Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan Dildo Backstory Revealed

The true origin of Laurie Blake's Dr. Manhattan dildo on Watchmen has been revealed by HBO.

Dr. Manhattan Sex Toy on HBO's Watchmen

Long before the HBO TV series, or before Zack Snyder put Jon Osterman on the silver screen, no discussion of Watchmen could possibly be considered complete without someone making a joke about Dr. Manhattan’s enormous, glowing, blue penis and his predilection for nudity. Doctor Manhattan is nude through most of the pages he appears on in Watchmen, the vast majority of the time in a non-sexual context, and that atomic powered dong is always there, as much a part of the book’s timeless iconography as the Comedian’s badge or Rorschach’s mask. It took three episodes, but HBO’s Watchmen did finally show us Dr. Manhattan’s dick, although in the form of an astounding sex toy brandished by Jean Smart’s FBI Agent Laurie Blake in episode 3.

Laurie Blake is formerly known as Laurie Juspeczyk, best known to Watchmen fans as the costumed adventurer the Silk Spectre, and a former romantic and crime fighting partner of Dr. Manhattan. The implication at the time was simply that Laurie, a character who goes to great lengths to appear decidedly unsentimental about most things, still carried a torch for her former lover, and that perhaps Dr. Manhattan’s world-changing presence also extended to the mass production of tremendous, branded, azure sex toys. But the truth, as it turns out, the story reasoning behind it is a little more complex than even that.

After Laurie had split with Dr. Manhattan and he left Earth for Mars and/or parts unknown, she began a relationship with Dan Dreiberg, the hero known as Nite Owl. The book ends with the pair living under new identities and contemplating a new crime fighting career together, despite the fact that superheroic activity was illegal in the Watchmen universe. HBO’s worldbuilding supplemental materials for the show, Peteypedia, revealed that Nite Owl and Laurie (in her new identity as the Comedienne) were apprehended in 1995 while stopping Timothy McVeigh from carrying out his terrorist bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building. 

However, by this point, Dan and Laurie were no longer involved romantically. In fact, Dan designed that Dr. Manhattan dildo for her as a bitter joke, claiming that she was still hung up on her ex. Dan was a technological genius who designed and produced all his Nite Owl gear himself, and in his post-Watchmen identity of Sam Hollis, he started MerlinCorps, a technology company that produced gear for law enforcement agencies, which explains why the Tulsa police department is using recognizable Nite Owl tech like Owlships and goggles. HBO even released the schematics for the Dr. Manhattan dildo, on MerlinCorps graph paper, complete with Dan’s handwritten pencil notations. The full name is Electronic Lithium Powered Excalibur, and apparently only Laurie’s prototype was produced.

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Amusingly, Lila Byock, who co-wrote Watchmen episode 3, the one which so prominently featured the Dr. Manhattan dildo, didn’t expect the internet’s favorite prop to even make it into the episode. “I think I pitched that as a joke!” Byock told Vulture, “and Damon called my bluff, and then it was like, oh, we’re definitely doing that. Because I worked with him on The Leftovers … I by that point had a pretty clear sense of what kind of jokes were going to land.”

It certainly landed well enough to get the internet talking. And the in story reasoning behind it has only made the mysteries of Laurie’s recent past, as well as the absence of Nite Owl and Dr. Manhattan, feel even more profound.

Mike Cecchini is the Editor in Chief of Den of Geek. You can read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @wayoutstuff.