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The Worst Things Shameless' Frank Gallagher Has Ever Done

Over the course of nine seasons, Shameless has left viewers crying, laughing, and generally in a state of shock. The show has never been afraid to highlight the debaucherous (and at times depressing) exploits of the Gallaghers. And the man behind the most deranged moments of all is the family patriarch, Frank, played by William H. Macy. The man gives degenerates a bad name. Through his actions, inactions and general disregard for his family's well-being, Frank continually proves that he only cares about one person: himself.

Being a drunk and an addict does not inherently create a bad person. If someone works to battle their demons, then comes out stronger on the other side, they can be a role model to other members of society. Sadly, Frank has zero interest in bettering himself. Quite the opposite — he wears his addictions and con-artist ways like a badge of honor, boasting of his exploits as if he was more enlightened than the rest of society. These traits are what make Frank such a compelling character. Watching him is like craning your neck to look at a car wreck; even though it's bad, viewers can't turn away, wondering if the whole thing will eventually burst into flames.

Sadly, every selfish decision, arrogant deed and perverted act reverberates beyond Frank's small microcosm. His moves affect the entire Gallagher family and, after nine seasons, they continue to struggle for survival due in large part to their father figure's deviant ways.

He had sex with his underage neighbor

Some will argue that Frank was too drunk and strung out on pain meds to know what he was doing when he had sex with his teenage neighbor, Karen Jackson. Still, if we forgave every decision Frank made while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the man would have a clean slate... and that's really not how this works.

Yes, Karen took advantage of him. Yes, Frank had no idea that she filmed the act, a vengeful act of payback towards her hypocritical religious father. But it's fair to assume that any man with half a brain cell — or half a soul — would have stopped the sexual encounter before it occurred. Instead, Frank was a willing participant, bedding the 16-year-old, who also happened to be his son Lip's girlfriend and the daughter to Frank's own love interest, Sheila. The event was one of the major plot points of season 1 and sent shockwaves throughout the Shameless world.

He lost his son in a bet

One of Frank's innate abilities is to take a bad situation and make it immensely worse. Such was the case in the second season premiere, when Frank nearly lost his youngest son in a bet. The initial wager was doomed from the beginning, with Frank taking a bet that he couldn't withstand the power of two taser blasts. To the shock of no one, he failed, and in doing so found himself indebted to some shady individuals to the tune of $10,000.

In an effort to raise the cash, Frank goes out panhandling, using his toddler son Liam in an attempt to garner sympathy. The plan backfires when the drug dealers to whom he is indebted show up and take Liam as collateral. All of this occurs unbeknownst to Fiona, Lip, and the rest of Frank's family, who would have undoubtedly kept their baby brother as far away from the situation as possible. Frank callously shrugs off losing his son in a bet, and doesn't even inform the other Gallaghers what has happened until pressed on the issue. The terrible decision making, lack of responsibility, and disregard for his family's safety all reflect classic Frank parenting.

He kidnapped an Alzheimer's patient for a con

The irony of Frank is that the only thing he works hard at is not working. Whether it's feigning disability, stealing from his family, or coming up with a get-rich-quick scam, the Gallagher patriarch goes to extreme lengths to get cash without ever having a real job.

One of Frank's longest-running cons involved collecting the social security checks of Aunt Ginger, a deceased family member whose corpse he buried in the yard more than a decade before. The rest of the Gallaghers, along with Uncle Sam, believe that Ginger simply moved away. But when the federal government begins suspecting fraud, Frank has to scramble to find a new "Aunt Ginger" or risk imprisonment. He manipulates Fiona and her friend Veronica into helping, making them accomplices in the process. 

They find an Alzheimer's patient at the nursing home where Veronica works, then kidnap the woman and parade her around as "Aunt Ginger." Frank uses the helpless elderly woman like a simple prop, lying to authorities and the rest of his family in the process. He even watches as his young daughter Debbie creates a bond with the woman she thinks is her relative, never informing her that this new maternal figure is actually a stranger.

He seduced his own daughter

Every man has his limit. For Frank Gallagher, that limit is incest... barely. When a failing liver leaves Frank with only a short time to live, the deadbeat searches for a potential donor match. At this point, he reveals that he has another child that the family is unaware of — an illegitimate daughter named Samantha that he lost contact with before any of the other kids were born. He tracks Samantha down and finds her living in a trailer park with a child of her own. 

Rather than attempting to reconnect with his long estranged family member, Frank romances his own daughter in an effort to receive a liver transplant. The two almost sleep together until Frank finally reveals that they are, in fact, related. Once again, Frank's brazen disregard for other people hurts someone unlucky enough to be related to him. Amazingly, his plan still almost worked. Samantha did offer Frank her liver, only to find out that they are not a match. 

He killed "Butterface" twice

When Frank finds out that Dottie, a.k.a. "Butterface," is slowly dying while awaiting a heart transplant, he goes about wooing her in an attempt to secure the woman's government pension. That action alone would be worthy of inclusion on this list, but Frank's next moves became the scumbag's new low point. 

One day, Dottie is taking a shower and the phone rings. The hospital has found a matching donor, meaning Dottie could receive her life-saving transplant. At least, she would have, had Frank not lied to the caller by telling them that Dottie had already passed. This disgusting and incredibly self-centered act is a death sentence for Dottie, a woman he falsely claims to be falling for. Frank further puts the nail in Dottie's coffin when he agrees to have sex with her, even though both know her weakened heart would not be able to handle it.

He tried to fool around with his suicidal wife

In the notorious 2012 Thanksgiving episode, Frank's wife, Monica, is battling severe depression. She is suicidal, facing intense demons and in a very dark place (literally, as she has sequestered herself in a small cave under the staircase). Does Frank try to get Monica the help she so desperately needs? Of course not. Instead, he pressures his wife for sexual favors. 

This incredible act of selfishness shows just how repulsive Frank truly is. The scumbag places his own instant gratification ahead of the long term mental health of his wife. When the rest of the family tries to get Monica back on her bipolar medication, Frank has the audacity to argue against them, claiming the meds make her less fun. Later in the episode, Monica graphically attempts to take her own life. Perhaps Frank regretted his actions as he watched his wife struggle for survival, but somehow we doubt it.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

He convinced his own son that he had cancer

Where most people see a terminally ill child, Frank sees as an opportunity. After a local news report highlights a cancer-stricken child who was granted his wish to meet the Chicago Bulls, Frank's devious wheels begin to turn. At first, he tries to use baby Hymie (who has Down syndrome) as a way to score autographed merchandise that he can sell on eBay. But, when the Make-a-Wish-style charity informs Frank that they only work with terminal children, he lies and says he has a son who is gravely ill.

This time it's Carl's turn to get caught up in one of Frank's lies, as the pre-teen is convinced by his father that he has cancer. Frank even goes so far as to shave the boy's head, claiming it'll help the sun's healing rays get in. While the scam does not score the sports memorabilia Frank was after, it does get Carl sent to a special summer camp for terminally ill children.

He drugged a baby with Down syndrome

When Karen gives birth to a baby with Down syndrome, it throws her household for a loop. For starters, the new mother refuses to take care of her baby, continually threatening to give little Hymie away. Karen's mother, Sheila, and husband, Jody, take over the parenting duties, but they quickly become exhausted by the tyke's constant crying. Debbie offers to babysit, but has little luck quieting the newborn down. So, she goes to the closest thing she knows to a parent, Frank, and asks for his help

Naturally, the king of self-medication drugs the baby in order to shut him up (an action he would continually repeat). Of course, Frank convinces Sheila that his amazing parenting skills, and not narcotics, are the secret to calming Hymie. This briefly earns Frank free room and board in the Jackson household, because why would Frank help someone if it didn't get him something in return? We may not be medical professionals, but it sure seems like drugging a special needs baby is a bad idea. 

He ruined his daughter's wedding

When Fiona was preparing to marry her boss, Sean, it initially appeared that Frank would skip the wedding entirely. Well, there was no way the Gallagher patriarch was going to let his daughter's big day go by without drama. Instead, the father of the bride showed up high, grabbed the attention of the room and proceeded to point out the faults of every member of his family. 

He derided Lip for his drinking, Debbie for being a teenage mother, Ian for being a "bipolar queer," and even the bride, Fiona, for her years sleeping with many men. If that weren't enough, Frank then announced Sean's drug problem to the world, effectively sending the would-be-groom running out the door. The stunt earned Frank a punch to the face courtesy of Lip, but the damage was done. The was wedding ruined, Fiona's relationship was over, and hurricane Frank Gallagher had destroyed yet another moment in his family's life.

He called CPS on his own kids

It takes a real piece of garbage to tear his own kids away from a loving household out of spite. After he is once again thrown out of the Gallagher household for being a degenerate, Frank makes his way to the local watering hole. While drunk (shocker) and feeling especially petty, Frank uses the bar's phone to make an anonymous call to Child Protective Services, and tells them that the Gallagher household is an unsafe environment for children. This, despite all the work by his oldest daughter, Fiona, to loving home for her siblings (even if they are constantly dealing with chaos). 

Frank's phone call splits his children apart — Lip and Ian land in a prison-like group facility and Debbie is sent to a foster home-turned-sweatshop, while Liam and Carl get lucky and end up with a well-intentioned (though severely underprepared) gay couple. Fiona gets the last laugh when a judge eventually awards her legal guardianship of her siblings, but the entire ordeal would have been prevented if Frank has just put his children's needs ahead of his own pride.