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

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The TV series

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  • 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 Manipulative Bastard with entitlement issues concerning Skye, leading some to abandon it. 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.
      • Rather hilariously cannon in the the Framework though, as Skye and Ward are together as agents of Hydra and are living together.
    • The formerly Fan-Preferred Couple of Ward/Simmons went the same way, and for the same reasons.
    • 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, though Mack's Rescued from the Scrappy Heap noted bellow and the fact he was only working for another faction rather than a group like HYDRA avoided it becoming as big a deal as the above. Season 3 has had the two spend more time interacting with others and reduced their shared screentime, which has weakened support for it.
  • Actor Shipping:
    • Despite SkyeWard having been sent to the bottom of the ocean, as seen above, Chloe Bennet and Brett Dalton are still a relentlessly popular couple for having enormous chemistry together. Behold.
    • There are also those who ship Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker, especially after their characters' Relationship Upgrade.
    • Chloe Bennet and Dove Cameron have gotten a fair amount of this, thanks to their chemistry together and how well the actresses got along on set. Cameron giving an interview where she admitted to "girl-crushing" on Chloe certainly did nothing to dispel this.
  • Alas, Poor Scrappy:
    • Even after Gonzales spent so many moments acting like an unsympathetic strawman and expressing racism toward gifted people, many felt sorry for him when he's brutally murdered by Skye's mother when he was, for once, genuinely trying to ensure peace between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhumans.
    • Those who couldn't get into Lincoln's character will feel really bad after his Heroic Sacrifice in Season 3 finale.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Ward. There's been a split of opinion on if Ward is really just a victim of abuse who's in desperate need of support in order for him to get past his darkness and ultimately redeem himself, just as much of an abusive, selfish, irredeemable, manipulative bastard as Garret was who doesn't understand or care about the extent of how much he's hurt others, or a complex Antivillain . His constant lies muddy things further, as it ends up being unclear until Season 3 if he was really abused by his family or if he's just a violent bully who blames them for his issues rather than accept them (until Thomas clarifies that yes, they were abusive, but, Grant himself was just as bad, if not worse). The split of opinion continued up until Grant's eventual death.
      • Ward's relationship with Kara, due to how ambiguous it is from his end. Did he recognize her as a kindred spirit who had endured similar hardships to him and wanted to help her overcome them the way he did, or was he taking advantage of a confused and vulnerable woman who had no one else to turn to in order to shape her into an Undyingly Loyal weapon the way Garrett had done to him? Regardless of whether he had ulterior motives in helping her or not, did he truly love her or was it an act? His reaction to her death in the season 2 finale shows that, at the very least, he did care about her deeply, but that hasn't stopped the debate over what his true motives were.
    • 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? It's revealed in season 3 to be the former.
    • 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. Its eventually clarified to be somewhere in the middle: The marriage was bad, but Bobbi wasn't the sole one responsible for their problems as Hunter's insecurities, if not unfounded, were a major cause of tension for them.
    • 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.
    • Did Cal actually mislead Raina about what Terrigenisis was or did she just jump to conclusions about what she would become? Cal was rather cold about her fate but a key facet of Inhumans from the comics is that they are discouraged from planning ahead where the transformation is concerned because what will happen can't be predicted.
    • Is Hive a Well-Intentioned Extremist who goes too far in its desire to make the world a better place, or is it a selfish monster who wants to enslave humans and Inhumans alike? Many of Hive's actions support the latter interpretation (its satisfaction with the Primitives, being willing to drain all of Daisy's blood, trying to turn as much of the human population into Primitives as possible), but its final moments hint towards the former being just as likely.
    • Although he certainly meant well, Lincoln's Heroic Sacrifice can actually be construed as being somewhat selfish, given that he effectively robbed Daisy of ''her'' right to atone for her own sins (in her mind, anyway) and essentially close the book on her story, which she fully intended to do. This is partially what puts her over the Despair Event Horizon (along with actually losing Lincoln).
    • Just how evil is James now, anyway? His selling out his fellow Inhumans to the Watchdogs certainly seems like a Face–Heel Turn, but consider that being freed from Hive's "sway" was so traumatic for Daisy that it sent her into a Heroic B.S.O.D. lasting for a third of the season long, and she had a whole team of people who love and support her. Considering the fact that there literally hasn't been a single Inhuman who interacted with him in a non-hostile way except for when he was under Hive's sway, are his actions those of an Ungrateful Bastard who should have been careful what he wished for, or a Jerkass Woobie without the support structure to make rational choices?
    • In "The Return", when Ophelia threatens Fitz that they will build a life together whether he wanted to or not, she either meant that they will build a new life as a couple like they did in the Framework, or she intended to rape him to procreate and literally create a life.
    • Regarding the Darkhold, did it actively corrupt the people who read it, or is that just what naturally happens when you dangle godlike power in front of someone?
    • In Season 5, Deke betraying Daisy and selling her to Kasius; is he really playing the long game, and that in doing so he put Daisy in with Kasius' other Inhumans, giving her a much better chance of taking him down and freeing Jemma? Or was he just selling her out to cover his own ass without any care for what happens to her? Given he also made a profit on this, was this just for the profit, or was he serious in his concern and wish to prevent her actions from having blow-back on everyone else on the Lighthouse?
    • At least currently, is the accusation that Daisy destroyed the earth in this timeline true, or is this being falsely attributed to her thanks to the erasure of history causing facts to be muddled up? At first it seems to just be Deke's belief, but given Kasius, his guests, and Fitz all refer to her as 'Destroyer of Worlds', there is some chance it may be correct. And if so, why would she do such a thing?
      • As of "The One Who Will Save Us All", the show seems to have confirmed that Daisy did not destroy the world, and it was Talbot-as-Graviton who did it.
  • 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 affected by being raped, both in mind and body, by Lorelei, nor does anyone seem to really comment on this. In fact, it's May who seems the most bothered by all this, and it's Ward she's angry at. It could be a mix of his training by Garrett and his own villainous behavior.
  • Anvilicious: With the introduction of the Watchdogs in Season 3 comes all the usual "racism is bad, okay?" stuff from their portrayal in the comics. We even hear someone explicitly compare the Inhumans to illegal immigrants.
  • Applicability:
    • As noted by a few Tumblr users, the show's treatment of the Inhumans in the third season's first episode -ordinary people secretly hiding a separate side of themselves who, when they eventually become who they really are, are met with fear, bigotry, and distrust (some of which can become internalized), along with picking a new name for themselves, and referring to their change as 'transition'- is VERY applicable towards the transgender populace. Daisy's name change even has Coulson, her father figure, struggling to get used to calling her by her chosen name, something many parents often do in real life.
    • Prior to this, when Daisy's first becoming an Inhuman has a lot of parallels to a young person coming to terms with discovering they're gay. At first she's terrified of what others will think, hides it best she can, only confides in a single close friend who discovers her secret and tries to console her, while another friend expresses bigotry towards people like her without knowing she's one. She expresses a lot of self-hate over it all, and her attempts to control her powers cause her to unintentionally self-harm, which eventually causes her to need urgent medical attention. When her secret is revealed, she overhears her friends talking about it behind her back, with some sounding a little bit bigoted. Eventually she comes to accept this aspect of herself through help from others like herself and the acceptance/support of her friends, and eventually gains enough confidence to be open about it.
    • An alternative interpretation suggested on a WordPress.com blog suggested that Daisy first becoming an Inhuman had more parallels with someone who has Asperger's Syndrome rather than being gay/bisexual, and that Inhuman was really a metaphor for autism spectrum disorder. The blog's author did not have Asperger's Syndrome, however, and he is something of The Spook.
  • Arc Fatigue:
    • The 'Real S.H.I.E.L.D.' arc from season 2's second half, which turned half the cast against one-another and argue over Coulson's leadership (and, while set up as a Good Vs Good, was undermined by turning the anti-Coulson side into racist hypocrites), and only served as a way to give everyone else something to do while Skye went through her Character Development into Daisy Johnson with the Inhumans.
    • Grant Ward's character arc in general, particularly with reasons not to just take him out for good wearing thin and arguably only surviving as long as he did because of Plot Armor (and being a blatant Draco in Leather Pants). Some believe that his character only stuck around as long as he did just to keep the "Stand With Ward" fanbase around — which is not helped by how Season 2 didn't really do much with him, besides granting him enough Alternative Character Interpretation that it allowed fan sympathy to really take off.
    • The Reveal of General Hale being part of HYDRA in the fifth season seems to have elicited this response from some viewers. On one hand, the fact that she answers to backers from a splinter faction of the Kree does put a new angle on it. Conversely, though, it immensely cheapens and basically invalidates the supposed impact of all the S.H.I.E.L.D. characters' efforts and successes in rooting out and dismantling HYDRA around the globe throughout the second and third seasons.
  • Ass Pull: Lash being able to cure Daisy of Hive's influence. It came completely out of nowhere. Especially since his 'purpose' until that point was very clearly to kill Inhumans, it's pretty obvious he was meant to either destroy Hive, or otherwise just keep inhuman population down so Hive wouldn't be able to raise an army. He accomplishes neither of these and is immediately killed once he cures Daisy, despite having been nearly unstoppable all other times.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Grant Ward was widely considered a dull character in the first season, from his predictable UST dynamic with Skye and by the numbers, uptight Jerk with a Heart of Gold personality. Then came The Reveal 3/4's of the way through the first season that he was a HYDRA sleeper agent, and a sociopathic Jerk with a Heart of Jerk. Fan reception of the character began to turn around, with many pegging him far more interesting as a villain than he was a hero, and especially praising the writers for following through on making him a villain instead of going through the expected redemption story-line with the character.
    • 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.
    • And of course, the show's early criticism from people bugged that there wasn't any regular superheroes in the cast are resolved by the above noted introduction and reveal about Mockingbird and Quake being in the cast, and later with Ghost Rider being introduced.
    • Another complaint about the first half of season 3 was that the main characters were untouchable, with both Ward and Lash failing to cause any real damage to Team Coulson and even Hive putting up a lackluster first appearance when he struggled in a fight with Fitz of all people (later justified with a Drama-Preserving Handicap). The second half has taken many more risks, including a Flash Forward that promises a major character death, Hunter and Bobbi being declared fugitives and leaving the team, May and Daisy both being on the receiving ends of beatdowns courtesy of Giyera and Malick respectively, nearly the entire team being captured by HYDRA in "Paradise Lost" and finally Daisy being infected by Hive.
    • Some fans were unhappy over Robbie Reyes being the show's version of Ghost Rider instead of Johnny Blaze or Danny Ketch. "The Good Samaritan" reveals that Robbie got his powers from another Ghost Rider who rides a motorcycle, setting up a possible appearance for Johnny or Danny down the road. Later, Coulson makes it clear that he's interacted with Ghost Riders in the past, indicating that we'll have some backstory involving Johnny or Danny later on.
    • The reveal that Ward, and later Trip are in the Framework opened the door for Brett Dalton and B. J. Britt to come back, even if only for a little while due to the destruction of the Framework.
    • Deke having a copy of the Framework in his room onboard the Lighthouse seems to address those who loved the Framework plots and were disappointed by its destruction.
  • Award Snub: Chloe Bennet was nominated for a Kids' Choice Award in 2015, but bizarrely Clark Gregg was not. 2016 upped the ante by nominating both Bennet and Ming-Na, but still paying dust to Gregg.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Has its own page.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • Some viewers consider May's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of Ian Quinn this, given the events of the episode prior.
    • And she does it again to Ward in the Season One finale. She even lampshades it herself.
      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 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 chest 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.
    • 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.
    • Subverted in the Season 2 finale. After 2 hours of being a Manipulative Bitch fans were ready for Skye and Cal to lay the smackdown on Jiaying. But then Cal ends it quickly by snapping her neck. Justified as he really did not want to kill his wife and only did it to protect their daughter.
    • Though cut short, Bobbi also got another, when she escaped from Ward after several hours of torture and beat the holy hell out of him until Agent 13 intervened and turned the fight around. The fact she was Defiant to the End when they were about to kill her, robbing them of the pleasure they could have gotten from it, helps matters.
    • In "Maveth", over the course of the episode, Coulson shoots Ward in the lung, punches him several times, and then kills him by crushing his windpipe with his artificial hand. Played with though in that, while many are happy it happened, there's debate on if someone else besides Coulson deserved the kill more.
    • Watching Lash utterly No-Sell his confrontation with Hive, and then rescuing Daisy was quite simply glorious.
    • For the second season in a row, Fitz gets to kill The Dragon in "Ascension." With an invisible pistol.
    • In "BOOM", there's no denying a sense of satisfaction watching the thoroughly unlikable racist Tucker Shockley undergoing Terrigenesis, with a Terrigen crystal he specifically brought to see if Ellen Nadeer was an Inhuman — followed promptly by the equally unpleasant Senator Nadeer suffering a swift Character Death when Shockley unleashes his new explosive powers.
    • Daisy blasting AIDA out the window of the Triskellion with her powers in "All the Madame's Men."
    • After seeing Aida/Ophelia essentially making the entire Team Coulson through a living hell using the Framework, being almost always ahead of them and finally deleting the Framework just out of sheer spite, seeing Ghost Rider reducing her to running away scared and eventually obliterating her was deeply satisfying.
      • Shortly before that, AIDA sadistically kills the LMD Simmons in front of Fitz just to emotionally torment him is followed about five minutes later by the real Simmons unloading into her with a machine gun. She even lampshades it.
    • At least three moments in "Fun & Games": 1) Jemma slicing Kasius' throat (although he sadly survives), 2) Fitz rescuing her and Daisy from the Kree in epic fashion and 3) Fitz and Jemma having the most epic Reunion Kiss ever, and her accepting his proposal, while escaping from the Kree.
      • Also in "Fun & Games": Abusive Jerkass slave-driver Grill being crushed under a gigantic boulder by Flint.
    • In "Best Laid Plans", after nearly eight straight episodes of watching the arrogant Kree bastards Kasius and Sinara lord their power over the human prisoners on the Lighthouse like self-proclaimed gods, it is incredibly satisfying to watch Sinara disposed of quite permanently in a painful fashion and the look on Kasius' face when he realizes how magnificently Yo-yo and Mack have Out-Gambitted him, blowing up his Inhuman breeding program and freeing the captive people of the Lighthouse in one fell swoop.
    • It's even more satisfying an episode later when Mack finally kills Kasius in extremely gruesome fashion, seconds after Simmons hits him with the most satisfying dose of karma imaginable with a piece of his own hearing probe into the ear.
    • As potentially controversial as her decision was, it's hard not to cheer when, after tormenting, threatening, and mutilating our heroes sadistically and without remorse, Ruby gets her comeuppance when Yo-yo slices her throat with one of her own ring blades and watches her die choking on her own blood and struggling to breathe. A horrible way to go, surely, but damned if Ruby didn't deserve it.
    • It is very satisfying to watch the dawning horror sink in on Qovas's face when he and his ship get blown to smithereens by the very same missiles he fired at the Lighthouse.
  • Character Rerailment:
    • A minor case with Mack in Season 3's "The Watchdog"; when introduced a big deal was made about Mack not liking violence in-spite of his stature, strength, and fighting ability with him mostly being a mechanic, but as the show went on he became a field agent and was regularly fighting alongside Daisy and Bobbi and co. "The Watchdogs" brings back his mechanic side while also, when asked about it, admit that he still hates violence, in-spite of his proficiency with it.
    • The Framework arc introduces an alternate world with its own version of Grant Ward, who acts much like the Ward in the first few episodes, being a heroic soldier type with a desire to do good, rather than the Manipulative Bastard he revealed himself as later. As this is merely an imitation of the original Ward, it lacks his cold-hearted nature that allowed him to become such a bastard and so he acts much like how the original Ward only pretended to be. It also helps that this version of him was picked up in juvie by Victoria Hand instead of Garrett.
  • Complete Monster:
    • The Clairvoyant aka John Garrett is the Big Bad of the first season. Heading the Centipede Project as a powerful figure in HYDRA, the Clairvoyant has superpowered individuals abducted and experimented on, implants his soldiers with explosive leashes, which he utilizes should they fail him or outlive their usefulness, had Coulson tortured to reveal the secret of his revival, and frequently kidnaps and threatens the lives of the loved ones of his "employees" in order to ensure their complete loyalty. At one point he implanted a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent with an explosive leash and forced her to work for him, work that included massacring a subway train full of bank security personnel to get what they were guarding. Later he implanted an Explosive Leash in Mike Peterson as well, abducted his son, and turned Mike into the cyborg villain Deathlok against his will. Despite his cheery demeanor, the Clairvoyant has no loyalty or empathy for anyone, not even to his undyingly loyal right-hand man, Grant Ward, whom he nearly killed to further his own plans. Later, he would force Ward to attempt to murder his two friends, Fitz and Simmons, in order to prove he's not weak. Ultimately, the Clairvoyant's true interest was extending his own life, and once he'd achieved that he went on to plan world domination.
    • Dr. Daniel Whitehall, real name Werner Reinhardt, is one of the heads of HYDRA in season 2's present day, a former disciple of the Red Skull, and a true believer in Schmidt's cause of eliminating The Evils of Free Will. A bespectacled madman with a seemingly pleasant exterior, Whitehall has performed horrific human experiments during World War II and in the present, using the Obelisk to test how quickly people died after touching it. In the 1980's, Reinhardt brutally tortured and eviscerated Skye's mother, Jiaying, via surgery to obtain her powers of lasting youth, discarding her afterwards. Although she survived, Jiaying was warped by the experience and became a murderous villain in her own right. In the present, Whitehall brags about having mastered the art of keeping his victims conscious as he performs gruesome and invasive surgeries without anesthesia, brainwashes people, including loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, into becoming his slaves, frames S.H.I.E.L.D. for killing sprees that he himself organised, and ordered the Bus shot down, despite Ward promising mercy, after forcing its passengers to surrender Skye. Whitehall's goal is to use the Obelisk and the city it leads to in order to create a Weapon of Mass Destruction, which he will use to kill millions, if not billions of people. In his final appearance, Whitehall plans to torture Skye to death and force her father to watch. In his final moments of life, Whitehall smiles as he prepares to shoot Cal, only being stopped when Coulson guns him down. A sadistic, sociopathic Control Freak, Daniel Whitehall is a cold-blooded madman and one of the worst that HYDRA has to offer.
  • Counterpart Comparison:
    • Jiaying, Big Bad of Season 2, has been compared to Magneto. Both are the leader of a group of superpowered humans, both have utterly horrific pasts that left them with an extreme "us or them" mentality and caused them to see everyone who was not like them as an enemy, and both see themselves as the protector of their race but take actions so extreme they ultimately become no better than the people they're fighting against. Since Magneto is one of the characters Fox owns the rights to and so can never appear in the MCU, some have suggested that Jiaying might even be an attempt at recreating the character in a lawyer-friendly way.
    • Kasius, the Kree leader from Season 5, has been compared to Grand Admiral Thrawn. Both are blue-skinned aliens, have similar mannerisms and speech patterns, tend to do Reverse Arm-Fold, and love listening to classical music.
    • Continuing the Star Wars parallels, Deke has been called a counterpart to DJ, based on their very similar names, being cynical rogue-types who meet the main characters in prison, have similar outfits, and eventually sell the main character groups, which include a black man and an Asian female, out to the villains.
    • A middle-aged woman leads a global terrorist organization and employs a young brainwashed/indoctrinated female assassin. Are we talking about Hale or Alexandra?
  • Crack Pairing: Thanks to the Framework, a canon one in FitzAida. Fan reaction ranges along Sick and Wrong.
  • Crazy Awesome: James, the booze-and-broads-lovin' Crazy Survivalist Inhuman, who keeps his front yard rigged with land mines, brainstorms potential superhero code-names for himself in the middle of fights, fights with a flaming chain that made Ghost Rider jealous, and makes dirty jokes about Jiaying.
  • Creepy Awesome:
    • Grant Ward is pretty damn creepy due to his manipulative 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. As a result, Ward's heel turn, and his refusal to redeem, is beloved by fans (outside the Stand With Ward fans that wanted a redemption arc) for just being an entertainingly chilling villain.
    • Also, Skye's father, Calvin Johnson, AKA Mr Hyde. The man is completely insane and exceptionally violent (he's introduced dripping with other people's blood), but he's definitely entertaining to watch, in large part because of his insanity.
    • Hive. Despite barely speaking, he's managed to become one of the most terrifying threats the show has presented, in large part because of Brett Dalton's uncanny and unnerving ability to play psychopaths really, really well.
    • Lash; the unstoppable demon thing who No Sells both Inhuman powers and ICER bullets.
    • Ghost Rider. His appearance and transformation are particularly terrifying in this version, and he's an extremely brutal vigilante killer, but fans love his badass demeanor, driving skills, cool, very convincing look. The Hell Charger itself doesn't hurt. He's also easily one of, if not the strongest character in the show so far, and everyone is absolutely terrified if he's gunning for them. This includes the Big Bad of season 4, Aida, who runs away terrified anytime he makes an appearance. In fact, the final problem for the team is not about how to kill Aida, but about how to stop her from running away before Ghost Rider could grab her.
    • Aida is very unsettling but very well-liked for it. Her later Madame Hydra persona continues this; now (virtually) human, she adds a far more human touch on Aida's unsettling feelings of resentment, while also playing The Baroness role perfectly.
    • The Framework arc gives us the Alternate Universe versions of May and Fitz, being dedicated HYDRA loyalists with no qualms beating innocents to a pulp and tormenting and torturing Inhumans, including Daisy, after they uncover the truth about her. The latter moreso, as while the former realises she's on the wrong side and betrays HYDRA, the Framework!Fitz acts as The Dragon in the arc and becomes one of the scariest villains the show has ever had.
    • Kasius and Sinara have a level of unsettling calm that directly contrasts with most other Kree in the MCU thus far, which, combined with their casual bloodthirstiness and cruelty towards the surviving humans makes them both incredibly creepy and menacing in the best way.
    • The Remorath are horror film material, violent alien assassins who hunt their prey in self-generated darkness.
    • Graviton Talbot, whose first onscreen moments are to slaughter the aforementioned Remorath in chilling and bloody fashion.
  • Die for Our Ship: It's safe to say that most fans aren't happy seeing Aida/Madame Hydra and Fitz are a couple in Framework, along with the implication of Murder the Hypotenuse to Framework!Simmons. This is an Intended Audience Reaction, of course, as Aida is called out by Radcliffe for brainwashing Fitz and she's definitely meant to be seen as evil for it.
  • 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. His abusive childhood and grooming by Garrett have given a lot of his fans fuel to defend his actions with, causing many to accuse the main cast (and the writers) of mistreating 'an abuse victim', despite the fact that said 'abuse victim' has emotionally manipulated, tortured, and abused many of the cast, as well as killed several of their friends and loved ones. Weirdly, he's twice been offered redemption and both times responded by crossing the Moral Event Horizon, and when he appeared to be seeking redemption in Season 2, it quickly became apparent this was out of a desire to corrupt Skye to make her love him and was just part of his obsession with her. Despite this, a large number of fans still blame the main characters, especially Coulson for handing him over to the US military (despite this being the legal thing to do) and Skye/Daisy for not loving him (despite all the abusive crap he did to her that would realistically result in rejection).
    • Skye's parents Jiaying and Cal. Thanks to their extremely sympathetic Tragic Villain backstory and their actress/actor magnificent performance, many fans are willing to forget the many crimes they committed during the course of season 2. Jiaying especially, despite the fact that during the final 3 episodes she was shown to be a condescending Manipulative Bitch who considered normal people, including her husband, inferior. Most of her actions were rationalized by her fans and the entire war with SHIELD that she started was blamed solely on Gonzales. The rest of her villainous actions were blamed on Whitehall, since it was repeatedly mentioned that she was genuinely kind and loving woman until he tortured and vivisected her. Cal sadly comments that his wife's good heart was torn out.
    • In season 5, when Fitz' Doctor persona resurfaces, many of his fans began trying to justify his Cold-Blooded Torture towards Daisy and argue that he was right in his assertion it was the only way, despite how easily he could have avoided such a sadistic method to do so, which leads to the Ron the Death Eater treatment Daisy got in return. Though he was having a psychotic break, it seems to be mostly used as a means to justify anything amoral he does, not unlike how the Stand With Ward fans used his childhood abuse and Garret's grooming to justify his atrocities.
  • 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.
    • 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. Those same fans were outraged when the character was killed off during the season two mid-season finale, only to become overjoyed when he returned during the Framework arc in season four.
    • Season 2 notably introduced several characters who instantly became this, particularly Bobbi Morse and Mack, who got noticed by the writers who proceeded to upgrade them to main characters by the end of the season (Bobbi getting promoted during the winter break, Mack at the end of the season), taking them out of this territory. Bobbi in particular was set to get a spin-off due to the reception she got, similar to Agent Carter, though this didn't work out.
    • Skye/Daisy's father, Cal Johnson. Thanks to him being a complex, Creepy Awesome character and Kyle Maclachlan's magnificent performance, every time 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 praising 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.
    • Joey from Season 3, the Inhuman the team rescue in the first episode. Being a total woobie and realistic representation of what its like for a completely ordinary guy to suddenly get destructive powers they can't get rid of, as well as being the MCU's first openly/explicitly gay character, made him very endearing to audiences very quickly. It helped a lot when he reappears after having time to adjust, and is now very enthusiastic about being a superhero.
    • Mike Peterson/Deathlok is pretty well-regarded by fans due to his tragic backstory, status as The Dreaded, and being a completely friendly Nice Guy who happens to be a cyborg super-soldier killing machine.
    • Likewise, Yo-Yo Rodriguez, being an Inhuman with a really fun power (limited super speed), a great romance with Mack and a strong friendship with Daisy, and being the only Secret Warrior from the original comics (as well as the only one to stay on the show after the team breaks apart). She was so well-recieved she even got a spin-off mini web series that was highly regarded by the fandom.
    • James, the Australian survivalist inhuman who just keeps getting more Crazy Awesome as the show goes on. There's a reason fans are hoping he joins the Secret Warriors as Lincoln's replacement. Subverted, though, with his Face–Heel Turn in Season 4, though some still love him for his Creepy Awesome portrayal and hope that he gets an Enemy Mine situation later on.
    • On the meta side, Kevin Tancharoen is highly regarded as one of the show's most gifted directors, and many fans get excited whenever his name appears in the credits as it inevitably means there's going to be some kind of extra-special set piece.
    • Ghost Rider very quickly became one of the most popular characters when he joined the cast in Season 4. His popularity was so great that Hot Toys announced they would be producing a collectible Ghost Rider toy, making him the first character from the show's history to get an action figurenote .
    • Jeffrey Mace, by way of Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. When introduced, fandom was against him thanks to him initially being described as an Obstructive Bureaucrat type who the team didn't trust, with many resenting him for replacing Coulson as Director. However, his Nice Guy demeanour, genuine respect for the team, his friendly interaction with Daisy, Coulson, and Jemma after they all resolved their initial distrust, lead to him winning over the fanbase, to the point his death was considered one of the saddest moments in the season.
    • The three main recurring shield foot soldiers in Season 4, Davis, Piper, and Prince, have garnered a surprising amount of popularity due to their increasingly fleshed-out personalities, especially after they rather awesomely help Daisy and Simmons escape the LM Ds in Zephyr One and help protect them in the Framework. Davis even gets a Heroic Sacrifice to take down AIDA, though it doesn't take. Many fans were delighted when Piper and Davis returned alive and well in Season 5.
    • The Doctor, Aida's Creepy Awesome second-in-command in the Framework AKA evil Fitz received almost unanimous acclaim among fans and critics alike for Iain de Caestecker's chilling performance and is widely considered to be one of the scariest villains in the entire show, if not the entire MCU.
    • Though he was controversial in the first half, many fans warmed to Deke Shaw in the back half of season 5, when he became an unexpected source of much-needed levity in a very dark season. Especially when it turned out that he was Fitz-Simmons' grandson.
    • Enoch, the mysterious bald alien man in black from Season 5 erupted in popularity when it turned out that he was the Big Good of Season 5, and quickly won over audiences with a killer combination of The Comically Serious and Nice Guy, even more so following his Heroic Sacrifice in the mid-season finale.
    • While many people thought that Arc Villain Kasius was boring, most fans agree that his henchwoman Sinara is incredibly endearing as a villain, due to her demeanor, cool telepathic spheres, the chilling musical theme accompanying her, and just Florence Faivre's performance in general.
    • Rick Stoner, despite being nothing more than the voice of the Lighthouse's automated security protocol, is a massive hit, probably no doubt thanks to being played by the legendary Patrick Warburton.
    • Glenn Talbot has became one of the more popular side characters, in large part because of his surprising amount of Hidden Depths early on — he was initially presented as an Inspector Javert and total Jerkass, but turned out to be a Reasonable Authority Figure — his nuanced Character Development into becoming one of SHIELD's biggest supporters, and his surprisingly close friendship with Coulson (after their initial mutual enmity). Taken to a whole new level when he became the MCU version of Graviton.
    • Likewise, Talbot's bodyguard Carl "Crusher" Creel, the Absorbing Man, is difficult not to like after his Heel–Face Turn despite his relatively few appearances. The fact he has a similar status in the comics also helps.
  • 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.
    • Ward! It's really saying something that critics and fan alike complimented the show for not trying to redeem him and turn him good.
    • Gideon Malick, as played by the late, great Powers Boothe, sells the role of HYDRA leader with an enormous amount of gravitas, enough to intimidate even Ward despite being a Non-Action Big Bad.
    • Hive, as the original creator of HYDRA, is a pretty evil bastard, being a twisted squid-faced parasitic cult leader who brainwashes Inhumans and devours regular humans. He's also easily one of the coolest threats the show ever faced and one of the best villains in the MCU.
    • Ruby Hale, due to being a solid Evil Counterpart to Daisy and the interesting dissonance of being a complete psychopath who also happens to be a snarky teenager with attitude problems.
    • The Remorath are terrifying. They're basically Baraka clones who literally bring darkness with them wherever they go. Although their leader, Qovas, doesn't get to do as much fighting, Peter Mensah's performance makes the character suitably menacing, and then there's his giant, incredibly badass Cool Starship.
    • Graviton Talbot. Very scary powers. Also, totally awesome powers.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Camilla Reyes invoked this when she attempted to seduce Coulson.
    • Raina, with her flower dress wardrobe being very flattering. A common occurrence during the episodes in which she appeared was Clark Gregg receiving messages on Twitter from fans saying that they found her very beautiful, to which Gregg responded in agreement (quite funny considering that Coulson for the most part shut down her attempts at sucking up to him).
    • Lorelei is quite attractive. When you're played by Elena Satine, playing a woman capable of enthralling men is quite believable.
    • Ward isn't too bad himself, either.
    • Even Malick has his fans, due to being always very classily dressed and portrayed by the magnetic charisma of Powers Boothe. It's the voice that does it.
    • Eva Belyakov, an Inhuman woman with Super Strength. She's portrayed by superhot Winter Ave Zoli. Although she might not be genuinely evil, since she's Brainwashed and Crazy in her entire on-screen appearance.
    • For Punch-Clock Villain example, there is Alisha, the redheaded Inhuman girl, played by real-life Statuesque Stunner stunt performer Alicia Vela-Bailey (she's 5' 9").
    • For Well-Intentioned Extremist (well, for Inhumans, anyway) example, Jiaying may qualifies as well.
    • Aida, whose wardrobe is very flattering and is played by Mallory Jansen.
    • Sinara, thanks for being blue-skinned Kree female warrior with Form-Fitting Wardrobe. She's also the very first female Kree ever to appear in the MCU, even if she's a Canon Foreigner.
    • Kasius isn't so bad, either, not to mention he's also a rather feminine Pretty Boy.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Throughout Season 4, Fitz learned the hard way that doing a secret robot project behind everybody's back just because he distrusts and dislikes the new Director Mace is fantastically terrible idea, especially after someone else with more experience than him already done that which resulted in destruction of an entire city. His (and Radcliffe's) LMD Program ended up doing more harm than helping, from Aida infiltrating the Playground, the kidnapping of the main cast (including himself) sans Daisy and Simmons, more LMD infiltrating the Playground and killing many Red Shirts when they know too much and almost killed his bestfriend Daisy and girlfriend Simmons as well, the LMDs attempted to lure and kill various Inhumans for absolutely and inexplicably no reason (other than, maybe, gaining Ivanov's trust), destruction of Playground, the team being put into Framework the virtual Crapsack World, Agnes's death, Director Mace's death, and, finally, Coulson making a deal with the Spirit of Vengeance which caused Coulson to be dying again. By the end of Season 4, Fitz is so plagued and haunted with guilt that makes him desperately wanted to make up for his mistakes. Eventually, it takes a toll on him that his evil persona from the Framework emerges as hallucination. After two-season long of such Trauma Conga Line, it only fits that Season 5 ends with Fitz's death.
  • Fandom Berserk Button:
    • It's Agent Coulson, thank you very much. Since Season Two, it's become Director Coulson.
    • As of Season 3, it's not Skye, it's Daisy.
  • 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.
    • During the first season, fans weren't very happy with How I Met Your Mother, as they claimed that the show forced Cobie Smulders into a smaller role than intended.
    • With the Netflix Marvel shows. Many fans of the Netflix shows look down on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and view it as the weak link in Marvel's TV line-up, while a number of AOS fans argue that the Netflix shows are so different in tone and subject matter that it's unfair to compare AOS to them.
    • Now between fans of Vlogger Logan Paul and Agents fans, thanks to how vocal they were in shipping the two. Things got worse however after the two briefly got together then separated, with many of his fans now harassing Chloe over Insane Troll Logic that's lead many to assume she cheated on him and/or thinks she's 'too good' for him/his fans. Thanks to their continued harassment (which lead to Chloe disabling comments briefly, something she never did prior when dealing with trolls) fans of the show and her do not have kind words to say about Paul or his fans.
    • With The Orville, due to Adrienne Palicki's role on it that many fans suspect kept Bobbi from returning in Season 5 along with Hunter.
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • The very last scene of Season 2 where Simmons is sucked into the Kree weapon resulted in three major theories that make for some fun fics during the hiatus: she would be turned into an Inhuman, she would be sent across the universe to hang out with the Guardians of the Galaxy, or she would be sent back to the time of Agent Carter. The "across the universe" part became canon as of the stinger of Season 3's first episode.
    • The final third of Season 4 is set in the Framework, a computer program where everyone has been cured of the biggest regret of their life, with quite unexpected consequences. What would any other MCU character experience inside?
    • Season 5 features a return appearance by Hunter, revealing that he and Bobbi have been Walking the Earth as mercenaries, just like they were going to do in their spinoff show before it was cancelled, implying that everything they were going to get up to on that show is still canon.
  • Fan Nickname: The main cast of heroes is never referred to, in-universe as "Team Coulson"; the closest would be something like "Coulson's team". Regardless, "Team Coulson" has been universally accepted by the fandom as the group's name.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Skimmons/BioQuake (Jemma/Daisy) is probably the single most popular non-canon ship in the show, thanks to the two's Romantic Two-Girl Friendship. Sometimes turned into a One True Threesome with Fitz (FitzSkimmons) if the shipper likes Fitz or not.
    • SkyeWard went from being Official Couple to this as the first season progressed, before becoming widely hated by Season 4. However, the Grant Ward of the Framework reality became a semi-popular replacement with people who liked their chemistry and didn't want to ignore the atrocities committed by the real world's Ward.
    • Ward and Simmons, if recaps, comments on recaps, and the occasional podcast for the first season is any indication, though this similarly collapsed after Ward's HYDRA turn, with Jemma becoming one of the most bitter about it. Though it spiked up again briefly, its firmly sunk now.
    • 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 website AO3 after Fitz/Simmons.
    • Following the events of "Aftershocks" there seems to have been a massive increase in support for Fitz/Skye thanks to Fitz' initial crush on her and his unwavering emotional support when she became an Inhuman. Fans seem to prefer them as a platonic pair, though, save for the above mentioned One True Threesome .
    • Similar to Fitz/Mack, Simmons/Bobbi is quite popular, possibly more popular than Hunter/Bobbi, in fact. Its got less steam but the borderline Romantic Two-Girl Friendship dynamic is well regarded.
    • Quake/Rider might be the least controversial Daisy ship among fans; though platonic (with both actors expressing interest in keeping it platonic, albeit with Gabriel Luna being open to the idea of making it romantic), Robbie is so far the only hetero ship with Daisy to not have notable detractors, compared to Ward and Lincoln. This seems to have been noticed, as the Season 4 finale has the two spend most of the episode together trading Ship Tease moments.
    • Daisy/Mace became, strangely, a very popular pair, thanks to the two's surprising chemistry when they interacted, the quick friendship they developed, and the flirty banter between their actors on social media.
  • Fanon: Though it's never explicitly stated which Howling Commando is Trip's grandfather, most fans assume it's Gabe Jones since he was the only African-American Commando introduced in canon at the point the fact was revealed and Trip uses "General Jones" as an alias in "Shadows".
  • Foe Yay:
    • Daisy and Ruby pretty much writes itself:
      • Ruby is very...intrigued by Daisy Johnson, and behaves rather flirtatiously to her before their fight, even telling her "you're much prettier in person." Her obsession with defeating Daisy is written as The Only One Allowed to Defeat You, but some viewers have taken it as obsession of a rather different kind. She later admits that Daisy was 'all she ever wanted', which is...interesting word use.
      • In turn, Daisy empathises with Ruby, since Ruby is barely out of her teens and was raised to be a killer. When Ruby undergoes the Destroyer of Worlds process, Daisy tries to talk her down and before-hand, expresses interest in instead recruiting Ruby in the hopes of helping her move past her HYDRA upbringing. Yo-Yo stops this, however, by killing Ruby before she can complete her transformation into the Destroyer, and Daisy is horrified as she believed she was actually getting through to her.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Agent Carter's narm points regarding the overuse of Red Shirt trope has its roots here (see its YMMV page for detail). Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. shows that the Red Shirt agents who aren't part of the main cast can be killed without getting too much Tear Jerker. Apparently, the lives of a hacker (pre-Took a Level in Badass Skye/Daisy) and two young scientists (before they Took a Level in Badass, too, at least) are far more important than other field agents. This is even lampshaded by Victoria Hand in one episode.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • As to be expected, while there's hostility between the fanbases thanks to the Marvel/DC rivalry, generally the fandoms of Supergirl and Agents is actually quite positive, thanks largely to the Agents cast being very supportive of the show and the similarities between the two shows' with regards to pushing female superhero representation. During Agents' "Dubsmash Wars" with the leads of Agent Carter, Melissa Benoist even appeared during one of Agents' Dubsmashs (the Dubsmash in question was of "Why Can't We Be Friends?", appropiately enough).
    • Similarly, the fandom gets along great with that of the Wonder Woman film, with many drawing positive parallels between Diana and Daisy, despite the Marvel/DC points.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Early in Season One, Brett Dalton did a shirtless photo shoot 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.
    • In "The Hub," Ward asks Fitz a series of disturbing and vague questions including "How long can you hold your breath underwater?" Becomes a lot sadder following the finale.
    • Simmons' comment about Fitz always getting knocked out in "Yes Men" is a lot less funny after the season one finale.
    • 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. Then flipped around (though to a less severe extent) when Sara is revived and given a spin-off from her show, while Bobbi is written off for a spin-off that gets cancelled.
    • Elizabeth Henstridge's Bad "Bad Acting" during the climax of "Purpose in the Machine" turns out to have a purpose at the end of "4,722 Hours".
    • In "Yes Men", Lorelei uses her Compelling Voice to enslave and have sex with Ward, which is glossed over and never mentioned again. A few years later, Jessica Jones (2015), also set in the MCU, had Kilgrave, who committed rape-by-mind-control, but took it more seriously, while the show itself delved into this theme again with Hive, who mind controls both Daisy and James, among other Inhumans, which, like with Jessica Jones, is treated seriously and the resulting traumatic effects shown in great detail.

    G-L 
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • Skye/Daisy is very popular with viewers in China, where her actress was a minor pop star under her birth name of Chloe Wang. A number of Asian-American viewers similarly praise her for giving a positive role model for Asian-Americans and for being the first modern live-action Asian superhero.
    • 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.
    • Similar to Daisy, Ghost Rider has been highly praised by Latin-American fans for being a prominent Hispanic superhero, particularly one as iconic as Ghost Rider. Yo-Yo and Joey both got similar praise to lesser extents (Joey's actor in particular, Juan Pablo Raba, had been well-known in Latin-America as a Colombian telenovela actor).
  • 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 plot line 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. Fittingly, by the time Season Two rolls around, both Fitz and Ward have in fact been growing some actual facial hair.
    • Season 4 has been getting high marks from all TV critics and fans especially after the uneven response to season 3, in part due to Ghost Rider showing up and the writing structure changing, eliminating the filler for the most part.
  • 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". 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. They were right.
    • 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. Not to mention Garrett's also HYDRA, in fact he's the much-talked about head of Project Centipede, The Clairvoyant, so he was being a dick and Tempting Fate on his own guy!
    • 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.
    • 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 cunning 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 is just 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. THEN, she found out her mother was actually alive and leading the Inhumans. Happy ending right? Nope. She had by this point mutated into a genocidal psychopath who thought the best way of saving her people was starting a war with SHIELD and killing all normal humans. Sound familiar? In the end, her mom was killed by her dad and her dad had his memory wiped.
    • Skye's line about how S.H.I.E.L.D. never leaves a man behind is pretty harsh when you consider that that's exactly what S.H.I.E.L.D. did to Kara and Garrett, resulting in their bitter hatred of S.H.I.E.L.D..
    • In the second installment of this series, a main character meets up with a long-lost parent who reveals to them they have powers. They get along famously until it's revealed that said parent is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, who crosses the Moral Event Horizon with an evil plan trying to make the whole world like them. When the child refuses to be part of this plan, the parent tries to absorb them. Also, the child's mother is killed by the father. This plot is almost exactly what happens in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
    • All the discussions about sacrifices to "It" in "Maveth" and preceding episodes were vague as to why HYDRA was sending them, or whether "sacrifice" was even just a euphemism. It really was killing them—to take over their bodies as a new host.
    • The Stinger of "4,722 Hours" - At the time, it was presumably meant to show that Will had survived, and was waiting for Fitz and Simmons to come back for him. Come "Maveth", and it's revealed that that shot was actually of It possessing Will's dead body, unless Will was only mortally wounded at the time, or he acquired the leg wound and died in some later encounter with It, in which case it's the last shot of him still among the living.
    • The season 3 episode "Parting Shot" sees Bobbi and Hunter disavowed from S.H.I.E.L.D., effectively serving as a Poorly Disguised Pilot for Marvel's Most Wanted. However, not two months after the episode's air date, the project was ultimately scrapped.
    • The Running Gag of the first season about psychic powers that do not exist sounds a bit macabre now, in light of the horrible things seen at Jessica Jones (2015). Even more if we consider that, by the time Coulson was saying this, Jessica was probably under Kilgrave's control.
    • Making the Inhumans Early-Bird Cameo in this show far before the "main" Inhumans shownote  is even aired seems to have backfired, considering Inhumans was quickly deemed the MCU's biggest creative failure.
    • Garrett suffered through several gruesome surgeries to turn him into Deathlok, and is killed immediately after another one. A few years later, Bill Paxton died from complications of a surgery.
    • Similarly to Bill Paxton, in his last episode, Gideon Malick remarks "I never thought my last rodeo would be with S.H.I.E.L.D." Malick would end up being Powers Boothe's last major on-screen role before passing away in May 2017.
    • Remember when Fitz defended Skye from any kind of Fantastic Racism attitude after she's revealed to be Inhuman in Season 2? In Season 4, inside Framework, he is the one who pulls the Fantastic Racism on her and threatens her for merely being a potential Inhuman.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight:
    • Kyle MacLachlan's performance as Riley's father in Inside Out is plenty moving on its own, but even more so given that it came immediately after seeing him in this show as a father desperate to reconnect with his daughter.
    • The LMD of May saying she's exactly where she belongs at the end of "The Laws of Inferno Dynamics" is played for maximum creep value to lead into the mid-season cliffhanger. But then it's revealed in the next episode that she has a perfect copy of May's mind and thinks she's the real thing, meaning that actually is what May would say about the team.
  • He Panned It, Now He Sucks!:
    • James Hunt of Den of Geek was unrelenting in his hatred of the show before handing off reviewing duties to someone else. Commenters spent as much time criticizing Hunt as they did discussing the show, especially since they believed that his dislike of it made him blind to an uptick in quality. Commenters were particularly unsympathetic to the way he ended his run as show's reviewer, saying that angrily declaring "I'm out" isn't the mark of a professional or even a mature adult.
    • Oliver Sava from The AV Club has gotten on some fans' bad sides for continuing to mostly find the show mediocre. In particular, he complains about its uninspired visual palette in almost every review, to the point that most commenters are wondering why he even bothers to bring it up anymore, and if he really thinks he hasn't made his point yet.
    • Kiel Phegley of Comic Book Resources, who handles the recaps for the show, who is regularly met with criticism in the comments for his reviews of the show, as he takes an extremely negative stance on the show. In particular, the fact Phegley complains whenever the show follows a common trope while also complaining whenever they subvert one instead, making people question what exactly he wants the show to do, while also frequently describing scenes in the show inaccurately to serve his complaints (such as omitting details that explain why events happen, so he can complain that they had no explanation). This got so bad that when he made a review that noted some positives, readers questioned if he was secretly replaced.
    • The nerdy feminist site The Mary Sue is not well thought of by fans of Daisy's character, for its treatment of her and Chloe Bennet during the first two seasons. In particular, many fans felt that the reviews of the episodes were overly antagonistic towards Bennet and Daisy/Skye, attacking the former's acting skills and accusing the latter of being a Creator's Pet, which many found hypocritical given the website supposedly protested against such unfair treatment of female characters and actresses that usually comes from mainstream nerdy sites. The website changed its opinion of her during season 2's second half and the reviewer responsible for the harshest treatment had since left, but the website is still a sour point for some.
  • 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. This goes double for when Ward is killed and his body is possessed by the Inhuman HYDRA worships. In just a few seconds of screen time, doing nothing but standing and looking at the camera, Dalton is able to make perfectly clear that this is not Ward anymore.
    • FitzSimmons were criticized early on for being little more than nerdy comic relief, until "FZZT" forced both of them to deal with Simmons being infected with an incurable disease. The two of them were highly praised for the episode, especially for Fitz' agony at watching Simmons perform a Heroic Sacrifice, even if obviously didn't stick so early in the show.
    • For people not yet sold on Patton Oswalt's acting, Billy furiously confronting Ward about his killing Eric really helps.
    • Kyle MacLachlan as Calvin Zabo can effectively sell being a mentally unstable yet caring father.
    • As noted above, Chloe Bennet received extremely harsh criticism for her acting in the first season, particularly since she played the role of the Audience Surrogate at first. After Skye got some character development, though, many critics changed their tunes and by the time she'd fully accepted her birth name of Daisy Johnson, most viewers were on her side.
    • Luke Mitchell was considered rather bland and uncharismatic by many critics and fans, but his emotional final goodbye with Daisy and the dignity of his final moments together with Hive received almost unanimous praise.
    • Although never considered a bad actress, Mallory Jansen's role in the early episodes of Season 4 was little more than standing around as a sexy emotionless robot. By the end of the season, she sold viewers on not one, not two, but four versions of the same character, all with distinctly different personalities but similar enough to feel familiar. This was especially true in the final arc of the season, where she pulled off the character's abrupt mood switches so well that her Freak Out! over Fitz' rejection was considered genuine Nightmare Fuel when it could easily have come off as Narm.
    • Any lingering doubts anyone had about Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker's acting ability were obliterated in Season 4, especially during Self Control, with the scene of LMD Fitz trying to convince Jemma that he's human considered both heart-wrenching and horrifying. Taken Up to Eleven in the Framework arc when Fitz appeared as The Doctor, an incredibly disturbing evil version of himself. Elizabeth got to show off her acting chops to believably sell The Woobie during that arc. Just try not to cry watching the scene where Simmons watches Fitz tell AIDA, he'll never love anyone except Jemma, at least until that scene takes a serious turn for the worse.
    • While her acting ability was never really disputed, Natalia Cordova-Buckley got to show how good she can be in the opening scene of "The End" where she nearly breaks down in front of the team over the nature of the Stable Time Loop and having to sacrifice Coulson to save the world.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the pilot episode, Skye tries quoting Voltaire's famous statement, "With great power comes great responsibility." - which was made famous by being attributed to Spider-Man. Three years later, Spider-Man officially joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    • 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.
    • One of Ming-Na Wen's most notable previous roles was Chun-Li in the live-action Street Fighter movie. Her stunt double on the show is martial artist Samantha Jo, who portrayed Chun-Li in an episode of the Ultimate Fan Fights web series.
    • 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.
    • Speaking of Winter Soldier, when it came up, many people thought its twist involving the disbanding of SHIELD meant the end for this show. The point where the show catches up with the events of this movie is now overall considered by fans to be when it started Growing the Beard.
    • One of the most important plotlines established via the third quarter of season 1 is the betrayal by one of the team's own, Grant Ward, who turns out to be one of many HYDRA operatives infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside. Two months later, one of the most important plotlines in WWE's wrestling program involves an ultra-popular paramilitary-styled trio called The Shield which is betrayed and disbanded by its "architect" Seth Rollins, who in fact looks like he could be a relative of Ward's, in favor of Big Bad faction The Authority. Both Ward and Rollins enter the ranks of their programs' central antagonists following these events.
    • 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, in the Wonder Woman pilot, Wonder Woman 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.
    • Chris Hemsworth isn't the only Australian actor to play a character in the MCU with lightning-related powers. Luke Mitchell plays Lincoln, an Inhuman with the ability to control electrical charges.
    • Kirk Acevedo (Agent Calderon) and Jamie Harris (Gordon) appeared in Season 2 as, respectively, a fantasy-racist Jerkass and a friend and ally to said fantasy minority. Both of them appeared in the rebooted Planet of the Apes films a few years earlier as very similar characters to the ones they play here. note 
    • In the Season 2 finale SOS, upon seeing Jiaying's plan in action, Mack states that he thought his mom was crazy for watching Fox News. In July 2015, the MCU's main news network, WHIH News, created a Twitter account. The third account it followed? Fox News.
    • By the time "Who You Really Are," which dealt with an amnesiac Sif, aired, Jaimie Alexander had been cast as an amnesiac on Blindspot.
    • This show's fandom has traditionally had a rivalry with that of Arrow's. Both season 4 of Arrow and season 3 of S.H.I.E.L.D. are running concurrently, and in both cases the Big Bad happens to have the same name: Hive. It almost feels deliberate when the post-winter mid-season premier has a flashback indicating the deaths of at least one character, much like Arrow's infamous grave scene in its fourth season premiere. Taken even further towards the end of the seasons when both Hives' big evil plan involves launching giant missile attacks.
    • Mack calls the Secret Warriors "the Power Rangers", featuring Skye (Daisy), Mack, and Joey. Coincidentally, since Disney owns Marvel, and the show as well, it also used to own Power Rangers. There was a Sky in Power Rangers S.P.D., a Mack in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, and in the Japanese Counterpart, Super Sentai, there was a Joe, all of which were Power Rangers.
    • In Avengers, Assemble! there was a villain with The Virus. His master plan was to take a ship, go to the high atmosphere and release the virus, to infect all the world with it. The heroes allowed him to do it, making sure that he left no other selves on earth, and then blasted the ship to outer space in a no-return flight. Sounds familiar?
    • Before being revealed as Hive, the most popular guess for the mysterious Big Bad of Season 3 was Ego the Living Planet. He was added to the MCU himself within a year, revealed as Peter Quill's father.
    • In Season 3, James started using a chain while fighting, with fans immediately comparing it to Ghost Rider's hellfire chain. In season 4, not only does Robbie Reyes become a recurring character, he fights and defeats James with his own chain, even keeping it afterwards.
    • Considering all the Alternative Character Interpretation debates around Grant Ward's actions, it's amusing to see him brought back in the Framework as a member of La Résistance against HYDRA—his first appearance seems to be that of an unambiguously good person operating as The Mole to protect his girlfriend.
    • Although the Framework is similar to The Matrix, a month before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered Saints Row IV had the exact plotline of putting people into a virtual reality, complete with putting them in pods similar to the ones that Team Coulson are in once they are plugged into the Framework and their virtual reality being a darker version of the real world.
    • Actress Briana Venskus portrays Recurring Extra Agent Piper on a Marvel show....and she also portrays Recurring Extra DEO Agent Vasquez on Supergirl, another background-character member of a secret government organization, only this one's DC instead of Marvel. That oughta make for some interesting crossover/alternate universe theories.
    • Black Panther (2018) features a shot, revealed right in the initial teaser trailer, of T'Challa flying out of a crashing car that looks identical to the birth of Ghost Rider.
    • Kyle MacLachlan's role as Mr. Hyde in this show becomes even funnier when in the return season of Twin Peaks, he plays both Cooper and his evil doppelganger, who wears his hair long and is incredibly Ax-Crazy just like Mr. Hyde in the second season finale.
    • Looks like Coulson wasn't wrong about HYDRA's soap. It's even colored blue!
    • One of the most common complaints is that the show doesn't seem to be all that connected to MCU films and other shows outside ABC, to the point that it almost feels like it's set in its own universe. Cue the third arc of Season 4, where the main casts are trapped in an alternate artificial universe. The beginning of Season 5 follows suit, where they're trapped in yet another alternate universe, set in Bad Future no less.
    • Deke's attraction to Daisy becomes funnier after it's revealed that he's Fitz and Simmons' grandson from the future, because Fitz also was attracted to her way back in Season 1. Considering that even Deke's mother (who is also Fitz and Simmons' daughter) thinks Daisy is cute, one can't help but think that Fitz's attraction to Daisy is genetic.
    • Gabriel Luna playing a remorseless killing machine in a season with killer robots (not to mention The Terminator references aplenty) is quite amusing when it was announced in April 2018 that he was playing the Terminator in a new installment of the franchise.
  • Hype Backlash: A possible reason for all the online negativity directed towards the show towards its beginning, as the show was hyped up a lot as the first TV entry in the MCU, and so had a lot riding on it before it started. The trope 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.
    • "Among Us Hide" attempts to set up ATCU Agent Banks as a Red Herring for Lash. The problem? Banks was accounted for during Lash's previous attacks. One of the characters investigating him, Hunter, was even in Banks' presence during Lash's first appearance. But the characters don't remember this, nor does the show seem to expect the viewer to, and the reveal that Banks isn't Lash is played completely straight.
    • Elena gets a warning from her future self that the team trying to save Coulson's life is a big part of the chain of events that will lead to the Earth being destroyed. Then they find out Coulson is dying...and everyone sets about trying to find a way to save him without so much as a single line acknowledging this. The warning verges on being a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment if it weren't for the inevitability of our finding out what it meant. It's eventually revealed that Elena actually didn't tell anyone else about it, which isn't much better given the incredibly weak motivation of just not wanting to bother them with it.
  • 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 for the first season 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 it's pretty obvious she's undercover, which was proven right.
    • 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.
    • Similarly, when "Bouncing Back" had a Ship Tease between Mack and Yo-Yo, many fans were upset because they had clinged to the idea Mack as gay. Though never confirmed in canon, Mack's close relationship with Fitz, an ambiguous scene with an old friend, him stating that his only relationships with women being strictly platonic Like Brother and Sister dynamics, and one scene where he referred to his previous lovers without specifying their gender(s), all gave many fans reason to think he'd be gay. Its arguable how much of Mack and Yo-Yo's interaction is meant to be romantic and not just another of Mack's close platonic relationships with women, but the idea of it being romantic has bugged a lot of fans.
    • Many fans had assumed that the bizarre three-week break prior to just two more episodes before the mid-season winter hiatus of Season 4 was to give everyone a chance to see Doctor Strange (2016) so they'd understand some major crossover element. When this failed to happen beyond a handful of indirect thematic thingsnote  they weren't happy, renewing their beliefs that Marvel doesn't care about the show.
    • The announcement that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 and Inhumans Season One would air on Friday Nights, a death knell for genre shows; especially that announcement that rather than air concurrently, ABC would air Season 5 after Inhumans had finished it run (which to be fair is only eight episodes, unusually short for a broadcast show as opposed to cable).
  • 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 but they chug along.
  • It Gets Better: Towards the end of Season One, it gets a lot better. In Season Four, it gets a LOT better.
  • 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. Describing Ward's character without mentioning this is difficult, and given how important he is to the show, it's hard to talk about the cast without bringing it up.
    • 'Skye' actually being Daisy Johnson, and an Inhuman. Given the boost of popularity the character got when this reveal happened, as well as her being the main character, makes this probably the most well-known secret in the show after the Ward reveal.
  • 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.
    • Cal. As much of a monster as he's been, he just wants to reunite with his daughter after she was taken from him, and avenge the brutal vivisection his wife went through. We later learn he experimented on himself to gain power like his Inhuman wife so he can be more effective in searching for Daisy, but doing so damaged his mind and left him with deadly impulse control and anger issues. He ultimately opts to redeem himself and goes through TAHITI, meaning that, after all he went through, he not only doesn't get to be with his daughter, but now he doesn't even remember 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.
    • The Inhumans. All they want to do is live in peace, but they have to live in isolation because they know organizations like HYDRA will want to hunt them down so they can be experimented upon or be forced into being their foot soldier, and they don't trust SHIELD's "index" because they see it cut from the same cloth of Fantastic Racism. Unfortunately for the Inhumans they are led by Jiaying, a woman who was unlucky enough to be experimented on by HYDRA and the experience warped her enough that she was ready to attempt genocide on all humans to keep the Inhumans safe - and she's able to convince most of the Inhumans to believe that as well.
    • Glenn Talbot. Despite all the people he's killed and the damage he's done as Graviton, it's hard to forget that he has genuinely good intentions in wanting to protect the world from Thanos and company. He was kidnapped and tortured by HYDRA for six months into confessing all of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s secrets to them, a fact that clearly weighs heavily on him. His mental conditioning forces him into seeking HYDRA's agenda against his will - something his own wife unwittingly inflicts on him - and when he finally breaks through the brainwashing, he tries to kill himself. It's clear that, as much as he thinks himself to be in control, the warring voices inside the Gravitonium have had an adverse effect on his already fraying sanity and exacerbated many of his worst impulses. The ultimate irony comes from the fact that injecting himself with Gravitonium and becoming the Destroyer of Worlds is driven by a genuine desire to save his friends in SHIELD and pay for his mistakes.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: A number of fans who had no interest in the show or had previously abandoned it began watching it when Ghost Rider joined the cast. It's not uncommon to see bloggers and reviewers say that they wished he'd get a Spin-Off so they could just follow him without the actual S.H.I.E.L.D. characters.
  • 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 "A 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 somebody who had enough time to already be established as one of the main characters that early.
    • "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.
    • "A Hen in the Wolf House" introduces HYDRA's head of Security, Bobbi Morse, well-known in the comics as the superhero Mockingbird. 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.
    • The season two finale featured Coulson attempting a Heroic Sacrifice to save Fitz and Mack. Naturally, he wasn't killed off.
    • "Uprising" includes a scene where a Magical Defibrillator fails at a critical moment thanks to an EMP, which puts May in real danger of getting Killed Off for Real. She ends up making it thanks to a last-minute magnetic power source.
    • "Lockup" makes it look like Simmons could be fired for failing a lie detector test. Despite tripping up on the last question, she's still able to assure Director Mace that he can trust her—and at a crucial moment for him and S.H.I.E.L.D., yet.
    • "Deals With Our Devils" has Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie spending most of the episode trapped in a space between dimensions with the risk of getting sucked into another dimension that it's implied to be Hell. By the end of the episode they managed to return and are all home safe and sound, and the Rider is still inhabiting Robbie after temporarily leaving him for Mack during the episode.
    • Coulson is mortally wounded in "Farewell, Cruel World!" He barely makes it out of the Framework with his life. Particularly suspenseful seeing that the last real-world person to die in the Framework died in real life, too.
  • Love to Hate:
    • Grant Ward is considered a great villain by some fans and that's why these fans want to see Team Coulson take him down. This really comes to the fore in the Season Two finale, in which Ward and Kara kidnap and torture Bobbi Morse for hours, if not days. After that, many a fan is looking to see his decidedly karmic death at the hands of a vengeful Hunter.
    • AIDA has been highly praised for her role in the Framework arc as a totally despicable yet understandable Baroness, with many viewers applauding Mallory Jansen's acting ability and despising her for her emotional abuse of Fitz and Simmons in equal measure.
    • Kasius and Sinara are both incredibly cruel and sadistic bastards, but are also incredibly smug, smooth, and stylish while doing it, which makes them both very entertaining and very easy to dream of vicious karmic punishments.

    M-Q 
  • 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 "A Hen in the Wolf House", Coulson 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".
    • Ward and Kara are now a duo of this. Ward convinced Coulson that he had a Heel Realization and wanted Kara to be put safe with S.H.I.E.L.D. - but in reality, it was all a rouse to get Kara revenge on Bobbie. And Kara played her part perfectly, by imitating May once again.
    • Gideon Malick managed to snag the title of one of the show's best villains without even doing all that much himself, thanks to his taking the piss out of Ward's pretentions, having a truly grand and far-reaching ambition beyond anything else seen from HYDRA, and being played by the effortlessly intimidating Powers Boothe.
  • Memetic Badass: May is one in-universe, with various tall tales of how she got nicknamed The Cavalry.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Somebody really wanted our initials to spell SHIELD."
    • Fans saying that the real reason Fitz loves Simmons so much is because he's after the sandwich she made in "The Hub", with some even jokingly claiming it's a Cargo Ship.
    • "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. After The Reveal, "T.A.H.I.T.I. was a magical place, but 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.
      John Garrett: 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 it's real or fictional (Ward is responsible for X event).
    • Fans sometimes joked that Coulson isn't really upset about the truth behind his resurrection. He's just upset that following his "death" in The Avengers, his Captain America vintage cards have been damaged by Nick Fury.
    • "All this excitement fried their circuits. Their cooling systems kicked in, and they're recharging their batteries."note 
    • After Mack's sudden choking out of Hunter to prevent him from discovering the existence of Real SHIELD, fans joke that Mack's solution to any problem is to choke Hunter out, even if Hunter isn't part of the situation.
    • "THAT'S NOT HER NAME!", usually brought up whenever Daisy's referred to as "Skye.".
    • On certain imageboards, due to Grant Ward's initial blandness, Agent Triplett (who seemed to fill the same niche on Garrett's team) became "Black Ward." This led to nearly every character becoming some version of Ward (i.e. Hunter was Limey Ward, Lincoln was Electric Ward, Deke is Space Ward, Star-Ward, or RealWardnote , etc.) to the point that /co/ developed the Sephirothic System of Twelve Divine Wards.
    • After Mack made his Shotgun-Axe, fans began joking that the weapon, not Yo-Yo, is his One True Love.
    • Agents of HYDRA was one of the most horrifying story arcs in the series, but Odin damn us if we don't admit that it was a Fountain of Memes:
      • Referring to the Framework as Aida's self-insert fan fiction.
      • "I'd like to report a subversive."note 
      • "The soap made me do it", and jokes involving soap in general, after Framework Coulson expressed his theory about HYDRA's "mind control soap".
      • Refering to Project Looking Glass as a "3D printer" to make Aida a body.
      • After Aida's Woman Scorned moment on Fitz, jokes ranging from how she doesn't take being friendzoned quite well to "From the scale 1 to Aida, how bad do you take rejection?" Another joke is adressing how Fitz needs to learn a better way to break-up his girlfriend in order to prevent her from becoming Psycho Ex-Girlfriend.
    • "Daisy is Thanos?"note 
    • "Unknown" being used when you don't know know the answer to a question, after Enoch uses it when he doesn't know the answer to a question, particularly regarding the Lighthouse's origins. Also something of a Snow Clone of the "Unclear" meme from The Flash.
    • "I am a Kree, as I have always been, brother."note 
    • "That doesn't seem physically possible."note 
    • After Enoch and Noah both died heroically (in back-to-back episodes, no less), it's not uncommon to hear jokes about whether making a Heroic Sacrifice is an inherent part of Chronicom programming.
    • Many people have followed in Elena's footsteps after "Principia" by making "missing arm" jokes.
    • After it was confirmed that Deke was FitzSimmons' grandson in the 100th episode, jokes erupted that Deke's Belligerent Sexual Tension with Daisy was an attempt to make Fitzskimmons canon in some form or another. Similarly, after a Fear Dimension manifestation of Deke's mother commented that Daisy was cute in the following episode, fans began joking that his attraction to Daisy must genetic.
    • "Fitz Club".note 
    • "g n s f S. I. L.".note 
    • "I think my leg is broken."note 
  • 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 Christian 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.
    • 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. And even before the vivisection was revealed, he crossed it by brainwashing Kara Palamas, an act that led directly to her being stuck with May's face for much of the series, her loss of identity, and, ultimately, her death by friendly fire.
    • 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.
    • What Nick Fury did to revive deceased SHIELD agent Phil Coulson is considered this by some. The full circumstances aren't exactly clear, but it ended with Fury siphoning some kind of drug out of a decomposing alien corpse.
    • Towards the end of the second season, we start to see just how nasty Jiaying has become since Whitehall vivisected her. If killing Gonzales and attacking her own city with a stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. Quinjet to manipulate her people into starting a war wasn't enough, murdering Raina and executing helpless prisoners in cold blood, plus planning to effectively doing this to anybody who stands in her way (even if it's her own daughter), confirms without a doubt how far beyond redemption she is.
    • Any sympathy you may have had for Ward up to that point evaporates in "S.O.S." when not only does he brutally torture Bobbi Morse and plans on killing her, but then he changes that plan to instead setting a trap so that the person who comes to rescue her (most likely Hunter) will get shot to death instead, and Bobbi will have to helplessly watch it happen. He cements it in "Closure" when he murders Rosalind Price with a cheap long-range shot and taunts Coulson about it over the phone. Now, It's Personal between him and Coulson, and if there was any possibility of turning back by that point, that went out the window at that very moment.
    • Even Simmons has one, albeit a personal one, which she crosses by attempting to frag Ward with a cheap shot, which Ward wastes no time criticizing as something the Simmons he knew wouldn't have done. More tellingly, this marks the moment where Simmons abandons her "totally nonviolent" personification, a moment foreshadowed in some earlier episodes during the second season.
    • Hive has a number of possible crossing points, but its willingness to let Daisy be completely drained of her blood is horribly callous, even by Hive's standards. If that didn't do it for you, wait until he's satisfied with the Primitive strain of the Inhuman virus. All of his other actions could be explained as an extremely zealous ambition to unify the world, but by having no issue in completely throwing out humanity's minds in favor of obedient brute slaves makes it clear that he's only in it for power and deluding himself.
    • The Watchdogs (or whoever happens to be pulling their strings) cross it in "Uprising" by engineering an Inhuman witch hunt with EMPs in places with Inhumans in them and a massive frameup. The EMPs, by the way, come to New York at the worst possible moment: when Simmons and Dr. Radcliffe have to stop May's heart to reboot her brain, at a critical moment where her life is in extremely serious danger due to the nature of the operation (thankfully, she manages to survive thanks to a last-minute intervention courtesy of Dr. Radcliffe's LMD companion).
    • James crosses it when he sells out his fellow Inhumans to the Watchdogs.
    • Senator Nadeer nearly crosses it when she orders the Watchdogs to kill her own brother, before he talks her out of it. Then she jumps right over it at the end of the episode, killing him herself after he reveals his powers. If even then you still sympathized with her (after all, he would've done the same to her if she was the one who had become an Inhuman, and she knew that perfectly well—in fact, they had promised each other in the wake of their mother's death at the hands of the Chitauri), you most definitely didn't after she teamed up with Dr. Radcliffe to humiliate S.H.I.E.L.D. in a public hearing, nearly causing the aftermath of "out of the shadows and into the light" all over again.
    • Aida's multiple atrocities could count, but as she repeatedly argues she was only doing what she was programmed to. Once she gains free-will though, she definitely crosses it when she responds to Fitz's rejection of her by violently attacking him, and trying to teleport them both away while loudly declaring her plans to rape him. Fitz is saved this fate, though, but this leads her to decide that making the Framework world a reality would be suitable revenge for his rejection.
    • In the Framework, Fitz is depicted as a Mad Scientist who gleefully crosses the MEH whenever Inhumans and subversives are involved, and this incarnation cements himself as an utterly depraved bastard by murdering Agnes in cold blood, if his tests on Inhumans didn't do so by that point. If that didn't do it, ordering an airstrike on a reeducation camp building full of children most definitely would have.
    • General Hale crosses it when she shoots her subordinates Evans and Lucas in cold blood.
    • Voss goes over by murdering Robin to prevent her from telling Daisy how S.H.I.E.L.D. can get to their own time.
  • 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: Some of these can be considered Narm Charm, depending on how you see it.
    • In Season Two, after HYDRA is out in the open, they seem to have developed a newfound 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 still narmy. 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, as opposed to common white lab coats, 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.
    • There are several occasions where Dr. List says the infamous HYDRA salute "Hail HYDRA" with hilariously casual tone without any sign of Large Ham whatsoever.
    • The reveal that Theta Protocol is the Helicarrier Fury uses in Age of Ultron. It just begs the question of why the hell Coulson treated it as such an ultra-top secret thing rather than something the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be fully expected to be doing, and comes off like the only reason he didn't tell anyone was he didn't want to spoil the movie.
    • After a fair amount of build-up the reveal of Cal's "Hyde" form is pretty goofy. It's basically just his normal look with different eyes and long nails. But Kyle MacLachlan's Large Ham performance made it very entertaining to watch.
    • Even after her real name is revealed, almost all characters keep calling Kara Palamas with her S.H.I.E.L.D. codename: Agent 33. Sure, perhaps not many people know her name, full name or last name. But this is particularly bad because Coulson considered her to be one of the best and brightest of S.H.I.E.L.D., so logically he should've remembered her real name. Yet, he keeps calling her that name to the point she not-so-happily reminded him she doesn't work for S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore. Bobbi and Ward are exceptions. They called her Kara.
    • During Fitz's rescue of Simmons in "Purpose in the Machine," the wind blowing around doesn't seem strong enough to be literally blowing her back, leaving us with the impression that she's just too lazy to take a few steps forward and make things far easier for everyone.
    • Andrew describes turning into Lash for the first time as "I lashed out." It's not clear whether he's making a deliberate pun, but either way it's pretty silly to hear.
    • After Daisy's vision of someone's death with a gold cross necklace nearby, the last couple episodes have the necklace introduced, and the team basically plays hot potato with it in a desperate attempt to keep the suspense up.
    • Every single second of this ad promoting Ghost Rider, from the cheesy performance to the vertical video.
    • The show presents the name Ghost Rider as forming on the streets after he becomes an urban legend despite the rarity of witnesses to see either the ghost or the car. This becomes foreshadowing. The "rider" part also makes some sense as of "The Good Samaritan", where it's revealed Robbie Reyes is actually a Legacy Character and the original Ghost Rider, likely Johnny Blaze, does indeed drive a motorcycle.
    • Daisy's excessive eyeliner in season 4. It's supposed to show that this is a darker, broken version of the character after the Trauma Conga Line she went through in season 3, but really, it just makes her look like an Emo Teen. Later she lampshades this by mentioning it among the many bad decisions she was making during this time.
    • The Darkhold, an expy of the Necronomicon, looks like a brand new and cheap children's book despite being supposedly hundreds of years old, and, even through it's stated that it has the power to render itself in its reader's language, the helpful "DARKHOLD" written on the front in nice scrolling lettering really deflates any dread one could get from it.
    • In "Broken Promises", Mack's response to the reveal of the LMDs is "The robot apocalypse is finally here". Um, Mack? We already had that.
    • Fitz (a scientist, albeit not incapable to defend himself) underestimating Agent Davis (a seasoned field agent and member of May's Strike Team) in "The Man Behind the Shield" is a bit silly when you take into consideration that it's the show's way in telling us (and Davis himself) that Davis is not part of the main cast and thus doesn't have Plot Armor. It comes up again in Season 5, where Piper is the only one interested to know how he survives his deadly encounter against AIDA... and the main "heroes" apparently don't bother to ask.
    • Jemma's breakdown in "What If..." towards Coulson as a teacher comes off as far more silly than dramatic, given her hysteric attitude.
    • Jemma unloading a clip into Aida is both cathartic and awesome...but some some people might have to resist the urge to giggle when they see what the recoil is doing to Jemma's chest...
    • Jemma is able to perfectly wipe off gold paint covering the entire upper half of her face with a dry towel. It calls to mind the tar gag from Last Action Hero.
    • Kasius' threat to Mack "I'm gonna beat your body with your skull!" One wonders if Mack would say "This doesn't seem physically possible."
  • 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.
    • May getting a metal hook teleported through her leg, and then slowly yanking it out.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • The show has gotten some jokes about killing off a black guy in every season. This is despite only Tripp's death in Season 2 being real, with both Mike in Season 1 and Andrew in Season 3 being later revealed to still be alive. Part of it is also that none of the MCU TV shows so far have been very safe places for black characters.
    • The show also picked up substantially in quality after The Winter Soldier came out, but a large number of early viewers were so put off by the weakness of the early episodes and the negative press around Season 1 that they now refuse to come back to the show, despite it Growing the Beard in Seasons 2 and 3.
    • Despite only Ward (for HYDRA), Mack, and Bobbi (both for "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D.) being revealed to be moles in the course of three seasons (and both Mack and Bobbi being welcomed back onto the team with open arms by the end of the very season in which they were revealed as moles once Team Coulson and "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D. put aside their differences even then), this show may as well be called "Mole in the Team: The Series", the way fans are talking about that plot device as though it was getting tired by the time Rosalind's true colors as an unknowing pawn in HYDRA's game were revealed.
  • No Yay: Everything involving the way Kasius interacts with Jemma, as he violates her personal space and talks to her in a softly intimate tone, praising her beauty, stroking her face, and promising horrible punishments to her if she steps out of line.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • Daisy's new haircut in Season 3 got criticism at first for not being as short as she typically has in the comics (usually boyish short). However, Daisy's hairstyle, while defaulting to boycut, has been depicted differently, sometimes only slightly shorter than her show style, sometimes long and feminine, depending on the artist and how much they care for consistency. She's also began growing her hair out in the comics, though mostly to tie in with the show.
    • The handling of the Secret Warriors in Season 3 was criticised for greatly under-using the concept, with focus instead being primarily on SHIELD's continued war with HYDRA and the team itself doing little in the story, before disbanding under tragic circumstances. Of course, in the Secret Warriors comic this was based on, the titular team were likewise a very minor focus, with the bulk of the plot following Nick Fury's private war with HYDRA (aided by the remains of SHIELD, much like Coulson's SHIELD), and the Secret Warriors themselves followed a similar path of running few operations before disbanding under tragic circumstance. The show made changes to the finer details (such as changing some of the players and greatly increasing Hive's importance), but a lot of the main points are similar (the remains of SHIELD working off-the-books, fighting HYDRA who are aided by the creature Hive, one member of the Secret Warriors betraying the group, leading to the death(s) of some of the team, and Daisy going through a Heroic B.S.O.D. that makes her briefly quit, but ending with HYDRA being basically destroyed).
  • 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 and it's form more than one scene.
    • 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."
    • The first Ghost Rider, implied to be Johnny Blaze, in "The Good Samaritan".
    • Patrick Warburton as a hologram of former SHIELD agent Rick Stoner in "All the Comforts of Home".
  • Pandering to the Base: The Framework containing a Grant Ward who was recruited by Victoria Hand rather than Garrett, allowing him to grow up to become a hero rather than a villain. It's obvious pandering to the still sizable contingent of Ward fans and apologists, with some even suspecting they'll somehow bring him back to the real world when the arc is over.
  • 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.
    • And in season three, Hive, the Inhuman parasite that HYDRA was created to bring back to Earth, takes HYDRA's brainwashing a step further. Once fully empowered within a dead human host, Hive is able to dope up his fellow Inhumans so that they feel artificially happy and connected and desire to serve him. The scope of this brainwashing is initially lesser in number, as it only applies to those who are compatible with Terrigenesis, but most if not all of those people happen to be 96% of the ones with the superpowers. So if your best friend can melt steel with his bare hands or your sister has a sonic scream, you better hope they never encounter anyone who's supposed to be dead, otherwise they could very well secretly be involved in an apocalyptic cult entirely capable of obtaining the power to achieve their aims.
  • Player Punch: The destruction of the Framework in the fourth season finale. The characters we've grown to know (Trip, Not-Evil-Ward, Coulson's students, the kids Mace died to save), gone. A whole world of people were unceremoniously erased because Aida was throwing a temper tantrum. Worst of all, was the deletion of Hope. This show has killed children before, but watching a ten year old pleading with her father to make it stop and sobbing that she doesn't want to die was next level.
    • The Reveal that the Doctor was actually Fitz himself in "The Devil Complex". Watching one of the nicest and most beloved characters in the team strap his teammate to a lab table and perform incredibly painful, invasive surgery on her, against her will, for the greater good is an agonizing shot in the heart for longtime fans of the series.
  • 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), Skoulson (Skye/Coulson), 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). In the wake of Skye's Meaningful Rename, several of the above ships are being hastily recommissioned. Wardaisy is being floated by the Skyeward faithful, poor Skitz is being saddled with Ditz.

    R-Z 
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Many comic fans who are not happy with Marvel's current direction in regards to the Mutants have reacted to the show's version of the Inhumans with disdain, due to them becoming an Expy for mutants.note  Now that Marvel can use the term, some speculate what this will mean for the show going forward given this.
    • Some consider the Watchdogs this to HYDRA, as during season 4 they fulfill HYDRA's former role as SHIELD's main rival (in fact, it's said that many of the Watchdogs' mercenaries are former HYDRA), but lack HYDRA's history and complexity, instead being simply motivated by Fantastic Racism and implied far-right values, with far less reach due to being limited to the statesnote , and a leader that many found generic and boring. The show quickly starts playing directly into this, with him being shown as a pathetic Big Bad Wannabe when he and Coulson finally meet, and his motivation is treated with bemusement before he's soundly beaten by Daisy. Notably, the Framework reality controlled by the Watchdogs through AIDA has the world owned by HYDRA, rather than them, indicating even they think HYDRA were a better threat.
  • 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 coupled comments on a weak performance from her actress. 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.
    • 'S.O.S.' appears to have rescued, or at least begun the rescue process on, Mack, who reveals hidden depths of badass when the Iliad is taken over by Jiaying's crew. In Season 3, he's completely out of this territory and once again a fan favourite, due to his friendship with Daisy.
    • When Lincoln was announced as joining the main cast, a large number of fans objected due to his perceived dullness of a character. The show proceeded to make him The Woobie, and revealed he suffers from depression and has at least once tried to kill himself (and is implied to have tried this more than once), making him less of a Flat Character.
    • The Watchdogs' "Superior", Anton Ivanov, as noted below, was considered a weak and generic Russian mobster cliché with many deriding his weak explanation for his hatred of Inhumans, considering him a poor replacement for HYDRA's many leaders. However, fan reception became more positive after Daisy destroyed his body and AIDA turned him into what's apparently the MCU equivalent of MODOK, controlling many LMD duplicates of himself. Generally, people found him to be far more interesting this way, especially as it meant he was now a near-unkillable army of robots.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • The Grant Ward fandom is somewhat infamous among the rest of the fanbase for doing this, especially the 'Stand With Ward' movement. Particular targets are Coulson (for rejecting Ward, surrendering him to the US military, and later killing him on Maveth), Daisy (for rejecting his romantic affections and shooting him when given the chance), and May (for beating the crap out of him and, later, leading him to kill Kara). Though it's true that they all hate Ward, he was the one that manipulated them all for months and betrayed them to HYDRA, never mind all the times he kidnapped and tortured them and/or their friends. It leads to a strange situation where people are calling for him to be forgiven because he was an abuse victim, yet refuse to forgive the others despite suffering abuse from him.
    • 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, she 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 it's 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. Then again, any Hawkeye-related couples were sunk after Avengers: Age of Ultron revealed Clint has a wife and children.
    • Bobbi also got this from some devoted Ward apologists, due to the reveal about her sacrificing Agent 33's location while undercover in order to protect her cover, in large part to rationalize why it was OK they tortured her, to the point some have compared her actions to Alexander Pierce's plan in Captain America: The Winter Soldiernote . The fact Bobbi had no idea that Kara, or anyone else for that matter, was in the safehouse when she gave up its location, and the fact she only did it to protect another safehouse that she knew did have agents inside, seems to be ignored.
    • On the inverse, Ward has been getting this from some sections of the fanbase, who decry him as a Nazinote  monster because of his HYDRA thing. While he's far from a good guy by the second season and only gets worse by the end, he's still far more complex than just a brutish villain like some act like he is, in fact that interpretation robs him of his greatest evil asset and charm.
    • While he surely had his flaws, including a strident streak of Fantastic Racism, some people love to give off the impression as if Commander Gonzales was the biggest scumbag of the entire MCU.
    • Mack after the aforementioned reveal about his connection to "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D. and his Fantastic Racism towards the Inhumans. For reference, he only opposed Coulson because he blamed Coulson's lack of accountability for why he got possessed by a Kree entity and Trip's death (and had previously witnessed Coulson's alien blood-induced mental breakdown and saw how dangerous he is), and his 'Fantastic Racism' amounted to "not liking alien technology"note  and "being annoyed when someone with superpowers they can't control doesn't tell them about them even though it was putting everyone at risk", note  yet the way it's often described, he sounds like an irrational Commander Contrarian.
    • Daisy again in season 5, after Fitz has her knocked out, strapped to a table, then painfully undergo involuntary invasive surgery without anaesthetic to reactivate her powers, completely destroying her friendship with Fitz. Some of Fitz's fans really give her no empathy with all this and act like her being angry with him is unreasonable and a case of her being a Designated Hero, even though the show makes it clear that we're not meant to think her anger is rational. What's more, Fitz's behaviour is justified for being the result of his brain trauma from season 1 and what he experienced in the Framework, yet Daisy isn't given any slack for, at worst, blasting him into a wall, despite undergoing torture at his hands, for which he expresses no remorse for.
    • Fitz has gotten this a lot since the latter half of Season 4, where he's given full blame for both the Framework arc and the atrocities he committed in the virtual world as "the Doctor", with some arguing that he should be held fully accountable. Later, his surgery to remove Daisy's alien Restraining Bolt has resulted in many viewers decrying him as a Complete Monster, while ignoring that his mental health was deteriorating under extreme stress and he was still not free of the brainwashing he received from the Framework, with the "Doctor" persona reemerging.
  • Rooting for the Empire:
    • Some people root for Gonzales and "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D., mainly because they believe that they're right about Coulson's actions and behaviour. This became less so when Gonzales became increasingly bigoted against Inhumans, which some fans accused of being the show's attempt to undermine their very real complaints.
    • Many people root for Jaiying and the Inhumans, as they feel that S.H.I.E.L.D.'s actions in the Season 2 finale are the very same as the reason Captain America decided to previously wipe out S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and that of 616-Iron Man's in Civil War.
    • Ward and HYDRA have a surprisingly large number of supporters in the fandom who would apparently jump at the chance to join them, as showcased in the 2015 SDCC panel. As the cast noted, it appeared they have a lot of 'dark souls' in their fandom.
    • Thanks to Gideon Malick and Hive, HYDRA's followership has gotten even bigger.
    • Although it's obviously impossible for him to get the chance, a number of fans sympathize with Graviton Talbot and feel that he is absolutely right about the need for extreme measures to stop Thanos and his forces. Also, he's pretty damn badass, too.
  • 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.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Gabriel Reyes had an uphill battle due to Lorenzo James Henrie having played Chris in Fear the Walking Dead, who the fans hate for his whiny, self-righteous attitude. In this show, his reaction to learning his brother is Ghost Rider plays completely into that feeling, leading them to hate him here too despite his attitude being arguably more justified in this situation.
    • The Superior, aka Anton Ivanov, has been the target of a huge amount of hate after he has been talked up as a huge, mysterious and powerful figure and then turned out to be a generic Russian mobster archetype villain. The show quickly starts playing directly into this, with him being shown as a pathetic Big Bad Wannabe when he and Coulson finally meet.
  • 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.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: The ship wars in this fandom can be vicious. Probably the most volatile is the Skyeward (Skye/Grant Ward) vs Coulskye (Skye/Phil Coulson) rivalry, with plenty of hate and mudslinging on both sides.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Season One: Ward shooting Victoria Hand at the end of "Turn, Turn, Turn".
    • Season Two: Skye undergoing Terrigenesis in "What They Become" and her Oner fight scene in "The Dirty Half Dozen".
    • Season Three: Fitz's breakdown in front of the Monolith in "The Laws of Nature" and Bobbi and Hunter's farewell in "Parting Shot".
    • Season Four: "Self-Control" can rival "Turn, Turn, Turn" as the series signature episode. Whether it's Fitz and Simmons thinking that the other is an LMD, Daisy vs. LMD Mace, LMD May blowing up the Playground, and the final Wham Shot of the Framework revealing a world ruled by HYDRA, everyone who watches the show has a signature scene from this episode. "All the Madame's Men" has Coulson's epic speech on the HYDRA news broadcast, widely considered one of Clark Gregg's best acting moments. "The Return" also has Fitz and Aida's conversation in the containment unit, and Aida's mental breakdown after he rejects her.
    • Season Five: The Reveal that the Doctor is a hallucination of Fitz in "The Devil Complex" and Talbot becoming the MCU version of Graviton in "Option Two".
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: 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, and Season Three ups the ante even further, telling a story with a grander scale than any other MCU property except perhaps Thor, to the point that you could make a good case that the show is now the most required viewing to properly understanding the MCU's ongoing story.
  • Special Effects Failure: The show is pretty good about avoiding this (see it's entry on Visual Effects of Awesome) but:
    • Once Mike Peterson starts overusing his powers in the pilot, the composition of the effects becomes obvious.
    • In Fury's first appearance on the show, the make-up for the scars around his missing eye are crudely drawn on and have none of the texture seen elsewhere.
    • 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).
    • Cal's long-awaited transformation into Mr. Hyde in the season 2 finale. In the comics, Hyde is a huge, muscle-bound abomination akin to the Incredible Hulk, but the show didn't have the budget for that, so instead he looks normal except for a hilariously deformed face and crazy hair. At least Kyle MacLachlan gave an entertaining performance.
    • During Fitz' breakdown in the season 3 premiere, the door he kicks open is very obviously a prop. The monolith also visibly wobbles when he strikes it, as though it's made of rubber and not several hundred pounds of stone.
    • In "Closure" Jemma endures horrific torture at the hands of Ward and Giyera. Exactly what they do to her is mostly left to the imagination, but it involved a lot of screaming. But we do get a glimpse of her once it's over, and... She has a small cut on her cheek. That's it. The effect was so jarring it caused some viewers to wonder if Ward had somehow staged the whole thing and she hadn't really been tortured at all, even though we outright see him beating her at one point.
    • In "Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire", a fireworks shop is set ablaze by - in Mack's words - "two fire dudes". The fireworks that ignite are obviously wooden dowels painted red. Two successive zooms show us the wood grain in excruciating detail.
    • "The End" has some pretty great visual effects all-around, but one point where they clearly ran out of budget and had to cut corners can be seen when Talbot lifts Daisy into the air so he can piledrive her into the ground. The background during this scene looks like rather unconvincing green screen. Again, the visual effects in the episode are good, which is why this scene comes across as visually-jarring.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: The "Agents of HYDRA" arc from season four is probably the closest to a live action adaptation of House of M, despite replacing Mutants with HYDRA. Both arcs feature an Alternate Reality in which everyone seems to have their greatest wish, only one person knows about the real world (or in the case of "Agents of HYDRA", two), and the characters have to escape and stop the Alternate Reality from taking over the real world.
  • 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.
    • Averted in the Season 2 finale, where the spinoff featuring Bobbi and Lance would have spoiled the suspense about their survival... except it had been cancelled with enough time to do a quick reshoot to kill them off instead.
    • Played straight as Elizabeth Henstridge had already been announced to still be part of the main cast in Season 3, meaning whatever that Kree weapon is doing to Simmons doesn't include killing her.
    • In the first half of the first episode of the 2-episodes third season finale, Hive is captured. As it may be easily suspected, the story does not end at that point.
    • Given the "LMD" subtitle on the second third of Season 4, no one bought that the entire LMD storyline would be wrapped up in its first episode.
    • The opening credits of "No Regrets" spoil the return of Triplett in the Framework, as his actor is credited in them.
    • Similarly, The Reveal in "All the Comforts of Home" that Deke was taken back in time by the Monolith, not killed is ruined by his actor's appearance in the credits only a few minutes beforehand.
  • 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.
    • Ward's death. The way Coulson slowly crushes his rip cage, combined with the cracking sound, is just unsettling.
    • In the Season 4 finale, Ghost Rider takes out a random LMD by shoving a running drill into its eyeball. Onscreen. Granted, it wasn't a human casualty, but still.
    • In the Season 5 premiere, May gets teleported into a metal hook through her leg. Which she has to remove. Slowly.
    • Virgil's death in the first episode of Season 5. The roach's claws tear through his face.
    • The show's level of violence in general has gotten much messier in Season 5, as we get to see characters have their throats slit, killed by shards of stone to the head through the eyeball, decapitated, and rather gruesomely impaled. Granted, the vast majority of the blood spilled is blue and Kree, so it's not quite as gruesome as it might be otherwise, but it can still be rather jarring at times.
  • Stoic Woobie: Thanks to the events of Bahrain, May has high-functioning PTSD. Don't expect her to complain about it.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Season 3 potentially had two of these with Coulson and Rosalind and Daisy and Lincoln. Coulson and Rosalind were just getting to know each before Ward kills her. Coulson reacts like he's lost his soul mate even though he barely knew the woman, and it drives him to personally and brutally kill Ward. With Daisy and Lincoln, Lincoln was only with S.H.I.E.L.D. because of Daisy, but they never had a chance to act on their feelings before Lincoln sacrifices himself to save the world from Hive in the finale. This hurts Daisy so much that she leaves S.H.I.E.L.D. and becomes a vigilante.
  • 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 was the biggest Base-Breaking Character at the start of the show, 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.
    • Coulson gives Lincoln a "The Reason You Suck" Speech listing several things fans had complained about in "Watchdogs." He gets it even worse in "Failed Experiments," where everyone keeps pointing out how useless he is, and what would seem to be his big heroic moment of going against orders and becoming a guinea pig for a possible cure for Hive's infection turns out to be pointless when it doesn't work, and then forces him to be imprisoned for his own good when it wrecks his immune system.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • A number of fans on Tumblr have been expressing this at the end of Season 2, primarily because of Skye officially becoming Daisy Johnson and Ward fully embracing his dark side, insisting the show's overall plot has changed too much.
    • Many Ghost Rider fans aren't happy that he drives a car rather than a motorcycle. Though it's downplayed with the reveal that he's a Legacy Character and the previous Rider (presumably Johnny Blaze) did have a motorcycle.
  • 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 (a distinction that would go to Jeri Hogarth in Jessica Jones (2015)), given her comics counterpart's known relationship with Victoria Hand.
    • Mack's little brother Ruben appears for one episode, where it's shown he clearly has an incredibly strong bond with Mack and a mirror to Mack's own struggles with Fantastic Racism...and then he's never been so much as mentioned since. Especially since the Ghost Rider arc heavily features Robbie Reyes' relationship with his own younger brother, and yet this is never brought up even when Mack hosts the Spirit of Vengeance.
    • Werner von Strucker allowed us to learn more about his father (himself one of the biggest victims of this trope in the MCU) posthumously and his relationship with Ward served as a parallel to the latter's relationship with Garrett in season 1. By his 3rd appearance, he's become a target of HYDRA and left comatose by the end, with no indication of when he'll wake up. Zig-zagged when he returns in season 5, where he's developed a super-human memory and becomes one component of a budding supervillain team and one-half of a villainous couple with Ruby Hale. Unfortunately Ruby accidentally kills him when she's unable to control her new-found Graviton powers.
    • Rosalind Price and Banks are both promptly killed off one episode after they're finally confirmed to be on the good guys' side. Rosalind's death in particular is an utterly textbook case of Stuffed into the Fridge, and many fans have called it a nakedly obvious attempt by Jed Whedon to replicate the magic of Jenny Calendar's death on his brother's show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the big difference being that the real power of that scene was its serving as proof that the show would not be pulling any punches with Angel's Face–Heel Turn and he was completely evil now, a line that Rosalind's killer Ward had long since crossed by this point. Some of it is Real Life Writes the Plot as Constance Zimmer has a regular role on another show, but surely there was a better way to do it.
    • Ward in Season 3. Following the end of season 2, he's taking control of HYDRA and planning to rebuild it into a dangerous meritocracy and opponent to S.H.I.E.L.D., but it never got the chance, only succeeding in kidnapping/recruiting Werner von Strucker and killing off some of HYDRA's old guard. Instead, Gideon Malick, one of HYDRA's top leaders and one of the few who know HYDRA's true origin as an ancient cult who worship a lost Inhuman monster, ends up being the main threat in the first half of the season, while Ward becomes The Dragon to him, and is eventually killed off by Coulson, in revenge for the above-mentioned Stuffed into the Fridge of Rosalind. Hurting matters is how this leaves gaps in the character arcs of Daisy, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, Hunter, May, and Andrew, who Ward had hurt in a serious manner previously and never got their final comeuppance on him.
    • Many people feel that Mike Peterson/Deathlok should be in the team or even receive his own spin-off series since his tragic backstory and Nice Guy status make him one of the most heroic characters in the entire series.
    • Stephanie Mallick, Gideon's equally evil and ambitious daughter. She gets one episode's tag scene devoted entirely to introducing her, and then only appears in one more episode where she's killed at the end as punishment for Gideon's betrayal of his brother.
    • Tucker Shockley and Hellfire have not been seen since they were each respectively taken into custody, despite how useful it would for the team to have men on their side (albeit untrustworthy men) who have the insanely valuable power of making things explode with a touch.
  • 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.
    • The 2nd half of Season 2 sees Cal assembling a team of supervillains to get revenge on Coulson. Cal had been a threatening, highly dangerous villain throughout the first half of the season and a lot of hype was made over this being the first Legion of Doom in the MCU. They last one episode; Cal is taken away by Gordon and the rest of team is recaptured. Many fans were annoyed, feeling the plotline had a load of potential and gave Cal a better role than a helpless prisoner who later gets Demoted to Dragon to his wife Jiaying.
    • Played with concerning the Secret Warriors; after half a season of build up it appeared that all we were getting were Daisy, Lincoln, and Joey, with the rest of Team Coulson's usual field team as backup, which is quite disappointing, and the only subsequent member to join after that being Yo-Yo, with the team doing very little before Lincoln is killed and Joey quits. Somewhat justified though, see Older Than They Think.
    • After the show went to the trouble across two and a half seasons of setting up Daisy, May, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, and Hunter as having legitimate claims to the honor of being the one to kill Ward, just one episode before it happens the show rushes in a completely stock Stuffed into the Fridge plot for Coulson so he can do it.
    • After the Fantastic Racism Mack struggled with in Season 2, he gets infused with the Robbie Reyes' Ghost Rider spirit in in "Deals With Our Devils," only for the spirit to return to Robbie at the end of the episode. Having Mack stay Ghost Rider for a while could've lead to some great development as he gets a first hand look at what people with powers go through.
    • Ellen Nadeer shoots her own brother and dumps him into the ocean, where we see him undergo a second Terregenesis. Despite the fascinating possibilities of him being the first Inhuman to go through Terregenesis twice, as far as we know he's still lying at the bottom of the ocean. What makes this even more baffling is that the writers clearly haven't forgotten about him, either, he later reappeared in the Framework arc...but never again since.
    • Many people hoped that Project Looking Glass, a machine that allowed Aida to build a living body and transfer her consciousness into it from The Framework, would be used to also bring back Trip, the good version of Ward, or Mack's daughter Hope. Unfortunately, nobody else got to use the machine but Aida.
    • In a more minor case of "they wasted a perfectly good fight scene," "Best Laid Plans" features an act break on the Zephyr's gravity turning off as Daisy and Sinara are about to fight, leading to quite a letdown when we only get a few seconds of zero gravity fighting between them before May is able to turn it back on. We can probably blame the show's budget troubles for this.
    • Despite the same episode featuring the return of nearly every major villain whose actor is still alive, Grant Ward is bafflingly and completely absent from "The Real Deal" when it would be the ideal place for Brett Dalton to get a cameo as the team's most well-known and infamous arch-nemesis.
    • Some fans are a bit disappointed by the announcement that Season 6 will air in Summer 2019 for two reasons — the first being that there can't be a Captain Marvel tie-in in March, and the second being that it won't explore the fallout of the ending of Avengers: Infinity War.
    • To rub salt into the wound, the Season 5 finale has absolutely no main character get disintegrated by Thanos' Badass Fingersnap, which was deemed a wasted opportunity to tie this show into Avengers: Infinity War despite the previous episodes beforehand containing continuity nods towards that movie.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: Ward and Agent 33's abduction of Mockingbird has nothing to do with the main plot, and only exists to keep Bobbi and Hunter out of the SHIELD/Inhuman war climax of season 2.
  • 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.
  • Unexpected Character: Even after Marvel got the rights to Ghost Rider back, the lack of any mention of him in the plans for Phase Three made the announcement of his appearance in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. quite a surprise. Specifically, the fact that they chose Robbie Reyes—the most recent incarnation of the character—over Johnny Blaze (or even Danny Ketch) surprised many.
    • Zigzagged with Johnny Blaze himself. While he's the most profilic Ghost Rider and many expected him to appear in the MCU after Marvel got the rights back, his appearance as Robbie's predecessor and the one who empowered him took everyone by surprise.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Jiaying. Even though killing Gonzales and later trying to kill Daisy was supposed to turn the audience against her, the worldwide reaction to Inhumans in Season 3 more-or-less validate her beliefs.
    • Grant Ward. He was an unrepentant murderer in service to HYDRA and had numerous Kick the Dog moments throughout multiple seasons of the show, but the amount of focus devoted to him right up until his death ended up making him a massive Draco in Leather Pants and resulted in an entire movement of fans Rooting for the Empire because Evil Is Cool. Fortunately, his Good Counterpart in the Framework in Season 4 showed the audience what Ward could have been like if he were actually heroic.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Simmons during the Framework arc. Yes, she is trapped in a world completely alien to her, and she is correct about the Framework being a simulated reality, and that everyone is running on limited time, but she doesn't even consider that to the people living there (whom she brushes of as just pieces of data) it is indeed very real, and her approach of just telling Mace and Ward - without any real proof other than her say-so, and expecting them to just believe, is a little frustrating. Coulson himself pointed out that Mace and the others didn't have his previous tampering to help him break through the illusion. She comes off as especially mean when she calls the fight against HYDRA, led by the resident versions of Jeffrey and Ward, meaningless, and her insults toward Ward also just seem to go into plain Irrational Hatred territory as this version of Grant Ward has shown himself to be a good enough man who genuinely loves Daisy/Skye and even apologizes for his deceased real world counterpart's terrible actions. Also, when Ward makes the valid point that Jemma not letting him take the shot was what got Agnes killed, Simmons tries to justify her actions by saying the real Fitz would have never done it.
  • Unpopular Popular Character:
    • The team themselves, who almost never get any recognition in-universe for their actions and suffer constant Hero with Bad Publicity status at best, but maintain an incredibly devoted fanbase out-of-universe.
    • Grant Ward deserves his own spot here. Fans love him for being evil, badass and manipulative, but the characters hate him for being, well...evil and manipulative.
    • Hive takes this to an extreme degree, thanks to the whole "absorb on Earth into my hive mind" thing he has going, but is beloved by fans for Brett Dalton's chilling performance and being one of the best villains in the entire MCU.
    • Similarly, Gideon Malick. Bad, bad dude. Awesome character, and the late Powers Boothe will be greatly missed by many.
    • Cal. Even his own daughter thinks he's a monster, but Kyle MacLachlan makes the character impossible not to like and root for even when he's carving chunks out of somebody.
    • Ghost Rider. Even his allies are terrified of him, but fans love him because he's fucking Ghost Rider.
    • Nobody on the team is much a fan of Enoch, thanks to his awkward grasp on human interaction and totally emotionless manner, which is exactly why the fans think he's hilarious.
    • Played with in season 4 when SHIELD goes public again and Daisy becomes Famed In-Story thanks to Mace's positive PR for her as the 'face' of SHIELD. Briefly, she's given a lot of recognition for what she's done, but then Anton and Aida frame her for Mace's death and Talbot's near-assassination (at least in-part as payback for Daisy kicking their asses previously) so now, not only are SHIELD public enemy number one, but Daisy in particular is accused of being a dangerous terrorist and the 'face' of this rogue group of criminals.
  • The Un-Twist:
    • In Season 2, 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.
    • The Koenig brothers are confirmed in Season 4 to really be just identical siblings—no sci-fi concepts like LMDs or clones play into it. However, they were involved in the original LMD program...as engineers.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: While the first season was riddled with Conspicuous CGI and Special Effects Failure, the show's FX has slowly improved ever since and is now producing kickass visuals on a weekly basis.
    • Doctor Debbie burning to death from the inside out in the fifth episode, with her skin turning black and crumbling to Ash while screaming and trying to get away, is both stunning FX and absolutely horrifying.
    • The Gravitonium in episode 3 uses Conspicuous CGI to its advantage in its depiction of a bizarre polymorphic substance that's not of this world. Likewise with the Monolith.
    • The May vs. disguised Agent 33 early on in Season 2. They had Ming-Na Wen fight herself, in one of the best one-on-one brawls in the whole show, and the effect is flawless.
    • Although it's nothing more than the California Desert with a CGI alien sky and a blue night filter, all of the scenes on Maveth look convincingly not of this world.
    • Deathlok's cybernetic leg unfolding itself from storage and attaching itself painfully to his body is on par with any of Tony Stark's Iron Man suits in terms of robotic FX quality, as is Garrett's robotic reassembly into a Frankenstein-monster like Cyborg, for at least the few scant seconds before he's unceremoniously disintegrated.
    • Carl Creel's transforming abilities, full-stop. How do they get a man turning his skin to wood, rubber, or concrete to look so damned realistic?
    • Everytime an Inhuman uses their powers, full stop. Skye's earthquakes, Lincoln's lightning blasts, Yo-Yo's superspeed, Joey's metal-melting powers, Hive turning his skin to dust mite-like parasites, Hellfire's burning chain... The list goes on and on.
    • The show's prosthetic makeup team is quite good, starting with the horribly scarred Mike Peterson, the surprisingly-convincing old-age makeup for Daniel Whitehall, and the transformed Raina in Season 2, but Lash looks absolutely incredible. The Practical Effects they use for his makeup are on par with Kurse or the Uruk-Hai. The Painful Transformation of Andrew Garner into Lash is also nothing less than convincing, despite the fact that they're played by two different actors who look nothing alike.
    • Every shot of somebody being slowly disintegrated by a splinter bomb.
    • Almost every shot of the Bus, but especially its dramatic demise in "The Dirty Half-Dozen", with the invisible plane turning visible in flashes and explosions from the HYDRA missiles, slowly becoming completely opaque as it falls to the ground in flaming pieces. After doing without the S.H.I.E.L.D. quinjets for Season 1, the Team now uses Quinjets extensively throughout Season 2 and 3 and they look as good as anything in the MCU. Taken Up to Eleven with the even bigger and cooler Zephyr One in Season 3.
    • Hive's Game Face in "Ascension" is motion-capture FX on par with the movies. It's very convincing, and the CGI manages to still convey emotion while looking almost nothing like a human face.
    • Robbie's transformations into Ghost Rider, first seen in "The Ghost." Especially the moment where the flames consume his head and melt away his face when he first powers up.
    • Yo-Yo's power show in "The Laws of Inferno Dynamics" are visually amazing, looking almost on par with Quicksilver from both Avengers: Age of Ultron and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
    • Shockley reconstituting his body after becoming an Inhuman. The crew were clearly very proud of the effect with how long the camera lingers on it, and quite justifiably so.
    • The scene where Daisy finds a whole room full of Daisy LMDs in "Self-Control." You'd really believe that Chloe Bennet has a dozen or so identical twins.
    • The effects in Season 5 are nothing short of jaw-dropping. The extremely realistic and well-animated alien "roaches", the beautiful shots of the space trawler in flight, and the exploded Earth outside the windows are easily on par with the cosmic MCU films like Guardians and Ragnarok, if not superior. Making it all even more impressive is that this is after the show took a highly publicized budget cut.
    • We get a glorious close-up of one of the Roaches in "Together or Not at All" and while it's only on screen for a few seconds at most, it looks insanely good for network television CGI.
    • We get a shot of a secret hangar opening in the ocean, with all the water pouring in, and it looks at least as good as the shots of the Raft in Captain America: Civil War.
    • Qovas' Cool Starship looks amazing especially when it gets blown up.
  • 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 she largely brought it on herself.
  • 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. He doesn't use it. Sure, Lorelei being Asgardian, the gun might not have worked on her - but he didn't even try. 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.
    • While on Maveth, Coulson has Ward on the ground injured, barely alive, and absolutely no threat. There's a portal, their only escape, only a bit away and closing fast, while Fitz tells him to hurry up. Rather than leaving Ward to a Fate Worse than Death and escaping, he opts to stay behind a moment and kill him in a very slow and awkward manner, nearly making it too late for him and Fitz to escape, and unintentionally giving It a host body to use to escape with them. Congrats Coulson, you let your emotions give an unstoppable monster a means onto our world!
  • 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 a 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 4 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.
    • Season 4 does away with this entirely by placing the show at 10:00 PM. If this doesn't give a sufficient hint, the first scenes of episode four show partial nudity of Daisy and Ghost Rider killing several Watchdogs in a gruesome manner. Season 5 continues this in earnest with some pretty gruesome death scenes (including two that deal with heads either being impaled from behind with claws or imploding), things you wouldn't expect to see on a broadcast network TV show at all, let alone for children.
  • 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.
    • The Inhuman plotline(s) have been used for analogies on both hatred towards immigrants and also bigotry towards LGBTQ folks.
    • The Framework reality in the final third of Season 4 has so many references to current American politics it cannot be called parallel, but more of a deliberate Take That!. At one point, in response to how HYDRA is normalized in the Framework reality, Simmons tells a kid that all HYDRA are Nazis "and don't you ever let anyone forget it." This has been said almost word for word regarding the alt-right movement in real life.
    • The Framework reality has also been interpreted as metacommentary on Marvel Comics' ongoing Secret Empire storyline, which has been extremely controversial for having Captain America join forces with HYDRA after a Cosmic Retcon retroactively turned him into an HYDRA mole (HYDRA is well-known in-universe and out for its ties with Nazism, and Captain America was conceived as an anti-fascist hero by two Jewish comic book creators), with the justification from comics writer Nick Spencer for this being that HYDRA aren't really Nazis. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. obviously disagrees.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The third season finale has a succession of characters passing around a prominently featured cross necklace before Lincoln takes hold of it for good, and the camera makes sure to focus on it during his Heroic Sacrifice. The dialogue makes the intent possibly even more obvious:
    Daisy He's paying for my mistakes.
    Coulson: No. He's paying for all our mistakes.
  • 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. Later, Thomas confirms that Christian was significantly older than himself and Grant, indicating that the past flashback was either retconned or was just Ward's perception of what was going on.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: Possibly how Season 5 has balanced the drop in its budget with its increased special effects, the costumes look...a little cheap. Moreso with masks than anything, as Deke's space helmet (as well as the one Fitz wears), Ruby's combat mask, and the LMD mooks' faces all look like they were ordered from a paintball site more than anything.
  • 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. His left hand also gets cut off near the end of season two, while he is saving the humans on the Iliad from a terrigen crystal. In season three, he has managed to adapt to being disabled in such a manner, but he explicitly states he is having trouble adjusting to it.
    • 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 second 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. In Season 3, she ends up being swayed by Hive, killing and injuring several people under its control, being drained of an unhealthy amount of blood, then dealing with the psychological backlash of being freed before losing Lincoln when he pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to stop Hive. In season 4, she's alone, hated as the terrorist "Quake" because of her actions against the Watchdogs and in constant pain physical pain because of using her quake powers without her gauntlets, in addition to lingering guilt over Lincoln's death.
    • 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. This is added to by Jemma getting sucked into the monolith in the season two finale - something, which we see in season three, is haunting him and forcing him to chase many unfruitful leads. He manages to get Simmons back, but she later reveals that she had a relationship with the man she met on the alien planet. Fitz, despite being deeply saddened by this, does everything he can to help her go back to find him. Season Four is actually kind of strange in that he starts out in a good place: he's in the lab, he has a new friendship with Radcliffe (implied to be a substitute father-son relationship), and most importantly, he's in a romantic relationship with Jemma. However, helping Radcliffe refine Aida forces him to conceal it from Simmons, which leads to minor strain when she finds out. While they easily get past that, Aida then appears to come to life after reading the Darkhold to save Fitz from Hell, and she's put down. He's suspicious, so he investigates Aida's memory core, and discovers that Radcliffe sent Aida to steal the Darkhold, leaving Fitz betrayed by yet another close friend. Oh, and Season 4 also reveals that Fitz's father abandoned him and his mother when he was ten, after spending those formative years telling Fitz he was worthless and would never amount to anything, which explains where most of Fitz's self-perception issues come from. After the Framework arc, he retains all the memories of the atrocities he committed as the Doctor, leading to an overwhelming sense of guilt. To make matters worse, the trauma plus the brain damage he sustained causes the Doctor persona to manifest during the fifth season, forcing him to perform morally questionable acts on his friends. As a result, he alienates Mack and Daisy and imprisoned for his crimes. At times, you seriously have to wonder if the One-Above-All has it out for Leo Fitz.
    • 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. Season 3 sees her suffering from her long-term exile on Maveh and the problems of losing the boyfriend she met there while watching Fitz be an exemplary friend by trying to get him back for her. Season 4 drives a wedge between her and the rest of Team Coulson (except for Fitz, sort of) because of Director Jeffrey Mace's restructuring of SHIELD and the lie detector tests.
    • 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 but not well. The experience left her a paranoid, vicious Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds because she sincerely believes that her entire community will go through what she did unless she commits genocide on muggles.
    • 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 while she herself was planning to be a mother soon? Yeah... that's worse than the worst of the WMGs on the subject. Worse, it turns out the girl would have been responsible for a massacre resulting in discrimination against Inhumans reminiscent of the Nuremberg Laws if May's attempt at a Cooldown Hug had worked, so the already-horrific turn of events that happened was actually better in the long run. Just a horrible no-win scenario.
    • Lincoln joins the "people who desperately need a hug" group in "A Wanted (Inhu)man". Not only is he a fugitive due to the ATCU's Inhuman witchhunt, but the general public believes him to be an "alien terrorist" which he has begun to believe about himself. His Only Friend, who is implied to be his AA sponsor, turns on him and Lincoln accidentally causes him to have a heart attack. All of this is on top of his backstory, which includes at least one suicide attempt.
    • The May LMD has all of May's baggage mentioned above, and tops it by fully believing that she's the real May, being a perfect duplicate of her brain patterns. She has no idea of the evil purpose she was created for, which will inevitably lead to a heartbreaking reveal. Just seconds after kissing Coulson, who she was programmed to subconsciously get closer to, she gets her hands on the Darkhold, and her programming kicks in, causing her to pull a gun on Coulson. Then, after Radcliffe gets the Darkhold, he abandons her to her fate. SHIELD only spares her the incinerator because Coulson doesn't want to risk losing anything left of May if the original is dead.
    • The fifth season was not so kind for both present and future Yo-Yo either. She gets trapped in the future with the rest of her team, before being brutally tortured by the Kree by having her arms sprayed by liquid nitrogen. Then, she meets her future self, who was mutilated, killed and forcibly brought back to life repeatedly by Kassius. Future Elena then gets her throat slit by Kassius to spite Mack. Just as things seemed okay for her once they returned to the present, she gets her arms sliced off by Ruby, just like her future counterpart. After all she had been through, she breaks down and losing all hope that the Bad Future could be averted. Fortunately, Jemma was there to comfort her and overcome her Heroic B.S.O.D..

The Comic Book

  • Author's Saving Throw: While their wish wasn't fullfilled in the main series, Ward fans were surely happy to see him Spared By Adaptation and rejoining S.H.I.E.L.D. (explosive collar or not) in the comic series.
  • Crack Pairing: In the first issue, Fitz invites May to a date. And she accepts. Hm, what? Crosses into Big-Lipped Alligator Moment as it is then never referenced, and seems to have just been to tease the fact Fitz was working as a double agent at the time.
  • I Knew It!: The identity of the "Iron thief", the man that stole and hacked an Iron Man armour, and used it to steal secret information from the Pentagon. It was Grant Ward, a character that they'd already announced was going to show up, so him being the Iron Thief wasn't hard to see coming.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Coulson was fired from S.H.I.E.L.D. during Civil War II, but kept working on his own. He discovered that a Senator was smuggling weapons, and entered to his house with Fitz and Daisy (who were also turned into rogue agents). The senator was not impressed: not being an agent, Coulson can not arrest him. He's not an agent of the law, but just a burglar with a gun trespassing into a private house, which gives the senator all the legal right to shoot him down. The senator has a very fair point.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/AgentsOfSHIELD