For some fans, hunting for hidden Easter eggs in movies and television shows is a badge of honor; they like to see how many they can find on repeat viewings compared to friends (or journalists).
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe usually puts most of its Easter eggs in movies on the big screen, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is no slouch when it comes to sharing the love for its source material and other Marvel properties.
Over the course of four seasons, there have been tons of Disney and Marvel comic book references, nods to the MCU’s movies, and even connections to the Netflix shows. We can’t list them all for you as this list would then include hundreds of items, but we’ve got a selection from all 88 episodes that have aired so far -- plus a few from the season five premiere.
You won’t find the big ones, like Bucky Barnes on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy’s Wall of Valor, here, but we’ve tried to find ones that might have escaped even the most diehard of fans’ notice, or moments early in the series that foreshadowed some major events.
Here are the 25 Things You Completely Missed In Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was full of some surprising foreshadowing.
In the very first episode, not only did Mike Peterson (who became Deathlok) tell his boss that he couldn’t use people like they were pieces of machinery, but Coulson remarked that they “didn’t cut the head off the centipede” in reference to helping save Mike. CENTIPEDE was later revealed to be part of Hydra where if you “cut off one head, two more take its place.”
The episode also had Skye (now Daisy) ask May if piloting an alien spaceship was on her bucket list. Promotional footage of season five shows May doing just that.
In other heartbreaking foreshadowing, Ward asks Fitz how long he can hold his breath underwater when the two are captured on a mission together. Fitz found out when Ward threw him and Simmons into the middle of the ocean at season’s end.
That’s just a small sampling of how creative the writers were with foreshadowing later events.
Some comic book fans found it interesting that “embrace the change” was an often used bit of dialogue in the first season of the show as it was also a common phrase in the Secret Invasion comics, which involved an alien race called the Skrulls taking the place of many heroes and villains. Really, they should have been paying attention to writing on the wall as well.
In both “Eye-Spy” and “Beginning of the End”, fans got a tease of what they would later find out was the Kree writing for a map of an ancient city. The original equations and writing seen in the first appearance also featured the use of the Skrull alphabet though.
23 The Judas Bullet
Just as audiences were getting to know S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new director Jeffrey Mace in season four, he was almost taken out by a sniper. This sniper didn’t have regular bullets, though, but special exploding bullets that first appeared in the first season of Luke Cage.
The Judas bullet, so named because, “if you need to kill Jesus, this is what you use,” were created from Chitauri metal salvaged from the Battle of New York that occurred during The Avengers.
They were developed by HAMMER Industries, a company that made its debut in the Iron Man movies, but found their way to the streets when Justin Hammer was in prison. The bullet was first used to pierce Luke Cage’s unbreakable skin in his solo series before another version was made for the police.
Like the Marvel producers like to remind us, it’s all connected.
22 Season Five Gets Cheeky
Superhero shows tend to love their meta humor -- referencing fan reactions and real world criticisms -- and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got to do a little of that with its season five premiere.
Marvel shared the first act of the season five premiere at New York Comic Con, and then released it online right before the premiere to get fans hyped for the new season. The clip, which involves most of the main characters meeting new people (and alien creatures) on what looks like a space station featured a couple of nods to some of Marvel’s other cosmic properties.
Elena remarked that she was sure S.H.I.E.L.D. had a division called S.P.E.A.R. in outer space, or even a base on the moon. The former is a nod to fans constantly asking the showrunner’s if S.H.I.E.L.D.’s space division, S.W.O.R.D., from the comics will make it into the show, while the latter is a nod to the Inhumans having a hidden city on the moon.
The show’s writers have made no secret of their love for the Star Wars franchises with Mockingbird sporting Star Wars tees and Koenig having logoed bed sheets. They even went so far as to have Coulson equate Maveth with Tatooine, but VFX Supervisor Mark Coulson snuck in a really hidden gem.
Kolpack enjoys interacting with fans on twitter, and informed them that he hid an Easter egg in the season four finale that would be difficult for them to spot. After a lot of searching, a few fans pointed it out to him on the social media site -- R2-D2.
In the close of the season four finale, Coulson is seen looking out on a field of space debris. One of those pieces of debris? Not just a chunk of rock. Kolpack designed it to look like R2-D2.
20 Roxxon Oil
Comic book fans know that Roxxon Oil’s owners and employees have done their fair share of bad deeds on the page, but so far, they’ve mostly been given Easter egg status in the MCU.
The company appeared in its early days (with an antagonistic owner) during ABC’s short lived Agent Carter series, and the company has either had signs in the skyline or been namechecked in other corners, but on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s been the company behind a gas station.
In the season one episode “Repairs”, it’s a Roxxon gas station where the sales person blames his customer for the death of a friend. As it turns out that customer is being “haunted” by someone who is caught between two different dimensions, and when items start flying around, it’s not her causing it, but his “ghost.”
19 Singing To D.W.A.R.F.s
If there’s one thing an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. likes, it’s a good acronym. In the pilot episode of the show, the audience is introduced to the Drones Wirelessly Automated to Receive Forensics, or D.W.A.R.F.s, and that name is no accident.
Each of the drones has a specified function when it comes to gathering data, and all seven are named after Snow White’s dwarves that provide her shelter from the evil queen in her fairy tale.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was Walt Disney’s first animated major motion picture with a world-wide marketing blitz, so it’s fitting that it got a shout out in the pilot episode as Fitz sang “Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work you go” to his machines.
The D.W.A.R.F.s have appeared less as the show has gone on, so fans hoping for more Snow White references will have to look elsewhere. They only appeared in a single episode in season two and again in season three.
18 The Thunderstick
The season one episode “0-8-4” isn’t looked upon as favorably as the pilot, but it does have that hallmark snappy Whedon dialogue and the fostering of teamwork. Long time Whedon fans might also recognize one specific weapon.
As the S.H.I.E.L.D. team struggles to escape a firefight in an ancient temple in Peru, Agent Ward pulls out a metal stick, ejecting the top, and sending out a kind of shockwave to knock their enemies down. Known as a thunderstick, it’s got roots in another Whedon project.
A different version of the weapon was used in the movie Serenity in a similar situation as Simon rescued his sister from a government facility, which predated the television series by a few years. Joss Whedon, of course, was an executive producer and writer for both.
The thunderstick has only appeared in season one of the show. Of course, with someone like Daisy Johnson learning to quake, the agents don’t really need it in later seasons.
17 Rocky Mountain Office Supply
It might have seemed innocent enough in the season one episode “The Asset”, but the Rocky Mountain Office Supply truck that opened the episode was actually hiding Dr. Franklin Hall, and it was a nod to his comic book backstory.
Dr. Hall invented Gravitonium, which turned gravity on its head. At the end of his appearance, he ended up sucked inside his own invention, and hasn’t been seen again. That all happened in Morocco, but in the comics, the accident happened somewhere else.
In the comics, he was working in a laboratory in the Canadian Rockies, hence the name of the show’s supply truck, when he made a mistake while working with a teleportation device and ended up fusing his own molecules with graviton particles.
He went on to become the villain Graviton, something we haven’t yet seen paid off in the MCU, but it could still happen since the Gravitonium that houses him was given to the villain Ian Quinn.
16 A Familiar Barn
It’s no secret that television shows reuse the same sets and locations. It’s an easy way for the production team to save on expenses. There’s less location scouting and preparation involved if you’ve already been there once. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has redressed one barn that might look familiar.
In the episode “Repairs”, the barn where Agent May and Hannah Hutchins confront the man caught between dimensions is the same barn where the body of a firefighter was found floating in “F.Z.Z.T.” With the events of one episode set in the middle of the night and one in the middle of the day, it’s easy to make them look different for the audience.
The same barn was originally built for Big Top Pee-Wee.
15 H.A.M.M.E.R. And A.R.M.O.R.
In “The Hub”, Coulson’s team visits the facility that gave the episode its title. It’s where the audience got their first look at agents Victoria Hand and Jasper Sitwell, but eagle-eyed viewers also got a look at maps of the S.H.I.E.L.D. base.
While Coulson attends a meeting with Hand and Sitwell, Fitz and Simmons walk by a map on the wall that has labels for associated agencies called H.A.M.M.E.R. and A.R.M.O.R.
In the comics, the former was actually the agency that replaced S.H.I.E.L.D. under Norman Osborn (yes, the Spider-Man villain). With Spidey a part of the MCU, we might yet see a similar story happen.
A.R.M.O.R., on the other hand, is actually a division of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the comics. Called Alternate Reality Monitoring and Operational Response, it’s the part of the agency that’s in charge of the really weird stuff, like zombies and demons.
14 The Lemurian Star
Most audience members recognize the first major connection between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the wider MCU as the fallout resulting from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and they aren’t wrong. When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. saw Agent Sitwell leave for the Lemurian Star, a ship featured at the beginning of the movie, it wasn’t just connective tissue.
The Lemurian Star was also a nod to a comic book nation called Lemuria. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean lived a group of aquatic people.
The Lemurians were a splinter group of Atlanteans (who readers will know for their connection to Namor). The difference was that Lemurians actually had scales. The reference could have been nothing more than a fun Easter egg since even Namor hasn’t made his way to the screen yet.
13 The Cube
Once Hydra was “out of the shadows” in the MCU, it was a race between S.H.I.E.L.D. and their villainous counterpart to claim territory and assets to prevent one another from having all of the power. One of those territories was a S.H.I.E.L.D. base called The Cube.
The base is mentioned as one of the few places that Hydra hasn’t been able to take over, making it a S.H.I.E.L.D. stronghold, but that’s not all it is.
In the comics, The Cube was actually a S.H.I.E.L.D. blacksite, not just a base for personnel. Instead of being a normal operations center, it housed alien criminals who had broken laws on Earth. Marvel Boy spent a good deal of time there, but a Skrull virus eventually meant the facility was overrun by prisoners and everyone escaped.
The Cube was also used as a the base for the Thunderbolts team after the Skrulls had already invaded Earth.
When Mike Peterson was revealed as Deathlok, some fans were disappointed that he didn’t really resemble his comic book counterpart. Instead, Mike gradually gained more technology, and his look slowly moved to more machine than man. The show still gave plenty of nods to his source material.
Even though Deathlok debuted in the comics in the 1970s, he didn’t get his own solo comic until 1990. The television series made the reveal that the Deathlok technology had been in use in the MCU since the '90s as well, a nod to that solo series. Of course, it was John Garrett, a different Marvel character, who was the MCU’s first Deathlok.
The show also gave fans a look at Mike Peterson under backscatter, which gave comic book fans the look they really wanted - underneath the skin, Mike’s Deathlok tech looked more like the character’s comic book sketches.
11 A Trio Of Astronauts
When Agent Simmons found herself stranded on an alien planet that became known as Maveth in season three, she was told the story of how each of the astronauts who were there before her met his end. Those astronauts were not named after writers or artists associated with comics as many audience members first thought, but after other fictional astronauts.
Austin was a nod to Steve Austin, the former astronaut that was the main character in television series The Six Million Dollar Man. Brubaker was Charles Brubaker, an astronaut on a failed mission to Mars in the movie Capricorn One. Taylor was a nod to George Taylor, the astronaut who led his crew to a world full of apes in the original Planet of the Apes.
10 Among Us Hide
The season three episode “Among Us Hide” featured a lot of focus on the show’s new Inhuman characters, and the title could have clued the audience in if they were familiar with the comic book characters.
The episode title was a nod to the reveal of the existence of the Inhumans in Fantastic Four #45 while was called, “Among Us Hide… The Inhumans.” In it, Medusa had already been introduced to the Fantastic Four, but nothing was known about her people.
It was this issue that revealed there was a whole race of people the world didn’t know about when Medusa’s sister Crystal took the Fantastic Four’s Johnny to her family home on the moon.
When Inhumans debuted on ABC, the show also used a similar idea for its episodes. Each episode was titled after a Marvel comic book story that featured the same character the episode would focus on, though “Among Us Hide” was never used.
9 Showrunner Cameos
Though there are many executive producers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the ones who do the day-to-day activities, run the writers room, and are the first to make decisions about where the story is going are the showrunners. That honor goes to Maurissa Tancharoen and her husband Jed Whedon. Both have made cameos on the show.
In season one, Whedon lent his voice to the Howling Commando gear Agent Triplett pulled out of storage. In season four, he appeared in the flesh seated on a bus behind Daisy and Elena while they met in secret.
Tancharoen provided the voice for A.I.D.A. before Mallory Jansen was hired to play the character at the end of season three. Tancharoen has also appeared on camera in the past on shows like Dollhouse, where she was also a writer, so she could still appear in front of the camera as well.
8 Bouncing Back
When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s midseason premiere for season three aired, it did something unique. Not only did it bring Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez to life, but it also opened with a look at the future.
The episode opened with a quinjet in space as gravity lightened and a necklace and S.H.I.E.L.D. jacket floated into view. That was all the audience had to go on to make their best guess for what was coming at the end of the season. It was the first time the show had teased its final act before, but it was also the first time it was done in the MCU.
Up until that point, no Marvel Cinematic Universe property had teased the future with a flash forward that actually came to pass. Since then, Doctor Strange featured the manipulation of time, and it’s possible that Avengers: Infinity War will see Iron Man reliving his Age of Ultron nightmares.
“Watchdogs” was an episode so jam-packed with references that it could have an entire list all on its own. The Watchdogs themselves, an anti-Inhuman group, were inspired by a comic book group of the same name, but the show had plenty of references to live action properties as well.
The episode featured nitramene, a substance that audiences were introduced to in the Agent Carter series. It also had Daisy namedrop the organization Damage Control, which at the time was in development for a TV series of its own. The group instead got to appear on the big screen in Spider-Man: Homecoming as the ones who clean up the streets after superhero battles.
“Watchdogs” also featured one of the first references to the Netflix corner of the MCU. In a news crawl, reports came in about gang wars going on in Hell’s Kitchen, setting the episode right around the same time as Daredevil’s second season.
6 Another Ghost Rider
With the Ghost Rider story arc, an element of magic and fantasy came to the show, but that’s not all it brought. It also brought hints of Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider who came before Robbie Reyes.
“The Good Samaritan” highlighted the transfer of power from an unnamed individual to Robbie, but even before that backstory was revealed, there was a camera panning of a basement where the Darkhold, a magical and dangerous book, was kept.
In that basement was a curious poster depicting a carnival, designed specifically to look like the covers of the Ghost Rider comics that told Johnny Blaze’s stories.
In addition to that poster, there was also a motorcycle helmet, a black leather jacket, a chain, and even a stunt bike -- all things a stunt performer in a carnival might put to good use, which was exactly what Johnny did in the comics.
5 A Stamford Explosion
In the episode “BOOM”, Senator Nadeer is killed by an explosion caused by an Inhuman who periodically blows up and puts himself back together again. The explosion that caused her death was a nod to another comic book explosion.
On the page, it’s a man named Nitro who causes the explosion in Stamford, Connecticut. The use of his abilities kills 600 people, including dozens of children and lights the match that sets off the comic book version of Civil War as those with abilities and masks are required to register with the government.
In the television series, the explosion occurred after the events of the MCUs Civil War, but the nod was there: the wing where Nadeer was killed was the Stamford Wing, a reminder of a very similar event.
4 Journey Into Mystery
When Agent Simmons first met Agent Ward in the pilot episode, she asked if he was excited to join their journey into mystery, but the phrase has comic roots, and made it into advertising for the show.
“Journey Into Mystery” was the title of an anthology series printed by Marvel comics. The series provided the first appearance of many of Marvel’s most famous characters, including the Asgardian Thor.
When season three of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered, a one-sheet featuring Agent Fitz appeared in comic books to advertise the second episode of the season, promising another “journey into mystery.”
The episode featured the Asgardian character Dr. Randolph, as well as the opening of a portal to another world to rescue Agent Simmons, bringing the show back around to an association with Thor.
3 Character References
The show has brought a lot of characters into live-action for the first time (like Daisy Johnson, Lash, and many of the Inhumans), but sometimes, characters get a mention to confirm that they exist in the universe, but never make it to the screen.
In the first season of the show, Maria Hill had to answer questions about Man-Thing, while John Garrett mentioned a man who had lion’s paws for hands, which would be Johnny Horton from the comics. Season two saw Simmons testing the blood of Bessie the Hellcow when she was undercover at Hydra. None have appeared just yet.
Season four gave us a glimpse of Eden Fesi, an Inhuman who could open portals in the comics, as he was in stasis gel, but he was likely amongst the many Inhumans killed by Lash, so we won’t see him on the screen.
2 Bendeery Beer
S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, at least in the MCU, have a very special beer that they prefer over all of the rest, and they have former series regular Nick Blood to thank for that.
Blood explained (back when he still had a Twitter account) that, since his character Lance Hunter had a particular fondness for alcohol, he asked the props department to make him a special brand. Television shows like to make up their own brands unless they’re being sponsored by a particular company, so they obliged.
The brand is Bendeery, and English ale. It’s named for one of Blood’s friends, and since he’s left the series, it still pops up in almost every scene where there’s a beer. Sometimes, it pops up even when there’s not. Most recently, it made an appearance in the season five premiere as a logo on a truck.
1 Jemma Loves Peggy
If there’s one person we know for sure that Jemma Simmons loves other than the members of her team, it’s former S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent and Director Peggy Carter. She’s gushed about her in the past, but the show has also made the hero worship evident in a few Easter eggs.
Simmons is a firm user of the Peggy Carter style of fighting, for one thing. She picks up whatever is handy and uses it to her advantage. Just like Peggy used a stapler in Agent Carter, Simmons has used fire extinguishers and office supplies.
In season four, Simmons even gave the line, “as if anyone could replace Margaret,” when she was asked about replacing another agent, and though the conversation wasn’t about Peggy, Margaret was her given name.
She also took another trick from Peggy’s bag when she blackmailed her own boss for the good of her (and her friends’) career.
Did we surprise you with some of these references from the past episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Or are there even more obscure ones that you think should have made the list? Let us know in the comments!