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'The Boys' showrunner Eric Kripke breaks down the finale's surprising death, Starlight 'owning her power,' and what's to come next season

Butcher and Homelander in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Karl Urban as Butcher and Antony Starr as Homelander in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

  • Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for the season three finale of Prime Video's "The Boys."
  • Showrunner Eric Kripke spoke to Insider about the episode's biggest moments, including the cliffhanger.
  • Kripke also discussed why a major character was killed off and what to expect in season four. 

Another diabolical, off-the-wall season of the hit superhero satire series "The Boys" has concluded, but there's so much more to come. 

The eight-episode third season of the Prime Video show wrapped up on Thursday night with an explosive (literally), game-changing finale. For many characters, it gave them a shot at redemption and an opportunity to team up for a common goal.

But not everyone made it out of season three alive.

Showrunner, executive producer, and head writer Eric Kripke sat down virtually with Insider to answer burning questions about the finale's biggest moments, tease themes that'll be addressed when "The Boys" returns for season four, and assure fans that he won't end the series with Homelander winning.  

From left: Frenchie, Kimiko, Mother's Milk, Hughie, and Annie in the season three finale of "The Boys."
From left: Tomer Capone as Frenchie, Karen Fukuhara as Kimiko, Laz Alonso as Mother's Milk, Jack Quaid as Hughie, and Erin Moriarty as Annie in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Prime Video

Diving right in, why did you have to kill Black Noir?

Because actions have consequences, Olivia. We needed something really shocking and momentous, and I know he's a fan favorite, but it just came really naturally.

I don't think we walked into the finale knowing we were gonna do it. It was just as we were tracking Homelander and watching him unravel, I couldn't understand a version where he wasn't gonna have some sort of huge reaction to Noir, who's been lying to him his entire life about the thing Homelander needed most in the world. 

So at what point did you decide that you're gonna kill him off, especially after you shared his origin story with us?

As we were mapping out the story for the finale, we realized it. The way this process goes, is you're outlining episode eight while you're writing episode three or four.

So, we said, OK, well, if we're heading in this direction, let's really give everybody who Noir is, where he comes from, and the fact that we're definitely implying that he sees animated characters everywhere he goes and that there have been animated characters all around him for three seasons now, which I sort of love.

We got to know what we needed to know about him, and then it was time for him to head off with Buster Beaver to the Buster Beaver Pizza in the sky.

Homelander and Black Noir hugging in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Antony Starr as Homelander and Nathan Mitchell as Black Noir in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Prime Video

And then at what point did you decide that Queen Maeve's (Dominique McElligott) arc this season would be a lot more connected to the main storyline and that she would deliver that seemingly final blow to Soldier Boy?

When you map out these hero's journey things, you reach this organic part for Starlight when, for her to truly rise into the hero we need her to be, we need to take away her mentor-slash-protector. And sure enough, there are like three different scenes in season two where Starlight's in a lot of trouble, and then suddenly Maeve's there.

So, the conversation started to turn to, as much as we love the character and as much as we love Dom, we sort of needed to take this protection away from Starlight. We said, OK, well, if we're doing that, then it's time to play all the cards we wanted to play, which is a huge fight with Homelander that she might have won.

I mean, that's what I love about that fight. We imply that had it kept going, she might have won.

Dominique McElligott as Queen Maeve in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Dominique McElligott as Queen Maeve in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Prime Video

But to bring her down to this core moment of, "Do I continue on my goal of vengeance or do I save the people I love, specifically Starlight?" and that she makes that decision and actually is a hero finally and purely, I thought was a really beautiful moment.

And then we worked really carefully and hard about — from the beginning I said to the writers, "She's not dying. I am not going to be the showrunner who kills off an LGBT character, like, fuck that. So you better start getting your heads around 'How do we have her gracefully leave, but give her a happy ending?'"

With Starlight, since the beginning, she's always been put through the wringer and so it felt really rewarding to see her join the Boys finally, especially because she was always sort of going a little rogue and helping them. How long did you have that plan in mind for her?

As we were mapping out her story for the season, we knew that that's where she'd end up, because Starlight's story in season three is really about owning her power on her own terms. That's the big arc for her.

When she starts out, she thinks she can have power given to her from these external sources: Vought, Stan Edgar, etc. And that obviously goes really poorly because one, it's a corrupt system, and two, it's not coming internally. It's being laid on her instead of her choosing what she wants to do.

And then she has that big scene with Neuman where she finally is starting to realize who she needs to be. So, we very much designed that turning point. From that point forward, when she finally tells off Neuman, she starts scoring win after win and really does then claim her own power as like, how is she going to wield her power as a really powerful woman.

Erin Moriarty as Annie/Starlight in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Erin Moriarty as Annie/Starlight in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Prime Video

I also really loved how Hughie finally came to his senses in that big battle scene, in terms of what strength is and how to uplift someone with his smarts instead of with temp V. Was that always the plan for Hughie to sort of go through this journey of toxic masculinity and come around?

The whole thing of what he ultimately learns of how empty and ultimately bullshit that whole toxic masculinity thing is, though it's seductive, it's seductive to be the kid who has sand kicked in your face and then you get to punch back and feel like you're in an action movie. But the truth of that is really empty and destructive.

I think when he was in the woods with Soldier Boy, for the most part, he really started to learn what bullshit that all was.

So, then when we headed in episode eight, we wanted to give him a moment of like, let's let him be a hero, but one at the things that he's really good at, like embracing that it's not about strength or power, it's about his smarts and his intelligence. And then, more importantly, let's let him do it in a way that lets Annie take the win because she's earned that and he owes her that.

Jack Quaid as Hughie Campbell in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Jack Quaid as Hughie Campbell in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Prime Video

And then with Neuman, she makes another big move by the end of the season as the VP pick. Can you allude to where this is headed for season four and what her game plan is?

Anyone who's a fan of Garth Ennis' original books knows that one of his biggest plots, kind of towards the back half of the books, is a Dakota Bob presidency with a Neuman vice president who is a secret Vought plant and obviously conspiring to make themselves president.

Even though we've taken a roundabout way to get there, we've sort of manipulated those chess pieces into position so we can start telling that story.

The stakes couldn't possibly be higher because you have this secret supe in the White House with an agenda and is just hungry for power. A superhero in the Oval Office, I think, would be really destructive for a lot of reasons. The Boys have their work cut out for them next year.

We have to talk about the last scene in the last episode, which, in my opinion, is more disturbing and unsettling than a lot of things I have seen on this show. Just seeing Homelander fully embraced for who he is and that little smile from Ryan gave me chills. Why did that scene feel like the right way to end this season?

We wanted to end on the cliffhanger energy of really lining up what the Boys are gonna be up against next year.

Homelander is getting his followers so whipped up into a frenzy that, as we said in the writer's room, he literally kills someone on Fifth Avenue and people cheer for him, it's a sign of the devotion of his followers and it's not an accident that there's also a bunch of these well-meaning, lefty Starlighters.

It's a hint of one of our big themes in season four, which is society as a whole is fracturing into these two factions and no one's listening to each other and the threat of violence just gets worse and worse every day. It's an appetizer of what all these superheroes are gonna be doing to society in season four.

Antony Starr as Homelander in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Antony Starr as Homelander in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Prime Video

How do you think fans are gonna react to Homelander coming out on top this season? If you follow the Twitter chatter this season as I have, every week, people are talking about how off-the-wall Homelander is and how great Antony Starr is. How do you think people are gonna feel about his season three conclusion?

My guess is they're gonna be shaking their fists at the writers. But I've learned a long time ago there's a difference between hate and love to hate. And you want them on the "love to hate." You want them frustrated about what will happen next. And I think we're on the right side of that line. You want your audience riled up.

The story's not over. Hang out, folks. There's more story to tell and I'll make a pledge to you right now that I will not end this series with Homelander winning. You can hold me to that. So, just tell everyone to stay tuned. There's more to come.

And with Butcher, since his time is limited, how is that gonna affect him and that promise that he made now that Ryan voluntarily sided with Homelander?

He's in a really tight spot and as we're just all now getting together to talk about season four, it's been really rich territory because he's dying. He's a man facing his mortality in a very real way with all the things that he still wants to do and hasn't been able to do, and he just feels that clock ticking really loudly.

Karl Urban as Butcher in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Karl Urban as Butcher in the season three finale of "The Boys."
Prime Video

The last question I'll wrap with is, this season, we got to see more stories with Frenchie and Mother's Milk. So now that you're returning for more, is there a character in mind that you wanna dig into a little deeper?

The plan is to dig into all of them pretty deeply. They're all sort of beautifully set up to really start to get to the real core of who they are.

What's both challenging and fun about the show is every season, you just mine a little deeper down to try to get to, basically, the core trauma that defines all of them and once you have your finger on that, it's time to start crashing into that directly. I think it'll be great. I'm really pleased with what the room is coming up with so far for season four.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

All episodes of season three of "The Boys" are streaming on Prime Video.

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