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The Comic Book
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: When the main characters are all evil tyrants of variant selfishness and sadism, and even the supposed innocent character turns out to be a monster too, this trope practically describes every single page.
- Iron Woobie: In a weird way, Golgoth becomes one of these.
- Tastes Like Diabetes: Most of Delfi's dialog. Lampshaded by Lohkyn:
Lohkyn: God, I need insulin just to listen to you-!
- Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Considering all the stuff Golgoth does during the entire run, it's very likely the reader will feel unsympathetic towards him considering the final fate of his daughter
- Villain Sue: A whole team of them to be precise.
The TV Show
- Award Snub: At the 5th Annual Critics' Choice Television Awards, the show was nominated for both Best Drama Series and Most Bingeworthy Show (both losses to The Americans and The Walking Dead, respectively). However, the show didn't leave empty-handed as Taraji P. Henson won Best Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Cookie Lyon.
- Awesome Music:
- Hakeem and Jamal's duets from the first two episodes, "Living In the Moment" and "No Apologies". The fact that the two brothers have such great chemistry—both personally and musically—is one of the most heartwarming aspects of the show, even if the rest of the family is actively pitting them against each other.
- "You're So Beautiful", both versions. Lucious' original version is smooth and sensual, and Jamal's is fun and celebratory. And the latter has the edge over his father, since he also worked his coming out into the lyrics.
- Broken Base: Given that the show is totally centered around what is essentially a There Can Be Only One-type competition, it seems that this trope is an intentional part of its appeal. Each brother's storyline is presented (for the most part) with a high degree of objectivity, and each one has a decent case made for himself, which in essence encourages viewers to root for any one of the three without their pick being a designated "hero" or "villain". It also helps that each brother has a backer/mentor (Lucious for Hakeem, Cookie for Jamal, Vernon for Andre), and how you feel about that character will probably also influence which brother you're rooting for.
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Nearly every character in the series is a lying, cheating, backstabbing scumbag with the notable exceptions of Jamal ( until the ending of the first season sees him take a huge level in jerkass), and, surprisingly enough, Cookie (she may be spiteful and quick to anger, but she isn't dishonest). Lucious himself is an abusive, conniving murderous crook. Given all of this, it's all too easy for this trope to set in. However, it is also noteworthy that there are several who are loving the show exclusively because of this. Hakeem does take a level in kindness as the first season progresses.
- "Adios" by Tiana.
- "Drip Drop" by Hakeem and Tiana.
- Jamal's cover of "You're So Beautiful".
- Jamal and Hakeem's cover of "What the DJ Spins."
- Harsher in Hindsight:
- Terrence Howard's spousal abuse accusations cast quite a pall over any scenes about Luscious' conflicts with his family.
- Some fans were uneasy about Lucious firing a machine gun in his study after Hakeem's betrayal in "Et Tu, Brute?". Long story short, the episode premiered on December 2, 2015, the same day of the San Bernardino shooting.
- It Was His Sled: While Rhonda being violently pushed down those stairs is indeed shocking, the mysterious perp is not. DUH!
- Minority Show Ghetto: Gloriously averted. Despite a severe lack of white people in the entire main and recurring cast, the show still gets extremely strong ratings, to the point where a second season was greenlit after only two episodes.
- While Hakeem and Jamal normally make great music together, their performance for the investor showcase where they sample "Money for Nothing"...complete with backup dancers wearing TV's on their heads...was more than a little ridiculous.
- Jamal and Ryan's makeout session after the former becomes CEO of Empire becomes somewhat narm-y when you notice that Jamal clearly can't get his one shirt sleeve off, and has to do the scene with the shirt awkwardly hanging off of his wrist.
- Plot Twist: The show uses this trope to a fault.
- Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Maybe not quite "rescued", but fan reaction definitely warmed to Rhonda over the course of the first season, where she slowly underwent a Heel–Face Turn from a rather bitchy, scheming Lady Macbeth to a supportive, genuinely caring wife who prioritized Andre's health and well-being rather than his taking over Empire, to the point that some fans felt some real sympathy for her after she accidentally murdered Vernon to protect Andre, something that definitely wouldn't have been played for such if it had happened in, say, the pilot.
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Andre's story arc. One could argue Jamal's as well, but while homosexuality has been slowly gaining acceptance in the African American community, mental illness is still a taboo subject, and Andre's character shows that it can afflict anyone regardless of race or class. Lucious and Cookie's reactions are not unheard of, with Lucious doing his best to hide Andre's condition and refusing to think of his son under those circumstances, and Cookie thinking it a "white people problem" and that all he needs is family love. She's heartbroken when she realizes that's not the case, and is later seen researching bipolar disorder.
- What an Idiot: Porhsa jumped a subway turnstile and when ticketed, she gave her name as Cookie Lyon. Oh, she got fired and then rehired.
- WTH, Casting Agency?: Casting Chris Rock to play Frank Gathers, a drug lord who had only been spoken of in dreaded tones throughout the first season. When we finally meet him in the second season premiere, seeing Chris Rock in those chains totally killed the immersion. It was perhaps the first time Rock has ever done a 100% dramatic role (and a rather dark one at that), but because he's so distinctive as a comedian, it was impossible to take him seriously. Thankfully, he doesn't live past the first episode.