Jussie Smollett // Artist Instagram
It's the end of the road for "Empire."
Following weeks of speculation, Fox confirmed the series will wrap with 20 episodes during its sixth season next Fall. "We are turning the final season into a television event," Charlie Collier, CEO Fox Entertainment, said in a statement on Monday (May 13). "We are trying to go out guns a blazing," he added.
According to Collier, one of "the great benefits" of announcing a final season ahead of time is "you allow fans to lean in and have the ending they deserve."
The network drama has been surrounded by real-life drama after its star, Jussie Smollett, was arrested for allegedly staging his own hate crime earlier this year. According to Chicago PD, the 36-year-old actor paid two Nigerian men to attack him because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the show.
His character, Jamal Lyon, was written out of the final two episodes of season five. Although monumental, Smollett's last appearance on the show reportedly scored low ratings. In April, Fox confirmed there are "no plans" for Smollett to return.
Collier reiterated those statements on Monday, saying, "At this point, we have no plans for that." If so, it would go against the wishes of the cast of "Empire," including Taraji P. Henson who plays Cookie Lyon. Last month, Smollett's co-stars wrote a unified letter to the network executives calling for his return to the show.
On Friday (May 10), Lee Daniels' other musical series, "Star" also received the ax when it was canceled by Fox. The show aired alongside "Empire" on Wednesday nights. "Empire" is scheduled to move to Tuesdays next Fall at 9 pm local time.
More on this story as it develops.