Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was Marvel's first major live-action television show, coming years before the Netflix leg of the Marvel universe kicked off. The four seasons so far have been a hit with diehard fans, and Season 4 changed things up in some exciting ways. That said, ratings have been declining more or less steadily since the beginning, and fans have had to worry that S.H.I.E.L.D. would get the axe just about every spring. As it turns out, we were right to worry about the show while Season 4 was still on the air. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 almost didn't happen due to some behind-the-scenes opinions at ABC.
ABC and Marvel have reportedly not been on the same page when it comes to both of their current shared comic properties. According to Variety, some folks behind the scenes at ABC wanted to cancel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after Season 4, but Disney mandated that S.H.I.E.L.D. be renewed for Season 5. While it's not clear why some at ABC thought it was time to give S.H.I.E.L.D. the axe, the odds are that the combination of disappointing ratings and high effects costs meant that S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn't exactly a top priority series for renewal.
It's worth noting that ABC did make some changes for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this year. The show aired for the first four seasons in various time slots on Tuesday nights, with a premiere in late September. For Season 5, the show was pushed back to a winter debut and will air on Fridays. Although the show was technically pushed back to allow ABC to air Inhumans, a move to Friday is rarely a good thing for a show. That said, S.H.I.E.L.D. was still ordered for a full season, despite being pushed back, and ABC Chief Channing Dungey has said that the goal is to turn Fridays on ABC into a fantasy destination, with Inhumans/S.H.I.E.L.D. paired with Once Upon a Time.
We can only hope that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets a ratings boost in Season 5 so that ABC doesn't regret the mandate from Disney that they renew the Marvel series for another batch of episodes. The Season 4 finale ended on a crazy cliffhanger that could have devastating consequences, which might be a big draw for viewers. We also know of a major character slated to return in Season 5, along with a possible Kree presence.
Of course, the reception for S.H.I.E.L.D. might at least partially depend on how Inhumans performs in primetime. The new show isn't generating much in the way of positive buzz with critics, and it didn't run in IMAX for as long as we thought. If Inhumans doesn't resonate with viewers and flops, then people might not be inclined to return for more Marvel on ABC. We'll have to wait and see.
ABC has not yet announced an official premiere date for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5, so be sure to stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest news. Inhumans will debut on Friday, September 29 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Our fall TV guide can help you plan the rest of your small screen lineup moving forward.