In Marvel's Cinematic Universe, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been doomed. Top level agents are either dead, arrested or living in exile. S.H.I.E.L.D. has been labelled as Terrorist Organization. So, previous funds should be gone.

But yet, S.H.I.E.L.D. is non-officially running. Who is funding them? Salary for Agents and fuel for Airplane should be expensive. While Maria Hill is going to join Stark Industries, I don't think Stark Industries would take trouble funding a Terrorist Organization which is non-profitable.

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    I think you underestimate agencies such as Shield... They most like have contingency plans for such events. I'm not sure there's canon answers to this, maybe some answers from comic universe might lend some to this. Apr 30, 2014 at 15:09
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    There’s been no evidence that any SHIELD agents have been paid a salary post-schism, and I would be very surprised if they didn’t have reserve tanks of fuel for just this sort of eventuality.
    – alexwlchan
    Apr 30, 2014 at 15:12
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    @alexwlchan It's also essentially a vaguely secret organisation, they probably have all kinds of funds stashed away that people don't know about. Apr 30, 2014 at 15:37
  • Additionally, non-SHIELD terrorist organizations get funds from somewhere already, so no reason to think that SHIELD wouldn't still have sources of income.
    – Xantec
    Apr 30, 2014 at 15:48
  • @Xantec If that so, I'd like to know. That can be answer to the question. Apr 30, 2014 at 16:10

3 Answers 3


If S.H.I.E.L.D. is anything like real-life intelligence agencies, then they would have:

  • Potentially, a black budget: meaning their total amount of funding, much less the individual expenses the funding goes towards, is kept secret, allowing the agency to rapidly expand its size and breadth and funnel their resources into anything they want with little to no oversight.

    This is what allowed the CIA to emerge from the Cold War as a paramilitary force. The CIA's black budget can be siphoned from appropriations earmarked for other federal agencies, such as HUD, and is then laundered via extreme measures to conceal the existence of these funds.

    In other words, intelligence agencies like the CIA are really good at financial manipulation techniques (e.g. structuring or "smurfing" and "creative accounting") that many criminals, such as tax evaders, embezzlers, drug cartels, terrorist organizations, etc. use. So they're most likely running an off-the-book surplus each year, which is money they can use to build secret facilities, purchase unauthorized assets, buy state secrets, run deep black operations, or just stockpile in hidden offshore accounts.

    At some point, if the surplus is large enough, it would probably make sense for the agency to start investing the money, much as many states and countries do with revenue from oil or other commodity exports. S.H.I.E.L.D. could potentially be big enough to have their own sovereign wealth fund. But even without one, they'd likely still have hidden funds accumulated from previous years to operate a skeleton organization for at least a few months.

  • Shell/front companies: You'd expect any intelligence agency worth its salt to have a few front organizations through which to operate under the radar. But, in addition to providing deniability for operations, cover stories for operatives or a means to launder money, legitimate businesses can also be cash cows for the agency, such as Aeroflot is suspected to be for the FSB.

    Could Stark Industries be secretly helping to fund S.H.I.E.L.D.?

  • Illegal deals: In the 80s, the CIA was implicated in smuggling cocaine across the U.S. for the Contras. Technically, it was Brigade 2506 members who actually did the smuggling. But the deal with the Contras was set up by the CIA, and Brigade 2506 is a CIA-sponsored anti-Castro group (known for the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion). And, if it came down to it, a rogue intelligence agency could easily use its global network of assets and underworld connections to make money for itself.

    S.H.I.E.L.D. might not smuggle drugs or sell weapons directly. But their R&D into alien tech might yield civilian applications that they could secretly sell or generate revenue through the patent licensing of.

    At this point, it's also not beyond the realm of possibility that at least some intelligence agencies might be using their extensive surveillance network to make money on the stock market. Corporate espionage by the U.S. intelligence community has been well established, so they definitely have the information access to potentially profit from insider trading. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s surveillance and spy network is at least as advanced as the NSA and CIA's.

So, even ignoring the fact that most S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are likely ideologically driven as well as financially comfortable enough to go a few years without pay, an organization as large as S.H.I.E.L.D. should have no problem funding itself for a while. At worst, they sell off some land and other nonessential assets and put nonessential departments like S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy into hibernation.


Here's my stab at answering this question. First of all we know that since they are now labeled a terrorist organization this means that yes they are no longer funded by the Government. This doesn't mean however that they depleted all of their resources though. Remember that S.H.I.E.L.D. is technically an espionage / tactical organization, this would mean that they have tons of safeguards, contingency plans, and backups in place.

Just look at the fact that everyone thinks that Director Fury is dead, and he had a secret base that was specifically made so that Coulson would find it.

S.H.I.E.L.D. most likely has extra reserves of fuel, equipment, and money just in case something like this happened. It doesn't necessarily mean that S.H.I.E.L.D. is doomed, it's certainly still operating even despite what has happened. The only thing that we know for certain is that currently the public image of S.H.I.E.L.D. is doomed.


In all the three seasons and in all these episodes it is never mentioned that SHIELD is getting funding from which source. In the previous two seasons as they were working with the government it can be presumed that their funding was coming from the government. But in the season three as they started working against the US government now from how they are managing their organization is never shown nor understood. Moreover are the SHIELD agents working without salary this is questionable as these days no body works free; along with running the entire organization that includes electricity and fuel and maintenance of aircraft without any funding is not understood. The director, the agents and the clinical staff needs some compensation for their work which is not shown once they are no more backed by government. In each episode they are running around and jets flying here and there without maintenance and funding looks joke and absurd which needs to be high lightened in the upcoming episodes.

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    This doesn't actually answer the question, rather restates it. You might want to elaborate; see the accepted answer for a template for a template of a good answer. Nov 26, 2016 at 14:50

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