YMMV / Empire

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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.

     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.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: Nobody (well, maybe 1% of viewers) was surprised to find out that Anika pushed Rhonda down the stairs, especially since she was already frustrated over her own pregnancy and wanted to harm the Lyon family.
  • 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.
  • Ear Worm:
    • "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."
    • "Boom Boom Boom Boom" by Lucious and Freda will be stuck in your head.
  • Expy: Of the Ewing family:
    • Lucious is Jock Ewing, as both characters were founders of the company, patriarch of their families and strongly dislikes their middle child.
    • Andre is JR Ewing. Both qualify as the "Well Done, Son!" Guy and want to take over the family business by any evil means necessary.
    • Jamal is Gary Ewing. Both suffer from Middle Child Syndrome and are the The Unfavourite to their fathers while the opposite to their mothers.
    • Hakeem is Bobby Ewing, as both are the youngest in their families, heavily spoiled and favorited by their fathers and disliked by their eldest brothers, competing for their father's respect.
    • Baretti is Cliff Barnes. Both men want to destroy their main rival companies due to past conflicts.
    • Some fans have noted similarities between the Lyons and The Lannisters:
      • Lucious is Tywin, as both are the patriarchs that built up the family fortune, who see their families as useful tools at best and enemies at worst.
      • Cookie is Joanna: both mothers whose absence from the family shaped their children's identities, for better and worse. In the books, it's said that Joanna 'ruled Tywin,' and we see that Cookie is pretty much the only person that can stand up to Lucious.
      • Andre is Cersei: they're the eldest and the ones who try so hard to follow their fathers' principles, do everything they're told, and denied what they feel is their birthright for arbitrary reasons (for Cersei, she's denied Casterly Rock because of her gender. For Andre, he's not in the running for Empire Records because he's not a musician). Both are also very manipulative and have no qualms pitting one sibling against the other to further their goals.
      • Hakeem is Jaime, as both are their fathers' favourites, heavily spoiled and reckless at the beginning of the series. They both also undergo Character Development and slowly become better men.
      • Jamal is Tyrion, in that both are abused and ignored by their fathers for a trait they were born with (Tywin hates Tyrion partially because he's a dwarf, Lucious hates that Jamal is gay), and yet both are the ones who are most similar to their fathers and most 'worthy' of their legacy:
      Tyrion: Why father, I believe I am you writ small.
      Jamal: Everyone's gonna see that I'm you, but on steroids.
      • That's not even getting into the fact that both families have adopted lions as part of their creed and/or symbols.
    • Thirsty Rawlings is a would-be lawyer "guilty people hires" and who claims to have graduated from the University of Guam. Sound familiar?
    • Lucious Lyon and Walter White, with significant differences as well as similarities.
      • Both are generally known by their Alliterative Name, although Lucious made his up.
      • Both adopted a fiercer name to fit a more hardcore persona (Lucious Lyon vs. Heisenberg) and distance themselves from their older and meeker name/persona (Dwight Walker vs. Walter White).
      • Additionally, one family was more familiar with "Lucious" than "Dwight", while the other family knew "Walter" and learned about "Heisenberg".
      • Both patriarchs were suffering from a fatal disease (ALS for Lucious, cancer for Walter) and thus wanted to ensure a lasting legacy for their children. Both also got news that they no longer had to worry about their illnesses; however, in Lucious' case, he learns that he was misdiagnosed with ALS, but in Walter's case the cancer eventually returns and contributes to his death.
      • At one point, Jesse asks Walter if he wants to control the drug or money business, to which Walter replies "neither. I'm in the empire business." Name of this show (and company) aside, Lucious also wants to build an empire, albeit through music rather than in spite of it.
      • Both fathers care much less about other people than they do their own families and friends, but are definitely not above manipulating and controlling them for their own purposes. However, Walter has generally never touched his own family, save for getting into a struggle with Skyler over a knife she pulled on him, leading to Walt Jr. calling the police and triggering a Heel Realization within Walter. Lucious, on the other hand, does things like dumping Jamal in a trash can as a child for dressing as a woman and punching Hakeem in the face for publicly rapping about having sex with Anika and leaving Empire, but always finds a way to justify his actions.
      • Both have set up a pretense of doing the things they do to ensure a legacy for their children, yet are clearly in it for themselves, though while Walter doesn't admit this until the very last episode, during his last conversation with Skyler, Lucious is much more upfront about it—what with routinely sabotaging everyone else's authority and even threatening to kill Hakeem for taking over Empire.
      • Both men's families also have very different reactions to their fathers' true natures. Walter's family is utterly repulsed the more they learn, while Lucious' is at least willing to keep doing business with him and even occasionally trade kind words. Though this is likely since the Lyons are accustomed to Lucious being a Jerkass—yet are themselves still capable of being further angered as more of Lucious' skeletons are revealed.
      • Then there's how both men got into crime in the first place: Hank told Walter how much money drug dealers can sell meth for, then later took him on a ride-along for a drug bust, whereas Frank Gathers found Lucious on the street as a kid and had him sell drugs.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With Power fans.
  • 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.
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient: Several, given the nature of the show. The reveal that Lucious' mother is still alive and Jamal getting shot by Freda stand out the most.
  • 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.
  • Narm:
    • 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.
  • Playing Against Type: We've got one ex-superhero who's now a gay documentarian, and another current superhero as a new artist on the label. Which (ex)superhero is gonna be next?
  • 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.
  • She Really Can Act: Taraji P. Henson's performance of Cookie has gotten both the critics and the audience talking this trope.
  • 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.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: Those who have seen Hustle And Flow can easily consider this to be a television sequel to the film. Helped by Terrance Howard playing a guy trying to make it in the hip-hop world, coming from a Dark and Troubled Past. The comparisons basically write themselves.
  • Take That: 50 Cent got this more than once in season 2. To be fair, he repeatedly kept raining on the Empire's parade.
  • 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.
    • Cookie in "A High Hope for a Low Heaven": Hakeem is late for a meeting and she can't reach by him by phone...and is then sent video of him bound by duckedtape. The season up until this point Cookie has witnessed Tiana get robbed, a video threat sent to her company, and a head in a box. You would expect her to take this as a serious threat and immediately react to it. Instead she brushes it off as Hakeem messing with her.
    • Anika's plan to push Rhonda down the stairs, resulting in her miscarriage, would've worked flawlessly if she had simply gotten rid of the shoes she wore when she committed the crime. It really didn't help that she wore them again right in front of Rhonda, which was how she figured out Anika pushed her.
  • 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.