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 sociopath 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 sociopath 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 sociopath 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 latter.
    • 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 soul 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).
  • 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 sociopathic 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.
  • Arc Fatigue: After Ward and Garrett were outed as HYDRA moles within S.H.I.E.L.D., and after May was found to be spying on Coulson for then-Director Fury, the reveal in mid-Season Two that Morse and Mack are also moles for Gonzales' "real S.H.I.E.L.D." can easily come across as more annoying than suspenseful. This fatigue is a major reason why many fans were relieved by the reveal that Rosalind Price was merely an Unwitting Pawn to Hydra instead of The Mole — that plot device has gotten tired. And then Daisy becomes The Mole for HYDRA, albeit unwillingly, when she gets infected by Hive in "The Team".
  • 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:
    • 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 introduction of the Secret Warriors in Season 3, along with the above noted introduction and reveal about Mockingbird and Quake being in the cast.
    • After the first half of Season 3 utterly failed to follow through on the promise from the end of Season 2 that we'd be seeing the Secret Warriors, it's made clear right from the first ads about the second half that it features far more focus on Daisy building a team of more than the two Inhumans she started with.
    • 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.
  • 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:
    • Every member of the cast aside from the mostly well-liked May could fall under Fan Favorite or The Scrappy, with seemingly every single person having a different opinion on the matter.
    • Coulson, in-spite of being the only reason the show was made, has became this. For some he's the same dork people loved from the movies who now gets to be fleshed out with an interesting character arc exploring the Myth Arc of T.A.H.I.T.I. and the Kree map, and is a likeable, Good Is Not Soft Team Dad. Others however found him an over-hyped Static Character and didn't understand the need for a spin-off, and have came to find him boring compared to the rest of the cast of the show, and finding his leadership flawed and a case of Protagonist-Centered Morality. It doesn't help that Coulson has Plot Armor that prevents him from being killed off until he's reunited with the Avengers or risk a case of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, making him more safe from potential death compared to the rest of the cast.
    • Eric Koenig and his brothers. Some found them funny due to their neurotic, Adorkable tendencies, others found them annoying for the same reasons, leading to a split between those who are glad to have Billy and Sam to replace Eric, and those who are annoyed that they have to put up with more of him/them. A lot of it comes down to how much one likes Patton Oswalt.
    • Out of all the main characters, it seems Ward is now the biggest example (at least, since Skye got Rescued from the Scrappy Heap), thanks to his betrayal of the team by revealing his allegiance to HYDRA. There's a massive split between fans who want to see him redeem himself and those who want him to go away/get killed/other bad stuff, with some of it getting pretty vitriolic. It hurts that he's a show-original character whose skills are talked up as being as big as Romanoff and Barton, meaning that some love him for his badassery while others resent him for it. In addition to that, there is also The Reveal about his Freudian Excuse in Season 3, or rather the dismantlement of it. While some people think it helped to really establish him as a villain, others think of it as a clumsy attempt to take all sympathy the audience might have had for him away, as well as much of the character's depth.
    • Skye: Some people find hard to believe that an high-tech organization like S.H.I.E.L.D. needs a civilian hacker to work for them and she keeps getting treated as a vital member of the team, though others seem to like the character are willing to accept her inclusion based on the fact that real life hackers are often recruited by government agencies. Skye in general is disliked for how prominent she is to the show's over-arching Myth Arc, which is largely what's causing the Creator's Pet accusations; as such, those who don't mind the focus on her rarely have a problem with her handling. Others don't mind her as a character. Her mostly offscreen transition from a non-combatant to an Action Girl after only about a year of training is another point of contention. Some find it to be completely ridiculous, others think it's reasonable enough since she was trained by two of the most badass characters on the show, and say the cool fight scenes and positive character development more than justify it.
    • Simmons, and how much sympathy viewers think that she deserves in Season Two: She's either suffering just as much as Fitz, in her own way, and was forced to make a brutal decision because she believed she was hurting him and knew he'd be worse in the long-run if she stayed; or she's just incredibly selfish for leaving Fitz when he needed her the most, especially since he endangered himself to stand by her through her own illness and later nearly died saving her life. It got worse with her developing Fantastic Racism towards superpowers after Trip's death, with people either claiming that she hates anyone not human or pointing that she has not had a pleasant history with xenobiology and is reacting out of fear and concern.
    • Fitz, similarly, over how much sympathy he deserves in Season Two: he's either trying to deal with his many personal issues the best he can and cannot help but lash out at those closest to him (Simmons) or he's willfully ignoring the fact that Simmons left because she believed her presence was making matters worse and taking every minute he can to lash out against her. His behavior in "Love In the Time of Hydra" in particular has been belligerent with him refusing to hear Simmons' side at all.
    • Mack and Bobbi and their connection to "real" S.H.I.E.L.D.; some feel they have a point about Coulson and his secret keeping, and look forward to seeing them inevitably siding with Coulson, while others consider them as bad as Ward and instead look forward to them being killed/beaten. Mack also gets some hate for his Fantastic Racism against aliens (though given why isn't too surprising, and he's not any worse than the rest of the team) while Bobbi has it for being 'emotionally abusive' towards Hunter (it's generally more a mutually destructive relationship with personal and professional conflict rather than 'abuse').
    • Jiaying, after it's revealed that she's still alive in the present. Some consider this to be an intriguing plot twist that allows Skye to form a relationship with her mother we'd otherwise never have seen. Others think it's an Ass Pull that wrecks her husband's arc in the first half of the season, and that the role she fills post-resurrection could have easily been filled by Gordon or Lincoln. There are also some who think the twist itself was reasonably well foreshadowed, but still feel her tale was more tragic when it ended in her death. Then there's a split on the actual character, as some see her as a Reasonable Authority Figure leader for the Inhumans who's chief concern is keeping them safe, while others see her as just as bad or possibly even worse than her husband, as by her own admission she was once as ruthless as he was in their search to find Skye, and her willingness in "The Frenemy Of My Enemy" to potentially invoke Cal's wrath upon innocents because it's less inconvenient for her than keeping him in Afterlife shows she hasn't changed as much as she thinks. When this was revealed to be intentional foreshadowing regarding her true nature and status as big bad of season 2, the camps transformed into one group who felt it was the only way for things to go without making her a Designated Hero, another who felt she was forced to Jump Off The Slippery Slope to take the moral ambiguity out of the S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. Inhumans conflict, and a smaller third group who still believes that she did nothing wrong.
    • Hunter, particularly in Season 3. When introduced he was well-liked for being a snarky British badass and getting quite a bit of development rather quickly, though he had some haters due to being an obvious stand-in for Hawkeye in concerns to his relationship with Mockingbird, but was overall well-liked due to his loyalty to Coulson and surprising friendship with most of the team. In Season 3 though, he Took a Level in Dumbass and in Jerk Ass, nearly arms HYDRA with a large arsenal and nearly gets Andrew killed, encourages Fitz to leave an innocent man to die and vents his frustrations during a mission with Mack and Daisy, acting as The Load the whole time. Now, he's a lot harder to like.
    • A minor one from early Season 1, Lorelie. Some liked her for her looks, cunning, and being surprisingly tough and a good example of Adaptational Badass, while others really didn't like her because of her status as an unapologetic rapist who causes the show to invoke certain double standards.
    • Lincoln. He's got a fair share of detractors who felt he only served as a boring, plain unneeded love interest for Daisy, earning him scorn from non-shippers and those who shipped Daisy with others, as well as those who just didn't see the point in adding another pretty white guy instead of promoting more popular characters like Deathlok to the main cast. On the other hand, Lincoln has his defenders, from both those who liked his chemistry with Daisy and those who felt his backstory of dealing with depression and alcoholism made him unique compared to the rest of the cast, who either have mundane or fantastical dark backstories. As such, for some, his death is a huge Tear Jerker that's on-par with big moments from the movies, or its a rather deriviative scene that only serves to inflate the importance of his character one last time.
  • Broken Base:
    • Some also aren't happy about the cast being comprised mostly of canon foreigners, since there's already plenty of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents from the comics to use. Others feel that with Coulson himself having been an original character for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's appropriate.
    • There's also some unhappy about how the main cast is almost entirely white, save for Melinda May (played by Ming-Na Wen, who's Chinese) and Skye (played by Chloe Bennet, who's half-white and half-Chinese), given the lack of diversity in the broader MCU. Also, this criticism has lessened somewhat after Triplett, and later Mack, join the team, though it piped up again after Mack is seemingly killed off (though turns out to be Not Quite Dead) and Triplett is really killed off.
    • Some also hate the show because it focuses on a small team of individuals instead of the much larger overall organization of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is also likely lessened by Season Two, as that ends up being what it's doing. Others have complained about the increased cast size and the way attention has left the original small team.
    • There's a split in the fandom over the show taking several episodes to get around to fleshing out the majority of the characters. Some fans are fine with the pacing, citing that the show needed to establish itself before it could flesh out the characters, whilst others point to the lack of Character Development meaning there was no connection between the audience and the cast. Like before, this is also mitigated by the second season, which notably avoids dragging out storylines and actually wraps up what would have otherwise been a season-long arc in only ten episodes.
    • The show in general seems to be this amongst the MCU, with some liking everything about it, some liking it as a show on its own merits but a sub-par offering when compared to the rest of the MCU, and some who basically hate it.
    • The reveal that Ward is a HYDRA agent in "Turn, Turn, Turn." Some fans think this development makes the character more interesting and shows that the showrunners are willing to take risks. Others think it's a Shocking Swerve that wasn't properly built up in previous episodes. As of the second season, the previously present split between those who were hoping he'll be redeemed and those who are hoping he remains a villain has intensified into a massive debate on if he should be redeemed or not. It gets very extreme, however, with some, less rational fans on either side of the fence who are either so on his side that they demonize the others for not supporting him while others ignore Ward's complexity and see him as nothing but a Nazi (and as such, any support for him is akin to Nazi sympathizing). The show itself appeared to be building up to both at one point, with Ward seemingly trying to seek redemption despite his own earlier insistence to the contrary and everyone else shooting down the idea by bringing up his atrocities, at least until the season finale when he reveals his last apparent act of good was a manipulation before he crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
    • The Stand With Ward movement/hashtag itself is either a legitimate worldview focusing on both a legitimate Freudian Excuse and even plausible redemption arcs on the part of Ward, along with the raising of awareness for how abuse victims are arguably sidelined in the media, or one of the most egregious cases of Draco in Leather Pants in order to justify the shipping of a "Nazi" with a woman of color while also noting that Ward himself is guilty of just as much emotional abuse as he received and thus muddying the abuse victim argument. Alternatively there are those who believe that SWW could have been, or started out as the former, but the overprevalence of Skyeward shippers gradually devolved it to the latter, and there are those that while finding Ward's Freudian Excuse legitimate, do not agree that he should be redeemed either because of the severity of his actions or because they find him much fun to watch or interesting as a villain, or both. However their recent harassment of those behind the show and even actors on social media, as well going onto online media to argue with everyone from the writers of the show to the FX people demanding changes to their favorite character storyline does them no favors.
    • When Coulson was made the director of the new S.H.I.E.L.D. in the first season finale, a number of fans protested that he was chosen over the various female characters that were S.H.I.E.L.D. heads in the comics (like Maria Hill). Some fans felt it betrayed Captain America's decision to abolish S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or that it rewarded Coulson without earning it. Others feel it's a development that opens new opportunities for the show in its coming seasons.
    • Lance Hunter's ex-wife being revealed as Bobbi Morse, even though it was a pretty common guess before it was revealed. On the one hand, some feel this is Canon Defilement as the two never had any relationship in the comics, with her canon-relationship with Hawkeye and their dynamic now being used for her and Hunter (and thus, annoying fans of the comics who liked said relationship), along with Lance's comments directed at her before now coming off as far more petty given it's now clear she didn't treat him like dirt like he made her out to be. Others, however, don't mind the addition as it adds more to both their characters, with many finding their interactions cute regardless.
    • Mockingbird's outfit. Either it's on par with the movie costumes, it's OK but subpar compared to her outfit in the comics, or it's dull and derivative. Of course, a lot of the criticism seems to stem from the over-presence of black, while ignoring that her suit in the comics is also largely black as well. Some Marvel fans were hesitant concerning Adrianne Palicki's casting, noting that she was part of the abysmal Wonder Woman pilot. This lessened when she appeared and many liked her afterwards, but there's still a split on if she's the right choice for Bobbi and/or if another would have been better suited, and even some who like Palicki, but wish she was cast in a different role such as Carol Danvers.
    • A minor one is the fans' interpretation of Skye and Coulson's relationship. Many view Coulson as Skye's unambiguous Parental Substitute, while others genuinely think that the writers are intentionally building up a romantic relationship between them.
    • The Fantastic Racism towards the Inhumans, with many fan arguments over how believable it is to see this attitude from several characters, Simmons in particular, when they were perfectly fine with the Avengers. She agrees the Avengers were necessary but only because "we unleashed alien horrors". She also sums up a long list of people like the Inhumans who were a danger to others, as well as witnessing Raina murder four unarmed S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
    • The "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D. plotline itself. Some feel it's a realistic development, given the fractured nature of S.H.I.E.L.D. post-Winter Soldier, and opens up exciting possibilities for a potential Civil War tie-in or as the origins of the MCU equivalent to S.W.O.R.D. or H.A.M.M.E.R. Others feel it's a tired rehash of the HYDRA plot from Season One. There's also a split between those who find them hypocritical (they're a secret organisation who are against secrets, while their only claim of legitimacy is based on being formed first) and others who find their claims actually have some merit (their issue is with authority figures keeping secrets from agents and other actions that put their agents in unneeded danger, something both Fury and Coulson are guilty of), as well as their apparent Fantastic Racism against Gifted and aliens (which, in fairness, members of Coulson's team are just as guilty of).
    • The announcement that Ward will be a major villain for season 3. Some people thought this was an interesting move, while others thought that Ward should have been better used as an dark Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain or even rejoin HYDRA to destroy it from within. Another group believes Ward should have died in season 2 and would prefer someone else be the Big Bad over rehashing a previous antagonist. There are even others who think this move is blatant character assassination to keep Ward a villain and is even insulting towards abuse victims. Others find it tiring that despite the harm Ward has caused or the people he killed or tortured he seems to keep getting away with it.
    • Similar to Skye becoming Daisy Johnson, there's some who hope Ward will become the MCU equivalent of a supervillain, the most commonly cited one being Taskmaster. A large number of Taskmaster fans react as if this is a Fandom Berserk Button when suggested because he's so different from Taskmaster's comic self that many would find it a huge and pointless change, and they want to see the character introduced properly. Then there's those who think that Ward is too interesting as he is that making him someone else would ruin him. This all became a moot point when he just dies halfway through Season 3, while the comics are having Grant Ward introduced, indicating he was always a Canon Immigrant.
    • The addition of Luke Mitchell's Lincoln to the main cast was met with mixed reception from the fans. Some loved the character and couldn't wait to see him on screen. Some argued that there are other character more deserved to be in the main cast like Mack. A third camp had nothing against the character or his actor but disliked the idea of an extended cast where everyone has less screentime; this group cited Ward, a main character who was absent for 8 episodes as an example to why extending the cast at the expense of screentime is a bad idea. And, a fourth group exist who largely found him boring and uninteresting. The second group are somewhat migated after Mack was also confirmed to being upgraded to main cast, after a season of being a Fake Guest Star.
    • Cal's redemption. Some, (mostly Ward fans) think it was extremely hypocritical for SHIELD to offer a man who had killed (or at least participated in the killings of) an entire village during one night, this being one of the first things he did in his 25 years of killing, to not only get a second chance, but be shown receiving so much sympathy from Coulson and Daisy given their detest for Ward and his actions, which arguably pale in comparison, in-spite of Ward's past attempts at redemption and Cal's seeming lack of interest in such. Others however believe this exaggerates how they treated Cal (who didn't actually get any sympathy from Daisy until she bonded with him (something she only did after Jaiyang essentially forced her to spend time with him), while Coulson didn't really sympathise with him at allnote ).. Given that, as noted above, the first view is largely expressed by Ward fans, given that Ward was offered a second chance by Coulson and with the same stipulations—that he would go through TAHITI to wipe his memory, but Ward chose instead to use whatever sympathy Coulson had left so he could kidnap and torture Bobbi as opposed to Cal who agreed to it in-spite of the fact he would lose his relationship with Daisy.
    • The news between seasons 2 and 3 that Skye would be officially changing her name to Daisy Johnson has been met with mixed reactions. To some, Skye's journey to becoming Daisy Johnson happened too quickly, and they dislike the fact the quirky hacker girl is now the superhuman lead, while others have enjoyed her Character Development up to this point and are happy to have an actual superhero as a lead on the show.
    • While Season 2 is generally considered superior to Season 1, there are those who dislike the Darker and Edgier tone and the Fantastic Racism on the part of established characters, particularly Simmons. Another common third group believe that the second season started a lot stronger, but decayed as it went on thanks to the Inhumans and Real SHIELD plotline.
    • The fact that Season 3 will continue to use the Inhumans; the Inhumans currently have a very vocal hatedom due to Marvel pushing them as a property and a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for the X-Men, so the show using them at all is gaining criticism from fans for the same reasons. Others understand the legal red tape reasons behind using them and don't mind their inclusion.
    • The Reveal early in Season Three that Andrew Garner is actually the Inhuman Lash; its either a Shocking Swerve that comes out of nowhere, or its The Untwist due to how many had guessed this quite early. Garner's behaviour doesn't gel with what Lash is doing, but at the same time, this explains a lot of the unanswered questions about Garner and May's cancelled reconciliation as well as his stubborn refusal to green-light candidates for Daisy's sanctioned team of Inhumans.
    • The Season 3 Winter finale, specifically Ward being killed off and his body being used by It. On the one hand, many fans are glad that, after all the crap Ward did to the rest of the cast it's nice that he's finally dead, and It allows them to keep Brett Dalton on the show in-spite of this. On the other hand, many feel the fact Coulson is the one to end him rather than Daisy, May, or Bobbi (who 'deserve' the kill more thanks to what he did to them), with Coulson only getting the kill because of the Stuffed In A Fridge plot the episode prior, makes it feel like they wasted the build up for them (especially given that, while Daisy and May have had their respective Catharsis Factor moments listed bellow, Bobbi has yet to get payback for her brutal torture and near-crippling), with the feeling that Ward's character arc was rather quickly re-written for the sake of Mallick and It.
    • This intensified after Hive repaired Ward's body in "The Inside Man". Some are hoping this means Ward could return once Hive is destroyed, others are sick of him and think he just needs to stay gone. Among the people who want him back, there is also a split between those who want him to be the same character he was before, and those who want him to be changed by the experience -the most common idea being him losing his memories, which could potentially allow him to be made into a heroic character again.
    • Bobbi and Hunter's spin-off, Marvel's Most Wanted, had fans (and people who don't even watch the show) divided on if its needed/a good idea or not, with some thinking that a third 'Marvel Spy Show' is rather pointless and that they've became too essential to the team's dynamics that cutting them out is a poor choice, while others think its a great idea, as they're likeable enough to support their own show and that this will help reduce the large cast size. It hurts that due to the nature of Bobbi and Hunter's exit it's highly unlikely they'll ever return to the parent show. As it later turned out the proposed spinoff didn't even make it past the pilot stage before being cancelled, so the characters were written out for nothing.
    • The reveal that Season Four will involve Ghost Rider, specifically the Robbie Reyes version. There are many fans who are happy to see one of Marvel's regained heroes return in some sort of fashion, but there are many who'd rather him have his own Netflix series like the Defenders foursome, citing that Ghost Rider deserves a darker tone and better effects budget than network TV can provide. Also, like the controversy over the use of Scott Lang in Ant-Man, there's a rift between some fans who are mad that the show isn't using the original Johnny Blaze incarnation of Ghost Rider (especially because most people think of a flaming bike, not a car, when they think of the character), and fans who are happy to have this version be the one debuting in the MCU. Further, some who want to see the Robbie Reyes version wanted to see him in the films as a prominent Hispanic presence, which now seems unlikely as the MCU's shows and movies rarely have significant crossovers.
    • Related to that, there are also some fans who think that Ghost Rider is a poor fit for the series, which up to this point has largely avoided explicitly supernatural characters and situations in favor of having a more sci-fi slant. Others argue that finally introducing the supernatural and otherworldly makes perfect sense now that Marvel is bringing magic powers into the MCU with Doctor Strange.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    May: I think I've waited long enough for this. *WHAM!*
    • Coulson blasting Garrett with the 0-8-4 in the Season One finale, making Garrett go from Not Quite Dead to Deader Than Dead.
    • And before that, Mike launching a rocket straight into Garrett's chest, then stomping on his head with a cry of rage.
    • Fitz lowering the oxygen levels in Ward's cell, so that Ward would experience what he did when Ward tried to kill him was a particularly dark Crowning Moment of Awesome for those who had hoped Fitz and/or Simmons would attempt revenge on Ward.
    • To a lesser extent, Simmons gets her turn when she looks Ward in the eye and says with utter seriousness that she'll kill him if they ever meet again.
    • Skye gives the audience one when she shoots Ward several times in the 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.
  • 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.
  • Complete Monster:
  • 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.
  • 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 would make Ghost Rider jealous, and makes dirty jokes about Jiaying.
  • Creepy Awesome:
    • Grant Ward is pretty damn creepy due to his sociopathic tendencies and excellent ability to completely mask his personality, but he's also a skilled combatant on par with Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Brock Rumlow in terms of skill.
    • Also, Skye's father. The man is completely insane, but he's definitely entertaining to watch.
    • 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.
    • One word: Lash.
    • 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.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Grant Ward. The second he was revealed to be the mole for HYDRA, his more dedicated fans attempted to rationalize his every action. The penultimate episode of Season One even deconstructs this mindset by hopping between telling his backstory and showing his action towards FitzSimmons. Needless to say, he attempts to kill them both. Ironically, this hasn't stopped his supporters from accusing Coulson of not trying "hard enough" to redeem him. Season Two goes out of its way to discourage this viewpoint, repeatedly bringing up Ward's specific misdeeds and having every member of the team utterly despise him. However Ward's love affair with Agent 33 seemed to put him back in the leather pants.
    • 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 visected her. Cal sadly comments that his wife's good heart was torn out.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • The entire reason this show exists is because of Coulson's (former, because he now obviously is a main character) Ensemble Darkhorse status in the MCU.
    • Lorelei is also quite popular due to her cunning, looks, and skill in battle.
    • Antoine Triplett got a lot of love for being a really nice guy and for having nice chemistry with Simmons. Many fans were ecstatic when he joined the team near the end of Season One and essentially replaced Ward.
    • 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's father. 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.
    • In a similar fashion to Joey, 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.
    • James, the Australian survalist 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.
  • 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.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Camilla Reyes invoked this when she attempted to seduce Coulson.
    • Lorelei and Raina are both quite attractive.
    • Ward isn't too bad himself, either.
    • Eva Belyakov, an Inhuman girl 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.
  • 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.
    • People attacking/insulting/criticizing the show without having watched anything past Season 1, especially if they barely watched even the first few episodesnote . To a similar extent, when people who're fans of the larger MCU or other shows such as the below listed DC shows attack and/or criticize the show for elements that are just as present in the larger MCU and/or other superhero shows (IE, romance plots, slow developments, characters arguing, crossing over too little or too much with the rest of the MCU, etc), especially if it's an element that is far more prominent in the other shows.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
  • 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.
  • Fan Nickname: The main cast of heroes is never reffered 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:
    • Ward and Simmons, if recaps, comments on recaps, and the occasional podcast are being considered. That ship seems to have gone down in flames, following the reveal that Ward is a HYDRA agent who, incidentally, tried to kill Simmons, and very nearly succeeded. Returned with a roaring and unsettling vengeance in 3x09 with the reveal of Jemma having had feelings for Ward that may still remain, and the incessant grinning, staring, and bizarre quiet respect Ward gave to her up until snapping. This despite the fact that the same episode features Ward torturing Simmons, and utterly contradicting his own claim that he would never do anything to hurt her in more ways than one. That being said so, while not justified, Ward did it in a high-point of tension and stress and had anything but a clear head.
    • After the aforementioned Ship Sinking, Fitz/Simmons (always a close second) seems to have taken the top spot, with Simmons/Skye not far behind.
    • 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 AO3 after Fitz/Simmons.
    • Following the events of "Aftershocks" there seems to have been a massive increase in support already for Fitz/Skye (which was initially treated in-universe as such an obviously fleeting and one-sided crush on the part of the Plucky Comic Relief character it never got picked up, even by the shippers). This is especially since Simmons and Mack (the two usually preferred love interests for Fitz) didn't do much to endear themselves to the fans in the same episode that Fitz and Skye suddenly become much closer, even though the show seems to be treating their relationship as still being strictly platonic.
    • 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.
  • 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 shown at first and Trip uses "General Jones" as an alias in "Shadows".
  • "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.
    • 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, also set in the MCU, had Kilgrave, who committed rape-by-mind-control, but took it more seriously.

    G-L 
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • Skye is very popular with viewers in China, where her actress was a minor pop star under her birth name of Chloe Wang.
    • Fitz-Simmons's near-universal popularity with UK audiences probably has more than a little to do with the rarity of hearing regionalnote  British accents on other American TV shows; so to have one-third of the show's main cast not only British, but (mostly) avoiding Received Pronunciation, is quite refreshing. Also, seeing British characters portrayed as young, attractive, and protagonists all at once on American TV is still pretty rare, which again adds to their appeal.
    • By the second season, adding Nick Blood as Lance Hunter, another Brit with a non-RP accent, who's also a badass Deadpan Snarker, is naturally popular with Brits for the same reason.
  • Growing the Beard: It seems to be almost universally agreed that the show really started to get good in the final third of the first season, when the 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 head of Project Centipede, 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.
    • Skye's Kirk Summation on Ward, calling him a Nazi for serving HYDRA, takes on a much scarier dimension for those who've seen The Stinger for Captain America: The Winter Soldier: HYDRA is now being led by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who's very much A Nazi By Any Other Name.
    • Early in Season One, Brett Dalton did a photo shoot in which he cuddled a puppy. Fast-forward to "Ragtag" in which Garrett tries to get Ward to kill his dog.
    • Coulson's reaction to seeing the blue alien in "T.A.H.I.T.I.", as of "Nothing Personal", seems to be the result of bad memories of his time overseeing Project T.A.H.I.T.I. appearing to come back to him briefly.
    • In "The Hub", Coulson stated that when he sends a team in with no extraction plan, he takes care to inform them of that first. Turns out a violation of this rule by S.H.I.E.L.D. was what started Garrett on his way to HYDRA, which only serves to make Coulson all the more 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..
    • 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. Even more if we consider that, by the time Coulson was saying this, Jessica was probably under Kilgrave's control.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 of 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 in WWE 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, Wonder Woman (Palicki) at one point pulled out two metal batons to fight thugs with, just like Mockingbird does in the show and comics.
    • The MCU's inability to use the word "mutant" becomes pretty amusing with the reveal that Skye is Daisy Johnson, a character who in the comics was originally believed to be a mutant before it was discovered her powers were due to the serum her father used to become Mr. Hyde.
    • In "Aftershocks", Lance jokes that all Radio Shacks are secret HYDRA bases. The company announced its bankruptcy a couple weeks before the episode aired.
    • Season one, episode nine, "Repairs" has the team investigate a woman who may have received powers from a Particle Accelerator explosion. A season later, this might sound familiar.
    • 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.
    • 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 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 SPD, a Mack in 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.
  • Hype Backlash: A possible reason for all the online negativity directed towards the show. Also crosses into Critical Backlash, as while there's been plenty of negativity towards it, it has a lot of fans.
  • Idiot Plot:
    • In "The Hub", S.H.I.E.L.D. can't send an extraction team for Fitz and Ward because all their assets are busy, thus requiring the rest of the team to go on a rescue mission. However, instead of simply telling the team this so they can plan and implement a sanctioned extraction, this fact is hidden from the team, requiring Skye and Simmons to infiltrate the Hub's mainframe to discover the truth. If they hadn't chosen to do so and Coulson hadn't launched a rogue mission, Fitz and Ward would have died. Yet Victoria Hand acts as if this were the plan all along.
    • In "The Magical Place", Victoria Hand does a complete 180 and tries to shut Skye down completely for using rogue tactics, citing the above incident, despite the fact that she's getting heavy heat from Fury and Hill to locate Coulson.
    • In "The Only Light in the Darkness", Eric Koenig grabs the Idiot Ball with both arms. Despite his suspicions that Ward may be a HYDRA agent and the super-sensitive lie detector throwing big red warnings all over the place, one adroit answer from Ward is enough to get Eric to trust him completely. He doesn't even talk to Coulson or any of the others who've passed debriefing and warn them or share his suspicions.
    • "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.
  • Intended Audience Reaction: The portion of the fanbase who felt like Jiaying was rather bitchy in her actions was ultimately right all along. Jiaying is in fact the ultimate Big Bad of Season 2 and is intentionally quite the bitch, making Cal killing her more satisfying.
  • 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 so they'd understand some major crossover element. When this failed to happen beyond a portal that appeared in the following episode looking vaguely like a sling ring, they weren't happy and chalked it up as one more piece of evidence that Marvel doesn't care about the show.
  • Iron Woobie: Both May and especially Coulson have become this as the series moved along. Coulson specifically has had it rough in the second half of Season One.
  • It 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 almost impossible, and given how important he is to the show, it's hard to talk about the cast without bringing it up.
  • 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.
  • 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 Hen in the Wolf House prompted a couple of dozen slash fics within a week of it's airing.
  • LGBT Fanbase: They even have their own hashtag: #superqueeros.
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • "T.R.A.C.K.S." ends with a mortally wounded Skye stuck in a hyperbaric chamber. Even with Joss involved, like they're going to kill her off while her storyline is clearly central to the show.
    • "The Only Light in the Darkness" has a tense scene with Eric Koenig drawing a gun on Ward when he's suspected of being a HYDRA agent. No points for guessing the odds of Ward being outed and his plans foiled.
    • "Hen in the Wolf House" introduces HYDRA's head of Security, Bobbi Morse. Almost no one actually thought she'd be HYDRA. Similarly, two episodes before that, Simmons was teased as having undergone a Face Heel Turn and joined HYDRA, but given she was by far the least-threatening member of the team, besides Fitz, no one bought it for a second.
    • "Aftershocks" features the apparent deaths of May and Coulson in quick succession. Yeah, good luck with that. Of course, the very next scene reveals this as a ruse, so it probably wasn't intended to really trick you. May even gives Coulson grief over his lame last words.
    • That's twice now that the show made Simmons look like a traitor, the previous time being the previews for "Making Friends and Influencing People". In "Afterlife", she appears to switch sides to the "real" S.H.I.E.L.D. only to bait-and-switch them with Fury's toolbox and send the real one with Fitz.
    • 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.
  • 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.

    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 "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."
    • "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.
      "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", 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 
    • On certain imageboards, due to Grant Ward's initial blandness, Agent Triplet (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 - Limey Ward, Lincoln - Electric Ward, etc.) to the point that /co/ developed the Sephirothic System of Twelve Divine Wards.
  • 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 Chirstain 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.
  • 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: There are events that difficult to determine if they are this or Narm Charm.
    • As of Season Two, HYDRA's new-found obsession with putting their logo on everything, painting it on the walls of their offices and even issuing HYDRA jackets. It may be a handy shorthand for cluing the audience in, but it still looks silly for the terrorist organization that managed to stay secret for seventy years to suddenly be walking around in team jackets. Of course, given that this was normal behavior for them when they were part of S.H.I.E.L.D., it's likely just an old habit that's dying hard, but it's as narmy as it was when S.H.I.E.L.D. did it too. It's taken Up to Eleven when Simmons is undercover at HYDRA and they reveal that she and the other HYDRA scientists have black lab coats. You know, in case you forgot HYDRA was evil.
    • In "Face My Enemy," one of the show's all-time best fights is preceded by the inevitable Gainaxing you get from May in a flimsy nightgown thrashing around to loosen a rope.
    • In "A Hen in the Wolf House", Bobbi's fights in the episode are generally well-received, though a number of people have complained about the hair-flip at the end of the first fight for being unnecessary. However, just as many have commented on how it helped sell the scene, being somewhat in-character for her.
    • "One of Us" has Cal recruit a small team of Gifted humans to get revenge on Coulson and on S.H.I.E.L.D.; one is a hacker, one has super strength, and one has a powerful and incapacitating scream. The sole woman of the group, Karla Fay Gideon, has razor blades for fingernails, having implanted them herself so she could kill her abusive boyfriend. While this would certainly make her "special", it certainly wouldn't make her Gifted outright. What makes this doubly ridiculous is that S.H.I.E.L.D. went to all the trouble of fitting her with thick, unwieldy metal finger guards so that she couldn't go around cutting people, instead of just going the simple route of having her razors removed in the first place.
    • 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 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.
    • The Darkhold, an expy of the Necronomicon, looks like a brand new and cheap children's book despite being supposedly hundreds of years old, but it’s the helpful ""DARKHOLD"" written on the front in nice scrolling lettering that really deflates any dread one could get from it.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Nick Fury chews out Coulson for wrecking the plane at the end of "0-8-4". Subverted though as he returns for the Season Finale.
    • Mack from "The Asset", a stereotypically redneck truck driver who turns out to be a highly trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
    • Patton Oswalt as the nerdy Coulson Fanboy named Agent Eric Koenig. He's a two scene wonder as of the Season One finale, and becomes an Ascended Extra following that.
    • Tsai Chin as May's mother in The Stinger of "The Only Light In The Darkness"
    • The first Ghost Rider, implied to be Johnny Blaze, in "The Good Samaritan".
  • 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.
  • 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: How many comic fans who are uncontent with Marvel's current direction in regards to the Mutants have reacted to the show's version of the Inhumans.
  • 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.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Coulson's been getting this treatment from Grant Ward's more devoted fans ever since "The Beginning of the End", and even more so now that he killed Ward in "Maveth".
    • Bobbi already got this before she appeared from fans of Hawkeye/Black Widow due to being seen as an obstacle for that (being Hawkeye's canon primary love interest in the comics), but after she appeared in the show, there's some still holding grudges against her. Later, her and Mack both receive this to a much worse extent when it comes out they're part of a secret faction of S.H.I.E.L.D. keeping oversight over Coulson's team, with some acting as if 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 13'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.
    • Skye's been getting this from more devoted Grant Ward fans after she shot him in the back in "What They Become", while May got this after beating the snot out of him in the First Season finale.
    • On the inverse, Ward has been getting this from some sections of the fanbase, who decry him as a 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, some people love to give off the impression as if Gonzales was the biggest scumbag of the entire MCU.
    • Mack after the aforementioned reveal about his connection to Real-SHIELD 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 its often described, he sounds like an irrational traitor and borderline fascist.
  • Rooting for the Empire:
    • Some people root for Gonzales and 'Real S.H.I.E.L.D.', mainly because they believe that Coulson is stepping down the same path as Fury before him.
    • Many people root for Jaiying and the Inhumans, as they feel that SHIELD's actions in the Season 2 finale are the very same as the reason Captain America decided to previously wipe out SHIELD 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.
  • 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. And 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.
  • 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.
  • Shocking Swerve: Most of the twists in "Turn, Turn Turn" work very well, but when it turns out Ward is a HYDRA agent, it starts feeling like they're throwing out twists just for the sake of having twists, as if the episode needed any more. Even if Word of God says that there are subtle clues in previous episodes, especially concerning how Ward got everyone to trust him, note  not every viewer agreed that acting exactly like a protagonist constituted a hint. How poorly foreshadowed was the twist? Almost no one believed it. Immediately after the reveal, the big debate between fans was whether Ward was a Fake Defector or Brainwashed and Crazy. Turns out it was genuine.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • So Okay, It's Average: A third camp feel this way about the show, appreciating the expansion into the MCU, but are lukewarm about the concept and/or its execution.
  • Special Effects Failure: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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's the biggest Base-Breaking Character among the new team, May giving her a dressing down over coming to her about her search for her parents in the middle of an operation in "The Bridge" could count as this for those who don't like the character.
    • 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, given her comics counterpart's known relationship with Victoria Hand.
    • 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.
    • 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 SHIELD, 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 Bobbi, Hunter, May, and Andrew, who Ward had hurt in a serious manner previously and never got their final comeuppance on him.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • Seemingly 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 disapointing. However, its soon revealed this is just, at best, a proto-version of the team, and the second half of the season will see the introduction of Yo-Yo Rodriguez early on, and likely other members of the team from the comic following.
    • After the show went to the trouble across two and a half seasons of setting up Skye, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Untwist: In Season Two, Simmons isn't actually working for HYDRA, but is a Reverse Mole for Coulson. The show itself actually seems to acknowledge that no one would buy it, revealing the truth before the episode that introduces her working there is even halfway over. The same goes with HYDRA's Head of Security as they already hyped her up as being Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird, a character fans knew wouldn't be a villain.
  • 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 sense 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 SHIELD 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 first transformation into Ghost Rider in "The Ghost." Especially the moment where the flames consume his head and melt away his face when he first powers 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.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?:
    • Mike's rant at the end of the first episode can be seen as a parable on race and class relations and/or the Great Recession.
    • On the other side, Skye and Ward's dialogue in episode two could be seen as a Take That to middle class radicals who seem oblivious to the fact that their pet causes often involve the very sort of violence they claim to hate.
    • Ian Quinn from Episode Three. A wealthy businessman with libertarian leanings, he despises government for regulating business and hoarding new discoveries, yet he turns out to be just as dangerous as the government itself.
    • The situation with Miles in Episode Five can be seen as a jab against hacktivists who preach about freedom of information, but won't hesitate to sell said information for a quick buck.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: In Season Two, Tim DeKay was cast as Ward's older brother, Christian, who was first seen in a flashback in "The Well". In that flashback, the two brothers are played by actors only two years apart in age. In the present, DeKay is at least twenty years older than Brett Dalton. Of course, besides the age gap (which itself can be justified by the two being Older Than They Look/Younger Than They Look respectively), most haven't had a problem with his portrayal of Christian, at least.
  • The Woobie:
    • Mike has a lot of problems (lack of work, previous injury, implied marriage trouble, experimented on). He starts down the road to Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds before The Team intervenes. Then he goes back because of Rania's manipulation. Mike seems to be the universe's chewtoy. To make things even worse for Mike, he now has a cybernetic eye and kill-switch like Akela did.
    • Akela Amador. She was forced to watch her team die and remained imprisoned in a cell at the bottom of a mine shaft for four years while blind in one eye. When she was finally rescued, her "rescuers" implanted a cybernetic eye into her head which they used to send her on missions and controlled her with the threat of a kill-switch in the eye. She has to ask for permission to sleep. Her entire life post-capture is one long string of Nightmare Fuel.
    • Hannah Hutchins. A genuinely good and kind person, plagued by guilt, hated by an entire town for an accident that wasn't her fault, and tormented by an unseen force that she's convinced is demonic and she thinks God has abandoned her. She could really use a hug. Happily, Skye gives her one at the end of the episode.
    • Coulson himself, after what we were treated to in "The Magical Place." Dead for days, then revived through unknown means and sent to surgery at least seven times, losing his will to live and having to get his memories replaced with Tahiti so that he could go back to normal. Then having to live through a portion of the revival again in order to find out what happened at all. Also, it turns out that his dad died when he was just a kid, and his mother died recently as well. Top it all off with the fact that he's lost any chance to be with the woman he loves, something that's broken her heart as well as his, and there's no question that Coulson now falls firmly under the category of Stoic Woobie. Oh, and as of "Turn Turn Turn", Garrett and Ward turned out to be traitors, and as far as he knows, Nick Fury, a man he admires, is dead. (Actually just faking it, but again, Coulson doesn't know that.) "Providence" piles even more on him. With S.H.I.E.L.D. falling apart, Coulson is trying to cling to whatever hope he can, which comes in the form of a message supposedly from Nick Fury. When it seems to lead to nowhere, however, he goes off on a rant that being part of S.H.I.E.L.D. still means something, and you can tell this is less for his team and just him trying to hold onto that last bit of hope. Thankfully, that faith is rewarded. 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 next season she finds out that her birth father is Ax-Crazy, her birth mother was butchered by HYDRA, and she has earthquake powers that she cannot control, thus making her a danger to herself and others. 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.
    • 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.
    • Just to fully tick everyone off, Simmons becomes The Woobie herself in the final episode of the first series, after spending most of the episode thinking she was going to die, then not quite managing to get her "best friend in the entire world" out unharmed.
    • Donnie Gill, oh so much. Because he's extremely smart, he had difficulty making friends, with his only friend being a fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. academy student named Seth. Both are manipulated by Ian Quinn into developing a weather control machine, which results in Seth getting killed, and Donnie being imprisoned. Because he now has cryokinetic powers, HYDRA has their eyes set on him, and brainwash him into organizing a mutiny. Donnie manages to break free from the brainwashing and flees to Morocco, but HYDRA pursues him there. Finally, when he's brainwashed once again and under orders to kill May and Hunter by freezing the barge they're on, Skye shoots him, seemingly killing him. However, they Never Found the Body, so there's still a chance he's alive and may ultimately get a happy ending...
    • Skye's mother ended her life at the hands of the same sadistic bastard she suffered from 44 years earlier, going through unimaginably horrific experiments to extract the secret of her immortality. When it was over, her body was left unrecognizably mangled and simply dumped in the woods... or so we were led to believe until "Afterlife" showed her alive 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.
    • 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 Comic Book

  • Crack Pairing: In the first issue, Fitz invites May to a date. And she accepts. Hm, what?
  • 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's not so hard: which regular character from the TV series would have the skills and motivations for doing that, and had not appeared so far in the comic? Of course, true believer, it was Grant Ward!
  • 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