The Sandman: Season 1 ending explained and will there be a season 2?

What does that ending mean for season 2?

Tom Sturridge as Dream, Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven (voice) in episode 103 of The Sandman
(Image credit: Netflix/Future)

Exactly how did that epic conclusion go down and what we know about a second season

The Sandman based on the comic book by Neil Gaiman has finally made it to TV screens this year - following years of the writer blocking its adaption for fear it would turn out spectacularly bad. Luckily, he changed his mind, and the expensive production complete with stunning The Sandman filming locations and an all-star The Sandman cast translated Gaiman’s story about gods and the afterlife in a way that did the author proud.

Now that season 1 has drawn to a close, we break down exactly what happened in that gripping final episode. In addition to sharing all we know about a follow-up - for those eagerly waiting for season 2 news.   

The Sandman season 1 ending explained

The final episode depicts Hell’s generals encouraging Lucifer Morningstar to engage their armies and bring Morpheus down - this could mean war is to come. According to Looper, this subplot could end in Lucifer's retirement from ruling Hell, and possibly leading a similar life to Tom Ellis’s Lucifer - who was based on the same character in The Sandman. This would follow Gaiman’s source material closely. 

Meanwhile, the Corinthian has enjoyed a season of killing those in the Waking World. At the end of season 1, he knows that Rose Walker - The Dream Vortex - has the ability to destroy the dreamworld and put an end to Morpheus. Planning on forcing Rose to enter the dreamworld finally put an end to Morpheus, his plan goes spectacularly wrong when Morpheus tells Rose her actions would end the human world and she should wake up. As Rose jolts awake, Morpheus regains his power and turns Corinthian into a miniature skull, taking him back to the dreamworld. This might not be the end for Corinthian though, as Morpheus declares he will recreate him - only this time with fewer flaws and the ability to serve humanity.  

Appalled at the potential of her Dream Vortex powers to potentially destroy humanity and her loved ones, Rose decides to sacrifice herself. However, Stephen Fry’s Gilbert and Rose’s grandmother Unity Kincaid, act to prevent this from happening. Unity instead takes Dream Vortex, and sacrifices herself in Rose’s place. 

Morpheus’ character development also becomes apparent by the series finale, where he realises his time as a captive has fundamentally changed him. He is able to admit to mistakes he’s made as a ruler, and be less rigid in his actions. He offers librarian Lucienne acknowledgement for her efforts in keeping the Dreaming running when he is held hostage, and understands the importance of friends instead of solitude. His actions appear to have more compassion than previously seen throughout the rest of the series. This newfound compassion also sees him grant the wish of Gault. He remakes her in a colorful dream form, giving her the peace she sought. 

Morpheus confronts his sibling Desire and discovers Desire betrayed him, and was partly responsible for his episode 1 capture. Despair agrees that Desire dislikes Morpheus and was keen to see his downfall. The heated argument between the two could be a sign of future battling between the pair in subsequent seasons. 

The finale also sees Lyta give birth to her baby. Her dream pregnancy became a reality through Rose’s Dream Vortex - the baby was conceived when she and her dead husband met in a dream. She decides to raise the baby along with Rose and her brother Jed. 

Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar in episode 104 of The Sandman

(Image credit: Netflix)

Is there a bonus episode of The Sandman?

Yes, a bonus episode of The Sandman landed on Netflix on August 19, two weeks after the season 1 premiere. Entitled “A Dream of a Thousand Cats”/”Calliope”, the surprise 2-part bonus episode begins with an animated story.

During the animated tale, a cat dreams of a world where cats are the hunters, with humans as their prey. The cat travels the world, preaching to other cats about her dream, feeling sure she once lived in a world where this was reality. She believes that if 1000 cats were to have the same dream, it would come true. She wants to see the world order restored as she believes it should be.

Part 2 of the bonus episode tells the story of Calliope, the youngest of the Nine Muses from Greek mythology. She is imprisoned, and bound to writer after writer, while wishing for freedom. She calls on Morpheus for help, as he has experienced being held captive by humans and the two had once been married. They parted on sad terms following the death of their child, but Morpheus comes to Calliope’s aid in her time of need.  

The Sandman audience score 

Review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes currently has The Sandman riding high with a critic score of 86%, and an audience score of 83%.

Keith Phipps from TV Guide offered the series 7.5/10. He said “A respectful, faithful, and maybe a tad too unsurprising adaptation that benefits from a thoughtfully selected cast and creative visuals while never trying too hard to explore what a different medium could do for Gaiman's world”.

Rotten Tomatoes own critic Jesse Schedeen offered 8/10, and said “The Sandman: Season One was already a terrific adaptation of a beloved DC Comics series, and it's only made better by the surprise addition of an eleventh episode”.

One fan excited for the finale posted to Twitter “About to watch the season finale of #TheSandman, and I would not be surprised if I binge it all over again after I’m done”. Other fans also referred to it as “exquisite”, while also expressing sadness the series had come to an end. 

Will there be a season 2 of The Sandman? 

Netflix have yet to official confirm whether The Sandman will be renewed for season 2. However, the show's executive producer, David S. Goyer has given some hope to fans - having revealed that script writing for a second season is already happening.

Talking about the writing process of season two to Den of Geek, he said: “In some ways, it’s easier [than season 1] because we’ve educated the audience to the basic ideas. We’ve shown how the dreaming life can affect the waking world.”

Goyer added that having laid the foundations, season two means that the creators "get to stretch our wings a bit more.”

Whilst writing may underway, a confirmed renewal is still needed. Neil Gaiman himself has tweeted that there remains uncertainty surrounding a renewal. When questioned on Twitter, he said “No word or decision from @netflix on Future Seasons. They will want to see how we do for the first month before committing”.

When questioned about why, the author said “Because ‘Sandman’ is a really expensive show”, adding “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”.

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Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.