So what happens next? That's what fans are left wondering when many shows end their seasons, and it can make for a very long summer. However one might feel about the hot-weather months nearing their end, the good news in television terms is that a new season is at hand ... and with it, the answers to those burning questions about series and their characters. Here's a look at some of those cliffhangers:
"Boardwalk Empire" (HBO, returns Sept. 16): As the curtain drew down on this darkly poetic tale of the power of corruption and the corruption of power in Prohibition-era Atlantic City, N.J., it was curtains for would-be crown prince Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt). After dispatching his powerful illegitimate father in a bid to gain ultimate control, he fell victim to his spiritual father, Boardwalk boss Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), who made the leap from shady politician to outright gangster.
"Dexter" (Showtime, returns Sept. 30): Now that Lt. Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) has caught her police colleague -- and half brother -- Dexter (Michael C. Hall) in the act of killing a felon, what already had started to turn into a more complicated sibling relationship last year is sure to become even more of one in Season 7. Watch alumni of "Luck" and "Chuck," namely Jason Gedrick and Yvonne Strahovski, add to the already upped stakes as new guest stars.
"The Good Wife" (CBS, returns Sept. 30): The compelling drama about a lawyer who stood by her man until she couldn't ended its third season with Alicia (Julianna Margulies) figuring out her place in her family. Peter (Chris Noth) and the kids returned to their old house, while matters at the law firm were also in flux, with Will (Josh Charles) temporarily disbarred and the firm teetering on bankruptcy. More of Kalinda's (Archie Panjabi) shadowy past is destined to surface.
"Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, returns Sept. 27): When Lexie Grey died in a plane crash at the beginning of the Season 8 finale, we thought the worst was over ... but the hits just kept on coming. When the episode ended, Meredith, Derek, Christina, Mark, Arizona and their pilot were still out in the wilderness, suffering from serious injuries that could turn fatal. Back in Seattle, Hunt fired Teddy because he didn't want her to pass up a military job, and Ben and Bailey got engaged after she proposed. Alex prepared to leave Seattle after Johns Hopkins made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Characters will be pushed to their breaking points -- and the Season 9 premiere will see the fallout.
"Hawaii Five-0" (CBS, returns Sept. 24): Five-0 team member Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) faced a heart-rending choice between the most important two women in his life, cousin Kono (Grace Park) and wife Malia (Reiko Aylesworth). Dirty former homicide detective Frank Delano (William Baldwin) had Kono kidnapped, gagged, bound with duct tape and dumped into the ocean ... while at the same time, he held Malia hostage in her home. Chin chose Malia, only to face the possibility of her dying in his arms as the episode ended.
"Homeland" (Showtime, returns Sept. 30): The taut drama that deftly weaves politics and anxiety in the post-9/11 world wrapped its first season with Carrie's (Claire Danes) continued plunge into madness. She ranted to her boss and friend, Saul (Mandy Patinkin), who realized she had unraveled a terrorist plot. After a family weekend, Brody (Damian Lewis) finalized his plans for the vice president's summit. The cliffhanger was bloody, but Brody's warring ambitions will be borne out.
"Once Upon a Time" (ABC, returns Sept. 30): In the first-season finale, fans were still reeling from the shock of seeing the curse at the heart of the show broken much sooner than they expected when suddenly Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) hurled a potion into a well, summoning magic from the fairy-tale realm to Storybrooke. Young Henry (Jared Gilmore) called it "something bad" ... but for storytelling purposes, it's fantastic, a virtual reboot with relationships radically changed -- and the Queen's (Lana Parrilla) dark powers restored. Happily ever after? As if!
"Revenge" (ABC, returns Sept. 30): As the "guilty pleasure" shifts to Sundays, happily addicted viewers can't wait to find out why Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) didn't die (oh, please, like you didn't know!) in that plane disaster in the season finale. Or whether her depressed daughter, Charlotte (Christa B. Allen), survived her drug overdose. Or the story behind the biggest "OMG" moment of all: Emily's (Emily VanCamp) mother is alive ... alive, we tell you (and played by Jennifer Jason Leigh)! Daniel (Josh Bowman) may not be for much longer, though, if he's really gone over to the dark side.
"Sons of Anarchy" (FX, returns Sept. 11): The SAMCRO motorcycle club faced sudden and relentless change, as a pending CIA deal forced vice president Jax (Charlie Hunnam) to keep his Machiavellian stepfather Clay (Ron Perlman) alive and remain with the club even though he intended to take fiancee Tara (Maggie Siff) and his son and hit the road. At the end, Jax's mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal), faced the prospect of Tara and Jax taking the place she once occupied with first husband John Teller.
"The Vampire Diaries" (The CW, returns Oct. 11): This show delivered a real game changer in the third-season finale, as little Goody Two-Shoes Elena (Nina Dobrev) got turned into a vampire. Given that many fans were getting sick of how her friends constantly were having to rescue her from one idiotic "selfless" act after another, this can only be good news ... especially since Elena reportedly won't be inclined to go on boyfriend Stefan's (Paul Wesley) "bunny diet" anytime soon. Expect this new twist to shake up many core relationships.