The Boys: Comics vs. TV show key differences explained

The Boys tells a tale so explosive, it needs two formats to contain it.
The Boys Season 2 -- Courtesy of Jasper Savage/Amazon Studios
The Boys Season 2 -- Courtesy of Jasper Savage/Amazon Studios /

The Boys is a tale so explosive, it needed two formats to contain it.

This ultra-violent saga kicked off as a comic book series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. Their brainchild is all about a world where superheroes, or “Supes,” are more like super jerks, using their powers for fame and fortune. Enter The Boys, a rough-and-tumble group out to keep these Supes in check. The comic is gritty, raw, and not afraid to push every boundary imaginable.

Then came Eric Kripke, the mastermind who adapted this chaotic adventure into a TV series for Amazon Prime. While both versions have the same core - corrupt heroes and the vigilantes who keep them in line - their execution couldn’t be more different. And that doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

While we get ready for the fourth season to hit Prime Video on June 13th, let's go over some of the differences between the comics and Kripke's adaptation. Relax, I ain't dropping spoilers today.

The Boys - Episode 302 - “The Only Man In The Sky”
The Boys - Episode 302 - “The Only Man In The Sky” Courtesy Prime Video /

1) Tone and style

In the comics, the tone is dark, violent, and downright outrageous. Think over-the-top action and scenes that make you gasp and laugh simultaneously. It’s unapologetically brutal, with a heavy dose of the darkest humor. The characters are exaggerated versions of themselves, diving headfirst into their flawed, messed-up personalities. On the TV screen, things take a slightly different turn. The show still packs a punch but dials back some of the extremities. It’s more polished, focusing on deeper character development and intricate storylines. The TV series adds layers of complexity to the characters, making them more relatable and their struggles more impactful. Homelander, for instance, is portrayed with a more nuanced villainy, making viewers both fear and kind of understand him. Plot-wise, the TV series takes creative liberties, introducing new story arcs and characters not found in the comics. This keeps even die-hard comic fans on their toes, offering fresh surprises and twists.

Erin Moriarty (Annie January aka Starlight) in The Boys Season 3 Credit: Courtesy of Prime Video Copyright: Amazon Studios /

2) Character backstories and development

In the comics, characters often have less detailed backstories and are portrayed in more extreme, less nuanced ways. Think of them as wild, larger-than-life figures. They’re raw, intense, and not afraid to cross any line. Their motivations are straightforward, and their actions are dialed up to eleven. It’s all about shock and awe. The TV show, however, digs deeper into who these characters are and what makes them tick. For instance, Starlight’s story is a prime example. The show explores her struggles with the corrupt nature of The Seven and Vought, giving her a richer, more developed background. You see her inner conflicts and the battles she faces as she tries to stay true to her morals in a messed-up world. This depth makes her journey more relatable and compelling.

The Boys -- Courtesy of Prime Video /

3) The Boys’ capabilities

In the comics, The Boys get a serious power-up from a substance called Compound V. This magical juice gives them superpowers, leveling the playing field against the Supes. It’s a wild, no-holds-barred battle where everyone’s got some serious muscle to flex. Now, flip to the TV series, and things start off a bit differently. Our fearless team begins their mission without the help of Compound V - they rely on their brains, street smarts, and some pretty cool gadgets to take on the mighty Supes. It’s all about strategy and guts, making every confrontation a nail-biting showdown. But don’t get too comfy - later in the series, The Boys start dabbling in Compound V, mixing things up and bringing in some serious power plays. This shift keeps us on the edge of our seats, wondering what they’ll do next.

"The Boys" Ep101 D22Photo: Jan Thijs 2018
Photo: The Boys.. Jan Thijs/Amazon Prime Video /

4) Homelander’s characterization

In the comics, Homelander is your classic, straight-up villain. He’s bad to the bone with no qualms about his evil deeds. He’s all about power, chaos, and having zero empathy. Think of him as a terrifying force of nature with a super suit. Enter Antony Starr and his incredible portrayal of Homelander in the TV series. Here, Homelander isn’t just a one-note baddie. Starr adds layers of psychological depth, turning him into a complex character. You get to see his internal conflicts, insecurities, and even moments of vulnerability. Despite his horrific actions, there are times you almost (just almost) feel a bit of sympathy for him. He’s like a ticking time bomb, making the show even more gripping.

The Boys Season 2 -- Courtesy of Panagiotis Pantazidis/Amazon Prime Video /

5) Certain characters and relationships

In the comics, some characters really steal the spotlight. They’re big, bold, and unforgettable. But when it comes to the TV series, things get a little more interesting and intricate. For starters, the TV show loves to mix things up by introducing new characters and changing how some relationships play out. Take Becca Butcher, for example. In the comics, her story is pretty straightforward, but in the series, her storyline gets super juicy. Her relationship with Billy Butcher and Homelander is dramatically expanded, adding layers of drama and tension that keep us hooked. In the comics, Billy Butcher is driven by a desire for revenge against Homelander for what happened to Becca. But the TV series takes this storyline and runs with it, creating a tangled web of emotions and motivations. Becca’s presence and the complexities of her relationships with Billy and Homelander add a whole new dimension to the show.

The Boys Season 4
Singer Neuman /

6) Plot and themes

Picture a world where superheroes are basically rock stars with superpowers - totally corrupt and out of control. The comics pull no punches, diving into a cynical take on heroism and showing the dark, twisted underbelly of the superhero industry. It’s a wild, global ride with storylines that can get pretty abstract, making you question what heroism really means. Now, the TV series keeps things a bit more grounded and hits closer to home. It uses current socio-political themes to amp up its critique of heroism. Think corporate greed, the cult of celebrity, and media manipulation - all those juicy, real-world issues we love to hate. The show isn’t just about super-powered battles - it’s a sharp, often hilarious commentary on modern society. Both versions are a blast, but they hit you in different ways.

The Boys Season 4
The Boys /

7) Ending and story arcs

In the comics, Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson give us a finale that’s dark, intense, and wraps everything up with a bang. It’s the kind of ending where you close the book and just sit there, stunned, thinking, “Wow, that was wild.” The conflict gets resolved in a way that leaves no loose ends, and it’s a serious mic drop moment. But over on Amazon Prime, Eric Kripke’s TV series isn’t tied down by the comic’s ending. The show is still going strong, with the chance to explore different directions and keep fans guessing. It can take those story arcs we love and twist them in new ways, maybe even giving us endings that are totally unexpected.

These differences, while sometimes big, make the TV series accessible to a broader audience while keeping the essence that made the comic popular. The adaptation strikes a balance between staying true to the source material and exploring new creative directions, and it gives this incredibly relatable story an audience it wouldn't have if it was only available in its comics version.

Whether you’re flipping pages or binge-watching, The Boys delivers a thrilling, wild experience, which is set to return with its fourth season this June 13th. Enjoy the ride!

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