Empire has one more season to go, but Jussie Smollett won't be in it. Co-creator Lee Daniels quashed all speculation that the character Jamal Lyon would feature in the sixth season in a Tuesday tweet. Responding to a Variety "Exclusive" about Smollett's rumored return, Daniels wrote, "This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire." If you're wondering if Smollett's legal situation played a part, Deadline's source says yes, saying Fox and the producers just didn't feel like Smollett could "slip back into the show."
Variety notes that a number of cast members—among them Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, and Gabourey Sidibe—made a plea for Smollett to remain part of the storyline. Their April letter stated that "together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire." CNN notes that the show is filmed in Chicago and flags Daniels' April comment that the friction between Smollett and city officials—the city has sued the actor in an attempt to recoup the money spent investigating his claim he was attacked in January by men in MAGA hats—was "causing a dilemma." Smollett was written out of the final episodes of season five. (Read more Jussie Smollett stories.)