When The Sandman debuted this summer it seemed like a hit. Critics and audiences loved it and we thought it was a breath of fresh air compared to some of the recent comic book fare from Marvel and DC.
But then rumors started flowing that The Sandman season two was not a lock. Executive producer Neil Gaiman, who created the modern version of The Sandman, even took to Twitter to explain why Netflix had not renewed the show even though it seemed from the outside to be a big hit.
We can now put those worries to bed. Netflix has renewed The Sandman for a second season, so expect more of Dream, Death and Lucifer on your TV screen in the not-too-distant future. Below we lay out what — and who — to expect, and when to expect one of the best Netflix shows to return.
The Sandman season 2: Release date speculation
Unfortunately, we did not get a release date reveal alongside the news that Netflix renewed The Sandman for a second season. That’s probably because Netflix does not even know when the show will return. Given that episodes of The Sandman season one were rumored to cost $15 million an episode, there’s a good chance that Netflix held off on filming a single frame of season two while it debated renewing the show.
The first season of The Sandman began in October of 2020 and wrapped filming in August 2021. If season two follows a similar schedule, we cannot reasonably expect The Sandman in 2023. The first season did not debut until August 2022 — a full year after filming had finished. Now that the expectation is that filming will begin in the summer of 2023, that could push the end of filming as far as April 2024 and a debut on screen a year later in April 2025.
We're hopeful it won’t take quite that long. While there probably isn’t much that can be done to reduce the filming time other than shooting few episodes, cutting down on production time for season two could be possible if they've streamlined the process based on what they learned in season one or if Netflix put them on a deadline.
Speaking of Netflix, it still hasn't committed to a release schedule for The Sandman going forward, even though they say they are very much committed to more episodes. In a recent interview with Variety Netflix's head of U.S. and Canada scripted TV Peter Friedlander said Netflix is still considering how to batch episodes of the streaming TV show. "Everything’s on the table when it comes to ‘Sandman.’ It’s an innovative show.” So don't be surprised if future episodes of The Sandman don't follow a traditional full-season binge model.
Actor Mason Alexander Park recently confirmed in an interview at Fan Expo San Francisco that Netflix is definitely not referring to the next batch of episodes as "Season two" — but there is good news. They say that filming should begin in the summer of 2023. Comments from The Corinthian actor Boyd Holbrook also hint at a Summer 2023 film start and a leak from What's on Netflix tips filming to start in June 2023, specifically. That could push a release as far out as April 2025, but that feels far too long for Netflix to wait for new episodes.
Neil Gaiman has chimed in as well. In a recent Tumblr post, the Sandman co-creator responded to a fan stating that scripts for season two are written and casting has commenced for the first episode. He said sets are also being designed. So a June 2023 start date for filming still seems well on track.
It's more likely that we do not get a full season's worth of episodes at once. Instead, we may get a partial batch of five to six episodes if Netflix transitions to a five to six-episode "Volume" style release schedule going forward. Summer 2024 would then be in reach for the comic book adaptation, with a possible release date of August 2024 — exactly two years after season one — still on the table.
A recent report from Redanian Intelligence seemingly confirms this theory, but take it with a grain of salt. This reported rumor states that Netflix will film one block of episodes from June 2023 to October 2023 and then a second block of episodes from January 2024 to April 2024. That would reasonably give Netflix enough time to have a batch of episodes ready for August 2024, so there's a lot already out there to give credence to this timeline.
However, the recent Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes could affect the release of new episodes (disclosure: I am a Writers Guild of America member).
According to Collider, Neil Gaiman has said that he will not use non-Union writers for the show. That means if any additional writing needs to be done, production will likely halt until the WGA strike ends. That would likely delay the release of more Sandman episodes.
But that's temporarily irrelevant — for now — due to SAG-AFTRA joining the WGA on strike. With SAG-AFTRA on strike, filming of new The Sandman episodes is officially on pause. According to Kemps Film TV Video, filming for The Sandman began in the U.K. on June 23, 2023, so some filming did get done prior to the strike. However, until at least one of the two unions signs a new deal with the Hollywood studios, filming will not resume. That almost certainly ensures we see a delay in The Sandman's projected release date.
The Sandman season 2: What happened in season 1?
Editor’s note: The Sandman season 1 spoilers follow, but we're sure you've probably watched the first season already
The Sandman follows the tale of Morpheus, one of a powerful group of beings called the Endless. They are like Gods in that they are immortal and have powers unimaginable but they are meant to exist in concert with gods and men. Morpheus’s purview is the realm known as the Dreaming, where he uses his tools and gifts to provide all creatures a place of escape during their slumbering hours.
Season 1 of The Sandman largely followed the first two collections of Neil Gaiman’s 75-issue run of The Sandman for DC Comics. The first collection is called Preludes and Nocturnes, which the TV show covers across the first six episodes of the season. This arc follows Morpheus/Dream (Tom Sturridge) as he recovers his tools following his kidnapping by Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance).
This journey eventually leads Morpheus and his raven Matthew (Patton Oswalt) to Hell, where Morpheus faces off against Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie) in a game of wits. Morpheus defeats Lucifer and recovers his helm but also earns the devil’s ire — something that will most likely have consequences in season two.
Upon his return to the mortal plane, Morpheus must contend with John Dee (David Thewlis), who is the son of Burgess and Ethel Cripps (Joely Richardson). Dee possesses Morpheus's ruby, which is an immensely powerful tool and he initially seems to destroy Morpheus with it. But instead, Dee makes a critical error and Morpheus defeats him, returning the power of the Dreaming solely into Morpheus’s hands.
The second collection is called The Doll’s House and it begins with Rose Walker (Kyo Ra) and her friend Lyta Hall (Razane Jammal) traveling to London to visit Rose’s unknowingly estranged grandmother, Unity Kincaid (Sandra James-Young). With Unity’s blessing and money, Rose and Lyta go to Florida to search for her brother Jed (Eddie Karanja), who she has been separated from since their parents divorced.
However, Rose is a Vortex, which means she can attract and manipulate dreams. Morpheus’s siblings Desire (Mason Alexander Park) and Despair (Donna Preston) scheme to use Rose’s status as a Vortex to eliminate Morpheus, as does the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook, a nightmare created by Morpheus who becomes a real-life serial killer during Morpheus’s captivity earlier in the season. In a further twist, the Corinthian has found Jed and is bringing him to a serial killer convention, where he has also lured Rose.
Everything comes to a head at a serial killer convention, where the Corinthian is the keynote speaker. Morpheus confronts and unmakes the Corinthian with the assistance of Rose, who has reunited with Jed. Morpheus then sends the serial killer convention attendees away to think on their crimes and Rose and Jed escape. That same night, Rose confronts Morpheus in the Dreaming where she resolves to end her life to save the dreaming, as her status as Vortex puts its very existence in jeopardy. At the last second though, Unity Kincaid arrives to save her granddaughter, who it becomes apparent is also the grandchild of Desire. Morpheus concludes that this was all a plot to trick Morpheus into spilling the blood of a family member, as Rose is his grandniece through Desire. He then confronts Desire and warns them against future scheming — advice we are sure Desire will not heed.
In addition to these two plot lines, there are a couple of other storylines covered in season one. In episode six “The Sound of Her Wings” Morpheus follows his sister Death as she shepherds people from the mortal plane. They also meet Hob Gadling (Ferdinand Kingsley), a man who does not wish to die, which is a wish that Morpheus proceeds to grant.
The other two storylines are contained within episode 11 and come from the third collection of The Sandman, called Dream Country. “Dream of a Thousand Cats” focuses on a Siamese cat (Sandra Oh), who tells the story of how she met Morpheus (in the guise of a cat) and how he revealed to her the way cats can retake this world. “Calliope” follows the story of the writer Richard Madoc (Arthur Darvill), who makes a bargain to acquire the imprisoned muse Calliope (Melissanthi Mahut) to inspire his writing. Morpheus, Calliope’s former partner, learns of this and proceeds to break Madoc’s mind until Madoc frees Calliope.
The Sandman season 2 plot: What to expect
Editor’s note: Potential The Sandman season 2 spoilers, based on the comic books, follow below
The Sandman is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s run of The Sandman for DC Comics from January 1989 to March 1996. While we cannot guarantee what will be in the show, the source material already exists. So if you do not want to be spoiled for The Sandman season two turn back now.
Since season one focused on the first two and a half collections, the reasonable expectation is that the second season will complete Dream Country and then also cover the fourth and fifth collections. These collections are called Season of Mists and A Game of You, respectively. Neil Gaiman has even confirmed some of this, telling Variety in an interview that at least part of season two will focus on Season of Mists.
Of course, now we have news that Netflix may not even call the next batch of Sandman episodes "season two" but for now we will proceed as though it were a second season given that Gaiman has discussed both Season of Mists and A Game of You as probable season two storylines.
In true The Sandman fashion, these two volumes are largely disparate storylines. Season of Mists is truly epic and may ultimately become most viewers' favorite storyline in The Sandman. It starts with Lucifer abdicating the rule of Hell and giving the keys to Morpheus, who then has to determine who will rule Hell.
A swarm of gods from all over descends on the Dreaming and pleads their cases to Morpheus. We won’t tell you who wins, but there’s a fun Easter egg at the end for DC Comics fans. Season of Mists ends with Lucifer on a beach, retired from Hell, which is the start of the Lucifer comic book series that eventually became its own Netflix show.
A Game of You brings back an unexpected character: Barbie. Barbie (Lily Travers) was a housemate of Rose Walker’s in season one at a bed and breakfast they were both staying at in Florida. Barbie has a very particular dream that has her as the princess of a fantasy world joined by her fantastical creature and companion Martin Tenbones (Lenny Henry). In A Game of You, Barbie becomes ensnared in a plot by a villain called the Cuckoo, who crosses the dream world and real world to cause chaos in both.
In an interview with Logo, Neil Gaiman seemingly confirmed that at least part of The Sandman season two will focus on the A Game of You storyline. This came about from questioning about the character Wanda, a transgender woman formerly known as Alvin Mann (I only mention her former name as it is likely both will be used in the show like they were in the comic run) who is Barbie’s best friend. Gaiman has said, "It's going to be so much fun casting fabulous trans actors," in reference to Wanda.
However, there's since been some suggestion that A Game of You is getting pushed further down the timeline. In its leak where What's on Netflix put forth a tentative start to filming in Summer 2023, it also suggested that A Game of You has been pushed back and instead, this new batch of episodes could focus partially on volume 7 of Neil Gaiman's Sandman run: Brief Lives. This is partially based on the rumor that Netflix is looking to cast Destruction of the Endless, who first appears in Brief Lives. Destruction has already been mentioned briefly in season one of The Sandman, though so far viewers only know of him as "The Prodigal."
There's been further evidence to support the theory that Brief Lives will be the focus of this next batch of episodes. Photographs from the set of The Sandman in June 2023 show an actor resembling Orpheus — the son of Dream and Calliope — conversing with his father. Orpheus does not meet with Dream in the Gaiman comics run until Brief Lives, so there seems to be serious credibility to this rumor. Netflix, however, has yet to confirm Orpheus's casting or involvement in the next run of The Sandman episodes.
Another casting rumor that adds further confusion to what's coming next is that Wanda, who as we mentioned is a key part of A Game of You, is still expected to be cast for this next batch of episodes. However, she could now be replacing the character Ruby DeLonge in Brief Lives rather than immediately portraying her iconic A Game of You role.
And Wanda may, in fact, be cast! In set photos from the Daily Mail, early filming has reportedly included Indya Moore. The transgender and non-binary actor is shown on set with Morpheus and it would make sense for them to be cast in the role of Wanda given that Gaiman wants to do the role justice and cast a trans actor.
Moore is also of Afro-Caribbean ancestry, as is Ruby Delonge in the Gaiman comics. So if Moore is Wanda, the rumor that Wanda and Ruby and being combined into a single character becomes a lot more substantial. However, it should be noted that this is entirely my own speculation based on the evidence at hand, and by no means official.
In a further casting wrinkle, there have also been some hints of The Sandman bringing back a fan favorite earlier than expected. Boyd Holbrook's The Corinthian was a massive success in season one, and the character was significantly more involved than in the comics. The Corinthian eventually is remade by Dream and becomes involved in later storylines, including the current run of The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country by James Tynion IV.
A recent interview with Entertainment Weekly gave some hints that Holbrook is interested in reprising his role in season two or season three — and he may get his wish. "I've been getting some information trickling down about that. I think we'll go back maybe in the summer  to start doing some stuff, but I don't know when they'll call me, if it'll be season 2 or be season 3." So we may not stick firmly to the source material in future episodes of the show. Or at least, not the chronological order laid out by the comics.
Finally, totally throwing everything into chaos, What's on Netflix is reporting that Netflix is casting for Season of Mists. According to the site, Thor, Odin and Loki are all currently being cast by Netflix. All three visit Morpheus in The Dreaming in Season of Mists. However, if Netflix is casting these roles now, they may not shoot Season of Mists until the batch of episodes after the ones currently being filmed.
In addition to these possible storylines, season two should get an episode that contains the final two chapters from Dream Country. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” has William Shaxberd (Samuel Blenkin) and his troupe of actors performing the famous Shakespearean (or Shaxberdian in this world) play for a special audience. “Facade” meanwhile, focuses on Element Girl struggling with her life after an unpleasant career as a superhero. It seems that “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will almost certainly be filmed at some point, as Netflix is reportedly casting King Auberon and Queen Titania of the Faeries. They appear in this specific storyline, so it would be odd for them to be cast and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” not to get at least part of an episode.
These two stories are anthological in feel, lacking almost any connection to the other stories in The Sandman universe. That is why they will most likely get the same treatment that “Dream of a Thousand Cats” and “Calliope” received in season one.
Sandman Universe, I think it's safe to say now.April 20, 2023
There is one other wrinkle. Netflix, which shows the Warner Bros. Discovery-produced The Sandman recently also bought the rights to Dead Boy Detectives, which was originally intended for HBO Max. The show is based on Charles Rowland and Edwin Paine, two characters from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman issue number 25.
Neil Gaiman has since confirmed that this new TV show is part of the same universe as the existing The Sandman series and that means a crossover could be in the cards. However, given Dead Boy Detectives is still in development, a crossover may not occur until after that show debuts, meaning it could miss the next batch of Sandman episodes. On the other hand, as the characters are originally from The Sandman, they could make their debut in the main show before getting their spinoff.
The Sandman season 2: Rumored cast
Technically, no casting has been confirmed for The Sandman season two. However, there are certain characters and their respective actors that are nearly guaranteed to return for The Sandman season two:
- Tom Sturridge as Lord Morpheus/Dream, the ruler of the Dreaming and one of the Endless (seen on set)
- Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, one of the Endless and Dream’s sister (Seen on set)
- Mason Alexander Park as Desire, one of the Endless and Dream’s sibling
- Donna Preston as Despair, one of the Endless and Desire’s twin sister [Note: Gaiman has made comments that they got things wrong with Despair in The Sandman season one, but there doesn't seem to be any indication that she will be recast]
- Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar, the ruler of Hell
Based on our plot speculation, these characters could return for The Sandman season two:
- Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven, Dream’s emissary
- Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne, the librarian of the Dreaming
- Samuel Blenkin as Willam Shaxberd (Shakespeare)
- Deborah Oyelade as Nada, a prehistoric African queen who Morpheus sent to Hell
- Roger Allam as the voice of Lord Azazel, a Duke of Hell
- Munya Chawawa as Choronzon, a demon and a Duke of Hell
- Lily Travers as Barbie, a former guest of Hal’s Bed and Breakfast in season one
- Lenny Henry as the voice of Martin Tenbones, Barbie’s companion in the Dreaming
- Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian, a Nightmare created by Dream
These characters could appear in season two and have yet to be cast:
- Destiny, the oldest of the endless and Dream’s brother
- Delirium, the youngest of the endless and Dream’s sister (Neil Gaiman has confirmed this character will be cast)
- Destruction, fourth eldest of the Endless — also referred to as "The Prodigal"
- Odin, leader of the Norse gods
- Thor, the Norse god of Thunder and Odin’s son
- Loki, the Norse trickster god
- Susanoo, the Japanese storm god
- Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead
- Bast, the Egyptian goddess of protection, pleasure and the bringer of good health
- Bes, the Egyptian god of music, merriment and childbirth
- Merkin, the Mother of Spiders and part of Lord Azazel’s demon horde
- Cluracan, a representative of the Quen of Faerie
- Nuala, the sister of Cluracan
- Duma, the angel of silence
- Remiel, the angel of hope
- Wanda/Alvin Mann, a transgender woman who is Barbie’s best friend (Neil Gaiman has confirmed this character will be cast)
- Thessaly, a witch from ancient Greece
- The Cuckoo, a mysterious villain
- Element Girl, a superhero who can transmute her body into elemental compounds at will
- Orpheus, son of Dream and the Greek muse Calliope (we think Orpheus has been spotted in set photos)
- Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess and Destruction's former lover
- King Auberon, King of the Faeries
- Queen Titania, Queen of the Faeries
And finally, these actors have been cast or seen on set, but have not had their roles officially announced
- Indya Moore, possibly cast as Wanda, Ruby Delonge or a composite character drawing from both characters
- Amber Rose Revah, most notably Dinah Madani in Netflix's The Punisher series, has been reportedly cast in an unknown role for The Sandman's next batch of episodes