TV drama Empire, hurt by weak ratings, will end after season six

Actors Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard in the TV drama Empire's fifth season finale episode. Fox announced that the show's next season would be the last.
Actors Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard in the TV drama Empire's fifth season finale episode. Fox announced that the show's next season would be the last.PHOTO: FOX

NEW YORK (DPA) - Jussie Smollett was not sacked from TV drama Empire - after an alleged hoax hate-crime report - but the reprieve may not mean much.

The show is headed for the exit. The upcoming sixth season of the show that focuses on a New York hip-hop and entertainment company will be its final one, Fox announced on Monday (May 13).

"Season six promises to be filled with drama, shocking surprises and more jaw-dropping moments," Fox said. "The award-winning drama about a family dynasty set within the glamorous and sometimes dangerous world of hip-hop music has generated chart-topping hits, and socially relevant storylines."

Terrence Howard stars as Lucious Lyon, chief executive of Empire Entertainment, and Taraji P. Henson plays his ex-wife Cookie Lyon.

Ratings dropped drastically over the years. Empire debuted in 2015 and averaged about 17 million viewers in that first season.

Season five, which just ended, pulled in only an average of four million viewers.

Real-life drama and scandal involving one of the series regulars also coincided with season five. Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon, middle son of Lucious and Cookie, was indicted on Feb 20 on a felony count involving an alleged hate-crime hoax.

The actor claimed that he was jumped by two men outside his Chicago apartment and that they shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him.

Smollett, 36, was eventually charged with 16 felony counts related to filing a false police report, but all charges were dropped in March in a surprise move.

The network left it unclear whether Smollet would return for season six.

"By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to 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 at the time of the renewal.

His character was written out of the season's last two episodes following the scandal.