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    Rorschach's Absolutist Worldview 
  • Rorschach is supposed to have this unyielding moral code - if someone does something bad, they are a bad person, period. The only correct response to evil is to obliterate it. So why does he oh-so-casually brush off the Comedian's attempted rape of Sally as a "moral lapse"? True, he wasn't so unbending when he met the Comedian, but he could easily have gone after him following his psychotic break.
    • Well, he has some pretty weird views about women and sex, having been brought up by a prostitute who appeared to care more about the johns than about him. Maybe he thought Sally "had it coming to her"?
      • Yeah. That kinda shows when he comments the lesbian chick's death as her being "a victim of her own indecent lifestyle". He calls Sally a "bloated whore", so he probably thought she kinda invited Comedian's actions upon herself.
      • In both the book and the movie, Rorschach mentions early on that he's suspicious of Hollis Mason, because Hollis wrote "bad things" about the Comedian in his book. I read that as Rorschach believing the rape story to just be a false rumor meant to smear the Comedian and sell Mason's book.
  • Because Rorschach as a character is an exploration of passionate political ideals, and with that necessitates hypocrisy. (Not to mention, every character in Watchmen is hypocritical and short-sighted. It's the human condition.) He detests criminals, yet he is one. He defends women and children, but detests them. He's moved to tears by what Veidt does, yet idolises Truman for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  • As for the disconnect between rape being a crime and the Comedian, his idol (and remember, he sees everything as black and white; positive associations with the Comedian means that any negative ones should be ignored) being a rapist; perhaps he doesn't view crimes committed by costumed heroes as crimes at all, he and his own are above the law.
    • I personally find Rorschach's code to include his intense loyalty to costumed heroes, his "fraternity." It also wouldn't surprise me if Rorschach took the misogynist view that Sally actually initiated the attack considering his views that all women are whores.
      • He also may not have believed it really happened. Even though he mentioned his not speculating on Blake's moral lapses, he asked Laurie if she supported the 'allegations' Hollis made in his book. Given he admired several aspects of The Comedian, he may have felt there wasn't enough proof to condemn him.
      • Rorschach loves America. The Comedian fights on the side of the American government, therefore The Comedian is good.
      • This troper wouldn't call Rorschach a misogynist. He treats the current Silk Spectre much more respectfully than he does anyone else, and we see him taking great joy in beating the crap out of a would-be mugger/rapist/both.
      • Still he calls her mother a whore, for no good reason. I think the respect he has for SS 2 may be because she had a big blue boyfriend that could disintegrate him on the spot, so he is not stupid.
      • There are a number of instances where it is indicated that Rorschach/Walter Kovacs is made disgusted and uncomfortable by female bodies and therefore by extension women themselves - consider the scene where he says he took the dress and "cut it until it didn't look like a woman any more". Whether or not this constitutes misogyny per se, he is still not entirely rational on the subject of women. (Additionally, Rorschach strikes me as the kind of person who holds to "it's the law and lawbreakers must be punished"-style beliefs. Rape is against the law, so how he personally feels about women likely doesn't enter into it.)
      • He says his job in a clothing factory is unpleasant because he has to handle women's underwear. Rorshach is asexual, not misogynist. A misogynist would revel in the touching of female underwear because he'd view it as a sexual object on par with an actual woman.
      • I think you're mistaken as to what misogyny is. A misogynist is someone who hates women and things associated with them. Rorschach hates women and things associated with them. And the jury's still out on whether he's actually asexual or merely celibate/practising abstention. He does experience sexual urges, and represses them. In fact, he specifically states that putting on his "face" and becoming Rorschach rids him of lust.
      • Rorschach doesn't hate all lawbreakers, he _is_ one. He openly defies the Keene act and seems quite proud of it. In fact, the first person he kills after the Keene act was a serial rapist.
      • Rorschach hates rapists * because* he is uncomfortable with femaleness. Not with "women" as a class of people, necessary, but with sex and sexuality, due to his experiences with his mom. All sex makes him uncomfortable, but the less "normal" the sexuality, the more deviant it is, the more it pisses him off.
      • Rorshcach also implies a belief that while he fights crime, most people who are wronged have it coming. He probably thought this of Sally. Not that this troper agrees with him, but her costume and publicity were less-than-modest. He wasn't there to stop the Comedian, so all he could do is forgive him, under the impression that he was an American "hero", and agree that a marketing plan like Sally's is going to attract at least a little bit of the wrong attention.
      • It seems like Rorschach is more dedicated to stopping crime before it happens. Most of the people he kills are either in the act of committing a crime (like the man trying to rape or mug the woman in the alley), or very likely to commit a crime again (multiple rapists, people who kill children and feed them to dogs, etc.). He would probably see the crimes in The Comedian's past as being either something done years before or something horrible but necessary (like his actions in war). He didn't know about The Comedian killing the woman in Vietnam, or he probably would have killed The Comedian.
    • Rorschach is deliberately painted as hypocritical and inconsistent. That's the whole problem with black-and-white morality — there is no foolproof, objective method for drawing the line between black and white. People look to absolutist definitions of good and evil for comforting certainty but in practice those definitions, no matter how hard you try to cleave to traditionalist orthodoxy, shift and warp constantly... kind of like a Rorschach blot.
      • Indeed, his justification of his less moral actions as for the better good is actually a common theme and trait in Ditko's villains, and in the frame work of that story it is meant to show that a black and white view carried by the Question prevents slippage into gray, whilst Alan Moore's antithesis of Rorschach shows that you can slip into gray and have eroded morals even if you do have a Black and White outlook.
      • There's also the point to be made that, inapplicability to the real world aside, a black-and-white moral code is impossible for the vast majority of people to uphold. Kovacs isn't a "sociopath", he's cognitive dissonance personified, and he loses what little functionality he has when forced to confront his own human failings and inconsistencies.
      • This troper felt that the Comedian should've been stabbed on the spot, preferably in the lower regions, for his actions, no questions asked. The only times hypocrisy creeps in is when people allow emotions such as love or hate to color their choices.
      • Well, clearly you hate the Comedian, seeing as you want to stab him in the nuts and all.
      • This troper disagrees with this sweeping assessment. The Comedian's crime involved attempting to force his sexual member upon an unwilling victim; the humiliation and pain caused by an injury to said body part seems a logical deterrent to future misuse of it. This does not "prove" that the previous troper hates the Comedian.
      • The only times hypocrisy creeps in is when people allow emotions such as love or hate to color their choices. That describes you in a nutshell. You are completely willing to disregard (read: you are allowing your emotions to color your choices) the eighth amendment because of your hate of rapists. It is hypocrisy to believe that revenge in the form of grievous bodily harm that could potentially result in death due to blood loss and without any kind of trial (no questions asked) is even remotely compatible with our values and morals as a society - especially since that like it or not his victim forgave him for the crime. For the record I think what the Comedian did was disgusting, but once people start handing out the draconian punishments then it is inevitable that many will start to creep down an extremely slippery slope; the bottom of which stands men like Rorschach who will happily kill men for the simplest of crimes and call it justice.
  • Back to the subject of Rorschach, I felt as though his politics were only incidental to his philosophy, and that he was probably the character with the most integrity out of any of them. Rorschach is an example of someone who many of us disagree with on a lot of things, but also someone that at least this troper can respect for his uncompromising integrity. Misaimed Fandom, yes, but Rorschach was definitely the most interesting character in the piece.
    • This troper feels that that's not supposed to be a controversial fact about Rorschach. Everyone is forced to respect that Rorschach, at least, has more integrity than anyone else in the cast put together. This troper feels forced to ask the question, though, of whether Rorschach isn't a demonstration that integrity in and of itself is not the end-all and be-all of morality, and if too much integrity is a bad thing.
    • It really seems the respect that people have for Rorshach is intentional, and not Misaimed Fandom, think about it, isn't this the exact thing Alan Moore would do? You can just see Alan sitting there thinking "I'll take you're philosophy, Deconstruct it in this character, make him into a violent sociopath, and then make him a likeable tragic figure. That'll fuck with you're heads! I'm a bloody genius!"
    • Rorschach's not so much "right", IMO, as he is trying to live with simple, direct values. On the surface, it's easy to take comfort in the idea that good and evil are distinct, and never mix. God knows, I'm tired of "compromise", and I'm barely into my 30s. That said, reflecting on Rorschach reveals the downsides: he's dehumanized himself so thoroughly that he almost never speaks in the first person, refers to the mask as his face, and still hasn't washed the blood off the trenchcoat he wore when he killed the dogs. He's also dehumanized virtually everyone around him: in his world, everyone is a whore, scum, or the object of his worship. The only other character he seems to vaguely appreciate as a human being is Nite Owl. While he's not the monster some people paint him as (see how he treats Moloch after finding out why Moloch possesses an illegal drug), he's also oblivious to the harm he causes even people we as the audience arguably find good, like his psychiatrist.
    • I don't think Rorschach cares much about the harm he causes others. "No compromise, even in the face of Armageddon," and all that. He took up the role of a masked crime-fighter not to protect the innocent, but as an attempt to deal with what he felt was the disturbing world around him (actually, none of the "heroes" in Watchmen took up their roles to protect the innocent, if you think about it). I think it's pretty obvious that Rorschach is a pretty disturbed individual, and he's going to mentally rewrite events to suit his personal narrative.
  • Rorschach and Ozymandias are the same character. One's just prettier.
    • No, they're pretty much complete opposites. The biggest difference is probably in the fact that whereas Rorshach's view of morality is based on absolutes, Ozymandias considers morality as arising from practical concerns.
    • As the above poster said, they pretty much are opposites. However, they do share the belief of the true nature of humanity, that humans are savage in nature, no matter how you try to dress it up. They have very different views on how to deal with this problem though.
      • Actually, even in that they differ. Ozymandias seems to believe that humans have both good and evil in them (or rather the appropriate equivalents in terms of moral relativism) and that humanity is capable of things both great and terrible. He then takes it upon himself to ensure it is the greatness that prevails, and not the terror (by causing it himself).

    Which Character Is The Least Screwed Up ((Spoilers!)) 
  • Hollis Mason, aside from being dead. Yeah, he's not a MAIN character, but he's still important and fairly awesome.
    • And even he says it takes a pretty extreme personality to put on a costume and beat people up.
  • Also, I know that we're supposed to regard Rorschach as a psychotic obsessed creep, but the more you read Watchmen, and the more you see of the other "heroes," the better Rorschach looks. The Comedian was a sadist and a sociopath. Night Owl was a disgusting whiner who quit when the going got rough. Ozymandias was a sociopath with delusions of godhood. And Dr. Manhattan was utterly inhuman. Rorschach was the only one of them I could feel any sympathy at all for by the end.
  • I agree with you except for about Night Owl. he seemed the most normal. Rorschach was by far my favorite and the 2nd least messed up in my opinion. but Night Owl is even less messed up than he is.
    • Please don't project your own biases on everyone else. I still had quite a lot of sympathy for Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, all their personal problems aside, and even had sympathy for Ozymandias. I actually think Moore uncovered something very disturbing about comic book geeks by using Rorschach as, well, a Rorschach blot. The fact that you can dismiss Nite Owl — who has the most recognizably human motivations of anyone in the cast — as being a "whiner who quit when the going got rough" because he chose * not* to spend his life in a quixotic battle of violence and bloodshed, because he aspired to some kind of normalcy, says something about you (and the comic book fans who agree with you). The fact that Rorschach seems sympathetic to so many people because he * denies he has* human failings or human weaknesses or the natural, human revulsion toward violence and conflict says something disturbing about the comic-book archetype Rorschach embodies.
      • "...natural, human revulsion toward violence and conflict..." "...says something disturbing about..." Please don't project your own biases on everyone else. This troper, for one, has long found human failings and weaknesses to be some of the most pathetic things in existence, and the heroes who refuse to bend to them to be, in turn, the definition of admirable, if not awesome.
      • This Troper would like to make the observation that most people who idolize those characters who "refuse to bend to their emotions" tend to be, for lack of a less blunt term, losers with little to no social interactions to speak of. Through forming bonds, you realize the importance of emotion, like Nite Owl did. Rorschach's fans are something like people who hate romances because they've never experienced love. They identify with his lack of emotion because they wish to harden themselves against the tough truths of the world: Emotion is all we really have. You experience all the emotions you can, then you die. That's life. Heroes who strive for normalcy are the most real in this Troper's eyes.
      • Characters without failings and weaknesses just aren't realistic, and are frankly boring. Watchmen isn't supposed to be an escapist adventure story, but an exploration of some messed up people. Everyone has flaws and weaknesses, and makes mistakes, and fails. You linked to a fan-fic featuring a Marty Stu (inspired by a tabletop game...) to demonstrate your idea of heroism and you classify a revulsion toward violence and conflict as a weakness. Holy shit. Face it, Rorschach is all about human frailty. He is, ultimately, a failure. That's why he's sympathetic - out of all the characters, he's the one on the verge of total collapse. His ideals just don't match up with reality.
      • I had sympathy for Nite-Owl as an intelligent, but despairing individual, and pity for Silk Spectre and Rorschach as victims of their upbringing. I could admire Ozymandias: He had faced the futility and desperate brutality of human life, like the Comedian and Rorschach, but he, at least, was willing to change the world for the better through unpleasant means, rather than just striking out at what angered him. I agree that this work is a Rorschach of the reader, and yes, my own sympathies disturb me in this case.
      • Well—there's also the fact that, whether this was an intentional real-world parallel or not, the major powers DIDN'T blow up the world, either there or here. From time to time in our history there have been panics in which certain people have been convinced that, for example, nuclear war was about to begin between the US and USSR. It never happened, in large part becaue the Soviet leadership was amoral but rational and did not care for the idea of being unquestioned masters of a radioactive cinder. "But the world is about to end" is never an appropriate excuse for nihilism. Whether Alan Moore intended to make this particular point is doubtful, but it's one of the things that jumped out at me re-reading it after the end of the Cold War.
      • However, the world of Watchmen isn't the real world. It has different leaders, events, and technologies. And most importantly, as pointed out by one bits in the TPB, it has a world with two superpower nations, but where one has been forced to endure humiliating defeat after humiliating defeat and setback after setback, and is looking to recover that lost national pride and dignity with a vengeance. Furthermore, I think one of the main themes was about authoritarianism and the addiction to power. The US of Watchmen has dictated terms to the rest of the world for so long, been so absolute in it's command of geopolitics, that it no longer knows any other way to respond to a Soviet provocation. There's no attempt at discussion, negotiation, or the like, it's instantly an ultimatum: "Stop or else!" The longer an authoritarian system/person is in place, the more rigid and inflexible they become, unable to do anything but make such commands.
      • Also note that this was written in 1985, before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    • Also note that this is a personal thing. Every character has good and bad sides, and for you that balanced out with all characters but Rorschach as unlikable, while for this troper everyone but the Comedian ended up as good (if flawed) guys.
      • I agree with you on all of that.
  • What disturbs this Troper is that anyone would sympathize with Veidt and regard him as a flawed good guy. That, and the events of the past 8 years, suggest to me that Alan Moore was not far off in his cynicism about human nature and moral hypocrisy. Just take a look at the ret-conning of the Iraq war in the past year, for instance...
    • This panel Suggests that Veidt had no qualms about his absolute annihilation of millions of people. This Troper thinks that those who are sympathizing with Veidt probably saw the movie version as a more accurate portrayal; he actually shows remorse and doubt, humanizing him about his extremist actions.
      • What? Sorry, but I think you're missing the point with that one. In that panel, Veidt is reacting to the news broadcasts shown in the previous panels that were describing a peace treaty between the US and USSR and and immediate end to the war. Veidt isn't reacting to the millions of deaths that he caused, which, after all, he had already done 35 minutes ago. Veidt is so happy in this panel because after decades of planning and organizing and gambiting, he did what was trying to do all along: saving the world. I think the comic makes Veidt quite sympathetic, although YMMV, and there's still plenty that Veidt has to answer for. This Troper sympathized the most with Veidt in his conversation with Manhattan after Manhattan killed Rorschach:
      Veidt: Jon... I know people think me callous, but I've made myself feel every death. By day I imagine endless faces, by night... Well, I dream about swimming towards a hideous... no. Never mind. It isn't significant. What's significant is that I know I've struggled across the backs of murdered innocents to save humanity.... But someone had to take the weight of that awful necessary crme.
    • This troper, who has slightly strange thought processes, can't help but think of Rorschach's view of the world as very similar to, of all people, Sam Sprinkles from Zebra Girl. Yes, I am aware I am comparing a psycho vigilante to a giant talking cartoon rabbit. Hear me out, please? In both cases, a truly nasty childhood led the character to retreat into a black-and-white, idealistic world where they could actually effect things and their problems weren't important. The biggest differences are in method: Sam worked to increase the good, while Rorschach tried to eliminate the bad. Sam was forcibly snapped out of it when he was fired, but Rorschach, working outside the law, could just dig himself into the fantasy even further. Even so, they actually end up in a rather similar state- wandering the streets, dead broke and nonfunctional. Just Sam's drunk and cynical and Rorschach's insane and a very warped idealistic.
    • I've always felt a lot of sympathy for The Comedian. Apart from the rape, every other questionable moral he has can be put down to a twisted result of depression due to being denied a relationship with his daughter. His two scenes with Laurie Juspeczyk are quite emotional, mostly down to Gibbons' true skill in drawing his facial expressions.
      • I have to disagree. The Comedian's sociopathic personality (which I think the rape scene shows was always there to some extent, just brought more to the light by war and the passage of time) goes beyond anything you can chalk up to "depression." Or even "I have some issues to work out." He's callous, sadistic, morally bankrupt and self-centered. I think he does have some real, genuine sadness about his daughter, sure. That's a part of him, but not all of him—-suggesting that his behavior can be traced to separation from her oversimplifies the character.
      • Like a real comedian, The Comedian is a master of analyzing others. He predicted very accurately the outcomes and feelings of other characters, including the silk spectre's feelings for him while being forced to pretend to be in a relationship with the closet homosexual Hooded justice, He raped her because deep down she WANTED him to, which she had only realized in her old age. I like to think of him as the opposite of Dr. Manhattan: he has no empathy towards others because he understands people so WELL. He knew how everything was going to play out and was frustrated with the slowness of everyone else. So naturally he relieved his frustrations by throwing napalm on everything.
      • Um, no. He was callously beating the shit out of people for the jollies of it long before he had a daughter — the rape of Sally Jupiter comes as the result of a long period of time where he's found that violence can get him anything he wants. He transitioned to callously murdering innocents in the pay of the government probably well before he found out about Laurie, too. The Comedian is a lot of things, but don't insult the character by claiming everything bad about him comes from one traumatic incident late in his life.
      • The most fucked up thing to me, is that if The Comedian wasn't a rapist, and a murderer who killed his own child (which may explain why he feels so bad about not being able to know his own daughter, by the way) I'd say he was the character I most Identify with, the one I like the most, and the one that if I met, I'd be most likely to become friends with. He sees past all the bullshit and stabs right at the issue, he brings up the elephant in the room, says what everyone's thinking but are afraid to mention. You take away his sociopathy and he's so likable. That's disturbing beyond words. He's almost like an evil version of Kramer.
      • I despised the Comedian the more I read, but... I really felt bad for him when he broke down in front of Moloch.
      • That was probably the intention. He's a reprehensible human being, but he's still human, and he still has emotions and the ability to feel pain or sadness or horror.
    • I kind of saw Rorschach as the "special child" of the group. Especially in the most recent timeline, when they're past their prime, he causes a lot of trouble for them and they sort of have to "put up with him" the way you kind of have to treat a problem child. Only instead of throwing tantrums about wanting to go to the toyshop or get some ice cream, he wants to go and break the fingers of criminals in seedy bars. The bit where Nite Owl tells him off for being such a burden to them is kind of a good example of this (he and Silk Spectre are like the parents who need some damned time off for just a minute).
      • Agreed. Notice that when Nite Owl lost his temper, he apologized when Rorschach really is kind of a crazy person. He didn't necessarily need to apologize, but there is the guilt there: Rorschach is deeply broken, and there is a certain pity there.
    • The troper I am replying to is Rorschach himself and I claim my five pounds. I note that you make no mention of Silk Spectre. Oversight, or are you just writing her off because she's a woman? Very Rorschach-like.
  • On the subject of Veidt, he isn't expecting the whole world to line up and sing "Kumbaya". He even says in that one interview with Doug Roth in the comic that he thinks humanity would stagnate under a utopia. What he was trying to do was stop two major powers from getting ready to kill each other and destroy everybody else in the process. I don't think he was anticipating perfect peace from then on, just the idea of a world where you knew you wouldn't get vaporized tomorrow.
    • Well, let's just look at it this way, What happens if we extrapolate Watchmen into the 90s? The Soviet Union is gone, everyone's in constant fear of an alien attack, and Rorshach has inspired a whole new wave of violent superheros (Remember at the end where Laurie says she wants to get a black costume, and a gun?) Basically the same thing that happened in our 90s. How is that Utopia?
      • This looks like a great idea for a sequel.
      • And of course there are people who are inspired by the Veidt method to fully develop their potential. And how would they react to the leather-clad thugs running loose on the streets?
      • I always assumed that the reason Laurie wanted a black costume and gun was meant to confirm the fact that she has accepted who her father is, his influence on her life and her as a person, and is willing to let that become part of her. Note that by the time Laurie was a superhero, the Comedian wore a black costume, armor and carried a gun.
      • I took her change of costume to mean that she was abandoning her former Stripperific costume for something more like what the men wear (black) and something more practical (a gun), leaving behind the stereotype of the female superhero. Moore had already deconstructed the way female superheroes are portrayed, and I took Laurie's comment as part of that. Why can't a female super hero dress in armor and carry a weapon like a man?
  • I'm starting to agree about Dan being a bit screwy as well. Despite being the more "normal" person, it strikes me that Dan just doesn't value their friendship as much as Rorschach. Rorschach even states explicitly that he knows it's tough being his friend with the awkward handshake (Dan's probably his ONLY friend). They take a trip to the Arctic to stop Veidt. Then the whole NY thing happens, and everyone's kind of gobsmacked. Dan knows Rorschach is leaving and very distraught, yet he doesn't offer him a ride home, or do anything to make sure he's all right. Instead, Dan sleeps with Laurie. I know Dan couldn't have known that Rorshach would die, but he has no excuse for leaving Rorshach in lurch.
    • Dan always struck me as being rather naive, a case of The Cape becoming powerless because he's too tied to his ideals and too afraid to do anything. I think that naivete and a willingness to believe in good in everyone is part of his relationship with Rorschach, which seems to be born more out of pity than actual friendship. He tries to be nice to Rorschach because he feels sorry for him, and he's the only one who can tolerate being around him, but they're not exactly friends in a real sense. I mean, could YOU be friends with that guy? If Dan had really gotten to know Rorschach he might have been able to do something to help him before he totally snapped. But it's pretty obvious that Dan doesn't really know Rorschach or what's going on with him, nobody does. They all didn't know how crazy he was until it was too late.
    • And to be fair to Dan, part of the reason Rorschach admits that he knows it's hard being his friend is because Rorschach is a huge dick to Dan. Let's not over-idealize here; for all that Rorschach may value his friendship with Dan, he still breaks into the guy's apartment numerous times, sponges off him, steals his food, expects the guy not to inform the police that a known killer has stopped by and, despite doing all of this, insults the guy to his face. It's only because Dan finally gets sick of putting up with Rorschach's shit and calls him out about it that Rorschach is moved to acknowledge this in the first place. Kind of hard to value that particular friendship too highly. As for not giving Rorschach a lift home, Dan is also very distraught, having failed to prevent millions of people dying and being forced to secrecy about it by the threat of global-nuclear holocaust; he's a bit overwhelmed himself, and Rorschach doesn't exactly reveal the extent to how overwhelmed he is.
  • So basically, this whole thing is just a huge elaborate version of the Robin Hood Morality Test.
  • I'm going to have to go with Silk Spectre as least messed up, and Dr. Mahattan as most messed up. Reasoning: Silk Spectre is easy; she isn't running around killing everything. She has some obvious Mommy/Daddy issues to work through, as well as some problems with self-image and commitment, but over all, she isn't in half bad shape. Dr. Manhattan is easily the most messed up because he has completely lost touch with humanity. He started life as a human, yet by the time Ozymandias impliments his plan, he has completely lost touch with emotion in general. He regards life and death exactly the same. He has become a God, yet it has made him uncaring. Like the other Characters are messed up, but at least they still feel, still look at people as something more than a fancy collection of particles.
  • I'm gonna go wild here and say that Dreiberg is the least messed up. Sure, he may be somewhat lame, but he's got no thick issues. His mother wasn't a prostitute, or raped. His father died when he was older, and I think peacefully. He's not really the guy you'd want saving your ass, but he's the guy you'd want to hang out with sometime. The character with the least mental problems seems to be him. Seeing as how Veidt has a little of a god complex, Manhattan is a self-aware force of nature, Silk Spectre II spent most of her adult life hating her father and has no life skills beyond being a superhero, and was pushed into that life by her mother. The Comedian is... the comedian. And Rorschach is... well Rorschach. Nite Owl II is easily the least screwed up main character. If you pick side characters, that guy walking on the street seems to have a normal life.
  • Sorry for the wall of text. Who one identifies with in Watchmen seems to be a matter of scale more than morality. The heroes have essentially all the same morality, they’re all willing to sacrifice something for the greater good. The hero you identify with is more about the scale you’re comfortable with than their respective morality. Who is least screwed up can be determined by who makes the largest sacrifice you're willing to accept for a moral outcome or to accept responsibility for. Most people can't imagine accepting responsibility for some things, creating life for example. There are plenty of words, events, tropes, in Watchmen (the book) that back up the scale idea. But just look at the iconography:
    • Rorschach is street level. He’s detail obsessed, operates on a purely personal level of morality, deals only with what’s in front of his face. His costume is just his face. Take off his face and he could be anybody. The rest of him is basic streetwear, hat, trenchcoat, gloves. His mobility is limited to walking. He’s got no money. He uses weapons from his immediate surroundings and had to be given his grapple gun to gain access to areas above street level. He kills but only those he judges as guilty. He’s not asexual, but he’s platonic (pre-sexual, like a child. Notably his only warmth is directed towards males as the platonic ideal more than homosexuality). His self-identity though is solid. He’s two colors, but rigidly self-defined and his symbolism is so personal it’s internal (psychology of the mind – Dr. Rorschach was a psychologist)
    • Silk Spectre 2 is a neighborhood hero. Like Rorschach she’s bi-color. Her costume only covers part of her body. She’s more distinctive, and attractive (she couldn’t be just anyone) she’s above black and white, but she could be a hooker or coming from a swimming pool or fancy dress party. No real weapons. She judges (harshly) but unlike Rorschach she doesn’t kill. Like Rorschach, she has outside influences that raise her up (purple (belt) from Ozymandias’ level) but she operates, even with Dr. Manhattan, on the neighborhood level. She’s seen on a rooftop (above street, but not outside her comfort zone, like being brought to the crime busters meeting in a limo) with him “on patrol.” Her mobility is limited to driving. Her sexuality is adolescent (she’s a “neighborhood girl,” the girl next door) so her identity is partially driven by how others see her. Two colors but defined from the outside (by her mom) on a personal level. She’s external but still personal. And her money always comes from someone else.
    • Next is Nite Owl 2. Three colors. Full uniform. Whole body. No question he’s a vigilante. He’s armed, but with less than lethal weapons. He operates on the city level. He’s got an airship. He’s got his own (inherited) money. His sexuality is impotent (middle aged) when he’s out of uniform because it’s dependent on how he sees himself. And he’s less defined than the Silk Spectre 2 and Rorschach because he’s more complex. His face is obscured, but that can be removed. Operating on the city level requires older, deeper foundations and so he’s more stable, but less individually passionate. He’s defined more by the abstract (old ideals) than the personal. There’s still a personal element, but it’s covered by the mask.
    • The Comedian (in his mature form: personally black (absent) but with three more colors (red, white and blue) that extend even off his body (the flag). He’s national level and not defined by the street terms (vigilante, etc) but rather by “hero.” His mobility is international. His access to wealth vastly outstrips other costumes but it’s not his own. His mobility is international, but at the dictates of his country. He is entirely divorced from the level he started (street, personal, but still “by the docks” so even then international aspirations) and this allows him to kill without judgement or personal involvement. Much the way national leadership kills through war or execution, with personal indifference. His face (personal) is permanently scarred and obscured. His sexuality is brutal and forceful, indifferent, but also as relevant as a national newspaper headline. The first costume with a color with passion (red as well as fire in the flamethrower), but also with a (significantly) impersonal black mask. Touch of kinky S&M there as well as being a literal “black mask.” His identity is blurred by more than just the mask: abstract forces such as nationalism, as well as the past literally scarring him. He wears a bit of yellow (gold from Ozymandias) but it too is scarred by red. Look at what else in the book is yellow marred by red.
    • Ozymandias: Two colors but varied in shade and both Royal colors (yellow or gold, both royal and purple of course). He operates on the global scale. He operates outside any country borders (Antarctica) but solidly within absolute white (the snow). His symbols are well beyond the readily accessible past (Pharaohs) or abstractions you don’t need to think too hard about (eye in the pyramid) like The Comedian. But we’re back to the “he could be anybody” of Rorschach. He’s good looking, but not distinctive. He’s sexual, but that’s not defined (he could be gay, maybe not, maybe bi, or not). He kills, for non-personal reasons, without judgement, but with personal involvement (he feels it, but he’s “made” himself feel it). He’s above being obscured by a literal mask, but the abstractions have completely taken over his personal identity. (Yes in the movie and early on in the book he wears a mask – but notice how similar to The Comedian’s it is?) His mobility is completely unrestricted world wide. Like Rorschach uses what’s at hand for personal weapons, but his abstract weapons are far more potent.
    • Dr. Manhattan is sky blue and black. He transcends color, borders and even worlds. His symbol is (burned into the “sky”) the most rudimentary thing in the universe – monatomic hydrogen. He is two colored, like Rorschach, but unlike Rorschach it is only one thing (separate the electron from the proton in the hydrogen atom and you do not have a hydrogen atom). His morality is completely divorced from the world, he cares nothing for what others think and typically cares little for even what he himself, thinks. Sexually he’s completely abstract, dependent only on what his partner thinks and even then missing the point. Involved, but beyond platonic and walks around naked. His costume also a complete abstraction so he couldn’t be anybody, he is, literally, nobody. He needs no weapons and technically doesn’t use any (just physical forces). His mobility is unrestricted by anything, even by (what is pretty much just a place marker for his “personal” identity) his body as he can be multilocational.
    • One could argue they’re each a part on the six stages of Kohlberg's moral development. It’s blurry, and I’m not sure that’s what Moore intended, but it’s there. Pre-conventional moral reasoning in children: Rorschach is obedience and punishment driven. Silk Spectre 2 is self-interest driven. Conventional in adolescents and adults: Nite owl has good intentions driven by social consensus. The Comedian is authority and social order driven. Post conventional driven by individualism as separate from society and moral law as just a tool rather than dictate. Ozymandias is social contract driven ( “the greatest good for the greatest number of people"). Dr. Manhattan is driven by abstract reasoning derived from universal (in his case physical at times) principles; actions are ends in themselves so nothing ever ends. Bit trite, but it’s there. But they’re definitely there in terms of scale.
    • Rorschach is willing to sacrifice things on a personal level to achieve personal consequences. Do what’s right or I’ll hurt you. People who identify with Rorschach are probably a bit apprehensive of things happening on a larger scale because they don’t want to sacrifice the certainty of their autonomy.
    • Silk Spectre 2 operates on a tit for tat level (no pun int'd). People identifying with her are ok with bad people being hurt and losing a little security but not ok with innocents being threatened at all.Nite Owl 2 fans are probably conventional comic book fans and get that they have to live up to people’s expectations of them. Nite Owl 2 certainly seems to think that way, but doesn’t get his place in the larger scheme of things.
    • People who identify with The Comedian read newspapers and understand society has to function but also get that in the larger scheme of things there is a fundamental injustice going on and a lot of people’s lives are destroyed in the name of that. Most people operate on that level. We know what’s going on in the larger world, but there isn’t much we can do about it. The Comedian is willing to dispose of individualism in the name of duty, but acts without culpability because he is not the leader and so not responsible for his actions. Leadership (American) seems perfectly willing to accept his actions (and the people lionize him for them) and The Comedian seems to be aware how messed up this is and is acting out looking for someone to set that straight, because he can’t. And clearly Jon won’t. And of course, along comes…
    • Ozymandias is perfectly willing to accept that innocent lives get destroyed for the greater good. He’s willing to sacrifice not just a few lives or injustices, but entire cities if it means saving more lives. People who identify with him are probably ok with ignoring, or circumventing laws and morality in favor of the common good. Of course Adrian takes that to a logical extreme most people are uncomfortable with.
    • Dr. Manhattan is above any law and refuses to play (social convention) ball. He knows “what’s up” is word play, but he will have none of that silly blather even on national television and is indifferent to whether it just bugs you or not. He doesn’t take many actions but when he does he only does it because he’s asked to (consensual) or because he has to (necessity). Early in the story, because he doesn’t understand his actions. At the end of the story, because he understands that actions are ends in and of themselves. If you identify with Dr. Manhattan, odds are you’re really into absolute freedom, categorical imperatives and Zen Koans.

    Quantum Determinism, Dr Manhattan, and Alan Moore's Philosophy 
  • What the hell is up with Alan Moore? Really, this is a general question- the man writes truly bizarre scenarios that are even more bizarre and questionable when you consider the underlying philosophy. The incident where the all-powerful Dr. Manhattan has his faith in life and humanity restored by the knowledge that his girlfriend is the daughter of a man who previously attempted to rape her mother is especially offensive.
    • Now, while this editor can't read Alan Moore's mind and tell you what the hell's up with him, the scene cited does not go as you apparently think it does. What changes Dr. Manhattan's mind isn't that knowledge (and, for all it's worth, it was only attempted rape, broken up by Hooded Justice; the encounter that led to Laurie's conception happened later.), but the sudden realization that all of life is so random as to be completely unpredictable, which smashes through his then-ironclad fatalism. This is emphasized when the scene pulls back to reveal he and Laura are standing in a giant crater on Mars that just happens to be a smiley face. N.B., during the "Face on Mars" controversy, genuine NASA scientists had produced pictures of a crater that really did look like a smiley face.
    • How to put this delicately? There have been rumors for 25 years, if not longer, that Mr. Moore has a taste for certain substances that most governments proscribe. And given all the psychedelic themes in so much of his work, like the infamous "LSD love potato" from one particularly surreal arc of "Saga of the Swamp Thing" he wrote in the 80s, he isn't trying very hard to dispel the rumors. If anything, the rumors stem from people noticing that he keeps gravitating to these ideas. This is, of course, only rumor, and I am just some random guy on the Interweb who claims no knowledge of his personal habits.
      • He's stated in interviews that he uses psychedelic drugs as part of his "religious" ritual.
      • He wouldn't be the only comic writer to get off his gourd now and again, and the fact that he smokes terrifyingly huge quantities of dope has never been denied. Anyway, what does this have to do with anything?
      • Ah, Alan Moore. To be slightly more serious, for a long time it has seemed to me that, for whatever reason, possibly related to the above, possibly not, he does not look at the world quite the same way the rest of us do. It comes through in his storytelling. Sometimes what he creates is delightfully different. I personally enjoyed "Tom Strong" and the first "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" graphic novel a great deal, for example. Sometimes his visions fall flat, like "Lost Girls," which probably would never have seen print had it not had his name attached to it.
      • I think it is well summed up by this brief description of Moore from that other wiki: "He is a vegetarian, an anarchist,(17) a practicing magician and occultist, and he worships a Roman snake-deity named Glycon.(18)." Moore is an unusual man.
      • Glycon was also a puppet, and had a woman's face. Its name translates as "sweetie". It was a fictional deity made up by the satirist Lucien, like the Flying Spaghetti Monster of ancient Rome.
      • Does anyone else get the impression that Moore is, in fact, just quietly and benevolently taking the piss out of everything? Like the Comedian, but minus the sadism.
  • (Back to the original question about Quantum Determinism and Dr. Manhattan's motivations) —
    • Ok, but even so, how does the knowledge that a twisted nihilist tried to rape a woman at all break his fatalism? It's still a really weird, borderline-offensive source of 'epiphany.'
      • Because that's not what got him back. Laurie wasn't born from the (failed) rape; she was born from when her mother voluntarily started an affair with the Comedian later (and regretted it). This is made pretty clear by the scene with Sally kissing the photograph at the end. Manhattan is fascinated by Sally starting an affair with someone who she has "every reason to hate," and realizes that he doesn't understand everything. Of course, this can seem a little twisted too...but the point isn't that Manhattan learns that life is meaningful, it's that he learns that life is unpredictable and therefore "miraculous" in a way that particles and planets are not.
      • Exactly. And looking at it from Manhattan's point of view, it seems unlikely that he would be able to fully appreciate the horror of that attempted rape anyway. You shouldn't go into Watchmen expecting any kind of easy, cut-and-dried moral Aesops, nor should you assume that any of the characters' decisions, reactions or beliefs neccessarily represent Moore's own. The book is far too complex for that.
      • I always thought that he had his epiphany because before he never really appreciated the randomness of human existence. He says that out of the millions of sperm that could have impregnated the egg, only the one that would become Laurie did. And the fact that her mother had every right to hate the Comedian, but decided to have sex with him anyway. And the fact that these two people being born was just as random as Laurie's birth, and so on for the entire human race. After all, had that single sperm not impregnated the egg, someone else besides Laurie would have been born, and he would not be having this conversation right now. He compared the existence of every person to the idea that oxygen can spontaneously turn into gold: highly improbable, but with a small chance.
      • And so, often, is history. As much as it's subverted by the Black Freighter thread, what Veidt's attempt shows, as well as Manhattan's realisation, is that the world as we know it stands on a deep, twisted and irredeemably complex historical formation, one where the exact causal relationship between the present and the past can be almost impossible to trace. That's also one of the reasons for the book's structure - it constantly weaves storylines together, interposing panels yet drawing brief connections between them by symbolic allusion (eg the perpetually reoccuring bloodstain). Manhattan knows: he can see the crystal castle that's already visible in the deep sand from which it will rise.
      • Interesting that the particular case of "the randomness of life" in question had something negative (the relationship between Edward Blake and Sally Juspeczyk) resulting in something positive (their daughter Laurie). Shortly afterward, Dr. Manhattan is confronted with the actions of Adrian Veidt, which are again a case of something negative (the destruction of a city) resulting in something positive (saving the world).
      • So let me get this straight - Dr. Manhattan gave up on his all-knowing passive role once he realized he still doesn't understand women?
      • Or, rather, that he doesn't understand people. Dr. Manhattan has tremendous knowledge and can control pretty much anything made out of matter. Like the Discworld Auditors, he can count every atom in the room. This naturally leads him to believe that the world is purely deterministic (which it quite possibly is) and that everything is simple and superficial. When you know how a thing works, it tends to lose its glamour and mystery, and Dr. Manhattan knows how almost everything works. Seeing something so weird happen to people he believed that he understood teaches him a lesson.
      • Unfortunately, Dr. Manhattan is explicitly supposed to be "based" on quantum physics, which claims that the inner workings of the universe are entirely random. It seems like a huge mistake/oversight to give such a character an Einstonian worldview.
      • Um. That's going a little too far into it, methinks. A lot of people misunderstand quantum physics as some kind of "disproof" of determinism, when it is no such thing. Without getting too far into it, I'll just say that quantum physics is * very much* about finding predictable, repeatable rules that generate consistent results for the same starting conditions. It could hardly be a science otherwise.
      • I see no evidence for Sally's kissing of the picture as meaning she regretted having the affair with Comedian; the kiss seemed to be a very blatant statement that she loved (if not more than loved) the bloodthirsty sociopath, and violently pushed him out of her life only to prevent her daughter from learning about the way she, even to the last, emotionally leaned.
  • If Manhattan can see everything in the future, then that means the future is predetermined. But how the fuck can you write an alternate history where the future is predetermined? If it was predetermined then how can it diverge from the "real" world. If it's predetermined events have to follow only one possible route. A predetermined route renders the whole point of alternate history moot.
    • Manhattan exists on a level where he can be at every point of the universe at once co-existingly in both the future, the past and the present. That's how he manages to engage in a threesome with Laurie while doing several other vital tasks. For him time does not exist. This is heavily suggested by him in the scene with the photograph.
      • Umm no, he does not co-exist at every point in the universe at once. His consciouness exists at every point of his personal time stream at once. He knows everything that will ever happen to him, and everything he will ever do, but his knowldge is limited to that which he observes/will observe/has observed around him.
    • I would be interested to know what other scenarios the initial poster deems offensive.
    • The alternate history is predetermined differently to our universe. There's no conflict- it's just saying, "This is what would've happened if this had gone differently." You could argue that it's different right from the start, but it's still an "alternate history"- it just breaks off at a different time.

  • Additional discussion:
    • Dr. Manhattan explicitly states that he can see only his own future. Meaning that it's entirely possible that it could be deterministic in a quantum pseudobabble sense: because he is observing his future at all times, it is forced to resolve itself into a single state, rather than a Schrodinger's Cat-like flux of states. It is deterministic because he believes it is. What with his other pseudointellectual nihilistic bullshit, it's entirely possible that Dr. Manhattan is simply too self-involved to really understand the big picture at anything above the subatomic level.
      • ...Well, that's not how quantum physics actually works (at the macro level, everything really is deterministic — the wave function of a macroscopic object is too small to be measured by anything or interact with anything, much less be in superposition with anything else). Dr. Manhattan is clearly not supposed to be omniscient, but "only perceiving his own future" doesn't actually change much about his powers — it means he only knows the events along his personal timeline he could perceive, not everything that's going on in Alpha Centuari or the other side of the galaxy. Certainly given how important he is to world events, his future basically is the world's future.
      • So we can therefore determine that Dr. Manhatten is... Muad'dib.
      • Wouldn't he change the future by observing it? Isn't that what Heisenberg says? So he really doesn't know anything.
    • Um, okay, * in the universe of Watchmen* the history of Watchmen is the only real history. In our universe, Watchmen is just a fictional story written by Alan Moore. It's not * literally* an "alternate history" in any fictional "multiverse", unless you choose to imagine it as such. Not every "alternate history" story needs some kind of science-fiction framing device positing that the alternate universe "really exists" if you travel along the fifth dimension or some such nonsense.
  • When Manhattan says "there is no difference between life and death, they have the same amount of particles"? That is completely wrong. Live and dead bodies are very different, (decay, blood loss, microbiology, so many other fields in forensics can show this difference,) so it seems very stupid for him to claim "no difference between life and death." Any ideas for an explanation of this?
    • At a guess I think it's because Manhattan's (a) talking about a comparison between a living body and an immediately dead body ; and (b) looking with a closer microscope, down to constituent elements and the atoms that make them up. Remember, Manhattan views things through the lens of physics and atomic physics in particular; he's not a biologist. Since energy can't be created or destroyed, and the body's mass (subject to some new-age theories) doesn't appreciably change after death, Manhattan therefore concludes there's no difference in the area which matters, which is at the atomic or subatomic level.
    • I've always thought he was just lying. He knows very well that there are differences between a living body and a dead one; he just doesn't care for unrelated reasons, but finds it easier to pretend to science his way out of it, knowing nobody in the room has the ability to call him on it.
    • Dr. Manhattan quite simply fails thermodynamics forever, and all processes related to thermodynamics (i.e. anything macroscopic and non-simplifiable, such as a human body). The "thermodynamic miracle" of two cells coming together to form this particular Silk Specter, for example - chance doesn't work that way. Next time you see a car, look at it's license plate. Wow, did you see that? PX-13-AA? What's the chance of getting that one? One in a million! That's a thermodynamic miracle! (No, it isn't, because you could be this surprised at any license plate, however unlikely this particular one happened to be). In thermodynamic terms, human interactions and even their identities are microstates of the macrostate of "life". Any particular ordering of microstates is rare, but there are many that have the same result (impending nuclear annihilation). The fact that the Silver Specter exists is as miraculous as finding some chewing gum on a particular tile of the pavement (the tile still being unspecified until the moment of finding), from a thermodynamic perspective. She's just another microstate. What is a miracle is that he managed to engage in quantum physics (not to mention get a Ph.D.) with such a terrible understanding of statistical physics. So, anyway, given his less-than-high school knowledge concerning statistical physics, it's no wonder he fails to see the entropic decay, change of fluid dynamics, destruction of constant maintanence of chemical homeostasis, and just plain drop in brain polarization, associated with a severe case of death.
      • First off, it's Silk Spectrenote . Secondly, everything you just described is not comparable. That license plate? It's a part of a system which churns them out in sequence; it never had any possibility of being any number besides PX-13-AA. Manhattan's point was that despite him knowing how the universe works on every scientific level conceivable, he still does not understand just how random human life is. He looked at the odds behind Laurie being born, from the pure physical aspect of her conception to the fact that her mother slept with a man she had ever reason not to. That's more than a one-in-a-million chance, that's astronomical odds. As for his belief that there's no difference between a live body and a dead one, it's because he's looking at it from the most basic level possible. He doesn't view sentience as being important, so from his perspective yes there is no difference. He doesn't care about other people, and Silk Spectre even says he looks at the world like he's seeing it through a fog, so why would be care about people, dead or otherwise?
      • (Manhattan fails thermodynamics guy here). No, the license plate could have been any number. If the person driving it had went somewhere else, or had left their keys at home, or if the traffic lights were just off by a few seconds, or if the owner had bought a car a day later, etc. etc. The point is that it's not statistically valid to be surprised at an outcome you didn't predict. Also, if he doesn't even understand human life, how did he get into this deterministic rut in the first place? If every single human you see is unpredictable, how could he ever get saddened by the predictability of life? As to the astronomicality of odds - the chance of all the numbers of the US national lotto coming up in the order they did is smaller than of Napoleon Bonaparte suddenly appearing out of thin air and cutting your head of right now. Yet you will be surprised to find yourself suddenly decapitated, but not surprised at the lotto numbers being in the current order. It's because I predicted your head being cut off, but nobody predicted the Lotto numbers (with 100% accuracy). No matter how unlikely the event, it is not scientifically valid to be surprised by it. There are billions of chance events taking place every second, so it is merely statistically necessary that some of these events will yield astronomically unlikely odds. And why would Manhattan look "from the most basic level possible". That is, as scientists are calling it, "pretty darn stupid". It is at least as easy to recognize the difference between a dead and living human as between a human and a plant, if looking at small scales (is there ATP? Y/N).
      • It comes down to this. No matter how smart Doctor Manhattan is, he can't demonstrate more knowledge than his own writer, and Alan Moore isn't a physicist, a biologist or a mathematician. He's a mystic with some very odd ideas about the universe, and Manhattan is voicing some of them. You're technically right to say that the character should know better, but there's a clear answer to all this - Alan Moore likely doesn't know or care about the details, he's just making his own philosophical point. Superhumanly smart characters are still limited by their humanly-smart writers. Within his own universe, Manhattan's correct simply because that's how the story's been written. We can use our real-world knowledge to say that he's babbling nonsense, but that doesn't really change anything within the story. It just tells us that the writer isn't a scientist. (With that said, I do sympathize with your being annoyed by the logic he's using: it's a lot like rolling a 6-sided die and then saying that whatever random number comes up only had a 1 in 6 chance of being rolled, so it's a miracle.)
      • Isn't the point of what Manhattan is saying is that everyone is a thermodynamic miracle, it just happens so often that nobody notices? Aren't you just proving his point?
      • Dr. Manhattan says this exact thing in almost these exact words; that literally everyone, not just Laurie, exists despite the odds being in the billions against their existence in the first place and the strong likelihood that someone else entirely could have existed in their place (that particular sperm manages to fertilize that particular egg instead of another; those two people happen to have sex at that particular time in a way that results in conception; those two people happen to meet in the first place; those two people happen to be be the products of particular sperm fertilizing particular eggs, and so on; looking at all of those things happening in order to create that particular person sends the odds into astronomical territory), but that it happens often enough that we we just can't really see it unless we stop and think about it. He just uses Laurie as an example because the circumstances of her birth are further complicated by other factors that make it even more unlikely (such as the fact that her mother has very strong and compelling reasons to hate her father yet somehow manages to fall in love with him anyway), and yet it happened anyway.
  • There seems to be a lively discussion as to WHY Dr Manhattan has an epiphany, however I consider it even more puzzling - HOW does he have it? An epiphany implies that he looks at things in a whole new way. But as he sees the future in its entirety (at least his own), he has always been aware of the particular things that led him to the epiphany. There is no way he can have a shift in perspective because everything that might lead to this shift is already known to him. Let's say that while he perceives all his existence timelessly, his actual thought processes are more linear and he just needs enough time to process what he knows (and what he knew all along, by his very nature) to reach the epiphany. Better? Not really, because even if he can only see into his future withOUT realising what he will eventually realise, he can still see the end result of his epiphany - which had a very real impact on his actions. Being able to see his future actions that make no sense from his current mindset he is bound to figure out why his mindset will change - therefore changing his mindset earlier. This is an extreme version of a common paradox in time travel stories, but more extreme. If a time traveler has to do something, he could just travel in time, skipping to the point where it has already been done. But while such a paradox can be worked around, Manhattan's perfect knowledge and timelessness means that he can skip to the moment where his thinking "work" is done without any obstacles. In other words, he doesn't have to reach an epiphany because he already knows his future where he has reached it. In fact, every idea Manhattan will ever have is already accessible to him. So how come we have a pre-epiphany Dr. Manhattan and a post-epiphany Dr. Manhattan? There is no way anything in his attitude could change if he can predict all the changes in his attitude. This implies at least one of the following:
    • He is wrong about time being meaningless to him and he is, in fact, bound by it in some way;
    • The future is not deterministic, he is wrong about it;
    • The future is not deterministic, he is lying about it - to others or to himself;
    • The future is deterministic, but something stops him from fully realising what will happen in his future (which contradicts what he says);
    • The future is deterministic up to the point where he has an epiphany, where it somehow shifts (but why? That seems quite random. Plus, it implies that Dr. Manhattan has the power to change the future if he only changes his mind - which makes the future non-deterministic in the first place, anyway...);
    • Plot hole (but I don't like this option to much, naturally);
    • The future is deterministic, but Dr. Manhattan's vision of it is imperfect. But this eliminates what seems to be the character's main problem - being bored due to having perfect knowledge about the future. Not understanding his own future self's motivations seems exciting enough.
    • "Everything is pre-ordained, even my responses". Manhattan had the epiphany because it was what he always knew he was going to do.
  • Related to the above problem - at one point, Manhattan can't see the future due to tachyon technobabble, which makes him understandably excited. But BEFORE that he sees his entire future. Not being able to see it for a while doesn't change the fact that he already knows - he knew before - what will happen after this "blackout". Heck, Manhattan could see in advance the moment where he would not be able to see the future. The only way he could be "in the dark" would be if he purposefully did not look into his far future in order to avoid spoiling the surprise. But if he could do that, he could do that at ALL times. So the "tachyon" plot point is either meaningless or implies Dr. Manhattan is very inconsistent in his seeing the future. The way the story portrays it, it's like a man walking towards a tree twenty steps away. When he is ten steps away from it, he is suddenly blinded and excitedly exclaims "my! I can't see anything, I wonder if there are any trees in front of me!"
    • Maybe the tachyon stream somehow permanently damaged whatever part of him allows him to see his own future.

    What Is Rorschach's Appeal? 
  • What is Rorschach's appeal?
    • It's like with the Joker, only less evil incarnate, and more misogynistic anti-social sociopath with one friend to his name. There's just something inherently badass about who he is, how he grew up and how he came to be. It's like watching a wild animal that hates his own kind. You just want to watch from the other side of the safety glass and see what he does.
    • One answer comes from Film/Braveheart, from Robert the Bruce's father: "You admire this man, this Wallace. Uncompromising men are easy to admire. He has courage; so does a dog. But it is exactly the ability to compromise that makes a man noble."
    • Rorschach's appeal is the appeal that every "simple solution" holds. His approach to saving the world is a variation on the Ghaleon Principle: find the right guy and beat the everloving shit out of him. His black-and-white morality is seductive in its simplicity: aku soku zan — slay evil immediately.
    • A lot of the heroes we love just tend to be fanatically-driven psychotic travesties of human beings. Check out the protagonist of V for Vendetta for an example, although V is much more of a gallant rogue than Rorschach. Probably doesn't smell as offensive either. We love Rorschach for the same reasons people love Batman and his obsessive quest to scour Gotham; Watchmen just demonstrated the logical progression of the Batman kind of mindset.
    • He's an extreme disciple of Kantian morality (though he probably doesn't think about it like that): essentially, things are right because they spring from the right motives ("The Good Will", as Kant termed it). By contrast, Ozymandias is an extreme disciple of Utilitarianism: better to kill millions if it saves billions. Of course, either or both could be mistaken in their moral viewpoint.
    • He drives the plot forward, kicks ass and gives hilarious (and disturbing) exposition. He is the only character in the whole damn book who gets off his hinder and does something. It's only natural that the audience gravitates to him as the 'hero'. The fact that Alan Moore may not have intended this speaks more to Moore's ability to construct a narrative than the audience's interpretations.
    • He's The Woobie. More seriously, Rorschach plays the role of the classical Tragic Hero; he's a larger-than-life character who, despite good intentions, is eventually undone by his own flaws.
    • His is the only view that actually believes in a 'good' person that still tries to deal with 'bad' people. Most of the heroes totally gave up, Ozymandias is a moral relativist, and so that just leaves Rorscahch as the only one who's handling good and evil at all. It may not necessarily be the right way to handle it, but there is an appeal to knowing somewhere there's good (not that Rorschach sees much of it) and the bad guys are getting the crap beaten out of them.
      • One of the main reasons I think so many people like Rorschach, is because he takes action. He is out there, killing people, breaking fingers, scaring muggers. He does things. Nite Owl II waits until Rorschach's in jail to do anything important, most of Veidt's action, and planning, is off-screen. Manhattan escapes to Mars for the first part of the story. Silk Spectre II is against the whole thing. The Comedian is dead. Rorschach is one of the -if not the only- character/s that move the story forward actively for the first 2/3 of it. He's doing stuff, and looking badass the whole time. I'd have no problem sitting through 90 minutes of Rorschach. He's active. And he's active NOW, not ten years ago.
    • Perhaps it's because Rorschach is an outcast. We've all felt like outcasts at one time or another, and can therefore relate to him better than the characters who, while they do have their flaws, are generally accepted.
    • For the very same reason that we like badass characters, as even stated on that page. He both does what he wants, despite any blockages - Keene act, etc. - and what he believes in - without compromise. And he pulls off insane, over the top stunts in pursuit of what he believes - justice for the wicked, in a manner of speaking.
    • Rorschach is a walking Think of the Children! trope. Like it or not, half his backstory and significant sympathetic characterisation revolve around the subject of hurt children: his upbringing; the Roche kidnapping; the final confrontation with his landlady. Nobody else has an explicitly horrible upbringing: Ozy and Dan came from privileged backgrounds, Laurie was kept more or less ignorant of her parentage (her stepfather is a bully, but it's almost an afterthought, unlike the dropping of the anvil with Kovacs'), Osterman had a trade but otherwise wasn't underprivileged, the Comedian doesn't have a past, and even Hollis Mason is presented in the filler text as having a loving family. Kovacs, by comparison, is the illegitimate son of a prostitute. He doesn't even know who his father is, his own mother beats the hell out of him when he's less than ten years old and says she should have aborted him. His early life is implied as one long Break the Cutie moment, and, despite metaphorically wading through blood, he has great empathy for a little child in a position like his own. That character feature (rightly or wrongly) redeems him, at an emotional level, despite all of his sociopathic behaviour, into Magnificent Bastard territory; indeed, the presentation of his abusive mother is very heavily implied as direct justification for his misogyny. When he's in prison, he's presented figuratively as a child among adults: physically smaller than the people who threaten him — even when he electrocutes the prisoner, the subtext and imagery are of a little child cowering away from a bully. This, again, is to invoke Think of the Children!: as readers we inherently believe in "pick on someone your own size" as a catchcry from our childhoods, and the criminals in each case (Mr Fat Fryer, Mr Fat Hands, Mr Welder) are all presented as picking on a little kid. It's only when Rorschach's walking after Big Figure that he's presented as adult size again.
    • In addition, Rorschach has a badass mask.

    Alternative Morality - Rorschach Vs Ozymandias 
  • How can someone actually see Rorschach's morality in positive light? While he is badass and has a Freudian excuse for some of the stuff he does, he has went so far along the "he who fights monsters" line that he can no longer see the good people he should be protecting, just the evil people he thinks he should be smiting. I personally lost my last ounce of sympathy for him was when he told about brutally slaughtering two dogs for the sole reason that their owner had fed them a kidnapped girl. Like animals have the capacity to "choose the side of evil", as he puts it.
    • Then again, how can so many Watchmen fans actually see Veidt's motivations in a positive light? Especially when folks condemn Rorschach for his "cut and dry morality". Black and white morality is not by definition bad (logically speaking). What really disturbs me is folks who come out of books or films using them to justify real-life death and warfare, etc. (see Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) on the grounds "nothing is absolute", "just look at a guy like Veidt, he had to sacrifice people, he wasn't the villain, Rorschach was!" Which I think is not what the author intended.
      • That does not mean people are either "good" or "evil". They're not. But that does not reject the concept of absolutes. The protagonist and antagonist of Les Misérables, for instance, both believe in cut and dried morality; the antagonist simply falls flat in believing people are either-or.
      • Ozymandias is pretty far from being objectivist. His view seems to be that morality is an incredibly complex thing, made up almost entirely of conflict of things that would generally be deemed 'good'. He doesn't even seem to believe that good and evil exist objectively, but rather that they're defined by a mix of genetic imperatives and cultural memes.
    • Probably just a Misaimed Fandom. I think the book makes it obvious that Rorschach's cut-and-dry morality... well, everything you said. He's not supposed to be sympathetic.
    • This Troper will admit it's a matter of Misaimed Fandom — Rorschach's viewpoint is rather obviously demonstrated as being less-than-viable over the long term, so it's clear we're not supposed to think he's the good guy. I still like the character's morality; he sees evil, true and consistent evil, and actually does something about it. That's something that's far too rare in the real world. We watch other government's leaders kill millions, or sit a few dozen feet away from this week's Catherine Genovese, content in our knowledge that the government did it 'for the greater good' and that we are individually safe from the murderer. A character who can get past that with only a slight death wish and sexual abnormalities is impressive. Yes, he killed animals that had been trained and used by a child murderer as guard dogs. They were tools used and trained for undeniably evil purposes, and probably couldn't be retrained even if someone had the time and intent to do so. Yes, it's a recipe for leaping off the slippery slope, but we don't see him become a monster. He commits Suicide By Deity-Cop rather than let himself violate his rules or turn into a monster.
      • But he did turn into a monster. He stuffs an at-this-point-harmless old man into the fridge for literally no reason. He breaks several barflies' fingers for talking to him funny. Everyone is terrified of him because he's totally off his rocker. He is seriously the most evil (living) person in the whole entire comic.
      • That is your definition of "the most evil person"? Breaking the fingers of the guys in a Bad-Guy Bar and putting a guy, formerly a supervillain, in a fridge for a grand total of, maybe, 30 seconds? That is "evil"? I'll agree that he's a monster in the He Who Fights Monsters sense, but saying those two things are proof of his "evil" is just ludicrous. If you want to call him "evil", cite the really nasty shit he does, at least, like burning a dude alive. But even that is Pay Evil unto Evil at worst.

        No, Rorschach is pretty firmly in the "good" alignment, if you consider that he targets known criminals, typically while they're in the process of, or have just finished, doing something horrible to someone. His methods are monstrous, certainly, but that doesn't make him "evil" unless you're going by a very, very broad definition of "evil".

        If you're going to call Rorschach "evil" for breaking some fingers for information, then you have to call Dan and Laurie "evil" for their utter brutalizing of the knottops that attack them, especially since it's implied Laurie took them through the neighborhood specifically so they'd attract that kind of attention.
      • More evil than Veidt? You do realize Veidt and Osama bin Laden have approximately the same motivations right?
      • He breaks barfly — in the seediest dive he knows of — fingers while trying to hunt down a murderer of another hero. He stuffs an ex-supervillain into a fridge in the same process. I don't see that as more evil than a man who killed millions on the off chance that it might save others from a death that might be coming.
      • Not to mention he shows compassion toward Moloch when he founds out of his cancer.
      • The murder of a rapist and murderer, who turns out to want to save the world through destroying large portions of it. Rorschach is pretty dark gray, but so is the rest of the world; he's not, however, more evil than, say, Ozymandias, if we're judging by motivation alone.
      • No. The most evil would be Big Figure, or some of the knothead street gangers who killed Hollis Mason, not Rorschach.
      • While I wouldn't peg Rorschach as pure evil, I do agree that he in fact DID become a monster. The biggest evidence for this is at the end of the chapter where we finally see into the darkness that is Rorschach's psychology. Moore ends the issue with the Nietzsche quote "Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." Despite room for interpretation, that quote is really hard to ignore. It could refer to Rorschach no longer being Walter Kovacs after his psyche broke by killing the child murderer, or the psychologist attempting to figure him out and slowly becoming sociopathic after staring into the "abyss" that is Rorschach's mind.
      • I don't think anyone will argue that Moore thought Rorschach was a good guy. There are too many interviews to the contrary. But it takes more than burning a child murderer to make a monster out of the man.
      • There's a difference between 'monster' and 'Complete Monster'. Largely, Rorschach does do what he believes is "good," but that doesn't mean his methods of doing things necessarily mesh with those of others. He's a psychopath, if a well-meaning one.
      • There's no way to be a well-meaning psychopath. Anti-social personality disorder is the definition of someone incapable of mean well, is someone who has no empathy and no sense of moral, just pure selfishness and self-preservation. To give and example there's a debate wether Hitler was a psychopath or not because he commited suicide and a true psychopath would never do that as self-preservation is something that obsessed them due to their narcisism (not saying that Hiler was not a bad person, he was very bad, you don't have to be a psychopath to be evil or having some other disocial disorder). So Roshark by definition can't be a psychopath/sociopath and a vigilante/marsked heroe. Of course, popular speaks tend to use the word "psychopath" and use it very liberally, generally to mean: someone violent/weird.
      • To interpret the words of some of the people above, Rorschach may be Adam, but he's not Frankenstein. He's violent because he's screwed up, has a few stock Freudian Excuses, and has given up on Black-and-White Morality for Grey and Gray and Orange morality, whereas certain other characters have had pretty good lives, and well-developed moral senses, they just choose to ignore because it's more convenient in the short or long run. He's not a good role model, and probably True Neutral with Good motives and Evil tendencies, but he's far from the most evil character in the series whether you count the mob members, petty criminals, and prisoners or not.
    • Wait, killing two dogs is what qualifies as Moral Event Horizon for you? Wow, hope you never have to work at a pound.
      • Rorschach doesn't seem to be a good guy or a bad guy, he seems to only care about his brothers in arms he doesn't give a crap about the common man or any one over the age of innocence.
    Rorschach: The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "No." They had a choice, all of them.
    • "The age of innocence" is an arrow pointing at that flaw in Rorschach's way of thinking. What is the cut-off age for 'not deserving of murder'? 10? 12? 16? To Rorschach, 99.9% of the world is whores and politicians, and that just isn't true, even in Watchman's Crapsack World. The fact that Rorschach doesn't care about 'the common man' is what makes him a monster (though not a Complete one), even though he's not necessarily evil.
    • Moore showing us the ugliness of this train of thought — that heroism is defined by seeing bad things happen and * doing something about it* , regardless of what that "something" is, regardless of what effect that "something" has — was supposed to be a deconstruction of everything he found troubling about America's superhero fetish (which Steve Ditko turned into a full-blown Objectivism-inspired personal philosophy). See Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns for a fuller, more over-the-top enactment of this philosophy by someone who actually believes in it. For my part, I find that Moore did a good job of giving us a Rorschach, giving us the logical opposite of Rorschach (Ozymandias), making them both as heroic as they could be and still ending up as monstrous and worthy of fear and contempt, and thus leaving us with no easy answers about how to deal with the whole right-and-wrong thing.
    • Killing the dogs was done to torture the child-murdering sicko he'd tracked down. Also, considering that Rorschach had a psychotic break due to the sheer horror of that man's evil, I'd cut Rorschach a little slack.
      • Not to mention that when Rorschach discovered the dogs, they were fighting over A MURDERED CHILD'S BONES.
    • This troper feels that Rorschach's admiration of the Commedian is a strong strike against his hero-status. He brushes the Commedian's attempted rape of Silk Spectre off as a 'moral lapse of a man who has died for his country', which kinda undercuts his position as an uncompromising force of justice. Apparantly, another masked guy who fights dirty gets a free pass in his book.

  • I think I like Ozymandias more than I'm supposed to. It's not because of what he did-normally I dislike people who believe that Utopia Justifies the Means. But out of all the characters he seems to be the best and brightest. He's the only one who really believes that humans have the abililty to make a better world for themselves, if only they stop being stupid. Am I reading something wrong?
    • Well, Tropes Are Not Wrong, so... I think it's a case of the villain being the only competent/dedicated/stick-tuitive character, I know there's a trope name for that, where you have to admire him as a fictional character, even if he's a villain, because he's the only smart guy in the room. Like Keyser Soze. You can't do that in real life because in real life there's always a "somewhat good" person capable of putting up an argument against fanaticism.
    • Or even arguing that, if sacrificing millions to save billions is a good thing, then risking the lives of billions for the truth (Rorschach's argument) can't be dismissed either. (Would Russia have really initiated WWIII having just learned that an evil capitalist had initiated a false-flag operation against America? Or would the US have returned to Def-Con 4 2 after learning Veidt did it?)
    • But in real life the "practical, somewhat good" person will say "no, we don't want people to know the truth, but we don't want the guy who did it to get off scot free either." Ironically this is one shade of grey Alan Moore didn't explore. What if the "heroes" had "extraordinarily renditioned" Veidt? Not that they were able to, of course.
      • Ozymandias needs to go free because only he can lead the Free World to peace. He's got the means and the motive, and now the opportunity. If they were to bring it in, everything he worked for would fail.
      • Explain something for the fuck would you go about punishing Veidt? He hammered Rorschach and Dan, and while Nite Owl had been out of action for a while, Rorschach is a vicious fighter who simply doesn't stop. Your only option is Dr. Manhattan, who may have a new interest in humanity, but that doesn't mean he's going to appoint himself head of the Karma Police.
      • Use a gun? (And if that don't work, use more gun.) Seriously, though, there's only so much even the "perfect" Ozymandias could do against that possibility...
      • The Karma Police would go after Dr. Manhattan first. He talks in maths and buzzes like a fridge. He's like a detuned radio!
      • This conversation just won the internet forever.
      • Getting back to the subject of punishing Ozymandias without dooming the world. This troper almost immediately thought a Jedi Truth could have resolved the comic at least. Simply say that Ozymandias transported the alien to New York with the unspoken implication that he was The Quisling for the alien invasion. What little the public might learn from Rorschach's journal might help corroberate that and Veidt might be put in a corner after that. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. will still be too afraid of the aliens to fight each other, but they "know" Veidt was responsible...just in a way that they don't realize he had more to do with it than they thought. Veidt will, of course, keep his lips zipped on that aspect of the plan, even when he's effectively checkmated.
      • It's still their word against an ultra-rich and powerful humanitarian/athlete/inventor who's immensely popular and widely regarded as saint-like. I'm pretty sure they'd lose that battle.
  • I dislike Ozymandias far more than I'm supposed to. One point that has yet to come up in this whole WMG is the fact that Ozymandias started the war he used to justify killing millions of people to stop. He sent Dr. Manhattan to the stars in order get him out of the way, upsetting the balance of power and starting the countdown to doomsday. I always saw him as a commentary on the mental gymnastics that people will do to believe the well-dressed erudite bishounen over the laconic hobo who tells them what they don't want to hear.
    • He didn't start a war, he just allowed the Cold War to escalate, and that was well under way by the end of the 1940s. It wasn't as if Reds with Rockets only became a serious concern when he showed up.

    If He's So Powerful, Why Didn't Manhattan Just... 
  • Off Side 7: I know this is a relatively shallow question, but a lot of the deeper stuff has already been touched upon. Why didn't Janie just ask Doc Manhattan to fix her wrinkles, if she was upset that her visibly aging was turning him off? And why is he so distant from human issues in some ways, but completely shallow in others (i.e. preferring younger women)?
    • For the first question, because he might say yes. Remember how Janie reacted when Jon offered her a drink? If you recall, that's pretty much everyone's reaction to Jon whenever he uses his powers. As for why Jon's still got human frailties, I think Moore intends to show that giving men access to the powers of a god doesn't make them better. Jon's new mindset limits him, but his personality, such as it is, is still just a jumped-up version of what it was in the first place. The watchmaker metaphor is something of a fatalistic one. One of the mysteries of the book is how much of Manhattan's fatalism was because everything he foresaw was inevitable, and how much of it was because he always viewed his life as being manipulated by outside forces like his father. At the end of the book, he's proactive for arguably the first time in his life.
    • I see what you're saying about the second issue (though it still seems a bit arbitrary to me)... As for the former, I'd say if there was some evidence that Janie was looking for an excuse to end the relationship, she might have refused to ask on those grounds... But otherwise, the minor discomfort with him using his powers should have been worth it. ...Maybe there were hints. I should go reread it...
      • I don't think it's about what would be minor physical discomfort, but the psychological weirdness of it. Drinking spontaneously generated water, while unsettling, is something you can get over. Having a walking H-bomb reshape your face (even superficially) is another matter altogether. As for the second question, since Jon himself doesn't age, human women to him probably age very quickly compared to say, atomic gold. Also, he perceives time oddly, so he can see younger and older versions of Janey concurrently, making her gradual aging over the years appear quite dramatic.
    • It's possible that Dr. Manhattan can't do that kind of fine manipulation of large numbers of atoms. Creating big, uniform vats of chemicals is one thing; doing repair work on human cells without damaging them is another. Or maybe Janie didn't believe Jon could do that, and didn't want to risk having him try and fail.
    • I think the Janey issue is not Dr. Manhattan's excuse to leave her but a reflection on her resenting him for staying young while she gets older. If you notice she was upset by his God like powers and he had to reasure her and she turned out a very bitter elderly woman in the future even after 20 years had passed. I think it was more about she not feeling okay with her aging (and thus growing bitter) and human nature and Silk Spectre II smiling at him was kind of confirmation of her fears thus causing the split. I think if Dr had only been atracted to SS over her young age he would had replaced Laurie for the next new 16 years old a long time before we meet them or had dumped Janey even before (When I first started the GN I though that Dr. Manhattan was a skirt chaser replacing young girlfriends every once in a while, wich is the pattern for guys that prefer younger women it was very interesting to know that he had been 11 years with Janey and 20 with Laurie). No to mention that the Dr. M may just know that Janey wouldn't be pivotal to his next step on the future. I mean if Jon would had been with Janey instead of Laurie during the events of the GN/movie I think he wouldn't had reached the conclusions about life that he did so he just pursued Laurie because he was supposed to do so and had nothing to do with Janey getting older, per se.
  • I always wondered if he could cure Janey or Wally's cancer. (And Dr M's relationship with Laurie is one of the points of the book I struggle with. I don't know what he sees in her - obviously there can be no intellectual connection with humans for Dr. M, even Adrian the genius is just an ant to him. He wants her physically, but by '85, she's in her mid-thirties, so one would presume he'd be tiring of her like he did with Janey. But apparently not.
It also annoys me when he says he left earth because she left him, when actually, all he did was go on television. He left earth when he found out Janey had cancer.)
  • Manhattan's abilities seem to be focused towards particle physics rather than biology (see the earlier discussion on his mistaken belief that there's no difference between a living body and a dead one). The accident gave him certain abilities, but superintelligence wasn't one of them, and he's a physicist by training, not a medical doctor. Earth of 1985 really had very little idea how to treat or cure cancer effectively, so there's little reason to think Doc could do so either (other than, perhaps, radiation therapy...)
  • If Dr Manhattan was so all powerful, couldn't he simply have disappeared ALL nuclear bombs unilaterally? I get that he might not care, but surely it would be less work to get rid of them once and for all then to constantly have the government pestering him. And I was annoyed at that picture of him blowing up the tank when he could have just turned it into water, or plough shares. I suppose the publicity boys told him that would be most effective. His uselessness in really making an end to wars bugged me.
    • Even if he did, they could just make more bombs. Besides, by that point they've been in the Cold War for decades. If something wasn't useful for defense or propaganda there wasn't much point in supporting it, and if Manhattan refused he'd have been branded as a traitor and probably vivisected... somehow.
    • He's Omnipotent he could have disappeared all of Russia, maybe he just didn't want to.
    • To keep people from fighting completely, he'd have to do more than make a handful of bombs disappear, he'd have to police people's behavior. That's something he'd be capable of doing, but willing? I think the scene with the Comedian in Vietnam show how detached and fatalistic he is. He just does what the government tells him to. Frankly, the real question is—why didn't they tell him to make Russia disappear? Or at least threaten to?
    • He wasn't omnipotent. If that wasn't clear enough just from what he does (or, more accurately, what he doesn't do), he specifically says he could only intercept about 50% of missiles launched by Russia. Why do so many people think he's omnipotent?
      • Because he's almost omnipotent, except in the face of something as big as having tens of thousands of ballistic missiles flying through the air and trying to stop them all in less than half an hour. All Manhattan has to do is miss, oh, twenty warheads that got off the ground, and there's death on a massive scale. Hence the Cold-but-heating-up-rapidly War. He's not God in the Judeo-Christian sense. He has limits. But those limits are so high that it's difficult to imagine him being unable to do anything, given his combination of Flying Brick, matter manipulation, teleportation, and "be in many places at once" powers.
    • My interpretation of why Manhatten doesn't do anything really proactive is because of his ability to percieve every moment of his life at once. He is essentially experienceing everything he ever will at the same time, and therefore for all his power can do nothing about anything. Take, for example, the woman in Vietnam that the Comedian kills. While Manhatten could have done a number of things to prevent it, to him it already happened. At the same moment he sees the woman enter the bar he is seeing the Comedian berating him for not stopping him from shooting her. This is why he thanks Veidt for creating the tachyon burst at the end. Since he has no foreknowledge of what happens then, it is the first time since his transformation that he can truly act.
  • Actually, to respond to that "Dr. Manhattan left earth cause Laurie left him", I'm fairly sure he said that because at that point there was nothing left for him on earth to care for, nor was there a reason for him to stay. It's pretty much a Domino Effect. Manhattan is beginning to get captured up in his god complex which Laurie despises and leaves him for since she knows what will happen eventually. Shortly thereafter John goes through a state of questioning aspects of humanity and life, right before the interview he was sceduled to appear on, and by that point he realizes that mankind sees himself as nothing more of a freak of nature god who spreads cancer. It's during the interview that John cracks and it becomes all clear to him because if Laurie would still be with him during that point, he'd see how there is still value in human nature as individuals. But if even Laurie, who he loved and she loved back, can see what has become of him, he sees that mankind just isn't ready for a living god. Thus he leaves earth and stops caring for the world since the world has stopped caring for him.
  • the United States colonize the solar system. In the film, we see Doctor Manhattan holding the camera for the moon landing, but if Dr. Manhattan existed there would be no need of rockets. We saw him teleport to Mars and build himself a glass castle out of the sand. He could do the same thing to the Moon, Mars, and Venus; bring astronauts and colonists with his teleportation ability and build habitable space installations on those planets in the same way he built the glass castle. Wouldn't the Cold war seem pretty petty in the face of such an accomplishment?
  • ...make more Dr. Manhattans (not clones, just other superhumans)? Mostly out of idle curiosity, but it'd be one way to not be bored; have lots of people on the same scale as him, and play chess with the Muggles or something.
    • Other than "He can't", "He just doesn't want to", or "He foresaw himself not doing that", the main argument I can think of for 'against' is "He doesn't want to make more of himself" possibly out of fear.
    • It'd certainly give the story a more Transhumanist bent, and be another philosophy for the author to pick apart.
      • More likely "he can't". It's mentioned somewhere that they've been trying to replicate the circumstances that created Manhattan more or less since he first emerged, without success. Presumably those attempts have been made with Manhattan helping them.
  • ...create a portable tachyon generator? It's pretty clear that he loved the time when he was in Ozymandias' lair and he didn't instantaneously know the future. So why not duplicate the generator, miniaturize it and carry it around with him?
    • Because he's just discovered some fun thing to do that requires his full supernatural capacity - creating life.
  • Why did he choose the American side in military conflicts? The Americans don't have the power to force him, so why didn't he just continue doing science and trying to improve the world, and not go to Vietnam, or force Russia to build up a ridiculous nuclear arsenal to defend against him. Simply by saying "I will defend the side which is declared war against, and prevent crimes against humanity", there wouldn't be any sort of cold war. Or, avoiding the answer "because he didn't think of that", why didn't he do whatever he thought best? Why did he act like a passive government toy? There's just no way he'd be the one person on the planet who doesn't want to Take Over the World, For Great Justice or For the Evulz.
    • Fridge Brilliance: Manhattan is utterly a creature of physics. Newton's First Law of Motion is that a body will continue to do what it was doing unless acted on by an outside force. Before he died, Manhattan was an American. Ergo he would continue to do what he was doing. This is Manhattan's personality! Also, it's more or less explicit that Osterman's personality before the accident was pretty weak: he tends to have his decisions made for him by others.
  • Just a small thing, but why is Doctor Manhattan's signature killing move to make people explode? He can control atoms! Isn't there a neater way?
    • Probably, but a key part of Manhattan's personality is that he's utterly detached. Why not make them explode? That's the most efficient way to kill them, and he doesn't care about the mess. In one piece or a million, they're still dead. To him, what's the difference beyond what mortals think?
  • What exactly, is Manhattan's motive for doing anything? Supposedly he's above everything, and mankind is beneath him and not worth his trouble, and the only thing that interests him is physics and the universe. then why work for the U.S. government? Why intervene in Vietnam? Why bother with romantic relationships? Why stop Veidt?
    • That's the exact question his character was created to ask. The real answer is that he still has the basic mind of a human, and so even if he's now blessed with incredible knowledge, he still has to interpret and making meaning out of what he sees. Before his precognition came to dominate his mindset, he retained Jon Osterman's loyalty to the United States, still felt lust for young women, and didn't want to see the planet he grew up on blow itself to smithereens. As time went on he began to see the apparent futility of it all, but it was when Veidt and Laurie's unintentionally combined efforts showed him the wonder of mystery and surprise again, especially when it comes to life, his interest in human concepts like justice was reinvigorated.

    Adrian Veidt's Peccadillos (Book/Film) 
  • Why does Adrian Veidt ever embark upon a career as a costumed vigilante? It seems uncharacteristically naive that a man of Veidt's intelligence and erudition - especially one who idolizes an ancient military and world leader such as Alexander the Great - should ever consider crimebusting on such a relatively small scale as being worth his efforts. I can accept the Comedian having a better grasp of the human condition than Veidt, certainly, but not the global political situation and where it was heading.
    • Because in spite of what he did, back then, he was still an idealist and genuinely believed he can make a huge difference being a costumed crimefighter. Look at how he carried himself during the flashbacks. He only retired and went into his cynical persona once the Comedian put some perspective into him with his speech in one of their last meetings.
    • Because, as he admits himself, he was still young and somewhat naive. Remember his background; Adrian Veidt grew up as a pampered rich kid.
      • Yes, but he takes up his vigilante career after he gave away his entire inheritance and spent considerable time travelling around the world following Alexander the Great's footsteps, living in poverty and studying martial arts. These worldly experiences should have disavowed him of his "pampered rich kid" upbringing. And it still seems unlikely that man as keenly intelligent, observant and detached as Veidt was ever naive enough to think that the world's - or even one city's - problems could be solved by masked adventuring, as he claims in Chapter XI (he genuinely believed that crime was the sole province of criminals?).
      • For a workout? For fun? Most likely, to establish himself as a household name and build his unassailable PR fortress on the hero image. And just because fighting petty criminals won't save the world doesn't mean he isn't improving a small part of it by doing so. Probably all four.
      • Don't forget that, for all of Veidt's intelligence and logic, he completely and utterly in love with himself. A part of that is proving dominance through violence. He picked a fight with the Comedian in his youth, just to see what would happen, and when we see Veidt holding him over his head ready to throw him out the window, he is clearly loving it. Veidt was better at everything than everyone, and liked to prove it. Being a "mystery man" was a good way to prove his mental and physical superiority on a regular basis, and be hailed a hero for it.
      • Going by some of the hints of Intelligence Equals Isolation in the movie, it could be he was trying to look for people he might finally be able to relate to.

  • This troper only saw the movie so he can't be sure if it was there in other versions, but what the hell was that horned tiger Ozymandias had as a pet?
    • That is Bubastis, named for the Egyptian city of the same name, which the center of worship for the feline goddess Bast. It's a mutanted lynx that Ozymandias made. And yes, Bubastis is in the graphic novel.
      • In fact, it seems a lot less out of place in the graphic novel and ends up being a Chekovs Gun, since Ozymandias' ability to genetically engineer alien-looking lifeforms is central to his plan. This troper did think that Bubastis seemed random in the movie and wouldn't have made sense if you hadn't read the graphic novel.
    • I haven't seen the movie yet, but I figured since there's no "squid", Bubastis would just be another symbol of Veidt wanting to play god.
  • Megan Phntm Grl would just like to comment that the name of this section pleases her immensely and will be duly recorded on Veidt's Sueniverse Wiki page.
  • Re. the movies-only "Boys" folder, or at least I'm fairly sure that was film-only: The smartest man in the world can't hide his porn better?
    • Hey, now, there are many perfectly legitimate things that could be kept in a folder called "boys". For instance, plans for an army of Ozymandias look-alikes to carry on the legacy. Or something.
    • I mean, I know, but everyone jumps to the conclusion that it's porn. Personally, Movie!Ozymandias would more likely hide his personal viewing material in a folder marked, I don't know, Plans For Brain-Blasting Giant Attack Squid. Something. (This troper does have a WMG that they're many, many family photos of his hundreds of illegitimate children.) It could be related to the action figures thing, or an army of mini-Veidts. But if it's not, well, gosh.
    • Why BOTHER hiding it? It is his own personal machine. No one else was supposed to use it and its not like he needs to feel ashamed of it. I don't bother hiding my porno, why should he?
      • It's not hidden at all. The entire computer set up was to get Rorschach et al to his arctic base to explain his plans to them. The folder is probably empty.
      • Also, given Rorschach's previously-stated suspicions on Veidt's "proclivities", the folder may have been deliberately planted on the computer to convince Rorschach he was on the right track and further increase the chances that the plan to get the other heroes to Karnak and out of harm's way would succeed.
  • The worst bit of Fridge Logic for me - there's no possible way Adrian Veidt hasn't read "Ozymandias". It's about the hubris of proclaiming yourself the best and greatest in the world - a memento mori to the human race. So either Ade didn't get that, or he's so fantastically meta-arrogant that he considers himself above the rule of irony itself...
    • I think Ozy totally gets that. He named himself Ozymandius so that he doesn't forget that. Look through the comic, and he never proclaims himself the best and greatest in the world - it's others that do.
    • He says he wanted to reclaim the name Ozymandias. The real Ozymandias was Adrian's hero, and he didn't like the fact that the great pharoah's name was now remembered only for a poem about failure. He wanted people to associate the name with success and heroism.

  • In the comic, why does Veidt murder his three loyal assistants in the Arctic base, and why does he lie to the others about it? Is this evidence that he's really just The Sociopath underneath it all, does he need to tie up loose ends but feels that this would be a tipping point since he needs to achieve "moral checkmate" for his plan to work, or is something else going on?

    Sympathy For The Comedian 
  • I seem to be the only person whose "Watchmen character I identify with" is the Comedian. Morally reprehensible, certainly, but Blake has the one and only aspect of any character in the series I recognized in myself: his understanding that most of modern society is just a colossal joke who's punchline seems to be so far over everyone else's . . . well, you get the idea. I'm no moral nihilist but I'm probably a societal nihilist (does such a term/classification even exist?). Everyone takes everything way too seriously, even things deliberately intended not to be taken seriously. Am I the only one?
    • No, you're not the only one. However, it is difficult for people to say that they identify with a morally reprehensible character without someone accusing them of being morally reprehensible themselves. Many people find his attempted rape of Sally difficult to overlook, even if they can see merit to his attitude about other things.
      • Wait, what?! He murders an unarmed civilian (and I'm not talkin' about murdering someone who kidnapped, killed, chopped up and fed to his dogs a little girl, he shoots an innocent woman who just so happens to also be pregnant and oh-yeah-by-the-way it's Blake's) and the attempted rape (later completed voluntarily, by the former victim's account) is what people can't overlook?! I guess I have another JBM now. Feeling bluer and bluer every day.
      • Hardly an unarmed woman; the seconds before he shoots her, she breaks a bottle and seriously slices in to his face with it. If her swing was a couple inches lower, she could have easily sliced open Blake's neck and killed him.
      • She dropped the bottle when he was aiming at her. She was unarmed and she wasn't a treat to his life, he was just pissed off because his pretty face got screwed up (that also got his rage up with Sally). I pity the man that tries to pass as self defense killing a pregnant woman that cutted him in the face with a bottle and then drops it and ask for mercy while crying...Pity I said? I would laugh at him while he gets his ass fried on the electric chair.
      • "She dropped the bottle when he was aiming at her"... dirty little secret of the infantry, especially pre-embedded reporting: "hey, I tried to kill you but I screwed up can I surrender now?" more often than not gets a bullet in response.
      • Actually many women lie to and seduce horny troops into impregnating them so that the soldier will be forced to take her back into the states and marry her, mooching off of him for the rest of his life. How about not playing the giult card with the guy cackling along with his trusty flamethrower?
      • Oh please. Blake's not an idiot. He must have been well aware that sleeping with a woman (presumably sans protection; the Pill was hardly widespread in those days) was likely to lead to pregnancy. He's hardly a victim; how about keeping it in your pants?
      • Uh, nobody ever claimed he was a victim in the above posts. Besides, it's very heavily implied murdering a pregnant woman was not beyond his range of experiences.
    • That's the point. The Comedian is a deconstruction of America and the American Dream: as a country, the US, like all countries, has a lot of Kick the Dog moments (if the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay didn't hate us when they were captured, they sure as hell hate us now). As for Blake's baby-momma, I thought it was a combination of blasting Viet Cong for days on end and an unconscious Secret Test of Character for Dr. M: "You could've turned the bullets into snowflakes or the bottle into (something harmless) or even sent us to fucking Australia but you didn't!" It just shows how different Blake is compared to Dr. M (Ineffectual Loner). That scene's interesting, purely because even prior to Baby-Momma's appearance, Blake is miserable at a time when one would assume he'd be thrilled. He fought a war, his natural element, and better yet, America beat Vietnam. But instead, the cracks are showing (the movie makes this even clearer with the reading of 'Bitter? Me?' followed by a big, false smile and 'I think it's hilarious.') and he can't help looking at the bigger picture. (Paralleling Veidt, and of course, Dr. Manhattan. And on the opposite side to Rorschach, who obsesses over the small details. It's fascinating, because of course, Rorschach worships the Comedian, and their end is similiar - they'd rather die than live in a world where Veidt's plan succeeds. Despite how jaded, violent and generally repulsive they are, they still care.) Just like he hurts anyone with the knowledge that it doesn't matter, because the whole world's a joke, and everyone's going to die soon anyway; he can't feel joy about the petty stuff he claims to care about - his country, women, violence; for the same reasons. If America had gone crazy, as a nation, it would have made no difference. Blake's halfway to crazy at this point himself.
      • I saw the comedian as a deconstruction of Batman, like most of the other major characters. The Comedian is a freelance defender of the traditional social order; his crimes are always against "uppity" women. His faults reflect the corruption of the underlying society. On the other hand, he is not without virtues. His actions during the riot are excessive, but work to protect society.
      • His actions protected society? Hell no, they protected his little superhero fraternity, and nothing more. The protesters where demanding the Keene Act.
    • I agree. Even our money is a joke. The dollar is money only because the government says it's money. Why do people spend so much of their life working so they can have bigger numbers in a computer and some pieces of green paper? Why does anyone consider it valuable to trade for anything? Lots of people I meet expect me to act perfectly and any indication that I have emotions and do not like being walked over means they never speak to me again (especially if they were the ones in the wrong). The Joker put it well, "Why, so, serious?
      • So our money is a joke because... it's money, and operates exactly how money does. Huh?
      • No. Fiat Money. It has value because authority says it does. That's the joke. Haha.
      • Only fiat money has ever existed. Gold? Utterly worthless except for electronics or reactor shielding. Silver? Likewise. Diamonds? They can make them out of anything. What can you find that has intrinsic value that doesn't vary from person to person? Not even sex will work. So, what, a barter system? So inherently flawed as to be unworkable. The idea of money is one of the best jokes I know. Besides all that, US currency is more valuable than gold because think about it, what backs the money? The country. The whole country. How much is New York City worth? It's infinite. You couldn't buy it, not the whole thing. We don't have gold reserves, but we have uncounted tons of valuable country to back our money. So stop telling that joke and what takes over? How do you get the things you need? I'm with the Comedian. Human beings are pretty damn funny.
      • Of course, if you take this to its logical conclusion you get anarchism, which is, it would seem, Older Than They Think.
    • I don't * identify* with The Comedian because while I agree that much of the world is a big fucking joke I don't go around participating in the worst atrocities I can in order to somehow prove it. Then again, most people who say they "identify" with Rorschach haven't quit their jobs to go around beating the shit out of criminals either, so...
    • Don't feel bad. This troper finds himself agreeing with the Comedian on certain issues, and with Rorschach. Society is a depraved joke. People worship mankind, society, and the nation as if they were gods, and not merely collections of people who are in no way superior to themselves. And there's something tempting about Dr. Manhattan's detachment as well.
    • Whew, I feel better now. Re-reading the books and my post, maybe the "one and only aspect" part was off. "One of the few aspects" is probably more accurate.
    • The fact is, all the characters were made with something one can identify with. Most of the main characters see the world as crapsack for one reason or another, and all of them have pretty good reasons for it. The comedian laughs at the fact that nothing is funny anymore, Rorshach figures that, if he can just kill enough of the bad people, maybe everybody else will just "wake up" (face it, even though he calls everybody junkies and whores, he has to think there's something worth saving, or else he'd have quit long ago), Ozymandias decides that humanity as a whole is so thick, the only thing that'll get them to stop their petty tribal conflicts is the death of millions by a mutual threat, and Dr. Manhattan has washed his hands of the world altogether. Many of us can identify with one of these points of view, even if we don't (or can't) act on them as the heroes do. And then you have Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, who, underneath the spandex, are just regular people caught up in something far bigger than themselves, and aren't really sure what to do.
      • I think the above explains mostly my discomfort and lack of sympathy for most of the characters. The only character that is sympathetic is Hollis Mason, and he dies!
    • Jeffrey Dean Morgan addressed this issue when asked "Do you identify with something in your character?": "What? (laughs) Oh, yes. Murdering pregnant girls and trying to rape women are part of my personality. (more laughter) Kennedy? Never liked that guy. Seriously, nothing. As an actor are interesting aspects in the Comedian and you can sympathize with him besides the atrocities."
  • My take on The Comedian is this. The Comedian believed that nuclear war was inevitable. The world was doomed, and nothing anyone did mattered. Even his own actions don't matter, so he's going to do whatever the hell he feels like. He might as well shoot his Vietnamese lover, or rape Silk Specter, since they're all just going to die anyway. It doesn't matter! Yet people kept going on with their daily lives and planning for the future, as though there was going to be a future! Isn't that hilarious, that people act as though their lives matter when the world is about to end any minute now? It's nothing but a fucking joke! When he starts participating in Veidt's plan, he has a Villainous Breakdown, not because he feels guilty about all those deaths or because he thinks the plan won't work, but because he thinks it will work. If there isn't going to be a nuclear war, then actions really do have consequences, which means that he's no longer just a comedian making fun of the futility of existence. He's a monster, and he doesn't know what to do any more. And then he dies. The Comedian is the only character in the story to have a redemption arc (of sorts); he was an evil bastard, but you can still feel sorry for him.
    • A good theory in general, but when The Comedian tried to rape Silk Spectre, the nuclear bomb didn't even exist yet. He was already a cynical bastard way before the threat of a nuclear war arose. I agree with your point about his Heel Realization, though.
  • My personal theory was that the Comedian was acting out for enforcement against the things he does. Rorschach theorizes that he was a parody of society, but maybe that parody was a joke that everyone misinterpreted: He was trying to shock people to discourage them from behaving how he had, yet, to his dismay, they kept praising him as a hero. No one ever told him that he had gone too far like what he wanted them to. They even kept him under government employment after the Keene Act. His lesson was that faith in heroes can be dangerously misplaced, but it backfired. Even the woman he tried to rape forgave him.
  • This troper views the Comedian as something of an aborted revolutionary; he saw the "joke", but retreats into nihlism, playing along with it for as long as it was in his interests to do so. Neither Ubermensch nor Last Man, but a sort of covert Nietzsche Wannabe. Given that Moore is a self-described anarchist, one can't help but wonder if this was intentional.
  • Personally, whilst this troper can appreciate the Comedian's insight, as far as his cynicism about human nature goes, Blake's conclusions are so evil as to make the character totally unsympathetic. Doc Manhattan sums him up: "He understands perfectly...and he doesn't care." Blake might be able to see what we are in the dark, but his only response is to embrace it, committing the very atrocities everyone else pretends not to be capable of. His self-image is similar to The Joker in The Dark Knight - "I'm just ahead of the curve." Except rather than try to alter society's perception and the darkness at the heart of human nature, he embraces it. Unlike, say, Rorschach, who realizes how savage humans are but still tries to change it (look at Dr Long), the Comedian believes that everyone else's suppressed savagery gives him the right to give free reign to his. It simply does not. The Comedian, ironically, is the perfect demonstration of his own point about human nature: he is "blessed" with experience and insight as to the fundamentally savage nature of humanity...and takes it as a license to kill and rape. Why? Because he is a sick and unintelligent man, as opposed to Rorschach, who may be screwed up, is not the sharpest tool in the box, but still has a developed sense of right and wrong. The Comedian pretends that right and wrong don't exist, for his own gratification and enrichment. Hollis is right: America deserves a better class of hero.
  • He plays to the readerbase, shifts the blame. Tells others it's "their" fault he acts like this, the "society" that "drove" him to this, always making up excuse after excuse after excuse. He is a coward, unable to take responsibility for things. In the scene with the shot woman he lashes out at Manhattan for not stopping him. While Comedian himself could, you know, NOT do it. Instead he went ahead and did it. And blamed Manhattan for it as if Manhattan ordered him to pull the trigger. And Comedian just keeps on whining. Sure, it's "cool" to disguise your whining with anger and straw nihilism, that's the appeal of Comedian and Dark Knight's Joker. He gives excuses and encourages other to give excuses. "Oh the world is bad that's why my life is bad and not because I'm a washed-up idiot. Let me just sit on my couch and not do anything about anything because it's the evil world stopping me and totally not my laziness." Ozymandias saved the world with his atrocities, but was left with the fact that he still commited an atrocity and now has to live with it. Now that's sympathetic. But Comedian, for all his talk, is a useless piece of leech-infested filth that desperately tries to look "insightful". The only difference between a "jaded cynic" and an "emo kid" is the hairstyle.
  • No, I don't think you're supposed to have any sympathy for the Comedian. That isn't to say its bad if you do; he is, after all, a well written, fully-fleshed out character and not simply a one-note psychopath, but if you look at what he actually does, even in regards to his supposed philosophy, you'll see that he's both the Comedian, and the punchline of the one about the self-purported nihilist. He wears the American flag to get a legal license to kill and rape, and rambles vaguely about right and wrong being jokes when asked for a moral license. And yet the moment he was confronted with a genuinely massive atrocity that he potentially had the power to prevent, instead of repenting on his evil deeds and/or trying to stop Adrian out of the goodness of his heart, or even being consistent with his beliefs and saying "so a guy's gonna kill a bunch of people for the greater good. What else is new?" and/or torturing and killing Adrian... anyone even tangentially involved in Adrian's plot, and anyone even tangentially involved in Adrian's plot's families because that's what he felt like doing, he became a sobbing, drunken mess and waited to die. He's supposed to be a parody of people who claim that everything in life is a joke, just like Rorshach is a parody of fringe cynics.

    Why Keep Comedian On The Team? 
  • This psycho shoots a pregnant woman and tries to rape a fellow comrade, and they keep him on the team?! Why?! Why didn't they immediately kick him out and break contact with him? You don't sleep with your almost rapist!
    • 1) Only Dr Manhattan knew about Comedian shooting the pregnant woman, and as pointed out, he is losing his humanity and the bit that he does have is feeling guilty about not attempting to stop him. 2) We can debate why the Minutemen kept him on the team, but the Watchmen seem to be sketchy on the details at best. They may even not believe her as she was dressed proactively and later became a well-known drunk - she was asking for it was the sad outcome of any rape accusation back in the mid twentieth century. Rorschach in particular seems to respect the Comedian more than he does her as noted elsewhere on this page. 3) Women forgiving their rapist to the point of falling in love with them is Truth in Television on occasion. Please be careful about debating points 2 and 3 if you wish to continue.
    • Regarding Sally later consensually sleeping with the Comedian, there are a lot of factors to consider, and even Laurie decides that it's too complicated for her to judge her mother on.
      • Time: The assault took place in 1940, Laurie was born in 1949. At least 8 years pass between one event and the other, and we know that time can distort emotions, and people can change drastically.
      • Her Marriage: We're shown that her husband Schexnayder knew about the affair and Laurie's parentage, and that it caused problems in the marriage, but there's also no indication that it was a love match. Schexnayder was originally the Minutemen's agent, and the one who advised Sally to cover up the assault, and we're given the impression that Sally married him more as a business decision. She almost explicitly says that unhappiness in her marriage drove her to seek out someone else (during Laurie's flashback to her parents arguing).
      • Nostalgia: Sally tells Laurie "Everyday 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." It's completely possible that this sort of feeling was part of what motivated her to sleep with the Comedian as a way to go back to her time in the minutemen.


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