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Comic Book / The Boys

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The Last Thing You See Before You Die.

The Boys is a series by Garth Ennis, with art by Darick Robertson and others. It concerns a CIA-sponsored team of Empowered Badass Normals which monitors, polices and (often) terminates corrupt superhumans. Gritty, violent, and darkly humorous, the series frequently veers into Author Tract territory regarding its gleeful depiction of the majority of costumed supers as perverts and child molesters, dropping some anvils on a lot of ugly tropes that have been plaguing superhero comics. Much like Watchmen by Alan Moore, this series is a Deconstructor Fleet. However, instead of attacking the mythos of the superhero, it goes after the sleazy corporate underbelly that grew up around it.

As with Preacher, a few different limited series have been published. Herogasm is, for whatever reason, a six-issue limited series that's essentially an extra arc in the main plot, as Butcher's squad investigates the superheroes' annual island getaway. Highland Laddie follows Hughie during his absence from the main book, as he returns to his foster parents' home in Scotland. Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker is a six-issue miniseries featuring Butcher, reminiscing about his life after returning to England for his father's funeral.


The team consists of:

Now has a character page that needs Wiki Magic.

In 2016, four years after the series's conclusion, it was announced that the comic would be adapted into a TV show on Cinemax. Eventually, it was announced that the TV adaptation would instead be aired on Amazon Prime Video in 2019, under Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the same production duo as the Preacher TV series. The first teaser trailer was shown at New York Comic-Con.

See The Boys (2019) for tropes related to the adaptation.



  • Allohistorical Allusion: The fictional M-20 rifle (See Incompetence, Inc. and Take That! below) is drawn as the SA80, a British assault rifle with a reputation every bit as awful but very, very real.
  • Alternate Universe: Beyond the whole superhero thing, the main deviations are the presence of Vought-American throughout the twentieth century, Robert Kennedy winning the presidency, George W. Bush dying in a chainsaw accident before his political career manifested and the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge due to a botched rescue attempt by the Seven on September 11, 2001.
    • Dakota Bob, the President during the series's present day, apparently got his political career started as a backup vice-presidential candidate for George H.W. Bush, after Dan Quayle's verbal tics got him thrown off the ticket.
    • In the "Barbary Coast" arc, Mallory tells Hughie about meeting Prescott Sheldon Bush - father of George, grandfather of George W., prominent figure in conspiracy theories - in 1944, on the eve of the Battle of the Bulge. In real history, the elder Bush did not pursue political ambitions until 1950; in The Boys, he's already a senator from Connecticut, although his explicit connections to Vought-American provide a handy reason why he might have gotten ahead of the game. The elder Bush is promptly shot dead in a German ambush, whereas the real Prescott Bush lived until 1972.
    • No one ever mentions why, but the War on Terror in this universe is being fought primarily in Pakistan. Several characters mention that the U.S. has troops on the ground there.
    • The Battle of Ia Drang in this universe was a total defeat for the US, with the 1000 American airmobile cavalry troops completely wiped out by the 2500 Vietnamese they faced, thanks to being issued the useless M-20. Presumably, Colonel Hal G. Moore and Sergeant Major Basil L. Plumley were among those killed.
    • The Fall of Saigon in 1973 is implied to have gone much worse. The flashback image is a frantic version of this famous picture by Hugh Van Es, with several South Vietnamese civilians trying to cling onto the last helicopter as it's taking off, while others are seemingly being trampled to death by the crowds rushing up the stairs.
  • Anything That Moves:
    • Tek Knight. He has sex with a male telepathic android, a cup of hot coffee, his Jarvis-Expy butler's ear, a watermelon, and (presumably) his Nightwing-expy's mouth. It turns out this is because of a fist-sized brain tumor. Then again, many of the other supers have sex with anyone or anything and they don't have tumors.
    • Terror, should his beloved Billy command it.
  • Apathetic Citizens: The East Enders' lack of reaction towards his mother collapsing on the sidewalk (due to his father's beatings) prompts him to think the Luftwaffe missed a few spots.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Compound V, the substance that Vought-American and the CIA use to create superhumans.
  • Author Tract:
    • We know that Garth Ennis doesn't have any respect for superheroes, because he grew up reading (and later writing) ensemble works such as 2000 AD and most of them seem very silly to him.
    • As seen in issue 27, Garth Ennis doesn't think much of American St. Patrick's Day.
    • His usual attitude towards religion shows up, with Annie losing her faith after being raped, the main religious hero being a pedophile, and the whole "Believe" event being a scam (as stated by Annie and the Homelander).
  • Badass Longcoat: All of The Boys wear a long black coat, precisely because they're scarier than most superheroes' costumes and even make the Boys feel more tough. Butcher explains the fashion accessory as an easy way to tell friend from foe in a vicious melee.
    Butcher: When in doubt, fuck-up any cunt not wearin' a coat.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Though The Boys themselves only appear to be normal the Vought American troops play it straight, killing off a group of X-Men expies (all 60+ of them) in a matter of seconds using only present day weapons.
    • Later, depleted-uranium ammo is able to tear through supers.
  • Bear Hug: Soviet superhero Love Sausage bear-hugs Billy Butcher (in a friendly fashion) when they first meet.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: One super is seen mounted by a dog, while Blarney Cock put a hamster in his ass before going to fight the Boys.
  • Bed Trick:
    • One of the clues that Homelander and Black Noir are clones is that they can pass for each other when banging Maeve.
    • Malchemical was kicked out of Team Titanic for impersonating the leader to sleep with his girlfriend.
  • Berserk Button:
    • The Female must not be touched. Although The Frenchman can touch her without setting off the Ax-Crazy in her; it has been revealed that following a very, very troubled childhood, Frenchie was the first to show her kindness, becoming a father figure of sort, while the others stayed their distance until she was properly house broken.
    • For The Frenchman himself, French surrender jokes.
    • Also, don't mess with Terror, since that's when Billy goes all out.
    • Perhaps most surprisingly of all, there's Hughie. Do NOT mess with his Hamster!
  • Beware the Superman: For he cares about nothing but his own publicity. And the actual Captain Ersatz of Superman is a greedy, ruthless rapist as well as a possible Big Bad. The only truly benevolent superheroes in the setting are Starlight, who hasnt been around long enough to be thouroughly corrupted but probably would have been if she hadn't met Hugh, and the Superduper team, which is essentially a superhero equivalent of the short bus, consisting mostly of metahumans with marginal powers and various disorders.
  • Big Bad:
    • The nameless Vought-American executive. And Homelander. And maybe Black Noir. And maybe even Butcher himself.
    • By a process of deduction, the Vought-American executive's name would appear to be Stillwell.
      • After having killed Mallory, Vas, The Legend, Mother's Milk, the Frenchman, and the Female, as well as coming up with a plan to kill every single person with a trace of V in their blood, the real Big Bad seems to be Butcher.
  • Big, Friendly Dog: Terror, if you're not an enemy of The Boys. Also trained to hump anything on command.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: This shouldn't be shocking for a man who goes by the moniker "The Love Sausage."
  • Bio-Augmentation: Every one of The Boys was treated with the same Super Serum that created all of the superpowered people. As a result, even Wee Hughie has enough Super Strength to punch holes in other supers, and, presumably, corresponding resistance to trauma. As Butcher explained, Muggles just can't get far in the world where "superheroes" don't have much compunctions against killing or maiming their opponents.
    Butcher: Can't operate without it. 'cause otherwise you get into a barney with one of these cunts, an' he punches you in the face, he's gonna take your whole head off...
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Hughie and Starlight live Happily Ever After, but Mother's Milk, Frenchman and the Female die at Butcher's hands.
      • Although the final scene implies the Female and the Frenchman may have survived.
    • Every major superhuman and team has been wiped out, their amoral escapades made public knowledge, and Butcher even gets his revenge on the superhuman who raped his wife, but he then attempts to kill every superhuman on the planet and as a result dies at Hughie's hands.
    • Some might say The Bad Guy Wins as Vought-American Consolidated throws most of the blame on Jessica Bradley and gets away scott free as "American Consolidated", but it was All for Nothing as superheroes have been thoroughly outed as pointless and/or amoral, and AC's first attempt at changing that image is not promising; "The True", a dysfunctional new superteam (one of which is "plainly The Deep") clad in charming KKK white. Stillwell is implied to have a Villainous Breakdown - his first expression of emotion in the entire series - when he realizes that he's been left with the worse of all mercantile outcomes: bad product.
  • Black Comedy Rape:
    • Billy's dog Terror is trained to violently sodomize small dogs and cats. Billy and Hughie see it as the funniest thing ever. Later, we get a double-dose of it when Monkey first gets his own dildo shoved up his arse after trying to use it on a far-from-helpless paralympian, and then gets buggered, mercifully off-screen, by Terror.
    • The reason for Monkey's nickname is immortalized in a bronze bust that shows him getting his ears screwed by monkeys.
  • Bland-Name Product: All of the Boys' computers have a stylized bitten pear for a logo.
  • Blob Monster: MM's mother, whose breasts are now akin to Combat Tentacles.
  • Break the Believer: Vas sets his hopes on a communist politician to free the country from corruption. The whole Engineered Heroism plot would have put him in the role of anti-supervillain savior.
  • Break the Cutie: The bulk of Starlight's subplot involves her going from an idealistic heroine called up to the big leagues to a disillusioned seer of the truth.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Vas, aka "The Love Sausage", a former Russian superhero who is so unbelievably pleasant that even Billy Butcher likes him. Hughie also enjoys his honest virtue and friendliness, and is the only one who will drink Vas' brake fluid-derived alcohol.
  • Body Horror:
    • Happens to those with incomplete control over their powers. Frankly, also describes the result of most of the violence seen in the series. Special mention must go to Black Noir after his fight with the Homelander: his superhuman body has suffered at least a dozen instantly-fatal-to-normals wounds and because he's a pinnacle superhuman HE'S STILL GOING.
    • A seventeen-foot-long tapeworm also makes an appearance to a young Hughie.
    • Some powers go very, very wrong, like the little girl holding her melted-out eyes in her hands.
  • Book-Ends: The series begins and ends with Hughie and the woman he loves.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: The Homelander's reaction when Butcher confronts him in the Oval Office with the rape of his wife in Issue 65.
    • Subverted. He doesn't remember because it wasn't him that did those things.
  • Calvinball: The Frenchman and The Female like to play Monopoly. On a Clue board.
  • Canon Welding: Implied to take place in the same universe as Preacher with a cameo from human Cassidy.
  • Cape Busters:
    • The Boys themselves monitor and take out rogue hero elements.
    • Also an auxiliary role of The Seven. Homelander and A-Train have been shown to be utilized in this capacity.
      The Homelander: Really, it's Vought's fault, expecting us to clean up their mess. Some C-Lister goes off the rails and they think there won't be any collateral?
    • And the pivotal one for the comic, Black Noir, whose sole purpose is to take out the Homelander if he goes nuts, and starts gaslighting him until he is just so he can kill him.
  • Cape Punk: Superheroes are an idiotic idea created by a corporation's marketing machine and attracts only the worst of humanity or, worse, turns people into the worst of humanity.
  • Came Back Wrong: Voight has a really expensive procedure that can re-animate anything with Compound V in its system... as brain-dead zombies prone to soil themselves, as demonstrated by The Lamplighter and Blarney Cock.
  • Captain Ersatz: Most superheroes are obviously based on ones from other companies.
  • Casualty in the Ring: MM's powers manifested during adulthood, when he was getting the crap beaten out of him by a fellow Ranger by the name of Fucker John. A semi-groggy MM uppercutted his head off, completely by accident.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: When visiting her old team, Young Americans, Annie walks in on her former partner, Drummer Boy, having sex with another member, Holy Mary.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Don't call Frenchie this. It will end with that person losing all their body parts.
  • Chocolate Baby: One cover has Queen Maeve in a hospital bed holding a black baby... and a very unhappy-looking Stormfront.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The language is quite salty.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Butcher with Soldier Boy and Jack from Jupiter, although the latter was more about revenge than getting information.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting:
    • Wee Hughie is obviously Simon Pegg, of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame, with a Scottish accent. It was done with his consent, and he wrote the foreword to the first trade.
    • Pegg's been told that "the part is his if he wants it," in the Film of the Book, although Pegg himself has expressed concern that he might be too old to play it at this point.
      • He has a point, since Hughie is supposed to be in his late 20s/early 30s, while Pegg is in his 40s.
      • At last a screen adaptation is actually happening, but since Simon is now nearing his 50s, he will be playing Hughie's father.
  • Composite Character: Tek Knight is a mashup of Batman (backstory, living conditions) and Iron Man (armor).
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Hughie used to believe in aliens and the Illuminati, but has wised up to the real manipulators.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Vought-American, but especially the nameless Vought-American executive who runs everything behind the scenes and functions as the series' Big Bad.
  • The Coup: Most of the world's superheroes stage a bloody takeover of the White House and Pentagon, ostensibly on behalf of their employer Vought-American, but actually on the orders of the Homelander.
  • Crapsack World: Nearly all of the "heroes" are assholes, America is almost completely run by corrupt corporation that can get away with selling faulty military hardware time and again among other worse things, the protagonists are nearly as bad as the "heroes" and just about everyone else is portrayed as a colossal Jerk Ass if not worse.
  • Crashing Through the Harem: Wee Hughie and Vas "Love Sausage" are running after the mooks, a chase that leads them through a strip club. As Vas is in his spandex superhero outfit, he is stopped dead in his tracks. "Big titties are my kryptonite" indeed.
  • Crisis Crossover:
    • Parodied. The 'Herogasm' miniseries establishes that the superheroes routinely use 'crises' of this nature as a cover story for when they want to get out of the public eye in order to have an orgy.
    • Early in the miniseries, Homelander lists a number of prior "crises", all of which are named after real-life comic book crisis events, including Final Fracas, Civil Dispute, Downcount and Covert Intrusion.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: So many. Butcher slowly gutting Jack from Jupiter with a cleaver, President Schaefer getting his face eaten by a rabid wolverine, any of Frenchie and the Female's many kills, and of course, the incredibly horrific things that Black Noir does to an ordinary family while pretending to be the Homelander...
  • Cultural Translation: The French version does this to the Frenchman, obviously. His home village of Franglais (the French term for Gratuitous English) becomes Saint-Frusquin (an expression for "and all the rest"), and he calls Butcher "Boucher" rather than "Charcutier".
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The final confrontation between superheroes and the military turns into this, as F-16s armed with missiles designed specifically to target supes devastate the flying heroes whilst A-10s sent against the ground-based heroes do what they do best, and do it extremely well. A much-weakened and disemboweled Black Noir, fresh from killing the Homelander, attracts a storm of firepower from the Marines outside the White House and still survives long enough for Butcher to finally pry open his skull with a crowbar, rip out his brain, and crush it in his fist.
    • In Mallory's flashback to WW2, a German panzer brigade wipes out an unprepared US tank battalion, casually slaughtering the pathetically incompetent prototype supers who unwittingly led the Germans to the battalion in the first place.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Discussed and lampshaded by The Legend, who tells Hughie that genuine, For the Evulz supervillains are very rare precisely because being a corporate-sponsored superhero is an easier, more lucrative, and above all legal use of their powers. The few times a real supervillain does show up, they are usually dealt with very quickly away from the public eye.
  • Cute Bruiser: The Female. Note that she's only "cute" in appearance.
    • Actually she is shown to become this more literally near the end, as the Frenchman's efforts to deal with her explosive anger bear fruit, she is even shown laughing out loud when it is revealed Hughie trying to get fap material of Queen Maeve may have ended up giving them a lead on Black Noir.
  • Darker and Edgier: Takes this to extreme levels, so the world looks no more "realistic" than any four-color comics (it includes things like massive corporate conspiracy that allows a bunch of incredibly perverted and sociopathic people to successfully pass for The Capes since 1950s, for starters), it is just on the very opposite end of Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism.
  • Dating Catwoman:
    • Wee Hughie is sleeping with superheroine Starlight. But neither one knows what the other one actually does for a living. Until issue 44.
    • More literally, the threesome between Tek-Knight, Swingwing and Talon. Talon is an Expy of Catwoman.
    • In a more vicious sense, Butcher and Raynor's relationship. They hate each other passionately, and thus meet up regularly for wild illicit sex (as Butcher puts it, they both like screwing people they hate). Butcher records one such encounter, which is ultimately used as blackmail against Raynor when she tries to run for Congress.
  • Dawson Casting: An in-universe example, most of the people who are are in teen and kid superhero groups are actually in their late twenties to early thirties.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Before Queen Maeve gets killed by The Homelander, she manages to save Starlight from getting killed too, although it's in her usual blunt and cynical manner.
  • Deconstruction:
    • Of the underlying corporate nature of superheroes and the comic book industry. The superheroes in the world of The Boys were raised from birth with everything handed to them on a silver platter from Vought-American. Because of how Merchandise-Driven superheroes by nature are, spoiling them with all the wealth in the world is pretty much all Vought can do to make sure they don't one day go off the deep end. That being said, the superheroes, as a result of all the power they've been given right from the moment they were born, end up sociopathic, immature, spoiled, and utterly hedonistic—fixated only on their own individual satisfactions without much regard for the innocents whose lives are in their hands. What's even worse is that since superheroes are such a massive investment and turn in extremely huge profits, Vought's management is very much willing to do whatever they deem necessary to ensure their business remains afloat.
    • Surprisingly, Butcher is this to the protagonists Ennis usually wrote. Turns out, an Implacable Man who is driven solely by one goal is absolutely not right in the head. In fact, he's a total psychopath. And as soon as that goal is achieved, that man's next goal is more monstrous than the last to the point that he can't be considered anything remotely close to a hero anymore.
  • Defector from Decadence:
    • Starlight really looks like she is going in this direction. Not surprising, considering what she has to put up with.
    • The later issues portray Queen Maeve in this light, in a weird sort of way. We've mostly seen her as a martini-swilling background character, with a personal butler and, we're told, a penchant for bodybuilders. She's clearly post-traumatic after the events of September 11th, and turns out to be the Boys' mole in the Seven.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Literally. Depleted uranium rounds are used to great effect against superhumans.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Whoa. Played for Drama with the September 11th incident. The Seven had no plan beyond "enter through the forward doors":
    1. When they attempted to board the plane, Lamplighter and Black Noir were knocked out of action within seconds - Lamplighter was maimed, Black Noir fell back to Earth.
    2. When they opened the doors, the plane depressurized from both sides, resulting in the first civilian casualty - a child who was ripped out of his seat.
    3. Jack From Jupiter freaked out after realizing how in over their heads they were and flew away in a blind panic.
    4. The Deep then punched out the cockpit windows, destablizing the aircraft and filling the aircraft with high-speed air.
    5. When Homelander took out the hijackers, he did so so sloppily the instruments needed to fly the plane were covered in their remnants, rendering them unreadable - and even if they hadn't lost Black Noir, who was supposed to actually land the plane, it's later revealed that he never actually learned to fly.
    6. Finally, Homelander makes a completely ridiculous attempt to level the diving plane by flying into the tail at top speed. This not only tears the plane in half, but decapitates Mister Marathon.
    7. To add insult to injury, Queen Maeve reduces dozens of passengers to paste flying through them to save herself.
    8. ...and the ultimate result of all of this; the plane smacks right into the Brooklyn Bridge. As in reality, the terrorists' real target was the South Tower of the World Trade Center - but losing a major connection to the mainland did more damage to New York.
    • All in all, they had absolutely no idea what they were doing. End result; the death of one of their teammates, even more collateral damage than in real life, and the events of the main story.
      The Legend: They ain't trained for this. They ain't practiced. They don't know shit about hijackin' , or hostage situations, or how a goddamn plane flies through the air... They ain't even got a plan. They just think—We're The Seven. We're super. We can do this.
  • Differently Powered Individual: Superheroes are called "supes".
  • Dissonant Serenity: The unnamed Vought-American executive terrifies people who could reduce him to a smear on the wall if they so felt like it because he is so unnaturally calm and untroubled by anything.
  • Distracted from Death: In the issue that shows Butcher's past as a Royal Marine, we see him and his squad charging a machine gun nest during the Falklands War. Butcher makes it into the nest and slaughters the Argentinians there, then triumphantly turns to celebrate with his mates, only to see that they all were mowed down charging the nest.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Wee Hughie didn't expect to be able to punch a hole through the stomach of a super, as evidenced when he accidentally killed Blarney Cock. Earlier, he expresses his fear of ripping off his own penis the next time he jacks off.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • Archer Leader, the unnamed USAF pilot who could have prevented 9/11, but was called off by Vic The Veep, returns with a planeload of anti-supe missiles during the coup attempt in issue 65.
    • Hughie is the one to finally take down A-Train for his callous, accidental murder of Robin and what he tried to do to Annie.
  • Domestic Abuse: Billy's dad, to the point that Billy's mother needed a glass eye.
  • Dying Alone: Vas. Billy was certain the third rocket killed him, so he left, leaving Vas to bleed out.
  • Eats Babies: The Homelander, albeit only in one particularly psychotic episode that had him doing horrific things to what looked like an entire family.
    • Subverted. It wasn't him.
  • Empty Shell: Maeve appears to be this, despite actually being The Mole
  • Epic Fail: The Seven's attempt to 'Save the Day' on September 11th.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: Mentioned by Butcher as preceding a team-building exercise at the local brothel.
  • Evil Stole My Faith: Annie, due to being raped by three of the Seven, going home to find her boyfriend having sex with a teammate, and seeing no repercussions on herself or the others.
  • Evil vs. Evil:
    • Vought's Red River mercenaries versus the G Men.
    • And later, The Homelander versus Black Noir.
  • Eye Scream: Lots of it. A particularly horrifying one occurs when one little girl's powers backfire and she ends up with her eyes melting and running down her face as she cries that she's sorry.
  • Fan Disservice: Plenty of it.
    • The death of The Crimson Countess is a Scarlet Witch expy in a similar impractical top. She is seen laying on her back with her nipple exposed under the rigid top but she's on her back because she was just brutally killed.
    • Hughie and Starlight's first sexual encounter involve Hughie going down on Starlight without knowing she was on her period.
  • Famous Last Words:
  • Fastball Special: A hilariously gory subversion. Maeve picks up her nerdy, sycophantic butler and throws him bodily at the Homelander. The butler crows with delight at being shown such favor by Maeve – and then splatters fatally against Homelander's super-durable chest.
  • Five-Man Band:
    • The Hero: Butcher. Wee Hughie gets more time in the spotlight, but he's closer to a Supporting Protagonist than to The Hero.
    • The Lancer: Mother's Milk.
    • The Smart Guy: This role gets divided between Butcher and Mother's Milk.
    • The Chick: Wee Hughie. He fits this role much better than the actual woman in the group.
    • The Big Guy: The Female and The Frenchman. They're almost exclusively portrayed as the muscle of the group.
  • French Jerk: Averted. The Frenchman is probably the warmest, friendliest, most genial guy in the entire series. Of course, he's also a homicidal maniac, but that just makes it even more remarkable how affable he is.
  • Gag Penis:
    • In his first appearance, the Boys look on in horror as Vas stands proudly in his spandex uniform, and it is very blatantly obvious why his superhero name was "Love Sausage." It's so big that he becomes physically unable to run after encountering a room full of scantily dressed women. That's right, he was stopped by his own erection.
      Vas: Big titties... are my kryptonite.
    • Justified by the sad real life example of a man with a two-foot-long penis. Even minor arousal sends a significant amount of blood to his genitals, causing him to lose consciousness.
  • Gargle Blaster: Vas'... "vodka". Made from tank brake fluid, causes even Compound V-enhanced humans to cough up a cry, and even works as an antipoison if drunk beforehand.
  • Genocide from the Inside: This is Butcher's ultimate plan, to wipe out everyone who has ever been exposed to Compound V. The fact that he and all of his closest friends are among those people and it would mean destroying a big chunk of the world's population due to how ubiquitous the stuff has become doesn't stop him from moving forward with his plan.
  • The Ghost: Mallory. Until he first shows up, in disguise, during the Highland Laddie arc.
  • A God Am I: Believe arc, issue 46, as the Homelander sends the Mullers to their deaths, he spends the final moments of the "flight" bashing religion as whole aside, the existence of God in particular, then he spouts the settling line.
    Homelander: The only man in the sky is me.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Let's go through the list, shall we?
    • Butcher and Rayner: Openly dislike each other, and have loud and colorfully expressive hate sex.
    • Almost any notable super: Completely no-holds-barred hedonistic promiscuity, usually either with prostitutes, each other, or just about anything else with a pulse, consent not always a given.
      • To a certain degree averted with Tek-Knight, who compulsively has sex with or tries to have sex with men, animals or even inanimate objects, but his behavior turns out to be caused by a massive brain tumor.
    • Hughie and Annie: Arguably the two nicest characters in the entire comic, and they enjoy a healthy, supportive relationship and their sexual encounters are intimate and mutually pleasurable.
  • Gorn: Lots of it. Sometimes played for laughs, other times (especially in the 9/11 sequence and the images of Black Noir's atrocities) for horror.
  • Gratuitous French, Gratuitous German: The Frenchman and Stormfront, respectively.
  • Groin Attack: Butcher's keen on these, as part of his overall dirty-fighting methods. Stormfront gets a pretty serious one from Mother's Milk in The Self-Preservation Society and apparently Monkey suffered quite a bit after Butcher did it to him.
    Kessler: He kicked me so hard my junk doesn't work!
  • He Who Fights Monsters:
    • Billy Butcher is shown to be very quickly going down this path, if he hasn't already.
    • The Reveal shows that he was already past this point by the time of the Little Nina incident. He comes up with a plan to kill everyone with compound V in their system, which would include all of The Boys as well as countless innocents, becoming the Big Bad, and also the Hero Killer by personally killing Mother's Milk, as well as setting up a bomb to take out The Frenchman and the Female.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Black Noir is looking more and more like this for the franchise as of Issue #64.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Played back and forth with Hughie. While he had very loving (adoptive) parents, they have some difficulty in seeing that he's a grownup. Then there's the tapeworm...
  • Incompetence, Inc.: Vought-American in general. Going chronologically in-universe;
    • VA's first major government contract (prior to that, they made boots) was a team of incompetent first-generation superhumans that they tried to foist on the Army at the Battle of the Bulge. They not only draw the Nazis right to the camp where they're being deployed and get themselves killed to the last man, but in the process manage to trash a shipment of tanks and fighters that were already performing only slightly better than they were (also provided by Vought) - the sole survivor being Mallory.
    • Their next masterpiece was the V.A.C. F7U Grizzly, which considered the worst aircraft ever flown by the US military, with thirteen being lost for every enemy aircraft they shot down. In-universe, it's stated that the Allies would have lost if Truman hadn't dropped nukes on Japan. It's named after the real-life Vought F7U Cutlass, which had a similarly dismal reputation, with nearly one-third being lost in crashes.
    • The straw that broke the camel's back was the M-20 Assault Rifle, which failed so badly that the Vietnamese didn't even bother to salvage the guns or the ammunition, instead using them as mounts for the heads of the one thousand GIs that died trying to use them at the Battle of Ia Drang, which was a decisive American defeat in this universe - a slight exaggeration of what happened when the original M16 rifle was deployed in Vietnam without sufficient testing of the design and ammunition. The only difference between fiction and reality is there wasn't a single dramatic incident, but simply an ongoing stream of lethal failures. Additionally, the XM16E1s issued at Ia Drang actually functioned alright for the most part -it's implied that the M-20 entirely failed to fire even a single round. Vought never got a government contract again. The Legend actually mentions the M-16 as being adopted right after. It still sucked, but compared to the M-20, no one was complaining.
      Marine Corps Rifleman, Vietnam: We left with 72 men in our platoon and came back with 19. Believe it or not, you know what killed most of us? Our own rifle. Practically every one of our dead was found with his [M16] torn down next to him where he had been trying to fix it.
    • But the Pièce de Résistance was the Seven's attempt to save Flight 175 on September Eleventh. Quite simply, they Didn't Think This Through beyond the general idea of Vought-American trying to boost supers for national defense. Especially as they had their moronic man in the White House, Vic the Veep, knock out the president with a fire extinguisher in order to let the Seven make the attempt.
      • Vought-American is, overall, a representation of a small but recurring theme in Ennis's work: the greed and carelessness of war profiteers (and corporations in general). While Vought's activities throughout history (as discussed in issues #19-22) are pretty ridiculous when you see them on the page, they're actually Aluminum Christmas Trees; a decent example of the same thing in real life is the shortage of body armor for American troops at the start of the Iraq War. Essentially, his theme is that such corporations are really only interested in bottom-line profit, not any moral concerns, and if there's a way for them to increase their profit without having to worry about such concerns as safety, morality or even whether the product works (such as, say, if they've bought and paid for all the lawmakers who might intervene and restrain them), then they won't hesitate to follow it.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Just about every single attempt at VA(C) pushing their product ends up this way. New carrier plane for the Pacific theater? Suddenly the Japanese aren't retreating as fast. Proving superheroes are the future of war? Decimated, along with their handler, by the Germans they'd accidentally lured back to the unprepared Americans. A revolutionary assault rifle? The first 1000 troops it was issued to were found decapitated, their heads stuck on the worthless rifles. Prove that the supers can easily outperform a professional army? Everybody aboard the flight dies when the supes botch the rescue. The plane even ends up destroying the Brooklyn Bridge instead of the WTC — less densely populated but much more damaging to the city itself both economically and psychologically.
  • Landmarking the Hidden Base: The Boys, a CIA hit squad, operate out of the Flatiron Building in Manhattan.
  • Large Ham: Vas/Love Sausage.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Limited edition hardcover collections featuring full-scripts, artist sketchbooks, cover galleries and an introduction by Simon Pegg.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: When the Seven's intervention into the 9/11 attacks backfires, Queen Maeve decides to flee. The terrified passengers grab onto her, trying to stop her from flying away. She flies through them in a fountain of gore and severed limbs.
  • Karma Houdini: Stillwell gets off scott free for the events the Supe attack on the White House. He then informs Hughie that the rebranded Vought American intend to go on business as usual.
    • Although it seems to be rather a pyrrhic victory for Stillwell as he is now locked in an endless, fruitless struggle to turn superheroes into a profitable product. Knowing all too well their deficiencies, and seeing that they are never going to change, he himself realizes that he is stuck with a "bad product."
  • Kick the Dog: After an failed attempt to engineer a confrontation between the Seven and the Boys, one of the Seven kills Terror. As the Boys were investigating Jack From Jupiter at the time, Butcher has one of his periodic psychotic episodes and guts him with a carving knife. However, a Meaningful Look in the previous issue implies that Homelander was responsible.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: Billy spends sixty-odd issues showing what a calculating, cool-headed manipulator he can be. When Terror is killed, however, he throws it all to the wind and brutally murders the guy he believes to be responsible, regardless of the repercussions.
  • Kids Are Cruel: A flashback shows that upon seeing a dog stranded on a rock in the middle of a river, Hughie and pals proceed to throw stones at it. Fortunately, Hughie realizes what he's doing and rescues him.
  • Killed Off for Real: Terror, Jack from Jupiter, A-Train, Queen Maeve, Oh Father, The Homelander, Black Noir (and must of the superheroes who took part in the Coup), Love Sausage (or Vas to his friends), The Legend, Mother's Milk, Dr. Vogelbaum, The Frenchman & The Female. And as of Issue 71, Billy Butcher.
  • Kill Them All: The only named characters to survive the series are Hughie, Starlight, The Deep, Kessler(AKA Monkey), Rayner and Stillwell. Even out of those, Rayner's nascent political career is ruined by Kessler releasing a choice piece of blackmail material provided by Hughie, The Deep has been pressganged into another superhero group that's an obvious dead end, and Stillwell is implied to have a breakdown after realizing that his job - turning superhumans into a marketable product - is completely hopeless. But the other three finally shed their Butt-Monkey statuses, with Kessler relatively secure in his CIA directorship and Hughie and Starlight living Happily Ever After.
  • Madness Mantra: Butcher, at the end of The Big Ride arc, repeatedly asking Jack From Jupiter "Why'd you kill me dog, Jack?" each time he stabs him.
    Butcher: It ain't me, son. I'm somewhere else, watchin' it happen.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Billy Butcher. He is willing to say and do anything to draw Hughie into his personal crusade.
  • Meaningful Name: Stormfront, a Superman/Thor analogue with a, ahem, fascist bent, shares his name with a white supremacist message board.
  • Meta Origin: Except for a handful of tech-based heroes, all supes get their powers from Compound V, with their publically known origins just being spun by the PR department and the comics. This bites them in the ass when they try to pull a coup and are greeted with Compound V seeking missiles.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: Averted. While all supers got their powers from the same source (a drug called Compound V), they did so at different times over the past fifty years.
  • Mook Horror Show: More than once, though in at least once case replace "mook" with "supe."
  • Mooks: Subverted when an army of faceless mercenaries under Vought-American's pay obliterates an entire army of superheroes with cold, efficient ease.
  • Morality Pet:
    • The events of Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker states that Terror is a literal example for Billy, on the advice of his late wife.
    • The Female, despite being an irredeemable sociopath, clearly adores both Terror and Jamie the Hamster.
    • Inverted - Hughie is already a really nice guy, so him adopting Jamie the Hamster makes sense. Threatening Jamie, however, turns out to be Hughie's Berserk Button.
    • Billy portrays his relationship with Hughie in this way ("I always wanted a little brother"). Throughout the series he seems genuinely fond of Hughie, making him one of the few people to have that kind of relationship with Billy (apart from the rest of the Boys and Vas). However, as the later issues show, Billy has been playing Hughie to make him trust Billy, or at at least won't let any sentimentality get in the way of his objective, which is the elimination of every person with Compound V in their system, including himself.
  • Motivational Lie: Near the very end of the series, Butcher is trying to get Hughie to perform a Mercy Kill on him, and Hughie can't, both for psychological reasons and because Hughie is badly injured himself. Then Butcher tells Hughie that Butcher killed Hughie's parents, complete with details about their house that back up that Butcher had been there. Suddenly Hughie doesn't have a problem offing Butcher. A couple of minutes later, Hughie gets a call from his parents telling him how nice his boss was when Butcher apparently visited them Off Panel.
  • Muggles Do It Better: A central point of the series. When the faecal matter hits the cooling device, undisciplined, untrained superheroes prove to be no match whatsoever for the military, both in the present and when Vought first sought to use them in the Second World War.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The Frenchman's back story in Volume Six, which is clearly completely insane.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Starlight's official role in The Seven, although she rebels against it. She also spends an awful lot of time naked throughout the series.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Homelander has one when he realizes Black Noir was the one who committed the atrocities in the photos, meaning that he (as Butcher puts it) "became a complete fucking psychopath by mistake."
  • National Stereotypes:
    • Played with in the case of The Frenchman; he's from a village called Franglais, where they speak a unique dialect and regularly engage in the time-honored tradition of baguette-jousting on bicycles whilst wearing stripy tops and onions and uttering the "Haw-he-haw-he-haw" battle cry. Just don't suggest to him that the French are cowards. Of course since he's an insane Unreliable Narrator, the accuracy of his backstory is questionable, to say the least.
    • Vas is the gigantic, boisterous, hard-drinking nostalgic-for-communism Russian.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: This is the case with most of the Superheroes, but is especially prominent with Swingwing (a homophobe who's contractually required to encourage gays to come out, and murders one who confessed his love for him) and the Homelander.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: Team Paralactic, a group of Liefeldian, impressive-looking cyborgs. The Boys dismember them in a matter of seconds.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Legend is a rather sleazy, yet somehow likable take on Stan Lee.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Played with. The reason of why Mr Marathon, the original speeder of the Seven, died in the ill-planned rescue of the hijacked plane was because of his half-baked attempt to stick to the allegedly heroic ideals of the team. When the Homelander was about to turn tail and leave, Marathon insisted they continue. Not because of The Flash expy's moral sense or anything like that; he just pointed out that Vought-American would surely fire them if they gave up.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Black. Motherfucking. Noir. One of the marines watching the White House from behind the fench said this when seeing the super draging himself along out of the Oval Office with half of his head missing, his limbs burned to the bone and his guts hanging out behind him after killing Homelander. Then, he was continuously shot at by a full platoon of marines (including some tanks), leaving him with no hands, no feet, no ab muscles, one arm missing, and his whole skin pierced with more holes than Spongebob, and he still managed to stand up. Then, Butcher came at him and cracked open his skull with a crowbar, and took away a large chunk of his brain, and it wasn't enough to take him down. AND THEN, Butcher crushed the brain chunk in his hand in front of Black Noir's eyes, and ONLY THEN he finally died (or maybe understood he was dead)!
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: While discussing how to vary their sex life, Hughie tells Annie he just can't perform if there's more than one man per woman. Which is how Annie got into the Seven...
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Averted. Though VA is a huge corporation and makes mountains of money off the supers, they're extremely expensive to make and maintain (a few milliliters of refined Compound V costs several million dollars). Zig-Zagged in that they haven't purposefully made any supers with it since they lost Vogelbaum, instead recruiting the results of accidental exposures. The stuff Butcher pumps into Hughie's neck as the series begins was actually made by the CIA, who abducted Vogelbaum after faking his death, and part of their orders to him was to make Compound V too prohibitively expensive to use.
  • Oh, Crap!: Our Father and the other rebellious Supers when the US Air Force starts firing super-seeking missiles at them.
  • Older Than They Look: Specifically invoked for Stormfront, Mallory and Vogelbaum, and suggested for everyone else, due to the effects of Compound V making them age slowly - in appearance.
    Mallory: Don't get too excited, it's not eternal life. Feels more like taxidermy, if the truth be told. You'll get a few more years than you might have done, and you won't look your age until the end. You'll only feel it. Pickled was the word Vogelbaum liked to use.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The Female speaks exactly one time during the whole series: when the other Boys offer her a chance to retire and not go after Butcher with them. She refuses.
    The Female: I hate mean people.
  • Parental Fashion Veto: * During the The Name Of The Game opening arc, Butcher has a meeting with Mother's Milk. MM objects strongly to the outfit his daughter's wearing. She ignores him and Butcher chews her out over disrespecting her father, terrifying the two 'gangstas' she was hanging out with in the process.
  • Pedophile Priest: Oh Father, superhero with twelve under-age apostles.
  • Poisonous Friend: Billy Butcher to Hughie as of issue #46, in one of the scummiest ways possible.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Pretty much every 'superhero' will use their gifts to get off in the strangest, most bizarre and sometime violent means. Sometimes it's shown on-panel, other times it's strongly implied.
  • Powerup Letdown: VAC's first generation of supers, seen in issues #52/53. Between two of them, they managed to lift a tank a foot on the ground, and promptly collapsed after. Which is impressive in its own right, had they actually been trained and augmented soldiers and not just performers in stupid costumes. Unsurprisingly, they're immediately shredded by tank fire during a German attack.
  • Premature Empowerment: Happens to Wee Hughie, when Butcher injects him full of Compound V, and he understandably gets a wee bit angry about it. He later decides to join the team, though.
  • Private Military Contractors: Red River, the Blackwater Expy responsible for, among other things, slaughtering the Ersatz X-Men.
  • Propaganda Hero: The superheroes are all created by a serum that is dispensed by a Mega-Corp that desperately wants to turn said superheroes into human weapons so they can get all the money and power that comes from being a part of US defense spending. Having failed to do that so far, they settle for peddling lame, Silver Age style stories that people eat up and make them imagine the heroes are saving the world on a daily basis. Of particular note is the Captain America Captain Ersatz, who is a Dirty Coward whose WWII heroism was faked and pure propaganda. (Which is pretty meta, considering Captain America is pretty much the poster boy for this trope.)
  • Psychic Radar: Member of the super team Payback, Mindroid, can use his telepathy to detect the presence of another person in an area at least the size of a building. He can't precisely define an exact location, only whether or not someone's in the room or not and what their surface thoughts are.
  • Rape as Backstory: An in-universe example, oddly enough. The Seven are having their image reworked into a Darker and Edgier mold, and the public relations people try to convince Starlight to go along with rape being a part of her back story and motivation for becoming a hero. 1) This wasn't true, and 2) Starlight has been sexually abused, by members of the Seven, including a forcible Attempted Rape. As a result she's not pleased and verbally chews out the PR guys.
  • Reality Ensues: All over the place, as the series is very much a Deconstruction of the idea of silver-age superheroes in the modern world;
    • The events of September the 11th, 2001 show exactly what would happen if a Justice League-esque super team tried to stop a mid-air plane hijacking (see Didn't Think This Through above.)
    • In Issue 65 swarms of powerful but inexperienced superheroes are gunned down en masse by the US military, who were warned of their coup in advance and are outfitted with anti-supe missiles and depleted uranium ammunition.
    • The superhero business in general. Why go out and fight crime for real when you can sit back and collect residuals on all of the comic books, TV shows, and merchandise with your face on it?
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Stillwell, the Vought-American executive, delivers a major one to the Homelander in #64, pointing out that for all his raging God-complex and evil tendencies, he's done absolutely nothing worthwhile or original whatsoever and is ultimately just an insecure little speck desperately trying to find some way of impressing him. The Homelander... doesn't react well.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The VA executive threatens to "transfer" his security guys to Tasmania when they start goofing off, reminding them that VA doesn't have an office there.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Technology that could be made to improve living conditions and save lives is instead being used exclusively to make shiny suits so millionaire playboys can go on high-tech joyrides.
    Butcher: You'd be surprised at some a' the stuff they can do nowadays, provided they're willin' to spend the money. Look at Concorde: you used to be able to cross the Atlantic in three hours flat. Then the cunts stuck the future in a museum.
  • Required Secondary Powers:
    • Some supers don't have them, leading to a kid Hulking Out wrong (MM's little brother's head swelled up while he was wearing a football helmet, killing him), or a girl with Eye Beams whose eyes melted out of her head...
    • The Homelander couldn't just lift up the plane because he had nothing to push against.
    • Like The Flash, A-Train has Super Speed. Unlike the Flash, he has little control over it, meaning he can't see where he's running (leading to Robin's death) or perform actions very fast (if he tried mucking out the Lamplighter's cell in superspeed, it'd only spread it around thinner.
  • Scotireland: Ennis is Irish, and at Dynamite has zero limitations on what he can write, so in #27, he goes absolutely bonkers in his Take Thats;
    • Hugie infiltrates the G-Men on St Patrick's day, they ask him if it's celebrated the same back in Ireland, and no-one even understands what he's talking about when he insists he's actually Scottish.
    • Butcher enters the story this issue blowing the froth off a pint of Guinness at "The Grassy Knoll", where the bartender Proinsias gives no fucks about throwing hatchets at plastic-bowler-hatted morons who wander in looking for green beer.
    • Proinsias smirks about writing "FUCK OFF" in the beers of said morons who ask him to write a shamrock in the head - just as Hughie shows up complaining of "Green Hell" in the streets, and asks for "FUCK OFF" in his Guinness.
    • Him and Butcher then have a long Seinfeldian Conversation about "whatever-Americans" - "Americans" who, after having crossed entire oceans, decide to drag their old baggage with them from the Old Country rather than make a new start.
      Butcher: It's just the one thing that's always wound me up a bit about the Septics. I mean if you're that desperate to be different from the bloke who lives next door... I dunno. (nods at something on the ground) Look at that. What's that?
      Hughie: It's, uh... It's a green plastic bowler hat filled with sick...
      Butcher: My point exactly. Happy Saint Patrick's Day, Hughie.
  • Semper Fi: The Marines are the ones who shoot down the supers in the White House. Billy himself was in the Royal Marines.
  • Serial Escalation: In an interview, Garth Ennis said that The Boys would "out-Preacher Preacher."
    • Ennis himself said later in an interview: "What the fuck does that even mean?"
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Female got her powers from falling into a big canister of synthesized Compound V. The name of the person in charge of the project? Doctor Uderzo. The team that was sent to retrieve Female are about as successful as the marines in Aliens and even quote the movie directly. The few comics that aren't on the receiving end of a Take That! are the 2000 AD ones Frenchie buys for Female.
    • The bar that Butcher is drinking in during issue #27 is an extremely subtle reference to Preacher, as is its bartender, Proinsias Cassidy.
    • The "Get Some" story arc (The Boys # 7) opens with the Tek Knight talking to a shrink. The point is the way this shrink is drawn in some panels bears a certain resemblance to actor Michael Keaton (maybe not as blatant as Christopher Walken's likeness used in The Punisher Presents Barracuda, also written by Garth Ennis, but the similarity is there). It's quite fitting since Tek Knight is a pastiche/parody of Batman, and Michael Keaton is of course well known as having played the Dark Knight in the Batman films by Tim Burton.
    • Mother's Milk purchases a large bottle of maple syrup from a woman bearing a distinct likeness to Marge Simpson in "We Gotta Go Now".
    • Spider Jerusalem can be seen in issue one (page #10, panel two), in the background between A-train and the Glaswegian Policemen.
      • In Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker, Butcher directly quotes Spider's favorite catchphrase of "If I gave two tugs of a dead dog's cock..."
    • During the Name of The Game arc, as Butcher explains why he works for the C.I.A. he makes an allusion to Batman in his reasons.
      Butcher: I mean, what else am I gonna do? Use me billion dollar inheritance and operate out of a cave?
    • The G-Wiz's Wacky Fratboy Hijinks are a shout out to Animal House, with Blowchowski's appearance based on John Belushi's John "Bluto" Blutarsky. The cover for issue #24 is also based on the poster for Animal House.
    • Several characters in Hughie's hometown are named after DC Thomson comics, including Beezer, Topper (Tupper) and the Reverend Dandy, the latter of which breaks the fourth wall in the same manner of the characters from those comics. Hughie's parents resemble those from Oor Wullie, and Hughies sits on a bucket in the same position as Wullie.
    • In one episode, Butcher mentions that he watches "spacker porn".
    • Some of Doc Peculiar's photographs are recreations of iconic comic images (with naked people circa 1910): Bruce Wayne looking at his parents, Batman holding Robin's corpse, Superman throwing a car.
    • The titles of the trade collections "The Self-Preservation Society" and "The Bloody Doors Off" are apparently references to The Italian Job (1969).
    • In their first issue, the members of Superduper watch The Iron Giant together. Afterwards, one of them mentions tearing up at the "Superman" scene. It's worth noting here that Superman is one of the few superheroes Garth Ennis has shown outright respect towards in the past.
    • It's mentioned that the events of September 11th caused the word "war" to be banned from comic books. This is accompanied by a picture of a comic book starring The Seven called The Infinity Debate.
    • In a flashback to The Legend's younger days, he is shown walking past a wall full of posters for superhero teams created by companies other than Vought-American. One of these teams is called the Planeteers.
  • Silent Bob: The Female hasn't made so much as a sound on panel, yet she is quite capable of making herself understood to the Frenchman.
    • Except that one time she laughed at the notion that Hughie stealing Queen Maeve's file from Doc Peculiar's place in the hopes of scoring some wank material, may have helped them solve a major roadblock in their mission against the supes. Everyone else was as disturbed as you'd think by this.
    • As of issue 66, after a timeskip of unspecified length, she's still laughing.
    • Semi-subverted in issue 68, where a dialog balloon says: "I hate mean people". While it's obvious that she's the one talking (because the other three characters present in the scene are shown in the panel), she still hasn't been actually SHOWN uttering any words.
  • Sociopathic Hero:
    • All of The Boys except for Wee Hughie and Mother's Milk, but especially Billy Butcher. For a given value of "heroic", of course.
    • Deconstructed with Butcher, who shows exactly what would happen when such a 'hero' loses the common goal that made him a hero, as Butcher ascends into Big Bad status.
      Butcher: I was the one put the Boys back together after Mallory lost his bottle. I made 'em what they were meant to be. I got Vogelbaum workin' on fuckin' supe-seekin' missiles; the Homelander and his mates would've cause a lot more bother if it hadn't been for me. You need blokes like me, Hughie. It's what we get up to in our spare time you've gotta worry about.
      All that macho shit — that gunfighter, Dirty Harry bollocks — it looks tasty, but in the end it’s fuckin’ self-defeatin’. It just leaves you with bodies in ditches an’ blokes with headfuls o' broken glass. Men are only so much use, Hughie. Men are boys.
  • The Sociopath:
    • Most of the superheroes, when they're not performing for the media. Taken Up to Eleven by the Homelander and even more so by Black Noir, who commit staggeringly nasty acts of violence purely For the Evulz.
    • Butcher ultimately becomes one, despite his affable façade.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Practically every superteam we see only has one woman — even the Boys only have the Female.
  • Spy Fiction: Boring, but Practical Stale Beer all the way, and Discussed at that. Though they regularly pick through VA's computers, they don't have a Playful Hacker — they get in via an insider giving them the day's password. The Boys spend +90% of their time sitting in vans monitoring bugs, interviewing witnesses, or sitting at the office discussing what they learned from the bugs and the witnesses — and most of what they learn is sleazy blackmail material, not world-shattering secrets. Hell, the one time they hear such a secret( Homelander seemingly having a breakdown in which The Man in the Mirror Talks Back) they're so hasty to get to Butcher to share the information they miss the real secret; that he's actually having a comparatively rational Mirror Monologue... to psyche himself up for a planned coup of the United States. Butcher actually lampshades that they should have finished recording the conversation instead of running to him, and it takes them a while to get around to that due to complications.
    Mallory: First of all, a spy is not an impeccably-dressed assassin in an Aston-Martin. He's generally a seedy little man you wouldn't look at twice. The same quite often goes for the man who's sent to kill him. He's also bitter, spiteful, malcontent. If his life had turned out the way he wanted, he'd hardly have become a traitor in the first place, would he? Then again, he gets the job done. Because no one's looking at him twice.
  • Stepford Smiler: Most of the G-Men delve ever deeper into hedonism to deal with the near-constant sexual abuse they suffered at Godolkin's and older students' hands.
  • Strawman News Media: After the President has his face ripped off by a wolverine, Fox News Channel claims the parents of the kid who brought it were Democrats.
  • Strawman Political:
    • While just about every scumbag politician is a Republican (Dakota Bob being more of a Necessary Evil), the Democrats end up endorsing Rayner as their candidate.
    • When Butcher rescues Kessler from his inept Attempted Rape, he tells the intended victim that he's part of a Republican family and didn't take his meds that night.
  • Stripperiffic: Starlight's costume becomes progressively skimpier as the series goes on, though not by her own choice. She finally finds the courage to say "no" when they attempt to dress her in what is effectively a slingshot bikini.
  • Super Serum:
    • Compound V, when it actually works. And when it doesn't...
    • Mother's Milk has to periodically breastfeed from his mother in order to survive, hence the name.
  • Super Supremacist:
    • The Homelander's plot to get out from under Vought's thumb involved seizing power and ruling over humanity (supers already viewing humanity as nothing but an endless reservoir of victims). Complicated by the fact that he was gaslit by his clone into complete psychosis, leading to his breakdown at being ordered around by a non-powered human.
    • Stormfront is a literal Nazi with superpowers.
  • Super Toughness: None of the supers are explicitly invincible; it just takes a whole lot more to hurt (and even more to kill) them than a normal human. The two strongest supers in the series are Homelander and Black Noir, and the former is ripped apart by the latter, while the latter is done in with a massive barrage of heavy machine gun fire and finished off with a crowbar.
  • Take That!:
    • Against superheroes in general.
    • Also, it is mentioned that when Vought-American was looking for a vice presidential candidate hand puppet, they went to the Bush family, but the last son had managed to cut off his own head playing with a chainsaw.
    • Starlight's reaction to the aforementioned "bikini" costume can be seen as a shot at quite a few Rape as Drama plots in mainstream comics in the 2000's, particularly Identity Crisis (the storyline, we were told, that involved a DC editor's decree that "we need a rape") and Kevin Smith's "The Evil That Men Do."
    • Swingwing's public service announcements on behalf of teenage gays are an extremely thinly veiled shot at Judd Winick's notoriously anvil-laden run on Green Lantern.
    • Ennis seems to despise the Bush family in general. Prescott Bush is a Sleazy Politician who dies because he ignores the objections and military procedure of those who know what they're doing in favor of following orders from the corporation who bought him, George H. W. Bush is less competent than his own vice-president and only gets to be president because he served his time and it was his turn, and George W. Bush, (as has been mentioned a few times on this page) accidentally cut his head off while playing with a chainsaw before ever gaining national recognition.
    • The whole story can also be seen as a Take That! to anti-heroes who are presented as being as noble as traditional superheroes, like the tagline on the Rob Liefeld created Youngblood. Especially in light of The Seven being more focused on making money from their merchandise than being heroes, which is commonly stated as Liefeld's reasons for not getting comics out on time in the 1990's.
    • You can generally pinpoint how much Ennis dislikes certain characters. Some of the most venomous depictions of characters are ones that Ennis has gone on record as hating: Wolverine becomes a near-mute freak who can't eat his own food without assistance (and the creature that ripped off the President's face, causing Vic the Veep to be sworn in, was a wolverine (and the Pre-Wiz leader who says 'bub' and is animal themed is named Cat O'Mite)), Nineties Anti Heroes are C-List Fodder, and Soldier Boy is regularly referred to as "an insult", an opinion Ennis has often offered about heroes being involved in real-world events. Consider the following: the very first line of dialogue after the comic left DC because DC was worried it would taint their brand was a Batman expy proclaiming "I like to have sex with things." On the other hand, he has a soft spot for the Big Three Justice Leaguers, and as a result;
      • Tek-Knight is a relatively nice guy who even dies heroically, saving a mother and child from a wheelbarrow-full of bricks falling from a construction site (though he has a pretty awesome Dying Dream of saving the world from an asteroid by fucking it back into space.) It's even revealed that his recent bouts of unwilling hypersexuality were caused by a fist-sized brain tumor.
      • Queen Maeve is the Token Good Teammate of the Seven and actually cared about being a hero before the clusterfuck on 9/11, driving her to gin-induced alcoholism.
      • And the Big Bad Homelander has a nasty Freudian Excuse(would you be sane if you were raised by Wal-Mart?), and his truly disgusting acts were the result of Black Noir's Gaslighting.
      • He seems to have a similar one for the Legion of Super-Heroes, if Superduper, a team of young, well-meaning but defective supers, is any indication.
      • He has a weird take on the DC/Marvel feud; VAC's first generation of supers is dubbed "The Avenging Squad", but Bush and the VAC rep says it isn't final - the company's still deciding whether the group's theme will be "Justice" or "Revenge." The entire squad is massacred at the Battle of the Bulge, and the Seven are established soon afterwards - except VAC hires "The Legend" as the mind behind the comic book franchise. Mallory bemoans that everything started to go wrong right after World War II for one basic reason;
        We stood on our beaches, or in our clearings in the woods. We knelt in the blood of our beloved dead.
        We reached out for something to make it right, and not once did we consider that we were starting from the wrong place.
        All we could think was that there had to be some meaning to it. Things like this, they couldn't happen and the world not even blink.
        But dress it up however we might, as debt collected to be paid towards better times, as protection for the future against repeat afflictions...
        The meaning we had chosen was revenge.
    • The cover for book 9, "The Big Ride", is a parody of the iconic cover of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns where Batman's silhouette jumps off of something as a lightning bolt flashes in the background. Except on the cover of "The Big Ride", the silhouettes are of Butcher kicking some super off a cliff.
    • From the brief looks we get of it, Vought-American's M-20 assault rifle actually resembles a Enfield SA80, specifically the L85A1 variant that first saw action in the Gulf War, which had a wide range of serious problems and proved to be ultimately very poorly designed. Ennis simply takes it Up to Eleven by implying that the M-20 couldn't even get through five rounds before jamming and was best used for impaling the heads of dead GIs.
  • Take That Me: In a flashback, the Legend gets a call from a Mr. Garth Ennis... and tells him to fuck off.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Teenage Kix, the first superhero team the Boys go after, are a bunch of self-centered hedonistic little monsters who steal meds from a children's hospital. As Butcher put it, taking them out isn't exactly equivalent to wiping their ass on the American flag.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Stormfront, created by Vogelbaum for the Nazis, now working for Vought. He still holds to the ideals of the Third Reich, though.
  • The Unfettered: The nameless Vought-American executive, to the point where he terrifies superpowered-individuals who could kill him in an instant.
    • To the incredible extent that not only is he outwardly calm, he's inwardly calm too - Homelander is dumbfounded that, even when threatened with violent dismemberment, the VA exec's heart rate doesn't budge in the slightest.
  • Unfulfilled Purpose Misery: Black Noir is a clone of the Homelander, created to be his superior in case he ever became uncontrollable. But as years went by and the Homelander showed no signs of mental instability, Black Noir started committing atrocities and sending pictures so the Homelander would think he was responsible, driving Homelander insane until Black Noir's life was finally justified and he was asked to step in.
  • The Worf Barrage: Half a dozen tanks, thirty miniguns, all of them firing depleted uranium rounds of the highest calibre. That's the unholy shit unloaded on Black Noir ALONE while already having half of his limbs burned, half of his head snatched away and all his guts hanging out as a result for killing Homelander. And he still manages to survive that (although he comes out of it crippled to such a point that the mere fact of him still standing up could fit in the Artistic Licence - Biology trope.
  • Title Drop: Turns out Butcher chose the team's name. Mallory still feels strange about that.
    Butcher: Where I come from, when somebody wants someone done over, they talk about sendin' the boys round. "Harry's turned into a right mouthy twat, I'm gonna send the boys round." Yeah?
    Mallory: Who's they?
    Butcher: Whoever wants Harry's legs broken.
    Mallory: Who are the boys?
    Butcher: Whoever they send to break 'em.
  • Tragic Villain: Surprisingly the Homelander of all people. It's implied that he was actually a relatively decent person before Black Noir gaslit him into insanity. Butcher also qualifies as one.
  • Urine Trouble:
    • Various characters piss themselves when faced with interrogation by the Boys. The "resurrected" superheroes are all apparently incontinent, too.
    • At one point, the Female pisses on the ice cream of a boy who earlier stole her lollipop.
  • Vice-President Who?: Zig-Zagged. Vic the Veep is incompetent, borderline mentally retarded and doesn't even hide that he's a Vought Corporation puppet through and through, but that doesn't make him harmless. For example, as the President is about to give the order to shoot down the last of the 9/11 airliners before they hit, Vic knocks him out with a fire extinguisher (everyone else had been staring at the screens), as Vought/American wanted their supers to save the day as a PR move. He's also responsible for the president'sdeath, opening a cage he thought contained his pet dog rather than a wolverine.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Averted. Wee Hughie is the only member of The Boys who isn't a violent psychopath.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Homelander is fond of these when he doesn't get his way. Stillwell seems to be most likely to instigate these.
    • Bradley when she realizes Stillwell set her up as the Fall Guy. She even rips out her hair.
    • Ironically, Stillwell seems to have one at the end. He realizes that whatever he does to spin super-powered people to the public, it's still flawed and ultimately, bad product.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Ironically, Superheroes. The Legend even says there aren't very many genuine super villains because most of the amoral sociopaths realize that being a privileged, well paid "Superhero" is so much easier.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Herogasm ends with an interesting anecdote on this trope;
    Wee Hughie: Brits just get a wee bit suspicious when folks start wavin' flags, you know?
    Mother's Milk: Don't blame 'em. Mattera fact, you might say the more you wave it, the less it means. Less you think about what it means. Start wrappin' shit up in it, wear it like some kinda goddamn suit...? Hell. Pretty soon, it don't mean nothin' at all.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Issue 31 The next issue line is "And Then There Were Four..." Also the last issue of the We Gotta Go Now story arc.
    • Issue 63 may be the start of a series of whams, as Frenchie loses an arm, and A-Train and Queen Maeve are killed.
    • Issue 65. Homelander is dead. Black Noir is dead, a clone of Homelander, and the one who REALLY raped Becky. He also is the reason why Homelander became, "...a complete fucking psychopath by accident."
    • Issue 66. It opens with Butcher killing Vas in a warehouse in Moscow. Hughie and Annie separate, Butcher promotes him to second-in-command, and the Boys are on hiatus for three months.
  • Wham Line:
    • "I think your tough old bastard war veteran's as much of an act as your kind-hearted English gentleman. I think you're a fake."
    • "I know, I know. You're the best mate a cunt like me could ask for. I don't deserve to fucking know you. But I ain't got no mates."
    • "I hate mean people."
    • "Heeeeeeeehn heeeeehn. I did things!"
  • Wolverine Claws:
    • Averted with Popclaw (the X-23 expy), an offhand comment says her single wrist-mounted blades were surgically implanted.
    • The comic's version of Wolverine instead has his forearms replaced with hammers. Which he doesn't even get to use.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Stormfront bigtime. Despite several references to him being second only to the Homelander, he loses an eye to the Female, whom he fails to kill, has his testicles crushed by Mother's Milk which causes him to abandon his team in a fight. He retreats again when Butcher blows glass in his other eye leaving the rest of Payback to die at Butcher's hands. He still inflicts enough injuries that The Boys become worried enough to call The Love Sausage in from Russia to help stomp him to death.
    • Meanwhile, Black Noir was explicitly designed to be superior to the Homelander so that he could take him down if Vought needed him to. In the end, after he is severely weakened by his offscreen fight with the Homelander, the military cuts him down with DU ammo before Butcher pries the top of his skull off with a crowbar.
      • Then again, he'd already served his purpose in killing the Homelander, the very reason for which he had been created.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Butcher threatens Rayner's children if she double-crosses them. Later he claims he wouldn't have done it, but...
    • Black Noir's eating children's hearts.
  • You Meddling Kids: Now in Highlands English.
    But I woulda got away wi' it, if it hadnae been for ye pesky interferin' wee cunts!

And there was nothing on the marker to explain to Mrs. Feathers why her only daughter had married a known thief and murderer, a man of notoriously violent and intemperate disposition.
Unforgiven, screenplay by David Webb Peoples

Example of: