Ever since its inception, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was meant to tie into the Marvel Cinematic Universe of films. The show has sometimes struggled with maintaining those connections, and the films stopped paying attention to whatever was happening on the television side of things a long time ago (if they ever did). But it looks like the series' swan song will tie into the movies in a big way — so big that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. won't even air Season 6 until after next year's Avengers 4 premieres.
After being on the bubble of possible cancelation, it was recently revealed that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be able to go out on its own terms with an abbreviated sixth and final season consisting of 13 episodes. However, after releasing their official fall schedule today with no sign of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ABC revealed that the series would not premiere until next summer, according to EW. So why are fans having to wait over a year between seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Well, it all boils down to the show finding a way to incorporate that massive, life-changing event that took place at the conclusion of Marvel's latest cinematic blockbuster, Avengers: Infinity War.
The conclusion of Infinity War featured the supervillain Thanos, in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet, snapping his fingers and erasing fifty percent of all life in the universe. That included half the population of Earth, and since the final few episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fifth season take place concurrently with the film, it stands to reason that the characters will either try and figure out what's going on, see half their own ranks disintegrate into ash, or ignore the event entirely — at least for their season finale. Whichever direction Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. chooses to take, the show will definitely benefit from not returning until after the Avengers clean up Thanos' mess.
Think about it. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was very much in danger of being canceled, so the show's writers understandably set up this year's season finale as a possible series finale in case the show wasn't renewed. The episode is even title "The End." Therefore, it would make little sense for half the cast to disappear because of something that happens in a movie, and then leave the audience without a resolution regarding their fates due to the show ending. Ditto if people outside the main cast start disappearing. So in all likelihood, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will ignore the "snap" in its season 5 finale and instead conclude its own narrative its been weaving all season. But that creates its own issues.
Since the show has already established that it's taking place at the same time as Infinity War, it can't completely ignore the apocalyptic event that happened in that film. By the time season 6 rolls around, the show will have to address half the Earth disappearing, but the agents themselves would be lame ducks if the season were to premiere before Avengers 4. The series obviously can't solve the problem Thanos caused — The Avengers, and Captain Marvel, will have to do that on the big screen next May — which means the show would conclude its series in a very strange place with the world in utter chaos and despair... if it were to debut in the fall. But by postponing the episodes until after Avengers 4, the series can continue as if the event never happened, or they can simply address it as a thing in the past; depending on how Avengers 4 works everything out.
In any case, while it may be tough for fans of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to wait until next summer to see the series' final season, it ultimately benefits the show by avoiding getting caught up in all the drama Thanos caused in Avengers: Infinity War.