Gen V doesn’t need cameos from The Boys, it’s great enough on its own

Soldier Boy and Hughie in The Boys season 3
(Image credit: Amazon)

There’s no denying that it’s tricky to make a spin-off series stand on its own, especially one with as big a following as The Boys. Yet, for the most part, Gen V has done just that so far, bringing some much-needed new life into this cinematic universe. 

So far, it’s been a compelling premise following a group of college-age Supes navigating their growing powers executed in an exceptional way. Showrunner Michele Fazekas has created characters to care very deeply about, as they struggle to come to terms with the decision their parents made to inject them with Compound V as infants – and the often horrific consequences this caused. This has all been told through the lens of real teenage issues, including nuanced takes on mental health, sexuality, and body dysmorphia too. 

What’s more, it’s managed to do all of this while keeping the heart of its bloody and weird source material. From Sam’s muppet hallucinations to Marie’s very gory powers, it’s been familiar without leaning too overtly on the wider world of The Boys. The context remains in background TV reports and the fact it’s Vought pulling the strings at Goldolkin University, but it hasn't been that distracting. That is, until Soldier Boy’s big cameo in episode 6

Warning: We're getting into spoilers from Gen V episode 6 from here on out, so make sure you're up to date before scrolling on.

Grandpa’s back

Gen V

(Image credit: Prime Video)

After Cate’s betrayal, Marie, Andre, Jordan, and Dusty find themselves sucked into her memories when she passes out. Struggling with understanding what this means, and how things work in this new environment, they suddenly encounter Jensen Ackles’ Supe, and things get even weirder. 

No, despite what that trailer implied, this isn’t actually the real Soldier Boy, rather one who is a figment of Cate’s imagination. He’s quite literally a staple of her wank bank, as he shares that he’s been the one to guide her through her puberty. Yikes. We don’t want to think about that one too deeply, either.

It’s a funny cameo and one that does add some helpful context to the wider situation going on, all while being a nice reintroduction to Ackles on our screen as everyone’s least favorite Supe grandpa. But just as quickly as he arrives, he’s killed off and, well, that’s the end of that.

There’s no wider implications nor big reveals attached to the appearance. Ultimately, he’s just a punchline. So I can’t help but wonder, if the show isn’t going to do anything meaningful with cameos like this, do we actually need them?

Trust your heroes

Derek Luh and Jaz Sinclair in Gen V episode 5

(Image credit: Prime Video)

Soldier Boy’s appearance leans into gimmick territory, presuming a link to the main show that isn’t quite there. This was emphasised by the focus on his return in the latest trailer, special videos, and character posters, all sparking theories about how exactly he managed to make it off ice. 

And, sure, I can get over the slight disappointment that Soldier Boy hasn’t made a miraculous escape from his cryogenic stasis. But what I find it harder to stomach is how this indicates a show not completely trusting in its characters to be able to pull viewers back into this story.

In reality, Soldier Boy turns out to be the least enthralling part of an absorbing episode that tackles some real heartfelt character development for its main group. This includes Golden Boy’s return in a genuinely heartbreaking turn of events, as well as Sam and Emma finally having an opportunity to connect. The truth is we didn’t really need Soldier Boy – and we definitely didn’t need to pretend he was a bigger part of the show than he was. 

I don’t mind a cameo from someone in The Boys if it’s actually advancing the story in a meaningful way. We know at some point the events of this show are going to have wider consequences going forward into The Boys season 4. The creators have teased this, and the ending reveal of the new Supe virus that ends episode 6 all but proves it

This instead feels like a way to tie in the wider cinematic universe and get eyes on a show that can stand alone. Given that Gen V has already proven it’s worthy of being its own thing, I’d argue that we don’t need it. As the series prepares to work on its sophomore season, this much is clear: it’s time to let these Supes bring a new generation into this crazy, gory, and downright wild world all by themselves. Because sometimes, just sometimes,, the kids are alright.

Gen V is airing weekly on Prime Video, with new episodes out every Thursday in the US and Friday in the UK. For more on the show, check out our guides to:

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.