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As a sequel to the Watchmen comic book series, all spoilers related to that story will be left unmarked.

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"Nothing ever ends... it's only just begun."
— Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias
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Watchmen is a 2019 HBO miniseries created by Damon Lindelof and inspired by the eponymous comic books by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The story is an original present-day sequel to the original comic book storyline, and it is not connected to the 2009 film or any following material. Gibbons serves as an artistic consultant on the series.

Set 34 years after Ozymandias' attempt to prevent nuclear annihilation (by killing millions in New York City and the areas close to it), Watchmen explores a contemporary society that outwardly resembles a more ideal world, but is in reality rotting from within. After domestic terrorists in Tulsa, Oklahoma massacre police in their homes in a terrorist attack, the police decide to model themselves after the costumed vigilantes that were outlawed so long ago. And when one cop is nearly killed while investigating this fringe group — known as the Seventh Kavalry — several masked police officers soon find out that a vast and insidious conspiracy is at play.

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The series stars Regina King as Angela Abar/Sister Night, Tim Blake Nelson as Wade Tillman/Looking Glass, Jean Smart as Laurie Blake/The Comedienne, Jeremy Irons as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Cal Abar, Andrew Howard as Red Scare, Frances Fisher as Jane Crawford, Jessica Camacho as Pirate Jenny, Louis Gossett Jr. as Will Reeves, Tom Mison and Sara Vickers as Veidt's servants Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks, and Don Johnson as Chief Judd Crawford.

The series premiered on October 20, 2019 with a nine-episode run. The future of any second season is murky. Officially it is a miniseries since Lindelof has said he feels like he’s told the story he wanted to tell. However, HBO has left the door open for him to continue should he want to, which he hasn’t ruled out.


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This series provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Even though raining squids falling from the sky are such a normal occurrence that it's treated as a mild inconvenience on the level of bird poop, frozen squids falling from the sky accelerate to a speed that turns them into biological machine gun fire rounds capable of blasting a hole through Lady Trieu's hand and killing multiple people not under cover.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the graphic novel, Hooded Justice (whose identity was never revealed) was notorious for being a Nazi apologist. This is retconned in the show, which states that Hooded Justice was Will Reeves, a black police officer going after a white supremacist group called Cyclops. The show does not mention anything Will said about the Nazis as Hooded Justice, while Peteypedia dismisses these claimings as proofless speculations by Hollis Mason. However, Damon Lindelof would later confirm in an interview that Will only made those statements to further hide his true ethnicity. There's also the German military letter to black Allied soldiers he carries around, which may or may not be related to this.
  • Adaptational Karma: "See How They Fly" sees Veidt finally go to jail for his role in the events of 11/2.
  • Adaptational Superpower Change: While Dr. Manhattan still retains his powers from the comics, which included changing his size and how bright he glowed, there was nothing to hint he's capable of outright shapeshifting. Here, he's able to change himself from his blue form to looking like a normal African-American man.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the graphic novel Senator Joe Keene introduced the Keene Act outlawing costumed vigilantism after things got out of hand with dangerous and violent masked vigilantes and the police strike. In the show he is a senior leader of the Cyclops white supremacist conspiracy which his son takes part in.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Black parents who are already living in a racially-fraught real-life period of American history will no doubt sympathize with the opening scene of the series, in which a young black child is smuggled out of Tulsa in the middle of a large-scale massacre and narrowly escapes with his life.
    • Everything about the White Night. The idea of a group of domestic terrorists targeting you because of your job and launching a coordinated attack on you and your family in the middle of the night is utterly chilling. Is it any wonder a huge chunk of Tulsa's police force quit in the aftermath?
    • What Topher and his sisters went through during the White Night. Judd explains that, while his parents were being murdered in the other room, Topher took his two sisters, one of whom was only an infant at the time, and hid in a closet so the members of the Kalvary wouldn't find and kill them too. He understandably seems to carry some trauma from this.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: A conspiracy that may determine the fate of the entire world is uncovered in... Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • All There in the Manual: HBO has released a collection of in-universe documents called Peteypedia that expands on what happened in the decades long gap between the original comic and the show. Among other things, they expand on the fallout of Adrian's attack on New York and what he got up to afterward, what happened to Dan and Laurie, why computers are much less advanced in the show's universe, and how Rorschach's journal became fuel for right-wing racists and conspiracy theorists.
  • Allohistorical Allusion: The squid attack that served as the climax to the Watchmen graphic novel is treated as this universe's version of 9/11 — down to being colloquially called "11/2". It should be noted that the Twin Towers are still standing in this universe.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • A lot of viewers assumed that the opening sequence of the pilot, showing a black neighborhood in 1921 Tulsa being attacked by white racists and the KKK and firebombed with planes, was fictional and just another example of Watchmen being an alternate history. Unfortunately, that entire event — dubbed the Tulsa Race Riot, the Greenwood Massacre, or the Black Wall Street Massacre — was 100% real. Worse, it wasn't even the only example of a black community that was wiped off the map by a white mob.
    • Aquatic animals raining down on people are actually a real thing. They just don't come from portals.
    • The leaflets that the Germans drop to the black soldiers in World War One during the second episode are lifted word-for-word from real ones.
    • While this hasn't yet been done by American police, those in countries such as Mexico have worn masks to protect their identities from groups like the drug cartels, who've murdered many for investigating them.
    • Survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre and their descendants did really try to get compensation for it. The case went as far as the Supreme Court but they tossed it for lack of standing during the 2005-2006 term. Lindelof said on the podcast that in the show’s world the Republicans in Congress knew that the liberal Supreme Court of the Redford administration would side with the victims and therefore passed reparations for this specific episode so they didn’t have to pay everyone who’s been the victim of some sort of racial injustice/violence.
    • Pet cloning may look like something from a technologically advanced alternate reality, but it really does exist, though is more widespread in South Korea and China than in USA.
    • Bass Reeves was a real person, and he was the first black man who served as a U.S. (deputy) marshal.
    • Samuel Battle, the black officer that pinned Will's badge on him for the NYPD, was also a real person, the first black officer of the NYPD.
    • Implicit association tests are used by psychologists to detect subconscious biases by measuring involuntary responses, much like "the pod" does (though not quite the same). The extent to which their results are accurate and meaningful is disputed, however.
  • Alternate History: The series takes place in a world where costumed heroes existed, though Doctor Manhattan was the only one with superpowers. Specifically it takes place in an alternate present three decades after the events of the original source material:
    • The current President is Robert Redford, who succeeded Richard Nixon and has served for seven full terms, with his ongoing eighth term being his last. One of the candidates running to succeed Redford is Senator Joe Keene, Jr., whose father drafted the Keene Act, which in turn has been amended by Junior to allow cops to wear masks and take up costumed identities.
    • President Redford granted reparations for survivors of the Black Wall Street Massacre and their descendants (implied to be via a form of tax exempt status), which are disparagingly called "Redfordations" by those who oppose them.
    • Aside from being legally mandated to hide their identities and to keep their jobs a secret to everyone except their spouses, cops in the present-day Watchmen universe are subject to strict regulations about how and when they are allowed to use their guns, to the point where their weapons have to be remotely unlocked before they can even be brandished.
    • Vietnam has been a U.S. state since the 1970s, meaning nearly all US flags sport a blue disc bearing 51 stars over the thirteen stripes. America essentially turning Vietnam into a colony has drawn criticism from other countries and has spawned a secessionist insurrection, which killed Angela Abar's parents in a bombing. Angela was born in Vietnam two years before it became part of the union.
    • After Vietnam gained statehood, African-Americans moved there in droves both to find new opportunities and to escape the racist policies of the Nixon Administration. This led to the birth of a unique black subculture which included Blaxploitation-style "Black Mask" movies centered on costumed heroes of color. (One of these characters is actually named Batman, as a take off on Nite Owl.) Angela took her masked identity from Sister Night, which became the Watchmen universe's answer to Shaft with a highly memorable theme song.
    • Both smartphones and the internet do not exist, with people still having to rely on landlines and pagers for communication. It is explained on Peteypedia that society came to believe that the technology synthesized by Doctor Manhattan was carcinogenic, resulting in a massive federally-mandated recall. However, most cars (both old and new) appear to run on clean lithium-based, non-carcinogenic electric power cells, and are said to have been on the roads since the recall. A throwaway conversation in the original work has Manhattan mentioning that lithium is a good source of energy, and one that he is capable of helping people synthesize, so it seems that people were able to figure it out on their own after he left Earth.
    • Even with this, comic-book super-tech is still available — in the first two episodes a vehicle similar to the Owlship/"Archie", X-Ray Goggles, and personal ornithopter packs (which are pretty damn unreliable) used by Paparazzi all appear. And a major plot point in the episode "This Extraordinary Being" (which provides a major reveal about how Judd was lynched) is that the freaking Klan managed to create man-portable brainwashing machines all the way back in the 1930s.
    • Supplementary material reveals that Roger Ailes owns the parent company of The New Frontiersman and is still alive, presumably with his hemophilia never agitated by the stress of sexual harrassment accusations. He tried to sue the Veidt Corporation in 2018 for alleging the CIA had assassinated Veidt.
    • Saint Petersburg, Russia, is still referred to as "Leningrad", Red Scare (a Russian immigrant/expat) identifies as a communist, and a Soviet flag is seen on Scare's desk, suggesting that The Great Politics Mess-Up never happened and the Soviet Union still exists.
    • Dan and Laurie successfully prevented the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh, which led to their arrest.
    • Some films are different. Instead of Schindler's List, Steven Spielberg directed an award-winning historical drama about the 11/2 squid attack entitled Pale Horse (after the band that was playing at Madison Square Garden when the squid appeared). A scene is described involving a girl with a distinct red coat that is lifted from Schindler's List. Max Shea's Fogdancing was adapted into film twice (once by David Cronenberg) and in this universe influenced Jacob's Ladder and Shutter Island.
    • One of the Peteypedia documents mentions New York City recovering at a "glacial pace" following the squid attack. Thirty years later the city's tourism agency is still testing ad campaigns designed to entice people to visit, yet those people are still fearful of another catastrophic squid drop. (Contrast this with how New York managed to recover relatively quickly after the 9/11 attacks.)
    • Nine Inch Nails are known as The Nine Inch Nails after a suggestion by Sean Parker, started as a band rather than Reznor's solo project (Peter Murphy, Atticus Ross and Peter Christopherson were full-time members) and Reznor himself withdrew from the public eye after The Downward Spiral flopped. Their last album, The Manhattan Project, was recorded in "The Crater", the empty field in North Wales where Ozymandias's castle used to be, on a dare, and was unreleased for years until 2019.
    • Tobacco is a controlled substance, according to Looking Glass.
  • Alternate Landmark History:
    • The Washington Monument has an anti-gravity ring around its pyramidion that is used as an observation deck.
    • Images from the pod show Richard Nixon's face on Mount Rushmore and a New York skyline which includes the old World Trade Center, implying that 9/11 never happened in the Watchmen timeline.
    • The skyline of Tulsa is also a lot different, though this is likely to cover up the fact that the series is shot in Georgia.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The final scene does not make it clear if Angela has inherited Dr. Manhattan's powers or not, cutting away just as she's about to step on water.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: At first glance the note the father puts in the boy's pocket during the opening, "WATCH OVER THIS BOY," appears to be a plea to whoever finds him to take care of him. However, it's written on the back of a document and the son still has it 98 years later. The note is more likely "WATCH OVER THIS, BOY," telling the son to hold on to the document.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Veidt’s characterization as this from the comic follows him here. When Lady Trieu says she’s his daughter, he says that can’t be true because he’s never been with a woman. The lack of elaboration leaves what exactly he means up in the air. He could be saying that he’s never slept with a woman because he’s gay and sleeps with men. However in context, what he’s saying can also be taken to mean that he’s never slept with a woman because he’s celibate and doesn’t sleep with people period.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Will used a customized flashlight with a strobe effect to make Judd hang himself via mind control. It is strongly implied that Judd was cognizant through the whole experience.
    • Adrian Veidt's clone servants are forced to follow his every whim with outward enthusiasm but they are shown to find the prospect of their own deaths as well as the deaths of their fellow clones to be disturbing even though they can't communicate those feelings openly.
    • Because he experiences the past, present, and future all at the same time, Doctor Manhattan has been perpetually re-experiencing being torn apart by the intrinsic field chamber every minute of every day for sixty years.
  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: Laurie's Brick Joke in the third episode, "She Was Killed By Space Junk", has two 'bricks': the brick itself (which falls on God's head, killing him) and the little girl who tossed it into the air (who has passed away and is being judged by God at the very moment this happens).
  • Angry Black Man: The trauma of witnessing the Tulsa Race Riot and the repeated injustices he was forced to witness in New York caused Will to become, in the words of his wife, an "angry, angry man." That anger eventually led to Will becoming Hooded Justice.
  • Anyone Can Die: Judd Crawford dies in the first episode, and Doctor Manhattan and Lady Trieu die in the finale.
  • Arc Words: "Tick-tock... tick-tock... tick-tock..."
  • Arc Symbol: Eggs.
  • Artificial Human: While it was apparent early on that Phillips and Crookshanks were rather poorly-programmed clones of some sort, Episode 4 reveals that Veidt fishes them out of a nearby lake in fetal form and uses a machine to age them up to adults, with their mental conditioning taking a few hours to kick in. Veidt says that while he may be their master, he is definitely not their maker, as he has higher standards for genetic engineering than these dummies. Episode 8 reveals that the clones are a benign form of humanity originally created by Doctor Manhattan on Europa.
  • Artistic License – History: Veidt claims to Trieu he's remained abstinent because Alexander the Great was, as sex is a distraction. In reality, Alexander the Great both married multiple times and fathered sons, but also may have had a male lover. This may be an error of the character and not the writers. While it's true Alexander was noted for self-control in sexual matters, where Veidt got this idea that Alexander stayed celibate is anyone's guess.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: While making a metaphorical point, Will states, "Wounds need air." This is a common urban legend. Exposure to air dries wounds out and causes cells to die. Wounds should be kept under clean bandages to reduce inflammation and accelerate healing.
  • As Himself:
    • Robert Redford plays himself as the President in the fictional present day of the series. He has served no less than seven full terms, and is in the midst of serving his eighth, which is his last. And Adrian Veidt put him there.
    • Historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is Redford's Secretary of the Treasury, likely with his expertise helping identify people deserving of reparations for racial violence.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Not many shed a tear for Fred and his gang of 1940s Klansmen when Will Reeves / Hooded Justice guns them all down and razes their hideout.
    • Judd turns out to have been one as well, as he and Senator Keene were running the Seventh Kavalry and every time he was there for Abar it was a all in a conscious attempt to get closer to her and on Dr. Manhattan.
    • Nobody really feels terribly sorry when Senator Keene turns himself into a slimy mass of gore or when Lady Trieu uses the Millennium Clock to vaporize the Seventh Kavalry.
  • As You Know: Lampshaded by Petey and Laurie. Petey calls Laurie and proceeds to explain that she sent him to Wade's house, and Laurie wonders why he is just parroting back word for word what she told him to do instead of getting on with why he's calling her.
  • Audience Surrogate: Angela Abar/Sister Night often reacts to the weirdness of the series (e.g. Lube Man, the elephant) by saying "What the fuck?", which is typically how viewers react to these same scenes.
  • Badass Boast: Laurie to Angela, who Laurie knows discovered Judd's secret compartment before she did:
    Laurie: Men who end up hanging from trees with secret compartments in their closets tend to think of themselves as good guys. And those who protect them think they're good guys too. But here's the thing about me, Sister Night: I eat good guys for breakfast.
  • Bad "Bad Acting":
    • Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks give very stilted performances and occasionally forget their lines as they perform Veidt's play.
    • The dialogue during the sex scene between Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis in American Hero Story comes off as corny.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Unintentional example, but nevertheless, the Seventh Kavalrymen that shoot it out with the Tulsa Police at the climax of the first episode tear apart a big bunch of cows with a technical-mounted .50 BMG machine gun while trying to kill the cops.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The Seventh Kavalry are found collecting purportedly carcinogenic, lithium-based watch batteries, giving the police (and the audience) the impression that they are trying to build a dirty bomb. In reality, the Kavalry needs the lithium to build a cage capable of containing Doctor Manhattan.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: "A God Walks Into Abar" reveals this happened twice to Veidt. He got his world united by fear, but it did not immediately usher in the utopia he desired and he spent the next 24 years pissed off that nobody gives him the respect he thinks he deserves because he has to toil in anonymity. Doctor Manhattan offers to put him on Europa where he's created a benign race of humans obsessed with servitude; in other words, a place for Veidt to be treated like a god. Unfortunately that gets overwhelmingly boring and it turns out he's imprisoned on Europa because the servants demand someone to serve.
  • Big Bad: Senator Keene is the leader of the Seventh Kavalry and masterminded the White Night. He set it up in order to become President, but has changed his goals to capture Dr Manhattan and turn him and the Seventh Kavalry members into god like beings.. Unfortunately for him, he is actually a Big Bad Wannabe and the pawn of the true Big Bad Lady Trieu. It turns out that the Seventh Kavalry/Cyclops have been following the plan Trieu laid out for them by giving them the resources to build the machine needed to capture Doctor Manhattan and use the Millennium Clock to steal his power for herself.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Judd Crawford was a leader of the Seventh Kavalry along with Senator Keene and insinuated himself into Angela's life in order to get close to her husband Cal, a.k.a. Doctor Manhattan.
    • Lady Trieu presents herself as someone who wants to stop the Seventh Kavalry. In reality, she has been using the Kavalry for her own ends and is an even bigger threat than they are.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The conspiracy has failed, with the Seventh Kavalry and Lady Trieu all dead, but Angela loses Cal/Doctor Manhattan in the process. However, she does accept Will into her family, and it's hinted that she may gain her husband's powers. Ozymandias is also apprehended and may finally face justice for his crimes, but the final Peteypedia entry suggests that he may yet evade justice to keep the peace.
  • Black and Grey Morality: The Tulsa Police wear masks and use brutal force against suspects to get results. They behave this way because they are up against a brutal racist terrorist organization that previously stormed into their homes and killed fellow officers and family members. On one side we have a clandestine police force who operate in shadows to enforce the law, and on the other is a fanatical militia who want to gain the godlike powers of Dr. Manhattan.
  • Blackface:
    • Inverted in Episode 6. Will Reeves placed whiteface makeup around his eyes in order to further conceal his identity while wearing his Hooded Justice costume.
    • Discussed by Ozymandias of all people, when Dr. Manhattan takes on the appearance of a black man in Episode 8. He explains that it's not the 80s anymore and for a white man to appear as black may be problematic.
  • Blipvert: Interrogations in "the pod" consist of the suspect being asked direct, repetitive, and sometimes provocative questions while seemingly random images are flashed on the panoramic screens around the room.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: The fifth episode ends on one, as Kavalrymen enter Wade Tillman's house with shotguns. Later we learn that he apparently survived the assault and went into hiding.
  • Book Ends: The second episode opens with an American soldier catching an air-dropped propaganda flier, and closes with his great-granddaughter Angela doing the same.
  • Brick Joke: The third episode has this structure, as Laurie's "jokes" to Dr. Manhattan is a one brick joke in itself, but after she finishes her call to him and leaves the booth, she is nearly hit by Angela's falling car, which had been abducted in the previous episode.
    • In episode 1, when Adrian gets handed a horseshoe instead of a knife to cut the cake, he says, "I don't need this... yet." In episode 9, one of the servants bakes the horseshoe into the cake, and it's exactly what he needs.o.
  • Break the Cutie: Angela's backstory: first she loses both of her parents in a suicide bombing, then after she's been in an orphanage some time she find out she has a grandmother who wants to take her back to Tulsa with her and give her a home, but then she dies just that very same day.
  • Broad Strokes: The series is a pretty loose sequel to the comic and takes some liberties to tell the story it wants to. The book implies that the discovery of Rorschach's journal lead to World War 3 whereas here it was dismissed as the ramblings of a madman and then taken as a rallying cry for far-right conspiracy theorists and white supremacists. The book also heavily implies Hooded Justice was a now deceased East German Nazi sympathizer strongman named Rolf Mueller, but here it's an original character named Will Reeves who's a black man originally from Oklahoma who is still alive.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Angela's loyalty to Judd is unquestioned until she discovers a full KKK robe hidden in his closet.
    • In the 1940s, Will becomes disillusioned with both the NYPD and the Minutemen, who are apathetic to the plight of the black community if they're not involved in terrorizing it.
  • Call-Back:
    • The Seventh Kavalry's speech in the first episode is a slight rewording of Rorschach's first journal entry from the graphic novel.
    • The scene of Angela discovering Judd's Ku Klux Klan uniform is an obvious reference to the scene of Rorschach discovering Eddie Blake's Comedian costume in the graphic novel. Much like Blake, Judd keeps his behind a hidden panel in his closet.
    • The scene where Wade Tillman/Looking Glass eats beans out of a can with his mask pulled up halfway is a callback to the scene in the original Watchmen comic where Rorschach does the same thing in Nite Owl/Dan Dreiberg's apartment.
    • "See How They Fly" has three: Veidt catches a bullet to thwart the Game Warden, Angela breaks a Kavalryman's fingers like Rorschach until he gives up the Kavalry's headquarters, and Veidt paraphrases the Merneptah Stelenote  the same way he did near the end of the comic.
  • The Cameo: Michael Imperioli of The Sopranos fame appears in the New York tourism ad in Episode 5.
  • Canon Character All Along: Will Reeves and Cal Abar are respectively Hooded Justice and Dr. Manhattan.
  • Canon Discontinuity: This series pushes aside the events of Doomsday Clock, with the For Want of a Nail point being the peace process moving much slower than it did there.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • The fate of Rorschach's journal. One of the Peteypedia memos reveals that the editor of The New Frontiersman basically figures out the entire Veidt conspiracy based on its contents, but nobody listens to him except for the right-wing fringe.
    • This is how Wade Tillman is blackmailed into not revealing that Senator Keene is the leader of the Kavalry: he is told if he tried, he would be discredited as a Conspiracy Theorist, which thanks to the former's mannerisms would seem quite plausible.
    • Captain Metropolis dismisses Hooded Justice's concerns about a Klan conspiracy to cause mayhem among the black population using mind control as a paranoid obsession, leading the latter to tackle the problem on his own.
    • In the finale, Angela tries to warn the Seventh Kavalry that Lady Trieu is several steps ahead in their plan to destroy Doctor Manhattan. They all end up dead by Lady Trieu's hand after ignoring her.
  • Cassette Futurism: The Alternate Techline divergent from Veidt's attack and blaming it on Doctor Manhattan has done changes that are almost Schizo Tech: vehicles by 2019 are almost purely battery-driven because of improved power cell tech and there's CDs, but cell phones do not exist and neither does the Internet as we know it (being a government-only intranet. The most advanced devices that show up (up to and including the Millennium Clock and Veidt's squid teleporter) still have plenty of parts that look made in the 1980s (and in Veidt's example were made in the 1980s) and (when we actually see the computers that make them run) use BASIC-like computer language.
  • Casting Gag: Cheyenne Jackson portrays Hooded Justice in American Hero Story, which is obviously a stand-in for American Horror Story and American Crime Story, both of which were created by Ryan Murphy, whom Jackson has frequently worked with, intermittently appearing in the former. It's entirely possible Jackson is playing himself as an actor in American Hero Story.
  • Central Theme: Generational trauma (mostly in the form of racial violence) and legacy.
  • Cerebus Call Back: When Mr. Philips hands Veidt a horseshoe instead of a knife to cut his "anniversary" pie in "It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice", it's somewhat funny and it's Veidt's tired annoyance that sells it. When it's revealed in "If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own" that he massacred all of the clones of Philips and Crookshanks in the castle by using them as human pincushions for every knife in the castle he could get his hands on because he was handed a horseshoe instead of a knife again and so we get a look of where the hell he gets those clones, it's pretty damn scary.
  • Cessation of Existence: Angela's husband Cal tells their daughters this happens when they argue over whether Judd is in heaven or not. She doesn't appear to be entirely happy with this, but he says it's just the truth.
  • Character Development:
    • At the start of the original comic, Laurie hated Edward Blake, a.k.a. The Comedian, for his attempted rape of her mother Sally. In the thirty years since discovering that Blake was actually her father, Laurie has adopted not only his name and moniker, but his nihilistic worldview (and the dark sense of humor stemming from that) and his status as a government agent.
    • In the comic, Adrian did kill and psychically maimed millions of people to save the whole of humanity, but still acknowledged that it was a bad thing to do and expressed some remorse for his actions. Thirty years later, Adrian frequently murders the help at his castle without batting an eye, though the fact that they're Expendable Clones and he's spent years in a Gilded Cage in space likely has something to do with that. As the series shows, Veidt's already present narcissism grew over the years (post-comic), to become all-encompassing, to where he outright calls all of humanity his small children calling out for aid, to which he is all to happy to deliver and soak up their gratitude as their saviour. Ultimately, he went from a man who committed horrific acts for the good of the planet, to stewing in egotistical bitterness as he could never be thanked for stopping the Cold War with his squid attack.
    • In the comic, Doctor Manhattan got over his apathy towards human life, but decided to create a "less complicated" form of it away from Earth. Meeting and falling in love with Angela Abar helped Manhattan fully reconnect with his humanity, to the point where he willingly gave up his powers and lived as an ordinary man in Tulsa for ten years.
  • Cheap Costume: Costumed heroes in the Tulsa PD don't put much effort into their costumes. Red Scare's costume is a red ski mask and tracksuit. Panda and Looking Glass just wear masks over normal civilian clothing.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Pretty much every small detail introduced in the first few episodes that seemed inconsequential comes to be critical and used by the end of the first season. Notably the squid rainfall becomes the weapon to end Trieu and her plan, while the horseshoe given to Veidt while on Europa becomes the means of his escape
  • The Chessmaster: Lady Trieu manipulated the Seventh Kavalry all along into building the cage she needed to steal Doctor Manhattan's powers.
  • Clark Kenting:
    • Inverted. Angela wears a quite elaborate costume that seemingly hides her appearance quite well, but that doesn't seem to stop pretty much everyone she meets in it (Laurie, Will, Trieu, Keene, and probably Lube Man too) from knowing exactly who she is. The mask is just security theater.
    • Also Played With for characters like Looking Glass and Red Scare; while their costumes hide their appearances very well, they could still be easily identified by their voices, and in particular their strong accents.
    • Later it is confirmed that the entire police force's identities were never safe from the Kavalry at all, as the terrorist group was led by Keene and Judd.
  • Cluster F-Bomb:
    • Laurie is much saltier than she was in the comic, having since adopted her father's persona.
    • Veidt delivers a cluster S-bomb in the third episode, "She Was Killed By Space Junk", as he beats up the cadaver of a Mr. Phillips that got killed by one of his failed experiments.
  • Condescending Compassion: As he begs Will, a black man, for his life, Judd, one of the Kavalry's leaders, says that he involved himself in a white supremacist conspiracy to help "you people."
  • The Conspiracy:
    • Will alludes to a "vast and insidious conspiracy in Tulsa" that Judd was involved in. This conspiracy is a plot by the Seventh Kavalry to capture Doctor Manhattan and give his powers to their leader, Senator Joe Keene Jr... only in reality this plan is Lady Trieu's and she has been manipulating the Kavalry the whole time.
    • Episode 5 reveals that Veidt blackmailed President Redford into engaging in one with him to build a peaceful utopia sustained by fear of the squids, having begun plotting Redford's election as early as the eve of 11/2. In fairness to Redford, Veidt's obituary hints that the president tried to distance himself from Veidt after learning the truth.
  • Conspiracy Theory:
    • It's implied that the Seventh Kavalry believe that the "trans-dimensional attacks" are false flag operations carried out by the U.S. government. They are half-right, of course. Considering the comic ended with a right-wing tabloid being entrusted with the truth of Veidt’s scheme, naturally it’s people like this who’d be keeping the theory alive.
    • Veidt's mysterious disappearance in 2012 has also spawned a cottage industry devoted to investigating his fate.
  • Content Warning: The one for American Hero Story is over half a minute long. Delivered by President Robert Redford himself, no less.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Tulsa Police Department's mass-produced Owlships come equipped with flamethrowers, just like Dan Dreiberg's original (which Laurie discovered by mistake).
    • The winged flying harnesses seen in "Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship" are apparently mass-produced versions of the one built by Byron Lewis (aka "Mothman") in the 1940s.
    • In the third episode it turns out that Adrian Veidt still has his old Ozymandias costume. It's comics-accurate, to boot.
    • Episode 5 begins with a young Wade surviving the 11/2 event, capped off with a wide shot of Veidt's squid.
    • Being put in the lithium-lined cage screws with Doctor Manhattan's omnipresence, causing him to reexperience past events and quote directly from the comic:
      • "All we ever see of stars are their old photographs."note 
      • "Janey, what's up? Are you cold? I can raise the temperature."note 
      • "As far as I know, there is no situation in Afghanistan currently requiring my attention."note 
      • "You will all return to your homes."note 
    • The original Owlship has been kept on mothballs at Karnak since 1985, and is the vehicle Laurie and Wade use to return home after arresting Veidt.
  • Cool Car: Sister Night drives a souped-up black Buick Grand National as part of her costumed identity.
  • Couch Gag: The Watchmen logo at the start of each episode is always presented in a different style that features a thematic connection to that episode's first scene, similar to how the front covers of the original comic issues consisted of images from their first panels.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The America of Watchmen in 2019 seems to be in a better place than it was in 1985, with no constant threats/reminders of nuclear apocalypse and President Redford's tenure being implied to have been a thirty-year period of progressive prosperity. But racism is still the pervasive force that it was during the 1921 riots, and far-right terrorism exists in the form of the Seventh Kavalry. Not to mention the extended US colonial rule of Vietnam, with an insurgency trying to restore its independence.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: A bunch of white supremacists versus Doctor Manhattan . You do the math.
  • Da Chief: Judd Crawford for the Tulsa PD. Turns out that he was also a Detective Mole for the Seventh Kavalry.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Laurie keeps a humongous blue vibrator seemingly for this purpose, although the supplemental material reveals it was given to Laurie by Nite Owl as a prank gift.
  • Deadly Prank: Inverted. Wade was in New Jersey on 11/2/1985 within range of the psychic attack, but he survived because a teenage girl stole his clothes and left him naked inside a hall of mirrors at a carnival. The mirrors saved Wade from the psychic damage that killed everyone outside, including the pranker.
  • Dead Man's Switch: The Seventh Kavalry member that tries to kidnap Senator Keene at Judd's funeral claims that his bomb vest is connected to his heart so if he dies, the bomb goes off. Laurie shoots him in the head anyway setting off the bomb after a delay. She later says that she thought he was bluffing. Nearly everyone that claims to have a bomb connected to their heartbeat never takes the time to do so.
  • Decoy Antagonist: The Seventh Kavalry/Cyclops are presented all through the series as the main bad guys. It turns out Lady Trieu was using them for her own purposes, and once she's done with them, she vaporizes them unceremoniously for being racist murderers.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Despite being second-billed, Don Johnson's character is murdered by the end of the first episode.
  • Deconstructor Fleet:
    • While the original comic criticized the real-world utility and psychology of superheroes, the show criticizes how superheroes are used to protect and/or project (white-wielded) power at the expense of people of color. Rorschach's In-Universe Misaimed Fandom are violent white supremacists who have twisted his journal into a manifesto; Hooded Justice, the first-ever costumed hero, was forced to conceal his true identity as a black man to join the all-white Minutemen; The Heavy wants to steal Doctor Manhattan's powers in order to reestablish white supremacy in America; and the Big Bad is in large part motivated by revenge against Doctor Manhattan for subjugating her homeland.
    • A common trope in superhero origin stories, from Batman to Spider-Man to the X-Men, is that wearing the mask helps them with some sort of past trauma or injustice. Angela, Wade, and Will all wore masks for similar reasons. But as Will admits in the end, just wearing a mask is a wholly inadequate way to address those kinds of issues:
      Will: When I put [the mask] on, you felt what I felt?
      Angela: Anger.
      Will: Yeah, that's what I thought too. But it was fear... and hurt. You can't heal under a mask, Angela. Wounds need air.
  • Dirty Cop: Will Reeves discovered the hard way that a lot of his fellow officers in 1930s' New York City were paid off by gangsters, one of whom he arrested for blatantly throwing a Molotov cocktail into a Jewish delicatessen (likely for not paying protection money). They warn him off with a mock hanging, inspiring Will to become the masked vigilante Hooded Justice because he can't enforce the laws equally otherwise. Worse, one is part of a plot to hypnotize black New Yorkers into attacking each other.
  • Dual-Meaning Chorus: "We Three (My Echo, My Shadow And Me)" plays over the montage of Will Reeves' three-way relationship with his lover Captain Metropolis and his wife June. But the lyrics also highlight his loneliness and how he's not being true to himself or finding happiness in either one of his relationships.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • Will's crusade against Cyclops cost him his family, and the effort took almost a century, but he avenges the Black Wall Street Massacre and ensures the hate group's destruction by Lady Trieu. And when it's all over, he turns over a new leaf with Angela and her adopted children.
    • After thirty years of being an anxious wreck as a result of 11/2, only to learn that it was all the result of a hoax cooked up by Adrian Veidt, Looking Glass has the honor of helping Laurie arrest Veidt for mass murder.
  • Easter Egg: Clicking on the phrase "canola oil" on the final Peteypedia memo announcing Agent Petey's firing brings you to this wanted poster.
  • Eldritch Location: Veidt's castle and the surrounding countryside look nice, but there's a lot of weird-ass things that become apparent about it over time. There's a tree that grows tomatoes instead of apples, gravity seems to be a bit lower than normal since Veidt is conducting experiments with launching his servants by a catapult into the atmosphere (and wherever they go it's freezing cold since one Mr. Phillips comes back frozen solid), and there's a bunch of living clone fetuses at the bottom of the lake. Episode 5 reveals that the castle and its grounds exist inside a pocket dimension on one of Jupiter's moons.
  • Elvis Lives: One bit of supplemental material reveals that in the show's universe, Elvis managed to fake his death and reappeared several decades later in Vietnam to give a Doctor Manhattan-themed concert.
  • Engineered Heroics: When a Seventh Kavalryman with a suicide vest crashes Judd's funeral, Senator Keene volunteers himself as a hostage and afterwards vows to a group of reporters that he will go to war with the Kavalry. It's later revealed that Keene is in fact a leader of the Kavalry, meaning the whole funeral incident was a stunt designed to bolster Keene's presidential run.
  • Enforced Method Acting: In-Universe. Ms. Crookshanks promises Veidt that she will give genuine tears when she performs in the first act of "The Watchmaker's Son", which reenacts Dr. Jon Osterman's accident. She does indeed give him real tears when Veidt burns Mr. Phillips alive right behind her.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Angela demands to know why Wade betrayed her to Laurie under pressure by Keene and the Seventh Kavalry.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Averted with Keene, who distances himself from these "racist Okies" he commands in the Seventh Kavalry, saying that he is merely using the group to keep the peace in Tulsa. Said "peace" involves turning himself and his white supremacist group into Doctor Manhattan-like superhumans.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Sister Night, who has literally beaten confessions out of Kavalry suspects, objects to Red Scare's "excessive" mass roundup at Nixonville in retaliation for Judd's murder.
    • In a New Frontiersman editorial, Hector Godfrey — who defended the KKK as a group of concerned citizens in the comic — condemns the terrorism of the Seventh Kavalry.
    • Adrian Veidt helps Laurie and Wade stop Lady Trieu from stealing Doctor Manhattan's powers because even he, himself a world-class Narcissist, can see how Trieu is a bigger monster than he is by trying to become a god.
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • Senator Keene sent Agent Blake to Tulsa so that she would eventually get a front row seat as the Seventh Kavalry destroyed Doctor Manhattan, her ex-lover.
    • Lady Trieu never misses an opportunity to rub Adrian Veidt's nose in the fact that he had previously been dismissive of her when they finally meet after his return from Europa.
  • Expanded States of America: Vietnam has become the 51st state, though it's treated more like a colony and has drawn plenty of criticism from the international community, with an active secessionist movement.
  • Expendable Clone: All of Veidt's house staff are clones — originally created by Doctor Manhattan — that Veidt kills on an apparently regular basis, so much so that bodies are being stashed away in the castle's basement for an unspecified later use. Male and female clones are promoted to the roles of "Mr. Phillips" and "Ms. Crookshanks" respectively when the old clones are disposed of for whatever reason. New clones are fished out of a nearby lake in fetal form like lobsters and put into a machine to be grown into adults, and Veidt's bored demeanor during this process suggests that he has done this many times before.
  • Exposition Beam: Will leaves “Nostalgia” pills, which contain all his life memories, for Angela to find and consume, so she can fully experience his life and Back Story of being Hooded Justice.
  • Expy:
    • Looking Glass is one for Rorschach, as his reflective mask is very evocative of Rorschach's moving ink-blot mask; Judd even refers to the mask as Looking Glass's "face" the same way Rorschach did. Looking Glass also shares Rorschach's habit of eating beans from the can. And Looking Glass kills a group of people who intended to kill him, as Rorschach did to Big Figure and his goons, although he was facing worse odds and more powerful weaponry than Rorschach was.
    • Episode 2 introduces two civilian characters, a talkative newsvendor and his young customer, that are basically expies for Bernard and Bernie in the comics.
    • Mister Shadow, the costumed hero Laurie busts in Episode 3, with his forced rough voice and general appearance, is a clear parody of Christian Bale's Batman.
    • Sister Night is one for Silk Spectre, both by being the descendant of a Minuteman and being in a relationship with Doctor Manhattan.
    • Trieu is one for Adrian Veidt, by being the smartest woman in the world and responsible for most of the advanced technology seen in the show.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Doctor Manhattan doesn't try to resist his imminent death. He simply asks for Angela to stay with him until the end, experiencing their past together for a final time.
    • While the rest of the members of Cyclops panic as they realize that Lady Trieu is about to kill them, Jane Crawford simply sits in her seat and closes her eyes, begrudgingly accepting her fate.
  • Fair Weather Friend: The police force is this to Angela. When she is under arrest in Trieu's mansion and attempts to drive away, they don't consider doing a favor to their colleague and decide to keep her under arrest. Even Wade betrays her at one point, even if reluctantly, and because he wanted to protect her from the Kavalry.
  • Faking the Dead: A newspaper headline reports that Veidt has been declared dead, but he is shown to be very much alive and living in a very remote castle.
  • Fan Sequel: The series is described as this. It is non-canon to the novel and mostly changes the context, agenda, and ideology of the original comic book into something entirely different.
  • Fictional Counterpart:
    • The New York Times is replaced by the New York Gazette, much like in both the comic and the 2009 film.
    • The Washington Post now appears to go by the name of the Washington Post-Intelligencer.
    • The New Frontiersman is a right-leaning, New York-based print tabloid like the New York Post, and is similar in tone to websites like Breitbart and WorldNetDaily.
  • First-Episode Twist: Judd Crawford, despite being prominently seen in the trailers and his actor being second-billed, is hanged at the end of the first episode.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Panda, an obese bureaucrat who annoyingly pressures the police to stick to regulations regarding the use of firearms, is regarded with disdain as a result.
  • For Want of a Nail: Will's spur-of-the-moment decision to turn to masked vigilantism after being nearly lynched was what started the costumed hero fad of the 1940s, and the Alternate History of the Watchmen universe.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The title of the first episode, "It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice", is a three-fold example. First, the title is a lyric from the song "Pore Jud Is Daid" from the musical Oklahoma!. Second, the "Jud" the song is referring to happens to be the villain of Oklahoma!, which clues viewers in on Judd Crawford's true colors before Angela finds the Klan robes in his closet. Third, in the song, the protagonist Curly is trying to convince Jud to hang himself, which mirrors how Will Reeves used Mind Control on Judd Crawford.
    • The silent film in the first episode also serves as foreshadowing about Judd: a high-ranking law enforcement official is caught by rope (a lasso as opposed to a noose) and is exposed as a criminal who wasn't the upstanding citizen he presented himself as. The person who catches the crooked lawman also happens to be a black man named Reeves.
    • The silent film is foreshadowing in another way: Its subject, Bass Reeves, was the basis for The Lone Ranger, who was a whitewashed version of him. Hooded Justice was "whitewashed" as well.
    • Will Reeves, in his first dialogue with Angela:
      Will Reeves: You think I can lift two hundred pounds?
    • The news vendor in Episode 2 spouts a conspiracy theory that President Redford and his "libstapo" are behind the squidfalls, and says of Redford's possible opponent Senator Keene: "Fuck him too." The news vendor is sort of correct, in that Redford did conspire (willingly or unwillingly) to cover up Adrian Veidt's role in the squidfalls and advance his utopian agenda. We also later learn that Senator Keene is an antagonist, as a leader of the Seventh Kavalry.
    • When Agent Blake and Sister Night visit Lady Trieu for the first time in Episode 4, Trieu refers to her golden statue of Ozymandias in the present-tense, as if he is in the room with them. That's because the statue is Ozymandias, who was turned into a Human Popsicle as he blasted off from Europa. Trieu later has him thawed out to watch the activation of the Millennium Clock. Trieu also refers to Ozymandias as an "elder". That's because he's her biological father.
    • If you watch past episodes and consult Peteypedia again, you will notice several clues pointing to The Reveal that Angela's husband Cal is really an amnesiac Doctor Manhattan in a human disguise:
      • The blueprints in Peteypedia for Laurie's blue dildo shows that the product is called an Excalibur. As in Ex... Cal... Abar.
      • Angela's masked identity is Sister Night, who uses a lot of nun imagery. When you're a nun, you become married to God...
      • Cal's own conversations are rather insightful. He specifically tells their adopted kids that there is nothing after death, aligning with similar passages uttered by Manhattan in the comic.
      • Laurie comments on how hot she finds Cal. Just like how she is still attracted to Doctor Manhattan, she becomes unknowingly attracted to his human disguise.
      • Throughout "An Almost Religious Awe", in both past and present flashbacks, Angela wears blue clothing and is constantly surrounded by blue imagery (the blue exotic fish between her and Lady Trieu, etc.).
      • In one of Angela's childhood flashbacks, she is joining other orphans in painting Doctor Manhattan nesting dolls, portending how Manhattan has been hiding beneath the secret identity of Cal Abar.
      • The page image is essentially a big fat example. The blue light bathing Angela is telling us that she is connected to Dr. Manhattan, who is actually Cal. It also foreshadows the possibility that Angela could have inherited Dr. Manhattan's powers by consuming an egg that contained this, as seen in the finale.
    • After the reveal that the Seventh Kavalry is planning to kill Doctor Manhattan and steal his power, but before the reveal that Cal has been Doctor Manhattan all along, Cal is seen reading Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. It's about a man who knows he's dying soon but wants to spend the time he has left with the woman he loves. Uh oh.
    • When Angela and her grandmother are having their first conversation, she offhandedly mentions she had a heart attack recently which is why she tried to get in touch with her estranged son and found out he had died. A few minutes later she has a second heart attack and dies on the spot.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Veidt's squid attack in New York, colloquially known as "11/2", is officially referred to as the Dimensional Incursion Event (DIE).
  • Future Imperfect: American Hero Story's portrayal of Hooded Justice is all this.
    • The writers of American Hero Story, and the world at large, assume that Hooded Justice (who never revealed his face) was a white male. Angela discovers that her grandfather Will, a black man, was the real Hooded Justice and wore makeup around his eyes to conceal his true race.
    • AHS depicts a sex scene between Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis with both wearing their masks. Captain Metropolis asks Hooded Justice to remove his mask so that he can look at his face, but is refused, with Hooded Justice emphatically telling him that he'll never see his face. When we get an actual glimpse of their affair, it turns out that their doing it in masks was in fact a request by Captain Metropolis, and that the Captain was the person who convinced Hooded Justice to present as a white man to the public, causing him to hide his face to an even greater extent than he already was.
    • Then there's the fight in the shop. In AHS, Hooded Justice enters a shop by breaking its front window to foil a robbery; the fight is a finely-choreographed slow-motion spectacle in which HJ easily dispatches each robber one by one, brutally killing and injuring them, to the grateful amazement of the shop's owner and customers. When we see how things actually played out, HJ enters a shop through the back to discover a KKK conspiracy being planned within. The fight is a chaotic struggle where the hero barely manages to knock the Klansmen unconscious, with considerable luck involved. In the end, Hooded Justice escapes by breaking the front window to narrowly avoid being shot by the bewildered and annoyed shop owner (who is all in on the conspiracy). And to drive the point home, the whole sequence is set to a soft love ballad as opposed to the appropriately dramatic music of AHS.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Angela and Laurie foil an attempted Kavalry suicide bombing at Judd's funeral.
  • Gambit Pileup: Veidt, Trieu, Will, Manhattan and Cyclops each have plans that involve using one or more of the others to do their work for them. It all comes to a head in the season finale, resulting in all but two of them dead and Veidt being dragged off to jail. Will is the only person to come out of the situation with a happy ending.
  • Gilded Cage: It is revealed in Episode 3 that Veidt's castle estate is really a prison controlled by a mysterious figure simply called "the Game Warden", who Veidt is increasingly at odds with. Episode 5 reveals that the estate exists in a pocket dimension on one of Jupiter's moons. Furthermore, Episode 9 reveals that the whole thing is a sham and the warden is just another clone following Veidt's own instructions to obstruct his attempts to escape as he needed an arch-nemesis to stave off boredom until Lady Trieu saved him.
  • Godhood Seeker:
    • The ultimate plan of the Seventh Cavalry / Cyclops is to capture and destroy Doctor Manhattan, then use a homemade intrinsic field generator to become him and put the world at the mercy of godlike white supremacists. That said, they ended up playing into Lady Trieu's hands for her own plans to steal his powers.
    • As for Lady Trieu herself, Veidt (her father) states that her plan to kill Doctor Manhattan and take his abilities is a very negative example of this, noting that Trieu's sheer Narcissism gaining godlike power could only spell bad things for the world despite her talk of improving upon his original plan to save it. Veidt lampshades that it takes one to know one, being an impressive egotist himself.
    • Inverted with Doctor Manhattan. He is a Physical God who can (and does) create life, but he ends up abandoning his creation as he does not want to be worshipped, choosing instead to live as an ordinary man.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • The use of firearms by police is heavily regulated, requiring the officer request clearance to use their weapon with a lengthy procedure. "Article 4" allows an entire department to have clearance to carry for 24 hours if the majority of them feel as though their lives are in danger. Naturally, when the Seventh Kavalry shows up again after having killed dozens of police officers in the White Night three years earlier, the first thing the police do is vote for "Article 4."
    • Learning that the Seventh Kavalry plan to destroy Doctor Manhattan and become superhumans like him in order to reestablish white supremacy causes Angela to reawaken her husband Cal's secret identity... as Doctor Manhattan.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Food Drug and Technology Administration (FDTA), which in addition to food and drugs also authorizes and regulates which technology can be reintroduced into public use after mass recall of anything operating on parts synthesized by Doctor Manhattan in the 1980s.
  • Grandfather Paradox: In episode 8, Dr. Manhattan is speaking to Will in 2009 while also speaking to Angela in 2019. Angela asks Manhattan to ask Will how he knew that Judd was a member of "Cyclops". Will tells Manhattan that that was the first time he's heard Judd's name. Angela, hearing this, realizes she effectively killed Judd by giving this idea to Will.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • Since the 11/2 squid attack that he caused more or less created the world that the characters are living in now, Adrian Veidt is indirectly responsible for the Seventh Kavalry existing. But it goes even deeper than that, as he engineered both Robert Redford's election and a utopia ruled by fear.
    • Former Senator Joe Keene Sr, who is a senior member of Cyclops but doesn’t appear until the season finale; his son is The Heavy for the Seventh Kavalry their modern day incarnation.
    • It's implied that Lady Trieu's mother Bian, a Vietnamese war refugee, held a grudge against America for colonizing her homeland, and that she conceived Trieu using Veidt's sperm and put Trieu through a ridiculously strict education regimen in order to eventually avenge the Vietnamese people. What better way to do that than to destroy Doctor Manhattan, the very superbeing who won the war?
  • Ha Ha Ha No: In episode 4, while Laurie is laughing at the car that fell out of the sky the episode before, she is approached from behind by Sister Night. When she hears the steps, she immediately drops the laughter, pulls out a gun and turns around.
  • Happily Adopted: After the deaths of Angela's partner and his wife during the White Night, she and Cal took in their three children and are shown to take excellent care of them.
  • Happy Ending Override:
    • Despite outward appearances, the present-day world of the Watchmen universe is showing signs of rot beneath the surface. Right-wing terrorism is on the rise in America in response to thirty years of progressive policies under President Redford. Also, the Soviets are threatening to start a new arms race by building their own intrinsic field generator — the very technology which created Doctor Manhattan — despite the geopolitical detente which resulted from the New York squid attack.
    • According to supplementary material from HBO, Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Jupiter's careers as outlaw superheroes ended with their arrests in 1995. Laurie joined the FBI as part of a plea deal while Dan remains in federal custody. Laurie's interrogation transcript heavily implies that her split from Dan was not amicable.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: In-Universe. American Hero Story depicts Fred, the owner of the grocery store where Hooded Justice appeared for the first time, as the hapless victim of a foiled robbery. In reality, Fred was the leader of Cyclops who plotted to use Mind Control against black communities, and was the Arch-Nemesis of Hooded Justice.
  • History Repeats: With quite a hefty amount of irony, too: back in the 1930s, police officers like Hollis Mason/Nite Owl started to wear masks and act like superheroes in order to conceal their identities so they could fight criminals without endangering the people they loved, and they stopped doing so when the police got fed up with the "masked freaks" and went on strike in 1977. In 2019, members of the Tulsa Police are forced to wear masks and use superhero code names to protect their identities after many of them were attacked in their homes by crazed racist militiamen in an event called the "White Night". The racist violence suffered by black people in Tulsa c. 1921 is also planned to repeat by modern racist terrorists like the Seventh Kavalry.
  • Homage:
    • The opening sequence in which Will survives the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot seems to draw inspiration not only from history, but to the Super Hero Origin stories of Superman — and, to a lesser extent, Batman. A child faced with a tragedy after leaving the theater? Check. Dead parents? Check. Doomed Hometown? Check. Being sent away in a vehicle that later crash-lands, which contains a miraculously-uninjured infant? Check. For bonus points, it also makes use of the Real Life inspiration of The Lone Ranger, much like how Batman was subconsciously inspired by his childhood memories of another Proto-Superhero, Zorro. "This Extraordinary Being" makes it explicitly clear that the parallels to Superman are quite deliberate.
    • Where Will's life story draws a lot of inspiration from Superman, Angela's draws a lot of inspiration from Batman. Like Bruce Wayne, Angela's parents are killed in an act of random violence (a suicide bombing as opposed to a mugging). Like Bruce Wayne, Angela's costumed identity is inspired by a movie (Zorro for Bruce and Sister Night, a Blaxploitation cult flick, for Angela). And of course, like Bruce Wayne, Angela chooses a costume which heavily employs the color black.
    • Episode 2's scene of Angela searching a recently-deceased character's bedroom draws inspiration from Chapter 1 of the graphic novel. Like Rorschach, Angela finds a hidden compartment in Judd's closet. Unfortunately for her, instead of a superhero costume like the Comedian's, she finds a Klansman's robe.
    • It's retroactively revealed that Senator Keene, who is a leader in the Seventh Kavalry, staged his own hostage situation at Judd's funeral in order to boost his presidential chances. This is similar to how Veidt, in Chapter 5 of the graphic novel, staged a public assassination attempt in order to lend false credence to Rorschach's "mask killer" theory.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Doctor Manhattan pulls a Big Damn Heroes and vaporizes the heads of every Kavalryman outside of Angela's house, giving her the impression that they've won... only to allow their teleporter cannon to reactivate and zap him away.
    • After some time living in an orphanage, Angela is picked up by her grandmother who wants to bring her to Tulsa and give her a loving home. Then her grandmother dies immediately after this discussion occurs.
  • "How Did You Know?" "I Didn't.": Implied when Laurie shoots a vigilante in the back. A colleague asks her afterward how she knew his body armor would protect him from the bullet; Laurie walks away without answering.
  • Human Popsicle: Ozymandias is sprayed with a gold-colored substance that puts him in suspended animation for the return journey to Earth. In a somewhat macabre example of this trope, his daughter Lady Trieu installs his "statue" in her living quarters until it's time to thaw him out.
  • Hypocritical Humour:
    • When Angela's car comes back in episode 4, Laurie says "I don't joke about things falling out of the sky". She spent the whole previous episode telling a Brick Joke (the Trope Namer) in a Doctor Manhattan booth.
    • In episode 7, Trieu injects Angela with a drug just to play a commercial in her head explaining her treatment for Nostalgia overdose. Back in episode 4, she criticized Will for giving away his memories in this form, claiming it was "too cute by a half" and "passive-aggresive exposition".
    • In the final Peteypedia memo announcing Agent Petey's firing from the FBI, his superior Deputy Director Farragut criticizes Petey for writing superfluous analyses of pop culture in his intra-agency memos. Farragut then bashes Nine Inch Nails as "garbage" and describes gleefully destroying Petey's copy of their latest album.
  • I'm Melting!: How Senator Keene bites it when he tries to steal Doctor Manhattan's powers without taking necessary precautions.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Veidt, it turns out. He spent a lot of effort killing any loose ends that would have exposed him as the mastermind of the squid attack... only to make a gloating message admitting everything to President Redford on a copyable videotape that fell into the hands of a far-right terrorist group decades later. The same tape Wade and Laurie use to justify arresting Veidt.
    • Sure Laurie, keep sitting there while a woman who just confessed to being part of a white supremacist conspiracy repeatedly presses a remote control in your direction.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: The Greenwood Cultural Center computer Angela consults confirm that Will really is her paternal grandfather. It also says he died with his parents in the Tulsa Massacre while still a child, before he could have sired her father. Not being an artificial intelligence, this discrepancy isn't noted or troubling to it.
  • Inspector Javert: Laurie fills this role as an agent on the FBI's Anti-Vigilante Task Force, and makes no distinction between illegal costumed vigilantes and legal masked cops.
  • Internal Reveal: Wade is a survivor of the New York squid attack (or 11/2) and spent thirty years living in fear of another squidfall. Senator Keene, after revealing himself to be the leader in the Seventh Kavalry, shows Wade a blackmail video from Adrian to President Redford revealing that he engineered both 11/2 and Redford's election seven years later.
  • In the Back: Laurie shoots Mister Shadow this way as he's trying to escape. He survives thanks to his body armor, and a younger FBI agent asks how she knew it would save him. It's made clear from her attitude however that she simply didn't care, and this was just a happy accident.
  • Irony:
    • In the original graphic novel, costumed heroism was outlawed after a nationwide police strike turned public opinion against "masks." Now the police have been forced to become masks themselves to protect their own identities from the Seventh Kavalry.
    • Laurie spent much of the original comic despising Edward Blake, a.k.a. the Comedian, because of his attempted rape of her mother, unaware that the two later had a consensual affair and that Blake was her father. Laurie later adopted both her father's name and moniker, and by 2019 has become a government operative like he was. She has also taken on the Comedian's dark personality somewhat.
    • In a 2009 New Frontiersman editorial accessible on Peteypedia, Hector Godfrey concedes defeat in the U.S. culture wars and advocates for white conservative Americans to move to Mars en masse to live with their "deity" Doctor Manhattan. Hector doesn't know/realize that Manhattan would regard this new company with (at most) indifference. He's also unaware that by this time Manhattan has decided to live on Earth with the appearance and identity of a black man.
    • The first episode, "It's Summer And We're Running Out Of Ice", starts with a little kid (later revealed to be young Will Reeves) watching a silent film about Bass Reeves, a black sheriff in the Old West, loved by those he helps and who prevents the lynching of a (white) Dirty Cop by telling people to let the law work. Just outside the theater, the Tulsa Massacre is going on.
    • Cal/Doctor Manhattan, who's repeatedly called a god (with reason-he qualifies by many definitions), even being actively worshiped by some people, is an atheist himself. This may be because of his abilities-whatever insights they provide might have convinced him there's no God or afterlife. He doesn't appear to encourage worship, either, which is not surprising and at least consistent.
    • The Big Bad's evil plan of the original graphic novel was to drop an engineered alien squid into the middle of New York City and kill three million people. In the show, smaller squids play a role in foiling the Big Bad's evil plan.
    • It's repeatedly mentioned that people who wear masks should not be trusted because they have something to hide. While this seems to be generally true Angela is hiding her backstory as well as Cal's, Looking Glass is hiding his paranoia, etc., the people with bigger and more dangerous secrets are all Hiding in Plain Sight Judd Crawford and his wife, Adrian Veidt, Lady Trieu, Will Reaves and Senator Keene Jr. for example.
  • It's All About Me: By 2009, Veidt became bitter that he wasn't given the credit he felt was due for the "utopia" he created and that world leaders had stopped taking his advice. The whole reason Cal/Doctor Manhattan sent Veidt to live on Europa was because Veidt would be surrounded by beings who would enthusiastically serve him. But even that wasn't enough to satisfy Veidt's egocentric need for validation:
    Veidt: This is not my home. My home is 390 million miles away. And my children — all eight billion of them — are undoubtedly standing in their cribs, crying out in desperation for me to return. Heaven is not enough for this. Heaven doesn't need me.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Angela beats a suspect who they believe is part of the racist Seventh Kavalry terrorists until he gives up their hideout's location. In the finale, she breaks a Kavalryman's fingers until he gives up where they are keeping Doctor Manhattan prisoner.
  • The Jeeves: Veidt's staff is composed of Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks, who play the stereotype to the hilt.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Judd ends up doing this involuntairly when Angela throws his funeral casket on top of a Seventh Kavalry terrorist whose bomb vest is about to go off.
  • Kangaroo Court:
    • Veidt is faced with one of these, with the Game Warden as judge. He doesn't help this by refusing to participate, breaking wind instead of defending himself. This is annoying enough that the Game Warden has the jury of cloned servants replaced with pigs. He interprets one's squeals as a guilty verdict. In fairness, we don't see all of the evidence they present (Veidt really is guilty of everything said in the prosecution's closing statement) though obviously the rest still counts.
    • A flashback also shows that suspected terrorists in Vietnam didn't even get this — once young Angela identifies a man as participating in the suicide attack which killed her parents (which again, he did do) he's simply taken away and shot without trial.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Veidt got away with murdering millions of people. Rorschach's journal was published, but the content was so outlandish and its origin so questionable that only the far-right fringe took its claims seriously, while the mainstream broadly dismissed it as merely being the ramblings of a madman, and Veidt was allowed to go about his business until his disappearance. Then again, that fancy European castle that he lives in is revealed in the third episode to be a Gilded Cage overseen by a yet-unknown man nicknamed "the Game Warden", and Veidt is pretty much going crazy with Cabin Fever.
    • Judd. He got away with a long double life as a cop and Seventh Kavalry member, being killed late in life and going to his grave highly respected by the rest of the force, only found out afterwards.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty:
    • When Rorschach's journal was revealed, Veidt managed to get off completely by dismissing it as the writings of a raving lunatic, and he got to live comfortably. However he has disappeared and is considered legally dead. His Gilded Cage on Europa is actually a subversion, since he allowed himself to be sent there by Doctor Manhattan under the impression that it would be a "paradise", only to Go Mad from the Isolation. However, this is played straight at the very end, after he has helped defeat Lady Trieu, when Laurie and Wade arrest him for 11/2.
    • It took nearly a century, but Cyclops got their just comeuppance for the Black Wall Street Massacre courtesy of the Millennium Clock. Splat.
  • Killed Offscreen: It's revealed in one of the supplementary articles that Sally Jupiter, Laurie's mother and the original Silk Spectre, passed away in 1994.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Literally. Lady Trieu uses the Millennium Clock to vaporize the entire leadership of Cyclops, including Jane Crawford and the elder Senator Keene.
  • Legacy Character:
    • Angela took the Sister Night persona from a Blaxploitation film she was interested in as a kid.
    • Adrian bestows the names of Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks on his two main servants. Whenever one of them dies he just bestows the name on another servant and moves on. All of them are based on two real humans who Dr. Manhattan met as a child in 1936 when he and his father stayed in an English manor while fleeing Germany.
  • Leitmotif: Lacrymosa from Mozart's Requiem is one for both Adrian and his daughter Lady Trieu. Specially when they go into a megalomaniac state. When it's played again during Adrian's Motive Rant at the end of episode 9 it's hilariously cut short by Wade smacking him over the head with a wrench.
  • Lies to Children: Completely averted in the flashback to Jon Osterman’s childhood. When he and his dad escaped the Nazis, they were taken in by a noble British couple. He goes into their bedroom and hides in the closet when they come in after him and are about to have sex. They catch him but are quite frank (in a way a kid would understand) about what they were doing. They explain to him that they’d recently lost a baby and are trying to have another and that creating a life is the most beautiful thing two people who love each other can do. They also tell him they hope he’s able to experience it one day.
  • Lost in Translation: the Spanish dub/sub almost ran into this due to Europa also being the Spanish name for Europe. So when Dr. Manhattan says he's been in "Europa" it comes off like an extremely mundane answer to where he's been all this time (in Europe). It only avoids becoming a full on Dub-Induced Plot Hole thanks to his tendency to over explain himself and to explain things repeatedly ("Europa is one of the moons of Jupiter").
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Will doesn’t directly state it, but the call Angela receives giving her the results of the test on his DNA reveals that he is her grandfather.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Trieu reveals to Veidt that he's her father. He initially says it's impossible, as he's never been with a woman, though she says her mother (a cleaning woman) found the samples of his sperm he keeps and then used one to impregnate herself.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: In Episode 4, Angela encounters "Lube Man", a man in a skin-tight silver costume that watched her ditch Will's wheelchair. She gives him chase, and after some time, he uses squeeze bottles to cover his suit in a type of oils and slides cleanly into a sewer opening, ditching Angela. Outside of a brief discussion to his name back at police HQ, this is the only time Lube Man ever comes up in the series.
  • Male Frontal Nudity:
    • Our first scene with an elderly Adrian Veidt in the first episode, "It's Summer And We're Running Out Of Ice", has him calmly type-writing while completely nude and his maid is massaging his thighs in a way that the audience is supposed to misinterpret at first like she's giving him a blowjob. Thankfully the typewriter is in the way of Jeremy Irons' genitals.
    • Played straight by the male clone playing Doctor Manhattan in Veidt's play, who wears a fencing mask and nothing else to play the role.
    • In 2009, Doctor Manhattan — having just assumed Cal's identity — visits Veidt at Karnak in the buff. And we get multiple close-ups of his penis when he's locked up in Episode 9.
  • Malevolent Masked Men:
    • The Seventh Kavalry are a group of white supremacists who are inspired by Rorschach, wearing a mask like his and ominously chanting "Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock..."
    • Inverted in regards to the police officers who wear a yellow mask as part of their uniform, a means of protecting their identities from criminals wanting to hurt them or their families.
    • Invoked in regards to the Game Warden, who Veidt made wear a mask in order to give himself a Worthy Opponent to oppose while trapped in the castle on Europa. Veidt remarks that masks "make men cruel."
  • The Man Behind the Man:
    • Adrian Veidt continued his scheming by engineering President Redford's election seven years in advance. Subverted in that it's implied Redford distanced himself from Veidt upon watching his video confessing to dropping the squid on New York.
    • Lady Trieu used the Seventh Kavalry to perform the dirty work of building a cage capable of capturing and weakening Doctor Manhattan, with the aim of hijacking their plan to become Manhattan for her own ends.
  • Mama Bear: Angela demonstrates in the first episode that she keeps guns concealed within her house and she will use them if her family is threatened. Also inverted in the same episode when one of her children attacks a fellow student who was insulting Angela by asking her if she used "Redfordations" to pay for her post-White Night hospital stay.
  • May–December Romance: Laurie has a one night stand with Agent Petey, who is half her age.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Red Scare, one of the masked Tulsa Police detectives, wears a red tracksuit and balaclava and appears to be of Russian descent.
    • Another masked detective, Pirate Jenny, likely chose her name as a reference to The Tales of the Black Freighter, an incredibly popular fictional comic series in the Watchmen universe.
    • Angela's last name is Abar, which Cal took when they married. This is in direct reference to the 1977 superhero Blaxploitation film Abar, the First Black Superman. Inherent allusions include:
      • Angela's masked identity, Sister Night, is based on a character in a blaxploitation hero film she was obsessed with as a child. Also, she descended from the world's first costumed hero, Hooded Justice, a black man.
      • Cal Abar: "Cal" as in Kal-El + "Abar" as in Black Superman, hinting strongly at his identity being a mild-mannered disguise for a more powerful entity—in this case Dr. Manhattan in the body of a black man. Driving the point home, Manhattan is Laurie Blake's ex-lover, now living as Cal Abar. Laurie's "ex, Cal Abar" = Laurie's "Excalibur," the name of her giant blue dildo.
    • Lady Trieu: T-R-I-E-U, when reversed, maps roughly to V-E-I-D-T
    • Judd Crawford: Among multiple allusions to the musical Oklahoma!, the secretly villainous chief's first name equates him with Jud Fry, the musical's antagonist. Additionally, the title of the series' first episode is a lyric from the song "Pore Jud Is Daid," in which protagonist Curly (whom Crawford had played in high school) tries to convince Jud to hang himself.
  • Mega-Corp: Trieu Industries, the company which bought out Veidt Enterprises. It is a massive company that is at the forefront of technological advances, genetics, and pharmaceuticals, not the least of which being the aforementioned Nostalgia.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Routine traffic stop -> attempted cop-killing -> the return of the Seventh Kavalry, a white supremacist militia, and the subsequent escalation that begins with the apparent murder of the Chief Judd Crawford -> the discovery that Judd was secretly with the Kavalry -> a plot by the Kavalry to destroy Doctor Manhattan and give his powers to their leader, Senator Keene.
  • Miranda Rights: Averted. When Sister Night kidnaps a suspected member of the Seventh Kavalry from his home without a warrant and brings him to "the pod" for interrogation, he is not read his rights and is denied a request for a lawyer, with Looking Glass stating the police now apparently "don't need to do that for terrorists".
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-Universe, the Seventh Kavalry have misinterpreted Rorschach's journal as a white supremacist manifesto and use his imagery to promote their ideology and attack innocent people. Had he not died years ago, Rorschach would have been infuriated at this, as while he was a Politically Incorrect Hero, he was certainly nothing like these murderous racists who represent the very kind of scum his vigilantism was driven by contempt for.
  • Moral Guardians: Under the Redford Administration, shows with sexual or violent content are rated "TV-X" and required to have content warnings that almost last a minute long. A news vendor at one point refers to the "Libstapo".
  • More Diverse Sequel: The superheroes of the Watchmen comic are all white and predominantly male. The main character of this series is a black woman; the cast is a diverse mix of black, white, and Asian; Laurie Blake (formerly Juspeczyk) is a much more prominent character; and Dr. Manhattan masquerades as (and thus is played by) a black man. The plot also focuses primarily on issues of racial conflict, trauma, and justice.
  • Motive Rant:
    • Laurie has sat through them so many times during her career that regards listening to Senator Keene's as a chore.
    • Veidt is about to launch into one when Laurie is about to arrest him until Wade knocks him out with a wrench mid-rant.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Played with. Being put in a lithium-lined cage causes Doctor Manhattan's omnipresence to go haywire, causing him to re-experience past events and repeat dialogue directly from the comic (see Continuity Nod). However, it's played more straight when, just before he dies, Manhattan chooses to re-experience all of his happy moments with Angela.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Two in the SDCC trailer: the first is the Rorschach cultist giving their inspiration's famous "I will whisper, 'no'." line. The second is Veidt repeating Doctor Manhattan's warning of how nothing ever ends... Before going on to say its only the beginning.
    • Also in the SDCC trailer: Looking Glass eats beans from the can with his mask still up, similar to Rorschach.
    • Another seen in both trailers is an angel statue in the foreground of a cop funeral, which mirrors the Comedian's funeral in Issue #2 of the comic.
    • Robert Redford is the President of the United States, just like in Doomsday Clock, which was itself a reference to a throwaway line in the last issue of the original series.
    • A paperback copy of Hollis Mason's Under the Hood is seen on Judd's desk.
    • A racist bank advertisement featuring Dollar Bill is posted on the wall of the Seventh Kavalry's hideout.
    • Judd's blood drips onto his discarded badge the same way the Comedian's blood dripped onto his smiley face button in the comic.
    • When Angela is teaching the school kids about eggs and she puts the yolks in a bowl making a smiley face, one of the "eyes" has a blood spot on it.
    • An interesting dialogue example from the transition to the classroom scene: the shot of Doctor Manhattan collapsing his sandcastle on Mars is juxtaposed with Angela saying "it all comes tumbling down." This borrows from the comic's practice of having a panel showing a certain image and inserting a piece of dialogue to ironically compliment it.
    • Angela finds a Ku Klux Klan robe in a hidden compartment in Judd's closet, much like Rorschach finding Blake's Comedian gear in the comic's first scene.
    • A really subtle one: gay actor Cheyenne Jackson, possibly playing himself, is the actor playing Armored Closet Gay Hooded Justice in American Hero Story. It also serves as a nod to his appearances on the real American Horror Story.
    • Laurie ends her Brick Joke to Jon by almost exactly quoting Rorschach's journal after the Paliacci joke about her father: "Roll on snare drum. Curtain. Good joke."note 
    • Laurie carries around a sexually explicit magazine cover of herself and Dr. Manhattan, similar to her mother's treasured Tijuana Bible.
    • Veidt's letter answering the Game Warden's warning letter includes "I believe you confused me for a Republic serial villain".
    • Keene Jr. presents Looking Glass with the truth of Veidt's scheme with the comic's final line, "I leave it entirely in your hands."
    • When Veidt introduces the idea of the memory-block device, Dr. Manhattan asks if he could really make such a thing. Veidt wryly responds, "I made it 30 years ago," echoing an iconic line of his from the comics.
    • After Veidt succeeds at launching himself out of the Europan pocket dimension, arranging the frozen corpses of previous clone servants into a message begging for rescue, and catching the attention of a passing orbital imaging satellite, he celebrates with his fists in the air and screaming "I DID IT!," echoing another of his iconic moments from the comic series.
    • Agents Petey and Blake stay in a motel named The Black Freighter Inn.
    • In the Alternate History opening to Snyder's 2009 film, Andy Warhol is shown creating his famed Marilyn Diptych with Nite Owl as his subject. In Laurie Blake's apartment is a similar variation showing the Crimebusters.
    • When Senator Keene prepares to absorb Dr. Manhattan's powers he strips down to a copy of Dr. Manhattan's "black undies" costume. Laurie wastes no time mocking how stupid it looks.
    • The Bible Jon is given has an illustration of Adam and Eve in Eden drawn by Dave Gibbons, who also drew the original Watchmen comic.
  • Narcissist:
    • Adrian Veidt is just as big a narcissist as he was in the comic. He tapes a video addressing President Redford on the eve of the original squid drop, taking credit for what he's about to do, and expects Redford to actually be thankful that he saved the world by murdering three million people. He becomes very bitter when he isn't given credit for world peace and when foreign leaders stop returning his calls. When Veidt finally comes back to Earth, he is visibly flustered when a news vendor thinks he is merely impersonating Veidt and tells him that people stopped caring about his disappearance a decade ago.
    • Lady Trieu, who just so happens to be Veidt's daughter, turns out to be an even bigger one. Her ultimate plan is to use the Seventh Kavalry to get to Doctor Manhattan and steal his powers for herself, which she would use to remake the world in the image she wants. It says a lot about Trieu than even Veidt thinks she's crazy and helps the protagonists defeat her in the finale.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The series trailer has Angela tell Judd she's got a suspect in her car's trunk, to which he replies "Delightful". In the actual episode, that remark was actually about a performance of the musical Oklahoma!.
    • The trailer also features the line "This… is the only way to show your the truth". In the trailer, the line is spoken by a male. In the actual episode, it's a female character who says it.
    • One trailer has Lady Trieu tell Angela "You need to help stop the Seventh Kavalry". In the episode where the scene appears, she never speaks it so bluntly; she merely implies it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Angela asks Doctor Manhattan to ask Will ten years in the past about Judd and the Klan robe in his closet, realizing too late that she's just set off a chain of events which lead to Judd's death and everything that follows.
    • During the White Night, Doctor Manhattan teleports one of Angela's assailants to Gila Flats, New Mexico, which tips off the Seventh Kavalry to the fact that Manhattan was living in Tulsa. Judd and Jane ingratiated themselves with the Abars in order to get close to Cal/Manhattan so that the Kavalry could eventually capture him.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Double-Subverted and Played for Horror: in the first episode, the staff of Veidt's mansion seems pretty damn quirky but full of Undying Loyalty to their master and Veidt seems to treat them like friends. Then in the very next episode, he casually torches his butler to death and demonstrates that not only are they really clones that he's mass-produced, but he's also slaughtered so many of them that he's running out of room for the cadavers.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Fred, the racist, anti-semitic owner of the 1930s Queens supermarket "F.T. & Sons" and Will's Arch-Nemesis, is based on Fred Trump, who owned the first supermarket in Queens in the 1930s and who was arrested at a KKK rally for failure to disperse in 1927.
  • Not So Different: Lampshaded in dialogue between Agent Blake and Angela:
    Agent Blake: Do you know how to tell the difference between a masked cop and a vigilante?
    Angela: No.
    Agent Blake: Me neither.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Senator Keene's Smug Snake demeanor slips when the Kavalry runs into trouble capturing Doctor Manhattan, barking orders at his underlings until Manhattan has been zapped into the lithium-lined cage.
    • Lady Trieu loses her cool at Manhattan when he teleports away her father Adrian Veidt, since she wanted Veidt to witness her apotheosis into a superhuman.
  • N-Word Privileges: Angela jokingly admonishes Judd for calling a stage production "Black Oklahoma," not even a minute after she referred to it as such.
    Angela: You don't get to call it that.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Gun control has become so extreme by American standards that police have to radio for permission to even draw their weapons. Panda, the man who is in charge of giving this authorization to the Tulsa PD, is a stickler for following all of the red tape, which includes a nearly minute-long row of questions to assess the necessity of the weapon. When a cop in need of his weapon finds out that Panda is on shift, he visibly winces.
  • Odd Name Out: Off all the episodes, only the eighth ("A God Walks into Abar") isn't named after some work of fiction. It's instead Just for Pun. The first episode is named from a song from Oklahoma!, two is from a painting, three from a Devo song, four from the novel Things Fall Apart, five from Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, six and seven are from Watchmen itself, and nine is from the classic The Beatles song, "I am the Walrus"
  • Oh, Crap!: We get a really nice split-second look from Laurie in the third episode, "She Was Killed By Space Junk", when she discovers the hard way that the Seventh Kavalryman's explanation that his suicide vest having a heartbeat sensor as a Deadmans Switch wasn't a bluff and everybody in the vicinity is a few seconds away from being blown up — including her.
  • Once per Episode: Adrian Veidt "celebrates" his anniversary of living in the manor with one extra candle per episode to show how long he's been there.
  • The One That Got Away: Thirty years later, Laurie appears to feel this way about Jon. She sometimes makes long-distance phone calls to Mars to leave messages for him, and carries around a massive blue vibrator along with a suggestive magazine cover showing them together. She doesn't appear to show any romantic affection toward Dan by comparison. According to Peteypedia, things ended quite badly between the two of them after they got arrested and Laurie took a deal with the Feds to avoid going to prison.
  • Playing Both Sides: Joe Keene Jr. is behind an amendment to the Keene Act that allows cops to wear masks in order to help them combat the Seventh Kavalry, while he himself is secretly the leader of the Seventh Kavalry and orchestrated the White Night to have the amendment passed in the first place.
  • Playing Gertrude:
    • Cal's year of birth is stated to be 1976, making him a whole decade older than Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. The revelation of him really being Dr. Manhattan means he's much older than that, having been born in 1929.
    • Adrian Veidt is an eighty year old man — played by 71 year old Jeremy Irons. Granted, he's been a Human Popsicle for eight years.
    • Louis Gossett Jr. is 83 years old, playing 105 year old Will Reeves.
  • Plunger Detonator: Ozymandias triggers a plunger detonator to incinerate Mr. Phillips during his performance of "The Watchmaker's Son".
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: The broadcast of American Hero Story comes after a very lengthy FCC-mandated content warning against the program's depictions of bigotry and sexual assault. A news vendor also references the 'Libstapo', implying such policies (and criticisms of them) are common.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • The Seventh Kavalry, the extremist group which have been inspired by Rorschach, are white supremacists who put out a manifesto vowing to eradicate "black filth."
    • Zig-zagged with Senator Keene, the leader of the Kavalary, who repeatedly objects to being characterized as racist but admits that his plan of turning himself into a Doctor Manhattan-like superhuman is about reestablishing white supremacy.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The reason Veidt turns against his daughter Lady Trieu. While he is as narcissistic as Trieu, he recognizes just how megalomanical it is to try to personally hijack Doctor Manhattan's powers and how succeeding would bring far more harm to the world than good.
  • President Evil: Subverted with Senator Keene, who engineered the White Night and the "masked cop" law in order to become Redford's successor... but discarded this plan when he found a way to capture Doctor Manhattan and become superhuman himself.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Will Reeves hypnotized Judd into hanging himself with a strobe light.
  • Pummeling the Corpse: Veidt kicks the crap out of a frozen Mr. Philips in frustration, breaking him in pieces.
  • Punny Name: The perpetually-under-construction bakery that Angela keeps her gear in is called "Milk & Hanoi", a play on "milk and honey."
  • Rabid Cop:
    • Angela is enough of one that Judd holds off on informing her of the traffic stop shooting until the next day. Later she drives into a white shantytown, breaks into a random trailer without a warrant, and throws the occupant into her trunk with no mention being made of whether she read him his Miranda rights. Then, after Looking Glass's interrogation, she beats the suspect until he discloses where the Seventh Kavalry's hideout is (Looking Glass also reveals that suspected terrorists don't need to have their rights read at all).
    • Red Scare is more of a straight example, being quick to brutalize and round up everyone in Nixonville after Judd's death, despite Angela's reluctance.
    • Laurie shoots a fleeing superhero in the back without knowing or caring whether his body armor will protect him.
    • It apparently was/is common practice in the Saigon police force to execute suspected terrorists in broad daylight without trial.
  • Race Lift:
    • Hooded Justice's real identity is never revealed in the comic, though he's a Nazi sympathizer and speculated to be the German strongman Rolf Mueller. In the series, he's revealed to be Will Reeves, an African-American man who masquerades as a hooded white man.
    • Jon Osterman was born a white man in both comic and series, but in the series he's revealed to have changed his appearance to become a black man, Carl Abar. He's seen both as a normal-looking black man and in Manhattan's original blue appearance, although with Carl's features.
  • Rain of Something Unusual: Trans-dimensional attacks, or "squidfalls" — weather events where small squids rain down from the sky — have been the norm since the 11/2 incident as part of Veidt's efforts to maintain world peace. And they can be weaponized.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Contrary to the implications of the comic's ending and the events of Doomsday Clock, the publication of Rorschach's journal by The New Frontiersman didn't single-handedly undo Veidt's plan. Since the New Frontiersman was a far-right tabloid and Rorschach was regarded In-Universe as a raving lunatic, the journal didn't gain much traction outside the racist fringe and conspiracy theorists circles. The racist fringe also ended up distorting the journal to suit their own bigoted worldview as well, in a way that Rorschach would have hated.invoked
    • Episode 5 reveals that Adrian Veidt plotted Robert Redford's election as president seven years in advance and taped a video for Redford spelling out what he did on 11/2. Veidt apparently expected for Redford to submit to him as a political pawn and give him credit for world peace. What Redford did instead (along with other world leaders, apparently) was distance himself from this egomaniac who bragged about murdering three million people.
    • Agent Dale Petey’s memos in Peteypedia contain analyses of the TV series American Hero Story and their falsehoods, along with analyses of other works such as the novel Fogdancing and schematics of various items related to masked vigilantes, despite their lack of relevance to the FBI’s projects. This leads to Petey being fired due to his fanboy interest in vigilantes interfering with his work.
    • Veidt gets arrested by Wade and Agent Blake; however the FBI are still investigating the evidence and keeping it quiet from the public due to how much conspiracy and corruption is involved.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: The second half the SDCC 2019 trailer advertising the show is set to David Bowie's popular 1971 song "Life on Mars" as Dr. Manhattan is said, then shown, to have landed on Mars. An instrumental version of the song also plays over the credits of the seventh episode.
  • La Résistance: The Vietnam Liberation Front, a resistance movement opposed to the statehood of Vietnam, wish for it to secede and return to being an independent nation.
  • Retcon: In the graphic novel, Hooded Justice's identity was never revealed but he was widely believed to be a German circus strongman named Rolf Muller. The show reveals that Hooded Justice was really Will Reeves, a black police officer and Angela's grandfather.
  • The Reveal:
    • "Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship": Will, the old man Angela found at the scene of Judd's murder, is really her own grandfather.
    • "This Extraordinary Being": Will is also Hooded Justice, the person who single-handedly kick-started Watchmen 's Alternate History as its very first costumed adventurer.
    • "An Almost Religious Awe": Doctor Manhattan has been living on Earth as Angela's husband Cal all along.
  • Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman:
    • The show's alternate history lends itself to this. So far however, specific examples have been limited to supplementary materials:
    • Dr. Oz currently serves as the Surgeon General.
    • Liberal journalist/political pundit Ezra Klein (who’s actually a comics fan, it should be noted) serves as White House Press Secretary in the Redford Administration.
    • Roger Ailes ended up buying the company that owned The New Frontiersman, the publication that Rorschach regularly read.
    • Ryan Murphy is still a successful television producer in this universe, except instead of horror and crime, he handles a show about costumed superheroes.
    • Robert Mueller is mentioned to have served as a decorated Captain during the Liberation of Vietnam from 1971 to 1973 (in real life, he held this rank, but he left active duty in 1970).
    • Henry Louis Gates Jr. leaves academia as a historian to become Secretary of the Treasury under the Redford Administration, presumably due to his work regarding reparations.
    • Fredric Wertham, a psychologist who in real life was a prominent anti-comic activist who accused them of corrupting children’s minds, created a system for cataloging the mental states of masked heroes.
    • Lawyer and novelist John Grisham, known for his legal thrillers, has been appointed to, and will soon be retiring from, the U.S. Supreme Court.
    • The nominee to replace Grisham on the Supreme Court is unnamed, but is described as both female and the youngest Supreme Court candidate in history. The New Frontiersman attacks the nominee as an "utterly unqualified 'community activist,' a hysterical eco-warrior and lipstick Leninist whose last bar exam was proving she can mix a White Russian." Sound familiar to the attacks on a certain politician?
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The Seventh Kavalry are a white supremacist terrorist group who kick off the plot when one of their members killed a police officer. In the past, the group staged armed attacks on cops and their families in what is dubbed the "White Night" and are presently attempting to steal Doctor Manhattan's powers.
  • Sadistic Choice: After revealing himself as a leader of the Seventh Kavalry, Senator Keene gives Wade an ultimatum: either sell out Angela to Laurie in order to get her out of the way of whatever the Kavalry is planning, or the Kavalry will gun for her family again. Wade reluctantly betrays Angela in the hopes of keeping the Abars safe.
  • Scenery Gorn:
    • Veidt has a "rough night" and massacres his entire clone help on the fourth anniversary of his captivity, resulting in this.
    • The opening of Episode 5 ends with the aftermath of 11/2, pulling back from a young naked Wade standing atop a pile of bodies at the Hoboken carnival to the colossal monstrosity that is Veidt's squid sitting in the middle of a ruined Manhattan. And because this is a live-action premium cable show and not an illustrated page, the scene is much more terrifying than it was in the comic.
  • Shout-Out:
    • American Hero Story: Minutemen is a clear nod to both American Crime Story and American Horror Story. Lindelof had even considered having Ryan Murphy cameo on the show but decided against it.
    • The Seventh Kavalry's use of masks and their mantra "we are no one, we are everyone" is an obvious take on Anonymous and/or QAnon, which also adopted a similar mantra of "where we go one, we go all", or "WWG1WGA" (in the case of the latter group, this is likely more of a Take That!).
    • Superman's origin story is frequently referenced. Notably the fourth episode opens with Lady Trieu presenting the Clarks a baby cloned from their DNA in exchange for their farm, though asks them to keep quiet as to how they came by it. There's also an unidentified object that crashes onto their land. The sixth episode explicitly calls out to the origin story published in Action Comics #1.
    • Mister Shadow, the vigilante that Laurie captures at the start of the third episode, was designed as a parody of Batman.
  • Show Within a Show: American Hero Story: Minutemen dramatizes the careers of the Minutemen, with the first episode depicting Hooded Justice's first day in action.
  • Shrouded in Myth:
    • Much like the comic, Hooded Justice is this. The only thing Hollis Mason got right in Under the Hood is Hooded Justice's relationship with Captain Metropolis. Otherwise, Hooded Justice being a dead German circus strongman named Rolf Muller turned out to be wrong, as he was really Will Reeves, an African-American man who was a member of the NYPD like Mason and may very well be the last surviving member of the Minutemen.
    • Doctor Manhattan is still living on Mars, and he is so venerated that Trieu Industries has set up special phone booths for people to send prayers to him while the editor of The New Frontiersman calls for conservatives to migrate to Mars and live in his godlike presence. Except Doctor Manhattan isn't living on Mars. He's been living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as Angela's husband Cal this whole time.
    • Lady Trieu is a recluse who is seldom seen in public despite being a trillionaire who runs a Mega-Corp, leading to wild speculation about her private life and background. She's Adrian Veidt's daughter, conceived after her mother stole some of his frozen sperm.
  • Small Role, Big Impact:
    • Fred the racist shopkeeper / Cyclops leader, who became the Arch-Enemy of Will Reeves. It was Will's feud with Fred that turned Will into Hooded Justice, kicking off the era of masked vigilantes and shaping the world of Watchmen as we know it.
    • Lady Trieu's mother impregnated herself with Adrian Veidt's semen and raised Trieu to be an even bigger megalomaniac than her father, ultimately leading to the death of Doctor Manhattan.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Senator Keene, who is running for president, constantly gives off this impression. Even before it's revealed that he's a leader in the Seventh Kavalry.
    • Veidt is supremely proud in the blackmail video he gave to President Redford, shot the day before the squid attack.
    • Lady Trieu majorly borrows this trait from Veidt, her biological father.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: One of the things presumed about Hooded Justice was that he was deceased. Will Reeves, the show's Hooded Justice and while up there in age, is still alive.
  • Stable Time Loop: This is how Will learned that Judd was a Klansman in the first place. Angela asks Dr. Manhattan to ask Will in the past (as he experiences both conversations at the same time) about how he knew about the robe hidden in Judd's closet. Except Will had absolutely no idea about it and learned about it just then. So Angela ended up creating a closed loop of information.
  • Standard Snippet: Mozart's Requiemnote  plays when Angela finds Klan robes in Judd's closet, when Wade finds the Seventh Kavalry's headquarters, when Veidt is being tried by the Game Warden, when Game Warden gives Veidt a cake in prison, when Trieu explains the Kavalry's plan to Angela, and finally during Trieu's attempted apotheosis. Also used to humorous effect when the track suddenly cuts out after Wade knocks out Veidt in the middle of a Motive Rant.
    • It may also serve as a Call-Back to 2009 movie, where Requiem was used in regards to Veidt (albeit another partnote ).
  • Stop Worshipping Me: Doctor Manhattan does not encourage worship and decides to abandon his creations on Europa for this very reason.
  • Suicide Attack:
    • In the third episode, a Kavalryman takes Senator Keene hostage by threatening to blow himself up with a bomb rigged to his heartbeat, so it will explode if they shoot him. Laurie shoots him anyway, believing he was bluffing. However, it turns out he wasn't, and Angela has to quickly toss his body into the open grave so the blast is contained as people run for safety.
    • In the seventh episode, a flashback shows that Angela's parents were both killed by a Vietnamese suicide bomber, along with a number of soldiers (they were the target).
  • Super Registration Act: The Keene Act 1977 goes a step further, outright criminalizing masked vigilantism (or what it refers to as "costumed adventuring"). This was amended in 2017 by the Defense of Police Act, which introduced exceptions to allow most police officers to conceal their identities whilst at work in order to protect themselves. However, this did include caveats such as senior leadership (like police chiefs) having to remain transparent about their identities.
  • Take That!:
    • Mister Shadow, the show's obvious take on the Nolanverse Batman, is presented as an incompetent, thrill-seeking buffoon who walks right into an obvious anti-vigilante sting.
    • The Klan leader who becomes Will's nemesis in "This Extraordinary Being" is "Fred T.", the owner of a grocery store in Queens called Fred T. & Sons. "Fred" is more than likely a pastiche of Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father, who owned a market in Queens in the late 1930s and got arrested at a KKK rally there in 1927 after they clashed with the police. The store is on the actual corner that the real-life one was and Fred's mother, Elizabeth, did business under a company called "E. Trump & Son". Since Will ends up killing Fred, he possibly pulled a Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act.note 
    • Explicitly averted with American Hero Story. Despite the first action sequence with Hooded Justice making use of Bloodier and Gorier violence and a slow-motion heavy approach to the fight, Damon Lindelof has denied that the scene, or any other in the Show Within a Show, is a jab at how Zack Snyder approached his film adaptation of the source material. In his own words:
      Damon Lindelof: I will always take responsibility for when I’m winking or insulting or trolling. There was no intentionality on my part to make fun of or take a shot at or troll Zack Snyder's Watchmen movie. I have a tremendous amount of affection for Zack's movie and for Zack himself. And I feel like if anything, the challenge of doing Watchmen as a straight-up adaptation in the body of a three-hour movie is near impossible, and he did about as good of a job as anyone can.
    • In one of the season's final scenes, Laurie finally nails Veidt with solid evidence of the squid hoax, and when he asks if she plans to also arrest President Robert Redford as an accomplice after the fact, she's ready to give it a try. It's probably not a coincidence that the episode aired while Donald Trump was facing impeachment.
  • Technophobia: In supplementary materials, it is revealed modern technology is lacking in the present day because of a mass recall of all tech synthesized by either Doctor Manhattan or Adrian Veidt in the 1980's, with people blaming said technology for both causing the "inter-dimensional rift" that led to the squid attack, and being carcinogenic. A government memo even shows that the FBI is only re-introducing basic desktop computers, databases and email (or "El-Mail" as they refer to it as) to specific employees in 2019.
  • Tempting Fate: This exchange between Judd and Panda:
    Panda: Chief, you're making a mistake.
    Judd: Yeah, well... it's my funeral.
  • Tinfoil Hat: Wade's Looking Glass mask is made of a latex-like material called "reflectatine", as is the inner lining of his baseball cap, due to his fear of another major squid event. He stops wearing the hat after Senator Keene shows him Veidt's confession video.
  • Titled After the Song:
    • The first episode, "It's Summer And We're Running Out Of Ice", is titled after a line in a song of Oklahoma!, although the title of the song itself is a pretty big spoiler: "Pore Jud Is Daid".
    • The third episode, "She Was Killed By Space Junk" is named after a line in the Devo song "Space Junk". Unlike the previous example, it is not indirectly a Spoiler Title. Although Angela's wrecked car falls from the sky right in front of her.
    • The ninth episode, "See How They Fly" is a line lifted from The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus".
  • Too Clever by Half: The Seventh Kavalry/Cyclops learn too late that their plan to kill Doctor Manhattan and steal his powers was really Lady Trieu's plan to kill Doctor Manhattan and steal his powers, and that they only got as far as they did because Trieu allowed it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Senator Keene tries to absorb Doctor Manhattan's energy without any kind of filtering process, reducing him to a huge bloody puddle.
  • Too Much Information: When Angela explains her backstory to the class (former cop, became a baker) she explains how she was shot in her home on "White Night" and a disturbed teacher has to stop her when she starts to talk about the surgical procedure she had to endure to get the bullet out.
  • Transferable Memory: Will's pills are revealed to be Nostalgia, a customized anti-depressant medication from Trieu Industries that allows users to re-experience happy memories via digestible tablets. By 2019, Nostalgia has been taken off the market after causing some users to turn psychotic. This doesn't stop Sister Night from downing Will's entire bottle just as Laurie has her arrested.
  • Trauma Conga Line: If the show is exploring any theme other than that racism is bad, it's that trauma is a powerful force that can have ramifications lasting decades. Most of the main characters are dealing with a series of traumatic events in their past:
    • Will Reeves witnessed his parents being murdered and his neighborhood being obliterated by the KKK; joined the NYPD only to see that the force looked the other way on matters of racial violence (if not being in on said violence themselves); joins the Minutemen as Hooded Justice, only to find they are similarly racist and/or apathetic towards the black community; and loses contact with his wife and son (Angela's father) because of his crusade.
    • Angela Abar lost her parents in a suicide bombing in Vietnam as a little girl; witnessed her grandmother (Will's ex-wife) dying of a heart attack on the same day she met her; lost numerous friends in the Tulsa Police during the White Night; lost a father figure in Judd Crawford when Will murdered him, only to find out that Judd was a member of the Seventh Kavalry all along; and lost her husband Cal/Doctor Manhattan when Lady Trieu kills him in order to transfer his power into herself.
    • As a young man, Wade Tillman was put into an extremely humiliating sexual situation right before he found himself in the psychic shock zone caused by the giant squid Adrian Veidt dropped on New York. He spent the next 34 years living a survivalist lifestyle in fear of the next major squidfall, ruining his marriage. Then the Seventh Kavalry show him proof that the squid was Veidt's hoax, meaning that the decades he spent living in fear was for nothing.
    • It's hinted that Lady Trieu's mother Bian was a victim of atrocities by U.S. forces during The Vietnam War, which caused her to resent the American colonizers and drove her to impregnate herself with Veidt's sperm. She then became a strict Education Mama who molded Lady Trieu into someone who would avenge their homeland on Bian's behalf, leading to Trieu deciding to destroy Doctor Manhattan, the being responsible for conquering Vietnam.
  • Understatement:
    • This is invoked by Judd at the end of the teaser.
    Jane: What are you two talking about?
    Judd: Oh, you know, nothing. Just the end of the world. (Leans in and smiles) Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. (Winks)
    • Also exhibited by Veidt when he massacres a whole bunch of clone servants offscreen:
    Veidt: I had a rough night.
  • Twisted Christmas: The White Night, an ambush attack by the Seventh Kavalry that resulted in the deaths of numerous Tulsa police officers in their homes, took place on Christmas Eve.
  • Unfortunate Names: The cemetery where Judd was supposed to be buried is called "Tartarus Acres". In Classical Mythology, Tartarus was the equivalent of Hell. It was used to contain the worst of the worst, those who dared to defy the will of the gods, and those who committed hubris. Not exactly a place you'd want to be laid to rest in.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In-Universe example. American Hero Story is repeatedly denounced by Agent Petey as this in his Peteypedia memos, and this genuinely turns out to be the case when it's revealed both that Hooded Justice (played by a white actor on AHS) was really a black man and his exploits at the grocery store went down a lot differently in real life.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: The series has the tendency to show flashbacks of things that happened earlier in the same episode, as if viewers had already forgotten those events. For example, in "This Extraordinary Being", the elder black cop Samuel J. Battle ominously whispers to Will Reeves' ear: "Beware the Cyclops!". Then a few scenes later Will comes across the name Cyclops again, and we get a flashback of the whisper scene, seemingly for the benefit of those viewers who had failed to register the cryptic warning as foreshadowing.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • While a narcissist (and possibliy psychotic), Lady Trieu does note that Veidt's entire scheme 34 years ago would have been unnecessary if Doctor Manhattan had just make all the nuclear bombs "disappear" with his powers. While her getting her powers would be a really bad thing, she's not wrong in her stated goal of improving the world would be more than Cal/Jon's ever done with his abilities.
    • Critics of the Redford Administration's gun control policy (including Senator Keene) have a point about how excessive they are, given that the first episode demonstrates that they leave police officers extremely vulnerable in dangerous situations.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Game Warden flips his shit as he tries to stop Veidt from reaching Lady Trieu's rocketship, until Veidt finally stabs him with the horseshoe. Subverted in that the whole thing was a performance that the Game Warden was in on (see Worthy Opponent).
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: The first episode ends with Judd Crawford's murder.
  • Weaponised Landmark: A minor case with really existing ornate blue obelisks in Decatur, Georgia (which stood in for Tulsa) turned into lasers by Lady Trieu. Also an In-Universe example with the Millennium Clock, which counts as a prominent landmark and was built as a weapon against Dr. Manhattan.
  • Western Terrorists: The Seventh Kavalry, a.k.a. Cyclops, are a white supremacist hate group which have employed conventional methods of terrorism such as dirty bombs and suicide bombings. They also engage in decidedly unconventional plots such as brainwashing black communities and stealing the powers of the world's only superhuman.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Little Fear of Lightning" reveals that Senator Keene (and formerly Judd) are leaders in the Seventh Kavalry. And while the revelation that Veidt caused the squid attack is not a surprise to anyone who's read the source material, the revelation that he engineered President Redford's election seven years in advance is.
    • "This Extraordinary Being" reveals that the still-living Will Reeves was Hooded Justice, the first-ever superhero, who had been assumed for decades In-Universe to have been white and deceased.
    • "An Almost Religious Awe" continues this with the reveal that the Seventh Kavalry intend to capture and destroy Doctor Manhattan, then become beings like him. It's also revealed that not only is Doctor Manhattan not on Mars, but he has been living on Earth as Angela's husband Cal all along.
    • "See How They Fly" marks the death of Doctor Manhattan.
  • Wham Line: "An Almost Religious Awe" has two:
    • First when Senator Keene reveals his plan to Laurie:
    Keene: ...It is extremely difficult to be a white man in America right now. So I'm thinking I might try being a blue one.
    • Then when Angela confronts Cal:
    Cal: You're not yourself.
    Angela: No, Jon. You're not yourself.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The final scene of "It's Summer And We're Running Out Of Ice" shows Angela discovering Judd's body hanging from a tree, seemingly at the hands of the wheelchair-bound Will Reeves.
    • While it was known from the get-go that the show would be proceeding from the events of the graphic novel instead of the movie, seeing Veidt's original squid in Episode 5's flashback was this for many fans.
    • At the end of the Comic-Con trailer, a man in a suit, seen only from knees down, stops next to a Doctor Manhattan mask and reaches down to grab the mask. The man's hand is blue.
    • In the first four episodes, Veidt is shown living in a countryside castle in some undisclosed location. Then, in "Little Fear of Lightning", he uses the giant catapult he has built to fly beyond the borders of his small fiefdom. In the following shot we see him landing on the surface of Europa, a moon of Jupiter, revealing that the castle and its surroundings are not on Earth at all, and that he's being kept as a prisoner on Europa.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The identity of Lube Man is never revealed onscreen. However, the final Peteypedia memo states that Agent Petey disappeared after being fired by the FBI and is likely to turn to costumed vigilantism — and contains an Easter Egg image of a wanted poster for Lube Man — lending credence to the fan theory that Petey and Lube Man are one and the same.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: Gee, who would think? The series spells out this theme very early on, in a scene where a young boy watches a film portraying Bass Reeves arresting a corrupt sheriff.
    • This is even referenced again directly in the first episode: when the Tulsa precinct gathers following the resurgence of the 7th Kavalry, Chief Crawford concludes his address with the question "Quis custodet custodes?"—-literally the trope name in Latin.
  • Worthy Opponent: It turns out that Veidt's interactions with the Game Warden was really play-acting designed to keep Veidt sane during his stay on Europa, by preoccupying Veidt's time by fighting an adversary. Veidt tells the Game Warden as the latter is dying that he didn't live up to expectations. However, Veidt comes to regard his daughter Lady Trieu as more of the real deal.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Keene threatens to send the Kavalry to kill Angela and her entire family if Wade doesn't betray her, and states that he doesn't care either way whether they live or die.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Trieu "jokes" about killing the Clarks' child, but would just give him away to an orphanage.
  • Wretched Hive: Tulsa has a "Nixonville" which is a slum for impoverished whites, most of whom appear to share anti-Redford sentiment.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Veidt helps foil Lady Trieu's plan at the last minute by freezing his mini-squids in order to make them more destructive than they usually are and dispatching them over Tulsa, which destroys the Millennium Clock and kills Trieu.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The Seventh Kavalry would like to continue to remind you that it's a white-supremacist group even in the way they spell their group.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Due to being almost completely omniscient, Doctor Manhattan experiences past, present and future all at once. Therefore what will happen is going to for him, no matter what. Because of this, he never even tries to stop being teleported away by the Kavalry's tachyon cannon, even though it seems like he could.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • Keene sends a group of armed Kavalry to Wade's house, having used him to sell out Angela to Agent Blake. Wade kills them all.
    • Lady Trieu kills the Seventh Kavalry/Cyclops with the Millennium Clock after they've served their purpose of building the lithium cage needed to contain Doctor Manhattan.
  • Your Head Asplode: How Cal/Doctor Manhattan dispatches the Kavalrymen attacking Angela's house.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Inverted in the case of how the Vietnamese people regard Doctor Manhattan. While the American homefront sees Manhattan as the hero who secured victory in The Vietnam War, the Vietnamese see him as the murderous foreign conqueror who single-handedly destroyed their way of life.

You can't heal under a mask, Angela. Wounds need air.

Alternative Title(s): Watchmen

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