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Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson in 'Empire'

The Final Season of 'Empire' Will be Cut Short Due to Coronavirus

Gettyimages | FOX
By Joe Allen

After six seasons on the air, "Empire" is coming to a conclusion this year. As a result of the coronavirus, it's having to end sooner than originally anticipated. The show shut down production before it could wrap on all 20 of its planned episodes, which means that the show only had the chance to complete production on 18 episodes.

According to Variety, the show was in the process of filming episode 19 when production shutdown, and some footage from that episode will be reworked into episode 18.

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Still from "Empire"
Empire/Instagram

The season's 18th episode will now serve as the series finale, and is scheduled to air on Fox on April 21. Since its first season debuted, "Empire" has struggled to retain the monster ratings that the show had early on in its run.

The most recent season is averaging roughly 2.6 million viewers, a significant drop off from the audience the show brought in just one year ago. "Empire" has also been clouded by events that are totally outside of the show's control.

Still from "Empire"
Empire/Instagram

Jussie Smollett, who played a central role in the series, was fired from the show after he was accused of faking an attack against him in order to increase his salary on the show.

Smollett originally claimed that he had been attacked by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him. Eventually, it was alleged that Smollett had paid the two men to attack him, and initial charges filed against him by the Chicago DA were eventuall dropped.

Still from "Empire"
Gettyimages | FOX

Less than two months ago, though, new charges were filed against Smollett that accused him of faking the hate crime. Smollett continues to maintain that he is innocent. Smollett was written out of the show following the incident, but the show's sixth season has made continuous references to his character in his absence.

As a result, there remains speculation that Smollett will make an appearance on the show before the series comes to its end in just a few weeks.

Still from "Empire"
Empire/Instagram

"Empire" is just one of many productions that had to be shut down in response to fears around the virus. Productions across the country were shut down to prevent the virus from spreading more rapidly, and it's unclear exactly when normal production will be able to resume.

In the meantime, streaming services have been dealing with millions who are living in quarantine and trying to find ways to entertain themselves in the weeks and possibly months before normal life can resume.

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