OBVIOUSLY, MAJOR SPOILERS TO FOLLOW.
COVID-19 has done what a failing liver, alcoholism, drug abuse, dementia, being tossed in the Chicago River in the winter, and a suicide attempt could not do: kill Frank Gallagher. After 134 episodes, the Shameless series finale left troublemaking patriarch Frank Gallagher dying in a hospital from the virus he called a hoax in a previous episode. Perhaps showrunner John Wells had Miss Rona on his mind after she made a cameo on the Shameless set? Speaking on Frank’s fate, Wells told Deadline that it felt wrong to let the man completely off the hook for the damage he has done to his body over the years. “So, we had to show that there were some consequences,” Wells said. “We tried to find some way to make it Frank-like and fun and let him hold on to who he always was in the last moments.” In his final scene, Frank floats over the city in his medical gown and gives his family some parting advice (though he can’t resist a few final insults first). “Time’s precious. Don’t fucking waste it,” he says, raising a beer. “Have a good time. I sure as hell did.” He and his barstool then float up into the sky, because we’re somehow expected to believe he is not headed down to join Lil Nas X. And, of course, the amount of alcohol in Frank’s corpse later causes a small explosion in the crematorium.
Given that this is the finale of an 11-season show, the rest of the Shameless characters are afforded a pretty open ending. Tami might be pregnant, Carl and Arthur might turn Alibi into a cop bar, Lip might sell his house, Ian and Mickey might adopt a child together, and Debbie might move to Texas. If a spinoff is ever on the table, there are plenty of options to pick the story back up with anyone except Frank. At least that means William H. Macy will get a break.