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For other versions of Doctor Manhattan, see Doctor Manhattan (disambiguation).

"Why would I save a world I no longer have any stake in?"

—Doctor Manhattan

Doctor Jonathan "Jon" Osterman is a nuclear physicist transformed by a particle experiment gone wrong into the quantum man Doctor Manhattan. He was a government agent and a member of the Watchmen. While his military backers marketed him as a superhero, he grows increasingly disinterested in human affairs, despite his importance in the Cold War, and became unable to connect with others. He was framed by Ozymandias of terrible crimes against humanity he didn't commit, causing him to leave Earth for good.


Early Life

Jon Osterman was born in 1929 to a Jewish watchmaker in Germany. They eventually moved to America and in 1945, when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Jon began studying to be a nuclear physicist and later went to work in New Mexico, where he met and fell in love with Janey Slater.

Becoming Doctor Manhattan

In 1959, Osterman was caught in a chamber that removed his intrinsic field, the invisible force that holds matter together, and was atomized.

Taken outside the physical realm, Osterman restored himself as a glowing, blue, naked man, with a much more muscular body than before as the "perfect human form," and a number of godlike abilities, including telekinetic control over matter down to a subatomic level, the ability to teleport himself or others over planetary, and interplanetary distances, and superhuman physical prowess that he can consciously augment further, to the point of gaining superhuman strength and invulnerability. Furthermore, he possesses near-total clairvoyance, allowing him to perceive the past, present, and future as happening simultaneously, but at least believes that he cannot act on that knowledge since his own actions and reactions to chronological events are apparently predetermined.

Osterman was granted the codename Doctor Manhattan and became a weapon of the United States government,

Joining the Watchmen

In 1966, Doctor Manhattan joined the Watchmen for his public front as a superhero. He attended the meeting alongside Janey Slater and he took notice of Laurie Juspeczyk, much to Slater's annoyance.

Vietnam War

In 1971, Doctor Manhattan won the Vietnam War for the United States.

Assisting Ozymandias

Doctor Manhattan assisted Ozymandias in building energy reactors to provide free energy for the world.

Leaving Humanity

In 1985, on the brink of nuclear war and destruction, Doctor Manhattan was accused of giving cancer to those close to him. When Laurie Jupiter left him and began seeing former Watchmen teammate Dan Dreiberg, Manhattan left Earth for Mars, where he pondered humanity's reason for existence, and whether or not they were worth saving. Confused, he teleported Laurie to Mars and debated with her whether he should help save the human race from destruction. She convinced him to help, and he returned to Earth with her, but they were just too late. As they had been debating, Ozymandias activated the exploding energy reactors he helped Manhattan create, which destroyed huge portions of all of Earth's major cities. At first Manhattan fought Ozymandias, but then he revealed to Jon that this destruction, as well as the atomic residue, allowed the United States and the U.S.S.R. to ally against Manhattan, their "common enemy," and thus prevent World War III. Realizing that going public with Veidt's plan was counterproductive, Jon, along with the rest of the team, agreed to keep Ozymandias' secret, with the exception of Rorschach.

Jon confronted the defiant Rorschach, warning him that he could not let him reveal the truth. Rorschach removed his mask, screaming at Jon to do what must be done. He obliged by killing Rorschach.

Leaving Earth

Doctor Manhattan decided to depart the galaxy for one less complicated. Laurie Jupiter is surprised by his decision, pointing out the apparent contradiction with Doctor Manhattan's renewed interest in human life, to which he suggested that he may create new life. Before departing, Osterman passionately kissed her goodbye and vanished.


Powers and Abilities

  • Connective Energy: Due to being exposed to Connective Energy, Osterman's "intrinsic field" was removed due to an accident that sent his atoms flying, leaving him with barely enough control over his DNA structure. Over time, he was able to re-evaluate his physiology and become Doctor Manhattan, a quantum being of nearly unlimited power.
    • Nigh-Omniscience: Osterman perceives time in a non-linear fashion. This means that he sees the past, present, and the future simultaneously. Likewise, he can grant others with this "atemporal" vision. While originally limited to only his perception of time, Osterman later learned to view the timelines of others, as well as possible timelines that never happened. He was able to see the entire timeline of the metaverse when reconstructing the changes he made to it.[10] However, this power can be blocked by tachyons, restricting him to only the present as the only facet of time that he can see and actively experience, blocking his atemporal vision from probing far enough to perceive the future.[12]
      • Precognition: Due to his ability to see the past, present, and future simultaneously, Osterman is able to look into the future of his own timeline, or any timeline he wishes.[10]
      • Retrocognition: Due to his ability to see the past, present, and future simultaneously, Osterman can see past timelines that were erased or altered.[10]
      • Time-Travel: Due to his ability to view the timestream from a third person perspective, Osterman is capable of traveling throughout the timeline at will.[13] He can also pull others through time along with him.[7] By altering the outcomes of certain events while travelling throughout time, Jon can create new timelines that splinter reality in both past and future.[14]
    • Bio-Fission: Osterman is able to split and replicate himself. He is capable of dividing his quantum consciousness among other separate physical forms resembling his physical appearance.
      • Bio-Fusion: Likewise with his Bio-Fission ability, Osterman can bring his sentient copies back into his body without any adverse side effects.
    • Cosmic Awareness: Osterman possesses an understanding of the workings of the universe on a cosmic scale, and has the ability to oversee other universes as he wishes.
    • Dimensional Travel: Osterman is able to travel to other realities at will.
    • Electrokinesis: Osterman can generate sparks of electrical energy from his body, as well as from the objects he telekinetically levitates.
    • Elemental Control: Osterman is capable of manipulating elements at will. He was capable of creating an oxygen aura around Laurie Jupiter when he brought her to Mars.[15] He was also able to instantly create water.
    • Enhanced Intellect: Osterman's mind is far more enhanced than that of a normal human. He has perceived events so tiny and so fast they can hardly be said to have occurred at all.
    • Enhanced Senses: Osterman's senses are far acuter than any normal human. He has been able to sense the heartbeat of a child inside of an unnoticeably pregnant woman.
      • Enhanced Hearing:
      • Enhanced Vision: Osterman states he is able to read atoms.
    • Energy Construct Creation: Osterman can create and manipulate various energies in a manner that creates matter from virtually nothing. It is unknown whether some of the creations he made were the manipulation of matter, molecules, or entirely quantum energy constructs. Osterman is also seemingly able to create life with his own power, as displayed when he used his energy to accelerate evolution on an uninhabited planet as an experiment.
    • Energy Projection: Osterman is able to manipulate multiple forms of energy with precision. He is able to cause massive explosions at will.
    • Flight: Manhattan is not restrained by basic physical laws and can levitate and fly at will.
    • Force Field: Osterman is capable of projecting powerful force-fields.
    • Immortality: Never seeming to age, Osterman never appears any older both physically and mentally after his accident. He stated that the world grew older around him.
    • Intangibility: Bullets and blows travel through Osterman ; as such, he can allow all objects to pass through him without so much as a reaction. He can extend this ability to other people and objects. His intangibility coincides with his ability to phase through matter, allowing him to pass through solid substances without any considerable difficulty or loss of control. His intangibility has no specific emphasized drawbacks.
      • Phasing: Osterman is capable of phasing his body through solid matter.
    • Invulnerability: Osterman possesses incredible durability and is practically invulnerable to any physical harm. His durability has allowed him to walk across the sun unharmed.
    • Molecular Reconstruction: Osterman was able to restructure himself after the removal of his intrinsic field. Osterman is not limited to using this reconstruction power only on himself. He has taken apart most inanimate objects and even taken apart human beings as well as reconstructing Martian sand into large glass structures. He was also able to instantly transform water into milk.
      • Disintegration: Osterman is capable of using his power to completely disintegrate human beings,
      • Regeneration: Osterman can regenerate his entire body from total disintegration (down to the sub-atomic level), endlessly, as long as his consciousness survives.[18] He was also able to instantly recover from a snapped neck.
    • Photokinesis: Osterman can shift the color frequencies of the light around him in order to hide his true appearance and make himself appear as he wishes others to see him.[8]
    • Power Distribution: Osterman was capable of transferring his power to Cal Abar.
    • Radiation Production: Osterman's body emits some level of ultraviolet radiation.
      • Thermokinesis: When Osterman restructured his body, he produced great amounts of heat from his body's ultraviolet radiation. It was great enough to give nearby people sunburns.
    • Reality Alteration: Osterman can create new universes with even the most casual act, as well as destroy them.
    • Self-Sustenance: Osterman doesn't require food, sleep, or oxygen to survive.
    • Size Alteration: Able to grow or shrink incredibly fast without a seeming limit, Osterman displayed great abilities and focus while at these sizes without a loss of control in any fashion.
    • Superhuman Strength: While in microscopic size, superhuman heights or in a seemingly normal form, he displayed great physical strength such as hurling tanks, lifting planetary structures, and heaving delicate technological equipment about.
    • Telekinesis: Osterman is capable of manipulating the movement of objects with his mind.[20] He could also use this ability to cause a person's head to forcefully explode.
    • Teleportation: By warping space around him, Osterman can teleport himself and others at will. Osterman had teleported huge and small objects, people and animals alike.


Veidt correctly assumed tachyons; a large burst of them can slow his ability to see the future to a moderate extent, but still, his telekinetic powers were unaffected. (Note: tachyons exist only in theoretical physics)

Although it was not seen in practice, Dr. Manhattan surmised that an EM pulse would cause such "static" that obscures the future, hinting at another possible weakness.

Behind the Scenes

  • Billy Crudup portrays Jon Osterman/Doctor Manhattan in the film. He provided motion capture and plays Osterman as a human in the flashback scenes. Keanu Reeves was at one point rumored for the role but backed out over contractual issues. When the project involved producer Joel Silver, Silver wanted to cast Arnold Schwarzenegger in the part.
  • In the film, his father was more supportive of him rather than opposing when working with watches.
  • Doctor Manhattan, after his accident, creates the perfect human form to replace his old body. In the film, to achieve Manhattan's ultra-ripped muscled look, his physique was modeled on that of actor and model Greg Plitt.
  • In Watchmen: The Film Companion, Doctor Manhattan Manhattan is described as an American patriot who willingly enters the service of his country to protect it. However, the narrative of the comic and the film doesn't mention anything about his motives or beliefs concerning politics or the nation.
  • In Watchmen: The End Is Nigh, Doctor Manhattan makes cameo along with Silk Spectre II in a cutscene made as a Watchmen motion comic. Although Rorschach and Nite Owl II have their respective actors from Zack Snyder's film providing voice for their roles, Doctor Manhattan is voiced by Crispin Freeman.