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Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has once again staved off cancellation and has been renewed for Season 6, although the episode count had been shortened. Now it's been revealed fans will be waiting to watch the new season much longer than we all expected, as ABC has changed the premiere date for the season outside of the usual fall to winter timeline. ABC president Channing Dungey revealed that there will be no new episodes of the series in 2018, and instead the new season will premiere in the summer of 2019.
As far as why the release date for the series has been changed, Channing Dungey said that premiering the show in the summer might give it a much longer run than if it airs during the regular season. Put simply, the show may have its fans, but those fans don't tend to watch as the show airs. So, for ABC to justify keeping it in the prime months for television viewing, the show would have to get better ratings during each airing. It appears that if Disney won't allow ABC to cancel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the network is going to at least free up the time slot the show was occupying and place the series at a time of the year where high ratings aren't as pressing. And, hopefully, this will mean that the show can continue for a long time. The reason is certainly valid, although Marvel fans have their reason to be suspicious of it considering the timing of the upcoming new season.
The timing for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s new season is curious; Season 6's premiere date is now after the release date of Avengers 4. With rumors swirling that the Season 5 finale could be linked to the events of Avengers: Infinity War, it's understandable that some fans may be wondering if the timing is intentional so that the series can play off of whatever happens in the next Avengers film. Channing Dungey seemed to already know that speculation was coming and affirmed the premiere window was strictly an ABC decision and not necessarily done to cater to what's going on in the MCU. TVLine reported Dungey followed up by saying "Whatever they [at Marvel Studios] have planned, I cannot say."
If Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is holding off its premiere until after Avengers 4 on purpose, it wouldn't be surprising. The series is one of the few Marvel shows that have connected to the MCU in a meaningful way, with its biggest arc happening after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That said, the show has drifted away from tying too deeply into the MCU since then, so it's just as likely ABC is moving the series for the exact reason Channing Dungey said. It's even possible the series might be trying to avoid having to acknowledge Avengers 4, and that's why they're opting to premiere later in the year. In either case, its premiere date will allow for either scenario.
The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 finale is set to air on ABC, Friday, May 18 at 9:00 p.m. ET. For a list of upcoming superhero shows that can be watched between Season 5 and Season 6, visit our superhero premiere guide. For a more generalized list of upcoming television shows set to air in 2018, visit our summer premiere guide.