Watchmen Showrunner Breaks Down the Epic Dr. Manhattan Twist

This week fans were stunned with the major reveal that one of the most unsuspecting characters in Watchmen was actually the all powerful Dr. Manhattan, living right under everyone's noses as a family man in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But the fact that Cal Abar, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in the series, was secretly living as an omnipotent demigod wasn't the only big shock; it's that he didn't know it, and his wife Angela AKA Sister Night (Regina King) knew it all along. Doctor Manhattan has basically been a specter in the HBO series, so his return in this episode was a major twist as the endgame finally comes into focus.

Series showrunner Damon Lindelof finally spoke out about Dr. Manhattan's surprising role on Watchmen, explaining in an interview with THR that his place in the sequel series was one of the most important challenges of the gig.

"I started this whole journey from the perspective of a fan — what would I have to see in a television show daring to call itself Watchmen? Dr. Manhattan was near the top of that list," stated Lindelof. "But even higher was that we needed to tell a new story with a new character at the center of it. Once we landed on Angela Abar as that center, the new rule became that any legacy characters we were using (Veidt, Laurie and Hooded Justice) could only be used in service of Angela's story… she was the sun, everyone else needed to be orbiting around her."

This presented one of the biggest challenges for the plot of Watchmen but once they cracked it, Lindelof and the rest of the writers room figured out the perfect way to drive the story forward.

"So how could Dr. Manhattan, a man with the power of God, be in service of Angela's story as opposed to the other way around?" Lindelof said. "Based on his past (and all the tropes of Greco/Roman mythology), the answer was intuitive… love. We knew this relationship could only work if Manhattan took the form of a human, and so, the idea of Cal was born. And yeah, it came early. Almost from the jump."

Lindelof added that very few people behind the scenes knew they were actually casting Dr. Manhattan when they were focusing on Cal, even though this was always the plan. Abdul-Mateen II himself didn't find out until after he was granted the role.


The result was one of the most surprising reveals on television this year, and one that has fans rethinking everything they thought they knew about the series.

New episodes of Watchmen air on Sundays on HBO.