Final Season Of 'Empire' To End Early Due To Coronavirus Production Shutdown

This spring was meant to see the sixth and final season of Empire come to a close. The music biz series starring Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard would have ended with the 20th episode this season, but thanks to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down production on the show earlier than planned, the series finale will also arrive ahead of schedule, and it will cut the series a little short.

Deadline has word that the Empire series finale wasn't able to get in front of cameras before production was forced to shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Instead, with just three episodes left in the season, a makeshift series finale will be put together to air on April 21.

The Empire crew was only halfway through shooting the penultimate 19th episode of the series before production was halted. So the creative team is currently figuring out how to craft a new series finale by way of the 18th episode, which was the last one to be completed. Some footage from what was already shot for the 19th episode will likely be used to help wrap things up, but I wouldn't be surprised if some additional voiceover or dubbing is needed to help finesse the series finale.

While almost all TV shows that were working towards the end of their current seasons will now have abrupt, unsatisfying finales, this is all the more disappointing for Empire fans who wanted to see the show given a proper ending. It will still have a conclusion as planned, but surely it won't be wrapped up as neatly as it would if the series was allowed to finish the last two episodes.

This isn't the first time the final season of Empire has been forced to deal with sudden creative changes. Following the scandal surrounding series regular Jussie Smollett and a manufactured hate crime committed against him in Chicago (a debacle that is still ongoing in court), the actor was let go from the series and his character arc was tossed to the wind. It forced a rewrite of the fifth season finale in 2019, and though there was some talk about bringing him back for the series finale, that ended up not happening.

Even though Empire may be going out earlier than planned without the proper series finale, this may not be the end for the series. FOX has been considering a spin-off series focusing on Taraji P. Henson as the bombastic character Cookie Lyon, and series creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong are interested too. But we'll see what happens on that front sometime down the road.