Melinda May/Phil Coulson
|Pairing:||Phil Coulson/Melinda May|
|Alternative name(s):||Philinda, Mayson, Coulvary|
|Fandom:||Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Marvel Cinematic Universe)|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Phil/Melinda, also known as Philinda, is a popular pairing in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fandom between Agents Phil Coulson and Melinda May. It's the second most popular pairing in the fandom on AO3 after FitzSimmons and the only romantic pairing with Melinda May to break into the top ten, although Melinda May & Daisy Johnson is also in the top 10. The pairing was eventually canonized, but it was popular even before then owing to the long off-screen history between the two characters and their chemistry.
In the first season of the show, Melinda is a member of Phil's hand-picked team of specialist agents who handle unusual cases. The pair are clearly long-time colleagues who have worked together in the field in the past and have a strong level of trust and mutual respect. While the two are not hinted as having a romantic past, they are shown to have a close friendship. Phil is the only member of the team who knows the true story behind what happened in Bahrain, a mission Melinda was on as a younger agent which went badly, and the origins of her nickname "The Cavalry." In turn, Melinda is entrusted by Nick Fury to keep an eye on Phil and report on any strange symptoms he exhibits following his resurrection by Project T.A.H.I.T.I.
Melinda is one of the only members of the team who knows the truth about the side-effects Phil has been experiencing from the project, and Phil trusts her to keep watch over him and even to put him down if he becomes dangerous or violent. She is often shown speaking more bluntly and honestly to Phil than other members of the team, and he clearly values her advice. The two share a dry sense of humor, and often trade sarcastic jokes and quips while out on a mission together.
Phil faces his feelings for Melinda in season 4 and expresses a hope that they can be together. They kiss, but Phil later discovers Melinda has been kidnapped by Holden Radcliffe and replaced by a life model decoy. Upon escaping the virtual reality simulation known as the Framework, Melinda is entirely unawares of her LMDs' actions and Phil is unwilling to admit what happened, only going so far as to say he drank their celebratory bottle of Haig whiskey. At the end of the season they agree to open another bottle after they've saved the world.
Pushed by the revelation that Coulson is dying in season 5, Phil and Melinda finally admit their feelings for each other. They end the series by going to the real Tahiti to live out the remainder of their lives together.
In early seasons, Phil/Melinda was the third most popular het pairing in the fandom on AO3 after FitzSimmons and Grant Ward/Skye. After Grant Ward was revealed to be Hydra, however, the popularity of Grant Ward/Skye fell slightly and Phil/Melinda is currently the second most popular pairing overall. The pairing also received a boost later in the series' run when it was teased in season 4 before becoming canon in season 5. It's often included as a side or background pairing in both FitzSimmons fic and Avengers Tower style ensemble fic in the MCU fandom, but despite this the pairing does not suffer from Bruce Banner Syndrome, possibly owing to its overall popularity.
Common Tropes in Fanworks
- "Husband & Wife":Owing to the history between the two and the level of mutual trust and camaraderie they share, as well as their not-infrequent bickering, many Phil/Melinda shippers refer to the two as "married" or as each other's "wife" or "husband".
- Parents: Additionally, during season 1, before Skye's parentage was revealed, some fans theorized or headcanoned that Phil and Melinda could be her real parents, and many fanworks creators created works in which Skye is the biological or adopted daughter of Phil and Melinda.
- Fake/Pretend Relationship: When Phil and Melinda go on missions together, they are occasionally required to pose as a couple, which gives rise to a number of pseudo-romantic situations in fanworks, or opportunities for the pretend couple trope.
- Soulmate AU: Soulmarks are another common trope for the pair, due to the popularity of soulmark/soulmate AUs in the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Canon Divergence AU: Possibly because of the various angsty events in canon, AUs where the fic diverges from canon are also quite common with this pairing.
- Shadows And Shapes by katalizi, A mission gone wrong leaves Melinda May with complete memory loss, but when she discovers the person she used to be she's not sure she even wants to remember.
- A Matter of Circumstance by daisyqiaolianmay (skinman), For the Prompt: "Coulson and May dealing with a now passed out Skye from episode 13 or season 2 after she directs her powers inward. Maybe even Andrew watching them fuss over their 'little girl'"
- Giving Up is Easy, But We'll Take the Challenge by PanicMoon15, Essentially a fic following Skye's life from the age of 8, when she was fostered by Melinda and Phil.
- Coulson and May by E
- Coulson and May by Taipu556
- Philinda 24 Kisses: Day 5, Archived version by Su
- space peace, Archived version by akachankami
- AoS | Coulson and May + Skye | We Might Fall (AU)
- Melinda May & Phil Coulson // How rare and beautiful
- may and coulson || the legend of the cavalry
- may & coulson || beautiful crime [+4x15]
Archives and Communities
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (TV) tag on AO3. Accessed 8 Mar 2023.
- Gifset by fyeahlparrilla, Tumblr. Posted April 10, 2015 (Accessed August 21, 2017).
- Tumblr post by marcuskaen, Tumblr. Posted February 1, 2017 (Accessed August 21, 2017).
- Tumblr post by 924inlegend, Tumblr. Posted November 11, 2013 (Accessed August 21, 2017).
- Tumblr post by fyeahlparrilla, Tumblr. Posted April 6, 2015 (Accessed August 21, 2017).