The Boys season 3 ending explained: What just happened?

Antony Starr as Homelander in The Boys
(Image credit: Prime Video)

Well, there you have it. The Boys season 3's ending has hit and we have a lot to unpack. In The Boys season 3 episode 8, "The Instant White-Hot Wild," we got the big battle between Homelander, Billy Butcher, Soldier Boy and The Boys that this entire season was building to.

We reached this episode with everything at a fever pitch, with the revelation that Homelander (Antony Starr) is the son of Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles), Homelander hunting down his own son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti) with the help of Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit), and Butcher (Karl Urban) and Hughie (Jack Quaid) going for more Temp-V even though they're both in danger of fatally overdosing. 

The Boys season 3 finale also delivered more than a couple of endearing moments, and a betrayal or two (depending on your point of view). So let's unpack the kills, temporary alliances and everything else we just saw from one of the best shows on Prime Video.

We also can't wait for The Boys season 4 — here's everything we know about it.

Of course, consider this your Spoiler Warning for The Boys season 3. We're going, ahem, deep.

The Boys season 3 moves its chess pieces move around the board

We kick things off with Ryan telling his dear ol' homicidal dad that "Aunt" Grace (Laila Robins) has been taking care of him. Then, Homie had a heart-to-heart with his son, and showed him the humanity necessary to bring his son over to the dark side. It felt akin to what would have happened if Darth Vader were a master manipulator and Luke were more easily plied. 

Meanwhile, The Boys' version of our own very-divisive politics reared its head at a rally where the yellow (Starlight) and blue (Homelander) sides screamed in anger. Now that Annie (Erin Moriarty) outed Homelander as evil live in 4K on Instagram Live, her team's going to #FreeMaeve. Meanwhile, Soldier Boy's side yelled about children dying loud enough for audiences to know who is supposed to represent who. 

At the same time, Ashley (Colby Minifie) and The Deep (Chace Crawford) found Maeve (Dominique McElligott) and watched her get knockout-gassed … before she breaks free.

Laz Alonso as Mother's Milk, Karen Fukuhara as Kimiko and Jack Quaid as Hughie Campbell in The Boys season 3

(Image credit: Prime Video)

Our anti-heroes are trying to move on to stop Homelander, as Hughie wipes off some black goo from his ear from his Temp-V and Soldier Boy doesn't even try to act like he's going to help take his own son down. 

As for Frenchie (Tomer Kapon) and Mother's Milk (Laz Alonso)? Well, they've actually got a weapon to take down Soldier Boy, but the former has the great idea of keeping it in a perfume bottle. MM is torturing himself for knocking out Todd, but only because his daughter Janine saw it — and now she might define him by it. Frenchie says he can't hide his broken-ness from Janine, and that MM is too good a person for his daughter to give up on him.

As Homelander sees that Starlight's live stream knocked Vought's stock down, Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) and his animated hallucinations return to the tower to declare his intent to kill Soldier Boy. Homelander, unconvincingly, embraces him. 

At a gas station, Butcher knocks out Hughie, but not before comparing him to his little brother who we met last week. He and Soldier Boy then hit the road to New York. A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) offers to help Franklin (Christian Keyes), his wheelchair-bound brother, and then reveals he doesn't care if he can get back into the Supe game without him. Then A-Train lies and claims that he didn't kill Blue Hawk, but his brother sees right through him, and kicks him out of the house before falling out of his chair.

Reconciliations and failed conversations

Hughie gets help from the one person who shouldn't want to, as Annie picks him up from the gas station before revealing how he's in danger because of Temp-V. Hughie talks about his father's emotional strength and resilience, basically working to an apology to Annie about his behavior this season. He even lets her get out an "I f**cking told you so!" The two meet up with Maeve, who is posted up with MM & Co.. 

Erin Moriarty as Annie January aka Starlight, in the Vought tower board room in The Boys season 3

(Image credit: Courtesy of Prime Video)

Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) tries to slap the blow out of Frenchie's nose after he does a line, and he doesn't seem to remember any of the "buck up" speech he just gave MM. Of course, Kimiko reasons with him, and we at home tear up a little bit. 

The group ponders how Soldier Boy and Homelander will interact once they're in the same room, and Starlight fails to get a Vought Tower evacuation done remotely. Hughie pleads with the gang to save Butcher, as they need to "save everyone, even if they don't deserve it." 

The Boys is all about loyalty, loyalty and loyalty

Butcher and Soldier Boy talk about invading the tower, and bond over their own memories of their dads, while SB goes vulgar about his past partners (again) before explaining how miserable their childhoods were. Butcher tries to convince SB that Homelander isn't really worth caring about, but that speech goes over like a lead balloon. 

Another failed conversation happens at Vought, when Homelander tells Noir about his new revelation as he tries to find out anything good about Soldier Boy. Homie then gets Noir to confess that he knew about the secret fatherhood, which leads Homelander to literally rip his guts out and leave him in a growing pool of his own blood. 

Karl Urban as Billy Butcher in The Boys season 3

(Image credit: Courtesy Amazon Studios)

Maeve and Co. head to Butcher's place, and demand answers. Hughie demands that they don't go the violent route (tough chance on this show), and then Frenchie actually sticks up for himself (and demands basic workers rights) after Butcher tells him to shut up. Hughie pleads for reason, Maeve throws out the anti-SB nerve agent and Soldier Boy himself comes in to threaten Annie. Butcher forces them all to get in the safe. 

A-Train, Deep and Ashley analyze Annie's warning, but Homelander says they need to stay in the tower to make a statement of confidence — right before he shows them Noir's helmet to remind them who's in charge, before telling everyone about Deep and the Octopus. 

Deep pledges loyalty, Homelander demands Ashley remove her wig and A-Train judges everyone. The Deep then proves his loyalty by assassinating Lamar Bishop (Graham Gauthier), one of the potential VP candidates, helping create a spot for Victoria Neuman to advance.

The Boys season 3's big climactic endgame

Starlight and the gang break out of the safe, Frenchie says they can get more nerve agent from within Vought Tower and everyone questions this plan. But since it's the best option on the table, Hughie starts a chorus of agreements. Hughie then finds a vial of Temp-V, making all of us afraid he's going to be dumb. 

And in Vought Tower, Homelander is greeted by Butcher, Soldier Boy and Maeve, and reveals he killed Noir over his hidden lineage. Homie then basically makes a request that his dad join the dark side, and appeals to the idea of family by bringing in Ryan — the ultimate human shield, who calls Soldier Boy "grandpa" and has forsaken Butcher. 

Soldier Boy doesn't buy this nonsense, calling his son "weak," "starved for attention" and "a f**king disappointment." Everyone clashes before Ryan laser-eye-blasts SB, who then knocks the child into a cabinet, knocking him out. 

Jack Quaid (Hughie Campbell) and Jensen Ackles (Soldier Boy) stand in the road in The Boys season 3

(Image credit: Courtesy Amazon Studios)

And right as Soldier Boy is about to de-power Homelander with a blast, and likely take out Ryan in the process, Butcher saves them both with Temp-V enabled eye-beams. After Butcher explains his own love triangle, SB mocks him for wanting to save Ryan, and we get the big bad battle, as Soldier Boy and Butcher take apart the Vought News Network set while Maeve fights Homelander. 

Enter MM and Starlight to save Butcher, as Frenchie and Kimiko go to make more nerve agent in the lab. Hughie forces an emergency evacuation, which leads Ashley to take the emergency pod — leaving out her assistant (also named Ashley). 

Kimiko then defends Frenchie in the lab by kicking butt to the beat of Michael Sembello's Flashdance theme "She's a Maniac." Homelander gouges one of Maeve's eyes out with his thumb, more violence ensues and an incapacitated Frenchie hands Kimiko the gas to stop Soldier Boy. 

Back in the Vought News set, Soldier Boy beats the hell out of Butcher and stops Kimiko from gassing him, leaving Hughie with a decision to make. Take Temp-V to help, or be smarter. He goes for the latter and turns the light up in the newsroom to give Starlight all the power to knock Soldier Boy down for a moment. This gives the gang enough time to gas Soldier Boy, with MM doing the honors for his family. 

Soldier Boy tries to go nuclear to avoid being frozen again, Maude stabs Homelander in the ear and then sacrifices herself by throwing herself and Solider Boy out the window, thus taking her own powers away in the resulting explosion. 

The aftermath of the Vought Tower battle

As everyone gets up, Butcher can't get a word out of Ryan, who's chosen Homelander as his new dad. They leave at his behest, ignoring Butcher's pleas. Butcher then passes out as Temp-V takes him down, only for him to wake up in the hospital to be told he doesn't have much time (up to 18 months) left to live, and he's going to get his foot amputated. MM explains to Janine that his past is complicated, and that Soldier Boy killed their relatives. She still loves her dad, though, and tells him he's her hero. 

Back at the hideout, we learn that The Boys pulled a head-fake with that Vought News Network video claiming Maeve is dead. She's still missing an eye, and recovering from the attack without the aid of powers. Elena is actually here to help her ex, and the two will go off the grid away from Homelander's reach. 

Claudia Doumit (Victoria Neuman) at a rally in The Boys season 3

(Image credit: Courtesy Amazon Studios)

Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" plays as the two Ashleys erase footage of Maeve being saved, Grace watches as Soldier Boy goes back into cold storage and Deep's wife tells all about their relationship on TV. At the Flatiron Building HQ, Annie January burns the Starlight suit, and MM gives an invitation for her to join up. Frenchie says The Boys is now a democracy, and everyone agrees she's in. Butcher, at the door, does not object. Then, we learn that Dakota Bob's chosen Victoria as his new VP.

To close it all out, we've got a Vought Tower rally, as Soldier Boy's statue is toppled by Homelander fans, who are united with some carrying very-on-the-nose Stormfront signs. And if the rally wasn't obvious enough, Ryan flies in and gets an introduction, only to be attacked by a protester throwing a plastic bottle. Homelander, in another incredibly obvious political reference, kills this man in broad daylight with tons of witnesses, without any ramifications. And Todd of all people is there to start the adoring applause for this. We really wanted MM there to beat him up.

Where The Boys season 3 leaves things for next season

So, to recap: Homelander's killed Noir and regained his son, and while his press may be very bad, his base is rallied. He still has Neuman, A-Train, Ashley and The Deep as his remaining allies, though all of them seem likely to be plucked away at some point. 

The Boys are united and Starlight is out of The Seven. Soldier Boy's incapacitated and off the board. Butcher doesn't have much time left to live. 

The story for The Boys season 4 is the same as before: stop Homelander. It's just that he now has the ear of the presumptive Vice President. That's gonna make the fight even harder. 

Next: This is the one Roku accessory everyone should buy.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.