It's beginning to look like Jussie Smollett might not be returning to Empire. The network and producers of the hit show were originally on Smollett's side after it was revealed that he allegedly faked a hate crime in order to get a pay bump on the hit show. However, sources close to the show say that the actor might not make it back after this controversy. Smollett is currently facing 16 felonies for faking the attack and making false statements to the Chicago police.

Empire is gearing up to return for the second half of Season 5 this evening, March 13th. One of the concerns surrounding the Jussie Smollett controversy is that it could affect tonight's ratings in a negative way. With that being said, it could easily go the other way, with people who were not aware of the show wanting to see what all of the fuss is about. It's believed that writers and producers are exploring ways to remove Jussie Smollett from the show, including either recasting him or just killing off his character.

Empire Season 5 has alluded to the fact that one character from the Lyon family is dead after showing a casket. Many assumed that it was going to be Trai Byers' character since the actor has mentioned a desire to go off and do new things. But, that coffin could very well be for Jussie Smollett's character, especially now. When the alleged attack occurred back at the end of January, there were rumors that Smollett's character could be killed off. It's believed that Smollett's motivation to fake his attack was a ploy to get a raise on the show and to basically have an insurance policy in place to not get killed off.

Related: Empire Cast Pen Letter Insisting Jussie Smollett Return in Season 6

The rumors of Empire killing of Jussie Smollett's character before the controversy were never confirmed, but Chicago police believe that the fake attack was made in an effort to earn more money on the show. While Smollett has yet to be fired from Empire, he has been written out of the final few episodes of Season 5, but it's beginning to look like he won't be coming back from this one, especially since the actor could end up facing jail time with the aforementioned 16 felony counts. Smollett still denies any wrongdoing.

In late January, Jussie Smollett went to police and claimed that he had been attacked by two men who threw bleach on his skin and tried to tie a noose around his neck. The Chicago police did not take the alleged hate crime lightly and had everybody under the power out looking for the two suspects. The suspects were later found and let go without charges when police started to notice that the story wasn't adding up. It was around this time that it was revealed that both men had previous ties to Smollett, with one acting on an episode of Empire. The Jasmine Brand was the first to report about Jussie Smollett possibly leaving Empire.

Kevin Burwick