How ‘Empire’ wrote off Jussie Smollett on season 6 premiere

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.

“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?”

16 PHOTOS
Jussie Smollett on FOX's Empire
See Gallery
Jussie Smollett on FOX's Empire
EMPIRE: L-R: Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in the 'Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 14 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Taraji P. Henson and director Jussie Smollett in the 'What is Done' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Director Jussie Smollett behind the scenes in the 'What is Done' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Terrence Howard and director Jussie Smollett behind the scenes in the 'What is Done' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett and Taraji P. Henson in the 'The Depth of Grief' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 31 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Jussie Smollett in the 'The Depth of Grief' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 31 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Bryshere Y. Gray and Jussie Smollett in the 'Love All, Trust a Few' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray in the 'Pride' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 10 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray in the 'Pride' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 10 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Jussie Smollett in the 'Pay For Their Presumptions' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 3 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Gray, and Trai Byers in the 'The Empire Unposessd' season finale episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, May 23 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon, Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon, Bryshere Y. Gray as Hakeem Lyon, Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon and Trai Byers as Andre Lyon in Season Five of EMPIRE premiering Wednesday, Sept. 26 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Bryshere Gray, Jussie Smollett and Andre Royo in the 'Slave to Memory' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Dec. 13 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Jussie Smollett in the 'Bleeding War' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 18 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Terrel Carter and Jussie Smollett in the 'Evil Manners' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 11 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Jussie Smollett and Gabourey Sidibe in the 'Full Circle' episode of Wednesday, Oct. 4 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

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.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL to get the hottest pop culture news delivered straight to your inbox!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.