Has HBO Found Its Next ‘Game of Thrones’?

Can ‘Watchmen’ be the network’s next big hit?

There’s no doubt that right behind the scenes at HBO, priority number one is finding its next Game of Thrones. Since its fantasy juggernaut is about to begin its penultimate season (with the eighth and final season rumored to air in 2019), the cable network badly needs another flagship show that can swallow the culture whole. That might explain yesterday’s news that HBO is talking to Damon Lindelof about adapting Watchmen into a television series. 

Watchmen first appeared as a graphic novel series by Alan Moore in 1985, and is set in an alternate universe where superheroes were an accepted part of American society, and even helped the U.S. win the Vietnam war. When the country careens towards World War III with the Soviet Union, though, heroes become outlawed. They eventually come out of retirement when one of their own is murdered. Watchmen has long been one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, even after Zack Snyder’s 2009 movie adaptation failed to ignite the box office. One of the chief complaints there was that the source material was too rich to be condensed into a two-hour movie, and was more suited for television.  

HBO has been toying with the idea of bringing Watchmen to the small screen for several years now, and Lindelof is the network’s new golden boy after the recent success of The Leftovers. While that show didn’t draw huge audiences, it was beloved by critics. Watchmen has the potential to do both. With its extremely popular source material, sprawling cast of characters, and fantasy elements, it’s hard to not see this as HBO preparing for a post-Game of Thrones existence.