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SYFY WIRE Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. creative team finally explains Fitz’s absence for most of the final season

By Trent Moore & Brian Silliman

The series finale of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is in the books, and most of our burning questions have finally been answered — so what was the deal with Iain De Caestecker’s Fitz being MIA for most of the final season?

In a press roundtable with SYFY WIRE, producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen opened up about why Fitz spent virtually all of the season off-screen, holding down a mysterious post to ground the team back to the “prime” timeline — and even that reveal didn’t come until the final episode. As many suspected, it all came down to real-world scheduling and the show’s shooting schedule. Though they didn’t go deep into specifics, Whedon confirmed it was “scheduling,” and a move they had to get creative to work around with the final storyline.

Tanchareon added that Iain is an “exceptionally talented actor” and indicated everyone is still on good terms. It all simply came down to a scheduling issue that kept Iain unavailable during the brunt of the shoot.

So as fans are well aware, Season 7 turned out to be fairly Fitz-lite, if not entirely by original design. But once it was clear Iain couldn’t be around as much as hoped, Tanchareon said they used it as a way to strengthen the familial bond between Deke (Jeff Ward) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) this year. It also helped build plenty of anticipation for Fitz’s long-awaited return in the finale.

“So we did what we could and we tried to make it rewarding with the pieces ... Sometimes it's 3D chess. But one of the things that we thought worked is that it brought Simmons and Deke closer together and how to make the reward of him missing so long pay off,” Tanchareon explained. “The only way that we could think is a super happy ending and also that for him, it was this much time and that he actually hadn't missed anything, for him. That was how we answered that in our minds and on the show.”

Time travel did present an interesting creative opportunity to lessen the blow of Iain’s absence, as not much time had passed for him during his time off-screen. We also get flashbacks to the years that Fitz and Simmons had together working on the time machine in space, raising their daughter (surprise!), and eventually finally getting their happy ending in retirement.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series finale aired Wednesday night.