Shameless Boss on the Finale's Surprise Twist, Frank's Fate and Laughing It Up at the Emmys

Shameless Jimmy/Steve AliveIf you have yet to watch Sunday’s season finale of Shameless, avert your eyes now. Everyone else, read on…

Shameless‘ Season 4 finale on Sunday night was certainly worthy of its “Lazarus” title when, in the closing credits, Justin Chatwin made a surprise return as the previously presumed dead Jimmy/Steve.

What brought on the unexpected plot twist? Will Chatwin be back next season? And was Frank supposed to die this year?

RELATED | Shameless Finale Recap: ‘Is This Family Ever Going to Catch a Break?’ — Plus: A Huge Twist!

Read on as executive producer John Wells tackles those burning questions and more — like how does he feel about the show moving to the comedy category at the Emmy Awards?

TVLINE | At what point did you decide Jimmy/Steve was still alive?
[Laughs] The audience kept telling us that they didn’t know what had happened at the end [of last season with the character], so we thought, “I don’t know, maybe we’ll take advantage of that and go with it.”

TVLINE | You had said at a panel that that was the end of Jimmy/Steve. Was there anything, storyline-wise, that made you change your mind?
Oh, I’ve changed my mind lots of times. The Julianna Margulies character on E.R. was dead at the end of the pilot… You follow what the audience is interested in. Since we had the option of doing something else that the audience was certainly telling us they were interested in, we decided to do it.

TVLINE | How important was it for you to end the season with that huge shock? Could it have easily gone the other direction, without that additional scene?
Oh, sure. We felt the season was very complete without it. We just thought, it’s always good to remind people why they want to come back the next year, particularly since on all of the shows on pay [cable] and many of the shows on basic [cable], the separation between when you’re on the air can be nine months. You want people to still be intrigued when they think about it later.

RELATED | Cable Ratings: Shameless Ends on High Note

TVLINE | So how did Justin’s return come together?
I called him and asked him if he wanted to come back and do a scene, and he said, “Sure.” [Laughs] We’ve all stayed really friendly, so it was an easy call to make, and he happened to be available, which was great.

TVLINE | Was it all put together pretty close to the day of production?
I didn’t put it into the script, but it was written a month in advance. We had to make sure that Justin was going to be available – he was doing some other things – and had to schedule it. A few people within the production were going to shoot it. The writing staff, everybody knew about it for at least a month. Maybe it was six weeks. I asked them to keep it quiet because in this day and age, it’s hard to keep things quiet that are surprising for the audience. It’s always fun when you can do it.

TVLINE | Not even your cast knew he was coming back. How did you manage to pull that off?
We shot it on the Saturday of our last Chicago trip before everybody else came, and we put him in a different hotel. And people enjoyed being in on the secret, so the people who were in on the secret were excited about keeping it secret.

TVLINE | What did Justin think of the twist? I imagine he might have accepted his character’s fate.
I can’t say exactly, but he was excited about the idea of doing it. We’ve all become good friends and have enjoyed working together, so I think he was delighted to be able to surprise everybody.

RELATED | Shameless Renewed for Season 5

TVLINE | In what capacity are we going to see him next season? Is he back as a series regular?
You’ll just have to come and watch.

TVLINE | Was there ever any consideration this year of having Frank die? In some scenes, it seemed like that’s where it was going.
[Laughs] We couldn’t really kill off Frank, could we? I love that character.

TVLINE | Fiona had a great dramatic arc, and so did many of the other characters. What is your take on the show now competing as a comedy at the Emmys?
Well, I think it’s funny. The show is flat-out funny. There are lots of big laughs and comedic performances. The difficulty is always with these shows that live in the middle, which are a little more like what our real lives are — I know that sounds a little ridiculous when you’re talking about Shameless, but I actually think there’s a lot of day-to-day truth in what we do on Shameless. [It has relevance] to many, many people’s lives — and we laugh a lot in those lives.

The dramatic category has become full of very serious dramatic programming. There really should be some kind of a middle category of realistic ways in which we live our lives that aren’t flat-out half-hour comedies [and also] that aren’t very serious dramas. Generally, we’re better off and more perceived to be a comedy than we are a drama. But the best comedies always have dramatic elements. Just look at Nurse Jackie over the last couple of years.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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66 Comments
  1. wrstlgirl says:

    I love Jimmy/Steve. That made my friggin night :-) :-)

  2. Shazay says:

    Having Jimmy/Steve/Jack back next season would be EVERYTHING!

  3. Jess says:

    I hate Jimmy/Steve/Jack. I hope he’s only ever back to take Fiona away and I never want Fiona to go away.

  4. Ben says:

    Thank God they didn’t bring back Karen.

  5. rebecca says:

    Yes yes yes!!! I am so happy Jimmy/Steve is back.

  6. Bryce says:

    I was very impressed by the twist. It was perfect Shameless, subtle but strong. The episode itself was perfect, and of course even without the Jimmy twist I would come back, but now I’m so eager. I just wasn’t expecting his return at all.

  7. jenilee says:

    but i just think jimmy has run his course. I was so glad when the showrunner said he was dead. He was constantly lying all of s3 living a double life and he isnt at all supportive of fiona being guardian of the kids. Unless he has done a complete 180 i just dont see the point.
    I have to disagree w him about the category. The show WAS funny. Until this year. This year was full on drama. Find it weird the one fully dramatic year they decide to switch categories.’m in the minority but i just think jimmy has run his course. I was so glad when the showrunner said he was dead. He was constantly lying all of s3 living a double life and he isnt at all supportive of fiona being guardian of the kids. Unless he has done a complete 180 i just dont see the point.

    • jenilee says:

      I’m in the minority but i just think jimmy has run his course. I was so glad when the showrunner said he was dead. He was constantly lying all of s3 living a double life and he isnt at all supportive of fiona being guardian of the kids. Unless he has done a complete 180 just dont see the point.
      I have to disagree w him about the category. The show WAS funny. Until this year. This year was full on drama. Find it weird the one fully dramatic year they decide to switch categories.

      • Hannah says:

        They probably think they have a better shot with comedies because there are fewer contenders there, but the show will never be nominated anyway. They really need to establish a Best Dramedy category.

        • tiffanie says:

          Agree they definitely need a new category called dramedy. And cant believe anyone would not want Jimmy back. And never should Frank die there would be not comedy or show without Bill Lacey. He is the funniest ive been saying for years he deserves an emmy for playing frank

          • tiffanie says:

            MACY

          • Hannah says:

            I’m not against Jimmy myself, but since they said he was dead (and not cliffanger-maybe dead, but confirmed dead) I felt cheated and will not trust them anymore. John Wells is just another Shonda Rhimes.

          • Tina Strack says:

            His name is William H. Macy….Not Bill…sheesh know what your talking about before u post….

      • hannah says:

        why did you say the exact same paragraphs three times? we get it. you think jimmy has run his course and that you disagree with the category.

        • jenilee says:

          I was having an issue w my phone and it posted weird. Thats why i fixed it and posted it the correct way in my reply. The original post made no sense the way it came through. I wasn’t trying to be repetitive just trying to be coherent.

    • Dee says:

      I too was happy when he said Jimmy was dead. I agree with the category as well. This year was all drama. I don’t know why so many people wanted Jimmy to come back. I was over him.

  8. No says:

    Great season !!!!! Thank god for shameless

  9. Cas says:

    Loved it. It’ll be interesting to see what he’s been up to. Because really I always thought he was part of the show. I loved that Frank lived but it was a little sad he gave Carl booze. Makes me wonder who in that family has a chance at a normal life or a decent one.

    • Amy says:

      We now know that Ian is like Monica, and it appears that Carl will be like Frank. I cannot wait to see more of Jimmy/Steve/Jack.

      • IAMGOD says:

        Interestingly enough, it seems like Debbie is Fiona to a certain degree. She was acting like Fiona when her boyfriend of sorts brought them pizza.

  10. Tina Majorino-Shepherd says:

    I think it was great for Fiona to have a break from Jimmy/Steve. I do think it would be a great time for him to come back into the family’s lives given the roller coaster Fiona has been on since he’s been gone. I’d love to see how she reacts to his return after the way he left and the troubles Fi has had. Plus he’s pretty good man-candy.

  11. DN says:

    Bart was supposed to be the star of the Simpsons, but Dan C.’s portrayal of Homer stole the show. The same goes for Family Ties before that, with Meredith Birney being the but Michael J Fox’s charisma took the spotlight.

    Justin Chatwin’s charisma and his sparks with Rossum were undeniable. Killing that off would be like forcing someone else to be the center of LOST because Jack was supposed to die in the pilot episode.

    Jimmy/jack should be back for good, and working on the long & wind on road to marriage with Fiona.

  12. Ken says:

    I am on the side of being done with the Jimmy/Steve character. This season was WAY better than previous seasons (which were also good) and there were multiple reasons why and one of the main reasons is that it was free of that character. He was pulling the show down. Without him, the show rebounded to new heights and I fear with him back, it will revert back. The other reasons the show excelled this year was the astounding work by Emmy Rossum (where is here Emmy award dammit!) and the great story arc the writers gave her this season; the character growth and slight maturity of Mickey and dealing with coming out; and the other strong story arc of the end of days for Frank which ultimately didn’t come to fruition. (Producers you may love that character, but he is pretty irredeemable at this point.) Love the addition of his daughter Sammy though.

  13. WTH says:

    Jimmy/Steve is beyond superfluous. This past season proceeded beautifully without him. There simply is no need for this character to return only to be another cross for Fiona to bear.

  14. DavidSask says:

    I know many of watchers of this show who want Frank to die already, there is no redemption with him and he is just vile and same old s**t with him, enough already!!!

    • dee123 says:

      But the point of Frank is that he’s a cockroach. He won’t die and probably be left standing after so many others fall.

  15. Elisa says:

    Well, I am very, very, very happy that Jimmy is back. He has been one of my favorite characters since Day 1. I love Justin Chatwin. I love Justin and Emmy together (they have some serious, legit chemistry). And I have always loved Fiona with Jimmy even through their crazy up and downs. Whatever might happen with them…. I always felt that they deserved a better ending to their story than what happened at the end of last season.
    So, I am glad he wasn’t killed off with Fiona never knowing what went down. Cannot wait to see what happens!

    • Christy says:

      Completely agree I love jimmy n Fi thought they were great together deff the love story behind the madness of everything, I wasn’t pleased with this season though. I hated everyone taking for granted all of Fi s work n the disrespect that had for her all season and when that being her whole word started falling apart the. She really screws up with the little guy and it’s starts fallin apart no one was there to help her. Anyway so glad jimmy can come back and maybe help restore some kind of normal to their world by putting Fi back on track.

  16. Kimm says:

    Some great things happened this season. Fiona had enough drama on her own this season. Some great storylines to look forward to next season. I am on the fence about Jimmy/Steve.

  17. erich says:

    I’m kinda on the fence about the whole Jimmy/Steve thing in that I thought his storyline had run its course and getting killed made sense and yet he did have chemistry with Fiona. I wanna know if Emily Bergl will be back next season? I like Sammi.

  18. C says:

    They make him an awful person in season 3, then kill him off, tell everyone he’s gone for good, but bring him back because they think that’s what the audience wants. Yet, this other character that’s always been awful, has always been wanted off by most fans, and was dying alllllll year, isn’t going to because “[Laughs] He couldn’t really kill off Frank, could he? He loves that character!”. You either want to make your audience happy, or you don’t! Frank needs to go. Next to noone enjoys his scenes/stories anymore. It needs to be all about Fiona, Lip, Ian, the kids, the Milkovichs, and Kev&V. They need to face it that he was necessary for a while, but now he, and Sheila, have overstayed their welcome. There’s no need for them anymore (unless you need Frank to turn Carl into him- but pleeassseee no).

    • lol009 says:

      (has always been wanted off by most fans) lol people have been asking for his return since the new season started so please Don’t speak for all the fans

    • TheVanerialDisease says:

      Frank and Sheila are two of my favorite characters, and I know I’m not alone in that. You need a character like Frank who people love to hate. I don’t get people who hate on the antagonist. It’s a necessary evil.

  19. SS says:

    “Well, I think it’s funny. The show is flat-out funny. There are lots of big laughs and comedic performances.”
    What? I haven’t laughed during this show in at least 2 seasons. The subject matter has been so heavy. I’m not saying it’s not a great show, but to make them compete in the comedy category doesn’t make any sense at all.

    • Kay says:

      I agree, it actually got to be too much. I quit after Jimmy was presumed dead, but people kept talking about it and I binged before the finale. The Liam drug plot was dark, There’s nothing funny about a toddler od’ing.

  20. CountryQueen says:

    It seems my coworker and I must have missed the articles about Jimmy/Steve being dead, as we have been speculating for a year what could have happened (and neither one of us settled on dead). Jimmy drove me bats with all his lying and not supporting Fiona, but she always liked the bad guy, and the bad guy this season hurt her more than Jimmy ever did (what the heck was Mikes brothers name again?). So I can see Jimmy showing up, and Fiona finally realizing that she needs to leave the bad guy alone (and instead go jump Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s bones!!). That’s how I would like to see him come back.

    Carl is definitely on his way to becoming Frank, and Frank could not be happier. Though Carl will need to escape decades in prison first, and if he stays around that little Bonnie, he’s got jail in his future.

    I really do love this show and can’t wait ’til it comes back next year.

    • Whiskey says:

      Yes to Fiona jumping JDM’s bones. That man is amazing. Also, I think that Fiona’s downward spiral this season had much to do w/Steve’s disappearance from her life. So it will be interesting to see her work toward finding resolution.

    • Christy says:

      Thank you, it was obvious that they were implying that he died but really that he was brought back!!! I only really finished this season because I was waiting to see if / when they would ! Though I hadn’t heard the officially announced he was dead… Kinda a fail on the writers part.

  21. fifi says:

    EXTREMELY EXCITED FOR NEXT SEASON OF SHAMELESS BC Jimmy/Steve IS Back!

  22. Kay says:

    I love the Steve/Jimmy character, and i’m glad they made his exit ambiguous enough to make it believable for him to come back. I will say they probably shouldn’t have put Frank so close to death to make him survive, and have all be well next season. As a viewer, I really question the integrity of any organ donation program that would give Frank (with that history) a liver over some innocent. I know it’s TV and all, but it’s pretty disturbing.

  23. dootdoot says:

    God I almost wanted frank dead. I can stand him as a background character and occasional plot kick starter, and I also like him when he’s interacting with more than one family member, but when he has such large, bloated portions of the show taken out to focus on him my patience with him is worn thin. I get it, he’s funny and an important aspect, but his arch this season was mind-numbing (I began skipping over it mid-way into the season) because I knew it wouldn’t amount to anything; Frank would come back alive and the same cockroach he always was and since he wasn’t with most of the family I didn’t care. I care more about Fiona, the kids, Micky, and Mandy because I know they can develop and overcome their problems. I don’t like Jimmy or whatever either because he’s a middle-class white guy who’s in-and-outs of the family drama was annoying seeing as we knew he’d always come back and Fiona would always forgive him. His relationship with Fiona was nothing but frustrating to me seeing as he has a tendency towards lying and running when things get too hard and he never overcame that personal issue.

  24. Dennis Ondrejka says:

    I’m Glad Jimmy is back, and by no means did ANYONE say he was dead. We just saw him getting on the boat, End of episode! And Frank, Did anyone think he was going to take a sip and then throw the rest of the booze in the water? Boy they sure kept him true to the character, Which is why i watch. He makes the show!

    • C says:

      The creator of the show came right out and said he was gone for good; and that he did die.

      • Skone013 says:

        No they didn’t. Did you even watch the last episode of season 3. They did it perfect. Yes he could of been dead if they wanted him to be but yet again they could of brought him back like they have done before when he disappeared. The show is great with him in it

        To the people hating on frank you are all crazy. William Macy is an excellent actor especially in this show. He has proven this very well. The show would not be the same with out him in it. Frank will never be killed off. And it’s only a tv show so stopping trash talking because his actions. “It’s not reality!!!!”

        Can’t wait till season 5 with everyone in the cast.

        • C says:

          Yes, I did watch the last episode; and yes, they did leave it open ended- but then the creator did an interview saying he was FOR SURE dead.

    • Plasticflywheel says:

      Agreed. I was thinking they were going to have him dump out the booze and it just would not have been right for his character. The fact that he gave Carl a sip is sad but also true to character. I loved the Jimmy/Jack/Steve scene as a cameo, but hope they leave it at that.

  25. steampunkgirl says:

    I’m glad Steve/Jimmy is back. I think Fiona’s in for another rollercoaster of a season, along with everyone else. Now if we could just hear about what happened to Ethel and her baby…

  26. Meghan says:

    The people who want frank dead are crazy! He’s the main reason all the kids have troubles and it just wouldn’t make sense without him yes his character is sometimes repetitive an mean or whatever but without frank there would be no shameless ! And about the jimmy/Steve thing .. I like him being back he was good for Fiona even though he lied you could tell he really loved her and that’s all Fiona needs, she doesn’t need the perfect man just a man who loves her and would do anything for her ! The writers of shameless in my opinion did an excellent job with their decisions ! My favorite show ever!!

  27. ste says:

    Is shameless comeing back in the uk? Or is It finished for good

  28. Nell says:

    Glad Frank is alive, he’s hilarious. I’m also REALLY happy that Jimmy/Steve is back. Not only great eye-candy but the Fiona/Jimmy/Steve storyline just HAS to continue! <3

  29. Llewellyn says:

    Wow I really agree with all those who are glad that Steve’s back because I really belive that he is a big part of the show and that he and Fiona will walk down the isle togethere.

  30. Пускайтего вече тоя пети сезон, че нещо Фиона взеда откача в последните серии на четвърти сезон.

  31. Bob Galka says:

    Anyone who thinks Fiona or any character on this show is going to get a break is crazy. This show is called SHAMELESS not Little House on the Prairie ;O)

  32. When does shameless season 5 come on tv.

  33. The show started really good but we reached season 2 and everything went wrong the characters the language,and toddler overdose cocaine,13year old girl having sex and all the low life activities you can imagine it’s wrong what kind of a message the public get ,we have enough problem me personally don’t want to see advertising the worst kind of human behavior and showing the real American family values .just sad

  34. we all know Jimmy or Steve had some issues but he was the only decent character and he was good to Fiona but she was too busy playing Mummy to those little backstabber’s and she ended up going to Jail.Frank should be dead or in prison he is a disgrace of the Human Race a worthless piece of sh…t the whole family is a serious nut case of a family a bright example of a white trailer trash collection.the only thing that family need is birth controll or condom or machine gun,

  35. Cole says:

    i I can’t wait for this new season….watch the weekly episodes faithfully! Fantastic cast! They really seem to work so well together….Would love to meet them someday

  36. mary carvour says:

    Love Shameless. HATED season 4. It was a violation of everything we had come to know about who the characters are over t he first three seasons. Hope it gets better in season 5.

  37. joe says:

    I would rather see Bob Monica and Jill return in a love triangle and a fight over Monica with Bob and Jill. that would be amazing.

  38. Manuel kobbi says:

    Eyoooo jimmy/steve is back!!!am really happy for that twist am coming back next,year with full,attentiom to watch steve

  39. Lisa says:

    Jimmy/Steve Is good for Fiona . Miss his character .

  40. Brenda Garzio says:

    Please bring Steve back. We really want him to get that bastard wholeft the coke on the table. Payback is a bitch.

  41. Drey says:

    I think that Steve has always been one of the anchors for the show. The character was developing and always fun to watch, especially in the third season where he was simply hilarious.
    Not to mention that there’s so much wrong about him, he fits in just right.