After it was officially made clear that Jussie Smollett would not be appearing in the final season of Empire in any capacity, showrunner Brett Mahoney has revaled how the show will explain the absence of his character, Jamal.
Mahoney told TVLine: “Jamal is taking a sabbatical from the family. He doesn’t want to be caught up in Lyon family drama, which is very much in keeping with his point of view last season — that [the family business] should be something that the family moves away from. Jamal and Kai have decided to stay in London.”
Earlier this year, show stars Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Trai Byers, Bryshere Y. Gray, Nicole Ari Parker and Gabourey Sidibe wrote a letter to Fox, 20th Century Fox and Empire brass, asking for Smollett to come back for season 6.
When Empire was renewed for its sixth season at Fox, the network told us, “By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire,” which meant that the door was open if there were to be an opportunity for Smollett or the character to return.
However, that opportunity was dismissed in later reports, including one in which Lee Daniels himself debunked the idea.