Fox Renews ‘Empire’ for a 6th Season, But ‘No Plans’ to Continue Jussie Smollett’s Character

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Fox has chosen to renew ‘Empire’ for a sixth season, just one week ahead of the show’s season five finale.

Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV released a joint statement on Tuesday announcing the series extension. The statement says there are no plans to continue the story of Jamal Lyon, played by Jussie Smollett.

“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire.”

A Fox rep confirmed that Smollett wouldn’t appear at the beginning of the season, but his contract remains open.  “We’ve been told that Jussie will not be on ‘Empire’ in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open,” the rep told The Wrap.

“Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and ‘Empire’ leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”

Smollett’s character was written out of the last two episodes of Season 5 after he was accused of orchestrating a staged assault. Chicago police initially charged Smollett with 16 felony counts for filing a false police report.  But the Chicago PD eventually dropped the charges, but the City of Chicago has sued for the cost of the investigation.

Smollett’s attorneys subsequently refused to pay the city, though Smollett’s co-conspirators decided to file their own lawsuit against the actor’s attorneys for defamation.

Last week was Smollett’s last appearance on the show, where the character he plays finally married his fiancé.  But instead of drawing attention, that hour of television tied for the ‘Empire’ series low rating among the 18-49 demographic.  Separately, cast members from ‘Empire’ sent a letter to Fox asking for Smollett to reappear in Season 6, despite the actor’s craven act.

The final two episodes of Season 5 of ‘Empire’ air May 2nd and May 8th.