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He is portrayed by David Conrad.
- "Do you remember, in all our talks on Orchard Street, the part where it's very, very dangerous?"
"Everything powerful is dangerous."
- ―Franklin Hall and Ian Quinn.
Quinn attended Cambridge University with Franklin Hall, and the two became friends through their mutual belief that ideas belong to no one and that knowledge should be free to anyone who could use it. It was during this time, that Quinn saw the potential of Hall's then theoretical element Gravitonium, despite Hall's fear of the danger posed by it.
- "We've always agreed that information should be free."
"It's amazing how much money you've made off of 'free' information."
- ―Ian Quinn and Franklin Hall
Quinn later practiced this belief, using Franklin Hall's and others' ideas and turning them into Quinn Worldwide, a huge multi-national conglomerate. Outwardly a generous and benevolent philanthropist with charitable donations exceeding more than eight billion dollars, in truth he was ruthless in his business practices, shunning regulation and oversight to the detriment of the environment and local populations. During this time, he began a 20-year search for the near-mythic Gravitonium.
Seeking to avoid regulation and legal blowback, Quinn moved his operation to Malta, where he obtained citizenship and could operate free from legal persecution from other nations. It was during this time, after twenty years and twelve mines on six continents, that he finally discovered a large deposit of Gravitonium.
- "You found it?"
"Twenty years, twelve mines, six continents, but yes, I finally found it. And now, we get to play with it."
- ―Franklin Hall and Ian Quinn
Quinn, wishing to have the expertise of his old friend Hall, and believing that Hall would want to be a part of the experiments, arranged to have Hall kidnapped from his position as a S.H.I.E.L.D. asset, and brought to Malta.
What Quinn didn't anticipate was that it was Franklin Hall himself that leaked the information necessary to enable his own kidnapping, Hall had heard of Quinn's discovery and sought to destroy the Gravitonium for the safety of the world.
When Hall activated the Gravity Field Generator to overload, Quinn saw the effects and realized that Hall was trying to destroy the Gravitonium and kill Quinn in the process. He ordered the evacuation of his compound and escaped by way of his private helicopter.
Hall's attempt to destroy the Gravitonium was stopped by a S.H.I.E.L.D. extraction team led by Agent Phil Coulson, who feared for the lives that would be lost if the Gravitonium was destroyed in this manner and deactivated the generator, seemingly sacrificing Hall in the process. The Gravitonium was confiscated by S.H.I.E.L.D. and stored in an unmarked vault at The Fridge, a S.H.I.E.L.D. storage facility.
Given Quinn's status as a citizen of Malta, he did not face any legal repercussions from his kidnapping of Hall or his assault of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the kidnapping attempt.
- "I don't want hear excuses why it didn't work. I have people who do that for me."
- ―Ian Quinn to Seth Dormer.
Some time later, he attempted to buy Donnie Gill's freezing device, and his request for a demonstration lead to the formation of an icy 'superstorm' over the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy of Science and Technology.
After S.H.I.E.L.D.'s investigation of this incident, Agent Phil Coulson made a call to Quinn's personal phone to warn him against his malicious dealings. Quinn retaliated with a cryptic mention from "the Clairvoyant", revealing that he has had some form of dealings with the enigmatic figure.
Soon after, Coulson's team suspected that Ian Quinn was involved with the tech they acquired in Jamaica. Later on when investigating the disappearance of Mike Peterson, Skye infiltrated Quinn's Italian Compound and discovered the Deathlok program. Upon finding Skye, Quinn's men disarmed her and held her hostage. He awoke Mike Peterson and gave him a Cybertek robotic leg. He asked Peterson if he would kill Skye, to which Peterson said that those were not his orders and left to execute the Cybertek team. When Skye demanded answers Quinn shot her twice in the abdomen, and left her for dead, claiming he had his own orders. He was subsequently captured by Coulson's Team and taken to the Bus.
Agent John Garrett arrived on a plane with Agent Antoine Triplett to take Quinn into custody. As Agents Grant Ward and Triplett fought due to conflicting orders concerning Quinn, Coulson stopped the fight and convinced Garrett to leave Quinn in his custody until Skye could recover, if she could recover, from her gunshot wounds. Upon finding a means to that recovery in the secret Guest House facility, Coulson's Team turned Quinn over to Garrett, who took him to the Fridge.
S.H.I.E.L.D. Civil War
- "There it is - the face of our future. Mr. Quinn's the poster boy for our new enterprise."
"Not sure how that's supposed to work. He's also an international fugitive, accused of a laundry list of crimes."
"Accused by S.H.I.E.L.D., of whom I've been a vocal critic for years. Now S.H.I.E.L.D.'s gone down in flames while I rise from the ashes, all charges dismissed and my sterling reputation restored."
- ―John Garrett, Grant Ward, and Ian Quinn
Quinn was then freed after HYDRA revealed its existence inside of S.H.I.E.L.D. He was then brought to Havana, Cuba, to the "Clairvoyant", who was really John Garrett, the man who threatened to pull his tongue off. There, he was brought to HYDRA's secret headquarters. At first, he was angry that Garrett had no real powers. However, Quinn's qualms about him were set aside when Garrett gave him his Gravitonium back.
After Quinn got his hair cut by Ernesto, he left for Washington, D.C.and met with representatives of the United States Armed Forces. He explained that, with S.H.I.E.L.D. now defunct, he could sell to them a thousand Deathlok Soldiers for the war on terror after they took a tour of the new facility he had in New Mexico.
While giving a tour of the Cybertek Manufacturing Facility to the United States Armed Forces, Coulson's Team attacked. Quinn told the officers that it was a drill and everything was fine. Garrett and Grant Wardinterrupted the tour and Garrett began to argue with General Jacobs, when Jacobs demanded to know who Garrett was, Quinn answered that he was their strategy consultant. Garrett ultimately killed Jacobs. Horrified by Garrett's violent outbursts and failing mental health, Quinn and Raina decided to take the Gravitonium and left.
- Expert Businessman: Ian Quinn created a multinational corporation, Quinn Worldwide, that is known for its acts of philanthropy, when in actuality, it is ruthless in its business practices. When the United States proved incompatible for Quinn's desires, he moved to Malta where the tax breaks were more advantageous.
- Expert Scientist: Quinn followed the studies of Franklin Hall. He defied what others believed by finding Hall's theories accurate and searching for what was thought to be a theoretic element.
- Franklin Hall - Friend
- Smith - Subordinate
- Donnie Gill - Contact
- Seth Dormer † - Contact
- Carlo Mancini †
- Sofia †
- General Jacobs †
- Admiral Jolnes
- Coulson's Team
- Phil Coulson
- Melinda May
- Skye - Ally turned Enemy
- Antoine Triplett
- Leo Fitz
- Jemma Simmons
- Coulson's Team
- Deathlok - Ally (while under HYDRA coercion), now Enemy
- Ian Quinn has been, albeit indirectly, responsible for the Powers and Abilities of all the superpowered villain characters derived from the comics whose powers were acquired during the events shown in the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. As such, Lorelei and Blackout are exceptions, as they acquired their powers before the events of the first season.
- Quinn kidnapped Franklin Hall, found the Gravitonium and constructed the Gravity Field Generator into which he fell.
- Quinn was the potential buyer of Donnie Gill's Atmospheric Moisture Freezing Device, which gave him cryogenic abilities after an accident.
- Quinn bought and procured Michael Peterson's Cybertek Prosthetic Leg to allow him to follow his orders as a Centipede operative.
- Quinn predicted that his shooting of Skye would allow the Clairvoyant to learn the secret of the resurrection of Phil Coulson; with John Garrett's raid of the Guest House and stealing of the drugs within, his prediction was true.