The Boys shouldn’t end with season 5

The cast of The Boys.
Prime Video

Showrunner Eric Kripke recently confirmed The Boys will end in season 5. The announcement came only a few days after speculation emerged about the show possibly going beyond its initial five-season plan, especially considering the highly-anticipated season 4 returns this week to strong reviews and incredible hype from audiences.

The thing is, it makes sense to end The Boys with season 5 — it also makes no sense to end The Boys with season 5. The show is undisputedly the crown jewel of Amazon Prime Video, earning the type of views and generating the kind of discussion few television projects can. In short, The Boys is a true phenomenon, the likes of which we are getting less used to. Only a few other TV projects can compare to The Boys‘ influence on pop culture — certainly none from Prime Video. So, while ending a show in the showrunner’s terms will always be a good thing, a strong case can be made for why The Boys should continue beyond its five-season arc, albeit with some changes.

Leave while you’re on top?

The Butcher looks worried while Homelander stands and stares behind him.
Prime Video

The Boys has been a very steady performer for Amazon, increasing in relevance and acclaim with each season, even if it arguably peaked with its Emmy-nominated second season. However, at least in terms of cultural relevance, The Boys has never been higher. It all comes back to its delightfully subversive attitude, admittedly cool premise, and a brilliant ensemble who very clearly love what they’re doing. The Boys has great characters, snappy dialogue, quite decent visual effects, thrilling action, and a refreshing, self-aware tone that makes it enjoyable yet disruptive. The show tackles real-life issues with wicked gusto, gleefully painting the middle finger to many members of its audience, who are often in on the joke.

From a business perspective, it makes no sense to end The Boys with season 5. Reviews are strong, ratings are even stronger, and the show is still fresh and appealing. It trends on social media, receives significant coverage, and, most importantly, remains among the few superhero franchises that are still consistently supported by viewers, a status that is now more precious amid the seeming downfall of the MCU. Why end a sure hit when it could perfectly go on for at least two more seasons?

Yes, Amazon Prime is already developing several spinoffs, including one set in Mexico, plus a second season of the flawed but entertaining Gen V and more unannounced projects. But the problem with spinoffs is that they’re not the original, and if there’s something we’re seeing right now, it’s that people don’t necessarily want to see stuff without the characters they like. Don’t make a Spider-Man movie without Spider-Man; don’t make a Mad Max movie without Max. These projects will all be inevitably compared to the original, and many will not rise to the challenge.

In many ways, it feels like these spinoffs are being set up to fail. After all, if you want more of The Boys, just do more of The Boys. The solution is very simple, especially considering the show’s premise is capable of supporting more seasons. The actors are all booked, if not exactly busy, so they should all agree to a couple more. Crucially, The Boys hasn’t overextended its welcome, arguably the most important aspect in deciding whether to end a beloved show in its prime.

It’s all about the bad guy

Queen Maeve and Homelander looking in the same direction with annoyed expressions in The Boys.
Amazon Prime Video

I am a supporter of creators being allowed to fulfill their vision as they see fit. If the plan for The Boys was always a five-season run, then more power to Kripke and Amazon for sticking to it. However, their willingness to keep the franchise going via spinoffs confirms their desire to stay in this imperfect world. Perhaps they fear The Boys is becoming too safe or formulaic. Maybe they fear the show’s political commentary might alienate what has, so far, been a very loyal audience.

The latter is more unlikely, so let’s focus on the former. Yes, The Boys is becoming somewhat safe due to its loyalty to Antony Starr’s Homelander. The show’s breakout character and de-facto star, Homelander is the poster child for deranged superheroes, reigning supreme over the likes of Omni-Man and the more divisive evil Superman. However, Homelander’s story — which in more ways than one is The Boys‘ story — has become repetitive. Every season leads to a climactic battle against the evil superhero, which he barely escapes, only to return more powerful than before, thus setting the stage for the next season. After three years, the shtick has grown tired.

Homelander smiles in The Boys season 4.
Amazon Prime Video

The Boys‘ decision to end in season 5 comes, I think, largely from the desire to let go of Homelander without necessarily letting go of him. The idea of sidelining, let alone killing, Homelander might seem unthinkable, but it makes perfect sense for The Boys‘ famously subversive nature. Moreover, that’s exactly what happens in the comic book series, where he dies rather anti-climactically before Billy Butcher assumes the role of the main antagonist for the remainder issues.

Thus, The Boys has two options: It can go the Game of Thrones route and kill Homelander and establish Butcher as the final villain in season 5 (because it’s unlikely it will do so in season 4), or it can take its time, end season 5 with Homelander’s death, and then allow Butcher to become the villain in a potential season 6. Between those two choices, it’s no surprise I, and surely many other fans, prefer the latter. The show hasn’t done a great job of establishing Butcher as a strong enough contender for villainy to pull it off in one season, especially with Homelander’s shadow looming so large.

Evolve or die

The Boys characters standing and looking ominously from The Boys on Amazon Prime Video.
Amazon Prime Video

The Boys is at a pivotal moment, not only as a show but, more importantly, as a franchise. It can either endure alongside the all-time greats or see its legacy stained by a puzzling ending followed by lesser and countless spinoffs. Just look at House of the Dragon, a stellar show that still has a hard time escaping from under Game of Thrones‘ shadow.

If Amazon still wants to be in the Boys business, it should focus on keeping the show relevant and acclaimed for a few more years. Spinoffs are good for support, but the main event should stay the same. Amazon has a good thing going on with The Boys, but it can easily ruin it by making the wrong decision. If ending in season 5 makes the most sense, then go for it. However, the signs all point to a story that could benefit from more space to breathe. Major TV shows have already been ruined by their desperation to get to the finish line; don’t make that mistake, Amazon.

The Boys is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.