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Doctor Arthur Watts was a major-supporting antagonist in RWBY who was introduced in "The Next Step" of Volume 4. He was an associate of Salem and part of her inner circle. He was also a disgraced former scientist from Atlas who had faked his own death in the Paladin Incident. He served as the main antagonist of Volume 7.
Watts was a tall middle-aged man with a slim build and slightly tanned skin. He had short black and gray hair as well as a thick mustache and eyebrows, and green eyes. Originally, Arthur wore a grey overcoat with yellow linings, a yellow dress shirt, and a black necktie. His pants were the same color as his overcoat. His yellow-buttoned undercoat and fingerless gloves matched his cordovan shoes, under which he wore yellow socks.
Following his arrival in Atlas, Watts began to wear a large, symmetrical purple and pink coat with fur lining along its hood. Additionally, he wore four rings on each hand, which he could use to hack Atlesian technology.
After his battle with James Ironwood, the right side of Arthur's face was left with friction burns after being dragged across the floor by Ironwood, where he was defeated. His right eye was somewhat damaged by this.
In "Worst Case Scenario", it was revealed that when Watts had worked with Pietro Polendina, he wore a yellow turtleneck sweater underneath a white lab coat along with light gray pants and black shoes. His hair was black and mustache was thinner at the time.
Watts was formal and sophisticated. He spoke in a refined accent, yet he could be arrogant and condescending, even to his allies. However, he was humble enough to not take credit for things he didn't achieve by himself, for when Salem initially thought he found out where the Spring Maiden was, he revealed it was Qrow Branwen when he spoke to Leonardo Lionheart.
Watts stated that he had a very low opinion of failure, which extended to Cinder Fall after she was defeated by Ruby Rose. He criticized and belittled Cinder and enjoyed provoking her every chance he got, especially since she couldn't talk back. He also looked down upon her underlings, Emerald Sustrai and Mercury Black. However, Salem chastised him for his needless "malignance" and he avoided speaking out of line in her presence. When not in Salem's presence he would accurately point to why the person failed and how they could improve very bluntly and very rarely showed regret for what he said. However his tendency to insult people ended up backfiring and got him harmed as seen with individuals like Cinder and Ironwood.
Arthur also had a tendency to become interested in new topics of study. Case in point, when he and Lionheart reported to Salem about the location of the Spring Maiden, Arthur showed immense interest in the Seer. Because of this habit, he showed no interest in unlocking his own Semblance due to believing that the time needed would be better used for his research.
Even before his apparent fall from grace in his field, Arthur had a self-serving and strategic mindset, creating a backdoor in Mantle's security network for his own personal use and potential exploitation. He was shown to be spiteful and vengeful, with his apparent motive behind joining Salem being rage against Ironwood and Pietro Polendina, claiming Ironwood never appreciated his genius and made an effort to spite James after getting Jacques Schnee on his side.
This grudge against Ironwood and Pietro also heavily emphasized that Watts, similar to his associate Cinder, possessed a massive ego and intense pride in his abilities and talents, and took great offense when Ironwood refused to acknowledge the greatness of his genius and felt a severe blow to his pride when the General selected Pietro's work over his own. An aspect of this is the fact that Watts was never able to wrap his head around the idea of a soul transfer, and he greatly underestimated Penny's cognitive capabilities because of this.
Watts was rather sadistic, as shown in his evident satisfaction in trapping James Ironwood's organic left arm during their fight within Amity Tower, and when he laughed when he armed Ironwood's bomb after Harriet failed too. In "The Enemy of Trust", Watts contently smiled when he saw Salem and her incoming army finally arrived in Atlas due to believing she would destroy the Kingdom. However, he didn't relish in the pain and fear of his enemies to the same extent as his colleagues, Cinder Fall and Tyrian Callows.
He was also a cunning and opportunistic individual as when he was coerced into working for Ironwood with the threat of being shot if he didn't comply, Watts was able to take advantage of a moment of distraction from Ironwood and his subordinates to discretely hack into Penny and caused her to fall to the ground before managing to make it look like it wasn't his fault, and taunted Ironwood into throwing a Scroll at him which he hid and took with him when Ironwood's soldiers escorted him back to his cell, allowing him to contact Salem while in prison.
When threatened by Cinder in "Ultimatum", Watts showed no fear of dying. Notably, instead of freaking out when she held him by the edge of building, he harshly called her out on all of her failures. However, in "The Final Word", he was shown screaming out in fear after he was trapped in the burning control room, suggesting he did fear dying, just not by Cinder's hand.
Powers and Abilities
Watts was a masterful scientist, specializing in the fields of computer engineering, mechanical engineering, anatomical engineering, espionage, guerrilla warfare, and security systems. He was held in high regard by Salem, who typically addressed him by his title of "Doctor", which indicated her respect for his capabilities.
Watts' fighting style was very methodical, keeping track of the number of shots fired by himself and his opponents. He was also somewhat agile for his age, moving deftly using his rings to create Hard-Light Dust projections to create platforms across vast distances. He even was able to use his projections similarly to bear traps, serving to pin his targets' limbs in place at the risk of burning off a great deal of flesh if they attempted to flee. In addition, he displayed some skill in close quarters fighting, briefly defending himself against James Ironwood's attacks while landing a few blows in return.
However, he was not very physically durable, as he was taken down by a few direct hits from Ironwood and he never discovered his Semblance.
Programming & Hacking
Arthur's main role in Salem's group was the manipulation of technology: in the starting stages of starting the Fall of Beacon, Watts was the one who developed the Black Queen virus Cinder used to hack into the CCT tower in "Dance Dance Infiltration" and allowed her to control communications and even aspects of the Vytal Festival's tournament, such as selecting the otherwise randomized team matches. His emblem was visible in her Scroll when using the virus. The virus was also able to take control of Atlas' robot soldiers and turn them against the Kingdom. His expertise in virus creation was seen again when he installed a chip in a sword stolen from Penny Polendina that was able to transmit a virus to command her to open the Atlas Vault and ultimately self destruct.
In "A New Approach", he mentioned that he made the code used in Mantle's systems, and in "As Above, So Below" Ironwood confirmed that he designed Mantle's entire security network, and was seen manipulating the cameras so he wouldn't be exposed.
Watts' acumen in technology and computer systems, along with rings on almost every finger, allowed him to synchronize an array of Scrolls to hack into the Atlesian security systems. In "A Night Off", the use of multiple, small Scrolls to make up the processing power of a single, centralized system permitted Watts to remain mobile and difficult to locate, playing into his pragmatic and strategic mindset. He was also able to frame Penny for the murder of several Mantle citizens by manipulating the recordings of her fight against Tyrian. Through the use of Jacques' new credentials, Watts neutralized the heating grid, which led to a Grimm invasion in Mantle.
He was also able to give Tyrian Callows a new stinger after his old one got cut off by Ruby, displaying prowess in biomechanical engineering. The new stinger and tail that he constructed didn't appear to inhibit Tyrian's production of venom, but rather use it, with the addition of making the actual stinger itself retractable, while the segments to the tail seamlessly mesh with the organic base's flexibility and range of motion.
Watts' eight Rings could also be used in combat, possessing the ability to create hexagonal Hard-Light Dust shields to protect him from bullets and even utilize the shields themselves as platforms to travel around mid-air, granting him additional mobility. The shields themselves were powerful enough to protect himself from several shots from Due Process.
Additionally, the Rings also possessed a trap function, where by placing the Rings in four corners to shape box-like magnets and activating them, Watts could handcuff a person by literally trapping one of his opponent's limbs in a Hard-Light shield that, if attempted to forcibly remove by sliding past it, would severely burn and even permanently damage their limb.
- Arthur Watts alludes to John Watson, from the Sherlock Holmes stories, if he had connected with James Moriarty instead of Sherlock Holmes. The name Arthur likely alludes to the author of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. For more information on this allusion, see Arthur Watts/Behind the Scenes.
- The name Arthur comes from the Roman clan name Artorius, which is derived from Arto-rīg-ios/Artorījos, latinised Celtic for "Son of the Bear/Warrior-King".
- This is further supported in the root of Arth, welsh for "Bear", which brings to mind brown colors.
- A "watt" is a unit of power used to express the rate of energy transfer which is generally correlated to electricity in modernized society. As a result, it invokes the colors associated with electricity especially shades of yellow, blue, and white seen in lightning.
- The same "W" symbol that was present when Cinder was rigging the Vytal Festival tournament rounds appeared on his customized personal Scroll, as a hologram in "Welcome to Haven" when Watts spoke to Lionheart, and a microchip that Watts used to hack Penny Polendina with one of the Floating Arrays in "Amity".
- Watts, like Roman Torchwick, and Mercury Black, are notable for being some of the rare active fighters that succeeded without ever discovering their Semblance. According to Miles Luna, Watts never unlocked his Semblance because he simply never had any interest in doing so.
- Out of all the members of Salem's Inner Circle, Watts is the only one not to have any interaction with the members of Team RWBY.
- He was jokingly referred to as "Daddy Long Legs" by Kerry Shawcross.
- Kerry Shawcross, Miles Luna and Kiersi Burkhart joked that Watts always uses proper capitals and punctuation in his text messages as well as always signing his name at the bottom.
- Concept Art by Patrick Rodriguez
- RWBY Volume 8 Directors' and Writers' Commentary Chapter 5
- RWBY Panel | RTX 2020
- RWBY: Amity Arena character bio
- Kerry Shawcross' Tweet
- The World of RWBY: The Official Companion
- RWBY Panel | RTX 2020
- Rooster Teeth Tumblr Q&A October 5, 2017
- RWBY: Volume 7 Director's Commentary – Chapter 2
- RWBY Volume 8 Directors' and Writers' Commentary Chapter 6