Deborah "Debbie" Gallagher (born 27 January 1993) is the fifth Gallagher sibling. The daughter of Frank and Monica, her brothers are Lip, Carl and Liam; her sisters are Fiona and Stella; her half-brothers are Ian (though they were raised unaware that they didn't share both parents) and Nigel; and her half-sisters are Delia and her mother's younger sister (whom was not named). Debbie, like her sister Fiona before her, was an adult in a child's body due to having to grow up quickly and take care of the family. This role was fulfilled by Fiona until Series 2 when she moved to Amsterdam, leaving Debbie to take over the role of surrogate mother to her siblings. Originally Debbie was a slightly unusual and awkward child, albeit highly intelligent and resourceful, but since Fiona's departure, Debbie quickly became head of the household and took care of duties such as cooking and taking Liam to school. As a consequence, Debbie missed out on socialising and has become mature beyond her years. Debbie is currently serving in the Army and though she hasn't visited the Chatsworth Estate since Series 6, is in regular contact with her family through phoning and texts.
In Series 1, Debbie had once abducted a three year old boy, because she "wanted a girl, but none of the girls on the estate would take the chocolate". So she dressed him up in girls clothes. The child's disappearance compelled the majority of the estate to go up in arms in search for young "Jody". When Debbie finally admitted what she did to her family, a furious and bewildered Fiona, Steve, Lip, and Ian, formulated a plan to return the youngster back to his family, with the help of Carl, Veronica and Kev, without incriminating Debbie. After circulating false rumours of sightings around the Chatsworth Estate for much of the day, Debbie emerged as the hero of the hour when she returned the boy to his distressed family.
Debbie's closest familial relationship is with her father, Frank. Unlike Fiona, Lip, Ian and Carl, Debbie admires him and often shows her love for him, often seen to be the most affected when he is in danger or trouble. This often leaves her the most vulnerable to being let down by him, but Debbie's loyalty to her father is occasionally rewarded, and it is strongly suggested that Frank appreciates 'Little Debbie' more than anyone else in the world. Debbie also detests her mother more than the rest of the family, refusing to forgive her for abandoning them years ago or for her continued laziness and self-absorption. She did respond sympathetically when more details became clear regarding Monica's abusive childhood at her mother's hands. In contrast, Debbie was close to Frank's ex-wife Sheila.
Debbie's relationship with the rest of her family is generally good: She sees her siblings as her dependents and generally supports them through their various misadventures; and they generally recognise all she does for them. She's particularly protective of and very close to her younger brother Liam. Her relationship with him seems to border between surrogate-parent and partner-in-crime, as she has frequently enlisted Liam's help with some of her past schemes. She can also be seen to forge strong relationships with other characters, notably Marty Fisher and Mandy Maguire.
Debbie would come up with a variety of wild schemes throughout the series, be it for raising money for the household, or to get the family out of some kind of trouble. These included renting rooms for American Christian tourists while pretending to be religious herself, and secretly copying videos from the Cash and Carry to make a profit. And there were more ill-conceived ones, such as pretending Liam had cancer to prevent his expulsion from an RC primary school, or later pretending Liam had been kidnapped so Frank would admit that he had not won the lottery.
It is revealed in Series 5 that Debbie has been in a secret relationship with police officer Tom O'Leary, despite the fact that she is only 15 years old. Debbie and Tom break up at the beginning of Series 6 during her 16th birthday party when she realises that Tom is too old for her and that he wants much more from the relationship. Tom begins to stalk her, although he tells workmate Carrie that Debbie has been stalking him.
Debbie was later in a relationship with a student named Mark, who she met on a night out with Maxine and when she got drunk, he took her back to his student residence to sleep, but nothing more. Debbie left the students room the next morning, thinking that she'd never see him again. However, at a funeral the family had been invited to, they met again, and she discovered it was his Grandmothers funeral.
At first, Debbie was a little objective to a relationship with him after he made comments about Frank (who had decided to go to the toilet behind a tree at the funeral and then punched Mark) however she told Maxine of her feelings for him. He later appeared outside Debbie's home and when she refused to see him, he sat on a chair in the middle of the road until she did. He later used the chair when a hired gunman was going to kill both Paddy and Mimi, but Mark knocked the hit-man out with the chair.
After this, Debbie and Mark have sex on the kitchen floor, reminiscent to the scene in the first episode where Steve and Fiona have sex in the same place as Debbie does. In Series 7 it is revealed by Frank's visiting grandmother that Debbie has joined the army. At seventeen, Debbie perhaps had no wish to allow her role as the person in charge of the house-keeping and the care of the younger children in the Gallagher household hold her back from her potential. Liam, who had been under her wing since the age of four, would fulfil Debbie's former obligations as head of the Gallagher household, including looking after Stella, Carl and Frank, until the arrival of Libby Croker as the family's main maternal figure.
Debbie contacted the family by letter (though she addressed Liam in said letter, indicating she trusted him more than she did Frank or Carl) late in Series 7 to tell them that she was being shipped to Afghanistan, a fact that worried everyone for her safety. And though she hasn't been back to the estate since first leaving, Debbie has been in regular contact with her family by phone and text.
In the first episode of Series 8, the family receives the most grievous news from a soldier telling them that Debbie had been killed in Afghanistan. However, this turns out to be an elaborate ruse by Monica to get back at Frank for being happy with Libby, something that the family thought to be a new low for Monica.
- In Episode 6 of Series 5, Monica mentions that she wanted to name Debbie "Shanty" but Frank is shown in a flashback as being unable to remember the name at the Registry Office before choosing "Debbie" from the female registrar's coffee cup.
- Debbie once demonstrates her acrobatic skills during the Christmas Special episode in Series 2.
- During a conversation with Josie, a social worker in Episode 13 of Series 6, Debbie claimed that she was ten years old when her mother, Monica, abandoned her family. But this must be a writer's error, because Debbie was aged between 10-11 during Series 1 of Shameless, which was set three years after Monica's original departure.
- Debbie maintains contact with her family from Afghanistan. In the Virtual Tour of Chatsworth, Frank receives one such letter from Debbie, where she appears to be aware that Carl has joined the police force.
- Debbie was once expelled from a certain St Helens School, which was cited by Fiona as a possible reason she hated Christmas.
- Debbie's name was mentioned in Episode 14 of Series 11 by Lip, who said she was fighting insurgents in Afghanistan.
- Debbie would be about twenty-two years of age by the time of Series 11.
Behind the Scenes
- Rebecca Ryan went on to star in the BBC Drama, Waterloo Road, which focuses on the lives of students and teachers at a school.