'Agents of SHIELD' Gets a Very Early Season 7 Renewal at ABC

The Walt Disney Co. sure loves Marvel. Despite bubble ratings for Agents of SHIELD's most recent run, and many months to go before its abbreviated sixth season, ABC has given an early green light to a seventh season.

To say the timing of this announcement comes as a bit of a surprise would not do it justice. The show, which had reduced licensing fees to secure its fifth-season pickup at the Disney-owned net, is hardly a top performer for the channel. But, as the first Marvel TV foray, it is proving to be the most enduring. The latest renewal, one that will keep Agents of SHIELD on the air through at least 2020, comes as Netflix’s Marvel slate is being condensed and Big Disney plots more aggressive Marvel serials for its upcoming streaming platform, Disney+.

Agents of SHIELD, co-created by Joss and Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, moved to Friday during its previous run. With live-plus-7 Nielsen lifts, it averaged 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.

Marvel TV’s current roster includes a lot of Netflix properties whose futures are still up in the air — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Punisher and The Defenders — as well as Hulu’s Runaways, Freeform's Cloak and Dagger, FX's Legion and Fox's The Gifted. The big future for the TV arm of the most powerful brand in box office seems to be on Disney+. (A series starring Tom Hiddleston as comedic Thor foil Loki has already been confirmed.)

Agents of SHIELD stars Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Henry Simmons, Natalia Cordova-Buckley and Jeff Ward. News of the renewal notably did not include mention of longtime star Clark Gregg, whose character's fate was left in limbo in the most recent finale.

Agents of SHIELD is the first series that ABC has officially tapped for the 2019-20 TV season. Like season six, the order is for 13 episodes. There's also no news on whether that will be the final run for the drama.