Fox’s musical drama TV series by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong returns this fall for its sixth and final season. The renewal of the series for Season 6 was announced in April, ahead of the Season 5 finale which aired in May 2019.
Empire premiered on Fox in January 2015. The musical drama series follows the hip hop mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), the CEO of Empire Entertainment. After he is informed that he has a medical condition that could lead to his early death, Lyon is under pressure to chose from among his three sons — Andre (Trai Byers), Jamal (Jussie Smollett) and Hakeen (Bryshere Y. Gray) — who will succeed him as CEO of his entertainment company.
Lucious’ ex, Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson), who served a 17-year sentence for drug dealing, also returns to vy for control of the company.
It is widely believed that the decision to end the series after season 6 was influenced by the controversy over Jussie Smollett’s (Jamal Lyon) allegedly staged racist and homophobic attack, but Fox execs have not admitted it.
Although the show has seen declining ratings lately, it is still Fox’s second-highest-rated scripted show after 9-1-1 in the 2018/2019 season.
Empire Season 5 averaged a 1.35 rating in the 18-49 demographic and 4.518 million average viewers ((Live + Same Day), compared with Season 4 which averaged a 1.84 rating and 5.66 million viewers.
Empire Season 6 premiere date
Empire Season 6 will premiere on Fox on Tuesday, September 24, at 9/8c. Going by the number of episodes in previous seasons, Season 6 will also likely feature 18 episodes.
Most of the main cast of Season 5, besides Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon, is expected to return for Season 6. Fox has confirmed that Jussie Smollett will not return for the final sixth season of the series.
Terrence Howard will return as Lucious Lyon, Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon, Bryshere Gray as Hakeem Lyon, and Trai Byers as Andre Lyon.
Others cast members expected to return include Rhyon Nicole Brown as Maya, Chet Hanks as Blake Sterling, Nicole Ari Parker as
Giselle Sims-Barker, A.Z Kelsey as Jeff Kingsley, Vivica A. Fox as Candace Holloway Mason, Andre Royo as Thurston “Thirsty” Rawlings, Serayah as Tiana Brown-Lyon, Gabourey Sidibe as Rebecca “Becky” Williams, and Ta’Rhonda Jones as Porsha Taylor.
Fox announced the decision to keep Smollett out of Season 6 in April, following the controversy sparked after he allegedly staged an attack on himself. Fox execs stuck to the decision to keep him out of Season 6 and later announced that the series would end after season 6, despite efforts by some members of the main cast who reportedly lobbied for Smollett’s return to the show out of fear that his exit would affect ratings.
Fox has not released a plot synopsis for Season 6, and information about what to expect from the upcoming season of Empire remains very sketchy.
However, fans might have been given a vague hint about what to expect following reports earlier this month that the production crew for Empire was spotted filming on Streeterville in Chicago at the spot where Smollett claimed he was attacked by two men shouting racist and homophobic slurs.
Several residents shared photos of the production crew setting up near Smollett’s apartment on East North Water Street.
— michaelp (@mpbullship) August 11, 2019
Photo via follower's DM. pic.twitter.com/iexqWcYuz8
— CWBChicago (@CWBChicago) August 13, 2019
Filming scenes today for the Empire show in my Chicago neighborhood. Hundreds of crew and cast standing around waiting for the director to roll. Conspicuous NYPD police car parked for the scene — a little out of his jurisdiction. pic.twitter.com/LgyY3tOswY
— Jack Modzelewski (@JackKnifePR1) August 13, 2019
You know it’s a TV shoot when an NYPD car is parked in your Chicago neighborhood. Filming “Empire” scenes today. No Jussie Smollett, thank goodness. pic.twitter.com/6HfHXSaTHW
— Jack Modzelewski (@FHJackman) August 13, 2019
The sighting sparked speculation that the show creators were planning to use elements of the controversial incident involving Smollett for the upcoming season. But Empire showrunners have not confirmed or denied the speculation.
The suggestion that the show creators were incorporating Smollett’s real-life drama into the show has met with some skepticism. Some are arguing that the producers were only trolling fans.
Empire Season 6 will premiere on Fox on Tuesday, September 24, at 9/8c.