Spoilers ahead for the Season 5 finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the last remaining connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe on network television, and the leading man is a character that made his debut back in the very first MCU movie. Coulson has come a long way since first turning up in Iron Man, and S.H.I.E.L.D. has grown into a project that can stand on its own without constant connections to the MCU. Now, in the aftermath of the Season 5 finale (and Season 5 as a whole), we have some big reasons why S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to split from the MCU.
The show toyed with timelines and various realities in Season 5, and it would certainly not be difficult for a comic book show featuring superpowered characters to establish that alternate realities are possible. All S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to do is introduce some inciting incident that splits S.H.I.E.L.D. into a separate world from the MCU, and the show could be even better. Read on for our reasons why this needs to happen!
S.H.I.E.L.D. Wouldn't Need To Accommodate The Movies
Back in the very first season of S.H.I.E.L.D., the entire premise of a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents conducting investigations was blown up by the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been infiltrated by Hydra agents, and the movie ended with S.H.I.E.L.D. disbanded. Now, many fans probably agree that S.H.I.E.L.D. improved after the Winter Soldier-necessitated changes, but the show needing to stick to the events of the larger MCU isn't always a good thing. The most glaring example is also the most recent: the events of Avengers: Infinity War resulted in half the population of the universe being wiped out, and x saw two characters who have appeared on S.H.I.E.L.D. wiped out.
Naturally, many viewers have been waiting and wondering when the devastating end of Infinity War would affect S.H.I.E.L.D. and get rid of some of its characters. The Infinity War ending overshadowed some of the final arc of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5, and it was entirely unnecessary given that the finale revealed none of the characters were affected (although some did die for unrelated reasons). If S.H.I.E.L.D. was in its own universe, we wouldn't need to worry about how the show will have to change itself for the sake of the movies. After all, the Infinity War sequel has yet to air and resolve the Thanos story. S.H.I.E.L.D. may have more or less explained why Daisy wasn't present to help the Avengers fight Thanos' forces, but there were undoubtedly still plenty of viewers waiting for the Thanos shoe to drop in the finale, and that was an unnecessary distraction.
The Stakes Could Be Higher
As much fun as it was to see S.H.I.E.L.D. go to space and the future to be tasked with a desperate mission to stop the world from being destroyed, there was always a cap on the tension due to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s connection to the MCU. The billion dollar movies aren't going to change to accommodate the plot twists of a Friday night show on ABC, so fans had to know that the season wouldn't end with the Earth destroyed and the last remnants of humanity stuck on a rock under the dominion of the Kree. Sure, there was still the question of how the good guys would prevail, but we had to know that the Earth would be intact at the end of the season unless S.H.I.E.L.D. split timelines/universes.
If the fate of the planet on S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn't tied to whatever the MCU movies want to do with it, there could be real suspense and much higher stakes in the big battles. The world won't be destroyed and humanity won't be wiped out on a show branching off of the MCU, but fans would have reason to wonder with a show standing all on its own.
Where Are The Avengers?
The biggest question whenever some crisis gets dangerously out of hand on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is always "Why don't they call an Avenger?" Yes, Iron Man and Thor can't be expected to drop by S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ every time they're betrayed by one of their own or wander into a dangerous situation, but some of their crises would definitely warrant a visit from one of the bigger MCU heroes, especially since there are so many nowadays. Gone is the time when it made sense for just an appearance from Nick Fury or Maria Hill or even Lady Sif.
The #1 way to guarantee fans won't need to ask "Where are the Avengers?" anymore is to take the show out of the world inhabited by the Avengers. Of course Tony Stark won't drop by to lend a hand if he's in a world in which he never became Iron Man. The converse is true as well; S.H.I.E.L.D. fans wouldn't have to see the Infinity War sequel and wonder why no Inhumans are lending a hand if Daisy, Yo-Yo, and Co. are in a parallel world. Over in the Arrow-verse on The CW, Supergirl is kept separate on Earth-38, preventing the heroes of Earth-1 from calling her for help every time a situation gets out of hand and they need a super friend with just about all the best superpowers; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could do something similar.
Fans Don't Need To Know The Movies
As popular as the movies of the MCU have become over the years, is it really fair to expect fans of a TV shows to watch all the movies as soon as possible? Even if movies like Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy aren't going to be especially relevant to a show like S.H.I.E.L.D., fans may feel the need to keep up with the MCU films if they want to make sense of the show. By splitting S.H.I.E.L.D. off into its own world, fans of the show who don't watch the movies don't need to wonder if they're missing something important.
Admittedly, if there was ever a time for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to split off into its own universe, the end of Season 5 was probably the time to do it. With Thanos and Graviton messing with time and space and everything in between, the show could have found a way to send the characters into an alternate version of the world. Robin could have even played a part. S.H.I.E.L.D. may not last much longer beyond Season 6, which is being held much later than usual and will run for fewer episodes than ever before. It may be too late for S.H.I.E.L.D. to get its own universe. We'll have to wait and see.