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YMMV: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Angst? What Angst?: In "Yes Men", Coulson gets understandably agitated at how nonchalant Skye is when being told the news that the serum used on both of them is of alien origin, and neither of them know if it has any kind of side effects.
  • Awesome Music: The Blue Oyster Cult classic "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" playing over the beginning of "Turn, Turn, Turn". It proves to be what Agent Garrett was listening to on his plane's sound system at the time. Just because you're a HYDRA agent doesn't mean you can't have great taste in music.
    • Genius Bonus: On top of that, the UAVs that show up shortly thereafter are of a type known as "Reapers".
  • Base Breaker: With the exception of Coulson, every member of the cast could fall under Ensemble Darkhorse or The Scrappy, with seemingly every single person having a different opinion on the matter.
  • Broken Base:
    • Some also aren't happy about the cast being comprised mostly of canon foreigners, since there's already plenty of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents from the comics to use. Others feel that with Coulson himself having been an original character for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's appropriate.
    • There's also some unhappy about how the main cast is almost entirely white, save for Melinda May (played by Ming-Na Wen, who is Chinese) and Skye (played by Chloe Bennet, who is half-white and half-Chinese), given the lack of diversity in the broader MCU. It should be noted that many of the people making this criticism don't realize that Chloe Bennet is half-Chinese.
    • Some also hate the show because it focuses on a small team of individuals instead of the much larger overall organization of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • There's a notable split in the fandom over the show taking several episodes to get around to fleshing out the majority of the characters. Some fans are fine with the pacing, citing that the show needed to establish itself before it could flesh out the characters, whilst others point to the lack of Character Development meaning there was no connection between the audience and the cast.
    • The show in general seems to be this amongst the MCU, with some liking everything about it, some liking it as a show on its own merits but a sub-par offering when compared to the rest of the MCU, and some who basically hate it.
    • The reveal that Ward is a HYDRA agent in "Turn, Turn, Turn." Some fans think this development makes the character more interesting and shows that the showrunners are willing to take risks. Others think it is a random twist that wasn't properly built up in previous episodes.
  • Catharsis Factor: Some viewers consider May's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of Ian Quinn this, given the events of the episode prior.
  • Creator's Pet: The creators of the show seem to love Skye, while some viewers have little patience for the amount of focus that she gets.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • The entire reason this show exists is because of Coulson's Ensemble Darkhorse status in the MCU.
    • Lorelei is also quite popular due to her cunning, looks, and skill in battle.
    • Antoine gets a lot of love for being a really nice guy and for having nice chemistry with Simmons. Many hope that he will join the team as the muscle, replacing Ward.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Lorelei and Raina are both quite attractive. Ward isn't too bad himself, either.
  • Fan Dumb:
    • Whilst a common complaint regarding early episodes of the show is the lack of Character Development for the majority of the new characters, some fans play the complaint up as being over not being given the full backstory to every character immediately.
    • Some fans point to the show being a TV show and subsequently not having the budget to match the movies it shares its universe with as an excuse for complaints that have nothing to with the special effects.
    • Whenever the show is compared to another show by its critics, usually to point towards a better execution of a similar concept, some fans will argue the comparison doesn't make any sense since the second show didn't have superhumans, even if there is a suitable replacement in the show's mythos. If they compare it a show which does have superhumans in the mythos, those same fans will argue the comparison doesn't work as the show had superheroes and supervillains whilst Agents is about a team of spies.
  • Fandom Rivalry: One seems to be emerging with Arrow, which can easily be summed up as "Marvel vs. DC: Live-Action TV Edition".
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Fitz and Simmons. Ward and Simmons if recaps, comments on recaps, and the occasional podcast are being considered.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • "Tahiti. It's a magical place." Now that we've seen what those magical memories were implanted to cover up.
    • Furthermore, as of "T.A.H.I.T.I.", we now find out the full meaning of "Tahiti": It's the code name for the place where the mysterious blue alien who provided the drug that revived Coulson is being held. And by "provided" we mean "literally had the drug sucked out of its body". Not such a "magical place" after all. Next episode, Sitwell asks about Tahiti, and Coulson's response has changed: "It sucked."
    • Coulson increasing the number of seconds he was dead with every retelling becomes this once we find out he was dead for days.
    • Nick Fury giving Coulson the Bus to fly around in? Starting to look like something Fury did to assuage his own guilt at ordering the whole "refusing to let Coulson die" thing. Especially when he goes on about what a "really nice bar" he had installed.
    • As for Director Fury, Dr. Streiten, Agent Hill, and Agent May, possibly among others, hiding the circumstances behind Coulson's resurrection? Now it looks like they didn't want him to find out because of the possibility that there may be a Double Agent among them who wants to use this information to further Centipede's activities, and are going to any means possible to prevent said Double Agent from learning said circumstances.
    • In "End of the Beginning", Garrett mocks Sitwell for having never been injured in the line of duty, when even Skye (a newly-installed Level 1 agent) has taken "two in the gut" while on a mission. Between this episode and the next, Sitwell gets destroyed in a head-on collision with a truck in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Sure, he was revealed to have been working for HYDRA, but still... the timing.
    • Quite possibly the entire season after the revelations at the end of "Turn, Turn, Turn" that Ward has been a HYDRA agent all along. It seems his "good" actions were done simply to endear himself to various members of the team in different ways: training Skye, jumping out of a plane to save Simmons, teaming up with Fitz, having sex with May, etc.
    • In "Seeds", Skye takes comfort in having S.H.I.E.L.D. as a family. As of "Turn, Turn, Turn", S.H.I.E.L.D. had been revealed as a puppet for HYDRA, all its secrets are gone, and S.H.I.E.L.D. itself is dissolved.
    • As of "Turn, Turn, Turn," the line "You're the worst at following orders!" has become this: Since Garrett is a mole, he is literally the worst at following S.H.I.E.L.D.'s orders
    • Every single time that Coulson confides in May about his worries that there's more to his resurrection become this when it's revealed in "Turn, Turn, Turn" that she knew the truth the entire time.
  • Hate Dumb
    • There's a small yet vocal group that think this show shouldn't exist because it doesn't feature any big name superheroes.
    • Another segment hates the show for not being a dark and edgy espionage thriller, with S.H.I.E.L.D. as the villains, which makes one wonder if they'd ever seen any of the MCU up to this point. But as the season progresses, it seems these fans walked away way too soon.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: A piece of fan art casting characters from the Disney Animated Canon as The Avengers features Mulan as Black Widow. Here, Mulan's voice actress, Ming-Na Wen, really does play a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Melinda May.
    • AS noted above, one of the major complaints about the show was a lack of characters and villains from the comic books. As it turns out, the show was waiting for the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier to reveal HYDRA as the true enemies.
  • Ho Yay: In the pilot, Fitz slaps Ward on the ass.
  • Hype Backlash: A possible reason for all the online negativity directed towards the show.
  • Idiot Plot:
    • In "The Hub", S.H.I.E.L.D. can't send an extraction team for Fitz and Ward because all their assets are busy, thus requiring the rest of the team to go on a rescue mission. However, instead of simply telling the team this so they can plan and implement a sanctioned extraction, this fact is hidden from the team, requiring Skye and Simmons to infiltrate the Hub's mainframe to discover the truth. If they hadn't chosen to do so and Coulson hadn't launched a rogue mission, Fitz and Ward would have died. Yet Victoria Hand acts as if this were the plan all along.
    • In "The Magical Place", Victoria Hand does a complete 180 and tries to shut Skye down completely for using rogue tactics, citing the above incident, despite the fact that she's getting heavy heat from Fury and Hill to locate Coulson.
  • It Gets Better: Season 1 received a lot of complaints for being slow and dull, thanks to being constructed largely as a Prolonged Prologue for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. When the film's release got closer, it picked up considerably.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Miles Lydon is a Rising Tide hacker whose actions in "Girl in the Flower Dress" caused the deaths of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and a superpowered man who was tortured for his gift. Despite not being directly responsible, Coulson forces him to wear a tracking bracelet that makes him unable to use technology for a fixed period of time or he'd go to jail. Then Coulson strands him in Hong Kong with nothing but the clothes on his back and a bracelet that turns him into a Walking Techbane, which would mean that he'd have to use a proxy to contact any buddies for help.
  • Les Yay: In "T.A.H.I.T.I.", Simmons is very clearly distraught at Skye's condition, and admits that she doesn't want to contemplate life without her. Towards the end, her hand is practically glued to Skye's forehead...
  • Like You Would Really Do It: "T.R.A.C.K.S." ends with a mortally wounded Skye stuck in a hyperbaric chamber. Even with Joss involved, like they're going to kill her off while her storyline is clearly central to the show.
  • Magnificent Bastard: The Clairvoyant could give Loki a run for his money in the manipulator department. Especially considering, he doesn't actually have any powers.
  • Mary Sue: Skye has been accused of being one, though at this point it's hard to say how much of that accusation is legitimate and how much is exaggerated by taking everything involving Skye in the worst possible light.
  • Memetic Badass: May is one in-universe, with various tall tales of how she got nicknamed The Cavalry.
  • Memetic Mutation: "I rode a horse today!", the only visible post from the "Norse paganist hate group" in "The Well." Subjected to further mutation after "Repairs", which involves a story of May riding a horse.
    • "Hail HYDRA!" after the events of "Turn, Turn, Turn".
    • "Tahiti, it's a magical place." This phrase has even been accompanied on at least a couple of occasions by a cartoony image of Coulson wearing a grass skirt and lei and playing a ukelele.
  • Moral Event Horizon: "The Well" has an example in Ward's flashbacks; turns out his Dark and Troubled Past had something to do with his older brother crossing the MEH at his expense. "Throw him the rope, and I'll throw you in there, too."
    • An In-Universe example in "Girl in the Flower Dress": Skye decides Miles crossed the MEH by selling Chan Ho Yin out to Centipede for a million dollars. This on top of hacking S.H.I.E.L.D. against her orders. Chan Ho Yin may be a tool, but this revelation made Miles come across as a bigger tool and perhaps irreparably lowered Skye's opinion of Miles.
    • Raina, said girl in the flower dress, sails over the line in her next appearance, when she forces Mike Peterson to hand Agent Coulson over to her, threatening to kill his son if he didn't.
    • Her partner in crime, Edison Po, makes an even bigger leap over the MEH when he insists on torturing Coulson's memories of his death out of him. Even Raina wasn't pleased that he would resort to potentially deadly torture.
    • Having had his In-Universe crossing point in the previous episode with his manipulation of Seth and Donnie, Ian Quinn definitely crosses it in "T.R.A.C.K.S." when he shoots Skye and then later gloats about it to Coulson. Even before this happens, we can see he has an extremely callous attitude toward Mike Peterson, viewing him as little more than a weapon.
    • While the full story remains to be seen, we now know that S.H.I.E.L.D. is keeping some sort of alien on life support so they can pump some substance from its body. This is how Coulson's resurrection was accomplished. And this is being done under the personal direction of Nick Fury. Whether it's a MEH or simply in the name of science is a matter of opinion of course, but Coulson was suitably horrified by it.
    • Lorelei forces a husband to murder his own wife simply because she can and then later rapes Ward whilst he's under her control. However she makes it clear she crossed it many centuries ago, when she gloats to Sif about making her lover a "pet" and using him as a Sex Slave. She even forced to Sif to kill him in the end. It's made clear she's done all this and more countless times over her very long life.
    • Agent Garrett is clearly over the MEH by the time he is revealed to be the Clairvoyant. Even his most visible crossing point, provoking Ward into shooting an actor he set up to pose as the Clairvoyant, happens before he's implied to have been the Clairvoyant all along. More generally, he crossed the MEH with his spy game against his own organization.
    • Agent Ward crosses it by killing first the two guards helping to escort Garrett to the Icebox, and then Agent Hand. Confirmed by Providence, which spends half the runtime establishing him as definitely, absolutely, 100% evil.
  • Narm:
    • Skye's Rising Tide speech shortly before the team blackbags her touches on every anarchist/anti-government cliche in the book in rapid time. Probably intentional, as in the fifth episode she calls out one of her former hackers on doing the same thing when being interrogated.
    • After learning that Skye had gone behind their backs to help Rising Tide hacker Miles Lydon in "Girl in the Flower Dress," Fitz questions how she could that as they'd been through so much together. In the fifth episode of the show, when they had literally only known Skye for a few weeks at best.
    • In "The Well", the way the scene is cut would imply that the Norwegian park ranger is calling the berserker cultists evil and crying over the fact that they cut an old tree down, as opposed to crying over his partner being thrown 15 feet into a tree.
    • Coulson's brain surgery memory in "The Magical Place". Sure, it's creepy at first, until you realize the visual consists of Coulson's exposed brain, and a strange robot fidgeting with it. Parts of Coulson's brain flicker as if they're metal components being welded. It does look kinda silly.
    • Deathlok's full outfit in "End of the Beginning" looks like a cheap cosplay project, rather than full cybernetic armor.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: Double subverted. Joss Whedon pulled a fast one by revealing that Brad Dourif's character was not the Clairvoyant; however, the Clairvoyant happens to be portrayed by another big-name actor, Bill Paxton.
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • "Eye Spy" contains such lovely Eye Scream sights as poking needles into eyes, pulling eyes completely out of people's heads, and severing optic nerves. In-universe as well as out. Fitz looks like he's fighting the urge to be sick when it comes to his part of the operation.
    • "The Hub" has Simmons extracting a data storage device from a fellow Agent's sinus cavities through his nose with a fiber-optic device. We see an x-ray of the process rather than a direct fleshy view, but it's accompanied by appropriate squishing noises.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Nick Fury chews out Coulson for wrecking the plane at the end of "0-8-4".
    • Mack from "The Asset", a stereotypically redneck truck driver who turns out to be a highly trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
    • Patton Oswalt as nerdy, Coulson Fanboy, Agent Eric Koenig.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Just as in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, virtually any S.H.I.E.L.D. agent you or the heroes have trusted up until now could secretly turn out to be a HYDRA operative. So far, this has been true of Sitwell, Garrett, and Ward. This trope was invoked In-Universe in the episodes "End of the Beginning" and "Turn Turn Turn", with both Hand and Coulson becoming paranoid of people they have trusted up until now.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: Several. Fitzsimmons (Fitz/Simmons), Skyeward (Skye/Ward), Skimmons (Skye/Simmons), Philinda (Phil/Melinda), Fitzward (Fitz/Ward) and Mayward (May/Ward).
  • Scapegoat Creator:
    • If you see anyone complain about anything on this show, chances are the blame is put on Joss Whedon, despite the fact that Whedon is a co-creator of the series, and so far has only directed and co-written the pilot episode. He's not quite as involved with this series, as say, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The opposite also occurs, as people praise the show and give the credit to Whedon, despite his lack of involvement in the show.
  • Shocking Swerve: Most of the twists in "Turn, Turn Turn" work very well, but when it turns out Ward is a HYDRA agent, it starts feeling like they're throwing out twists just for the sake of having twists, as if the episode needed any more. Word of God says that there are subtle clues in previous episodes, especially concerning how Ward got everyone to trust him (he become Skye's SO, saved Simmons, went on a mission with Fitz, etc.).
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • Once Mike Peterson starts overusing his powers in the pilot, the composition of the effects becomes obvious.
    • Ward's dramatic mid-air rescue of Simmons in "FZZT" is clearly shot in front of a green screen, in comparison to a similar mid-air rescue in Iron Man 3.
    • In "The Bridge", Coulson keeps turning Lola's steering wheel even though the green screen background shows him driving down a straight road.
    • "Yes Men", for the most part, has very passable effects, with the exception of one scene at the beginning of the episode where Lorelei shoves her previous newlywed slave 20 feet. The effects ends up just looking cheap, and the fact that those few frames appear to be noticeably sped up just makes it look worse.
  • Squick: The entirety of the surgery involved with Coulson's revival, especially the spider-legged robot probing his exposed brain.
  • Stoic Woobie: We still don't know what the precise cause was, but May clearly has high-functioning PTSD.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Considering Skye's the biggest Base Breaker among the new team, May giving her a dressing down over coming to her about her search for her parents in the middle of an operation in "The Bridge" could count as this for those who don't like the character. However, as noted on Ian Quinn's entry under Moral Event Horizon, it would seem even Skye's haters have standards.
  • Unfortunate Implications: The show took criticism for having the first super powered threat be a Scary Black Man. This was exacerbated by the fact that many other early villains of the week were minorities.
    • "Yes Men" displays some rather uncomfortable attitudes towards the men being Mind Raped and literally raped by the villainess, Lorelei. Female characters echo the sentiment that all men are weak, implying that her victims are somehow at fault for being controlled by magic. Lorelei puts her seduction spell on Ward, removing his ability to consent, then unquestionably rapes him. Yet it's filmed exactly like a consensual sex scene would be, and at the end of the episode May even acts like he wanted it.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Debbie being burned alive in Episode 5. It's horrifying and beautifully animated.
  • What an Idiot:
    • In "The Bridge," Ward is required to take up a sniper position to oversee a prisoner exchange. He promptly picks a spot where the exchange is completely obscured from his view, thereby rendering him absolutely useless in the event the exchange goes south.
    • In "Yes Men," Ward has a gunnote  pointed at a woman he knows can take over men's minds by speaking and making physical contact. Naturally, he then allows her to speak and come up and touch him. Cue Ward's completely avoidable enslavement.
      • Coulson also gets some blame for sending Ward around the back alone, just seconds after he wisely kept the other male agents from going in after Lorelei.
    • Agent Hand is perhaps the queen of this trope, holding the Idiot Ball most of the time she appears, up to and including attempting to convince Ward to perform an extrajudicial execution on the Clairvoyant. There are moments when she shows at least some sensibility, such as when she waits until after the Bus picked up Fitz and Ward to send the strike team in to finish the job in "The Hub", and in "Turn, Turn, Turn" when she pays enough attention to Coulson's up-close-and-personal altercation with the Clairvoyant himself to figure out that she was wrong about Coulson being her quarry.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Given the Marvel logo, the fact that it's network TV, and the 8:00 time slot, many parents probably weren't expecting the sheer amount of Fanservice, not to mention the fairly realistic depictions of violence and its aftereffects. This notably includes the badly beaten Coulson undergoing interrogation in "The Magical Place". The flashback image of him with the top of his skull removed, undergoing brain surgery by scary-looking robot, was unexpected as well. Especially since he was awake and begging them to let him die at the time. These could be the same parents who didn't see any of the films in the MCU, but assumed that since they're based on comic books, there couldn't be anything adult-themed in them, regardless of the PG-13 ratings.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?:
    • Mike's rant at the end of the first episode can be seen as a parable on race and class relations and/or the Great Recession.
    • On the other side, Skye and Ward's dialogue in episode two could be seen as a Take That to middle class radicals who seem oblivious to the fact that their pet causes often involve the very sort of violence they claim to hate.
    • Ian Quinn from episode 3. A wealthy businessman with libertarian leanings, he despises government for regulating business and hoarding new discoveries, yet he turns out to be just as dangerous as the government itself.
    • The situation with Miles in episode 5 can be seen as a jab against hacktivists who preach about freedom of information, but won't hesitate to sell said information for a quick buck.
  • The Woobie:
    • Mike has a lot of problems (lack of work, previous injury, implied marriage trouble, experimented on). He starts down the road to Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds before The Team intervenes. Then he goes back because of Rania's manipulation. Mike seems to be the universe's chewtoy. To make things even worse for Mike, he now has a cybernetic eye and kill-switch like Akela did.
    • Akela Amador. She was forced to watch her team die and remained imprisoned in a cell at the bottom of a mine shaft for four years while blind in one eye. When she was finally rescued, her "rescuers" implanted a cybernetic eye into her head which they used to send her on missions and controlled her with the threat of a kill-switch in the eye. She has to ask for permission to sleep. Her entire life post-capture is one long string of Nightmare Fuel.
    • Hannah Hutchins. A genuinely good and kind person, plagued by guilt, hated by an entire town for an accident that wasn't her fault, and tormented by an unseen force that she's convinced is demonic and she thinks God has abandoned her. She could really use a hug. Happily, Skye gives her one at the end of the episode.
    • Coulson himself, after what we were treated to in "The Magical Place." Dead for days, then revived through unknown means and sent to surgery at least seven times, losing his will to live and having to get his memories replaced with Tahiti so that he could go back to normal. Then having to live through a portion of the revival again in order to find out what happened at all. Also, it turns out that his dad died when he was just a kid, and his mother died recently as well. Top it all off with the fact that he's lost any chance to be with the woman he loves, something that's broken her heart as well as his, and there's no question that Coulson now falls firmly under the category of Stoic Woobie. Oh, and as of "Turn Turn Turn", one of his best friends turned out to be a traitor, one of his own agents turned out to be a traitor (though he doesn't know yet), and as far as he knows, Nick Fury, a man he admires, is dead. (Actually just faking it, but again, Coulson doesn't know that.) "Providence" piles even more on him. With S.H.I.E.L.D. falling apart, Coulson is trying to cling to whatever hope he can, which comes in the form of a message supposedly from Nick Fury. When it seems to lead to nowhere, however, he goes off on a rant that being part of S.H.I.E.L.D. still means something, and you can tell this is less for his team and just him trying to hold onto that last bit of hope. Thankfully, that faith is rewarded.
    • Ward counts as a Stoic Woobie, as does May. Ward for the Abusive Childhood at his brother's hands, May for her regrets over her past as a field agent.
    • Skye. She spends her childhood shuffled from one foster family to another, giving her the notion that no one wants her. When she finds out the truth that S.H.I.E.L.D. purposely shuffled her to keep her hidden, she's faced with the possiblity that some of them might have wanted her but couldn't. Her current "foster family" is a precarious situation and May regularly gives her a hard time up to and including a harsh lecture, thus giving her the appearance of a "Well Done, Son" Guy.
    • Fitz spends most of "Turn, Turn, Turn" frantically worried about Simmons and having to remind everyone else that she's still unaccounted for. He breaks down in tears when faced by a firing squad and told he'll be forcibly recruited to HYDRA (after being shot in the kneecaps and watching the rest of his team executed). Finally, he then has no choice but to fatally shoot a HYDRA agent because he can only lay hands on a real gun, not an ICEr, during the final fight. Despite a very sweet reunion hug with Simmons in the aftermath, it's clear that he's pretty traumatized by the end of the episode.

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