Fall TV catch-up: Where your favorite shows left off and where they're headed

Where did the summer go? There's something about sun, fun and short-season TV shows (bye-bye, "True Blood"!) that just makes the time fly by. But at least there's one good thing about the end of the toasty weather and long days. As we say so long to summer, it's time to say hello to fall and all of the prime-time TV favorites we've missed.

Yes, those shows are about to return, which means all the frustrating cliffhangers and leftover plot points they left behind will soon be resolved. That's good news for boob-tube fans, unless of course, the memories of those season-ending details have since faded.

Before the comedies and dramas of last season pick up right where they left off, a refresher is in order. Check out our reminder rundown of the top returning shows.

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    ERIC DANE, ELLEN POMPEO, SANDRA OH

    Where shows left off last season

    Before the comedies and dramas of last season pick up right where they left off, a refresher is in order. Check out our reminder rundown of the top returning shows, including "Grey's Anatomy."

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    'American Horror Story' -

    The first season of Ryan Murphy’s creepy, twisted and highly addictive drama "American Horror Story" ended with the Harmon family finally getting their happily ever after – as new ghosts in their haunted home after the house’s dead residents offed them one by one (except for Violet, who accidentally killed herself). Then Constance (Jessica Lange) ran off with the Harmon’s surviving infant.

    So what’s coming in season two? A complete reboot. Say goodbye to the Murder House and hello to the Asylum – and a mostly new cast, a completely fresh set of characters and a new storyline set in the ‘60s. Lange will be back to play a nun at the mental institution, while Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe and Sarah Paulson will also be back in new roles. New faces will include Adam Levine and Jenna Dewan playing “The Lovers,” and Joseph Fiennes, Chloe Sevigny, Clea Duvall, James Cromwell, Mark Consuelos and Lizzie Brochere.

    Premieres Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 10 p.m. on FX.
    FX
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    'The Big Bang Theory' -

    “Big Bang” ended season five on a sweet note, with Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) tying the knot, Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) holding hands, and … *gasp* Sheldon (Jim Parsons) grasping Amy’s (Mayim Bialik) hand in a gesture of affection! And of course, Howard blasted off into space after his nuptials.

    The story picks up almost right where it left off, with Howard and Bernadette trying to figure out where to live when he gets back from space, Amy working to get Sheldon into a relationship and Penny trying to determine the status of her relationship with Leonard. The first episode will also have Raj (Kunal Nayyar) facing his loneliness.

    Premieres Thursday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. on CBS.
    Michael Yarish / CBS
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    'Dexter' -

    The jig is up! After six seasons of keeping his big secret mostly under (plastic) wraps, mild mannered serial killer Dexter (Michael C. Hall) just couldn't hide his Dark Passenger any longer and sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) walked in on him at the crime scene. Needless to say, she was shocked and he was busted.

    So where to from there? It's safe to say that both Deb's love and Dexter's fast thinking will be put to the test when the new season kicks off. In fact, thanks to a spoiler packed 2-minute preview clip, fans can get an early glimpse of how that will play out.

    Premieres Sunday, Sept. 30 at 9 p.m. on Showtime.
    Randy Tepper / Showtime
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    'Grey's Anatomy' -

    Lives were hanging in the balance as season eight of "Grey's Anatomy" closed. A plane carrying several of the doctors of Seattle Grace had crashed, leaving Lexie (Chyler Leigh) dead and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), Mark (Eric Dane) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) injured as Cristina and Meredith tried to keep everyone’s injuries in check. All while awaiting rescue as night fell.

    When season nine kicks off, expect to say at least one more goodbye to a beloved character. During the off-season, Dane announced that he was leaving the show. How he’ll exit hasn’t yet been revealed, and creator Shonda Rhimes has hinted that there may be other casualties.

    Premieres Thursday, Sept. 27 at 9 p.m. on ABC.
    Karen Neal / ABC
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    'Law & Order: SVU' -

    Season 13 ended with a bit of a “Godfather”-type shocker, with Capt. Cragen (Dann Florek) waking up to find a dead, bloody prostitute in his bed after his squad starts investigating a teen’s death that’s tied to a hardcore power struggle between two of New York’s top escort services. That spells a pretty messy season 14 opener for the SVU gang.

    Showrunner Warren Leight told us the show will kick off with back-to-back episodes that “will, with any luck, wrap up the story the finale ended with.” Adam Baldwin will be stepping in to play interim captain while Cragen’s embroiled in his messy situation. Leight also said Dean Winters and Brooke Smith will be in the first few episodes. Kathryn Erbe of the dearly departed “L&O: Criminal Intent” is also set to bring her character, Det. Alexandra Eames, to “SVU.”

    Premieres Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. on NBC.
    Art Streiber / NBC
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    'Modern Family' -

    Season three of "Modern Family" ended with Gloria (Sofia Vergara) revealing her pregnancy, while Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) were left heartbroken when they learned they weren’t adding another baby to their family.

    Not surprisingly, Gloria will still be up to her old ways in the new season, trying to squeeze into her sexy clothes as she puts on the pregnancy pounds, while Jay (Ed O’Neill) is anxious about being a father again. Plus Claire (Julie Bowen) grows jealous of Gloria getting to be a mother again now that Haley (Sarah Hyland) is off to college.

    Premieres Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
    Peter "Hopper" Stone / ABC
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    'New Girl' -

    In "New Girl's" season finale, Nick (Jake Johnson) decided to stay with his trusty roommates rather than move in with Caroline (Mary Elizabeth Ellis), while Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and CeCe’s (Hannah Simone) relationship came to a close thanks to Schmidt’s jealousy and his out-of-commission member that afforded the couple a little clarity on their true (read: solely sexual) priorities.

    Season two is shaking things up for Jess (Zooey Deschanel). The show’s exec producer, Liz Meriwether, told Entertainment Weekly that Jess gets fired and is “having to restart her life and figure out who she is.” Plus, “Bent’s” David Walton will join the cast as a friend with benefits for her, and even her parents will stop by.

    Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. on Fox.
    FOX
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    'The Office' -

    While season eight was tough to love, it left off on a positive note, proving that “The Office’s” comedic heart is still beating. Example: Jim’s (John Krasinski) irrational fear that Dwight (Rainn Wilson) was trying to injure kids with his photo studio when in fact Dwight was trying to get a strand of Philip’s hair for use for a DNA sample created the ah-ha moments and character-based humor viewers have missed since Michael Scott’s (Steve Carell) departure.

    But a mini-reboot is in the cards for season nine, which will also be the show’s final season. Showrunner Paul Lieberstein, who also plays Toby, will be departing; the soon-to-be spun off Dwight likely won’t be hanging around Dunder-Mifflin much longer; and Ryan (B.J. Novak) and Kelly (Mindy Kaling) are no longer full-timers.

    Premieres Thursday, Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. on NBC.
    NBC
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    'Once Upon a Time' -

    As the freshman season of this primetime fairy tale drew to a close, the clueless residents of Storybrooke weren't so clueless anymore. That's because after Mayor Regina (Lana Parrilla) , aka the evil queen, failed to poison nemesis Emma (Jennifer Morrison) with an apple turnover, and instead felled adopted son Henry (Jared Gillmore). Naturally, the true love of mom Emma for her boy woke him up -- and all of Storybrooke, whose residents now remember their former lives.

    Then they all lived happily ever ... nah! While the mass amnesia is finally at an end, the drama is far from over for the Storybrooke folks. There's a dark cloud rolling in from the distance, courtesy of the devious Rumplestiltskin, and it's chock-full of dangerous magic. The queen couldn't be happier.

    Premieres Sunday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
    Kharen Hill / ABC
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    'The Walking Dead' -

    On the season finale of "Walking Dead," Rick (Andrew Lincoln) finally revealed just what Dr. Jenner whispered to him back at the CDC: "Everyone is infected." Well, that explains the now twice-killed Shane. It wasn't long before Rick laid down the law and told them all, "This isn't a democracy anymore." So, unless someone wants to try to make it on their own (good luck with that!) or go out Shane-style, Rick's in charge. Capisce?

    What does the future hold for the survivors? Prison. The season ended on a shot of a fortress toward the horizon, and it's not filled with good news for Rick and co. You can also expect the hooded mystery figure who saved Andrea from certain death to play a pivotal role in the upcoming action.

    Premieres Sunday, Oct. 14 at 9 p.m. on AMC.
    Gene Page / AMC

Are you ready for the return of your fall TV favorites? Which shows are you most looking forward to seeing? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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