How ‘Empire’ Wrote Off Jussie Smollett on Season 6 Premiere After Alleged Attack


Warning: This story contains spoilers from Empire season 6, episode 1.

A mere footnote. Jussie Smollett’s Empire character, Jamal Lyon, was nowhere in sight on the season 6 premiere on Tuesday, September 24, nearly eight months after the actor’s alleged attack.

Jamal’s mother, Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson), briefly explained his absence while talking to his friend Becky Williams (Gabourey Sidibe) in a kitchen. Both women were wearing pajamas, and when Cookie poked fun at Becky’s cat-patterned onesie, Becky pointed out that she used to wear similar clothes to sleepovers with Jamal.

How ‘Empire’ Wrote Off Jussie Smollett on Season 6 Premiere After Alleged Attack
Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon and A.Z. Kelsey as Jeff Kingsley on ‘Empire.’ Chuck Hodes/Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock

“No wonder that boy ran off to London,” Cookie said with a laugh.

“I thought he was running away from Lyon drama,” Becky mused. “I really miss him.”

Cookie replied, “Please don’t get me started. I miss him so much.” She then changed the subject: “Anyway, why do we need to have this slumber party?”

Fans of the Fox musical drama last saw Jamal toward the end of season 5, when he married Kai Givens (Toby Onwumere) while surrounded by family and friends.

Smollett made headlines in late January when he claimed to Chicago police that he had been physically attacked by two men who called him racist and homophobic slurs. Less than a month later, however, Smollett was arrested for allegedly filing a false police report and paying the men to stage the hate crime.

A grand jury indicted the Mighty Ducks star on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct in March, to which he pleaded not guilty. The case took another shocking turn later that month when prosecutors dropped all of the charges as part of a plea deal. The FBI has since launched an investigation into why the charges were dismissed.

The City of Chicago, meanwhile, filed a lawsuit against Smollett in April, seeking more than $130,000 to cover the cost of the police department’s 1,800-plus-hour investigation into his claims. The case is expected to go to trial in 2020.

The sixth and final season of Empire airs on Fox Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.

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