When Watchmen debuted on HBO in October of 2019, it was unclear how the show would do. The comic is notoriously unfilmable, and fans roundly rejected Zack Snyder's movie version in 2009. Then again, Game of Thrones was considered unfilmable, and it became the biggest show in the world. Luckily, Watchmen was both a critical darling and a fan-favorite. But when the Golden Globes all but snubbed it in January, it seemed the show was not to earn awards love. So, how many 2020 Emmy nominations did Watchmen get? It wound up rivaling Game of Thrones from awards seasons past, with 26 nominations.
This disconnect between the Golden Globes snubs and the enormous numbers of Emmy nominations is not surprising if one is following the Game of Thrones model. Though it broke Emmy records over and over throughout the 2010s, the Golden Globes rarely gave it more than one or two nods at most, and some years ignored it altogether. Watchmen seems to be following this model, as well.
But as a "limited series," it also has the advantage that voters feel like this is their only chance to nominate actors for their performances. So unlike Game of Thrones, which rarely landed acting nods until its final seasons, Watchmen has several across the major categories.
Watchmen's most significant nod was for the topline in its vertical, Outstanding Limited Series. It also grabbed nods for Jeremy Irons for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, Regina King for Outstanding Lead Actress, and Jean Smart for Outstanding Supporting Actress. It also practically cornered the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie with no less than three nominations, including one for Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, a second for Louis Gossett Jr., and a final one for Jovan Adepo.
Watchmen also dominated behind the camera. Three episodes landed Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special: first, the premiere, "It's Summer & We're Running Out Of Ice," directed by Nicole Kassell, then Episode 5's "Little Fear of Lightning," directed by Steph Green, and finally the showstopper Episode 6, "The Extraordinary Being," directed by Stephen Williams. "This Extraordinary Being" also landed a nod for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special.
And that's just the 11 Primetime Emmy nods that will be broadcast live. The show landed 15 more for the technical awards given out during the Creative Arts Emmy ceremony a week beforehand. Those include a pair of Music nods for Trent Reznor's soundtrack and original songs, Production Design, Costumes, Cinematography, Casting, Sound Editing and Mixing, and Special VFX.
Fans can't wait to see how many of these nominations Watchmen manages to take home. Could it be enough to convince HBO to do a second season? The 72nd Annual Emmy Awards will air on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.