A new report claims Disney mandated ABC renew Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for season 5, despite the network wanting to cancel it after season 4. When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted in 2013 on ABC, it was the first television offshoot from the massively successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. The series' home network made sense since Marvel Studios, Marvel TV, and ABC all operate under the umbrella of Disney. Following S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) - who was resurrected after being killed by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in The Avengers - the ABC series has evolved a great deal over four seasons, and many fans believe it to be for the better.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 introduced fan favorite comic book character Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna) to the MCU, introduced the technology of Life Model Decoys, and explored an alternate reality called the Framework in which Hydra defeated S.H.I.E.L.D. While season 4 was well received by critics and fans alike, ratings still declined. As season 4 drew to a close, many wondered if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would renewed. Although ABC did order Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5, it's release has been delayed to make way for the network's other Marvel series, Inhumans, and the show has been moved to a Friday night slot. Both moves seemingly hint at a lack of faith in the series on ABC's part and a new report offers further insight into how close Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. came to being cancelled.
In an in-depth report on ABC's fall TV season from Variety, the trade reveals "the mandate came down from Disney for ABC to renew [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.] despite the desire by some at the network to end the series after four seasons." Variety doesn't go into further detail or reveal why exactly Disney wanted Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to continue.
Disney's reasons for mandating ABC renew Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are unknown, but fans may take it as the company having faith in the showrunners of the series and the viewers' interest in the continued stories of Phil Coulson and his team. Certainly, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. also goes a long way in connecting disparate aspects of the MCU by doing much of the heavy lifting when it comes to Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb's "It's all connected" mantra. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. also works as a launchpad for Marvel TV properties, since the mythology of the Inhumans were introduced in season 2 before the standalone series was announced - plus there have been rumors of Ghost Rider receiving a spinoff.
Of course, it's also possible Disney aimed to avoid another situation like the fan outcry in the wake of ABC cancelling Agent Carter after two seasons. In addition to the fans, the show's stars, producers, and Loeb himself have voiced interest in returning to the series if they can find a home for it. Loeb even blamed ABC for Agent Carter being cancelled. Now, Agent Carter still talked about as a show many fans hope to see revived. Were Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cancelled, fans would no doubt launch campaigns to keep the series going somehow.
All that being said, the Variety report hasn't been confirmed by Disney or ABC - and it likely won't be - so it's unclear how much merit it has. Still, considering how successful the MCU has become in the last decade, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Disney would have a vested interest in all aspects of the sprawling cinematic world. What this report means for a potential Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6 remains to be seen, but fans at least have season 5 to look forward to once it debuts on ABC later this year.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 premieres after Inhumans wraps up its first season on ABC, on Fridays at 9pm.