Mean That We End Up Here.”

Shameless US: Mandy Hugs Ian

One of the many Shameless characters to have left too soon, Mandy Milkovich returns to the South Side needing Ian’s help. As a teen, Mandy was always overlooked, abused by her father, and underestimated by everyone around her. Although Mandy initially left the Milkovich house under the influence of her abusive boyfriend de ella, she pulls herself out of the situation and sets out on her own de ella. Despite the countless people who told her she would never amount to anything, Mandy proves that a person’s situation doesn’t have to define them.

Monica And Ian’s Bond

“You Need To Be With People Who Accept You For Who You Are, And They’re Out There. You Should Never Apologize For Being You.”

Often reappearing as the show’s villain to sabotage the emotional progress of her children, Monica has a unique bond with Ian, the only other Gallagher to have inherited her bipolar disorder. When Monica visits him in jail, Ian confesses his fear that Mickey’s attempt to get him professional help is his way of trying to fix him. While Monica may be wrong about Mickey, her advice from Ella is exactly what Ian needs to hear at a time when no one else could sympathize with what he was going through.

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