‘Empire’ final season cut short due to coronavirus pandemic

The final three episodes, including what will now be packaged as the series finale, will air April 21st on Fox.

Empire (Credit: Fox)

Empire will be cutting its final season short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Variety, the show’s sixth and final season was initially slated to run for 20 episodes. However, the production was shut down with only 18 of those episodes completed. As a result, the final three episodes, including what will now be packaged as the series finale, will air April 21st on Fox.

READ MORE: ‘Atlanta,’ ‘Empire’ and other shows postpone production due to coronavirus concerns

Sources close to the production said the cast had partially completed episode 19 when the industry-wide shutdown came into effect. Footage from that unfinished episode will now be cut into the finale.

During season 5, series regular Jussie Smollett become the focal point of a national scandal after his claims that he was the victim of a racially charged attacked in Chicago were alleged to be part of an ill-advised publicity stunt.

Terrence Howard and Bryshere Y. Gray 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)

Terrence Howard and Bryshere Y. Gray 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)

READ MORE: Jussie Smollett may be brought back to Empire during final season, showrunner says

While Smollett maintains his innocence to this day, his character Jamal Lyon was written out of the show following the debacle, and only mentioned in passing during season 6.

Despite the fact that this season has unceremoniously been cut short due to COVID-19 concerns, rumors still swirl that he may potentially make one last cameo before the series says its final goodbyes.

Thursday, the 37-year-old made a rare appearance on social media to share his stunning rendition of “What’s Going On” on what would have been Marvin Gaye‘s 81st birthday.

“Happy birthday King Marvin…” the actor and singer wrote in his Instagram caption. “We need more love, don’t you think?”

Check it out for yourself below.

READ MORE: Jussie Smollett hits back at critic who claims he lied about racist attack

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