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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the last remaining Marvel series on broadcast television, and its future beyond Season 5 was very much in doubt for a long time. The show's ratings after making the move to the unenviable Friday night time slot weren't exactly breaking records, and the final episodes of the season felt like they were wrapping everything up. The good news for fans was that S.H.I.E.L.D. did manage to score a renewal for Season 6; the bad news was that it wouldn't be back on the airwaves for more than a year. Now, ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey has explained why S.H.I.E.L.D. is being moved to the summer for Season 6 and answered whether Season 6 could be the last:
We'll see. I feel like last season was our strongest creative season ever and the fan base remains very loyal -- and we do very well in delayed viewing. It's my hope that by moving it to summer, where our live-same-day ratings are less important and it might be able to continue for longer.
Last season was a stressful time to be an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan. The less-than-impressive ratings were enough to make even the most confident viewers nervous about the show's future, and the stakes were constantly rising to the point that there was no saying what would happen next. News of the renewal broke only days before the Season 5 finale aired an ending designed to tie off loose ends.
As much of a bummer as it was to learn that the sixth season would run for only 13 episodes as opposed to the usual 22 as well as the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. would be on hiatus for more than a year, at least we can count on finding out what happened after the intense Season 5 finale. Judging by Channing Dungey's comments to THR, it may turn out that summer is the ideal time for S.H.I.E.L.D. to hit the airwaves. Marvel's Cloak & Dagger has done well enough this summer on Freeform, and primetime isn't quite as competitive in the summer months.
The Season 5 finale featured a gigantic death of one of the good guys, although it wasn't the character who was supposed to bite the dust sooner rather than later. That death may not stick in the long run thanks to a certain time travel loophole from the first pod of the season, and Coulson is poised to be the next character to die. Another big death seemingly happened in the finale, but he may not actually be dead. Basically, there's a lot that can happen in the 13 episodes of the new season, and hopefully Coulson will be around for at least some of it. Just because he's coming back to the movies doesn't mean TV fans are ready to lose him!
Interestingly, pushing S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 back until next summer will mean it premieres after the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War arrives in theaters on May 3, 2019. Skipping the fall and winter premiere seasons means that S.H.I.E.L.D. may not need to deal with any continuity issues that could arise from action going down at the same time that Thanos is wreaking havoc all over the universe. S.H.I.E.L.D. may be able to neatly sidestep the question of why none of its characters were impacted by the Infinity War cliffhanger. While this may not have been the reasoning behind S.H.I.E.L.D. getting pushed back to the summer, it may work in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s favor. We'll have to wait and see. My pitch for S.H.I.E.L.D. to split from the larger MCU may not be necessary.
There are still plenty of shows that can be watched between now and the premiere of S.H.I.E.L.D. next summer, and you can find many of them on our fall TV premiere schedule.