Well, this seems surprisingly bleak. Showtime's 'Shameless' has proven to be no stranger to all manner of depravity, even some impressive violence, in its three seasons. However, it appears Justin Chatwin's series regular character, Jimmy Lishman/Steve, had a much more permanent exit than we expected at the climax of the season 3 finale, "Survival of the Fittest."

During a TV academy panel earlier this week, 'Shameless' showrunner John Wells confirmed that Chatwin had exited the series, not from any contract negotiations mind you, but rather that they'd reached the end of writing for the character and decided to keep his offscreen death permanent. Jimmy had been building toward a conflict with Brazilian druglord Nando, whose daughter married Jimmy to avoid deportation.

When last we saw Jimmy in the 'Shameless' season 3 finale, the character marched toward a likely death at the hands of Nando aboard his boat, while an oblivious Fiona said her goodbyes over voicemail. The character's death had actually been scripted, but Wells explained that production's permit for the boat expired before they could film the scene.

So, while Jimmy's apparent death proves far bleaker than fans of the series have come to expect, given Chatwin had returned from absences before, Showtime's more hopeful assessment reads that Justin 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." Said Wells of the possibility, "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."

Yeesh. Well, we're all for a bit of closure, but shame if that doesn't feel like an anticlimactic way to eliminate one of the show's best characters. What say you? Are you surprised to see Justin Chatwin officially exit the series? What would you like to see from 'Shameless' season 4?

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