Empire on Fox is coming to an end next year. Just two weeks after the Charlie Collier-run Fox Entertainment renewed Lee Daniels and Danny Strong’s hip hop drama for a sixth season and guided Jussie Smollett toward the exit door, it was announced Monday during Fox’s pre-upfront call that the self-described “groundbreaking cultural phenomenon” will be canceled once Season 6 is done next year.
“We are turning the final season into a large TV event — we are trying to go out guns a-blazing,” Collier said on the call of Empire‘s last season, which will be 20 episodes. “You allow fans to lean in and have the ending they deserve.”
Questioned about the possibility that the legally challenged Smollett could return for the final season, Collier dodged and replied with language reminiscent of last month’s press release. “There’s an option to have Jussie in the series but we have no plans for that,” he said, noting that the writers room for Season 6 hasn’t been opened yet.
Monday’s news also included the shifting of the Chicago-filmed series back to its original Tuesday 9 PM slot, meaning a primetime team-up with an also-moved The Resident and its third season.
The shift to Tuesdays also puts the already ratings-bedeviled Empire up against NBC’s heavy hitter This Is Us.
Empire was pummeled this year by ratings lows and the ever-spiraling controversy over the January 29 presumed hate crime Smollett is now alleged to have perpetrated against himself.
There are no more plans for Empire to return to Fox beyond its next upcoming cycle, a fact that would have seemed absurd just a few years ago. In its first and second seasons, the blockbuster drew big number from almost every facet. In fact, breaking the status quo of steady decline, for a while Empire was on a winning trajectory of growing almost every week in the ratings to hit new highs.