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Things The Boys TV Show Changed From The Comics

Amazon Prime Video's flagship superhero series "The Boys" has cemented itself as one of the greatest comic book adaptations of all time — with a heavy emphasis on the word "adaptation." Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's original comic book series, "The Boys," was as popular as it was controversial, and if we're being honest with ourselves, the balance shifts in favor of the latter as time marches farther and farther from the series' final issue. When Erick Kripke set out to revive this dark deconstruction of superhero stories and tropes for a streaming audience, he had the difficult task of parsing through the source material to find which aspects of the comics would help his series soar and which would send it crashing into the ocean.

As successful as he was in this endeavor, "The Boys" has gone from a niche piece of nerd culture to a mainstream success. And while the series' success can arguably be attributed to Kripke and his writers' judicious trimming and altering of the original story, the changes themselves are sometimes the most interesting thing about it. Here are details and plot points that the show changed when it brought "The Boys" to Amazon Prime Video.

Homelander's secret origin doesn't exist

In bits and pieces, Amazon Prime Video's iteration of "The Boys" has provided a fairly bleak picture of how an innocent boy named "John" became the psychopathic narcissist known as Homelander (Antony Starr). Though Vought propaganda sells him as having a baseball-filled, all-American quintessential Midwestern childhood, Vought's Jonah Vogelbaum (John Doman) confirms that Homelander was molded through torture into becoming the world's strongest man. As such, it is implied that Homelander's violent nature and antisocial personality traits are due to a combination of childhood trauma, a lack of caring parental figures, and poor socialization.

In the comics, however, Homelander's turn toward psychopathy happens much more abruptly, through a convoluted plot engineered by his own clone. At the end of the comic series, it is revealed that it was actually Homelander's clone that assaulted and indirectly killed Butcher's wife, Becky. (She has a slightly different name in the comics.) But when the real Homelander saw alleged photographic evidence of his crimes, the sheer shock of it caused him to embrace a new, evil side of himself. As shocking as this twist was to read back in 2012, it came late enough in the series that an exact adaptation isn't necessary or even arguably preferable to Prime Video's more grounded reimagining of Homelander's origin.

Black Noir is a clone and also Ryan Butcher's father

Throughout "The Boys," the silent-but-deadly member of the Seven known as Black Noir is actually Homelander's clone in disguise. This was a deliberate tactical choice made by Vought to ensure that, should Homelander ever go rogue, they have a Supe every bit as powerful to stop him. When Homelander descends on Washington, D.C. with his own army of Supes and assassinates President Victor Neuman, Black Noir arrives to kill him. Noir emerges from the White House half-dead and carrying the mangled corpse of Homelander. In this weakened state, Butcher barely has to lift his crowbar to put Noir out of his misery.

The Amazon Prime series all but cast this ending aside at the beginning of Season 3, when they revealed in a flashback that their Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) was once a relatively normal Vought Supe who worked alongside Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) in Nicaragua on the superhero team Payback. This iteration of the character was murdered by Homelander at the end of Season 3, with Mitchell set to return as a new Black Noir in Season 4. While this effectively confirms there will be no clone shenanigans in the Prime Video series, it might be for the best — retconning Noir as the father of Ryan Butcher (Cameron Crovetti) would undercut a lot of the show's drama.

Becca Butcher's story is even darker

Season 1 of "The Boys" takes very few major deviations from the source material — that is, until the finale. Just moments after killing off Elisabeth Shue's Madelyn Stillwell (a gender-swapped version of a character from the comics that survives to the end of the series), the show reveals that Butcher's wife Becca (Shantel VanSanten) is actually alive — and raising the aforementioned son of Homelander, Ryan.

To fans of the comics, this was a massive deal. Butcher is 100% certain that his wife Becky is very much dead when the comic book series begins because he watched her die. Like the TV series, "Homelander" impregnated Becky when he assaulted her, resulting in the birth of an immensely powerful child with his powers. But while Cameron Crovetti's Ryan emerges as a mostly normal baby, the Supe-spawn from the comics is a disturbingly matured creature made up of pure infant rage. He kills Becky during childbirth right in front of Butcher's eyes — immediately afterward, Butcher beats him to death with a lamp.

Keeping Becca and Ryan alive might be the smartest choice made by Eric Kripke and co., if only because it complicates Butcher's nihilistic quest for revenge and provides much of the dramatic groundwork for the show's second season. The writers were even able to circle back to Becca's death at the hands of Ryan, with a season's worth of context making it one of the show's most heartbreaking moments thus far.

The Boys are all enhanced with Compound V

Especially after Season 3, the TV adaptation of "The Boys" has drawn a clear line in the sand when it comes to superpowers — while one can try to use them for good, the corrupting nature of having powers is ultimately too much of a risk to make intentionally taking Compound V an ethical choice. In other words, good guys don't do superpowers. The comics, on the other hand, have a slightly different perspective.

Rather than separate the Boys and the Seven on opposite sides of this line, Garth Ennis chose to never draw the line in the first place. From the first issue, all five members of the eponymous team have powers of some kind, including Butcher and Hughie Campbell (played by Jack Quaid in the show but clearly modeled on Simon Pegg). Both Billy and Hughie willingly underwent Compound V therapy once they decided to devote their lives to bring Supes to justice. Meanwhile, "the Female" (Karen Fukuhara's Kimiko) and Mother's Milk (Laz Alonso) were exposed to Compound V on accident due to their parents' working for Vought. The latter was actually born with superpowers, but as a result relies on his mother's breast milk to survive. Finally, The Frenchman (Tomer Capone's Frenchie) also has superpowers when he's first introduced, but their origins are a mystery.

Starlight isn't as central

There's a fair argument to be made that Annie January aka Starlight (Erin Moriarty) is the heart of Prime Video's "The Boys." Through her eyes, audiences experience the highs and infuriating lows of joining the Seven, and her arc toward open rebellion against Vought is one of the strongest original storylines written for the TV show. The fact that Hughie serves almost as a supporting character in this storyline also improves his overall characterization and highlights what makes his character integral to the series. It might be surprising, then, to learn that Garth Ennis originally wrote Annie "as a joke."

"Annie started out as a joke, and was actually going to degenerate further in terms of the s*** she'd put up with, the degradations she'd suffer just to be in the world's premier superteam," he said in a 2012 interview with Comic Book Resources. It was apparently only through the start of her relationship with Hughie that he felt "guilty" for his original plans and chose to write her "more responsibly." Even so, Ennis made an interesting choice in ending their relationship temporarily after Hughie witnesses footage of Annie being sexually assaulted by other members of the Seven.

The Deep isn't necessarily Aquaman

On paper, it seems like a no-brainer to adapt The Deep as an Aquaman pastiche, given how closely the Seven resembles DC Comics' Justice League. However, although Chace Crawford's take is a hilarious send-up of both the King of Atlantis and conceited Hollywood celebs, it's a very far cry from where the character started in Garth Ennis' series.

Aside from Black Noir, The Deep is probably the character that underwent the most changes from comic to screen. While Amazon Prime Video's version is dressed in regal spandex vaguely reminiscent of Jason Mamoa's DCEU character, the comics version wears a baggy diving suit with an antique helmet — and though Vought claimed he had aquatic powers, none were exhibited during the comics run. This characterization has caused many to draw comparisons between this version of The Deep and the DC villain Black Manta. The show also changed the character's race and his personality. The comics' Deep is stoic, serious, and somewhat self-determining, while the show's is basically the complete opposite.

Translucent doesn't exist

While the comic series "The Boys" is full of disgustingly memorable characters, not all of them will be brought to the TV series. Some are just too offensive to be included, while others don't make sense with the current direction the series is headed in. 

Though Season 4 of the Amazon Prime series will deviate further than ever before from the comics' version of the Seven (by adding new Supes Sister Sage and Firecracker to the team), the lineup for the first three seasons has been almost identical to the comics — save the addition of Translucent, who was created to replaced the notably absent comic character Jack from Jupiter. The pseudo-alien and Martian Manhunter parody was a prominent foe in the original story, but he was apparently too out-of-this-world to make the jump to TV. He's still referenced frequently throughout the show as being alive and working in this universe (eagle-eyed viewers believe he even made a cameo in Season 3's "Herogasm"), just outside the Seven. He's also featured in the comic-accurate episode of "The Boys Presents: Diabolical."

Lamplighter dies before the comic book begins

When the TV series begins, the specter of Lamplighter looms over the plot and characters of "The Boys" with subtle effectiveness. His "death" before the show's events places Vought in a vulnerable position and opens a hole in the Seven for Starlight, while a horrific crime he committed long ago serves as a defining moment in the lives of Frenchie and Mother's Milk. This made the eventual twist that he (now played by Shawn Ashmore) was alive and working on a secret project for Vought all the more surprising and impactful.

But in the comics, Lamplighter's early death is fairly final for the character. As in the show, he's responsible for murdering Greg/Grace Mallory's grandchildren — though rather than merely getting demoted by Vought as a consequence, he was surrendered by them to the Boys out of fear that Mallory and the CIA would retaliate otherwise. They executed him viciously and extrajudicially, as they are wont to do. And even though he is still "revived" in a more literal sense, he doesn't get the same amount of story prominence as his TV show counterpart, much less a full-on tragic redemption arc.

Stormfront's death is historically fitting

Back when Season 2 of the TV series first premiered, it was clear that significant changes were going to be made to the character Stormfront — most apparent among them being that the show's writers swapped the gender from male to female. Aya Cash's run as the season-long villain has gone down as arguably the series' best secondary antagonist, with her death at the beginning of Season 3 marking a dark point of no return for Homelander.

While TV-Stormfront died by suicide after being permanently dismembered and bed-ridden by a combination of Ryan's uncontrollable heat vision and her own immortality, Garth Ennis gave his Stormfront a death that was a bit more on-the-nose. About halfway through the comics' run, he (operating as the contested leader of Payback) is killed by the Boys and the Russian communist and former Vought Supe Love Sausage (the character and his very NSFW power were featured in Season 2 and 3 of the show, played by Andrew Jackson and Derek Johns). Given that Stormfront was a confirmed World War II-era Nazi, it's likely Ennis killed him in this way as a nod to the Nazis' targeting of communists in Germany and the USSR's significant role in beating back the forces of the Third Reich at the end of the war.

There's no redemption run for A-Train

The TV show version of The Deep bears a strong resemblance to the comic book version of A-Train. Both Supes are the least respected members of their respective iterations of the Seven, act out in immature and often embarrassing ways, and are considered less-than-redeemable in the eyes of the audience. And while the A-Train of the comics is responsible for killing Hughie's girlfriend, Robin, he is also the main participant and driving force behind Starlight's ritual abuse within the Seven (much in the same way The Deep was in early episodes of "The Boys").

In contrast, the TV series' version of A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) is absolved of many of his crimes from the comics (most notably assaulting Starlight) and is quickly humanized by an engaging storyline that tracks his growing disillusionment with the Seven. The personal revelations he makes in Season 3 push him so far that he kills a fellow Supe (who was responsible for nearly killing A-Train's brother). It's clear at this point that whatever inner turmoil had been brewing inside of A-Train is bound to be unleashed sooner or later.

As for the comics iteration, the same levels of introspection and self-revelation are never reached. He only briefly expresses concern for killing Robin, and he stops assaulting Starlight only when she proves to be a genuine threat to his safety. When he's finally killed by Hughie at the end of the series, there's still nuance or complexity to him.

Neuman gets a huge upgrade from the comics

All at once compelling and terrifying, Victoria Neuman has been one of the most serious threats to "The Boys" since making her head-popping debut in Season 2, rivaling even Homelander in terms of sheer power and political acumen. With an election on the horizon in Season 4, she's poised to finally step into the light as a major antagonist for the Boys and Homelander, as she twists the charisma of U.S. House Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez into a play to become the most powerful politician in the world. But what would happen if, rather than AOC, Neuman drew inspiration from GWB? Well, you'd get Vic the Veep.

Based on former U.S. President George W. Bush, the comics' Victor Neuman is opposite to Victoria in almost every way. He lacks her incredible powers, intelligence, and political prowess, and he's instead a useful idiot for whatever institution needs him. When Mr. Edgar dies of a heart attack, Victor is promoted to CEO of Vought-American essentially to keep Stillwell out of the limelight — and when the president is killed by a feral wolverine (the animal, not a version of the famous X-Man), he's sworn into office as the leader of the free world. He only gets to enjoy this power for so long, as he's unfortunately in office when Homelander begins his coup.

Godolkin is a Professor X figure in the comics

Pivoting slightly to the spin-off series "Gen V," we'd be remiss not to touch upon Prime Video's omission of a prominent antagonist from the comics – John Godolkin. The name at least will be familiar to fans of "Gen V," as he's the namesake for the central higher education facility Godolkin University (aka "God U"). Beyond that, however, Godolkin has played no role in "The Boys" so far, despite being a significant character in the comics.

In the original series, Godolkin's institution is less of a traditional college and more like Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, making him the series' riff on Professor X. The Supe children under his care were subjected to unspeakable abuse at his hands before they were eventually dispersed to various low-level and juvenile teams within the Vought family. However, his evil antics wound up jeopardizing Vought's business interests, leading to him and the entirety of his G-Men being killed. These events take place in the storyline "We Gotta Go Now," the inspiration for the series "Gen V." Godolkin never appears in that series, though he's renamed Thomas Godolkin, a behavioral scientist who founded the institution.

The comics are tied to a national tragedy

Amazon's TV series is probably best described as taking place in a parallel universe. Though it doesn't get quite as fantastical as the stories in Marvel and DC comics — nor does it have as elaborate or pervasive alternate history as works such as "Watchmen" — what reality it does engage with is done so through the lens of superheroes. For example, World War II happened basically as it did in the real world, but Supes were involved in some capacity. The same is mostly true for the comics — save one major historical diversion that arguably turns the series into something of an alternate timeline.

One of the foundational events of the comics is 9/11. However, in the world of "The Boys," Vought deployed its Supes to stop the attack, which (as readers can surely predict) ended in an entirely different sort of catastrophe thanks to their recklessness and general inability to provide real help. It's likely that Amazon Prime Video chose to omit this aspect of the story both to avoid potential offense and to allow them to set the remainder of the story in the late-2010s and early-2020s. The crash of Flight 37 is commonly seen as a replacement for this moment in the canon.