Will Jussie Smollett Return for Final Season of ‘Empire’?

The final season of Empire is coming to the silver screen this fall. The series finale has fans wondering if Jussie Smollett will make a return. Or, at the very least, make a cameo. As of now, it appears the producers have made a decision. But there appear to be grey areas, as the cast holds a different view and producer Lee Daniels is in the middle of a tug-of-war on the issue.

Jussie Smollett‘s career appears to be stalled

Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett | Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Based on recent comments from Daniels, the production team decided not to bring Smollett back to the show because his case upset the cast. Many of them have been in agony over whether they should support their co-star or condemn him.

Most of the public has been in the same boat, especially when both sides of his case seem to have elements of truth. While we’ve analyzed the case a few times, and conjectured this was maybe a drug deal gone bad rather than a complete hoax, it has soured Hollywood on working with Smollett again soon.

So far, he has nothing on the slate, and he may not again for a long time until the public starts to forget. Others just want the case to go away since it’s become an annoyance hearing about it so often in the media. Those who support the law enforcement side are also still upset about how much time and resources went into investigating the case.

Complicating things further is recent comments from Daniels saying he still considers Smollett like a son. If true, then it does seem to leave a door open to them working together again. With Daniels also saying an Empire spinoff is possible, what are the chances of Smollett bringing his Jamal Lyon character back there?

Can ‘Empire’ really exist in any form without Jamal Lyon in the cast?

Fans usually say Jamal was the true heart of Empire, including reportedly being a character based loosely on Daniels himself. When the character was created, Jamal was considered like a Hip-Hop version of Michael Corleone, who was drawn into the family business reluctantly. At the same time, Jamal had a lot of humanity at his core to maintain some sanity within the Lyon clan.

Not having that around anymore makes Empire feel somewhat empty. Even so, the show will probably try to find some way to explain his absence. We all know Jamal suffered from PTSD and drug addiction, something possible to flare up again. He conversely seemed to be finding happiness in a same-sex marriage before Smollett was written out of the last two episodes of last season.

There seems to be thought he’ll just be on a honeymoon at the beginning of the upcoming new season and be referred to and nothing more. If there was any way of writing him out of the show, it was probably better to leave it on a positive note rather than have him die tragically. Having a peaceful outcome would be the perfect antithesis to the tragedy befalling Smollett’s career.

What about a Jamal Lyon spinoff?

Should there be spinoffs made of Empire, most reports say Smollett wouldn’t be considered for those either. It means he’ll have to rebuild his career from the ground up, whatever that will be in an era when everyone typically forgets the most sordid details of any controversy.

As we’ve learned with others who go through similar legal dramas, they somehow manage to integrate back into careers. Maybe there’s reasoning there, in a time when we can’t expect perfect behavior from anybody in pop culture.