On Tuesday, Empire co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong expressed their gratitude to the cast, led by Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, and the crew for six years of dedication. Though the series, originally picked up for a 20-episode final season, will wrap up its run a few weeks early on Tuesday, April 21, Daniels and Strong strongly alluded that the Lyon family's story may not be be completely done.
“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," Daniels said in a statement to ET.
"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," the filmmaker hinted. "But you know what they say in television? Stay tuned! To the Empire!”
Strong echoed Daniels' sentiments, praising the "incredible cast... and crew" for all their accomplishments during its run.
"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 in a statement to ET. "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!”
For now, next week's episode, the season's 18th titled "Home Is on the Way," will mark the end of Empire's run. Here is Fox's official synopsis for the makeshift series finale: "In the midst of the Bossyfest launch and the fight to regain control of Empire, Cookie (Henson) reflects on her life and the woman she has become. Lucious (Howard) 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."
Recently, ET's Kevin Frazier spoke with Henson about how difficult it has been saying goodbye to Cookie after six seasons.
“She won't go away. I was about to say goodbye to her, like, 10 days ago and she's still here,” Henson said. “We are finished. I think Cookie did great. I'm leaving her in a great place in the hearts of everyone. What else can you do with a character like that? She's iconic -- she's gonna live long after we're all long gone. People will still talk about Cookie and when I started off on this journey of acting, that's the type of work I wanted to do, because I grew up studying the likes of Lucille Ball, Bette Davis, Diahann Carroll.”
“A lot of them have transitioned and I still look to their work,” she continued. “Bette Davis was long gone before I got into college, so this is a woman that I don't even get to see in present day -- her work is so legendary that I'm drawn to study it. And that's the type of work I've always wanted to do, because those are the type of actors that I studied and looked up to.”
Empire airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
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