Differences from the comicsEdit
Nite Owl IIEdit
In the series, Nite Owl was portrayed more as positive male role model. Nearly any mention of his impotency or his shortcomings were excluded and he was made more as a moral, well trained crime fighter who always had something important to teach. Many of his appearances had him telling young, impressionable kids about the dangers of drugs and violence and also about respecting one's elders and doing the right thing. His character flaws were cut down to an inability to dance that he was tragically unaware of (particularly when coupled with his closeted love of dance clubs...) and occasionally coming off as too trusting.
Some of his more memorable quotes are "Listen to this Owl, doing drugs is playing Fowl!", "Why am I an owl? Because you don't hear them coming!" and finally "Remember kids, be yourself and you too can Watch Out for Crime!"
Hollis Mason / Nite Owl I made a small guest appearance in the episode "Good Night, Owl" where he was Dan's father and was portrayed as a older Yiddish New Yorker.
Rorschach's character was almost completely abandoned. Anything resembling his right wing views, black and white ideals and his dark sense of justice were replaced with a goofy and childish mannerism, coupled with an intense love of animals and massive explosions. He was typically played up as Nite Owl's bumbling, slightly crazy partner, for comedic effect. Nite Owl was known for asking "What are you doing NOW Rorschach?" which would typically end with something exploding or collapsing... usually exploding. Rorschach would then simply dismiss it with an "Oops". Rorschach's antics were known for causing a good amount of trouble for the team as he would always be the one to pull the bad guy's levers and press the buttons that would spring traps on them, or activate self destruct sequences early. In the script for Episode 31, "Girls Just Wanna Run Guns", it was implied that Rorschach was actually setting off the self-destruct sequences early on purpose, just to see the "BOOM".
Occasionally his bungling would wind up catching the bad guy.
Silk Spectre IIEdit
Silk Spectre was portrayed as a Jem like rockstar who had a concert once per episode through Episode 6, and again in episodes 8 and 9. Later episodes would have had sporadic concerts, but mostly settled on letting them occur off camera. Her band being on tour was typically a good excuse for the team to go to exotic locations and do battle with various evil villains. Silk Spectre was typically seen with both a bassist and a keyboard player but neither of these characters were seen outside of the band's performance nor did Silk Spectre ever mention them. Production notes refer to the girls as "Gossamer Ghast" and "Velvet". Any relation to her Grandmother was removed and her connections with Nite Owl, Manhattan, and Comedian were replaced by her having a fondness for Nite Owl's leadership skills (an implied romance but not going anywhere) and a motherly affection to Manhattan.
The Comedian was given a laser blaster (invented by Adrian) and was turned into a raving fanboy of Silk Spectre and her band. Comedian was constantly flirting with Silk Spectre, apparently removing the fact that he is her biological father. He often stated that he would "do anything to get her to kiss me". Many humorous moments in the cartoon came from Comedian trying to get Silk Spectre to kiss him, which she would typically respond to with slapping him across the face. She did end up giving him a kiss in the Valentine's Day episode (Episode 9: Too Many Sweethearts), but it was while The Comedian was knocked out cold. This running joke ended up being copied by many 80's TV shows, even going so far as to be blatantly ripped off by the Zelda CD-i games. His superhero persona played up his sense of humor far more than the comics, with the more memorable puns and few examples of subversive humor in the series delivered by The Comedian in fights.
Manhattan was as much deus ex machina and convenient plot device as a character. He was typically unused until they escaped from the villain's deadly trap and only then did he pull off some convenient power that would cause the villain to be defeated. Outside of adventures, Manhattan was there to provide convenient plot exposition where it was needed. However, despite the fact that he was showcased turning into a car in the show's intro, that power only came into play twice in the entire series - counting the finished, unproduced scripts. Not much else was changed about the character other than his apathy, which was turned into a childlike interest in the world around him.
Adrian and Bubastis became a mystery solving duo in the tradition of Shaggy and Scooby-Doo who were typically the first to encounter the evil villains. They would proceed then to escape from the monster or bad guys chasing them and warn the other Watchmen of their evil doings. Adrian was still played as an intelligent and wise karate master, however his god complex was turned more into a heroic countenance and Bubastis was made an entirely comic relief character - which caused much confusion as both him and Rorschach seemed to fulfill the same role.
The show also strayed from established continuity in portraying Bubastis as a male, when comic canon clearly showed Bubastis was a female.
Nite Owl SaysEdit
Every episode, as was typical in the 80's, would end with a brief 'Nite Owl Says' related to the preceding episode, in an attempt to appeal to parental oversight groups. The dissonance between the characterizations of the original graphic novel and the animated series is considerable, and is nowhere more apparent than in The Comedian appearing with a lesson on 'Good and Bad Touches'. The segment was originally going to be referred to as 'Watchmorals', although this was changed in pre-production.