Regina King in HBO's Watchmen

Let's Break Down 'Watchmen' & Discuss Those Mysterious Squids

by Ani Bundel

HBO's Watchmen is a story of an alternate reality, one where superheroes are real, emerging in New York City in 1938. It posits the existence of real masked vigilantes and superpowered people changed the course of history. It also, apparently, changed the weather. The show's premiere doesn't explain how or why it rains squids in Watchmen, only that it does, and people don't think that's weird at all. Warning: Spoilers for HBO's Watchmen follow.

Watchmen takes place on an Earth where things have gone differently in the last century. Robert Redford is president, America won Vietnam. But the biggest change was on Nov. 2, 1985, when the Cold War ended after a devastating attack on New York City brought the world together.

On "11/2," a giant squid fell from the sky. It impaled on the Empire State Building, where it died, but not before unleashing a massive psychic shockwave which killed millions. This alien monster, which was accidentally transported to Earth during an experiment with interdimensional portals, proved humans were not alone. Governments across the world joined together against a common enemy, one kept at bay only by the thin membrane between multiverses.

Since then, continuing portal experiments randomly cause "squid rainstorms." These tiny creatures melt upon falling to Earth, due to the atmospheric conditions. It's smelly and gross, but they're small and easy to scrape off.


Warning: Major Spoilers for the Watchmen comic follow.

Seriously, I'm not kidding.


In the Watchmen comic, the "Crimebusters" as the 1985 superhero team fashioned themselves, were investigating the death of Eddie Blake, aka the Comedian. A founding superhero from the 1940s Minutemen, he was murdered by fellow superhero Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, after uncovering the latter was creating a giant creature.

That creature is the one dumped on NYC. Veidt staged the "alien monster" attack so utterly unimaginable that it caused every head of state across the world to rethink their priorities and refashion the world for peace. There was no "portal experiment," no interdimensional travel, or multiverses. It was all a hoax to stop a nuclear war from breaking out. He murdered millions with the "psychic pulse" engineered to drive the point home. His view was the death of millions was a small price to pay to save the world and the billions who survived.

The other Crimebusters, including Doctor Manhattan and the Comedian's daughter Laurie Blake, aka Silk Spectre, were initially horrified. But when they saw that Ozymandias' plan worked, they all agreed that the needs of the many outweigh the lives of the few. All except Rorschach, who would have exposed the hoax, had Doctor Manhattan not killed him.


Rorschach is now a folk hero among far right-wing white supremacists, but they don't seem to know how or why he died, or the secret he took to the grave. As far as the Watchmen series is concerned, everyone takes these squid storms in stride. They're an accepted fallout from 11/2, one that's been happening for 35 years, so long, no one even thinks about them anymore. It's 2019, and itty-bitty aliens fall from the sky on the regular. It's proof humans can get used to anything, no matter how strange.

If they ever found out the truth, that might change.