The fourth season of the American television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., based on the Marvel Comics organization S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division), revolves around the character of Phil Coulson and other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and allies as they deal with various enhanced individuals following the signing of the Sokovia Accords. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. The season is produced by ABC Studios, Marvel Television, and Mutant Enemy Productions, with Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Jeffrey Bell serving as showrunners.
The season was ordered in March 2016, with production taking place from that July until the following April. Alongside Clark Gregg, who reprises his role as Coulson from the film series, principal cast members Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, and Henry Simmons return from previous seasons while John Hannah was promoted to the principal cast after appearing in a recurring role in season three. Due to its broadcast schedule, the season was split into three "pods": Ghost Rider for the first eight episodes, featuring recurring guest star Gabriel Luna as the supernatural Robbie Reyes / Ghost Rider to coincide with the film Doctor Strange (which explores mysticism in the MCU); LMD, referring to the new Life Model Decoy program, for the next seven episodes, focusing on recurring guest star Mallory Jansen as the LMD Aida; and Agents of Hydra for the final seven episodes, partly set in a "what if" virtual reality that allows the return of former series regular Brett Dalton as Grant Ward. The season is also affected by the events of the film Captain America: Civil War, and continues storylines established in the canceled series Agent Carter.
The first episode premiered at a screening on September 19, 2016, with the season then airing for 22 episodes on ABC, from September 20, 2016 until May 16, 2017. The premiere debuted to 3.58 million viewers, down from previous season premieres but average for the series. Critical response to the season was positive, with many feeling that each pod was better than the last and in particular praising the visual effects and tone of Ghost Rider, the writing and acting for LMD, and the character development and political commentary explored during Agents of Hydra. The season saw series low viewership, but was still considered to have solved ABC's problem during its timeslot, and the show was renewed for a fifth season on May 11, 2017.