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The Endless is a rather dysfunctional family of seven siblings who are each Anthropomorphic Personifications of seven concepts. They are the children of Night and Time, and are 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 in each other's realms and only travel to each other's realms when it is completely necessary.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Of the concept represented by their names.
- 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.
- Cosmic Entity: Their individual power is so great that they are considered to be beyond even Physical Gods.
- Domain Holder: They're powerful enough normally, but on their home turf they make the rules, full stop. This is emphasized with Dream, whose many responsibilities include Sacred Hospitality.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: They can change their perceived forms to fit the expectations of others.
- Humanoid Abomination
- The Omnipresent: Destruction states that he is, at least in a sense, virtually everywhere destruction occurs and is the controlling aspect. Death is a more straightfoward example since she personally manifests physically to people when they are born or die meaning she has to appear in more than one place at once. Death: The High Cost of of Living features Death becoming mortal for a day only to die and end up being collected by herself and holding a conversation with the other "Death" while in her mortal body despite the two being the same being.
- Reality Warper: All of them are powerful enough to do this; some do so more frequently than others.
- Rule of Seven: There are seven Endless.
- The Shadow Knows: All of the Endless except for Death (the most humane) and Destruction (who has retired) possess a strange shadow, often hinting at their nature.
- Theme Initials: D, obviously. They also have many different names in different mythologies that don't fit this pattern, but only Dream is ever seen using any of them.
Dream of the Endless. The Sandman. The Lord Shaper. Dream Weaver. Oneiros (a few 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.
"Morpheus"/The First Dream
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 Faerie) 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. Although his official name is Dream of the Endless, he is often referred to as "Morpheus" and thus that's what this page calls him in order to separate him from his second incarnation.
- Morpheus: It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor.
- '80s Hair: In the early run he looked like Goth Mick Jagger. Changed to more of a timeless look later on.
- Aloof Big Brother: To Delirium, Desire and Despair. Especially to Delirium, who mentions that she is always a bit scared of him.
- Anti-Hero: Immensely powerful and a force necessary for life, yet a very flawed being by human standards.
- Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: Morpheus is perceived differently by everyone who sees him, appearing as whatever they would be most comfortable with.note
- The Atoner: When he realises he has done Nada a disservice by dooming her to Hell, he immediately takes steps to rectify it. After finally giving his son Orpheus the death he wished for, he is implied to be unable to move on, which is why he allows the Furies to kill him.
- Been There, Shaped History: Was involved in the careers of William Shakespeare and Joshua Norton, among others.
- Black Eyes of Evil: Morpheus' eyes depend a bit on the artist, but the overall consensus is that they're completely black and have a red glimmer in them like a ruby. Sometimes he doesn't even have eyes, just complete black where the eyes are supposed to be. Subverted in that he's not at all evil. Well, mostly not.
- Blue and Orange Morality: He defines his morality entirely by his duties to the Dreaming and a number of old 'rules' the reader can only guess at by inference. He is capable of empathy and following human moral standards, but he only starts to show it after his imprisonment. Overture suggests it was the events of that story which started nudging him in this direction.
- Byronic 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.
- Character Development: The entire series can be said to be this for him. Concluding in literal character-changing.
- The Chessmaster: Almost from page one, Morpheus sows the seeds of his own destruction by giving away ammunition that could be turned against him at a critical juncture and preparing Daniel to be the vessel for his replacement. By the time the Furies come knocking, all the Chekhovs Guns fire off one by one.
- The Comically Serious: While Morpheus 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.
- Cool Crown: It looks like a gas mask with filter tube, and it's made from the skull and spinal cord of a dead god. Awesome.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The guy gives out a lot of Fates Worse Than Death. When he tries to give a What the Hell, Hero? to Delirium for dooming an innocent man to spend the rest of his life tormented by invisible bugs, she replies that he's done far worse and repeatedly.
- Dream Weaver: He's the former page image for the trope, and sometimes is referred to as "Dream-Weaver", though usually derisively.
- Driven to Suicide: This is the most common interpretation of the series' plot.
- Fatal Attractor: The series introduces quite a few of Dream's ex-lovers - ultimately always to emphasize 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.
- Fatal Flaw: His sense of duty and tradition (which also makes him come off as rather self-centered) and resistance to change. 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.
- The Hero Dies: More specifically, this incarnation of The Hero Dies. The absolute embodiment of dreams continues to exist after his death in a different form.
- I Have Many Names: Even by the Endless's standards he has a lot of names. His bio says that he collects names "like others make friends; but he permits himself few friends".
- Immortal Immaturity: Not above standing in the rain like a lovesick teenager after the end of an affair - and that's when he's being nice.
- Jerk Ass: He gets better after escaping imprisonment, but he's still not the most pleasant Endless to be around.
- 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.
- Looks Like Cesare: Tall, pale, messy hair and his eyes are completely black.
- Messy Hair: Sleep-tussled.
- Painting the Medium: His word balloons are black with white lettering.
- Pet the Dog: He can, every now and then, be kind. For instance, he both removes John Constantine's nightmares and gives Constantine's ex an easy, peaceful death when he could very easily have let her die painfully (though, admittedly, he only did this last once Constantine called him out).
- He was utterly horrified by what Doctor Destiny was doing with his ruby and was willing to sacrifice himself in order to try and stop it happening.
- The Shadow Knows: He has a "normal" shadow... as long as he remembers to cast it. Fittingly, he does possess some humanity, but not as much as Destruction or Death.
- The Stoic: Most of the time.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Issue #6 of Overture suggests he wants his parents' approval.
- What the Hell, Hero?: He gets called out a lot for his behaviour. Including by his own servants.
"Daniel"/The Second Dream
The second incarnation of Dream, created from transfigured pieces of Daniel Hall's soul. He is clothed all in white, with white hair and more boyish features. 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. Like Morpheus he never actually refers to himself by any name (and rejects the name Daniel), but in the short time he appears in the comic he has no other names.
- Daniel: Sometimes I suspect that we build our traps ourselves, then we back into them, pretending amazement all the while.
- Born-Again Immortality: A subversion. It's the role of Dream that will never die. It's just that different people assume the job when someone dies and the new guy has all of the memories and knowledge of the old guy(s).
- Character Development: He is the trope in its most literal form, being an entirely new character/point of view for Dream of the Endless to take. He seems to intentionally set out to avoid the pit-traps Morpheus did.
- Man in White: In contrast to Morpheus's dark clothing.
- Messy Hair: One thing he shares with his predecessor. His is much shorter however.
- Mystical White Hair: To contrast with Morpheus' black hair.
- Naďve Newcomer:
- Acts like this despite being a Time Abyss, since while he shares all of Morpheus' memories and knowledge, he's essentially a different character who has never exerted the job of ruling the Dreaming before. So while he knows all what he predecessor knew in order to take care of things, it's not like he has actually done any of it before.
- The Dreaming's inhabitants in special sees him as this, which is understandable since they are the ones who interacted with Morpheus the most and immediately take notice of the differences between their old boss and Daniel. Also doesn't help that most of the residents who appear often, such as Matthew, Cain and Lucien, actually met him as a human baby. In The Dreaming spin-off they actually refer to him as "the kid" or "the young master", which they of course never did with Morpheus. Matthew in fact decides to stay by his side in most part due to believing that Daniel will need some advice, being now inexperienced of sorts.
- Nice Guy: By contrast. From what little we get to see of him he's still rather formal, but less self-centered and doesn't hold grudges.
- Painting the Medium: His speech bubbles are the inverse of Morpheus', with the same lettering but black-on-white instead of white-on-black.
- Past-Life Memories: Daniel states that while he is not Morpheus, he has all of the memories and knowledge that Morpheus possessed.
- Power Crystal: An emerald, contrasting with Morpheus' ruby.
- The Punishment Is the Crime: He gives Lyta his protection after she destroys Morpheus, reasoning that she has already suffered greatly and doesn't deserve to spend the rest of her existence running from the various beings who might want to avenge Dream.
- Redeeming Replacement: He is quickly established as much more forgiving and approachable than Morpheus.
- The Stoic: Some things do not change.
- That Man Is Dead: He is Dream of the Endless, but instructs others not to call him Morpheus or Daniel - he is a new entity with the office of the former, transcended from parts of the essence of the latter, and has no right to either 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.
- All-Powerful Bystander: He knows everything that happens, but intervenes only when it's ordained that he do so.
- 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.
- The Fettered: He's literally fettered to his book, representing the fact that he is incapable of doing anything that isn't in the book. He sometimes seems to have no free will at all.
- In the Hood: He's always wearing a hooded cloak.
- 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 Omniscient: Everything that is, was, and could possibly be.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Yes, Destiny of all beings gets this at one point, losing his temper during Overture because something happened that was not in his book.
- Painting the Medium: Destiny's words are always italicized.
- Parental Favoritism: Time and Night have rather rocky relationships with their children, but both have expressed more affection for Destiny than the others. Time because Destiny never asks him for anything and Night because he's the only one who visits her.
- Prophet Eyes: He's blind with Milky White Eyes.
- The Shadow Knows: Inverted. He doesn't leave a shadow, or footprints, or anything else.
- The Watcher: He observes everything that happens.
- You Can't Fight Fate: He believes this. Considering who he is, it's kind of a given, but it even applies to him — it should be noted that the text always refers to Destiny being chained to his book, and not the other way round.
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.
- '80s Hair: Like her brother, she must have used a gallon of hair spray in her early appearances.
- 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. Desire backs down when rebuked by Death.
- The slightest sign that she's losing her temper is enough to make the Kindly Ones respectful and defensive.The Kindly Ones (very subdued): We are only performing our function, Lady.
- The slightest sign that she's losing her temper is enough to make the Kindly Ones respectful and defensive.
- Character Development: Glimpses of Death when she was younger suggest that she was once a good deal less cheerful and friendly; somewhere along the line, possibly just through doing her job over and over again, she Took a Level in Kindness.
- 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. According to Delirium, she is the only one of the Endless that will outlive the current form of the universe.
- Cool Big Sis: The second oldest of the Endless and is very close with all of them, but Dream in particular.
- Dark Is Not Evil: She's a Perky Goth who shuffles those who die off this mortal coil. Anger her at your own peril, but that aside she's actually quite nice.
- Death Is Cheap: She freely admits to this. She confesses that she's very busy and sometimes people slip through the cracks. She doesn't begrudge them the extra time because they'll all meet her eventually. Her only comment on the Blackest Night is that it looked like they were having a lot of fun, so she just let them be.
- 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.
- 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.
- Goth Girls Know Magic: She has the goth look down to a T and, as The Grim Reaper, she has powers over death.
- 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 Woman: 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: Invoked to make her both sympathetic and a little disturbing. She knows everybody - everybody - and she has sympathy even for the worst people.
- 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. Or who knows; from a throwaway line from Destruction she also has an impressive floppy hat collection.
- 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.
- The Omnipresent: Death personally appears to someone when they are born or die, meaning she can appear at once in an infinite number of bodies that are all "her." Best shown in Death: The High Cost of Living when she becomes mortal for a day only to die and end up meeting herself. The two have a conversation about the value of life which means she is talking to herself while in two different bodies.
- 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.
- Perky Goth: She always dresses all in dark clothes, evoking a goth look, but is quite cheerful and one of the friendliest characters in the comics.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Nearly everyone in and out of universe agrees that Death is the most attractive woman in the series.
- The Scottish Trope:
- Death's siblings never address her by name, or even refer to her by name.
- In conversation, it's always "Sister"; by reference, it's always "our oldest sister."
- Dream is the only one to have called her by name, once, in the very first issue of Sandman. Could be taken as Early Installment Weirdness, and was probably at least partially done so that Gaiman wouldn't have to have him refer to Death as a "she" — after all, her gender was meant to be a big reveal when she turned up in person. It could also be taken as Foreshadowing, since Dream does die.
- The Shadow Knows: Averted. She's the only one out of the current Endless who still possesses a normal shadow.
- When She Smiles: Just look at her smile. Makes you wanna fall in love with her, doesn't it?
- Woman in Black: She can be very menacing when she cares to be, and this seems to have been her default at some point in the past, but these days she's a subversion.
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.
- 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.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Thanks to his domain, he can see patterns everywhere.
- Been There, Shaped History: He usually takes anonymous roles. For example, he helped dig the Panama Canal, fought in a few wars, etc.
- Black Sheep: He abandoned his charge and left it to its own devices. He's estranged from most of the other Endless.
- Cool Uncle: Was implicitly one to Orpheus, calling Orpheus his favorite nephew and even talking him down from suicide.
- Creative Sterility: Played with. Destruction is capable of creating things, but because creation goes against his inner nature he's just not good at it. He's tried every single form of art there is and is bad at all of it.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: At some point he became disillusioned with destruction and set out to find himself.
- Fiery Redhead: Shown a few times in his backstory, before he laid aside his duties. In 'the present' he's a lot more introspective.
- Foil: He who was once Destruction has done something that Dream cannot bring himself to do. And while Dream reaps many consequences for his devotion to duty, (the former) Destruction seems to have suffered no consequences for his dereliction.
- Giftedly Bad: He's tried every form of art and been lousy at them all (at least according to his talking dog). Not surprising, considering what he's the Anthropomorphic Personification of.
- 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.
- Nice Guy:
- He's the only person who ever kissed his sister Despair.
- His friendship with Rachel the archaeologist in Endless Nights.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Character design based on BRIAN BLESSED.
- Painting the Medium: Destruction's speech bubbles have an extra-thick border.
- 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".
- Walking the Earth: Has been doing this ever since he left his duties.
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.
- Ambiguous Gender: Or Hermaphrodite as the mood takes him...her...it? Desire has never been satisfied with just one of anything.
- The Beautiful Elite: Desire is the most stunningly beautiful being in the universe - wanted by everyone.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Mercilessly subverted.
- The Casanova: Being the personification of lust, Desire woos many women and, as The Vamp, many men.
- Depraved Bisexual: 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 Evil Has Loved 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.
- Everybody Wants the Hermaphrodite: Milks this for all it's worth to that end.
- 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 pretense of hiding its involvement, made Dream's then-girlfriend cheat on him.
- Jerk Ass Has A Point: It points out that Dream has a nasty habit of treating his lovers poorly, complete with mentioning the Disproportionate Retribution he often inflicts on them.
- Lack of Empathy: In the vast majority of cases. Exceptions are very few and far between, though justified, as Sandman is Dream's story, so Desire comes off as the villain. We, the readers, don't see its softer side too often.
- Lust: Be it for love, for power, or for sex, Desire commands them all.
- Manipulative Bastard: Or Manipulative Bitch as the case may be. Depends on the mood and the person it's manipulating - whatever would work better.
- 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.
- When rebuked by Death, Desire is visibly terrified.
- Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous: Because it is the personification of lust, Desire can be a man, a woman, or both, depending on whom the viewer finds the most attractive.
- Painting the Medium: The dialogue in Desire's word balloons is in sharp-edged letters.
- Pet the Dog: In one issue in which a strip club is destroyed by the suicide of a goddess, Desire loans the stripper that is the only survivor its trenchcoat and a few words of sympathy.
- An enormous example zigzagged in Overture. Desire essentially engineered Dream's salvation and enabled him to save the entire multiverse by sending him the tools he'd need and the only aspect of himself that he'd ever listen to. Not only this, but it did this three times (the first two attempts failed). However, it had as much need for self-preservation as selflessness and because success meant a multicosmic retcon, it forgot that it had done it and reverted back to it's old ways.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Although it can change appearances as it wishes, we usually see Desire as an attractive androgynous person with dark hair and pale skin.
- The Shadow Knows: Casts two shadows - one black and sharp, the other translucent and wavering.
- Supernatural Gold Eyes: Described as "Tawny and sharp like yellow wine", Desire's golden eyes are the only thing that remains constant in all its forms.
The First Despair
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 even 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.
- Posthumous Character: While Despair lives on, the first Despair is dead.
- Technician vs. 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 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?
- Animal Motifs: Rats.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Her relationship with the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe. Similarly, her desire to see Destruction again.
- Dark Is Not Evil:
- Right, she is the personification of all ennui and hopelessness in the universe, but still displays authentic feelings for her loved ones, misses her older brother and generally behaves in a quite polite and refined way. When she's not tearing her own skin with her hook.
- 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".
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: She has the same basic appearance as most of her siblings (dark hair, pale skin), but since she's not conventionally attractive and is often looking at people's suffering, hanging out with rats and tearing her own skin with a hook, she's instantly seen as creepy.
- Eye Scream: In "Brief Lives", while feeling the pain of Destruction's absence, she jabs her hooked ring into her eye and rips.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Not as well illustrated as for the first Despair, but also true.
- Fangs Are Evil: While she's not evil, she represents Despair nevertheless.
- Full-Frontal Assault: The only thing Despair wears is her ring (and something to tie up her ponytail, presumably, since that's how she wears her hair).
- Generic Cuteness: Inverted and defied. She looks exactly how most women in fiction couldn't even bear to look.
- Some of the pictures of her in 14 Portraits of Despair's collage art are pretty nice looking in a Big Beautiful Woman kinda way, though.
- She is pretty cute in At Death's Door and the Little Endless Storybooks, but still recognizable.
- Magic Mirror: Well, they aren't exactly magic, since they're the other sides of all mirrors in the universe (and presumably not all mirrors in the universe are magical).
- Not Blood Siblings: Has a crush on her adoptive brother Destruction.
- Painting the Medium: Despair's speech bubbles have ragged, shaky edges.
- The Shadow Knows: Her shadow has the smell of "a snake's skin". She herself doesn't have any odor.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: She can see through any mirror in the universe.
- Technician vs. Performer: Between this incarnation and the former, this one might be considered the "performer", with a fine-tuned interest in the misery of individual lives as opposed to 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.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Basically the Anthropomorphic Personification of this.
- The Cutie: She used to be the personification of everything joyous, warm, fuzzy and blissful. Even as Delirium, she still retains some of these qualities, and can occasionally be very sweet.
- Dark and Troubled Past: One that caused her to turn from Delight into Delirium.
- Disproportionate Retribution: After being pulled over, she makes the cop believe that he is covered with invisible bugs. FOREVER. He ends up in an asylum, strapped down day and night.
- Drives Like Crazy: "I'm a good driver!"
- Fashionable Asymmetry: She's never symmetrical.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Sometimes rivals with Morpheus in this subject. To make it worse, while Morpheus at least usually does this as punishment (even if it's for Disproportionate Retribution), Delirium seemingly does it without noticing.
- 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.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: It's heavily implied this is what happened to Delight.
- 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.
- Immortal Immaturity: She's forever the youngest sibling. And also crazy, which doesn't help.
- 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. In her case is justified since she is, of course, madness personified.
- Madness Makeover: It happened before the story started, but we can see how Delight looked from flashbacks.
- Mad Oracle: 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.
- Messy Hair: It's ...very lively.
- Metamorphosis: Originally Delight, the personification of happiness in the universe, she transitioned into a completely different personification, renamed Delirium. It is even implied by Destruction that she will make one more transition before the universe ends. What this form is is anyone's guess.
- Mind Rape: Both something she may have been a victim of and one of her powers.
- Multicolored Hair: And it changes colors, too.
- Only Sane Man: Only once. When Dream was starting to have a Heroic B.S.O.D. she forced herself to become sane to get him to snap out of it. She says that doing so is incredibly painful to herself.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: If she's very, very annoyed, she can control herself and become stern, logical and direct: see Only Sane Man. It's extremely unnerving.
- Painting the Medium: Delirium's speech balloons are oddly-shaped and rainbow-colored, and her lettering is warped and smeared.
- Pre-Insanity Reveal: Delirium was once Delight, the personification of joy and happiness, but changed to Delirium long before the onset of the story for reasons unclear. She's a bit of a Mad God. In a few flashbacks, we get to see her before her Madness Makeover.
- Quirky Curls: When she has curls. She doesn't always. (But she seems to like curlicues.)
- Reality Warper: Technically, all of the Endless can presumably do this, but she uses it the most by far. With Delirium these warps might be mere hallucinations. Or they might not. Or both.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Not very good at matched clothing, even from one moment to the next. Fishnet stockings do recur.
- The Shadow Knows: Not only her shadow looks nothing like her, it's tangible.
- Talkative Loon: She's prone to incoherent rambling. Although it's downright straightforward by Talkative Loon standards, i.e. she never dissolves into complete word salad.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Delirium's clothes often expose her nipples, and nobody ever finds this surprising or worthy of comment.
- 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.)
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: According to Dream in Overture, this is how she sees her mother Night.
Dreams and Nightmares
MatthewDream'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.
- Audience Surrogate: In many of his appearances, he's the one who gets the job of saying the things the audience want to say.
- Deadpan Snarker: Not as snarky as, say, Merv Pumpkinhead, but he gets in a few quips here and there.
- Nice Guy: He's a little crude and rough around the edges, sure, but you couldn't ask for a friendlier raven.
- 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.
- Transplant: From Swamp Thing.
- 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?"
LucienA 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.
- Magic Librarian: But it is quite a library.
- 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.
Cain and AbelTwo 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.
- Big Brother Bully: Cain is this to Abel. As might be expected.
- Blessed with Suck: Abel's immortality. It just allows him to be killed again... and again...
- Cain and Abel: The sons of Adam, one murdered the other and the rest, as they say, is history.
- Cursed with Awesome: Nothing can harm Cain without incurring the wrath of God. (Unfortunately for Cain and for obvious reasons, Lucifer found that particular stipulation hilarious.)
- Deadpan Snarker: What Cain does when he isn't killing his brother.
- Haunted House: Their respective homes.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: Cain kills Abel on a daily basis, but he's the only one who gets to do so; God forbid anyone else tries to do the same.
- 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.
- Narrator: In their original horror comic appearances.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Cain is described as sounding just like Vincent Price.Cain: You wound me! I sound nothing like that vaudevillian ham!
- Older Than They Look: Granted, they've never looked young, but if one considers where they come from...
- Time Abyss: They've been around a lot longer than Judaism - probably a lot longer than Earth. The concepts they embody (the first murderer and the first victim) are very, very old.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Their first appearance in the Sandman has Cain trying desperately to articulate that he really does love his brother, but he can't defy his nature.
EveA 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.
- Adam and/or Eve: Eve, in this case. Possibly that Eve.
- Friend to All Living Things: Mainly ravens.
- The Hecate Sisters: She switches from lovely maiden to gentle mother to haggard crone between panels. Notably, when the Furies attack the Dreaming, they steer clear of Eve.
The CorinthianA nightmare with tiny teeth-filled mouths for eyes.
- Anti-Hero: The second Corinthian. He's still a terrifying nightmare for all intents and purposes, but now follows Morpheus' orders, strikes an Odd Friendship with Matthew (at least in The Dreaming spin-off; it's rather ambiguous in the main story) and is nowhere as megalomaniac as his first incarnation.
- 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.
- Badass Gay: Don't try beating him up or targeting him for his orientation. It just won't go well.
- Depraved Homosexual: The original Corinthian apparently, as Neil Gaiman clarified that this was the reason he primarily targeted men. The second one is less depraved and is seemingly in a relationship.
- Eyeless Face: Technically speaking, since his eye sockets are full of teeth.
- Eye Remember: Eating someone's eyes with his sockets lets him see what they saw.
- Eye Scream: What he tends to dole out. Not to mention getting a look at him without his sunglasses is this not so much implied as promised. Be it actual, or haunting your dreams for years to come.
- Faux Affably Evil: His serial killing first incarnation is unnervingly friendly and cordial. His second incarnation is equally so, but is no longer truly evil.
- Fingore: When a punk tries to reach at his face, his mouth-eyes end up biting the punk's fingers clean off.
- Knife Nut: Pretty good with them, too.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: He has three mouths, although each mouth has a normal number of teeth.
- 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.
- Shadow Archetype: Dream said that he constructed the Corinthian to be the embodiment of all of the negative aspects of humanity and the things within mankind humans are too afraid to confront. Unfortunately, Dream is disappointed to discover that all the Corinthian has done is demonstrate that there are bad people in the world, and has shown humanity nothing it didn't already know.
- Sunglasses at Night: Although they do serve a practical purpose.
- Too Many Mouths: Where his eyes should be.
- White Hair, Black Heart: Played completely straight even in his "nicer" incarnation.
Glob And BruteA pair of dreams, never seen apart, who temporarily escape the Dreaming. Glob represents base cunning and Brute, of course, represents brute strength.
- Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: They look exactly how you'd picture creatures named Brute and Glob to look.
- 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 either escape or are allowed to leave, 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.
Fiddler's Green/GilbertA 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.
- Antiquated Linguistics: Mildly, but still noticeable.
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: His suit wouldn't be out of place in the 19th century.
- Big Fun: What he basically is. He's out to enjoy himself and is quick to help others manage to do so when their day (or month) is otherwise turning out to be dismal.
- Boisterous Bruiser: He's not shy when it comes to most scraps, put it that way. Although, he initially deemed going against the Corinthian to be far more terrifying than worthwhile. Accurately.
- 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.)
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Waistcoat? Suit? Tailored? Classic cut? All checked.
- Staring Down Cthulhu: When Daniel tries to bring him back to life, he just scolds him for it.
- Sword and Gun: Sword Cane and antique revolver for extra cool points.
- Unwanted Revival: When "Daniel"/the new Dream attempts to bring him back, he refuses.
- Verbal Tic: Hoom.
NualaA member of the faerie folk who was given to Dream by her brother, and assumes the role of a housekeeper in Dream's mansion.
- All Love Is Unrequited: With Morpheus.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Asks one of Dream.
- 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.
- Defector from Decadence: By the time she returns to Faerie, she finds she's outgrown its shallow, nihilistic culture. She leaves, defying the Queen to Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand at the gates.
- The Fair Folk: A benign example. She's neither threatening nor ambitious; mostly meek and polite. It is implied, though, that she was different — haughty, cruel and manipulative — before coming to the Dreaming.
- Glamour: When she first appears, she's apparently a tall, beautiful blonde woman. Until Dream strips her of the glamour and she turns out to be very short, skinny and mousy haired.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Calls in a promise from Dream at the worst possible moment. Unusually, nobody really blames her for it, and even Titania forgives her.
A comical pumpkin-headed dream who performs odd jobs in the Dreaming, such as bus driver and janitor. Although a simple-minded slob, he helps keep Dream grounded.
- Dumbass Has a Point: Explicitly one of the reasons Dream keeps him around.It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But a half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: "Eumenides this!"
- Expressive Mask: The Jack O'Lantern on his head changes like a face would.
- 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).
- Right Behind Me: Sometimes forgets that complaining about Morpheus is the same as summoning him.
- Your Worst Nightmare: "A pumpkin with a gun!"
- Big Bad: Of "A Game of You".
- Blue and Orange Morality: It's really only acting according to its nature, and there is no true malice in its actions.
- Creepy Child: Takes the shape of Barbie when she was younger.
- Glamour: Can make you bend to its will by talking to you, and make you want to protect it and do whatever it wants.
- Karma Houdini: Doesn't get to kill and replace Barbie, but otherwise gets everything she wants.
- Not Growing Up Sucks: Wants to leave her nest.
- 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.
- Butt Monkey: After Thessaly is done with him. It's just not a good idea to upset that lady.
- Deadpan Snarker: Sometimes. "What have I got to be worried about? I'm dead."
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: His brothers were the Creepy Crows he had inside of him, and he says that they loved him and he didn't feel alone.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Some of his jokes need work.Wanda: [Your joke] differs from the usual kind of joke only in the vast gulf between it and any kind of a sense of humor.
- Eye Scream: Gets his eyes nailed to a wall, and he's still using them.
- Interrogating the Dead: Thessaly brings his face back for this purpose.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Thessaly kills him because he threatened her, not out of any moral obligation. She brings him back as a face hung on a wall after that.
Denizens of Hell
- Breakout Character: Got his own comic book series, Lucifer.
- Deadpan Snarker: Especially in his appearance in The Kindly Ones, in which he also lays a brutally accurate "The Reason You Suck" Speech on Remiel.
- 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?
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: "Life" may be the wrong term for an immortal, but the principle is the same.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Lucifer changes significantly between his first and second appearance.
- Exact Words: After Morpheus humiliates him in their first meeting (in the series at least), Lucifer swears he'll destroy him. Upon a later meeting, Morpheus is (understandably) vary of Lucifer so Lucifer swears he'll do nothing to harm him as long as they're within the boundaries of Hell. Once their business is complete and they find themselves outside Hell, Lucifer's last act as Lord of Hell is to give Morpheus the key, noting that "it may destroy you, or it may not". Lucifer later states to Delirium that his own decision to quit may have caused Morpheus' (soon-to-be) demise. Either way, he will not interfere for either side.
- Fallen Angel: Well, yeah. It's Lucifer, after all.
- Foil: To Morpheus. Lucifer is the ruler of Hell just as Morpheus is the ruler of the Dreaming, but their character arcs go in opposite directions. In addition, Lucifer is extremely emotive and passionate, Morpheus is The Stoic.
- I Have Many Names: Lucifer Morningstar, Prince of Hell, the Devil, Prince of the East...
- New Era Speech: When he learns that Dream is coming to free Nada, he promises everyone in Hell that they will remember this day forever.
- Pet the Dog: In The Kindly Ones, where he is friendly, kind and helpful to Delirium.
- Royal "We": He starts referring to himself in the singular to show that he really has quit being King of Hell.
- Satan: Well, yes.
- Seen It All: One of the main reasons he gives up Hell. He got bored.
- 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.
- Sympathy for the Hero: Briefly expresses how he almost pities Dream in The Kindly Ones.
- Time Abyss: Along with all other angels, fallen or not.
- Living Shadow: Perhaps. The art is a little unclear.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: All teeth - sharp sets of them floating in an amorphous void.
- 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.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In a Shapeshifter Showdown with Morpheus, Choronzon becomes entropy. In response, Morpheus becomes hope. Unable to think of a counter, Choronzon loses the duel.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In Dust Covers, Neil Gaiman relates the tale of how he actually met Choronzon. Yes, in Real Life. They encountered each other at a parade in 1992, and Choronzon asked for a light and insisted that he make further appearances in the comic. Gaiman obliged by writing him into Season of Mists.
- Too Many Mouths: One more than usual. More Teeth than the Osmond Family, too.
Remiel and Duma
- 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, even maintaining the silence that is his charge in spite of Remiel's temptations.
- Irony: See also Fallen Angel above. Remiel desires to rebel against the order to rule Hell, but cannot because there would be no place for him to go. Duma obeys his creator and is cast out of Heaven for it. Very much a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.
- Jerk Ass: Remiel. He blusters a lot.
- Odd Couple: Remiel as the self-justifying and somewhat pompous partner, Duma as the silent and far more thoughtful foil.
- Our Angels Are Different
- Painting the Medium: Remiel has elaborate, cursive text suggesting a majestic and musical voice. Presumably Duma would, too, but...
- The Silent Bob: Duma contributes more to a conversation than Remiel with just a few facial expressions, despite Remiel's almost complete inability to shut up.
- The Voiceless: Duma, as an angel of silence.
- 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 because they love them and want them to be better people. When he informs the damned, they're astounded he managed to Hell even worse than before.
- You Are Worth Hell: Rarely is it so literal as in Remiel's case. Duma shames him into accepting his new role.
CluracanProminent figure of Irish folklore, Adventurer, Raconteur and personal messenger of Queen Titiania herself. Brother of Nuala.
- The Alcoholic: He's often drunk.
- All Gays Are Promiscuous: But he is from a race that more or less devotes itself to eternal partying.
- The Fair Folk: A fairly benign example. He's just not all that bright.
- The Hedonist: When he's sent to Dream's mansion in order to make an offer for the Hell's key in the name of The Fair Folk, he tells Nuala they can't possibly compete with so many big names competing for it; he'll just accept the excellent (and free) wine and sex he'll get out of the whole situation.
- 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.
- Stay on the Path: He doesn't, and he generates a Nemesis for himself.
- Unreliable Narrator: Invoked and lampshaded. When he tells a story about getting free and dethroning a corrupt ruler of a nation, his tale is called into question, and he freely admits to adding in things and removing other details, but the only falsehood he cops to is when he gets 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.
Time, Father of the Endless
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Of time.
- Cosmic Entity: He's the Anthropomorphic Personification of time itself.
- Domain Holder: His domain is essentially one big Timey-Wimey Ball because he wishes it.
- The Hermit: Wants to be left alone. To his mind, the only reason any of his children visit him is because they want something - aside from Destiny, who asks nothing of him because Time gave him all he had as his birthright, and leaves him alone. The one person he's interested in meeting again is Night.
- The Omnipresent: It's said of him that he watches from the micro-moments between seconds.
- Painting the Medium: His speech bubbles are grey with white lettering.
- Strong Family Resemblance: You can see the physical similarity to Destruction.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: Cause and effect work very differently for Time than everybody else. He doesn't experience things in linear, consistent, chronological progression, and his physical appearance ages and youthens at random.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Dream is not happy when Time summons him before he can stop his travelling companion Hope being killed.
Night, Mother of the Endless
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Of the night.
- Celestial Body: Her skin and clothes contain the night sky.
- Cosmic Entity: She's the Anthropomorphic Personification of the night.
- Painting the Medium: Her speech bubbles are blue with white lettering.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Dream calls Night out on her treatment of Delirium. She ignores it.
- 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.
- Badass Boast: In The Kindly Ones.
- Loki: I am Loki Scar-Lip, Loki Sky-Walker, Loki Giant's-Child, Loki Lie-Smith. I am Loki, who is fire and wit and hate... I am Loki. And I will be under an obligation to no one.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: With a shout-out to The Farmer and the Viper from Odin; it's in Loki's nature to lash out at those who help him, as much as it is in Cain's to attack his brother.
- Debt Detester: His behavior in The Kindly Ones is due to owing a debt to Morpheus.
- Master of Illusion: As in the myths.
- Trickster Archetype: He is Loki.
Famous Greek musician guy.
- Death Seeker: After losing his wife for the second time, he cares less about his life and doesn't listen to his mother's warnings to not be in the same place as the maenads will. Gets even worse when he doesn't die even when they tear him apart, and he has to live as a head without a body.
- Despair Event Horizon: And that doesn't stop his situation from getting exponentially worse.
- Driven to Suicide: Eventually. It doesn't kill him. Nor does it help.
- Foregone Conclusion: If you know your Greek myths, you know how his quest to bring his wife back is going to end.
- Magic Music: A very, very old example.
- 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.
- Oracular Head: Reduced to one in the end.
- Orphean Rescue: Again, Older Than Feudalism (and the Trope Namer).
- Trauma Conga Line: His wife is killed in a horrible accident 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 his body get torn apart and eaten by the maenads, 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.
- God: Unlike in the Marvel Universe, where the various human deities are all around the same level of power and are subordinate to more abstract cosmic beings, The Presence is explicitly the Abrahamic Creator and the highest being.
- God in Human Form: On the few occasions He does manifest, His preferred form is a pudgy British guy with a bowler hat and umbrella for some reason.
- I Have Many Names: He is typically called The Presence, but has manifested as the Voice, the Great Hand, the Overmonitor, and Wally the God-boy amongst others.
- The Maker: Creator of the DC Universe.
- The Omnipotent: The be-all, end-all authority within The Multiverse. However, He has no authority outside it, a loophole Lucifer exploits in his own series to become a Creator himself.
- Passing the Torch: At the end of Lucifer He decides to retire and appoint His half-human granddaughter Elaine Belloc, daughter of Archangel Michael and a mortal woman, as His successor.
- Badass Boast: He doesn't seem to think that the guy who just blinded and paralysed Loki is any threat to him whatsoever.
- The Fair Folk: A very traditional example. He is not a pleasant creature.
- It Amused Me: His motivation for anything he does.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After seeing The Corinthian curb-stomp Loki and eat his eyes, decides now would be a good time to head back to the land of the Fey.
- Those Two Guys: Acts like this when he pals around with Loki for a while, until he gets bored and leaves.
- Trickster Archetype: But not the benign sort.
- Walking the Earth: Puck refuses to leave Earth and its associated realms behind when the other inhabitants of Faerie abandon it.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: They can represent several things, but the one that becomes most important towards the end is their Greek mythological aspect of revenge. In this state they're technically the Furies (Erinyes), but they much prefer to be called the Kindly Ones (Eumenides), dearie. To call the Furies on someone, the victim must have spilled family blood. It can be in self-defence, assisted suicide, a mercy kill, even accidental or unknowing, but that doesn't matter. They'll come.
- 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.
- Implacable Woman: Three of them. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
TitaniaQueen of Faerie and one of Morpheus's ex-lovers.
- Creepy Child: The Cuckoo, the child version of Barbie who has become the evil ruler of her dream land and suffers severely from Not Growing Up Sucks.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. She mentions getting pregnant as a teenager, and terminating it. It's simply a fact, judged neither as right or wrong.
- Magical Girl: In her dreams.
- Meaningful Name: And her (ex)-husband is called Ken. Taking it further, we're told Ken left her for a girl called Sindy; this being the name of the bestselling British fashion doll.
Chantal and Zelda
- Bury Your Gays: They die from complications related to AIDS. Chantal died off-panel, while Zelda is featured as a secondary character in The Kindly Ones, showing what the disease has done to her, and she dies off-panel as well while Rose is in England. They contracted the disease due to a fluke error. Chantal had a kidney replacement some years ago, but the donor was HIV positive and Chantal got infected. Rose muses it probably wouldn't have happened these days.
- The Bus Came Back: Zelda appears in The Kindly Ones. And dies.
- Bus Crash: Chantal died some time before Zelda.
- Call Back: In The Doll's House Chantal mentions that Zelda had a story about God and two sets of footprints in the sand. She offers to tell it to Rose to help her feel better, but Rose thanks the two and says she'll hear it later. In The Kindly Ones, Rose says she has heard it. Zelda told her after Chantal died.
- Collector of the Strange: They owned the largest collection of stuffed spiders on the East Coast.
- Creepy Child: Zelda appears to have been like this when she was younger, although it's also possible this is how she fully perceived herself back then. Her parents ignored her and treated her like crap because of her speech impediment and Zelda apparently liked to collect bones from animals, although it doesn't seem she killed any of them.
- Creepy Good: They were strange, but they were also nice, polite, and offered Rose some words of wisdom when she was dealing with brother Jed's hospitalization.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Zelda, which may explain why she clings to Chantal, who is the more vocal of the two.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Chantal's dreams, described as intricate loops trying to describe nothing of herself to herself.
- Dying Alone: Zelda died off-panel while Rose was in England. Rose doesn't find out until her next visit to the hospice. The woman at the front desk said they tried calling her, but it's against their policy to leave phone messages. The worst thing about this is that Rose wouldn't have been in England if not for Zelda. Zelda received a message from Rose's grandmother, saying she'd give Rose back "her heart." It turned out it was Desire.
- Hidden Depths: They appear to just be a couple of kooky and dramatic ladies with strange hobbies, but theit dreams reveal that Chantal is stuck in a loop trying to figure out things about herself, and Zelda is a tormented woman who had a bad childhood and relies on Chantal to get her through life.
- Ill Girl: Zelda in The Kindly Ones. And there is nothing pretty about it.
- Put on a Bus: They disappear after The Doll's House.
- The Quiet One: Zelda. Chantal does all her speaking for her. This is because Zelda stutters and she's very ashamed of it. One time Rose made the mistake of finishing a sentence for her, and Zelda broke down crying and refused to talk for the rest of the day.
- Stay with Me Until I Die: Rose was basically doing this for Zelda during the last stages of her illness. She called it a vigil. Unfortunately...
- The Stoic: Chantal carries this air around other people.
- Woman in White: Both of them used to dress in long white wedding gowns with heavy veils, sometimes decorated with spiders.
Foxglove and Hazel McNamara
- Babies Ever After: Alvie.
- Butch Lesbian: Hazel has the look, but not the stereotypical personality. By Death: The Time of Your Life, she's changed her look.
- Character Development: In Hazel's first appearance in A Game of You, she comes of as a scaredy-cat who doesn't know much about the world. In The High Cost of Living, where she and Foxglove make an appearance, she still looks a bit naive, but more grounded than before. And by the time of Time of Your Life Hazel's significantly more mature and self-assured.
- Domestic Abuse: Foxglove used to be in a relationship with Judy (the girl who gouged her eyes out in 24 Hours), who would occasionally beat her.
- Foreshadowing: At the end of A Game of You, Dream says that future has strange journeys in store for Foxglove and Hazel, and advises them to choose their traveling companions with more care next time. He wasn't kidding about the first topic. And indeed in Death: The Time of Your Life, having a traveling companion who was willing to die so that their child Alvie wouldn't proved to be vital to the story's resolution.
- Miss Conception: Hazel thought having sex standing up would keep her from getting pregnant. Nope.
- Your Cheating Heart: Hazel sleeps with a guy (apparently out of curiosity), and gets pregnant. In Death: The Time of Your Life, it turns out Foxglove's been cheating on Hazel.
Hob GadlingA 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.
- Flying Dutchman: At least thematically. 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.Dream: I am no devil.
Hob: And I'm not Jewish.
- 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.
- Seen It All: After three or four centuries, Hob is a rather world-weary character.
- Abusive Parents: Foster parents, actually.
- Hope Spot: Escapes the basement he was locked in and runs into a helpful, kindly man...who turned out to be the Corinthian on his way to the "Cereal Convention".
- Out of Focus: After his original arc where he's saved, future arcs with the Walker family focus on his older sister and he'll only occasionally get a mention or cameo.
- Parental Abandonment: He was given up for adoption.
- 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.
John Dee/Doctor Destiny
Once upon a time, a bog-standard Mad Scientist came up with a bog-standard plan to defeat the Justice League of America: use a wonderful little doohickey of his own invention to invade their dreams. And like all such plans, it ended in a bog-standard defeat.Well, except for the part where they made him unable to dream. Forever. Oh, and did we mention that doohickey was powered by the (then-imprisoned) Dream King's ruby?Years after his defeat, his mind and body a twisted husk of their former selves, the good Doctor Dee finally escapes the welcoming walls of Arkham Asylum, just in time to serve as the series' first Arc Villain. Owing to the latter's weakened state, he's one of the few villains in the series who poses a genuine physical threat to Morpheus, though it doesn't last for long.
- Body Horror: His current appearance is not the most pleasant thing to behold.
- A God Am I: When he tries to take over the dream-world. He actually failed, inadvertently restoring Morpheus to his full strength.
- Karma Houdini: Sure he went back to Arkham, which is what Batman would have done, but still.
- The Mad Hatter: Arguably an extremely dark take on this.
- Mind Rape: Big time. Over all the world.
- He gives people back their sanity for an hour, just so they'd know what's happening, and what's coming.
- My Beloved Smother: Not him personally, but his mother is really hinted to be one.
- Took a Level in Badass: Zig-zagged. With the Dreamstone, he's definitely more powerful than in his days as a bog-standard JLA villain, but it also unravels his sanity and leaves him quite pathetic and childlike mentally.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: This, however, is much less subject to debate. Silver Age Dee was no saint, but he certainly wasn't the type who'd spend twenty-four hours slowly torturing a bunch of civilians to death.
- 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.
- Dream explicitly states that having and using The Ruby - one of the most powerful tools of one of the Endless - must have caused considerable damage to Dee's mind. Probably one of the reasons that he showed such mercy.
Hippolyta "Lyta" Hall/The Fury
- Action Girl: As a superhero.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: In a misguided attempt to invoke the Furies as revenge on Dream for Daniel's kidnapping, she ends up bound to their will to kill Dream for an unrelated crime, and essentially wipes Daniel from existence to make him a template for the new Dream.
- Berserk Button: Anything that might even conceivably be a threat to Daniel sets her off.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Even in her superhero days, when she was much nicer and more outgoing, her temper was a thing to be feared.
- Connected All Along: Unbeknownst to her, she's the daughter of Helena Kosmatos, the Golden Age Fury, who was a living avatar of Tisiphone. This kinship to the Furies is probably why her quest to find them was successful and why they made her their avatar, in spite of completely screwing up her initial encounter with them.
- Extraordinarily Empowered Girl: She's far from a superhero now, but she still retains her powers, even if she no longer has any of the courage or drive you would expect from the usual example of this trope. (At first.)
- Freak Out: Has a spectacular one that drives her to seek the Furies.
- Ignored Epiphany: In her last step before meeting the Furies, Lyta sits in front of a mirror and argues with several different versions of herself; her as a young girl, as a superhero, and lastly, as appears at that moment. (Homeless, filthy, and half mad.) Several of these mirror selves argue with her choices and what she has done/is doing with her life, especially her choice to sic the Furies on Dream. The last one essentially says "There's still time to stop this. You can get up, go home, put your life back together and move on." Lyta refuses to do so and shatters the mirror, which finally allows her to reach the Furies.
- In a Single Bound: As a superhero.
- Legacy Character: She thought she was taking up the legacy of her adoptive mother (who used to be Miss America) by becoming a hero, but (much to the shock of her adoptive parents) she took the moniker of her birth mother without being aware of it.
- And again in The Kindly Ones. Since she'd only married and became impregnated by dreams, she remained a maiden; after birthing Daniel, she's obviously a mother; after having Dream take both her husband and child from her, her descent into madness leaves her prematurely a crone. She becomes a fitting avatar for the Three.
- Mama Bear: Takes this Up to Eleven. Also a Deconstruction, as her actions ensue Daniel is never "Daniel" again.
- My Beloved Smother: Obsessed with keeping Daniel safe, her life revolves entirely around him.
- Sanity Slippage: When Daniel is taken, but she shows some signs of this beforehand.
- Super Strength: The only one of her powers she actually uses in Sandman, breaking a guy's arm when he gets a bit handsy.
- Super Speed: As a superhero.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Gets a really creepy one when Daniel disappears.
- Trauma Conga Line: Pretty much her entire life toward the end of Infinity Inc. and throughout Sandman.
- She finds true love with Hector Hall who, thanks to a curse on his parents doesn't have a soul and eventually becomes evil. But she's pregnant with his child, which reawakens his inner goodness...and leads to his death. But he's not really dead, he's the new Sandman, and she can live with him in the Dream Dome forever! Oh, except that was actually a trick by Brute and Glob, who brainwash her into a state of perpetual languor, but at least it's peaceful and she's with Hector, right? Not for very long...
- Wrong Genre Savvy: After Daniel is kidnapped, she thinks she's in a story about going on a quest to gather allies, gain power, and rescue her son. As such, she gravely misinterprets the true purpose of the Furies, and gets in way over her head.
- Crazy Homeless Person: A subversion. Whatever craziness she's shown was a result of her phobia of dogs.
- 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.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: She doesn't like dogs. When pressed into why, she replies "...I just don't."
Norton I, Emperor of the United States
- Crazy Sane: The dream that Morpheus gave him allowed him to evade Desire, Despair or Delirium right up until he passed to Death.Despair: His madness... his madness keeps him sane.
Dream: And do you think he is the only one, sister?
- The Determinator: He clings to his delusion so fiercely that he becomes a local celebrity.Despair: It would seem I've failed, Joshua. You're a crazy Tom o'Bedlam, dying in the gutter in the rain. But you never despaired.
- Historical-Domain Character: Joshua Norton, 1819-1880: Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.
- "Leave Your Quest" Test: Desire sends an agent to tempt the Emperor with worldly pleasures.
- Nice Hat: Death likes it, at least.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Yes, boys and girls, the United States did have an emperor... and he was Crazy Awesome. Only the supernatural elements are added. The rest is roughly historically accurate.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: He wanted ideas, so Dream gave him an endless, unrelenting torrent of ideas. And then he wants them to stop, and loses all of his ideas. Forever. Well, okay, until Morpheus dies, but still.
- Mugging the Monster:
- Richard doesn't bother to try understanding Calliope as anything but a tool to force ideas out of, so he never fully comprehends that he's messing with dangerous forces far beyond his ken by keeping her captive, even if she's not the one to take revenge.
- His reaction to seeing Dream, who's manifestly not human, knows what he's done, and is clearly furious and disgusted is to threaten him and refuse to comply with his polite request to let Calliope go. And then he tries to bribe him, which just makes things worse.
- Fingore: Uncontrollably writes ideas on the walls with his fingers, wearing them down to the bone and leaving them permanently damaged.
- Godzilla Threshold: Keeping a lady as a sex slave and constantly raping her because you're desperate for ideas certainly counts as ludicrous and abhorrent, though Richard didn't see how dangerous it might be until it was too late.
- Claims to be a feminist writer while chatting with a lady at a party. Calliope would disagree.
- Upon seeing Dream in his house uninvited he threatens to call the police saying there are laws against people like him. There are also laws against rapists...
- The Madness Place: Dream induces one of these upon him as a punishment.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Briefly. His main concern about potentially having raped a human girl is that it might get him in trouble with the law. Realizing that she really is a muse wipes even that petty concern away.
- One-Hit Wonder: In-universe. Richard was in danger of becoming one, due to being unable to follow up his first (incredibly successful) book.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Erasmus Fry, the author he obtains Calliope from, tells him that he feels force is the most effective method of getting ideas from her, something Richard takes to heart.
- Renaissance Man: Becomes one of these, for the purpose of creating media, after obtaining Calliope.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: He wasn't a particularly nice person to start with, but as his star rises, so do his condescension and selfishness.
- Villainous Breakdown: Caused by Dream's punishment. He ends up in a nursing home.
- Villain Protagonist: "Calliope" is told from his perspective, and well, just look at the other tropes.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: How he justifies keeping the muse Calliope as a sex slave.
- Writer's Block: Has a severe case of this at the start of the story. His...unconventional...solution ends up making and breaking him.
- 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.
- Big Sister Instinct: Towards Jed.
- 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.
- Good Bad Girl: Rose is sweet and down to earth and easily one of the most unambiguously benevolent characters in the series. She is also not shy about sex and doesn't hesitate to initiate a hook-up with a cute guy, or share her sexual desires and experiences with her friends or diary.
- Older Than They Look: Again, due to her parentage.
- Canon Immigrant: From a short-lived DC title that supposed an 18-year-old would get elected President. Prez cameoed in an issue of Supergirl, which established him as a character proper in the DCU.
- Deal with the Devil: Defied, Boss Smiley continues to tempt him with the presidency, and resurrecting his fiancée if Prez works for him. Prez refused all the time.
- The '60s: He mimics a lot of the counterculture fashion and behaviors from the late 1960s, although the series itself was printed during The '70s.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Or rather, did you just imprison the Dream King in your basement? He did, and it was a terrible, terrible idea.
- 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 inherited Dream's basement and being its owner at the time Dream managed to escape.
- No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Of real-life mystic Aleister Crowley (who is mentioned in-universe as Burgess's rival).
- 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.
Thessaly (later known as Larissa)
- 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.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: When Morpheus dies, it's clear even as she voices her denials that she loved him.
- 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.
- Jerk Ass: Because her actions are all about protecting herself and putting her safety first without batting an eye, she can be perceived as this. Note that Thessaly is not evil and always explain her reasons logically and calmly, it's just that she does what's necessary for her well-being without showing any care for people who might get harmed for her actions, even if they were people she once cared about (such as Morpheus).
- Nothing Personal: Her contract with the Three to aid them in killing Morpheus has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the target is her less-than-amicable ex. It's just a way for her to get the Three off of her back after the whole "calling down the moon" business.
- 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.
- She was also apparently quite kind to Nuala back when she was staying in the Dreaming, even going so far as to give the poor girl a necklace, which might possibly be one of the few things that Nuala truly owns.
- Really 700 Years Old: When she gives her birth date, it sounds Neolithic, but she's still truckin' and plans to for as long as she can.
- Temporary Love Interest: For Dream.
- 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 prioritizing 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.
- Character Death: Wanda dies along with Maisie Hill when Hurricane Lisa destroys the apartment building.
- 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.
- Transsexual: Pre-op, because she's deathly afraid of surgery, but she's taking hormones and has had electrolysis.
- Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Wanda's parents and family are quite ashamed of her for her "sinful ways".
- Always Someone Better: How he feels about Christopher Marlowe, a natural writing talent and prodigy as opposed to Shakespeare whose first plays were not so good and had to develop his skill a little bit.
- 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.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: The Endless might overhear, and "the price of getting what you want is getting what once you wanted."
- 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.
- Happily Married: Subverted. He and Anne Hathaway (no, not That one) had a Shotgun wedding and Shakespeare spent most of his time in London, (he admits to Ben Jonson that he cheated on her) leaving her to raise the kids. However, in his retirement, Shakespeare and Anne form a bond and become affectionate for one another.
- It's All About Me: Shakespeare cares more about being a great artist and writer than being a good father or husband. He's highly neglectful of his young son Hamnet. In his retirement at Stratford upon Avon, Shakespeare feels very guilty for not doing enough for his children and is guilty about Hamnet's fate.
- 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.
- Parental Neglect: He's not a good father at all. In his retirement, he feels guilty about this.
- Shakespeare in Fiction: One of the more notable recent examples and many consider it to be one of the most plausible psychological looks into the great writer.
- Was It Really Worth It?: He wonders in his retirement if the sacrifices he made for being a great writer justifies his bad marriage and the poor futures of his children, especially when the society he lived in was repressive of his fellow artists like Marlowe and Ben Jonson. Morpheus who was aware of this trope reassures Shakespeare that his contributions will make a difference, while lamenting that he himself will never have that certainty.
- A Boy and His X: He's the X to Destruction's Boy.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: When inherited by Delirium.
- Deadpan Snarker: And fairly incisive art critic. In supplementary material, Gaiman has observed that while the former Destruction revelled in creation, it was necessary for him to have a buddy who could say, 'You know, that isn't very good.'
- The Kid with the Leash: To Delirium.
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 DoddsFirst 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 Sorcerer Mordru 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.
- Big Applesauce: Dodds originally operated out of "York City". This was later retconned into the actual New York City.
- Blessed with Suck: His prophetic nightmares.
- 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!"
- Demoted to Extra: Reading Justice Society of America can be a bit jarring if you're a fan of Sandman Mystery Theatre. After the Golden Age Sandman spent years as the hero of his own cult classic series, he's reduced to a mere scene-filler in JSA.
- Gas Mask, Longcoat: The Ur-Example.
- My Greatest Failure: Turning his sidekick, Sandy, into a rock monster in the 1950s. (He got better.)
AKA: Garrett SanfordFirst 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.
- Cerebus Retcon: A victim of it, over and over again.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: All in all, he got a very unceremonious death, considering he was created by the King of Comics.
AKA: Hector HallFirst 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 Age Hawkman—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.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Twice.
- 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 HawkinsFirst 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.
- Legacy Character: Of the original Sandman, Wesley Dodds.
- 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.