Watchmen Becomes First Comic Book Adaptation To Earn Top Emmy Award

The smash hit HBO series Watchmen scored big at the Emmys recently, as it won best limited series, marking the first time a comic book adaptation has taken home a top prize at the annual celebration of television’s best work.

The HBO production earned the most nominations of any series heading into the ceremony, with 26 nods across nearly every category possible. The show won 11 Emmys in total, including Regina King for best actress in a limited series or movie; Yahya Abdul-Mateen II for best supporting actor in a limited series or movie; Cord Jefferson and Damon Lindelof for best writing in a limited series or movie; Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for best music composition for a limited series, movie, or special; Gregory Middleton for best cinematography for a limited series or movie; Victoria Thomas and Meagan Lewis for best casting for a limited series, movie, or special; and Sharen Davis and Valerie Zielonka for best fantasy/sci-fi costumes.

Although HBO’s Watchmen is based on the acclaimed 1986 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons about a world in which costumed vigilantes are real, the nine-episode series is not a traditional adaptation. Rather than depict the events of the original — as director Zack Snyder did in the 2009 feature film — Lindelof’s team brought the events of the novel into the present day with new characters and a new setting. Most crucially, rather than focus on cold war fears of nuclear annihilation like the original, the new Watchmen series dedicated its story to exploring the legacy of racial violence in the United States, through the prism of the real massacre of a prosperous Black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 as depicted in the premiere episode of the show.

In his emotional acceptance speech, executive producer Damon Lindelof dedicated the award to the victims and survivors of that atrocity. “The fires that destroyed Black Wall Street still burn today,” Lindelof said. “The only way to put them out is if we all fight them together.”

Speaking in the virtual backstage press room, Lindelof further addressed the possible future of the show. “It would feel like a huge betrayal of [winning for] limited series to come back and say it wasn’t a limited series dot dot dot,” he said. “This was my run on it, and I’ve invited any other artist to take up the baton. … I’m so much more excited about seeing what someone else would do with it.”

With those words — not to mention “Watchmen” winning as many Emmys as “Lost” did in its entire run — the drumbeat for a new season is only going to grow that much louder.

Be sure to check out Watchmen, available right now on HBO Max.