The Sandman Season 1 Ending Explained: What’s Next for Dream and Lucifer?

The ending of The Sandman season 1 leaves the door open for plenty more Dreaming. Here are some comic routes the Netflix series might take.

The Sandman. (L to R) Tom Sturridge as Dream, Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian in episode 110 of The Sandman.
Photo: Netflix

This article CONTAINS SPOILERS for the end of The Sandman season 1 and the comic. 

The first season of the Netflix adaptation of The Sandman, arguably one of the greatest and most important comics of all time, is complete, and can be considered a rousing success. But it leaves several questions open when it ended, and asks one big one for Dream with its final scene. 

Here is what happens in the final moments of The Sandman season 1 and what it might mean going forward.

What Did The Sandman Season 1 Adapt?

The first season of the show breaks down into two story arcs: the first five episodes follow Dream (Tom Sturridge) as he’s captured by Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance), escapes captivity, and works to recapture his tools and rebuild his kingdom. The sixth episode is a bit of an interlude as he hangs out with his beloved (by him and by us – you’ll see) sister Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), and the final four episodes see Morpheus finally chase down the remaining lost dreams and eliminate The Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook)

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These stories roughly parallel the first two collected editions of the comic – Preludes and Nocturnes and The Doll’s House. Those collected the first year or so of the comics and thus give us a possible roadmap of where the show might head next.

What’s Next for Lucifer?

The last scene of the show is Gwendoline Christie’s Lucifer plotting with Mazikeen (Cassie Clare), Lucifer’s half-faced consort and descendant of Lillith, ominously menacing about what she’s going to do to destroy Dream. If the comics are anything to go by, what Lucifer does to Dream is more screwed up than any of us could imagine: She puts Dream in charge of Hell.

Comics Lucifer (who was eventually spun off into his own popular, beloved series that served as the basis for the television show) decided the best way to screw with Morpheus was to empty Hell and put him in charge of what was left. We’re told in the show and the book that Hell residents to a certain extent self-select – if people believe they belong there, they end up there. So once Morpheus is in charge, people keep coming, and he has to figure out what to do. 

The biggest open question is what the show does with the other pantheons. Lucifer’s abdication leaves a hole in the afterlife, one which deities from other religions try to step in to fill. Will we see Susano-no-Miko from the Shinto pantheon? Odin trying to escape the cycle of Ragnaroks? Or will the television adaptation lean heavily into the intra-hell intrigue?

What’s Next for Desire and Despair?

While most residents of Hell self-select, not all of them do, and we met one on Morpheus’ first trip into the netherrealm in season 1 of the show: Nada, his old lover. She was banished to Hell by Morpheus thousands of years ago as punishment for arguing with him about their love (Morpheus used to be a real jerk). In the comics, Season of Mists, the story arc that deals with the new status quo for Hell, starts with an argument between Dream, Desire, and Despair over a family dinner about Dream’s shabby treatment of his old love. They eventually inspire Morpheus to return to Hell and free Nada, setting the “duel” between Lucifer and Dream in motion.

They’re almost certain to use this in the next season (if there is one). Mason Alexander Park’s Desire and Donna Preston’s Despair didn’t get nearly enough screen time in season 1: this is a key plot in Morpheus’ growth and an excuse to get these wildly talented actors more screen time early in season 2. I can’t imagine the showrunners not taking it.

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Who Else is Coming?

It’s not immediately clear what else will get adapted. Dream Country, the third collected edition of the series, is a brief collection of one-offs which will likely get included as part of the second season, much in the way the Hob Gadling story was included in season 1. Our best guess is that season 2 starts with Season of Mists, and heads right into the fifth story arc, A Game of You, which brings back Barbie from the Florida bed and breakfast at the end of this season for more realm-breaking shenanigans with Martin Tenbones in the Dreaming.

But there’s a lot to adapt, and plenty to change. And they need a renewal before any plans can be laid, so get on that, Netflix!