9:24am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Agents of SHIELD' to End With Season 7 on ABC
Agents of SHIELD's days of surprising renewals by ABC have come to an end.
The Marvel drama will officially end with its previously announced seventh season on the Disney-owned network. The series, starring Clark Gregg and Ming Na, scored an early renewal back in November — ahead of its sixth season — as the last order of business for then-ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey.
That announcement came as a surprise. The show, which had reduced licensing fees to secure its fifth-season pickup, has hardly been a top performer for the broadcaster. But, as the first Marvel TV foray, it is proving to be the most enduring.
Agents of SHIELD, co-created by Joss and Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, moved to Friday during season five and continues to air on the typically little-watched night — and will remain there in its current sixth season this summer. With live-plus-7 Nielsen lifts, it averages just a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49, shy of 4 million viewers. Still, the show remains an international draw, and the fact that it is produced by corporate siblings ABC Studios and Marvel Television has always worked in its favor.
While the series will sign off with a whimper, that is far from how the drama started. Agents of SHIELD was Marvel's first venture into live-action primetime scripted programming and helped usher in a new era of comic book TV shows for the Disney-owned media giant. Ahead of its debut, every casting was met with the highest of expectations and excitement. However, the series debuted to lackluster numbers that quickly declined, as many in the fanboy crowd were expecting an experience similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the company's feature side.
Efforts by Marvel and ABC to expand on its footprint for the network did not go smoothly. Captain America TV spinoff Agent Carter — starring Hayley Atwell reprising her feature role — was ordered to series and lasted only two seasons despite glowing reviews (it had lackluster ratings). Marvel and ABC's attempts to develop other projects — including a SHIELD spinoff — failed after multiple attempts following Imax-backed Inhumans. The latter drama, produced in partnership with Imax, was canceled after one critically panned season. It had launched in select movie theaters in a bid to bring in the MCU audience.
Marvel then turned its attention to cable and streaming, setting a massive four-show deal (and a miniseries) with Netflix that eventually included Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, The Defenders and The Punisher. All have since been canceled as Disney cleared the decks on Netflix and the two companies' relationship soured.
All of Marvel's TV shows now air on Disney-owned platforms. The two companies are turning to feature-film spinoffs with their A-list stars reprising their roles for a handful of limited series for Disney's forthcoming streaming platform, Disney+. Those include Loki and Falcon & Winter Soldier, as well as Vision and Secret Witch. Elsewhere, Marvel's roster also includes a Netflix-like slate of animated series for Disney-controlled Hulu as well as the live-action drama The Runaways and the upcoming Ghost Rider (which stars the same actor who played the role on SHIELD). Over at Disney-owned Freeform, the cabler has Cloak and Dagger continuing to do well. At FX, the cabler's Noah Hawley-led Legion is currently airing its final season.
For ABC, meanwhile, Agents of SHIELD joins Modern Family and How to Get Away With Murder as long-running series that will end during the 2019-2020 broadcast season.
Deadline was first to report the news.