Changes are afoot when favorite TV shows return to the airwaves this fall. Some fan favorites will be MIA, while others are in the process of saying farewell. The only consolation? At least some series — notably "American Horror Story" — will be welcoming new faces.
Here are some of the upcoming season's biggest shake-ups:
FOX's musical dramedy is suffering a devastating loss in the wake of Cory Monteith's tragic death. The cast, including Monteith's real-life girlfriend Lea Michele, are currently filming a tribute to his beloved character, Finn Hudson, who will also die on the show. That episode, the third of the new season, is scheduled to air Oct. 10. Make sure you have a box (or three) of Kleenex handy. The season premieres Sept. 26 at 9 p.m.
The Twittersphere almost coded when Sandra Oh announced she was leaving ABC's long-running medical drama, but at least fans will have plenty of time to bid farewell: Cristina Yang won't be departing until the end of the 10th season. Nor does the original lead's exit signal the end of show: "It's our intention to have 'Grey's' on the air for many years to come, with as many of the original cast as possible," said a network rep. But — yikes alert! — the latest contracts expire at the end of this season for original stars Patrick Dempsey, Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. (provided Richard Webber lives that long). Gulp. The show returns with a two-hour premiere at 9 p.m. on Sept. 26.
The coaches are playing musical chairs again when NBC's Emmy-nominated talent competition returns Sept. 23: CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera, whose chairs were filled by Shakira and Usher in season four, are reuniting with original cast members Blake Shelton and Adam Levine. But season six, airing in spring 2014, will see another swap when Shakira and Usher return once more. The competition kicks off at 8 p.m. on Sept. 23.
After eight years playing agent Ziva David, Cote de Pablo announced in July that she would be leaving the show. CBS promised that Ziva's story line would get "appropriate closure," with the actress appearing at the start of the 11th season to bid farewell. What this means for fan favorite couple Tony and Ziva, or indeed Ziva's actual survival, remains to be seen. The drama returns at 8 p.m. on Sept. 24.
'American Horror Story: Coven'
Acting luminaries Kathy Bates, Angela Basset and Patti LuPone are joining the repertory cast — led by two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange — in the third installment of the FX miniseries. Other newbies include Emma Roberts, Mare Winningham and Gabourey Sidibe in the New Orleans-set frightfest, which centers around witches, voodoo and a serial killer (Bates). Spooky! The drama returns Oct. 9 at 10 p.m.
'The Walking Dead'
Once again, Sheriff Rick Grimes & Co. will be mourning one of their own: Andrea, who had essentially taken over for Dale as their moral center. (Daryl Dixon is probably the only one who'll miss his brother, whom he killed when Merle turned into a zombie in one of last season's most heartbreaking scenes.) As usual, however, the group won't have time to grieve. Along with evolving zombies, they will see the return of The Governor — a psychopathic mass murderer as threatening as the walkers themselves. AMC's zombie drama kicks off Oct. 13 at 9 p.m.
'Parks and Recreation'
Both Rashida Jones (Ann Perkins) and Rob Lowe (Chris, her boyfriend and potential baby daddy) are leaving Pawnee midway through the upcoming sixth season. We fully expect Leslie Knope to go through the 12 stages of grief — emphasis on denial — when her BFF leaves town. At least she can count on the support of her devoted husband — and, promises producer Mike Schur, the introduction of a few new characters — to fill the gaping hole in her heart. The NBC comedy returns with a one-hour premiere at 8 p.m. Sept. 26.