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Empire Returning for Season 6, Likely Without Jussie Smollett

Has Jamal Lyon been written off the show for good?

keishahatchettbiopic.jpg
Keisha Hatchett

Nobody does drama like the Lyon family, and that dysfunctional relationship we love to watch unfold will carry on for another season. Fox revealed Tuesday that Lee Daniels' operatic drama Empire has been renewed for Season 6, but it looks like Jamal Lyon may not return with the rest of the family.

In a statement to TV Guide, 20th Century Fox revealed that while Jussie Smollett's contract has been renewed through next season, "there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire," at this time. This means that Jamal's impromptu wedding to Kai may have also served as the final sendoff for the character.

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Smollett responded via a statement from his spokesperson to Variety: "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."

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Earlier this year, Smollett was charged with 16 felonies, including filing a false police report, for allegedly staging a hate crime hoax. All charges were dropped on March 26. However, Smollett was written out of the final two episodes of Season 5 amid the Chicago Police Department's investigation, which left many wondering if he would be back next season. Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, along with several other cast members recently penned a joint letter urging the network to bring Smollett back for Season 6. However, it looks like those efforts were made in vain.

Currently airing its fifth season, things have been just as tumultuous for the show on-screen. The season kicked off with a flash-forward that teased a major death after Lucious (Terrence Howard) was seen mourning the loss of someone whose identity has yet to be revealed. The overarching mystery set the groundwork for a rollercoaster of a season as the Lyons lost and then regained control of Empire Records, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) nearly stepped out on Lucious with her ex-boo Damon Cross (Wood Harris), Andre (Trai Byers) was diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma, and Lucious learned his mortal enemy, Kingsley (A.Z. Kelsey), was actually his biological son.

With Season 5 winding down, we're getting closer to finding out just who was in the casket and what that means moving forward.

Empire airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on Fox.

Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, Empire

Jean Whiteside/FOX