Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Worst Thing That Carl From Shameless Has Done

Hard as it is to believe — especially after the departure of long-time star Emmy Rossum — Showtime's raucous family dramedy Shameless just wrapped its 10th season on air. It's also set to deliver its 11th and final season later in 2020. Perhaps even more surprising than either of those facts is that Shameless has managed its decade-plus run with its central cast virtually unchanged. For the actors who portray the younger members of the Gallagher clan, that means they've quite literally come of age at least partially in the skin of their characters.

For Ethan Cutkosky, who made his debut as Carl Gallagher on Shameless at the ripe old age of 12, that's especially true. As Cutkosky has done some serious growing up on Shameless, so too has Carl — surprising even long-time fans by becoming the one Gallagher for whom they find themselves most often rooting. But, like the rest of his less-than-noble family, Carl hasn't always made good choices. While he's currently on a noble quest to make an honest man of himself, there was a time when Carl was one of the worst of the Gallaghers. 

During a particularly nasty narrative arc on Shameless' fifth and sixth seasons, Carl became a gangster and full-fledged drug dealer. He even signed himself up to make some loot as a cocaine mule. But as was Carl planning his first big run, he got cold feet — and instead of carrying the load himself, he enlisted his dim-witted nephew Chuckie (Kellen Michael) to do the dirtiest of the work. The boys didn't get far on their quest, though. And when DEA agents turned up to make the bust, Carl did the unthinkable and let Chuckie take the fall on his behalf. To this day, it remains the most damning thing Carl has ever done on Shameless.

Carl got worse after letting Chuckie take the fall

That's saying a lot for a character who, as recently as season 10, was complicit in the attempted sale of one of his own children — which was itself the result of some vintage shenanigans from his perpetually scheming pop, Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy). Still, letting poor Chuckie do time for a crime he didn't even know he was committing is the lowest of the low for Carl, especially as the youngster had spent the better part of the season following Carl around in a genuine state of hero worship.

Of course, Carl got pinched in the sting as well. He was initially positioned to play the part of relatively innocent bystander, but the cocky young lad took his moment in court to curse out the judge overseeing his case. That act led to a sentence of one year in a juvenile detention center for Carl. Chuckie's sentence was naturally worse than Carl's — and, at the behest of his tragically misguided mom (Emily Bergl), the lad ended up throwing in with a group of white supremacists on the inside. Needless to say, but things quickly went even more sideways for Chuckie from there.

Carl, on the other hand, entered juvie a hero for not ratting out his drug lord boss. When he got out at the beginning of Shameless' sixth season, that boss had a new gig for Carl, who proceeded to break bad in ways we never fully expected, eventually even selling firearms to both teachers and students at his own school. Thankfully, the kid got scared seriously straight later on in the season. While that particular story is a near-operatic tragedy in and of itself, it proved the catalyst for Carl's journey to the side of right — or at least as close to the side of right as the Gallaghers can get.