Brow Beat

A Watchmen Timeline

A man's hands hold a pocket watch in a still from Watchmen.
Tick tock, tick tock. HBO

Now that Watchmen has come to its conclusion, we can finally pry open the back of Damon Lindelof’s newest show and study the intricate clockwork that powers it. Like the comic books it’s modeled after, Lindelof’s Watchmen is built around a central mystery that takes about a month to unfold (September 2019 in the TV show, October 1985 in the comics). But in both cases, that month sits atop decades and decades of carefully plotted alternate history, conveyed through flashbacks, dialogue, and documents from the world of Watchmen, either shown on screen or provided as extra reading. It’s a richly detailed world that’s a blast to get lost in, but if you aren’t a superhuman who experiences all moments of time simultaneously, it can be difficult to figure out what happened when. So we did it for you. Here are the most important things that happen in Lindelof’s Watchmen, dated as precisely as possible, in chronological order. (Since there’s no shortage of timelines obsessively covering the events of the Watchmen comic books, they are mostly not included here.) Start your watches!

1891

Obie Williams is born in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

1917

Obie Williams reads a German propaganda flyer while serving in the U.S. Army.

1921

May 25, 1921: Director Oscar Micheaux’s Bass Reeves feature Trust in the Law! premieres at the Williams Dreamland Theater.

June 1, 1921: June Abar and Will Williams—later, Will Reeves—are smuggled out of Tulsa during the Tulsa Massacre.

1936

Jon Osterman and his father, Hans, flee Heidelberg for England, where they briefly stay in a manor whose owners are providing refugees a place to stay before traveling on to the United States.

Nelson Gardner is honorably discharged from the Marines after serving under Smedley Butler in the Banana Wars.

1938

March 26, 1938: Graduation ceremonies for the NYPD Police Academy Class of 1938. Will Reeves is one of the cadets; so is Hollis Mason.

May 1938: Action Comics No. 1 hits newsstands.

Fall 1938: Will Reeves arrests a businessman named Fred T. for firebombing a Jewish deli.

Oct. 13, 1938: Will Reeves becomes Hooded Justice.

Oct. 20, 1938 (one week after Will puts on his mask): Hooded Justice raids Fred’s Original Market in Queens, discovering the first clues to Cyclops’ plan. Apropos of nothing in particular, Fred Trump founded and briefly ran a grocery store in Queens in the mid-1930s, though in our timeline he quickly sold it to King Kullen.

1939

Captain Metropolis meets Will Reeves and convinces him to join the Minutemen.

1947

Cyclops tests a curious new film projector at a screening of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in Harlem. Will Reeves, investigating, sees a projector loaded into a truck labeled “F.T. & Sons. W.
Washington Market, New York, NY.” Reeves follows the truck, kills “F.T.” and everyone in his warehouse, steals their technology, and burns it to the ground. Apropos of nothing in particular again, in our timeline, Fred Trump Jr. was born in 1938, Donald Trump in 1946.

1955

Hooded Justice disappears.

June 1, 1955: Sheriff Dale Dixon Crawford, Judd Crawford’s grandfather, is given a leadership position in Cyclops.

June 2, 1955: John David Keene, who will later become Senator Keene, gives Dale Dixon Crawford Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship, a painting by George Catlin.

1967

Adrian Veidt exposes a plot by right-wing extremists in the U.S. military to test biological weapons on the unsuspecting citizens of Nairobi. (In our timeline, the military conducted its biological weapons tests on the unsuspecting citizens of New York City, among other places.)

1971

Edward Blake, aka the Comedian (and Laurie Blake’s father), burns down Bian My’s village in Vietnam.

May 31, 1971: Nelson Gardner changes his will, naming Will Reeves his sole beneficiary.

June 1971: VVN Day: The United States wins the Vietnam War.

1974

Aug. 9, 1974: Nelson Gardner dies in a traffic accident in New York. He is decapitated after flying through the windshield, but his head is never found.

1975

Angela Abar is born in Saigon.

Judd Crawford marries Jane Lestley Alexander.

Will Reeves buys the movie theater where he used to work.

1977

The Keene Act makes masked vigilantism illegal.

June 1977: Sister Night is released in Vietnam.

1979

Adrian Veidt builds the memory-erasing device. (Approximate date; in 2009, he says he built it “30 years ago.”)

1980

Judd Crawford joins the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department. He officially meets Sen. Keene Sr. while assigned to his security detail. (His family history means this might not actually have been their first meeting.)

1985

October to November: The main events of the Watchmen comic books.

Nov. 1, 1985: Adrian Veidt records his video message for President Robert Redford. Bian My steals semen sample 2346 and uses it to conceive Lady Trieu.

Nov. 2, 1985 (11:59 p.m. Eastern): The Dimensional Incursion Event.

November 1985: Dr. Manhattan creates life on Europa.

1986

March 21, 1986: The New Frontiersman begins publishing excerpts from Rorschach’s journal.

August 1986 (approx.): Lady Trieu is born.

1987

June 1987: Angela Abar’s parents (and Will Reeves’ son and daughter-in-law) are killed.

Sometime later, June Abar briefly meets Angela.

1993

Jan. 20, 1993: Robert Redford is inaugurated president, succeeding Gerald Ford.

Jan. 21, 1993: Redford views Adrian Veidt’s video message.

Redford signs the Campaign Finance Reform and Donor Disclosure Act, which stops Veidt from using his wealth to further influence the Democratic Party.

Redford also signs the Tech Recall and Reintroduction Act, which outlaws technologies thought to be responsible for the squid attack.

1994

Matthew Wayne Crawford, Judd’s father, dies in the line of duty as an Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer.

1995

Laurie Juspeczyk and Dan Dreiberg solve one last case together, killing Timothy McVeigh before he can bomb Oklahoma City.

April 25, 1995: Special Agent David Latimer, of the FBI’s Vigilante Operations division, interrogates Laurie Juspeczyk about the killing of Timothy McVeigh. Juspeczyk cooperates, Dreiberg does not; he is sent to prison and is still there in 2019.

April 28, 1995: The FBI raids MerlinCorp, Dan Dreiberg’s company, and seizes the blueprints for Excalibur.

1999

Adrian Veidt regains the wealth he lost in the aftermath of the Dimensional Incursion Event by licensing the technology to clone pets.

2001

Lady Trieu graduates from MIT with four Ph.D.s. Not Massachusetts, though, per Peteypedia: Myanmar.

2004

Jude and June Crawford move to Tulsa.

Dec. 13, 2004: The 10th Circuit decides Greenwood Survivors v. State of Oklahoma, laying the legal groundwork for reparations.

December 2005: Dale Petey publishes “Fogdancing: My Summary” in Nothing Ever Ends, a literary journal that publishes an annual issue dedicated to the novel by Max Shea.

2007

Trieu Industries introduces Nostalgia to the market.

Adrian Veidt makes his last public appearance, to receive an award from Kenya for his actions in 1967.

2008

Lady Trieu visits Veidt at Karnak and asks him to fund the Millennium Clock.

2009

June 2009: Dr. Manhattan meets Angela Abar in a bar on VVN night.

June or July 2009 (two weeks after Abar meets Manhattan): Dr. Manhattan adopts the appearance of Calvin Jelani.

Dec. 14, 2009, approx. 1:15 p.m. (“24 years, 41 days, and 13 hours” since Veidt and Dr. Manhattan met at Karnak in the early hours of Nov. 3, 1985): Dr. Manhattan visits Adrian Veidt in Karnak and teleports Veidt to Europa. Later that afternoon, he visits Will Reeves at Nelson Gardner’s apartment and forms an alliance. Reeves begins investigating Sheriff Judd Crawford.

December 2009: Angela helps Dr. Manhattan try on some new jewelry.

Dec. 23, 2009: Angela Abar takes “Calvin Jelani” to Rampart Memorial Hospital in Saigon to seek treatment for his amnesia.

2010

Trieu Industries begins launching space probes.

2011

Dec. 14, 2010: Adrian Veidt begins writing his play The Watchmaker’s Son. That night, he celebrates his first year on Europa with champagne and cake.

2012

Dec. 14, 2012: After a failed test of a spacesuit design, Adrian Veidt exchanges nasty letters with the game warden, then goes hunting at midnight in his full Ozymandias outfit.

2013

Dec. 14, 2013: Adrian Veidt celebrates four years on Europa by murdering his entire staff, then stays up all night training their replacements.

2014

Sometime before March 13, 2014 (5 years, 72 days, 9 hours, and 17 minutes after Lady Trieu and Veidt meet on an indeterminate date in 2008, but after Dec. 14, 2013): Adrian Veidt takes a walk, writes a message, and gets himself arrested.

2015

Adrian Veidt’s yearlong trial ends. He is found guilty, despite a stunning closing argument.

2016

Dec. 14, 2016: Veidt is given a horseshoe hidden inside his seventh anniversary cake.

Dec. 24, 2016: The White Night reveals Dr. Manhattan’s location to Cyclops. Judd Crawford gets promoted.

Dec. 27, 2016: Angela Abar wakes up in the hospital to find Judd Crawford there. A beautiful friendship begins.

2017

Trieu Industries acquires Veidt Enterprises.

The Defense of Police Act, allowing police officers to wear masks, is passed. Sen. Joseph Keene Jr. is a sponsor.

Angela Abar becomes Sister Night.

Will Reeves begins showing Sister Night at the Harlem movie theater he bought with Gardner’s money. It plays at midnight every Sunday (right after Watchmen!).

Lady Trieu arrives in Tulsa, so at some point before this, Will Reeves met her at Manhattan’s suggestion and told her Cyclops’ plan.

Dec. 14, 2017: Lady Trieu’s rescue spaceship arrives on Europa, on the day Adrian Veidt is “celebrating” eight years there.

2018

(Approx.) Lady Trieu purchases the Clark farm, shortly before Veidt’s spaceship lands there.

2019

Aug. 29, 2019: The FBI starts using computers again.

Sept. 1, 2019: Special Agent Dale Petey writes a memo urging the FBI not to declare Veidt dead, for fear of angering right-wingers who want him found and punished for his role in Rorschach’s disappearance.

Sept. 3, 2019: Dale Petey sends his second memo.

Sept. 8, 2019: President Redford nominates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to replace the retiring Justice Grisham on the Supreme Court. Dale Petey writes another memo, this time about American Hero Story: Minutemen. Sheriff Crawford and his wife attend a production of Oklahoma. Officer Charlie Sutton of the Tulsa Police Department is shot by a Seventh Kavalry member during a routine traffic stop.

Sept. 9, 2019: Adrian Veidt is declared legally dead. Angela Abar attends Career Day at her son’s school. A squidfall hits Tulsa (and Vancouver, Jakarta, and Leningrad). That afternoon, Angela Abar kidnaps a Seventh Kavalry member to interrogate about the shooting. The police raid the Seventh Kavalry facility at the cattle ranch.

Sept. 10, 2019: American Hero Story: Minutemen premieres. Sen. Joe Keene announces he is running for president.

Sept. 15, 2019: Petey writes another memo. The Crawfords have dinner at Cal and Angela’s house. Later that night, Will Reeves and Crawford meet for the first and last time. Angela meets Will Reeves and shows him her restaurant.

Sept. 16, 2019: The Tulsa Police Department finds Crawford’s body and rousts the local Nixonville. Angela visits the Greenwood Center for Cultural Heritage and drops off Will’s DNA sample. Later, she visits June Crawford and is surprised to discover a wake is in progress, and even more surprised at what she finds in Crawford’s closet. Back at the restaurant, Angela arrests Will, but he escapes in a flying car. Really!

Sept. 17, 2019: Laurie Blake captures The Revenger. Sen. Keene visits her that night and asks her to travel to Oklahoma the next morning to look into the murder of Sheriff Crawford.

Sept. 18, 2019: Agents Blake and Petey attend a briefing on the Seventh Kavalry, then fly to Tulsa. Blake visits the crime scene, the Crawford home, a Tulsa Police Department interrogation site, and a motel and then attends Judd Crawford’s funeral, where she meets Angela and her family. They talk further while investigating the Seventh Kavalry’s attack on the funeral. That night, agents Blake and Petey hook up. Afterward, Blake gives Dr. Manhattan a call, then sees Angela’s car fall from the skies. Angela is there to hear it land, because she’s been paying a late-night visit to the Greenwood Center for Cultural Heritage. A very busy day for everyone!

Sept. 19, 2019: Cal makes waffles. Angela gives Looking Glass the Klan robe and pills. Lube Man appears! Laurie Blake visits Cal at home. Angela and Blake visit Lady Trieu to ask about her drones. Bian has her nightmare.

Sept. 20, 2019: Looking Glass spends the morning consulting on a PR campaign for New York City. Laurie Blake takes over the investigation into the Seventh Kavalry and sends the Tulsa PD to canvas local churches to find the Kavalry’s headquarters. That night, Looking Glass’ alarm system acts up.

Sept. 21, 2019: Looking Glass consults on a breakfast cereal campaign and visits his ex-wife to find out what Will’s pills are. That night, he makes a new friend at a meeting of Extra-Dimensional Anxiety sufferers. She introduces him to Sen. Keene, who asks for a favor.

Sept. 22, 2019: Petey writes another memo. So does Blake. Then Petey writes another one. A big day for memos. Looking Glass consults on an ad campaign for a new perfume, then turns Abar over to Blake. Abar takes Will’s Nostalgia. The Seventh Kavalry pays Looking Glass a visit at home.

Sept. 23, 2019: Angela spends most of the day recovering from Nostalgia. Petey visits Looking Glass, but he isn’t home; Laurie visits June Crawford. That night, Angela leaves Lady Trieu to go wake her husband up. (They’re expecting guests.) Lady Trieu, in turn, wakes Veidt. The Millennium Clock is activated, with surprising results for all.

Sept. 24, 2019: In the predawn hours, Angela goes for a swim, sort of.

Oct. 1, 2019: Dale Petey is officially fired from the FBI.

2020 and Beyond

Only Adrian Veidt is arrogant enough to predict the future of the Watchmen universe. I’m pretty sure Joe Keene isn’t going to be president, though.