Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brought a long-lost character back in Season 5 when Lance Hunter himself turned up out of nowhere to spring Fitz from military lockup. It was the first time Hunter had appeared on S.H.I.E.L.D. since departing in Season 3 to move to a spinoff, which ultimately never happened. His return supplied some humor in an episode that otherwise could have been pretty grim, and many fans are already hopeful that he could come back again in Season 5. Actor Nick Blood weighed in on whether or not he could reprise his role this season, saying this:
Who knows! You know what Marvel's like...Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is always full of surprises, and things can change overnight. Like, I don't think anyone expected Brett Dalton to return, and yet he did [for Season 4C]. You never know in this world, but I'm sure I will be the last to be told their plans!
Marvel is notoriously strict with keeping secrets about plots of movies and TV shows, so it does indeed stand to reason that Nick Blood wouldn't find out that Hunter has an opening to return until all other plans are in place. He also definitely has a point about S.H.I.E.L.D. subverting expectations, even in a genre as wild comic-based. S.H.I.E.L.D. managed to bring Brett Dalton back despite his character dying a number of times, first returning as the host of Hive and then as a hero within the Framework. Hunter is still very much alive, so it wouldn't even take any leaps of logic for him to return once Coulson and Co. make it back from space! Nick Blood's comments to TVLine give reason to hope.
Of course, the return of Hunter could probably only work if Coulson and Co. do make it back to when and where they were before being transported to the future. It's difficult to imagine Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. keeping the main cast of characters in space for longer than a single arc of the season. There are only so many stories that can be told in the Lighthouse, and all the pieces seem to already be coming into place for a climactic showdown with the Kree.
The good news is that the episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that brought Hunter back ended in a way that could have opened the door for both Hunter and Bobbi to make their way back into the action. Hunter volunteered himself and Bobbi as protectors of Robin and Polly back in 2017; if Coulson and the others return from space and seek out Robin and Polly, it stands to reason that they'll reunite with their old pals. We can only cross our fingers and wait.
New episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. air on Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. For your other viewing options now and in the coming weeks, take a look at our midseason TV premiere schedule and our 2018 Netflix premiere guide. If you're in the mood for a blast from the past, swing by our rundown of the biggest and wildest TV deaths from 2017.