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The future of Empire on Fox has been somewhat in question for a while now, and not just because the ratings are far from what they once were. The series was surrounded by scandal earlier this year due to an incident with actor Jussie Smollett, and the controversy threatened to overshadow the show completely. Throw in some story elements that could have been leading toward a series finale, and there was no guarantee. Fortunately, fans no longer have to wonder if the Lyons are going anywhere. Empire has been renewed.
Yes, Empire will return for a sixth season on Fox. The announcement of Season 6 was made by Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn, who revealed that Empire "continues to break barriers with its emotionally powerful storytelling" and "remains a core part of the Fox legacy." Notably, the renewal announcement did not reveal when Season 6 will premiere, how many episodes have been ordered, or which members of the cast will be back.
Michael Thorn did specifically name Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard when thanking people at the show, so the odds are pretty good that both stars will be back. That's not altogether surprising, as fans have known all along that Lucious won't be the person in the flash-forward coffin, and Cookie was likely ruled out as the death as well. Besides, what would Empire be without Lucious and Cookie?
The much-hyped flash-forward death will, however, be one of the Lyons, so it makes sense that the renewal announcement would leave out the actors playing the Lyon sons, including Jeff Kingsley. One of their characters is probably biting the dust, and although all obvious signs seemingly point toward Andre at the moment, my money is still on Kingsley. But taking into account the Jussie Smollett scandal, Jamal is certainly a candidate for death or at least departure at the end of Season 5.
Empire actually made TV history with its Jamal-centric episode last week, and it did end Jamal's story in a way that he could be removed from the show without killing him off. Jussie Smollett was cut from the final two episodes of Season 5 following his arrest for the felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly staging an attack on himself. The charges were later dropped, and rumors of a Jamal recast have seemingly died off. Will Jussie Smollett be back, and the scandal be forgotten?
The cast and crew of Empire were reportedly split over Jussie Smollett's case dismissal, and Empire co-creator Lee Daniels' comments about the situation indicated that he'd been dealing with a lot of "pain" and "frustration." For now, we can only wait for word of whether Jussie Smollett will be back, as well as the futures of the actors playing the rest of the Lyon boys. Perhaps Fox will reveal more details once Empire finally breaks the definitive news about who winds up in the coffin.
The next new episode of Empire airs Wednesday, May 1 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.