Ian Gallagher (born 1989) is the third oldest Gallagher sibling. He is the son of Monica Gallagher and Gary Bennett, but was brought up under Frank Gallagher's fatherhood like the rest of his siblings. His half-brothers are Lip, Carl, Liam and Sean Bennett, and his half-sisters are Fiona, Debbie and Stella. In Series 1 he worked at the Karib's Shop and later at The Jockey as a barman but in more recent series his employment, if he has any, has not been shown. Ian left the Chatsworth Estate very suddenly, at the end of Series 7 he stowed away in Joe Pritchard's car when he was driving to his new life with a harassed looking Karen Maguire. Karen was having second thoughts, and realizing she still had feeling for her husband Jamie she tried to talk Joe into taking her back. Joe reacted violently and Ian came to Karen's rescue, but he hit Joe too hard and killed him. Leaving a shocked Karen behind, he drove off in Joe's car with its owner in the boot, with the promise of sorting everything out. He hasn't been seen and has rarely been mentioned on the Chatsworth Estate since.
Ian is depicted as closest to his brother Lip, with whom he shares a room, and whom is initially the only member of his family to know that he was gay. The brothers often have to look out for each other more than any of the other characters, due to being party to each other's secrets. In later series, all the family, except Frank, are casually aware of his sexuality.
After Lip leaves Manchester for university, he becomes closer to his younger brother Carl.
When Liam is taken to hospital because he has consumed some of Fiona's birth control tablets she fills out a form where she is asked what Liam's blood type is. Debbie states all of her siblings blood types are A's and B's except Ian who is O, Lip states that he learnt about blood types in Biology and the doctors must've got Ian's blood type wrong because O is recessive to which Debbie replies that it could mean that Frank isn't Ian's dad. When questioned about it, Frank reveals in a drunken stupor that Monica had an affair with Gary Bennett, a pub-owner, not long after Lip was born, confirming that Frank is not Ian's biological father. Ian is overjoyed with the news and happily goes on a journey to find his real father, but is left crushed and disappointed when Gary Bennett turns out to be a carbon-copy of Frank - an incontinent alcoholic who is in piles of debt.
In Series 1, Ian starts receiving attention from classmate Mandy Maguire, who is smitten with him after he apparently stuck up for her against an overbearing teacher called Mr "Hard-On" Hardman. Despite his cold and nervous nature, Mandy forces herself onto him, inviting herself round his house at night and attempting to rape him. When Ian repeatedly swats her away, she gives up and leaves in a distraught and emotional state.
The next day, Ian finds himself the target of a lynch mob comprised of Mandy's three older Maguire brothers, who accuse him of being a pervert and make repeated death threats towards him. The brothers trash the shop where he works looking for him while he cowers in the store room, and Kash has to give him a lift home at night in his van, essentially turning him into a fugitive. In desperation, he traps Mandy one morning and comes out as gay to her.
Mandy finally becomes sympathetic to Ian and calls off her brothers. As she still fancies Ian, she proposes that they start dating each other for convenience, to conceal Ian's sexuality and to stop leering boys from hitting on Mandy at school. They both agree, and become very close friends with each other. After Ian's sexuality is questioned by Frank in Series 2, he turns the "dating" up a notch and has his brother Lip start having loud sex with Mandy, to make the family think it's Ian. However, the plan backfires when Mandy becomes pregnant with Lip's child. The fearsome Maguire clan capture Ian and forcibly ingratiate him into their family, believing him to be the father of the baby. They also force him to become engaged to Mandy, but Ian is too terrified to tell the truth and goes along with the family's plans out of fear and shame. His back is saved when Lip cannot take it anymore and announces the truth at Mandy and Ian's engagement party, and is beaten to a pulp by Paddy Maguire in response. Ian respects Lip and recognizes the huge risk he took for him.
From the beginning of the series, Ian is in a secret relationship with Kash Karib, his married Muslim boss at the Cash & Carry shop that he has a part-time job at. His brother Lip finds out, to his horror, after he arrives at the locked shop and finds the pair out of breath and wearing each other's shoes, but is persuaded to keep it a secret. Lip tests Ian's sexuality by making his soon to be girlfriend Karen give Ian fellatio under the table at her house, Karen's father catches them in the act and uses it as his excuse to leave his family. He later accosts Frank in The Jockey resulting in Frank headbutting Ian in front of the family, which he calls "passing on a message". To curb the stealing, Ian helps Kash's wife and mother to set up cameras in the shop, even claiming the idea as his own. Kash points out that the cameras everywhere mean an end to their affair, but they manage to tilt each camera slightly and create a small blind spot where they can have sex secretly. After watching the tapes back Kash's wife Yvonne realizes the truth and confronts her shocked husband, she allows him to stay under the condition they try for another baby before parting ways, despite her disgust she keeps the secret and even allows Ian to keep his job, though still warning him to keep his hands off Kash. Despite all this, Yvonne and Kash kept up the pretense of their marriage for the outside world and their children, even going so far as to accept Ian's relationship with her husband and allow it to continue.
Ian and Kash often buy each other gifts and enjoy working with each other immensely. He also helps out Kash's political career, and Yvonne is happy to get him a job behind the bar at The Jockey so he can be closer to Kash.
However, the relationship is brought to a halt when Ian cheats on him with Jack, a friend of Lip's who's still in the closet about his sexuality, who has sex with Ian in order to acquire his shop keys. Jack enters the shop with a gang and robs the till, beating Kash to a pulp in the process. Ian immediately realizes his fault and tearfully explains everything, only for a battered, bruised Kash to admit that he has been unfaithful himself and is seeing another, older man. He breaks things off with Ian, leaving him distressed and upset.
In the meantime, Ian has many casual relationships with other men, including Mr. Scott, Carl's Geography teacher and also Micky Maguire. He breaks them all off before they get serious for a variety of reasons, although he stays close friends with Micky.
While riding Carl's pizza delivery bike around the estate, Ian crashes into a girl running across the road. She gets up and begs Ian for his help from a following black van being driven by the Maguires. Ian takes her into the house and hides her in the attic, where she reveals a suitcase with £10,000 of scratchcards inside that she stole from Paddy Maguire.
Together, they spend hours upon hours scratching the cards, hoping to cash in. Anna kisses Ian during a momentary celebration and they end up having sex with each other in the attic. Ian risks his life to protect and hide her and the two come desperately close to being discovered multiple times. Finally, the Maguires break into the Gallagher household demanding Anna, who flees with Ian through the Maguires' attic and into the street, where they ride off on Carl's pizza delivery bike to start a new life in Birmingham.
However, once clear of Chatsworth, Ian stops the bike and gets off, saying he cannot go through with it and that he'll never fancy Anna enough to truly love or be with her. Anna meekly accepts it and they go their separate ways.
After Frank leaves the gas on and passes out at the house one night, firefighters break in to stop it. One of the firefighters, Sean, becomes acquainted with Ian and Mandy after the fire truck leaves without him while he's in the toilet. Both Ian and Mandy fancy him, and place a £10 bet on whether he's gay or not, which later turns out in Ian's favour.
Ian has a brief fling with Sean, who isn't a "slut" like Ian and prefers to do things more traditionally. He whisks Ian away to a hotel in Yorkshire for the weekend where their relationship grows. Sean also becomes acquainted with the regulars in The Jockey after knocking out Shane Maguire.
By coincidence, Ian's real father Gary Bennett dies. Ian attends the funeral with Monica, but gets the shock of his life when he sees Sean there with Gary's other sons, and manhandles Monica away immediately. Ian becomes depressed and anxious with the knowledge that him and Sean are half-brothers, but lets Sean persuade him into having sex one more time. Finally afterwards, he tells Sean everything. Sean isn't swayed by the revelation and wants to keep seeing Ian as he loves him, but ends up accepting Ian's train of thought and they go their separate ways.
Amnesia & Danny
At the beginning of Series 6, Ian is ambushed and headbutted by a thug outside The Jockey, who makes threats of further attacks before jumping into a BMW and driving off. Later on, the same car appears again on the estate and smashes into Ian, catapulting him into the kerb and knocking him unconscious, which is when the thugs in the car realize they've got the wrong man.
A badly-bruised Ian wakes up in hospital surrounded by his family, but he suffers amnesia and cannot remember anyone around him, or even his own name. Carl attempts to lure him into heterosexuality, showing him straight porn magazines and even lying to him that he was a legend among the ladies on the estate, but Micky tells him the truth, which evokes fragmented visions of Kash, Yvonne and a teenage Mandy in Ian's mind. Ian continues to become more anxious with the truth that he is bisexual.
Micky then leads Ian to an abandoned building, where the two thugs from earlier are bruised, battered, trussed up and hanging upside down from the ceiling. Micky gives Ian a knife and tells him to do whatever he wants with them, but Ian freaks out and leaves, convinced that his life so far has been a huge disappointment. The next day, he packs his bags and announces that he is leaving the estate for a while to come to terms with everything.
Over a period of time, Ian appears on web cam to his family on Debbie's computer from his holiday location in Spain. He arrives home in a Saab that Aunt Peggy, a friend in Spain gave to him, but gets the shock of his life when he opens the boot to find a stowaway, Danny - a teenager who is deaf. Danny turns out to be Peggy's nephew and he is travelling to England to live with his grandfather in Manchester.
After initial communication issues, Ian doesn't want anything to do with it, but eventually warms to him and helps him out. They arrive at his grandfather's house, only to find he died merely a week before Danny's arrival, leaving the house vacant. Danny is traumatised by the news at first, but gets over it, and Ian lives at the house with him, rent-free and looking after him, which he doesn't appear to mind.
In Series 7, it appears Ian has remained at Danny's old address, and has accepted Micky Maguire as a tenant. Ian supports Carl's girlfriend Maxine when she decides to have an abortion and break up with Carl. Maxine then moves in with Micky and Ian. The situation becomes complicated when Maxine asks Ian to pose as her boyfriend to impress her parents but their little show wakes them up to their true feelings. Ian and Maxine begin to develop feelings for each other and eventually fall into bed. Micky sees them and tries to convince Ian he shouldn't be with a woman, that he's lying to himself, but Ian says the labels don't matter, he wants to be with Maxine. This leads to a major falling out with Micky, who feels betrayed. In anger, Micky tells Carl, who then beats up Ian in the toilets at The Jockey. In spite of the remaining tensions, Ian and Maxine become a couple.
Even with the lingering animosity from Carl and Micky, Ian and Maxine are happy, but they are thrown into turmoil when Carl (along with Chesney) run away after being accused of murder. Ian is initially not bothered with Carl's absence, and is more concerned at just how concerned Maxine is over Carl. When Ian and Maxine are in The Jockey, Maxine confronts Jimmy, whom everyone knows is the killer, as Ian looks on Jimmy's sister hits Maxine in the head with a pool cue. Ian feels ashamed that he let Maxine fight the battle on her own and in spite of her reassurances, he begins to believe that she would have been better off with Carl. To try to prove his worth, Ian attempts to tape a confession from Jimmy, but Jimmy sees through his plan and savagely beats him. Ian begins to further withdraw and is unable to have sex with Maxine; during the time they do spend together, he becomes more paranoid about her feelings every time she mentions Carl. Carl's name is soon cleared and he attempts to make amends with Ian, but Ian isn't interested. He again accuses Maxine of wanting to be with Carl, to which she tells Ian she just doesn't want to be with him. In spite of this conflict, Ian and Maxine still have strong feelings for each other, and Carl convinces Maxine that she and Ian belong together. Ian shows up at hospital soon after Carl and Maxine talk, and he and Maxine smile at each other, and they reconcile. As much as they care for each other, Maxine's paranoia over Ian's attraction to men and Ian's distrust of her feelings for Carl are just too much for their relationship to survive. Maxine left Shameless at the end of Series 7 (off screen), and presumably left the Chatsworth Estate behind.
Karen, Joe and Departure
At the end of Series 7, Karen Maguire had just revealed her affair with Joe Pritchard and her uncertainty of her baby Connor's father to her husband Jamie. Karen left her husband for Joe, but had to leave Connor behind in her scramble from The Jockey, later they manage to extract the baby when Jamie is distracted.
Getting ready to leave the Chatsworth Estate for good and start their new life together, Karen begins to have second thoughts. All but dragging her away with him, Joe manages to get her into the car, but a nearby Ian sees how upset Karen is and on the spur of the moment stows away in the car. On the car ride Karen's confidence in her new path crumbles, and losing patience with her Joe hits her, and begins to choke her to death. An angry Ian hits Joe in the back of the head, too hard, and kills him. He consoles Karen briefly, and promises to take care of everything, then leaving Karen behind he drives the car away with its owner in the boot. Ian's current whereabouts are unknown though a letter from Lip shown on the Virtual Chatsworth Tour says that Lip though he saw Ian on the tube in London, though is unsure.
Lip tells Fiona that Ian is marrying someone who is transgender during an argument in the final episode involving the state of the their siblings (Stella and a new born baby) well being under Franks and Monica's care.
- Ian has been involved in two murders in his time on the estate. One where he witnessed Danny kill his father and later where Ian himself killed Joe Pritchard. He was also indirectly involved with the murder Carl and Chesney were falsely accused of.
- It is mentioned in Episode 7 of Series 1 that Ian has an allergy to eggs. However, despite this, Ian is seen eating fried eggs in later episodes (continuity error).
- The character of Ian is loosely based on show creator Paul Abbott's nephew.
- Ian has been one of the most focused characters on the estate, in terms of duration length (aside from Frank and Karen obviously). He and Lip were generally equally central to the storyline throughout Series 1 to Series 4, significantly more so than the likes of Carl and Liam, when the show's premise was towards the Gallagher children. When Lip departed, with Carl and Liam starting getting more focus, and the narrative extending out towards other characters on the estate, Ian continued to remain an important (and multi-dimensional) character. Even when he departed' in Series 6, he returned a few episodes later and carried on as normal (aside from not residing at the Gallagher household with his siblings), and became a very prominent character in Series 7 before his official departure. Rather than his brother Carl, who started off not being much, and gradually evolved into a character with more layers over the course of the show, Ian has remained a consistent driving force in the show for every series he has been a part of.
- While most of Ian's subplots, more so early on, center around his homosexuality, he begun a relationship with Maxine Donnelly in Series 7 which suggested that he was actually bisexual instead. However, given the dialogue towards him and Micky regarding the manner of Ian's homosexuality in relation to his attraction to Maxine, Ian says that when he sees Maxine, he isn't attracted to her because she's a 'boy' or 'girl', but because she's just 'Maxine'. Implying that Ian actually transcends attraction to people in terms of biological sex, displaying a gender-blind outlook where it's the person underneath where the real attraction comes from. Which suggests that Ian is neither homosexual, or bisexual, but rather pansexual instead.
- Ian was mentioned in Episode 14 of Series 11 by Lip to have gotten himself married to a transgender person.
- Ian, though unseen at the time, may have been around twenty-four years old by Series 11.
- In early series Ian is seen as stronger than Carl and is seen to be the protective one of the family, but in later series Carl is stronger as this is shown when Carl beats Ian up and also Ian gets beaten up by a gangster but Carl then ends up taking the gangster down and pinning him too the ground so it has evidence that Carl is harder and tougher than Ian.
- Paul Abbott Interview After Elton, March 8, 2011.