"Shameless" has been renewed for a ninth season at Showtime, the network announced Wednesday.

The announcement comes on the heels of the season 8 debut on Sunday, which was the show's highest-rated since Season 3. It drew in 1.86 million viewers Sunday night, representing an improvement of approximately 50 percent over the Season 7 premiere.

"We are so grateful to Showtime for giving us the opportunity to continue making 'Shameless,'" said series executive producer and showrunner John Wells. "It's a labor of love (and a blast) for all of us."

One of the network's longest-running and most successful series ever, "Shameless" ranks as the network's number one comedy and attracts the youngest-skewing audience of any Showtime series. Production on Season 9 will begin in 2018.

"As challenging as it can be for any show simply to maintain viewers in the current TV landscape, 'Shameless' is adding them in droves," said David Nevins, president and CEO of Showtime Networks.

"But it's no mystery why. The series' reputation for rich and resonant characters and for deep - and deeply twisted - comedy has drawn not only faithful longtime viewers, but a steadily growing audience. And creatively, the season that kicked off this past Sunday is stronger than ever."

The series stars Oscar nominee and Emmy Award winner William H. Macy, Golden Globe nominee Emmy Rossum, Jeremy Allen White, Cameron Monaghan, Elliot Fletcher, Emma Kenney, Ethan Cutkosky, Christian Isaiah, Steve Howery, Shanola Hampton, and Isidora Goreshter.