Who is Kessler in The Boys season 4? Jeffrey Dean Morgan's mind-melting character, explained

The Boys season 4
(Image credit: Prime Video)

Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character had been the subject of much speculation in the lead-up to the release of The Boys season 4

Thankfully, we didn't have to wait too long for the answer, as the Prime Video series quickly revealed Morgan's mystery role in the new season. He's actually a familiar name to fans of the comics – even if he is wildly different to the iteration found in Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's works.

But the story doesn't end there. As The Boys does so well, one more twist remained. So who is Joe Kessler, really? Let's find out.

Spoilers for The Boys season 4 follow!

Who is Jeffrey Dean Morgan playing in The Boys season 4?

Jeffrey Dean Morgan in The Boys season 4

(Image credit: Prime Video)

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is playing Joe Kessler, a figment of Butcher's imagination acting as the devil on his shoulder. 

That's all thanks to Butcher's Compound V-related illness, which has manifested itself as his consciousness come to life as people who were close to him that are now dead. On one side, Kessler. On the side of the angels? His ex-wife Becca. 

Through Butcher's imagined conversations, we know of the pair's previous history.  Kessler was a CIA operative and they last met 11 years ago while working together. The pair even reminisce about the time Butcher saved Kessler's life during an operation in Afghanistan, as well as Kessler's more, ahem, extracurricular activities. The circumstances surrounding his death are currently unknown.

Kessler first appeared to Butcher in his mind outside of a confidential meeting headed up by Grace Mallory and President-elect Singer.

During the conversation, 'Kessler' reveals that he wants Homelander taken out before (in his mind, at least) Supes start rounding up the civilian population and putting them into camps. 

Unlike the others, who remain focused on VP prospect Neuman, Kessler seemingly prefers cutting the head off the snake.

In the third episode, Kessler supplies Butcher with carfentanil, an extremely powerful drug that can be used to subdue Homelander's biological – and suitably superpowered – son Ryan, who's not yet got a hang of his abilities. Once that plan goes awry, Kessler leaves Butcher with an ultimatum: "We figure out to train [Ryan] or we figure out how to kill him."

The grand reveal arrived in the sixth episode, with Kessler finally 'unmasking' himself as the one side of Butcher telling him all the things he thought he needed to hear. 

As of the seventh episode, he is still sticking around in Butcher's head, and is the one causing him to unleash his Supe powers. However, as shown during the fight with Black Noir and The Deep, 'Kessler' can come and go when he pleases.

In the comics, Kessler also works for the CIA and provides intelligence to The Boys. It's here where the similarities end. Not only does he have a different first name (Howard), but is nicknamed Monkey – on account of a brutal incident involving the animal at a brothel.

For more, check out The Boys season 4 release schedule and our picks for the best shows on Prime Video.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.