‘Empire’ season cut short by the coronavirus as planned finale goes unmade

The Chicago series will end April 21 with an episode that wasn’t meant to be the last.

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Terrence Howard (from left), Taraji P. Henson, Trai Byers and Bryshere Y. Gray appear on Tuesday’s episode of “Empire.”

Fox

Six seasons of “Empire” have been building to an explosive final episode — an episode that, it now appears, will never be made.

Though the onetime blockbuster series had been scheduled to conclude with five more episodes this season, a promo on last night’s show instead touted the “shocking final three episodes.”

The season was cut short when “Empire” production in Chicago abruptly shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Deadline reports, cast and crew at the time were in the middle of shooting the 19th episode in a season of 20.

That means the scenes planned for the finale were never shot, and the plot twists the “Empire” team had envisioned for the big finish will never be seen.

The series instead will end April 21 with the presumably less dramatic 18th episode. That show will incorporate some footage shot for the episode that was to follow but wasn’t completed, Deadline says.

It’s the latest headache for “Empire,” which last year had to rewrite storylines about Jamal Lyon when the actor who played him, Jussie Smollett, was accused of staging a hate-crime attack on himself and was removed from the show.

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