How ‘Agents of SHIELD’ Survived 7 Seasons as the ‘Black Sheep’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Ahead of Marvel’s expansion into Disney+, a look back at how its first TV attempt went for naught

“Agents of SHIELD” begins its final mission on Wednesday and will wrap up seven seasons of existing almost exclusively on the periphery of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

When it first debuted in 2013, “SHIELD” was supposed to mark the MCU’s arrival to the small screen. After all, it starred Clark Gregg, reprising his role as Phil Coulson and the first season featured cameo appearances by Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Despite Marvel TV chief Jeph Loeb’s often-stated assurance, “It’s all connected,” the connection between the films and TV shows often felt tenuous. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” even introduced a conspiracy that seemed to threaten the premise of “Agents of SHIELD.”

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Tim Baysinger

TV reporter • tim.baysinger@thewrap.com • Twitter: @tim_bays