Watchmen, the HBO series from Damon Lindelof that was awarded GameSpot’s #1 Show of 2019 honor, has been reclassified. Whereas originally it was known as a series, Variety is reporting that HBO is now referring to it as a “limited series“.
What does this mean, exactly? The short version is that it means that Watchmen will be entered into the “limited series” Emmy race rather than the “best drama” category later in 2020. But there’s also some largely semantic distinctions to be made.
A “limited series”, essentially, covers a predetermined number of episodes and tells a complete story. Unlike a serialized drama, which is designed to continue on indefinitely, a limited series is expected to operate as a complete narrative across each season. A “limited series” is longer than a “miniseries” (usually four episodes or fewer). This is different from a regular series that can, essentially, continue the same plot across multiple seasons.
This doesn’t mean that there definitely won’t be another season, either. Variety is reporting that this classification covers “future installments” as well, and while Lindelof has previously said that he’s unlikely to return (and HBO is seemingly not keen to continue without him), the possibility remains open.
There’s precedent here for limited series that follow fairly traditional structures. Another HBO series, Big Little Lies, returned for a second season in 2019 that directly followed the first, despite being a limited series. Limited series are often anthology shows with changing protagonists and settings each season, such as Fargo, True Detective, and American Crime Story, which is also a possibility for a Watchmen follow-up.