Empire's final season cut short without planned finale episode due to coronavirus

Sam Warner
Photo credit: Fox

From Digital Spy

Empire's final season is set to end sooner than planned due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The show is currently in its sixth and last season, having just aired the 15th episode, titled 'Love Me Still', in the US last night (March 31).

The original plan was to end on episode 20, but, due to filming being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cast and crew have not been able to complete the season.

Photo credit: Fox

Instead, the 18th episode will now serve as the series finale as the production team were only part way through filming its follow-up.

The news was revealed at the end of last night's outing. A promo declared: "Get ready for the shocking final three episodes of Empire."

Footage that was filmed for episode 19 before production was halted will apparently be folded into the 18th to try and create a more seamless ending, according to Deadline.

Photo credit: Fox

Related: Empire co-creator opens up about "pain and anger" following Jussie Smollett scandal

The big conclusion to the show had already been changed following the abrupt exit of former star Jussie Smollett after he was accused of allegedly staging of a hate crime incident. The star has denied staging the incident, and charges against him were dropped last March.

However, Smollett has since been hit with a lawsuit by the city of Chicago that aims to recover its investigation costs, and he has also countersued.

Before the latest ending changes, showrunner Brett Mahoney teased that he had the "final endgame" for the show mapped-out.

Meanwhile, it seems the Empire franchise could continue in a potential spin-off for Taraji P Henson's sassy character Cookie Lyon.

Empire airs on Fox in the US.

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