Empire may be on a midseason hiatus, but Jussie Smollett is still on some people’s minds!
Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney recently teased a possible comeback, noting it would be “weird” if Smollett didn’t return. If he were to return, y’all already knew my wishes.
At the time of Mahoney’s statement, a final decision hadn’t been made, either way. However, it looks like Smollett’s saga is done, at least in the Lyon canon.
“We’re not going to bring Jussie back to the show,” Fox entertainment president Michael Thorn told TVLine on Tuesday. “There were a number of factors that went into the decision to not bring him back. There were many points of view about if he should come back or if he shouldn’t. As hard as a decision as that was, for us—and when I say us I mean the network, the studio and the producers—it felt like it was in the best interests of the show and the cast. Our hope is that all of the controversy surrounding Jussie doesn’t overshadow the show which we think is bigger than him.”
If you need a refresher for how everything went down (kind of like a TV season recap on Netflix!, TVLine got you, boo:
Smollett, who had played Lucious’ musician son Jamal since Empire debuted in 2015, was written out of the final episodes of Season 5 following a headline-grabbing brush with the law. The actor claimed he was beaten up by two men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, and then was accused of fabricating the attack and charged with making a false police report.
The charges were later dropped, but the scandal seemed to end Smollett’s run on Empire. When the show was renewed for sixth and final season last May, the network extended his contract but said there were “no plans” to bring him back. (Smollett’s final Empire episode saw Jamal get married to Kai; the show established early on in Season 6 that the newlyweds are now living full-time in London.)
As for what will happen during the show’s final episodes? Well, just like an executive, Thorn teased.
“Brett and the producers have a fantastic way to conclude the series that we are really excited about and we think it will be as epic a finish as its [beginning],” Thorn noted.
Empire will resume Season 6 and its final episodes later this winter.