How Netflix’s ‘Dead Boy Detectives’ Connects to ‘The Sandman’ Series

Ashley Hurst What's on Netflix Avatar

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Pictures: DC / Netflix / Warner Bros. Television

After being at HBO Max for a pilot and then passed on, Dead Boys Detective will soon be landing on its new home at Netflix. Given the connection to The Sandman in the comics, how might it connect to Netflix’s adaptation of The Sandman? Will there be a crossover? Given that the comic originates in the Sandman universe, it looks likely!

Dead Boy Detectives tells the story of Edwin Payne (George Rexstew) and Charles Rowland (Jayden Revri), two deceased schoolboys who remain on Earth as detectives rather than enter the afterlife.

Their appearance in Sandman #25 (April 1991), written by Neil Gaiman, serves as an origin story for the characters. The issue ties into volume 4 of The Sandman, Season of Mists, where (spoiler) Lucifer abandons Hell and the dead return to life in the Waking World. The Dead Boy Detectives issue is one that numerous writers have continued in their own comics, from Ed Brubaker to Toby Litt. The official longline for the eight-episode series reads:

“Dead Boy Detectives is a fresh take on a ghost story that explores loss, grief, and death through the lens of Edwin Payne and Charles Rowland…and their very alive friend, Crystal Palace. It’s a lot like a vintage detective series — only darker and on acid.”

Other than the main duo, the series also stars; Kassius Nelson as (Crystal Palace), Briana Cuoco (Jenny the Butcher), Ruth Connell (Nightmare Nurse), Yuyu Kitamura (Niko), and Jenn Lyon (Esther).

Acclaimed screenwriters Steve Yockey (The Flight Attendant) and Beth Schwartz (Arrow) bring Dead Boy Detectives series to television. Shadow and Bone’s Lee Toland Krieger was brought on board to helm the adaptation. The show wrapped production in April 2023. Upon wrapping, cinematographer Marc Laliberté commended the team for their hard work on the series:

“That’s a wrap on [S]eason 1 of Dead Boy Detectives. What an incredible gift of a show that just kept on giving with every new script and every new director. It took a village to bring another of Neil Gaiman’s incredible worlds to the small screen. So thankful to have been a part of its gestation.”

How might Dead Boy Detectives connect to The Sandman?

Considering that filming wrapped some time before the switch from HBO to Netflix was announced, there was time for the team to address possible story changes and ways it could crossover with The Sandman. In fact, with Sandman going into season 2, covering the Season of Mists storyline — the story arc in which Charles Rowland and Edwin Payne make their first appearances  — it has the potential to fit in seamlessly with Dead Boy Detectives

Previously, viewers of Doom Patrol were curious as to whether Dead Boy Detectives would crossover with that show. It made sense since Dead Boy Detectives was originally a HBO series.

However, given that the cast is different to the Edwin Payne and Charles Rowland that briefly appeared in Doom Patrol, it’s almost certain that there’ll be no crossover between them. Part of the reason it was dropped was because it doesn’t fit into James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DC universe. 

Currently, we’ve got no confirmation of a crossover with Sandman, so no, don’t expect Tom Sturridge’s Dream of the Endless to show up out of nowhere.

However, when addressing a fan on Twitter, Neil Gaiman revealed that Dead Boy Detectives is definitely set within the Sandman continuity. “Sandman Universe,” he wrote. “I think it’s safe to say now.”

Neil Gaiman wasn’t directly involved in the production of Dead Boy Detectives. But the series has his full backing. “It’s so good,” he previously tweeted. “I mean, it really is so good. I’ve seen the pilot. I’ve read the scripts. So good. (You’ll just have to trust me.)”

When can we expect Dead Boy Detectives to release?

Dead Boy Detectives does not have a release date yet.

With filming complete, it seems a potential release date is imminent. With that said, Netflix could bide its time with the release. Given how the story connects to Sandman, it makes sense to release both shows in a similar time frame.  And with them being directly connected, will Sandman season 2 even cover the origin story for Dead Boy Detectives? There’s a potential clash of interests there. The likely outcome is the Dead Boy Detectives show will cover Sandman #25, it begun shooting before moving to Netflix. The Sandman season 2 recently started filming. The next batch of episodes is slated to premiere on Netflix sometime in 2024.

Written by

An expert in all things geek with a particular emphasis on DC, Marvel, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones. On Netflix, Ashley is an expert on The Sandman, Dead Boy Detectives and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Bylines at Winter is Coming and Comic Book Resources and notably runs a fan page social account for Netflix's The Sandman.