Karen Jackson is a former main character. She is the only child of Sheila and Eddie Jackson. Her mother Sheila became agoraphobic sometime during her childhood, which at times can negatively affect their relationship. In the episode Nana Gallagher Had an Affair, Karen explains that she lost her virginity when she was 13 years old, and has been sexually active ever since. Her manipulative actions towards Lip and other people in her life including Hiram, make her one of the two main antagonists of Season 2.
Karen only makes appearances in Season 1, 2, and 3.
Karen is a petite, blonde girl who often wears jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies. She goes through a brief phase where she dyes her hair black, pierces her nose, has arm tattooed Whore, and wears all black.
Karen is introduced as a sexually ambitious girl, who is best friends and lovers with Lip. Karen seems bored with life and only finds interest in sleeping around. Karen takes care of her mom and tries to protect her from her dad and the outside world. In the next two seasons, Karen's personality changes for the worst. She becomes more bitter and resentful. She starts to use people, lie, and take advantage of them to get what she wants.
However, these shifts were to mask her vulnerabilities, as she was devastated when her own father called her a whore. This caused her to feel angry to the point that she decided to destroy his possessions and sleep with Frank and send a recording of it to him. She was touched when Lip stated he loved her but felt guilty at sleeping with Lip after just sleeping with his father, being hurt her mother rejected her, and being sad when Lip decided to end things with her permanently. It is suggested that she truly loved Lip, as he was the only person besides her mother to accept her.
Karen is considered a sociopath, so much so that Lip even thought she was possibly faking part of her brain damage after her accident and thought the "real Karen" was still in there. But she said she isn't able to feel anymore and didn't know who hit her after she was told. It is possible that it will wear off or it might be permanent.
Throughout the Seasons
In the Pilot, she is introduced as Lip's tutoring student and the neighborhood bad girl. Apparently, "science just turns her on" and she was happy to repay Lip's tutoring with sexual favors. Karen's father leaves after catching her giving oral sex to Ian, which she was only doing for Lip to see if Ian was actually gay.
Karen and Lip develop a sexual relationship, with Lip clearly falling in love with her, but she refuses to be his girlfriend. Karen couldn't find who she wanted to be through Lip.
During But at Last Came a Knock, Eddie ends up making a deal with Karen to go to his church's purity ball, in hopes of getting her to stop having sex. She agrees to go in exchange for a car.
In Nana Gallagher Had an Affair, she gets ready for the dance and takes a picture with her father who also has dinner with them. At the dance, they have fun together and almost reconcile but she ends up getting called a whore by her own father when she admits her sexual history at the ball (a required part of the purity ball's program). After this, Karen comes home and vandalizes her dad's room. Karen finds comfort in her mother and tells her what happened. In response, an angry Sheila gains strength to go outside and force Eddie out of their house, and Karen begins to breakdown.
The next day, Lip finds Karen in the basement spray painting the words, "Fucking Asshole," on the wall. She is amused to hear from Lip that Ian isn't Frank's son, saying "Dad's are stupid" confronts her, and calls her a 'whore,' as well causing her to kick him out. That same night, Karen starts a video blog confronting her dad. She then cries before she is found by a drunken Frank. He tries to comfort her but she shoos him away until calming down and taking his pills before she rapes an unwilling Frank. She sends the video of the act to Eddie and, he ends up killing himself, as he feels he's failed as a father.
Karen is later visited by Lip who apologizes for his earlier words and she forgives him by having sex with him, though is guilty for her act. She tells him to leave after saying they should be friends and he reluctantly complies, though kisses her. Karen breaks it up before it could progress. Very soon, he learns of her and Frank becoming angry at her while nearly hurting his father though forgives him after he lets him urinate on him. Karen catches up to Lip and tells him of what really occurred, while apologizing for what she did.
In Summer Loving, she is told of her father's death but does not feel bad about what happened to her father. Karen also got Frank off the hook for their encounter with the law by telling her mother what really happened. She also thanked Frank for supposedly killing her father. To get even with Eddie, she urinates on her father's grave as a final revenge.Frank Gallagher put it best when he called Karen Jackson as “a beautiful mess” because never have those words had more meaning than when they were used to describe her.
In Can I Have a Mother, she is exasperated with her mother still being afraid of going outside, especially when she is given a party by her mother. During the party, she is shocked Lip attended and when his grandmother Peggy Gallagher crashes and she is worried when the latter nearly shoots her mother. Karen was pregnant with many thinking Lip was the father. However, it was revealed that Karen herself did not know the father of the baby though she assumed it was one of her old teachers. Karen decided that she was going to sell the baby, going to extreme lengths to find someone interested and willing to pay the most money, despite Lip's pleas for the baby to go to a good home.
In the season finale Just Like the Pilgrims Intended, Karen gave birth to the child, and to Lip's surprise, it is not his. The baby is of Asian-American descent, and has Down Syndrome. Lip exited the delivery room and told the would-be adoptive parents the situation, with their reaction suggesting they no longer wanted the child. At the end of the episode, Sheila abducted the baby from the hospital.
Karen returns from the hospital, knowing Shelia had taken the baby, and told Shelia that the baby had to leave. She ended up calling the cops on Shelia, and after the cops refused to take the baby from Shelia, had an argument with her about the baby. This resulted in Karen giving Sheila an ultimatum, that her mother choose between the baby or Karen. Sheila pleaded with Karen but she was unable to change her daughters mind, though ultimately decided to keep the child. Karen kept her word and left her mother's home in response. Her son is named Hiram, with the nickname of Hymie given by her mother Sheila.
During "The Sins of My Caretaker", Lip calls Karen and insults her by listing the tirade of acts she has done to him and tells her to stay gone.
In "Long Way From Home", Hymie's biological father and paternal grandmother show up at Sheila's home to take Hymie. Sheila is initially resistant, but eventually decides that her home is not a proper place to raise Hymie because of her boyfriend's (Jody) kinky sex acts (for which he previously attended Sex Addicts Anonymous). Sheila allows Hymie's father to take him. Later in the episode, Karen returns home. She apologizes to Sheila for leaving and for making Sheila choose between her and Hymie. She expresses interest in Hymie, and implies that she came back for her child. However, it is later revealed that Karen contacted Hymie's father and told him to take Hymie away from Sheila.
During "Where There's a Will", Karen, still having lingering affections for Lip, goes to his house but Ian keeps her out while telling Lip where to meet her. Under the railroad, she talks with Lip and tries to make amends for how things ended with him. She tells him of how she got his call where he insulted her and reveals she hit rock bottom but Lip doesn't show her any reaction, only telling her that he's with Mandy. Disappointed, Karen tells him that he deserves happiness and sadly watches him leave. She later meddles with Lip and Mandy's relationship by showing up at school and glaring at Mandy. She is met by Lip who inquires about her story and she asks what he wants before they have sex, an encounter that she enjoys while her mother is visited by Hymie's paternal grandmother who tells her the truth of Hymie's circumstances. Sheila later confronts her on why she gave Hymie up and Karen tries to dodge the question but her mother becomes distraught with her act. Karen claims that this was intended to help her and her mother get back to the way things were before Hymie was born. A devastated Sheila storms out unable to talk to her.
In "Frank the Plumber", Karen thinks she and Lip have reconciled their relationship. A day later, she is excited to see Lip at her house and tries to talk with him but he tells her he has decided to choose Mandy over her, as Mandy had his best interests at heart and genuinely loved him, whereas Karen didn't seem to have the same kind of love and respect for him. Lip moved to leave but she stops him and tries to protest his choice, though he only apologizes for leading her on and walks off. It is implied Karen does feel the same about him as Mandy, but because of her continued manipulative actions, it doesn't seem that she loves him the way Mandy does. Karen is devastated at losing the one other person, besides her mother that she thought she could count on. The rejection from her mother upsets her as well, so much that she lashes out at her mother who sits on a couch for days. Her previous rejection from Lip leaves her so upset that she (unwisely) calls Mandy, thanking her for applying to colleges for Lip so that Karen herself could leave with him, and also that all she has to do is trick Lip into one unprotected encounter, and she will have him back. While this was unlikely to happen, Mandy becomes furious about Karen's threat, having already shown clear insecurity about her relationship with Lip because of Karen. Later, Sheila visits Karen in her room and tries to reconcile with her by apologizing for not properly being there for her while growing up. This nearly works as both share tears and connect again until Karen receives a text message supposedly from Lip asking to meet at the park. It is later revealed that Mandy was the one who sent that text using Lip's phone. Karen, not knowing this, kindly brushes her mother off and goes to meet up with him. As she crosses an intersection a car passes by, nearly hitting her. She dodges and directs her middle finger at the car, only to turn around and be rammed by a second speeding car in a hit and run. She is rammed and flipped completely on top of the car, landing on the road unconscious it as it speeds away.
However, she survives and is treated in hospital. Lip visits twice with Debbie and then alone. When Sheila tells Lip on one of his visits that Karen was excited about Lip's text, he discovers that someone used his phone to text Karen. Sheila explained the Karen lit up when she got the text and that it probably made her so excited that she didn't look both ways. However, Lip asked if he could look at the phone. Lip sees the text on a blood covered phone and ponders. Afterwards, Jody tells Sheila that they need to watch her one at a time, and that she needs rest on an actual bed. Sheila agrees. Remembering what Lip said earlier about using things Karen likes to being her out of her coma, Jody starts giving her oral sex which results with Karen waking up. Jody claims to have discovered a cure for the coma as he explains to the doctors about what had happened.
After she awoke from her medically induced coma, Karen's personality dramatically changed. According to Jody, she can only recall memories, but cannot make any more memories; she also answers most questions in monosyllables. He also remarked that it might wear off or she'll never recover. Lip visits her and sees she can still recall him and a few other memories Lip mentions on his next visits. Sheila notes Karen seems so much "happier", presumably because her old, selfish personality is gone. Lip reveals to Karen that it was Mandy who ran her over and Karen amicably digests the news. She then follows up a few moments later claiming she does not know who hit her. She is able to barely pronounce Mandy's name. Sheila also mentions to Lip that Jody and Karen are set to go to Arizona state to help Karen recover and will bring Hymie along. Lip doesn't appear to react to Sheila upon hearing Karen is leaving, possibly forever but it's obvious any chance of a future he had with Karen is gone forever; in any case, he had already decided to break off with her for good just before she was hit.
Lip ultimately confronts Mandy about what she had done, calling her a "jealous, demented cunt" to which Mandy replies she did it for him, and that she did everything for him. She concludes by agreeing with Lip they are indeed over and that she had just performed oral sex on her new boyfriend.
In Sparky, Lip lists Karen as one of his crazy romantic partners to Ian when discussing how Gallagher men attract odd partners.