The future of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD has been decided, and against the odds, the last MCU TV series on ABC has been renewed for a sixth season.
Following the unsurprising announcement that Marvel's Inhumans was cancelled, fans of SHIELD were left wondering if Agent Coulson and co would meet a similar fate. SHIELD has been on the bubble since its first season, the pilot episode directed by Joss Whedon brought in record numbers, but the show couldn't sustain that massive audience for long.
Over the course of five seasons, showrunners Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen have done a great job working around the limitations of what they're allowed to include from the MCU. Forging a new path with multiple soft reboots and even taking the characters into outer space for the first half of season five is a bold move that should be applauded. It's been a bumpy ride, and I'm mostly glad I've stuck with it over the years.
The pick-up does come with a slight caveat; the sixth run won't be the usual twenty-two episodes and will be a reduced 13 episode season. The changes don't end there, instead of starting in the Autumn (or Fall), SHIELD will return to ABC sometime over the summer, 2019. The eleventh-hour renewal plus the reduced episode order with a drastic shift in timeslot may have all the hallmarks of a final season, but ABC President Channing Dungey doesn't see it that way.
"I feel like Season 5 was their creatively strongest yet, so I don’t at the moment have any plans to think of Season 6 as the last season," Dungey told TVLine. "By putting it in the summer, we’re going to be able to ‘super-serve’ the fan base that loves that show and hopefully give it an opportunity to continue on longer than we would if it was [scheduled] in-season."
In many ways, this could work out well for SHIELD as fewer episodes allow less room for filler, and it means the aftermath of Avengers 4 could factor into the story. We've had a few neat teases of Infinity War in season five, but if the next batch of adventures is the last, it would be great if SHIELD connected to the MCU in a meaningful way one last time.
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD is currently airing in the UK on E4 on Sundays.