After an odd, erratic, pandemic-altered year of television, something akin to a regular fall TV season has returned — and so, too, has our annual Fall TV Preview.
Before Premiere Week officially kicks off on Monday, Sept. 20, Team TVLine has compiled the below overview of nearly two dozen returning favorites, packed with exclusive scoop and photos you won’t find anywhere else.
Will the newly engaged Good Doctor make it to the altar, after all? Should Batwoman prepare for a visit from The Penguin? How badly banged up will NCIS‘ Gibbs be? Which Resident doc is heading for an “entirely unexpected” love triangle? And are New Amsterdam‘s Max and Helen… y’know, a thing?
You can find the answers to those fall TV questions below, as well as the latest intel on Chicago Fire, All American, Young Sheldon and more series that left us with stunning cliffhangers at the end of their latest seasons.
In the meantime, scroll through the list below for teasers of 20-plus returning shows, then drop a comment with the season premiere(s) you’re most highly anticipating!
Want even more scoop on any of the following shows? Email InsideLine@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.
In the wake of Season 3’s cliffhanger-filled finale, showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll can’t say much about the fates of Coop, Layla or Carrie. “But what we can promise the audience is we will fill in the blanks of what happened,” Carroll assures us. “This is not going to be a season-long guessing game of where things ended up after the cliffhangers. Those questions will be answered in the first episode.” Generally speaking, Season 4 is rooted in “rebirth” for the characters, Carroll says, none of whom will “come out of Season 3 unscathed” after experiencing such traumatic events. “We will see a ripple effect through a number of characters as they are changed and their directions pivot — and maybe even life priorities change as a result of the cliffhangers.” And though the EP remains tight-lipped about whether Spencer’s passion for football will be one of those changed priorities, she does tease a more “grown version” of the character in Season 4 — one who is “learning to put his oxygen mask on first” before helping others. “He’s notorious for feeling survivor’s guilt for the blessings he has in his life,” she says. “But we’re also dealing with a Spencer who’s grown since then, who’s been in therapy since then.”
BONUS SPOILER!: As Season 4 sets up the All American: Homecoming spinoff (premiering at midseason), Carroll confirms that “Simone will not be the only character recognizable from the Beverly Hills/Crenshaw world that we see land over at Bringston” for college.
RETURN DATE: Monday, Oct. 25 at 8/7c (The CW)
Season 3 finds Ryan using the Batwoman moniker to help underserved communities, a move that was teased in the Season 2 finale. However, she’ll also be forced to deal with the fallout from Alice’s bombshell reveal that Ryan’s birth mother is still alive. Whether that’s true, and not another of Alice’s mind games, remains to be seen. On the Bat Team front, the gang will focus their efforts on trying to recover the Bat Trophies that were stolen at the end of last season. The upcoming episodes will also introduce a bevy of new characters, including business mogul Jada Jett (Robin Givens), who may or may not be Ryan’s birth mother, and her son Marquis (Nick Creegan), who is potentially Ryan’s brother. Meanwhile, Luke will grapple with his superhero role as Batwing, while Mary evaluates her role on the Bat Team after graduating from med school. The season will also bring in a few familiar characters, like the infamous Batman villain Poison Ivy (Bridget Regan) and Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena), a former Gotham police officer who’s now working out of the mayor’s office and is determined to recover those lost Batman trophies.
BONUS SPOILER!: As for that umbrella floating in the river at the end of Season 2, showrunner Caroline Dries confirms that it does belong to famous Batman villain The Penguin, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will see him in Gotham this season. “That is his umbrella and anyone can come in, get a hold of [it] and take on its properties and use it for evil. That’s sort of the threat of that,” she teases.
RETURN DATE: Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 9/8c (The CW)
Fans of ABC’s thriller can relax: Though both Jenny and Lindor were in some pretty gnarly scrapes at the end of last season, both of the white hats will be alive and well in Season 2 — which is good, because all hands will be needed when a car wreck near Helena spirals into Dewell & Hoyt’s newest case. The drama’s expanded cast includes Janina Gavankar (True Blood) as the villainous Ren; Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos) as Tonya, a waitress who hires Jenny and Cassie; and Madelyn Kientz (Walker) as Max, who babysits for Cassie and “gets sucked into this main mystery that’s going to pull in all of our characters,” showrunner Elwood Reid says. Oh, and what about fugitive killers Ronald and Scarlet? “They’re in the wind, and then something happens to them,” Reid teases. “They are living a little bit happily ever after in a cabin, and then something intercedes into that paradise.” (Hint: Look to the end of the season premiere for a hint at what that “something” is.)
BONUS SPOILER!: “There’s someone from Jenny’s past that comes back in the latter half of the season,” Reid says. “And we haven’t gotten there yet, but there’s going to be someone from Cassie’s past life that has something to do with her dead husband.”
RETURN DATE: Thursday, Sept. 30 at 10/9c (ABC)
Picking up with last season’s cliffhanger, which found the rescue squad trapped underwater, “things get worse” for the team as “that boat’s sinking to the bottom of the lake,” showrunner Derek Haas previews, adding that the “last image before the [show] logo comes up is going to have people upset.” While Haas is keeping mum on how things play out for Severide & Co., he does reveal that “the ramifications of that call continue on past Episode 1, and so it’s not just everything’s hunky-dory.” Elsewhere, Stella is “facing having to leave the firehouse to take another lieutenant’s job somewhere else,” and the question of Chief Boden’s professional future will be resolved. “The firehouse is going to change in Season 10. You can’t keep everything static all the time,” Haas notes. In the romance department, new couple Casey and Brett are “good” and “strong,” but “much to [the] audience’s consternation, there will be some obstacles thrown at them early [on].” Meanwhile, a certain trio’s new business venture might be off to a rocky start: “Gallo and Violet are so competitive and have this romantic energy between them. Ritter should be careful what he wishes for on this one,” Haas says.
BONUS SPOILER!: “There will be an old character coming back in the second episode and going forward. It’s such a good, emotional surprise,” Haas teases.
RETURN DATE: Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 9/8c (NBC)
Emotions will run high when Chicago P.D. returns for Season 9. Picking up where we left off in the Season 8 finale, Burgess is still fighting for her life in the ER after being shot and losing a significant amount of blood following her kidnapping while working a case. The premiere, titled “Closure,” will see Ruzek continue to struggle with the tense situation as he awaits Burgess’ fate while also taking care of her adoptive daughter Makayla. Meanwhile, the rest of Intelligence will carry on with their investigation into Burgess’ abduction and will be joined at some point by Deputy Superintendent Samantha Miller, who’s desperate to find her son’s killer. The season opener will also see Upton and Voight deal with the fallout from the finale, in which Upton was forced to shoot a suspect during a tussle and Voight burned the body to cover their tracks. What this means for Voight’s approach to police reform remains to be seen.
BONUS SPOILER!: According to showrunner Rick Eid, the premiere finds Upton struggling with her deadly decision in the finale. “She’s not in a good place,” he tells TVLine. “The shooting in the finale rocked her — and the events of the premiere will test her and Voight even further.”
RETURN DATE: Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 10/9c (NBC)
The live (!) Season 4 premiere picks up “about two weeks” after Ben rejected Darlene’s marriage proposal, showrunner Bruce Helford tells TVLine — and they “still haven’t discussed what Ben wants [moving forward].” Darlene remains “proactive,” as Helford puts it, “and that can go a lot of different ways.” One potential obstacle for the on-again/off-again couple: the return of Brian Austin Green, who, during his Dancing With the Stars journey, will reprise his role as Wellman floor worker Jeff. But regardless of what happens between Darlene and Ben, “You can pretty much guarantee that Ben and Darlene are [always going to be] part of each other’s lives now,” adds fellow EP Dave Caplan. “They have such a history now that they can’t just untangle, in the way that you might ordinarily do if you don’t stay together.” Plus, “Ben is so beloved by everybody else in the family that that’s kind of what makes it interesting going forward.”
BONUS SPOILER!: The veteran sitcom is moving full speed ahead with the recently engaged Dan and Louise. “We’ve got the wedding coming up, so there are some things going on that involve that,” Helford previews. “There is a lot of romance involved in this [season opener], and there are big changes coming in these people’s lives. This is the beginning of that.”
RETURN DATE: Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 9/8c (ABC)
Much has been revealed about the five-episode “Armageddon” event that opens Season 8 — Barry & Co. will team with Black Lightning, Arrow’s Mia Smoak, Batwoman and others against both aliens (led by Tony Curran’s Despero) and an Eobard Thawne/Damien Darhk alliance — and showrunner Eric Wallace isn’t inclined to spoil much more, other than to say “there is a level of scale and spectacle, right out of the gate, that we weren’t able to achieve last year”(due to COVID restrictions). But in previewing Season 8 as a whole, Wallace confirmed the return of speedster kids Bart and Nora as well as Kristen Kramer (who has “a lot to deal with” upon realizing her meta-mimicking skills), and teased a villain who “will force Team Flash to face their mortality in a highly personal and ultimately terrifying way.”
BONUS SPOILER!: Wallace said that Joe West “is going to get an incredibly different perspective on life, and it will lead him to a really big choice” — one that dwarfs last season’s decision to turn in his badge.
RETURN DATE: Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 8/7c (The CW)
THE GOOD DOCTOR
On the heels of Shaun and Lea’s engagement, Season 5 of the ABC drama will explore how things change “when you’re a committed couple, and then you’re a really committed couple,” executive producer David Shore tells TVLine. “All of a sudden, [Shaun and Lea] are looking at a lifetime together, and we’ll see how that affects feelings and how that affects the relationship.” (Prior to the wedding, the ABC drama is throwing the soon-to-be marrieds an engagement party; view exclusive photos and promo here.) Speaking of relationships, we’ll also see how the dynamic between Morgan and Park evolves now that they’re boyfriend and girlfriend. “One thing you don’t want to give up when you make a couple a couple is what made them so fantastic before,” Shore explains. In other words, don’t expect Morgan and Park to suddenly be any less competitive with each other. “We don’t want to lose that working dynamic. We want to keep enjoying that. But things do change, and they are very, very different people, which makes their relationship tricky to navigate.”
BONUS SPOILER!: Shore reminds us that Glassman isn’t the only newly single doctor at St. Bonaventure. Andrews is also an eligible bachelor now — and the two of them may very well bond over their failed marriages. “We are going to have the two of them cross paths a little bit more because they are in similar situations,” Shore teases. “But they’re not naturally buddies.”
RETURN DATE: Monday, Sept. 27 at 10/9c (ABC)
Though “Mermac” ‘shippers may want nothing more than to see the potential couple have that long-awaited drink — a real one, mind you — that won’t be foremost on Grey’s mind as Season 18 begins. Post-COVID, “her priorities are work and her children,” says EP Meg Marinis. “But it’s going to be a very big question at the top of the season: Will she and Hayes finally get timing on their side?” In other developments, Jo will be there for Link as he reels from his rejected marriage proposal, and he’ll be there for Jo as she adjusts to being a working mom. Don’t expect them to pair up as more than pals, though. With them, “it’s almost like Meredith and Alex,” says Marinis. “You can just watch them being friends.” There are also “fun surprises” in store for newlyweds Maggie and Winston and likely an “I do”-over for Teddy and Owen. “They want to get married, it’s just a question of when,” Marinis tells us.
BONUS SPOILER!: While career-related conflict may arise between a reunited “Schmico,” Marinis says the show is committed to them: “We want to see what Levi is like with this different Nico.”
RETURN DATE: Thursday, Sept. 30 at 9/8c (ABC)
LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME
What’s new when the SVU spinoff returns for Season 2: Stabler’s impressive goatee and his undercover assignment with an Albanian drug ring. What remains: his crushing grief over his wife’s murder in Season 1. “He is not seeing his therapist right now, and by the time he finishes his undercover stint, he’s probably going to need to see her more than ever,” showrunner Ilene Chaiken teases. (Yikes!) The season opens with the Organized Crime unit stripped to its barest components, thanks to death (Cappelletti), treachery (Morales) and idiocy (Washburn) at the end of last season — and then Bell is forced to team up with her old Narco boss (played by Scandal‘s Guillermo Díaz) “with whom she had a contentious relationship,” the EP says. Oh, and also? “You’ll find out Angela Wheatley’s fate, to some extent, in the first episode,” Chaiken previews, adding that there will be multiple SVU crossovers in the coming season.
BONUS SPOILER!: Just in case you’re wondering when, exactly, we’ll get some more insight on Stabler’s letter to Benson: “I will suggest that you keep an eye out for it in Episode 3,” Chaiken says.
RETURN DATE: Thursday, Sept. 23 at 10/9c (NBC)
LAW & ORDER: SVU
While we have no intel on whether Rollins and Carisi’s season-finale kiss turned into anything more permanent over the summer, we can safely say that life will be hell for Garland when the procedural returns for Season 23. In the two-hour premiere, as the investigation into a sex-for-housing scheme becomes more intricate, Benson will wonder if her loyalty to the embattled deputy chief is warranted. Meanwhile, Rollins and Carisi will have work keeping their witnesses when a political bigwig becomes a suspect.
BONUS SPOILER!: Fin and Kat will find themselves in danger when they go looking for a missing witness. How much danger? Well, we’re not sure if this news has any bearing on the outcome, but we thought you should have all the evidence, nevertheless.
RETURN DATE: Thursday, Sept. 23 at 8/7c (NBC)
Not only will Legacies‘ fourth season usher in a “darker version” of the CW drama, but showrunner Brett Matthews also promises a “tumultuous year that will shake things up, radically changing the course of several characters’ trajectories.” For Hope, this means a long-awaited showdown with Malivore, “who is now incarnate in the body of the boy she loves. How far is Hope willing to go to stop Malivore and rescue Landon? Can she even accomplish both things? Those are the questions that will drive the first four episodes.” Elsewhere, Lizzie will navigate her complicated feelings for Ethan, though “she’ll have a lot more to deal with than just romance”; Josie will do her best to remain honest with Finch, even if that newfound openness results in “difficult conversations”; and Kaleb will resort to “drastic measures” in order to pull himself out of a “pretty dark place.” As for poor Cleo (new series regular Omono Okojie), escaping from Malivore will require her to “confront a lot of the demons from her past,” triggering an emotional journey that will leave her “forever changed.”
BONUS SPOILER!: The first four episodes, which were filmed before the show’s summer hiatus, were originally meant to wrap up Season 3. (Thanks, wonky pandemic schedule!) Those episodes will deliver “what the show has been building to for three seasons.”
RETURN DATE: Thursday, Oct. 14 at 9/8c (The CW)
A MILLION LITTLE THINGS
The ABC drama wrapped Season 3 with Gary ambushing Peter, the music teacher who’d sexually assaulted Sophie, and kicking the door shut behind him. So when we come into Season 4, “It’s a s—tshow, right?” says showrunner DJ Nash, laughing. “It’s a hot mess.” He’s referring to how Gary will handle the reality of what he’s done. (Spoiler: not well!) “I was really interested to hear from my friends who saw the finale what they think is going to happen,” he adds, “and I’m very excited for those people who think they know to watch our premiere.” The season opener will find Maggie being presented with an unexpected opportunity, and Rome helping Regina deal with the reality of Someday’s demise. Meanwhile, those who waited all summer to find out whether Delilah is really heading to France will get an answer within the season opener.
BONUS SPOILER!: Nash promises “we will find out very, very quickly” who called Eddie and took responsibility for his accident, “and we will see how complicated it is for Eddie.”
RETURN DATE: Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 10/9c (ABC)
Given that Gibbs and his newly finished boat went boom! in the closing seconds of the May finale, showrunner Steven D. Binder says, “There’s some cleanup work we have to do” when the Season 19 premiere christens the long-running drama’s first new time slot — Mondays at 9/8c — in, well, ever. Though Gibbs was seen swimming away from said fiery blast, “any number of levels of injury are possible for him,” Binder warns. Plus, “he’s been cut off from his team, that portion of his world.” Eventually, Gibbs will reunite with McGee & Co., though “not necessarily in a form you might have expected,” Binder shares. “We’re going to bring the band back together to some degree, so they can do what we liked watching for 20 years, which is these people solving crimes together.” As for Ellie Bishop’s sudden, season-ending exit, very special colleague Nick Torres’ reaction will reveal some of his character’s “soft interior,” while also offering “more hints about the extent” of the agents’ apparent, off-screen relationship.
BONUS SPOILER!: The notion of Gibbs’ suspension ending and him possibly rejoining the team will beg the question: “How does McGee feel about that? Does he like being the tip of the spear?” Binder poses. “He’ll have a moment where we get to see his thinking on that.”
RETURN DATE: Monday, Sept. 20 at 9/8c (CBS)
NCIS: LOS ANGELES
With Eric and Nell both gone and Kilbride now a keeper, Season 13 of the high-octane drama is all about “refreshing and resetting,” right down to a tweaked theme song, says showrunner R. Scott Gemmill. But hey, at least Hetty is back. Right…? “Hetty will still be involved,” says the EP, “but we’re going to find out early that she created quite a mess overseas and has to go and try to fix that — against Kilbride’s better judgment,” of course. That said, Hetty will be on hand as Callen dives deeper into the files about his past, in which he will “find something that will change his relationship, at least for the time being, with someone very close to him,” Gemmill previews. Investigating Hetty’s early involvement in his life, “He will find out other elements that were in play that he may have forgotten over time.” Elsewhere, wannabe parents Kensi and Deeks consider the adoption route and all that entails – including, “Are they ideal candidates?” – while a family member of Sam’s, who the audience has not met before, “will have a big impact on his life.”
BONUS SPOILER!: Though more accurately falling under Spring Preview, Gemmill guessed that his plan for the series’ 300th episode (aka Episode 20) is to “shoot out the lights,” adding: “I always like to have fun when we hit those milestones, and, if possible, bring back familiar faces to celebrate.”
RETURN DATE: Sunday, Oct. 10 at 9/8c (CBS)
The Season 4 premiere will “jump back and forth a little bit” between the present and the evening of Max and Helen’s kiss, so the current status of their relationship is “kind of a mystery that gets unraveled through the flashbacks of that night together,” showrunner David Schulner previews. “So just because they get together doesn’t mean you’re in for an easy ride.” Meanwhile, Lauren and Leyla “are in the throes of their own happiness,” even though there are “a lot of kinks to work out” now that they’re working together. As for Floyd and Lyn, navigating a secret relationship while he’s employed under her husband is “not going so well, but things are going to get better,” Schulner says. However, trouble may be afoot: “[Lyn’s spouse] Baptiste doesn’t know anything at the moment, but I don’t know how much longer they can keep that up.” Finally, Iggy takes on a new position as the chair of the resident training program in Behavioral Health, and “he couldn’t be happier with his decision.”
BONUS SPOILER!: An early episode will address whether Lauren has replaced one addiction with another in the form of Leyla, “and none other than Iggy is there to help her through it,” Schulner shares.
RETURN DATE: Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 10/9c (NBC)
Resident co-showrunner Peter Elkoff declined to give specifics about Emily VanCamp’s imminent exit from the show, including how Nic’s departure might impact the remaining characters. He can assure fans, though, that they needn’t worry how Conrad will fare as a single father in Season 5, which picks up after a nine-month time jump. “He’s really good at it,” Elkoff teases. “He’s just going to be the best dad you can imagine.” But the EP also hints at a different upcoming plot twist — one that has “nothing to do with Nic” — that will hit around Episode 5 and “put a new spin on the show” moving forward. “We’re going to employ a wrinkle in storytelling that I think will really excite the audience and turn our show upside down a little bit,” he shares. Elsewhere in the new episodes, AJ will wind up in a love triangle “with someone entirely unexpected,” while the show plans to finally capitalize on Kit and Bell’s obvious chemistry. “These are beloved characters, and we’re trying to tell a really realistic and romantic, but complicated, story about how they go about finding what the right version of their relationship is,” Elkoff says.
BONUS SPOILER!: Speaking of Kit, her job as Chastain Park’s CEO will become very stressful in the season premiere when a ransomware attack hits the hospital. “It all comes down to her,” Elkoff warns. “Everybody has an idea of what to do, and she has to make a decision on how to protect the patients and the hospital.”
RETURN DATE: Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 8/7c (Fox)
Just like The Flash, Riverdale will return to The CW in November with a special five-episode mini-event… and you may not want to watch this one alone in the dark. Season 6’s initial episodes “are firmly in the horror genre,” showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa teases, and the five-episode event “definitely has its own arc. We’re really, really excited about it.” In fact, it even has its own name: Rivervale. “Things are a little bit darker, a little bit weirder, a little more twisted in Rivervale.”
BONUS SPOILER!: Season 6 will amp up the romance factor, as well, Aguirre-Sacasa adds. He won’t reveal who’s with whom, but “Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, Jughead and Tabitha… all of them are very deep into it with love interests.”
RETURN DATE: Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 9/8c (The CW)
If promos, photos and posters have you fretting about a conspicuously absent character, showrunner Alexi Hawley says that Jackson’s fate is “almost immediately” revealed in the season opener, during which the team heads to Guatemala to hopefully rescue bride/mom-to-be Lopez from kidnapper La Fiera. As that crisis plays out (helped along by one person’s “deal with the devil”), Hawley says, “There will be repercussions for a lot of our characters,” including of course Lopez, who will “carry some PTSD and work to overcome it.” On much lighter notes, Nolan “moves up and on” from being a rookie, though with that comes the pressure for someone his age to advance ASAP to TO; Lucy’s impromptu stint as a meth cook gives her a “healthy appreciation for what she doesn’t know about undercover work;” Tim’s promotion to sergeant brings “new complications and opportunities for Lucy in terms of how she will continue to interact with him on patrol” (Hawley says that this moment “supersedes” any needed callback to their missed dance); while Harper’s own love life becomes “much more complicated.”
BONUS SPOILER!: Did we mention the premiere ends with a time jump…?
RETURN DATE: Sunday, Sept. 26 at 10/9c (ABC)
Picking up several months after Metal’s death, Jason out of all Bravo team members “is probably in the most stable place — more Obi-Wan than Luke Skywalker now,” says showrunner Spencer Hudnut. Ray, who had just been led into therapy by Jason, has been taking “baby steps in repairing things” with wife Naima, while viewers will “pretty quickly” learn what Sonny and Davis decided to do about one or both of them relocating to Texas. Clay when we next see him is about to embark on an already-delayed honeymoon with Stella when the team is ordered to spin up and react to a mass casualty terrorist attack in Africa, leading to “a mission unlike any they’ve done before,” and one that will also include “personal elements that impact each and every operator.” Arriving in Episode 4, the Africa mission kicks off a two-parter that wraps the military drama’s CBS run and begins its Paramount+ existence (get schedule details). And though Hudnut when we spoke had just penned the first F-bomb to be dropped by one of his characters, “the show’s going to remain the show” in its new streaming home.
BONUS SPOILER!: In a midseason episode that had to be rewritten in the wake of recent events, Bravo will return to Afghanistan and “be confronted with the reality of what happened over there.”
RETURN DATE: Sunday, Oct. 10 at 10/9c (CBS, then Paramount+)
“The Season 5 premiere picks up exactly where last season ended,” series co-creator Steve Molaro tells TVLine. “George and Brenda are still at the bar, [and] we will learn exactly what transpired between them that night.” Sheldon and Missy, meanwhile, are still in a shack in the woods. “Sheldon ran away from home. While he did it to look after his younger sister — even if she’s only seconds younger — he has still broken some rules and believes strongly that his actions require punishment,” Molaro says. Looking ahead, viewers can expect “a small time jump around Episode 7,” when Sheldon begins his second semester of college. “[There will be] new classes, new professors and new situations [that] Sheldon is not prepared to handle.” As for Sheldon’s older brother Georgie, he’ll be thinking a lot about life after high school. “[He] is going to make a decision that will affect the entire family,” Molaro teases.
BONUS SPOILER!: While the first episode back won’t feature a Big Bang Theory Easter egg akin to the Season 4 opener’s Amy Farrah Fowler cameo, Molaro promises “a few exciting Easter eggs scattered throughout the season,” beginning with “the origin of Sheldon’s disdain for engineering.”
RETURN DATE: Thursday, Oct. 7 at 8/7c (CBS)
Want even more scoop on any of the above shows? Email InsideLine@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.