Fox cancels Empire, Jussie Smollett's fate remains unclear

Fox cancels Empire, Jussie Smollett's fate remains unclear

After five seasons of drama, cliffhangers, flossing and lots of music, it looks like the Lyon family will be playing its own endgame as Fox announced Monday the sixth season of the popular show Empire will be its last. Fox executives shared the news on Monday, May 13 and also revealed controversial star Jussie Smollett will not be returning to the of right now.

Like several other scripted shows this season, "Empire" took a noticeable ratings hit year-to-year. The actor had been written out of the last two episodes of Season 5 following his legal controversy in which he was accused of faking a hate crime attack against himself. Fox is already airing a cycle of the show in the fall, meaning the network hopes "Singer" can prove appealing throughout the season.

"We are turning the final season into a large TV event", said FOX Entertainment CEO, Charlie Collier.

Pressed to give a more direct answer to the Smollett situation, Collier echoed what was said back in April: "There is an option [for him to return]". "As the series enters its final season, one thing is for sure, the Lyons never go out without a bang", the network said in a statement. Chief among these is "Empire", which will call it quits in 2020 after a six-season run.

Jussie Smollett's future on "Empire" remains in limbo. The ensuing friction might be one reason that Fox is less than enthusiastic about dealing with Empire for more than one more season regardless which way they go on Smollett.

"Empire" was a boon for Fox in its early seasons, with unprecedented ratings growth that prompted (often tone-deaf) discussions about the value of diverse programming.

"At this point, we have no plans for that", Collier said. As Deadline reported last month, Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard were among the cast members who asked, in a lengthy letter to Fox execs and the show's producers, that the actor be brought back to the show.

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