The surprisingly long-running Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming to an end this summer. The show’s official Twitter account just shared an image from its upcoming final season, featuring several of the cast members in jaunty vintage attire.
— Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (@AgentsofSHIELD) January 1, 2020
The image makes total sense, considering what we already know about the storyline – Season 6 ended with the characters traveling back in time to 1930s Manhattan (before the existence of S.H.I.E.L.D.) to try and thwart an invasion from the Chronicoms. In an interview with TV Line, series co-creator Maurissa Tancharoen jokingly said they placed the team in the past because they really liked the clothes and the cars, and the tweet is absolutely showcasing some choice pre-war duds.
ABC’s Avengers spin-off series was the first TV show of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After Marvel cancelled its slate of Netflix series (including Daredevil and the excellent Jessica Jones) and announced it was phasing out its television wing, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the last major series to get the ax.
The show has flirted with “the end” a few times. Created by Tancharoen, Joss Whedon and Jed Whedon, and premiering in September of 2013, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brought back the character of Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who was famously killed by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in a pivotal moment in 2012’s Avengers. Coulson dies again in season 5, only to come back to life a second time as a (kind of) new character in season 6. Furthermore, the show was originally supposed to end after the fifth season; Jeph Loeb, the head of Marvel TV, explained that “If you go back and you look at the end of that season, it is written that way. Actually, the last episode of that season is called ‘The End.’ Honestly, we thought we were turning out the lights and going home when we got a call from ABC that said, the material is so strong, do you think you have another season, do you think you have another 13 because we sort of like this idea of doing it again.”
Obviously, new Marvel series are coming to Disney Plus, so the phasing-out of all of Marvel’s third-party productions makes good business sense. And while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was produced for the Disney-owned ABC, the show may have simply run its course. Actors’ contracts typically go for seven seasons before they get the option to renegotiate, which usually means asking for higher salaries, particularly if the show is very successful. (And sometimes the actors may not be interested in doing another chunk of seasons, as was the case with David Duchovny when he left The X-Files after Season 7 and immediately threw the show into a garbage spiral.) And Loeb has said that going into this final season with the knowledge that it is, in fact, the final season, gave the writers the opportunity to craft a satisfying conclusion to the series. He said, “When you know that’s what you’re doing, you can take greater risks, of life and death. Those kinds of decisions suddenly now are real on the table because you’re not playing how do we undo this when we get to the next season. You’re playing that this is going to be the end of the story.”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7 stars Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Henry Simmons, Natalia Cordova-Buckley and Jeff Ward. The 13-episode finale is set to premiere on ABC this summer.