Dean and Sam Winchester have battled monsters, demons, ghosts, and vampires. But when "Supernatural" returns Oct. 8, the brothers face a test unlike any other: a world full of fallen angels.
At the end of last season, the Winchesters chose to leave the gates of Hell open — which will have dire and lasting consequences for their world. It's "going to have a lot of fallout," showrunner Jeremy Carver teased at Comic-Con.
Here are seven things to know about Season 9 of The CW's "Supernatural":
1. Death is waiting for Sam.
After his epic struggle to close the gates, Sam (Jared Padalecki) has fallen ill. When Season 9 premieres, he's in a hospital bed, with Death waiting for him. That means Dean (Jensen Ackles) is "going to have to make some very, very, very crucial decisions very early on in the season that are essentially going to drive the mythology for the rest of the year."
But Sam's biggest obstacle to recovering? Himself. "There's nothing to fight for," he says in a Season 9 preview.
2. Dean teams up with a new angel — Ezekiel.
When Dean sends out a mass prayer to help his brother, many angry fallen angels race to kill him. Wounded warrior Ezekiel (Tahmoh Penikett) is the first one to answer the call. But will he be a friend or a foe?
3. Castiel is trying to figure out the whole "being human" thing …
Along with the rest of the angels, Castiel (Misha Collins) is a mere mortal. And that's going to take some getting used to. As Ackles joked to E! Online, "We don't quite understand the skill set that Cas has as a human yet. Are we going to have to teach him how to handle a gun? Are we going to have to teach him how to drive a car? We don't know … I'm kind of looking forward to see it!"
4. … which includes a romance!
"The O.C." alum Shannon Lucio has been cast as April Kelly, a love interest for Castiel. Collins teased that fans will see the angel live through the "whole gamut of the human experience" — including "eating, defecating and fornicating."
5. But Crowley isn't (totally) human yet.
With the task of closing the gates incomplete, Sam's attempt to cure the King of Hell is also left in the balance. So while Crowley (Mark Sheppard) isn't pure demon anymore, neither is he human.
"There are certainly residual effects from taking that path," Sheppard explained to Zap2It.
When Season 9 starts, Crowley will be behind bars and at the mercy of the Winchesters. "We like the idea of Crowley being our Hannibal Lecter, and like Lecter, his goal is to get out," Carver told SFX. "He's clever and will try everything he can. Eventually, he will, but where that happens we don't know."
Castiel and Crowley tease the new season:
6. Bobby's back!
Sure, the demon-hunting father figured played by Jim Beaver is dead — but on "Supernatural," when has that ever mattered? Last we saw Bobby, he was in heaven, which is now controlled by the evil Metatron (Curtis Armstrong). So, will Bobby have a role in defeating the despot? We'll have to wait and see:
Read the script. Didn't see this one coming. Whatever you think it is -- it ain't. #Bobbysback— Jim Beaver (@jumblejim) July 16, 2013
7. There's more Men of Letters.
The highly entertaining Season 8 arc continues, much to fans' delight. Carver promised it'll be a big focus this year.
"We'll be delving a lot more into that, and in fact we'll be seeing the very first two hunters to ever be stationed at the Men of Letters bunker," he told Entertainment Weekly. "That's a really, really fun episode we have coming up early in the season where we will be flashing back to 1935."
Not only that, but Felicia Day is reprising her role as hacker Charlie — who has a connection to those Men of Letters!
Padalecki previews Season 9:
"Supernatural" Season 9 premieres Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 9 p.m. on The CW.