Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Elizabeth Henstridge Talks The 'Hopeful' Ending, Revisiting S.H.I.E.L.D. And More

agents of shield series finale elizabeth henstridge simmons abc
(Image credit: ABC)

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. came to an end after seven intense seasons earlier this year, and the series finale fortunately delivered an ending that was pretty uplifting. Elizabeth Henstridge's Jemma Simmons got a particularly satisfying conclusion with a happily-ever-after that seemingly broke the FitzSimmons "curse." The end of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the very first live-action Marvel TV show marked the end of an era, and Henstridge spoke with CinemaBlend about how the series wrapped, revisiting S.H.I.E.L.D., and her charity work with Smile Train alongside fiancé Zach Abel.

Elizabeth Henstridge shared the importance of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. delivering the kind of ending that it did in 2020, saying:

I mean, I love the ending. I think it's great that it was hopeful and happy and still had some kind of questions there. Coulson still had his existential questions. But I just loved it. When we did Season 5, [the finale] was called 'The End.' And that was definitely a more morose ending to the show and was extremely painful to shoot. And so it was a nice contrast to the Season 7 ending. Without spoiling anything, because it still hasn't been on in Europe yet, but to end on such a positive note, with hope. I think that the reason the show was so popular is that there was always hope at the center of it. And you know, one of Mack's lines -- Henry Simmons, who's just an amazing actor -- one of his lines was around hope and how you just have to hold on to it. And don't let go. And I think that was kind of the finale personified. That felt really special.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans can undoubtedly agree that ending with the Season 5 finale would have been pretty morose! After all, the episode had delivered a big death and some bad news, whereas the series finale at the close of Season 7 left all the major characters alive. As Elizabeth Henstridge noted, Coulson was still facing questions due to his status as an LMD, but who couldn't love Fitz and Simmons getting to retire with their daughter? Talk about a hopeful ending!

Of course, one key difference between the fifth season leading to "The End" and the seventh season actually ending the series is that the S.H.I.E.L.D. team was able to go into Season 7 knowing that it was the last. The future was still uncertain at the end of Season 5, with no guarantee of even a Season 6. Elizabeth Henstridge shared the perks of knowing that Season 7 would be the end beforehand:

It was such a lovely gift given to us by ABC to know that it was our last, for the writers to know, and for us to know filming it. It was everything and allowed us to have a really beautiful long goodbye. It did make for some dramatic moments when we started getting a bit tenuous with it being the last Tuesday or the last this day and this that and this costume. You know, we had a lot of goodbyes. [laughs] But it was good. I mean, we'd been around that crew for six years and we'd heard about dates that turn into girlfriends that turn into wives that turn into children being born. It's a crazy amount of time to spend with a hundred, two hundred people. To have that resolution was such a wonderful gift.

While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did conclude with some open endings for a lot of the characters, there were no huge and painful cliffhangers for fans to bemoan, and there is always the chance for pretty much every character except for Deke to turn back up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Whether that could be live-action, animation, or on the pages of comics, the possibilities are endless.

As fans know, however, Elizabeth Henstridge has been revisiting the earlier days of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with YouTube watchalongs, inviting viewers along on a blast to the past. Those live videos have not only delivered some new and fun S.H.I.E.L.D. content, but also opened Henstridge up to live video online, which will soon come in handy with a virtual event for the Smile Train charity. She explained why she started doing live videos in the first place:

So I've been doing my Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. watchalongs. And I started when Season 7 was airing, and it really came from, you know, we're all on lockdown… I think 2020 has been such a moment to reflect for basically everybody in the world. And it just made me realize how privileged I was. And we are, to know so many amazing people in the film industry. I really wanted a space to be able to share the stories of everybody that has worked on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and what that process is like, and hopefully to inspire people to be able to do it too. And not just in front of the camera, but behind the camera. And even if somebody doesn't aspire to work in the film industry, I think a lot of the stories that we're able to share on the live watchalongs hopefully inspire people just to kind of go after their dreams, regardless of what it is.

Revisiting S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn't just been about checking out the Season 1 costumes, flashing back to Brett Dalton's pre-evil days as Ward, and remembering the MCU before Captain America: The Winter Soldier shook everything up. Her watchalongs have also been very popular, with the series finale accumulating 104k views, the pilot rewatch up to 33k views, and the Episode 5 rewatch already over 9k.

Who knows how well Episode 6 (which both Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker described as "a turning point" for FitzSimmons and S.H.I.E.L.D.) will do? Henstridge reacted to the success of her YouTube videos, which often feature fiancé Zach Abel as well, and shared some of the joy of working with Smile Train on the mission to help children with cleft lip and palate receive the treatment they need. She said:

So I just I've been absolutely bowled over with the feedback and how popular they've been. And that does really feel like there's a thirst for positivity and practical ways to help people accomplish something that may feel impossible now more than ever. And so yeah, now we've started going back and watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from Season 1, and it's going to be a podcast now too. That's kind of how it came about. And it's a huge reason why we love Smile Train too. Because behind it all is something as simple as a smile, and what that can bring. And just that one smile, what that can change and the positivity that that can create.

Elizabeth Henstridge along with Zach Abel will host the pre-show for the upcoming World Smile Day Live: A Virtual Celebration with the goal of raising awareness and funds for Smile Train... all from Abel's parents' basement! The event, which is open to registration here, will be hosted by Ciara and feature appearances from celebrities like Gabrielle Union-Wade, Kevin Smith, Christie Brinkley and more. The couple teased what's in store with the event:

Elizabeth Henstridge: I don't want to spoil too much. I think having Ciara as the as the host, that we're kind of the lead-in to is just crazy. The thought of us in Zach's parents basement, like teeing it up to Ciara is just like... I mean, that's nuts. [laughs] And then, you know, there's gonna be some surprise appearances.Zach Abel: This is the first time that we're co-hosting something. So I think we're really excited. I think it's gonna be fun. And we know the Smile Train people so well. We're just excited for a good positive experience, because so much in this year hasn't been, so we're just excited to kind of contribute in whatever way we can.

The World Smile Day Live virtual fundraiser kicks off with Elizabeth Henstridge and Zach Abel's pre-show on Friday, October 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the main event hosted by Ciara beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Be sure to register now to support Smile Train. As for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you too can revisit the early days of the show with the first six seasons streaming on Netflix now.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.