The Lyons are returning to Fox for a sixth season of Empire but one Lyon is being left behind — for now.
Jussie Smollett‘s Jamal Lyon will not be returning to the show for Season 6.
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“By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for Season 6, 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 joint statement.
“Empire continues to break barriers with its emotionally powerful storytelling, and it remains a core part of the Fox legacy,” said Fox Entertainment’s president of entertainment Michael Thorn.
“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.”
The studio will not be including Smollett’s character in the series but is leaving open the possibility of his return.
“We’ve been told that Jussie will not be on Empire in the beginning of the season, but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open. Most importantly, he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support,” a spokesperson for Smollett said in a statement.
Smollett doesn’t appear in the final two episodes of Empire‘s Season 5, after being written out of the series after he was charged with multiple felony counts alleging the actor duped the Chicago police into believing he had been the target of a hate crime.
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Smollett pleaded not guilty and by the end of March, the charges were dropped as part of a prosecution deal. He had to forfeit a $10,000 bond and was given credit for community service.
Last week, the Empire cast penned a letter of support for the actor’s return to the Fox show.
WATCH BELOW: Empire cast issues letter calling for Jussie Smollett’s reinstatement
Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe, and Nicole Ari Parker penned the letter on April 19 to Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment chair Dana Walden, Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn, Empire creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong and other executive producers of Empire.
In the letter, the actors spoke about Smollett’s professional conduct on set and how he has maintained his innocence.
“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,” the letter began.
The letter continued: “We understand the past months have been difficult to process — sometimes the headlines brought more confusion than clarity, yet we now have a conclusion to this ordeal. Throughout Empire’s five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character.”
The cast referred to Smollett as “kind,” “compassionate,” and “honest.”
“He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped.”
The cast said they “are confident in his lawyer’s assurance that the case was dismissed because it would not have prevailed.”
“In addition to being a caring friend and cast member who treats every crew member with love and respect, he has spent time with our families and individually supported each of us,” the letter read.