'Empire' Showrunner Teases Big Changes in Final Season After Jussie Smollett's Exit

Empire is slated to make its return for the sixth and final season on Sept. 24 and according to the showrunner, Brett Mahoney, they're getting back to their "roots."

"One of the things we set up in the pilot was The Lyon Family vs. Lucious' legacy," he said in a statement according to TV Line. "But what is Lucious' true legacy? Is it about Empire, or is it about the family and his sons? And where does Cookie play into that? We're going back to our roots completing that story."

Mahoney went on to tease that "Lucious is still on the lam trying to find some way to prove his innocence." Cookie — though, for a minute, fans thought would end up with Lucious again — has seemingly found her way out of that relationship and has moved on to embark on a new television career as a TV personality.

"She is living her best life," he said of the mom to three. "But she is finding it more difficult to move on from Lucious that she might have thought," further explaining that their son "Andre is sitting on the throne."

All of the characters plan on returning except Jamal Lyon — played by Jussie Smollett — after the actor was charged with giving a false police report and accused of lying when he publicly stated that he had been attacked in the middle of the night in Chicago and called racist and homophobic names. The controversy had him written out of the last two episodes of the fifth season with no plans on returning for the final, even though the charges were dropped.

While Smollett doesn't plan on making a return, the cast and crew did set up at the spot the alleged attack took place. The set was being built in the "shadow" of the actor's apartment building, however, no comments have been made on whether the series will incorporate some of his real-life controversy into the final season storyline or not.

When Empire was initially renewed for Season 6, there was a mutual agreement to have Smollett make a return.

"By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett's option for Season 6, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire," the studio said in a statement.


A spokesperson for the actor made a statement following the studio's, saying, "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. Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support."

However, that's when the show co-creator Daniels wrote on Twitter, "This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire."