Batman Gambit: In one of the RPG modules (which had input from the original creators), he secretly arranged the kidnappings of the 1960s heroes' loved ones in order to force them to work together, in an effort to make them more amenable to the idea of teaming up as The Crimebusters. If considered canon (there's nothing in the comic that contradicts it), the plan obviously didn't work, but he wasn't exposed as the mastermind.
"Blake is interesting. I have never met anyone so deliberately amoral. (...) As I come to understand Vietnam and what it implies about the human condition, I also realize that few humans will permit themselves such an understanding. Blake's different. He understands perfectly — and he doesn't care."
A veteran 'hero' who was vicious even when young, and has since become a full-blown hired gun on government payroll. Dies on the first page, though we only later find out why.
Badass Normal: Along with every "masked vigilante" except Dr. Manhattan.
Becoming the Mask: At one point Rorschach theorizes that The Comedian took on his persona in order to become a satirical reflection of society's corruption. If this theory is true (Rorschach is hardly an unbiased observer), Blake appears to have gotten into the part a bit too much.
Also, he defies this trope when he discovers Ozymandiasí plan and raves about it to Moloch: He discovers that even he cannot laugh this off as another joke:
Byronic Hero: This trope could very well be renamed to "The Edward Blake" because of how well he fits the guidelines. Intelligent, bitterly cynical, has a pronounced disdain for humanity and the world in general, carries strong personal convictions, and winds up getting killed because of said convictions... it all fits.
Disproportionate Retribution: His most brutal on-screen acts take place in response to attacks upon his person...which he provoked, mind you.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Genuinely attempted to connect with Laurie on two separate occasions and notably didn't react the way he usually does after she publically lashed out at him and dashed him in the face with a drink. According to the RPG, he was also composing a letter to her before Ozymandias killed him. He also seems to have had real feelings for Sally Jupiter.
Comedian also looks a lot like Bucky in his Minuteman days who somehow grew into a wise-cracking, cigar smoking, woman beating version of Captain America, with a bit of Wildcat and a pinch of Nick Fury, not to mention The Killing Joke Joker.
Jerk Ass Has A Point: His major trademark, Comedian is a complete asshole, however much of the things he says to antagonize others, villain and hero alike often have some truth to it. For example, he was one of the first to notice Dr. Manhattan's humanity beginning to falter when Manhattan didn't even try to stop him from Killing a woman pregnant with his child.
Kick the Dog: Killing a pregnant woman and attempting to rape a fellow superheroine, for examples. Some choose to see the first as a sign of him going off the deep end, especially how he blames Doctor Manhattan simply for not stopping him.
Who Shot JFK?: He's also implicated to be behind Woodward and Bernstein's deaths (which didn't happen in our timeline), although this is much more speculative. In the movie, the assassination is shown outright, and The Comedian also remarks while he's violently dealing with an angry mob: "I haven't had this much fun since Woodward and Bernstein!" However, Before Watchmen indicates that he didn't shoot JFK in the comics continuity at all, though he did kill Marilyn Monroe.
Would Hit a Girl: First time when he assaults Silk Spectre and the second time when he and Nite Owl are doing riot control. He also killed a woman who was pregnant with his child!
Dollar Bill (Bill Brady)
A star college athlete from Kansas who was hired by a bank to be their in-house superhero. Died in 1947, when during an attempt to foil a bank robbery, his cape got caught in the door and he was shot.
"You sick little bastard, I'm going to break your neck..."
Possibly the first costumed superhero. Little is known about him, save that he was extremely violent and brutal, and a supporter of The Klan and Nazis. Disappeared in 1955, possibly at the hands of The Comedian.
Armoured Closet Gay: The comic only implies he's in a gay relationship with another Minute Man, but it's heavily implied in the movie that he's very sensitive about it
The Comedian: (Being beaten by Hooded Justice) Is this what you like, huh? Is this what gets you hot?
Hooded Justice: WHAT?!
Badass Normal: Along with every "masked vigilante" except Dr. Manhattan.
Berserk Button: Seeing women hurt, possibly. His first appearance involved him stopping a rape (crippling one of the attackers in the process), he beat the Comedian severely following his attack on Sally Jupiter, and according to the backstory presented in the RPG Rolf Muller's father abused his mother — Until thirteen-year-old Rolf beat the crap out of him.
Culture Equals Costume: Justice's costume references the circus (leotard and cape), The Klan (face concealing hood), and bondage (ropes on ankles, wrists, waist and neck) — all things Muller/Justice is associated with.
Lightning Bruiser: Fast enough to take on three armed men and win, strong enough to cripple and kill with his bare hands.
Shrouded in Myth: He might have been a circus strongman by the name of Rolf Muller. The implication is strong, but still somewhat ambiguous. There are semi-canonical sources from Moore that imply that he was Rolf Muller, but that was just one of his many aliases.
The Spook: His identity was never known and he promptly disappeared when people started asking questions, never to be seen again.
"Me, I hope we keep out of it. Just thinking about war, it scares me..."
A millionaire playboy who decided to become a superhero both out of a desire to add spice to his life and out of guilt over his privileged lifestyle. Ultimately, his alcoholism (and being hauled before the HUAC) turned him into a shell of his former self, and was eventually committed to a sanitarium.
"This is the left hook that floored Captain Axis!"
One of the first superheroes to fight crime, and a former police officer, Hollis Mason has since retired, revealed his identity and written an autobiography that provided dramatic insights into the world of superheroes. He has seen the rise and fall of superheroics in the world, and fears for the new generation of costumed crimefighters.
Rich Bitch: Her only line is an insulting dig at Sally for being Polish, and she's mentioned as being a rather unpleasant person.
Although since Sally steadfast denied being Polish and tried to cover up her European roots, she likely took this as a personal insult against her own proud Austrian heritage.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Being Jewish, she despised the Hooded Justice, who was openly supportive of the Nazi regime.
Silk Spectre I (Sally Juspeczyk/Jupiter)
"Laurie, I'm 65. Every day the future looks a little bit darker. But the past, even the grimy parts of it... well, it just keeps on getting brighter all the time."
A former model who started fighting crime for publicity and became a founding member of the Minutemen, but hasn't been doing much since, except training her daughter to follow in her footsteps.
Action Mom: She continued her career for several years after having Laurie.
Adaptational Attractiveness: Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter is far prettier than how the character was drawn, but Sally is also supposed to have been a bombshell when she was younger, so she's arguably an improvement.
Comedian: "Yeah. Yeah, that's right. Pregnant woman. Gunned her down. Bang. And y'know what? You watched me. You coulda changed the gun into steam or the bullets into mercury or the bottle into snowflakes! You coulda teleported either of us to Goddamn Australia... but you didn't lift a finger!"
The only truly superpowered character in the story, due to a Freak Lab Accident, Jon Osterman gained godlike powers. He's used his powers to revolutionize the world, provide energy for electric cars and blimps, and continues to work on amazing new technology... but as time has passed he has turned more emotional distant to the people around him and indifferent towards humankind in general, and just doesn't seem to care about anything any more, or do anything unless he's told to.
Ambiguously Jewish: On the one hand, his father's speech patterns. On the other, his apparent foreskin.
The Anti-Nihilist: Has become this at the end of the story. While he believed that humanity was unimportant due to the fact that life isn't important enough to give other planets a chance, he also believes that the sheer improbability of any relationship, especially one so horrid as Laurie's parents' (adoptive and biological), resulting in any one person makes that person's existence a miracle, since so many factors could have gone to either create no life at all, or a different life.
Jon: "Up" is a relative concept. It has no intrinsic value.
Complete Immortality: The only thing that slows him down is the same thing that gave him his powers, and since he already overcame that problem to begin with, it's more of a minor hindrance than anything else.
Dr. Manhattan was an Expy of Captain Atom, so it is of course not surprising that Cap's origin was basically the same in both the original Charlton version and post-Crisis DC version: his body atomized by a nuclear bomb, he returns with superpowers.
Deus Exit Machina: Laurie even called him that when he appeared at Daniel's apartment.
There are also elements of Superman, a fact even commented on by characters in the story. His origin as a simple meek scientist caught in a science experiment echoes that of The Incredible Hulk and other Marvel origins, putting a quantum spin to their I Love Nuclear Power origin stories.
Extreme Doormat: He only became a nuclear physicist because his father ordered him to. Even after he became the most powerful man in the world, he still remained a doormat, following the orders of the government.
No Nudity Taboo: His preference is being completely nude, and he'll only wear clothes when he needs to. After his accident, he was actually given a costume which he reluctantly wore. But as he slowly detached himself from humanity, he chose to not be associated with anything in relation to humankind, and clothes were one of the first to go.
Not So Stoic: After the accident, he only shows genuine emotion during his interview and later when Adrian attempts to destroy him.
Doctor Manhattan: Please if everyone would just go away and leave me alone... I SAID! LEAVE ME ALONE!
The Omniscient: In the first part of the story, while he's still a side character.
Although while he can see the future, past and present simultaneously, his knowledge of events is limited solely to the point of view of himself at that point in his personal timeline. For instance, he reveals that he knew that Laurie was sleeping with Dan, not because he saw it happening, but because she told him about a minute into the future.
Prescience Is Predictable: Dr. Manhattan describes himself as "a puppet who can see the strings." Since he literally views all time simultaneously, he can't change the future because, to him, it's already happening. This causes him to stop caring about what happens and just go with the flow. When a tachyon storm disrupts his ability to tell the future, he becomes excited, saying he had forgotten the joy of uncertainty.
Radiation Immune Mutants: Which is great for him, but not for his loved ones who got cancer from him leaking it. Of course, that was all a lie by Veidt.
Reed Richards Is Useless: Averted. His presence and abilities have definitely solved many of the world's problems. (Not as many as he could solve, though.)
Lampshaded by Niteowl I. He states that he plans to run a car repair shop after he puts up the cape, saying that even Dr. Manhattan can't change cars. Manhattan then explains how he can do exactly that.
Unexplained Recovery: It somewhat hints that his watchmaking skills and intelligence to physics and the human body helped put his atoms back in the right order. But where his mind was in the duration still goes unexplained.
You Cannot Change The Future: Dr. Manhattan exists in a multidimensional quantum solid state, and quickly tires of listening to his friends talk about what "could have happened" or what "should happen", since he already sees his entire time-stream. For him, the only difference between past and future is directional causality. The effects of causality on Dr. Manhattan himself are slightly contradictory, as future events can affect him backwards by causing him to report them, but not in any other way; he's unable to use the knowledge to interfere, and sees himself as bound by one-directional causality much like normal people.
Dr. Manhattan: Miracles by definition are meaningless. Only what can happen does happen.
Rorschach: Used to come here often, back when we were partners.
Dreiberg: Oh. Uh, yeah... yeah, those were great times, Rorschach. Great times. Whatever happened to them?
Rorschach: [exiting] You quit.
A former superhero fan, then full-fledged superhero, and now retired intellectual. A gadget-based hero who flies the night skies in his state-of-the-art airship, Archie, he sometimes questions his use of million-dollar technology to fight petty crime.
Adaptational Attractiveness: Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl II may not look just like in the graphic novel, but considering Dan was a male version of Beautiful All Along once Laurie pulled off his glasses in the original too, it's hard to see this as a problem.
Big Beautiful Man: Once he stopped crimefighting, Dreiberg presumably stopped getting his usual exercise (read: thrashing bad guys) and put on some weight. Under that, though, he's still quite strong, and he has a pretty handsome face to go with it. The glasses don't make it any worse.
Blue Oni: To Rorschach (Red Oni) though its briefly flipped when rioters push his Berserk Button and kill Nite Owl I where Rorschach has to hold him back.
Boring, but Practical: His approach to crime fighting seems like this next to Rorschach, it doesn't seem very dramatic but its far more effective. Rorschach wants to pursue his Entertainingly Wrong assumption about a a mask killer by beating up more suspects while Dan takes time apart and interrogates that very assumption in the first place, leading them to the trail of the real culprit behind the Comedian's murder, Adrian Veidt.
Crazy-Prepared: When Laurie frets that the cops have figured out Dan is Nite-Owl, he nonchalantly mentions that he had set up back-up identities years ago, just in case. Note that he also made one for her.
Dan is like the poster boy for the Silver Age. The amount of equipment he had built for himself is just plain silly. His ship, built for fighting urban crime, has a fog generator, a water cannon, flame thrower and air to freaking air missiles. He also had a different Nite-Owl suit for pretty much every environ you could possibly imagine. He even has a Snow-Owl suit for crime fighting in extreme cold. Why the Hell would you need one of those?
Gadgeteer Genius: Has an insane amount of gadgets devoted to fighting crime in his basement.
Also, while we repeatedly see Airships are commonly used in 1985 as a viable form of transport due to Dr Manhattan being able to synthesise Helium; the fact that Archimedes on the other hand is able to hover with no visible jets seems to suggest that Dan invented some form of anti-gravity technology. That he has Archie in the first (and only) Crimebusters meeting, means that he had cracked this technology as early as 1965!
Powered Armor: Tried to make a set at one point, but the prototype broke his arm in three places and he gave up. (Note that it's one of the only things he leaves behind when fleeing the police. Wonder if someone tried it out?)
Rich Idiot with No Day Job: With the twist that as Dan Dreiberg, he doesn't fake idiocy but instead pretends to be a harmless intellectual. After he retires, it's not so much an act...
It is as Rameses said: "Canaan is devastated, Ashkelon is fallen, Gezer is ruined, Venoam is reduced to nothing, Israel is desolate and her seed is no more, and Palestine has become a widow for Egypt... ...All countries are unified and pacified.
Probably the most successful and effective hero of the lot. Adrian has honed his body and mind to near-superhuman perfection, created a multibillion dollar corporate empire, and mastered the sciences to change the world.
The Ace: At the peak of intellectual and athletic achievement.
Broken Ace: He is a young, blonde super genius who is insanely rich, pretty much has America in his hands and defeats Rorschach, Silk Spectre, Nite Owl and Dr Manhattan at the end. He is also the antagonist, and portrayed as delusion-ally idealistic to believe that his plan will work.
Germanic Depressives: In the film, Veidt comes off as rather dour and bitter, with an aloof smirk the closest to a smile he seems to actually be capable of (in contrast to his much warmer, more genial comic book counterpart).
It's Personal: While he kills the Comedian because He Knows Too Much, it's strongly implied that this was simply an excuse to finally get some payback on the Comedian beating the ever-living snot out of him when they first crossed paths in the 60's.
Meaningful Name: Ozymandias, which suggests the final fate of his "better, more loving world". His last name, Veidt, comes from German actor Conrad Veidt, whose appearance in The Man Who Laughs directly inspired the character design of The Joker.
Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Ozymandias is a misunderstood villain. He single-handedly kills off half of New York City in order to avert a nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union that would destroy the world.
Tragic Villain: He is never punished for his actions; they do hurt him psychologically, though. But the real tragedy is that in trying to save humanity, Ozymandias loses his soul by becoming the very evil he wanted to destroy.
"The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicans will look up and shout 'save us'... and I'll look down and whisper 'no'."
The only non-government superhero still active as of the beginning of the book, Rorschach is a ruthless, disturbed vigilante who believes the world to be falling apart around him. He speaks in fragments and lives like a bum, having devoted his life almost entirely to fighting crime—and it's his devotion that allows him to pick up the trail of a man's mysterious death...
Abusive Parents: His mother was certainly a horrible parent. How bad was she? When informed of her death, Walter only had one thing to say: "Good".
Ambiguously Evil: While he certainly has good intentions, Rorschach is deliberately left morally ambiguous to let the readers decide whether his extreme methods of fighting evil were necessary or not. Or whether exposing Ozymandias's plan was the right thing to do or not.
Pragmatic Hero: Initially, Rorschach was this during the early days of his career. He was in better health mentally, being a vigilante was still legal, and he would leave criminals to be arrested by the police, instead of murdering them. But the Keene Act and mentally snapping after the brutal murder of a girl had driven him nearer to the edge.
Unscrupulous Hero: What he currently is and what he is well-known for. Rorschach is far from an ideal hero. He is absolutely ruthless towards criminals, killing them when he could easily beat them and leave them for the police. That said, most of the criminals Rorschach encounters are either killers or rapists so killing them might seem a proper punishment. However, he does have genuinely good intentions and sincerely wants to make the world a safer place. To this end, he still saves civilians and actually cares a lot for kids.
Asexuality: Rorschach is asexual, or at minimum repulsed by normal sexuality due to his traumatic childhood. Throughout the whole comic, he frequently makes derogatory comments towards sex in general.
Ambiguously Gay: The "holding a handshake too long" scene that demonstrates Nite Owl II's sexual tension for Silk Spectre II is mirrored later with confirmed bachelor Rorschach doing the exact same thing to Nite Owl II. Though it's left ambiguous, he may have only done this due to the fact that he has No Social Skills and that he appreciates Dan being his Only Friend.
Ax-Crazy: See what he did to the child abductor and his dogs.
Also Rorschach's one limit. He won't punish his landlady for (falsely) telling the news he slept with her, because her kids are with her. Also, perhaps, because he saw himself in her son. And unlike his mother, she was holding her kids like she loved them.
Bold Inflation: Aside from the ill-fated Crimebusters meeting (which took place long before the 1975 kidnapping case which completely redefined him), the only instances where he spoke like this are when he was unmasked by the police and when he goads Dr. Manhattan into killing him.
Butter Face: A Rare Male Example. Has a very muscular and athletic body but, from the neck up, he's rather unattractive. Plain-looking at best.
Byronic Hero: As flawed as he is, Rorschach is a very sympathetic character. An outcast and loner even among his superhero "peers", intelligent, cynical due to his experiences, introspectively brooding, dark, strong personal beliefs, follows his own rules which eventually lead to his death, Rorschach is pretty much the exemplar of a Byronic hero in comic books.
Bystander Syndrome: Inverted. He beats up thugs who have harmed people he's never met and idealizes people he doesn't know (Kitty Genovese, Harry Truman, etc.) but loathes virtually everyone he does know. Familiarity breeds contempt, indeed.
Celibate Hero: He's freaked out beyond all recognition about anything to do with sex, due to child abuse. He has a massive madonna-whore complex and mentions once that he was "offered Swedish love and French love but not American love [by prostitutes]," however you want to interpret that.
Despair Event Horizon: He crosses it when his investigation into the little girl's kidnapping reveals the kidnapper had butchered her and fed her to the dogs. He kills the dogs and then traps the kidnapper in the building he sets on fire. It was Kovacs that went into that place, it was Rorschach that came out.
Determinator: Even after he jumps out a window which is at least five stories up, he lies on the ground telling himself to get up while the police kick him unconscious. And them some.
Confirmed by Alan Moore who believed that it "is not the mask talking, it's not Rorschach, it's the actual human being [Walter Kovacs] that is somewhere under there."
Entertainingly Wrong: His investigation of The Comedian's murder is doomed from the start because of his very wrong assumption of a mask killer, that is an old villain trying to kill superheroes and a conspiracy that will endanger his old gang. Veidt enables this assumption to throw him off his trail and send Rorschach to jail. It's only after he teams up with Dan Dreiberg who questions his assumptions that they make real headway.
Moore also puts in elements of Batman noting that "he would be considered a nutjob in real life" and in another interview he clarified Rorschach as "Batman without theexcuses".
There's more than a little of Travis Bickle in his journal entries, too. (Also confirmed by Moore.)
Existentialist: Rorschach believes life has no meaning other than the ones we impose on it.
Anti Nihilist: Possible, since Rorschach believes that rules and principles are the most important in life because the world has no more meaning than the one we impose on it. Alternatively or overlaps with...
‹bermensch: In addition to creating his own meaning and morality, Rorschach's view of life is largely misanthropic. That said, he does follow his own rules to try to make the world a better place.
Expressive Mask: And how. It does more than cover his face; to Rorschach, itishis face. His actual face, in contrast, is like a mask; his expression almost never changes.
Grappling-Hook Pistol: One of Rorschach's signature tools, until the police take it away after his arrest. It gets turned into an Improvised Weapon at one point. It was originally designed for him by Dan, back when they were partners.
Guttural Growler: In the film, at least. In the comic it's mentioned that he speaks in a 'creepy monotone', but growling or lack thereof isn't specified.
Double Subverted: ...but he was onto something with his "mask killer" theory; he was, initially, the only person to notice something odd. Though he was also Entertainingly Wrong and its only after he teams up with Dan Dreiberg that he makes headway, the latter's Boring, but Practical approach being more effective and useful.
Pet the Dog: Rorschach may be batshit insane, Axe Crazy and treat even his team-mates with suspicion and abuse, but he does make it very clear that he does value his friendship with Nite Owl and even apologizes when Nite Owl calls him out on his behaviour.
Power of Friendship: The Power of Friendship is apparently the only thing that can counter his Knight Templar attitude about everything. The only time we see him display a more-or-less human reaction (outside of flashbacks) is when Daniel bursts out and spells it out for him just how difficult exactly "being his friend" is.
Principles Zealot: Most people easily see him as this. There is however one time where he could be viewed as straying from his principles. A former criminal, Edgar Jacobi, previously known as Moloch the Mystic, had cancer and in his desperation to save his life he took illegal drugs that probably wouldn't save him anyway. Rorschach let this offense slide, for Edgar. He did however take the name of the company that sold the drug down, so in this case he might be viewing Edgar as a scam victim instead of a criminal.
Properly Paranoid: After an attempt is made on Ozymandias's life, it seems he was right to suspect that the Comedian's murder was the beginning of a plot to kill off superheroes. Or not. Ozymandias himself had killed the Comedian then faked his own assassination attempt so Rorschach would believe his own theory and thus miss the real plot.
The Protagonist: While the series doesn't exactly have a main character, if there had to be one, then it is Rorschach. He is described by many as the one who drives the story's plot forward.
Sociopathic Hero: Rorschach is one of the better-known examples of this, being more than willing to torture and kill if he believes good will come of it. He also shows a Lack of Empathy towards the criminals he kills, even hinting that he enjoys killing them.
Mysterious Parent: At first, she thought that her real father was the Hooded Justice. Then it turns out to be the Comedian.
Never a Self-Made Woman: Laurie inherited her mother's identity, and spends the entire graphic novel dependent on her love interests. Ultimately subverted with Laurie in the end, who expresses that she doesn't want to settle down with a family, but take up crime fighting again. But then again, she seems to be following in her recently revealed father's footsteps in that regard as well based on her description of improvements to her costume...
Passing the Torch: More like having the torch shoved into her hand against her will, gratefully throwing it away, and then deciding it wasn't so bad after all.
Pretty Freeloader: She was this for Doctor Manhattan and became this to Dan (he insisted). Can't blame her since she has no job skills aside from fighting crime.
Satellite Love Interest: She was employed by the US government essentially to be one of these for Dr. Manhattan after she quit her old job in the Superhero business. Deconstructed in that she actually does have a personality, and it winds up conflicting to some extent with her mission of keeping Manhattan focused/sane/human, because the fact that he's too much the first of those and not enough the third upsets her, which in turn upsets him.
The Heart: Managed to keep six (briefly seven) people together as an effective crime-fighting team, in spite of their neuroses and occasional hatred for each other. Perhaps a subversion in that he didn't actually care about any of the individual members (except for Sally) and dumped the team when he saw that they weren't going to be profitable for much longer.
May-December Romance: With Sally. He seems to have hooked up with her when she was about seventeen or eighteen.