It’s official: next week’s 18th episode of Empire’s sixth season, airing on April 21, will be the hip-hop family drama’s finale for the foreseeable feature, and quite possibly a series finale.
In separate statements, Empire creators/executive producers Lee Daniels and Danny Strong addressed the abrupt ending of their show due to the coronavirus pandemic while holding out hope that they could film a proper finale one day. In light of the situation in the U.S., there are no current plans for that.
“I’m heartbroken we aren’t getting to shoot the finale we wanted — at least not yet,” Daniels said.
Added Strong, “We had an ending for the series planned that we all loved, and hopefully someday we’ll be able to film it and give the series its proper conclusion.”
A promo at the end of Episode 15, “Love Me Still,” two weeks ago announced that the 18th episode of Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard-led drama’s final season will serve as the finale.
The creative team behind the show had been hoping to film the actual finale as Empire has a continuous story arc and a mystery in the final season that do not get resolved until Episode 20.
“The episode airing on April 21 was never meant to be the series finale, but due to current events it will likely be the last one our fans will see for a while,” Strong said.
Episode 18, which is scheduled to air on April 21, is the last completed episode before the coronavirus-imposed production shutdown. To help create a more satisfying overall ending, I hear the newly minted finale features footage from Episode 19, which was halfway through filming when the COVID-19 crisis paused all Hollywood production.
The Empire creative team already had to change plans for the series’ final chapter when key original cast member Jussie Smollett abruptly exited last season in the legal aftermath of an allegedly staged hate crime incident. Now the show’s producers had to pivot again and craft a new finale.
Empire was one of two broadcast series whose final season shoots were impacted by the mass production shutdown in mid-March amid the pandemic. The CW’s Supernatural, which had also completed 18 episodes of its 20-episode order, ended up airing 13 episodes this season and plans to film the last two episodes for a 7-episode run at a later date.
The premature end of the mothership series may not be the end to the Empire franchise.
As Deadline reported in January, Fox brass have been mulling a potential spinoff headlined by Oscar nominee Henson as the larger-than-life Cookie Lyon, which series creators Daniels and Strong are said to have embraced.
Here are the full statements on the Empire finale.
The success of Empire and bringing the Lyon family to broadcast television will always be one of the proudest achievements of my career. This show is the definition of breaking barriers. Thank you to our incredible cast, especially Terrence and Taraji, along with our amazing writers and tireless crew, for all of their hard work and bringing this story to life. I think there’s more to do with these characters, and I’m heartbroken we aren’t getting to shoot the finale we wanted—at least not yet. But you know what they say in television? Stay tuned! To the Empire!
We’re so proud of this show and of everything this incredible cast – led by Taraji and Terrence- and crew accomplished over six seasons. The episode airing on April 21 was never meant to be the series finale, but due to current events it will likely be the last one our fans will see for a while. We had an ending for the series planned that we all loved, and hopefully someday we’ll be able to film it and give the series its proper conclusion. But we hope everyone tunes in to our last original episode, because the work done by our cast and crew deserves to be seen by the widest audience possible. Big thank you to Fox for being our home for these many years. And here’s hoping this isn’t the end!
Here is a synopsis of the current Empire series finale, Episode 618 “Home Is On The Way,” Airdate: 4/21
In the midst of the Bossyfest launch and the fight to regain control of Empire, Cookie reflects on her life and the woman she has become. Lucious finds it impossible to deny his feelings for Cookie, while continuing to support Yana (guest star Kiandra Richardson) and her rise to stardom. When the Lyons face their biggest threat yet, Lucious prepares for the battle of his life and realizes that in the end, family is what matters the most.
From Imagine Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television, Empire is executive produced by Daniels, Strong, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo, Dennis Hammer, Matt Pyken and Diane Ademu-John. Brett Mahoney is executive producer and showrunner.