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Jussie Smollett surrounded by the press

Jussie Smollett will not be Back for the Empire finale

Gettyimages | Nuccio DiNuzzo
By Joe Allen

Following a year of controversy, actor and musician Jussie Smollett will not be returning to "Empire" for the show's series finale. Fox's entertainment president Michael Thorn told TVLine that the actor would not reprise his role after he was written out in early 2019.

Smollett was written out of the show following questions about his claims that he had been the victim of a hate crime. His story was one of the most fascinating, confusing, and bewildering sagas of last year.

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"We’re not going to bring Jussie back to the show," Thorn said. "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."

Thorn said that ultimately, he felt the show's end was much bigger than whether Smollett returned or not.

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"Our hope is that all of the controversy surrounding Jussie doesn’t overshadow the show, which we think is bigger than him," Thorn said. There are likely plenty of fans that are eager to see Smollett return, but given the controversy surrounding him, Thorn is likely right that his return would overshadow everything else that was happening on the show.

Although it's now clear that he won't be back, showrunner Brett Mahoney told TVLine last month that his return was being discussed.

Jussie Smollett speaks to the press
Gettyimages | Nuccio DiNuzzo

"It would be weird in my mind to end this family show and this family drama of which he was such a significant part of without seeing him," Mahoney said at the time. "It’s fair to say it’s being discussed, but there’s no plan as of yet to bring him back. There’s been no decision made."

In January of 2019, Smollett reported being attacked by two masked men at roughly 2 AM in Chicago. He claimed the men yelled racial and homophobic slurs as they attacked him.

Jussie Smollett surrounded by an entourage
Gettyimages | Nuccio DiNuzzo

Smollett also claimed that they'd beaten him, poured acid on him, and tied a noose around his neck. After an initial wave of public sympathy, there was some skepticism about the truth of Smollett's claims. Eventually, the Chicago police said that the attack had been staged, and charged Smollett with making a false report.

Prosecutors dropped the charges against Smollett in March, and Smollett agreed to let them keep the $10,000 in bail that he had already given to the court.

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