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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. provides examples of the following tropes:

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    S 
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: A downplayed example, with Fitz and Simmons. Simmons has a cheerfully optimistic fascination with everything new and exciting and is the one who wanted to go into the field, while Fitz is more cautious, pragmatic, and worried about potential problems.
  • Science Fantasy:
    • Season Four dives head first into this, which introduces the explicitly supernatural Ghost Rider into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has a plot line which revolves around S.H.I.E.L.D. competing with literal ghosts to recover a Tome of Eldritch Lore called the Darkhold, all existing contemporaneously with the usual sci-fi schtick of the Marvel universe. The same season even contains a subplot about a Life Model Decoy named Aida and her awakening as an artificial intelligence.
    • Prior to the fourth season, the show already contained some traces of science fantasy, such as the various Asgardian characters who occasionally showed up help to S.H.I.E.L.D. (including two guest appearances by Lady Sif from Thor).
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
    • In "T.A.H.I.T.I.", Coulson ignores orders from his superiors, gives Fitz-Simmons a file classified above their clearance level, and tracks down and assaults a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility even he isn't supposed to know about, all to save the life of one of his agents.
    • By the following episode, Coulson's officially hit his breaking point, as he tells Skye to hell with the protocols and rules he used to put so much faith in — he is going to uncover the whole truth behind his resurrection and the related secrets seen so far, no matter what.
    • In "Nothing Personal", Maria Hill tells Coulson that he should play ball with Talbot. Coulson refuses, and when he reveals that Ward is HYDRA and has Skye, Hill quickly switches sides, helping Coulson take out Talbot's men and escape.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • "T.A.H.I.T.I." reveals that since Coulson's little visit in "The Magical Place", Dr. Streiten has gone into hiding.
    • In "Providence", Coulson immediately realizes that Colonel Talbot's "peacekeeping" forces are on their way to shut down S.H.I.E.L.D. and arrest or kill them all, so he orders an evacuation of the Hub.
    • In "Nothing Personal", after finding out that Deathlok is nearby, Coulson announces a new plan: "Run!"
    • In "Beginning of the End", in light of both Team Coulson's attack on Cybertek's facilities and the Clairvoyant having gone off the deep end, Quinn and Raina grab their respective research and get the hell out of dodge.
    • In "World's End", this quickly becomes Aida's default reaction upon Ghost Rider's appearance after he manages to harm her during an earlier encounter.
  • Secret Test: In a flashback, Peggy Carter leaves Werner Reinhardt in an interrogation chamber and intentionally leaves a pen on the table. He comments that she obviously wanted to see what he would do with it, since a pen can have so many uses, "Escape, confession, homicide... suicide." She agrees:
    Agent Carter: It's true. I wanted to find out what kind of man you were. You didn't use the pen, so now I know.
  • Series Fauxnale: Season Five finale "The End" was clearly written as a series finale and ended with Coulson being allowed to die in peace. After the series was unexpectedly picked up for two more seasons, the creators had to get creative in order to keep Clark Gregg on as the face of the show.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Season 1 ends with quite a few dangling threads for Season 2 to pick up on: Coulson is now Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and tasked with rebuilding the organization; also, he has started to compulsively draw the same alien symbols that Garrett was. Meanwhile, Fitz is left in critical condition, with his future uncertain, and Ward is challenged as to who he is without Garrett. At the same time, both Quinn and Raina escape Garrett's downfall, the former with the gravitonium, and the latter getting in touch with a mysterious figure who is apparently Skye's father.
    • Season 2 ends with Coulson establishing a team "like the Avengers, but secret" with Skye as the leader and current sole member, HYDRA growing a new head in the form of an angry Grant Ward, a Mass Empowering Event with Terrigen infected fish products which will cause Terrigenesis in random people with no obvious source, and Simmons getting swallowed whole by the Kree anti-Inhuman WMD.
    • Season 3 ends with Daisy going rogue following Lincoln's death. The season finale Stinger takes place after a short Time Skip, showing Coulson and Mac as they attempt to bring Daisy in. They also reference a new director of S.H.I.E.L.D., with Coulson apparently no longer serving in that role.
    • Season 4 ends with Coulson's team at a diner for a final meal together as they expect to be arrested by the US government for their supposed assassination attempt on General Talbot. A group of agents does arrive, however, they use a device to freeze time and take the team captive. The Stinger shows Coulson waking up aboard a space ship and stating that it's time to get to work.
    • Since it wasn't clear if the show was going to be renewed past Season 5, the show averted this trope in that finale, aside from mentioning that the team would leave the Earth to retrieve Fitz's cryogenically-frozen body from space.
    • Season 6 ends with the team [[spoiler:being time-jumped back to the 1930s to prevent a Chronicom invasion and occupation of Earth, and then Daisy, Mack and Simmons seeing (or causing, in the former's case) the activation of a hyper-advanced LMD of Phil Coulson, complete with a brain upload.
Shapeshifting Heals Wounds: Whenever Robbie Reyes turns into Ghost Rider, any injuries he sustained as a human disappear after he returns to normal. With the exception of one Wound That Will Not Heal crack across his skull.
  • Shattered World: In season five's opening two-parter, after being hurled forward through time by a white monolith, a look out a porthole at the end of the first half reveals that the space station they agents are stranded aboard is orbiting the floating debris of what was once Earth. While most of the Kree-enslaved human population are too busy just trying to stay alive to provide any kind of history, local fixer Deke points the finger at Daisy, or, as he prefers to call her, Quake, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely:
    • Every woman on Team Coulson has dressed up once, and usually as part of an undercover assignment. Skye and Simmons had their chance in Season 1. May doesn't have her moment until Season 2. Bobbi finally gets her moment in Season 3 as an international businesswoman, with May joining her for a twofer.
    • Mack cleans up at the beginning at the beginning of "Face my Enemy" for the same mission. He can't be a high class couple's driver while covered in grease.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Melinda May aka The Cavalry was so shaken up by the event where she earned that nickname that she asked for a desk job and was extremely reluctant to go back into the field.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Melinda May tells Ward that Skye would need a good supervising officer, with a sly smirk.
    • Agent Garrett tells Coulson that they will meet again soon, because his subordinate, Agent Triplett, has a crush on Simmons.
    • "The Only Light in the Darkness" sees Fitz trying to encourage Coulson/Audrey, urging Coulson to tell her that he's still alive, since it seemed like they had something special.
    • In "Wake Up", Elena encourages Coulson to get together with May, saying Every One Can See It. Radcliffe also agrees, which is why he kidnapped May and replaced her with an LMD to get closer to Coulson and find the Darkhold.
    • With regards to Fitz and Simmons, the question is not who ships them, but rather, who doesn't ship them:
      • Skye's comments in "FZZT" about how she wishes her relationships with Ward and Miles were more like what Fitz has with Simmons makes it seem like she's either mistaken them for a couple, or she's playing with this trope. Or it could be that she just knew Fitz was flirting with her and was deliberately deflecting him onto another subject.
      • In "The Only Light in the Darkness", both Ward and Coulson try, with varying levels of subtlety and identical lack of success, to encourage Fitz to say something to Simmons about his increasingly obvious feelings for her.
      • Averted with Mack concerning Fitz/Simmons and Hunter/Morse, as he worries about both relationships, specifically because of how they might affect Fitz and Bobbi. He doesn't particularly like Simmons in general, going so far as to directly confront her over how she abandoned Fitz, seemingly as a direct result of him admitting that he was in love with her; and while he gets along with Hunter, his Big Brother Instinct gets triggered by seeing him back together with Bobbi, having seen the impact their regular break-ups have on her too many times before.
      • Despite finding the idea of being friends with a guy before dating him slightly novel, Bobbi seems generally keen to encourage Fitz/Simmons: she calls Simmons out as a transparent liar when the latter claims that there's never been anything remotely romantic between her and Fitz, and tries to encourage her to stop avoiding him and try to deal with the fact that he's in love with her.
      • After Fitz rescues Simmons in Season 3, Hunter encourages him to get together with Simmons, but his suggestion of leaving her boyfriend Will stranded on another planet isn't well received.
      • Even the villains ship them: Ward was planning to kill Fitz and Simmons and encouraged Fitz to admit his feelings for Simmons, if only so they would die with one less regret. Later, Hive, using Will's memories, says that he's glad Simmons got back to Fitz, and encourages her to be with him. Of course, this was to make sure that SHIELD stopped hunting him, so how genuine it was is debatable.
    • Meta examples from the cast: Chloe Bennet has said that she ships SkyeWard even in the wake of Ward's betrayal, and in the event that that ship sinks, she's also a fan of Skimmons, to the delight of fans of all orientations. Brett Dalton has also said he ships SkyeWard, while Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge have expressed the opinion that Fitz-Simmons are in love with one another, even if they can't admit it.
  • Ship Tease:
    • There were hints of affection between Coulson and Hill during their scenes together in the "Pilot".
    • Skye and Ward's first interactions together while he interrogates her in the "Pilot" hints at Belligerent Sexual Tension, which crops up time and again over the course of the series. Unfortunately when they finally get their Relationship Upgrade it's just as Ward turns out to have been Evil All Along; he remains attracted to her, but by the end of the season she can't stand the sight of him.
    • Fitz and Simmons start off as Platonic Life-Partners, but over the course of the series it becomes apparent that there could be something else going on there. This is particularly the case with Fitz, who from "FZZT" seems to be going through a drawn-out Love Epiphany towards Simmons, and becomes a Green-Eyed Monster whenever she meets another potential love interest. Word of Saint Paul from their actors has it that they were in love with one another from the start, but neither of them can ever bring themselves to admit it, and so they try to ignore it. This becomes a case of Exact Words in the Season One finale, when they still can't face directly admitting it, but end up talking around it so much that it becomes clear in context.
    • Fitz is really excited about Skye being in the bunk right next to his, an episode after he offers to show her his thing/hardware/equipment/gotta go...
    • Coulson and May have a few scenes hinting at a past attraction.
    • Prof. Randolph's open attraction to Simmons in "The Well", which she eventually seems to regard as quite flattering, at least.
    • Ward and May, at the end of "The Well," and the opening of "Repairs."
    • Simmons can't stop ogling Mike in "The Bridge".
    • The noticeably friendly and comfortable scenes with Simmons and Ward, especially post-"FZZT" have been noted by fans if not initially intended. A later episode reveals Simmons having feelings for him; their relationship is a complex one, certainly developed enough for it to be visible that Ward could have reciprocated.
    • Agent Triplett develops a crush on Simmons in "T.A.H.I.T.I.". It's brought up again in "The End of the Beginning", when Triplett acts as Simmons's escort during her debrief at the Hub. Fitz has noticed this and very unhappy with it.
    • Skye and Simmons seem to be developing something of a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship after the events of "T.R.A.C.K.S." and "T.A.H.I.T.I.". Whether the interpretation was intended or not is still open for debate, though it does have the approval of one of the actresses in question (see Shipper on Deck, above).
    • Audrey's introduction in "The Only Light in the Darkness" leads to an episode-long Ship Tease between her and Coulson, despite them getting only one brief scene together.
    • Season 2 shows Skye and Trip have formed a close friendship, and make mildly flirtatious comments to one another when Trip shows up in his U.S. Army disguise.
    • Skye and Hunter make a big deal of declaring their non-attraction to each other in front of the rest of the team, who don't seem to buy it.
    • Fitz's hallucination of Simmons can't stop gushing over how attractive Mack is, which Fitz eventually realises is his own subconscious talking. Ironically, the real Simmons and Mack don't get on well.
    • The real Simmons does seem to have a bit of a crush on Bobbi Morse; she even talks about her the same way Hallucination!Simmons does about Mack.
    • The revelation that Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse used to be married puts a whole different spin on Hunter's frequent bitching about his Psycho Ex-Wife. Everyone quickly figures out that he still has feelings for her, while Bobbi's view of their relationship is more Amicable Exes. When they're Working with the Ex on a field mission, even they seem to forget that they're not married any more, bickering and flirting alternately throughout.
    • Season 4 seems to be driving Skye/Daisy and Robbie together.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Skye correctly mentions the existence of Shining Path when they are in Peru in "0-8-4".
    • The name of the Inhuman city, Láishì, does actually mean "afterlife," although a better translation might be "the world to come" or "the next world."
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • At the end of "Yes Men", when Lorelei is taunting Sif about her lover who Lorelei used and is implied to have killed, Sif literally shuts her up by using the Power Nullifier collar, which renders her mute.
      Sif: You were saying?
    • In "End of the Beginning" the Clairvoyant is ranting about how they will come for Skye, kill everyone else, and nothing can stop this and then Ward just shoots him.
    • In "Beginning of the End", after May beats The Mole by nailing their feet to the ground, they start to plead with her, only for her to punch them in the throat, cracking their larynx and literally shutting them up.
    • In the same episode, while a now-insane Clairvoyant starts ranting about his power and purpose, the heroes just ignore him and snark on how crazy he is.
  • Sigil Spam:
    • S.H.I.E.L.D. really likes that eagle. They could be forgiven for putting it all over their headquarters, but putting it on all of their vehicles is a bit conspicuous for a covert organization.
    • HYDRA follows suit in the second season; for an organization that's supposed to be completely covert, they don't have any problems wearing HYDRA lapel pins on their HYDRA jackets, carrying precious cargo in HYDRA-branded crates, or painting three-feet-tall logos inside their secret laboratories. It's a Justified Trope considering that they largely used to be part of S.H.I.E.L.D., so likely are just carrying on this tendency from there.
  • Sixth Ranger:
    • Agent Triplett joins Coulson's team around the final six episodes of the first season.
    • In Season 2, Hunter is more of the Sixth Ranger, while Triplett is on the core team. They even teased Hunter as a Sixth Ranger Traitor. Mack and Bobbi also act as such, with Mack joining the team between seasons while Bobbi joining part way through the first half of the season.
    • Midway through Season 3, we get Elena "Yo-Yo" Rodriguez, who becomes a recurring ally for the rest of the season and an official agent the next season.
    • Season 4 gives us Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider, though he's not an agent, just an ally.
  • Sleep Deprivation Punishment: Akela Amador is revealed to be being Forced into Evil by lack of sleep when the team sees a feed from her eye where she writes a note to her handler saying "Can I sleep?", to which her handler replies via text feed with an order to continue her mission. It establishing the Centipede group's MO of using their Explosive Leash cybernetic eyes to force people to do their bidding.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Ace proved Mike that he was free by writing those words he sees in his eye. But those are just words, how can Mike be sure it's really him? Because he said "What are we? We are a team"
  • Spinoff: From The Avengers and the rest of the MCU. Specifically, Coulson from the films becomes The Leader on a new cast with separate adventures.
  • Special Edition Title:
    • At the end of the episode "Turn, Turn, Turn", the HYDRA logo appears instead of the SHIELD logo before The Stinger.
    • "4,722 Hours", a Whole Episode Flashback to Jemma Simmons' marooning on an alien planet, forgoes the usual logo to show a wide shot of the planet instead, with the title in a different (and more space-y) font.
    • Season 4 was split into three distinct story "pods", each featuring distinct opening sequences representing the Ghost Rider, the LMDs and the Framework respectively.
    • Season 5 continued with special opening for story arcs, opening on a shot of Earth That Was. Once they return to the present, this is replaced by Earth That Is. Several late-Season 5 episodes overlay the show title over the closing moments of the teaser, a change from the usual format.
    • For 100th episode Milestone Celebration, every custom logo listed above was used in quick succession.
    • The Season 6 title font is reminiscent of the font used on posters for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, fitting for the much more space-oriented story.
  • Spiritual Successor:
  • Spoiler Opening: the opening cast credits for "The Beginning of the End" spoil the "surprise" appearance of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury midway through the episode. To be fair, however, ABC's own promos for the episode had already spoiled his appearance and US entertainment media spoiled that Jackson would be appearing in the finale a full month before.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: The unstable Extremis in the Centipede serum tends to cause them to explode apparently at random.
  • Standard Snippet: The Hydra leitmotif borrows from the "Dies Irae" chant.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The FitzSimmons pairing was a mess that stretched four seasons. They spend the entire first season at Cannot Spit It Out. When they finally move past that, Fitz gets injured and spends half the next season recovering, while Simmons leaves the team to take an undercover assignment. When those are finally resolved, Simmons develops a case of Fantastic Racism that upsets Fitz, and the Real SHIELD civil war breaks out, causing further complications lasting the rest of the season. When things finally calm down enough for Fitz to ask Simmons out, she gets eaten by an alien rock. They finally get her back in "Purpose In The Machine", but she definitely looks too traumatized for a relationship. Then it turns out that she's already in one with another guy who was trapped on an alien planet with her. Then it turns out he died shortly after she escaped. The two finally manage to start an actual relationship near the end of season three, but in keeping with their never-ending string of bad luck, their respective jobs in season four are already set up to cause tension between them, after which Fitz is kidnapped, has his brain uploaded into a virtual reality, and gets influenced into becoming a sadistic HYDRA operative who is the lover of an evil AI. Fitz even described them as "cursed" right before their Big Damn Kiss. In the fifth season premier, when Team Coulson is sent to space actually a Bad Future, Fitz is the only one that isn't sent with the team. It's at this point that Daisy, the couple's Best Friend after each other and who once declared that she would go through an army of LMDs to reunite them, agrees that Fitz may be onto something with the whole curse thing. As Coulson is officiating FitzSimmons their wedding in season 5, he says that any delays would be "playing with fire", and sounds like he's only partially joking. At the end of the season, Fitz dies but there's a back-up version of him in suspended animation that the team sets out to find. The Season 6 finale sees Fitz and Simmons separated again, apparently with each unable to know where the other is for unspecified reasons as part of a plan to defeat the Chronicoms.
    • Bobbi and Hunter are the opposite kind of Star-Crossed Lovers, where they have an on-off relationship because they can't seem to stand to be around one another, constantly bickering, but when it comes down to it, they obviously love each other very much will always have each other's backs no matter what. Their relationship issues mainly stem from the fact that Bobbi treats everything like she's a secret agent and compartmentalizes everything, keeping secrets from Hunter while falling for him all the same, only for it to explode on her when Hunter inevitably finds out what she's keeping up her sleeve.
      Hunter: I should've known it wouldn't work out between us. I mean, we first hit it off when you were sent to steal intel from me.
      Bobbi: Well, I made it worth your while.
      Hunter: Time of my life, really. But maybe not the bedrock foundation upon which a marraige is built.
      Bobbi: Everything I felt for you, that was real.
      Hunter: Yeah, maybe so...but in the end you still got that intel, didn't you?
      Bobbi: Hunter...
      Hunter: It's always the same pattern, love. I fall for you only to discover you got something else up and running.
    • Hunter makes a surprise return in Season 5, where he reveals that after he and Bobbi were Put on a Bus, they almost got married again before it was crashed by ninjas. His and Bobbi's situation of being the chaotic divorced aunt and uncle of S.H.I.E.L.D. is humorously contrasted with FitzSimmons' polar opposite situation of constantly being dragged apart despite being a perfect match.
      Fitz: How are things with Bobbi?
      Hunter: Good. Yeah. We're 100% compatible. 50% of the time. Nearly got married again. Until the ninjas showed up.
      Fitz: So...you are together?
      Hunter: Together forever. Just doing our own thing. Distance is our savior. How about you and Simmons? Find a way to work that out?
      Fitz: Distance is our curse.
  • Start of Darkness:
    • Mike's despair forced him to use his Extremis-induced powers to destroy anyone against him.
    • Dr. Hall became adamant to use the graviton machine to sink down Quinn's compound even when Coulson implored him that S.H.I.E.L.D. agents could die alongside it. When Coulson managed to toss Dr. Hall into the rampaging machine (shutting it off), The Stinger reveals that it's the birth of the supervillain Graviton.
    • Donnie Gill is injured when his ice machine explodes, which also kills his buddy Seth. The closing scene of the episode shows Donnie, bitter and heartbroken over having lost his only friend, discovering that the accident has given him cryogenic abilities.
    • "Ragtag" is one for The Clairvoyant's mole, and to a lesser extent, The Clairvoyant himself. Garrett pulled Ward out of jail, then gave him a Training from Hell in the forest which ended with ordering Ward to shoot his dog, which had been his only companion for years. It's clear Ward is loyal to him because he sees him as a surrogate father figure, having come from the terrible childhood we saw glimpses of in earlier episodes. Garrett also recounts the story of how he lost his loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D.; he was injured in battle and felt they weren't putting forth enough effort to rescue him, so he patched himself up and decided he'd only look after himself from then on.
    • Cal's is when he finds his wife cut up and vows to pay back in kind the one who did it to her, and then the two of them drifting apart after he revived her as the search for their daughter grows more and more hopeless.
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • As far as the plane is concerned. The fish tank has to be scrapped on orders.
    • This is not the case with the show itself as things pile up over the episodes.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: The antagonist in "Repairs" can appear and disappear at will, and pulls several entrances and exits that are functionally this trope. Then, during his first attack on May, she disappears on him.
  • Stealth Pun: The "noisemakers" in "The Beginning of the End" are disguised as graggers, a type of noisemaker commonly used during the Jewish festival of Purim. They're even activated by spinning them, which is exactly how you make noise with the real thing.
  • Stock Footage: Its viral website The Rising Tide shows clips from previous movies made to look like poorly filmed camcorder footage. Funnily enough, one clip that claims to be of the Hulk is the Abomination recolored.
    • "The Well" opens with a montage made up of recycled footage from Thor and Thor: The Dark World.
    • "The Magical Place" reuses footage of Coulson's death from The Avengers.
    • "Providence" reuses shots of one of the Helicarriers that was brought down by Captain America and The Falcon during Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
    • "T.R.A.C.K.S." uses (for a train in Italy, no less!) a stock footage of a... commuter electric train from Russia [1]. Which is painfully obvious to anyone from Russia. The nature depicted, the train and the generic look of the railway are just too familiar. You can even spot current pickups on the roof that are nowhere to be seen when May climbs there. It' justified in that a TV show could hardly afford to work with a real train for just a few seconds of video. Sometimes you can only buy footage that is shot from the angle you like and looks approximately right.
    • The images of List and Baron Strucker seen in "The Dirty Half Dozen" are screengrabs from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, while Raina's visions of Loki's scepter consist of recycled shots from The Avengers.
  • Storming the Castle:
    • In "The Asset", the team infiltrates Quinn's Malta villa to rescue Dr. Hall.
    • In "The Girl in the Flower Dress", S.H.I.E.L.D. attacks the Centipede facility in Hong Kong to rescue Chan.
    • In "The Magical Place", the team attacks the Centipede facility where Coulson is being held, while S.H.I.E.L.D. launches attacks on other Centipede locations worldwide.
    • In "Beginning of the End", the team launches a full scale assault on Cybertek's Centipede headquarters to bring down The Clairvoyant once and for all.
  • Stun Gun: The Night-Night rifle and its pistol equivalent the Night-Light gun, the latter able to fire multiple shots. It is later given the cooler name ICER. In Season 2, while ICERs are still used, the team also increasingly uses fully lethal sniper rifles.
  • Straight Gay: Subverted with Victoria Hand and and Isabelle Hartley, the showrunners have deliberately avoided assigning a sexuality to them when considering the implications of two well-adjusted, non-stereotypical gay characters (like they were in the comics) and then killing them both immediately.
    • Played straight with Joey, Bobbi casually refers to Joey's boyfriend during an initial interrogation and Joey (who's also Inhuman) mentions that he's already had to deal with "one painful secret", and aside from a shot in a later episode where he and said boyfriend are in a car together, he displays no outward signs of his sexuality whatsoever.
    • Also played straight with Marcus Benson in Season 6, who lost his husband some time before the start of the season (who eventually makes an appearance late in the season thanks to the Monoliths) but otherwise never mentions his sexuality or displays any stereotypically "gay" traits.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: "The Well" contains a discussion about the Asgardians, who are stated to be advanced aliens that early humans simply mistook for gods. Skye then jokingly asks if Vishnu is an alien as well, which caused criticism from real life Hindus.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: The Darkhold's contents in Season 4 seem to be either this or Scientifically Understandable Sorcery. It feeds into the MCU's general theme of science and magic being two sides of the same coin.
  • Superdickery: The series is rather fond of this. For example:
    • The preview for "The Girl in the Flower Dress" shows Coulson apparently expelling Skye from his team after finding out she had betrayed them, taken out of context. The full line goes "You have a secret, Skye, and one chance to come out with it—that's now!—or I'm done with you."
    • A clip from "The Magical Place" shows Agent May telling Agent Hand that Skye's of no use on the Bus. She's right; Agent Hand and her associates would've hindered Skye's role in rescuing Coulson had she been allowed to remain on the Bus.
    • At the end of "Yes Man", Agent May gets this again, this time to notify someone that Coulson had found out about the circumstances of his resurrection. That someone happened to be Director Fury.
    • "The End of the Beginning" has Agent Hand practically advertise herself as The Clairvoyant, sending the Bus to the Hub and ordering everyone on board except for Coulson dead. Because she honestly believes that Coulson may be HYDRA due to his constant rulebreaking.
    • The preview for "Making Friends and Influencing People" implies a Face–Heel Turn on the part of Simmons and Coulson finding out about her. Coulson knew all along (not to mention that if HYDRA's going to have moles within S.H.I.E.L.D., then two can play at that game, and it's implied that Simmons may not be S.H.I.E.L.D.'s only HYDRA infiltrator), and he simply found out about her unusual diet.
    • Agent May jumping Coulson in "Face My Enemy". That was actually the Brainwashed and Crazy Agent 33 posing as Agent May.
  • Super Prototype: Averted with the Nite-Nite gun. It's a decent nonlethal weapon, but Fitz's ICER is a superior weapon. The team still uses both because the Nite-Nite gun still works, but the ICER is seeing higher production numbers.
  • Super Serum: The Centipede serum, a cocktail of gamma radiation, super soldier serum, and Extremis. It boosts physical ability and powers if applicable, but is unstable and causes the user to explode, in addition to making them crazy. They haven't quite worked out all the bugs yet.
  • Super Weight:
    • The whole point of the show is that all the leads are firmly Muggle Tier: Fitz-Simmons and Skye are Type 0, while Coulson, May, Ward, and later Triplett are Type 1 (on a sliding scale from -1 to 6). People occasionally shift around a little, though: Simmons briefly reaches Type 2 in "FZZT" when she's infected with the Chitauri virus, and the same thing happens to Ward and May in "The Well" after handling the berserker staff. Fitz, meanwhile, drops to Type -1 after suffering brain damage in "The Beginning of the End".
    • Averted as of "What They Become." Skye and Raina undergo Terrigenesis and become Inhumans, which puts them at rank 2+. Skye is revealed to be Daisy Johnson, known in the Marvel Universe as Quake. It starts a trend of a more varied weight scale as the rest of the season introduces more Inhumans. In the 3rd season, the Secret Warriors are formed to fight for SHIELD. Then, in season four, Ghost Rider appears.
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    T 
  • Take That, Audience!: An extremely blatant example in the Season 2 finale to the fans who believed Ward's tragic past excused his villainous actions. Since The Reveal these fans gathered under the hashtag #standwithward. In the episode Kara states that based on said tragic past "I love him and I will always stand with Ward". This is treated as a clear sign that 33 has gone off the moral deep end and is preceded by a Kirk Summation on exactly why using one's tragic past as an excuse for one's clearly wrong actions does not make one a good guy. This comes to its logical conclusion when Ward fatally shoots her down at the end of the season, mistaking her for May, whom she was disguised as at the time. Even Ward sympathizers aren't safe from his actions.
  • Take The Third Option:
    • Invoked by Coulson in the pilot, when he tells Fitz-Simmons to find one that will let him save Mike.
    • Skye in "The Asset"; faced with a choice between surrendering or shooting Quinn, she goes out the window.
    • Coulson also does so in "The Asset", pushing Hall into the Gravitonium and subsequently fulfilling Hall's wishes that the Gravitonium never see the light of day, going so far as to have it locked up in a top-secret and unmarked cell in the Fridge. Unfortunately, the Clairvoyant is a bit too thorough when he and Ward raid the Fridge.
    • In a meta sense, the combination of the sixth season renewal and the events of Avengers: Infinity War. Both fans and critics pointed out that the show could either do a season missing half of its cast and potentially spoil the events of Avengers: Endgame, or ignore Infinity War's ending and break continuity with the MCU at large. So to avoid all of those, the sixth season doesn't begin until summer 2019, several months after Avengers: Endgame.
  • Talk to the Fist: In "The Magical Place", a very angry Skye walks into the house where Coulson is being held by Raina, who hastily tries to claim that what she's doing is for Coulson's own good. Skye downs her with one punch.
  • Technobabble: A good deal of Fitz-Simmons' "science" talk and to a slightly lesser degree Skye's hacking talk falls into this category. Basically, the writers know just enough to throw in some technical-sounding terms with their made-up explanations for how things work.
  • The Tag: Episodes usually end with one. It's not unlike the movies' use of The Stinger.
  • The Team: Coulson handpicked a number of people to create a response team for stuff like Mike and the HYDRA tesseract cannon. He himself is The Leader and he chose them for their skills: Ward for his combat and stealth, Fitz-Simmons for their science, Skye for her hacking, May to "drive the bus". As of the third episode, May has decided that sitting back isn't for her, and requested to be put into combat. Although Coulson questions her decision, it's hard not to see it as a Just as Planned moment. Fury really recruited May to keep an eye on Coulson and she picked the team members. Fury then manipulated Coulson into recruiting them by giving him a mission profile that would require their specific profiles.
  • Team Dad: Coulson is the oldest and the leader thus the affectionate yet tough dad. May is effectively his female counterpart though a lot more strict than is usual for this trope. Skye even referred to them as "Mom and Dad" in "Eye Spy".
  • Techno Wizard: Fitz-Simmons fill this role for science-y things, while Skye is this with computers.
  • Tele-Frag:
    • How Gordon dies when he's teleported into the same space a metal pipe was occupying.
    • The white monolith that transports the team into the future (minus Fitz) scatters them throughout the facility when they first appear. Agent May gets the worst of it, materializing with a metal pipe going straight through her thigh. And then she finds it's connected to the wall, so she has to rip it out with her bare hands. Slowly.
    • A variation occurs in "A Life Spent" when a young Inhuman girl defeats her much larger opponent by turning her arm insubstantial and phasing it into his chest. Then she turns it solid again and pulls. Ouch.
  • Teleportation Rescue: In the second season, Gordon the teleporter rescues several people this way. He does it for Raina at the end of "Aftershocks" when she's surrounded by SHIELD troops, and for Skye at the end of "One Door Closes".
  • Teleport Spam: Tobias can do this via jumping back and forth between dimensions like Nightcrawler and so can Gordon.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • The pilot:
      • Skye records a message to S.H.I.E.L.D., boasting that the agency won't be able to find her. Coulson shows up outside the door of her van before she even has a chance to finish her sentence.
      • Also, Ward states early on that he's more at home defusing a bomb than working with a team... and in the end they realise they're dealing with an Action Bomb.
      • Just to score the trifecta, May is hesitant about joining the team and returning to the field — her second trip to the field as Skye's backup sees her KO-ed by Mike, and Skye kidnapped.
    • The second episode begins with an explosion immediately after Coulson says he thinks their troubles are over. When the scene is revisited later in the episode, it turns out Coulson knew exactly what he was doing.
  • The Watson: Skye/Daisy Johnson serves this role, especially in the first few episodes. She would frequently ask questions or go against S.H.I.E.L.D.'s policies, with both often resulting in trial by fire and/or a history lesson. She still serves a minor role as The Watson in the third season, but usually simply asking questions about some shared knowledge that she isn't in on, resulting in a less painful history lesson.
  • There Are No Therapists: Zig-zagged.
    • By the beginning of Season Two, everyone in Team Coulson is dealing with some serious emotional trauma, but each individual is apparently dealing with it on their own. (Fitz, who's got plenty of emotional trauma and mental health problems related to serious physical injuries, but is still more or less left to his own devices by the rest of the team once they decide they can't help him themselves.) Possibly Justified in that they're technically criminals on the run, assuming that all the therapists on Old S.H.I.E.L.D.'s payroll either resigned, got captured by HYDRA or the army, or (the most disturbing possibility) were with HYDRA all along.
    • Turns out there was a therapist who Coulson was seeing throughout Season 2 — May's ex-husband.
    • By Season 3, there's a therapist regularly on-call to evaluate new Inhumans the team finds and keep an eye on the team itself.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: The big reveal of Captain America: The Winter Soldier fell like an atom bomb in S.H.I.E.L.D., both the team and the whole organization. Who is a traitor? May? Fitz? Ward? Skye? Hand? Coulson? Triplett? Garret? Those unnamed agents coming to us? How many of them?
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Both Fitz and Simmons have their moments:
    • In "SOS Part 2", after trapping Gordon in a room full of angry S.H.I.E.L.D. agents:
      Fitz: Science, biatch.
    • In "4,722 Hours", after finally catching something to eat:
      Simmons: You're dinner, bitch!
  • Time Skip: Season 5's final episode is set hours from the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. Season 6 begins a year after the events of Avengers: Endgame.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Darkhold, which is introduced in Season Four, is a book containing limitless information about everything in whatever mother-tongue its user has. It also corrupts their moral compass so they're willing to do all kinds of nasty deeds to possess it and gain power from it. It only took Radcliffe a glimpse at less than 2 of its pages for it to corrupt him.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies:
    • Teased for "The Things We Bury," for which the advertising heavily suggested one of the agents would go down. So who bites it? Nobody on the main team, but Ward kills his brother, Christian, who wasn't included in any of the advertising for the episode, and Triplett gets a gut shot that puts his life on the line before Cal tells Coulson how to keep him alive. Jiayang also suffers a rather grisly death in a flashback scene.
    • A Flash Forward in mid-Season 3 shows that someone from the team will be on a ship in space when it explodes. Later on, Daisy has a vision of the same event and confirms this by saying that one of them will die. The hype is increased by the producers and the network in the weeks leading up to the season finale. Ultimately, the Character Death belongs to Lincoln, as he performs a successful Heroic Sacrifice by flying a Quinjet into orbit carrying Hive and the stolen nuclear warhead before it detonates.
    • Also teased in "The End", with marketing seemingly suggesting that one team member would not make it out of the episode alive. Double Subverted. Fitz dies for real, but his cryogenically frozen past self is still out in space somewhere. The actual casualty of the episode is Coulson himself.
  • Too Dumb to Live: As of "Turn, Turn, Turn", Victoria Hand. Every major call she makes through her run in the series is wrong, up to allowing one of Garrett's own proteges to escort him to the Freezer when she knows that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been deeply infiltrated by HYDRA. One wonders how she got to be such a high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in the first place.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Everyone on the team did this as of Ep. 11, "The Magical Place", in response to Coulson's abduction in the previous episode. Gotta step up your game to rescue the Team Dad, you know? Further levels were taken after the civil war with HYDRA.
    • Season 2 sees one for Skye (who becomes a trained and experienced field agent and Action Girl), Simmons (who learns how to lie to people in a (mostly) convincing manner), and Coulson (who takes over as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.).
    • As of Season 3, it's Fitz who levels up in the first episode, going alone against a gang of Moroccan smugglers to retrieve an Inhumans-related artifact.
      • And again in Season 5, as his way of integrating some very traumatic implanted memories.
    • As badass as he already was, Robbie/Ghost Rider managed to gain some when he returned in the season 4 finale with his newfound ability to create warp gates with his flaming chain in a manner very much like Stephen Strange does with his sling ring.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The pre-series media campaign featured Coulson so extensively that his surviving Loki's attack in The Avengers was basically a non-reveal by the time it came. Wisely, the reveal itself was lampshaded and played for laughs.
    • The clip show in season 2's DVD menu shows Bobbi Morse fighting a bunch of guards while Simmons watches just next to them — the scene that reveals Morse to be a Reverse Mole within HYDRA.
    • In Season 3, a Wham Episode ended with Andrew supposedly being stabbed to death and then blown up by HYDRA agents. A TV spot for a later episode spoiled that he survived by including a line where May admonishes Hunter for almost getting Andrew killed.
  • Training from Hell: Ward's introduction to S.H.I.E.L.D. started with Garrett stranding him in the wilderness for six months with nothing but a bag of clothes and a hunting dog.
  • Train Job: In "T.R.A.C.K.S.", the team goes undercover to investigate an organization with links to Centipede on a train.
  • Treachery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Even when there are wheels within wheels rolling and he holds many secrets (and understands other people have them), if there is a Berserk Button that will drive Phil Coulson up the wall immediately, is even thinking of stabbing the team in the back.
  • Truth Serums: Used in the pilot when Skye is captured. However, it's not used on Skye, but rather on Ward, so that she can trust Coulson. A couple episodes later, Ward claims that S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't have a truth serum and he was just playing along. Given the events of later episodes, he's probably right.
  • Tomato Surprise: In "Shadows", the "Simmons" that Fitz has been talking to turns out to be a hallucination.
  • Two-Faced Aside: When Talbot gave some orders to Coulson, he politely replied that it "Sounds good!" with a smile, then close the communication and said with a serious face "This doesn't sound good!"

    U 
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: The Koenig brothers, three of them, are all played by Patton Oswalt.
  • Underside Ride: In "The Hub", Ward and Fitz use a magnetic pouch to attach themselves to the bottom of a truck in order to gain access to the separatist compound.
  • Understatement: In the pilot Coulson states that he's certain that he was dead for longer than eight seconds. "The Magical Place" reveals that he was right — by several orders of magnitude.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After the events of Winter Soldier, S.H.I.E.L.D has been labelled a terrorist organization and the surviving agents are being hunted down by national militaries. It's a case of Reality Ensues, but after all the good they've done a little slack would be nice. What happened to the World Security Council isn't mentioned.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Skye's parents. Cal is an Axe-Crazy Overprotective Papa Wolf Yandere with a Psycho Serum, and he's the nice one.
  • The Unmasqued World:
    • Going by the pilot, it seems to be a major theme. Skye is mistrustful of S.H.I.E.L.D.; they kept the masquerade before, so what else are they hiding now? In the pilot, Mike had this as his motivation for volunteering for superpowers: he'd failed to live up to being just a man, being unable to provide for his family, so how can he stand against gods and giants?
    • "The Well" shows that, with the revelation that Thor and the Asgardians are real, university professors now consider Norse Mythology to be Norse History. Additionally, some people aren't thrilled at the thought that gods can just teleport to Earth and cause city-wide damage. At the same time, Skye's conversation with Coulson and the others at the episode's beginning implies that, while humanity is aware of Asgard, the fact that Thor and the others are just Sufficiently Advanced Aliens hasn't become public knowledge yet.
    • It's stated at various points that S.H.I.E.L.D. has a massive index of all the known superhumans in the world, and that the Avengers are simply the only people with powers known to the general public. As a result of Black Widow leaking all of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s secrets to the world during The Winter Soldier, this information is out there in the open for everyone to see.
  • Unobtainium: "Gravitonium" is a supposedly naturally-occurring element (symbol Gr) mined out of the earth with an atomic number of 123. Its physical properties, not the least of which is gravity manipulation, fall squarely in the realm of Artistic License – Physics. The explanation for how it manipulates gravity is pure, unadulterated technobabble.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee:
    • In episode 2, the team's plan to escape the Peruvians is not discussed on-screen.
    • In the season 1 finale Coulson outlines the entire final plan on screen but he uses so much slang that it's not clear what he's talking about until the plan is enacted.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In "Nothing Personal", Coulson lands his flying car in the middle of a Los Angeles street and the only reaction to this is for a parking attendant to come over and tell him that the parking spot costs twenty bucks. Justified because this is the Marvel Cinematic Universe post-Battle of New York: Billionaires fly around in big suits of armor, aliens have visited from another planet, and there's a guy out there who turns into a giant green rage-monster, all of which the general public now knows about. Comparatively, a flying car doesn't really rate that much shock.

    V 
  • Vehicle Vanish: Akela does this at the start of "Eye-Spy", vanishing as a train passes through a subway station. She seems to be doing this for the benefit of the camera as there's no one else there to witness it.
  • Villain of Another Story
    • Baron Von Strucker is mentioned as one of the main heads of HYDRA, but SHIELD does not fight against him in the series. He appears in Avengers: Age of Ultron instead. In case you want to know, his base is overrun by the Avengers, and his two superhumans, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, abandon him. He is captured and sent to prison, and Ultron killed him while he is in prison.
    • Raina predicts a metal man that can destroy cities. She's talking about Ultron, a Killer Robot from Age of Ultron, which is discussed in the series but does not appear in it.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • In "Beginning of the End", after being injected with the GH serum, Garrett is left completely unhinged, talking about being "the key to the universe".
    • In the same episode, The Mole seems to lose it completely when they find they don't have any orders to follow.
  • Villainous Friendship: The Clairvoyant and The Dragon, Garrett and Ward, seem to be honest friends who regularly meet up for lunch, and make bets on who pays for such while attacking prisons to steal hidden weapons of mass destruction. Moreso from the dragon's end, as while the Clairvoyant basically took him under his wing since he was a teen and the dragon clearly panicks when he nearly dies (and while treating his acting up cybernetics, seems to act in the same manner someone would when helping a diabetic friend who needs help with their insulin injection, casually doing so like they've done it many times before), but the Clairvoyant has also clearly been emotionally abusing him since he's met him (as he does to everyone), and would gladly sacrifice him if it would help his plans along.
  • Villain Has a Point: Dr. Hall wants to destroy the Graviton device in spite of collateral damage because he doesn't believe that any group is responsible enough to control it. He cites the events of The Avengers as evidence that S.H.I.E.L.D. can't do it either. Coulson doesn't argue the point; "You're not wrong".
  • Villains Want Mercy: Two examples in "Beginning of the End": first, when The Mole finds themselves nailed to the floor by May, they try to plead with her, only to get punched in the throat, crushing their larynx. Then, when Deathlok breaks free of Garrett's control and turns on him, he pleads with Coulson to make Deathlok stop, only for Coulson to stand by and watch.
    • A minor one in the season 4 finale where Aida, who is being burned alive by Ghost Rider Coulson, gives a pleading look to Fitz that seems to say "Help me" or "Make it stop", but is charred before she can actually say anything.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Quinn is seen as a philanthropist and advocate of freedom of information, but really is only in it for greater profits.
  • The Virus: The weird Chitauri contamination in FZZT is weird because it infects someone through electrical discharge.
  • Visionary Villain:
    • Quinn sees himself as a crusading businessman against the oppressive over-regulation of organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D, though in practice, he comes off more as a Corrupt Corporate Executive (an impression he hates). From his perspective, the methods he uses are justified by the fact that he is opposed by an organization with governmental resources but no real accountability and next to no regard for the rule of law that is dedicated to maintaining complete control of new technology.
    • The Clairvoyant is seen by this by many of his followers, Raina most prominently. It's just an image he constructed; he's purely in it to save his own life.

    W 
  • Weapon of Choice:
    • The Night-Night Guns used by Coulson's entire team. They represent the preferred MO of S.H.I.E.L.D. pretty well: powerful weapons that neutralize the target, but are nonlethal and in some situations even manage to help the target get better.
    • Simmons, who's technically a non-combatant, has shown a marked preference for wielding a fire extinguisher as makeshift weapon.
    • Mack spends much of season 3 wishing for and making makeshift versions of a shotgun-axe. He finally gets a proper version in the finale, and it becomes his Weapon of Choice from then on.
    • True to his character, Ghost Rider likes to use a chain whip. Interestingly, he initially was more of a Combat Pragmatist who used weapons improvised from whatever is lying nearby, usually automobile parts. He only became interested in chains after he took one from James and made it his own weapon.
  • We Have Become Complacent: A major problem for S.H.I.E.L.D. as an organization. They seem to take for granted that their status as the world's protectors from the dangerous and supernatural has granted them an enormous amount of leeway on the subject of human rights, for one thing. It come back to bite them hard when HYDRA's infiltration comes to light; the organization gets labelled a terrorist organization and every intelligence agency and military force in the world turns against them.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Dr. Hall is well aware of the danger of unchecked superscience when in the wrong hands, and after the events of The Avengers doesn't believe S.H.I.E.L.D.'s hands are the right ones for the job. He's willing to kill himself and potentially dozens of innocent people in order to keep dangerous weapons out of the wrong hands, forcing Coulson to act against him.
    • Raina, of the Utopia Justifies the Means type. The Diviner is the way to a better future, but the way itself is messy.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "End of the Beginning": S.H.I.E.L.D. finally catches up to the Clairvoyant, only for Ward to shoot him dead. Skye and Coulson realize that it was set up a little too neatly, and that the Clairvoyant isn't a psychic, but a high-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Fitz discovers May's mole-line, and during the confrontation over that, the Bus is remotely hijacked and begins heading to the Hub, where Victoria Hand prepares to kill everyone aboard. The Stinger features a scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, showing Nick Fury being attacked by the Winter Soldier.
    • "Turn, Turn, Turn": This episode kicks the Wham up several notches. In addition to integrating the big twists from Captain America: The Winter Soldier (namely, that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by HYDRA, events at the Triskelion have effectively destroyed S.H.I.E.L.D., and Nick Fury is apparently dead) into the series, the episode has its own: May was reporting to Fury, and picked out the team to deal with Coulson should his resurrection have side effects. Victoria Hand is a loyal agent whose actions at the end of the previous episode are motivated by mistrust of Coulson. Garrett is the Clairvoyant and is working for HYDRA. While escorting Garrett to prison, Ward kills everyone else aboard, including Hand, to free him.
    • 2x10, "What They Become": Triplett is killed. Whitehall is killed. Raina and Skye are Inhumans and undergo Terrigenesis, gaining as-yet-unknown powers. Skye's father is Calvin Zabo, AKA Mister Hyde, and Skye herself is Daisy Johnson, AKA Quake, and in the comics a member of the Avengers. Lastly there's at least one more Diviner out there, maybe more, held by what one can only assume is another faction of Inhumans.
    • 2x20, "Scars": Everything seems to be going okay. The Avengers have just pulled off another victory, HYDRA is destroyed, Lincoln is fine, Skye and Cal get some decent closure, and Jiaying and Gordon catch on to Raina's tendency to manipulate people. Even the diplomatic meeting between the Inhumans and S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be going alright. Then Jiaying reveals that in order to reproduce Terrigen crystals they'd had to grow them from Diviners, which leaves the crystal laced with the same metal — harmless to potential Inhumans but deadly to muggles. She uses it to kill Gonzalez, then shoots herself in the shoulder before limping into view of everyone and telling them that S.H.I.E.L.D. tried to kill her and that they've declared war. Also Bobbi wasn't on a plane with May to scout ahead, it was Kara out for revenge. She lands the Quinjet where Ward is and he ICEs Bobbi, the two kidnapping her for something unsavoury that Ward intends to end with Bobbi's death.
    • 3x10, "Maveth": Coulson kills Ward on the titular planet. Will was killed by Hive at the end of "3,722 Hours," who escapes back to Earth in Ward's body, helpfully provided by Coulson.
    • 3x17, "The Team": The Secret Warriors go into action for the first time ever, cutting through the remains of Malick's HYDRA cell effortlessly, only for Hive to sway one of them (Daisy), who steals the Kree Orb and a backpack full of Terrigen crystals from S.H.I.E.L.D. while wrecking the Playground.
    • 4x06, "The Good Samaritan": Robbie reveals how he became the Ghost Rider before he, Fitz and Coulson are apparently evaporated by Eli Morrow's reactor explosion.
    • 4x15, "Self-Control": Daisy and Simmons fight their way through LMD versions of Mace, Coulson, Mack and Fitz to plug themselves into the Framework, where Jemma is apparently dead, May is a member of HYDRA, Coulson is spreading anti-inhuman propaganda as a schoolteacher, and Daisy is dating Ward.
    • 4x20, "Farewell, Cruel World!": Coulson, May, Fitz, Simmons and Daisy escape the Framework, but Mack decides to stay behind to be with his daughter. Fitz is warped off by Aida, who now has a human body with Inhuman powers. Coulson and May are stuck in Ivanov's underwater base while Daisy and Simmons are on the Zephyr One which is about to be blown out of the sky by Ivanov's forces.
    • 4x21, "The Return": Immediately capitalizes on the episode prior by revealing that the agents are fugitives after the Playground was destroyed in "Self-Control" and Mace's body was mutilated to frame Quake for his murder. Aida shows the full extent of her powers in her new body after Fitz definitively chooses Jemma over her. Yo-Yo goes into the Framework to try to get Mack to leave with her, but wakes up strapped to an operating table.
    • 5x01, "Orientation: Part One": Season 5 comes barreling out of the gates by revealing, in rapid succession, that the agents (sans Fitz, for reasons unexplained) have been sent through a white Monolith to a human-inhabited space station under the rule of the Kree, revealing that the agents are the subject of a prophecy to save humanity, and then capping the episode off by revealing that the White Monolith didn't send the agents through space at all - it sent them through time, to a Bad Future where the Earth has been destroyed. Enoch specifies it later as 2091. The next episode reveals that Daisy was responsible for the cataclysm that destroyed the Earth.
    • 5x10, "Past Life": The agents successfully return to 2017, despite Daisy's attempts to keep herself in the future. Yo-Yo meets her future self, who tells her that the agents are involved in a Stable Time Loop involving Coulson's death directly leading to the end of the world.
    • 5x19, "Option Two": Hale gives the location of the Lighthouse to the Confederacy, leading to Talbot infusing himself with the Gravitonium and becoming the MCU version of Graviton.
    • 6x10, "Leap": Izel possesses the agents and runs rampant through the Lighthouse, killing Sarge in the process. However, after Simmons does some tests, Sarge is revealed to inexplicably be recovering from getting shot fatally while Izel confronts the agents and kills Davis before stealing the Monolith Containment Device created by Fitz in "The Devil Complex" and revealing Sarge's true identity as a malevolent entity named Pachakutiq who possessed a copy of Phil Coulson's body that was unknowingly created and subsequently sent to his home dimension when Coulson went to close the dimensional rift in "The Real Deal," sending the copy through space and backwards through time with his memories jumbled.
  • Wham Line:
    • After Ward confirms he has Level Six clearance and says he knows Coulson was killed prior to the Battle of New York (if you watch the trailer not knowing the First-Episode Spoiler). Also a Call-Back to The Consultant.
      Coulson: Welcome to Level Seven.
    • After Mike begins to lose it when his Bad Boss refuses to take him back.
    • From the end of "0-8-4":
      Skye: [texting] I'm in.
    • The last line of "The Bridge", from Raina to a captive Coulson:
      Raina: We want you to tell us about the day after you died.
    • The last line of "Seeds," during a phone call between Coulson and Ian Quinn:
      Quinn: I have a message for you. The Clairvoyant says hello.
    • The end of "Yes Men" has this, more for who says it than what was said:
      Melinda May: Coulson knows.
    • Though it was suspected by a lot of fans, this one from "End of the Beginning" still qualiies:
      Coulson: The Clairvoyant doesn't have abilities, he has security clearance. He's an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D..
    • One from the introduction at SDCC, which takes place in an in-universe fashion, with one Agent Koenig being informed of a phone call, although it's technically two lines because he is interrupted:
      Agent Billy Koenig: Bobbi? Bobbi Morse? Codename?
      Agent Sam Koenig: Mockingbird.
    • Following Fitz spending the entirety of "Shadows" talking to Simmons, we get this:
      Coulson: He hasn't been the same since Simmons left, he's only getting worse.
    • "Shadows" has another one.
      Ward: There so much more I wanted to tell you about — [wall goes opaque and Skye walks out] — your father.
    • From "What They Become":
      Skye's father: I will always love you, Daisy.
    • From "One Of Us":
      Lance: Who do you work for?
      Mack: S.H.I.E.L.D. — the real S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • From "Afterlife"
      Skye: Who are you?
      Inhuman Guide: My name is Jiaying. You're both guests in my house.
    • From The Stinger of "A Wanted (Inhu)Man"
      Bobbi: [The portal] can't open again.
      Simmons: It has to. I have to go back.
    • The ending of "Absolution": Daisy has gone rogue, going after Hive by herself, and has finally confronted him one-on-one. And then...
      Daisy: Please... [kneels] Take me back.
    • In "Meet The New Boss"
      Frederick: We shouldn't have used the Darkhold.
    • In "The Return":
      Ophelia: [lovingly] There's only room in your heart for—
      Fitz: For her.
      [beat]
      Ophelia: What.
    • In "World's End":
      Ophelia: Don't you get it? You can't kill me.
      Coulson: Maybe not. [grabs her wrist] But I'm pretty sure he can. [turns into Ghost Rider]
    • In "Orientation, Part One": After being sent through the White Monolith, the agents find themselves in a dystopian space station controlled by the Kree. At the end of the episode, Coulson and Deke realize that the White Monolith sent the agents through time, rather than space while Mack and Daisy read an ancient, faded postcard from Fitz and May points out half of a schoolbus floating through space in front of a faded sliver of a certain blue-and-green planet to Simmons.
      Simmons: No reason to send a message back to Earth - we're already here.
    • In "Past Life": Two.
      Yo-Yo: What's your name?
      Future Yo-Yo: Elena.

      Future Yo-Yo: Phil Coulson is dying. And you have to let him.
    • In "Option Two": A visual one after Talbot infuses himself with the rest of the Gravitonium and decimated the Remorath force in the Lighthouse.
      Gravitonium Containment Crate: Caution: Graviton
    • In "Missing Pieces": Fresh off of a Wham Shot of an alien with reality-warping technology who looks exactly like Phil Coulson, we get this.
      Fox: [confused] "You're from S.H.I.E.L.D."
      Sarge: [shoots Fox] Never heard of it.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The final scene of "Seeds", showing that Donnie has developed cryonic superpowers, while ominous music plays in the background.
    • The Stinger at the end of "T.R.A.C.K.S", which reveals that Mike's cybernetic leg is listed as "Project: Deathlok".
    • The scene in "T.A.H.I.T.I." where Coulson is investigating the titular room in the Guest House and finds the source of the miracle GH drug — a tank containing a decomposing alien corpse.
    • The Stinger of "The End of the Beginning": Nick Fury is driving down a busy street, telling his GPS to get him off the grid, when the Winter Soldier walks in front of his SUV and blows it up.
    • The final scene of "Nothing Personal" has May set up a laptop so Coulson can watch a video communication sent to Fury from the director of the T.A.H.I.T.I. Project. The face that pops up on-screen is Coulson's.
    • Turns out the alien writing wasn't a 2D map. In "The Writing on the Wall", it's revealed to be an overhead view of a 3D city.
    • The Stinger at the end of "What They Become" shows a second Diviner, in the possession of a man with an Eyeless Face.
    • The last shot of the second season, where Simmons is abruptly absorbed into the alien... thing in the S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft carrier.
    • When Robbie Reyes and his brother are discussing the night they were attacked by the gang, the night Robbie became the Ghost Rider, Gabriel says "the good samaritan" saved them. Robbie tells him it wasn't a good samaritan, it was the Devil: Johnny Blaze.
    • In episode 4x07, Aida using what appears to be magic to build a model human brain.
    • At the end of "Self Control" we see May in an elevator at what appears to be the virtual version of the Triskelion, but then the camera pulls way back and we see that the building is emblazoned with a huge HYDRA insignia. It appears that for some reason HYDRA is in charge in the virtual world within the Framework, maybe Ada's decision, maybe a procedurally generated result of one of the changes made to address the Regret of one of the agents trapped inside. Also, Simmons is revealed to be dead, though it's not immediately known what did her in.
    • At the end of "The Return", we see Talbot talking to his men about their casualties. As they leave, the camera pans to the portal made by Aida reactivating, out of which steps Ghost Rider.
    • At the end of the season 4 finale, Coulson gets out of a very utilitarian bed in a very utilitarian room and opens a window shutter, revealing he's in outer space.
    • In the Season 5 premiere, we open on an apparently normal man hanging out at a suburban household, getting some coconut water from the fridge, playing some music, and going for a swim in his pool. After his swim, we watch as he goes to the bathroom and removes his shirt, his shorts, his shoes, and his human skin disguise, which is immediately followed up by a shot of a distinctly non-human silhouette in the shower.
    • At the end of "A Life Earned", one of the masked, apparently alien customers at Kasius' auction makes a bid to purchase Daisy. He removes his mask, and we see that it's Fitz.
    • In "Rewind", Fitz's interrogators in prison halt their questioning when one of them gets a call from "Fitz's attorney", and after much badgering over the phone, begrudgingly agree to let him in to see Fitz. They open the door, and in walks Lance Hunter.
    • Also in "Rewind", when Enoch takes Fitz to see "the seer", we get two for the price of one: The first when we realize that "the seer" is only a child, and the second when the camera pans to show a carved wooden robin, revealing that she's Robin Hinton, the daughter of Charles Hinton, who Daisy encountered back in Season 3.
  • What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: In "The Only Light in the Darkness," Coulson says the man they're after got his powers while working on project "Dark Force," then dryly remarks, "Because nothing bad ever happens when you're working on a project named 'Dark Force'."
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: The plot with Franklin Hall, the Gravitonium, and Ian Quinn wasn't touched at all after the first season, leading many to assume this. They were finally brought back for the end of season 5.
    • Donne Gill gets hit with Uncertain Doom in his last appearance, and isn't seen after that.
    • Vijay Nadeer was last seen undergoing a second terrigenesis after being shot and falling to the bottom of the ocean. Aside from a brief appearance in the Framework, it seems like this thread has also been dropped.
    • Within the Framework, it's never explained what happened to the Avengers in that world. Presumably HYDRA must have taken them out before they became huge threats, but it's odd that neither Daisy nor Simmons attempt to figure out their current whereabouts.
  • What the Heck Is an Aglet?: At the end of the episode "Repairs", most of Coulson's team is shown playing Scrabble. Simmons makes the word "aglet", which leads to an argument about whether it's a real word, settled when Skye looks it up online.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The team doesn't take it well when they discover Skye helping fugitive hacker Miles, and Coulson calls her out on her hidden agenda. Skye herself becomes disenchanted with Miles when it is revealed that he sold out.
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: In the episode "The Asset", there's Dr. Franklin Hall's giant graviton machine.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: The government agency type. S.H.I.E.L.D. is responsible for keeping weird and dangerous stuff contained so it doesn't hurt anyone.
  • Whole Costume Reference:
    • Skye dresses like May in order to pose as her in "The Magical Place". May later sees the outfit.
      May: Nice jacket.
    • Coulson dressed similarly to Robbie when the Spirit of Vengeance was inside him.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted in "T.R.A.C.K.S." by Ian Quinn. After a "robot speech" with Mike, asking if he would shoot Skye if he orders him so, Mike left... and Quinn simply shot Skye himself
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Joey from Season 3. Melting everything around himself, constantly apologizing, and really afraid.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • Double Subverted with Ward in "T.R.A.C.K.S."; he hesitates before knocking a female opponent unconscious but ultimately does it.
    • It's played entirely straight with many villains, particularly those that get in any kind of fight with Agent May.
    • Coulson also shows he's not afraid to punch a woman who he sees as a threat, as seen by him sucker-punching May's imposter once he realizes who she is. Given Coulson is Genre Savvy and has worked with many Action Girl characters in the past, he's likely very well-aware that its stupid and insulting, and suicidal, to assume they're not a 'real' threat just because they're a woman.
    • Similar to Coulson, Hunter doesn't flinch at hitting a female HYDRA-aligned mercenary with a chair, even after just hitting on her. Given who his ex wife is, it's not a surprise he'd know not to take a female fighter lightly.
    • Robbie's introduction has him fight with Daisy twice, and he's not pulling any punches.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • As the pilot progresses, Mike starts thinking he's a superhero living through his origin story and getting revenge on the petty evils that wronged him, rather than a rapidly-degrading test-subject jacked up on Extremis.
    • Skye spent the pilot going after what she thought was a sinister conspiracy only to realize S.H.I.E.L.D. were the good guys.
    • Skye spouts random spy-related jargon when trying to tell the team that she's spotted Quinn. May and Simmons have no idea what she's saying.
    • Ward is a walking mix of this trope. In Season 1, he thinks he's The Lancer with Garrett as his Stern Teacher. In reality, Garrett was a psychopath who turned an impressionable Ward into a Hydra agent without him realizing the damage. In Season 2, Ward is under the impression that he's a Noble Demon on a Redemption Quest to win back the respect of the team. Naturally, he's oblivious to the fact that no one on the team is interested in forgiving him, despite the fact they openly tell him so. In Season 3, Ward now appears to becoming a Well-Intentioned Extremist by reforming Hydra, unaware he's just a terrorist.

    X 
  • X-Ray Vision: This enables the thief to find diamonds and kill people in darkness with her eyes shut in "Eye Spy". Also played for laughs during the episode's stinger, when Fitz wants Skye to use it to see cards but she reminds him that she'll also see him naked. After Fitz gives up and walks away, Skye uses it to check out Ward.
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    Y 
  • Yandere: Aida turns into this when Fits tells her he can only love Simmons. There is much screaming, killing, and a declaration of making him love her.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • The Clairvoyant kills Edison Po for the failure of his ineffective approach to interrogating Coulson.
    • In "T.R.A.C.K.S.", The Clairvoyant has Deathlok kill the security team who delivered the latter's new cybernetic leg for leading S.H.I.E.L.D. to their location.
    • The Clairvoyant's minions are equipped with bionic eyes that can be set to detonate if they fail any given mission.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me:
    • In "The Asset", after Skye disarms Quinn and points his gun back at him:
      Mook: Kid's got balls.
      Skye: Thanks, but... yuck.
      Quinn: But do you have what it takes to pull the trigger?
      Skye: [beat] Nope! [jumps out a window]
    • In "Beginning of the End", The Mole tells Skye she doesn't have it in her to shoot them. She agrees, but says she doesn't need to, since May, whom he slept with and used, will just kick his ass instead.

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