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The Boys — Amazon's subversive new superhero series from creator Eric Kripke and executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg — is extremely dark. And no, we're not talking in the Battle of Winterfell kind of way. See, the Seven, the show's pitch-black version of the Justice League, initially seem like the world's greatest heroes, when in reality, when the curtain’s pulled back, it's quickly revealed that they're actually the world's biggest a**holes.
Which probably doesn't come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the Dark Horse comics the series is based on. To the uninitiated, though, the envelope-pushing, ultraviolent first season of The Boys is packed with some downright shocking sequences. Hence this list, in which we've attempted to compile the show’s most effed-up moments and plot lines.
To be fair, I guess we could've just written "Every single one of them" and called it a day. But since that wouldn’t make for a very compelling article, we've narrowed it down to the nine worst offenders.
**SPOILER WARNING: There are major spoilers for Season 1 of The Boys below. If you haven't finished the series yet, bookmark this and come back when you're done.**
Initially, fans were concerned that the anti-superhero source material might need to be watered down for a live-action adaptation, to make it more palatable to mainstream audiences (not to mention, squeamish execs).
And, uh, yeah, it's probably safe to say those fears were unfounded.
Because about five minutes into the first episode, we immediately get our first taste of the series' cynical take on superheroes: When A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), a member of The Seven and "the fastest man alive," accidentally runs into Robin (Jess Salgueiro), girlfriend to Jack Quaid's Hughie. Or, more accurately, runs through her.
And we don't miss a single millisecond as the camera lingers over the resulting explosion of blood and guts and bones in super-slo-mo, making it immediately clear that, on this show, pretty much nothing was deemed off-limits. (Well, almost nothing.)
The numerous sexual assaults
Take your pick, really: From a workplace sexual assault that felt all too uncomfortably real, spandex super-costumes aside, of The Seven’s newest recruit Starlight (Erin Moriarty) by The Deep (Chace Crawford) to Doppelgänger's shapeshifting powers being used to blackmail a U.S. Senator.
By my count, it takes until Episode 7 before we get the show’s first (and possibly only?) instance of healthy, fully consensual sex — and that fact, more than any of the graphic violence, can make The Boys a tough watch at times.
Homelander's first solo mission
As the flag-waving leader of The Seven, Anthony Starr's Homelander is basically Superman-meets-Captain America, with all of their powers and none of their moral compunction. And just in case you still harbored any notions that The Boys might be a traditional superhero show, those were shot down — literally — when the world's most beloved hero uses his heat vision to cut the Mayor of Baltimore's private jet in half, killing everyone on board — including the Mayor's young son.
The 'a** bomb'
As a darker, more grounded take on superheroes, Season 1 of The Boys answered all the pressing superhero questions we didn't even know we had. Questions like 'What would happen if Superman was a jingoistic sociopath?" and "How do you kill a seemingly-invincible super with impenetrable skin?" The answer to the latter, it turns out, is remarkably similar to that Ant-Man/Thanos Endgame fan theory...
Only The Boys actually went where the Russo Brothers wouldn't. The scene, in which Hughie shoves a bomb up Translucent's posterior, is punctuated by the ironic needle drop to end all ironic needle drops: The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb."
Despite Hughie and Starlight’s surprisingly romantic meet-cute, The Boys features plenty of cautionary tales for any mere mortal considering a relationship with a "supe," including a horrifying bit of TMI during a group therapy session for superhero collateral damage survivors. But that's nothing compared to what happens in Episode 3 when D-list hero Popclaw (Brittany Allen) accidentally explodes her landlord's head while he's... well, you know.
The botched rescue of Flight 37
Early in Episode 4, after Hughie mentions how horrible this all has been, Karl Urban's Billy Butcher replies, without missing a beat, "Don't worry. It can get a lot more horrible."
Then, not even 15 minutes later, we're treated to what just might be the show's single most brutal moment: When Homelander and Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) attempt to save an airplane full of people from a terrorist hijacking... only the mission goes sideways, and our heroes bail, leaving all 123 screaming passengers to plummet to their doom.
In other words, Butcher's earlier line wasn’t just some pithy retort — it was a promise straight from The Boys' writers room.
Compound V — what it does to the supes, and who's behind it — ends up being the central MacGuffin of Season 1. And the storyline goes from borderline messed-up (the Vought corporation is injecting babies with super-serum and pretending they're "miracles" from God) to even more messed-up when it's revealed they're also using the serum to create "super terrorists" only their heroes can fight.
Even better though, it provides us with the show's most gleefully effed-up moment: When Butcher uses a baby Cyclops to laser an entire room of armed guards clean in half.
The Deep's character arc
In a move straight out of Game of Thrones' playbook, Crawford's Aquaman-esque The Deep starts out as the show's most unrepentantly sleazy douchebag, only to be slowly transformed into an increasingly pathetic, almost sympathetic one (keyword being "almost").
By the time he's unceremoniously shipped off to Ohio to "patrol" Lake Erie, it seems like The Deep really can't sink much lower. Until he meets a fan who forces him to show her his gills... and then forces herself on him, bringing his arc full circle in the most awful possible way.
Basically everything involving Homelander — especially that last cliffhanger
From threatening to kill his teammates to melting his boss' face, it's pretty obvious that Homelander isn't exactly the champion of truth, justice, and the American Way that marketing makes him out to be. So by the time we finally learn why Butcher wants to kill the guy so badly, it's not difficult to buy that the so-called hero would have raped and killed Butcher's wife.
But then the show pulls the rug straight out from under both Billy and the audience by revealing that not only is Becca still alive, but she’s also in hiding raising her and Homelander's illegitimate super-son (which was even more shocking to comic fans, considering both died during childbirth in the source material).
Out of all the gut punches, literal and metaphorical, this season, this one hit hardest. Not to mention it offers the promise of a whole lot more messed-up plot threads for the show to explore in Season 2.