Marvel TV and ABC brought back many fan-favorite characters during Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Framework pod in season 4, but Jed Whedon has confirmed that those that didn't make it out originally, won't ever return - including Grant Ward. The fourth season of S.H.I.E.L.D. did something very different in terms of storytelling by breaking the full season up into three "pods." It began with Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna) being the focus, then shifted to LMDs and Aida, and culminated in the Framework. With the team stuck in the alternate world, it gave the show an opportunity to bring back familiar faces like Trip (BJ Britt) and Ward (Brett Dalton).
The inclusion of Ward played a prominent role in the final few episodes as he was not a good guy for real and forced Daisy to see someone who brought hurt before now be in a position to save her. Once it was revealed that Aida had developed Project Looking Glass - a device capable of replicating a person from the Framework into the real world - many theorized that this would be used to bring Ward and potentially others back into the fold moving forward. However, that will not be the case.
In EW's newest edition of their Spoiler Room special, a fan asked what the chances were to see more of Ward in season 5 and potentially beyond. To respond to the question, they recalled a conversation with showrunner Jed Whedon about this very possibility. Unfortunately for Ward fans, this is not in the cards moving forward due to "scheduling, or personal issues, or other shows that take our people away" and further confirms that Ward, Trip, or even Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) will not live again outside of the Framework.
This is not the biggest surprise considering the season four finale showed Aida completely shut down the Framework and destroy anything that was still inside. However, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has never gone an entire season without including Ward before, and this now means they will actually have to do just that for the entirety of season five.
As sad as it may be for longtime viewers to know that Dalton will never be involved with the show again, he ultimately got to close out his character in the best way possible. Instead of dying as the embodiment of Hive, he goes out a hero. Sure, it may have been in a fake world, but his actions still saved the real life versions of his former team. Ward still did some despicable things during the first three seasons of the show, but this ending allowed to be a good guy for once and own it.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 premieres January 2018 on ABC.