‘Empire’ to End Next Season Following Jussie Smollett Controversy

Credit: Fox

Empire will end after its upcoming sixth season.

Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier made the announcement Monday on a conference call with reporters.

“We’re turning the final season of Empire into a large television event,” Collier said, according to Entertainment Tonight. “We are going out guns-a-blazing. Six years is a pretty remarkable run for a drama series.”

Last month, Fox announced the series, led by Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, was renewed for season 6. The network negotiated a contract extension to keep the option open for Jussie Smollett to return, but said there were “no plans” to bring his character Jamal back.

Read More: Fox Cancels Lee Daniels’ ‘Star’ After Three Seasons

Collier repeated the “no plans” line Monday, without directly answering questions on whether Smollett would return for the finale.

“We’re excited to see the show go out with a bang and that’s really what we’ve been focused on and what’s been great with all these early season conversations,” he said. “Lee Daniels and all the writers are really just focused on giving the crescendo it deserves.”

In January, Smollett claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago. The actor was later accused of hiring two men to stage the assault. Prosecutors charged the actor with 16 felony counts for allegedly filing a false police report, but the charges were ultimately dropped.

When pressed on what role, if any, Smollett’s alleged attack factored into the decision to end the series, Collier did not answer.

Read More: ‘Rel’ Canceled After One Season on Fox

Smollett was written out of the final episodes of season 5. His last appearance was on April 24, when Jamal and Kai (Toby Onwumere) were married.

Ratings for Empire fell during the fifth season, at times reaching series lows. Next season, the music drama will move from Wednesdays to Tuesday nights.

The series was created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, who serve as executive producers alongside Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo, Sanaa Hamri, Dennis Hammer, Matt Pyken and Diane Ademu-John. Brett Mahoney is executive producer and showrunner for the series.