Lucious Lyon is the head of a music empire whose reign has been unchallenged for years. But all that changes when he learns he has a disease and must choose one of his three sons to take over: Andre, Jamal or Hakeem. Complicating matters is their mother and Lucious’ ex-wife, Cookie, who emerges from prison to claim her share.
Lucious has to defend Empire's IPO launch after one of his artists is involved in a shooting; Cookie hears about Lucious' plans for a huge performance for Hakeem, but not Jamal; Bunkie's murder is investigated.
The Lyons head to Philadelphia and get a taste of what their life could have been if Lucious hadn't made it big. Lucious promotes Hakeem's new relationship with hip-hop star Tianna, but tensions rise when another woman tries to catch Hakeem's eye.
Lucious attempts to steal a super-hot, chart-topping artist from his rival at Safe House Records. Meanwhile, Jamal struggles to compose original music and Cookie tries to forge a relationship with her estranged son, Hakeem.
Vernon is caught in the middle of a very sticky situation. Meanwhile, Jamal is rising to stardom, but his newfound drive and ambition might stir up trouble in his relationships. To make matters worse, a mystery woman (guest star Raven Symone) from the family's past shows up with a huge surprise.
Tension mounts between Hakeem and Jamal, as Lucious attempts to brand Empire Entertainment as a tight-knit, “family-run” company. Meanwhile, Cookie and Anika don’t hold anything back when it comes to taking over the company.
It’s time for the Lyon family to come together and record a legacy album with Lucious, Hakeem and Jamal. Cookie and Camilla finally come face-to-face, Andre struggles with some inner demons and Jamal steps into the spotlight with news that surprises everyone.
Jamal and Lucious are on their way to forming a music-centered relationship, but once again, Lucious has a secret that's about to change everything. Hakeem decides to flirt with the enemy, while trying to figure out what the best move is for his career. Meanwhile, Cookie is cooking up a plan of her own.