|Light in Darkness|
|Season Three, Episode One|
|Air date:||September 21, 2016|
“Past Is Prologue”
“Sin That Amends”
EMPIRE picks up exactly where Season Two ended – Hakeem left at the altar, Lucious and Anika married and Anika and Rhonda fighting on the roof – until someone falls. Also, Lucious pursues his music legacy with his streaming service, while clashing with his half-brother, Tariq (Morocco Omari), who is leading a federal task force investigating him.
Hakeem leaves the altar; a rooftop fight between Anika and Rhonda leads to a tragic fall; Lucious uses his streaming service to pursue his music legacy and clashes with Tariq, who leads a federal task force to investigate him.
- Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon
- Bryshere Y. Gray as Hakeem Lyon
- Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon
- Trai Byers as Andre Lyon
- Grace Byers as Anika Calhoun
- Gabourey Sidibe as Becky Williams
- Ta'Rhonda Jones as Porsha Taylor (absent; credit only)
- Serayah as Tiana Brown
- Morocco Omari as Tariq Cousins
- Xzibit as Shine Johnson
- Bre-Z as Freda Gatz (absent; credit only)
- Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon
- Kaitlin Doubleday as Rhonda Lyon
- Leslie Uggams as Leah Walker
- Tasha Smith as Carol Hardaway
- Vivica A. Fox as Candace
- AzMarie Livingston as Chicken
- Sierra A. McClain as Nessa
- Ajiona Alexus as Teenage Loretha (Cookie)
- Jeremy Carver as Teenage Lucious
- Birdman as himself
- French Montana as Vaughn
- Tha Pope as Jack
- Tyla Abercrumbie as Nurse
- Patrick Clear as Doctor
- Eric Lane as Drop
- Ivan Ellis as Royale-T
- Claudette Burchett as Juanita
- David Lively as Butler
- Birgundi Baker as Teen Carol
- Lawnyae Marie as Teen Candace
- Rhonda is pushed off by Anika and is killed as a result.
- Anika gives birth to a baby girl, who is named Bella Lyon.
- Despite being angry at the fact that it was a girl, Lucious declares himself as Bella's father on the birth certificate.
- Lucious rebrands SwiftStream as Empire X-Stream.
- Jamal loses his father's respect after he tries to sing a song about freeing Freda Gatz at Lucious' X-Stream launch.
- Andre's bipolarity worsens with Rhonda's death
- This episode begins taking place on May 10, 2016. 
- Despite taking place in May 2016, Jamal references the Orlando club shootings as well as the murder of Alton Sterling.
- Bre-Z, Morocco Omari and Xzibit are bumped up to the main cast as of this episode, while Kaitlin Doubleday is bumped down as a result of her character Rhonda Lyon being killed off.
- As of this episode, Grace Gealey is credited as Grace Byers, having married Trai Byers (Andre Lyon) and taking his surname in between seasons.