Empire Renewed for Season 6 -- With or Without Jussie Smollett?

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Empire's future has been decided at Fox, and it's good news!

Fox has renewed the drama series for a sixth season, set to air during the 2019-2020 TV season. 

It also sounds like Jussie Smollett will not be part of the upcoming season. 

The Wedding - Empire Season 5 Episode 16

"By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to ‘Empire.’” Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV said in a statement. 

Related: Empire Cast: We Want Jussie Smollett Back for Season 6!

Smollett was previously written out of the final two episodes of Empire Season 5 after he allegedly staged a hate crime in Chicago. 

All charges against the actor were dropped just weeks ago by Chicago prosecutors, but it did sound like the controversy sealed Smollett's fate on the Fox drama. 

Jussie Smollett Attends Fashion Show

The decision to extend the option for Jussie makes it sound like there's a possibility he could pop up further down the line if all of the controversy blows over. 

Just last week, some of his co-stars sent a letter to Fox pleading for him to return to his role of Jamal Lyon if the show returned. 

“Empire continues to break barriers with its emotionally powerful storytelling, and it remains a core part of the FOX legacy,” said Michael Thorn, President, Entertainment for FOX Entertainment.

Andre at the Wedding - Empire Season 5 Episode 16

“We want to thank everyone on the show – Taraji, Terrence and the entire cast, as well as Lee, Danny, Brett, Sanaa, Brian, Francie, Dennis and their teams – all of whom have done a tremendous job this season."

"We know there are so many more stories to tell, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for Season Six.”

Related: Jussie Smollett Removed from Empire's Final Two Episodes

An episode order is yet to be confirmed, but it will likely be for another 18 episodes. 

The renewal comes as the once-hot drama continues to fade in live ratings. To date, it is down 25 percent in the demo year-to-year. 

Jamal's Pain - Empire Season 5 Episode 5

But it still ranks as Fox's number two scripted series, so there's that!

What do you think of the news?

Hit the comments. 

Remember you can watch Empire online right here via TV Fanatic. 

Empire airs Wednesdays on Fox. 

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Empire Quotes

Cookie's coming home.

Cookie

I started selling drugs when I was 9 years old in Philadelphia. I did it to feed myself. But it was the music that played in my head that kept me alive when I thought I was going to get shot. And it was the melodies that I dreamt about that keep me warm when I was sleeping in the streets.

Lucious