'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' By The Numbers: How Does It Compare To 'Heroes,' 'Dollhouse' And More?

Skye Coulson

by Alex Zalben

If you guys like graphs and discussions of television ratings, boy are you in for a treat. The viewership numbers for the second episode of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." have been released, and the internets have exploded into gloom and doom – mainly because the unsupportable record-breaking numbers from the first week fell by as much as 30% in week two.

Specifically, the show was down from 11.9 million viewers in week one, to 8.4 million viewers in week two. And yes, that means that "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." will be cancelled in a week, we should start sending fish tanks to ABC to protest, and hope doesn't exist anymore. But is it really the end of Marvel television, or just a blip? To figure it out, we made a graph. That's right: a graph.


... And you're looking at that, and you're all like, "Tell me in English," and then we're like, "Haha, very funny Agent Grant Ward," and then you're like, "No seriously, what does this data mean?" So here's the skinny, and why we crunched this the way we did.

The Y-axis (the up and down one) is millions of viewers. The X-axis (the side to side one) is each episode, all the way up to 13, because "S.H.I.E.L.D." has at least a thirteen-episode order. Now, let's take a look at what shows we decided to compare it against, and why:

V (2009): When S.H.I.E.L.D. broke records last week, it was noted everywhere this was the highest rated debut since 2009's "V" reboot, so this seemed like a natural comparison point. Like S.H.I.E.L.D., V saw a huge decline in its second week, held relatively steady for about three more weeks, and then free-falled. However, it's important to note two things: "V" was really, really bad and it still got a second season on ABC. So even if "S.H.I.E.L.D." follows the exact same pattern, there's no guarantee this is the end for Coulson's Heroes.

Heroes (2006): Speaking of heroes, "Heroes" was a HUGE hit on NBC, and the last time a superhero show connected in a major way with a mainstream audience. It was also produced – and sometimes written – by Jeph Loeb, who is producing "S.H.I.E.L.D." Unlike "S.H.I.E.L.D.," though, it held steady at the astronomical high of the first episode, and was a true cultural phenomena. That said, 2006 was well before the myriad of viewing and downloading options we have today, almost all of which are not counted in overnight ratings numbers. It was also before cars were invented. True story.

N.C.I.S. (2003): Even though there was a two-episode back-door pilot of rating-time-slot-competitor "N.C.I.S." on the previous season of "J.A.G.," the show grew nearly every episode, and continues to grow every season. No joke here: are there seriously that many mysteries people can solve on boats? Anyway, as long as "S.H.I.E.L.D." goes up against a monster hit like "N.C.I.S." that isn't just drawing a huge viewership interested in military espionage and action, but has managed to actually grow it's audience over the course of ELEVEN FRICKIN' YEARS, our friends at Marvel might have a slight problem.

Dollhouse (2009): The last Joss Whedon show on the air was on FOX, and held remarkably steady over the course of its first, truncated season. That said, it was on FOX, and at the time, no one really watched FOX, so there you go.

The Cape (2011): Okay, we're just being mean bringing the most reviled superhero show of the modern era into the equation—but it does give us an uneasy feeling in our tummies that "S.H.I.E.L.D." is now even with where The Cape was at the same point in their respective runs.

So what do you think, folks? Is love dead, and we're now living in a post-happiness society? Or is there hope for "S.H.I.E.L.D." yet? (Hint: sure there is)

What do you think "S.H.I.E.L.D.'s" future holds? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter!

Movie & TV Awards 2018