YMMV: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

  • Abandon Shipping:
    • SkyeWard seemed to be setting up to be the Official Couple of the show, and with it a lot of fans began shipping it. Then Ward was revealed to be a HYDRA Agent and a complete sociopath with entitlement issues concerning Skye, leading some to abandon it. The formerly Fan-Preferred Couple of Ward/Simmons went the same way, and for the same reasons. Happens In-Universe too after Skye shoots him; Ward seems to abandon his quest to earn her love and instead decides to focus on helping Agent 33 with her issues.
    • History repeated itself with Fitz and Mack. The Reveal that Mack was a spy for another faction of S.H.I.E.L.D. and developed Fantastic Racism toward the Inhumans has caused many to abandon it.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Ward really the monster he believes himself to be as laments that he can never be with Skye because she sees him as a monster, or is he a misguided victim who has been manipulated into doing monstrous things and for whom there may still be some hope of redemption? When he leaves Fitz and Simmons at the bottom of the ocean, is that just him being reluctantly sadistic and resigned to his own natural sadism, or did he choose such an over the top gesture in the hopes that he might be giving them a chance to think their way out of a watery death trap, similar to what he did with the dog Garrett wanted him to kill - but apparently didn't kill - years earlier? This is later explicitly brought up in "Making Friends and Influencing People" when Fitz confronts Ward and Ward claims that he ejected him and Simmons from the plane rather than just shoot them because he wanted to give them a fighting chance. Of course, this raises the question of whether or not Ward's lying, though Ward does start off their conversation by saying he's genuinely pleased to see Fitz again. Fitz doesn't really buy any of this.
    • Hunter's repeated comments about his ex-wife, Bobbi Morse. Was their marriage really that bad, or is he still hung up because he's still in love with her? Given she's far more amicable when she appears, it makes it clear that it's a case of Unreliable Narrator. As of "The Things We Bury," it appears to be the latter, as he makes it clear that he'll back her up no matter what, even if still feels like he can't trust her.
    • Was Christian Ward telling the truth in his confession about making Ward torture their younger brother, or just saying anything that might get Ward to stop?
    • Is Gonzales (and by extension, the rest of his faction) a smug hypocrite who only distrusts Coulson because he has alien blood inside of him, or a man with differing views on how to run S.H.I.E.L.D. with legitimate complaints about Coulson's leadership? After the reveal that the main sticking point is the 'Theta Protocol', a still-unrevealed secret project Coulson has hidden from everyone (including May) that is believed to be a new base for superhumans, this now extends to a split on if Coulson is right to keep secrets as he's leader of a spy organisation and 'real' S.H.I.E.L.D. are over-reacting to breadcrumbs, or if (as a spy organisation themselves) Gonzales' faction is right to be suspicious of a secret of such scope given the trouble with HYDRA (who'd similarly been keeping big secrets that turned out to be pretty dangerous). In-universe, May and Simmons start off with the former mind-set, but once the evidence piles up they seem to start siding with the latter.
  • 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.
    • In the same episode, Ward is notably not very effected by being raped, both in mind and body, by Lorelei, nor does anyone seem to really comment on this. In fact, its May who seems the most bothered by all this, and it's Ward she's angry at!
  • Arc Fatigue: After Ward and Garrett were outed as HYDRA moles within S.H.I.E.L.D., and after May was found to be spying on Coulson for then-Director Fury, the reveal in mid-Season Two that Morse and Mack are also moles for Gonzales' "real S.H.I.E.L.D." can easily come across as more annoying than suspenseful.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • A lot of fans complained about the lack of comic book characters and concepts in the show, despite it being intended to flesh out the MCU's universe. The reveal that HYDRA were the ones behind the villainous plot and that they were building up to Deathlok could be seen as their attempts to mitigate this. Season Two also introduces Lance Hunter, Mack Mackenzie, and Mockingbird, all comic book characters, who join Team Coulson's expanded roster, to much rejoicing, especially given Mockingbird is often featured on lists of characters who should be on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • Another big one is dropped on us in Season Two: Skye is revealed to be the MCU counterpart of the superheroine Daisy Johnson of Secret Warriors, and one of the Inhumans on top of that. Also, her father, initially not referred to by name, is revealed to be Calvin Zabo, AKA Mr. Hyde, just like in the comics. At this point, its ties to the greater Marvel universe are far more than skin-deep.
    • A minor one. After criticisms about how all of the team were white (sans May and Skye), Triplett joined as a Sixth Ranger in the last arc of Season One and is staying on for Season Two, which also sees the cast being joined by another new character, Mack Mackenzie, adding another African American to the cast.
  • Award Snub: Chloe Bennet was nominated for a Kids' Choice Award in 2015, but bizarrely Clark Gregg was not.
  • Badass Decay: Skye's father. Throughout the first half of the second season, he was a credible threat to both S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA. In the second half, he arranged an attack on a high school in Coulson's hometown that was foiled almost immediately by the Inhuman Gordon showing up and teleporting him out. Since then, Cal's been trapped in a room at Gordon's mercy, unable to even hurt Gordon, and his own wife refuses his requests to see their daughter.
  • Base Breaker:
    • Every member of the cast aside from the mostly well-liked May could fall under Fan Favorite or The Scrappy, with seemingly every single person having a different opinion on the matter.
    • Eric Koenig and his brothers. Some found them funny due to their neurotic, Adorkable tendencies, others found them annoying for the same reasons, leading to a split between those who are glad to have Billy and Sam to replace Eric, and those who are annoyed that they have to put up with more of him/them. A lot of it comes down to how much one likes Patton Oswalt.
    • Out of all the main characters, it seems Ward is now the biggest example (at least, since Skye got Rescued from the Scrappy Heap), thanks to his betrayal of the team by revealing his allegiance to HYDRA. There's a massive split between fans who want to see him redeem himself and those who want him to go away/get killed/other bad stuff, with some of it getting pretty vitriolic. It doesn't help that he's a show-original character whose skills are talked up as being as big as Romanoff and Barton, meaning that some love him for his badassery while others resent him for it.
    • The character of Skye herself: Some people find hard to believe that an high-tech organization like S.H.I.E.L.D. needs a civilian hacker to work for them and she keeps getting treated as a vital member of the team, though others seem to like the character are willing to accept her inclusion based on the fact that real life hackers are often recruited by government agencies. Skye in general is disliked for how prominent she is to the show's over-arching Myth Arc, which is largely what's causing the Mary Sue and Creator's Pet accusations; as such, those who don't mind the focus on her rarely have a problem with her handling.
    • Simmons, and how much sympathy viewers think that she deserves in Season Two: She's either suffering just as much as Fitz, in her own way, and was forced to make a brutal decision because she believed she was hurting him and knew he'd be worse in the long-run if she stayed; or she's just incredibly selfish for leaving Fitz when he needed her the most, especially since he endangered himself to stand by her through her own illness and later nearly died saving her life. It got worse with her developing Fantastic Racism towards superpowers after Trip's death, with people either claiming that she hates anyone not human or pointing that she has not had a pleasant history with xenobiology and is reacting out of fear and concern.
    • Fitz, similarly, over how much sympathy he deserves in Season Two: he's either trying to deal with his many personal issues the best he can and cannot help but lash out at those closest to him (Simmons) or he's willfully ignoring the fact that Simmons left because she believed her presence was making matters worse and taking every minute he can to lash out against her. His behavior in "Love In the Time of Hydra" in particular has been belligerent with him refusing to hear Simmons' side at all.
    • Mack and Bobbi and their connection to "real" S.H.I.E.L.D.. Some feel they have a point about Coulson and his secret keeping, and look forward to seeing them inevitably siding with Coulson, while others consider them as bad as Ward and instead look forward to them being killed/beaten. Mack also gets some hate for his Fantastic Racism against aliens (though given why isn't too surprising, and he's not any worse than the rest of the team) while Bobbi has it for being 'emotionally abusive' towards Hunter (it's generally more a mutually destructive relationship with personal and professional conflict rather than 'abuse').
  • 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's Chinese) and Skye (played by Chloe Bennet, who's 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 and/or ignore her and May's existence. Also, this criticism has lessened somewhat after Triplett, and later Mack, join the team, though it piped up again after Mack is seemingly killed off (though turns out to be Not Quite Dead) and Triplett is really killed off.
    • 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., which is also likely lessened by Season Two, as that ends up being what it's doing.
    • 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. Like before, this is also migated by the second season, which notably avoids dragging out storylines and actually wraps up what would have otherwise been a season-long arc in only ten episodes.
    • 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's a Shocking Swerve that wasn't properly built up in previous episodes. As of the second season, the previously present split between those who were hoping he'll be redeemed and those who others are hoping he remains a villain has intensified into a massive debate on if he should be redeemed or not. It gets very extreme, however, with some, less rational fans on either side of the fence who are either so on his side that they demonize the others for not supporting him while others ignore Ward's complexity and see him as nothing but a Nazi (and as such, any support for him is akin to Nazi sympathizing). The show itself seems to be building up to both, as it both firmly has Ward trying to seek redemption, while also having everyone else shooting down the idea by bringing up his atrocities.
    • When Coulson was made the director of the new S.H.I.E.L.D. in the first season finale, a number of fans protested that he was chosen over the various female characters that were S.H.I.E.L.D. heads in the comics (like Maria Hill). Some fans felt it betrayed Captain America's decision to abolish S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or that it rewarded Coulson without earning it. Others feel it's a development that opens new opportunities for the show in its coming seasons.
    • Lance Hunter's ex-wife being revealed as Bobbi Morse, even though it was a pretty common guess before it was revealed. On the one hand, some feel this is Canon Defilement as the two never had any relationship in the comics, with her canon-relationship with Hawkeye and their dynamic now being used for her and Hunter (and thus, annoying fans of the comics who liked said relationship), along with Lance's comments directed at her before now coming off as far more petty given it's now clear she didn't treat him like dirt like he made her out to be. Others, however, don't mind the addition as it adds more to both their characters, with many finding their interactions cute regardless.
    • Mockingbird's outfit. Either it's on par with the movie costumes, it's OK but subpar compared to her outfit in the comics, or it's dull derivative. Of course, a lot of the criticism seems to stem from the over-presence of black, while ignoring that her suit in the comics is also largely black as well. Some Marvel fans were hesitant concerning Adrianne Palicki's casting, noting that she was part of the abysmal Wonder Woman pilot. This lessened when she appeared and many liked her afterwards.
    • A minor one is the fans' interpretation of Skye and Coulson's relationship. Many view Coulson as Skye's unambiguous Parental Substitute, while others genuinely think that the writers are intentionally building up a romantic relationship between them.
    • The Fantastic Racism towards the Inhumans, with many fan arguments over how believable it is to see this attitude from several characters, Simmons in particular, when they were perfectly fine with the Avengers. She agrees the Avengers were necessary but only because "we unleashed alien horrors". She also sums up a long list of people like the Inhumans who were a danger to others, as well as witnessing Raina murder four unarmed S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
    • The "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D. plotline itself. Some feel it's a realistic development, given the fractured nature of S.H.I.E.L.D. post-Winter Soldier, and opens up exciting possibilities for a potential Civil War tie-in or as the origins of the MCU equivalent to S.W.O.R.D. or H.A.M.M.E.R. Others feel it's a tired rehash of the HYDRA plot from Season One. There's also a split between those who find them hypocritical (they're a secret organisation who are against secrets, while their only claim of legitimacy is based on being formed first) and others who find their claims actually have some merit (their issue is with authority figures keeping secrets from agents and other actions that put their agents in unneeded danger, something both Fury and Coulson are guilty of), as well as their apparent Fantastic Racism against Gifted and aliens (which, in fairness, members of Coulson's team are just as guilty of).
  • Catharsis Factor:
    May: I think I've waited long enough for this. *WHAM!*
    • Coulson blasting Garrett with the 0-8-4 in the Season One finale, making Garrett go from Not Quite Dead to Deader Than Dead.
    • And before that, Mike launching a rocket straight into Garrett's chest, then stomping on his head with a cry of rage.
    • Fitz lowering the oxygen levels in Ward's cell, so that Ward would experience what he did when Ward tried to kill him was a particularly dark Crowning Moment of Awesome for those who had hoped Fitz and/or Simmons would attempt revenge on Ward.
    • To a lesser extent, Simmons gets her turn when she looks Ward in the eye and says with utter seriousness that she'll kill him if they ever meet again.
    • Skye gives the audience one when she shoots Ward several times in the arm without a second thought as soon as he gives her a second to herself.
    • In "Aftershocks", Coulson and the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. induce an Enemy Civil War in the upper leadership of HYDRA, killing off all of Daniel Whitehall's Co-Dragons in a matter of minutes and leaving only Baron von Strucker as the Big Bad over in Europe. After HYDRA's virtual Villain Sue status up until that point, it is downright beautiful to watch.
    • Though it wasn't the focus of the argument, the scene in "Who You Really Are" when Fitz points out to Simmons that she's lied to him, abandoned him, and generally treated him pretty badly all season, and that her anger at him for lying to her once (and only to protect someone else) is extremely hypocritical under the circumstances, is quite satisfying.
  • Complete Monster:
  • Creepy Awesome:
    • Grant Ward is pretty damn creepy due to his sociopathic tendencies and excellent ability to completely mask his personality, but he's also a skilled combatant on par with Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Brock Rumlow in terms of skill.
    • Also, Skye's father. The man is completely insane, but he definitely entertaining to watch.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Grant Ward. The second he was revealed to be the mole for HYDRA, his more dedicated fans attempted to rationalize his every action. The penultimate episode of Season One even deconstructs this mindset by hopping between telling his backstory and showing his action towards FitzSimmons. Needless to say, he attempts to kill them both. Ironically, this hasn't stopped his supporters from accusing Coulson of not trying "hard enough" to redeem him. Season Two goes out of its way to discourage this viewpoint, repeatedly bringing up Ward's specific misdeeds and having every member of the team utterly despise him...except May, who hasn't yet had the chance to let him know just how she feels about him. However Ward's bonding moment with Agent 33 seemed to put him back in the leather pants.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • The entire reason this show exists is because of Coulson's (former, because he now obviously is a main character) Ensemble Darkhorse status in the MCU.
    • Lorelei is also quite popular due to her cunning, looks, and skill in battle.
    • Antoine Triplett got a lot of love for being a really nice guy and for having nice chemistry with Simmons. Many fans were ecstatic when he joined the team near the end of Season One and essentially replaced Ward.
    • Skye's father. Thanks to him being a complex, Creepy Awesome character and Kyle Maclachlan's magnificent performance, everytime he appeared on screen, you can bet the review and comments will be gushing about him and place him as the best thing in the episode.
    • Raina has got a lot of attention from fans to her Affably Evil, Anti-Villain and Monster Fan Girl status, with many prasing Ruth Negga's awesome performance. It's the point that in the 5th episode was renamed to 'Girl in the Flower Dress' from 'Scorch' because even the creators like her.
  • Evil Is Cool: Best exemplified in the episode "Providence", where the scenes with the heroes at their Darkest Hour are interspersed with what the bad guys are up to. Quite a few fans found the baddies more fun to watch.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Lorelei and Raina are both quite attractive. Ward isn't too bad himself, either.
  • Fandom Berserk Button: It's Agent Coulson, thank you very much. Since Season Two, it's become Director Coulson.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • One with Arrow, which can easily be summed up as "Marvel vs. DC: Live-Action TV Edition". This has expanded to include Arrow's spin-off, The Flash (2014), as well as Gotham and Constantine, and likely the future Supergirl and Teen Titans shows as well.
    • During the first season, fans naturally weren't very happy with How I Met Your Mother forcing Cobie Smulders into a smaller role than intended
  • Fan Nickname:
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Ward and Simmons, if recaps, comments on recaps, and the occasional podcast are being considered. That ship seems to have gone down in flames, following the reveal that Ward is a HYDRA agent who, incidentally, tried to kill Simmons, and very nearly succeeded.
    • After the aforementioned Ship Sinking, Fitz/Simmons (always a close second) seems to have taken the top spot, with Simmons/Skye not far behind.
    • While Ward/Simmons and Simmons/Skye are both popular, the two leading ships on the show seem to have always been Fitz/Simmons and Skye/Ward.
    • Fitz/Mack soared in popularity remarkably fast after the latter's introduction, with quite a few reviews on big name sites taking notice of the ship tease and rooting for a canonical gay couple in the MCU. As of the second season, it's the second most popular pairing for Fitz on AO 3 after Fitz/Simmons.
    • Following the events of "Aftershocks" there seems to have been a massive increase in support already for Fitz/Skye (which was initially treated in-universe as such an obviously fleeting and one-sided crush on the part of the Plucky Comic Relief character it never got picked up, even by the shippers). This is especially since Simmons and Mack (the two usually preferred love interests for Fitz) didn't do much to endear themselves to the fans in the same episode that Fitz and Skye suddenly become much closer, even though the show seems to be treating their relationship as still being strictly platonic.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Early in Season One, Brett Dalton did a shirtless photoshoot in which he cuddled a Precious Puppy. In the last third of the season, we find out that during his teenage years, Ward had a dog named Buddy he was very fond of - and who Garrett eventually forced him to kill. However, Ward apparently spared the dog by tricking the dog into running off on a hunting trip, thus giving the dog a chance to escape.
    • One crossing over to Arrow. Sara Lance's Canary has been compared to Mockingbird due to the look and the staffs. The latter appears on screen two weeks after Sara's death.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • Skye is very popular with viewers in China, where her actress was a minor pop star under her birth name of Chloe Wang.
    • Fitz-Simmons's near-universal popularity with UK audiences probably has more than a little to do with the rarity of hearing regionalnote  British accents on other American TV shows; so to have one-third of the show's main cast not only British, but (mostly) avoiding Received Pronunciation, is quite refreshing. Also, seeing British characters portrayed as young, attractive, and protagonists all at once on American TV is still pretty rare, which again adds to their appeal.
    • By the second season, adding Nick Blood as Lance Hunter, another Brit with a non-RP accent, who's also a badass Deadpan Snarker, is naturally popular with Brits for the same reason.
  • Growing the Beard: It seems to be almost universally agreed that the show really started to get good in the final third of the first season, when the plotline of Captain America: The Winter Soldier starts having an effect on the show. The premise of the show is largely retooled as a result of the events of that film, and among other things, it drastically affects the pace of the show for the better. Season Two picks this up, and so far has been pretty strong and well-received because of it.
    • Ward literally starts growing a beard in this time, and it's fully fleshed out in the Season Two premiere. It's subverted, though, when he shaves it off later in the season.
  • 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, Maria Hill, and 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.
    • Coulson comments that, considering Ward's background, it's a surprise that his situation isn't worse. It turns out that it is worse, but not just due to his family.
    • 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 actually the Clairvoyant, he's 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.
    • Ward's line to Coulson, "I can only imagine how painful this must be for you, sir, betrayed by someone you trained and believed in," becomes much harsher after we find out that he's been Garrett's Dragon this entire time.
    • Coulson screaming to be allowed to die while they were conducting the T.A.H.I.T.I. procedure on him becomes this after the revelation at the end of "Nothing Personal" that he used to be in charge of the project. In fact, he was so horrified about the results that he recommended it be shut down, or else he would resign S.H.I.E.L.D. It may not have been just the pain, but the firsthand knowledge he had about the consequences of what they were doing to him that made him prefer death.
    • Skye's Kirk Summation on Ward, calling him a Nazi for serving HYDRA, takes on a much scarier dimension for those who've seen The Stinger for Captain America: The Winter Soldier: HYDRA is now being led by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who's very much A Nazi By Any Other Name.
    • Early in Season One, Brett Dalton did a photo shoot in which he cuddled a puppy. Fast-forward to "Ragtag" in which Garrett tries to get Ward to kill his dog.
    • Coulson's reaction to seeing the blue alien in "T.A.H.I.T.I.", as of "Nothing Personal", seems to be the result of bad memories of his time overseeing Project T.A.H.I.T.I. appearing to come back to him briefly.
    • In "The Hub", Coulson stated that when he sends a team in with no extraction plan, he takes care to inform them of that first. Turns out a violation of this rule by S.H.I.E.L.D. was what started Garrett on his way to HYDRA, which only serves to make Coulson all the more Genre Savvy in hindsight.
    • The first scene of "The Beginning of the End" sounds like a discussion between a HYDRA "true believer" working for Cybertek and a mercenary who doesn't mind working for the bad guys if they offer a good enough "incentives program". Turns out the "incentives program" that nobody had ever turned down was kidnapping a family member to ensure recruitment, and both men were being controlled in this way.
    • Less than a week after the Scottish Independence vote failed, the second season showed Fitz (who's Scottish) separated from Simmons (who's English) and completely unable to cope, with the team explicitly saying he'd gotten worse since she left. Of course, considering that the series started filming its second season two months before, this may just be a coincidence.
    • Two episodes after Trip is shot during a mission and is nearly killed by Skye's father, he gets Killed Off For Real in front of Skye.
    • Remember when Coulson warned Skye that she may not like the truth about her parents? The truth is, her mother was abducted by then-disguised HYDRA agents and then murdered by vivisection by a war criminal who had rotted in prison for 44 years, and when her father found her mangled remains he then proceeded to go on a massive killing spree, triggering his Start of Darkness and putting him on the path to becoming the MCU equivalent of Mr. Hyde.
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Brett Dalton was criticized for being bland, and being little more than a handsome face, as Ward when the series first launched. Then came the twist and his characterization suddenly had a new spark, revealing that the initial restrained persona was a deliberate choice, similar to how Anna Torv was criticized at the beginning of Fringe before she got to break loose as Bolivia.
    • For people not yet sold on Patton Oswalt's acting, Billy furiously confronting Ward about his killing Eric really helps.
  • 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.
    • As noted below, Skye has constantly been accused of being a Mary Sue by detractors. Come "The Only Light in the Darkness", it's revealed that, before she started calling herself Skye, the name given to her at the orphanage where she lived was Mary Sue.
    • Adrianne Palicki's previous comic book outing was the Wonder Woman (2011 pilot). That makes it kind of chuckle-worthy when she and Simmons are saved by an invisible jet in her first episode as Bobbi Morse. Then there's the fact that, notably, in something of a Big Lipped Alligator Moment, Wonder Woman (Palicki) at one point pulled out two metal batons to fight thugs with, just like Mockingbird does in the show and comics.
    • The MCU's inability to use the word "mutant" becomes pretty amusing with the reveal that Skye is Daisy Johnson, a character who in the comics was originally believed to be a mutant before it was discovered her powers were due to the serum her father used to become Mr. Hyde.
    • In "Aftershocks", Lance jokes that all Radio Shacks are secret HYDRA bases. The company announced its bankruptcy a couple weeks before the episode aired.
    • Season one, episode nine, "Repairs" has the team investigate a woman who may have received powers from a Particle Accelerator explosion. A season later, this might sound familiar.
  • Hype Backlash: A possible reason for all the online negativity directed towards the show. Also crosses into Critical Backlash, as while there's been plenty of negativity towards it, it has a lot of fans.
  • 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.
    • In "The Only Light in the Darkness", Eric Koenig grabs the Idiot Ball with both arms. Despite his suspicions that Ward may be a HYDRA agent and the super-sensitive lie detector throwing big red warnings all over the place, one adroit answer from Ward is enough to get Eric to trust him completely. He doesn't even talk to Coulson or any of the others who've passed debriefing and warn them or share his suspicions.
  • Internet Backdraft:
    • When casting was first announced, some people expressed their displeasure at the show not including any people of color in the cast, as the highly desaturated promo pictures, as shown on the main page, misled some fans into believing both Ming Na Wen and Chloe Bennett were white. These concerns were renewed when, contrary to expectation, B.J. Britt was not made a lead.
    • When they released the first image of Adrianne Palicki as Mockingbird, fan response seemed to be a mix between those complaining about her not being blonde, to those complaining about her being described as 'Head of HYDRA security, to those telling the others to calm down because its pretty obvious she's undercover.
    • Isabelle Hartley's death. Largely cited as an example of Bury Your Gays, a lot of fans seem to not quite realize that Hartley was never confirmed as a lesbian, but rather fans clung to this idea and ran with it, while the producers decided against her being gay due to the obvious Unfortunate Implications. It's also largely connected to Victoria Hand's death in the first season, as she was gay in the comics, but her sexuality was never brought up (largely due to it really not being important), and she was largely unliked by the rest of the fandom for frequently getting hit with the Idiot Ball.
  • Iron Woobie: Both May and especially Coulson have become this as the series moved along. Coulson specifically has had it rough in the second half of Season One.
  • It Gets Better:
    • Season One 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.
    • Season Two features a whole new confidence level from the writing team, letting the show cover its own major events in the MCU rather than waiting for the next film before it can latch on to the big stuff.
  • It Was His Sled: Ward being a traitor is a pretty well-known fact now thanks to it coming to light when the show first began to Grow the Beard.
  • 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.
    • Grant Ward cements it by the time he appears in "Shadows", if he hadn't already done so in the final stretch of the previous season.
    • Grant's brother Christian. Whatever he was, he was still a victim of the same abuse Grant was.
    • Skye's father may be this. As much of a monster as he supposedly is, he just wants to reunite with his daughter and he's utterly devastated upon hearing that Skye thinks he's evil. However he does not give up his violent ways, even though that's why she wants nothing to do with her.
    • Raina. All her life, she was told she was supposed to be something special, something divine. Even "angelic", as she calls it. So when Skye came out of Terrigenesis physically the same as before while Raina became a reptilian humanoid covered in thorns, she did not take it well. She even nearly commits suicide before Gordon saves her.
    • Lance Hunter: He may have only initially joined S.H.I.E.L.D. for the money, but he did so at the behest of some close friends who died very soon after their introduction to the series. And the only friends Hunter really has left are Bobbi and Mack, who throughout their friendship have been continually lying to him, and he's sick of it.
    • In a lesser example, Fitz in the second season is very cynical, brooding, and quick to snap at people, but given he was brain-damaged, lost a lot of motor skill, and was separated from their best friend, who he was in love with, it's understandable he'd be frustrated with the world. There's also the fact he's somewhat socially awkward, made worse by the brain damage, and so he can't quite connect with most of the team, which greatly frustrated him even more.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships:
    • Many if not most fan discussions on the subject (particularly after Skye/Ward got thoroughly sunk at the end of Season One) seem to start off not with "Which couple do you ship?", but "Who do you ship Simmons with?"
    • Adding to the above Ensemble Darkhorse, even before her first appearance, people were already shipping Mockingbird with everyone. Hawkeye and Simmons are the most popular (due to being the canon-Official Couple with the former in the comics, and being a biologist just like the latter), but Skye and May are also rather popular. The only exception is Coulson, likely due to him being the Team Dad. When she does appear, Bobbi/Simmons intensifies thanks to some Les Yay, though Hunter/Bobbi also gained plenty of fans due to Bobbi being the ex that Hunter was talking about.
  • Les Yay: The looks that Bobbi gave to Jemma at the end of Hen in the Wolf House prompted a couple of dozen slash fics within a week of it's airing.
  • LGBT Fanbase: They even have their own hashtag: #superqueeros.
  • 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.
    • "The Only Light in the Darkness" has a tense scene with Eric Koenig drawing a gun on Ward when he's suspected of being a HYDRA agent. No points for guessing the odds of Ward being outed and his plans foiled.
    • "Hen in the Wolf House" introduces HYDRA's head of Security, Bobbi Morse. Almost no one actually thought she'd be HYDRA. Similarly, two episodes before that, Simmons was teased as having undergone a Face Heel Turn and joined HYDRA, but given she was by far the least-threatening member of the team, besides Fitz, no one bought it for a second.
    • "Aftershocks" features the apparent deaths of May and Coulson in quick succession. Yeah, good luck with that. Of course, the very next scene reveals this as a ruse, so it probably wasn't intended to really trick you. May even gives Coulson grief over his lame last words.
    • That's twice now that the show made Simmons look like a traitor, the previous time being the previews for "Making Friends and Influencing People". In "Afterlife", she appears to switch sides to the "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. only to bait-and-switch them with Fury's toolbox and send the real one with Fitz.
  • 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. All in all, Bill Paxton is very fun to watch on screen.
    • By "Hen in the Wolf House", Coulson pretty much became this. Besides previous moments of brilliance, he turned a Sadistic Choice back on Raina, turns her into an asset to use against Whitehall, while also having Simmons safely extracted by Bobbi and Trip and just narrowly misses the chance to find Skye's father. Don't try to scam Coulson. This is further cemented in "Aftershocks" when Coulson, lacking the resources for direct action, tricks HYDRA's top leaders into killing each other off. In a single day he does so much damage to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s enemies that it's only dwarfed by what Captain America and Black Widow accomplished in Captain America: Winter Soldier.
    • Whitehall seems to be pretty good at this to. He has agents everywhere and seems to know exactly how to tick off people at every turn. Until he gets unceremoniously shot by Coulson.
    • Skye is smaller-scale than most examples, but it takes a lot of brains to beat a manipulative son of a bitch at his own game, twice. This is exactly what she did to Ward, the first time being in "Nothing Personal" and the second time being in "A Fractured House".
  • Mary Sue: Skye has been accused of being one from the beginning, and the show didn't take a full season to give a nod to this, revealing the orphanage named her "Mary Sue Poots". In the second half of the second season, the show reveals that Skye is in fact the MCU version of Daisy Johnson, and thus the only cast member to not be a Canon Foreigner, leading to a split on if this makes her more of a Mary Sue or less of one. The fact Trip died for her during this reveal also adds fuel.
  • 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.
    • "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. And after The Reveal, "T.A.H.I.T.I., it sucked."
    • It's common for people to give Ward a bunch of overly manly nicknames like "Agent Rockfist Ironchest." As of Season Two, Reddit has dubbed him Beardy McTraitorson.
    • The following episode, "Providence", gives us a delightfully snarky response to HYDRA's two-armed salute.
      "Put your arms down, Kaminsky, you look like a West Texas cheerleader at a pep rally."
    • There's also the meta "Fifty. Years. Old," referring to people's disbelief at Ming-Na Wen's age.
    • After The Reveal came with Ward's true allegiance, many people came to indicate him for being responsible for an event, regardless if its real or fictional (Ward is responsible for X event).
  • Memetic Sex God: Only a few hours after she first appeared, Tumblr was filled with people declaring themselves 'Bobbi-sexual' or something similar.
  • 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 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.
    • Edison Po 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.
    • 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.
    • Garrett is clearly over the MEH by the time he's 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. He crossed it at least fifteen years before the series began, he targeted Ward, made him think that he was going to protect him (Ward had burned down the house with his abusive brother inside and his parents wanted him tried as an adult), before dumping him in the woods for six months with very little except the clothes on his back and a dog called Buddy. He later ordered Ward to kill the dog because caring about anything is a weakness. And if even all that wasn't bad enough for you, his ultimate crossing point comes when he orders Ward to kill Fitz and Simmons.
    • Daniel Whitehall is already over the line in the present day, having crossed it when he experimented with the Obelisk on human beings, performed an operation to make himself youthful again 44 years later at the cost of the life of the sole survivor, and contributed to the first TV-14 rating of the series in a significant fashion.
    • Agent Calderon crosses it in "One Door Closes" by going over Bobbi's head and trying to kill Skye rather than take her alive as Bobbi had insisted.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: Double subverted. The writers pulled a fast one by revealing that Brad Dourif's character (Thomas Nash) was not the Clairvoyant; however, the Clairvoyant happens to be portrayed by another big-name actor, Bill Paxton.
  • Narm/Narm Charm:
    • As of Season Two, HYDRA's new-found obsession with putting their logo on everything, painting it on the walls of their offices and even issuing HYDRA jackets. It may be a handy shorthand for cluing the audience in, but it still looks silly for the terrorist organization that managed to stay secret for seventy years to suddenly be walking around in team jackets. Of course, given that this was normal behavior for them when they were part of S.H.I.E.L.D., it's likely just an old habit that's dying hard, but it's as narmy as it was when S.H.I.E.L.D. did it too. It's taken Up to Eleven when Simmons is undercover at HYDRA and they reveal that she and the other HYDRA scientists have black lab coats. You know, in case you forgot HYDRA was evil.
    • In "Face My Enemy," one of the show's all-time best fights is preceded by the inevitable Gainaxing you get from May in a flimsy nightgown thrashing around to loosen a rope.
    • In "A Hen in the Wolf House", Bobbi's fights in the episode are generally well-received, though a number of people have complained about the hair-flip at the end of the first fight for being unnecessary. However, just as many have commented on how it helped sell the scene, being somewhat in-character for her.
    • "One of Us" has Cal recruit a small team of Gifted humans to get revenge on Coulson and on S.H.I.E.L.D.; one is a hacker, one has super strength, and one has a powerful and incapacitating scream. The sole woman of the group, Karla Fay Gideon, has razor blades for fingernails, having implanted them herself so she could kill her abusive boyfriend. While this would certainly make her "special", it certainly wouldn't make her Gifted outright. What makes this doubly ridiculous is that S.H.I.E.L.D. went to all the trouble of fitting her with thick, unwieldy metal finger guards so that she couldn't go around cutting people, instead of just going the simple route of having her razors removed in the first place.
  • 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 Akela's 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.
    • Garrett ripping out General Jacobs' rib, then stabbing him to death with it.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Nick Fury chews out Coulson for wrecking the plane at the end of "0-8-4". Subverted though as he returns for the Season Finale.
    • 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 the nerdy Coulson Fanboy named Agent Eric Koenig. He's a two scene wonder as of the Season One finale, and becomes an Ascended Extra following that.
    • Tsai Chin as May's mother in The Stinger of "The Only Light In The Darkness"
  • 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.
    • To make things creepier, thanks to the second season revealing HYDRA has brainwashing technology, now even previously trusted and loyal agents willing to die for S.H.I.E.L.D. can be turned into loyal assets that HYDRA can control as easily as any other asset. They keep their basic personality, but they become morally twisted into serving HYDRA regardless. The scary part is that it also makes them ruthless and remorseless, as shown by Agent 33 being willing to go along with a plan to kill Coulson's team, and attempts to kill May when fighting her, given she was introduced practically spitting in Whitehall's face.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: Several. Fitzsimmons (Fitz/Simmons, and pretty funny in that it's an actual in-series nickname), Skyeward (Skye/Ward), Skimmons (Skye/Simmons), Philinda (Phil/Melinda), Fitzward (Fitz/Ward) and Mayward (May/Ward). Season Two also introduces Simmorse (Simmons/Bobbi Morse), Fitzmack (Fitz/Mack), Huntingbird (Hunter/Mockingbird), Traina (Triplett/Raina) and Mackingbird (Mack/Mockingbird), and sees the somewhat belated addition of Skitz (Skye/Fitz).
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • A common complaint about Grant Ward is that he was stiff and boring. That all changed with The Reveal that Ward is a HYDRA agent who had been deceiving the team the whole time. Since then many fans have declared now find Ward much more interesting, and that it opened him tons of backstory and acting potential.
    • Skye attracted a lot of ire from fans accusing her of being a Mary Sue with excessive Character Shilling. Then came her discovery of Ward's treachery with a well-acted scene from Chloe Bennet expressing her grief and horror, followed by pretending she's still fooled by him and going along with him, staying one step ahead of him most of the time, and delivering to him a couple of well deserved "The Reason You Suck" Speeches. Then the second season having her develop into an Action Girl, and actually showing her develop rather than having it completely happen off-screen, plus the reveal that she's an Inhuman, and the MCU version of Quake. Of course, for others, it only cemented her further as a Mary Sue, and put her firmly back in the Scrappy Heap.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Coulson's been getting this treatment from Grant Ward's more devoted fans ever since "The Beginning of the End".
    • Bobbi already got this before she appeared from fans of Hawkeye/Black Widow due to being seen as an obstacle for that (being Hawkeye's canon primary love interest in the comics), but after she appeared in the show, there's some still holding grudges against her. Later, her and Mack both receive this to a much worse extent when it comes out they're part of a secret faction of S.H.I.E.L.D. keeping oversight over Coulson's team, with some acting as if its as bad as Ward's betrayal, despite it being more close towards May's when she was revealed to be keeping tabs on Coulson for Fury, while also ignoring that a big part of their decision was Trip's death because of Coulson's decisions.
    • Skye's been getting this from more devoted Grant Ward fans after she shot him in the back in "What They Become", while May got this after beating the snot out of him in the First Season finale.
    • On the inverse, Ward has been getting this from some sections of the fanbase, who decry him as a Nazi and a rapist because of his whole HYDRA thing. While he's far from a goodguy by the second season, he's still far more complex than just a brutish villain like some act like he is.
  • 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.
  • Ship Mates:
    • A lot of fans of the show feel the dynamic neatly divides into shipping Coulson/May, Skye/Ward, and Fitz/Simmons.note  It gets complicated towards the end of Season One with the introduction of Audrey Nathan and The Reveal that Ward is The Mole, but a lot of fans still seem to ship two out of three going into Season Two.
    • Skimmons and Fitzward shippers went hand in hand during Season Two, although some of the latter seem to have defected to Fitzmack after Ward's betrayal.
    • Fitzmack and Simmorse seem to be sailing together, too.
  • 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. Even if Word of God says that there are subtle clues in previous episodes, especially concerning how Ward got everyone to trust him, note  not every viewer agreed that acting exactly like a protagonist constituted a hint. How poorly foreshadowed was the twist? Almost no one believed it. Immediately after the reveal, the big debate between fans was whether Ward was a Fake Defector or Brainwashed and Crazy. Turns out it was genuine.
  • So Okay, It's Average: A third camp feel this way about the show, appreciating the expansion into the MCU, but are lukewarm about the concept and/or its execution.
  • 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 twenty feet. The effect ends up just looking cheap, and the fact that those few frames appear to be noticeably sped up just makes it look worse.
    • The scene where Lola flies in "Nothing Personal" is clearly shot in front of a green screen and the CGI for the landing is obvious.
    • In the Season One finale "Beginning of the End", when Garrett punches Coulson, sending him flying across the room, Coulson's body seems to break the laws of physics.
    • Gordon's Eyeless Face makeup is a bit inconsistent episode-to-episode, shifting in design and shape from each appearance, as well as going from eerie to downright silly depending on the setting (it's often better in low-light exterior shots).
  • Spoiled by the Format:
    • Zigzagged. The Season One finale wraps up most of its drama at about the 45 minute mark — Garrett is dead, Ward is captured, Fitz and Simmons are alive, Deathlok and his son are free — leading one to expect that in the last 15 minutes, there will be a The End... Or Is It?, or a Diabolus Ex Machina. When the show comes back from commercial, the viewers see Garrett get back up, climb into the cyborg-maker chair, and declare he's unstoppable—only to be vaporized mid-sentence by Coulson. After that is the scenes of Raina meeting with Skye's father and Coulson writing out the same alien language Garrett was earlier in the episode, acting as Sequel Hooks.
    • For some fans, the death of Agent Triplett at the end of the second season's midseason finale "What They Become" was no surprise because B.J. Britt had been credited as a guest star throughout the front end of the season, indicating that he wasn't in enough episodes to trigger a regular cast credit.
  • Squick:
    • The entirety of the surgery involved with Coulson's revival, especially the spider-legged robot probing his exposed brain.
    • During the battle at the Norway safehouse, Bobbi does a very nice spin through a HYDRA assassin who had just turned to dust.
  • Stoic Woobie: We still don't know what the precise cause was, but May clearly has high-functioning PTSD.
  • Strawman Has a Point: In "Love in the Time of HYDRA", Gonzales, the leader of the other S.H.I.E.L.D., makes some serious accusations against Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D.: that they're being overtly secretive, that they're not accountable to anyone but themselves (which is why people can't trust them), and that their actions seem to be driven by Coulson's personal agendas. The thing is, all of these claims are, to some extent, true, and Lance admits as much.
  • 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.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Trip gets a decent amount of development after arriving late in season one, and his being a descendant of a Howling Commando offers plenty of good material to mine. In season two, he doesn't get as much screentime as the other members of the team, then gets killed off in the mid-season finale. BJ Britt himself says he thinks the character was "cut short" and had tons of untapped potential.
    • Casting Lucy Lawless as Isabelle Hartley and then killing her off in her first episode before she gets to do much of anything. Particularly disappointing given how badass she is when we later see her in action (in flashbacks) in One Door Closes, along with the fact that she could have been the first openly LGBT character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, given her comics counterpart's known relationship with Victoria Hand.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Season Two revealed that Simmons was undercover as a mole in HYDRA. Not only did this give a lot of plot to Simmons, but also showed viewers a deep inner working of HYDRA, all with the looming of threat of Simmons being captured or even brainwashed. Two episodes later, they also revealed that Bobbi Morse was also a mole only for their cover to be blown and Simmons and Bobbi to escape back to S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • Overlaps with They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character, but the adversarial relationship between Grant and his older brother, Senator Christian Ward. Not only was Christian's abuse the reason for Ward's Start of Darkness, but flashbacks and conversations with Ward hype Christian up as being far more evil than himself as well as someone who could be a significant threat to both Ward and S.H.I.E.L.D. When Ward goes to hunt him, the viewer was probably expecting a deadly cat-and-mouse game that could easily last for at least a couple episodes. Instead, Ward finds and captures Christian easily in the beginning of the next episode, forces him to confess to his crimes, then kills both Christian and their Abusive Parents offscreen. Then again, that's not an unrealistic portrayal of what could logically happen when a highly experienced secret agent trained in infiltration and assassination goes rogue and decides to close a chapter of his personal history...
  • Trolling Creator: B J Britt being spotted on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron seemingly spoiled the fact that his character, Triplett, would survive the events of Season Two, as it had already been revealed that some Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. characters would appear in The Stinger. This being a Joss Whedon production, however, a few Genre Savvy fans were banking on a double bluff, with the "accidental" sighting deliberately engineered by the writers. They were right: Trip gets Killed Off for Real in the mid-season finale, leaving the identities of the other characters joining Coulson in the cameo genuinely unknown.
  • Uncanny Valley: Agent 33 after she gets stuck with May's face. A large burn on the left side of her face reveals the horrifically charred flesh underneath while everything else looks completely normal, and she has a mechanical distortion to her voice. This continues when the mask is fixed, as its voice modulator still doesn't work, causing all her disguises to still sound like May, including the male ones.
  • The Untwist: In Season Two, Simmons isn't actually working for HYDRA, but is a Reverse Mole for Coulson. The show itself actually seems to acknowledge that no one would buy it, revealing the truth before the episode that introduces her working there is even halfway over. The same goes with HYDRA's Head of Security as they already hyped her up as being Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird, a character fans knew wouldn't be a villain.
  • Villain Sue:
    • A minor complaint about Season Two is that while both S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA were exposed in Winter Soldier, so far it feels like only S.H.I.E.L.D. is feeling the heat from government agencies, losing most of their tech, manpower, and generally always on the run with one arm tied around their back and the government breathing down their necks; meanwhile, HYDRA in comparison is alive and thriving, and no matter what Coulson and the team do, HYDRA's still in a stable position and safe from the government. "Aftershocks" averts this and finally cracks HYDRA's Plot Armor in awesome fashion. Coulson enacts a brilliant subterfuge to get a group of HYDRA leaders to turn on each other, after which Mockingbird and Hunter take out the few who survive, doing severe damage to the organization in just a few hours.
    • In the latter half of Season Two, Gonzales' "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. replaces HYDRA in this status quite rapidly. They were able to flawlessly place Morse and Mack as moles within Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D. early in the season, they possess their own aircraft carrier, and within the span of a couple of episodes they are able to take over The Playground entirely and seize Nick Fury's "toolbox" along with numerous hostages and other technology and information. By the end of "One Door Closes", only Coulson and Hunter themselves remain at large. However, this is debatable since a lot of their early successes can be attributed to careful planning and a considerable advantage in time and resources, and they are starting to lose their advantage with Fitz and Simmons stealing back Fury's Toolbox.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • Debbie being burned alive in "Girl in the Flower Dress". It's horrifying and beautifully animated.
    • Season Two really ups the ante, starting with Carl Creel's absorbing abilities, especially when he becomes wood. The detail looks good enough that it brings a certain talking tree to mind. Better yet, Creel is one of the first characters on the show (and one of the few in the MCU) to look nearly exactly like his comic book self, complete with a slightly misshapen head and his right side being darker than his left. And, of course, there's the ball and chain Mythology Gag.
    • The cloaking effects for the Quinjet that the team steals at the end of "Shadows", then for the Bus after they get it functional at the end of "Heavy is the Head"; they look just as good as the Helicarrier's cloak in The Avengers.
    • The freezing effects of Blizzard's powers in "Making Friends and Influencing People", which largely look like they pulled a leaf from Iceman's book.
    • "Face My Enemy" features Orphan Black worthy effects for a fight between two Ming-Na Wens.
    • "The Things We Bury" features a de-aging effect on Skye's father in the closing flashback, as well as old age makeup on Werner Reinhardt/Daniel Whitehall in an earlier flashback, and both look very natural.
    • The makeup for Agent 33 after May's face gets stuck on her. You'd swear Ming-Na Wen actually has another face under there.
    • In "What They Become," the opening dogfight between the Bus and two HYDRA Quinjets, then the ending where Skye and Raina break free of their stone cocoons and become the Marvel Cinematic Universe's very first Inhumans.''
    • Starting from "Aftershocks", the visual effects and makeup for Raina, like Agent 33 above, are disturbingly good. Meanwhile, Gordon's teleportation effects are almost exactly like Nightcrawler.
    • At the end of "One Door Closes", Skye finally has occasion to unleash her powers in a relatively controlled manner, and proceeds to deflect a bullet fired at her, knock out two pursuers, and level part of a forest all in one go — and it looks as good as anything in the movies.
    • "Afterlife" has the return of Mike Peterson aka Deathlok, now in a much better costume and with a couple of new tricks, particularly two EMP missiles he uses to down an enemy Quinjet.
  • Wangst: It's kinda hard to bear Raina's constant whining about her physical change after the Terrigenesis and feel sorry for her when you consider what a cruel bitch she had been before.
  • 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. The reveal that he's a HYDRA agent, and that Centipede is a HYDRA project, makes this more understandable.
    • 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. Of course, being an Asgardian, its very likely that Ward's weapon would have been completely useless on her. 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 holds 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.
    • Erik Koenig in "The Only Light in the Darkness", big time. The expert interrogator is debriefing the members of the team to determine if any of them are enemy agents of HYDRA. Ward starts giving vague answers that set off every alarm on Koenig's super-sensitive lie-detector, to the point where he draws a gun and demands answers. But some Exact Words turn off the alarms, and Koenig lets bygones be bygones, no questions asked. He doesn't even bother to tell Coulson or any other trusted S.H.I.E.L.D. members that something might be amiss...
    • In the second season premiere, the army has the Absorbing Man locked up in a special cell for people with powers, but is no longer visible in the cell. Naturally, the guards decide to open the door and wander right in — since he's only hiding (having turned transparent), this allows him to attack them and escape. As an added bonus, the guards hadn't radioed anyone about the possible escape, so it's a while before any alarms go off. It's also possible that they weren't even fully informed what his powers were.
    • Agent Calderon of "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. in "One Door Closes": Threatening to lethally shoot an emotionally unstable superhuman who can't control her powers wasn't a very inspired plan.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?:
    • Given the Marvel logo, the fact that it's network TV, the TV-PG rating, 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. And there's Scorch roasting Debbie on screen during "Girl in the Flower Dress". 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. In part as a reaction to this, the show was moved to the slightly more mature 9:00 time slot for Season Two. In addition, up until "The Things We Bury", all episodes had been rated TV-PG; ABC apparently decided upon previewing that one that it was too violent and gory for TV-PG, so it's the first episode of the series to be rated TV-14.
    • On the other hand, in the UK it not only remains in an 8:00pm time slot for Season Two - and yes, Channel Four does get the scissors out a lot - but the mid-season finale "What They Become," which was shown on Boxing Day (that's December 26th, for those who don't know), aired an hour earlier than usual at 7:00pm.
  • 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 Three. 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 Five 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.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: In Season Two, Tim DeKay was cast as Ward's older brother, Christian, who was first seen in a flashback in "The Well". In that flashback, the two brothers are played by actors only two years apart in age. In the present, DeKay is at least twenty years older than Brett Dalton. Of course, besides the age gap (which itself can be justified by the two being Older Than They Look/Younger Than They Look respectively), most haven't had a problem with his portrayal of Christian, at least.
  • 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", Garrett and Ward turned out to be traitors, 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. In the next season she finds out that her birth father is Ax-Crazy, her birth mother was butchered by HYDRA, and she has earthquake powers that she cannot control, thus making her a danger to herself and others.
    • 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 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. He retains his Woobie status over the course of the next few episodes, too, suffering from a severe case of Cannot Spit It Out around Simmons, who seems to have transferred most of her attention to Agent Triplett. He finally breaks in "Nothing Personal" when he finds out that Ward is a HYDRA operative. And then in the finale he comes closer to death than anyone else, after Ward tried to drown him and Simmons, and they were only able to MacGuyver up a single-person escape plan. At the end of the episode he's explicitly still alive but suffering the effects of cerebral oxygen starvation. The guy just cannot catch a break. Things don't improve in Season Two either: he's conscious and, at first glance, not that badly off, despite having pretty severe nominal aphasia, mild paranoia, and aggressive outbursts, but it turns out that he's hallucinating Simmons, who left hoping that separation from her might cure him, but it's only made him worse, to the point where he can no longer differentiate his fantasy of being with her and slowly recovering from the reality where he's alone, unable to work, and slowly declining into complete madness. Even the other members of Team Coulson look on him as The Woobie by this point.
    • Just to fully tick everyone off, Simmons becomes The Woobie herself in the final episode of the first series, after spending most of the episode thinking she was going to die, then not quite managing to get her "best friend in the entire world" out unharmed.
    • Donnie Gill, oh so much. Because he's extremely smart, he had difficulty making friends, with his only friend being a fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. academy student named Seth. Both are manipulated by Ian Quinn into developing a weather control machine, which results in Seth getting killed, and Donnie being imprisoned. Because he now has cryokinetic powers, HYDRA has their eyes set on him, and brainwash him into organizing a mutiny. Donnie manages to break free from the brainwashing and flees to Morocco, but HYDRA pursues him there. Finally, when he's brainwashed once again and under orders to kill May and Hunter by freezing the barge they're on, Skye shoots him, seemingly killing him. However, they Never Found the Body, so there's still a chance he's alive and may ultimately get a happy ending...
    • Skye's mother ended her life at the hands of the same sadistic bastard she suffered from 44 years earlier, going through unimaginably horrific experiments to extract the secret of her immortality. When it was over, her body was left unrecognizably mangled and simply dumped in the woods... or so we were led to believe until "Afterlife" showed her alive and well.
    • Gordon, the Inhuman introduced in Season Two. Terrigenesis left him with no eyes, teleportation, and clear Power Incontinence, which is so distressing he's brought to tears, only he can't actually cry because he doesn't have eyes anymore. He's come to terms with it by the main timeline thanks to Jiaying's mentoring.
    • May. "Melinda" finally shows us what she went through in Bahrain, and it is not pretty. Forced to kill a young girl driven insane by an uncontrolled Terrigenesis? Yeah... that's worse than the worst of the WMGs on the subject.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Agent Grant Ward is a HYDRA agent and a traitor to his own friends and teammates, but the story of how he got that way is truly heartwrenching: After being taken to juvie hall for attempted murder of his brother (who reportedly bullied him horribly as a child), he was recruited to S.H.I.E.L.D. by John Garrett, a HYDRA infiltrator. Garrett trained him to be the perfect HYDRA mole, teaching him how to lie convincingly (often beating the crap out of him to get him into character) and telling him never to allow himself to care for anyone, as it was a weakness. It's no wonder he turned out to be a traitor; with someone like that training him, he was unlikely to turn out any other way. However, his present-day behavior can make sympathizing with him difficult. After all that, while he's in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, Skye pretends to go along with him before she and everyone else coldly declare that he has no chance of redeeming himself to them and any feelings they had for him are completely gone; plus they're turning him over to his older brother as part of a deal now that he's no longer useful to them. The same older brother who possibly tortured him to the point of breaking in the first place. Whether you think he deserves it or not, that's still gotta hurt.
    • The Doctor was by all accounts a good man once, and then his wife was butchered by Whitehall and his daughter was stolen by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Ever since, he's been on a Roaring Rampage Of Revenge which has incidentally also destroyed any chance of Skye wanting anything to do with him.