The Endless is a rather dysfunctional family of seven siblings who are each Anthropomorphic Personifications of seven concepts. No origin or nature is given for their existence other than them being implied to be the concepts they represent. In order of oldest to youngest, they are known as Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. Each of the Endless has a realm in which they are completely omnipotent, and they can even shape the realm which is opposite to theirs. They are generally uncomfortable each other's realms and only travel to each other's realms when it is completely necessary.
Blue and Orange Morality: All of them, even kind personable Death, have this to one degree or another, largely based on perceptions of that which they personify varying drastically from that of mortals.
Dream of the Endless. The Lord Shaper (one name of many names he's acquired). The personification of dreams and creativity, and his realm helps shape its opposite - reality. Like all Endless, he can change his appearance; while he is always male, people may see him differently, usually as a member of their own ethnic group; their own race (in the case of Fairies); or their own species, for example with cats. Note that this is not always a physical change: different characters observing him at once may perceive different forms (Martian Manhunter and Scott Free for example), implying that he primarily exists as part of the mind. The third of the Endless.
The main protagonist of the series - thin and pale-skinned with black hair and black eyes that mirror eternity; gloomy and melodramatic, has great belief in duty and rules. All-powerful ruler in his domain of dreams, less powerful outside. Had love affairs with several women (including a witch, a goddess, and the queen of the realm of Fairie) over the eons, but all except the most brief affairs ended badly. Fathered a son, Orpheus, with the Muse Calliope. Sentenced his lover Nada to an eternity of imprisonment in Hell for hurting his pride, and finally forgave her only after 10,000 years.
Nuala: You ... you want them to punish you, don't you? You want to be punished for Orpheus's death? Dream: ...
Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: Dream is perceived differently by everyone who sees him, appearing as whatever they would be most comfortable with.note He appears to Scott Free as a tall pale man in black robes while at the same time appearing to the Martian Manhunter (who was in the same room) as the Martian god L'Zoril, a black Martian skull wreathed in flames.
Byronic Hero/Tragic Hero: Destruction describes both him and Orpheus as self-pitying romantic fools who nonetheless have "a certain amount of personal charm".
Captain Ersatz: Dream has many similarities to Doctor Strange's foe Nightmare (who came first) except Dream is more neutral than evil. Marvel even tried to reinvent Nightmare (in a miniseries) to resemble Dream after the latter became a hit, though it didn't really take. They are seen walking together in Top 10.
The Comically Serious: While Dream is capable of pointed observations, his sense of humour is very nearly non-existent. Something Gaiman milked for all its worth in moments of levity, usually by putting him in silly situations, making him interact with Delirium, or having another character make fun of him for being overly dramatic. Standing alone in the endless rain is a nice pose for a love-lorn sulk, but when Dream does it the entire Dreaming and all its inhabitants get wet. And have their dwellings flooded. And complain. And the rain's only there because he wants it to be.
'80s Hair: In the early run he looked like Goth Mick Jagger. Changed to more of a timeless look later on.
Fatal Attractor: The series introduces quite a few of Dream's ex-lovers - ultimately always to emphasise the "ex" part of that description. He's not a womaniser, and it's not even that his lovers are horribly flawed (most of the time) - it's just a combination of his spectacularly ill-advised moments of pride and that he's Married to the Job. Whether this is the cause or the result of his feud with Desire is left as an exercise for the reader. That said, anybody could have told him that dating Thessaly wouldn't work out.
Or, more precisely, his sense of duty and tradition (remember all true Fatal Flaws are admirable to some extent). As Neil Gaiman summarized the series, "The Lord of Dreams learns that one must change or die, and makes his decision."
The Fettered: He's utterly devoted to his responsibilities to the Dreaming.
Death: Destruction simply left. Took down his sigil, said he wasn't responsible for the realm of destruction any more, that it was no longer his affair, and took off into the forever. You could have done that. Morpheus: No. I could not. Death: No, you couldn't, could you?
Good Is Not Nice: Dream takes his responsibilities very seriously - and rightly so, since he does things like routinely prevent the world's collapse - but they include some necessary cruelties. He creates nightmares right alongside pleasant dreams (the Corinthian, for example, is definitely supposed to be terrifying and murderous, just not in the way he chose to be), and said collapse-prevention involved taking the life of an otherwise pleasant person who had no inkling of the danger they posed. And these are the necessary cruelties - he's also stunningly vindictive and holds long, long grudges while not quite comprehending how his actions might hurt anyone else.
Lack of Empathy: While he doesn't have a lack of morals, he often either doesn't notice or doesn't care about the hurt he causes to other people until someone actively calls him out on it. Once he is called out, he'll do his best to rectify the error with all due haste, but it may take a long time for the penny to drop - especially since he's immortal.
The second incarnation of Dream; looks exactly like Morpheus, but clothed all in white, with white hair. While still obsessed with rules and duty, Daniel is a lot less gloomy than his predecessor, and has a weak spot for his mortal parents, who he eventually gave permanent positions in the Dreaming. He is the series' strongest connection to the main DCU, as his parents are Hector and Lyta Hall, formerly Dr. Fate and Fury of the Justice Society of America and Infinity, Inc.. He also had a notable guest role in a Justice League of America story.
Daniel: Sometimes I suspect that we build our traps ourselves, then we back into them, pretending amazement all the while.
That Man Is Dead: He is Dream of the Endless, but instructs others not to call him Morpheus - he has no right to that name.
He knows all, and only does what destiny says. A Deus ex Machina for the series, he intervenes only when his Book of Destiny says he should. Usually, this involves shaking up his family. Of The Endless, he is the eldest, in that he has existed since the beginning of existence itself; he is fated to die when the universe ends.Destiny is the only one of the Endless not created by Neil Gaiman (he was a horror anthology host from the '70s), and as such is the only one of them free to appear in The DCU without his permission.
Destiny continues to walk ... He is holding a book. Inside the book is the universe.
Blind Seer: Perhaps. He definitely looks blind ...but there are those who say that far from being sightless, Destiny's eyes can see everything all at once, in every time and place. He just doesn't limit his vision the way mortals do.
Deus ex Machina: Sort of. He dislikes getting involved in people's troubles, but will if it's in his book.
Non-Linear Character: On occasion, he'll mention in advance that he's going to say something "in error" several minutes before he proceeds to do so, and then act like he didn't mean to say it. Don't think about that too hard, it'll make your head explode.
The Grim Reaper and a Perky Goth. A generally kind and upbeat woman, though not always - billions of years ago she was rather coldly pragmatic. Everyone meets her twice: at birth she gives the breath of life, and everyone, from stars to gods, sees her once more. At the end of time, when the universe dies, she'll put up the chairs, turn off the lights, and leave. One of the series' most popular characters - so it seems deliberate that she's not overused.
Death: It always ends. That's what gives it value.
All-Loving Hero: She loves everyone, with the kind of deep and abiding compassion that comes only from knowing them very well.
Beware the Nice Ones: It never explicitly comes up in the series, but it's hinted more than once that pissing off Death is not a good idea.
Notably, the slightest sign that she's losing her temper is enough to make the Kindly Ones respectful and defensive.
Complete Immortality: More than any of the other Endless, to the point an aspect of her becomes mortal for one day each century to keep her in touch with the lives she collects.
Don't Fear The Reaper: Really, she is exactly the sort of person you need to see at a stressful moment such as death; comforting, gentle, and easy to get along with while holding a quiet and firm authority.
'80s Hair: Like her brother, she must have used a gallon of hair spray in her early appearances.
Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Her demeanour isn't eerie at all, but she is the incarnation of death. And, like most of the Endless, she has bone-white skin and jet-black hair.
The Grim Reaper: She was grim once, but got over it. As for the reaper part, she complained to her brother Destiny, "Next you'll be wanting me to carry a scythe!"
Implacable Psychopomp: She's not vindictive about it, but trying to bind her or keep her at bay with magic never goes well. She can grant an indefinite suspension from dying, but she won't do it just because you try to bully her.
Mama Bear: When Desire gloats over upsetting Dream, Death quickly calls Desire to heel.
Nice Girl: Probably the nicest one in all of comic book history.
Nice Hat: Wears a very snazzy top hat in Death: The High Cost of Living. Her predilection for toppers seems to have started during her meeting with Emperor Norton.
Non-Linear Character: This comes with being there whenever someone or something in the universe dies, be it planets, persons, or concepts. She's not omniscient, exactly: she just knows when she's needed.
This contrasts sharply with Dream, who can definitely only be in one place at once.
Painting the Medium: Notable in that she is the one Endless who does not have a special style of lettering or speech bubbles, perhaps to emphasize that of all of them, she is the one who is most able to relate to humans.
Prefers to think of himself as the personification of change; he abandoned his realm and is now on the run from his family. A Warrior Poet, he likes to try his hand at creating various forms of art, none of which are very good, and things that he's involved with never seem to work out properly. Character design based onBRIAN BLESSED.
Destruction: The Endless? The Endless are merely patterns. The Endless are ideas. The Endless are wave functions. The Endless are repeating motifs. The Endless are echoes of darkness, and nothing more. We have no right to play with their lives, to order their dreams and their desires. And even our existences are brief and bounded. None of us will last longer than this version of the universe. Delirium: Except our sister.
The Atoner: He's eternal, so he still has to watch as everything he enjoys is destroyed... but he no longer feels personally responsible.
Middle Child Syndrome: Inverted. He was the only member of the family that every one of the Endless (except maybe Desire) loved. When he decided to leave anyway, it broke them in two, the elders and the youngers. It hit Delirium and Despair the worst, since they seemed the closest with him.
My Greatest Failure: The other Endless seem to hold letting him leave to be this, to varying degrees. Destruction himself regrets abandoning his family, but it was a matter of conscience.
The Scottish Trope: His siblings never, ever refer to him as "Destruction", simply as "the Prodigal" or "our lost brother". Reason being, the Endless' names describe their domains and functions, which Destruction has abandoned without passing the mantle to another aspect of himself. Ergo, he should no longer be referred to as "Destruction".
The personification of longing and lust. An androgynous shapeshifter, it can be male, female, or both, but always who the viewer would find the most attractive. Above all selfish and manipulative (naturally), and held a long-running rivalry with Morpheus that eventually (in a roundabout way) led to Morpheus' death in the war with the three Fates (the Kindly Ones) and Dream's evolution to Daniel.Grandparent of recurring human character Rose Walker.
Rose: Are you going to hurt me? Kill me? Mess me up? Desire: No more than usually, no, and perhaps a little. But only with Love.
Depraved Bisexual/Anything That Moves: Desire doesn't give a shit about your gender and your sexual orientation. If it wants to have its way with you, its way will be aligned with whatever would do the job.
Even Selfishly Amoral has Loved-ish Ones: In The Kindly Ones it appears before Rose and seems to be attempting to connect with or communicate with her, though Rose is in no state to appreciate it. Rose later comments that she had a dream where she missed out on an opportunity to learn many important things. It does help Rose snap out of it, though, symbolically giving her back the heart she lost in The Doll's House.
Heel Realization: Desire spent much of the series attempting to trick Dream into spilling family blood, so that he would provoke the Furies' wrath. When Dream does so voluntarily and without its influence in any way, it's suddenly afraid of what will be coming next.
It Amused Me: Desire often torments people just because it can.
Jerk Ass: Billions of years ago, Dream and Desire used to be extremely close friends. It then, without shame or any pretence of hiding its involvement, made Dream's then-girlfriend cheat on him.
Not So Stoic: Desire is usually pretty controlled ...except for the time Joshua Norton refused its offer. Then Desire got pissed.
Desire seems to react this way whenever it finds someone capable of resisting its temptations. One of the short stories in Book of Dreams (each story had a different writer; none of them were Neil) centers around a man who thwarts Desire by pointing out that it can be beaten by true love. Desire claims they are the same thing.
Otherworldly And Sexually Ambiguous: Because they are the personification of lust, Desire can be a man, woman, or both, depending on whom the viewer finds the most attractive.
Not much is known about her, except that she was murdered by someone whom she afflicted. Taller than the second Despair, with more color in her skin and red tattoos. Notable for convincing Rao, the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Kryptonian sun, to create life on an unstable planet, even though it would be doomed to destruction. However, it didn't turn out as she'd planned; she intended for there to be a single survivor, "to remember, to mourn, to despair..." Except that single survivor grew up to be Superman, who isn't particularly noted for giving in to despair.
Daniel: The person who was responsible for the death of the first Despair will take the rest of eternity to die. Only then will his pain cease ...and he had better cause for what he did than you.
Failure Is the Only Option: Despair can never succeed or win - to do so, even momentarily, would be to betray its nature. It evens seems that the further Despair over-reaches, the worse the snapback is, as in the image above, where this scheme ultimately results in the creation of Superman.
Technician Versus Performer: From what little we see of her, this incarnation might be considered the "technician", with an interest in elaborate, sweeping plans such as destroying worlds.
The Second Despair
Short, fat and ugly, gray skinned, with sullen eyes, goes around naked. Impulsively tears her skin with a hooked ring, the sign of her office. It has been speculated that this incarnation of Despair was the punishment of the person who killed the first one. However, it is stated that one of the Endless formed her from an aspect of themselves. Since she and Desire are 'twins', he/she/it seems a likely candidate.
Despair: Today he's sitting in their family room, realizing that his life is over, wondering if he has the courage to physically end it. He doesn't. Isn't it beautiful?
She seems to be related to memory and mourning, two somewhat more "positive" aspects of despair. Her comments on her brother Dream's funeral suggest that she always remembers those gone and suggests that it is part of the reason for her despair. A much more poetic interpretation for her occupation than "watch those that suffer".
Technician Versus Performer: Between this incarnation and the former, this one might be considered the "performer", with an fine-tuned interest in the misery of individual lives as opposed the large scale plans of her predecessor.
The youngest of the Endless. Used to be Delight, the personification of joy and happiness, but changed to Delirium long before the onset of the story for reasons unclear (possibly to assert freedom from Destiny). Has differently-colored eyes and hair continually changing in color and style. Can create anything she imagines and warp reality, including a person's memories. It is implied that her delirium is partly a defensive mechanism from knowing too damn much (more than anyone, including her siblings). Also implied (in Endless Nights) that there may be relationship trouble involved.
Delirium: Not knowing everything is all that makes it okay, sometimes.
Bald Women: She's never completely bald, but a couple times she has very short hair or she's bald on one side of her head.
Break the Cutie: Delirium was originally Delight, until something caused her to change. Most likely when she realized that she's older than the universe, but she's forever the youngest of the Endless.
Flying Seafood Special: She has the habit of taking her fish to walk. They generally float around her, even in situations and places where it's unknown if there is any sense of space or even logic, like her realm.
Humanoid Abomination: While all of the Endless are this technically (they're not human, just aspects of humanity), Delirium betrays her frightening and incomprehensible nature more often than any of her siblings.
Mad God: Delirium is older and more powerful than any living or already dead god. Still, she defines and is the poster girl of this trope.
Madness Makeover: It happened before the story started, but we can see how Delight looked from flashbacks.
Mad Oracle/Oracular Urchin: Apparently knows secrets even the other Endless don't know. For example, while Destiny knows everything that was, is, could or will be, Delirium knows everything else; everything that wasn't, isn't, couldn't or won't be. It's unwise to ignore what she says - nearly as unwise as listening too closely.
Vague Age: She looks like she could be anywhere from about ten to fourteen or fifteen, depending on the artist and the outfit. (Or maybe her physical age fluctuates along with her clothing and hairstyle. It's hard to be sure.)
Dreams and Nightmares
Dream's companion, a raven who was once a man who died in his dreams, and was given the chance to become a servant of Dream. Matthew often questions Dream, pointing out the holes in his plans and keeping his perspective in check. Is the spirit of Matt Cable, a supporting character in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing.
Meta Guy: Most notably in The Wake, where he, like the audience, is shown taking Morpheus' death hard, and has problem accepting Daniel as the substitute, but it shows up on many other occasions as well.
The Watson: As the most recent addition to the Dreaming, he's still unfamiliar with many of the themes and concepts and as such is in need of an explanation — a fair number of plot points would have gone completely unexplained for the reader if Matthew hadn't been around to say "What? Who's that? What does that mean? What's going on? Why is this happening?"
A tall thin bookish man who serves as Dream's librarian, maintaining all the books that have ever been dreamt of. He was once a mortal man, and after his death he became Dream's first raven before his promotion to librarian. When Dream came back from his imprisonment, he found Lucien the only one of his servants still trying to tend to the palace, and rewarded him with the position of majordomo (he still manages the library as well).
Badass Bookworm: When the Dreaming starts becoming even more chaotic than usual, dangerous things that Morpheus imprisoned can get out. Lucien, however, is on hand to deal with them. And he does.
Hidden Depths: Aside from being a former raven, Lucien takes Mervyn's death surprisingly hard, to the point of chastising Morpheus for allowing it to happen.
Noodle People: He's taller than Dream, who's pretty noodley himself, and at least as thin.
The Reliable One: Was the only dream not to flee Dream's castle as it fell apart. Because of this Dream came to rely on him heavily and all but made Lucien his Number Two.
Word of Gay: Zig-zagged. When discussing Dumbledore's outing, Gaiman mentioned that he strongly suspected Lucien was gay, but also thought he had a minor thing for Nuala. As it never mattered to the story, not even he knows for sure.
Cain and Abel
Two brothers who both live in the Dreaming. Cain is a violent abusive man prone to murdering Abel, who is a meek shy man who often stutters. Abel always recovers after a few hours. And yes, they are that Cain and Abel. Cain is the keeper of the House of Mystery and Abel of the House of Secrets; they entertain dreamers who visit their homes with stories. Both originally appeared as hosts of DC Comics horror anthologies and figured in a Swamp Thing story that helped inspire the Dreaming.
Immortality Hurts: For poor Abel, mostly, but if someone is sufficiently motivated to harm Cain, he won't die either - he'll keep suffering. And sometimes, he genuinely doesn't want to hurt his brother, but he always will.
A woman who lives in a cave in the Dreaming. Cain and Abel consider her their mother, though whether she is the Biblical Eve is unknown. She has a close friendship with ravens, including Matthew. Originally, she was the host of the DC horror comics, Secrets of Sinister House and Weird Mystery Tales.
Badass: He is really dangerous in close-quarters combat. Managing to throttle and perform a Neck Snap on a certain Norse god of mischief who unsuccessfully tries to break free by shape-shifting into a fire is quite impressive.
Older than They Look: He's at least three hundred years old, but his lack of aging is unsurprising for a dream. However, one member of the Serial Killer convention remarks on how he thought the Corinthian would be older, considering how long he's been killing people.
Serial Killer: The Corinthian makes his first appearance at a serial killers' convention. It's implied that he inspired the modern serial killer — that it was how he interpreted his stated purpose as revealing the dark side of humanity. He's wrong, and Dream unmakes him for it, to try again another day.
The Ditz: The Brute is, unsurprisingly, an idiot. The Glob, despite being an embodiment of cunning, isn't much smarter.
Fate Worse than Death: When Dream finds them, they are both banished to an unknown place, described only as the darkness. Judging from their cameo in Lucifer, they eventually escape, but still, their reaction gives the impression that maybe death would have been preferable to what awaited them there.
Simple Minded Wisdom: The Brute knew that Glob's plan to create their own private kingdom separate from the Dreaming in the mind of an abused child would never work, but, as he says, it was fun to try.
A place in Dream, said to be the land all travellers dream of someday finding. He usually takes the form of a human, resembling G. K. Chesterton, and sometimes wanders the earth for his amusement.
Cane Fu: Beat down a couple of muggers about to prey upon Rose in this fashion.
Cloudcuckoolander: The first time he's described doing anything (in Rose's letter), he's requesting that the landlord bring him a six-foot-long pencil so he can draw on the ceiling from his bed. Which he has decided to stay in all week. Normally he's more grounded, though.
Face Death with Dignity: Is fairly calm and relaxed when The Furies kill him. He even manages to give a small speech as he lay dying about how he doesn't mind it all that much, given how fair and enjoyable his life had been, only remarking he would've preferred to have died some other way.
Genius Loci: When a place, he's a very pleasant place, with blue skies, soft grass, and gentle streams; one of the hearts of the Dreaming. (There are several of them. Dreams aren't exactly logical.)
Break the Cutie: She was sent by Oberon and Titania as a gift to Dream as part of a diplomatic mission to keep Hell closed (Long Story). No one expected this mission to be successful, and Nuala was allowed to believe she'd be returning to Faerie when it was done. Cluracan reluctantly informs her when he leaves that Titania will not allow the gift to be rejected win or lose, and so she would not be welcomed back to her home. When Dream accepts her into his employ, he strips her of her beautiful and dignified Glamour, returning her to her gawky, awkward and mousey natural appearance. She spends a lot of time afterwards miserable. Dream doesn't even give her a position in his court — she begins acting as a housekeeper out of a need for something to do.
Plucky Comic Relief: His job in the series is to point out when Dream is being ridiculous (although as Dream himself points put, just because Mervyn has the occasional sharp insight doesn't mean he's any less a doofus or that Dream is any less fearsome or powerful).
Affably Evil: Aside from dirty looks and trying to get the people in his apartment trapped in dreams, he's a fairly pleasant guy after his face is nailed to a wall and he's unable to die. He strikes up a conversation with Wanda, and alerts her to when Barbie is in danger.
Deal with the Devil: He has no idea where humans got this idea from, and considers it a feeble attempt to avoid responsibility for their actions. What would he do with a soul, even if he could "own" one, anyway?
Evil Brit / Smart People Speak The Queen's English: Implied; after quitting Hell, he relaxes on a beach in Australia and the man he's talking to asks him if he's a "pom" (Australian slang for a British person). Given that Lucifer doesn't come from any earthly country, nor has he pretended to do so for the purposes of disguise in this scene, it seems likely that his voice sounds British.
Too Dumb to Live: It's expressly stated in the series that even in Hell and in a weakened state, Morpheus is more than capable of dealing with any threat short of Lucifer himself. Azazel later picks a fight with a fully empowered Morpheus on his home turf, and gets thoroughly and effortlessly crushed for his trouble.
Butt Monkey: Any time he appears, it's to have something awful happen to him.
Break the Haughty: Remiel is not altogether happy about being ordered to maintain Hell.
Fallen Angel: Remiel initially rejects the order to take over Hell, and plans to rebel as Lucifer did to avoid it, barely relenting due to Duma's sacrifice. Duma, on the other hand, does exactly what his Creator wills and is explicitly mentioned as not having fallen.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: When Remiel and Duma are handed Hell's reigns, Remiel decides to retool it all - they're not punishing the damned, they're redeeming them! ...Using exactly the same methods as they used when punishing them, but done because they love them and want them to become better people. The damned he tells this to can only respond that this only makes it worse.
You Are Worth Hell: Rarely is it so literal as in Remiel's case. Duma shames him into accepting his new role.
Pet the Dog: As ditzy and vain as he is, he still loves Nuala, asking for her release from Dream, and then throwing Glamour on her when her normal form nearly gets her banished.
Unreliable Narrator: Invoked and lampshaded. When he tells a story about he got free and dethroned a corrupt ruler of a nation, his tale is called into question, he freely admits to adding in things and removing other details, but the only falsehood he cops to is when he get's into a sword fight (he added that because he thought the story was boring). He does point out that the embellishments are for making the story more interesting, as in the story he's still a ditz and screws up to the point he needs Dream to save him.
And I Must Scream: Odin releases Loki from a punishment that - even by Norse mythology standards - is pretty hard-core. So terrible that even Dream shows some Sympathy for the Devil. Which turns out to be an error in judgement. Maybe.
Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Not only is he the archetypal example (when he played his lyre to lull Cerberus), his song for his lost love touched the heart of Hades and made the Furies weep. Unfortunately, neither of those things end well for him.
Trauma Conga Line: Wife killed at their wedding reception. His father fails utterly to be any help (though his aunt grants him immortality against her own better judgement). Ventures into the underworld to retrieve his wife's soul and succeeds, but then loses her forever moments before she would have lived again. Becomes so mired in grief that he lets himself be torn apart and eaten by the Baccheae, female followers of Dionysus. Even then, he doesn't die - he becomes a head without a body, drifting on the ocean. When he washes up on the shore, his own father tells him he's been an idiot, feels no sympathy at all, disowns him and walks off. It takes millennia for them to reconcile (during which time Orpheus remains an immobile Oracular Head), and only then, finally, does he die.
The Chessmaster: Well, He is God, so yeah. In Season Of Mists, he has Destiny arrange a meeting of his siblings by writing it in his book. This sparks off a chain of events that ends with Lucifer having retired from his position as the ruler of Hell, Hell coming into the control of two Angels that proceed to make it a place of repentance and salvation rather than simple punishment, and Morpheus receiving some much-needed perspective about some of his more jerk-ish tendencies.
The Ghost: Never manifests in person (uh, sort of, we're talking an omnipotent omnipresent omniscient deity here, just roll with it), but is obviously spoken of and performs offscreen actions that shake the foundations of the universe.
Walking the Earth: Puck refuses to leave Earth and its associated realms behind when the other inhabitants of Faerie abandon it.
Puck: Go, my lord? When there be mortals here to confusticate and vex? Go you all! Your Puck shall remain... the last hobgoblin in a weary world.
Badass Boast: The Kindly Ones are fond of making these for two reasons. One is that their nature is of terrifying rage, so it's good if their targets fear them. The other is that they are very nearly always capable of walking the walk. Though Death, angered, can cow them.
Blue and Orange Morality: The Three, in all their incarnations, seem to be so far removed from anything remotely resembling human morality that calling them "evil" would miss the point. It would be like trying to assign moral values to a natural disaster.
Legacy Character: Invoked. Every time exactly three female characters appear together, or three and a character who's rendered distinct from the other three, the three women each represent an aspect of The Three in some way. Over the course of the series, several characters come to represent one or more of them. Lyta Hall comes to embody all three at once.
Implacable Three Women: They never stop until they have avenged the spilled family blood, even if the person who invoked and merged with them actually wants them to stop. She's only the vessel, directed by the Three.
The Kindly Ones/Furies: But they don't like being called the Furies. Not at all.
Aspects of Revenge. To call the Furies on someone, the victim must first have killed a member of his or her own family.
Kick the Dog: Their function is to hound and torment their victims, so there is a lot of wanton cruelty in their rampage from which they seem to take a great deal of pleasure.
Murderer P.O.V.: Whenever they kill someone it is always from their perspective.
The Omniscient: They seem to know absolutely everything, to the point that even Destiny can be caught off-guard by their pronouncements.
Revenge Before Reason: Unsurprising, given that they are vengeance incarnate. Lyta's attempt to reason with them when she finds out Daniel is alive does not work - it isn't Daniel they're pursuing him for.
Terms of Endangerment: They call everyone they meet things like "dearie" and "poppet", and while they are not normally aggressive it's still pretty unnerving. It gets creepier when they speak the same way while becoming the Kindly Ones.
A man from the Middle Ages and a contemporary of William Shakespeare who had the uncanny luck to be overheard giving a rant about the subject of immortality by two of the Endless; Death and Dream. Amused, Dream approached Hob and, with Death's permission, offered to give him immortality if he would only come back to that very inn once a century. Hob accepted, believing it was all a joke. One hundred years later, he realised his error.
Complete Immortality: He can die if he chooses and under no other circumstance. He's been offered the choice but refused it time after time, even when suffering horribly.
Living Forever Is Awesome: No matter how bad things get for him over the centuries - and they get very bad, along the lines of starving to death but being unable to die - Hob has never accepted or requested death. Even when Dream, the closest thing he has to a permanent friend, dies and Death gently offers to break the deal, he refuses.
Politically Correct History: Averted, he was involved in the slave trade, and while he felt really guilty about it afterwards, he didn't feel that way at the time. He lampshades the trope left and right in one of the wrap-up issues when his (black) girlfriend convinces him to go with her to a Renaissance Faire. His dialogue from that issue currently provides page quotes for The Renaissance and The Dung Ages.
Wandering Jew: At least thematically, though Hob isn't Jewish. His meetings with Dream actually give rise to a legend that the Devil and the Wandering Jew meet in that tavern once a century, which he thinks is rather amusing.
Trauma Conga Line: Abused (by his foster parents, who only took him in for the money they'd get), used (by Brute and Glob), freed and caught again (by the Corinthian, who locks the poor kid in the trunk of his car "for later") and finally found by Rose and Gilbert, by which point he's dehydrated, malnourished, exhausted and on the brink of death. Fortunately, he survives the night in hospital and things get much better for him from then on.
Weirdness Magnet: A minor case. His imagination was apparently sufficient to support a dead human soul, a living human soul and an unborn child in a weird "dream kingdom", and he managed to run into all four of the rogue dreams completely accidentally in very quick succession. Like his sister, it may be a side-effect of his heritage - Desire of the Endless and Unity Kincaid the Dream Vortex.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: When he regained the Ruby, at first he wanted to hold the world to ransom, spreading madness as a show of his power so that he would receive whatever he wanted...and then he decided driving everyone insane was funnier.
Heroic Sacrifice: Barbie only survived the destruction of the apartment building because Maisie shielded her body.
Never Got to Say Goodbye: Had a grandson who was a pre-op transsexual (she refers to him as male, but mentions he loved dresses) and, somewhat unexpectedly, explains to Wanda that both his mom and herself adored him and encouraged him to express himself. Unfortunately, when he reached adulthood he ran away and was found beaten to death, his killer never identified. Word of God is that he may well have been one of the Conoisseur's eight victims.
Apocalypse Maiden: Due to Desire impregnating her grandmother, Unity, Rose inherited the Dream Vortex, a power that collapses all the walls of the Dreaming and then the Dreaming itself if it's allowed to be fully expressed, shattering entire universes. Morpheus informs her (quite politely) that he has to kill her to prevent this. Fortunately, Unity herself takes the power from Rose and dies instead - just as she was meant to before Desire got involved.
Dude Magnet: Rose appears to be supernaturally attractive without realizing it. At one point a pedophile becomes attracted to her (seeing her as much, much younger). She also seduces a gay man (without realizing he was gay), briefly attracts (or at least flusters) another gay guy, and possibly also had Gilbert falling for her (he mentions falling in love, and that he treasured her kiss on his cheek). This is probably due to being Desire's granddaughter.
Expy: Of real-life mystic Aleister Crowley (who is mentioned in-universe as Burgess's rival).
It's All About Me: The real purpose of his entire order seems to be to give himself money, prestige, respect, and ultimately immortality.
Karma Houdini: Partial example. He never gets the immortality that he demanded as the price of Dream's freedom because Dream simply waits him out until he dies old and bitter... but his son is the one who gets the Disproportionate Retribution simply by virtue of having inheritedDream's basement and being its owner at the time Dream managed to escape.
Visionary Villain: He wanted to imprison Death to ensure that no one would ever die. When he captures Dream instead (maybe his aim was off), Dream says that Burgess cannot comprehend how lucky he is that he didn't succeed in his original goal.
Cannot Tell a Joke: A rare example of someone who is fully aware that they can't and so doesn't even try. It's something of a Running Gag with her that her Dissonant Serenity when talking about something horrible/impossible causes people to think she's joking, and she explains/reminds them that she "never got the hang" of telling jokes.
Dissonant Serenity: She's really very matter-of-fact about cutting a guy's face off and pulling his tongue out with her teeth, before nailing the lot to the wall. He was a bad guy (and she'd already killed him) but...yeek.
It's All About Me: She's not actively malicious towards anyone (unless they try to harm her first) but neither does she care about anyone else. This is first shown during her quest to track down the cuckoo; she is momentarily taken aback when her companions mention that they came to save Barbie, and makes it clear that she places a higher priority on the Cuckoo's destruction.
Pet the Dog: A weird example. After Lyta Hall allows the Furies to take Morpheus's life, Thessaly frees her, gives her a shower and some food, and politely informs her that she ought to start running, because a lot of people are now going to want her dead. Including Thessaly herself. She later weeps at Morpheus's funeral, proving she cared for him despite their messy break-up.
The Unfettered: Thessaly doesn't care one whit about the cost of ensuring her personal survival, and deals briskly and brutally with anyone or anything that poses a threat to her. She's not evil, but Gaiman describes her actions as teaching everyone who knows her, in these exact words, the lesson "Don't fuck with Thessaly."
Woman Scorned: Subverted; when Morpheus discovers that she is preventing him from killing Lyta Hall's physical body and thus preventing her Kindly Ones incarnation from destroying the Dreaming, he assumes she's trying to hurt him after they broke up. It's actually because the Three have agreed to let her live another millennium or two, if she ensures Dream cannot stop them. That he's an ex-lover is irrelevant; it's simply another case of her prioritising her own survival above anything.
Bittersweet Ending: After Wanda's death, her parents have her buried under her birth name, Alvin. But Barbie sees Wanda one last time in a dream with the most gorgeous and anatomically correct female body, Death standing with her and clearly offering the definitive and ultimate opinion on Wanda's gender. Death and Wanda wave goodbye to Barbie before she wakes up.
Due to the Dead: Her parents have her hair cut and her body made up as a boy, burying her under her birth name. Her mom even implies that she may have deserved to die, though she still mourns. In the end, Barbie buries Wanda with a Weirdzo comic and crosses out the name on her tombstone to write "Wanda" in her favorite lipstick color.
Author Avatar: A multi-layered variant that's a little mind-boggling. Shakespeare obviously writes his own experiences into his plays, and he acts in them when travelling with the King's Men. The plots Morpheus gives him (especially The Tempest) are also inadvertently biographical for Morpheus and Shakespeare. On top of that, the progression of Shakespeare's life can be read a little as mirroring that of Morpheus, particularly towards the end of both. And finally, in the last volume of Sandman, Gaiman has Shakespeare write the final speech of Prospero, which is a Leaning on the Fourth Wall farewell to the audience of the play - and also, in context, can be read as Shakespeare bidding goodbye to the world of theatre and stories, Morpheus bidding goodbye to his duties and role (both in-universe and as the protagonist of a comic), Gaiman bidding goodbye to the reader, and the reader bidding goodbye to the story.
Deal with the Devil: But somewhat more benign that most examples, since his deal is with Dream. In return for inspiration and unlocking the true potential of his literary gift, Shakespeare would write two commissioned plays for the Dream King with plots specified (A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest, if you're curious). Shakespeare muses towards the end of his life that the price he paid may not have been what Dream requested, but what Shakespeare himself received.
It Will Never Catch On: He's a contemporary of Hob Gadling, who didn't think much of his literary efforts at the time.
Also his opinion of Guy Fawkes Day. He and a friend sarcastically coin the "Remember, remember, the fifth of November," rhyme for Guy Fawkes, joking that it might endure for a century.
In addition to Neil Gaiman's character, the name of the Sandman has also been used for numerous other DC Comics characters.
Other Sandmen and Related Characters
AKA: Wesley Dodds
First appeared in "Adventure Comics" #40 (July, 1939), created by Gardner Fox and Bert Christman. One of the first superheroes of the 20th century, Wesley Dodds was plagued with prophetic dreams that impelled him to fight crime. He invented a sleeping-gas gun and "wirepoon" (a gun-mounted grappling hook) to help him in his cause and became a founding member of the Justice Society of America. Shortly before the refounding of the modern JSA, Wesley Dodds committed suicide to prevent the Evil SorcererMordru from extracting important information from him; his funeral set the stage for the JSA's rebirth.Gaiman's Sandman revealed that as a result of Dream's imprisonment during the 20th century, some mortals were affected by the cosmic imbalance. Dodds held a piece of the Dreaming inside him, and this was the cause of his prophetic dreams. Dodds also had his own, 1930s-set Vertigo series Sandman Mystery Theatre.
Catch Phrase: The short poem he left at the scene of every crime he stopped. "There is no land beyond the law where tyrants rule with unshakable power! 'Tis but a dream from which the evil wake to face their fate... their terrifying hour!"
My Greatest Failure: Turning his sidekick, Sandy, into a rock monster in the 1950s. (He got better.)
AKA: Garrett Sanford
First appeared in "Sandman" vol. 1 #1 (Winter, 1974), created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. Originally supposed to be the Sandman of legend, this bizarre character patrolled the "Dream Stream" to fight nightmares with the aid of two dreams named Brute and Glob, often helping out a young boy named Jed. After his short-lived series ended, it was Retconned that he was actually a psychologist named Garrett Sanford whose mind was trapped in a "Dream Dimension" while his physical body was in a coma. An appearance in Infinity, Inc. revealed that Sanford had gone insane after his last appearance and committed suicide. Gaiman's Sandman, finally, revealed that Brute and Glob were rogue nightmares from the Dreaming who were running amok in Morpheus's absence, the Dream Dimension was a pocket universe they created inside the mind of Jed Walker, and Sanford was just a plaything for them.
First appeared as Silver Scarab in "All-Star Squadron" #25 (September, 1983). Became the Sandman in ''"Infinity, Inc.'" #49 (May, 1988). After Garrett Sanford's death, DC superhero Silver Scarab—the son of the Golden AgeHawkman—had his soul stuck in Sanford's body (long story) and his mind filling the same role under Brute and Glob. His wife, Lyta "the Fury" Hall, went to live with him in the Dream Dimension, and there they conceived Daniel Hall, who would later replace Morpheus as Dream. After Morpheus escaped his captivity, he destroyed the Dream Dimension, causing Hector's spirit to depart the mortal plane.Hector Hall was later reincarnated as the new Doctor Fate and joined the JSA, only to be killed again by The Spectre. His soul now resides in the Dreaming alongside his once-son, Dream/Daniel.
Took a Level in Dumbass: Was completely oblivious to the fact that his wife had been pregnant for about two years, and when it was finally brought to his attention, he didn't really give much thought to it. Really, Hall's mentality had slightly devolved as his wife drifted away from reality. He went from a competent superhero to one who fought rather nonsensical battles against bizarrely weak villains.
Sandy the Golden Boy/Sand/Sandman IV
AKA: Sanderson Hawkins
First appeared in "Adventure Comics" #69 (December, 1941), created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris. Assumed the Sandman mantle in ''"Justice Society of America'" vol. 3 #1 (February, 2007). The original "Sandy the Golden Boy", nephew of Wesley Dodds. Grew up into the first chairman of the modern incarnation of the Justice Society of America, leading the team through many adventures. He gained super-powers and, after Wesley's death, inherited his prophetic dreams, but eventually got written out as the writer-switch between David Goyer & Geoff Johns went underway, disappearing into the Earth for a while, and losing his leadership position to Mr. Terrific. Eventually changed his name to the Sandman like his mentor.
Blessed with Suck: His power of having nightmares about crimes in the future means that he can't sleep several nights, and sees some truly horrific things.
Dishing Out Dirt: Gains these powers after the first arc thanks to his past as a silica-based creature, thus becoming decent in a fight rather than a Badass Normal.
Out of Focus: Heavily out of focus. People tend to forget that he was even on the JSA. He shows up to have a fortuitous dream, but rarely gets involved in any fights. And he was once the leader and main character of the book.
Put on a Bus: He disappeared into the Earth to save the world, and was gone for a couple arcs in JSA, including the big one, Black Reign.