"Heroes" creator Tim Kring says the way the show ended in 2010 after four seasons "was an obligatory baton pass" to set up the 13-episode miniseries "Heroes Reborn."

"When we went off the air, we didn't know we were going off the air," Kring told TV critics Thursday.

"Heroes" ended with a final scene of Hayden Panettiere's character revealing her powers to the world in front of news cameras.

"Heroes Reborn" takes place five years later, and "the exact amount of time it's been off is the exact amount of time the story has moved," Kring said.

There are super-humans, known as EVOs, living in hiding to avoid persecution. It brings back former cast members Masi Oka, Greg Gunberg, Jack Coleman and Jimmy Jean-Louis and adds new ones including Zachary Levi and Ryan Guzman.

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"The story was really the thing that dictated who would come back, and the show was always designed to be very elastic in its presence," Kring said. "I always thought of it as a show that could re-populate itself. I wanted to make it easy for brand new viewers."

So what went wrong in the first place, causing a show that made such a splash in the beginning to end with a much smaller viewership?

"The biggest pitfall for us always was the amount of story we had to tell in a year," Kring said. "Our first season order was for 23 (episodes), the second year our order was 26. The third year was 25."

By reducing the story to 13-episodes, Kring believes, "what you're getting is a beginning, middle and an end which will allow us to do a very aggressive kind of storytelling."

"Heroes Reborn" premieres Sept. 24 on NBC.