Characters: Agents Of Shield Team Coulson
Back to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Character IndexWarning: Major unmarked spoilers for The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Season One of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. below.
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Phillip J. "Phil" Coulson
"With everything that's happening, the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old-fashioned."
An agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Nick Fury's right-hand-man. He was first introduced trying to debrief Stark of his captivity by the Ten Rings, and later assisting him in pursuing the Iron Monger and curing his poisoning. Some time later, he was assigned with excavating Mjolnir, and bumped heads with Thor and his new human companions. Those efforts paid off in recruiting the Norse god to the Avengers, and once assembled he remained a major figure in escorting the heroes.
During the events of Loki's raid on the Helicarrier, Coulson was mortally wounded in an attempt to attack him. He was reported as dead to the Avengers and most of S.H.I.E.L.D., who promised to honor his memory and stop Loki for him. However, only those Level 7 and above knew what really happened to Coulson, and soon after these events he was given a new job in assembling a team to investigate strange events and rogue supers around the world.
After the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier
and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
's first season he steps up to become the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., tasked with rebuilding the agency after the internal HYDRA threat tore it apart.
- Action Survivor: Agent Coulson seems like an average government agent with no outstanding abilities shown so far beyond basic Badass Normalcy, yet he's managed to survive attacks from both Iron Monger and The Destroyer practically unscathed. Also, he knows kung fu.
- Adorkable: On the job, deadpan and stoic. Off the job, a goofy teddy bear of a man who collects superhero trading cards and squees over antique spy gear.
- Affectionate Nickname: Fury calls him "my one good eye" when lamenting his "death".
- Arc Words: Whenever his recovery in Tahiti comes up he says, "It's a magical place." This was implied to be connected to the Dark Secret related to his resurrection. After finding out the truth behind "Tahiti", when Agent Sitwell asks how Tahiti was, he simply says, "It sucked." Afterwards, he doesn't say anything about Tahiti when it's brought up.
- Ascended Extra: Originally an MCU-only side character, possibly for comic relief. Clark Gregg took the role mostly as a favor to Jon Favreau, but the character proved to be popularnote that Coulson became an official part of the comics, Peter Parker's principal, and the lead character in a TV serial in the MCU, to Fury's successor as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., and in Fury's opinion, one of the Avengers in his own right.
- Ascended Fanboy: From a devoted SHIELD agent and a fan of Fury and Rogers to Fury's successor!
- Ascended Meme: "Coulson Lives" is sometimes seen hidden in episodes of the Stan Lee-sponsored Bad Days cartoon, then Coulson himself does in Episode 12. Then when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s teaser was revealed, Marvel announced tweeting said slogan would unlock a longer trailer.
- Badass: It takes a particularly special kind of badass to go up against an Asgardian single-handedly, even if he was wielding an experimental weapon based on alien technology.
- He does it again on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. by attempting to take on Garrett and a group of Centipede-fueled soldiers on his own. It doesn't go so well, but he gets back up and tries again.
- We get our first glimpse of Coulson's physical abilities in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer, when he takes care of two armed robbers with only a bag of flour and martial arts. All because he couldn't decide on chocolate or powdered doughnuts.
- Badass Adorable: There's a huge contrast between how much of a badass Coulson is and how NICE and lovable his personality is.
- Badass Boast: When meeting Raina, she, rather deceivingly politely, states that she hasn't had the pleasure of meeting him. His response? "Lucky for you."
- Badass in a Nice Suit: The man can dress as well as he can kick ass when needed. His closet on the bus is nothing but dark suits and dress shirts.
- Back from the Dead: In "The Magical Place" it's revealed he wasn't dead for eight seconds, he was dead for days, but Director Nick Fury did everything possible, no matter how ethically abhorrent, to bring him back.
- Berserk Button:
- Don't ever betray Coulson's trust. Ever. Whereas Skye, who had simply hidden something from him, got off with a scolding and having to wear an electronic bracelet for the next six episodes, he points a gun at May and breaks off their friendship after finding out she was reporting on him to someone (who turned out to be Director Fury, but he was still hurt by the revelation that May would report on him to anyone). They later make up and Coulson forgives her for spying on him.
- When Ward is finally in custody, after receiving a well deserved beat down from May, Coulson seems pleased that Melinda may have broken his larynx and flat out tells him that he's going to invent new ways of ruining the young man's life.
- Don't jeopardize your own well-being. He explodes at Ward and Simmons in "FZZT" for jumping out of the cargo bay in midair. He considers especially Simmons to be irreplaceable.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- Big Good: His new position as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. marks him as this.
- Break the Cutie: Coulson's faith in S.H.I.E.L.D. is tested repeatedly throughout the series: the truth and circumstances about his resurrection are kept hidden from him by both his superiors and his close friend. S.H.I.E.L.D. itself no longer exists due to HYDRA's infiltration. However that faith is ultimately rewarded as Fury picks him to be the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and to rebuild it.
- Breakout Character: Very much so. He started out as a random suit, but around Iron Man 2 and Thor, his current characterization began to emerge. Once his popularity reached its peak in The Avengers, he then received his own show. And to top it all off, he has been promoted to the (arguable) position of Big Good: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Came Back Wrong: His revival is implied to have missed or changed some things, such as finding his muscle memory doesn't quite work the same when he can't field-strip a pistol. May assures him it's just Resurrection Sickness. "The Magical Place" reveals that he was dead for days and required extensive surgery and memory manipulation to get him back to normal, which apparently missed a few spots. Furthermore, the GH serum used to bring him back, distilled from an alien's blood, had severe psychological side-effects which Coulson seems to have mostly avoided, though the stinger to "Beginning of the End" shows him writing out alien script on a wall.
- Canon Immigrant:
- The Chains of Commanding: All his anger over Project TAHITI comes back to bite him when he becomes the new director of SHIELD, and finds himself having to make the same kinds of hard decisions regarding saving the mission or his people.
- Character Tics:
- Whenever Coulson is talking, he has a tendency to keep his arms folded. Sometimes even when he isn't talking.
- When anyone mentions "Tahiti," he automatically responds, "It's a magical place." As of "Yes Men", he's broken that compulsion.
- The Chessmaster:
- Rewatch Iron Man 2, Thor, and the shorts starring him. It becomes apparent that he knows exactly how people are going to react, but feigns ignorance to confirm it and make them think they had a choice. Nick Fury is the same, but Coulson augments it by managing to seem remarkably inoffensive to those who don't know any better.
- In "0-8-4", he was able to pin down that Reyes was gonna turn on them and used that to motivate the team into working together. He also may know about Skye being The Mole for the Rising Tide, when Fury asked him whether Skye could be trusted in The Stinger.
- Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder: Though he was joking when he said it, "Super Nanny" is an apt description of his relationship with the Avengers, or at least with Tony Stark.
- The Comically Serious: He's quite snarky and sarcastic, but you'd never pick up on that from his demeanor.
- Cool Car: He gets one named "Lola" in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Don't touch her. It's revealed to be capable of flight by the end of the first episode and later on it's revealed to have a pair of machine guns hidden behind the headlightss.
- Cool Shades: Dons a pair on occasion.
- Death Faked for You: According to Coulson, Fury faked his death on board the Helicarrier to help motivate the Avengers. Coulson claims that he "died" for forty seconds; Hill corrects him to eight, but mentions that he keeps extending the time each time he re-tells it. The truth is that he really was dead and it was for days but Director Fury "moved heaven and earth" to revive him.
- Defiant to the End:
- Despair Event Horizon: What had really happened to him after he died; he lost the will to live. It took that memory of Tahiti to pull him back.
- Disney Death: While seemingly killed by Loki, the knowledge that he survived was kept secret to all but Level 7 agents.
- Don't Explain the Joke: It seems Coulson likes hanging lampshades on his jokes. In he pilot, he makes a dramatic statement while stepping out of the shadows, then apologizes for it and says he thinks a bulb's burned out (which ended up making up for his surviving his fateful encounter with Loki being spoiled before the series was even broadcast). In episode 8, he puns on the fact that they have to dig for an artifact, then immediately points it out.
Coulson: See what I did there?
- Dork Knight:
- He's what happens if your stuffy and uptight math teacher decides to go out and become a secret agent.
- Providence establishes he's also a gamer.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- In Iron Man, we don't see much of him in the first few scenes he pops up, but he's very polite about setting up an appointment with Stark and Pepper. Later on, when Pepper hurriedly brings him along to arrest Stane, he and he stands very cool and collected while deploying a secret agent gadget (ok, a bomb) to break the door lock.
- In case you missed that, his first appearance in Iron Man 2 is warning Stark that if he tries to leave that he'll "taze [him] and watch Supernanny" while Stark drools into the carpet.
- In case you missed that, in Thor, he hands Jane Foster's crew a blank check while taking her notes.
- In the unlikely event that viewers missed The Avengers, his first scene in Agents is him Emerging from the Shadows, saying something dramaticnote , and then saying that the corner he just left was really dark and saying that he couldn't help himself. It probably needs a new bulb.
- The Everyman: Despite Coulson being called "the most recognizable face in the Marvel Cinematic Universe", he is depicted as an "Everyman" in a universe full of superheroes – "the glue that binds" the characters together. In Thor, Coulson complains that Tony Stark "never tells [him] anything." In an interview with WNBC, Gregg explained his portrayal of the character as 'just a guy grumbling about his job'.
Clark Gregg: "He's the guy who's tasked - a very disciplined guy in my opinion who possesses secrets that would turn your hair white - but at the same time he's tasked with handling these kind of diva superheroes, you know? Oh, really, Asgard? Dude, just get in the car."
- Fanboy: Of Captain America. He even has the trading cards. Also, he watched Rogers while he was sleeping.... we-we mean, he was.... he was present, while Rogers was unconcscious.... from the... ice.
- A Father to His Men: Coulson cares a great deal for his team and would do anything to protect them, even if it means going into the field alongside them. Skye in particular seems to look to him as a Parental Substitute.
- Flat "What.": In "Nothing Personal" after finding out he was responsible for Project T.A.H.I.T.I. all along.
- Genre Savvy: His most defining trait.
- His reaction to an unidentified mecha opening its face and bellowing a flame up from within? "Oh, here we go..."
- In "Girl in the Flower Dress" when learning of Scorch's name: "Ah crap. They gave him a name..."
- After finding out about Ward's true allegiances in "Nothing Personal", he realizes that Skye had been kidnapped and, judging from the footage of the two of them leaving Providence together, that she's trying to beat Ward at his own game–the name of the game being "Deception"–and knowingly risking her own life in the process.
- Good Is Not Soft:
- Coulson is one of the friendliest characters in the MCU, but there is a stone-cold ruthlessness hiding behind his grin. Whereas Whitehall and The Doctor crack the normally unflappable Raina with threats of violence, Coulson can have her tearfully begging for her life by just staring at her.
- Coulson tells Bobbi Morse that he believes SHIELD exists to protect the innocent and that potential threats should kept out of everyone's hands and not stored away to be studied and turned even more dangerous. He also adamantly states that he doesn't believe in acceptable losses. Yet later, when Mack becomes seemingly possessed and non-lethal approaches prove useless, Coulson unhesitatingly orders lethal action be taken and that Mack be sealed away.
- Good Is Old-Fashioned:
- This is exactly what Coulson believes that the world needs right now in Avengers. The TV series continues this theme, with Coulson commenting to Reyes that "with the world changing so fast around us, we need some anchors to the past". The room they're talking in is filled with such things as a first-edition walkie-talkie wristwatch in perfect working order.
- His belief seems to be proven in the field when the team uses Trips' grandfather's Howling Commando spy gadgets to assist them in taking down Centipede to great effect against vastly superior tech.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Has a vertical scar on his chest from when Loki stabbed him through the chest.
- Guile Hero: Coulson is incredibly adept at throwing opponents off kilter with his deadpan affability. If it wasn't for the fact that he is a truly friendly person who tries to see the best in everyone, he'd be a Manipulative Bastard on par with Nick Fury.
- The Heart:
- Fury considers him to be this to S.H.I.E.L.D., calling him his "one good eye." Fury later states this verbatim in the episode "The Beginning of the End".
- Also functions as this to his team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Compared to Melinda May and Grant Ward, he tends to be more compassionate and favors nonlethal solutions to the problems they face whenever possible. Although Skye seems to be edging toward this role as well.
- The "Building a Universe" documentary confirms that he's deliberately set up to be this for the Avengers.
- Heartbroken Badass: While he's hidden it very well, it's revealed in "The Magical Place" that the loss of his relationship with his cellist girlfriend post Avengers hit him pretty hard. You can see it practically kills him to be near her and not be able to tell her he's alive.
- Hero Antagonist: In Thor, he leads the S.H.I.E.L.D. group trying to investigate Mjolnir. To keep it hidden from outsiders he screws over Jane, Darcy, and Selvig in all ways possible, but thankfully once Thor gets his powers back, he acknowledges both him and S.H.I.E.L.D. are fighting the same cause.
Coulson: [confiscating Jane's stuff] Sorry, ma'am, we're the good guys!
- Heroic Sacrifice: Coulson's choice in facing Loki alone could be interpreted as one, especially given the fact that he thought his death would get the Avengers to stop bickering with one another to avenge him, as it were.
- In the Back: Courtesy of Loki in the Hulk cell room.
- In-Series Nickname: Skye calls him "A.C." because it's 'cooler' than "Agent Coulson."
- Irony: He was the agent in charge for Project T.A.H.I.T.I., as revealed in "Nothing Personal". However, he was so horrified at the side effects of the procedure, he threatened to quit if it wasn't shut down. After his death, Director Fury subjected him to Project T.A.H.I.T.I., complete with the memory alteration process.
- It's Personal:
- When Akela is found comitting crimes, he goes after her himself because she was his apprentice.
- When he hears that someone's popping off T.A.H.I.T.I. patients, he decides he has to get to the only other one of the first six remaining before the T.A.H.I.T.I. killer does because he was the project's director. To do this he locks up Skye in his place to keep her from interfering.
- The Knights Who Say Squee:
- He's very fond of Captain America. He's got the trading cards, plus he designed Cap's modern-day outfit.
- He has a love of classic spy gear. When Tripplet shows off his collection of his grandfather's Howling Commandos gear, Coulson goes full fanboy on the spot.
- Last Name Basis: In The Avengers, Tony Stark snarks that Coulson's first name is "Agent", as opposed to "Phil". But after the agent's mortal wounding, Tony has a change of heart and when boasting to Loki about the various Avengers who are going to be coming for him, he finishes by referring to him by his first name.
- The Leader:
- He's in charge of The Team, and for all that he's a very nice, very good man, he never forgets his position. After SHIELD goes defunct in "Turn, Turn, Turn" Simmons points out that he's technically no longer in charge and things go more democratic. However, the team still follows him into the middle of nowhere.
- As of the season one finale, the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., officially his team and Agent Billy Koenig. He has expanded it quite a bit by the start of the second season.
- Limited Wardrobe: He's almost never seen wearing anything other than a collection of dark suits. One episode has him choosing between two different shades of gray.
- Living Legend: Not as instantly recognised as May or Fitz-Simmons, perhaps, but it's clear that since the Battle of New York everyone in S.H.I.E.L.D. knows his name and what he did. (Though not many of the rank-and-file know he's still fulfilling the "living" part of the trope.) See Memetic Badass, below.
- Locked Out of the Loop:
- Despite believing he didn't die in The Avengers and just faked his death to motivate the team, it appears there's more to it than that. Maria Hill cryptically says to Dr. Streiten that Coulson can't ever find out the truth. During "A Magical Place" Coulson confronts him and the truth is... he's still a human being. He had simply lost the will to live during the procedure to bring him back to life, so they had to put that memory of Tahiti in his brain.
- However, inverted for another instance of the trope in "Providence": Agent Koenig reveals to Coulson that Nick Fury's alive, but to keep it to himself, hence making Coulson the only member of his team in the loop.
- As of season 2 it's his job as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D to lock everyone else out of the loop. Like Fury said, no one is supposed to know everything, except the guy in charge.
- Memetic Badass: "Providence" confirms that he's become one In-Universe to other high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. He's even acquired his own Fanboy, in the form of Agent Eric Koenig. Eric's brother Billy seems to have just as much affection for Coulson when they meet.
- Mission Control:
- Plays this role in the LEGO Marvel Superheroes video game; he's even voiced by Gregg.
- In season two of the series, he also plays this role because he's the new Director and has to coordinate things.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When he finds out that he was the one in charge of Project T.A.H.I.T.I. and that he recommended that it should be shut down or he would quit S.H.I.E.L.D. because there were too many ill side effects on the test subjects. His haunted expression says it all.
- Nice Guy: One of the nicest S.H.I.E.L.D. agents there is.
- Not So Different:
- He was outraged when he learned the lengths that Fury went to for his revival, and yet, when one of his own subordinates was in critical condition he makes the same decision. However, he's incredibly conflicted about it, breaking down when he admits to Skye what he knows about the GH325 used to save them.
- In a heroic version, he, like his idol Captain America, is officially a vigilante ex-SHIELD agent working against HYDRA after it began the civil war within SHIELD, a state he finally acknowledges fully in "Ragtag".
- One-Man Army: Not to the extent of Ward, May, or likely even Trip, but he can still singlehandedly defeat handfuls of Mooks on his own (even while unarmed), including soldiers from the US military.
- Only Mostly Dead: Even after Loki seemingly killed Coulson, Clark Gregg maintained he might still be alive, stating that Whedon told him beforehand that Coulson would survive the events of the film (although afterwards he admitted he was lying). Ultimately it was ambiguous until Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D was announced, upon which Joss Whedon himself confirmed that Coulson survived his wounding in The Avengers...though as Back from the Dead above shows, not enough to avoid a painful/traumatic resurrection process.
- Only Sane Man: Trapped among prima donna superheroes and morally ambiguous world security leaders.
- OOC Is Serious Business:
- As mentioned below, Coulson is almost-perpetually calm. Thus, if he ever raises his voice, you know something must be very, very wrong.
- He wouldn't lock up one of his own (e.g. Simmons and Skye) unless it was a very serious situation. Ward would be an exception, except Coulson had already decided he wasn't one of his own.
- Order Reborn: At the end of Season One, Nick Fury entrusts the rebuilding of S.H.I.E.L.D to Coulson.
- Original Generation: Retroactively; see "Promoted to Opening Titles" below.
- Papa Wolf: He's very protective of his protégés.
- "Eye Spy". After learning the identity of the person who was controlling Akela, he immediately springs into action in order to arrest the crook.
- In "T.R.A.C.K.S." he instantly knocks out Quinn when the latter implies he hurt Skye, mirroring what Skye did to Raina two episodes back regarding Coulson.
- In "End of the Beginning", he points a gun, filled with real bullets as opposed to nonlethal Icers, at May when she is hunting down Fitz, who has discovered that she is The Mole for an unknown party. To reiterate: he drew down on a member of his own team in order to protect another one.
- Parental Substitute: Given Skye's history of being continually passed between foster homes, Coulson's probably the closest (and certainly the longest running) thing to a father figure she's had in her entire life.
- Perpetual Smiler:
- A part of his persona that he uses to help guide conversations. He's almost never seen without his serene, calm smile on his face, even during otherwise morose or trying situations. Since he never loses his cool, he never drops the smile.
- In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson seems to feature a more stoic and serious demeanor. This is more than likely due to him coming back wrong. When the situation demands it, whether it's resolving a conflict within his team, or dealing with the shadier aspects of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson has proven that you shouldn't handle him lightly.
- Popularity Power: After Coulson's death in The Avengers, Twitter and Tumblr exploded with support for him to come back, campaigning the slogan #CoulsonLives. Their attempts were so successful that not only did Marvel bring Coulson Back from the Dead, but they even made tweeting #CoulsonLives unlock a trailer for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Promoted to Opening Titles: He started off as just a standard suit in the first Iron Man movie, but his role was greatly expanded by Thor. Now, he's deeply entrenched into the Marvel lore, even getting his own comics, short films and TV series.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He is extremely tolerant of the antics his team sometimes gets into and in some cases even encourages them.
- Resurrection Sickness: After his death during The Avengers, he was resurrected using the regenerative drug GH.325; upon his initial revival, Coulson was in terrible pain and begged to be killed again, forcing the scientists to implant Fake Memories of him going through a peaceful rehabilitation in Tahiti.
- The Reveal: Battle Scars #6 reveals that "Cheese", Marcus Johnson's soldier friend, is actually the 616 counterpart of Agent Coulson.
- Running Gag: Referring to traitorous individuals as sons of bitches. Done in "Turn, Turn, Turn" to Garrett and in "A Fractured House" to Ward.
- Sacrificial Lion: All who heard of his loss were motivated to defeat Loki for him. Especially Tony Stark.
: And there's one other person you pissed off. His name is Phil
. (blasts Loki with his repulsors)
- Seen It All: Hints of Type 1, as is typical of MIB. He also has Type 2's Genre Savviness as he orders his men to let Thor try and lift his hammer, and realized just in time that Destroyer's head opening and glowing is a very bad thing. When he calls Black Widow, who's been captured but then subsequently beats the tar out of her captors, his expression is of complete boredom as he listens to the resulting scuffle as if it were hold music. Notably, this trait is a case of Character Development throughout the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. In his first appearance in Iron Man, he was rather nervous and unsure of himself. Each subsequent film added more and more to his confidence.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Season One, Episode Six of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the first time he's seen without a suit. His suits get progressively sharper as we learn more about him.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: His behavior is a little more erratic post-Avengers as seen in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Coulson eventually admits this to himself and May, who tells him that dying is going to change someone no matter who they are. His revival also took a bit of a toll on his sanity and faith in S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Silent Snarker: He doesn't even have to say anything (which delighted Joss Whedon to no end). His reactions are pure gold.
- Stoic Spectacles: Part of his disguise as Simmons's "father" in "T.R.A.C.K.S." and as a Fitz Expy in "Ragtag", right down to the cardi and tie.
- Team Dad:
- Whenever the team gets into an argument, expect Coulson to be the one to break it up. Skye even refers to him as such.
- Coulson so embodies this trope, there's a blog about it.
- In "...Ye Who Enter Here", Skye has a dream where Coulson and May are acting as parents to a baby (obviously herself). Coulson is white, May is Chinese. Skye's biological father is white, her biological mother Chinese.
- That Came Out Wrong: Coulson's fanboy love of Captain America intersects with some unintentional awkwardness when talking to the man himself.
Coulson: I watched you while you were sleeping. [awkward silence] I-I mean... I was present when you were unconscious from the ice.
- Tomato in the Mirror: He was the one calling the shots on Project T.A.H.I.T.I. all along. His reaction? A Flat "What."-like reaction in the form of a stunned "Huh".
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In the second half of the season toward May when he finds out that Fury told her about his resurrection and was ordered to keep him in the dark about it. Justified, because that's not something you forgive so easily, and even then he realizes he's been acting as such and wants to apologize for it within two episodes.
- True Companions: He sees his team as his family, with himself as the father. When a surgeon told him and the rest to gather Skye's family before she died, he said it was already present.
- Undying Loyalty: To SHIELD and Nick Fury. His Heroic BSOD in "Providence" reflected that even though SHIELD his disbanded, he still sees himself as a devoted agent that still means something. Phil was the only one who believed Fury sent him the co-ordinates of the base too.
- Unfazed Everyman: There really isn't anything that can surprise him, be it thunder gods, men clad in flying wearable tanks, or superhuman WWII vets who were frozen for the better part of a century. note Justified in that this is the sort of thing S.H.I.E.L.D. does. Thunder gods aren't special, they're Thursday. This makes what he sees in T.A.H.I.T.I all the more serious as it drives him into a Heroic BSOD.
- Unwanted Revival: In "That Magical Place", we finally see the details of his "resurrection", and it's horrifying. His skull was split open and a robot operated on his brain while Coulson begged "Just let me die" over and over again. Dr. Streiten says, because of the procedures, Coulson completely lost the will to live and the Tahiti memories were an attempt to give that will back.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Gives Skye two of them. The first is in "Girl in the Flower Dress" after she betrays his trust (see Berserk Button and Beware the Nice Ones above). The second is in "The Hub" after he catches her prying into something about the mission of the episode meant for Level 8 eyes; this earns her a good talking-to and an explanation as to why secrecy is important in certain situations. He then uses what Skye told him about what she saw in those files (that nobody had been assigned to extract their teammates after they completed their mission, and that nobody had told them that before sending them in) to give another one to Agent Hand.
- May receives one from him when it is revealed that she'd been informing on him to Director Fury and knew all about his resurrection the entire season. Fury eventually gets one of his own, but the only bit of it we hear is a flustered-sounding Coulson telling him, "Stupid, stupid, stupid! And cruel! And very stupid!"
- He's also on the receiving end of two. First, from Skye after she finds out about the mission in "The Hub". Second, when he's disguised as Simmons's estranged father in "T.R.A.C.K.S.", he gets lectured by Stan Lee himself on good parenting.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: His belief in heroes, old-fashioned notions, and in the Avengers to work together as a team can be seen as this. In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, he manages to talk down an enraged Mike because he believes people are good. This is also why Nick Fury calls him The Heart of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- With My Hands Tied: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer. Coulson doesn't need his gun to bring down petty thugs.
- Wolverine Publicity: The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes has a story in the comic series in which Maria Hill recaps the first season, with help from Nick Fury's records. Coulson joins her in examining the records, despite the fact he never shows up in either season of the cartoon. This also extends to Ultimate Marvel, where he showed up in Cataclysm: Ultimates without any warning, and went on to be The Leader of the Ultimate Future Foundation. In the central "Earth-616" Marvel Universe, shortly after The Avengers, he became the go-to background SHIELD agent for people to call upon to help other people, be it for a reason, like having him tag along with a hero or heroine, or for no reason, like having him brought up as someone's friend, with no relevance to the plot.
- Would Hit a Girl: Camilla Reyes, his former flame. Justified as she started it and can dish it out as well as she can take it.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Yes, even the most Genre Savvy human in the MCU has his fair share of misses. For example, neither he nor Senator Ward nor the FBI agents escorting Grant Ward to his brother's custody anticipated the younger Ward breaking free by dislocating a thumb, even though when handing the bastard to the FBI Coulson specifically ordered the agents in question, "Do not give him one inch."
- You Are in Command Now: In "Beginning of the End", Nick Fury gives him the resources to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D., with Coulson as the new director since he himself is officially dead.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A heroic example, directed at Grant Ward, in "A Fractured House". The only reason he did not kill Ward back in Season One was because he was useful for HYDRA intel. Now he is more useful as a bargaining tool.
Melinda Qiaolian May
"People believe what they want to believe to justify their actions."
A highly experienced agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who is an Ace Pilot
and weapons expert. She is a member of Agent Coulson's team that is assembled to investigate strange events around the world. With Coulson now Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., May functions as his Number Two
in the fight against HYDRA.
- Ace Pilot: She serves as the pilot for the team, though a few team members are skeptical as to whether or not this is all Coulson has planned for her, given her fame within S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Action Girl: Easily one of the strongest characters in the series, female or otherwise.
- Alliterative Name: Melinda May.
- Almighty Janitor: It's hinted she's a famous and very experienced agent who decided to step away from the field for a desk job, and now officially is just the pilot of the team's jet. She eventually moves out of this role, becoming Coulson's right-hand and an active field agent again.
- Anti-Hero: She's firmly on the side of good, but she occasionally does some less-than-heroic things, such as mercilessly beating up the imprisoned and combat-incapable Ian Quinn after he shoots Skye. To be fair he did shoot Skye.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Downplayed, but there. May is not prone to bragging, but if you place her skills in doubt, she'll gladly tell you how badly you'll get your ass kicked before proceeding to do exactly that.
- Badass: May is easily the most badass member of the team, shown particularly in "The Well" where she uses two pieces of the Berserker Staff without visible effort when Ward goes Unstoppable Rage with just one.
- Badass Boast: To Sif, of all people, when the latter warns May about Ward not hesitating to kill her.
May: He (Ward) won't kill me. He may try to kill me... but he won't.
- Badass Family: Her mother is a Retired Badass secret agent.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: She wears a pantsuit in "Ragtag" when she's disguised as a businesswoman.
- Batman Gambit: Fury knew Coulson would want her on his team, so he got to her first, explained the details of Coulson's resurrection, and asked her to keep an eye on him in case he Came Back Wrong. She came up with a list of team roles she'd need in case things went south, which Fury translated into the mission profile he gave to Coulson. A biologist for looking after his body, a mechanical engineer for the machine for looking after his mind, and a special forces operative for helping May physically take him down.
- Berserk Button:
- So far, the only things that have made her lose her cool is someone seriously injuring a member of Team Coulson and someone betraying them. Interestingly, she's not much angrier at Skye in episode 5 because she figured it might've been typical of Skye to do so, but when Ward does it? She explodes.
- To a lesser degree, she doesn't like being called "The Cavalry."
- Big Damn Heroes: She earned the name "the Cavalry" due to rescuing people right in the nick of time. She's done a lot of that so far in the series.
Fitz: Is that the extraction team?
Ward: No, it's the Cavalry.
- Blunder Correcting Impulse: Played With; the team does fine, but May's frustration with serving as Mission Control and having no ability to influence the action as it happens leads her to return to combat in spite of her trauma and misgivings.
- Broken Ace: May is cold and reserved because of trauma in the past(which is the reason she initially shunned field work), but she is still easily the most formidable character in the series. She's smart, savvy, and destroys anyone short of superhuman in combat.
- Broken Bird: The backstory that was somewhat revealed in "Repairs" shows she's a textbook example: whatever she had to do during that one mission changed a rule-breaking, fun-loving, kind woman into a stoic, cold and somewhat ruthless agent.
- Canon Foreigner: She had no comic book counterpart before the show started.
- Canon Immigrant: The S.H.I.E.L.D. ongoing comic begins in December 2014
- Cutting the Knot: Will often take the direct brute force solution when others are discussing what to do.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Enough to not make her want to work on the field and want to work in a dark, boring office.
- Declaration of Protection: In "Face My Enemy" she tells Coulson that she will take care of him even if the GH-325 takes over his mind like it did with Garret.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: She is not a completely defrosted one. More like going from Arctic to "chilly."
- Doesn't Like Guns: Not that she isn't willing to use one, but she doesn't like to carry them if she thinks it's unnecessary. This may simply be an extension of not wanting to be brought into combat. The one time it comes up, someone goes at her with a gun and she disarms him, steals it, and uses it. May later discusses this when Fitz is showing off the ICER guns, and she picks one up.
- Does Not Like Spam: According to Coulson, she hates coffee. When Agent 33 impersonated her, she didn't know this and it gave her away.
- Do Not Call Me Paul: Inverted. She's fine with being addressed by her given name, it's her old moniker of "the Cavalry" that she doesn't like to hear anymore.
- Drowning My Sorrows: After her encounter with the Berserker Staff and post-action in "Girl in the Flower Dress", she reaches for alcohol.
- Easily Forgiven: Averted. Although May is still on the team, Coulson is still mad for hiding the the truth about his resurrection from him and keeping him Locked Out of the Loop. He point blank tells her she's not his friend anymore, although they eventually reconcile.
- Emotionless Girl: She's not big on expressions.
Skye: Which non-expression is this?
- Empowered Badass Normal: The Asgardian Berserker Staff makes her effectively unstoppable, when she gets a hold of it.
- Exact Words:
- When questioned if Skye's presence on The Bus would help the team, she gave her professional opinion, "No." What she didn't tell Agent Hand was that she knew Skye would help them more off The Bus. She even tells Ward "don't assume the worst about me."
- She says that if she needs a gun, she'll take one, not that she doesn't like guns.
- Expy: With her dress sense and Dark and Troubled Past, she's basically the producers' way of putting Black Widow in the show.
- Friends with Benefits: "Friends" might be pushing it but the benefits are certainly there with her and Ward. It's a case of Fire-Forged Friends; since she and Ward both were affected by the Berserker Staff, they are the only ones who truly can help each other cope. Despite what she might think, he really respects her fighting skills. This obviously ends after Ward is exposed as a HYDRA agent, and he later taunts her about being upset he lied to her.
- Generation Xerox: It turns out her mother is an intelligence agent too, though not for S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Genre Savvy: She knows how to lose HYDRA bogeys and recognizes that Ward had nothing to do with sending them back to blow the Bus out of the sky. They failed thanks to her quick thinking.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Usually seen wearing a leather vest or jacket. When Skye impersonates her in "A Magical Place" she chooses a leather jacket for her costume.
- Ice Queen: She and Skye tend to clash a lot as a result.
- Inscrutable Oriental: She's a woman of few words, which is often lampshaded by Skye, a woman of many words.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She is blunt and seemingly cold towards people, but she's obviously a very moral person who cares for her teammates.
- Just Following Orders: Her justification for keeping Coulson in the dark about his resurrection. Coulson call her out on it. Hard.
- Lady of War: Being a veteran Action Girl, she rarely or never falters in any mission obstacles and setbacks.
- The Lancer: Reluctantly stepped into this role because she can see that Coulson isn't what he used to be and is clearly the one in charge after him.
- Living Legend: "The Cavalry" is well known among S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
Fitz-Simmons: [simultaneously] She's the Cavalry!
May: I told you never to call me that.
- Made of Iron: At one point, May is thrown into a brick wall with enough momentum to shatter a normal human's spine. Despite being briefly knocked out and slightly battered, she just walks it off. She also dislocates and then relocates her wrist like it's nothing.
- Mama Bear: When you've got the Team Mom and Badass tropes, this is bound to show up sooner or later. It turns up in "T.A.H.I.T.I.", when she beats Ian Quinn bloody for shooting Skye. Coulson interrupted her less than a minute in, so who knows how badly she'd have hurt him.
- May-December Romance: Punny Name aside, if we go by actor ages May has almost 20 years on Ward.
- Meganekko: Part of her disguise as a businesswoman in "Ragtag".
- Memetic Badass: In-Universe. Students at S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy add twists to her personal legend as a way of pranking the incoming freshmen. It's gotten to the point where nobody remembers the real details any more, except for Coulson who was there.
- The Mole: Selected the team at Nick Fury's request to keep an eye on Coulson and deal with any complications that arose from his resurrection. She reported to Fury from the beginning until Fury's supposed death.
- Not So Above It All: Seen a couple times. In "The Well," she echoes Skye's assertion that Thor is "dreamy," and not simply handsome, and at the end of "Repairs," she pulls a prank on Fitz.
- Not So Stoic: Quinn shooting Skye got under her skin, which was lampshaded by Ward after the epic beating that ensued.
- One Woman Army: Her nickname is "The Cavalry". The implication is that she is a one person cavalry (a cavalry being a group of mounted soldiers).
- Perpetual Frowner: Mostly because she's extremely peeved about being brought out of retirement and getting into combat situations she was promised would be avoided.
- The Quiet One: She's not too talkative, to say the least. In "Face My Enemy", Skye remarks that she's said more words during a single undercover conversation than she has in a year.
- Race Lift: The character Melinda May was originally supposed to be a white woman named Althea Rice. However, when Ming-Na Wen gave an impressive audition, the character was rewritten as Asian-American.
- Red Baron: "The Cavalry", and she doesn't like being called that.
- Reluctant Warrior: She only joins the team after Coulson assures her she will only act as the team's pilot/wheelwoman. Otherwise she tries to avoid combat situations when she can.
- Retired Badass: A former field agent so famous that Ward knows who she is just by seeing her, but she has no desire to do field work again. She brings herself out of retirement at the end of "The Asset", after sitting on the sidelines like she supposedly wanted.
- Sarcastic Devotee: Much of what she says to Coulson in the early episodes is sarcasm, backtalk, or otherwise disrespectful but she left her desk job because he asked her to. In later episodes, though, she grows into his confidante.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Fed up with Coulson refusing to trust her after finding out she spied on him for Fury and excluding her from team missions, Melinda takes off in "The Only Light in the Darkness". It saves her life, keeping Ward from outright executing her.
- Secret Keeper: In Season 2, May knows about Coulson's urgings to carve alien symbols because of the GH serum treatment, and helps him cope with it.
- Sexy Mentor: To Ward. He looks up to her as a more experienced and skilled operative, she sometimes gives him advice and they hooked up at the end of "The Well". "Repairs" implies that it wasn't their first night together. This goes out the window after Ward becomes exposed as a HYDRA agent.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: As seen in the preview for "Face My Enemy", where she goes under cover with Coulson and dresses up for the occasion. Coulson certainly thought she looked nice.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Seems to have high-functioning Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the incident where she earned her hated nickname, which might be why she hates it.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Manages to pull this on Tobias despite his ghost-like teleportation powers.
- The Stoic: She can dislocate her wrist, slip the ropes, knock someone out, and then reset her wrist without showing a hint of emotion. Even a completed Berserker Staff can't get more than a Battle Cry out of her.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: She may be more of the ice than the sugar, but Coulson states that part of his reason for wanting May on the Bus is to return her back to the kind-hearted woman she used to be.
- That promo clip for "The Magical Place" of her telling Agent Hand that Skye's of no use on the plane? May did it so that Skye could do her part in the mission unhindered.
- Also, in "Yes Men", she's revealed to be The Mole for someone. Said someone happens to be Director Fury himself, who is unambiguously heroic (even considering all the details about Coulson's resurrection).
- The summary for "Face My Enemy" states that Coulson finds himself "attacked" by May. Come the episode, and the attacker turns out to be Agent 33 disguised as May, while May's participation in the episode is completely heroic.
- Team Mom: Designated as such by Skye when she compares an argument between her and Coulson as "mom and dad fighting." In "...Ye Who Enter Here", she has a dream where Coulson and May are acting as parents to a baby (obviously herself).
- The Promise: Coulson makes her promise to kill him if he deteriorates to the point of becoming Garrett. She's not happy about it.
- Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: The Berserker Staff has no (noticeable) effect on her, since she hasn't repressed the trauma that drove her to her desk job. note However she is noticeably less stoic in battle then normal. She changes her facial expression.
- Town Girls: The (aggressive if stoic and calculated) Butch to Simmons's Femme and Skye's Neither.
- Tranquil Fury:
- Two First Names: Her surname is commonly used as a female given name.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Fury told her about about Coulson's resurrection and ordered her to keep tabs on him in case he came back wrong but not let Coulson know about it. When Coulson found out, he was understandably pissed off and gave her the cold shoulder for quite a while afterward.
- Woman Scorned: She seems to enjoy beating up Ward a bit too much.
"Are you mental? I did explain what I meant using the Queen's bloody English!"
Portrayed By: Iain De Caestecker
A Level Five S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who is an expert engineer. He works alongside Jemma Simmons, with the two of them sharing a close friendship. He is a member of Agent Coulson's team that is assembled to investigate strange events around the world.
"I can't be a part of your bad-girl shenanigans! I like following the rules and doing what's expected of me! It makes me feel nice."
A Level Five S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who specializes in biology and chemistry. She works alongside Leo Fitz, with the two of them sharing a close friendship. She is a member of Agent Coulson's team that is assembled to investigate strange events around the world.
- Action Survivor: She's becoming one in Season 2. Though far from a fully-fledged Action Girl, she seems to be making a deliberate effort to become stronger and faster, even if it's just to ensure that she can evade her potential captors within HYDRA until her extraction team arrives. It comes in handy in "A Hen in the Wolf House".
- Admiring the Abomination: She's inappropriately excited to learn that Centipede has managed to keep its super-soldiers from exploding.
- Adorkable: Especially when it comes to biological mysteries. See Nightmare Fetishist below.
- Agent Scully: In "The Well", she doubts any magical elements in their investigation and prefers to look for scientific reasoning instead. This is pretty heavily shown when the explanation she choses is that the Berserker staff causes the release of anger-causing chemicals in the brain... which just means that the staff causes anger, the exact problem she wanted to solve in the first place.
- All-Loving Hero: She's the only one on the Bus with any sympathy for the Centipede soldiers. Then she plays Rochambeau with Fitz over which one of them gets to torture the prisoner, so this trope is downplayed.
- Badass Bookworm: Explicitly averted, the first thing we learn about her and Fitz is that they're not combat-capable. Her first level in badass was in T.R.A.C.K.S., when she does what most of Steve Rogers' training platoon didn't have the cojones to do and jumps on a grenade to save Skye and Fitz's lives. Granted, it wasn't a lethal grenade, but she didn't know that, and neither did Steve. The Season One finale sees her taking another level in badass, when she refuses to let Fitz pull a Heroic Sacrifice to save her life, and instead manages to save them both.
- Bad Bad Acting: As a result of being a Bad Liar.
- On a couple of occasions she attempts to overcome her inability to lie convincingly by deciding what she's going to say beforehand. Needless to say, it backfires, and she ends up either speaking completely tonelessly or over-doing the emotional delivery.
- Averted in Season Two: While she still believes she can't handle telling direct lies, she's become very good at evasively delivering half-truths and Exact Words as part of her role as Coulson's Reverse Mole within HYDRA.
- Bad Liar: A Running Gag. Nearly every episode starting with "The Hub" has at least one incident.
- When Agent Sitwell catches her helping Skye get into the Hub's database in "The Hub", her hilariously inept attempt at deceiving him starts with trying to convince him she's looking for a bathroom, heads on through an amazingly bad attempt at flirting/seduction, and ends with shooting him with the Night-Night gun because she talked to Skye over the earpiece right in front of him. All the while, Skye pleads with her to stop talking.
- In "T.R.A.C.K.S.", she tries to compensate with an overly-elaborate backstory which fools Stan Lee.
- In "Turn, Turn, Turn," Triplett lampshades it, saying that if they're ever interrogated she should just let him talk.
- In Season Two, Skye calls her lying skills "a horror show". In truth, she's gotten much better during the hiatus, because Coulson assigned her to be SHIELD's Reverse Mole inside HYDRA.
- Town Girls: The (lovely, idealistic and adorkable) Femme to May's Butch and Skye's Neither.
- The Unfavorite: The S.H.I.E.L.D. comics give her a brother and sister to whom her father compares her unfavourably.
- Walking Spoiler: Every trope associated with her role in Season 2 has been thoroughly spoiler tagged for this reason. Between her being Fitz's hallucination for much of her screen-time and promos indicating that the real Simmons defected to HYDRA when she's truly Coulson's Reverse Mole, it's almost impossible to discuss her character with someone who hasn't seen the new season yet.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- in "FZZT", Coulson rakes her and Ward over the coals for jumping off the Bus during the climax.
Coulson: Don't get me wrong — I'm happy you're both alive, truly — and I realize you were trying to save the team — but what you did today? That was not your call. Just getting you out of the water — do you have any idea what a pain it is dealing with the Moroccan office? Don't you ever pull a stunt like that again! We'd hate to lose you, Jemma.
- She comes in for one of these courtesy of Skye and Trip in "Heavy is the Head": they're not happy with her for leaving Fitz and the rest of the team. They have to rethink that line of thinking in "Making Friends and Influencing People" when they realize that she didn't in fact just leave them, and Fitz, because she wanted to but to infiltrate HYDRA. At that point they get it - they just don't know if she's going to survive it, considering she's such a bad liar..
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
- Despite her total fearlessness when in close proximity to insects, reptiles, rodents, dead bodies, and carriers of infectious disease, in "Providence" she's anxious at the prospect of there being bears anywhere within scanning range.
- After nearly falling to her death in "FZZT", she mentions an increased fear of heights once or twice, which becomes a minor difficulty in "The Well". It doesn't really come up much later because she was making a conscious effort to avoid letting it develop into a full-blown phobia.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist:
- Simmons likes following the rules. It makes her feel nice!
- Later Averted: Simmons becomes massively disillusioned with S.H.I.E.L.D. following the "Uprising" arc, and after learning of Ward's betrayal, she's ready to accept that some people are inherently evil, while Fitz is the one arguing that no-one is simply a bad person for no reason.
- Women Are Wiser: Subtly Subverted. Simmons often hints that she thinks this (especially of herself in relation to Fitz), but while it's sometimes true (even he's forced to admit she's probably the more intelligent of the pair), he's more capable of adapting quickly to tasks outside of his comfort zone, and is generally better at dealing with people who aren't helpful allies.
"With great power comes.... a ton of weird crap you are not prepared to deal with."
A civilian hacker who draws the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. and is tracked down by Agent Coulson's team. Despite the objections of both his subordinates and superiors, Coulson makes her part of The Team
- Action Survivor: She's not quite an Action Girl yet, but she can survive against standard mooks when the situation calls for it. This changes in season 2.
- Action Girl: Starting in season 2, wherein she's able to hold her own against Agent 33, who has much more combat experience than Skye does.
- Adorkable: Shows delight in talking to Mike about his powers, and is confirmed to have cosplayed in front of Stark Tower. In the episode "Eye Spy", Ward alleges that she says "bang" when firing a gun.
- Ambiguously Brown: Chloe Bennet is half-white and half-Chinese. As Skye is an orphan, her ethnic background was unclear. "Seeds" implied that her heritage is at least partially Chinese, like Chloe herself, as baby Skye was found in Hunan Province in China. Season 2 later on confirmed that her father is white and her mother is Chinese.
- Ambiguously Human:
- Since she's been revealed to be a 0-8-4, she could conceivably be anything. She might not even be human.
Skye: [jokingly] Like, what, you think I'm an alien?
Skye: Wait, seriously, I could be an alien!?
Coulson: It's a theory.
Skye: You can't just drop something like that on someone!
- She's apparently an Inhuman, which means that she's entirely human until exposure to Terrigen Mists... which happened in episode 2:10.
- Ascended Fanboy: She's always Squeeing over superheroes, and then becomes a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. Turns out, she's a future superhero herself.
- The Atoner: After being outed as The Mole for the Rising Tide, she works at regaining the team's trust. "FZZT" shows her listing them off: memorizing S.H.I.E.L.D. protocols, "yes sir, no sir" and wearing the bracelet.
- Audience Surrogate: She's a superhero fan and the only main character who starts out as a civilian.
- Badass: Her unrivalled hacking abilities make her an excellent asset to SHIELD, and she's also shown to be quite the Guile Hero. With combat training from her superiors, she becomes combat-capable enough to the point that she's able to hold her own in the field.
- Beauty Inversion: Averted. In the pilot, she's homeless (living in her van), yet she's perfectly clean, her hair and makeup is immaculate, and there's not so much as a wrinkle in her clothes. This is possibly justified by the fact she had a boyfriend who did have a place to stay at the time.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
- Look at her picture: does she look homeless?
- Later Averted in "T.R.A.C.K.S." where she bleeds profusely after being shot in the stomach by Quinn. Subsequently Averted even harder in "T.A.H.I.T.I." as a direct result - she's unconscious, slowly dying in a hospital bed, with greyish skin and tubes sticking out of her, and generally does look like someone fighting for their life without much consideration for the aesthetics of the thing.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: She tried to get Mike to embrace his powers. He did. Just not in the way she expected. In "Girl in the Flower Dress", Coulson warns her that the truth about her parents may be worse than not knowing.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Definitely hinted at with Ward in their interrogation scene.
- Berserk Button: Go ahead, try to kill Director Coulson. She'll threaten to kill you without a second's hesitation. Even if you are her father.
- Broken Pedestal: When Ward is revealed as a HYDRA mole, Skye loses her Love Interest and her S.H.I.E.L.D. mentor in one go, something that clearly hits her very hard.
Antoine "Trip" Triplett
Antoine "Trip" Triplett
A Level Six S.H.I.E.L.D. agent working with Agent Garrett since Ward's promotion. He and Garrett assist Coulson's team in several missions during the hunt for the Clairvoyant. Trip soon joined the team on a permanent basis after HYDRA's continued existence was exposed.
- The Ace: Aside from being a bonafide badass, he's smart enough to understand every word that Fitz says. He can also fly a plane and anything else Coulson needs him to do.
- Always Someone Better: Fitz is starting to see him as this due to his closeness with Simmons and his status as The Ace.
- Badass: One of the team's more combat-effective members. Despite still recovering from a life threatening wound, Tripp manages to run around and disarm four remote bombs before they detonate and kill everyone in the Underground city.
- Badass Family: His grandfather is a Howling Commando!
- Bald of Awesome and Badass Beard: They highlight each other to make him all the more awesome.
- Big Brother Instinct: Seems to have inherited Ward's attitude towards FitzSimmons in this regard. When the gun turret in "Providence" starts firing into the group, Triplett can be seen covering Simmons's retreat and then pulling Fitz out of the way before diving for cover himself.
- Black Dude Dies First: The first member of Team Coulson to die as of "What They Become".
- Canon Foreigner: Unlike many other major recurring characters on the show (particularly S.H.I.E.L.D. agents), but like the main cast members, Triplett has no comic book counterpart.
- Catchphrase: His all-purpose "Damn!".
- Cultured Badass: Much to Fitz' consternation.
...but I'm telling you, he's chasing the white whale. Fitz:
Okay, have you even read Moby-Dick
Yeah, have you? [beat] Fitz:
That's not the point.
- Deadpan Snarker: Snarks to Ward about the Bus being tricked out and how he'll probably find the brig "between the Jacuzzi and the Squash Court". He and Fitz, who also employs this trope a lot, trade insults more or less every time they talk to one another. It helps that they share a Love Interest.
- Dead Partner: His partner in Garret's team was Damon Rowe, who was killed by Ian Quinn's men thanks to information provided by the Clairvoyant. Triplett had to tell Rowe's six year old son about his father's death and wants to kill the Clairvoyant for it.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Downplayed, but it's there. Upon hearing that Coulson and Skye were in the alien city, he immediately jumps back into the city, WITHOUT the hazmat suit he had on earlier. He proceeds to find and disarm the four bombs that he and Fitz-Simmons just set up, when earlier, they had to SPLIT UP for them to make it out with "ten minutes to spare". Finally, he makes it into the room where Skye and Raina are in just before it's sealed, though this proves to be a fatal mistake for him. He does try to break the Diviner before he gets Taken for Granite.
- Fake Guest Star: He appears in all but one episode in the final run of Season One, has as much screen-time as the leads and is a full member of Coulson's team (essentially replacing Ward) by the end, but is still billed as a guest star. This is still the case in Season Two, despite the popular belief that he'd be promoted to lead cast and the fact that he appears in every episode. Justified as he barely makes it to the halfway point of Season Two before carking it.
- Famous Ancestor: His grandfather is one of the Howling Commandos. Quite possibly where he gets his Cultured Badass from. We never did find out which one, though.
- Good Counterpart: For Ward; he joins Team Coulson as the replacement Big Guy while Ward turns out to be HYDRA. Also, both of them worked under Garrett, but Triplett is a loyal SHIELD agent.
- The Good Guys Always Win: Espouses this belief in "The Only Light in the Darkness". His grandfather kicked HYDRA's ass back in the day and he's going to do the same thing now.
- Genre Savvy: How to defuse a situation where he's locked in a room with Simmons, who may be a HYDRA agent, and if she's not, she also suspects him of being one? He reasons that he's the far better fighter of the two, and gives her his knife.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Had Trip not shattered the crystal, the Terrigen Mists would have spread much farther, triggering widespread mutations and chaos.
- Hidden Depths: Fitz repeatedly makes the mistake of treating Trip like Dumb Muscle and is continuously flustered whenever he tries to explain something only for Trip to already know it, or even show him up.
- The Knights Who Say Squee: Like Coulson, he's very enthusiastic about his grandfather's old SHIELD gear.
- Literally Shattered Lives: After he dies, his body crumbles to dust almost immediately due to the effects of Skye's new earthquake powers on his petrified remains, presumably so there's no way for fans to speculate that He's Just Hiding or for the writers to back out and claim he got better.
- The Medic: He has medical training, which is why he stays aboard The Bus to assist Simmons in treating Skye rather than accompanying the other field agents into the Guest House.
- Mexican Standoff: Has one with Hand and several of her agents after HYDRA came out of hiding within S.HI.E.L.D. and making Triplett and Jemma believe she was a HYDRA plant, which in-turn makes Hand state that he was now the 7th person she could trust.
- Not So Stoic: All stocism is dropped once he drags out his grandfather's SHIELD kit. See The Knights Who Say Squee above.
- Romantic False Lead: He seems to be this for Simmons, since their implied mutual attraction is never really explored further than how it impacts Fitz and Simmons' relationship, and is usually shown from Fitz's point of view. So far his part in the Love Triangle that got set up in Season One has not even been mentioned again, since the whole Fitz-Simmons arc took a different direction in Season Two. The Love Triangle involving the three of them gets one last minor nod before Trip dies in Episode 2.10, but overall that seems to confirm the use of this trope.
- Sacrificial Lion: True to form, he's built up as a major yet secondary character for the best part of a season, then becomes the first member of Team Coulson to die in the Season 2 mid-season finale.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Trip spin-kicks the crystal, shattering it, in hopes of freeing Skye from the stone covering her. It fails, and he's hit by some of the Diviner shards which turn him to stone, thinking Skye died as well. Not so senseless is his Heroic Sacrifice detailed above.
- Ship Tease: He had quite a few scenes with Simmons, particularly in Season 1, that hint that they may become involved, causing Fitz to go all Green-Eyed Monster whenever the three of them are together.
- Sixth Ranger: Technically seventh, but he's the first new character to join Team Coulson after the initial six are introduced in the pilot. And his joining coincides with Ward's exposure as a HYDRA infiltrator, so Triplett is the sixth of six good guys on the team.
- Soul Brotha: "I bring the noise and the funk where-ever I go."
- The Stoic: While he's cool headed and reserved, he's more personable then other standard agents. He even snaps once he sees his mentor having turned traitor. In "Nothing Personal", even when unemployed, disavowed, and hunted by various intelligence agencies, Trip considers their stay at a hotel a vacation until he gets his next set of orders.
- Taken for Granite: He dies by being turned to stone after part of the Diviner crystal becomes lodged in his chest while he tries to free Skye from its influence.
Portrayed by: Nick Blood
A mercenary who used to work closely with Isabelle Hartley and Idaho. He becomes a member of Team Coulson in Season 2.
Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie
Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie
Portrayed by: Henry Simmons
Mack is a mechanic and equipment specialist Coulson recruits for SHIELD.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: His comics counterpart has gray hair. Here, he is Bald of Awesome.
- Adaptation Name Change: He goes by "Al" rather than "Mack" in the comics. Ironically, rather than solving any naming issues the new nickname violates the One Steve Limit, since there was a minor character named Agent Mack in Season One.
- Age Lift: His comics counterpart is a veteran S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Here, he looks younger and is a new recruit in Season Two.
- Amicable Exes: He claims that all of his exes are "awesome". The worst thing that's ever happened to him in a relationship is that he had to pretend to like quinoa for a year.
- Black and Nerdy: When Hartley's team and Team Coulson come back after a violent encounter with Absorbing Man, Mack's primary concern is whether or not the agents managed to retrieve some technology he could play around with. He's visibly upset when Triplett tells him no. He also plays Gears of War and is itching for a chance to get to work on Lola.
- Black Dude Dies First: Zigzagged: He's set up to be the first member of Team Coulson to die when he becomes possessed in "...Ye Who Enter Here". By the looks of things, Mack survives whatever the alien defense mechanism does to him once it releases its hold. However, as soon as we see Mack is probably OK, Trip falls victim to this trope for real.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Becomes this after touching an alien defensive mechanism that makes him attack Coulson and the rest along with giving him enhanced strength and durability.
- Brutal Honesty: In a good way, as the imaginary Simmons notes that it's quite refreshing how unlike everyone else, he doesn't walk on eggshells around Fitz. It's enough that Fitz starts to use him as a sounding board rather than the imaginary Simmons.
- With Simmons herself after she returns. He's the only one who's not afraid to confront her directly about the fact that she apparently abandoned Fitz right after he told her how he felt and nearly died saving her life. Notably, as with Fitz, he's still fairly kind in his delivery, even if what he has to say is undeniably brutal.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: He takes it upon himself to keep Fitz grounded.
- Cool Car: He owns a classic Rolls Royce that he restored himself. Coulson still won't let him touch Lola, though.
- The Engineer: Mack is a skilled mechanic and loves to play around with technology, allowing him to bond with Fitz. Unlike Fitz, however, Mack doesn't have a natural affinity for technology and requires things like schematics and instructions in order to know how to make and repair things. Mack also doesn't have a formal engineering education like Fitz's, meaning that he can't help Fitz find the exact terminology when the latter's aphasia gets in the way.
- Fake Guest Star: He's appeared in every episode of Season Two to date and usually has as much screen time as the lead cast, but is still credited as a guest star, along with B. J. Britt (Triplett) and, later, Adrianne Palicki (Bobbi).
- Fighting from the Inside: Despite being Brainwashed and Crazy, he is able to tell Coulson to run. Mack also temporarily halts his rampage when faced with Fitz begging him to snap out of it.
- He Cleans Up Nicely: He's normally dressed in grease-stained clothing and can usually be found elbow deep in machinery. When he dresses up in a suit and brings out a classic Rolls to sell a cover, he looks like a completely different person.
- Hot Men At Work: Lampshaded when Fitz and hallucination!Simmons discuss Mack's attractiveness, helpfully accompanied by a shot of Mack wearing a muscle-emphasizing undershirt while he works in the garage.
- One Steve Limit: Averted: Not to be confused with the one-off character of Agent Mack from the first season.
- Race Lift: He's white in the comics.
- Nice Guy: He's friendly and really makes an effort to talk to Fitz and tries to help him out. He even succeeds in recognizing that Fitz knows of a way to take down Creel but is having trouble because of his brain damage.
- Non-Action Guy: Appears to be this, despite being a big guy with a long history serving S.H.I.E.L.D; his role in Coulson's team is actually much closer to Fitz's. Once he gets possessed by the defense mechanisms of the Kree temple, he gains Super Strength and Super Toughness and viciously battles those approaching the temple who lack Inhuman blood. It's justified, in that as Coulson says, this isn't really Mack.
- Super Strength: Achieves this, after becoming Brainwashed and Crazy from one of the Kree's defense mechanisms.
- Translator Buddy: He is the first person to confront Fitz's aphasia head on and make an effort to try and understand what Fitz is trying to express, be it through interpreting the true meaning behind Fitz's words (such as by realizing that Fitz saying "I didn't solve this today!" means "I solved this in the past but I can't remember which design") or by running through lists of words or design schematics until Fitz hears or sees what he's thinking of. It takes a significant amount of effort on the parts of both men, but it does help Fitz to open up in the wake of his trauma.
- Vitriolic Best Buds:
- He and Hunter bicker a lot, but it's all in good fun.
- He later pokes gentle fun at Fitz for not making sense, which is pretty bold when talking to someone who's suffered brain damage, but Fitz seems to appreciate it.
Bobbi Morse is an agent of SHIELD, codenamed Mockingbird, who offers her services to Coulson in between the first two seasons. She appears in "Hen in the Wolf House" seemingly as HYDRA's Security Chief, but in actuality was a Deep Cover Agent
assigned to infiltrate them so she can look out for Simmons and help extract her should they need to. She joins the team in the fifth episode of the second season.
Billy Koenig has a pretty unsubtle crush on her, while Lance Hunter is still hung up on her.
- The Ace: Expert undercover agent, One Woman Army, can interrogate someone to the point that they give up and commit suicide. Coulson even refers to her as one of SHIELD's best.
- Action Girl: She wastes no time demolishing people in a fight.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Blonde in the comics, but appears to have dark brunette hair in her first appearance. It's ultimately subverted, as "A Hen in the Wolf House" reveals that she originally was a blonde, but dyed her hair when she went undercover in HYDRA; once done with this, she's blonde before her next appearance.
- Amazonian Beauty: Her field agent physique is played up; Simmons can't stop gushing about how awesome she is, to the point it appears she has a lady-crush on her. The showrunners have commented on how she's a very sexy character as well.
- Amicable Exes: One-sided example. Bobbi vouched for her ex and appears to not hold any hard feelings about their divorce, but Lance can't stop ranting about her for at least four episodes before she's introduced. When he starts getting pissy, she snarks him back.
- Awesome by Analysis: She's able to tell a lot about Bahkshi's person and mental state through the words he uses and the way he pronounces certain words, and is able to figure out that there's more to Whitehall simply because of how Bahkshi described him, leading the team to discovering the former's past.
- Badass Normal: No powers, but that doesn't stop her from fighting super thugs when she encounters them. This is best exemplified so far when she's able to keep up with a demonically possessed super strong Mack, who's ale to shrug off Icer rounds with ease and tosses the others around rather easily; while she can't take him on in a straight up fight, she's able to use skill to avoid being killed until she can take him down with electrified battons.
- The Big Guy: Bobbi is a pretty tough fighter, and is also fairly tall. Besides Mack, she stands taller than most of the cast. Her costume is also the most battle-oriented in terms of design, showcasing this.
- Casting Gag:
- Palicki has also played a DC character. It didn't work out very well. Ironically, said character was given a pair of metal battle staves in a departure from the comic, where she primarily fights with a lasso, a sword, and a shield, which is somewhat puzzling in retrospect, but at least give Palicki practice in hindsight for this role.
- Before she was introduced, Hunter mentioned how she and Hartley (played by Lucy Lawless) were friends; this means that Wonder Woman and Xena were friends. Or Wonder Woman was friends with herself, considering Lawless voiced the character in Justice League: The New Frontier.
- She travels in an invisible jet.
- Code Name: Mockingbird. This is only said in the promos and advertising material for Season Two.
- Cool Big Sis: Simmons thinks that she's "amazing" and gets to be on a First Name Basis with her. "A Hen in the Wolf House" can be read as an older sister babysitting the younger one for their father.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mainly towards her ex, who is more than happy to return the favour.
- Deep Cover Agent: She'd been infiltrating HYDRA before she's introduced, to the point she got a high position in HYDRA's security forces, assigned to find and detect double agents and moles.
- Dual Wielding: Pair of dual battle staves.
- First Name Basis: She insists Simmons call her Bobbi.
- Fake Guest Star: Since joining Team Coulson in Episode Five of Season Two, she's basically been a lead character, but is still credited as a guest star. The same is true for B. J. Britt (Triplett) and Henry Simmons (Mack).
- Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Played with; in the comics, her costume is either black or blue primarily Depending on the Artist, but here its made black with a blue highlight (and thus, incorporating both colours), while the usual white belly-stripe was replaced with grey. The suit also includes a few extra straps for tactical purposes and some protective plating on the shoulders, making it look more like realistic battle gear.
- One-Man Army: She alone takes down every HYDRA soldier they come across with ease, and is able to extract herself and Simmons with almost no trouble or help, save for Trip in an invisible jet, and thus setting her up as a combatant on par with May and Ward. Coulson refers to her as "one of their best agents", putting her on par with Hawkeye and Widow if true.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: She doesn't even like people to use her surname, introducing herself as Bobbi, and so far the only appearance of her full name has been on a transmission.
- Promoted to Opening Titles: She was made a part of the main cast starting from the second half of Season 2 after a stint as a recurring character.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Hunter stories about her invariably put her in this light. When she finds out that he's been spreading this image of her as a psychotic hell-beast, she seems more amused by it than anything.
- Remember the New Guy: While all the Season Two characters get this to some extent, Bobbi is notable as she's introduced and joins the team in "A Hen in the Wolf House", but everyone in the cast already knows her personally and appear to be great friends with the team already, especially Mack. She slso counts as New Old Flame for Hunter, save for the fact he wouldn't shut up about her since he was introduced.
- Sex with the Ex: Happens with Lance in Season 2 Episode 8, inside a car. It wasn't the first time..
- Shipper on Deck: She seems to support FitzSimmons, repeatedly urging Simmons to talk to Fitz.
- Statuesque Stunner: She towers over Simmons when they share scenes, and uses this to her advantage to intimidate her in their early meetings.
- The Tell: When she's frustrated or stumped on something, she twirls her staves. This is noticed by her ex-husband.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: She and Hunter can't stop taking metaphorical shots as each other even as real bullets are flying. Luckily for them, they know each other so well that they can take on numerically superior opponents with no problem.
- Understatement: She considers Raina leaking Simmons' identity to HYDRA, and thus forcing her to extract them early, to be a "curveball" at most.
- Weapon of Choice: Like in the comics, she primarily fights with her Battle staves; though she's good with a gun and can fight with anything from her fists to a napkin, she generally does most damage with the staves. Notably though is how her use of them is changed from the comics; generally she'd snap them together as a staff, but here she primarily uses them as duel batons and fights eskrima style.
- Working with the Ex: She vouched for Hunter when Coulson considered recruiting him, but she is not exactly happy to be working with her former husband or to be within his immediate vicinity. Seeing Hunter immediately wipes the smile off her face and her voice takes on an annoyed tone.
Coulson's car that he brings with him on The Bus.