Literally speaking, Jamie is hardly the biggest part of The Boys, in comics or live-action. After all, he’s just a hamster, a furry little fuzzball that most people met in the season three episode “Glorious Five-Year Plan.” But this insignificant rodent, and the way he’s used in both versions of the story, illustrate the cruel humor of the source material and the surprisingly humane story Eric Kripke and his collaborators are telling on television.
On the show, Jamie appears in a Russian lab, where Butcher (Karl Urban) and the Boys are searching for a weapon to kill Homelander (Antony Starr). Frenchie (Tomer Kapon) and M.M. (Laz Alonso) quickly learn that the cute hamster locked in a cage is actually full of Compound V, which grants it the abilities of flight, superstrength, and superspeed. When an attack by Russian soldiers sets him free, Jamie burrows into the face of an attacker, leaving behind a pulpy, bloody mess.
Jamie appears much earlier in the comics, in The Boys #6 (2007), written and drawn by series creators Garth Ennis and Darick Robinson. In the middle of his first fight with the Boys against a superhero team, the Teen Titans riff Teenage Kix, Hughie freaks out. As Teenage Kix member Blarney Cock threatens to poke out his eyes, Hughie desperately throws a punch. Not realizing how his strength had increased by the Compound V he’d been given, Hughie’s fist goes right through Blarney Cock, killing him immediately. As the Boys try to calm down the clearly traumatized Hughie, they notice something crawling from the seat of Blarney Cock’s pants. It’s Jamie, who had presumably been living inside the hero’s cavity.
Without question, both scenes go far past the boundaries of taste. In the comic, Jamie distracts from Hughie’s moment of crisis to laugh at the guy who just got a hole punched in his chest. In the show, Jamie destroys a guy’s head, but his initial appearance reveals sweetness in three of the Boys. Frenchie and Kimiko coo at him, as any decent person would at the sight of a cute little thing. Even the always reserved M.M. breaks his wariness for a moment to take in the sight and recall his daughter’s love of pets. Simply put, where the comic uses Jamie to undercut empathy and bring out our disgust for people, the show uses Jamie to let us glimpse the characters’ humanity.