A Fox Executive Says Jussie Smollett Will Not Return To ‘Empire’ For Its Final Episodes

Empire‘s reign on Fox is coming to an end, and now we know once and for all that it will end without Jussie Smollett on the show. Despite some indication that the former Empire actor could return for the final episodes of the show, quotes from a Fox executive appear to put that sentiment to bed.

As early as last year there were reports that Empire may be open to Smollett’s return. But according to The Wrap, Fox entertainment head Michael Thorn says Smollett would not return despite some quotes from Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney that it would be “weird” to finish the show without him.

“He will not be coming back,” Thorn said. “As you would expect when you’re finishing an iconic series like ‘Empire,’ that Brett, as the showrunner, along with his producing partners, would certainly have discussions about what’s the best way to finish the show. In this case, Jussie will not be coming back for the finale.”

Mahoney had previously sounded open to Smollett returning, or at the very least admitted it would be “particularly challenging” to wrap the show up without his character.

“Our hope at Fox — and I know the producers feel the same way — is that the show, to us, is much bigger than some of the personal stuff that’s unfortunately happened for Jussie, where we just want the ending to be as epic as the beginning,” Thorn said.

Empire is expected to wrap up on Fox in the spring, and now we know it’s officially happening without Smollett, who was removed from the show after a long affair where he filed a police report claiming he was attacked in a racially-motivated crime, possibly to further his career. The attackers claimed he hired them to stage the attack, and he was later sued over the affair, though he continues to maintain his innocence.

[via The Wrap]