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The Boys season 3 release date, cast, and plot - What we know so far

Contains spoilers for The Boys seasons 1 and 2

These days, it's difficult to put together a superhero-based TV series or movie that stands out from the crowd. Between Marvel and DC's immensely successful offerings, smaller adaptations have a hard time getting a word in edgewise. For Amazon's adaptation of The Boys, that isn't anything to worry about, since its over-the-top violence and dark take on a world full of metahumans definitely makes a statement.

Based on the comics by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, The Boys is more of a cynical deconstruction of the entire superhero genre than it is a pure superhero tale. The first season of the television adaptation made quite the impact in late July 2019, skyrocketing to the top of Amazon Prime Video and amassing an impressive fan following. The Boys grew so undeniably popular that future seasons became all but inevitable, and sure enough, viewers got their wish. Before the show even debuted, Amazon confirmed that another set of episodes was on the way.

Now, the ending of The Boys season 2 raises the stakes higher than ever. Fans are waiting with bated breath to see where Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and the members of his disbanded team are heading next, and how the Homelander (Antony Starr) will cope with his assorted losses. What does the shows' third season have in store for the Boys and the Seven? How does Vought react to the events of season 2, and what new threats are looming on the horizon? Here's what we know about The Boys season 3.

What's the release date for The Boys season 3?

The Boys seems to gun for a fairly reliable "one season, one year" production cycle. The entire first season of the show dropped on Amazon Prime on July 26, 2019. Season 2 arrived a little over a year later, with the first three episodes arriving on September 4, 2020, and the subsequent episodes released on a weekly basis.

We've known for a while that season 3 of The Boys is coming, because the show's panel at San Diego Comic-Con@Home announced the amazing news of the renewal in July 2020, well before the first episode of season 2 arrived. As such, we can probably expect season 3 to follow the trend and drop sometime in the latter half of 2021. Or can we?

"We hope to be shooting in early 2021, but that's up to a microscopic virus," Eric Kripke said of the planned schedule (via Collider). While this should easily allow for a 2021 release, the showrunner is right to note that the COVID-19 pandemic could potentially complicate matters. So, while a 2021 release date seems plausible, this could change in the upcoming months.

Who's in the cast of The Boys season 3?

The Boys season 2 ended with the titular team effectively disbanding after ostensibly fulfilling their mission, but let's be honest: Since the characters are all alive, it's virtually guaranteed that Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Karen Fukuhara, Tomer Kapon, and Laz Alonso will return as Butcher, Hughie, Kimiko, Frenchie and Mother's Milk. Antony Starr's increasingly unhinged Homelander will also quite certainly return, and it'll be interesting to see how Giancarlo Esposito's Stan Edgar will be able to keep him in check in a version of the Seven that includes Dominique McElligott's Queen Maeve and Erin Moriarty's Starlight — two Supes who have defied him in the past.

Supernatural star Jensen Ackles will join the cast of season 3 as Soldier Boy, the first superhero of them all. It's quite likely that The Boys season 3 will also devote ample time for the head-exploding congresswoman Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit), as well as the world's first naturally-born Supe, Ryan Butcher (Cameron Crovetti), who's now under the custody of Grace Mallory (Laila Robins). Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who famously portrays Negan on The Walking Dead, may be joining the cast of season 3 as well.

There are also some pretty intriguing characters who are still alive after season 2, but there's no way of telling whether they return or not. Chief among them is Aya Cash's Stormfront, who was a major player in season 2, but ended up severely injured and outed as a Nazi. Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) is also out of commission, courtesy of Maeve's Almond Joy attack.

Really, though, apart from clearly dead characters like Becca Butcher (Shantel VanSantel), pretty much any character has potential for a big, plot-twisting season 3 comeback — maybe even Love Sausage (Andrew Jackson). It is The Boys, after all.

What's the plot of The Boys season 3?

The Boys season 2 left plenty of plot threads for season 3 to tug at its leisure. At this point on the show, every main character has their own baggage to sort through, but there are several particularly pressing matters that may end up drawing the Boys back together. There's congresswoman Vic Neuman, who's secretly the mysterious, super-powered assassin responsible for all the exploding heads in season 2, and for whom the unwitting Hughie is now working. There's also the arrival of the powerful Soldier Boy — who, as Eric Kripke has revealed on Twitter, will be a threatening presence for the already unbalanced Homelander.

Most interestingly, Kripke's official Twitter account has revealed that the title of the first episode of season 3 is "Payback," which is the name of the second-biggest Vought-sponsored superhero team in the source material. The comics' version of the team includes Stormfront and Soldier Boy, along with the Batman-Iron Man hybrid Tek-Knight, who has long been a character fans are hoping to see in The Boys. While it's too early to tell whether the title means that the show actually plans to introduce a version of the team, it's worth noting that the events of season 2 left Seven fairly broken-up and down on their luck, so it would make sense for Vought to turn the spotlight on another team for a while.

Theories about The Boys season 3

The comic book version of The Boys offers a treasure trove of material for the show, and Eric Kripke has made sure to sow all sorts of seeds for potential future plot twists. In an interview with TV Line, the showrunner revealed that he regrets killing off Shawn Ashmore's troubled Lamplighter so early after the character's introduction. In the comics, Lamplighter is actually something of a zombie — a dead body resurrected by the Compound V in his system, and hidden in a basement as a barely functional, half-living monstrosity. Will we see a similar thing happen to the show's version of the perished pyrokinetic?

One character we're particularly worried about is Queen Maeve. She has angered Homelander, and if Black Noir ever comes to, he probably won't be too pleased about her, either. She's also pretty protective of Starlight, a character with even more beef with the two than she has — and it just so happens that a furious Homelander killed her comics' counterpart when she defended Starlight from him.

And then there's Billy Butcher. The leader of the Boys enters season 3 as a man with absolutely nothing left to lose, which might spell doom for everyone. In the comics, Butcher is actually the final villain who abandons nearly all semblance of morality, kills the majority of his own team, and almost murders every single Supe in existence — regardless of whether they're evil or not. The show's take on Butcher is already much gloomier than the comic book one. Could we see him embrace such darkness in season 3?

We'll find out what fresh, glorious madness The Boys season 3 has in store when it drops on Amazon Prime in 2021.