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'Empire' Is Returning For A 6th Season Without Jussie Smollett

Source: Chicago Tribune / Getty

Empire will be getting a 6th season but don’t expect to see Jussie Smollett’s character Jamal to be there. Right before the shows season 5 finale Variety reported Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox announced the news of the shows return while thanking the cast and crew and also the status of the embattled actor’s role in the hit show in a statement obtained by the publication.

Per Michael Thorn, Fox Entertainment’s president of entertainment:

“Empire continues to break barriers with its emotionally powerful storytelling, and it remains a core part of the Fox legacy. We want to thank everyone on the show—Taraji, Terrence, and the entire cast, as well as Lee, Danny, Brett, Sanaa, Brian, Francie, Dennis, and their teams—all of whom have done a tremendous job this season. We know there are so many more stories to tell, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for Season Six.”

As for the elephant in the room which is whether or not Jussie Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon will be a part of the new season?  Despite the company claiming to have spoken with the actor to negotiate his return, Fox states there are”no plans” to bring back the character.

“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.”

Since Smollet was accused of orchestrating his own hate crime, which led to him being indicted on 16 counts of falsifying a police report his status on the show has been up in the air. He was subsequently cleared of all charges but that only complicated things more with the city of Chicago now suing the actor to recover the money spent on the investigation into the “staged attacked.”

Smollett’s character was removed from the show a decision showrunner’s made in the wake of the scandal involving him. Smollett has received support from his fellow cast members and in a letter obtained by Deadline called for his return.

“Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother, and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire. […] We have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character. He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest, and above all, he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped.”

Despite having “no plans” the studio left wiggle room to bring back Smollett to the show. We will see how this all plays out when the show returns for season 6.

Photo: Chicago Tribune / Getty