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Series / The Boys (2019)
aka: The Boys

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Butcher: Supes lose hundreds of people each year to collateral damage... There's a fuck-sight more that happens that just gets swept right under the rug.
Hughie: Why?
Butcher: Ain't it obvious? Movie tickets, merchandising, theme parks, video games. A multi-billion dollar global industry supported by corporate lobbyists and politicians on both sides. But the main reason that you won't hear about it is 'cause the public don't want to know about it. See, people love that cozy feeling Supes give them. Some golden cunt to swoop out of the sky and save the day so you don't got to do it yourself. But if you knew half the shit they get up to? Ooh... [clicks tongue] fuckin' diabolical. But then... that's where I come in.
Hughie: Come in to... to do what?
Butcher: Spank the bastards when they get out of line.

The (other) deconstruction of the superhero genre.

The Boys is a television series airing on Prime Video and helmed by Eric Kripke of Supernatural fame, based on the Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson comic book of the same name. It premiered on July 26, 2019 and has completed airing its third season, which premiered on June 3, 2022. The series has been renewed for a fourth season.

The series takes place in a world where superhuman "Supes" are its own subset of celebrity culture, where they embrace all the darker aspects of having wealth and fame while enjoying the public view of them as paragons. The major caveat is that these super"heroes" are primarily a marketing tool exploited by Vought International, who go to extreme lengths to cover up their violence and decadence as they maximize profits. The story revolves around a group of vigilantes known loosely as "The Boys" who set out to take down corrupt superheroes with their blue-collar grit and willingness to fight dirty, all the while uncovering deeper secrets of Voughts' history.


The cast includes Karl Urban as Billy Butcher, Elisabeth Shue as Madelyn Stillwell, Erin Moriarty as Starlight, Antony Starr as Homelander, Dominique McElligott as Queen Maeve, Jessie T. Usher as A-Train, Chace Crawford as The Deep, Nathan Mitchell as Black Noir, Laz Alonso as Mother's Milk, Jack Quaid as "Wee" Hughie Campbell, Karen Fukuhara as Kimiko/"The Female", Tomer Kapon as Frenchie, Jennifer Esposito as CIA Agent Susan Raynor, and Simon Pegg as Hughie's father. Season 2 adds Aya Cash as Stormfront and Giancarlo Esposito as Vought CEO Stan Edgar (who appears in a cameo in Season 1). Season 3 adds Jensen Ackles as the "original superhero" Soldier Boy.

In September 2020, it was announced that a spinoff was in development, which will be set in a Vought-operated college for young adult supes who compete with one another for sponsorships and notoriety. Kripke later stated that it would be loosely inspired by the G-Men of the comics, who in turn were based on Marvel's X-Men. The spinoff would eventually be officially greenlit in September 2021, titled The Boys Presents: Varsity and have filming start in May 2022 with a plan to wrap up by October. In July 2022, the title was changed to Gen V. Another spinoff, an animated anthology titled The Boys: Diabolical, was announced in December 2021, consisting of eight episodes released on March 4, 2022, sometime before season three of the main series. Kripke has also expressed interest in releasing Super Porn scenes, which were produced in full but only glimpsed at in the second season.


General trope examples:

The Boys contains examples of:

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    A - F 
  • Accidental Murder:
    • A-Train accidentally kills Robin by racing through her at high speed, reducing her to a bloody pulp. Though this wasn't intentional, it was reckless and he shows zero remorse. It might actually qualify as murder or at least manslaughter as he's under the influence of V at the time, but he lies about what happened and most just take his word for it.
    • Popclaw accidentally pops her landlord's head as he performs oral sex on her, also while under the influence of V. Unlike A-Train, she at least has the decency to be horrified by what she's done.
    • Homelander accidentally kills an innocent bystander when he uses his eye-beams on a Supe terrorist. He genuinely had no idea the bystander was there, and is only worried about it later after video of the event goes viral, negatively affecting his popularity.
    • In the Season 2 finale, Ryan accidentally kills his mother Becca while trying to protect her from Stormfront.
    • In Season 3, after years of being subjected to torturous experiments by the Russians, Soldier Boy gains the ability to unleash a devastating energy blast from his chest. While he can usually control it, his hearing a Russian song on the radio that played during his confinement causes him to black out, lose control and unconsciously let loose with a blast. The first time this happens, he's in downtown New York, killing several innocents and destroying a nearby building. It happens again at Herogasm, causing him to obliterate most of TNT's home and killing a dozen of the attendees.
  • Adam Westing: Billy Zane appears as himself in a low-budget exploitation movie and again at a convention signing autographs. Tara Reid also appears as herself, waiting at an empty booth for someone to request an autograph while holding her lap dog.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change:
    • Kimiko in the comics (where her character is called "The Female of the Species") started out as a neglected infant who ate some Compound V waste and was traded out to Vought-American by her mother in exchange for a magazine subscription, which resulted in her being experimented on by the company until she was rescued by The Boys. In the show, she and her brother were kidnapped at a young age and brainwashed by an Asian terrorist group; she is being held captive by human traffickers, not scientists, when The Boys find her.
    • In the comics, Vought-American was a weapons manufacturer that produced cheaply-made, incompetently-designed planes and rifles for the U.S. military, and developed Compound V themselves with the help of a German scientist who they helped defect to the U.S. before the war. In the show, Vought International was founded after the war by a "reformed" Nazi war criminal who had developed Compound V by testing it on prisoners at Dachau; the company identifies itself as a pharmaceutical company rather than a weapons manufacturer.
  • Adaptational Badass: Just about all the supes. In the comic, they are all laughably incompetent - most of them can be effortlessly bested by regular soldiers, and the few that can't rely solely on being so ridiculously powerful that they can't help but eventually win any fight through sheer irresistable brute force. In the series, while they aren't any stronger (in fact their feats are generally weaker and Super Toughness is no longer omnipresent among them) and are still a lot more fallible than classic superheroes, most of them are genuinely quite skilled at using their powers and absolutely terrifying as enemies.
  • Adaptational Context Change: In the original comic, the Flight 37 incident that becomes Queen Maeve's breaking point was the real-life 9/11 attacks, and it happened before the events of that series.
  • Adaptational Skill: In the comics, the version of Compound V that The Boys use is basically just a physical booster giving them Super Strength and Super Toughness. In the series it bestows a specific superpower on each user such as Eye Beams or Teleportation.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Due to supes as a whole being a lot more capable in the show, including the show version of Soldier Boy being a One-Man Army during WW2, Vought International's inability to get involved in the military makes much less sense than it did in the comic where their prior attempts had been catastrophic. Season 3 finally tackles this by showing a disastrous attempt by supes to aid in a military action. They also point out that much of Soldier Boy's supposed contribution to the war effort was fictional. Thus, when it comes to Supes in national defense, Soldier Boy was an exception, and not a particularly exceptional one.
  • Adaptational Heroism: While the Supes are still as hedonistic and depraved as the comic, unlike the comic, the Supes don't just sit around collecting royalties and being little more than publicity figures with powers. They actually do help to stop crimes, even if the crimes are carefully selected by Vought for the maximum PR. Whereas in the comic, they were legally barred from actually doing any vigilante work.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Hughie is Scottish in the comic, while Rebecca Butcher is English, and Jonah Vogelbaum is German. Here they're all American.
  • Adaptational Sexuality:
    • At first it's left unclear if Queen Maeve is a closeted lesbian or bisexual as she dated Homelander (which was done mostly to keep an acceptable public image) and dated a civilian woman before, even though she is only involved with men in the comic. Homelander later outs her as a lesbian in Season 2, on national TV no less (she's actually bisexual, but Vought's PR team just sticks with "lesbian" as it's "easier").
    • Popclaw is a closeted lesbian in the comics, but straight (or at least only shown having sex with men) in the show.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • The Deep in the comics is a minor character bordering on Advertised Extra and is only guilty of being a member of the Seven and going along with Homelander's plan. In the show, he is a serial sexual harasser. Notably, he's the only one involved in Starlight's "final test," while in the comics he's one of the two males in the Seven who didn't take part.
    • Somehow, Vought is presented as being more evil than they were in the comics. In the comics, even though they were a highly corrupt corporation, their attempts to push the wider adoption of Supes was limited to political power plays and appealing to public opinion. In the series, however, it is revealed that Vought uses their Supes to outright blackmail and even assassinate politicians who don't play ball with them. They're also revealed to be smuggling Compound V to terrorist groups in a bid to convince the US armed forces to adopt Supes through false flag operations. While that was later revealed to be all Homelander's plan, Stillwell is ecstatic when she hears about it, almost saying she wishes it had been her plan. The Supes' assorted damages are also portrayed as the result of Vought's corporate exploitation of them.
  • Adaptation Deviation: As said in the subtrope examples, a whole lot in the show is completely different compared to the comic series it is based on. Examples being changed include some characters' races, nationalities, genders, personalities, backstories, and roles being switched or mixed together.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The show gives much larger roles to The Seven beyond Homelander and Starlight. The other team members had little character development in the comics (particularly the Deep and A-Train).
  • Adapted Out:
    • Downplayed as Teenage Kix is referenced a few times, but no active members appear, and The Boys don't target them as their "warning shot" to the Supes.
    • Stormfront, Eagle the Archer, and Tek-Knight are independent heroes and appear to have never been a part of the second-rate team Payback.
    • Jack From Jupiter is replaced on The Seven by Translucent. Oh Father is replaced by Ezekiel.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Frenchie calls The Female "mon coeur" or "my heart" in lieu of a name before he learns it. He continues to do so even after he finds out what her name is.
    • Frenchis refers to Jack Quaid's character as "Petit Hughie" and sometimes "Wee Hughie". Frenchie considers them affectionate nicknames; Hughie does not.
      Hughie: Will you stop calling me that? I'm, like, six feet tall.
    • Frenchie also calls his female assistant "Cherie", and MM "Mon Ami" (my friend). He occasionally refers to Billy as "Monsieur Charcuter" (Mr. Butcher).
  • All for Nothing:
    • Butcher. His entire motivation in the series (and comic) is that Homelander raped and got his wife killed. Not only is she still alive, but she tearfully refuses Billy's attempt to rescue her because of her love for her son, whom she knows Billy views as a monster because of his father.
    • Starlight is extorted for oral sex by The Deep on pretty much her first day. He claims he's the number 2 in the organization, and that if she doesn't do what he says, she'll get kicked out. Starlight finds out on her own after the encounter that he's pretty much a nobody in the group. Saying no to his demands and explaining what he did would have stirred up minimal trouble for her at best.
    • Throughout Season 2, the Boys attempt to gather evidence and witnesses to try and finally expose Vought. To say it goes sideways would be an understatement. It starts with them attempting to inform Raynor about Vought, which immediately ends when her head explodes. Their next move is to infiltrate a Supe breeding facility, where they find a key witness in Lamplighter. That fails when all the prisoners escape and Lamplighter just kills himself an episode later. Even when they manage to get an actual hearing in front of Congress, that goes wrong as their star witnesses and several others in the hearing also have their heads exploded, one after the other.
      • We find out in the season finale that any attempt at gathering witnesses to testify against Vought was going to be pointless as Congresswoman Neuman is the head exploder. Season 3 takes it a step further by revealing that Neuman was Stan Edgar's adopted daughter the whole time and she is only pretending to go against Vought so they would be able to control the political opposition to them.
    • This is the main reason Hughie decides to reluctantly embrace Butcher's methods. Tired of being constantly outmaneuvered by Vought when trying to bring them down the "right way", he tells Annie that they have to be prepared to do anything, no matter how violent or outside the law.
  • All There in the Manual: The show's site on Amazon reveals a few tidbits about the characters; Butcher was in the SAS, and MM is out to avenge his father's death (both details that eventually end up coming out in Season 2).
  • Alternate History:
    • In the show's universe, superheroes have been around at least since the '60s. You wouldn't be able to tell from the way society is more or less the same compared to our world. This gets called into question as of episode 6: The Boys discover from their encounter with the super baby the previous episode that Vought has been creating Supes since 1971 using their charities as cover. This is the same episode where Stillwell outright admits that Vought similarly manufactured the entire "superhero mythology" for public consumption.
    • Season 2 Episode 1 finally has Stan Edgar reveal Compound V has its origins in Dachau, 1939, where Frederick Vought was a Nazi scientist who experimented on the camp's prisoners, hoping to create a Super Soldier. By early 1944, he realized Germany was going to lose and defected to the United States, bringing with him the first practical applications of Compound V and earning a pardon from Franklin Roosevelt for his crimes.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • Translucent, Popclaw, Mesmer and Madelyn Stillwell in the first season.
    • Naqib, Susan Raynor, Kenji, Doppelganger, Lamplighter, Dr. Vogelbaum, Shockwave, Rebecca Butcher and Alastair Adana in the second season.
    • Stormfront, Gunpowder, Swatto, Supersonic, Crimson Countess, The TNT Twins, Blue Hawk, Termite, Mindstorm, and Black Noir in the third season.
  • Archetypal Character: It's implied and discussed in various episodes of Season 2 that the Seven always has someone with Super Speed as part of the team — previously it was Mr. Marathon. Once A-Train starts having issues due to Compound V abuse, he's laid off and Shockwave is hired for his spot. Once Shockwave gets killed by the head-exploding assassin and Stormfront is outed as a Nazi, A-Train is welcomed back to the Seven despite previous problems, solely because they really need someone with Super Speed for the marketing and getting a black guy after Stormfront's debacle would improve Vought's image.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • While Stillwell is trying to get Starlight to play ball with Vought's corporate image, bringing up the fact that lots of people work very hard to create Starlight the Superhero, Starlight responds that she never asked for any of it. Stillwell asks "Then why don't you burn the sparkly outfit and become a cop?" Starlight has no answer.
    • When Billy calls Hughie out for dating Annie, the latter asks how being loyal to a dead woman who doesn't know and doesn't care works out for him. Suddenly, the whole room is filled with stunned silence.
    • Frenchie gives one to M.M during a conversation about love and marriage, asking "If you and Monique have something so pure, why are you lying to her about where you are?" M.M doesn't respond.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: In the Season 2 finale, Maeve gives one to Homelander when she blackmails him into letting Billy and Ryan go with the video proof of him allowing the plane to crash back in Season 1.
    Maeve: [showing Homelander the video] Let them go. You're gonna stop hunting Starlight, you're gonna leave me and Elena alone... or I release this.
    Homelander: If you do that... I'll destroy everything and everyone.
    Maeve: Great. As long as everyone sees what a fucking monster you are. As long as no one... ever loves you again.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • The soldier who appears in the protest in episode 5 of season 2 has a full-color unit patch instead of the subdued (green and black) version which would be worn. Besides this, his collar is up, which is typically only worn when using firearms. Military personnel are also barred from participating in protests while in uniform.
    • In Episode 7 of Season 2, Billy is chastised for running away to "join the SAS." It's unclear whether this means that he entered the SAS directly from being a civilian, as this would be impossible in real life. Only experienced members of the British military can transfer into the SAS, so Billy would likely have first joined the Royal Marines, as he explicitly did in the comics. The SAS Reserves do recruit civilians, but no one ever describes him as a Reserves member.
    • MM mentions having been a field medic in the past, while the site mentions him being an ex-Marine. There is no such thing as a Marine medic. The role that implies is fulfilled by Navy Hospital Corpsmen.
  • Artistic License – Religion: The Islamic super-terrorist has Arabic text tattooed on his chest, apparently to show how fanatical he is. However, it's unlikely that a Muslim fanatic would have such tattoos. They are prohibited in most interpretations of Sunni Islam, and in Shia Islam they are either considered offensive or outright prohibited depending on the type of ink used.
  • As Himself: In-Universe. There is a Vought Cinematic Universe where superheroes play themselves in movies and television shows.
    • Jimmy Fallon has Translucent on his show.
    • Seth Rogen has a cameo where he is the director of the Black Noir movie. Season 2 reveals that he's directing the Translucent movie as well. Season 3 has him show up as the patron of a camgirl.
    • Billy Zane was in a movie with Popclaw, and shows up at a comic con meet and greet later. He later goes on to play Alastair Adana in a made-for-TV movie based on the Deep's memoir.
    • Tara Reid shows up at a fan meet and greet. She has a poster behind her of a superhero movie she was in, in-universe.
    • Maria Menounos interviews various members of the Seven at different points.
    • Greg Grunberg is one of the stars of Dawn of the Seven.
    • Dateline's Chris Hansen appears briefly to give exposition on The Boys' wanted status on TV.
    • Charlize Theron plays Stormfront in a highly fictional Vought film about her clash with the Seven.
  • Badass in Distress: Towards the end of season 1, Frenchie, Milk and the Female are all captured.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: In-Universe:
    • Homelander films a documentary to try and garner sympathy towards militarizing superheroes. He tells stories about his mother and father, playing little league, and birthday cakes. None of it ever happened.
    • Starlight calls Maeve out on this, stating how she read Maeve's biography so much she wore it out and had to buy a second copy, idolized Maeve, and wanted to be just like her. She specifically cites an incident where Maeve broke every bone in her arm stopping a school bus from going off a bridge, then visited all the kids in physical therapy to help inspire their recovery. Now, she's pretty sure it was all made up by the marketing department and none of it really happened. Subverted in the last episode of season 1, Maeve shows Starlight that her radius never healed completely straight, and she really did break every bone in her arm stopping that bus, so that part of the story at least is true.
  • Bed Trick: A US Senator thinks he's having some kinky sex with a cute, young, female bartender. Instead, he's with a Vought shapeshifter who, after blindfolding him, assumes the form of an overweight, middle-aged male for blackmail purposes.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Homelander may be all smiles in front of cameras and large crowds of fans, but underneath his public image he's one of the most Ax-Crazy Supes of them all, and he has several such buttons to accentuate it: he blows up over a reminder of his childhood Security Blanket, don't lie to him and, as of Season 2's ending, don't insult Stormfront or remind him of her death.
    • After being continuously babied by his father into young adulthood, Hughie does not like being demeaned for his youthful looks, and it's implied to be what tilts him toward going through with blowing up Translucent. Mocking his friends or loved ones is also enough to make him look ready to punch Homelander in the face.
    • Reminding Butcher of his wife Becca is a bad idea. Hughie rightly calling Butcher out on the bullshit of his "I'm doing this for Becca" justification for his all-consuming and toxic vendetta against Supes causes both M.M. and Frenchie to shit bricks in a way which implies that if anyone else had said that in Hughie's place, they would've met a very nasty retribution.
    • One trait Homelander's son Ryan has in common with his biological father? He hates being lied to. Also, don't hurt or threaten his mother — doing so gives him the incentive to push Homelander down, and to burn Stormfront to nothing more than a torso, a head and an arm.
  • Beware the Superman: One of the series' main themes. Superheroes, just like normal human characters in this world, are at best individuals dealing with serious issues and at worst are villains drunk on power.
    • Homelander is the most obvious example of this since he is actually a twisted Superman Substitute.
    • Billy Butcher invokes the trope as justification for his hatred of all "supes", most prominently expressed during the group therapy scene. How much of it is genuine and how much is it just an excuse he uses to deal with personal trauma is left for the viewer to decide.
    • Stormfront seems like a strong, no-bullshit female role model, and a likeable new addition to the Seven... before it's revealed that she's a murderous racist who slaughters an entire apartment building full of innocent African-Americans to take out Kimiko's brother.
  • Big Applesauce: Much of the action takes place in New York City, where Vought is headquartered.
  • Black Comedy: The show is filled with gory and graphic black humor from Transluscent getting blown into gibs from an internal bomb to Mother's Milk getting garroted by an elongated super penis.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: The Deep, being able to talk to sea life, leads to three of these moments, with a Friendly, Playful Dolphin being run over by a truck, the lobster he wanted to save being cut open up by the staff at the supermarket, and a whale he put in front of The Boys being rammed by a speedboat.
  • Blackmail: Given that Supes and Vought Industries are a Slave to PR, this makes them open to this.
    • The mayor of Baltimore threatens to reveal the existence of Compound V unless Madelyn Stillwell agrees to a lower price for Vought's services, so Homelander kills him on his own initiative. Stillwell in turn blackmails a senator by having Doppelganger have sex with him first in the female form, then changing to a man after he's been blindfolded, something voters in his home state wouldn't tolerate.
    • Hughie blackmails Ezekiel over him having gay sex at a private club, to get info on Compound V shipments.
    • The Boys blackmail Popclaw over her accidental killing of her landlord. They cleaned it up for her, but promise to undo that if she doesn't come through with the information they need.
    • Starlight "soft" blackmails Stillwell, and by extension Vought. Stillwell is trying to get Starlight to toe the company line, and Starlight flat-out refuses. When Stillwell states that if she isn't going to cooperate, they'll have to re-examine her position in The Seven, Starlight replies that firing her after she alleged sexual assault on live TV would tank Vought's stock prices. Starlight herself doesn't have to actually do or threaten anything here, Stillwell quite understands how well this would go in a post-#MeToo world.
    • When A-Train threatens to expose Starlight for rescuing The Boys from custody, Starlight threatens to expose him for the murder of Popclaw.
    • Starlight blackmails Gecko with video of him renting his regenerative body for sadists to hack pieces off; he steals a vial of Compound V that Starlight leaks to the media. Stormfront finds out about this and threatens to tell Vought, whereupon Starlight threatens to expose her as the 1970's superhero Liberty.
    • Butcher manages to save himself and the others from certain death at the hands of Black Noir by blackmailing Edgar with pictures proving that Homelander is a father, and the child a product of rape. It's strongly implied he's bluffing about the photos, but the Vought CEO can't take the risk.
    • In season 2, Secretary of Defense Robert Singer invokes this trope when Mallory tries to strong-arm him to keep opposing Vought. He tells her that he would rather take a fallout for whatever the hell Mallory has on him, even if that's some kinky sex tape, than let the situation on hand escalate any further without solid proof against Vought's Inside Job attack on a Congressional hearing against them.
    • Queen Maeve blackmails Homelander about the crashing plane they abandoned. Unfortunately, while it initially seems to work, Homelander tells Starlight in season 3 that revealing the tape and destroying his reputation would simply allow him to become The Unfettered, killing millions and taking over the world for himself.
  • Book Ends:
    • Starlight's Season 1 arc starts and ends with her throwing up in the bathroom and getting a pep talk from Maeve.
    • The finales of seasons 1 and 2 both frame the climactic face-off between Billy and Homelander in the same scene as a woman gets blinded and killed by laser vision in front of her young child. In season 2, the blinded woman and the killed one are 2 separate people, but the laser vision causes catastrophic injury to both.
    • Season 3 begins and ends among the ruins of Vought Tower. In the first episode, it's merely part of a Seven movie. In the finale, it's for real as a result of Soldier Boy going nuclear just outside of the building.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: In season 3, the Boys' internal conflict regarding Soldier Boy. MM and Starlight want him taken out, while Butcher and Hughie team up with him against Homelander. On the one hand, Soldier Boy is extremely unstable and leaves corpses in his wake whenever his powers get out of control, and MM has as legitmiate a grievance against him as Butcher has against Homelander or Hughie against A-Train. On the other hand, Soldier Boy is their best chance against Homelander, who is far worse and an active threat against Ryan's safety.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • The show opens by destroying Hughie and Starlight. Hughie gets left on the street holding all that remains of his girlfriend after a "hero" plows through her. Starlight gets raped by another "hero" in return for being allowed into the seven.
    • Homelander's backstory. From flashbacks and recollections, we can piece together Homelander as a sweet child who liked to cuddle and listen to stories, but whose isolated upbringing in a laboratory cell turned him into a depressed and violent narcissist. As an adult, Homelander's desperation for affection motivates all his decisions.
  • Brick Joke: In Stormfront's first big scene, she rolls her eyes at the "Girls Get It Done" feminist marketing gimmick she's made to be apart of, labeling it as silly and pandering. Later in the season, she's subjected to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by three superheroines. Frenchie exclaims, "Girls do get it done!"
  • Burner Phones: Whenever any one of The Boys calls the others and says something along the lines of "I've been burned," they will all throw their phones on the ground, smashing them, and hightail it out of there before the authorities, Vought security, or The Seven get too close.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday:
    • A running gag is that A-Train doesn't remember running Robin over or his apology to Hughie, which allows Hughie to completely slip beneath his notice for quite some time.
    • Downplayed when Homelander doesn't recognize Butcher (whose wife he raped) when he sees Butcher glaring at him at the racetrack but quickly puts the pieces together after Mesmer informs him The Boys are gunning for The Seven. With some prodding, A-Train then remembers Hughie.
    • Exploited by Hughie when he pretends to have had sex with Ezekiel in a club.
    • When MM finally confronts Soldier Boy and tells the supe that he killed MM's family, Soldier Boy's response is just an utterly indifferent "Which one?".
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • There are many characters added to the show who were not present in the comics, including Translucent (who replaces Jack from Jupiter in The Seven), Ezekiel (who replaces Oh Father), Mesmer, Doppelganger, Cherie (Frenchie's girlfriend), Starlight's mother (who was only briefly mentioned in the comics), and Ashley Barret.
    • Season 2 adds Kenji, Alistair Adana and the Church of the Collective, and Cindy.
    • Season 3 introduces Termite, Blue Hawk, The TNT Twins and Mindstorm.
  • Casting Gag:
    • Hughie's father is played by Simon Pegg, who was the model for Hughie in the original comic.
    • The pyrokinetic Lamplighter is played by Shawn Ashmore, who previously played the cryokinetic Iceman in the X-Men movies. Even more amusing, Lamplighter appears to require a source of fire to manipulate (his ostentatious torch pole during his days as Lamplighter, and ordinary Zippo lighter now), which was the same limitation faced by Iceman's nemesis in those films, Pyro, who also used an ordinary Zippo before graduating to full-fledged supervillain.
    • Stormfront is a violently racist white supremacist who wears Nazi-like designs and is clearly named after the neo-Nazi website. She's played by Aya Cash, a Jewish actress.
    • Haley Joel Osment plays a Supe who was a Former Child Star, before largely disappearing into obscurity. For bonus points, he's most famously known for having Psychic Powers (although in-universe, the powers are real).
    • Giancarlo Esposito plays the CEO of a shady enterprise whose secret wonder weapon is a drug of a certain blue color. Where have we seen that before?
    • Karl Urban and Simon Pegg previously co-starred in the Star Trek (2009) reboot films as McCoy and Scotty, respectively. In those films though, the accents they used were reversed: Urban was the Fake American and Pegg (though an actual native Briton), adopted a very thick Scottish accent.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Butcher has a tendency to use "diabolical" to mean anything from "exceptionally sinister" to "unspeakably awesome."
    • Whenever Homelander shows up to a crime scene, he always stops before going in and tells the first responders, "You guys are the real heroes."
    • Ashley, the first PR rep in charge of handling Starlight, responds to Starlight's statements of what she wants or thinks she wants to do or be with "And that is why we love you," before basically telling her the exact opposite because that's what Vought thinks is most marketable.
    • A lesser example, but MM is very fond of calling people "motherfucker".
  • Caught on Tape:
    • Annie gets caught on camera fighting a group of rapists, which blows her secret identity.
    • Billy gains a blackmail material on Popclaw after she accidently kills a man while having sex with him.
    • When A-Train revisits the sex tapes of him and Popclaw, he stumbles upon the footage showing the Boys and especially Frenchie's face.
    • As it turns out, passenger on the plane abandoned by Maeve and Homelander were recording the whole thing. At least one of these clips survived and Maeve uses it later to successfully blackmail Homelander.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The Seven make a number of jokes about Deep wanting to have sex with dolphins, which he vehemently denies. Based on his later conversations with the dolphin he tries to rescue, it appears The Seven were correct.
  • Church of Happyology: The "Church of the Collective" in Season 2 is clearly a parody of Scientology in how it disseminates literature, discourages conventional therapy, and recruits superheroes the same way Scientology recruits celebrities. Even the way the church organizes auditions for being The Deep's girlfriend is similar to how Scientology reportedly auditioned girlfriends for Tom Cruise. The Deep also mentions the church's religious doctrine involving "cosmic zygotes", a clear jab at the Scientologist belief that human beings are possessed by alien spirits called "body thetans".
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Everyone here swears like they've got a big quota to meet. Even the seven year old kid gets in on the action.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Super Serum Compound V is colored blue while Temp V is colored green.
  • Coming of Age Story: The late bloomer variety for Hughie and Starlight.
    • Hughie is mentally a child as he's still treated like one, holds onto his childhood with both hands, and is shown to be living a stagnant lifestyle while with his girlfriend, Robin, who had to ask him out on a first date because he never took the initiative to do so. After Robin is killed, Hughie's mundane life is pulled from under his feet and he tumbles down to adulthood when he experiences injustice for the first time when A-Train doesn't get any punishment for Robin's death and Hughie realizes that his own father can't provide the closure he's looking for. When Hughie kills Translucent, it signifies the loss of his innocence but it doesn't make him feel like an adult, as it instead leaves him with severe PTSD that only gets worse in season 2. His relationship with Annie has him slowly growing more mature as he starts taking the initiative and shedding his naivete while still maintaining his optimistic determination.
    • Before her initiation into The Seven, Annie was sexually naive and idealistic about justice. After being forced to perform oral sex on The Deep, Annie tumbles into adulthood after learning the inherent depravity of supes, the blatant hypocrisy and injustice brought in by Vought International, and the story has shaken her faith in a higher power. As she's forced to stay quiet about the assault, portray herself as virginal, and hold herself to an unrealistic standard. Starlight makes her first adult decision by breaking-character during a seminar to reveal how she was sexually assaulted by The Deep. Like Hughie, Starlight's loss of innocence doesn't harden her in the way it was intended to, as it makes her ruthless, violent, and manipulative.
  • Composite Character: The show's version of Stan Edgar is one of both the comic's Edgar (Vought CEO) and James Stillwell (utterly unflappable corporate operator capable of intimidating even Homelander). This is especially prevalent in Season 3, where many of Stillwell's moments from the comics are given to Stan, including having him deliver a version of Stillwell's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Homelander after being ousted as CEO.
  • Content Warning:
    • "Herogasm" starts with one, owing to the large amount of debauchery in it.
    Some scenes may not be suitable for some, really most, let's be honest, all viewers. But rest assured that any consensual relationships depicted, be they human, animal, superhero, or other, aren't real, harmed no one, and in fact cost a hilariously large amount of money in visual effects.
    • "Here Comes A Candle To Light You To Bed" starts with a more straight forward one, owing to it exploring themes of abuse and suicide.
    • A scene of Soldier Boy's in universe film Red Thunder was released on social media with a parody of the kind attached to various Disney and Warner Bros. properties.
    This film portrays Soldier Boy as a hero of the American people. Though his time in Russian captivity radicalized him to the point where he took the life of Vought's bravest lesbian, Queen Maeve, that should not dissuade us from remembering his time as a defender of democracy and freedom. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact so that we may all learn the lessons of history, together. Viewer discretion is advised.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In Season 3, The Boys learn that the Russians killed Soldier Boy during the Cold War using some sort of anti-supe weapon, and they investigate it as a possible lead to kill Homelander despite the low odds of success. They don't find the weapon, but instead they unexpectedly find Soldier Boy who somehow now has an anti-supe power, so the plot continues. Made even more contrived by the fact that later in the season the viewer learns there never was an anti-supe weapon at all: Soldier Boy was originally defeated with nerve gas during a betrayal by his team.
  • Country Matters: Butcher is quite fond of the word, to the point that it's his go-to insult. He also uses it as a compliment, but that's much rarer.
    Hughie: You know, you're always calling people "cunts" or "twats," but I just... I never really got how that's an insult? They're flexible, take a pounding, and they're the reason behind, like, 98% of my life decisions.
    Butcher: (smirks) You're a good cunt.
  • Create Your Own Villain:
    • Literally, as Homelander engineers a plan to distribute Compound V to the terrorists around the world and soup them up with the drug, creating supervillains for Vought to send the Seven after and justify Supes enlisting in the United States military.
    • This actually kicks off the series when A-Train runs through Robin and sets Hughie on the path of revenge.
    • It's later revealed that Homelander created Butcher when he raped Butcher's wife and she disappeared shortly after that.
  • Crossover: The characters are used in an episode of the Rooster Teeth web series DEATH BATTLE! pitting the Seven against each other (and Billy Butcher). Black Noir doesn't participate, instead of keeping an eye on hosts Wiz and Boomstick and Billy technically wins before Homelander, who didn't even fight at all, casually lands on top of him, reducing him to a smear.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Any normal person killed by a Supe qualifies. A-Train runs right into Robin in episode 1, leaving nothing but a puddle of goo. Then there's Popclaw bursting her landlord's head with her thighs as he's giving her oral sex, and Termite, who inadvertently returns to his regular size while inside another guy's penis. Yes, there's a theme. Note that these are only the accidental murders - Supes can be even nastier when doing it on purpose.
    • When The Female escapes from her cage, after seeing what she did to the other guards the last guard Ate His Gun rather than suffer the same fate.
    • Homelander scares the living hell out of Stillwell simply by holding her baby. When he gets her to admit that she's scared of him, he thanks her, kisses her, and then zaps her right in the face.
    • Several characters in Season 2 have their heads suddenly explode by a mysterious assassin, including Raynor, Vogelbaum, Shockwave and several others at the hearing. This turns out to be the work of Congresswoman Victoria Neuman, who may or may not be a Vought spy, considering everyone of note who had their head exploded was on the verge of revealing Vought secrets.
    • A-Train shows exactly how intentionally dangerous he can be when he grabs Blue Hawk by the ankle and drags him down the highway at super speed, leaving him a ground-up, bloody mess.
  • Cure Your Gays: Ezekiel's main selling point is that he truly believes that through the power of prayer, a person can become straight. At Believe Expo, Starlight even sees a poster of Homelander that says "Feeling Confused? Fly Straight", and the festival just serves as a way to market this to the world at large by sponsoring superheroes. Ezekiel personally knows the opposite, and lives as a closeted gay man.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Billy explaining to Mesmer what he is going to do with him if he talks to anyone.
    "You tell anyone what you saw or heard here today, and I'll cut your hands off and shove 'em so far up your ass, your fingers'll give us a little wave out your throat."
  • Darker and Edgier: Than all the other superhero movies out there. Certainly darker than the MCU, and even darker than the DCEU, which mostly at least tries to stick to Thou Shalt Not Kill. In the first episode alone, one member of The Seven covers a man's hand in molten iron, another accidentally kills a woman and doesn't care, a third tries to kill two civilians, a fourth rapes a fifth on her first day on the team, and the first one kills a man, his son, and the crew of his private plane to keep company secrets.
  • Dating Catwoman: Billy thinks this is happening between Hughie and Starlight. Hughie tries to explain that Starlight was never part of the enemy faction to begin with but Billy wouldn't hear it.
  • Dead Man's Switch: To protect his life during his showdown with Homelander, Billy carries a detonator in his hand which would blow up the explosive vest Stillwell is wearing if activated. Homelander doesn't care and moves on to kill Stillwell himself, thus removing any last threat Billy could pose to him.
  • Decomposite Character: Black Noir from the comics was Homelander's clone who was created to kill the latter and the only one strong enough to kill him, but due to never receiving the kill order, he grew unstable and manipulated Homelander to become insane so Black Noir would be allowed by his superiors to kill him. In the TV show, he is split in three characters.
    • Black Noir has a similar suit, but is not Homelander's clone, as he is a black man who existed before Homelander was born. He is killed by Homelander in Season 3.
    • Alot of the original Black Noir's personality are directly given to Homelander, instead of the latter going insane because of Black Noir gaslighting him.
    • Black Noir's attribute of being the only one strong enough to kill Homelander are instead given to Soldier Boy. But unlike comic-Noir, Soldier Boy goal to kill Homelander out of a deal with The Boys, instead of it being his sole reason for being.
  • Destroy the Product Placement: Or rather, Associate the Product Placement With the Villains. Season two makes the citrus soft drink Fresca the drink of choice for the Church of the Collective, to the point where any mention of Fresca carries sinister connotations.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Despite it being fairly well established that a child deprived of love and affection will turn out profoundly psychologically damaged, Vought decided to test that theory again on a baby with Superman-grade powers. Completely unsurprisingly, the result (Homelander) is a borderline mad dog with a glaring Lack of Empathy and a barely veiled contempt for humanity.
    • Stan Edgar brings in Stormfront on the Seven to teach Homelander a lesson. However, Stormfront is a Nazi, and ends up corrupting Homelander further.
    • The Boys force Lamplighter to become their spy within the Seven through blackmail, and regularly taunt him about it directly to his face despite making him spy on freakin' Homelander. Needless to say, Lamplighter retaliates to being backed into a corner the first chance he gets resulting in the tragic deaths of Mallory's grandchildren. That turned out to be an accident; the intended target was supposed to be Mallory, not the kids.
    • After learning from their mistakes of raising Homelander like a lab rat and how damaging it was for his personality, Vought decides to let Becca raise Ryan in a friendly, home environment. What they failed to comprehend is how this is still a very small and very controlled environment, leaving Ryan utterly incapable of handling social interactions, crowds or simply people he never met before, not to mention being over-stimulated by just about anything. It seems that the parts of their plan that did succeed - not raising an egotistical megalomaniac with superpowers - left him with different set of problems, most of which could be easily avoided from the start by organising his "cage" differently.
    • Homelander forces Stan Edgar out of the company and takes over management of Vought International, the entire corporation. He does it purely for being in charge and not having anyone looming over him. But since he's a a Flying Brick with potentially no formal education whatsoever, not to mention business one (or even basic acumen), the very first board meeting goes completely sideways, for he has no idea what the other board members are even asking fornote . The only thing he can come up with is scaring them into compliance, but it is made crystal clear he has no idea how to run the whole thing even on the most basic level and didn't even anticipate such situation.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • There's no mention of Stillwell's baby's father. Since she got pregnant through IVF, he might just have been an anonymous sperm donor.
    • Starlight's dad left when she was pretty young. At first, she believes this was because he lost their money. Then later she suspects it's because he couldn't take how she'd been given superpowers.
    • Mesmer is one to his daughter, who barely knows him. He doesn't have custody of her, but does want more contact. Still, he realizes that isn't really what she wants, and backs away.
    • Homelander is revealed to have been one involuntarily, as he has a son that was kept secret from him.
  • Disposable Woman: Both Hughie and Billy Butcher are motivated by the deaths of a female character. It turns out that Billy's wife wasn't actually dead.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Surprisingly subverted as part of The Deep's Trauma Conga Line. After getting bounced from The Seven to Sandusky, Ohio, he invites a groupie to his apartment for some playtime. She first laughs at his gills, then pins him to the couch, putting her fingers in them despite him telling her repeatedly it hurts, then rapes him while sticking her fingers in those painful spots. The scene is shot and scored such that it's obviously not deserved comeuppance for his sexual assault of Starlight, and while it plays a role in what's either going to be Character Development or a complete breakdown going forward, what happened to him is still shown as wrong.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In Season 1, the superheroes are seen doing actual crimefighting against genuine criminals like bank-robbers and mass-shooters and whatnot; sure they were sloppy as all hell and with zero regard for environmental destruction and excessive force, of course, but they were out there. Later seasons firmly establish that they rarely deal with any threats that Vought doesn't just make up for them (IE the "Super-Terrorists") and they're mostly just glorified movie-stars with little actual law-enforcement duties.
  • Easter Egg: Make sure to periodically check Amazon Prime's X-Ray feature, as beyond the usual cast bios and general trivia, there are quite a few extra jokes thrown in.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Via adaptation. "Wee Hughie" was an affectionate nickname used both in and out of The Boys, with Frenchie changing it to "petit Hughie" (literally, "little Hughie"). Here, Frenchie just starts calling Hughie that, probably referencing his Naïve Newcomer status, and Hughie doesn't particularly appreciate it. Likely because he's a full head taller than the guy giving him the nickname.
    Frenchie: Don't be scared, petit Hughie.
    Hughie: Will you stop calling me that? I'm, like, six feet tall.
  • Enemy Civil War: Season two starts exploring confrontations within the Seven and Vought upper management, with side deals being made and longstanding resentment reaching a boiling point. This is before you even include Starlight as the Inside Man running interference that helps The Boys goals.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The first episode goes out of its way to demonstrate that this is not part of the MCU, that all of the supes are assholes. It opens with extreme violence, proceeds to murder, then rape, corporate malfeasance, a super opening up on two normal people, and ends with the murder of a child.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Starlight, to symbolize how she gave up on her morals and Hughie, dons the stripperific outfit Vought made for her and goes to the corporate party. She switches back for the finale.
  • Executive Ball Clicker: Billy meets up with Raynor in her office. She has a Newton's cradle on her desk which he starts playing with while comparing the balls to his grandfather's "bollocks flopping in the wind". Raynor is not amused about this comparison.
  • Expy Coexistence: After leaving the Church of the Collective, The Deep becomes a cult survival spokesperson and refers to himself as "the next Leah Remini". Remini is one of the most prominent Scientology whistleblowers, so unless in this universe she was a CotC member, both cults exist alongside each other.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Translucent often appears fully nude and, while he's not a bad looking guy, the scenes have him spying on other people or else being locked up.
    • Any time Elisabeth Shue's breasts are partially shown, the context is usually disturbing; Homelander spying on her milking them to breastfeed her baby, or else their creepy foreplay where she makes him drink her breast milk.
    • The third episode gives Hughie a Shirtless Scene...while he's washing off Translucent's blood after blowing him to smithereens. He's clearly traumatized during this.
    • Starlight is made to wear a Hotter and Sexier costume, and in a public appearance she has to deal with perverts catcalling her as she bends over for a picture with a little girl.
    • The first time we see The Deep shirtless, he's in really good shape, but then we see he has gills on his torso, and the scene descends into rape from a female fan.
    • More than one scene has a sex act seemingly being performed by a beautiful woman in lingerie...only for it to turn out to be Doppelganger who will still be wearing the lingerie after turning back.
    • Popclaw dons a sexy black nightie for foreplay with her landlord, who she's extorting rent money from with the act. Then she accidentally crushes his head with her thighs.
    • We get a prominent shot of Stormfront's cleavage, her even opening her top to make them more Homelander is burning her chest with his eye beams.
    • Termite is a Hunk who gets Male Frontal Nudity in the Season 3 premiere. Then he accidentally makes a man explode from the inside and remains fully nude while covered in blood and guts.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Mallory and especially Butcher express hatred for all supes.
    • Implied to be the case with Edgar regarding Homelander, explaining why he hates him so much (along with Homelander's psychotic antics). He keeps referring to him as "asset" and "product", which may be in reference to how Homelander was born and raised in a lab by scientists.
  • Fetishes Are Weird: The only characters depicted as having fetishes are all villains. As for the sympathetic characters, like Hughie and Starlight, they all have completely vanilla sex lives without any kind of kink involved.
    • Homelander is a complete sociopath and narcissist who has a mommy/milk fetish.
    • A-Train is a self-centered narcissist who likes having his feet worshipped.
    • Soldier Boy also has a thing for grannies, which is just used to show how depraved his hedonism is.
  • Fictional Counterpart: The Deep is a spokesman for Oceanland, a thinly-veiled expy of SeaWorld, complete with controversies over its animal handling practices. The Deep wants to improve the conditions for the animals there, Vought wants him to be the poster boy for a lucrative ad campaign.
  • Flipping the Bird: The NYCC teaser ends with the titular team doing this collectively in response to a Vought commercial.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The season 2 premiere quickly uses this to establish its key villains without giving away their true motivations or identities. Immediately after the Head Exploder's first kill, the show cuts to Congresswoman Neuman on TV decrying Vought. Additionally, one of Stormfront's first words is praising Homelander's blue eyes.
    • One which uses the audience's meta knowledge. Lamplighter is an Expy of Pyro from the X-Men Film Series. He's played by Shawn Ashmore. Shawn Ashmore played Bobby Drake/Iceman in those same films. Iceman and Pyro were nemeses. Lamplighter is his own worst enemy, so his suicide should come as no great surprise.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • How did Homelander learn that the mayor of Baltimore was blackmailing Madelyn? If you pause the video of that scene, you'll see him flying past the window.
    • During an interview with Shockwave, the station quickly displays "Translucent Wins Hide & Seek World Championship".
    • During coverage of Stormfront's Nazi pictures is a tiny news banner stating that she's responsible for Jeffrey Epstein's death.

    G - L 
  • Gender Flip: Madelyn (James in the comic) Stillwell and Grace (Greg) Mallory in season 1. Stormfront and Victoria (Victor) Neuman in season 2.
  • Genre Deconstruction:
    • Of superheroes, or at least their near-celebrity status within the general public and pop culture. In general, they are real jerkasses who are more like selfish celebrities than superheroes with more concern toward money or their images than anything else. Frequently they will get away with even reckless homicide given the hero worship they receive-others are even secretly murderers. Others are just hypocritical or creeps. Regardless, they mostly get away with all of it due to their powers, superheroes' prestige, and good publicity. They have an entire corporation that manages them, with corporate sponsorship, licensed products, and publicists smoothing over their images. Given what they can get away with, some people really hate them, up to the point of a homicidal campaign.
    • Also, a deconstruction of gruff anti-heroes, as the show demonstrates just how badly being a lone wolf suffer-no-fools type would screw you over. Not only do the Boys end up fugitives from the Government and the Seven, but each of their lives have been damaged in a particular way. Frenchie is alienated from his business partners and suffered huge losses in profits and material. Mother's Milk destroys the reconciliation with his wife he strove so hard for and now may never see his daughter again. Even Hughie, though more confident, had to put his dad in protective custody, has no job, no home and will likely face an even more pissed off A-Train in the future. Special mention goes to Butcher whose constant manipulations and single-minded quest to kill Homelander alienates all his remaining friends and allies, gets him marked as a wanted criminal, and results in several deaths. Furthermore, his final confrontation with Homelander leads to All for Nothing (see above). Only The Female/Kimiko has any improvement in the quality of life, but only so far as being a fugitive is better than being a slave test subject.
    • Of supervillains. It is simply much more profitable and personally rewarding to let the crowd adore you as a superhero than to become the recurring punching bag of one.
  • The Ghost:
    • Several characters from the comics are name-checked but have yet to make an appearance. They include the majority of Teenage Kix, Payback (Tek-Knight is mentioned), and the G-Men.
    • Lamplighter is mentioned numerous times over the first season. Most notably, he's the superhero who Starlight is replacing on the Seven. While we see a few depictions of him, he never actually shows up in person, and it's never made clear why he left. At one point the Boys vaguely mention a op involving him that left Mallory's grandchildren dead. "The Bloody Doors Off" reveals that, he was Reassigned to Antarctica and now used as an orderly that incinerates unstable Compound V test subjects.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: A Christian Rock performer at the Believe Expo has classic white, feathery, angel-esque wings.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • All we see is blood splattered on the glass door when Kimiko comes to kill the owner of the beauty parlor.
    • We don't actually see Black Noir cut off the supe terrorist's head in the Season 2 premiere, merely the aftermath.
    • We only see one of the actual victims get killed during Stormfront's rampage through the apartment building. The rest of the action either occurs off-screen, or is filmed from outside the building.
  • Gratuitous Latin: The carving of The Seven is inscribed with the Latin "Fiat justitia ruat caelum" or "Let justice be done though the heavens fall".
  • Groin Attack: Seth, a writer for Vought, suffered an inadvertent one due to his relationship with Ice Princess, a superhero who has, well, ice powers. While he was having sex with her, she got carried away and turned herself to sub-zero ice, resulting in his penis freezing then snapping off.
  • Gullible Lemmings: The crushing majority of regular people in-universe is absolutely blind to all the problems Supes create, the para-legal status of their vigilantism, how corrupt Vought is and how terrible their marketing is, taking it all with a smile of adoration. Despite being portrayed as plain incompetent PR hacks, Vought gets away with everything they do without any lasting damage, since people are still eager to take their Blatant Lies as explanations and never ask for more than basic company statements.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Played with in regards of Starlight, Stormfront and Queen Maeve. Starlight definitely plays the role of The Maiden for being the youngest member and a naïve blondie with an idealistic look on life. Stormfront is a darker take in the Mother Archetype, as she was married to Friederich Vought and had a daughter with him; she is also on the more controlling and manipulative side of the mother archetype for playing the role of feminist role model, yet in reality she is an unapologetic Nazi. Queen Maeve finally gets the role of the Crone; she is the eldest female member in the team, is the most powerful of them and she is a cynical, jaded and apathetic woman.
  • Hero Insurance:
    • Superheroes have quasi-immunity like cops while on the job. They can still be sued or charged for acting outside that. A-Train kills Robin by running into her while she's just barely in the street (one foot off the curb, as Hughie says). Later he lies and claims she was in the middle of the street while he was speeding past pursuing bank robbers. He can't be prosecuted so long as it was part of his crime-fighting, and this is explicitly said to be like the quasi-immunity law enforcement officers have while performing their duties, so the idea appears to have been codified by law in the show's universe. It's said he could still be sued, but Hughie's father says it would be too hard to prove wrongdoing. Butcher points out people simply want to believe that Supes are the good guys and thus ignore the collateral damage and all the problems of their vigilantism, though superheroes are shown carefully covering up actual blatant crimes they commit.
    • When you are also backed by a multi-billion corporation and its marketing and legal departments, it is very easy to make people remain silent with their complaints or by outright forcing them to never mention anything by signing an agreement outside of court. Those few that insist on still making a fuss over the damage, destruction, or manslaughter get simply buried under litigation Vought can easily afford for years. Butcher does a small bit of investigating of concurrent crimes at the time of Robin's death proves internally it was false (and help recruit Hughie to his mission) but the uphill legal battle would still be brutal, thus much of the first season revolves around getting proof that A-Train is actually an addict and under the influence at the time of Robins death.
    • In the past Butcher and his team were semi-sponsored by the CIA, but after several bad incidents (an attempt at blackmailing Lamplighter to give them a link inside the Seven lead to him killing Mallory's grandchildren) they were forced to be more of a freelance team and have a difficult time keeping together at the start of the series. Butcher still has numerous contacts because of that past association, though many bridges were also burned. The Boys do end up guilty of or accomplices in numerous murders, robberies, blackmail and trespassing, which forces them to go deep underground once Vought becomes more aware of their existence. They do rebuild their relationships as they uncover legitimate evidence, leading to all charges against them being dropped at the end of the second season, with talk of them heading an official counter-supe team for the CIA.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Frenchie is played this way at first, but when he opens up to Kimiko about his Dark and Troubled Past it becomes less so.
  • Hollywood Atheist:
    • Butcher is a jerkass (well, with a soft side), who goes out of his way to argue with a Christian at the Believe Expo, saying that if God does exist, he's evil.
    • Starlight says to Gekko she's realized there's no God or anyone else watching over humanity, and compares this with Homelander (an evil false "hero" who resembles Superman) implying she lost faith after her prior bad experiences. Though after seeing Billy Butcher perform an incredibly selfless act at the end of Season 2, she half-heartedly starts reconsidering her stance on the subject.
    • In "The Only Man In The Sky" Homelander reveals he doesn't actually believe in God (although a part of his public image is supposedly being a devout Christian and minister) while "talking down" a suicidal young woman, saying it's only him up there in the sky. This is right before he makes her jump, instead of saving her and of course he'd long been established as a murderous, hypocritical asshole.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode in the first two seasons is named after a story arc in the comics. In season 3, when they began to run out of arc titles, some quotes from the comics were used instead.
  • Irony: Due to her experience with The Deep, Starlight renounced her faith. Due to his experience with Starlight, The Deep joined The Church of the Collective.
  • Japandering: In an extra commercial for the show, American Celebrity Superhero The Deep does a hokey Japanese commercial for shoyu sauce.
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: Befitting his status as a parody of "hip" ministers, Ezekiel presents Jesus in this way, peppering his sermons with slang and referencing Jesus referring to people as "bro."
  • Just Plane Wrong: Aircraft and their capabilities are frequently misrepresented.
    • The Deep misidentifies the previously-seen Hawker private jet as a Gulfstream.
    • The airliner in the first season is supposedly flying from Paris to Chicago with 123 people on board. All seats appear to be full. However, the aircraft shown flying is a Boeing 737 MAX 8, which lacks the range to fly from Paris to Chicago non-stop, and normally carries about 175 passengers in an all-economy configuration.
    • The airliner's oxygen masks should have dropped the moment Homelander opened the door and depressurized the cabin, yet they inexplicably drop later, as the aircraft descends into denser and more breathable air.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • During the Deep's PR-mandated exile, a woman masquerading as a groupie forces herself on him, invasively penetrating his sensitive gills with her long, sharp fingernails, which causes him visible discomfort. He's effectively being subjected to the same kind of abuse he inflicted on Starlight that led to his exile in the first place.
    • A-Train, who takes pride in his Super Speed, is sent after the Female and brutalizes her — she not only survives but cripples him with a pipe to the leg.
    • In the Season One finale, Hughie chooses to rescue his True Companions—he not only succeeds but is able to reconcile with the woman he loves. Butcher chooses to abandon them for revenge. He not only fails in his task but finds everything he's done for vengeance is based on a lie.
  • Letting the Air out of the Band: Happens a few times in the soundtrack. In "Cherry," a strong heroic theme plays as The Deep heads into The Seven's meeting room, only to peter out as he sees an annoyed Homelander waiting for him.
  • Lighter and Softer: While the show features graphic violence and sexual depravity, it doesn't go anywhere near as extreme as the source material. This is exemplified by Starlight's Casting Couch experience. In the comics, she is coerced to perform oral sex on Homelander, Black Noir, and A-Train, while Queen Maeve's response in the aftermath is callously dismissive. Starlight has to keep quiet about the experience lest she is booted from the team. In the show, only The Deep coerces her, and Maeve actually gives her some bluntly honest advice. After Starlight makes veiled but public comments about her experience, Vought bows to public pressure and has The Deep Reassigned to Antarctica.
    Stephan Fleet: A lot of the discussions were about how we were going to interpret the comic book for a different medium and through that came the decision to reduce some of the blood and gore.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Elena and Maeve's arc ends this way in season two. From what Maeve says, she has a way to get Homelander off their backs, and that will give them freedom from his controlling ways. Maeve hasn't told Elena everything, only that Homelander has pretty much blackmailed Maeve into being single, and outing her as a "lesbian" was another power play on his part to remind Maeve that he could torture or kill Elena at any time. Elena as far as she knows has a girlfriend that has been trapped into this role of being a Wonder Woman Wannabe for PR reasons, and being at the mercy of a domestic abuser. Then she finds a GoPro attached to Maeve's phone with damning footage, showing that Homelander forced Maeve to abandon the passengers of Flight 37 to die and all Maeve could do was apologize to them. Her What the Hell, Hero? expression hurts Maeve more than any bullets or bombs could; as she puts it in the next episode, the issue isn't that Maeve is willing to resort to blackmail, but that Maeve was complicit in mass murder. And just how often has Maeve been engaged in this sort of subterfuge to the point that Maeve is hopeful that the footage will buy their freedom and not guilty about the fact that she got hundreds of people killed, that this evidence should be released anyway? Elena wanted Maeve to reveal the real her, but because she thought Maeve wasn't brave enough to stand up for their relationship.
  • Ludicrous Gibs:
    • A-Train running into Robin turns into this in glorious slo-mo. All that's left is her hands.
    • How do you kill an invisible man with unbreakable skin? Knock him out with electrical shocks and shove some C-4 up his ass. What's left of Translucent is this trope.
    • The results of Homelander's heat vision, more often than not. Truth in Television, as a laser-like beam that flash-heated human tissue (which is mostly water) would cause violent steam explosions.
    • Cindy, the Super test subject at Sage Grove, can turn people into this with her mind.
    • Victoria Neuman seems to be able to instantly gib people's entire heads even without a direct line of sight on them, as long as she's within about half a city block's range... And nobody can tell who's doing it.
    • Crimson Countess's powers can do this to people.
    • Chelsea the suicide jumper, who Homelander was supposed to save, practically explodes upon hitting the pavement.

    M - R 
  • Magic Realism: Superheroes are real. With real superpowers. But other than that, the world of the show is remarkably close to ours, and the supes are a pretext to satirize it.
  • Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex:
    • Popclaw accidentally smashes the head of her landlord while facesitting him after losing control as she climaxes, plus due to being high on Compound V.
    • Another instance is mentioned in a therapy group. A man claims that he had sex with a supe called Ice Princess and her vagina cooled down to the temperature of frozen nitrogen when she climaxed, with his penis still inside. It snapped off.
    • Homelander is told that Becca became pregnant with his child but died during childbirth because the superpowered baby tried to rip its way out and drowned in Becca's blood. That turns out to be a lie. Becca survived her sexual encounter with Homelander and gave birth to the child without apparent difficulty.
    • Starlight's powers do flare up while having sex, but is not shown to be harmful.
    • Half of the foreplay with Stormfront and Homelander was her goading him to use his heat vision on her chest, which she manages to withstand and they both seemed to enjoy as a fetish, suggesting neither have a lot of experience being able to push themselves during sex. The rest of the time turned into Destructo-Nookie.
    • In Season three, a size-shifting supe named Termite tries to play some urethral insertion fetish with another man, by turning himself into the size of an ant and entering his penis through the urethra. However, Termite ends up sneezing and losing control of his power while inside, which quickly turns the other man into Ludicrous Gibs from the waist down.
  • Meta Origin: Vought's marketing plays up the appearance of Supes as being "Miracles," but Compound V is shown to not just be a Supe-specific drug but when given to infants is actually what causes them to develop powers in the first place. It's possible for adults to develop superpowers, but is also just as likely to kill them.
  • Middle Eastern Terrorists: A running element of the series is playing them up as "the danger" for the public and government, oftentimes with Inside Job overtones from Vought.
    • A group of them hijack a US airline, causing Homelander and Queen Maeve's intervention. It ends with tragedy.
    • Homelander wipes out a different group in Syria later on when trying to secure the US Department of Defense for his "supes in army".
    • Season one ends with the reveal of the first super-terrorist, who happens to be an Islamic radical. He's effortlessly and unceremoniously killed off by Black Noir right at the start of season 2.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: A-Train liquefying Robin leads to the Boys discovering Homelander's plot to seed Compound V all over the world, creating an endless number of supervillains for Vought's heroes to fight, and forcing the government to accept superheroes in the military since no one else is equipped to deal with them.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: Adaptational Heroism and Adaptational Nice Guy contribute to moving the conflict between Vought and The Boys into this territory:
    • Homelander, Stormfront, Stillwell, and Vought in general are pretty much unambiguously evil, making sure the Supes have good publicity no matter what, using them to rake in loads of cash, trying to get Supes into national defense to rake in more cash (and maybe contribute to defending America in the process), injecting infants with Compound V to make more Supes, and for Homelander, spreading Compound V around the world to create supervillains. In the case of Homelander and Stormfront, they also have a tendency to pay no heed towards collateral damage (and in some cases, intentionally embrace it for kicks).
    • Then you have A-Train, Popclaw, Soldier Boy, Translucent, and The Deep, who are at best negligently criminal (A-Train and Popclaw's Accidental Murder moments, Soldier Boy's collateral damage, and The Deep's Black Comedy Animal Cruelty), at worst just plain criminal (Translucent and The Deep being repeat sex offenders, Soldier Boy brutalizing Black Noir and the rest of his team, A-Train and Popclaw being complicit in Vought and Homelander spreading Compound V), just on a much smaller scale than above.
    • Then there's The Boys, out to do a good thing (bring down Vought and expose their dirty dealings), but have no problem using espionage, blackmail, and murder to do it. Hughie is the most upstanding of them, and even he admits that a part of him enjoyed murdering Translucent.
    • Finally you have Queen Maeve and Starlight, trying their best to be good despite their faults (though Maeve, self-admittedly, has had more time to accumulate faults than Starlight).
    • Lampshaded when A-Train points out to Hughie that while his splattering of Robin was an accident, everything Hughie and The Boys have done is on purpose, so really, who has the moral high ground here? Though this does lose weight considering the fact that A-Train murdered his blackmailed girlfriend to cover up the fact that he was empowering terrorists all over the world with Compound V.
  • Mythology Gag: Has its own page.
  • Named by the Adaptation: A few characters Only Known by Their Nickname, or were even Never Given a Name, are given at least personal names.
    • Mother's Milk: Marvin T. Milk.
    • The Female: Kimiko Miyashiro.
    • Frenchie: Serge.
    • The Deep: Kevin Moskowitz.
    • Popclaw: Charlotte.
    • Mr. Edgar: Stan Edgar.
    • Janine's mother: Monique.
    • Queen Maeve: Maggie Shaw.
    • A-Train: Reggie Franklin.
    • Stormfront: Klara Risinger.
    • Drummer Boy AKA Supersonic: Alex.
    • Black Noir: Earving.
    • Soldier Boy: Ben.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers implied that "The Boys" was an official group dedicated to keeping Supes in line, as they are in the comics. In the show, they are not official at all and are acting of their own initiative without any police or government clearance, although Billy does tell Hugh that he works for the FBI when they first meet (later implied to be former CIA, and was quickly burning bridges doing this independent work).
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Billy beats Mesmer to death in a train station bathroom by repeatedly smashing his head against a sink.
    • A super-powered version is pulled off by A-Train, who slams Kimiko's head against a wall with the speed of a jackhammer.
    • Although Kimiko initially holds her own pretty well against Black Noir, it's not very long before he manages to put her down. If not for her Healing Factor, she would've died.
    • During Starlight's escape from Vought Tower, she's confronted by Black Noir and promptly thrown around the conference room, tossed through pillars and slammed into the table. The only reason she isn't killed there and then is because of Maeve's interference.
    • During the Season Finale, Maeve, Starlight and Kimiko dispense with any pretense of actual fighting skill or grace and just viciously pound and stomp Stormfront into the ground. Whenever she manages a brief second of comeback, it's just followed up with more vicious beatings. She's forced to retreat.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • In one of her bright moments, Maeve notes to Annie that when she joined the Seven, she was just like her, full of idealism and then slowly, but surely selling out. She encourages Starlight to not let the bastards grind her down.
    • There is a whole lot of various characters pointing out that Butcher isn't really that different from Homelander, with both of them being bigoted, aggressive and self-centered assholes. Even certain bits of their childhood match.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • A security guard's head is blasted off by the Eye Beams of a super-powered baby held by Billy Butcher. Notably, there's no clean cauterization of the wound as usually expected with beam wounds, and instead, there's thick gore from both the neck stump and the separated head.
    • Naqib gets his head cut off by Black Noir who carries it off with him, presumably as proof of the kill.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Both Stillwell and The Deep have this reaction as they watch Starlight publicly announce on national television that she is a victim of sexual harassment. The former because she's about to face a PR nightmare in the midst of trying to lobby a bill through Congress and the latter because he did it to her.
    • Maeve has a silent version of this when Homelander outs her on national TV, as she realizes that he knows about Elena.
    • Ashley freaks out after seeing Homelander visit a protest against him that broke out in the wake of a viral video of showing him accidentally killing a civilian bystander, in order to try and save his image, despite Vought's official stance on the incident being "no comment".
      • Ashley in general has so many Oh, Crap! moments that it's basically her job description for the show. Being the spin doctor for a bunch of violent psychopaths that often act first and think about the PR disaster later tends to do that to you.
  • Once a Season: It seems like every season finale must end with a woman losing her eyes.
    • In Season one finale, Stilwell dies after Homelander melts her eyes with his Eye Beams.
    • In Season two finale, Rebecca shoves a knife on Stormfront's eye.
    • In Season three finale, Queen Maeve loses her right eye during her battle with Homelander.
  • One-Steve Limit: Ashley gets an assistant called Ashley in Season three.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Karl Urban's Cockney accent is so bad, that if it wasn't for the overuse of London slang and references to being English, you'd be forgiven for thinking Butcher was from Australia which, given that Urban is from New Zealand, isn't too far off.
    • Simon Pegg's rendition of an American accent is fairly even, but he really gnaws on his R's in a way that betrays how hard he's trying to affect it.
    • Dominique McElligott's natural Irish accent slips out when she starts shouting.
  • Paying Evil Unto Evil:
    • Hughie's motivation throughout the story, to pay A-Train back for killing the girl he loved whatever the cost.
    • Butcher's motivation too. He hates Homelander with a fiery passion.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: A-Train wears blue, his rival Shockwave wears orange. At their race in Episode 3, the stadium and fans present are evenly divided between the two colors.
  • Power Incontinence:
    • The downside of having sex with a superhero? Many have a tendency for losing control of their powers near or during the climax. Depending on the power, this can have bad consequences for their sexual partner.
    • A-Train also starts losing control of his super-speed powers thanks to abusing Compound V. He runs through Robin while hopped-up on the stuff, then nearly blows his cover in the race with Shockwave by not quite being able to stand still.
    • When Starlight gets angry, electronics around her tend to start short-circuiting. She also accidentally cracked several TV screens when The Deep was sexually harassing her. Her eyes also light up when she orgasms.
    • Termite has the power to shrink to a miniature size, which he exploits for sex purposes. He crawls up a man's urethra at one point, but then suddenly loses control and reverts to full-size, shredding the man in half and killing him instantly.
  • Power Perversion Potential:
    • Homelander spies on Stillwell with his X-Ray vision while she's using breast pumps.
    • It crops up quite frequently, with Translucent using his powers to spy on others and Doppelganger using their powers to seduce others. Lampshaded by Popclaw, who notes that many people have a "Supe Fetish."
    • Someone actually asks if Starlight ever used her glowy hands for "fun."
    • Termite exploits his shrinking power in order to turn himself into a living sex toy and insert himself into the bodies of his partners.
    • This is pretty much the entire point of Herogasm.
    • The capes have a club where they get their rocks off, and almost all of them use their powers as part of their shit.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The series only follows the comic's story in broad strokes, yet is generally hailed as the superior product. For example, in the comics superheroes don't fight crime and they are legally barred from doing so. In the series they do, and are legally deputized by law enforcement. This is even incorporated into the explanation for why Hughie cannot expect A-Train to be prosecuted for killing Robin, because it was (supposedly) an accident while A-Train was pursuing some criminals. This raises both disturbing implications and the subsequent commentary on unchecked Mega-Corp overreach, Police Brutality and accountability, that were absent from the original story.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: It turns out that Stan Edgar, a black man, knows all about Stormfront being a Nazi. He doesn't care because it's profitable not to care.
  • Puny Earthlings: One of the scenes where we begin to see Homelander's Super Supremacist leanings involves him and Queen Maeve talking about their bosses, pointing out their health issues and physical weakness, and openly wondering why they're taking orders from such inferior beings.
  • Rape as Drama: Happens a lot, since capes are assholes, even in the first episode.
  • The Real Heroes:
    • A Running Gag involves Homelander using this line on a group of ordinary non-powered first responders or American soldiers, right before doing their job for them effortlessly. Since in front of the other members of the Seven he describes non-Supes as 'mud people', it's pretty obviously disingenuous.
    • Homelander's predicessor Soldier Boy says this of American soldiers in a wartime propaganda piece.
  • Recurring Element: Nature documentaries tend to pop up a bit.
    • The documentary on lions when Billy finally meets Hughie — not only alluding to his predatory nature but goes two levels deep as lions famously leave the hunting to the females.
    • A documentary about land turtles is on TV when the Boys are racking their heads over dealing with the Nigh-Invulnerable Translucent - leading to Frenchie's "Eureka!" Moment.
    • Frenchie and the Female bonding over Shark Week.
    • Listen to the documentary voice-over during that scene, it's pretty adorable.
    • Frenchie's tendency to watch documentaries, taken in context with what he tells Kimiko about his childhood, suggests some very sad things about how he learned things.
  • Resolved Noodle Incident: Butcher, MM, and Frenchie worked together on an anti-supes task force for Mallory sometime in the past. Their association ended when Frenchie disregarded orders and Lamplighter murdered Mallory's grandchildren. Season 2, Episode 6 reveals what happened. Frenchie was supposed to tail Lamplighter but got a call that his friend was overdosing; Frenchie ran to save him, and consequently did not catch up to Lamplighter, who was attempting to assassinate Mallory and mistakenly killed her grandchildren. Guilt-consumed Frenchie did not tell anyone, because he wanted to be reminded of his mistake.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • Season 2 becomes a lot more different with the revelation that Congresswoman Neuman is the head exploder. There's a fair bit of subtle foreshadowing throughout the season, but the main source of rewatch comes at the trial in Episode 7. Neuman "conveniently" closes her eyes right before the first head finishes exploding and thus protects her eyes from the incoming blood spatter. What we assume was her being shellshocked, was her actually faking it and using it as a way to scan the room for more targets (and you can even see her eyes dart around the room). She turns around at one point, just in time to see her Chief of Staff get taken out but of course it turns out that she turned around in order to do it herself and have an excuse to reenter the room to kill more people. This was done so effectively that very few people actually predicted this going into the season finale.
    • Black Noir's recollection of what happened in Nicaragua in Episode 8 changes the interpretation of the supes' onscreen actions in Episode 2, from being fools out of their element who panic-killed men on their own side and lost Swatto and Soldier Boy to Sandinista fire, to very likely killing those men on purpose to remove witnesses from their betrayal of Soldier Boy to the Russians.
  • Running Gag: Church of the Collective members offer everyone around them a Fresca, to the point that Fresca becomes shorthand for the characters being about to talk about the church. Only Stan Edgar ever refuses, calling the stuff terrible.

    S - Z 
  • See the Invisible: When Billy fights Translucent at Hughie's hardware store, he spits Blood from the Mouth into Translucent's face in order to get an idea of his opponent's position.
  • Sexual Karma: Heroes and good characters tend to have healthy, mutually satisfying sex and be vanilla while the bad guys are rapists, terrible in bed, or have bizarre and gross sexual fetishes to make them less likable.
    • When Hughie and Annie have sex, they both seem to climax at the same time.
    • Contrast this to the literally painful sex scene between Homelander and Stillwell. It show him to be a bad lover who suffers from Speed Sex and with a really weird complex about milk. He has an almost orgasmic expression while milking a cow and drinks it straight from the udders, unpasteurized. He's later shown to spy on Stilwell while she breast feeds her baby and steals some of her breast milk to drink.
    • Stormfront, another villain, enters a sexual relationship with Homelander. While his performance improves, their sex life is shown to involve kinky or unpleasant elements, such as harming each other with Homelander frying Stormfront´s chest with his Eye Beams, or having sex in an alley near a corpse after Homelander turned a robber's head into paste. Apparently, maiming and gruesomely killing people are good for their libidos.
    • The Deep has to extort women for sex; the one woman he's shown having consensual sex with is the one that he also says gives terrible blowjobs. Season 3 reveals that he has sex with animals in his free time and he seems to like them more than human partners.
    • Soldier Boy founded the degenerate orgy Herogasm and is shown to have a fetish for overweight elderly women.
    • Cameron Coleman, a Tucker Carlson expy, is revealed to be into getting pegged by his corporate overlord both figuratively and literally.
    • Blue Hawk is shown to attend Herogasm's raunchy orgy, presumably to make him even less likable to the audience right before A-Train kills him.
    • Termite uses his shrinking powers for, essentially, sounding (while drugged up and with a stranger), which leads to his partner's death. Like Blue Hawk he's also shown attending Herogasm.
  • Shooting Superman: Repeatedly, Supes get shot at although it's widely known that they are Immune to Bullets.
    • The Syrian terrorists don't seem to get the hint Homelander is impervious to their bullets.
    • Vought commandos point their submachineguns at Homelander when they really ought know they should be trying to stay off his bad side.
    • Even the Boys themselves fall prey to this, repeatedly shooting Black Noir and Stormfront despite being fully aware the bullets will have no effect. Though in their case, at least, the implication is less that they expect it to work and more that they're being Defiant to the End against enemies they can't escape from and can't stop or using it as a simple distraction.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mother's Milk tells Hughie his cover is a "mild-mannered reporter", which is, of course, how Superman was described in his secret identity as Clark Kent.
    • Homelander's big revelation that he conceived a child and was absent for most of his life is a nod to a contentious moment in Superman Returns.
    • Another Superman Returns shout-out comes in the Flight 37 scene, albeit with a much darker conclusion. Unlike Superman, Homelander botches the mission and leaves the passengers to die. When Queen Maeve suggests he try to lift the plane he points out that he can't hold up a plane, no matter how powerful he is. Trying to do so would just punch through the hull, or cause the whole plane to flip over at 500 mph.
    • A-Train exercises by pulling a train, much like Mr. Incredible.
    • Mesmer's character in The Mesmerizer is called Lt. Howzer, just like that other show with a child genius.
    • The promotional material for season 3 included an actual theater trailer for Dawn of the Seven, the Show Within a Show movie that the Seven were filming throughout season 2. Appropriately, it's dubbed "the Bourke Cut".
  • Show Within a Show: There are multiple films and at least one TV show in the series universe starring or about superheroes. Most are superhero movies akin to real ones you'd see. Another thought was a police procedural with a young superhero named Mesmer who used his mind-reading power to help solve crimes. They are all supposed to be part of the 'Vought Cinematic Universe'.
  • Sickening "Crunch!":
    • The sound made when Kimiko breaks A-Train's leg with a metal pipe.
    • Also when Homelander squashes the head of one of the Middle Eastern Terrorists with his foot.
    • Special mention goes to Popclaw's unfortunate landlord.
    • Slightly subdued, but the sound of Homelander stepping on a shrunken and weakened Termite is still pretty gross.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: Recognizable: the series takes the general premise, themes, and darkly comedic tone of the comics, but the plot thus far is an original one that only takes elements from the comics, and most of the characters have been changed around to fit the new story and Setting Update - some are pretty close to the originals, others are basically unrecognizable apart from their names.
  • Social Media Is Bad: Social media, and foremost 4chan, are painted as a hotbed for extremists, e.g. the radical right-wing Stormchasers from season 3.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Directly after the above, comes The Deep attempting to rescue a dolphin with "Wannabe" in the background - the dissonance gets even worse when it goes wrong! Said Spice Girls song is also used for clashing contrast in the trailer, with Season 2 following suit by having Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" (after all, Hughie has been revealed to be a fan of his).
  • Soviet Superscience: During the 80's the Soviets had developed a weapon that supposedly killed Soldier Boy, Vought's most powerful superhero at the time. The search for this weapon, so that it can be used against Homelander, is the main drive of Season 3. Double Subverted; the Soviets didn't take Soldier Boy down themselves, but as part of a deal with his team Payback, who had grown sick of his abuse, and Payback did the heavy lifting. However, it turns out that the experiments the Soviets did on Soldier Boy when they captured him gave him the ability to cause a radioactive explosion that also de-powers Supes.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The Brooklyn Bridge, as instead of stopping their version of the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11, The Seven 'stop' the hijacking of Flight 37.
  • Stripperiffic: Starlight's homemade costume is more of a warrior queen design with a long skirt, shoulder pads, and a cape. When she joins The Seven their marketing team redesigns her costume to be a backless leotard with a deep cleavage cut. She is not happy with it, and later encourages a young fan cosplaying her original design to not shell out money for the new one.
  • Stylistic Suck: Pretty much everything made by Vought's media department, along with the in-universe The Merch, is horribly corny, poorly written and blatantly chasing after specific demographic targets without actually giving squat about them or their issues.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: While the current generation of Supes is engineered via Compound V, the son Homelander has with Becca apparently inherited superpowers from his father. Stormfront explicitly identifies this as unique; no other superhero has produced powered offspring before.
  • Super Serum: Compound V is pretty much a performance-enhancing drug for superheroes, with abusers being able to push their powers well beyond their usual limits, at the cost of not just risking Power Incontinence, but also enlarged hearts and shrunken testes much like real athletes get from sustained steroid abuse. It's also the big secret behind the Superhero phenomenon. They aren't chosen by God as some people and heroes believe, they were given V as babies to trigger their powers by their world's Evil, Inc..
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • The good guys in Season 2 reveal damning evidence about a corporation and how it basically poisoned a generation of Americans. Mother's Milk cheers and hugs Hughie while Frenchie kisses him, as they finally have a win. Is that enough to bring Vought down? HA HA HA—No; Vought is able to pin the conspiracy on a deceased employee, and stalls long enough for Congressional hearings instead of arrests by using their government contacts. As Edgar puts it, Vought has had experience covering up their "pharmaceutical experiments" and they aren't comic book supervillains. Hughie and Starlight are broken by the fact that the risks she took were All for Nothing, with the only thing coming out of it is a lead on Stormfront's real identity. On the other hand, the revelations do cause considerable damage the company's image and required a lot of effort to smooth over which is why Stan Edgar was appointed to his role to begin with and makes it clear he won't be as tolerant of Homelander's antics as Stillwell was. Even an evil company is still a company with shareholders, customers and a public image to consider.
    • You urge your girlfriend to tell you everything about her stressful life because you want to show her that neither of you has to be afraid of a controlling ex. She reluctantly agrees, opening up bit by bit. Then you find out that your girlfriend may be a little complicit in some war crimes, something she hid from you apart from a drunken breakdown. Do you go Easily Forgiven and reassure her that it wasn't her fault and that their relationship will last, the way Starlight eventually forgave Hughie for spying on her? Nope; when Maeve tells Elena with a Stepford Smiler expression that the footage, which Elena found by accident, is the means of securing their freedom from Homelander, Elena breaks up with her and goes into hiding. Elena said she wanted Maeve to be open with her, but finding out that she left hundreds of people to die is kind of a dealbreaker.
    • The blackmail Maeve got on Homelander in season 2 doesn't last. As the public keeps throwing Stormfront in his face and Starlight keeps pushing her luck with defying him, Homelander eventually decides that he has had enough and calls Starlight's bluff, explaining that, while he would be prefer to be loved, he'll embace being feared if means he doesn't have to deal with her and Maeve strong arming him anymore, especially if means he can destroy not only New York but both Starlight and Maeve's hometowns without consequence. Naturally, Starlight backs down.
  • Take That!: The series routinely take pot-shots at various things.
    • In Season 2, a film writer proposes his idea for a Hans-Zimmer-scored blockbuster about the origins of the Seven, entitled Dawn of the Seven. Stormfront's feedback is that all the women are written to be "unknowable Hitchcock bitches or Michael Bay fuckdolls" and blames it on the writer's "lifetime of jerking off to Transformers."
    • According to showrunner Eric Kripke, the "girls get it done" scenes in season 2 (both the horribly corny bits from the in-universe film and the actually entertaining beatdown that follows the line in a different context towards the end of the season) were meant as a dig at this scene in Avengers: Endgame, which he and producer Rebecca Sonneshine found to be unearned pandering that made no sense in its own context.
    • The entire corporate commercialization of anything even remotely related to LGBT issues by Vought, seen entirely as chasing after yet another target demographic and not giving a damn about it other than consumers of a product, with incredibly heavy-handed and misguided attempts to please the in-universe LGBT Fanbase. This is clearly at dig at corporations such as Disney who are guilty of the same.
    • A-Train's hilariously tasteless Glurgeinvoked energy drink ad in season 3 is an obvious shot at the infamous Kendal Jenner Pepsi ad.
    • Prior to that, A-Train rebranding himself around his African ancestry, despite doing it only for staying in the spotlight, is a not-so-subtle jab toward Disney's massive marketing campaign around Black Panther (2018), where they were trying to up-sell a superhero movie as the biggest social event of the decade and the most relevant thing, but mostly just blatantly targeting the African-American demographic.
    • The Deep releases a perfect recreation of Gal Gadot's celebrity-filled cover of "Imagine" that dropped early in the Covid pandemic and was roundly mocked for its tone-deafness. Bonus points for it also being loaded with real celebrities.
    • Ashley telling A-Train that he will be starring in an autobiographical film that completely rewrites his life as a stereotypical White Savior Oscar Bait drama, where a white coach helps him "find a more civilized path". This is a pretty obvious reference to films like The Blind Side that over-exaggerate the influence a white person had on a black person's success.
  • Tamer and Chaster: Compared to the comics, which had large amounts of sex and nudity, while the show has little of both (though it does include Male Frontal Nudity courtesy of Translucent). When eventually a remotely comparable amount of sex and nudity shows up onscreen, the episode opens with a Content Warning.
  • Team Member in the Adaptation:
    • Gunpowder is a member of Payback in this continuity rather than Teenage Kix.
    • Stormfront ends up joining the Seven when the Stormfront of the source material was strictly a member of Payback.
    • Black Noir was a member of Payback in this continuity before joining the Seven, unlike his comics counterpart who was only on the Seven.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Played With. Over the course of the show Butcher lies, cheats and steals his way to Homelander burning every bridge he has in the process to get revenge on Homelander for raping and killing his wife. His revenge was a suicide mission killing the one person Homelander loved, and himself, and leaving him wracked with grief and unable to do anything just as he did for him. However, Homelander makes a great point that Butcher doesn't know for sure that Homelander did anything to him. The show itself is ambiguous if Butcher was right suggesting it was a consensual affair. Which if true that would render his whole mission pointless. Moreover, Homelander simply kills Stillwell negating his plan, and even saves him from his suicide bomb and sets out to prove he was wrong and rub his face in it.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Played for Drama in the second season as Homelander repeatedly visits Becca to bring out Ryan's superpowers. Given that Homelander is a textbook sociopath who had raped Becca and is only interested in turning Ryan into someone like him, her refusal to see him at her home is understandable.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: Annie and Hughie have a falling out in the penultimate episode of season 1 due to Hughie using her for his quest for vengeance, but reunite at the end of the season after Annie saves the Boys via a Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The Church of the Collective uses Fresca as part of its recruitment strategy.
  • Truer to the Text: Season 3 sees a number of comic book elements come into play that were present in the comic from the beginning. The Boys are now official government agents, MM and Monique have divorced, and Butcher and Hughie gain superpowers, albeit on a temporary basis.
  • Troubled Production: In-Universe. Production for Dawn of the Seven is thrown into turmoil by Homelander's abrupt decisions to out Queen Maeve as gay and kick A-Train off the team, necessitating hasty rewrites. A-Train initially balks at delivering his dialogue in which he announces his departure until Ashley reminds him that he is still under Vought's contract. Homelander burns down his own trailer in a fit of rage after finding out Stormfront lied to him about her whereabouts.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Both Becca and Homelander want to prevent Ryan going through a traumatic childhood because of how badly his father turned out. They just have very different ideas of how to go about this goal. Homelander almost references this trope directly in conversation, which is a surprising moment of honesty.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: After everything Hughie has been fighting for, everything he'd done, he has A-Train on the ground having a heart attack. Even though he knows A-Train will be after him for the rest of his life, he chooses to save him and let him go anyway.
  • Two Girls to a Team:
    • The Seven provides an In-Universe example of this trope when Starlight joins in Season 1. It's apropos because prior to that Queen Maeve had been operating under The Smurfette Principle, and it's an evolution to have more than one woman in The Seven. Subverted in Season 2 when Stormfront, a third woman, joins The Seven.
    • The Boys have two female members once Starlight joins.
    • Payback also followed this, with Crimson Countess and Tessa from the TNT Twins.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting:
    • While not quite an ensemble, the show is generally split between the politics going on with The Seven and the efforts from The Boys on finding any sort of method of holding Supes accountable. On occasion, the two stories intersect. Generally not enough for a direct confrontation between them, however.
    • After Kimiko gets De Powered in season 3, she and Frenchie have their own adventures with The Mafiya while the rest of the Boys keep fighting deranged supes.
  • Viral Marketing: The show is extremely good at this, releasing a whole host of (frequently hilarious) Vought content in the lead-up to each season and continuing throughout, including commercials, news segments, and music videos.
    • In-Universe, Stormfront rides her popularity on social media, which gives her the freedom to criticize Vought all she wants without the fear the others have of losing their cash flow. She even mocks Homelander that he spent 280 million on a flopping PR campaign while she is succeeding because of five interns making memes.
  • We Have Reserves: In the teaser for the second season, John (Homelander), an eleven-year-old boy at the time, is being shown images by a tutor of what he loves about America when he's shown a Norman Rockwell painting depicting Thanksgiving. Seeing the family, he asks his tutor who his father is and she says that technically, Dr. Vogelbaum is his father, and when he asks if she's his mom, she decides to go along with it and says yes. He gives her a hug, and not knowing how strong he is, he breaks her back and crushes her internal organs, killing her. As John cowers in the corner with his blanket, one of the scientists observing the interaction enters the plain white lab John's being raised in and says that they'll just get him a new tutor.
  • Wham Episode: A staple of season's finale:
    • You Found Me. Homelander was organizing the entire super-terrorist scheme behind Madelyn's back, using A-Train as a courier to run the Compound V to various terrorist groups. Starlight has a face-off with A-Train, while allying herself with the Boys by rescuing them. However A-Train knows what she did and is still alive to tell the rest of the Seven. By the end of the episode, Homelander murders Madelyn Stillwell to become The Unfettered, while Billy Butcher finds that his wife has been alive the entire time, and is raising Homelander's son.
    • Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker. Starlight is outed as a mole and traitor to The Seven, and Lamplighter dies during the mission to rescue her. Homelander and Stormfront successfully convince Ryan to leave Becca, and Billy blackmails Jonah Vogelbaum into testifying against Vought. The Congressional hearing begins and Jonah Vogelbaum shows up to testify, then people's heads start exploding like Raynor's did.
  • Yellow/Purple Contrast: In Season 2, Starlight and Stormfront are both female rookie members of The Seven. While Starlight has yellow accents on her costume and has powers based on yellow light, Stormfront has a purple-and-black suit and can project purple lightning. While they get along at first, their aspirations are completely at odds; Starlight genuinely wants to do good, while Stormfront is a Nazi whose atrocities go all the way back to the Third Reich itself.
  • Your Head Asplode:
    • Popclaw accidentally crushes her landlord's while he gives her oral sex, with his brain shown getting squirted out.
    • Homelander crushes some poor criminal's head in his hand until it pops.
    • This is Victoria Neuman's superpower, allowing her to do this to anyone in her line of sight. It's not limited to the victim's head - the first episode of season 3 shows that she can do this to any part of a person's body, even the entire body itself - but she seems to prefer the head, presumably as it kills the victim instantly.
    • In the Season 3 finale, a protestor throws a drink at Ryan and calls Homelander a fascist. Homelander responds by lasering his head into an explosive pulp.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Boys


Flight 37

Realizing the Flight 37 plane would crash due to his own reckless actions, Homelander opts to basically abandon the passengers to their deaths callously. When Queen Maeve tries to argue, Homelander counters that any survivor would try to testify against them and intimidates Maeve enough to force her into not saving anyone.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / LeaveNoWitnesses

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