UNDATED (USA TODAY) -- New fall shows offer the promise of something new for your must-watch list, but don't forget the tried and true. Here's a look at some returning favorites, how we left them and what's in store for the new season.
VIDEO: Catch up on 'HIMYM' in 90 seconds
'How I Met Your Mother'
(CBS, Sept. 23, Mondays at 8 ET/PT)
Where we left off: The mother of the title - and Ted's eventual wife - was revealed in the eighth-season finale. Played by new series regular Cristin Milioti, she's a wedding-band member traveling to the nuptials of Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). Ted (Josh Radnor) still harbors feelings for Robin and Marshall (Jason Segel) withholds news from wife Lily (Alyson Hannigan).
What's next: The final season will be framed by the wedding weekend, with plenty of flash-forwards and flashbacks in between. Returning guest stars include Wayne Brady, John Lithgow and Frances Conroy. "Over the course of the season, we're going to try to fill in all the gaps of the stories," says co-creator Carter Bays. And Milioti says her mysterious character has "a really wonderful sense of humor. And she's a very open-hearted and kind person." -- Bill Keveney
(ABC, Sept. 25, Wednesdays at 10 ET/PT)
Where we left off: Tragedy magnet Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) sang a tribute to her late mother. Deacon (Charles Esten) discovered he fathered Rayna's (Connie Britton) eldest daughter, sending the alcoholic off the wagon. Gunnar (Sam Palladio) proposed to Scarlett (Clare Bowen). Rayna's estranged husband Teddy (Eric Close) found out that his former colleague, Peggy (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), is pregnant after their affair. And in a cliffhanger: Rayna swerves to avoid an accident and flips her SUV over.
What's next: Spoiler alert, from producer Dee Johnson:
"Here's the reality: (Rayna) is not going to die." But she promises sparks in exploring the relationship of Rayna and Deacon, "getting a peek at a point in that relationship that we only heard about." The singers will tour again. Rayna deals with a new record-label chief (Oliver Hudson). Aubrey Peeples (Sharknado) plays a singing-competition star and Chris Carmack returns as Gunnar's pal Will, struggling with his sexuality. --Lorena Blas
'The Good Wife'
(CBS, Sept. 29, Sundays at 9 ET/PT)
Where we left off: Peter (Chris Noth) won the governor's race, and wife Alicia (Juliana Margulies) gained confidence, opening a door to join colleague Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry) in a new firm with the words, "I'm in."
What's next: It's a season of civil wars. "Some of the greatest drama in our minds is when people you love are contending against each other because there is not an easy out," says co-creator Robert King. "You're cheering for both sides, but you're also feeling bad for (them)." Among new faces, Jason O'Mara joins Lockhardt Gardner as a wild-eyed criminal lawyer and Ben Rappaport plays a new attorney joining Alicia and Cary at their new firm. Emmy winner Carrie Preston returns as quirky Elsbeth, along with Nathan Lane, Gary Cole and America Ferrera. There will be fights over who owns which client, and a potential relationship between clients and lawyers. "We think it will be kind of a shocker and surprising throughout," King says. And nothing will be easy. Co-creator Michelle King teases, "One might have assumed that Alicia's life would get easier as the wife of the governor, that (it) would help her professionally, but we're going to see that it's just as complicated for her, if not more so." -- Lorena Blas
(NBC, Sept. 25, Wednesdays at 8 ET/PT)
Where we left off: Miles Matheson (Billy Burke), niece Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and sister-in-law Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) were finally able to venture across a fractured, post-apocalyptic America and turn the world's power back on - only to watch in horror as nuclear missiles are sent straight toward Philadelphia and Atlanta.
What's next: The major players are scattered as the second season begins. Charlie is wandering the Plains nation; military man Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) heads to the East Coast with his son to find out the fate of his wife; and Miles, Rachel and Aaron are in Texas, which has become a lawman-based culture with "horses and six-shooters and sheriffs with stars on their chests," says executive producer Eric Kripke. Their actions have caused Mother Nature to go haywire, but their biggest threat may come from the shadowy president of the United States Colony and his group of "patriots," Kripke says. "Though they drape themselves in the stars and stripes, they are not America. They are this nightmarish totalitarian version of America they want to spread across the continent." -- Brian Truitt
(CW, Oct. 8, Tuesdays at 9 ET/PT)
Where we left off: Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) chose the love of his brother Sam (Jared Padalecki) and saved him instead of closing the gates of hell for good. Castiel (Misha Collins) is turned human and heaven is boarded up, sending thousands of fallen angels careening toward Earth.
What's next: With no clear leader of hell and the heavenly host grounded, the monster-hunting brothers have to deal with a more broken landscape. "They may not have always liked it, but there's been the devil you know in hell and the angel you know in heaven. Now it's a little bit more of a free-for-all," says executive producer Jeremy Carver, adding that the siblings being closer than ever "only makes some events of this season harder to deal with."
Castiel is dealing with the emotional and physical newness of humanity but he's also Public Enemy No. 1 for many of the earthbound angels. And while several bad guys jostle to be the main villain, "the idea of God and all that goes with that absolutely comes into play this season," Carver says. "The answer may be quite frightening." -- Brian Truitt
(ABC, Sept. 26, Thursdays at 9 ET/PT)
Where we left off:A storm hit Seattle, as Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) gave birth to a son, Bailey, with hubby Derek (Patrick Dempsey) by her side. Christina confronted Owen about wanting kids, and decided to leave him. A devastated Callie found out that Arizona had cheated on her with new doctor Lauren. Bailey, too worried to perform surgery after losing a patient, was forced to - on Meredith. Karev admitted to Jo that he loves her. April confessed to Jackson that she loves him. And, gasp!, Richard Webber was electrocuted, left on the floor smoldering in the final minutes. Is he dead?
What's ahead: "We're picking up right where we left off with the season finale," says Chandra Wilson, who plays Bailey. (She directed the second part of the two-hour opener.) "We'll be dealing with the aftermath of the storm." Mer and Der will be focusing more on family and less on medicine. "The question is how do they continue at the same professional pace when their personal life is so much more demanding? We love to flesh out the characters as full human beings." Christina Yang (Sandra Oh) will exit at season's end. Look for more drama between Jackson (Jesse Williams) and April (Sarah Drew). As for Bailey? "She finally seems happy. But to leave somebody nice and settled on Grey's Anatomy? What's that?!" she says with a laugh. As they celebrate the show's 200th episode, "we understand the position in history that we're in," Wilson says. "At some point, we'll be saying, 'Remember that show, Grey's Anatomy? But until the day comes, we're embracing this time." -- Ann Oldenburg
(ABC, Oct. 3, Thursdays at 10 ET/PT)
Where we left off: Olivia Pope's (Kerry Washington) dad was revealed as Rowan (Joe Morton), the head of the CIA's super-secret Division B613, who's been secretly trying to keep Olivia and President Fitz Grant (Tony Goldwyn) apart. White House Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene had a heart attack, but recovered and showed Fitz a sex tape of Olivia and Jake Ballard (Scott Foley). Fitz ends up returning to comfort in the lap of his estranged wife, first lady Mellie. Billy Chambers, the VP's former aide, is revealed as the mole leaking information about the White House. David and Cyrus strike a deal that gives David a new job and Cyrus a potentially damaging Cytron card.
What's next: More about Olivia's past and personal life. "We're going to find out who leaked Olivia's name to the press," says Jeff Perry, who plays Cyrus. "We're going to see the unfold(ing) of the biggest crisis for both Pope and Associates and the White House. And fans will be surprised to see who ends up working together to do what they think is best on those respective sides of the aisle." Cyrus and Mellie blame each other for revealing the truth about Fitz and Olivia's affair: "We are intent on turning the truth into a lie," Perry says. "They're just gonna keep misbehaving and cause me to go into serious Cyrus overdrive." -- Lorena Blas
(Fox, Sept. 26, Thursdays at 9 ET/PT)
Where we left off: Blaine (Darren Criss) wants to propose to Kurt (Chris Colfer), and they meet a lesbian jeweler (Patty Duke) and her partner (Meredith Baxter), who will return this season. Will (Matthew Morrison) and Emma (Jayma Mays) get married. In New York, Rachel auditions for Funny Girl. And Finn is absent, as star Cory Monteith completed a stint in rehab.
What's next: Following a two-episode Beatles tribute that opens the season, the Oct. 10 episode pays tribute to Monteith, who died of a drug overdose in July, after killing off his character. Filming the tribute, the cast "was a mess," Jane Lynch says. "Everybody was crying, but it was good. We grieved together." Lynch's character, cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, becomes the school's principal. Demi Lovato (The X Factor) plays a new love interest for Santana (Naya Rivera) in a six-episode arc. And American Idol finalist Adam Lambert plays a recurring role as Kurt's New York nemesis. -- Gary Levin and Bill Keveney
(Fox, tonight, Tuesdays at 9 ET/PT)
Where we left off:After two flirtatious seasons, Nick (Jake Johnson) and Jess (Zooey Deschanel) are now a "thing," promising new complications for them --and their roommates. And Schmidt (Max Greenfield) interrupted sometime-girlfriend Cece's arranged wedding, forcing him to choose between her and Elizabeth (Merritt Wever). "That's as close as we get to a cliffhanger," says creator Liz Meriwether.
What's next: Nick and Jess' couplehood is a big focus early in the third season. After some trepidation about the permanence of their relationship, writers "decided there's a lot of great stuff in getting them together," Meriwether says. "They're equally flawed characters, and we still felt like we could get a lot of comedy out of them dating, and how annoyed you would be if you were Schmidt and Winston living with them. We're changing the original idea of the show, and I'm always happy about that." Schmidt is "given this impossible choice...that pushes him to new levels of insanity." And Winston develops a relationship with a cat. Jon Lovitz guest-stars as Schmidt's rabbi, Angela Kinsey (The Office) plays a mean-girl teacher who butts heads with Jess, and Emily Ratajkowski, the girl from the Blurred Lines video, has a mystery role. -- Gary Levin