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The Real Reason Kevin Suffers A Leg Injury On Shameless

During its largely lauded 11-season run on Showtime (which has some of the best series of all time), the Chicago-set family dramedy "Shameless" seemed to unabashedly revel in delivering boundary-pushing stories as sordid as they were unabashedly silly. Series creatives loved populating those stories with a complex cast of characters that can only be described as "colorful."

As the whole of "Shameless" fandom can attest, the pains those characters endured on the South Side of Chicago were often deeply emotional in nature. Of course, it was just as frequently physical, with the Gallaghers and all their friends and foes regularly sporting bumps, bruises, scars, and other mementos from their various encounters. On occasion, they even turned up in casts, as was the case with "Shameless" main player Kevin Ball (Steve Howey) during an early season of the series' tenure. It turns out that the decision to have Kev hobbling around with a cast as he recovered from a leg injury on "Shameless" wasn't merely for narrative purposes. Here's why Kevin's leg injury was written into the series' plot.

A real life injury forced Steve Howey to wear a cast on Shameless

Kevin Ball did all that leg-casted hobbling during the third season of "Shameless." And if you're wondering how the series explained his cast, the story goes that Kevin breaks his leg in a steamy shower encounter with his eventual wife Vivian Fisher (Shanola Hampton). As Kev and V had already become well-known for the, shall we say, adventurous nature of their intimate affairs, there was little reason for fans to think that sort of injury wasn't only plausible but inevitable. And in the end, that approach proved a suitably silly sidebar for a character who regularly bolstered the series' comedic edges.   

It seems, however, that the "Shameless" writing team was forced to conjure that plotline because of a real-life injury to Steve Howey. In a 2013 Twitter post, he admitted as much, stating, "This entire season I was recovering from snapping my Achilles tendon. That's why I'm in a cast." The actor would go into detail about exactly how he injured himself during an interview with Men's Journal. "I jumped into a basketball game before I was ready and snapped my Achilles tendon," Howey claimed. "Now I've had to have a cast on my leg for the entire third season of 'Shameless.'"

Needless to say, "Shameless" creatives leaned heavily on Howey's physical prowess as an actor to make things work in Season 3. Combined with some clever scripting, they also managed to make great sport of fictionalizing his injury without acknowledging its real-world origins.