Is an Agents of SHIELD cancellation possible this year? Although this Marvel show has been on ABC for several seasons now, it’s never found the fan base and numerous followers that result in the kind of high Nielsen ratings the network would like to have on a Tuesday night. This may be one of the reasons the show this season slipped back one hour to a later timeslot.
From a ratings perspective, moving Agents of SHIELD to the later timeslot seems to have made things worse – rather than better. As reported by International Business Times, at the time it was suggested that moving one hour later on the schedule would allow them to have a more adult tone – including slightly more realistic and graphic violence.
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For instance, all the talk about “ICER’s” – essentially knock out guns that don’t actually injure or kill anyone – has been dropped from the scripts. Now when people shoot one another, it actually has consequences for the characters.
But the appearance of a more gritty realism hasn’t been sufficient to pop the show up in the Nielsen ratings. In fact, this last week’s episode had the lowest ratings the series has seen since the opening episode of this season. They are down more than 26 percent in the 18 to 49 demographic. And that’s not good if you want to stay on the air.
Unfortunately, even though many of the problems that the show suffered from early on – such as its monster of the week scenario – have since been largely solved by the show runners, many of the potential fans of the series tried it in the first season and dropped it after only a few episodes. They never came back.
The introduction of the Inhumans storyline last season – as well as the Ghost Rider this season – was meant to charge up the show and give it new life by allowing for actual superhumans to be on the show. Inhumans are essentially Marvel TVs version of X-Men. This is ironic, given that the X-Men are actually a Marvel product in the comic books. However, during a time when the company was facing bankruptcy it sold off the X-Men to Fox Studios and never got them back.
This Inhuman storyline has continued into the current season, with many of the characters in Agents of SHIELD – as well as many of the agents themselves – being Inhumans. Even the current Director of SHIELD on the show was for a time thought to be an Inhuman – although last week’s episode made it clear that this wasn’t exactly the case.
But for all this, Agents of SHIELD has always hovered on the knife edge between being renewed and being canceled at ABC. And it’s not as if ABC is unwilling to cancel Marvel shows that don’t work out for it. Agent Carter is an example of this.
The Agents of SHIELD spinoff Agent Carter was a kind of chronological prequel to Agents of SHIELD, starring Hayley Atwell as the titular character Peggy Carter. She had previously played this character in the first Captain America film, and in this new ABC series portrayed the character is one of the founders of the SHIELD agency.
However, after two years Agent Carter was canceled by ABC – despite the fact that it only had a handful of episodes each year. The simple fact was, Agent Carter was never able to build the kind of audience ABC was expecting from a Marvel property – particularly one featuring a character from one of the highly successful movies.
There is no reason to think that the same thing couldn’t happen to Agents of Shield if its ratings continue to drop the way they have over the last few weeks. And while this will be a huge disappointment for fans of the show, all good things come to an end.
[Featured Image by ABC]