Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will live to see another day. ABC announced today that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 is happening, much to the delight of fans who have stuck with the series through its rocky ride. There is a hitch, however, as TV Line reports that Season 6 will be shorter than previous seasons, consisting of just 13 episodes. It hasn’t yet been determined if Season 6 will be the show’s last, but no doubt the show runners would like to know beforehand if they’re crafting an endgame or if there’s hope for the show to continue on past Season 6 with shorter seasons.
S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted in 2013 as the brainchild of Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Joss Whedon, who helped created the series in the wake of the success of The Avengers and directed the pilot. The show was intended to be an offshoot of the big screen MCU, tying into events of the films, but that close connectivity proved to be nearly impossible to do on a larger scale since films take two years to make and television is written, shot, produced, and aired in a matter of weeks.
Ratings fell throughout the show’s first season and the slippage continued throughout seasons 2 and 3, but things started leveling off in Season 4 and the show has now maintained a fairly devoted fanbase—even if this most recent season saw the ratings fall to series-low levels. Those who are still watching have praised the series’ creative upswing over the past couple of seasons, and the series has indeed started venturing beyond the confines of Earth to find new stories worth telling.
Even non-fans are now curious to see how the Season 5 finale (airing this Friday) will address the big twist in Avengers: Infinity War, which could set up a very different board for Season 6. If next season is indeed the final go-around, the show wouldn’t even be able to address the conclusion of the Infinity War storyline until Avengers 4 hits theaters next May.
Indeed, since Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige reshuffled his executive structure to report directly to Disney’s Alan Horn a few years ago, the Ike Perlmutter-overseen Marvel TV—which is run by Jeph Loeb—has had little to no communication with the film side of things, and thus stories between the Marvel movies and the Marvel TV shows are more disconnected than ever.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and again I’m curious to see if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will address Infinity War directly, or if the show will continue on forging its own path. Regardless, fans can breathe a sigh of relief that the series will indeed return, if in a more abbreviated form.