Jussie Smollett will not return to 'Empire' for next season

FOX's Empire

Fox Entertainment's hit TV show "Empire" will be back for a 6th season, without Jussie Smollett's character.

Smollett, 36, was accused of orchestrating a racial and homophobic-fuelled assault on himself.

Following the dismissal of the charges, which prompted pointed rebukes from top Chicago officials, Twentieth Century Fox said in a statement that "Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed".

Smollett's character was written out of the final two episodes of season five earlier this year after the Chicago Police Department said he lied about being attacked January 29.

On the episode of "Empire" airing this week, Smollett's character, Jamal, the middle brother of the Lyon family at the center of the show, is said to be on his honeymoon with his new husband.

Fox announced earlier that the show had been renewed for a sixth season.

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A spokesperson for Smollett released a statement about his release from the show, saying that he was "grateful to Fox and "Empire" leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support".

There is wide speculation that Fox may be "hedging its bets", as TMZ termed it, just in case Smollett comes out clean on the other side of the lawsuit filed against him by the city of Chicago.

But Jussie Smollett will not be invited back ... well ... sort of.

Lucious (Terrence Howard, right) and Jamal (Jussie Smollett, left) seen in an episode of "Empire" that aired March 18, 2015.

The brothers' attorneys acknowledged they took part in the hoax, but said they apologized and only did so because Smollett paid them.

After evidence surfaced that appeared to contradict Smollett's initial claims that he had been attacked by two strangers, the actor was eventually taken into custody by Chicago police on February 21. Season 5 of "Empire" will close next Wednesday night with a season finale entitled "The Roughest Day".

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