While the networks are trying to lure you in with event dramas and Twitter-derived comedies, you’ll likely be switching off Outsourced or Outlaw and catching up with your favorite returning shows instead.
To that end, The Daily Beast rounds up a baker’s dozen of cliffhangers, designed to trigger your memory about where your favorites left off at the end of last season and tease you into picking them up again this fall.
Chuck (NBC; Mondays at 8 p.m.; returns September 20)
Where we left off: Chuck (Zachary Levi) was taken prisoner by The Ring. Ellie (Sarah Lancaster)— aware of Chuck’s secret identity—worked with Devon (Ryan McPartlin) and Morgan (Josh Gomez) to free Chuck, Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), and Casey (Adam Baldwin) and they took down Shaw (Brandon Routh). (Again.) Jeff (Scott Krinsky) and Lester (Vik Sahay) burned down the Buy-More. Chuck promised his sister that he’ll leave the spy life behind… even as he learned of his father’s secret warehouse with files on various threats. Elsewhere, Chuck’s long-missing mother was moved to a secure location.
Where we pick up: Terminator’s Linda Hamilton joins the cast as Mary Elizabeth Bartowski, as Chuck secretly pursues his mission to track down his mother. Ellie has life-changing news. Jeff and Lester are on the lam after managing to burn down the store. Chuck’s cover story still holds: the gang now works at a new Buy-More that is actually staffed by CIA operatives. Casey grapples with his relationship with his newfound daughter Alex (Mekenna Melvin), but Morgan has plans of his own for her.
Castle (ABC; Mondays at 10 p.m.; returns September 20)
Where we left off: Mystery novelist Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) circled around their feelings for one another. Beckett dumped boyfriend Tom Demming (Michael Trucco) and prepared to tell Castle how she feels, even after she turned down his invitation to visit him in the Hamptons that summer… but Beckett was interrupted by Castle’s ex-wife Gina (Monet Mazur), with whom he had reconnected. The two said their goodbyes and went their separate ways for the summer.
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Where we pick up: Several months have passed since Beckett and Castle last saw one another after he left for the Hamptons in order to finish writing his next novel. Which makes it even more improbable that, in pursuit of a murder, Beckett and her team discover Castle standing over a dead woman with a gun. Just what has Castle been up to? Will his relationship with Beckett withstand an arrest? Look for more tortured non-romance between the two, even as they have to contend with a serial killer menacing the city.
Bones (Fox; Thursdays at 8 p.m.; returns September 23)
Where we left off: Booth (David Boreanaz) considered an offer to train army snipers, Hodgins (TJ Thyne) and Angela (Michaela Conlin) left for a year in Paris together, and Daisy (Carla Gallo) received an offer to oversee a dig in Indonesia. But would Sweets (John Francis Daley) go with her or would it be Splitsville for the two? (Hint: it was the latter.) Booth sneaked off to say goodbye to Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and, holding hands, they made a plan to meet in a year by the reflecting pool on the mall.
Where we pick up: Season 6 picks up a seven months later and the sabbaticals have come to an end. Booth returns from Afghanistan, but he’s not alone: he’s brought a war correspondent (Katheryn Winnick) whom he fell for during his year apart from Brennan. Meanwhile, the show will draw from such diverse influences as HBO’s Big Love, Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, and MTV’s Jersey Shore this season, while the overarching plotline this season will deal with a sniper that the team has to take down, even as the bodies start mounting.
Community (NBC; Thursdays at 8 p.m.; returns September 23)
Where we left off: The love triangle between Jeff (Joel McHale), Britta (Gillian Jacobs), and Professor Slater (Lauren Stamile) took a turn for the weird when Britta professed her love for Jeff and Jeff chose neither of them, instead locking lips with Annie (Alison Brie). Spanish teacher Senor Chang (Ken Jeong) was revealed as a fraud who didn’t graduate college. Troy (Donald Glover) was confused when best friend Abed (Danny Pudi) didn’t want to move in together.
Where we pick up: Two words: Betty White. The omnipresent octogenarian guest stars in the season opener as mentally unhinged Greendale anthropology professor June Bauer. Chang enrolls as a student at Greendale and joins the study group, though he may be mentally unstable. Rather than gloss over that smooch between Jeff and Annie, the show will deal with the kiss right from the start and the fallout that ensues.
30 Rock (NBC; Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.; returns September 23)
Where we left off: Liz (Tina Fey) couldn’t escape uptight Brit Wesley (Michael Sheen), even as she fell for airline pilot Carol (Matt Damon). Jack (Alec Baldwin)—torn between girlfriends Avery Jessup (Elizabeth Banks) and Nancy Donovan (Julianne Moore)—discovered that Avery was pregnant with his child. Kenneth (Jack McBrayer), faced with a transfer to Los Angeles, tried to get out of the new gig, but was fired after screwing up in front of the Kabletown executives.
Where we pick up: Jack meddles in Liz’s newfound relationship with Carol, even as he faces complications in his own romance with the pregnant Avery, who expects Jack to make some changes in his life now that he’s going to be a father. Liz deals with turning 40, especially when no one at TGS seems to even remember her birthday. Jenna (Jane Krakowski) becomes a producer on TGS, while Tracy (Tracy Morgan) deals with the loss of Kenneth from his entourage. Plus, a live episode airing on October 14.
Fringe (Fox; Thursdays at 9 p.m.; returns September 23)
Where we left off: In order to rescue Peter (Joshua Jackson), Walter (John Noble) and Olivia (Anna Torv) traveled to the other universe, where they encountered a world very similar to theirs but with some noticeable differences. William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) helped them stay ahead of Walter’s alternate self, here the Secretary of Defense. The two Fringe forces clashed and Bell was seemingly killed. After escaping, the Olivia who returned with them was revealed to be her alternate universe counterpart, whereas “our” Olivia was imprisoned on the other side.
Where we pick up: Olivia attempts to escape Walternate’s clutches even as she unravels mentally as Walternate puts his master plan into effect. Over Here, Olivia’s doppelganger has plans of her own, which involve Peter, a deadly weapon, and that infamous typewriter from last season, while Walter learns just how much he meant to former partner William Bell.
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC; Thursdays at 9 p.m.; returns September 23)
Where we left off: A gunman turned Seattle Grace into a bloodbath. With the hospital under lockdown, the killer shot several doctors on his quest for vengeance, including Derek (Patrick Demspey), Owen (Kevin McKidd), and Alex (Justin Chambers). Alex called out for the long-dead Izzie. Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) discovered that she was pregnant with Derek’s baby but suffered a miscarriage the same day.
Where we pick up: Grief counselor Andrew Perkins (James Tupper) is brought in to help the doctors deal with the aftereffects of their ordeal. Derek resigns from his role as Chief, quickly returning to surgery… and faces a brush with the law. Cristina throws herself into planning her wedding to Owen, something that makes Meredith more than a little nervous. Alex might finally get closure with his relationship with Izzie, but don’t hold your breath for Katherine Heigl to return.
Private Practice (ABC; Thursdays at 10 p.m.; returns September 23)
Where we left off: A whole lot of change: Addison (Kate Walsh) and Sam (Taye Diggs) got together, Charlotte (KaDee Strickland) and Cooper (Paul Adelstein) got engaged, and a car crash had shattering consequences for several of the characters: while Sam unknowingly operated on the drunk driver who hit Dell (Chris Lowell) and his pregnant daughter Maya (Geffri Maya), Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) tries to save Maya’s baby but it’s Dell who unexpectedly slips into unconsciousness and dies after a fatal hemorrhage.
Where we pick up: The doctors mourn the death of Dell while the fate of his orphaned daughter Betsey is revealed. Pete (Tim Daly) and Violet (Amy Brenneman) prepare for their wedding but are faced with questions about what the future holds. Addison and Sam’s new relationship is faced head-on. Naomi (Audra McDonald) attempts to care for Maya and her newborn granddaughter.
Dexter (Showtime; Sundays at 9 p.m.; returns September 26)
Where we left off: Dexter (Michael C. Hall) wanted to fly off with Rita (Julie Benz) for their honeymoon. But first, Dexter killed serial killer Arthur “Trinity” Mitchell (Emmy winner John Lithgow), who knew Dexter’s identity. Returning home to meet up with Rita, he found his wife dead in their bathtub… and their son Harrison sitting in a pool of her blood. Has Dexter’s legacy—his own exposure to his mother’s death as a child—infected the next generation? How will he offer his alibi for Rita’s death, given that he was committing a different murder?
Where we pick up: Dexter deals with the fallout from Rita’s death, even as he feels responsible for her murder. Quinn (Desmond Harrington) investigates Dexter for Rita’s murder when the scene doesn’t quite fit with Trinity’s usual MO… even as he cozies up to Dexter’s sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), who takes in Dexter and the kids. Despite his best efforts, Dexter’s “dark passenger” must be sated and he stalks his next victim.
Desperate Housewives (ABC; Sundays at 9 p.m.; returns September 26)
Where we left off: A nurse at Fairview Hospital revealed that there had been a baby switch years earlier. Paul Young (Mark Moses) returned to Wisteria Lane after his stint in prison and wanted to rent the house that Susan (Teri Hatcher) and Mike (James Denton) own. Lynette (Felicity Huffman) went into labor and serial killer Eddie (Josh Zuckerman) helped her deliver the baby, before Lynette convinced him to turn himself into the police. Bree (Marcia Cross) sold her company to Sam (Sam Page) after he blackmailed her about the still-unsolved death of Carlos’ mom for which Bree’s son Andrew was responsible… and Orson (Kyle McLachlan) walked out on her after learning she had covered up Andrew’s crime.
Where we pick up: That baby switch will be dealt with straightaway. Why has creepy Paul returned and with his new wife Beth (Emily Bergl)? Susan and Mike try to get by with limited financial resources, though Susan gets an unusual job offer from her apartment manager Maxine (Lainie Kazan). Bree falls for her handsome handyman Keith (Brian Austin Green). Renee (Vanessa Williams), an old college friend of Lynette turns up for a visit as she deals with her newly expanded family in the form of her fifth child. Carlos (Ricardo Antonio Chavira) and Gaby (Eva Longoria Parker) keep secrets from one another.
Brothers & Sisters (ABC; Sundays at 10 p.m.; returns September 26)
Where we left off: The Walkers, having sold Ojai Foods, struck water at Narrow Lake, giving them a new avenue of business. With Justin (Dave Annable) possibly going to Haiti for a year, he and Rebecca (Emily VanCamp) considered a trial separation, but instead eloped. A car crash left several characters clinging to life, including Robert (Rob Lowe), the husband of Calista Flockhart’s Kitty, and Holly (Patricia Wettig). Scotty (Luke Macfarlane) and Kevin (Matthew Rhys) discover that their surrogate is pregnant. In the aftermath of the crash, the truth about Saul (Ron Rifkin) being HIV-positive came out when he refused to let Kevin help him.
Where we pick up: One year after the accident, the Walkers attempt to come to terms with what they’ve lost and reunite for a homecoming party for Justin after his time in Afghanistan. Kitty debates some major changes in her life. Luc (Gilles Marini), the boyfriend of Sarah (Rachel Griffiths), is now an underwear model. Kevin launches a new career as a public defense attorney and must deal with a teenage runaway. Nora (Sally Field) receives a job offer from a radio show producer. Saul and Scotty have opened their restaurant.
The Good Wife (CBS; Tuesdays at 10 p.m.; returns September 28)
Where we left off: Alicia (Julianna Margulies) was forced either to stand by her man—disgraced former state’s attorney Peter (Chris Noth)—as he made a reelection bid, or leave him for Will (Josh Charles), whom she surprisingly told to make her a romantic offer. Alicia’s former rival at the firm, Cary (Matt Czruchy) joined the state’s attorney’s office. Kalinda (Emmy-winner Archie Panjabi) may have snogged FBI Agent Lana (Jill Flint), perhaps confirming what fans have long suspected about her sexuality, while Diane (Christine Baranski) was drawn closer to ultra-conservative ballistics expert McVeigh (Gary Cole).
Where we pick up: Alicia will be forced to choose between her husband Peter and her feelings for Will and she’ll have her hands full when her brother (Dallas Roberts) visits. Stern, Lockhart & Gardner brings in a new partner (Michael Ealy) for Will and Diane to deal with, as well as a new investigator (Scott Porter) breathing down Kalinda’s neck as well. Plus, look for Alan Cumming’s deliciously smarmy Eli Gold to be sticking around, as Cumming as been promoted to a series regular this season.
Friday Night Lights (DirecTV; Wednesdays at 9 p.m.; returns October 27)
Where we left off: Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) took the Lions to a victory over the West Dillon Panthers. Accused of counseling a girl to have an abortion, Tami Taylor (Connie Britton) stepped down as principal, choosing to head up the counseling center at East Dillon High. Saracen (Zach Gilford) tried to make things right with Julie (Aimee Teegarden) but went back to Chicago without her, though with BFF Landry (Jesse Plemons). Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) took the fall for Billy (Derek Phillips), confessing in order to allow his brother to raise his family.
Where we pick up: Tami and Eric might be working at the same school again, but that doesn’t mean that things are perfect between them. Look for major drama—as well as a new dynamic—to their marriage that we haven’t seen before. Daughter Julie is back in the picture again in Dillon, trailing a broken heart. Keep an eye out for some familiar faces—including Taylor Kitsch, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Porter, Jesse Plemons, and Zach Gilford—to make their returns to Dillon for the fifth and final season of Friday Night Lights. (The show will air on NBC in 2011.)
Jace Lacob is the writer/editor of Televisionary, a website devoted to television news, criticism, and interviews. Jace resides in Los Angeles. He is a contributor to several entertainment websites and can be found on Twitter and Facebook.