UPDATE 2/21: HBO is reclassifying Watchmen from a drama series to a limited series. "We discussed with the producers and felt limited series was the most accurate representation of the show and any possible future installments," the network told Variety. These have always been the terms in which Damon Lindelof has talked about Watchmen, and the reclassification aligns the executive producer and the network's messaging on the potential future of the show. One thing's for certain -- the limited series race for this year's Emmys just heated up.
HBO's Watchmen has been the most talked-about show of the fall, and now that it's over, one of the biggest questions about the show becomes even more pressing: Will there be a Season 2? The answer is no... but maybe.
From the beginning, executive producer Damon Lindelof -- who created the television adaptation inspired by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' graphic novel -- has described Season 1 of Watchmen as a closed-ended story. And while the finale did come to a definitive ending, it also left open the possibility of further stories from the world of Watchmen, which in the season finale lost Dr. Manhattan (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), but not before he put his powers into an egg in order to pass them on to his widow, Angela Abar (Regina King). (Lindelof told Variety he doesn't think the season ended on a cliffhanger, but sees how people could think it does.)
Lindelof is the first and last word on whether or not there will be more Watchmen, and he's been consistently noncommittal about the prospect of another season, leaning toward no. Shortly before the finale, he told Variety, "I am deeply, profoundly appreciative for how well received the season has been up until now, and I don't want to feel like I'm ungrateful, but I still don't have any inclination whatsoever to continue the story. And that is largely and almost exclusively based on the fact that I don't have an idea. If I'm going to be involved in any more Watchmen, I should be able to answer the questions, why, and why now, and the answers to those questions shouldn't be, 'Well, because that's what you do, because the first one was good.'"
"I'm not saying there shouldn't be a second season of Watchmen, and I'm not even saying that that season shouldn't feature some of the characters in this season of Watchmen," he continued. "I just don't know what it should be."
He was more direct in an interview with Deadline after the finale aired. "I don't know," he said when asked if we would see more Watchmen or if this was the end. "That's the answer. All I can say is I've consistently believed and still believe that these nine episodes are a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. I have to acknowledge that not everyone's going to see it that way, and I definitely don't dispute any opinion that's sort of like there should be more. I just don't feel compelled to continue the story without a reason to do so. That reason should be a creative reason, idea-driven, and I don't have any ideas for subsequent seasons of Watchmen currently."
Now, that's not a definitive no. He's saying he doesn't have an idea for Season 2 yet. Should he come up with one, HBO would surely give it a green light. The network allows its creators time to figure out what their next move is. Three-and-a-half years passed between Seasons 2 and 3 of True Detectivewhile creator Nic Pizzolatto figured it out, and if HBO would grant that freedom to Pizzolatto, it would surely grant it to the more established Lindelof, especially for a show this popular (it's averaging over 7 million viewers an episode, according to Nielsen) and acclaimed (it has an 85 score on Metacritic). HBO sold Lindelof on doing Watchmen by telling him he could do whatever he wanted, and considering how well that worked out, that offer still stands. HBO programming president Casey Bloys said as much in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in January. "Where we left it with Damon was he's thinking about what he wants to do and I'm taking his lead on that," Bloys said. "If he has an idea that he's excited about, then I'm excited; if he wants to do something else, then that's what I want to do."
Still, HBO is preparing for a Lindelof-less Watchmen future. "Originally, my hope was it would have been an ongoing series, but where Damon is thinking about it, I think maybe it's more like a Fargo, where it comes back completely different," Bloys said.
My pure gut prediction based on how the TV industry works is that we will get a second season of Watchmen, but not for a few years, and maybe without Lindelof, if he gives his blessing. But it's also possible -- and probably preferable -- that Watchmen will be one perfect one-and-done season. We'll see if Dr. Manhattan was right all those years ago when he said "nothing ever ends."
Watchmen is available to stream on HBO -- add it via Amazon Prime.