Don't count South Park's Chef out of the kitchen just yet.
Last week, Isaac Hayes, who had voiced the character for almost a decade, quit the show in a fit of religious indignation, leading fans to believe they had been seen the last of the series' resident ladies man.
But then came word from Comedy Central that Wednesday's 10th season debut of the animated series would kick off with an all-new episode titled "The Return of Chef!"
Of course, that's not to say the episode necessarily heralds the return of Hayes, and the network was coy when it came to commenting on what part, if any, his vocals would play in the episode.
"I'm going to be maddeningly, frustratingly vague," Comedy Central spokesman Steve Albani told E! Online with regard to the episode's content.
According to a synopsis provided by the network, the town of South Park, Colorado, is jolted out of a case of the blues when Chef suddenly reappears on the scene, but it quickly becomes apparent to Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman that something about their old friend is different. When Chef's strange behavior starts getting him in trouble, the boys band together in an effort to save him.
Given Hayes' abrupt exit from the show, which series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have insisted was motivated by his offense at the Scientology-skewering episode, "Trapped in the Closet," it seems a safe bet that he may find himself the target of the show's humor.
Albani said that it's not uncommon for Stone and Parker to craft a news story into an episode in as little as three days.
"That's their history," he said. "It's a matter of how long...they can stay awake."
One thing's for certain: the duo appear to have Scientology in their sights after a rerun of "Trapped in the Closet" was yanked from Comedy Central's schedule last week, sparking rumors that Tom Cruise, who was caricatured in the episode, was behind the change in lineup.
Though the actor's camp denied his involvement, Stone and Parker responded to the scheduling change with cryptic words.
"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!" the self-described "servants of the dark lord Xenu" said last week in a statement. "Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies."
In response to the switch-up, a group of the show's supporters launched an online petition, vowing to boycott Cruise's films until Comedy Central aired "Trapped in the Closet" as planned.
"We demand that Comedy Central put this episode back on the air and show it as soon as possible: we want everyone, including Tom Cruise, to know that censorship is wrong," the petition reads in part.
For its part, Comedy Central claimed the episode was replaced by back-to-back Chef-heavy episodes in order to "give Chef an appropriate tribute by airing two episodes he is most known for."
Who knows--on Wednesday, viewers may see a side of Chef they never knew existed.