• Agents of SHIELD ignored the emotional impact of Phil Coulson’s death in The Avengers, reversing the Avengers’ storyline for convenience.
  • The series set up major storylines that were ignored by the larger MCU, making Agents of SHIELD’s huge events seem insignificant in the franchise.
  • Agents of SHIELD had a slow start, struggling with underdeveloped scripts and a lack of consistency, leading to its lowest-rated season.



Marvel Television’s Agents of SHIELD might have been the first and longest-running MCU TV spinoff, but the series had many problems over the course of its seven season run. After SHIELD was introduced in the MCU’s Phase 1, Marvel Television developed Agents of SHIELD as a means to better explore the peacekeeping and spy agency, with the series originally set within the world of the MCU, following the same continuity as Marvel Studios’ feature films. Agents of SHIELD premiered in September 2013, and ran for seven seasons before concluding in an emotional finale in August 2020. Even so, despite its longevity, Agents of SHIELD had its fair share of issues.

After Joss Whedon finished work writing and directing 2012’s The Avengers, he developed a SHIELD-centric pilot for ABC with Marvel Television that would attempt to recreate the production value of the MCU’s big-ticket projects on a broadcast television budget. Agents of SHIELD revived Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson, who had appeared in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and The Avengers, with the high-ranking SHIELD agent putting together a rag-tag team to investigate strange happenings in a world now aware of aliens and superheroes. While Agents of SHIELD’s seven seasons garnered consistently positive reviews, the series didn’t always catch audiences attention, and came with a plethora of flaws and major missteps.

12 Agents Of SHIELD Reversed The Avengers’ Emotional Death

Phil Coulson dying with Nick Fury in The Avengers

The MCU’s Phase 1 culminated in 2012’s The Avengers, marking the first time the titular team formed in the MCU, brought together to battle Loki and his Chitauri army. However, the Avengers needed a push to actually join forces, and that push came in the form of Phil Coulson’s emotional and tragic demise. This was a powerful moment that connected the six original members of the Avengers, yet Agents of SHIELD ignored it completely and simply brought Coulson back to life. Much of season 1 featured him learning about his resurrection, but Agents of SHIELD never stopped to ask whether it should have brought him back in the first place.

11 The MCU Ignored Agents Of SHIELD’s Biggest Storylines

Chloe Bennet's Quake using powers in Agents of SHIELD

Over the course of its seven season run, Agents of SHIELD set up some truly massive storylines, that were originally thought to be taking place in the world of the MCU. The emergence of Inhumans on Earth, several alien attacks, Ghost Rider’s activities, the establishment of the Framework, Glenn Talbot’s Gravitonium upgrade, and the Chronicoms threatening life on Earth certainly all constituted the intervention of the MCU’s more notable heroes. However, while Agents of SHIELD’s early seasons referenced the MCU repeatedly, the larger franchise completely ignored the goings-on of its TV companion, making Agents of SHIELD’s huge storylines simply seem insignificant.

10 Agents Of SHIELD Had A Very Slow Start

Agents of SHIELD season 1's team

While Agents of SHIELD’s viewership ratings waned over the years, each season consistently garnered positive reviews from audiences and critics alike. However, the series got off to an incredibly slow start, with Agents of SHIELD season 1’s establishing of characters, case-of-the-week format, closer connections to the MCU, and underdeveloped scripts making the season a bit of a slow burner. This led to season 1 being the lowest-rated Agents of SHIELD installment on Rotten Tomatoes, achieving 88% while every other season is over 90%. Agents of SHIELD seasons 3, 5, and 7 even have critics scores of 100%, so season 1 seems even more disappointing.

9 Agents Of SHIELD Forgot About Its MCU Guest Stars

Nick Fury with the Toolbox in Agents of SHIELD

Agents of SHIELD’s early seasons prided themselves on being closely linked to the storylines unfolding in the MCU. Season 1 was not only split into three parts, taking place around the releases of Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but also included several cameos from stars of the MCU. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill, Jaimie Alexander’s Lady Sif, and Maximiliano Hernández’s Jasper Sitwell are just a few notable inclusions. While this was great while it lasted, Agents of SHIELD very quickly forgot to include guest cameos, making its ties to the MCU seem weaker and weaker as the series progressed.

8 Agents Of SHIELD Forgot What Made Captain America: The Winter Soldier So Good

Steve Rogers and Nick Fury in Captain America The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s reveal that HYDRA had been growing within SHIELD since the beginning was a shock, and had a major impact on the third part of Agents of SHIELD season 1. However, Captain America insisted in The Winter Soldier that SHIELD and HYDRA were one-and-the-same, with SHIELD having become the oppressive force it was trying to fight against. This message made The Winter Soldier one of the MCU’s most popular projects, but was wholly lost in Agents of SHIELD, as the series tried hard to prove that SHIELD was good and HYDRA was bad, which continued throughout the series’ entire run, ignoring The Winter Soldier’s message entirely.

7 Agents Of SHIELD Never Figured Out What Story To Tell

Ghost Rider in Agents of SHIELD

After Agents of SHIELD’s first season took the time to establish characters, backstories, and motivations, the series’ subsequent seasons took more creative liberties, with each new season focusing on a different, self-contained storyline. This worked to the show’s benefit, to some extent, as it kept the action fresh and the twists unexpected, but it also meant that Agents of SHIELD failed to capture any semblance of consistency throughout its run. Characters drastically changed from one season to another to better fit the storyline, and the team found themselves embarking on increasingly outlandish adventures that detracted from the personal, street-level story from Agents of SHIELD season 1.

6 Other Marvel TV Shows Overshadowed Agents Of SHIELD

The Defenders on Netflix

Agents of SHIELD was the first TV show developed in conjunction with the MCU, but it birthed an entire generation of similar shows, most of which, unfortunately, overshadowed their predecessor. Marvel Television’s Defenders Saga on Netflix garnered a hugely positive response, and its grittier and more down-to-Earth tones drew in more mature audiences than Agents of SHIELD could. Since then, Marvel Studios’ development of dedicated MCU-set shows on Disney+ has knocked Agents of SHIELD out the water, with projects such as WandaVision, Loki, and Ms. Marvel achieving huge success. These shows had bigger budgets and better production value than Agents of SHIELD, making them a much better watch.

5 Agents Of SHIELD Wasted Some Of Its Best Villains

Calvin Zabo's Mr. Hyde in Agents of SHIELD

Agents of SHIELD always put its focus on its heroes – the core SHIELD team put together by Coulson that grew exponentially throughout the series. Unfortunately, this meant that, often, Agents of SHIELD’s villains were sidelined, and this was a shame as the series had access to some of Marvel Comics’ most exciting adversaries. The Kree were made to seem weak and feeble, HYDRA turned into a confusing joke, the Darkhold looked cheap and ordinary (unlike WandaVision’s Darkhold), Jiaying and Mr. Hyde had little development, and Carl Creel’s Absorbing Man, one of Marvel Comics’ longest-running villains, was seldom seen. These villains should have been huge threats but were all-too-often ignored.

4 Agents Of SHIELD Introduced Great Heroes (That The MCU Won’t Use)

Bobbi Morse and Melinda May in Agents of SHIELD

While Agents of SHIELD’s villains might not have seen enough development, the same can’t be said for the series’ heroes. Coulson and his team, most prominently the likes of Chloe Bennet’s Daisy Johnson, a.k.a. Quake, Ming-Na Wen’s Melinda May, Elizabeth Henstridge’s Jemma Simmons, and Iain De Caestecker’s Leo Fitz became fantastic entities in Agents of SHIELD, and could have been primed for roles in the MCU proper. Unfortunately, despite continuing theories that Agents of SHIELD characters could appear in the MCU, this is unlikely to happen, and gets more unlikely with more time that passes since Agents of SHIELD’s finale.

3 Time Travel Confused Agents Of SHIELD

Time traveling team in Agents of SHIELD

A key plot point in several of Agents of SHIELD’s seasons was the concept of time travel. First, the team were thrust into a dystopian future, and later, they utilized time travel to prevent the Chronicoms from eliminating SHIELD from the past. In fact, almost every episode of Agents of SHIELD season 7 took place in a new time period, and while this allowed for some brilliant costume choices and themed opening titles, it convoluted the storyline, making it almost too complex to follow. Agents of SHIELD’s time travel wasn’t explained clearly, and the various timelines watered down the plot so much that the team’s eventual farewell fell flat.

2 Agents Of SHIELD’s Own Spinoffs Went Nowhere

Anson Mount's Black Bolt in Inhumans

While Agents of SHIELD could be considered itself a spinoff from the MCU, it also almost birthed spinoffs of its own, though this was disappointing. The introduction of Inhumans in Agents of SHIELD season 2 enabled a dedicated Inhumans series to be developed for NBC, though this ran for only eight episodes after being panned by critics and audiences – though Anson Mount would later reprise his role of Black Bolt in the MCU’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Other planned spinoffs included Most Wanted, featuring Agents of SHIELD’s Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter, and a Ghost Rider series, both of which never saw the light of day.

1 Agents Of SHIELD’s MCU Canon Questions Haven’t Been Answered

Phil Coulson in Agents of SHIELD

Agents of SHIELD began its run in 2013 being so closely tied to the MCU that its canonicity was never in doubt. However, as the series progressed, it veered further and further away from the overarching storylines of the MCU, instead making brief references to the bigger franchise, such as Coulson’s involvement in making the Helicarrier available for Avengers: Age of Ultron, and a hint at Thanos’ attack in Infinity War. After the series came to an end in 2020, and Marvel Studios began to develop their own Disney+ shows, the canon status of Agents of SHIELD came back into question, and this still has neither been confirmed nor denied.

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