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Did Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ Reference ‘Game of Thrones’? The Easter Egg, Explained

The Sandman Dream with helmet

The casting for Netflix’s The Sandman is superb. Tom Sturridge nails it as Dream! Kirby Howell-Baptiste is amazing as Death! And Gwendoline Christie, known for playing Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones, is fantastic as Lucifer Morningstar, fallen angel and ruler of Hell. There’s something extra special about Christie’s role, though: casting her allowed Neil Gaiman and the other showrunners to turn an iconic line into a subtle Game of Thrones reference. Here’s the easter egg and what it means!

Morpheus’s Battle with Lucifer Explained

In the comics, Morpheus travels to Hell after finding out that his helm, one of the three tools stolen from him during his imprisonment at the hand of Roderick Burgess, has been claimed by the demon Choronzon. Choronzon refuses to give the helm back without a fight, though, so he and Morpheus duel. It’s no ordinary duel, though (why would it be, in The Sandman?), and instead of weapons or brute force, they use their imaginations. Choronzon imagines that he’s a dire wolf, and Morpheus counters by imagining that he’s a hunter on horseback, and so on until Morpheus counters Choronzon’s universe-ending move by becoming hope, which nothing can kill.

The Netflix series shakes this up a little by having Morpheus fight Lucifer instead of Choronzon. Mainly the change allows Christie to shine with a bit more screen time, instead of just standing in the background. But it also means that Christie is the one to call herself a dire wolf.

Any Game of Thrones fan will immediately recognize the dire wolf as the emblem of House Stark, the family that includes Ned, Sansa, Aria, Jon Snow, and other beloved characters. The dire wolf isn’t just a symbol on the family’s crest—early in the series, the Stark children find a litter of dire wolves and raise them as companions. Christie’s character Brienne isn’t a member of the Stark family in Game of Thrones, but she does serve as sworn sword to Catelyn and then later Sansa, and eventually leads Bran’s Kingsguard. Even if she’s not a family member, she’s closely associated with the Starks, and the reference in The Sandman is unmistakable.

Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer in The Sandman

Here’s what’s funny, though. The dire wolf line didn’t originate in the Netflix series. It’s taken directly from the original dialogue in the 1989 comic, which was published several years before the first Game of Thrones book. That means that the dire wolf line and Christie’s casting are probably just a coincidence, although they must have been aware of the Game of Thrones connection when they changed the scene to have Christie say the line.

Does the reference mean anything deeper than that? Probably not. Dire wolves are really cool, so it’s not surprising that they show up in multiple fantasy properties. But it’s definitely a fun moment for Game of Thrones fans.

(image: Netflix)

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Julia Glassman (she/her) lives in Los Angeles, where she consumes massive amounts of Marvel movies, folk horror, and other geekery. Her writing has appeared in Joyland, Make/Shift, and other outlets.