Though it has built a strong following and generally performs well in its Tuesday night time slot, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has never been a ratings powerhouse. That means fans have typically spent the show's traditional mid-winter hiatus pondering the fate of Agent Coulson and the rest of his crew, and wondering whether or not the back end of that particular season will be the series' last batch of episodes.
But now fans can rest easy for one more year at least, as ABC has officially renewed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for season 4.
The renewal came as part of a broader sweep of announcements from the network, which also opted to renew production on several series, including Quantico, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away with Murder, Once Upon a Time, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, Fresh off the Boat, Black-ish, The Middle and several reality programs. Still waiting on a pickup is Castle, which is sought after for renewal but is contingent on Nathan Fillion being open to a new contract. Last Man Standing, Dr. Ken, Nashville, and The Muppets are still awaiting word on whether or not they will return.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is preparing to return from its midseason break (during which time it was replaced by season 2 of Agent Carter) to resume its current storyline involving a revamped HYDRA and an undead Agent Ward, whose body is possessed by a powerful Inhuman entity known as the Hive. The series is also expected to continue the Secret Warriors storyline, which has found Agent Daisy and Coulson putting together a team of Inhumans to help S.H.I.E.L.D. combat new threats -- an initiative complicated by the government and military cracking down on the perceived Inhuman threat.
The second half of season 3 is also expected to crossover with Captain America: Civil War, the plot of which involves the government attempting to regulate and control the activities of superheroes and other powered individuals. That feels like a natural place to intersect with Agents' Inhuman storyline, though its unlikely that actual individual characters or events will begin to move between the franchises, as Marvel has been reluctant to openly cross the mediums in that way in the past.
Yet to be determined is where the series will head for its now-secured fourth season. Each year has seen a significant continuity shakeup for the series, with S.H.I.E.L.D. itself folding at the end of season 1 and season 2 focusing on a new underground incarnation of the Agency before segueing into a focus on the The Inhumans at the midpoint. Season 3 was advertised as a showcase for the Secret Warriors, but swerved into an unexpected subplot about a portal to an alien planet that turned out to be home to the Hive, and the revelation that HYDRA was both still around and also significantly older and more entrenched than had originally been believed.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns with ‘Bouncing Back’ on Tuesday, March 8 at 9pm on ABC. A spin-off series starring Adrianne Palicki and Nicholas Blood, Marvel's Most Wanted, has been ordered to pilot but does not have a premiere date.