Justin Chatwin

Shameless is saying goodbye to one of its own. During a panel event held at the Television Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Tuesday night, showrunner John Wells confirmed Justin Chatwin will not return as a series regular in Season 4 and did, in fact, die at the end of last season.

"He has done great work, but that character was coming to an end," Wells said. Costar Emmy Rossum, who plays Jimmy's girlfriend Fiona, also weighed in, calling the departure "incredibly emotional, like losing a part of your family. I shed a couple of tears in my trailer."

Chatwin's character, Jimmy, split most of his screen time last year between the Gallaghers and his secret wife, Estefania, who happened to be the daughter of a Brazilian drug lord. After she was deported, Jimmy was last seen being forced onto a yacht fearing for his life. While the script had Jimmy being gunned down on the boat, Wells revealed the filming permit for the dock expired before the scene could be completed.

"But actually now it's kind of cool because we don't have to have him die that way," Wells said. "We've been talking about having the recaps every week [next season] have a different way that he died." A statement released by Showtime echoes that possibility, noting that Chatwin "will not be coming back as a series regular, but there is a possibility of him coming back in future episodes in some manner." After the panel concluded, Wells told TV Guide Magazine, "We'll just wait and see if we come up with a story that works or is interesting, but we haven't yet. As of right now, we're done."

Because they didn't explicitly see his death, viewers question whether Jimmy's life has actually been spared. Mystery has always surrounded the character, who lived a double life as "Steve" in the show's first two seasons and even disappeared overseas at the beginning of Season 2. "We were trying to think up ways to make certain that he was no longer with us," Wells said. "We wanted to do a little tag where we were at a polo match and the Brazilians would go get their mallets and drop down his head."

As to how this development will affect Fiona going forward, Wells was mum, saying, "Hopefully in a really compelling and interesting way, but we just started working on next year with the writers, so we don't know yet."

Will you miss Chatwin on Shameless?

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