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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is currently the only ongoing Marvel series in primetime on broadcast television, and the fifth season has taken the characters in some wild directions involving time and space travel. Unfortunately for fans, the fifth season could very well be the last for S.H.I.E.L.D. The good news is that the folks behind the scenes at Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are preparing for potential cancellation in a way that could soften the blow for viewers. The writers are currently working on the Season 5 finale, and co-showrunner Jed Whedon had this to say about how S.H.I.E.L.D. is preparing for a possible permanent end:
Yeah, we're ready for if this is the end. We're definitely going to make it rewarding either way. . . . We can certainly pivot and there are certain things that we're putting in that at the last minute could be adjusted. But we know at the end we're not moving off that mark. We're going to do what we were planning to do, and I think that it'll be thrilling either way.
Fans can evidently expect the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 finale to deliver a lot in the way of closure. Jed Whedon's comments to TVLine indicate that the Season 5 finale is being written in a way that could work for a series finale, which hopefully means it won't end on a gigantic cliffhanger the way Season 4 did. It also sounds like the finale will be put together in a way that scenes could be changed if a renewal or cancellation order comes down right before the episode airs. Preparing for the worst is likely for the best considering how the Season 5 renewal was handled.
ABC had Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans waiting and wondering for quite a while if the show was going to get the axe after the end of Season 4. In fact, the renewal for Season 5 came only days before the Season 4 finale hit the airwaves. If ABC had cancelled S.H.I.E.L.D. at that point, there may not have been time to tweak the ending, and viewers might have been left without closure. Although there's no word just yet of how worried we should be about S.H.I.E.L.D., it's nice to know that the folks behind the scenes are prepared for whatever happens.
There is reason to worry about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at this point. The ratings have been disappointing all season, dropping significantly from already-low numbers after the move to Friday nights. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s lead-in series Once Upon a Time was cancelled in early February, which could have been a sign that ABC is looking to change the Friday lineup altogether. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was reportedly on ABC's chopping block at the end of Season 4 until Disney stepped in and demanded the renewal; if Disney doesn't make the same demand before the end of Season 5, the Season 5 finale really may turn out to be the series finale.