I've just watched the first episode of HBO's Watchmen, with lots of confusion.

A little of online search brought to my attention that the story happens in a sci-fi universe I am unfamiliar with.

Does this show assume I have prior knowledge of any other movie, comic, series, etc. ? Or is it just meant to be bonus easter eggs for those that are familiar?

  • While "standalone", it's still a sequel.
    – Mithoron
    May 28, 2021 at 22:23

2 Answers 2


According to HBO Showrunner Damon Lindelof you can enjoy the show with no prior knowledge of the graphic novels and associated materials (and film), but you'll enjoy it differently, note not better, if you've immersed yourself in the universe before approaching the show.

DL: And I’m very curious how people with no preexisting relationship with the source material process the show versus people who have an intimate relationship with the source material. But at least for the first episode, I imagined two people sitting in a room, one of whom had never seen anything of Watchmen before, including Zack’s movie. Just came in cold. And the person sitting next to them is someone who has read Watchmen a million times and can quote Under the Hood chapter and verse, and will bore you to tears with all their knowledge. My desire was, when the pilot ends, the person who’s never seen Watchmen before turns to the person who is the Watchmen expert and says, “I’m confused, can you explain things to me?” And that person goes, “Nope!” And so they’re like, “Oh, cool, at least we’re in it together.”

Now, as the show goes on, I think if you have an intimate knowledge of the source material, you’re going to appreciate the show on a different level than the people who don’t, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to appreciate it more. I think it will be harder for people who love Watchmen to like the show than it will be for people who don’t love the comic. You can only watch the show through the metric of comparison. It’s called Watchmen, it has characters from the original Watchmen, the creator of the original Watchmen thinks it’s an abomination. These are all barriers to love. I fully embrace that. It won’t be fun — I’m glad I’m not on Twitter — but I knew that when I got in.

‘Nostalgia Is Toxic’: Damon Lindelof on His ‘Watchmen’ Adaptation

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    I’m glad he expected me to say “I’m confused” at the end of that episode I just watched, I don’t feel left out lol
    – Nathan H
    Dec 15, 2019 at 13:55

The show is a direct sequel, 30 years later, to the comic book Watchmen, and though it probably could be understood alone with no prior experience with its namesake, most of the references only make sense through that lens and a lot of the worldbuilding is already done and so it's probably intended that most viewers are familiar with it.

The 2009 movie adaptation of Watchmen will cover most of the knowledge required, at least with respect to character and history and plot... however, one significant element of the endgame, that is,

the 'squid-creature from another dimension' from the comic that formed the basis of Veidt's plan was changed in the movie to make a hoax centered on Doctor Manhattan himself to be the unifying threat that drives mankind towards peace.

  • Is it also set 30 years from the events of the film? Dec 15, 2019 at 20:41
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    @SpacePhoenix Yup, IIRC. I believe the movie was set in the same time periods as the book was, and except for said 'master plan' was a remarkably faithful adaptation. Dec 15, 2019 at 20:47

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