The Sandman: How Has Neil Gaiman’s Series Performed On Netflix?

Here is everything we know about the upcoming Sandman series on Netflix.

By Doug Norrie

sandman hbo series

The Sandman television series, based on the Neil Gaiman graphic novel of the same, has hit Netflix and the early returns have been overwhelmingly positive. Let’s take a look at the journey for the Netflix adaptation of The Sandman.


Photo by Empire

February 2022 brought us our very first look at Tom Sturridge as Dream, the Sandman himself. Empire posted the picture — seen above — with Dream standing in front of an ocean and looking off in the distance. Standing just behind Dream is Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne, the head librarian of Dream’s castle. The image accompanied an interview with Sandman creator Neil Gaiman. Among other things, the writer said audiences unfamiliar with the source material will begin watching the series and think of it as “Downton Abbey, but with magic.” But then, Gaiman warned, something will happen that will leave viewers thinking “What the hell is this?”


the sandman comic

The Sandman is based on the character we’ve heard about for time on end in folklore and stories. He’s the (sometimes evil) being who oversees children’s dreams and is meant to control the sleeping world. It’s not the most comforting of thoughts considering we have little control over the Sandman’s universe. 

The story, in this case, is adapted from the Neil Gaiman graphic novel of the same name. In it, the character Dream (who goes by a number of other names as well, including Morpheus) is the ruler of a kingdom in which he controls and personifies dreams. He’s captured but then deposited in the present-day moving back and forth between the waking world and his own dominion.

Endless the sandman

Dream is an immortal who deals with others of his ilk as well as humans in the everyday world. He’s part of a familial group called the Endless which features other immortals whose names begin with D: Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delight. Not exactly the most uplifting group of characters. The novel is dark and right out of Gaiman’s mind when it comes to themes and tone. 

The Sandman had a 75-issue run after first being published by DC Comics in 1989. The show is set in 2021 and picks up after Dream frees himself from over 100 years of imprisonment. This is a bit different from the original but is likely immaterial when it comes to the broader story, meant only to essentially set the story in the present day. 


The new video is only a little over a minute long, but it gives us clips of interviews with some of the cast, Neil Gaiman, and a peek at the set. Take a look!



Neil Gaiman already has a number of his works turned into television series. Sharing the platform on Netlfix, Lucifer has been one of the streaming service’s most successful series after they picked it up when Fox dropped the show. In 2019, Lucifer ranked only behind Stranger Things in terms of series streams for that year. 

He’s also had Good Omens adapted by Amazon Studios which received fantastic reviews. The miniseries follows an angel and a demon charged with preventing the rise of the antichrist who comes in the form of a local child.

american gods

And then there is Starz’s American Gods which will air its third season at the beginning of January. The show and book posit a world in which Gods exist and there’s a struggle between the Gods of old and those that have come about and gained strength in more recent times. The show has been nominated for a number of awards. 

Gaiman’s work has played well in a variety of forms both visually and from a story perspective. Considering his work includes both long-form books and graphic novels as well, this crossover success makes a lot of sense. 


Tom Sturridge

For a while, all we knew about the cast for The Sandman were rumors. We’d heard that Tom Sturridge had been cast as the main character, with little in way of confirmation. Now, those rumors have proven true! The star of productions like Pirate Radio and Sweetbitter will now be leading the new Neil Gaiman show.

Also, for a while, Liam Hemsworth’s name had been rumored for the role of Dream. He had also been rumored to play the Corinthian, a nightmare that escaped into the real world and became a serial killer. Hemsworth is best known for his role as Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger Games franchise.

liam hemsworth

That rumor, however, has proven false. So who is actually going to actually be in the cast for The Sandman? A whole lot of people, actually! And they’re actors worth getting excited about. Here’s an early tweet from Neil Gaiman with some of the main cast.

Let’s take a closer look at this Sandman cast. Right away you’ll notice Lucifer, Ruler of Hell.

Gwendoline Christie

Game of Thrones fans know this face. That’s Gwendoline Christie who played Brienne of Tarth from the George R.R. Martin show on HBO. She’s a beloved actress that will be good to see in a series again.

Vivienne Acheampong

Audiences may be less familiar with the name Vivienne Acheampong, but that’s about to change. Recently, she had roles in The Witches and The One. Now we’ll be getting familiar with her for Sandman as Lucienne.

They are be joined by a large cast including Sanjeev Bhaskar and Asim Chaudhry as Cain and Abel, Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess, Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Mason Alexander Park as Desire, Donna Preston as Despair, Razane Jammal as Lyta Hall, Stephen Fry as Gilbert, Joely Richardson as Ethel Cripps, Niamh Walsh as Young Ethel Cripps, David Thewlis as John Dee, Kyo Ra as Rose Walker, Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven, Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine, and Sandra James Young as Unity Kincaid.


neil gaiman

Obviously, Gaiman is on board here with both the writing credits as well as a producer role. This has been the case when his other works were adapted for the screen. He’s always taken a large role in these adaptations to ensure his vision is brought to screen properly. 

And he’s brought along an awesome creative team with him. Allen Heinberg is on as the showrunner for The Sandman. His most notable work to date is penning Wonder Woman which was a massive critical and box office success. But he has a number of other executive producer credits with shows like ABC’s The Catch, as well as Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. Heinberg does also have some comic book success under his belt, creating the Young Avengers for Marvel.

david goyer henry cavill

And finally, David Goyer is the third part of the creative trio. Goyer’s writing credits include a number of massive comic book adaptations like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Man of Steel, Batman Begins, and all three Blade movies. These are just some of the blockbuster highlights. Goyer’s resume is outstanding and he should lend a sense of action and gravity to the story. 


sandman netflix

Originally, The Sandman had been in the works as a feature-length movie with New Line Cinema. But that attempt fell through and the rights were ultimately sold to Warner Bros. In the summer of 2019, Netflix announced it was getting into the game and would instead turn the comic book into a television series. Currently, there are 11 episodes scheduled for the first season. It’s currently widely believed that they will release all 11 episodes at the same time, so they will be bingeable from the get-go.

All the hype and the many years of “want to” have translated well for The Sandman. The series premiered on Netflix on August 5, 2022, with all eleven episodes. Despite the changes from Gaiman’s original version (John Constantine is Johanna and Lucifer is no longer a male version and is portrayed by Gwendoline Christie), fans have flocked to the series. The Sandman, led by Tom Sturridge as Dream, has put up some early impressive numbers for Netflix, the streaming service in need of some good news.


You have to admit, the idea of bringing Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman graphic novels to the screen (big or small) can be at once a troubling thought given the often-seen misfiring’s brought forth by other graphic novel entities that just haven’t translated well. Not only that, but Gaiman’s scope, which ran from 1989 through 1996 and covered 75 graphic novel issues, is so detailed and distinct that for years any attempt (which there were many) to bring it to film form just fell flat. It even had Gaiman state to Comicbook, right before The Sandman debut on Netflix, “For well over 30 years, my part in Sandman adaptations was just to try and stop bad ones from happening. And fortunately, I was always successful in this.”

So, while Gaiman was successful in the past, the present presented a more open-mindedness from Gaiman. The technology finally caught up with his vision. “This adaptation is the first time that I’ve been willing to come on board. We’ve reached a point that really did not exist when the Sandman comics began. Longer format, novelistic television series now have the special effects and budgets to bring this world to life. Technologically, I really think we’re in a place right now where we’re getting to make Sandman in a way that we could not have dreamed of making even 15 years ago, even 10 years ago.”

Gaiman is the first to admit, that while the technology is there, creating The Sandman for the small screen has not been an easy task. He gives credit to an “entire generation of high-level creative people” who have combined their efforts to create something Gaiman can be proud of. “The determination everywhere to make this and get it right has been absolutely a breath of fresh air. This is Sandman being made for people who love Sandman, by people who love Sandman, and that is so incredible for me,” Gaiman says, obviously proud of the series. “It’s been so special. I feel like I’m on the cusp and I cannot wait until people see this show.” And by the numbers seen, the “people” couldn’t wait for the series to drop.


Virgin River’s fourth season sat at the top of Netflix’s weekly rankings for two straight weeks until The Sandman came along. The week of August 1-7 saw The Sandman remove Virgin River from the top and replace it by bringing in 69.5 million hours viewed. What makes this more impressive is that those numbers came from only three days of The Sandman being available on Netflix. Even better was The Sandman’s second week. Now, having seven days to accumulate numbers, the Neil Gaiman series just about doubled its first week’s production. Netflix reported that The Sandman grabbed a spectacular 127.5 million viewing hours, leaving second place Never Have I Ever, Season 3, in the dust with 55 million hours.

What do these numbers mean for the future of the series? Well, if you ask Neil Gaiman, they don’t mean bupkis. Although the numbers speak for themselves, the logistics of the series may keep it from seeing a second season. Gaiman took to Twitter to express his concern after a fan questioned him about a possible Season 2. “Because Sandman is a really expensive show. And for Netflix to release the money to let us make another season we have to perform incredibly well. So yes, we’ve been the top show in the world for the last two weeks. That still may not be enough”. Let’s hope that Netflix finally does the right thing with a good series. They can use all the help they can get right now.