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After a long while believing that Season 5 would be the end, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans (and its cast and crew) have had a swift uprise with the chapter-flipping Season 6 and ABC's early decision to renew for Season 7. So it's perhaps bittersweet that Marvel TV head honcho Jeph Loeb has revealed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be coming to an end after the next season, with very little chance for Season 8 to happen at ABC or anywhere else.
The good news here is that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't get an untimely cancellation notice from ABC that usurps its earlier renewal. Rather, Jeph Loeb revealed that creators Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen and Jeff Bell were the ones responsible for deciding to end the series. As such, S.H.I.E.L.D. becomes the rare live-action Marvel TV series to defy network cancellation by going out on its own terms.
Jeph Loeb said that the creative team did indeed treat Season 5's development process as if it was going to be the final year. After the showrunner trio put the work in on conceiving the new direction for Season 6, ABC dropped the surprise early renewal on everyone. And perhaps surprisingly, it was agreed to with the endgame (no pun intended) being a caveat. Here's how Loeb put it to Deadline:
We, again, sat down with Jed, Jeff, and Maurissa. We all came to the conclusion that getting another season is so flattering, so lovely, so amazing, but how about if we go back and say, yes, but this is it.
Obviously, that decision isn't the easiest one to understand for TV fans that have tuned in every week. Especially for a show that was in fear of being cancelled. The point, though, was to be able to wrap things up creatively on their own terms.
Here is Jeph Loeb's explanation for why they chose that route:
So we can actually build a season that will tie up any threads that are there. To make sure that we come to a conclusion that’s satisfying to the fans, to the cast, to Marvel, and to ABC. When you know that’s what you’re doing, you can take greater risks, of life and death. Those kinds of decisions suddenly now are real on the table because you’re not playing how do we undo this when we get to the next season. You’re playing that this is going to be the end of the story.
Marvel fans have witnessed many disappointing TV cancellations over the years, from Daredevil and the other Netflix shows to ABC's Agent Carter to Fox's The Gifted. (And on the DC front, Gotham's cancellation still stings as much as some of those deaths did.) So it's technically a good thing that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets to join FX's Legion as being two of the only Marvel television shows to have fully rounded arcs that ended how their creators intended.
Adding to the silver-lining fun is the fact that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. still has more than full season of episodes left to go, so fans technically won't be saying farewell to Clark Gregg, Ming Na-Wen and the rest of this highly charged ensemble until some point in 2020, or possibly even 2021. (Unless Gregg's Sarge ends up being gone for the long haul, of course.)
For now, fans can watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continuing Season 6 on ABC every Friday night at 8:00 p.m. ET.