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‘There Were a Number of Factors’: Jussie Smollett Will Not Be Returning to ‘Empire’ for the Series Finale

Last month Brett Mahoney, who’s the showrunner for “Empire,” said there’s a possibility that Jussie Smollett could return for the series finale.  

But that’s not going to happen, according to Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn, who recently spoke to TVLine about the actor’s comeback.

Jussie Smollett will not be back for the series finale of “Empire,” according to Fox’s entertainment president. (Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images News via Getty Images)

Smollett played the character Jamal Lyon on the show before he was written out in the final episodes of season 5. That decision came after he was accused of lying about a racial and homophobic attack.

On Jan. 29 of last year, Smollett, who’s black and gay, filed a police report and said two men yelled homophobic and racial slurs as they tied a noose around his neck and poured a liquid substance on him during an attack on a Chicago street.

On March 7, a Chicago grand jury slapped the actor with a 16-count indictment for felony disorderly conduct, but the charges were eventually dropped. Then, in November 2019, Smollett sued the city of Chicago for malicious prosecution.

“We’re not going to bring Jussie back to the show,” said Thorn. “There were a number of factors that went into the decision to not bring him back. There were many points of view about if he should come back or if he shouldn’t. As hard as a decision as that was for us. … It felt like it was in the best interests of the show and the cast.”

On Tuesday, Jan. 7, while Taraji P. Henson attended Fox’s Television Critics Association party in Pasadena, California, she was asked about Smollett’s return, and the actress said she’d love for him to come back. And it’s not the first time that Henson has expressed that desire.

“If I had my say, he would have been back. I mean, we can’t end this show without him, he’s such an integral part to the show,” she told Extra. “He certainly was Cookie’s favorite son, and we need him to wrap this thing up. … There’s no way to end it without one of the Lyons. I don’t know how we do it.”

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