Shameless UK vs Shameless US: The 13 Biggest Differences (2023)

Not many know that the hit series Shameless in the US is actually based on a UK series of the same name — here are all of the differences when it comes to Shameless UK vs US. The Gallagher clan are everyone’s favorite poor TV family. Who doesn’t love following Frank’s money-making shenanigans and the family's consistent foray into illegal activities? Most viewers don't know that the American version of Shameless came from the British series, which debuted in 2004. Aside from the obvious accents and location, there are some major differences between Shameless in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

This is especially true after the first season, when the US Shameless really started to come into its own. Now, this isn’t a competition, and one necessarily isn't better than the other. The UK Shameless saw its Fiona leave pretty early on, with actress Anne-Marie Duff leaving in series 2. Fiona also left the US Shameless, but Emmy Rossum didn't depart from the series until season 9. However, Duff returned for her series' final season, whereas Rossum did not. Both shows saw 11 seasons in total, but the shows diverged greatly in terms of storylines and characters. Here's everything that's different when it comes to Shameless UK vs US.



13 The US Shameless Had A Higher Budget And Production Value

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So this one isn’t really in the producers' control, but the US Shameless had a much bigger production budget when it comes down to Shameless UK vs US. That means they could afford to elaborate on some of the aspects of the show, and create more of a spectacle. Of course, as is with American popular culture more than British, there are significantly different product placement and marketing involved that alter the financial situation.

Both shows have used an elaborate set to create the Gallagher households, but the US Shameless does feature a significant amount of on-location shooting. For example, Patsy's is a real business. The general quality of the cameras and equipment used is better — and more expensive — in the US version too. Generally speaking, the US Shameless was also targeting much higher viewing figures than its UK counterpart, which was made as a quirky-yet-endearing drama trying to cultivate a smaller-yet-dedicated viewership.

12 The Acting Is Better In The US Shameless (But Shameless UK Has Its Highlights)

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Let’s face it. William H. Macy was born to play Frank. David Threlfall does the job well, but Macy plays him with a significantly more villainous edge when it comes to Shameless UK vs US. There are some other significant actors cast in the US version, including Emmy Rossum as Fiona and everyone’s favorite side character, Joan Cusack as Sheila Jackson.

However, the UK Shameless does have some stage merit, too. In the first season of the UK version, Steve is played by James McAvoy. McAvoy is arguably one of today’s most talented actors. It’s also been pointed out by many of the Internet’s commentators that the US Shameless cast is more attractive overall, although this is very much a subjective opinion. Additionally, in the UK Shameless, Carl was played by twin brothers.

11 The UK Shameless Had Slightly More Longevity

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This is where the UK Shameless wins out by the total number of episodes in the case of Shameless UK vs US— but only by a hair. The show ran from 2004 to 2013, producing 11 seasons and 139 episodes in total. Meanwhile, the US Shameless also ran for 11 seasons, running from 2011 to 2021. However, it only produced 134 episodes, just five shy of the UK Shameless.

To credit each version, both shows have received many awards and high viewership ratings. There have also been other international adaptations of the show based on the original UK series, including one in Turkey called Bizim Hikaye, one in Pakistan called Hamari Kahani, and a Russian version called Besstydniki.

10 The Neighbors Are Different (But Central In Both)

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Kev and Vee exist in both versions, but leave the UK Shameless after the fourth season. At that time in that version, the Maguire family become more central characters. The US Shameless version of them, the Milkovich family, don’t exactly have the same type of dynamic, even though Ian and Mickey are romantically involved for some time. They remain side characters for the rest of the series, with little to no involvement in the most recent seasons (aside from Ian’s departing moments when he arrives in prison).

In terms of Shameless UK vs US, Kevin and Veronica in the US Shameless are much more prominent and helpful toward the Gallaghers, with Veronica being Fiona's best friend in both versions and Kev being more friendly with Frank in the UK Shameless. The couples in both versions do want children, with the UK Shameless couple trying to buy a Romanian orphan and getting busted for it. Their marriage in the UK Shameless seems a lot shakier, with Kev's ex-wife Roxy returning and wreaking havoc on their relationship.

9 There's Less Censorship And More Mature Content In Shameless UK

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In the case of Shameless UK vs US, both versions are known for their no-holds-barred take on the Gallaghers’ lives, including nudity, drug use, swearing, and more. However, the UK Shameless pushes the line just a little bit more toward mature content. For example, Ian’s sex scenes feel more censored in the US Shameless, but this isn’t entirely the show’s fault. The actor that plays Ian (Cameron Monaghan) in the US version was underage at the time they were filming some of these scenes.

There also seems to be much more full-frontal male nudity in the UK Shameless than there is in the US series. This is unsurprising though, given that British censors were notably laxer about nudity on the small screen than their US counterparts in the 00s (it's worth remembering that the Shameless started long before shows like Game of Thrones). The difference is also partly down to intent, with the UK version of Shameless deliberately going for shock factor much more often thanks to leaning more into the comedy side of dramady than the Shameless US version.

8 The US And UK Shameless Have Different Romance Plots

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A lot of the romantic relationships between the characters play out differently when looking at Shameless UK vs US. In the UK Shameless, Ian ends up marrying a woman after his affair with Mickey ends, while in the US Shameless Ian and Mickey get married in the season 10 finale. Another major difference is that Monica and Frank have a seventh child, Stella, in the UK Shameless. In the US series, Monica dies in season seven with just six children behind. After that, Frank goes through a slew of new romantic interests, all of which seem to die or leave.

All in all, since the relationships each character has in Shameless are tied into the plot by definition, this is perhaps the area with the most notable level of difference. By the end of the UK and US versions of Shameless, each had their own unique plot threads and narrative arcs, and both had exclusive characters that didn't appear in the other version. As such, there are many relationships in the US Shameless that don't happen anywhere in the UK version of the story, and vice-versa.

7 The Gallagher Family Stick Together In The US Shameless

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One of the biggest differences in the case of Shameless UK vs US is that the focus on the Gallagher family is different. In the UK Shameless, much of the main cast leaves eventually. Fiona isn’t in the third season, as she leaves briefly to be with Steve. Audiences know how that scenario worked out for her in the US Shameless. However, Emmy Rossum did eventually leave the US show after season 9.

A lot of the other main Gallagher characters have left for entire seasons in the UK Shameless. Frank is really the only one who stays the entire run. By the end of the UK series, it seems as though the entire focus has shifted away from the Gallaghers and onto their neighboring families. Most of the US Shameless cast stuck around until the very end, keeping the sole focus on the Gallaghers.

6 The UK Frank Gallagher Isn't As Bad

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When looking at Shameless UK vs US, one thing is made abundantly clear: the UK Frank Gallagher isn't nearly as awful as the US Frank Gallagher. While the UK Shameless' Frank is still a stereotypical on-screen alcoholic deadbeat, he's not necessarily cruel and has a borderline functional relationship with his children. Fiona does tire of taking care of her father, but their rapport is nowhere near as contentious and volatile as it is in the US Shameless. In the UK Shameless, Frank is much more a victim of his own circumstances rather than the sole cause of them.

He makes efforts to help his children at times, rather than exploit them as the US Shameless Frank does. The US Frank Gallagher has done some truly reprehensible things all for the sake of some cash, including losing Liam in a bet, convincing Carl that he has cancer, ruining Dottie's heart transplant, so he can collect her pension, and so much more. The UK Frank Gallagher is hardly the perfect father, but there are also many more moments when he overcomes his inner demons for the sake of his kids — even if he does get into a string of comedic mishaps on the way.

5 The US Shameless Has A Russian Influence

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One of the most notable characters in the US Shameless that doesn’t appear in the UK Shameless is Svetlana. She initially arrives on the show as a Russian hooker hired by Mickey’s dad after catching him with Ian. However, she becomes pregnant with his child and begins living with him. Eventually, she ends up in a three-way relationship with Kev and Vee, and at one point tries to take control of the bar.

Svetlana had a significant impact on the show and was present for five seasons before Isidora Goreshter left in season 8, so she really provided a different plot twist when looking at Shameless UK vs US. Conversely, while there are minor Russian characters who appear in episodes here and there, they're rarely if ever named and only exist to serve specific plot points, usually around the criminal exploits of the Macguires.

4 The UK Shameless Has An Irish Influence

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Unlike the US Shameless, the UK Shameless saw a greater inclusion of the Macguire family (the UK's version of the Milkovich family), and the Irish mobsters had a huge impact on the storyline. The Milkovich's mainly served their purpose as a bigoted influence against Ian and Mickey's relationship, with some occasional chaos thrown in for good measure. The Macguires had a much bigger stake in the overall plot.

The Macguire's influence in drug sales and other criminal organizations is a big part of the UK Shameless, and they also have more children than the Milkovichs. Mimi and Paddy Macguire's only daughter Mandy passes away in series 6, and Mandy ended up having a daughter, Katie, with Lip Gallagher. The Macguires also run The Jockey, the UK version of The Alibi Room, rather than Kevin and Veronica. When looking at Shameless UK vs US, the Macguire family had a much larger influence on the story than the Milkovichs.

3 The Pub In The UK Shameless Is Nothing Like The Alibi Room

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In the UK Shameless, it’s The Jockey. In the US Shameless, it’s The Alibi Room. However, there are more Shameless UK vs US differences in the signature Shameless watering holes than simply just the names. The Jockey is owned by the Maguire family and has been run by various members of their family. First, it was Karen and Jamie, then it was Mimi, and then it was back to Karen and Jamie again.

On the US Shameless, Kev and Vee take over The Alibi Room and run it consistently. That’s including Svetlana’s attempts to take over control of the bar from them when she realizes they aren’t the most financially adept individuals. During the Shameless series finale, Carl considers buying The Alibi Room and turning it into a cop bar.

2 The US Shameless Improved Character Growth

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While the US versions of UK shows are often notorious for changing things in a not-always-best way, in the case of Shameless UK vs US, the US gets this one thing right. In the UK Shameless, the timeline goes by really fast, and audiences don’t get to make the connection to the characters that they do in the US Shameless. That’s also because, as previously mentioned, a lot of the main cast leaves the UK show before it ends.

As a result, that takes away more of the time viewers get to know those characters before saying goodbye. There are also so many different characters in the UK Shameless that remain as side characters in the US Shameles that it gets a little too distracting to connect to everyone.

1 COVID-19 Wasn't In The UK Shameless

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US Shameless' Frank Gallagher had to pay for his sins and showrunners made the right choice by killing him off by means of COVID-19 in the series finale. Since the US Shameless ended in 2021, the Coronavirus pandemic was included as a part of the story in the final season, whereas for obvious reasons this didn't play a role in the UK Shameless. When it comes to the Shameless UK vs US differences, one of the largest is both series' endings and the fate of the Gallagher family patriarch.

The UK Shameless saw Frank reconcile with his family and Fiona after she offered him cold hard cash to walk away from his family scot-free and he refused. The US Shameless, on the other hand, saw Frank diagnosed with alcoholic dementia and slowly lose all of his faculties and dignity, and Emmy Rossum didn't return for the finale. Frank tries to commit suicide and fails, leaving a note for his family that goes entirely unnoticed, but it's his COVID-19 infection that tips the scales.


What is the difference between Shameless UK and US Shameless? ›

One of the biggest differences in the case of Shameless UK vs US is that the focus on the Gallagher family is different. In the UK Shameless, much of the main cast leaves eventually. Fiona isn't in the third season, as she leaves briefly to be with Steve.

Which Shameless is the original? ›

Series 1 (2004)

The first series of Shameless ran from 13 January to 24 February 2004, and consisted of seven episodes. It chronicled the life of the Gallagher family and their neighbours. David Threlfall was cast as an alcoholic father, Frank Gallagher, living with his children in their neighborhood.

Is Shameless UK based on a true story? ›

Like the US version we all know and love, the British show followed the dysfunctional... No, the "Shameless" series is not based on a true story. The Gallaghers were not based on any actual family. The American series, on the other hand, is a direct adaptation of the original British series of the same name.

Are there two Shameless shows? ›

There are 2 TV shows called Shameless. The British original which started in 2004, and the 2011 American remake. Which one should I watch?

Is Carl in Shameless UK or US? ›

Series Information

This page is about the original UK version of Carl Gallagher. For the US incarnation, see Carl Gallagher (US). Carl Francis Gallagher (born September 1990) is the fourth oldest Gallagher sibling.

Is Mickey in the UK Shameless? ›

U.K. version. Mickey Maguire is a character from the British Channel 4 comedy drama, Shameless.

How old was everyone when Shameless ended? ›

By the time of the series finale, Fiona is 30, Lip is 25, Ian is 24, Debbie is 20, Carl is 18, and Liam is 11 years old. It should be noted that all of these ages are approximate, and could vary by a year or so.

Did the Shameless intro ever change? ›

The opening sequence has been revised to show cast changes: Fiona is no longer featured; now it's Debbie pulling Frank out of the bathroom and then going to the toilet. Debbie wrapping Liam in toilet paper has been replaced with Liam doing the same to Franny.

Who is Shameless based on? ›

What is Shameless based on? Shameless was based on a British TV series of the same name created by Paul Abbott that ran for, shockingly, 11 seasons as well.

Did they smoke real cigarettes on Shameless? ›

All the Gallaghers were supposed to smoke in the first season. But Emmy doesn't smoke, and Cameron [Monaghan, who plays Ian] doesn't smoke either. And so what happened was, they would smoke in scenes, but it is surprisingly difficult to fake smoking if you're not a smoker; audiences can kind of tell.

Is the alibi in Shameless real? ›

There is a real Alibi Bar in Chicago, but it looks like that bar was established after the show became popular. The bar in the show is really in Burbank, California. Warner Bros studio lot holds the keys to the bar that's rumored to be modeled after Moe's bar in The Simpsons.”

What age is Shameless appropriate for? ›

It is a great show to watch, though seeing kids under 14 watching it doesn't sit right with me, while it depends on maturity, being exposed at a young age could have effects, as young children aren't able to process things the right way.

Is Fiona in Shameless 11? ›

Alongside the clan's father, Frank (William H. Macy), Fiona acted as a protagonist for the majority of the series. Though a favorite character to many, Rossum's character, unfortunately, didn't see Shameless through to the end, permanently exiting the show at the end of Season 9.

Does Shameless have a spin off? ›

Retrospective look at ten seasons of Gallagher trials and tribulations.

Who did they replace in Shameless? ›

What happened to the Mandy Milkovich season 1 actress in Shameless? South Side hellraiser Mandy Milkovich was a significant character in the early seasons, but the role was recast after season 1, with Emma Greenwell taking over from original actress, Jane Levy.

Why doesn t Liam talk in Shameless? ›

Liam has little dialogue throughout the earlier seasons due to his young age, but he has been an important plot point for many episodes throughout the series. Frank's implies in the opening of the Pilot that Liam was fathered by AA Sponsor or a bouncer Monica slept with, but still considers Liam part of the family.

Why did Debbie leave Shameless UK? ›

A Shameless spokeswoman said: “Rebecca wanted to leave to work on other projects and we wish her well. “The door has been left open, so there's always the chance that Debbie might return one day.” Many were shocked when 'little Debbie' ended up in bed last year with young policeman Tom ahead of her 16th birthday.

Does Fiona have a baby in season 6? ›

Fiona struggles with work at Patsy's Pies after being promoted to assistant manager. Though she is still married to Gus, Fiona has begun a sexual relationship with Sean. When Fiona unexpectedly finds out she is pregnant (and does not know who the father is), she ultimately decides to get an abortion.

Who killed Ian's po? ›

Her death is reported to Ian and Mickey who both suspect the other of the event. However, it is revealed Paula was killed by Shelly, one of the women she was the parole officer and lover of.

Is there a Fiona in Shameless UK? ›

Frank's oldest daughter, Fiona McBride (Anne-Marie Duff), returns to Chatsworth with Carl and Lip.

Who does Fiona end up with? ›

She was the acting mother to her five siblings after her mother left due to Frank's lack of responsibility. She worked as a Nursery Assistant and was the best friend of Veronica Fisher. She left at the end of Series 2 with boyfriend Steve McBride, and now resides in Amsterdam.

What mental illness does Carl Gallagher have? ›

Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder

Carl's actions are impulsive in nature, and he can be disruptive. His behaviors however do violate societal norms and the rights of others, which rules out ADHD.

Who is the oldest kid in Shameless? ›

Fiona Gallagher

Fiona is in the difficult position of being the oldest of the Gallagher children, so most of the responsibility and child-rearing falls on her young shoulders.

How much older is Mickey than Ian? ›

I just found out the actor that plays Mickey is 7 years older than the character that plays Ian. Would that have been a problem in the early seasons (when the actor that plays Ian would've been 16 while Mickey would have been 23) with the characters hooking up?

Why did they change Liam in Shameless? ›

The show's casting director John Levey tells Vulture they recast Liam with that exact hope. “The family dynamic made [showrunner] John Wells think that it was important to raise the stakes for Liam and raise his visibility,” he says.

Did they change Fiona in Shameless? ›

Irish actress Anne-Marie Duff played Fiona in the UK Shameless, and she left the TV show in season 2, a little over a year after the program launched. Therefore, it's easy to surmise that her iteration of Fiona didn't have enough time to become the same staple that Emmy Rossum's version did.

Did the cast of Shameless get along? ›

The Gallagher family has had its fair share of ups and downs, but the cast of Shameless has been through it together.

Who is the actual main character in Shameless? ›

Where is Shameless staged? ›

Shameless Locations

The Gallaghers are said to live in Southside Chicago but the bulk of the filming took place in Los Angeles. Chicago provided some locations for certain scenes of the series. During the show's ten-year-long run, the cast members reportedly traveled to Chicago about three times each year.

Are Carl and Fiona siblings? ›

Their eldest sibling, Fiona Gallagher, is the caretaker and mother figure to her younger siblings Lip, Ian, Carl, Debbie, and Liam.

Why is there two Shameless? ›

There is the original UK version of the show, and then the American knock-off of the show. Just like they did with The Office.

Is Shameless UK worth watching? ›

YES, it is definitely worth watching. All of the Main Characters are far from perfect yet you will love them, Especially Frank Gallagher, Fiona and Carl and Also Lip. Overall The Show is good but there are a few scenes where you ll definitley connect and appreciate.

Is Shameless accurate in the US? ›

It isn't realistic, but at least they got the setting right. Another example would be THE CONNORS, which I don't watch, but their made up town with real life troubles is based on Elgin, Illinois. Is the TV show Chicago PD an accurate depiction of what being a cop in Chicago is like?

Why did they replace Liam in Shameless? ›

The show's casting director John Levey tells Vulture they recast Liam with that exact hope. “The family dynamic made [showrunner] John Wells think that it was important to raise the stakes for Liam and raise his visibility,” he says.

Why did they quit Shameless? ›

Due to scheduling conflicts and time restraints, it simply wasn't feasible for the production and Rossum's schedule, so Fiona couldn't return for the Shameless finale.

What mental illness does Fiona Gallagher have? ›

Depression (Portrayed by Fiona Gallagher)

Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety.

What happened to Fiona's baby? ›

Erika discovers she is in remission; Frank encourages Debbie to pursue Erika, so she can continue to stay with the Wexlers. Fiona has her abortion. Frank bonds with Chuckie, who has set up camp outside the Gallagher home. Frank reunites with Sammi's mother, Queenie, who has arrived to claim Chuckie.

Who does Carl end up with? ›

Carl and Kassidi get married at the courthouse, but the marriage is not legally binding because of their age. They do not invite any of the other Gallaghers because they do not support the marriage.

What age is appropriate for Shameless? ›

It is a great show to watch, though seeing kids under 14 watching it doesn't sit right with me, while it depends on maturity, being exposed at a young age could have effects, as young children aren't able to process things the right way.

Where was Shameless filmed? ›

Where do the Gallaghers live in Chicago? The answer to the question where is “Shameless” filmed is the south side of Chicago, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. This is an industrial and residential area near the former Union Stock Yards.

Should I let my 14 year old watch Shameless? ›

However, parents still ought to think twice before letting their young kids watch the Showtime series. Still, "Shameless" is rated TV-MA for a reason. In the pilot episode alone, there are multiple sexual encounters (and since it was on Showtime, there's plenty of nudity to go along with it) and ample profanity.

How many hours would it take to finish Shameless us? ›

'Shameless' (10 seasons, 122 episodes)

A binge of this Showtime family comedy—in which the Gallagher family puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional”—will last around 5 days and 11 hours, by our math.

What state is Shameless based on? ›

The show is set on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. With the premiere of the ninth season on September 9, 2018, Shameless became the longest-running original scripted series in Showtime's history. In January 2019, the series was renewed for a tenth season, which premiered on November 10, 2019.


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