Like the beloved comic book that inspired it, HBO and Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen series is an impressive feat of world-building, with a plethora of eccentric details helping to construct its alternate universe. In the comic, these details included supplementary materials — such as characters’ memoirs and in-universe newspaper clippings — that appeared at the end of each issue to further flesh out the world and characters. And the show very nearly did something similar… which would have involved Ryan Murphy.
In an interview with Paste, Lindelof explains that the show’s creative team considered adding post-credits scenes to each episode, as an homage to the aforementioned supplements in the comic. And one such sequence would have been a behind-the-scenes featurette for American Hero Story, the show-within-a-show that re-creates tales from the history of Watchmen’s masked vigilantes — featuring Murphy as the show’s creator.
The title, of course, is a clear riff on Murphy’s anthology series American Crime Story and American Horror Story, so the cameo would have been appropriate. But the problem, as Lindelof explains, was that “it can’t actually be Ryan Murphy, because then I would start feeling like the show actually has to be up to Ryan Murphy standards.”
And that it is not. As Watchmen pilot director Nicole Kassell says in the interview, “The extreme emotions and hyperspeed and freeze framing and bright colors and bad lighting — it was over-the-top and melodramatic and you know, absurd but insanely fun.” Lindelof, furthermore, clarifies that the fictional show is not meant to throw any shade on Murphy, calling it “an elbow to the ribs” rather than any sort of direct parody.
“I love [Murphy] as a person, and I think as a TV writer, and producer, he’s amazing,” Lindelof adds.
The Lost co-creator also says he’s open to someone else taking over Watchmen after the “self-contained” first season’s conclusion. “[It’s] not my story, right? I appropriated it,” he says. “And so the idea that someone else could come along and do a another season of Watchmen, that’s really exciting to me too. I would watch the f— out of that. These nine episodes are sort of everything that I have to say at this point about Watchmen, and then we’ll kind of go from there.” One possibility he suggests: “Ryan Coogler’s Watchmen.” (Um… yes, please.)
Watchmen airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.