18 intriguing fan theories about what's going on with Agent Coulson

Contributed by
Oct 1, 2013, 4:04 PM EDT

Coulson lives, but how?

Ever since it was announced, nearly a year ago, that fan favorite Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) would be returning from the dead to co-star in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series, fans have been talking about exactly how his apparent death at the hands of Loki in The Avengers would be explained. The Marvel Comics universe is filled with resurrections, after all. No one stays dead except Uncle Ben, and over the years comic-book creators have come up with many, many ways to return from the great beyond. So, which one would the show use to justify Coulson's new life? Would it simply use the faked-death excuse, or go for something more exotic? Would it be scientific, magical or just plain weird? Would it be a time-honored Marvel plot device, or something completely new?

So the theories began forming, and as the show heads into its second episode, they're still alive and well. Coulson's own explanation is that he was dead for a few minutes and then simply revived by medics, at which point he was sent on a nice vacation to Tahiti. But apparently that's not the whole story, and it seems we'll have to watch a good chunk of the season before we get to see the full picture. In the meantime, fans are still talking, throwing out everything from Life Model Decoys to a Doctor Strange spell to a blood transfusion from Wolverine (yes, really). We've gathered 18 such fan theories below for you to peruse. Do any of them make sense to you? If not, what's your Coulson Lives theory?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8/7C on ABC.