EMPIRE: Every Episode, Every Rating

All great shows come to an end.  Empire was one of the anomalies of the 2010's, as its debut season experienced extraordinary growth in its 12-episode run during one of the season's less-desirable times, growing 81.5% during its first 12 episodes.  Is it any surprise, considering it's alluring, beautiful cast?  For the males, Taraji J. Henson represented beauty and feist as phoenix Cookie  Lyon.  And for the ladies, Terence Howard channeled Laurence Fishburne's cool, collected and magnetic delivery as narcissistic Luscious Lyon.  Each season of course dropped lower and lower on trend with serialized shows, and unfortunately COVID-19 clipped two episodes off of season 6's final episodes.  Viewers can rejoice in at the least appreciating 102 episodes, and pray FOX values final sacraments and grants them two more episodes the next season to properly wrap a treacherous, beautiful run that was Empire.

To see how Empire rated year to year against its competition, cruise through TVRG's Ratings History database as it has television data from 1950 through the present!

Save for the 6th season, Empire was housed on Wednesday evenings and helped FOX reclaim the lead from ABC for the evening.  Its first compact season was scheduled from January through March as a mid-season entry, and it crackled.  Empire was one of the last runaway hits known to television which grew after its premiere.  The 1st season set a landmark record as all but one episode grew upon the last in Nielsens.  Given the serialized premise, the compact scheduling was ideal.  The finale struck a 6.9 rating, impressively higher than any episode heavy-hitters The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family ever saw.

Come season 2, FOX expanded the episode orders to 18 episodes per season, and also bumped premieres to the start of the season.  Fall 2015 lost the prior season's burning momentum, shedding 1.2 points between the premiere and second episode.  By the close of the season, ratings had shed as much as 3 full ratings points, and the novelty was over.  Empire still remained the highest scripted show on television and continued to remain red-hot throughout season 3.  However, the mid-season breaks harmed the serialized format, with strong falls and sharp drops in springtime.  Given Empire held the idealized 18-episode order for the late 2010's, perhaps FOX should have considered either doing a fall through late February/early March run, or January through season's close.

Interest in Empire began to cool in Season 4 with ratings now hovering below the 2.0 line.  Writing perhaps could have been attributed to the drops, but Empire's powerhouse effect began regularly being challenged by ABC.  Season 5 unfortunately experienced behind the scenes turmoil as series regular Jussie Smollett became embroiled in scandal in January 2019.  Empire notoriously entangled dozens of headlines, but its undoing came at the hands of FOX's latest reality TV fad, The Masked Singer.  Their ratings hovered in the mid-low 1.0 ratings despite The Masked Singer regularly registering in the 2.0 range.  Smollett was dismissed from the cast, and more devastating, FOX announced the 6th season would be the final one and relocated to the less prosperous Tuesday evenings.  Following the premiere, Empire regularly scraped below the 1.0 line and measured comparable to most network shows.  It is perhaps for the best Empire is concluding its run as it remained one of FOX's most stylish, sexy and successful entries it delivered to viewers in the 2010's.  Let's hope FOX is gracious enough to allow the series to conclude next year with the two remaining episodes sending the series out with a bang, and one more swing of the bat from Cookie Lyon.

Check out the EVERY EPISODE, EVERY RATING LIBRARY to see other shows profiled.

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