The Sandman: 10 Differences Between The Comics And The Show

Content Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Netflix’s The Sandman.

The recently released Netflix adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s award-winning comics is making waves online, in large part thanks to The Sandman’s incredible accuracy and the impressive way it brings well-loved characters to the screen. That said, there are some key differences between the original panels and the show.

From John Dee’s actual motivation in the diner scene to the Corinthian’s expanded role in the series, there are some deviations from the original storylines in the comics. These aren’t necessarily bad changes, as most help improve the TV adaptation in certain ways, with an important factor being how appealing it is for those who have never read the comics.

John Dee’s arc in the Sandman comics is one of the most disturbing stories that captures the immense power that even just one of Dream’s tools (the ruby) holds. This is why it was exciting to see the famous 24/7 storyline happen in the series.

John's motivation is the major difference between what happens on the show and in the comics. In the series, he claims that he just wants a more honest world, as he grew up experiencing what it’s like to be lied to all the time. In the comics, John just wants chaos, at one point saying he thinks he’ll “dismember the world and then” he’ll “dance in the wreckage.”

In the TV series, Roderick Burgess manages to capture Dream and unsuccessfully attempts to bargain with him, asking the member of the Endless to return his deceased son in exchange for freedom. Meanwhile, he mistreats his son, Alex, reminding him that he will never be enough for him. Their final confrontation ends in Roderick’s painful death after he accidentally hits his head on Dream’s glass prison.

In the comics, Roderick only has one son, Alex, and promises to free Dream if he gives him immortality. He also dies of natural causes at old age without the dramatic confrontation with Alex as seen on the show.

Jed’s dream is an important part of the show, as it’s what Rose and Dream use to locate him. He’s been cut off from the Dreaming by Gault, a runaway nightmare that uses her abilities to evade Morpheus and keep Jed distracted from his difficult life with his adoptive parents.

This is quite different from the comics, as the shape-shifting Gault from the show seems to be a combination of the two nightmares, Brute and Glob. More importantly, it’s Lyta and Hector who are imprisoned in a dream by the nightmares, with Lyta being perpetually pregnant there and Hector believing he’s a hero.

The Collectors storyline is one of the best in the comics and the series manages to bring the “Cereal Convention” to life in a humorous but disturbing way. The main difference between the comics and the show, in this case, is the fact that it’s Rose and her mother Miranda (who’s alive in the comics) who go to the hotel, not Rose and Lyta.

The scene where Fun Land attacks Rose and Jed is altered as well, as in the comics, the serial killer goes after Rose, who uses Gilbert’s advice to call Dream. That moment when Dream saves her from Fun Land is the first time she meets him, which is quite different from how they’re introduced in the TV adaptation.

Aside from the fact that the badass scene where Johanna Constantine exorcises a princess’ fiancee isn’t in the comics, she’s also not the original character who helps Dream. It’s John Constantine who aids Morpheus in his task of looking for his sand.

It is cool to see the show use Johanna’s character as a parallel for Lady Johanna from the eighteenth century, though. That scene from the show plays out similarly to the way it happens in the comics, with Lady Johanna revealing that she has discovered Dream and Hob Gadling’s rare meetings.

After Morpheus finally escapes his mortal captors in the series, he finds his way back to his realm and is found by Lucienne on the beach. He’s obviously weak and later explains that he needs to unmake something he created to regain some of his power – this, unfortunately, turns out to be an adorable creature named Gregory, much to Cain and Abel’s disapproval.

In the comics, the Lord of Dreams doesn’t need to unmake Gregory at all, as he wakes up in Cain and Abel’s home where they nurse him back to health. They also provide the letters of commission that Morpheus created, which give him the strength he needs to summon the Fates.

When Dream visits Hell to look for the demon who has his helm, he ends up playing “the oldest game” with Lucifer. This is because the demon Choronzon chooses Lucifer to represent him in the game, which isn’t what happens in the comics.

The original version depicts Choronzon going against the Lord of Dreams himself, with Morpheus using his abilities to defeat him. Considering this change and the way the show ends, it seems like there’s a rivalry brewing between Lucifer and Dream, which also doesn’t happen in the comics.

Dream’s appearance in the comics reflects the power of the member of the Endless in some way. One of his most distinctive features is his eyes, which are pure black and are said to look like they contain stars or the cosmos themselves. His siblings like Death and Delirium have human-looking eyes when compared to Dream’s.

It’s understandable that this isn’t the way they appear in the show, as the protagonist’s expressive eyes likely helped make the performance more believable. Other changes to his appearance include his noticeably shorter hair and more human-like skin.

Since the comic books were released between 1989 and 1996, they reflected the technology and culture of that time period, especially for the storylines set in modern times. It makes sense that the show would be set in the present (the 2020s) instead of the 80s, which is obvious in the way it portrays gadgets like smartphones.

There are some small references to outdated technology that are straight out of the comics, though, like Unity’s huge telephone in her mansion. Hob Gadling’s arc also takes him from the 1400s to the present day, which is a great way of showing the different time periods Dream has lived through.

The biggest deviation from the comics is undoubtedly the Corinthian’s larger role in the TV series. In the comics, the nightmare is just one of several archana Morpheus tracks down without expending much effort. He definitely doesn’t meet several main characters in the comics as he does in the show.

What’s more, the Corinthian is never strong enough (even with Rose around) to injure Dream. Morpheus doesn’t have much trouble unmaking him when he confronts the Corinthian in the Cereal Convention. The show has hinted at another Corinthian arc from the comics, with Dream deciding it’s not yet time to create him again. If the TV series continues to be as accurate as it is, though, fans can count on seeing the Corinthian in the not-so-distant future.

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