Jack Quaid (Hughie Campbell), Karl Urban (Billy Butcher), Tomer Capone (Frenchie), Karen Fukuhara (Kimiko), Laz Alonso (Mother's Milk)

‘The Boys’ Season 3 Ending Explained

The Boys recently wrapped up season 3 and in typical The Boys fashion, it was a gritty and unexpected ending to a dark season. The Boys first premiered in 2019 and is based on the comic book series of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. It follows a team of vigilantes who take it upon themselves to fight against corrupt superheroes and stop their serious abuses of power. Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) leads the team of vigilantes and sets his focus on Homelander (Anthony Starr), the most terrifying and powerful of all heroes, who is responsible for the rape and disappearance of Butcher’s wife, Becca (Shantel VanSanten).

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While the team shifts between periods of victory and failure, season 3 opened on a suspiciously high note. Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) is working for Victoria Neuman’s (Claudia Doumit) Bureau of Superhero Affairs, as are the rest of The Boys. Butcher has kept his promise to his wife and is protecting and looking out for her son, Ryan (Cameron Corvetti) and MM (Laz Alonso) is out of the field and reunited with his family. Additionally, Maeve (Dominique McElligott) and Annie/Starlight (Erin Moriarty) are keeping Homelander in line through blackmail.

However, things start falling apart quickly. Campbell discovers that Neuman is a Vought mole and a supe who has been blowing up heads. Meanwhile, Butcher alienates himself from Ryan and his team and begins taking Temp V – an experimental drug that can temporarily give him superpowers. MM is increasingly suffering from his OCD and becoming preoccupied with Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles)—an early “superhero” who disappeared during the Cold War era and who was responsible for killing MM’s family. During all of this, Homelander becomes increasingly unhinged and Maeve and Starlight start loosing control of him again.

The Boys season 3 ending

When the team realizes that their blackmailing of Homelander is loosing its sway over him, they decide there’s no other option other than to kill him. In searching for a weapon powerful enough to kill Homelander, the team accidentally frees Soldier Boy, upon which they discover he can take away supes’ powers, as he does with Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara). Despite his history with MM, Butcher and Campbell go against the team’s wishes and form an alliance with Soldier Boy, believing he can kill Homelander. In exchange for killing Homelander, Butcher and Campbell help Soldier Boy dish out revenge on his former team Payback, whose members (justifiably) betrayed him.

Soldier Boy’s disappearance and true identity

a close up of Soldier Boy looking down

The Boys season 3 ending explained who Soldier Boy really is and what actually happened in Nicaragua where he went missing. From Black Noir’s (Nathan Mitchell) animated hallucinations, we learn that he, the Payback team, and Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) teamed up to rid themselves of Soldier Boy. This happened when scientist Jonah Vogelbaum designed a newer, younger, and superior hero to take Soldier Boy’s place. As a result, Edgar was tasked with getting rid of Soldier Boy to pave the way for the new hero. Meanwhile, the Payback team, especially Black Noir, deeply hated Soldier Boy for his abuse of them.

As a result, the team orchestrated the ambush in Nicaragua, subdued Soldier Boy, and traded him to the Russians. As Soldier Boy learns of this new hero that was to replace him, he comes to the realization that Homelander was created using his sperm. Homelander is Soldier Boy’s biological son, which Soldier Boy relates to Homelander. When Homelander confronts Black Noir about whether he knew Soldier Boy was his father, Black Noir admits he did know. This causes Homelander to fly into a rage and kill Black Noir for withholding the truth from him.

Soldier Boy & Homelander showdown

Butcher and Maeve continue to go through with the plan to have Soldier Boy kill Homelander. At Vought Tower, Soldier Boy, Butcher, and Maeve confront Homelander, who has brought Ryan with him. Homelander attempts to introduce his father to his grandson, but Soldier Boy is disgusted by how weak he perceives Homelander to be. They begin to fight, but Ryan attempts to intervene and is struck by Soldier Boy in the process. This leads Butcher to turn against Soldier Boy, and he is joined in his fight by the rest of The Boys.

Meanwhile, Maeve attempts to fight Homelander on her own, losing one of her eyes in the process. However, when Soldier Boy begins preparing to unleash his devastating blast in Vought tower, she tackles him through the window and causes his explosion to go off in midair, which prevents mass destruction. It is believed that Maeve died in the blast and sacrificed herself to stop Soldier Boy, but she is secretly still alive, though powerless. She goes into hiding with Elena (Nicola Correia-Damude), hoping to live a life free of Homelander’s control.

The Boys successfully manage to subdue Soldier Boy and he is imprisoned in another cyro chamber.

The sad saga of Billy Butcher

Karl Urban and Shantel VanSanten in The Boys (2019)

Despite Homelander remaining alive, most of The Boys get a relatively happy ending in season 3. MM’s daughters look up to him as a hero, Maeve is finally free of Homelander, Hughie let go of his insecurities and helped Starlight to be the hero, and Kimiko regained and embraced her powers. However, Butcher’s story, which has always been tragic, got even sadder in the season 3 finale. First, he gets trapped in his memories by Mindstorm (Ryan Blakely) and we finally learn the truth about Butcher’s late little brother, Lenny. In Butcher’s memory, we see that Butcher’s father was abusive and that his brother Lenny committed suicide.

In the same episode, Butcher learns from Starlight that the Temp V he and Hughie have been taking is deadly. He ends up abandoning Campbell to protect him, but continues taking Temp V himself. After Soldier Boy’s and Homelander’s fight, Butcher makes one last ditch effort at getting Ryan back. His earlier betrayal of Ryan has taken its toll, though, and Ryan and Homelander leave together. Shortly after this, Butcher passes out and awakens in the hospital to learn that Temp V has taken its toll on him and he has only has a short time left to live.

It isn’t likely Butcher will have much time to come to terms with his condition, though. Once out of the hospital, he hears Neuman is running for vice president. This alongside the persistent threat of Homelander, means the stakes are higher than ever before.

Homelander spirals out of control

Antony Starr as Homelander in 'The Boys'.

In season 3, Homelander grows more out of control and unhinged every episode. He is a raging narcissist with delusions of grandeur, promotes a sort of fanatical fascism, and he is fuming over being defeated, losing his son, and having Starlight become the face of Vought. If he attempts to go back to his old ways, Maeve threatens to release footage of him causing a plane crash and leaving civilians to die. However, as time goes on, he decides he cares less and less about the footage, until it becomes clear he doesn’t care at all.

This leads to him going on rants on live television, killing Alex (Miles Gaston Villanueva) and Black Noir, forcing Starlight to pretend she’s his girlfriend, threatening to kill Hughie, and eventually retrieving his son from hiding. Meanwhile, his painting of himself as a white savior who is oppressed by the rest of the world, actually resonates with white men, causing his popularity to skyrocket.

At the end of season 3, he introduces his son, Ryan, to a crowd of people. One rowdy crowd member throws an object that hits Ryan and Homelander promptly kills the dissenter. After a moment of the silence, the crowd begins to cheer and celebrate Homelander. This is the terrifying moment that The Boys has been building up to since episode 1—Homelander letting his true nature show publicly. Homelander has always been restricted by needing to project himself as a hero, but now he knows his dirty deeds and murders can go public and he’ll still be supported, and that truly makes him the most dangerous he has ever been.

(featured image: Amazon Prime)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.