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Tear Jerker / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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WARNING: Later episodes may contain unmarked spoilers.

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  • Agent Kaminsky, the enthusiastic HYDRA supporter from Season One, after some thought. Think back to Captain America: The First Avenger: The guy who was called by the recruiting officer before Steve was "Kaminsky, Henry": Assuming that this isn't a mere coincidence (and One Steve Limit would suggest that it isn't), then this brings up the possibility that a patriotic US soldier has a grandson who's a traitor to his country.
  • Season 4's new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Jeffery Mace, when one takes into account that ultimately, he is a decent man trying to do his best to keep S.H.I.E.L.D. in one-piece. He's an unwavering idealist and seems to honestly like and care about the team, however they all show him differing levels of distrust and disrespect because he's trying to keep S.H.I.E.L.D.'s PR positive and, not having a personal connection to the team, comes off as uncaring and sabotaging. So, its a little sad to see it all get to him when it becomes clear how little trust the team has in him when he's really just trying to help.
    Mace: In case you haven't noticed, Phil, we're not a team that trusts! [resigned] We're not a team at all.
  • How about the fact that none of the Avengers, whose first proper rallying moment was their shared grief over Coulson's death, never found out that he was alive again, but probably never knew that he died all over again years later.

Season One

  • Mike's entire situation. His life is going badly, and it looks like he's been thrown a lifeline... which promptly starts driving him mad.
    • Mike offers to buy a superhero action figure for his son's birthday. His son refuses.
    • Mike's wife left him and their son after his injury got him laid off.
    • His entire breakdown in Union Station is heartbreaking.

    The Asset 
  • Ward telling Skye about his abusive older brother.
  • Skye telling Ward about her past as an orphan and how her foster parents rejected her after she tried calling one of them "Mom."

    Eye Spy 
  • Hearing about what Akela went through after she disappeared and Coulson's fatherly concern for her.
  • Skye saying that being attacked by Akela in the van wasn't as bad as watching "Mom and Dad fight downstairs", referring to May and Coulson's argument over how to deal with Akela. For her, seeing a fight break out in her surrogate family was worse than being attacked.

    Girl in the Flower Dress 
  • After The Team finds out that Skye warned Rising Tide hacker Miles that S.H.I.E.L.D. was tracking him: the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are all badly hurt by Skye's betrayal and Skye herself has a falling out with her boyfriend.
  • Coulson's angry dressing down of Skye is very cold and controlled; since he was the one who vouched for her joining the team, finding out she'd been lying to him directly from day one makes it all the worse. No wonder Skye took the bracelet.
  • Chan Ho Yin is kidnapped, manipulated, drained, turned into a crazed killer, and then put down like a rabid dog. All he wanted to do was perform! Worse, Coulson is beating himself up over the situation as it didn't work as well as the last time with Mike did.
  • The end, when Coulson puts an anti-electronic bracelet onto Skye. He's giving her a second chance, but his trust in her has been badly shaken.

  • During the course of the episode, Simmons is infected by a Chitauri virus that has no known cure, and has already claimed three lives, explosively at that. They are stuck above the Atlantic with no way to get to land in enough time for Simmons to be treated on land, or for there to be really any options should the team not think of something but to dump Simmons into the ocean to avoid spreading the contagion. As the failed attempts at finding a cure themselves pile up, and even their "Eureka!" Moment seems to be nothing more than a Hope Spot, there is a fifteen minute span of time where the team legitimately believes Simmons is about to die with no hope for recovery, and that they're going to have to kill her to stop the virus from spreading (it doesn't help that until just before the end, Simmons being jettisoned from the plane is portrayed as more of a Heroic Sacrifice, leading the audience to believe she's doomed as well). The characters' reactions are appropriately tear-worthy, especially Fitz's. Just before Fitz discovers that their last cure wasn't a dud after all, Simmons realizes that since the team would be reluctant to jettison her — so she knocks Fitz out with a fire extinguisher and dives out of the plane herself. She gets better just in the nick of time, but for a brief moment she comes this close to a Senseless Sacrifice. The look on Fitz's face and his anguished screaming as he looks up and sees her fall out of the plane is heart-wrenching. Also her look of complete defeat when she believes the last test failed. And her words to Coulson.
    Simmons: Sir, I know the protocols for this kind of thing. Would you tell my dad first? I think my mum would take it better if she heard it from him.
  • The entire scene between Fitz and Simmons while she's in quarantine. It begins as a minor disagreement, rapidly turns into a fairly vicious argument and then just as quickly becomes one of the biggest Tear Jerkers in the entire series when it really hits them that she's probably about to die. The change of expression on Fitz's face in particular, after he angrily says "you've been right there beside me the whole time" and then realises the implications that statement, is absolutely heartbreaking.
  • Ward off by himself, watching Simmons and trying to deal with his helplessness in the face of not being able to save her. Considering how limited their interactions had been on screen, it's tough to watch since Ward is known for being stoic, and almost unfeeling. He clearly cares more about her than he lets on and you can see it wearing him down.
  • The moment earlier when the firefighter realizes that he's about to follow his two buddies in death.
    • Also, Coulson trying to comfort the firefighter. He may appear stoic on the outside, but it's got to be tearing him apart inside.
  • When Simmons requests a possibly-pre-death moment alone with Fitz, Skye has to be gently led away by Agent May. She's so visibly shaken, she honestly looks like she's just not up for moving without help right now.
  • Fitz going into the room with the infected Simmons shortly after an argument where Simmons pointed out that they were together through everything.
    Simmons: Fitz, I don't know what you think you're doing, but—
    Fitz: I'm doing what we always do. We're going to fix this. Together.

    The Hub 
  • Coulson finally realizing (and admitting, almost tearfully at times) that his brush with death has made him different somehow. It freaks him out enough that he conducts medical/physical examinations and tests on himselfnote . His unsuccessful attempt to obtain the files that document the details of his "death" and subsequent miraculous recovery is an entirely different level of heartbreaking; the very system he has so much faith in is keeping him in the dark about his own life. It's difficult to watch a character almost solely known for being totally unshakable beginning to break down.
  • Skye's reaction upon Coulson revealing the details of the file concerning her parents. He didn't tell her everything (not that she knows this), but that was enough for her to tearfully glomp him. It looked like that display of simple gratitude nearly had Coulson tearing up, too.
  • Simmons's obvious distress when Skye mentions the possibility of Fitz getting tortured while on the mission. She gets herself under control again quickly, but for a couple of seconds she looks close to tears at the thought.

    The Well 
  • Ward's staff-induced flashback, where we see just how much of a psychopath that older brother of his really was.
  • On one hand, May's silent invitation to Ward to share some wine is a Heartwarming Moment for some, but the obvious implications can swing it the other way.
  • Ward snapping at Skye while under the influence of the staff. Even though she knows it's not his fault, his words have to cut pretty deep:
    Skye: ...I'm here to...
    Ward: Yeah, that's all you ever do is talk!
  • Ward admitting to Coulson that he doesn't trust himself after his exposure to the Berserker Staff. For someone with the level of control Ward has displayed so far, that's rather unnerving.
  • Ward insulting Fitz about not being the one who jumped after Simmons, especially since in the last episode Ward himself recognized that Fitz was really insecure about that. Fitz just looked and sounded extremely hurt after it.
  • Ward asks May how she dealt with holding all three pieces of the staff at once, when it forces you to relive the worst pain you've ever experienced. Her response is just horrifying in its implications.

  • You can tell that Hanna is deeply hurting, not just from guilt over the accident, but also from all the chaos seeming to follow her.
  • May's backstory. In particular, her using the same words Coulson told her in Bahrain. Let the girl go.
  • The Bittersweet Ending: Hanna is safe and on the road to recovery, but Tobias is apparently trapped in the other world permanently.

    The Bridge 
  • A lot of stuff about Mike. First, the reason he hasn't visited his son since the pilot in the first place — the last time Ace saw him he was doped up on Psycho Serum and he believes himself unworthy to look his own son in the eye. Later, Mike is forced to double cross Coulson in order to save his son — something he absolutely does not want to do, not only because he clearly respects. He's almost in tears when forced to tell Coulson the truth, and then tries a last ditch attempt to pull a triple cross and save both Coulson and his son, before it becomes clear that this will under no circumstances be allowed to happen. He's forced to take his son and leave Coulson behind, otherwise Raina promises Ace will die as painfully as possible. And then, in trying to fix things after getting Ace to safety, he gets blown up. Right in front of his watching son. Damn. The broken looks on everyone's faces at all points when this goes down, especially between Mike — who is crushed with self-loathing at his decision — and Coulson — who is hurt but understanding — just before Mike has to abandon him. You know things have gone to hell when the usually stoic May goes into shock.
  • Skye crying while ripping up her leads regarding her parents, seeing it as the price she pays for staying on the team. Coulson listening and deciding not to knock on her door doesn't help matters.

    A Magical Place 
  • Coulson crying when he's reminded that he forever lost his lady love note  and never got (and will likely never get) a chance to properly say goodbye. This is the man who's faced down madmen in metal suits, magical weapons of mass destruction and a murderous psychopath with a spear while never losing his composure. To see someone like Coulson break down, is heartbreaking to watch. When Raina tells Coulson how upset the woman was after hearing of Coulson's death and even cried for days, you can hear a cello playing.
  • While Coulson was attached to the Lotus-Eater Machine he began recalling what really happened after he died. He was on an operating table, his brain completely exposed with a machine rewriting his memories and all the while he was literally begging for the doctors to let him die. When Skye managed to finally break in and turn off the device, Coulson was still crying and begging to die. She approaches him and calms him down.

  • Skye finding out that a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and a whole village in China died to protect her when she was a baby. She's spent all this time looking for her parents but it turns out that either they're dead or she doesn't have parents at all. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents created an invisible protocol to keep moving Skye from one foster home to another, it becomes a Tear Jerker when you realize that some of her foster families might have actually wanted to keep her. Also, it made Skye feel that she was unwanted and unloved because she kept moving from foster family to foster family. Harsher in Hindsight as we learn more about Skye's past in season 2. Those agents might not have been as heroic as Skye once thought.
  • Donnie Gill, who gets manipulated by Seth and Ian Quinn into using his brilliant mind to create a freezing device, and when it goes out of control and he tries to stop it, he accidentally kills Seth, his only friend.

  • The team's reactions to Skye being shot by Quinn. In particular, Simmons's utterly robotic delivery as she lays the facts out, making it clear that she's struggling not to break down.
  • The next scene has Simmons shutting herself in the supply closet so she can cry without the rest of the team seeing. Compare to the scene in "FZZT" when she thought she herself was imminently about to die and was still able to more or less keep it together, and it's clear that her helplessness in the face of Skye's critical injury is so much more distressing to her. Her reaction to having Skye's blood on her hands — she's trying to clean it off but is clearly too distressed to do so. A moment later when Fitz hugs her, she's visibly holding her hands at an awkward angle so as not to get blood on him. Coulson, as happens so rarely, utterly loses his cool as he just begs Skye to "hang on. Oh, God — Simmons, get down here!! Hang on. Oh, God!". And it is just... oh, God, Phil. He spends the rest of the episode — Phil Coulson, who has Seen It All and is never at a loss for anything — standing over Skye looking helpless. The fact that the audience had to wait A MONTH for the next episode doesn't help make things better, either.
  • Mike (who is now the cyborg known as "Deathlok") asking the Clairvoyant (who turns out to be Agent John Garrett) (through a written message on paper) if he can see his son, and being denied. Just about the fact that Mike is now a cyborg minion of the Clairvoyant is tear jerking.

  • The team in the waiting room, and then their reactions when they learn that there's nothing more the doctors can do for Skye after she was shot in the previous episode, and all that's left to do is decide if they're going to keep her on life support. What's more, the doctor tells them they'll need to contact her family to make the call. Coulson's face when he tells her "We're her family" is absolutely heartbreaking.
  • May completely loses her cool over Skye's condition. May! That's how serious this situation is.
  • Once Skye has been injected with the serum she begins to convulse and her vitals start going into the red. Jemma looks as though she's about to cry because she isn't sure if the serum is helping or hurting Skye and it's tearing her apart to see Skye suffer.

    Yes Men 
  • Following up on the last episode, Lorelei still has the newlywed man under her thrall, then ditches him (by throwing the poor guy into his own car) for a biker gang. We never do find out if the guy survived or not. He was mind-controlled into abandoning his bride the day after their wedding, no doubt leaving her devastated at the apparent betrayal.
  • Ward now considers Mike an unrepentant enemy.
  • We are again treated to more OOC Is Serious Business moments for Coulson. The poor guy just breaks down as he talks to Skye, his trauma really seems to have shaken him to the core.
  • May is spying on Coulson for S.H.I.E.L.D.

    End of the Beginning 
  • Blake, while being strangled by Deathlok, genuinely offers to help Mike. The cyborg's response? "Mike Peterson is dead!" The poor guy looks on the verge of tears. Given all the robotic parts in him now, is he even moving on his own anymore?
  • The stand off on The Bus at the end. Coulson is aiming a ''real'' gun with ''real'' bullets at May because she was stalking Fitz with an ICER. Then Skye comes out and points a gun at her. Ward is in lockdown because Coulson thinks someone ordered him to shoot Thomas Nash. Simmons isn't here; she's at the Hub because she wants to analyze Skye's blood and learn more about the GH-325 despite Coulson's strict orders against that. The Coulson family is coming apart at the seams!]] Coming off this, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (which takes place between "The End of the Beginning" and "Turn, Turn, Turn") reveals that Simmons will have been in the Hub during the attempted HYDRA takeover of S.H.I.E.L.D. That, coupled with the fact that she's with Hand (who's ordered everyone on the Bus except Coulson to be killed on arrival) means that she's potentially alone in a military complex full of psychos, depending on how many others are with HYDRA. Made really sad by the fact that Fitz earlier criticised her for leaving him on his own on the Bus: now, they've been separated during a potentially deadly crisis, something they've spent the whole season thus far fearing and avoiding.

    Turn, Turn, Turn 
  • Poor Coulson. First he finds out that May has been feeding information to someone outside the team, then he finds out that Victoria Hand is possibly the Clairvoyant and has ordered his team to be killed, then he finds out that May knew about Tahiti all along and more or less created the team herself on Fury's orders when Coulson thought he had (for the purpose of killing him if something went wrong, for that matter), and then he finds out that Victoria isn't the Clairvoyant, it's actually Garrett, his best friend. All in the space of probably only a few hours. And he doesn't even know that Ward is a HYDRA agent... The moment when the penny drops and he realises that May knew from the beginning is one of the most heartbreaking, especially when you remember that May was the person he'd talk to about his resurrection and how he thought that there was more to it, or that he'd come back wrong. And she knew the entire time.
    Coulson: Did you know about Tahiti?
  • Fitz spends the whole episode being The Woobie. He's obsessively worried about Simmons, the one who's most terrified about them being under siege, is in tears while he defiantly stands up to Garrett, then breaks down crying even more after he shoots someone to save May. The fate of Fitz, and most likely Simmons, if HYDRA gets hold of them. They won't get to choose death because their skills are too valuable to HYDRA. Instead, they'll be seriously injured, tortured, and then forced to work for HYDRA.
  • Agent Triplett screaming at Garrett as the latter is apprehended and taken to prison. The entire scene is muted (for great effect), but it's easy to read Triplett's lips and see what he's shouting: "Traitor! Traitor!" and "I trusted you!"
  • The death of Victoria Hand. It gets more upsetting when you realise that, for a short time, not only was she the highest ranking agent still with S.H.I.E.L.D., she was technically in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. because of that. She was the most powerful S.H.I.E.L.D. agent around and Ward murdered her so easily. It's terrifying, especially when you consider that she was one of the best agents to begin with.
  • Weaver's probable death. Not only does she seem like a genuinely lovely person and a loyal agent through and through, but she spends her last moments reaching out to one of her favourite former students, trying to advise her on how to stay alive and urging her to get in contact if they both make it out alive. The fact that she calls Simmons by her first name throughout — something only Fitz does with any regularity — just shows how close the two are. Then something nearby explodes, and her hologram feed cuts out.
  • Weaver tells Simmons that the SciOps Academy has been completely overrun with HYDRA agents. From what we saw of the Academy in "Seeds", that means that there's a few hundred unarmed students with little or no combat capability, most of whom are only in their late teens and early twenties, completely at the mercy of HYDRA. And they can be heard screaming in the background.
  • Skye finally found a place in the world, and not a day after finally becoming a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent it all came crashing down. To make it worse after working so hard to finally find out her past S.H.I.E.L.D.'s files were released to the public anyway. All her work was basically moot. She could have stayed in her van all show and still got the same result. Adding to the sadness for Skye, her "very patient S.O." without whom she "couldn't have done it"? He's a sleeper agent for HYDRA. He betrayed her. Their entire friendship was a lie.
  • May said she/Fury needed a specialist in case Coulson had to be taken out. Surely she could do it, right? No, because she feels too close to him.
  • Simmons has a really rough time this episode. She tries to contact Agent Weaver for help with the GH serum, but finds out the hard way that HYDRA has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., the Academy is under attack, and Weaver, her favorite teacher, may have been killed. Then, for a terrifying few seconds, thinks she's trapped with a HYDRA sleeper agent (he's not). Then Victoria Hand's group breaks into the room, declares herself HYDRA and claims that they've taken over nearly all of SHIELD, and tell her and Trip to join HYDRA or die. This turns out to be a Secret Test of Character. Then Hand tells her that Coulson is HYDRA, using very convincing evidence to make her decision. And she most likely heard Garrett threatening Fitz with torture and forced servitude to HYDRA.

  • We've seen Coulson beaten, battered, bruised, even killed, but this episode shows cracks that may leave him broken. Evading Col. Talbot's "peace-keeping task force," following mystery coordinates appearing on Coulson's badge sent presumably by the supposedly dead Nick Fury, and exhausting the Bus's fuel to get there, the rest of the team doubts their increasingly frantic leader, leading to the most heart-wrenching Coulson moment since the Tahiti project reveal. Insisting it was the right move, he claims the coordinates were given to them for a reason. May questions what that is, and Coulson responds. Said badge is soon destroyed by an automated turret when Coulson pitches it in anger. Somewhat justifiable, sure, but sad nonetheless. Even worse because this is Coulson we're talking about: This guy has Seen It All: He's encountered Giant robots from other planets, superheroes in big metal suits, even a big green giant and a villain right out of Norse Mythology and has never so much as batted an eye at any of it. Coulson losing his composure like this is the first sign that everything really has gone straight to hell. And when Fridge Logic kicks in, you realize that he sacrificed everything, including his relationship with the woman he loved, for something that is crashing down around his ears.
    Coulson: I don't know, May, I don't know! (beat) There's got to be something here! [holds up badge] This means something! This HAS to mean something! The world needs us! HYDRA is out there! We CANNOT let them win! We—we CANNOT let them DEFINE US! Do you understand!? We are NOT "agents of nothing," we are agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and that still carries weight! It... it HAS to carry weight. AFTER EVERYTHING WE'VE BEEN THROUGH, THAT CARRIES WEIGHT! [beat, during which everyone just stares at him] ...I'm sorry.
  • Seeing Ward explain all his actions and relationships with the team were an act designed to make them trust him more.
  • Any time Ward is on the phone with Skye, given his true allegiance.
  • Doubling as Nightmare Fuel, Garrett treats us to the HYDRA method of training their agents to lie by beating the hell out of Ward until he can say "I'm Grant Ward, Agent of SHIELD" convincingly. Just imagine how many times he's received similar beatings just so that he can sell his cover. Even if you're kind of pissed at the guy for being with HYDRA, that is messed up.
  • Skye Un-Personning the whole team. The stack of SHIELD ID badges on Coulson's desk says it all. It happens off-screen, but Skye mentions to Coulson that Simmons chokes up when asked to hand over her identity papers for destruction. It's a reminder that, unlike the rest of the team, Simmons has a family she's still in active contact with. Her parents have presumably seen the news reports about SHIELD falling to HYDRA, but have no idea what's happened to her, and now it's possible they never will.
  • Fitz is mostly back to his usual Plucky Comic Relief self after the events of the last episode, but his pained expression whenever Simmons and Triplett are shown to be getting closer to one another is pretty sad, despite him being a typical Deadpan Snarker about it. Later, his inability to get her to understand what he's talking about when he expresses his hope that nothing will change now that they're no longer with SHIELD leaves him looking quite despondent.
  • Raina and Ward's conversation where she notes that Coulson is a good man, and confirms that Ward does feel some loyalty to the team, but it's overridden by his loyalty to Garrett.
    Raina: Don't you owe a man like that something?
    Ward: Sure. But I owe Garrett everything.

    The Only Light In the Darkness 
  • Everything involving Audrey and Coulson. She thinks he's dead, but he can't reveal himself to her because she's healing and moving on. He also is forced to overhear just how much she loves and misses him, and laments to Fitz that she said he had never lied to her, yet he was forced to lie to her now.
  • Fitz also gets the Woobie treatment, again. It's revealed his only family is his mother (who we know from "Seeds" doesn't understand him), Triplett not only seems to have all of Simmons's attention currently but is also revealed to be just as good as Fitz is at "knowing stuff", thus elbowing into Fitz's role on the team as well, and Fitz is unable to spit out admitting his feelings to Simmons.
  • May leaving the team because Coulson can't get past the fact that she lied to him. Especially sad because he realizes he's been acting like a jerk and was going to apologize for it.
  • Skye's breakdown upon realizing that Ward is with HYDRA. It's naked, horrified shock.
  • Marcus Daniels truly loves Audrey. He would kill and hurt people just for the chance to see her again. He knows that he's a monster but after everything, he loves her (if you can call obsession "love"). And then he died a few minutes later.
  • The death of Eric Koenig.

    Nothing Personal 
  • Fitz and Simmons at the motel pool. Fitz is so broken by Ward's betrayal and begs Simmons to tell him that she's not HYDRA, just so he can hear it. He tells her that he wouldn't know what to even do if she were.
  • When Deathlok is threatening Skye for information, she pleads with him not to go through with it and reminds him of his life as Mike Peterson and his son. He responds by blaming her for the current danger to Ace.
  • The more we see Mike the more we see Deathlok taking his place. The quiet, humble and noble man who wanted to stand for something and be a good father? He's slowly becoming a monster, a killer with blood on his hands, and he has no choice in the matter to keep his son safe and to keep himself alive in the hope of seeing his son again. Mike Peterson, the man who in a fair Universe would have been a friendly neighbourhood superhero must turn himself into something terrible and tragic.
  • Simmons delivering her autopsy report on Koenig. She struggles just to get through the description of his injuries and the necessary physical attributes of his attacker, and snaps at Fitz when he tries to hurry her, because she's already worked out who the killer was, and is dreading telling everyone else.
  • Fitz losing it and wrecking the place when Simmons says that the evidence confirms Ward killed Koenig and thus is a HYDRA agent.
    • Simmons is shown crying slightly as she tries to comfort him. Whether she's distressed because of Ward's betrayal or Fitz's reaction to it, or both, is unclear.
  • Coulson asks Maria Hill for backup to go after Ward and Garrett, like nothing changed, and Hill says point-blank: "there is no S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore" and that if he goes after Garrett and Ward, he's on his own. What makes it worse is that Coulson responds "not officially" as if he fully expects her to reveal another secret base with all the resources he'll need. Again, Hill shoots him down: there is no hidden bunker and no more sanctioned missions, official or otherwise.
  • Skye and Ward in the diner. When she hypothetically asks him what he would say if Garrett were in the diner with them now, it's painfully clear that the "suggestions" she offers are her thinly veiled way of telling him what a disgusting bastard she thinks he is, while doing her damnedest not to break down in a fresh round of tears. Remember, this is her S.O. we're talking about, the guy who played a large role in helping her see SHIELD as "the nice Big Brother" and not just "scary guys in black suits" and she's just learned that all of it was an act.
  • Coulson unthinkingly asks Hill to say hello to Tony Stark for him, before remembering that Stark still thinks he's dead.
  • Watching Skye and Ward's relationship implode onscreen can be all sorts of saddening. Ward is a traitor, a killer of innocent people, and an experienced and skilled spy, but he still holds on to the naïve belief that because Skye loves him, and he genuinely loves her that she will look past that; that in the end Skye will accept him for who he truly is. Unfortunately, Skye points out who he truly is: a traitor, a member of a Nazi-originated terrorist group, a murderer who currently makes her physically sick.

  • Fitz and Simmons pleading with Ward as he prepares to jettison them from the plane. Fitz screams that he has a choice, that he knows Ward cares about them. Ward, hesitating, quietly admits that he's right. And still he goes through with it.
    Fitz: Ward, look at me! I know that you care about us, Ward!
    Ward: [quietly, to himself] You're right.
    I do.
    It's a weakness.
    [pulls the switch]
  • The fact that Ward has been so thoroughly conditioned by Garrett that he believes that caring for people and feeling compassion makes him weak.
  • In the flashback, Garrett asking Ward to 'take care' of the dog. Ward prepares to shoot it, but ends up letting it go free. Doesn't stop Garrett from getting the job done. That was his dog originally.
  • As a reward for acts of violence and murder, the only solace Mike Peterson/Deathlok can get is watching pre-recorded footage of his son... in a cell where Mike can't touch or talk to him. Despite having enough firepower to take on an army, he's helpless here. Imagine that kind of hell for a loving father like Mike. He can't comfort Ace, he can't tell him he's there and he can't tell Ace that things will get better because Mike isn't sure if they will.

    Beginning of the End 
  • Simmons's take on death — 'I like to think about the First Law of Theromdynamics-' — is as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming; she genuinely thinks she's reached the end of the road, that they're going to starve to death on the ocean floor, and is trying to assuage her and Fitz's fears. Fitz is fully prepared to sacrifice his life to give Simmons a shot at swimming to safety, knowing that it's likely that only one of them could make it, and that he wouldn't be able to go on if Simmons died. Simmons sobbing uncontrollably in response to Fitz calmly reasoning why she should take the only oxygen canister and attempting to deliver a Dying Declaration of Love is pretty heartbreaking all by itself. Though Simmons is ultimately able to save his life, he apparently suffers brain damage of unspecified severity due to oxygen deprivation, and is in critical condition. To make matters still worse, he doesn't appear onscreen again after being pulled out of the ocean halfway through the episode, meaning that the rest of the team (and the audience) only know as much as Fury and Simmons tell them about what's happened to him, so his future is left uncertain at the close of the series. It's made very clear how much this is tearing up Simmons inside.
  • Even after he and Ace are freed from HYDRA's control, Mike doesn't want his son to see what he's become and leaves to make amends.
  • When Coulson, May, Skye and Triplett arrive at the new S.H.I.E.L.D. base Fury directs them to, the Bus's cargo hatch opens and they see Simmons, standing waiting for them on her own. The fact that she's framed by a large, empty, clinical and bleak-looking space really emphasises the idea that there really ought to have been someone else there with her. She quickly reassures them that Fitz is, at least, alive, though that's apparently the best that can be said for him at that moment. It's somehow made worse by the fact that she tries to smile reassuringly through the whole scene.

Season Two

  • Whenever Fitz talks to Simmons in the episode it's always very sad, since he alternates between aggressively taking his frustration out on her and sincerely expressing his need for her. It get even worse when we learn he's hallucinating as a result of the brain damage he suffered. Simmons left because she thought it would help, and only made him worse. Re-watching the episode, this effect is even sadder, with almost every line of dialogue containing some hint that all is especially unwell with the situation. First, nobody ever speaks to her and she never does anything unrelated to him. Second and particularly heartrending is Fitz's genuinely frightened shout of "Don't touch anything!" the first time she reaches for something on his desk, because it's the closest he comes in the whole episode to realizing that she's not really there; watching it with knowledge of The Reveal, it seems less like he's worried she'll break something and more as though he's afraid that seeing her unable to interact with their environment will confirm that she's a hallucination. Then there's the last scene with them, shortly after The Reveal, which has Fitz apologising for the first time for snapping at Simmons and seeming reassured by her acceptance, at almost the same moment the camera moves away from her and the audience sees that he's talking to himself.
  • Coulson's final speech essentially groups Fitz in with the S.H.I.E.L.D. members who died during the civil war ("Fitz, and the others we lost"). Team Coulson clearly still cares about him, but it's just as clear that they've more or less given up on him.
  • The scene where Simmons is reassuring Fitz that Koenig isn't "replacing" him she stands up and places a hand on his shoulder, which he takes in his own hand (Simmons even glances at it sadly). It quickly cuts to a shot where Simmons should be out of frame, but in fact she's not there at all. Her arm isn't there, and Fitz is left standing apart from the group, hand on his shoulder.
  • Hunter being forced to cut off Hartley's arm in order to save her from the Obelisk only to watch both her and Idaho die after crashing into Creel.
  • Ward's sad state at the start of the season. When he admits he attempted suicide multiple times while incarcerated, it really drives home just how screwed up his life is. His family was abusive and disowned him, everyone he loved as an adult is either dead or hates him for betraying SHIELD, and he has nothing to show for it except his regret. No wonder he was determined to kill himself even after everything remotely sharp was taken from him (explaining his Beard of Sorrow) and he resorted to ramming his head into a wall which only led to him being forcibly sedated.

    Heavy Is the Head 
  • Fitz trying to offer his expertise on the Quinjet cloaking tech. The poor guy is trying his damnedest, but his mind is just too mixed up. He's also aware that other people are avoiding him and treating him with kid gloves because they don't know how to deal with him right now, and he really doesn't like it. It also seems like he's starting to realize that the Simmons he's been talking to isn't real.
  • The scene where Fitz talks to Skye, Trip, and Mack about the cloaking device sees him frequently turning around and staring intently at nothing for a few seconds. The others apparently think he's just hazing out, but the audience is painfully aware that he's listening to his hallucination of Simmons.
  • Skye has developed a resentment toward Simmons, who was one of her closer friends last season, for what she sees as the latter giving up on Fitz and bailing on the team.
  • Fitz's level of awareness about Simmons being a hallucination — he seems to alternate between thinking she's really there, and to seemingly be vaguely aware that she's not but happier to let the delusion continue anyway. The latter is particularly poignant during his last discussion with Mack: even as he finally brings himself to momentarily refer to her in the past tense, he's watching her smile at him from across the room.
  • Coulson talking about how he can hold the attacks off, but it's utterly exhausting. He looks like he's about to cry. Not to mention the sheer existence of the fact the attacks occur regularly, May knows about it, and the only thing they can do is let him trance out and draw, she records, and they cover it up.

    Making Friends and Influencing People 
  • Fitz finally tells the imaginary Simmons she's not real, at which she instantly disappears.
  • While everyone else seems to have forgiven Simmons a little for leaving the team once they discover that she's Coulson's mole in HYDRA, Fitz is obviously bitterly hurt now that he's come to accept that she's gone.
  • Fitz's breakdown when he sees Ward for the first time after the events of last season. The worst part is that he knows that something isn't right with him, he even knows the name of the problem, it just keeps escaping him.
  • Fitz asking Coulson if Simmons volunteered for The Mole assignment (i.e. wanted to leave him), and Coulson declining to give him a straight answer.
  • Skye having no choice but to kill Donnie Gill, a mostly likable character up until now, because he was threatening the lives of May and Hunter—and only because he was Brainwashed and Crazy. However, as they Never Found the Body, he may still be alive.
  • After Skye learns of Simmons's undercover mission and is forced to kill Donnie Gill, May finds her sitting on the holo-table in the Bus's briefing room. Skye admits that she just wanted to feel as though things were the way they used to be for a few moments.
  • Ward finding out that Fitz is brain damaged due to his actions last season. Especially that he thought that FitzSimmons would figure a way out like they always did. It really hits home for the first time on screen when he sees how damaged Fitz is, just how much harm his actions have caused, and is reminded of the man he was and could still be.
  • Agent 33 finally cracked under HYDRA's brainwashing, after adamantly declaring at the beginning that she would rather die before serving them.

    Face My Enemy 
  • Coulson continuously begging May to shoot him in the head if he ever becomes like Garret, and May refusing to do so because she wants to find a way to save him, up to and including getting him out of SHIELD entirely and giving him a new identity.
  • The apparition of Simmons gently convincing Fitz to reconnect with his teammates. As soon as he feels a sense of kinship and turns to her, she's gone.
  • Once again, most scenes between Fitz and his hallucination of Simmons could qualify. In particular, her urging him to tell Mack and Hunter how he's feeling, and his angry response that discussing his feelings didn't turn out so well for him last time, since he believes it's the reason the real Simmons left. Later, his matter-of-fact but rushed and obviously pained account of his relationship with Simmons to Mack and Hunter.
  • Though Fitz's mental faculties are recovering somewhat, his aphasia continues to be a problem and this episode is the first time he mentions that he can't get his hands to perform certain tasks even though he remembers the proper proceduresnote . Just in case you were getting too optimistic about his potential recovery.
  • The fact that Fitz goes to his and Simmons's old lab on the Bus to be alone, even though it's now been converted into extra garage space — something Fitz wasn't consulted about, which he takes as further evidence that the team no longer value him. When imaginary Simmons tries to cheer him up by pointing out that the new lab at the Playground is much better equipped, he makes it clear that he likes the old lab space because it was their place, where they spent most of their time together.

    A Hen in the Wolf House 
  • He may be a monster, but you can't help but feel bad for Skye's father when he sees her reject him as such.
  • Skye's father has a surprisingly sad quality in his voice when he says to Raina that Skye is not his daughter's real name. This is oddly touching, considering he nearly choked her to death moments before.
  • Fitz has fully accepted that his hallucination of Simmons isn't real, but despite telling her to leave him alone several times and freely discussing the fact that she's only a representation of his subconscious, he eventually admits that she's clearly only still there because he wants her to be:
    Fitz: Because I miss you... I mean, I still miss her.
  • The hallucination of Simmons gently telling Fitz that the real Simmons has clearly moved on, and so should he. When he reaches for her hand, she disappears. The fact that he finally seems to be beginning to come to terms with Simmons leaving just as she comes back, which he doesn't necessarily view entirely positively, judging by his reaction.
  • Fitz and Simmons finally seeing each other for the first time this season results in an awkward and not particularly happy encounter, in stark contrast to their general enthusiasm to be in one another's company throughout Season One.

    A Fractured House 
  • It turns out that, despite how bad Fitz was in the season's early episodes, Simmons really was right that her presence was impeding his recovery. She just can't help but talk with him like he's still the same person he was before, which wrecks all the progress he'd made with Mack. Also, when Fitz is around Simmons, he can't help but want to live up to her expectations and his ideal of how he wants to be around her, which causes him to regress as well.
  • When we see Fitz for the first time this episode, he's got his hand on his shoulder and he's talking to no one. Looks like he's gone back to talking to imaginary Simmons, even though the real Simmons has returned.
  • Fitz thinks that Simmons left because she thinks he's useless.
  • Six S.H.I.E.L.D. agents die in the Belgian safe house, a real blow for an already struggling organization. You can bet your last dollar that Coulson is blaming himself for those deaths.
  • Mack talking to Simmons, blaming her for Fitz's regression, to which she replies:
    I know. Why do you think I left?
  • With Simmons finally revealing the reason she left the Playground (her presence makes Fitz worse), the desperate situation she is trapped in becomes all too clear. If she stays, Fitz's condition deteriorates. If she leaves, Fitz's condition deteriorates (especially his emotional health), and everybody thinks worse of her. Besides that, if Simmons was causing Fitz to regress before she left, then Fitz without Simmons, however terrible his state seemed, that was better than before. And Simmons no longer has the option of leaving the Playground to help Fitz — thanks to Raina, every single operative in HYDRA received an email containing a photo of her.

    The Writing on the Wall 
  • Coulson, when hooked to the memory machine, sees himself as a screaming psychopath dragged away by security.
  • We get to see another one of the TAHITI subjects screaming and begging as he goes through the memory-replacing process (skull-cap removed, little bot tinkering with your exposed brain, patient conscious the entire time).
  • Coulson got to helplessly watch as six apparently healthy people, happy to have received a second chance at life, rapidly deteriorate into madness. One of the subjects also appears catatonic, drooling as he stares into space. No wonder Coulson begged to be allowed to die, knowing what the GH serum would do to him.
  • The old Fitz-Simmons dynamic feels at times like it never existed, replaced with Simmons vs Fitzmack — Simmons avoids Fitz and mouths off at Mack, and Mack and Fitz occasionally pointedly ignore Simmons. Simmons's obvious hurt at the loss of her relationship with Fitz, and her attempts to hide it behind snarky comments and hostility, are reminiscent of Fitz's behaviour towards the end of Season 1 when he believed Simmons was ready to essentially leave him for Triplett — which doesn't exactly bode well for her, considering how that turned out.

    The Things We Bury 
  • The fate of Skye's mother. After suffering Whitehall's horrific experiments, she was left immortal, and managed to fall in love and have a daughter. And then after 44 years, she found herself right back in Whitehall's hands, this time being tortured to death and thrown in the woods like garbage.
  • Skye's father finding his wife dead after suffering at the hands of Whitehall. You can't help but feel sad for him as he cradles his wife's corpse and cries.
  • Christian's tearful confession that he was driven to have Ward try and kill their younger brother Thomas. It was because both he and Ward where the only targets of their mother's torture and abuse. It doesn't excuse his actions, but his naked rage and grief demonstrates that, like Grant, his past helped shape the man he became.
  • We find out the reason why Bobbi and Hunter's marriage ended in divorce. Because Bobbi is a super spy, Lance was never sure when she was lying and he couldn't trust her, no matter how badly he wanted to.

    ...Ye Who Enter Here 
  • One of the Koenigs reminding Ward that he murdered their brother Eric.
  • Agent 33, who after her fight with May the hologram mask of May she wore is now fused to her face, what part of her real face we see is horribly burned. Remember she was only brainwashed into being a HYDRA agent and is still under their control. What's worse is that Skye and the rest of the team were hoping to bring her in so they could undo the brainwashing, but she's too skilled and too hostile for them to do so. Skye really doesn't seem pleased that she has to just leave her in HYDRA's control, but at the moment they really didn't have a choice.
  • The team's reactions to Mack's possession, especially Fitz screaming for him and Bobbi nearly breaking down in tears when they had to leave him underground.
  • Simmons, with Bobbi's encouragement, finally gets it together enough to try to talk to Fitz about the reasons she left. Fitz interrupts her, telling her that he's decided to leave the lab to work with Mack in the garage, stating that since his brain damage she's the obvious candidate to run S.H.I.E.L.D.'s science division by herself, and though he's happy to work for her, he doesn't want to work with her any more. Then he leaves before she gets a chance to really say anything. Simmons looking like she's increasingly having to hold back tears during both conversations with Bobbi and Fitz.

    What They Become 
  • Skye, Raina, and Trip get caught in the Obelisk chamber in the underground Kree city. The Obelisk opens, revealing Terrigen crystals. As the crystals initiate Terrigenesis and trap Skye and Raina in stone cocoons, Trip lets out a heartbreaking Big "NO!" and smashes the crystal to try to stop the process...and it doesn't work. He collapses to the floor, his failure written on his face...and is turned to stone due to the shrapnel of the crystal hitting him. When Skye emerges seconds later, she's horrified to see his body begin to crumble... What sells this whole scene is that something that could have been a wonderful moment, Skye's transformation into a superhero, is turned completely on its head with Trip's death right in front of her, with her own powers causing him to crumble to dust. It's even more tragic to think about the fact that Trip died believing that Skye had died and that he had failed to help her.
  • Poor Agent 33. After Whitehall falls, she has no idea what to do because she was brainwashed to be loyal to him. The exchange between her and Ward tells the audience that it's exactly how Ward felt after Garrett died.
    Agent 33: Whitehall's dead. Coulson killed him.
    Ward: So you're free.
    Agent 33: I don't know what to do.
  • The entirety of the ending. There's a sense of hopelessness for all of SHIELD perfectly summed up by the music and Skye seeing Trip crumble into dust.
  • Skye shooting Ward. There's no doubt that he deserved it, especially after kidnapping her a second time. However he was genuinely trying to keep his promise to her.
  • Any interaction between Skye and her father during this episode, with the worst being when she threatens to kill him in order to save Coulson's life and then tells him to leave.
    The Doctor: I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you. That I couldn't protect you. That I couldn't teach you about the stars, or sing you to sleep.
    • Kyle MacLachlan's performance really sells the absolute devastation that's been the Doctor's life, especially when he says "People liked me and I liked myself."
    • Hell, the moment when he first sees her and stands up. He just looks so broken and terrified seeing his daughter face to face for the first time.
    Cal: When you were born, we were so happy. I worked in a clinic. People liked me. I liked myself...
  • The fact that, when you stop to think about it, Trip's sacrifice was completely pointless. He died trying to save Skye, unaware that she was never actually in danger.
  • Skye finally hears her father call her by the name he and her mother gave her.

  • Skye / Daisy Johnson is clearly having great troubles controlling her newfound powers, and it's terrifying her.
  • In this sneak preview clip, Coulson and the others are at each other's necks over the events of "What They Become" while Skye is helplessly watching from behind a glass wall. As the arguing intensifies, her powers begin to trigger.
  • After Tripp's death, Simmons coming to believe that superpowers are not only a menace but a disease that must be curbed, and that all that's wrong with the MCU is caused by people being too complacent in stamping them out or even condoning them — tearfully citing her own interest in them as a perfect example. She believes that due to not personally taking steps to remove objects like the 084 from existence, tragedies like Tripp's death are entirely her fault. Her argument with Skye over it, which leaves them both in tears, is particularly saddening as it illustrates how badly Simmons' optimistic love of science has been broken. Sadly, part of what's fueling Simmons' terrifying new viewpoint is that she and the rest of Team Coulson know next to nothing about what happened to Skye. All they have to go on, since Skye appears normal on the outside, is Raina turning into a serial killer crossed with an especially ugly porcupine, and bits of Trip's shattered face. Add that to Mack getting brainwashed and nearly offing half the team simply by touching the Kree City without protection, and assuming that Skye might have been exposed to some sort of superpowered crazy-virus suddenly seems downright sensible in this limited context. And Fitz (granted, not unwarrantedly, and only out of concern for Skye) is helping withhold information that might help change this hypothesis. It's a depressing catch-22. To top all of this, it appears that Simmons may have noticed a discrepancy in the DNA analysis Fitz handed her. She's happy for a brief moment, then her face falls and she takes a closer look at the tablet, and then up at Fitz. If he hadn't distracted her by requesting new sheets for Skye's bunk...well, guess we'll find out next week...
  • Raina's disgust at what she's become, and willingness to die because of it. She'd literally spent her entire life wanting to become something greater and she's so unhappy with her transformation that she was perfectly willing for agents to kill her for it before Gordon intervened.
  • Trip's death really hit home during The Stinger, where everyone gathered to tell their favorite moment with him.
    Skye: We're gonna laugh a lot less, that's for sure.
  • Coulson taking the time to track down Trip's mother and delivering the news himself, then embracing her so they can both cry together.
  • The beginning of the episode when all the team members are dealing with their grief (May is taking it out on a punching bag, Lance is drinking liquor, etc.)
  • The reveal that not only was Skye's mother a good and innocent woman but also was she The Heart of the Inhuman community and the mentor of the new Inhumans really makes her murder by Whitehall's hands all the more poignant. One could only wondered how young Gordon must have felt when finding out that his mother figure was butchered by the hand of an ex Nazi.
  • Bobbie tells Hunter that she and Mack joined a support group to help cope with SHIELD's collapse. It's a lie she and Mack are planning something involving the "Toolbox" Fury gave Coulson. She just justified Hunter's views that he could never really trust her.
  • Once again, Fitz proves to be The Chew Toy even when his character isn't the focus of the episode:
    • He spends much of the episode suffering an apparent relapse of his earlier problems, frequently unable to manipulate his hands properly and worried that he's hallucinating Skye's unusual medical results. He even gets another Madness Mantra: "There's something wrong with the data in my brain today."
    • Mack is no longer kindly or patient towards him, snapping at him and claiming he'll never understand what he's been through, even though as Fitz points out, he's the only member of the team who knows exactly what he's been through: very recently, he too was trapped in his own body and unable to control or stop himself from hurting the people he loved, due to the severity of his brain damage and also Lorelei's mind control.
    • He's in tears when he's the first (and so far only) one to realize that Skye, who by this point may well be the only really trusted friend he has left, was at the epicenter of the quake that killed Trip but was unharmed herself, and that she's therefore an Inhuman. His confrontation of her about it — followed by him literally fleeing from the room when he witnesses one of her episodes first-hand — is terribly sad, for Skye has well as himself.
  • Fitz promises to protect Skye not just from the new Fantastic Racism of Team Coulson in general. Her friends, and even foster family, are now potential enemies.
  • That sweet gift Mack gave Coulson? An RC version of Coulson driving Lola? Turns out it's a Trojan Horse letting Mack scan Coulson's office. Mack isn't a dedicated member of the team, and he's not the compassionate heart. Turns out he's lying, scheming, and planning on betraying Coulson along with Bobbi.

    Who You Really Are 
  • Skye using the ICER on herself to stop her superpowers from running completely out of control. Crosses into Fridge Horror when you take into account that Jemma had upgraded the ICERs to make them more potent and potentially life-threatening to put down any other super-powered people the team may come across.
  • The end of the episode, where Skye overhears Mack saying that the rest of the team needs to be protected from her, and seeing that nobody aside from Fitz protests or sticks up for her. She silently packs her bags and locks herself in the interrogation room.
  • When Fitz is explaining his reasoning for not telling anyone about Skye's changes, after Jemma says that Skye is different because she's her friend, Fitz's response is heart-wrenching. Note his use of the past tense, coupled with the fact that Coulson refers to them as "Fitz and Simmons" rather than "Fitz-Simmons" a couple of times in this episode. Despite a one or two Hope Spots around the winter finale, it's clear that things between them are worse than ever.
    Fitz: I was your friend. And then I changed. How did you handle that?
  • Mack convinces Bobbi to end things with Lance because of their mission. They clearly still love each other, and Lance's cold shutdown after the conversation makes it all the worse.

    One Of Us 
  • Skye's powers are set off during the final fight not because she sees her friends in danger but because she sees how SHIELD brutally takes down gifted people deemed a threat.

    Love in the Time of HYDRA 
  • While Simmons is treating Skye's arm fractures, Fitz attempts to put a positive spin on her situation, even putting out the possibility of being an Avenger like Captain America. The scene is sad in showing that the rift between Fitz and Simmons is bad enough to upset Skye and trigger a quake. Something that makes their argument worse is Simmons saying that the better Avenger comparison for Skye is the Hulk, and that she believes that Bruce Banner would likely choose to not be the Hulk if he could. Anyone who's watched The Avengers may cringe when they remember that Bruce revealed he tried committing suicide because he couldn't control his powers.
  • Finding themselves at cross-paths again, Hunter asks Bobbi to meet him halfway; they both walk away from SHIELD, so they can have a fresh start together. But Bobbi chooses the "real" SHIELD instead.
  • Lance reveals how their relationship began. Bobbi was sent in to get intel from Lance, and they ended up falling in love. How their original relationship started and ended seems to have turned into a vicious circle that keeps playing itself out in their lives.
    Bobbi: Everything I felt for you, that was real.
    Lance: Maybe so, but in the end you still got that intel didn't you?
    Bobbi: Hunter...
    Lance: It's always the same pattern, love. I fall for you only to discover you've got something else up and running.
    Bobbi: There was no hidden agenda with you.
  • Agent 33 desperately searching for a way to reclaim her identity, and going to such lengths as changing her face into Skye's and trying to seduce Ward. Then the happy tears when she accepts her real face — scars and all — and calls herself by her real name for the first time since we've seen her.
  • The climactic conversation between Fitz and Simmons regarding Skye's exile from the team is just very hard to watch:
  • During a conversation with Coulson about Skye and her new powers, May confides in him that she's worried she'll end up repeating the Bahrain situation with Skye.
  • Silly on the surface of it, but when Skye mentions that Fitz really wants a dog, and Coulson asks why he's given up on his dream of a pet helper monkey, Skye replies that he's obviously learned to lower his expectations. At that point it really hits home that Fitz has had to give up on more or less everything he previously cared about, including his relationship with Simmons and his own engineering abilities; now it seems he doesn't even have anything left from his old life that he's really hoping for.

    One Door Closes 
  • Think what it must have been like for Coulson's team when "Real" S.H.I.E.L.D. takes the base. Once again a hidden group with moles inside their organization are seizing control. It must be like HYDRA all over again to them.
  • Doubles as a Heartwarming, with Bobbi freaking out when Skye is almost shot, even though Bobbi isn't truly loyal to Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D., she still cares so much she screams "No! Skye!" when Calderon goes to shoot her. For Skye, this reaffirms her realization in the previous episode of how S.H.I.E.L.D. treats people like her. She went from an enthusiastic and proud agent to being hunted like an enemy through no fault of her own.
  • Similarly there's Mack almost begging Fitz to get away from a wall that's about to explode, only for Fitz to refuse because he's just found out Mack's not truly loyal to Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D. and so doesn't trust him. Mack ends up having to physically pull him away, taking the brunt of the blast himself.
  • Overall this whole episode is a sad point for Mack and Bobbi; they really didn't want things to go down the way they have, and are just trying to do what they think is best. They try to stop the rest of their SHIELD from going too far and try to make sure their friends are safe, but despite that they know they've utterly lost their respect and trust, who now seem to view the two the same way they view HYDRA.
  • Coulson reveals that he tried to track down Gonzales because he liked and respected the man's record. And now the man he once wanted as part of the team wants to take down the team because he doesn't trust Coulson because of the way Fury brought him back to life. (Which Coulson also declares was something he didn't ask for and was basically done against his will.)
  • Fury being blamed for the organization being ripped apart. He tried to prevent it from happening in Captain America, being the only one to object to the information all being posted online, gave Coulson orders to restart S.H.I.E.L.D. on the principles it was founded on, and sent Bobbi to save Gonzales and sink the ship to stop HYDRA from getting information. And HYDRA was brought into S.H.I.E.L.D. decades ago, long before he was in charge. It's sad that, after all the good work he's done, including creating the Avengers and saving the world, he's only remembered as the man who brought the organization to its knees.

  • As much as a Jerkass Cal has been, you can't help but feel bad for him when a very much alive Jiaying denies his request to see their daughter.
  • There's sympathy for Cal when he's left a whimpering mess after hurting himself when trying to punch Gordon at one point.
  • Coulson sounds desolate when he says that he lost Skye, just a like a man who lost his daughter.
  • Raina not fighting back when Skye unleashes her powers right at her, even begging Skye to 'end her suffering'.

  • We finally find out why the Bahrain mission had traumatized May so much: She was forced to kill Katya, a power-corrupted child, to save her team's lives. When Coulson finds her, she's clutching Katya's body in her arms. Made even sadder by the fact she was planning to become a mother before the mission changed her life. Also, the nickname "Cavalry" would remind her not only of the lives she saved that day, but of Katya as well. The mere demonstration of how much it changed her is enough to make one rage. She was practically catatonic when Coulson found her and broke down to tears in a horrible My God, What Have I Done? kind of way. And it doesn't get any better when she gets back home. We see her showering and fixing breakfast like at the start of the first episode, but she's dead inside.
  • Jiaying finally learns of Skye's unhappy childhood and realizes that the events that led to their being reunited also caused Skye to lose the only family she'd ever known.
  • Simmons and May having their faith in Coulson shaken with the revelation that he's been keeping secrets from them such as the Theta Protocol and upgrades for Deathlok. May takes it the hardest since she's Coulson's confidant. It's clear they still think of him as plain old Agent Coulson and not the new Director Coulson The Spymaster.
    • Melinda and Bobbi's conversation after it's basically confirmed that Coulson didn't even tell Melinda about Theta Protocol existing ends with one that draws a sad parallel between Bobbi's actions in the present, and Melinda's in the past, as well as showing that while Melinda doesn't necessarily agree with Bobbi, she gets it.
      Melinda: You're worried that I don't understand your choice. Well, sometimes that's the price of doing the right thing. No one will understand, and it hurts like hell.

    The Frenemy of My Enemy 
  • Calvin speaks at length about the life he envisioned for his young family and eagerly tries to capture one or two moments while Skye's in Milwaukee. It's clear that it genuinely hurts Skye to tell her father that he has to accept that he'll never have that life and that he has to move on.
  • Ward makes an attempt at being friendly towards Fitz but Fitz responds by loudly declaring that Ward is a traitor and can't be trusted. Ward appears to be genuinely upset at how their relationship is irreparably damaged.

    The Dirty Half Dozen 
  • The destruction of the Bus. It had a bar, a really nice one. It also has been The Team's main transportation since the pilot episode and in this episode, it had to be destroyed for the sake of distraction and infiltration.
  • Ward's speech to the rest of the team on the Bus, desperately trying to reclaim the dynamic from the first half of Season 1; stumbling through trying to explain that he realized they had been the first real family he had ever had, the only people who'd really cared about him. But being unable to because he's never been emotionally healthy enough to truly understand the others' viewpoints and atone. Later, Simmons tries to kill him with a splinter bomb and he sees just how much he's hated. Not to mention the fact that Simmons' actions disappointed Ward, because he'd always held her in high regard and considered her to be above such petty actions. Ward later calls Coulson and says that he believes that there's not enough good in him to be the one to help Kara. Coulson's expression when the call ends indicates that he genuinely believed otherwise.
  • May and Coulson's icy reunion. Coulson is hurt she would join Gonzales. While May is furious that Coulson would keep something like the Theta Protocol from her and that he would see Andrew without telling her. Coulson reminds her that she kept him in the dark about his resurrection, And no he won't tell her what the Theta Protocol is since that's only information privy to the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. May retorts he's not Director anymore; a few episodes ago she told him that there would be no S.H.I.E.L.D. without him while helping him escape from Gonzales' men.

  • Despite Coulson telling S.H.I.E.L.D. what the Theta Protocol is, it doesn't help him patch things up with May. In fact, May's attitude gets worse when Skye drops the big bomb that the gifted May killed in Bahrain was an Inhuman like her.
  • Gonzales' death. Yes, he makes several blunders and his selling point is unintentionally horrifying to Jiaying, but that doesn't change the fact that he really does believe he's protecting people. But because Jiaying is just as determined to protect her own, she assumes the worst and kills him, then frames him for trying to kill her so she can start a war. It's also yet another Broken Pedestal Skye will have to deal with — now both her parents are remorseless killers.

  • Skye and May facing off against each other.
    Skye: I'm sorry May, you're not welcome here. (Uses her Inhuman abilities on May)
  • Raina's Heroic Sacrifice. She spent her whole life searching for her purpose and then she finds out that purpose is to die for the greater good.
  • Bobbi Taking the Bullet for Lance and his frightened pleas for Bobbi to stay with him.
  • Ward accidentally killing Agent 33 and crying over her body. It proves once and for all that he did truly care for her.
  • Jiaying using her life-draining powers on her own daughter, complete with Skye/Daisy begging her mother to stop as her skin and eyes begin to pale. It's truly gut-wrenching to witness a mother trying to off her very own daughter.
    Jiaying: (As she is draining Skye/Daisy's life essence) I always believed the reason I endured all that torture and pain was for you. That you were my true gift. But you're not, this is.
    Skye/Daisy: (With what little of her voice is left) Don' this....
    Jiaying: You've made your choice. I'm sorry.
  • Cal killing Jiaying. All Cal wanted was to have his family back together and to live happily with them, but with Jiaying declaring war on S.H.I.E.L.D. and almost killing their own daughter, he did the most heartbreaking thing to save his daughter and prevent any further damage.
    Cal: You don't have to do this. You don't have to live with that pain. I will. [snaps Jiaying's neck]
  • Just how far Jiaying has fallen. The sweet, caring Jiaying that Cal fell in love died when Whitehall vivisected her. After Cal stitched her back up, she wasn't the same anymore. The worst part is that she's convinced that what she's doing is necessary for the Inhumans' safety. After Skye/Daisy reunited with her long-lost mother again, it seemed like Jiaying was coming back to her former self, but when Jiaying declared war on S.H.I.E.L.D., all hope was lost for her.
    Cal: [Jiaying] had a good heart, Phil. She did. It was just...torn out.
  • Skye's goodbye to Cal.
    Cal: I know I'm going away for good. But I was might come and visit once in a while.
    Skye: I will. I promise.
    Cal: That would be-
    Skye: Lemme guess? The "best day ever." You have a lot of those.
    Cal: No. Just one. July 2nd, 1988.
  • Skye/Daisy, visiting her father after all that's happened, and him not recognizing her because of the TAHITI process. He's happy, but her face shows just how conflicted she is about it.
  • Think about Fitz for a minute. He finally works up the nerve to ask Simmons out on date, but as his back is turned she gets sucked into a strange alien structure that nobody knows anything about, let alone if they can even get her out.

Season Three

    Laws of Nature 
  • Joey's transition into an Inhuman has not been a good one. Between causing uncontrollable destruction, being hunted down by the government and police, placed in confinement by S.H.I.E.L.D, told that his transformation is irreversible and that he cannot go back to his former life, and seeing that the President of the United States say on television that he determined to take down unnatural threats like him, it's easy to see why he gets wracked with despair. Even worse is being told he's going to have to hide who he is; he's gay, and spent some no doubt painful years hiding who he was. Now that he's made peace with his sexual orientation and is living as an openly gay man, he's suddenly and brutally shoved into another closet.
  • The situation with Fitz and Simmons has not improved one bit since the Season 2 Finale. Fitz has been pursuing dead end after dead end around the world, and even after doubt is raised that Simmons is even alive, he refuses to accept it. He finally gets his hands on a scroll that purportedly tells what the Monolith is, and the scroll has just one word on it: "Death". The end of the episode has him go to the Monolith, demanding it do something. When it doesn't, he begins pounding and screaming at the Monolith. Meanwhile... Jemma is all alone on another planet in the middle of nowhere, running for her life from an unknown threat.

    Purpose in the Machine 
  • As Simmons is sleeping, she is roused by a nightmare. By instinct, she raises her hand clutching...a makeshift weapon. All through the portal, the trip back to HQ, medical check-up, a fresh pair of clothes, but she still manages to have what appears to be a sharpened piece of wood or maybe even bone hidden on her person. She was surrounded by the other members of Team Coulson—with Fitz right next to her—and she still didn't feel safe. Her trials were so severe, she's sure to never be without a weapon when she falls asleep now. It's unlikely she'll be breaking that habit anytime soon.

    A Wanted (Inhu)Man 
  • Lincoln suffered from a Trauma Conga Line from hell with him being unmasked and ending up scaring his Only Friend to death.
  • Fitz finally gets to take Simmons on their date, but she has been so traumatized that she ended up crying when he proposed a toast. The date, by the way, had been Fitz's attempt to help Simmons think about the future rather than worry about what she had lost. It was Fitz's attempt to help, and it ended up making things worse. Simmons tries to apologize, but just speaking causes her to break down even more.
  • Hunter ends up killing an old friend in order to infiltrate HYDRA. Made better (or worse, depending on your point of view) when that friend proves ready, even eager, to kill him.

    4,722 Hours 
  • The whole episode is basically a downer episode. Jemma loses all hope of getting back and then loses Will.
  • Will being left alone on the planet, again.
  • Simmons' and Will's toast to the sunrise, once you catch on that it's why she broke down at Fitz raising a wine glass on their date.
  • Will used his single bullet, the one he was planning to kill himself with if it ever got too much, while he was holding off the thing so that she could get home, meaning that if Fitz and Simmons don't manage to find a way back to him, his only way out if through a slow death of natural causes or being killed by the thing. Emphasized by the time progression shot at the end after he throws away the now useless gun and slowly moves away from the spot.
  • Fitz. Just Fitz. Listening to the love of his life recount her whirlwind, unresolved interstellar romance with a guy who might as well be Captain America himself... and still unreservedly deciding he needs to help bring the guy home, knowing full well she might go back to him. Even Simmons breaks down at the prospect.

    Among Us Hide... 
  • May's devastated look when a dying Werner reveals that Andrew is Lash, an Inhuman serial killer with multiple kills to his name. The person she loved and trusted, whom she spent years with, is a monster she may have to put down. The sight of the normally unflappable and stoic May being honestly broken by the reveal is heart-wrenching.
  • The way Bobbi's voice breaks when she says, "What Ward think that was just experience." Ward's torture of her caused more than just physical wounds, it also caused emotional wounds.

    Chaos Theory 
  • May talking down Lash until he reverts to his human form, and then shoots him until he staggers into the containment unit — with real bullets, not ICERs. She didn't know whether or not her ex-husband would be capable of surviving having half a clip emptied into him when she opened fire. She was willing to kill Andrew to stop Lash.
  • Andrew's situation in general is a big tearjerker. The reason he was studying Jiaying's notes was so he would better understand Inhumans in order to help them. Unfortunately, she left a Terrigen crystal in her ledger as a booby trap, leading to him becoming Lash. Andrew, a man who genuinely wants to help superhumans with their trauma, gets saddled with an alter ego that's driven to kill Inhumans. Worse part, Lash is something he is turning into permanently and is out of his control.

    Many Heads, One Tale 

  • Rosalind's sudden murder from a sniper rifle fired by Ward, just as she and Phil are sitting down to dinner. The bullet goes through her neck and she dies while drowning in her own blood, with Coulson futilely trying to save her. It's clear that he really did fall for Rosalind, and her death turns him into a man who will stop at nothing to put a bullet in Ward's head.
  • Any time Jemma and Ward get a face to face. There's Ward finally calling her by her first name, after toying with her and saying with what he thinks is genuine honesty that he would never hurt her. Jemma's face says it all, he isn't going to break her, not again. Their relationship has been a nebulous one but it remained one based in respect on Ward's end, with Jemma spiraling down with each blow to her team. Her feelings for him aside, the man is so clearly delusional and utterly mad, but he was someone who mattered and it's eating at her to see it. Hating him is the easiest.
  • Fitz and Simmons being captured by HYDRA and then separated. Fitz is strapped down to a chair next to a gloating Ward, unable to do anything but hear Jemma's screams as she's tortured by Giyera. After all of that, he chooses to jump into the portal rather than let Jemma be hurt again.

  • Having been knocked out cold at the end of the previous episode, Coulson dreams that he's still in bed with Rosalind and that everything that's happened over the past day or so was just a nightmare. She tells him that he needs to wake up.
  • Although your own view on the character may influence how you felt about it, with Ward's death on Maveth, we've finally lost a member of the Dirty Half-Dozen (Coulson, May, Ward, Fitz, Simmons, Skye/Daisy).
  • Will died holding off the creature so that Jemma could get home. After all those years on the planet, he didn't get to go home, he never knew that Jemma got home safely, and he never knew that she and Fitz wanted to go back for him.
  • Jemma looking so hopefully into the transport unit at the end of the episode... only to see it empty and wordlessly hug Fitz as her eyes well up with tears, knowing Will didn't make it back home.

    Parting Shot 
  • A Spy's Goodbye: Bobbi and Hunter are in a bar after letting themselves be burned for the sake of S.H.I.E.L.D. and for US/Russia relations. The barmaid hands the two a shot from an "admirer", who turns out to be Simmons. As more shots are coming in, Fitz, Daisy, May, Coulson, and Mack are shown silently toasting the two. It's enough to bring Bobbi to tears. The piano piece that plays during the scene only helps to bring out the waterworks. Mack in particular was heartbreaking. He's been friends with Bobbi and Hunter the longest. He is in tears and is the second to last to leave (before Coulson) and passes right by their table.

  • Charles's ability to see someone's death when he touches someone. It's gotten so bad that he could no longer touch his wife and daughter without traumatizing them with his visions. In order to spare them, he leaves his family behind and becomes homeless. The wood robin figure that he carved (which is named after his daughter) is the closest thing to touching that he can get without harming her.
  • Andrew's goodbye to May before he turns into Lash permanently. Made even worse that May blames herself for being in Andrew's life and sealing him to this fate.

    Paradise Lost 
  • Lincoln's backstory about his previous girlfriend: He was an alcoholic before he got his powers, and one night he and his girlfriend were in a car which Lincoln was driving while over the limit. The car ended up "wrapped around a telephone pole" and she would've been dead if not for Gordon's arrival. By the end of the story, both he and Daisy are clearly holding back tears.
  • Coulson being haunted over killing Ward. While, as Fitz pointed out, Ward's fate was deserved for everything he has done to the team, this doesn't relieve Coulson from the fact that he killed him in cold-blood out of revenge for murdering Rosalind. He even go as far as stating that by killing him, Ward was the actual victor in their Final Battle. It doesn't help his case that, by killing Ward, he caused Hive to find a new body that enables him to come to Earth, something he acknowledges.
  • He's still a monster, but Gideon Malick's reaction to Hive killing his daughter as "sacrifice" is tragic, showing what little humanity he has up to this point. Mostly justified in the sense of it representing the fear of a father losing their only child.

    The Team 
  • The joy and sense of fulfillment Daisy has under Hive's mind control virus, and especially her insistence that it is More Than Mind Control. It's eerily similar to someone who dives into an abusive relationship because they believe it is the only alternative to being lonely.
  • The death of Gideon Malick. While he has been a complete and utter bastard from the very start, you can't help but feel sorry seeing him die in such a brutal way on behalf of the entity he worshipped since his childhood as a god and savior, which then basically turned out to be the devil himself. By the time Daisy comes for him, though, Malick is long past caring: he just wants to be reunited with his daughter.
  • The fracturing of the Secret Warriors is heartbreaking from all directions. Elena recoils due to S.H.I.E.L.D using violence to force cooperation, like the corrupt government of her homeland, and she rebukes Mack for calling her Yo-Yo. Joey is terrified by both his first kill and what he sees as a betrayal and now might quit entirely. Lincoln would likely go off the grid again, if he weren't locked up due to Daisy framing him as a Hive slave. Daisy herself betrayed both groups, each one her family in one sense of the word, and then wrecked her home, all because of Hive's control.
  • Daisy leaving the Playground while using her powers to damage the base. Coulson desperately pounding on a door and shouting Daisy's name is heartbreaking.

    The Singularity 
  • Lincoln's desperate plea to a brainwashed Alisha, even threatening to torture her, something he's clearly not OK with doing, to tell him where Hive is. He's always had trouble controlling his emotions, but he's clearly distraught and desperate, knowing that Hive has Daisy under his thumb and he's desperate to stop him and save her at any cost.
  • Hive actually tries to give Simmons a twisted form of closure over Will's death by channeling her lover and letting her say goodbye. It's disturbing and heartbreaking at the same time.
    Hive (as Will): It's time to let me go.

    Failed Experiments 
  • Mack is desperate to believe that Daisy is fighting Hive's control over her, only to be proven wrong by the brutal beatdown she gives him. Moreover, the Hope Spot of Daisy's fleeting horror at said beatdown. Before that, Coulson explicitly tells Mack that he is going on a mission to kill Hive, not to rescue Daisy.
  • Alisha's death. She dies fighting the very alien species that created her, all the while brainwashed by a megalomaniac who ultimately saw her only as an expendable pawn.

  • Crossed with Heartwarming, Peggy's death. Losing her, even to old age, clearly hurts Coulson. Having Steve Rogers MIA thanks to the Civil War movie makes it worse.
  • Daisy, having given pints of blood for Hive's artificial Inhuman science experiments, looking sickly, sluggish, and frankly close to death.
  • Hive ordering Daisy to donate all her blood to his cause, even if it was all a horrible, Fantastic Drug induced, master-slave relationship. It seems like even the respect Hive has for his own race is limited.
  • We already know there will be a major character death in the season finale, but that doesn't stop another one from happening in the episode leading up to it; namely, Lash/Dr. Andrew Garner.
    • May has two tender moments with her ex. One, while he is in containment, and she extends a hand to touch the glass and reach out to him, even in his altered state and after all that he has done. Two, after he has sacrificed his life to save Daisy, she holds his hand one last time.

  • Lincoln's death. Even among those who didn't get into his character, he managed to get a bit of sympathy. Daisy's reaction is just heart-wrenching; she thinks that she's the agent who died in her vision and is prepared to fulfill it in order to atone for her actions when she was under Hive's control. When Lincoln hears of it, he takes her place against her will, and goes ahead with his plan, even when Daisy contacts him in order to make him return. After the reception shorts out, she tearfully begs Coulson and her teammates to bring back the Quinjet back, but learns that it can't return once it reaches outer space. When the ship explodes, Daisy simply collapses as she cries her eyes out, and the mood turns as somber as it had after Trip's demise.
  • Six months later, Lincoln's death and the fact she can't forgive herself for what she did under Hive's control causes her to quit SHIELD and became a rogue, Goth-like vigilante, and she's now being hunted by her former teammates for unknown reasons.
  • Hive's death. While he was clearly the villain who needed to be destroyed, during his final moments he showed a surprising amount of dignity and regret for not making the world a better place. Lincoln and Hive's last conversation as they float in space, both coming to understand each other's motivations, as Bear McCreary's score plays in the background.
    Lincoln: Well, I got to see the world.
    Hive: It's beautiful. Smaller than you imagine.
    Lincoln: Yeah.
    Hive: I only wanted to make it better.
    Lincoln: I know.
    Hive: To feel a connection. But you must feel that already. To sacrifice for them...with all their flaws.
    Lincoln: They're only human.

Season Four

    The Ghost 
  • The implied reason for Daisy leaving SHIELD: She wants to detach from everyone so that she can't experience the pain of loss again.
  • Daisy begging for Ghost Rider to kill her, because she deserves it. The fact she can even think that, let alone say it out loud, is a perfect demonstration of how self-loathing, depressed, and traumatized the poor woman is.
  • Team Coulson is so fractured under new management, they barely speak to each other, let alone trust each other. Jemma, as the assistant of the new disliked Director, gets the brunt of it.

    Meet the New Boss 
  • It's hard to watch May slowly succumb to the Ghost's power.
  • Daisy's reunion with Mack and Fitz is a real big one:
    • The look on Mack's face when he works out that Daisy and Yo-Yo have been keeping in contact this entire time. Mack's clearly heartbroken that two people he trusts have been lying to him, and that the two hadn't so much as at least passed word that Daisy is okay and wants to be left alone.
    • In the same scene, the look of shame Daisy has when Mack works this out, and while he and Fitz sadly chew her out.
    • While Mack tries to convince Daisy to come back to SHIELD, Fitz doesn't even say a word to Daisy except to accuse her of turning her back on them. He's not just hurt by Daisy leaving, he's angry.


  • On the flight, Daisy and Robbie come to a sort-of understanding that their I Did What I Had to Do responses to the ensuing events (Daisy's distance from SHIELD out of guilt and Robbie's murders based on judging his victims' souls) aren't completely the right things to do, justified or not.
  • Round 2 post-HIVE Tearjerker for Daisy: when she, May and Coulson are walking through the penitentiary, she's visibly, if briefly hurt at one of the prisoners' disparaging remarks of being one of the "freaks SHIELD protects."

    The Good Samaritan 
  • The reveal that Robbie talked Gabe into coming with him on the night that they got caught in the drive-by that paralyzed Gabe and made Robbie into the Ghost Rider.
  • Gabe finally finds out about Robbie's "condition", and it's heartbreaking. His first real experience with the Rider is when Robbie uses it to go toe to toe with the Director. It ends with Gabe pleading with Robbie to stop hurting him and, when Robbie obliges, the cheerful little brother who was so excited for his bro to be working undercover is gone.
    Gabe: [Absolutely stone-faced] Get me outta here.

    Deals with Our Devils 
  • Nadeer's brother is barely able to thank Simmons for helping him get out of Terrigenesis before she gets dragged off with a bag over her head, and he's too weak to do anything but call out to her.
  • Mack lost Hope; specifically, at some point, implied to be recently, Mack lost someone he loved named Hope; we don't know any more than that, but the snarky mechanic has actually been hurting a lot on the inside (so much so the Rider is able to completely control him when possessing him) and hasn't shared it with anyone, dealing with it entirely on his own.
  • Likewise, Robbie having to renegotiate his deal with the Rider in order to save Mack from its influence, and himself from being dragged down to Hell. Robbie was, essentially, free from the Rider, and had he stayed with Coulson and Fitz could have escaped without it, but now he will have to live the rest of his life a slave to the Rider's desire for vengeance, more so than he was already.
  • An out of phase Coulson is practically shouting at May to hear him. While May thinks she's alone, she speaks out loud about how Coulson isn't dead, but it's clear she's trying to convince herself as well.
  • After Fitz reveals that Aida is an android, Coulson says that wasn't his decision to make, and Fitz counters that he was trying to prevent something like Lincoln's death from happening again, while he thinks Coulson just gave up. As Coulson insists that he did what was necessary for SHIELD, Fitz finally lets loose what's really eating him up: Mace sent Simmons on a mission by herself, and not only can he not help her, the last time they talked was an argument over Aida's creation. Fitz honestly sounds like he's on the verge of tears at this point.

    Laws Of Inferno Dynamics 
  • Robbie's Heroic Sacrifice to stop his uncle Eli. Though we know he'll be back, this was the first time, as the Rider, Robbie had enough control to do something that was motivated by heroism instead of vengeance, and that it will cost him. Given his deal with the Rider noted above, even when he does get out, he won't exactly be able to just rest with his brother any more.
  • The position Gabe is in after this episode: with Robbie and Eli missing, everyone in his family is gone.

    The Patriot 
  • Mace revealing the truth behind his apparent heroics in Vienna: He tripped in front of the person he "rescued" while escaping, with that image leading to a long lie of promoting Mace as an American hero and the new superpowered face of SHIELD. You can't help but feel bad for the guy, who only wanted to do the right thing, even if his Inhumanity was nothing but a fabrication.
  • Aida's reactions to Radcliffe's criticisms are surprisingly human. After a certain point, it starts to sound like a "Well Done, Son!" Guy situation with LMD!May as the favored daughter and Aida herself as The Unfavorite.

    Wake Up 
  • The look on Fitz's face when S.H.I.E.L.D. comes to arrest Holden Radcliffe for programming Aida to betray them and steal the Darkhold for him. Radcliffe had become the father Fitz never had, and the man betrayed him.
  • LMD!May comes to confront Radcliffe and tries to take him down, but her programming prevents her. Radcliffe then goes on to talk about how he knows what May really wants—or specifically, who May really wants—but just won't let herself.
  • Mack opens up to Elena and tells her who Hope is: his daughter, who only lived for four days and died eleven years earlier. The next day is her birthday, and Mack went to see his ex to give her a shoulder to cry on.

    Hot Potato Soup 
  • At the Labyrinth, Coulson and LMD May kiss. Seeing "Mom and Dad" kiss should be a huge heart warmer, but it's turned into a tearjerker because that's not May. And then, when Sam hands LMD May the Darkhold, LMD May's programming kicks in and she pulls a gun on Coulson, and Coulson realizes that she's an LMD. She's only stopped from shooting Coulson by Daisy crippling her. Later, when Radcliffe comes in and takes the Darkhold from LMD!May and she begs him to take her with him, he coldly tells her no, that she wasn't "Built to Last" and walks away leaving LMD!May a complete wreck and utterly at the mercy of SHIELD behind him. In short, she's just been rejected by the man she loves, a woman she views as a daughter, and her creator all in one go. You will shed a tear for a robot.
    Coulson: Where's the real May?
    May LMD: I am the real May. Her thoughts. Her memories. Her desires. That's all real.
    Coulson: May would never betray me.
  • The implication that Coulson thinks that the only reason LMD!May was interested in him romantically was that Radcliffe programmed her to be.
    Coulson: Is this what Radcliffe programmed you to do?
  • It's revealed that Fitz being The Woobie didn't happen in Season 2, it happened as early as childhood. His father was verbally and emotionally abusive toward a young Fitz, saying that he was worthless and not smart enough. This continued until said father abandoned Fitz and his mother when he was ten years old. Most of this information comes second-hand from Jemma, as it's such a sore point for Fitz that he's never talked about it with anyone else on the team. When Mack asks why Fitz hasn't used any of the resources at his disposal to track down his father, Jemma says it's because Fitz has no desire to see his father again. When Radcliffe's LMD mentions that the real Radcliffe saw Fitz's father a few months ago, Fitz just rips the plug out of him and storms out. Later, when Jemma checks up on Fitz, he sourly notes that Radcliffe is just the latest in a long line of people who have betrayed or abandoned him, including Ward and his father.
  • While most of LT and Thurston arguing is played for laughs, bringing up Eric's death is most decidedly not, as LT and Thurston have very different opinions on what Eric's death meant.

  • In the end, when Radcliffe tells Agnes about the Framework, she betrays Coulson and Mack to go with Radcliffe. Coulson later admits that he can't blame Agnes for choosing to live, but you can see his despair; it was his best chance to save May, and he lost it.
  • Coulson in general is in a bad spot in this episode: while he keeps up a stoic front and refuses to give up on May being dead, he later admits to Agnes that doesn't know if May is still alive, and he's quite scared of it. Made all the worse by the apparent Love Epiphany that he's undergone with regards to May, and now he might never have the chance to tell her.
  • When first talking to Radcliffe, Agnes talks about a print of a painting that she loved, and talks about how Radcliffe had promised to buy her the real one when she was finally cured. After Radcliffe left her, however, Agnes ended up throwing away the print, as looking at it just hurt her too much.

    Self Control 
  • Jemma being forced to brutally destroy LMD!Fitz.
  • LMD!May sacrificing herself for Jemma and Daisy. Her speech to LMD!Coulson was incredibly depressing. She described herself as "all phantom limbs", and with tears in her eyes, stated outright that she really did love Phil Coulson. The real one. Her entire existence has been nothing but a tearjerker.
  • Daisy waking up in the Framework and finding a text mentioning her having a boyfriend. Her first thought? Lincoln. Turns out it's Ward. The entire ending montage is scored by 'Have You Heard (Part 2)' by The Moody Blues. It sets a haunting, melancholy, and ironic tone as the audience sees just how much is different within the Framework. On top of what's happened to Daisy, Coulson is a teacher giving an anti-Inhuman lesson, Mack is able to be the father to his late child, Fitz is visibly wealthy and exiting a limo hand in hand with an unseen woman (who, according to the next episode, is strongly implied to be Aida), there's no sign of Simmons besides her gravestone, and May is ascending the Triskelion which now serves as Hydra's base.

    What If... 
  • The Framework allowed May to fix her greatest regret by saving Katya...and it backfires in the worst way possible. By saving Katya, SHIELD attempts to rehabilitate her, but she suffers a Super-Power Meltdown that was even worse than the one in Bahrain, killing hundreds of innocent people. This in turn allowed HYDRA to reemerge years before it did in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, by feeding off the anti-Inhuman sentiment and taking control. In short, fixing May's greatest regret is what allowed the Framework to exist. No matter what May did, the Bahrain mission was the ultimate no-win scenario of the MCU.
  • Jemma's entire "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight with Coulson. Her voice is cracking, and you can hear her go from hope to absolute desperation for any sign that the man she knows is still in there.
  • While Coulson is more or less well-off as a teacher, deep down his mind knows that there is something wrong. He's collected a list of things that reference his life in the real world. Some, like the page of "It's a magical place" written over and over, can be Nightmare Fuel, a few things are tearjerkers. Specifically, a picture of Audrey, Daisy's Hawaiian dancer, and a picture of a red corvette from a car calendar on the month of May. Phil Coulson may be living a normal life, but deep down, he knows that he's missing something: his family.
  • The Oh, Crap! look on Simmons' face when Ward refers to the Doctor's drones chasing them as "dwarves" and she realizes exactly who the Doctor must be.
    • Followed by her moaning about maybe in this world, she and Fitz never even knew each other.

    Identity and Change 
  • When Ward has a clear shot on Fitz, he intends to take it, but Jemma manages to talk him down, convinced that the "sweet, awkward man" she loves is still in there... and then Fitz murders Agnes Kitsworth in cold blood, just to prove his loyalty to Madame Hydra. Jemma is nearly broken by witnessing this, as it proves the Fitz she loves is either buried too deep to reach, or completely gone.
  • In order to protect his daughter, Mack is forced to trick Daisy into admitting she's from the real world. This is bad enough, but what's worse is that Hope briefly met Daisy, and sees her beaten and bloody. When Mack allows himself to be captured by S.H.I.E.L.D., he says that he has to make things right.
    Mack: For the first time today...I couldn't look my little girl in the eye.
    • Likewise, the look of fear on Ward's face when he learns Daisy has been captured is all too real.
  • Coulson's resistance to the memory alteration left him thinking he was insane, and apparently got so bad that it caused his marriage to end.
  • Mack's scenes with Hope are all adorable. She's a sweet and clever child that he calls Sparkplug (the nickname he gave to Lincoln in the real world). The fact that she's not real makes all their interactions depressing.
  • May and Fitz are going to be traumatised as hell when they snap out of it. In addition to murdering Agnes, Fitz had multiple people tortured including Daisy. May threatened a child, Mack's child, in front of him. She captured Daisy and allowed her men to beat her unconscious. Contrast May in the past, who had always been violently protective of Daisy, and, again, had been planning to start a family with Andrew before Bahrain. Four episodes later, we're proven right in Leo Fitz's case.

    No Regrets 
  • When Jemma attempted to convince Mace that the Framework is not real, Mace asked if she really knew him: if he was married, had any siblings or children, or liked any hobbies. Jemma comes up blank. It really drives home that in the real world and even the Framework, Team Coulson knew of him, and had mixed opinions of him (from outright hostile to tentatively allied) throughout the season, but never even made the attempt to try and get to know him.
  • Mace's Heroic Sacrifice at the end, making him the second casualty in the Framework.
  • Radcliffe. While it was his actions that got the others into this situation in the first place, his mourning of Agnes is heartfelt as he cries over having lost her in both the real world and Framework. Even Daisy is sympathetic to his loss. When Radcliffe gives Daisy examples of sentences that can change a person's life forever — "I love you", "We're having a baby", "She's gone" — his tone of voice implies he may be speaking from experience. Perhaps he and Agnes originally broke up for the same reason Mack and his ex-wife broke up?

    Farewell, Cruel World! 
  • Simmons finally comes face to face with Fitz for the first time since "Identity and Change". This time, there's absolutely no chance for her to get through to him, as after Alistair's murder he coldly rebuffs her desperate pleas to remember reality, shoots her in the leg when she refuses to kneel, and comes this close to executing her before Radcliffe intervenes and throws him out of the Framework.
  • Right after Fitz is thrown through the backdoor by Radcliffe... he is utterly horrified by what he did while in the Framework, saying he killed people naturally. Coulson tries to reassure Fitz that they weren't real, but Fitz counters with the facts that he murdered Agnes (a real person), and ordered the air strike that killed Mace. And this is all before a fully human Aida enters the room imploring a BSOD'd Fitz to come with her, and teleporting him away to locations unknown.
    Coulson: Listen to me, Fitz. None of that is your fault.
    Fitz: I wanted to do those things. It felt natural... I think I'm a bad person.
  • In the end, even after learning that the Framework is fake, Mack refuses to leave the Framework, saying that he can't leave Hope. Daisy, with tears in her eyes, tells him that there are people who love him on the outside, and that she can't lose him as well. Mack still refuses to leave.

    The Return 
  • After Team Coulson lands the Zephyr at the Playground for refueling, their walkthrough of the wreckage from "Self-Control" is just... crushing. The worst part? There's no other group to blame for S.H.I.E.L.D. returning to their Hero with Bad Publicity status but themselves, the closest external threat actually being a desperate scientific ally who just wanted to reconcile and reunite with his former lover.
  • FitzSimmons, full stop:
    • Simmons having to ICE Fitz when he and Ophelia come in, because she can't be sure he'll be a good guy. While surveilling the containment room with the rest of Team Coulson, she can't even maintain a focused, scientific mindset on asking Coulson and May how the Framework affected them. Basically the whole team is faced with the choices of what to do with Ophelia and Fitz. Elena suggests decapitating the former again, Coulson and Daisy rebut that they probably can't since Ophelia just turned human and did rescue Mack, and May shuts it all down with "No more killing." But Fitz is the only person they're unsure what to do with (not least of all since the team knows how strongly the Framework affected his personality).
    • While imprisoned, Ophelia wonders whether S.H.I.E.L.D. plans to forgive or punish her, all things considering. Fitz assures her, hopefully, that the former might happen to her...but not him. Then he sadly says in his case, "[his] future with Jemma is dead," because he's so convinced there's no way the rest of the team, much less Simmons, will ever forgive him.
    • Simmons' own reaction from where she's watching on the surveillance monitor, especially when it looks like he's choosing Ophelia over her. Then a moment later Fitz establishes that he's still as devoted to Jemma as ever, and his love for her will "never fade," meaning he expects to spend the rest of his life in love with a woman who presumably wants nothing to do with him anymore. This comes with the double-sided consequence of Simmons realizing Fitz really is still the man she loves, and Ophelia realizing in a huge way that she's not getting Fitz for herself.
    • Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment: By the end of the episode, when Simmons comes to Fitz, he can't look her in the eye. So, without trying to say anything, she walks into the unit to comfort him, and all they can do is break down and cry while she holds him.
  • Ophelia/AIDA's arc, as she experiences emotions for the first time like joy and love, empathy, and even regret for her previous actions. With her Combo Platter Powers and some therapy to help her deal with all these new emotions, she could have become a hero in her own right. She was even entirely willing to remain in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s prison (belatedly realizing she was unable to teleport) to make amends and hope for forgiveness. Then it all turns sour when she gets her second and biggest negative moment of life and is unable to process the onset of grief and anger at Fitz's rejection. An amazing opportunity to live a brand new life and experience the joys of humanity, turned tragic due to the inability to cope with all the pain it comes with as well, a skill that has to be learned. It really makes you think: had Fitz been able to better guide her through more positive emotions (granted, he's got his own trauma to work through), it would have been possible to avoid everything that came afterward.
  • Elena's anger and frustration over Daisy not bringing Mack back, even accusing Daisy of only rescuing the people that matter to her. When Daisy tells Elena about Hope, the latter just looks so dejected.
    Daisy: He wouldn't leave her for anything.
    Elena: Even me.

    World's End 
  • The destruction of the Framework. The characters we've grown to know (a resurrected Trip, a heroic Grant Ward, Coulson's students, the kids Mace died to save), gone. A whole world of people were unceremoniously erased because AIDA was throwing a temper tantrum. Worst of all, was the deletion of Hope. This show played Death of a Child straight before, but watching a ten year old pleading with her father to make it stop and sobbing that she doesn't want to die was next level. Mack holds the sobbing child until she stops crying... and the camera pulls back to reveal that she is gone. Not to mention that Mack has now lost his daughter twice (both in reality and in the Mainframe).
  • The team's standing coming out of Season Four is lowest it's ever been compared to other season finales. AIDA and Ivanov's plan involved Daisy being framed for shooting Talbot, and even though the villains were foiled there is still footage of an Inhuman Agent of SHIELD trying to kill a military official. On top of all of this, there is still some friction between Coulson and May, Fitz still has intense guilt over his actions, and Mack had to watch his virtual daughter vanish in his arms. The season ultimately ends with our heroes surrendering to mysterious soldiers, and the final scene implies they were all taken into space.
  • Radcliffe's quiet "death" scene as his mind is deleted from the Framework. He sits on a beach Watching the Sunset, lamenting his failures and the loss of his love. And to top it all off, the poor guy doesn't even get to enjoy any of that liquor he brought! Made especially powerful by the fact that the moment Radcliffe disappears, all sound cuts out. Including the ocean and the thud the glass should make as it hits the sand. Because there's no one around to hear them.
  • Even Aida's death manages to gather a bit of sympathy. Fitz seems quite horrified by her brutal demise at the hands of Ghost Rider.

Season Five

  • Through Deke, and their separate observations of the Kree facility (Jemma and May from the Trawler, Coulson through Deke's explanation about where they are, and Daisy, Mack and Yo-Yo's receiving of the postcard from Fitz), Team Coulson realizes that they've essentially traveled at least 90 years into a Bad Future, and Earth's been completely reduced to a debris field.
  • Jemma's utterly heart-wrenching reaction as Kasius coldly orders the execution of a slave that Jemma had saved simply because the poor man suffered a minor cut to his face and was therefore "marred".

  • Fitz watching the video of Team Coulson being taken by the White Monolith. Not only did he have to relive his nightmare of seeing Jemma getting taken by the Monolith a second time, but now it's multiplied by the fact that his best friends have also been taken.
  • Robin Hinton, daughter of Charles Hinton, the Inhuman who could foresee how people died, has undergone Terrigenesis since being last seen and inherited her father's powers. Unfortunately, she is more powerful, seeing the past, present, and future without needing to touch someone. The effects of seeing this have left the poor little girl nonverbal and unable to even recognize her own mother at times.

    Fun & Games 
  • Ben is executed by Kasius when the latter learns that he lied to him. His last words are a gentle "Don't blame yourself." to Daisy via telepathy.
  • Tess is murdered by the Kree and her body is left on display to scare the other humans into giving up Flint.

    Together or Not at All 
  • Flint having to learn about Tess's death is particularly heartbreaking, especially since she was the closest thing to family he had left. None of Team Coulson have the heart to outright say it, but their silence when he keeps asking about her speaks volumes on its own.

    The Last Day 
  • The Lighthouse's original timeline has plenty of sad moments.
    • Daisy is implied to have some kind of falling out with the rest of the team, and a 12.8 earthquake resulted.
    • Robin's mother, Polly, dies during the catastrophe.
    • Elena marches off to fight the Kree, alone, as a Doomed Moral Victor, because she's lost all hope of changing the situation. Mack has apparently already died and it is implied that she's even lost her religious faith.
    • Fitz has an emotional breakdown when Robin tells him how Jemma is going to die, knowing that she is always right.
    • Robin has nightmares about people dying, including her adoptive mom. Being such a little kid makes it all the sader.
  • Deke is looking forward to reconciling with his father. Then he learns that not only is his father (still) dead, but a family friend killed him. Even Daisy feels sorry for him after this.
  • The Reveal that May had raised Robin as her own child After the End despite her past trauma from being forced to kill a little girl is one to parents who have experienced a loss.

    Past Life 
  • Elena coming face to face with Kasius' Seer: her future self, who has been killed and resurrected ever since the Kree took over the Lighthouse as both a source of Inhuman DNA and information. The resurrected Elena is completely broken, both by the constant deaths and resurrections, and by knowing that they're stuck in a Stable Time Loop where she is going to see Mack die, and be unable to do anything about it.
  • Mack's reaction to Kasius killing Future Elena. You can tell by his voice and his face and everything that what he just saw is more painful then the beatdown that follows.
  • For all he is a monsterous sociopath, you can't help but feel a little sorry for Kasius when he finds Sinara. He not only goes into a Villainous Breakdown, demanding that the Kree Doctor resurrect her (which is beyond Kree science), but actually appears to cross the Despair Event Horizon, taking the Odium (which is implied to eventually kill those who consume it) to get revenge on Team Coulson by killing as many of them as he can. For all his cruel and manipulative nature, Kasius really did love Sinara.

    All the Comforts of Home 
  • Elena and Mack's reactions to Elena getting her arms cut off. After spending the whole episode trying to convince themselves that they can change the future, they both get slammed in the face with an undeniable fact about that future: Future Elena was also mutilated in the exact same way.
    Elena: It's all coming true...

    The Real Deal 
  • The reveal that Deke is FitzSimmons' grandson makes all the dialogue about his mother retroactive tearjerkers because the audience now knows that whenever Deke mentions his mother, that's FitzSimmons' daughter he's talking about.
  • FitzSimmons' wedding, as heartwarming as it is, becomes somewhat darkly tinged with one line from Fitz: "I don't deserve you." With the events of "The Devil Complex" in mind, it's also a foreboding sign that he's not only still affected by the Framework, he's also completely aware of his Doctor identity and is having immense difficulty coming to terms with it on his own.
  • The whole team's reactions to learning that Coulson is dying. Especially Daisy's, as she totally breaks down.
  • Daisy's Brutal Honesty moment when she states flat out that S.H.I.E.L.D. is gone, and not coming back, when Coulson says that he needs her to lead S.H.I.E.L.D. into the future. Followed by Coulson's absolute refusal to believe that. It's a tragic Call-Back to the "We are not Agents of Nothing" speech in "Providence".
    Daisy: There is no S.H.I.E.L.D.! Coulson, there's no S.H.I.E.L.D.! Look around!
    Fitz: Okay, let's just keep—
    Daisy: No! No, no, no. May is never gonna be at full strength, whether you'll admit it or not. Mack is seconds away from quitting again because the love of his life, our only other strong fighter, was literally cut to pieces.
    Coulson: Nobody quits. Do you—
    May: [in a warning tone] Daisy.
    Daisy: Piper stabbed us in the frickin' backs. And Fitz-Simmons—my god, you really want to risk their lives again? They've been through enough! And guess what, Coulson—that's it! That's everybody!
    Coulson: No, that's not it! There's an idea, a symbol that must continue, no matter what! A S.H.I.E.L.D.

    The Devil Complex 
  • The Reveal of the episode: the Doctor wasn't an apparition of the Fear Dimension, it was a hallucination by Fitz to try and rationalize taking Daisy's inhibitor out to properly compress the Gravitonium. Ever since the Framework, he's been hearing the Doctor's voice in the back of his mind all this time, and the combined stress of finding a way to close the rift and loss of sleep caused his brain damage from Season 2 to resurface. The whole episode sees his friendship with Daisy utterly ruined, as she says she'll never forgive him for removing the inhibitor, given that this could result in the destruction of the world. The worst part according to Fitz? He still thinks it was the right thing to do.

    Rise and Shine 
  • How does Fitz react to finding out that Deke is his grandson? With complete disgust. This is in direct contrast to Jemma, whom believes her grandson to be perfect. It really highlights how far Fitz has fallen. There is something even more tragic underneath this. Jemma now believes she and Fitz' relationship is "invincible" because Deke's existence they make it to the Lighthouse and have a daughter who has Deke even though that's a future the team is actively trying to change.
  • We see the result of Talbot being shot in the head...the man's impulse control is now so severely damaged that he inadvertently scares his own son to tears when the latter is just trying to cheer him up with a game.
  • Talbot's complete faith in Coulson coming to rescue him, since Coulson never came. Is Talbot bitter about this? No. He's sorry to Phil that he gave into Hale's torture.
  • Daisy tearing into Fitz for kidnapping, drugging, restraining, and cutting into her, and for betraying the team. Fitz's reply that she has betrayed them before too hits hard as well.
    • What really drives it home of how destroyed their friendship is comes when Daisy quakes Fitz against a wall.
  • Despite being an agent of Hydra and a piece of work in the present day, it’s hard not to feel the least bit of sympathy for Hale in the flashback to her academy years when Whitehall tells her what her post-graduation role will be. You can see she holds herself from crying and her voice cracks when Whitehall tells her she will be artificially inseminated. All her dedication, cleverness and perseverance, and the ex-Nazi shunts her off to a meaningless undercover job to wait until they can use her as a living incubator. It doesn’t justify her actions, but it does make her antagonism a bit more understandable.
  • Knowing that Jasper Sitwell wasn't brainwashed as many fans initially thought since the introduction of Faustus Method in Season 2, but instead was indoctrinated since he was young, is pretty sad for those who like him from the movies.

    Inside Voices 
  • If you thought Fitz would've always reacted in disgust upon learning that Deke is his grandson from the previous episode and it wasn't enough of a tearjerker, think again. This time, he flat-out states right to Deke's face he wished it was Flint who was his grandson. Bemused, Deke bitterly notes that they already have one thing in common that Fitz overlooked: betraying Daisy.

    The Honeymoon 

    All Roads Lead... 
  • After spending the last few episodes showing they legitimately cared about one-another and having some genuinely sweet moments together, Werner and Ruby finally kissed before she underwent the Destroyer of Worlds process. Unfortunately the process is so painful for her Werner shuts it down immediately, but not soon enough to prevent her getting Hall and Quinn's voices in her head and some degree of Graviton power that she has no control over. The first thing this new power does? Accidentally crush Werner's skull, slowly and painfully, right in front of Ruby. As to be expected, she's terrified at what she can't stop herself doing.
  • In the end, to prevent Ruby becoming the Destroyer, Yo-Yo kills her (in part at least to get revenge for taking her arms). While Daisy is disgusted, Yo-Yo insists it was the right call. However, in doing so, she drives Hale away from her Heel–Face Turn and pushes her to give S.H.I.E.L.D.'s location to the Confederacy, encouraging them to destroy them. In order to stop the Destroyer now, she might have just made a new one later (not unlike Fitz did earlier this season).

    Option Two 
  • Yo-Yo basically telling Daisy that Coulson should have left her in the dark future.

    The One Who Will Save Us All 
  • The loss of Talbot's sanity is accompanied by the loss of his friendship with Coulson. At the start of the episode, he calls Coulson "my best wingman" and that the two of them together are "the best military minds the world has to offer". At the end of the episode he almost kills Coulson and says, in a complete 180, that he was "always the enemy".

    The Force Of Gravity 
  • Creel's death, being forcibly absorbed by a man he trusted and considered a friend. Worse, Mack admits after learning of this that he considered Creel a good man who deserved better.
  • Everyone reflecting on Talbot's fall from grace.
  • Talbot returns to his wife and son, thinking that his new powers will impress them. Instead, they're terrified of him. It's doubly sad because we see that Talbot's son is actually genuinely impressed at first, and more importantly, happy to see his dad again, until Talbot starts to threaten his mother and everything starts to fall apart. The way Talbot talks about being a superhero can bring a tear to one's eye, too - if the Gravitonium hadn't corrupted his mind, Talbot probably could have used his powers to be an even greater hero than the Avengers, reconciled with his family, and led a happy life helping others and saving lives.
  • The episode ends with the team realizing they can either save Coulson or kill Talbot, but don't have the resources to do both.

    The End 
  • Despite how far Fitz has fallen, it's heartbreaking to see how he goes out (at least, the future self we've known through this season) defying the events that led to the Kree-ruled Bad Future.
    • As he's following the others out of Graviton's ship and the collapsing building, Fitz is caught under falling rubble. As Mack and May dig him out, they see one of the metal sheets has sliced through his chest, and he's pinned down. Delirious from blood loss, Fitz only notes he can't feel his legs, so they'd have to carry him out. Mack and May instead stay with him until he passes, keeping up his spirits.
      • Jemma's face noticeably falls when Mack goes to tell her the news, too. She's had to experience the revelation that Coulson didn't take the Centipede serum, but it's easy to figure she would take Fitz's loss worse.
      • Sadly, Fitz died without Daisy forgiving him. Although the fact that team resolves to find his past self does somewhat lessen the blow.
      • Fridge Tear Jerker: how will Past!Fitz react to everything that happened to him, especially when he's still reeling from his actions in the Framework?
  • Talbot's death can be seen as this. In the end, the Gravitonium had truly corrupted him so much that he was fully beyond saving (despite Daisy's efforts), and still died a full-blown villain without ever any semblance of his former humanity re-awakening, not even once. When Daisy tries to talk him down by citing how much of a hero he already is by risking personal loss to himself, and not being alone with doing so, Talbot does sadly remember Hale giving him a similar speech during his imprisonment.
  • Coulson's final moments, as he finally accepts his impending doom. Especially his first interaction with May about accepting his death after he wakes up. They both know how much time Coulson has left and how much it's affecting the team, but they're so divided on whether he decided too early or even wrongly to die.
    May: I won't detail what we risked to get [the Centipede serum].
    Coulson: I'm aware, and I'm not happy I was left out of that decision.
    May: You wouldn't wake up. But now it's your choice. You're too weak to stand, but we'd like to see you walk out of this room and rejoin the fight. But it's up to you to decide if more time is worth it. I already made it clear how I feel about you.
    Coulson: I think I have too.
    May: But even now, that word scares you.
    Coulson: I'm just having a hard enough time leaving you behind.
    May: [in tears] So don't.
  • When he does choose to get up, Daisy is horrified to learn Coulson didn't take the serum after all. Especially notable when he tells her he's barely able to stand, and looking like he's about to collapse on the spot, even when holding on to an assist handle on the plane.
    Daisy: Just take [the serum], you hear me? You fly back, and you take it! We fought for you, okay? We fought each other for you!
    • And after he actually does collapse, Simmons and Yo-Yo are in a panic, with Yo-Yo desperately performing CPR on Coulson and Simmons immediately running back to his hospital room to give him the serum— only for her to find that it's gone.
      • Spanish or Spanish-speaking viewers who listen closely to Yo-Yo can pick up her whispering "Forgive me, please..." and "God please don't let him die" over and over.
  • By the end, though, Coulson gets a heroic sendoff from the rest of the team, spending his final days in Tahiti with May. Especially with Daisy, who basically has become his daughter. They hug and tell that they love each other, and Coulson tells her how proud he is of her.
  • When Yo-Yo tearfully exclaims that there is nothing that holds them together anymore, Mack interrupts and tells her that there is one thing: Hope. Her reaction to May knocking the Odium onto the ground counts too— for all she knew, mixing it with the Centipede serum was the only option to defeat Talbot and save Earth, even if it eventually turned out not to be the case. May in turn seems truly regretful rejecting the usage of the Odium, even if it meant at least giving Coulson another chance to choose to live.
  • Seeing Team Coulson all happy in the final moments of the episode is gut-wrenching when one has already watched Avengers: Infinity War. This episode takes place just hours before Thanos' Badass Fingersnap, meaning that offscreen, random members would have disintegrated to ash. Imagine that happening to Daisy. Or Coulson. Or May. Or anyone else on the team. This is the last time that we will see them at peace, and even if they are restored, emotional scars are very likely.

Season Six

    Missing Pieces 
  • It's confirmed that Coulson finally passed away during the Time Skip.
    • The end scene gives us some hope that he might be back in some form. However, Clark Gregg just stated that who/whatever we see there is not Coulson.
  • Mack and Elena broke up during the Time Skip, and are still not speaking to each other. And this is on top of how worn down he is by The Chains of Commanding.
  • Jemma's desperation to find Fitz has driven her to the point of not caring about anything else; this drives a wedge between her and the rest of the team, who are growing desperate in light of how long they've been away from Earth.

     Window of Opportunity 
  • In the stinger, Fitz's ship leaving for Kitson just seconds before Jemma arrives in the Zephyr. They were that close to being reunited.

     Fear and Loathing on the Planet of Kitson 
  • While it eventually turns into a Heartwarming Moment, Fitz spends most of the episode being rather horrible towards Enoch. The poor guy is obviously trying his hardest and even calls Fitz his best friend. Then the Chronicom gets decommissioned and goes through a massive existential crisis, spending most of the climax deeply depressed. Fitz eventually snaps him out of it and genuinely reciprocates his friendship.
  • Fitz and Jemma finally reunite, only to have Fitz immediately taken away by a Chronicom hunter.

     Code Yellow 
  • Elena is forced to stab and kill her new boyfriend Agent Keller after he is taken over by a parasitic alien bat that rapidly mutates his body and threatens the entire base with an explosion. Her reaction immediately afterwards is quite breaking, just falling to the ground crying while staring at the massively mutated body.

     The Other Thing 
  • Benson relates how his husband got in a car accident and ended up brain-dead, and how he was forced to make the decision to discontinue life support, over the objections of his in-laws.
  • The fight between May and Sarge, with its juxtaposition of the sweetly smiling Coulson in May's flashbacks and the hostile Sarge being thrashed by her in the present day.
    Sarge: I thought you loved this face!
  • After the Hunters give their ultimatum to the rest of the SHIELD team, Jemma chooses to go with Atarah and the Hunter Chronicoms over Daisy, Piper and Davis' objections.
    • This line:
    Jemma: (willing a smile onto her face) I'll be okay. I'll be with him.

  • Remember the Fridge Tearjerker and the interim before the gang went to find Past!Fitz from "The End"? Well...
    • When Jemma starts to explain the paradoxes that occurred in season 5, she remembers the team discussing the immediate aftermath of the battle in Chicago. Fitz learns from the memory that he made it to the future, but died helping to break the time loop of Earth's destruction. He's horrified and gutted at finding out his fate and the fact that this version of him already proposed to her at that point, and Jemma is clearly dreading recapping the events to him.
      • Jemma also tells him she'd "made a scene" when bringing up the plan to search in outer space for Fitz to Mack; considering her previous grief-stricken reaction, she really took Future!Fitz's death the worst after Mack, with the two of them handling it in completely diverging ways: him struggling with planning Fitz's family notifications and a funeral, and her being so certain they could find the other version of Fitz that she was gunning to search for him before the rest of the team could even pick themselves up, which made them think she was in understandable denial.
    • And when Coulson walks in, Fitz also learns the short version of their leader's death, which brings him to tears:
    Fitz: What's wrong with Coulson? Why are [Daisy and May] talking about him like that?
    Jemma: Fitz, he was sick for a long time. He hid— he hid it from us all.
    Fitz: (motioning to Coulson) That... that's too much. I've go- I've gotta get outta here, that's too much— [breaks off on a sob as he walks out]
  • Jemma accidentally revealing Dark Simmons and explaining how it came into being can hit hard for viewers struggling with their mental health and/ or regulating hidden emotions.
    Jemma: Daddy always told me to put my troubles away so they wouldn't keep me up at night— bad feelings, anger, fear, pain. I would put them in a little box, and they would stay there nice and neat and crushed!
    Fitz: You need therapy! You have some deep, deep pent-up issues!
    Jemma: It's been a rough year!
  • It thankfully works out for FitzSimmons, but watching them loudly hash out many of the things they've done to hurt each other during the series (some of them intentional, like with their personal traits clashing with each other, but most of them not, such as Jemma abandoning the team or Fitz experiencing aftereffects of his darker side) can also be hard to watch, especially for viewers who either have been hitting rough patches in their relationships or already experienced something similar.

     Collision Course (Part 1) 
  • Snowflake's utter shock when Sarge leaves her behind to die with the truck bomb.

     Collision Course (Part 2) 
  • When Deke realizes he can't shut down the atom bomb, it hits the others that this is the end. Snowflake begins to freak out, with Deke's attempts to comfort her falling short. Meanwhile, all Daisy can think to do is take May's hand; if Daisy and May are going to die, it's going to be with the mother/daughter the other never had.
  • Snowflake is heartbroken when she realizes Jaco is going to sacrifice himself to stop the Shrike.
    Jaco: It's okay. I'll be a butterfly.


     From the Ashes 
  • Daisy has brought the sword down to a newly powered up Sarge and is about to kill him, but it's clear he's trying to pull a Suicide by Cop moment...and then he calls her Skye, proving that a part of Coulson really is inside him after all.

     New Life 
  • Even though it's mostly Played for Laughs when Enoch reveals FitzSimmons' part in the plan to escape the Chronicoms alive, it's also sobering and telling from their reactions (which basically boil down to "Yeah, yeah, we get it. This plan would involve us getting in another deadly situation that could keep us apart again.") that they've both become so desensitized to being separated.

Season Seven

    The New Deal 
  • Coulson's brief Heroic BSoD over being an LMD, and just how uncomfortable he and everyone else is about the situation.
  • Jemma doesn't let it show much, but it's clear that this newest separation from Fitz is weighing on her. She also lets slip that she's been apart from the team a lot longer than it seems to them.
  • Elena crying Tears of Joy over the new artificial hands Jemma gives her, which she can actually feel things with.

    Know Your Onions 
  • Freddie sadly reflecting on how his father committed suicide and his mother had a nervous breakdown as a result.
  • Koeing trying to talk Freddie out of joining HYDRA, having learned about their evil from the SHIELD agents, only for Freddie to shoot him in the shoulder and walk away.
  • Downplayed due to him being able to take The Slow Path and catch up with the team without problem eventually, but Enoch being left behind when the Zephyr automatically takes off to catch the time window.

    Out Of The Past 
  • Enoch is overjoyed to hear from S.H.I.E.L.D. contacting him, but each time they contact him, you see the disappointment in his face when the team asks to put him in contact with Zephyr One. By the time Deke calls him, Deke is ecstatic to hear him, but Enoch just patches him through to the team. After that, he coldly rejects the drunk patron's offer of friendship and sadly realizes that he has always been alone, and he may start to have some resentment for S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • Although to be fair, the team was too far away from Enoch to pick him up. Mack was not happy about not being able to go get him.
  • After May learns about her ability to feel someone's emotions by touch, she grabs Coulson, but then feels nothing from him. Granted, Coulson is an LMD and her ability does not work on machines (you can also see the lack of emotion when she first dealt with Enoch this season), it's still sad to see her not have any reaction to the man who she spent his final days with.
  • Sousa reveals in a brief conversation with Coulson about their love lives that his relationship didn't last long, either. Though he doesn't state who, it's heavily implied that he's talking about Peggy.

    A Trout in the Milk 
  • After Daisy shows Sousa her smartphone, Sousa not only laments that he would have missed new technology if he had died but also not being able to say a few goodbyes, most likely to Peggy.

    Adapt or Die 
  • After spending most of the episode trying to save his parents, Mack learns that they were Dead All Along - the Chronicoms killed them long before he found them and stole their faces, and thus he just saved a pair of imposters.
    • Made worse when Chronicom-Lilla tries to beg for her life before Mack throws her off the Quinjet.

    The Totally Excellent Adventures of Mack and the D 
  • Mack spends a year completely withdrawn from the rest of the world.

    As I Have Always Been 
  • The more time keeps resetting, the more agitated Coulson becomes, especially when his and Daisy's efforts to stop the resets result in increasingly larger body counts. Coulson can't stand the thought of losing any of his teammates. Having to watch them all die over and over is tearing him apart.
  • To save the crew, Enoch removes the equivalent of his heart from his body. As he lays dying, he and Coulson discuss death and loneliness, with Enoch sadly noting that even though Coulson and Daisy are sitting with him as he dies, in the end, he will still be alone. He also warns Coulson that, no matter what happens, this will be the last mission for them; Enoch has seen glimpses of the future, and they all show the team breaking up.

  • Once again, Daisy's forced to watch Jiaying die in front of her. Only this time, it's not the bitter and vengeful Jiaying who was willing to kill her own daughter, but the kind and caring woman that Cal spoke of.

    Brand New Day 
  • While Jemma successfully manages to keep Nathaniel from discovering Fitz's whereabouts, it comes at the cost of forgetting who Fitz is.
    • The moment where she realises what's happening hits really hard, with her screaming and crying "I don't want to forget!" over and over while desperately clinging on to a memory image of Fitz.

    The End is At Hand 
  • As if forgetting Fitz wasn't enough, the destruction of Jemma's memory implant utterly shatters her mind, leaving her with no idea who anyone is. Seeing such an intelligent, confident and brave person having to be led around like a frightened child is just heartbreaking.
  • Fitz is finally reunited with the rest of the team, and it should be a massive heartwarming moment as he goes to hug Jemma. But she still doesn't know who he is and flinches away from him.

    What We're Fighting For 
  • A bittersweet example perhaps: The fact that Fitz-Simmons have left SHIELD. While it does mean they get a very well deserved happy future together, they can raise their daughter in safety, and they have kept in touch with the rest of the team, they will inevitably be outsiders from now on.