The end has finally come for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It was announced today that the ABC superhero series will be concluding after the upcoming seventh season, while Season 6 is currently still airing. This is actually the second time Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans have felt the show coming to a close, as the writers and showrunners all crafted the Season 5 finale with the understanding that it would likely be the series’ final episode. However, ABC called up and asked for another season, which resulted in the Season 6 semi-reboot we’re seeing now.
So given the new lease on life, why is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7 the end? The short answer is contract negotiations, probably. When actors sign on for network TV shows, they normally sign a seven-season contract. After that contract is up, they have to renegotiate, which gives them a chance to either bail or demand more money, which makes crafting Season 8 tricky.
But as Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb explains it, it was actually the decision of the creators and producers to ask ABC if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7 could be the last. Speaking with Deadline, he detailed how the show nearly ended after Season 5, and why it came back:
“The simplest answer is so that we can end on our terms, really. How many shows do you know that just suddenly ended, and you feel like, but wait a minute, there was more. Yes, in the chronology of this is we thought Season 5 was the end. If you go back and you look at the end of that season, it is written that way. Actually, the last episode of that season is called “The End.” Honestly, we thought we were turning out the lights and going home when we got a call from ABC that said, the material is so strong, do you think you have another season, do you think you have another 13 because we sort of like this idea of doing it again.
Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen and Jeff Bell, who have been there from the very beginning, went away and came back and said, we have a cool idea. That cool idea became Season 6. The show started to come in, then about halfway through that season we get another call from ABC’s Channing Dungey, who is a big fan of the show, super supportive, and she says, how about a Season 7?”
At the time, the writers were actually planning for Season 6 to be the end, which spurred them to make the Season 7 ask:
“Everyone is making plans, like it was at the end of Season 5, we thought it was done. Then 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. 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.”
Loeb says with the foreknowledge that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7 really will be the end, they can craft a go-for-broke conclusion:
“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.”
This news comes in advance of the show’s San Diego Comic-Con panel later today, so perhaps we’ll get more details then. But for now fans can rest assured that they have the rest of Season 6 and an entire Season 7 to enjoy before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is truly over.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 concludes on August 2nd on ABC, and Season 7 will premiere in Summer 2020.