Over the course of four seasons, Empire has seen its fair share of jaw-dropping plotlines. From baby mama drama involving father and son to multiple kidnappings to calculated murder, the Lee Daniels drama has never shied away from high-octane storytelling that pushes the boundaries of network television.
However, delivering those thrilling storylines at full throttle each week can be a difficult task and the Fox series took a much-needed hiatus in November to revamp the back half of Season 4. With the show set to return on Wednesday, March 28, we're taking a look at the memorable plots that left you on full alert and your fingers furiously tapping away on Twitter.
Here are nine of Empire's most outrageous storylines:
Andre's attempt to murder Lucious via car bomb
There's hating your father and then there's Empire's version of that age-old tale: despising dear old dad enough to plot his murder so that you can take over his company but then change your mind at the last minute and watch in agony as he steps into the car you had rigged with explosives. While Andre's (Trai Byers) attempt to murder Lucious (Terrence Howard) isn't groundbreaking, the lasting consequences of his plan are the real shockers here. Not only did Lucious lose a leg, but his memory loss as the result of traumatic brain injury became the focal point of Season 4 — taking the show in an outlandish yet exciting new direction.
Lucious seeing music through colors
When it comes to Lucious' lengthy list of tragic ailments, his memory loss delivered one of the show's most unforgettable stories to date. Feeling out of sorts, he turned to painting to help jog his memory and find a new way of connecting to music. The therapudic method may have worked for Lucious but it came with an unintended result: seeing distinct colors while listening to music. The revelation may have been difficult to process for most (unless your name is Timothy Leary), but it's actually a real phenomenon called synesthesia. Who knew?
Hakeem getting kidnapped
Just when you thought this show couldn't get any crazier in Season 2, the youngest Lyon (Bryshere "Yazz" Gray) was snatched up and shoved into a van by bad guys. Throwing in that extra twist — this is Empire, after all — it turned out that Cookie's potential new boo Laz (Adam Rodriguez) was the one who orchestrated the whole thing. And while Hakeem only walked away with a bruised eye and some deep emotional wounds, the harrowing experience also sent him directly into the arms of his father's ex-fiance. Yikes.
Hakeem knocking up Boo Boo Kitty
So Hakeem hooking up with Anika (Grace Byers), the woman who almost married his father, as an act of revenge wasn't exactly Jamie and Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, but it does feel a bit... incestuous. Never mind the unsettling age gap, Anika was nearly his stepmom (and ended up as such at the end Season 2!) making this relationship a difficult one to digest. Things got even more unsettling when Anika wound up pregnant, briefly became Hakeem's stalker, got sent to jail and then sued him for full custody of their daughter Bella. Did you get all that?
Chris Rock low-key playing a cannibal
You may not have caught onto this but Chris Rock's jailbird gangster Frank, who worked for Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and Lucious back in the day, was also a cannibal. According to Empire makeup artist Karen Lynn Accattato, series co-creator Lee Daniels envisioned Frank as a people eater and even intended to show him consuming human flesh on screen. However, Fox — the network that also brought you Family Guy in which Brian engages in sex with humans despite being the family dog — felt that was too risqué to broadcast. Though Rock's character was toned down for TV, you can still catch subtle nods to his cannibalism if you watch closely, such as when Cookie refers to Frank as Hannibal.
Jamal and Lucious' baby mama drama with Olivia
Season 1 delivered a baby mama shocker when Jamal's (Jussie Smollett) ex-wife Olivia (Raven-Symoné) came waltzing back into his life with the claim that he had a daughter named Lola. The stunned singer, who came out as gay, soon accepted responsibility and began bonding with the young girl. However, things went off the rails when Olivia's ex-boyfriend Reg showed up and threatened Jamal for impregnating Olivia. The tense moment then steered into Maury territory with a shocking revelation: Lucious had been hooking up with his son's beau while they were married and might be Lola's father. Yeesh!
In case you were wondering, it turns out that neither Lucious nor Jamal were the father.
Lucious forcing Camilla to swallow the same poison she used to murder her wife
Remember that time Camilla (Naomi Campbell) almost got away with murdering her wife (Marisa Tomei) via poising her drink and making it look like a suicide until Lucious figured it out? That unbelievable moment was only topped by the Lyon family patriarch forcing the ambitious businesswoman to drink the same poison she used on her spouse at gunpoint as a way of preventing her from stealing his company. I mean, that's one way to knock out the competition.
Andre talking to his dead wife's ghost
The Season 2 finale saw Rhonda (Kaitlin Doubleday) fall to her death — during a brutal fight with Anika — and Andre was understandably distraught about losing his wife. However, the eldest Lyon began imagining her ghost and things got... weird. When Andre was hesitant about sleeping with Nessa, Ghost Rhonda appeared to give him the go-ahead and then opted to join them in one baffling threesome that we will never unsee. A far cry from Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost, that didn't make it any less entertaining.
Claudia kidnapping Lucious and keeping him chained up in a log cabin
Okay, this storyline hasn't aired yet but judging from the promos for Empire's remaining Season 4 episodes, it could be the show's wildest plot to date. Claudia's (Demi Moore) desperate ploy to keep Lucious — sorry, Dwight — under her thumb has her resorting to extreme measures. Channeling both Samuel L. Jackson in Black Snake Moan and Kathy Bates in Misery, the unhinged nurse has kidnapped the famed music producer and chained him up in a remote cabin. but even an ax-wielding Nurse Ratchet won't stop Cookie from coming to her man's rescue.
See how it all goes down when Empire returns Wednesday, March 28 at 8/7c on Fox.