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The Sandman author Neil Gaiman explains why Netflix show doesn't take place in the DC universe

David Thewlis in The Sandman
(Image credit: Netflix)

Neil Gaiman has revealed why the Netflix adaptation of The Sandman isn't set in the DC universe, despite the fact that his original graphic novels are. The Sandman graphic novels were published by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics, between 1989 and 1996 and there is plenty of crossover between the two universes, unlike in the new streaming series.

"The Sandman itself started out in the DC Universe, the comic, and then it just sort of wound up wandering off into its own place," Gaiman told Variety (opens in new tab). "Its world joined up more and more with our world and became less and less a world in which costumed crime fighters fly around and so on, which meant that by the time The Sandman finished, it had its own aesthetic which really wasn’t the DC Universe anymore."

One example of the graphic novels' DC links is the character John Dee, played by David Thewlis in the Netflix series. In the comics, he lives in Arkham Asylum and he strongly resembles the skeletal DC villain Doctor Destiny, an enemy of the Justice League. However, in the TV show, the character lives in a nondescript institution and has an unremarkable appearance. 

Gaiman added: "We didn’t want a TV show where you felt that you had to have read a whole bunch of comics published in 1988 and 1989 to understand what was going on."

All 10 episodes of The Sandman are available to stream now on Netflix – you can read our reviews of episodes two, three, four, and five through those links. If you've already caught up, check out our guide to the other best Netflix shows to add to your watch list. 

Entertainment Writer

I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering everything film and TV-related across the Total Film and SFX sections. I help bring you all the latest news and also the occasional feature too. I’ve previously written for publications like HuffPost and i-D after getting my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.