Ian Gallagher and Mickey Milkovich go through the wringer over the course of their relationship in Shameless. The two young men formed an instant connection during the show’s first season, and they survived everything from abusive parents, prison sentences, and even a sabotaged wedding as the series unfolded.
Despite their many hardships, Ian and Mickey (lovingly nicknamed “Gallavich”) always found their way back to each other when they were separated by circumstance, providing through their actions and their dialogue that they were the best couple on Shameless.
“I Love You…And I Trust You.”
When news broke of their parole officer’s murder, Ian and Mickey both suspected the other of taking her out. The conversation of marriage was sparked by Ian’s concern that they’d have to testify against one another. Although Mickey was initially dissatisfied with this reasoning, Ian reassured Mickey that they’d be getting married because they love and trust each other.
Trust plays an important role in Ian and Mickey’s relationship as both men grew up without the safety of responsible parents. They had to learn early on to rely on themselves only, making their declaration of trust that much more significant.
“You Are So Much Better Than That.”
When Terry Milkovich moved next door to the Gallagher house, he took to constantly harassing Mickey, a pursuit that didn’t diminish even after he was paralyzed by a stray bullet. Pushed to the edge, Mickey came close to shooting Terry to end the torment for good but hesitated upon hearing Ian’s voice from him.
Assuring Mickey that he had grown into a far better man than his father ever could be, Ian convinced him that he didn’t need to stoop to his level. With Ian’s help and his own growth from him in self-confidence, Mickey realized that he did n’t need to impress his father or seek out his approval from him anymore.
A Proposal To Remember
“Unfortunately For You, I’m Not The Kind Of Guy Who Lets People Talk S— About The Man He Loves.”
In one of the most truly shameless proposals, Ian and Mickey brought their own dates to a bar in an attempt to make the other jealous. Ian overheard Mickey’s date from him, Byron, insulting Mickey to his friends from him and stepped in to calmly call out his behavior from him before, of course, punching Byron and starting a brawl in the bar. After the fight was broken up, Ian remained kneeling and took the opportunity to properly propose to Mickey.
Ian and Mickey have always seen the best in each other and defended one another without hesitation. While their declarations of love are far from conventional, Ian and Mickey’s love story is the most memorable of all the couples in Shameless.
Mickey’s Coming Out Party
“Ian, What You And I Have Makes Me Free.”
There are many quotes from Mickey that sum up his personality as a character, but this one stands out in particular as the perfect descriptor of his love for Ian. While trying to keep up appearances with Svetlana and Yevgeny for his dad’s sake, Mickey was also faced with a drunken Ian who refused to be ignored.
Having lived his entire life in the closet, Mickey’s relationship with Ian became his first real source of happiness. Although Ian put an unfair amount of pressure on Mickey to make their relationship public before he was ready, Mickey’s coming out marked the first step toward living free from his dad’s reign of terror.
“I Can Take Care Of Him, OK? Let Me Take Care Of Him Until He’s Better.”
Mickey and Ian’s newfound happiness was short-lived as the couple was instantly thrown back into torment with the discovery of Ian’s diagnosis. Scared by Ian’s sudden depression, Mickey turned to the Gallaghers for help. While Fiona wanted to take Ian to a clinic, having experienced the effects of bipolar disorder through Monica, Mickey fought back and insisted that Ian stay with him until he recovered.
For the first time, Fiona saw just how passionately Mickey felt about Ian, and mutual respect began to build between them. Although Ian later doubted his commitment to their relationship, Mickey never second-guessed staying with Ian throughout his treatment of him.
The Break Up
“I Love You. It Means We Take Care Of Each Other. … It Means Thick And Thin, Good Times, Bad, Sickness, Health, All That S—.”
While the Gallavich breakup was painful for viewers to witness, it also contained one of the most inspirational quotes in Ian and Mickey’s relationship. Ian’s struggle to adjust to treatment following his diagnosis spoke to many viewers who had similar experiences in mental health. Ian broke up with Mickey, believing that he intended to “fix” Ian rather than support him.
Despite being heartbroken, Mickey never gave up on Ian and even waited for him throughout his prison sentence, hoping that Ian would come to realize that Mickey never wanted to change anything about him. One of the strongest aspects of Ian and Mickey as a couple is their undying devotion to each other in the worst times.
Moving To The Westside
“You’re My Husband. If You’re Not Happy There, Then We Don’t Have To Be There.”
Marriage posed new challenges for the couple as Ian and Mickey struggled to choose where to live after Lip decided to sell the Gallagher house. While Ian was excited by the new transition in their lives as a married couple, Mickey had difficulty adjusting to the stark differences of living on the Westside.
After Ian discovered that Mickey had been sneaking off to sleep at the Gallagher house rather than their brand new apartment, he assured Mickey that they would go wherever he felt most comfortable. In the past, Ian and Mickey would avoid their issues and choose to take out their frustrations on one another. Their calm discussion about Mickey’s insecurities is evidence that they have grown to be much more emotionally mature.
“Facetime Your Brother. See The Baby.”
While his gruff exterior would indicate the opposite, Mickey turned out to be one of the most romantic partners in Shameless. As Ian and Mickey served their jail sentences, Lip and Tami’s baby was born, making Ian even more homesick. Sensing that Ian was missing his older brother and wishing he could meet his nephew de el, Mickey used what little cash he had to procure a contraband phone so Ian could Facetime Lip and baby Fred.
This sweet gesture allowed Ian to feel a little piece of home while also reminding him exactly why he fell in love with Mickey Milkovich in the first place. Mickey’s actions with Ian were never performative, only made in an effort to see Ian completely happy.
“I Want To Be Where You Are, Mickey.”
When Mickey and Ian’s prison reunion was threatened by Ian’s impending parole, the couple struggled with the idea of being separated once again. Though Mickey initially hinted at Ian throwing his parole so they could finish their sentences together, he soon realized that it would be selfish of him to ask Ian to stay and urged Ian to accept his chance to go home.
Despite all of the bickering and arguments that arose during their time sharing a cell, Ian and Mickey were still reluctant to leave one another. Having finally figured out that they belonged together, neither was willing to spend any more time being apart.
On Becoming Parents
“You’re Gonna Be A Great Dad.”
Given that the children in Shameless never had great parents or guardians to look up to, it’s understandable that they’d be hesitant when facing parenthood themselves. Mickey’s own traumatic experiences surrounding Yevgeny’s conception, though not discussed in later seasons, undoubtedly affected the way he saw himself as a father.
Secure in their new life and marriage together, Mickey and Ian intend to break the cycle of their own childhoods and begin to imagine their future as parents. Ian’s reassurance that Mickey would be a great dad shows just how far the couple has come since meeting in season one.
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