While The Avengers killed Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson in the 2012 event film, Marvel Entertainment, and producer Jeph Loeb had a different idea. Instead of letting the fan-favorite character be laid to rest, they resurrected him for his own television series on ABC.
The show would go on for eight years, seven seasons, and 136 episodes. Not only that, but it ended up adding some beloved characters to the Marvel library.
While SHIELD was never directly involved in the larger stories playing out across the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it offered fans plenty of fun connections along the way.
Top 8 MCU Crossovers in Agents of SHIELD
1.) Ghost Rider Using Doctor Strange Magic
The introduction of Ghost Rider to Season 4 was one of the best choices the show ever made. By the end of the Season, fans were treated to another surprise: Robbie Reyes was able to cast the same portal magic that Doctor Strange uses.
In this case, the Spirit of Vengeance created a portal so that he could bring the Darkhold to hell, taking the evil book out of reach from those who would want to use its power.
Sadly, this crossover doesn’t seem to fit the canon of the MCU anymore.
2.) Peggy Carter Leads the SSR
To this day, Agent Carter remains the only Marvel Entertainment show to be fully considered canon by the folk in charge at Marvel Studios.
As a pre-cursor to her spin-off series, Hayley Atwell's Peggy Carter kicked off the SHIELD's Season 2 premiere with a flashback sequence of her leading the Howling Commandos (now part of SHIELD's predecessor, the SSR) to infiltrate the last remaining HYDRA base.
This wasn't the only Agent Carter crossover with Agents of SHIELD though, as Enver Gjokaj's Daniel Sousa also made his way over to the show through some time travel mishaps. Agent Carter's full-canon status also made Sousa’s involvement in Agents of SHIELD’s final season much more meaningful.
Sometime after the events of Agent Carter, Sousa is killed after becoming suspicious that Hydra had infiltrated SHIELD from the inside. After Coulson and his team are forced to time travel in their conflict with the Chronicom Hunters, the heroes end up inadvertently saving Sousa from his fated death.
This leads the character to join team SHIELD across a handful of missions in various years, and he eventually becomes Daisy Johnson’s boyfriend, living with her in an alternate 2019.
It’s a shame the big Agent Carter crossover can’t be appreciated more since many of the time-traveling shenanigans witnessed in the final season directly contradicts established universal rules later in later MCU projects.
3.) The Accords Enter the Picture
The crossover with Captain America: Civil War isn’t quite as big as The Winter Soldier, but it was still a fun plot thread to see added to the series—even if it was fairly minimal in the grand scheme of things.
In Season 3, Episode 20, titled “Emancipation”, Air Force General Glenn Talbot visits the team’s HQ to talk to Agent Coulson about registering all of SHIELD’s “undocumented enhanced assets”—aka all the Inhumans running around.
While the situation doesn’t get as hairy as it does for Captain America and Iron Man, the debate of signing the Accords is discussed among the show’s cast of characters. This gives fans some interesting insight into what these characters feel about the situation unfolding in the MCU.
The show’s integration of the Accords also leads to Jeffrey Mace coming aboard and being hired as the new leader of SHIELD as it became a legitimate organization once again.
4.) Lady Sif Meets Team SHIELD
Jamie Alexander’s Lady Sif has appeared in two Agents of SHIELD episodes.
The first, titled “Yes Men”, followed the Asgardian coming to Earth as she hunted down Lorelei, the sister of the villainous Enchantress. Not long after coming to the planet, she runs into Agent Coulson and his team for the first time.
Her second adventure with the team, “Who You Really Are”, saw the Asgardian lose her memories after being sent to Earth by Heimdall to intercept a Kree landing on Earth. Coulson and the crew helped her recover as the show worked to unravel the developing Inhuman mysteries after Daisy Johnson (then named Skye) got her powers.
5.) Nick Fury Shows His Face
While Nick Fury appeared at the end of the series' second episode for a quick joke, it’s not until the first season's finale that the character makes an impactful appearance.
The former lead of SHIELD intercepts a weak distress signal from Fitz and Simmons, saving their lives. Fury then teams up with Agent Coulson, where he even gifts Phil the Destroyer gun that the show's lead once shot at Loki in The Avengers.
Alongside Deathlok, the duo is able to defeat powered-up Hydra agent John Garrett, who served as one of the show’s big bads and was played by the late Bill Paxton. Not long after, Fury officially makes Coulson the new Director of SHIELD.
Another fun connection Fury has to the members of SHIELD is that the laser-cutting tunnel-boring device he used to escape Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was invented by Fitz.
6.) Helping the Avengers
In the 19th episode of Season 2, “The Dirty Half Dozen”, a fun connection between SHIELD and Avengers: Age of Ultron was revealed.
It turns out that Earth’s Mightiest Heroes only knew where to find Baron von Strucker and Loki’s scepter thanks to intel Coulson passed off to Maria Hill—who personally alerted the Avengers off-screen. All the events of the second big crossover film might never have happened if it was not for Phil Coulson.
Agent Coulson’s aid to the Avengers didn’t end there. He was also a key part of Theta Project, the program responsible for fixing up the Helicarrier Nick Fury brought to Sokovia in the final act of Age of Ultron.
7.) Gideon Malick as the Leader of Hydra
Originally, Powers Boothe’s Gideon Malick was just a scary silhouette in The Avengers as an intimidating member of the World Security Council on a monitor.
Agents of SHIELD surprised everyone by turning him into the de facto leader of Hydra itself.
Malick teamed up with Grant Ward so that Hydra could finish Project Distant Star Return, one of the organization’s oldest goals meant to ensure the return of the monstrous Hive. That dream is eventually realized—though it’s also eventually responsible for Malick’s death after betraying the organization he once led.
8.) Hail Hydra
Many would argue that the show’s big crossover with Captain America: The Winter Soldier saved and revitalized the series amid a slow and questionable start. Everything was flipped on its head when Hydra’s secret came out.
One of the biggest effects of the status quo shift was the betrayal of Brett Dalton’s Grant Ward. Up until that point, he had shown no signs of being anything but a loyal Agent of SHIELD.
Even worse, he was the love interest to Chloe Bennet’s Skye, leaving fans doubly shocked by the twist.
This is easily the most impact that the events happening in the MCU had on Agents of SHIELD during its seven-season run.
Fans Want More of SHIELD’s Cast
With the insane amount of content Marvel Studios pushed out onto Disney+ over the last two years, fans could easily have left Agent of SHIELD in the rearview mirror at this point.
But that’s not the case, as fans are still hoping the show's cast of heroes will return in the future. After all, if Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Daredevil characters can return, then the door is never truly closed.
Not only should she and the rest of team SHIELD return, but Marvel Studios still has yet to explore Inhumans properly or effectively in the wider MCU. After Black Bolt’s appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, perhaps it could happen sooner rather than later.
Agents of SHIELD is now streaming on Disney+.