Why Sandman's Netflix Show Can Never Tell the Comics' Most Tragic Story

Spoilers for The Sandman and mentions of suicide ahead.

There are plenty of stories in The Sandman that touch on some truly tragic and depressing subjects, but the series' most upsetting tale might not be able to make it into the Netflix adaptation.

The main plot of The Sandman largely revolves around Morpheus, Lord of the Dreaming and the titular Sandman. However, the comic includes a number of separate storylines and one-off tales that may only slightly involve Dream or one of his Endless siblings. The critically lauded story has been faithfully adapted by Netflix, including its unique storytelling decisions. However, despite the devotion to keeping Neil Gaiman's Sandman universe as accurate to the comics as possible, certain elements have had to be changed. In a noticeable difference from the original story, the many DC characters and connections once present in The Sandman comics have been removed almost entirely in the Netflix adaptation.


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But because Netflix’s Sandman has removed the story’s various connections to the DC Universe, the show may not be able to adapt one of the series’ most poignant tales. In The Sandman #20 by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran, focus shifts away from Morpheus and puts the spotlight onto Urania Blackwell, an associate of the Outsider Metamorpho. The former hero Element Girl wants to die, but due to her powers, she is functionally immortal. One day, as Element Girl is contemplating how she could kill herself, she's visited upon by Death, who listens to Blackwell describe her struggle. The Endless is unable to help Blackwell, but Death tells Element Girl that the sun god Ra can take away her powers just as easily as he gave them to her. With a prayer to Ra, Blackwell looks upon the sun as she happily turns to dust.

Sandman Element Girl Death DC Comics

To be fair, there have been a few DC characters from the Sandman comics that have made it into the show’s first season, albeit with some changes. While John Dee was the Justice League villain Doctor Destiny in the comics, the show makes no mention of that. Same for Hector Hall and his history as the superhero Sandman. So while there's a chance part of Element Girl's story may make it into the show, fans should expect major changes if her story does get adapted.

While Netflix's Sandman show has aimed to be as faithful to the original work as possible, the earliest parts of The Sandman just has too many cameos from DC characters to make a 1:1 adaptation feasible. While it's true that Element Girl's story could be reworked, fans may miss out on the original story special. Element Girl was a largely forgotten hero when The Sandman #20 was released and her story was a tragic twist on the fates of superheroes who are presumed to get happy endings once the adventures are done being told. Sure, Netflix could find a way to bring the story to life, but fans of The Sandman may want to temper their expectations on seeing Element Girl’s story faithfully retold.