A sitcom about a working-class family in the U.S. heartland follows the daily strife of frazzled mom Frankie who, alongside her husband, raises their three kids, the youngest being an outcast at school because of his unusual behavior.
Frankie tries to sway Axl from taking the job in Denver. Meanwhile, the usually overly optimistic Sue is depressed over Sean leaving for Ghana, without ever expressing her feelings for him; and Brick drives everyone crazy when he buys a huge amount of lawn chairs to replace the one he's been using for nine years.
Frankie helps Sue celebrate her 21st birthday by taking her to a bar close to the college; Mike begrudgingly accompanies Brick to a "Planet Nowhere" convention; and Axl and Hutch head to Ohio in the Winnebago to attend and make a toast at ex-college roomie Kenny's wedding.
Mike's wayward brother comes to town and presents Sue with an extravagant gift, which Mike thinks is stolen goods. Meanwhile, with Sue now older and living the college life, Mike feels like he's not as close to her as he used to be and tries to figure out a way to reconnect; Axl blows the money from his first paycheck on a big-screen TV and blames his spending spree on years of learning from Frankie; and Brick is delighted to discover mysterious, unmarked gifts being left at the front door.
Frankie decides that she needs to find something new that she's passionate about—life's third act—and Reverend TimTom offers the perfect solution. Meanwhile, tired of hearing Sue and Brick argue because of the giant hole between their bedroom walls, Mike orders them to fix it; and after Axl refuses to let rich girlfriend Lexie pay for some extravagant outings, Lexie finds a way to fool him into thinking he's becoming lucky when money and other items suddenly make their way into his hands.
Now that Axl has a real job, he begins to bond more with Mike and spends a lot of time with him—leaving Frankie frozen out of their interactions; and just as Sue is about to break up with Aidan, Brad pleads with her to wait a beat until after he has a chance to win the affection of Aiden's handsome friend, Luke.
As New Year's Eve approaches, Sue admits to Frankie that she likes Sean Donahue and that she kissed him at the Christmas party. But she's still trying to figure out if her kiss with Sean was a fluke or if it actually meant that he likes her. Meanwhile, Mike forces Axl and Brick to take a drive with him and Mike's dad, Big Mike, and they are shocked to discover what is planned when they reach their final destination.
It's Christmastime, and Frankie and Sue are devastated after Axl informs them that he's not going to church this year because he's beginning to question his faith. Meanwhile, Mike goes to war with the Glossner kids after they keep defacing his new, giant inflatable snowman; and Brick goes all out in an attempt to wrap his first present for a planned Christmas Yankee Swap.
When Orson is named as one of the top 200 most livable cities in Indiana, Frankie is reminded that she has to come up with something to place in the time capsule that will be buried in the base of the newly rededicated Orson Cow. Meanwhile, when Bill Norwood informs Mike that he and Paula are separating, Mike is gobsmacked and starts to appreciate Frankie more; in order to win back Cindy, Brick must complete three acts of bravery for her; and Axl volunteers Sue to be his personal assistant.
Axl heads to Chicago to visit Hutch for the weekend but discovers that his friend, who has his own apartment and a job, is now acting more like a responsible adult than the free-spirited college student he once knew. Meanwhile, Sue's excitement over having the apartment to herself over the weekend turns to horror when she is unable to sleep after watching "Silence of the Lambs"; and Brick enlists Frankie and Mike's aid to help convince a new student that she and Brick would make a cute couple.
The Hecks take a hectic road trip for Thanksgiving to Frankie's sister's house but soon find themselves running into barriers that could make them late to the feast; and Axl, Sue and Brick learn that one of them must quit their job at Spudsy's.
Pat stays with the Hecks after coming down with an ailment, and Frankie's at her beck and call. Meanwhile, Sue suggests to Sean that they should try setting each other up on dates; and Axl and Brick ponder what it is exactly that Mike does at the quarry.
Axl tries to invent a new beverage combing wine and beer. Meanwhile, Brick joins the school orchestra; Mike asks Sue to plan his and Frankie's 25th wedding anniversary; and Sue puts her foot down about doing everything without complaint.
Frankie learns about a death in the Heck house close to 50 years ago, and she and Brick attempt to track down the murderer. Meanwhile, Axl and Lexie become frustrated over losing their alone time when Sue insists on hanging out with them.
Lexi's wealthy parents have dinner with Mike and Frankie, who worry about their humble lifestyle. Meanwhile, Brick is excited about taking part in the Sophomore Slammer fund-raiser, but the event doesn't go as he planned.
Frankie receives an apple pie from Nancy after she gives Nancy an old scarf, so she looks for other old items to give her. Meanwhile, Sue and Lexie discover their apartment's been sublet to someone; and Axl gets a job as a school-bus driver.
In the ninth-season opener, Axl returns from Europe with a new, relaxed outlook on life, but Mike wants him to look for a job. Meanwhile, Sue tries to catch up on some summer fun; and Brick wants to break up with Cindy.
TV Premiere Dates
Because it's never too early to plan Thursday night... two months from now.