Empire will officially come to an end at Fox next year with its sixth season, the network announced Monday. The music drama has been battling dropping ratings—as well as scandal, thanks to the ire surrounding embattled (former?) star Jussie Smollett.
During a conference call with reporters Monday morning, Fox execs stumbled to avoid definitively answering questions regarding Smollett. The actor’s option to reappear on the series remains open, according to Fox Entertainment C.E.O. Charlie Collier—but “no plans” have been made for his return.
Deadline Hollywood reports:
In its first and second seasons, the blockbuster drew big numbers from almost every facet. In fact, breaking the status quo of steady decline, for a while Empire was on a winning trajectory of growing almost every week in the ratings to hit new highs.
While currently Fox’s second best-performing drama after 9-1-1, the heights of those early days have long since passed. Still, today’s cancellation comes as a bit of a surprise after the March 20 promotional spotlight Fox cast on the show once the $71.3 billion acquisition by Disney went through.