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Agents of SHIELD just made a fan theory from 2012 very real

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Coulson lives

A man and two women stand on a beach in front of a forest. They are all looking vaguely lost and wearing black. ABC

This weekend saw the end of the penultimate season of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. In classic SHIELD fashion, the titular Agents found themselves pulled apart by different threats, only to come together in the nick of time — ”time” carrying more weight this time around, thanks to those final moments.

[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Agents of SHIELD’s two-part season six finale, “The Sign/New Life.”]

A man with a buzzed head — Sarge, an Agent Coulson lookalike — looks pensively to the side while wearing a brown jacket. A soldier in a helmet and combat gear stands in the background. ABC

SHIELD’s finale was primarily focused on bringing its story of new life and creation to a close. The season’s main villain, Sarge — a man wearing the face of the now dead Agent Phil Coulson — clearly wasn’t long for this world, but the question was always going to be what would come next. Actor Clark Gregg isn’t leaving the show, after all. We now know the answer answer Coulson is going to be a Life Model Decoy, or LMD, in season seven.

Why does Sarge look like Coulson?

Recently, it was revealed that the reason why the character of Sarge looks like Coulson because he is Coulson, sort of. A trio of Monoliths — giant rocks that can move someone through time or space, or create things — exploded, creating and sending a copy of Coulson across the stars, and it wound up in a realm housing non-corporeal spirits. One of those spirits named Pachakutik took control of the body that would later be Sarge, and each time he gets killed, he remembers more of who he is and unlocks latent powers.

Since learning his true identity, there’ve been two identities fighting for control of Sarge: Pachakutik and Coulson himself, with the former Agent taking hold only in very short bursts. But this week’s episode saw Pachkutik’s demise on the blade of his own sword.

Where’s our next Coulson to come from? Well, it has to do with the Chronicoms.

Who are the Chronicoms?

The Chronicoms are ancient synthetic robots who have been showing up throughout the season. Their homeworld was destroyed by the Shrike, the alien monsters our heroes have been battling all episode, and they’ve since been hunting down Fitz and Simmons to learn how to time travel and undo their planet’s destruction.

But, eventually, they just decided to forget about saving their planet and decided to make Earth their new home. The Chronicom Enoch even told the pair of scientists that there was a way to save all their allies who had fallen to the Shrike and their murderous creator, Izel.

The majority of the SHIELD crew takes a trip back to New York — only, it’s the New York of 1931. That’s right: for its last adventure SHIELD is going back, back to the past. They’ll need a guide to get around the year 1931 without arousing suspicion, and that’s where Coulson comes in.

Phil Coulson was a big SHIELD history buff, so together, Simmons and Enoch built an Life Model Decoy for him, upgraded with Chronicom tech and updated with all of Coulson’s memories right up to his passing.

A man with short buzzed hair smirks — his face is smug. He stands against a neutral grey background with strip lights behind and is wearing a suit and tie. ABC

Coulson is an LMD now

Coulson becoming an LMD is shocking, but not entirely surprising, given everything that’s happened with the character’s history. When the character first died in the first Avengers movie, theories ran wild about Coulson coming back as an LMD (other outlandish theories pegged him as potentially becoming the Vision).

During SHIELD’s fourth season, Coulson was one of many Agents who received an LMD of their own when the android Aida kidnapped several members of his team in an effort to make sure the organization wouldn’t thwart her plans. The Coulson LMD was killed when May’s LMD had an existential crisis and blew the two of them up.

What’ll happen next for this new Coulson LMD will have to wait until Agents of SHIELD returns for its seventh and final season next summer.


Justin is a Kansas City, Missouri, freelance writer and is on Twitter often, @GigawattConduit. He also is an avid lover of M&M McFlurries from McDonald’s, and accepts that he has an addiction to them.