Prime Earth (Earth-616)
Grant Ward appeared as an agent of the HYDRA empire. He talked to Arnim Zola about the fate of an other Hydra agent.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Grant Ward grew up in the Massachusetts area. His childhood was less than ideal, his older brother Christian was abusive and would frequently force Ward to beat up his younger brother. One incident in particular Maynard threw his younger brother into a well and wouldn't allow Ward to rescue him, though Ward eventually managed to do it without his brother knowing.
In 1999, Ward set fire to his parents' house not knowing that his older brother Maynard was inside at the time. Maynard survived the blaze and pushed for Grant to be tried as an adult. While at a juvenile detention center, Ward was approached by John Garrett of S.H.I.E.L.D., who offered him a choice - leave with him now and be taught the skills needed to survive or face prison. Ward agreed, and for five years Garrett trained him, teaching him self-sufficiency by spending months out in the wilderness with no one but a dog named Buddy for company. Eventually, Garrett revealed his allegiance to HYDRA and had Ward implanted in S.H.I.E.L.D. as a sleeper agent.
When Phil Coulson assembled a new team of specialists to investigate new, strange and unknown threats, Garrett suggested to Coulson that Ward be a part of his new team, in order to "smooth out" Ward's "rough edges", but in reality, Ward was to be Garrett's undercover asset to try to discover the truth of Coulson's resurrection.
During the team's first mission together, they encountered a Rising Tide "hacktivist" known only as Skye, who was their only lead in finding Mike Peterson, a man who exhibited superhuman abilities. Ward took an instant dislike to Skye, having had a negative experience with the Rising Tide after their release of classified data during ongoing operations, he also saw her as an unknown factor that neither Ward nor Garrett had calculated. After the mission, Phil Coulson recruited her to the team as a consultant, despite Ward's objections. However, after Skye's quick thinking saved his life while taking back the Bus from Peruvian hijackers, Ward saw a way to learn more about her, thus removing any unknown element she might bring into the mix. Ward agreed to be her "Supervising Officer" and oversee her training and education. Ward began Skye's training but felt that she wasn't fully committing herself to it or to S.H.I.E.L.D., so Coulson suggested a different, more personal approach. Ward responded by giving some details of his personal life and rough childhood to Skye, describing his so-called "defining moment" to her.
During the operation to rescue Dr. Franklin Hall in Malta, Ward objected when Skye volunteered to infiltrate the compound of Ian Quinn, stating that she wasn't nearly qualified. Despite his doubts Skye was able to complete her mission, allowing Ward and Coulson to infiltrate the compound. Afterwards, Skye seemed to fully commit herself to her training and S.H.I.E.L.D. However, a few weeks later, Skye seemingly betrayed the team by Skye, by alerting her former boyfriend, hacker Miles Lydon, that S.H.I.E.L.D. was closing in on him while tracking down a leak concerning Chan Ho Yin, a pyrokinetic living in Hong Kong. Ward discovered the two and took them into custody aboard the Bus. When Ward produced evidence that Lydon had accepted payment of one million dollars for the information that endangered Chan's life, Skye was infuriated and felt betrayed by Lydon. Later, during the operation to extract Chan from Project Centipede Ward released Skye, needing her help to rescue Coulson and Melinda May. Skye managed to hack Centipede's mainframe and release the locked doors, allowing Coulson and May to escape. Coulson later agreed to let Skye remain on the team as long as she came completely clean with the team and agreed to wear a Tracking Bracelet at all times.
Ward further gained the trust of the team by jumping out of the Bus to rescue Jemma Simmons, who had jumped from the Bus without a parachute in order to protect her team from a Chitauri Virus. Ward was never in any danger as he had a parachute and administered the cure to Simmons during free-fall. He also bonded with teammate Leo Fitz, when Agent Victoria Hand assigned the two to a mission in Georgia to destroy an enemy weapon known as the "Overkill Device".
After the events of Thor: Dark World, Ward along with the rest of the team proceeded to clean up the mess the battle had left in Greenwich. However, the clean up was interrupted as they were called to investigate an ancient Asgardian weapon known as the Berserker Staff, part of which had been discovered by pagan hate group, lead by Jakob Nystrom and Petra Larsen. With the assistance of a professor in Spain named Dr. Elliot Randolph the team is able to discover the location of the second piece. While retrieving the staff section, Ward touches the staff and relives a traumatic childhood memory involving his abusive brother and a well. He becomes irritable, aggressive, and possesses increased strength. The team discovers that Randolph is actually an Asgardian who has lived on Earth for centuries, and he gives them the location of the third staff piece. The team arrives, but are confronted pagans who had beaten them to the location. Seeing no other choice, Grant reassembles the Staff and, with the help of May, defeat the group. Later, Ward declines Skye's invitation to having a chat and follows Agent May into her room instead, seeing her as the biggest threat to his mission, he allowed things to get intimate.
Following a lead on the Clairvoyant, the team boards a train in Italy where they split into groups, with Ward undercover as a train conductor in order to track down package being shipped to Ian Quinn. However, the security team catches on causing Coulson and Ward to jump off the train, which mysteriously disappears afterward. Meeting back up with May at the "Bus", the three are able to locate the train and Simmons, but Fitz and Skye are gone. They track them to Quinn's compound and raid it, arresting Quinn. However, they discover Skye near death. Simmons trying to help, but can only sustain her temporarily by placing her into a hyperbaric chamber. Coulson and the team rush Skye to a S.H.I.E.L.D. medical facility to save her life. However, the doctors are only able to stabilize her, forcing Coulson to bring her to the same location where he was revived. Joined by agents John Garrett and Antoine Triplett, the team travels to the "Guest House" to recover GH-325, the miracle drug used to revive Coulson. Coulson, Ward, Garrett and Fitz enter the facility and eliminate the two guards there only to find the place rigged with explosives. They manage to recover the drug and get out before the facility implodes, returning to the "Bus" they administer the drug to Skye, successfully saving her.
The team is summoned to investigate an energy reading from the Bifrost, where they encounter Lady Sif, She explains she is tracking Lorelei, an Asgardian sorceress with power to control the minds of men. They team trace Lorelei to a biker bar where they fight her men, but Lorelei enchants Ward and escapes with him to Las Vegas. After spending the night together, Ward reveals his feelings toward Skye and May to Lorelei and tells her that Coulson's team stood between her and world domination. Together, they hijacked the Bus, eluding Coulson, Sif, and a S.H.I.E.L.D. team, and commandeer the "Bus". Lorelei encounters May and reveals that Ward’s heart is with someone else. Sif confronts Lorelei while May fights Ward. Sif fixes the collar to Lorelei’s neck, undoing her enchantment, and returns Lorelei to Asgard. May ends her relationship with Ward.
Agents Garrett, Triplett, Hand, Sitwell, and Blake join the team to hunt for the Clairvoyant. The agents pair up to pursue different Clairvoyant candidates. Ward was teamed with Triplett to investigate Elijah Fordham, but before they could find him, they were called to help May and Blake against Mike Peterson, now calling himself Deathlok. Concluding that Thomas Nash is the Clairvoyant because of Deathlok's presence, the team converges on his new location where they briefly encounter him again, but he flees into the sewers. Nevertheless, they find Nash, a vegetative man on life support who must speak through a computer. When Nash boasts about being the Clairvoyant and says that Centipede will kill Skye, Ward shoots him. Afterwards, Ward is taken into custody and locked in interrogation on board the "Bus".
However, after Skye deciphers a secret code on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s network revealing HYDRA's infiltration, Coulson releases Ward. When the Bus arrives at the Hub, the group splits into teams to capture Victoria Hand, whom they believe is the Clairvoyant. Skye and Grant Ward team up heading to the central computer to plant a bomb, while the rest of the team went to get Simmons and Triplett. During this time, Skye and Ward admitted their mutual attraction, but Skye chooses not to pursue any relationship. After Garrett reveals himself as the true Clairvoyant, and is captured by Coulson and May, Ward volunteers to accompany Hand to the Fridge to Garrett's imprisonment personally. Once airborne, Hand offers Ward the chance to execute Garrett to atone for killing Nash by mistake. Instead, Ward kills Hand and her agents, freeing Garrett and revealing his own allegiance to HYDRA.
Ward is next seen freeing Raina, taking her to Garrett's base of operation in Havana, Cuba where she is presented with drugs taken from the Guest House and an encrypted hard drive contain all of Team Coulson's data so that she could perfect Project Deathlok.. Afterwards, Ward and Garret along with several other HYDRA agents raid the Fridge, releasing its prisoners, including Blackout and Ian Quinn, and obtaining its confiscated weapons, including the Berserker Staff, the Peruvian 0-8-4, and the Gravitonium. However, when Raina reported that only Skye could decrypt the hard drive, Garrett order Ward to return to Coulson's team to get the pass codes from her.
Arriving at the secret S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Providence, Ward lied to the team about the Fridge, telling them that he killed Garrett as he freed the prisoners. Coulson decided to take half the team to Portland, Oregon to pursue Blackout, but Agent Eric Koenig insisted that first they all be properly vetted; a process which Ward only just passed. When Skye and Koenig discuss using NSA satellites to watch the prison break, Ward knew it would expose him as HYDRA. Killing Koenig, Ward hid his body in a closet, and convinced Skye to leave with him on the Bus. Unknown to Ward, however, Skye had already found Koenig's body and left the message "Ward is HYDRA" for her teammates to find. The head to LA, since the encryption was location-based. While there, Skye tried to escape, but Deathlok apprehended her. When Ward fails to convince her to decrypt the drive, Deathlok shoots him with a device that induced a heart attack. He gives Skye the ultimatum: decrypt the hard drive, or Ward dies. After try to reason with him and failing she relented and Deathlok stops Wards heart attack. With the hard drive decrypted Ward prepares the Bus for take-off, but is confronted by Maria Hill, distracting him long enough for Coulson to board and rescue Skye. Ward begins to pursue, but Deathlok informs him that they had recalled them to the base in Cuba by Garrett. Now with access to the hard drive Raina manages to recreate GH-325.
When Garrett ordered the abandonment of the base for the new Cybertek Manufacturing Facility, Ward discovered Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons spying on them. Capturing them he brings them to Garrett aboard the Bus, where Fitz activated an EMP Joy Buzzer, further damaging Garrett, who was already suffering from organ failure. Ward ejected them in a storage pod from the Bus into the Atlantic Ocean. When he returned to Garrett, Ward learned that in order to save his life Raina had injected him with the GH-325. However, when Garrett became increasingly erratic because of the drug, Ward became worried about the state of his mind. When Coulson and his team broke into the facility, he was tasked with apprehending Skye but was stopped by Melinda May with whom he engaged in a long battle that ended with his foot nailed to the floor, several bruises, and a fractured larynx. He was later imprisoned by U.S. Marines.
Three months later Ward is a prisoner in the Playground, Coulson's new base of operations. He was bought there in the hopes they could get HYDRA intel off him, but he refused to speak to anyone except Skye. After an encounter with superhuman Carl Creel, Coulson sends Skye to question Ward about his connection with John Garrett and HYDRA. Upon her arrival at his cell, Ward begins to tell her about his multiple suicide attempts. Skye threatens to leave, but Ward gives in, telling her how HYDRA had been communicating. Before she left Ward tried to tell her about her father, but she cut him off returning him to isolation.
Ward eventually got another visit from Skye over HYDRA's recruitment methods, which he explained as not welcoming and only gave the choice of joining them, with Skye questioning if he joined out of greed or fear, but he stated his only loyalty was to Garrett, not HYDRA, the former of which he doesn't blame for his choices, with Skye suggesting he blame his family instead. Ward stated his family left him broken, and Garrett rebuilt him into a soldier for HYDRA, with him stating that even a respectable family like his has secrets. Skye then quickly went back to the topic, asking of HYDRA's recruitment methods on superhumans. Ward then stated it involved sending a team to either capture or persuade the target, and execute if necessary, as defying HYDRA's rules made it a threat alone, besides the powers, as this will be the cause of their victory, as a HYDRA agent will not hesitate to strike, while a SHIELD agent will think about right and wrong.
Ward later received an unexpected visit from Fitz, who was suspecting he was being kept in the dark on something. As Fitz began to go into frozen shock in the horror of seeing him, Ward stated it was good to see him, and as he continued questioning, Fitz demanded he be silent to let him process everything. When Fitz spoke of their last confrontation, he denied his attempted murder, stating he gave him and Simmons a fighting chance by disposing of them instead of killing them, which they managed to successfully use. Fitz then questioned if Ward even knew of what his actions caused to him, after which he struggled to find words to speak, which he stated is a symptom of his condition, and then suggested he will demonstrate it rather than tell it, slowly draining Ward's room of oxygen to make him experience his hypoxia, being deprived of oxygen, and giving him three minutes until the damage is permanent. Desperate, Ward questioned if this is about Skye's request, but Fitz pointed out of them being out in the field, while he's become a liability due to Ward's actions, and under pressure, Ward revealed Gill's submission to the Faustus method and Sunil Bakshi's intent of capturing him.
Skye visited again and asked if he's relieved that Fitz isn't coming back to him again, and soon switched to the topic of HYDRA's brainwashing technique, the Faustus method, which Ward claimed was a lot and mostly used on high value targets and not always successful and confessed that he wasn't given it and all his actions were of his own free will and asked if he believed he was being honest and confessed he didn't hope for himself but hope for Skye and then revealed honestly that her father is still alive, and one day, at her request, he can take her to him.
Skye visited him again, but refuses to believe him, stating her parents were killed in Hunan, with the rest of the village and knew he was trying to exploit her weaknesses to find a gap in her guard, but he stated he was trying to help, and promised to be honest with her. He then revealed his source to be Raina, which caused Skye to burst into laughter, and stated she knew her father personally, which caused Skye to laugh as Raina found his weakness and exploited it, she then switched topics to a photo of the Words of Creation, with Ward's first sight of in their mission in Belarus and that John Garrett began etching the symbols without pause after being injected with the GH .325 formula, stating it completely overtook his mind.