[[caption-width-right:245:Dream of the Endless.]]

->There are seven beings that are not Gods,\\
that existed before humanity dreamed of Gods,\\
that will exist after the last God is dead.\\
There are seven beings that exist because,\\
deep in our hearts, we know that they exist.
-->-- ''The Wake''

''The Sandman'' is a ComicBook series (later collected in a series of graphic novels) by Creator/NeilGaiman, chronicling the story of the King of Dreams and his family of fantastic AnthropomorphicPersonification[=s=] of cosmic powers. Described as "A story about stories," ''The Sandman'' was a comic series that could tell any tale, in any time period, in any style or setting. Historical figures were common, as were allusions and homages to many classic works such as the ''Literature/ArabianNights'' and the plays of Creator/WilliamShakespeare. The series lasted for 75 issues, from January, 1989 to March, 1996. A {{prequel}} mini-series, ''ComicBook/TheSandmanOverture'', was released in 2013, the original series' 25th anniversary and was written by Gaiman with art by J H Williams III.

At the center of the series is Dream, also known as Morpheus, the Sandman, and [[IHaveManyNames dozens of other titles.]] He rules over the dreaming world that mortals enter when they sleep, and he is also the patron of writers and storytellers, since a story and a dream are in many ways the same thing (he is described as "The lord of all that is not, and shall never be.") As old as the universe and more powerful than many gods, Dream is vain, proud, and stiff-necked. Throughout the series, tragedy and suffering teach him humility and compassion for others, but it's hard to change for the better when you're billions of years old and very set in your ways...

The series attracted a huge number of fans from groups who aren't traditionally seen as readers of comics, most notably young women. By the end of its run, it was selling better than ''Franchise/{{Superman}}'', had attained heaps of critical praise and industry awards, and became the first and only comic book to win the prestigious World Fantasy Award For Short Fiction. The oft-told story that the rules were changed to make comics totally ineligible is false; they were merely barred from the Short Fiction category. Comics have since been nominated under the Special Award Professional category.

These days, new readers usually consume the series via ten oft-reprinted trade paperbacks, each containing an entire storyline or a series of related short stories. The series has spawned a number of SpinOff series by both Gaiman and other writers as notable characters from the books tell their tales.

The collected trade paperbacks:
* ''Preludes and Nocturnes'': In the early 20th century, an [[UsefulNotes/{{Britain}} English]] occult sect attempts to imprison Death with a summoning ritual, but mistakenly snares Dream instead. Following seven decades of imprisonment in the waking world, Dream must avenge his kingdom and retrieve his scattered relics of power.
* ''The Doll's House'': Dream is forced to enter the waking world to track down a trio of rogue nightmares, and must get to the bottom of a mysterious "Dream Vortex" that threatens to tear apart the Dreaming. Along the way, he crosses paths with a young woman named Rose Walker, who gets caught up in a labyrinthine world of secrets after discovering the family that she never knew.
* ''Dream Country'': A collection of four unrelated one-shot stories. A frustrated writer looks for inspiration in the supernatural; a cat recalls a fateful encounter with Dream; a young Creator/WilliamShakespeare pays back a debt to Dream with a trippy performance of ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream''; a burned-out superhero looks to Death for respite from her tortuous existence.
* ''Season of Mists'': Dream is drawn into a perilous game of supernatural intrigue when he decides to confront his old enemy Lucifer Morningstar, the Lord of Hell, in a bid to rescue a past lover condemned to his kingdom. Things then proceed to go in directions that ''none'' of the participants quite expected.
* ''A Game of You'': Trying to put her life back together after a failed relationship, a young woman named Barbie (introduced in ''The Doll's House'') rediscovers the world of her old childhood fantasies in a most unexpected way, and is unwittingly caught in the middle of a struggle against a deadly being known as "The Cuckoo."
* ''Fables and Reflections'': A series of stories about mortal encounters with the Endless, spanning from medieval Arabia, to Renaissance-era UsefulNotes/{{Italy}}, to post-Revolution UsefulNotes/{{France}}, to mythic UsefulNotes/{{Greece}}, to [[UsefulNotes/TheRomanEmpire Ancient Rome]]. Includes the tragic tale of Dream's last meeting with his estranged son: The legendary Greek bard Orpheus.
* ''Brief Lives'': Dream pairs up with his unpredictable younger sister, Delirium, for a road trip into the waking world to seek out their long-lost elder brother: The rogue seventh member of The Endless, Destruction.
* ''World's End'': After being caught in a "reality storm," two mortal humans are forced to seek refuge at an inn at the End of the Universe, where they're treated to a night of storytelling by a procession of supernatural creatures. Heady meditations on death, deception, hope and urban alienation follow.
* ''The Kindly Ones'': Lyta Hall, a woman whose life was changed forever by a fateful encounter with Dream, turns to some unlikely supernatural allies when her infant son mysteriously vanishes. As Dream confronts enemies on all sides, every character introduced in the series thus far (major and minor) confronts their destinies.
* ''The Wake'': In the wake of a momentous battle, the denizens of the Dreaming come together for some sober reflection as they confront the uncertain future of their world.

The series also had more spinoffs than we can sensibly list here. The following series have articles on this wiki:
* ''Comicbook/TheBooksOfMagic''
* ''Comicbook/{{Lucifer}}'', possibly the most successful in its own right.
* ''Comicbook/SandmanMysteryTheatre''
* ''ComicBook/TheThessaliad''
* ''ComicBook/ThessalyWitchForHire''
* ''ComicBook/TheSandmanOverture'', a {{Prequel}} to the series.

After years in DevelopmentHell, in December 2013 it was announced that [[http://www.deadline.com/2013/12/joseph-gordon-levitt-eyeing-sandman-as-director-star-producer-at-warner-bros a film adaptation was in the works]], to be produced by Gaiman, [[Film/ManOfSteel David S. Goyer]] and Creator/JosephGordonLevitt, with [[Series/{{Skins}} Jack Thorne]] attached as scriptwriter. Gordon-Levitt may also direct and star in the film. [[http://www.firstshowing.net/2014/warner-bros-plans-for-cinematic-dc-universe-may-have-leaked/ A leak]] states the film is slated for a December 2016 release, and will apparently be part of the Franchise/DCExtendedUniverse. By March 6, 2016, Gordon-Levitt had left the project due to a new writer. By November 9, 2016, Eric Heisserer (the new writer) had left the project, which is apparently back in DevelopmentHell.

The comic's portrayal of ComicBook/{{Lucifer}} got a [[Series/{{Lucifer2016}} TV series on Fox]], beginning mid-season in 2016.

Not to be confused with [[http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/SpiderManRoguesGalleryIToZ The Sandman]] of Creator/MarvelComics fame. For the linked Vertigo revival of the Golden Age masked vigilante Sandman, see ''ComicBook/SandmanMysteryTheatre''.

!!The Neil Gaiman series provides examples of:


* AnAesop: The entire series could be taken as two: finding the balance between responsibilities and obligations to others; and accepting the inevitability of change, even when it's painful.
* AllAreEqualInDeath: Death is a rather benevolent version of this trope. She never misses the opportunity to say that everybody dies at the end, but for the same reason and since she knows everything about everyone, she never hates anyone; they are all the same to her, because she knows them all.
* AlliterativeFamily: The Endless: Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium (formerly Delight).
* AllAbusersAreMale: Subverted; Foxglove's ex Judy was abusive towards Foxglove, then named Donna, which caused their breakup. Foxglove has mixed feelings on hearing that [[spoiler:Judy died]].
* AllLovingHero:
** Death, who knows and loves every living thing in the universe.
** Prez Rickard, who is essentially a MessianicArchetype as President of the United States. He even offers clemency to the woman who tried to ''assassinate'' him and killed his wife in the process. [[spoiler: After his death he continues to travel across the multiverse, helping people in every version of America]].
* AllMythsAreTrue: And they're not shy about it, either.
* AllPowerfulBystander: Destiny has knowledge of the entirety of time but is completely passive, walking his garden and reading his book.
* AllThereInTheManual:
** Matthew's oft-mentioned -- but never shown -- backstory appears in ''Swamp Thing.''
** The guy in charge of the [[SerialKiller Cereal Convention]] spends some time fretting the fact that the Family Man has not showed. [[ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}} John Constantine killed him.]]
* AlwaysSaveTheGirl: In ''Sandman: Overture'', Morpheus reveals that [[spoiler:he did this with the first Vortex, unwilling to take an innocent life to save thousands.]] This almost led to TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt and [[spoiler:having to kill the Vortex when its powers drove it half-mad.]] In the present Morpheus subverts this having learned from his mistakes, [[spoiler:planning to kill Rose to prevent HistoryRepeats.]]
* AmbiguousGender: While the gender of the Endless are almost always consistent, at least to the reader, Desire and Delirium have been drawn with more androgyny than any of the other Endless on occasion. Desire, due to its androgynous nature, and Delirium, because she is, well, Delirium, and is also the youngest of the Endless.
* AnachronicOrder: The series takes advantage of the Endless' immortal nature and spends a lot of time covering events prior to Dream's capture in the first issue, without any particular order. The focus could switch between ancient Greece or Rome, to Creator/WilliamShakespeare at the drop of a hat. At most, only half of the series anchors itself in the events between issue #1 and the events of ''The Wake''.
* AndIMustScream[=/=]CoolAndUnusualPunishment[=/=]FateWorseThanDeath: ''Too'' many cases to count here. In fact, death seems downright pleasurable for those who receive her visit -- unless they were going to Hell in the end. Though in this universe, apparently the only people who go to hell are convinced on a fundamental level that they deserve it, not that such a conditional makes it any less populated.
* AndThatLittleGirlWasMe: [[spoiler:"The Hunt."]]
* AngelicTransformation: Played with, where Lucifer resigns as the ruler of Hell and gets Dream to cut off his wings, appearing to give up his angelic abilities. However, in a later arc, he claims that he never actually gave up his powers.
* AnthropomorphicPersonification: The Endless, personifications of the concept embodied in their name. Destruction claims that by existing they also define their opposite, though Dream is skeptical. A great many dreams are this (though some are less anthropomorphic than others). An early pair of villains are Brute and Glob, the dream personifications of [[BrainsAndBrawn Brute Strength and Base Cunning]]. [[SociopathicHero The Corinthian]] and his successor were created as Morpheus's attempt at a masterpiece: the personification of the dark side of humanity. In ''Endless Nights'' we meet {{Anthropomorphic Personification}}s of individual stars. Overall, the trope is thoroughly {{deconstructed|Trope}}: what is it like to personify a timeless concept, especially a tragic one, like Death or Despair or Destruction? [[AppealToInherentNature Are you eternally bound to your cosmic duty,]] or is your role in the universe escapable?
* AntiHero: Dream is often pretty unsympathetic, and he [[KickTheDog kicks the dog]] quite a lot. For example, at the end of ''A Game of You'', he's ready to abandon the main human characters to live eternity on a featureless floating platform because they entered the dreaming without his permission, even though he fully understands that most of them did so in ignorance and with good intentions. Even when he's in more sympathetic times, he's generally cold and aloof.
* AntiVillain: Lyta thinks that she's avenging the murder of her husband and son, which is not, in itself, a bad thing. The problem is that she's hurting scores of innocent people in the process. Also, the Kindly Ones don't care about her son, they only care about {{revenge}}, and while they're only [[BlueAndOrangeMorality fullfilling their role in the universe]], they go about it in a pitiless and ruthless fashion.
* AnyoneCanDie: Plenty of sympathetic characters die -- often very suddenly -- and while Gods and immortals aren't generally seen to die, the series makes it clear they are vulnerable as well. Even the Endless aren't completely immune -- though what they ''personify'' is eternal, they themselves can die, as apparently happened once to Despair. And even the Endless have lives they consider [[{{Irony}} 'brief']] because none of them except Death [[TimeAbyss will outlive this version of the universe]].
* ApologeticAttacker: Dream to [[spoiler:Rose Walker as he prepares to kill her and stop the Vortex from emerging.]]
* ArabianNightsDays: One story features this version of Baghdad, which Caliph Harun al-Raschid finds so wonderful that he is haunted by the knowledge that it will someday end. He calls on Morpheus to preserve it forever, [[spoiler:and he obliges by [[RealityWarper changing it]] into [[TheMagicGoesAway a more mundane version of the city]], but causing the Arabian Nights Days version to live on in stories and dreams]].
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: A trope repeated so often that it is something of a series ''motif.'' See the quotes under CrazySane and CruelMercy for just two examples.
* ArtifactOfDeath: Lucifer hints to Morpheus that the key to hell could be this. This turns out to be far more important in the series than probably anyone guessed at the time.
--> '''Lucifer''': Perhaps it will destroy you, perhaps it won't. But I can't imagine it will make your life any easier. *''disappears with an EvilLaugh''*
* AscendedExtra: Much of the human cast. It's traditional to introduce a character in one story arc as a minor background character, only to have them reappear in a later arc as the protagonist.
** Unity Kincaid. In ''Preludes and Nocturnes'', she briefly appears as one of the victims of the sleeping sickness. In ''The Doll's House'', she is revealed to be the grandmother of that story's protagonist, Rose Walker, who is herself the granddaughter of Desire.
** Barbie. In ''The Doll's House'', she's one of the guests at Hal's boarding house. She later turns out to be the protagonist of ''A Game of You'' which follows her adventures in the Dreaming after she divorces her husband Ken.
** Martin Tenbones. First appears in one frame in ''The Doll's House'', where he's one of the creatures in Barbie's dream. He later appears as a living being in ''A Game of You'', when Barbie travels through her dreams.
** Lyta Hall. Briefly appears in ''The Doll's House'' as a prisoner of Brute and Glob. Then Dream vows to take away her child, and ... things get more complicated. After a few sporadic appearances in later issues, she becomes the VillainProtagonist / AntiVillain of ''The Kindly Ones''.
** Daniel Hall. Introduced as Lyta Hall's baby, who Dream vows to take away when he's old enough. After a few background appearances, he plays a central role in ''The Kindly Ones''. In ''The Wake'', [[spoiler:he becomes the new Dream after the original's death]].
* AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence: [[spoiler:Daniel, when becoming the new Dream.]]
* AsianSpeekeeEngrish: {{Invoked}} by a Chinese friend of Joshua Norton for ObfuscatingStupidity.
* TheAtoner:
** Dream. In fact, the entire story of the series is of his trying to atone for his past mistakes once suffering teaches him humility. But of course, being who he is, he has to go about it in a particular way.
** Death before her off-screen CharacterDevelopment was a {{Jerkass}} and apathetic to humans. Having one mortal day to live every hundred years, however, has given her perspective and made her kinder to everyone who passes.
** Matthew the Raven, who is really Matthew Cable making up for his sins in ''Comicbook/SwampThing''.
* AttemptedRape: Although the series is generally pretty light on [[RapeAsDrama falling back on rape as the default threat for female protagonists]], Rose has to go through two of these in ''The Doll's House.'' Eurydice is also a victim of AttemptedRape, but that's just the [[Myth/ClassicalMythology source material]].
* AuthorAvatar: Depending on the artist, Morpheus bears a striking resemblance to writer Neil Gaiman, almost dressing like he did back then too. Other artists attempted to avoid this.

* BackForTheDead:
** All of [[spoiler:Barbie's friends from The Land]] in ''A Game Of You''. [[spoiler:Martin Tenbones is the first casualty.]]
** [[spoiler:Orpheus]] in ''Brief Lives''. The fact that [[spoiler:his father, Dream]] was who ended his life has very important consequences later on.
* BadassBookworm:
** Lucien, after "The Ladies" released Morpheus's (highly dangerous) prisoners:
--->A couple of them took refuge in the Library. I ... dealt with them ...
** Thessaly is a several-thousand-year-old Greek witch who's first introduced as Barbie's nerdy neighbor. She then kills a man, and forces his spirit to come back so she can interrogate him via ''his face which she cut off his skull and nailed to a wall.'' She then goes into the Dreaming to help Barbie. In ''The Kindly Ones'' she tracks down Lyta Hall, brews a potion and kills a lamb to protect her. After Lyta comes to, she sees Thessaly reading a book; Thessaly warns her that a lot of people are angry about what she did and calmly tells her to run, because those people want revenge. ''And Thessaly's one of them.''
* BalancingDeathsBooks: Death's lingering fondness for the protagonists of ''Death: The Time of Your Life'' leads her to agree to bring their baby back but, she warns, she'll be back, and someone will be leaving with her. Her return 5 years later is the catalyst that starts the story.
* BeardOfSorrow: Orpheus sports an impressive one after he returns from the Underworld. Strangely, Dream gets one as well, seemingly minutes after he brings back the Key to Hell, which may be because Dream is essentially a trope-based entity. More stubble later when [[spoiler:Thessaly dumps him]].
* BecauseDestinySaysSo: And he says it ''right to you.'' Notably, this applies to Himself as well.
* BerserkButton:
** You call them "The Kindly Ones" (even though they're nothing of the sort) because they ''do not'' like being called "Furies".
** Nathan Diskin's serial killer code name is Fun Land. Do ''not'' shorten it to "Fun".
* BigScrewedUpFamily[=/=]DysfunctionalFamily: The Endless. Oh ''lordy''.
** The primary personality dynamic of Morpheus. Desire, in particular, spends nearly the entire series trying to get him killed, and calling his relationship with his son an estranged one is putting it lightly -- after their first argument, they spend several thousand years avoiding each other. ''Overture'' reveals [[spoiler:that his relationships with his parents are just as messed up]].
** Destruction abandoning his realm is another huge rift, with the other Endless trying (and mostly failing) to deal with his absence in different ways.
** An example of how strangely detached and dysfunctional they are as a family (although they do have strong familial bonds within each other, such as Dream and Death, and Destruction and Despair) is evidenced when Destiny assembles all of them (minus Destruction) and suggest that they should just... talk. Should be simple enough for siblings, but for them, it isn't.
--> '''Destiny''': It has been centuries since we were all together. We must have much to discuss.\\
[''group BeatPanel'']
* BigSisterInstinct:
** Rose towards Jed Walker during ''Doll's House''. [[spoiler:She's horrified on learning how he was abused by relatives, and is relieved when Gilbert finds her brother alive but unconscious in Corinthian's truck.]]
** Death and Desire act this way towards Delirium, with the former chewing out Dream for mistreating "[[AffectionateNickname Del]]" and the latter helping her get home from the mortal world.
* BiTheWay: When we first meet Hal we assume he's gay, but WordOfGod says that he has a fling with Rose later. Then again ''everybody'' wants Rose, so this might be a case of "IfItsYouItsOkay".
* BiographyAClef: The Shakespeare episodes more or less present Morpheus as Creator/WilliamShakespeare's patron, directly and indirectly leading him to the path of inspiration and genius. Most specifically, it presents ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream'' as a commission from the Lord of Dreams from Shakespeare and staged before TheFairFolk who inspired it. The audience is especially amused to see the relatively tame and harmless Puck compared to the far more terrifying and nasty one they know, while Puck rather enjoys the play and gets lost into it.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:"The King Of Dreams is dead. Long live the King Of Dreams".]]
* BloodyBowelsOfHell: Parts of it fit this.
* BlueAndOrangeMorality: ZigZagged with the Endless. They have an alien perspective because their values are based on performing their cosmic function, but they still have personalities that are pretty close to human. Even still, this can lead to some strange behavior and actions. For example, Morpheus is upset that the Corinthian became a serial killer in the waking world...not because he was hurting people but because it's too prosaic.
* BoardingSchoolOfHorrors: It was bad ''before'' the dead rose...
* BoisterousBruiser: Destruction. More traditionally, Thor.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Once. Even you the reader were there at [[spoiler:Dream's wake and funeral]].
* BreakTheCutie:
** On a cosmic scale, as Delight became Delirium. Before, she was cheery, flighty and pretty harmless. After, she's still cheery, but completely nuts and will break your mind if you piss her off. Although she might break your mind while trying to do you a favor, too.
** Jed Walker through ''A Doll's House''. [[spoiler:Separated from his mum and sister, losing his grandfather to illness and then stuck with abusive relatives who lock him in the basement and beat him up, with Brute and Glob occupying his head and offering comfort only through dreams. Then when he finally escapes, he encounters the Corinthian, who locks him in a car trunk, saving him for later.]] Thanks to Gilbert and Rose, however, EarnYourHappyEnding finally comes into effect.
** Rose Walker in the meantime spends most of ''A Doll's House'' looking for her brother Jed, tracking him down with Gilbert's help. [[spoiler:Then she finds out his relatives abused him after he goes missing, nearly gets raped by one of the convention attendees, and finds her comatose brother thanks to Gilbert]]. After a night of worrying about Jed's health, she then [[spoiler:uses her power as the Vortex unwittingly and nearly kills everyone, including her friends and housemates. To survive, she sacrifices her heart to her grandmother and watches the latter die. For the next several years, struggling with the reality of what she saw and her subsequent loss of feeling, Rose then gets manipulated into losing Lyta's son Daniel, becomes impregnated, and gets her heart back. As she puts it, "I don't believe in magic. I believe in weird shit."]]
** Barbie in ''Doll's House'' and ''A Game Of You''. At first it starts that [[spoiler:Rose inadvertently exposed Barbie's dreams to Ken, which led to their divorce and Barbie no longer able to dream. Then her friends Martin Tenbones enters the mortal world only to die before giving Barbie the Porpentine. She reenters the dream world, then sees her friends die one by one thanks to TheMole betraying them, while the Cuckoo captures and compels her to destroy the Porpentine and Land, so that Cuckoo can fly off and mature.]] Even worse, Dream says outright that the latter events should have happened sooner and would have [[spoiler:if Rose hadn't interfered]].
* BrokenAesop: Invoked. The Kipling-quoting "Indian Gentleman" tells his companions a tale he hopes will "prove" that women are inherently evil in "Hob's Leviathan." But as Hob and Jim [[LampshadeHanging points out]], the sum Aesop of the story seems to be more along the lines of "men and women are ''both'' capable of deeply hurting each other."
* BrokeYourArmPunchingOutCthulhu: Destiny, in an opening Narration, implies that the only reason Dream was captured at the beginning of the series was that he was weak after fighting something else. Given that Dream is several orders of magnitude more powerful than the {{Physical God}}s we see in the story, our sanity probably wouldn't survive knowing what it was. ''Sandman Overture'' covers that particular story.
* BrownNote: [[LoveDeity Ishtar's]] Dance is so unbelievably hot that it causes all men who see it to die of arousal.
--> "And Shep Cayce, who hasn't had an erection in a dozen years, is ejaculating violently - again, and again, and again: and now he's coming blood and he ''doesn't care''."
* BuryYourGays:
** For all that her portrayal was sympathetic and ahead of its time, [[spoiler:Wanda is killed off at the end of ''A Game of You'']]. Even more sadly, it happened because [[spoiler:she was denied the ability to walk the female-only Moon's Path, making it look like the moon itself was calling her a man]]. However [[spoiler:despite the fact that she's buried under her birth name, she's shown after death as a beautiful woman, getting a happy ending, of sorts]].
** Averted with both [[spoiler:Hazel and Foxglove]] in ''Death: The Time of Your Life''. [[spoiler:Hazel and Foxglove at different points offer their lives for the baby's, but Foxglove's bodyguard Endymion/Boris insists on staying.]]
* ButWeUsedACondom: Invoked; Rose returns to England at one point and has a one-night stand with her family's new solicitor, and they ''did'' use a condom. Well, condom'''s''', actually. But she didn't use any spermicide and one of them broke. She's fairly happy about being pregnant, though.
* ByronicHero: Dream, rather pointedly and perhaps an intentional decision on his part.

* CainAndAbel:
** Dream and Desire. They were once as friendly as Dream and Death are in the story's present time. Now, Dream is as cold and distant to Desire as he is to most anyone who offends him, and Desire can't stand Dream and constantly messes with his life, which infuriates Dream to no end.
** Cain and Abel ''themselves'' live in the Dreaming. Cain kills Abel repeatedly, but Abel just regenerates.
* CallingTheOldManOut: Daniel [[spoiler:when he becomes Dream and becomes an adult]] calls out Lyta for [[spoiler:her RoaringRampageOfRevenge, since ultimately the previous Dream dying means that her Daniel was lost forever, and caused countless damage in that realm by unleashing the Kindly Ones]]. With that said, he does acknowledge she was manipulated into causing such destruction, and offers her eternal protection.
* CameBackWrong: Inverted; the Corinthian is ''better'' when he comes back. Well, he's better at ''being the most perfect and terrible nightmare ever to be dreamed''. One may disagree if that's a good thing, but [[EvenEvilHasStandards at least he's not]] [[EvilIsPetty so petty and small-minded as before]].
* TheCameo: Franchise/{{Batman}} shows up for the funeral, even though he was never featured in any Sandman stories (well, unless you count the comedienne making a joke about him.) However, considering that sooner or later Bats meets ''everyone'' in the DC universe, it's not a stretch to assume they had an encounter off-camera at some point.
* CardboardPrison: Arkham Asylum, in the first StoryArc.
* CasanovaWannabe: Thor just can't understand why the other gods have so much less trouble with the ladies. After all, none of ''them'' employ his killer technique of leering in a woman's face and bellowing about his hammer getting bigger when you rub it...
* CastOfPersonifications: The main characters are "The Endless", a family of seven anthropomorphic personifications of universal concepts, around whom much of the series revolves; while they can die, a new being representing their concept will always appear to replace them. From eldest to youngest, they are Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium.
* CatsAreMagic:
** The goddess Bast exists and governs the well-being of cats.
** A cat prophet claims giant cats once ruled the world in an alternate timeline.
** Cat!Dream is quite mystical and magical, obeying no one's orders but his own.
* CensorshipBySpelling: In ''Brief Lives'', Delirium wants to tell her sister that she's worried about Dream without him knowing, so she spells out his name. Or tries to. It ends up with too many Ms in it, and he's not fooled anyway.
* CharacterDevelopment: Dream becomes kinder and more empathetic to others after his imprisonment. Indeed, it is his desire to make amends is at the core of major plot points, such as rescuing Nada in ''Season of Mists'' and [[spoiler:killing Orpheus]] in ''Brief Lives''.
* CharacterTitle: He's more often called Dream, but "The Sandman" is another name for him.
* ChekhovsArmy: Virtually every single character turns out to be vital to the resolution of the conflict, albeit in ways that often take a long time for the reader to realize.
* ChekhovsGunman: Every representation of three women chatting amongst themselves, or being questioned by an outsider, is implied to be an aspect of the [[TheHecateSisters Three Witches]], Maiden, Mother, and Crone. These manifestations can be as overt as the apparitions of the Fates and Grey Ladies or as subtle as the varying appearances of Eve in her three forms.
* ChekhovsSkill: Dream's method of storing pieces of himself inside objects, [[spoiler:which he uses in the final arc to have Daniel become the new Dream]].
* TheChessmaster:
** Lucifer, of course.
** Dream is so good at this that even he doesn't consciously understand the extent of his plans.
* ChoosingDeath: Several people in the series do this, or try to. [[spoiler:Morpheus included.]]
* TheChosenOne: Prez Rickard, who is something of a deconstruction of the modern concept of the political messiah.
* CleverCrows: Matthew the raven is friendly, not a trickster (though a bit of a wise guy), pleasant and the most loyal guy in the Dreaming. He's as smart as a human and perhaps once was human.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Delirium, although she will from time to time [[OhCrap start making sense]]. When she does, you should either listen ''very'' carefully to her, or panic...or maybe both, because...
** TheCuckoolanderWasRight: ...When she starts making sense, everything that comes out of her mouth is absolutely true.
* ClusterFBomb: The language can be fairly salty at times, and is notable for the first F-bomb printed in a Vertigo title (see PrecisionFStrike below).
* CoinsForTheDead: In the spinoff comic Death: Time of Your Life we see her spending her day as a mortal in the 1990s. At the end of the day the mortal version of Death dies, and a sorcerer who had been trying to capture her, (and, it's implied, end his own immortal life) places a pair of coins over her eyes in respect.
* ComicBookFantasyCasting: Depending on the artist:
** Delirium is sometimes Music/ToriAmos.
*** WordOfGod also indicates novelist and friend of Neil, Kathy Acker.
** Destruction is sometimes Creator/BrianBlessed.
** Lucifer is sometimes Music/DavidBowie.
** Dream is often Bowie as well, but is mostly Neil Gaiman himself, and occasionally [[Music/{{Queen}} Freddie Mercury]] and Robert Smith of Music/TheCure.
** Hob Gadling's look in his final appearance was based on Ian Anderson of Music/JethroTull.
** No "official" casting for Death, but in recensions "Death is Björk" will constantly pop up. And if not that, then [[Music/SiouxsieAndTheBanshees Siouxsie.]]
* ComedicSociopathy: Cain of the famous Cain and Abel duo. He almost always ends up brutally murdering his brother at the end of their scene, and it is almost always played for laughs (even [[CrossingTheLineTwice making him into sausages as a stage show]] for visiting deities).
* ContinuityNod:
** In ''The High Cost of Living,'' someone says they would like to die between two virgins at the moment of orgasm, via elephant crushing. In ''Endless Nights,'' someone does exactly that. Comes up occasionally in other places too; it's more of a RunningGag.
** Also in ''Endless Nights'', Despair talks with Rao ([[Franchise/{{Superman}} Krypton]]'s sun) about her plan to create the ultimate being of despair. Namely, for an unstable planet to host life and [[LastOfHisKind leave a single survivor]] when it dies. Apparently she thought that the life on that world would be more beautiful because at any time it could be destroyed. Franchise/{{Superman}} is NOT in the throes of Despair though, so it looks like her plan backfired. In the same issue, the green sun and Dream's alien girlfriend represent the sun and a resident of Oa, which form the background of the ComicBook/GreenLantern stories. If her developing energy powers and her role as a protector of the planet are any indication, she may be one of the founders of the Corps.
** The serial killer The Bogeyman, who appears in ''The Doll's House'', [[spoiler:and is revealed to be an impersonator who's a writer for a magazine]], originally appeared in Alan Moore's ''Comicbook/SwampThing'' run. If you read that, it won't come as a surprise that [[spoiler:the man appearing in ''The Sandman'' is an impostor]].
** Merv Pumpkinhead first appears in a background cameo in ''Preludes and Nocturnes'', when he's shown driving the bus in the Dreaming that Dream uses to get to the Justice League's old warehouse. Much later in the series, after Merv has been properly introduced as one of Dream's retinue of assistants, he mentions that he briefly "drove a bus" during Dream's absence.
** In ''Season of Mists'', the Lords of Order try to bribe Dream with the dreams collected by the [[ComicBook/JusticeLeagueInternational Grey Man]].
* CoolBigSis:
** As essentially the second oldest entity in the universe (only Destiny being older), Death basically fulfills this role for ''everyone'', but especially so for Dream. She's the only one who's able to break him out of his funk after freeing himself.
** Desire fills this role for Delirium in ''Brief Lives'', showing us a rare sympathetic moment from them.
* CoolGate / PortalNetwork / PortalPicture: Each of the Endless has a [[PortalNetwork gallery in his/her/its realm which connects to the other Endless' realms]]. This is usually through [[CoolGate sigils specific to the Endless in question]]. It's revealed in a later issue that the entire thing with the sigils and galleries is more of a formality than anything else.
-->'''Despair''': [''to Dream''] I am not in my gallery and neither do I hold your sigil. Will you speak to me?
* CoolOldGuy: [[{{Expy}} Fiddler's]] [[Creator/GKChesterton Green]], [[GeniusLoci who is a place rather than a person]].
* CosmicHorrorStory: "A Tale of Two Cities", the first story in ''World's End'', is consciously told in the style of a [[Creator/HPLovecraft Lovecraftian]] ghost story (it even [[ShoutOut uses the word "cyclopean"]]). The EldritchAbomination that it reveals is of a particularly surprising, and unsettling, nature: [[spoiler:[[GeniusLoci the city itself]], whose dreams he winds up trapped in, [[ParanoiaFuel and by extension ALL cities.]] "I fear what will happen when the cities wake up" indeed. ]]
* CrapsackWorld: Subtle, but there. Delirium is no longer Delight, meaning there isn't anyone governing the function of happiness in the universe. We know from the example of Destruction that this doesn't mean that it's impossible for anyone to be happy anymore, but it does mean that it's ''harder'', and that there is no longer any rhyme or reason to who is happy in life, and why, and for how long. Similarly, Destruction has gone AWOL, unwilling to take responsibility for the level of destruction humanity is now capable of.
* CrazyHomelessPeople
** The woman who doesn't like dogs in ''A Game Of You''.
** A group of them set out to rescue Delirium from her own head in ''Endless Nights''.
** One appears in ''The Kindly Ones'' as a RecurringExtra. [[ChekhovsGunman Turns out]] that Delirium's lost dog was with him this whole time. He declines a reward from Delirium for returning him, but asks if the dog can visit from time to time.
* CrazySane: Emperor Norton, as depicted in "Three Septembers and a January".
-->'''Delirium:''' His madness... His madness keeps him sane.\\
'''Dream:''' And do you think he is the only one, my sister?
* CreatorCameo:
** Neil and issue artist Micheal Zulli appear in the crowd in ''The Wake''.
** In ''Brief Lives'' Jill Thompson began by drawing her own apartment for Etain of The Second Look, and wound up just being told to draw herself as the small character.
** Thessaly [[DependingOnTheArtist more-or-less]] resembles ''Game of You'' artist Colleen Doran, with StoicSpectacles and [[BrainyBrunette brown hair]].
* CriminalConvention: In issue #14, a convention of serial killers and mass murders congregate to share stories and conversation. Here, rogue nightmare and serial killer, the Corinthian, is found attending the convention, having been an inspiration to many of the serial killers attending. The various attendants go by code-names, the convention called a "Cereal Convention" as to not draw attention to themselves. The convention comes to an end when the eponymous sandman Dream is called there by one of their victims and then proceeds to destroy the Corinthian and show the conventioners how petty and meaningless they truly are.
* CrossOver: With other Vertigo titles, and to a lesser extent the DCU.
** Death took part in a AIDS awareness campaign, and to help out she called in ''ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}}'''s John Constantine for a demonstration of putting a condom on a banana. Constantine looked very uncomfortable.
** Batman, Superman, Mr. Miracle, various ''Sandman'' heroes, Martian Manhunter, Fury, Scarecrow and Doctor Destiny all make appearances. In the beginning, ''The Sandman'' was supposed to be part of the DCU proper, but Gaiman decided later that this was a mistake and downplayed it as the series went on. A few of these characters appear as Callbacks at the end though. {{ComicBook/Darkseid}} appears in ''The Wake'' sitting next to Jed Walker.
** Most of Gaiman's characters have had very limited interaction with the main DCU since the comic ended, because DC has to pay him a royalty to use them (though there have been some, such as the [[Franchise/JusticeLeagueOfAmerica JLA]] knowing Daniel, time traveler Walker Gabriel being buddies with Hob Gadling, and Death appearing to Luthor shortly before the ComicBook/{{New 52}} reboot). However, Gaiman also used many obscure pre-existing DC characters, such as Cain, Abel, and Destiny, and these can be used with impunity.
** Possibly with Gaiman's ''Literature/AmericanGods''. At one point, Wednesday and Shadow walk by a weird homeless girl with a dog, implied to be Delirium and Barnabas.
* CrossoverCosmology: The sheer number of gods and pantheons. And this is just on Earth and (apparently) Mars.
* CruelMercy: Dream escapes Hell in the early issues by telling TheLegionsOfHell that despite evidence to the contrary, dreams do in fact have power in hell: "What terrors would Hell hold if those entombed within could not dream of Heaven?" Especially twisted: whether he means he will take away their dreams of Heaven, or [[HopeSpot GIVE them dreams of Heaven that they have to wake up from in Hell]], is left unclear.
* UsefulNotes/TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks: This series is seen as one of the seminal (and high-quality) outputs of this age.
* DarkIsNotEvil:
** Death, thanks to her status as a PerkyGoth.
** Dream was never evil really, but that's more of a matter of definition due to BlueAndOrangeMorality. He's certainly done terrible things, like sentencing his ex-girlfriend to Hell because she hurt his pride, and trapping the son of the man who imprisoned him in eternal nightmares. He lightens up and becomes more human during the events of the series due to his [[BreakTheHaughty imprisonment]]... which actually turns out to be a problem [[spoiler:because he is still too stubborn to change]].
** Despair is also not nearly as evil as she might have been, and actually sometimes acts as a peacemaker for her family. This might be because she's the second incarnation of Despair, after the previous one was killed, meaning that part of the present Despair was once mortal.
** In ''Endless Nights'', the embodiment of the star Mizar puts forward a rather more positive interpretation of Destruction:
--->'''Mizar:''' His is the process that fuels all the stars. Without him, all would be lifeless and dark.
* ADateWithRosiePalms: Discussed by one of the serial killers in "The Collectors". It caused something of a stir when Gaiman first wrote it in, with his editor protesting that "characters in Franchise/TheDCUniverse don't masturbate!" Gaiman replied that [[CrowningMomentOfFunny this explained a lot about the DC Universe]]. Also mentioned by Tiffany in ''Brief Lives'', when she bemoans how she keeps getting into relationships with scumbags.
* DeadGuyPuppet: The chapter set in the French Revolution shows decapitated bodies used as giant marionettes after a public execution. The same chapter has Orpheus's head make a pile of other severed heads into a choir to gain power.
* DeadpanSnarker: Destruction pals around with a talking dog whose only utility seems to be making dry, witty comments at his expense.
--> '''Barnabas''': Devotion you got. Perjury ain't in the job description.
* DealWithTheDevil: Both used and subverted. While we see both a minor demon and Dream pulling this (though Dream's price isn't so crude as a soul, and neither was the demon's) Lucifer himself specifically denies ever making such deals.
--> '''Lucifer''': I need no souls. And how can anyone "own" a soul?
--> '''Skinner's ghost''': We sacrificed a boy. All three of us. To the devil. We did stuff from old books. We did stuff you wouldn't believe. But when we went to Hell ... they didn't ''care''. They hadn't even ''known''. They--they ''laughed'' at us.
* DeathIsCheap: Abel comes back to life as a matter of kind, provided that Cain is the one who kills him. Almost all of the dream characters killed in ''The Kindly Ones'' are recreated later, though it is pointed out that they are not the same as the originals: just identical copies. Fiddler's Green took offense at the concept and refused to be recreated. And The Endless can die, and when they do a new version of them is made, although this is actually a subversion since the process of creating the new version is quite costly. When questioned on the subject, Death's response is that these things just happen. She's kind of busy, after all. She doesn't sweat it because in the end ''everyone'' dies, even if they come back to life a few times during the in-between bits.
* DeathOfPersonality: [[spoiler:Dream]] dies, but is reborn in a new form, who then continues to do his predecessor's work. So [[spoiler:the idea called Dream keeps on living]], but the character everyone knew as him is dead.
* DeathSeeker: Element Girl, Orpheus, [[spoiler:and eventually Dream]].
* DeathTakesAHoliday: Subverted and played straight. In the first book Dream is captured by mistake by mystics trying to imprison Death. It messes up the Dreaming on Earth and he points out the terrible consequences had they succeeded in their original plan. In a later tie-in book, ''Death: The High Cost of Living'', Death takes on human form and wanders the earth for a day, a tradition she performs once every century; this tradition is mentioned in the original series and is a more literal vacation.
* DiscOneFinalBoss: Roderick Burgess. The first issue appears to set him up as the BigBad, or at least as a major antagonist. Then it turns out that the first issue spans ''70 freakin' years''. As Dream points out, patiently waiting a human lifetime is easy for the Endless, and even if he hadn't figured out how to escape, he could've simply waited for the building in which he was imprisoned to crumble to dust. By the time Dream gets free, Roderick has died of old age and his son Alex is a harmless, senile old man. Dream leaves Alex in a permanent nightmare and never sees him again. [[spoiler:He wakes up at the end of ''The Kindly Ones'' when Dream dies, as there was nothing keeping him in the nightmare. He even attends Dream's funeral and meets the new one, who doesn't seem to hold a grudge.]]
* DependingOnTheArtist: This tended to be a bit of a problem, because the series went through a ''legion'' of artists during its run, particularly once Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg moved on. Most characters eventually solidified into consistent designs, though.
** Lucifer is a pretty dramatic case of this; his first depiction was as a fairly waifish young man, while beginning in ''Season of Mists'' he was depicted as being taller and much more chiseled, with shorter hair. This depiction was kept a bit more consistent afterwards.
** Doctor Destiny had his appearance dramatically altered by Mike Dringenberg, after Sam Kieth left the series. This was noticeable, though, because it happened ''in the very next issue''.
** The entire "Kindly Ones" arc is particularly noted as having dissimilar art to the entire rest of the ''series'', as Marc Hempel's style was ''radically'' different from earlier series artists like Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg & Malcolm Jones, who originally defined the "look" of the series. Funnily enough, Hempel actually ''does'' manage to avoid [[OffModel deviating from previously-locked-down character appearances]], but his style is just so ''different'' that a number of characters end up looking rather different anyway.
** Delirium's appearance constantly changes from story to story; there are times when she's even drawn differently between ''scenes'', but in her case this actually makes a kind of sense.
** In a way, it's justified for all the Endless, since how they appear is mostly a matter of perception, anyway (and there are even a few gags based around this, including Orpheus' memorable trip to Death's... "house"). In one scene, the Martian Manhunter and Mr. Miracle are both speaking to Dream. Mr. Miracle sees him in his familiar white-skinned form, while the Martian Manhunter simultaneously sees him in the form of Mars' ancient god of sleep--a giant blazing Martian head.
* DesperatelyLookingForAPurposeInLife:
** Destruction at some point in his life realizes that people will always destroy and change things, without his interference. Thus, he decides to figure out what to do with his infinite time.
** With her normal life being empty and shallow, Barbie seeks out comfort from her dreams, where she is a princess on a quest to save her land. She's a bit traumatized when [[spoiler:Rose as the Vortex causes her to stop dreaming, and then to have to return to the Land to ensure it ends.]]
* DestroyerDeity: Destruction is the incarnation of... well... take a guess. He quit the position when nuclear weapons were invented, because he didn't want responsibility for ''that'' level of destruction. He spends his retirement attempting creative endeavors such as art and cooking, but his own nature causes them to come out terrible no matter how hard he tries.
* TheDeterminator: The Kindly Ones, aka the Furies, are the living embodiment of revenge, and they never let go of a grudge. ''NEVER''. Lyta Hall as well, in her quest to gain their aid.
* DeusExMachina: Reconstructed. In many stories, Dream is just a supporting character, usually one who shows up seemingly out of nowhere to solve the conflict at the end in a way that would normally feel like a cheat. But since this series is called ''The Sandman'', and since the reader firmly expects this to happen and knows that, in the context of the series, it makes perfect sense, and is a good example of TropesAreNotBad.
* DidTheyOrDidntThey: Titania is plainly in love with Morpheus, and he seems fond of her (in his way); fairy gossip holds that they were lovers, but the reader never knows for sure[[note]]In ''The Wake'' you apparently ask her about it, because she regally tells you to mind your own business[[/note]].
* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu: In the first issue, Dream is captured by humans. And he apparently has done this at least twice in the backstory. The most recent case was whatever he fought [[BrokeYourArmPunchingOutCthulhu that weakened him enough that even humans could capture him]]. It is also mentioned that the Gate of Horn, The Gate of Ivory, and his mask of office are made of the horns, tusks, and skull of a trio of elder gods that tried to conquer [[EldritchLocation The Dreaming]] in the ancient past.
* DispenseWithThePleasantries: At one point Morpheus sends Lucifer a message, wrapped up in highfalutin' diplomatic language. Lucifer cuts the messenger off midway through his recital of Lucifer's full list of titles and asks for "just the content".
* DisproportionateRetribution:
** Nada's fate, when she's condemned to Hell for all eternity for rejecting Dream's romantic advances. Especially given that due to the "echo" effect the Endless produce, nearly ''every black female character in the series'' suffers a burning death because of what happens to Nada. [[spoiler:The exception is Gwen, Hob Gadling's girlfriend in ''The Wake'', because of course Morpheus is dead by then, and the echo-cycle has been broken.]]
** That poor highway patrol officer. Sure he was a JerkAss, but Delirium went ''way'' too far by giving him the perpetual hallucination of being covered in bugs.
** Lucifer's consort Mazikeen, although [[CloudCuckooLander that could have just been Delirium]] [[MindScrew screwing with us]].
--->'''Delirium''': If you don't let me in, I will turn you into a demon half-face waitress night-club lady with a crush on her boss, and I'll make it so you've been that from the beginning of time to now and you'll never ever know if you were anything else and it will itch inside your head worse than little bugses.
* DistractedFromDeath: Zelda is dying slowly of AIDS, and Rose is taking care of her. Then, after being given a message from beyond the grave, Rose leaves for a few days, and finds that Zelda died during her absence.
* DivinelyAppearingDemons: Lucifer, Be'elzebub, and Azazel are the DemonLordsAndArchdevils of Hell. Each of them are depicted with a different appearance, making this trope played straight and averted. Lucifer (straight) looks like his angelic biblical appearance, while Azazel (Averted) appears made of shadows, eyes, and teeth, and Be'elzebub (Averted) is a giant fly.
* DontFearTheReaper: Meeting Death is actually a pleasant experience if she has anything to say about it; also, since she was there when everyone was born, meeting her again upon death is mentioned to be sort of like meeting an old friend.
* DoubleMeaningTitle: There are many examples: Gaiman is fond of this sort of word-play.
** ''The Doll's House''. It can be seen as an allusion to Jed Walker's mind, which is used as a metaphorical "playground" for Hector and Lyta Hall, who are being manipulated like "dolls" by Brute and Glob. Then again, the plot also features Rose staying at a boarding house owned by a cross-dresser (who goes by "Dolly" in a drag show) and where two of her housemates are named Ken and Barbie. An actual physical doll's house appears as a minor prop in some scenes. And the last chapter reveals yet another possible interpretation of the title.
** ''The Wake:'' Each chapter in this last part plays with a different definition of the word: a wake (eulogy) for the dead, the wake (aftermath) of a disaster, to wake from sleep, and so forth.
* DreamsOfFlying: Rose Walker meets Dream while dreaming of the two of them flying. She says she read that dreams about flying are really about sex. Dream then wonders what dreams about sex are really about.
* DreamWithinADream: The main character being the Lord of Dreams, this comes up a lot.
* DrivenToSuicide:
** Element Girl, of all people. She's happy she gets to die, although it's implied that she could have turned her life around if she wanted to.
** Possibly [[spoiler:Morpheus]] as well.
* DyingDream: [[spoiler:[[JustForPun In more ways than one]]]].
* DueToTheDead: When Barbie attends [[spoiler:Wanda's funeral, with Wanda being a transgender female, she leaves a comic book in Wanda's grave and crosses out her birth name Alvin with "tacky pink" lipstick, writing WANDA in big letters instead.]]

* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: Early issues were more overt horror stories set in the proper DC universe, with appearances by many staple DC heroes and villains. As the series went on it grew into a more complex kind of fantasy and Gaiman more or less excised the DC references, though he would toss one in every so often.
* EarthIsTheCenterOfTheUniverse: Despite there being umpteen worlds and planes full of intelligent creatures, we almost never see the Endless interact with non-humans or non-terrestrial settings. Even the gods are the product of human dreams. Given the nature of the characters and stories, it's likely that we just don't see the non-human parts of their jobs, and probably wouldn't understand how they work anyway. Corroborating this is a conversation wherein Death implies that she is effectively everywhere in the universe simultaneously. If this applies to her siblings (and there's no evidence otherwise, magical imprisonments notwithstanding), then the comic arc is just one plotline in a universe full of them.
** Moreover, it's ''our'' earth we're talking about, even though it's made explicit that there are [[TheMultiverse alternate universes / timelines]] in existence.
** The prequel series ''Sandman: Overture'' does much to explain this, [[spoiler:showing Dream interact with countless different versions of himself, who each represent Dream as he appears to a different species, and even though they are all parts of Dream they each seem to have to some degree an independent existence]].
* EarthIsYoung: This Verse goes for the postmodern Type D version. Time, history and reality are all very relative concepts, and what says that an act of creation can't be retroactive anyway?
** In ''A Dream of a Thousand Cats'' (a short story in the third book), the universe-as-we-know-it has [[{{Retconjuration}} always existed]] -- but there used to be another universe where Earth was [[CatsAreMean ruled by giant cats that used humans as slaves and toys to hunt]]. At some point (when [[WhenIsPurple doesn't matter]]), humans managed to share a dream that [[RetGone wrote the old reality out of existence as if it had never been]] and created the world as we know it.
** Putting together evidence from ''Season of Mists'', "The Parliament of Rooks", ''Brief Lives'' and ''Comicbook/{{Lucifer}}'', it appears that in this Verse the fossil record is true, if incomplete, but the Garden of Eden plot and the war in Heaven happened -- 10 billion years ago, before Earth was even formed.
** Abel says as much in ''Fables and Reflections'', indicating that their Biblical backstory did not happen on Earth. Cain likewise stated that ''none'' of them, including the Endless, [[StarfishAliens looked remotely human]] at the time.
** Averted in a more straightforward manner in ''Endless Nights'', where Sol, the personification of our Sun, plays a minor role. Oa, the home of the [[Franchise/GreenLantern Guardians of the Universe]] already has sentient beings, but Sol says explicitly that none of his planets have life yet.
* EeriePaleSkinnedBrunette: Death, Dream, Desire, and Despair in their default forms (see AFormYouAreComfortableWith on this page), although "otherworldly" would be more accurate than "eerie". {{Lampshaded}} by Morpheus's sarcastic servant Mervyn, who once refers to his boss as "Tall Pale and Interestin'" behind his back.
* EldritchLocation: ''Most'' of the settings in the series are this, especially the Dreaming and its various outlying lands. There are also "soft places" in our world that intersect with the Dreaming and thus exist outside of linear time, which includes the desert of Lob, "a few thousand square miles of central Australia, a couple of Pacific islands, a field in Ireland, and an occasional mountain in Arizona[[note]] As in, the mountain is only occasionally there[[/note]]", according to Fiddler's Green, who is [[GeniusLoci himself one]].
* EmotionlessGirl: Despair: "I am not happy or sad. I just am." This turns out not to be quite true though. This was not true of her predecessor, who seemed to consider the fragility of life and mournful melancholy beautiful and even talked with [[Franchise/{{Superman}} Rao]] about arranging Superman's fate as what amounts to an art project. [[ByronicHero Must be where Dream picked it up from.]]
* EnemyCivilWar: The various wars in hell; this is more apparent in ''Comicbook/{{Lucifer}}''.
* EnvironmentalSymbolism: In the realms belonging to the Endless, their environments change with their moods. Mervyn pointedly {{lampshade}}s this at one point:
--> '''Mervyn''': He's gotta be the tragic figure standing out in the rain, mourning the loss of his beloved. So down comes the rain, right on cue. In the meantime everybody gets dreams fulla existential angst and wakes up feeling like hell. And we all get wet.
* EroticDream: Morpheus once borrowed the vehicle that someone was dreaming about having sex in the back of. Rose also gets one in ''The Kindly Ones'', which Abel [[ThePeepingTom drops in on]] her having sex to get some cheap entertainment before she catches him. Also discussed by Rose with Dream.
-->'''Rose:''' You know, I read somewhere that if you dream about flying it's really about having sex.\\
'''Dream:''' [[LampshadeHanging Really? Then what does it mean when you dream about having sex?]]
* EssentialMadness: A story has Delirium in a foul mood, having hidden herself away in her realm and cut off all access. In order to get to her, Dream recruits several mentally ill people, as only their flexible interpretations of reality would allow them to navigate Delirium's home unscathed.
* EvenEvilHasStandards:
** Desire for their quibbles with Dream makes sure to treat Delirium nicely. Del is just a kid by eternity standards, after all, and a CloudCuckooLander.
** Lucifer always keeps his word, and is actually not that bad compared to most of the other denizens of hell. Not that that's much of a standard, mind you.
* EvenMoreOmnipotent:
** In ''Season of Mists'', the demon Azazel taunts Morpheus with having his former lover inside of his body (basically Alien Geometries), and threatens that he can kill her before Morpheus can attack him unless he hands over the key. Morpheus then calmly puts him in a jar and stuffs him in a box for a few centuries to stew in his juices. He reveals that since Azazel was inside of Morpheus' domain, and his former lover also benefited from the SacredHospitality he offered to all guests, his own Reality Warping spectacularly trumped Azazel's.
** Dr. Destiny, the Justice League villain, has nigh-omnipotent power over peoples' dreams. In "24 Hours", he also had the Dreamstone, which gave him enough Mind Control to make an entire diner full of people mutilate, rape, and eat each other over the course of a single night. When Morpheus, the creator of the stone and Anthropomorphic Personification of dreams showed up to reclaim it, its powers, of course, did nothing to him.
* EverybodyWantsTheHermaphrodite: Desire seldom sleeps alone.
* EveryoneHasStandards:
** Dream is notoriously [[ItsAllAboutMe self-centered]] and [[JerkAss insensitive]] towards others - so much so he condemns a former lover to Hell and leaves Orpheus to his fate because both hurt his pride, tactlessly warns Lyta Hall he will come for her son, to mention just a few examples. However, in "Men of Good Fortune", he clearly opposes slavery.
** Even ''the personification of Destruction itself'' [[spoiler:skips town once he pieces together that humans are but a few centuries away from inventing nuclear weapons]].
* EvilCannotComprehendGood: Inverted: The angel Remiel doesn't properly understand evil. He thinks that he's being kind by trying to reform the souls of the damned; he doesn't realize that trying to be nice to them only makes them more miserable.
* ExactWords: Lucifer swears that he won't harm Morpheus as long as they're within the bounds of Hell, and he keeps his word. Then they step outside...
* ExpositionOfImmortality: Gets used a few times; unsurprisingly, considering the principal characters are all immortal anthropomorphic personifications.
** "Men Of Good Fortune" is a particular case in point: Dream grants immortality to a mortal, Hob Gadling. They agree to meet each other in the same place every one hundred years. The setting and costume changes provide a neat exposition of the passage of time.
** Orpheus remembering his wedding, his dismemberment by the Maenads, and the arc involving Johanna Constantine retrieving his severed head from Revolutionary France.
* {{Expy}}: In ''A Game of You'', there are frequent references to a fictional comic book character called "[[BizarroUniverse Weirdzo]]", a dimwitted, imperfect clone of a superhero named [[Comicbook/{{Superman}} "Hyperman"]], who lives on a cube-shaped version of Earth and speaks in opposites.
* EyeRemember: The Corinthian can read memories by putting eyes into his toothed eyesockets.
* EyeScream: As noted above, The Corinthian likes to eat eyes, especially those of young boys. Eventually he does this to [[spoiler:Loki]]. Doctor Destiny causes a particularly graphic moment during ''Preludes and Nocturnes''. Eyes are pecked out of sockets when the ravens feast on the bodies during ''The Kindly Ones.'' And Despair uses her ring to gouge out one of her eyes, apparently a method of relaxation for her. This is after Delirium has spent pages and pages trying to find out the name of the "gunky jelly stuff in people's eyes," for reasons that probably don't even make sense to her.

* FaceDeathWithDignity: A recurring theme. Emperor Norton and Fiddler's Green are examples.
* {{Facepalm}}: Morpheus breaks this out a few times, particularly when he's around Delirium in ''Brief Lives''.
* TheFairFolk: Fairies are important to the cosmology, and several fairies are recurring characters.
* FanDisservice: Naked breasts appear somewhat regularly... but usually attached to {{Humanoid Abomination}}s.
* FantasyPantheon: The Endless.
* FatBastard: One of the serial killers in ''The Doll's House'' is a massively overweight pedophile who abducts children from amusement parks and is shown to be an extreme PsychopathicManchild. He later attempts to [[spoiler: rape Rose, seeing her as a little girl]].
* FeministFantasy: The series was notable for its large cast of complex, well developed female characters, including one of the first serious portrayals of a transgender character in mainstream comics.
* FieryRedhead: True to the myths, Thor is depicted as one.
* FinalSpeech: [[spoiler:Fiddler's Green]] in ''The Wake'', just after [[spoiler:Dream resurrects him]].
* FisherKing: The Endless ''are'' their domains, with the exception of the one who quit his job. Desire takes this to the extreme: their realm is a titanic replica of its body, called the Threshold. This is apparently a StealthPun, since 'Desire has always lived on the edge.'
* FluffyTheTerrible: The Cuckoo. It seems like an odd name for a dreaded EvilOverlord...unless you know about [[spoiler:the cuckoo bird's peculiar habit of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brood_parasite laying eggs in other birds' nests]] and letting its hatchlings kill their hosts' natural offspring so that they can take their place. The Cuckoo's name is an allusion to its nature as a "dream parasite", and its goal of ruling Barbie's dreams as its personal kingdom.]]
* {{Forgiveness}}: Even though what she did was terrible, and he forces her to confront it, [[spoiler:Daniel offers eternal protection to his mother Lyta when he encounters her in the Dream Realm. This means that the immortal beings won't hunt her down for her part in killing the previous Dream.]]
* {{Foreshadowing}}: ''FREQUENT''. The finale is foreshadowed so heavily for so long that it's entirely possible that even people who have never heard of the series can guess what happens. One example from Chapter 6 of the first volume:
--> All Bette's stories have happy endings. That's because she knows where to stop. She's realized the real problem with stories--if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death.
* AFormYouAreComfortableWith: This happens ''a lot''. Morpheus changes his appearance the most frequently to fit in with those around him. Desire looks like a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Nagel Patrick Nagel]] print come to life[[note]]See the character page for one of the best examples of this rendition[[/note]] and is supposed to be everyone's idea of a beautiful person. Death and Destruction only seem to change their clothes, and Destiny and Despair never change at all. Delirium's appearance is the most mutable, but she doesn't give a damn if it makes anyone feel comfortable (she shows up to a wedding in ancient Greece wearing the same mesh shirt she does in the 90s). It does seem to be a courtesy that the Endless extend to those they're interacting with, not an automatic reflex - Death, in particular, tends to show up in informal wear and get chided for it by the more appearance-conscious characters. Also zigzagged by Delirium; regardless of her audience or the time period the story is set in, she tends to look like a punk teenaged domestic-abuse victim. There are two likely explanations: either she (who once claimed to know things Destiny does not) has MediumAwareness ("A Form ''The Readers'' Are Comfortable With"), or it's part of her function to generate a certain amount of {{Squick}} in those who behold her (A Form You Are Creeped Out By).

* GallowsHumor: About ''actual gallows'': "They say Jack Ketch is an excellent physician."
* GambitRoulette: The entire series is actually one big, long, ludicrously complex, inhumanly convoluted plan on the part of Morpheus to resolve his guilt, mend his flaws, and make his world a better place. Bizarrely, his plans are so complex that it seems that even he doesn't consciously realize he's doing most of it, as Death lampshades in one of the very last issues.
* GenreShift: It started out as a horror comic firmly entrenched in the Franchise/DCUniverse, and gradually became a character-driven fantasy epic with only occasional {{Continuity Nod}}s to other DC characters.
* GentlemanWizard: The villainous version, Roderick Burgess.
* GiveMeBackMyWallet: [[DisproportionateRetribution or you'll suffer]] [[FateWorseThanDeath nightmares worse than death.]]
* GodsNeedPrayerBadly: Bast is getting older and weaker due to so few people believing in her anymore. This seems to be less of a problem for the Norse gods, who have found other power sources and even have modern followers. [[Myth/JapaneseMythology The Japanese gods are doing great these days]] and are apparently somehow receiving 'prayer' from veneration of Godzilla and Lady Liberty, amongst other icons, in addition to their direct worship. Pharamond, a Babylonian god, was long ago convinced by Morpheus to "diversify" and survive his dwindling worship by putting his talents to work in a more mundane capacity. Ishtar, a love Goddess, works as a stripper, gaining power from the sexual worship of her clients. From what was said of the Judeo-Christian God, it's implied that He doesn't require this. Considering that He ''exists far apart from the Universe,'' it's no stretch that He'd outlast the Endless themselves, though in ''Comicbook/{{Lucifer}}'' it's implied that He's neither the FIRST nor the LAST Creator.
* {{Goth}}: Zelda and Chantal, who wear only antique wedding dresses with veils that hide their faces, collect stuffed spiders and skulls, and generally lurk around being as weird as possible.
* GottaCatchThemAll: Morpheus quests to recover his artifacts of power for most of ''Preludes and Nocturnes''.
* GrandFinale: The story reaches its climax in ''The Kindly Ones,'' and ''The Wake'' provides the aftermath.
* GreatBigLibraryOfEverything: Dream's library is almost infinitely large and filled with books that the author conceived but never actually finished. Some notable titles include G.K. Chesterton's ''The Man Who Was October'', Wodehouse's ''Psmith and Jeeves'', and ''That Romantic Comedy Sci-Fi Thriller I Used to Think About on The Bus to Work'' by you, the person reading this trope page right now. WordOfGod has it that Dream's library has an annex that contains everything that actually was written, too. We just never see it because it's so tiny compared to the rest of the place.
* TheGrimReaper: Death, obviously, although she subverts the image by being anything but grim, refusing to carry a scythe, and generally dressing as a PerkyGoth. Destiny is actually closer in appearance to the archetype, being grim, almost eyeless, and robed.
* GrowingUpSucks:
** Delirium was once Delight, an innocent child. She's the Endless equivalent of a moody teenager in the present, and putting herself together is hard.
** Barbie is forced to grow up in ''A Game of You'' so that [[spoiler:the Land can end and the Cuckoo can leave]]. In a nutshell, she only came back to invoke [[spoiler:TheBadGuyWins]]. What's worse is that this process started in ''Doll's House'' and left her in a stagnant state during the events between the books.

* HangingJudge: Judge Gallows
* HappilyEverBefore: Discussed in "24 Hours."
--> All Bette's stories have {{happy ending}}s. That's because she knows where to stop. She's realized the real problem with stories--if you keep them going long enough, they [[ForegoneConclusion always]] [[DownerEnding end]] in [[{{Foreshadowing}} death]].
%%* HardDrinkingPartyGirl: A fairy.
* HeavenAbove: Volume Four includes a description of [[{{Heaven}} God's realm]] as a Silver City "above" the rest of reality which angels can only leave by falling down to the rest of the world. The odd thing about this is that the Silver City isn't just "above" the Earth, but it is also above the psychic realities that makes up the Kingdom of Dreams, Asgard, Hell, and other places that can't properly be said to be "above" or "below" anything else.
* TheHecateSisters: As they have always been portrayed, variously as the Fates, the goddess Hecate and the Furies (or "the Kindly Ones", as they like to be called). When they see the embodiment of Eve herself in the Dreaming, they refuse to hurt her, since in a fashion, they ''are'' her. Referenced several times, more or less openly. Nuala, Hippolyta and Thessaly unwittingly form a triad without ever even meeting during the events of ''The Wake''. Foxglove, Hazel, and Thessaly from ''A Game of You'' are another example.
* HeelFaceTurn: The remade Corinthian, in that at least he obeys Dream unflinchingly and does not kill innocent people in ''The Kindly Ones''. He's more an AntiHero than a real Face at this point though.
* HeelRealization: Lyta Hall at the conclusion of ''The Kindly Ones'' and ''The Wake'' when she realizes that her actions [[spoiler:in avenging her son led to her losing Daniel forever and setting a lot of angry beings against her]].
* HeIsNotMyBoyfriend: The relationship between Despair and the ghost of Creator/EdgarAllanPoe in Jill Thompson's ''At Death's Door''.
--> '''Delirium''': Despair has got a boyfriend! Despair has got a boyfriend!\\
'''Despair''': [[PunctuatedForEmphasis No. I. Do.]] '''[[PunctuatedForEmphasis Not]]'''. [[PunctuatedForEmphasis Delirium.]]
* HereWeGoAgain: Destruction's reaction to Newton discovering the principles of the refraction of light. First the scientific revolution, then the atom, and then, [[NuclearOption boom]]. He goes prodigal because he's sick of it, and doesn't want to watch the whole sequence play out '''again'''.
* HeroicBSOD:
** Barbie at the start of ''A Game Of You''. She's only slightly better at the end, following [[spoiler:the Land's destruction and Wanda's death]].
** Morpheus has one in ''Brief Lives'', after Destiny tells him what he has to do. Then Delirium has an inversion of one, casting off her standard Blue Screen mode to briefly become more rational (it doesn't last, of course).
* HeWhoMustNotBeSeen: God plays a significant role in the ending of ''Season of Mists'', and a few times afterward as well, but he never makes an appearance.
* TheHeroDies: [[spoiler:At least if we're talking about this particular personification of him.]]
* HiddenDepths: Most of the Endless have personalities that are quite different from the stereotypical connotations of the phenomena they represent. Death and Destruction, the two with the most negative reputation, are actually the nicest of the Endless. Despair is portrayed sympathetically too, at least most of the time. Desire, despite (or [[LoveMakesYouEvil because of]]) being the Endless dealing with matters of love, is easily the cruelest and most manipulative of the lot. And while dreams are generally associated with the subconscious, the surreal, and the chaotic, Dream himself is shown to be meticulous, highly organized, and overtly concerned with rules and laws. Only Destiny and Delirium have the sort of personalities you'd expect.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Many, including Creator/WilliamShakespeare, UsefulNotes/{{Augustus}} Caesar, Emperor Joshua Norton, UsefulNotes/MaximilienRobespierre, and Haroun al-Rashid, to name some of the ones who had entire issues that revolved around them.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: "Thermidor" gives one to Robespierre and Saint-Just. Gaiman {{lampshaded}} this in ''The Sandman Companion''[[note]]''The Sandman Companion'', page 146[[/note]]
--> ''"I also remember the joy of leafing through my old Encyclopedia Britannica, the eleventh edition, and reading an article on the French revolution [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade by someone who hated Robespierre]]; and then reading [[HistoricalHeroUpgrade the biographical entry, which was written by someone who idealized Robespierre]]. I loved the [[FlipFlopOfGod cognitive dissonance]]. After the story was published, one reader sent me his high school thesis pointing out [[CriticalResearchFailure how Robespierre was a great man]] and so on...I [[ShownTheirWork could have written something]] about how Robespierre was a great man too, but that wasn't the tale that I was telling; I needed a story in which he wasn't."''
* HistoricalFiction: Frequent, but the sixth collection ''Fables & Reflections'' is particularly laden with it, including encounters between the Sandman and "Emperor" Joshua Norton, Robespierre, and Augustus Caesar. The final story, "Ramadan", plays with the contrast between the historical figure Haroun al-Rashid and his better-known ''Literature/ArabianNights'' alter ego. [[spoiler:Apparently the literature version was real until he sold Morpheus the golden age of Baghdad in "Ramadan".]]
* HistoricalInJoke: '''Many'''.
* HonorBeforeReason: One of Dream's biggest flaws is that he considers the responsibilities of his position to be absolute, and more important than love, family, or his own desires, something Death calls him out on a few times over the series. The entire series can loosely be seen as his coming to grips with the ramifications of this.
* HopeSpot: For a few scenes in ''The Kindly Ones'', it seems that Lucifer was being set up to do a BigDamnHeroes, being explicitly the most powerful being in creation. However, when Delirium asks him to help her brother (it's a long story), he simply says [[spoiler:"It's too late to help your brother".]]
* HurricaneOfEuphemisms: Lucifer hits Remiel with a doozy of one when Remiel tries to talk him into becoming the ruler of Hell again.
-->Been there, Remiel. Done that. Wore the tee-shirt, ate the burger, bought the original cast album, choreographed the legions of the damned and orchestrated the screaming.
* HyperlinkStory: There are a great many individual storylines within ''The Sandman'' that might not seem to be connected, but Gaiman pulls them all together by the end.
* IHaveManyNames: Naturally, most of the immortal beings pick up multiple names. Morpheus is described in ''Season of Mists'' as collecting names the way others collect friends. He is called Lord Shaper (by the fairies), King of Stories, Oneiros (by Calliope), and Kai'ckul (by Nada) among others. The Hecatae Sisters get in on this when they are first summoned by Morpheus, calling themselves about three names each in a single page.

* IllKillYou:
** At the end of Morpheus' visit to Hell in ''Preludes and Nocturnes'', Lucifer vows to destroy him, and in ''Season of Mists'' he makes something of an attempt at it by gifting Morpheus with the key to hell and the ensuing troubles. By the end of the series, Lucifer's lost interest in seeing the threat through, especially with the Kindly Ones attacking Morpheus.
---> '''Lucifer''': You know, I once swore to destroy your brother.\\
'''Delirium''': Really? Why?\\
'''Lucifer''': Oh, he insulted me...said something he thought was clever. It hardly matters now.
** Dream threatens to kill Desire if the latter interferes with his affairs again.
** Thessaly calmly warns Lyta Hall after the events of ''The Kindly Ones'' that [[spoiler:a lot of beings, including Thessaly herself, will want Lyta dead for her part in killing Dream]].
* UndeathAlwaysEnds: The whole point of ''Brief Lives'' seems to be that even if you're thousands, millions, or even ''trillions'' of years old, life still seems pretty damn short.
--> '''Death:''' You got what everybody gets, [[TimeAbyss Bernie]]. You got a lifetime.
* ImmortalitySeeker: Hob Gadling, who becomes immortal by just refusing to die. It helps that Morpheus talks Death into humoring him. Played with in "Ramadan", as Haroun el-Rashid wants his ''city'', or at least its memory, to live forever. So far, it's worked.
* ImmunityDisability: The comic covers the trope as it applies to immortality:
** Hob Gadling, who's been immortal ever since Death, in 1389, promised Dream not to take him until Hob was ready, spends the seventeenth century impoverished, sick and starving.
--->Do you know [...] how hungry a man can get if he doesn't die? But doesn't eat?
** Retired superhero [[Comicbook/{{Metamorpho}} Element Girl]] longs for death because her freakish appearance leaves her socially isolated and agoraphobic. However, because her body can automatically transmute itself into most any element, she's effectively immortal, and [[ICannotSelfTerminate unable to commit suicide]] without the intervention of the god who bestowed her powers in the first place.
** Dream's son, [[Myth/ClassicalMythology Orpheus]], begs Death to make him immortal so he can enter the netherworld and rescue his wife Eurydice without dying. After failing in his quest, he tries to commit suicide but can't, and when a band of frenzied Dionysius worshippers tears him limb from limb, he lives on as a disembodied head, with only his estranged father able to grant him his wish to die.
* ImperfectRitual: Dream is trapped in an inescapable magic circle for seventy years before his captor's son (now in a wheelchair) accidentally runs over part of the circle, ending the spell.
* ImportantHaircut: Played with in a couple of interesting ways.
** Lucifer actually gets his wings cut off, but the symbolism is still there.
** You can guess Delirium's moods based on what her hair does. Once, when she's angry and depressed, she becomes bald. Later, when she's bummed out that Lucifer couldn't help her find her dog (ItMakesSenseInContext), half of her head goes bald.
* ImYourWorstNightmare: Literally. Subverted when Mervyn confronts the Kindly Ones.
* IncestSubtext: In ''The Sandman Presents: The Thessaliad'', the new character Fetch says to Thessaly of Morpheus' death wish: "You never stood a chance with him, because of his unhealthy attraction to his own ''sister''." This could also be read as a rather dark pun about Dream being in love with Death in the sense that he wishes to die.
* InfantImmortality: Heartbreakingly averted in "The Sound of Her Wings", [[spoiler: with an actual infant, no less. One of the people Death claims that day is an infant who randomly dies from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome]].
* InformedKindness: The Furies are not to be referred as such; it's better to call them the Kindly Ones: a [[TheHecateSisters Hecate Trio]] of witches who swore to get revenge on Orpheus for making them cry, which they achieved by having him killed by his father.
* InnBetweenTheWorlds: ''Worlds' End.'' One of four, where people lost in spatial-temporal abnormalities and supernatural creatures with more control over their destinations eat, drink and share stories. It passes the time.
* InsaneTrollLogic / AppealToInherentNature: Morpheus' credo when going to confront the Kindly Ones: "We do what we do because of who we are. If we did otherwise, we would not be ourselves." Sounds nice on the surface, but thinking about it for even a second reveals that it's a tortured rationalization for any action, anywhere, ever, regardless of how stupid it may be. Then again, it's reasonable to interpret his statement as poetical/emotional rather than philosophical/intellectual. Justified for nearly any anthropomorphic entity. They only exist by their definitions, and are defined by their nature. Of them, it truly CAN be said that they do what they do because of who (what) they are.
* InsistentTerminology:
** The Endless expressly point out that they are not Gods.
** Boss Smiley informs Prez that "[he's] not God, [he's] not the devil, [he's] just Boss Smiley."
* InternalizedCategorism: A particularly disturbing case of Normopathy. Rayne of the metamorphae: A woman who has several superpowers including immortality, invulnerability and shapeshifting. She spends her days locked in her home, feeling sorry for herself for not being normal. As she claims that life is hell, Death tells her that she's actually making her own hell. Of course, in this universe that's all anyone does.
* InterspeciesRomance: Bizarrely, Eve and Matthew appear to be a romantic couple, though it's anyone's guess how that even works (please do not guess). To review: he is the ghost of a dead man reincarnated in the dream body of a raven, and she is the human-like dreamform of an ancient story about a woman who, if she ever existed at all, was apparently some sort of StarfishAlien, and on top of that she's also yet another form of TheHecateSisters, this time all in one shapeshifting body. And they are dating.
* InWhichATropeIsDescribed: Every single chapter title in ''Season of Mists''.
* IronicName: St. Hilarion's BoardingSchool is [[BoardingSchoolOfHorrors not a place conducive to humor]], except possibly the SlasherSmile and LaughingMad variety.
* {{Irony}}: The two nicest members of the Endless are ''Death and Destruction''.
* ItWillNeverCatchOn:
** In "August", the Emperor Augustus says "That will not last" about the names of the months July and August, named after himself and Julius Caesar. Considering what happened to other (admittedly later) emperors' attempts to change the names (Nero and Domitian come to mind), this would not have been an unusual sentiment.
** In "Men of Good Fortune", Hob Gadling comments that there'll "never be a real demand" for printing. The same issue also has an elderly 15th century man complaining that chimneys are a bad idea, and it was much healthier when houses were full of smoke.
** In "The Tempest," Shakespeare and Ben Johnson improvise a rhyme about Guy Fawkes' then-recent attack on Parliament, teaching it to nearby children but assuming it won't last. [[VForVendetta Remember, remember...]]

* JapanesePoliteness: The Japanese god in ''Seasons of Mist'' is extremely self-effacing and indirect in his speech. Morpheus reciprocates.
-->'''Susano-o-No-Mikoto:''' To his ''shame'', this one is ''Susano-o-No-Mikoto'' [...] This one comes ''alone''. There is a ''discussion'' that might be had at some point, concerning ''territory''
* JerkAss: Desire. Dream to a lesser extent, or at least with a very different style. Desire glows with knowing abrasiveness. In contrast, Dream can be obnoxiously chilly: brittle with stiff-necked arrogance, and rather petty.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Dream is most of the time completely oblivious to anyone but himself, so much so that he frequently deals disproportional retributions to whomever displeases him and coldly tells Lyta Hall that he will take her child. Whereas he remains self-centered and stubborn after his imprisonment, [[CharacterDevelopment he improves]] [[TookALevelInKindness markedly]], enough in fact to empathize with Calliope, Nada and Orpheus.
** For all his faults, Dream frowns upon slavery - even before his imprisonment - and talks Hob Gadling into pursuing another trade.
** Desire, despite being even more imature than Dream, has its [[PetTheDog moment]] when it gives Tiffany a coat [[spoiler:after Ishtar explodes the strip club]].
* JerkassHasAPoint: Desire is perfectly correct in that Dream has a pretty terrible track record with his lovers, and that he did a horrible thing by sentencing Nada to ten thousand years in Hell simply because she turned him down. Death, normally critical of Desire, agrees with her sibling in this case.
* JerkJock: Thor, more or less.

* KaleidoscopeHair: Delirium has this; her hair color changes depending on her mood.
* KarmaHoudini: Dr. Destiny escapes from Arkham, retrieves a [[ArtifactOfDoom jewel that once belonged to Morpheus]], commits a series of graphic, senseless murders, and then nearly destroys the world. His punishment? Simply being returned to [[CardboardPrison Arkham]]. [[BlueAndOrangeMorality He did Dream a favor after all, even if he didn't mean to.]] Although Dream does lock him out of The Dreaming forever, having no desire to let him back in. Also [[spoiler:Desire, the Cuckoo, Aristaeus, the Kindly Ones (though they're perhaps too cosmic a force to be considered evil), and Lucifer (becoming a KarmaHoudini may even have been a motivation behind his abandonment of hell)]].
* KillTheMessenger: Simultaneously invoked and averted in ''Season of Mists'' in regards to Cain delivering Morpheus' message to Lucifer.
* KingIncognito: The story "Avgvst" is about the Roman emperor Augustus and his confidant, the dwarf Lycius, disguising themselves as beggars and anonymously panhandling in the market square. It's initially assumed to be a case of him eavesdropping on his people to learn the state of the Empire.[[spoiler: It turns out that Dream told him to do it because it's a place where "the gods cannot see him think", and it's here where he ultimately decides against [[UsefulNotes/JuliusCaesar Caesar's]] dream of a Rome that would last for 10,000 years, choosing to instead limit the Empire's expansion so that it would eventually collapse. It's implied he does this as revenge for Caesar sexually abusing him and deciding his fate for him as a young man]].
* KrakenAndLeviathan: Leviathan most likely, as the creature in question is a sea serpent so large that it demands the second (and one of the only) two-page spreads in the history of the series in issue 53.
* KudzuPlot: Lampshaded by the Three Sisters in The Kindly Ones.

* LawOfInverseFertility: Hazel, a lesbian, got drunk, had straight sex for the first time with a gay male coworker, and got pregnant.
* TheLegionsOfHell: Lucifer's decision to abdicate isn't entirely popular among them, to the point where he has to go through and literally ''order'' some of the stragglers to leave.
* LifeWillKillYou: An overarching theme and motif of "The Sound of Her Wings." As something of a DayInTheLife episode for Death, the issue features many, many minor characters who all meet mundane ends, such as electrocution, cat accidents, and even [[spoiler:Sudden Infant Death Syndrome]]. Demonstrated again in ''Brief Lives'', where a man who's been alive for 15,000 years dies because of a random construction accident.
--> '''Death:''' You got a lifetime. No more. No less.
* LighterAndSofter:
** The story that Abel tells Daniel is a child-friendly version of how he and his brother came to live with Morpheus, complete with utterly adorable little chibis of Death, Dream, Cain, and Abel. Naturally, the notion of "Little-Death" and "Little-Dream" infuriates Cain.
** The entire series after the first volume, although it's not so much a lack of darkness as it is a shift away from pure horror (see NonIndicativeFirstEpisode below).
** The aforementioned chibis must have been really popular, because the Little Endless Storybooks seem to have been made specifically to extend the cuteness to the other Endless.
* LiteraryAllusionTitle:
** Many of the issue titles.
** Most of the characters with titles. For instance, the Corinthian, the dark mirror of humanity, is likely a reference to [[Literature/TheBible the Book of Corinthian's]] famous pronouncement that "we see through a glass, darkly."
* LivingForeverIsAwesome: There are a great many immortal (or near immortal) people in the series, most of whom seem to have no desire to die, now or ever. Most important to the story is Dream's friend Hob Gadling, who simply refuses to die (and Dream persuades Death to roll with it).
-->'''Hob''': I've got so much to live for.
** Gruesomely averted with Abel, who recovers from his brother's many and creative murders. [[spoiler: Eventually averted with Daniel as well.]]
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: Gods, lesser gods, demons, mortals, and everything in between.
* LongestPregnancyEver: Hippolyta Hall, who was pregnant with Daniel in The Dreaming for at least two years.
* LooksLikeCesare: Both Dream and Death have jet black hair and white skin, and Dream's hollow void eyes and Death's tendency toward black eyeliner and the spiral mark at her right eye emphasize the look.
* LoopholeAbuse: The Kindly Ones can't harm anyone but their target. They go on a rampage through the Dreaming because 1) dreams aren't people and 2) Dream's realm and creations are in many ways an extension of him.
** When Lyta finally meets the Furies, they warn her that Dream would have to kill his son, not hers, for them to enact revenge. A tearful Lyta turns away, only for them to reveal that he DID kill his son. To Lyta's later horror, it also means they won't stop after she finds out Daniel's still alive.
* LoveableRogue: The Cluracan.
-->'''Morpheus''': You are a scoundrel, Cluracan, but you are an amusing scoundrel.
* LoveCannotOvercome: Calliope left Dream because while they had a happy marriage, she's upset with how she treated their son Orpheus. This is detailed in ''World's End'': the myth of Orpheus played out, OrpheanRescue and call, which left his son's head intact and immortal. Dream then decided to set his son's head on an island, with human guardians.
* LoveMakesYouEvil / LoveMakesYouCrazy: Desire likes to lay this on people.

* MagicLibrarian: Lucien, librarian at the Library of Dream.
%%* MagpiesAsPortents
* MamaBear: Lyta Hall, taken to its [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge ultimate]], and [[WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds unfortunate]], extreme.
* ManicPixieDreamGirl:
** Delirium is a particularly savage {{Deconstruction}} of one.
** In human form, Death as Didi appears at this to Sexton. He doesn't buy it, until he's threatened by Mad Hettie to find Hettie's heart.
* ManipulativeBastard: Desire, of course, is the personification of this trope in a lot of ways.
* MarkOfShame: Cain's mark is a minor plot point in ''Season of Mists''. Lucifer notes that it was very clever of Morpheus to send Cain to announce that he would be coming to Hell to meet with Lucifer, since the mark means that he can't be harmed (any other messenger would've been killed messily).
* MeaningfulName: Daniel was a Biblical character, famous in his time for interpreting dreams. His name also starts with a D, just like all the Endless.
* MemoryJar: Odin keeps his thoughts and his memories in his two crows, Huggin and Munnin. When he sends them off to gather information, he becomes completely catatonic, being capable of neither until they return.
* MercyLead: Thessaly calmly tells Lyta that she has a few hours to shower, get dressed, and GetOut before a lot of creatures come after Lyta, including her, for [[spoiler:killing Dream]]. Subverted in that [[spoiler:Thessaly is only protecting her to honor a debt to the Kindly Ones, and as she tells Morpheus she wouldn't have done it out of spite.]]
* MessyHair: Several of the Endless. Dream's tends to look like he got electrocuted, Death's sometimes makes her look like an '80s metal singer, Despair's hair is pulled back into a straggly bun, and Delirium's hair always looks ragged and unkempt no matter what style it's in.
* MetaGuy: Matthew, Eve's raven and Dream's aide.
* MindScrew: Delirium's story in ''Endless Nights'', although of course this went without saying. Art by Bill Sienkiewicz certainly didn't help.
* MinorInsultMeltdown: Dream to Delirium.
* MissConception: Hazel's a butch lesbian, yeah, but she really should have known better.[[note]]Having apparently never learned ''anything'' about straight sex, she believes she couldn't be pregnant because she had sex standing up, and that a pregnancy test would involve killing a rabbit[[/note]].
* TheMissingFaction: There are seven Endless: Destiny, Death, Dream, Desire, Despair and Delirium. The seventh Endless? Used to be Destruction, but he quit when he became depressed by human's increasing capacity for warfare, since he'd seen it before.
* MistakenForSpecialGuest: In a short promotional piece, "The Castle", the reader is introduced to some of the concepts and characters of the series by way of a story about an ordinary dreamer who is given a tour of Dream's castle after being mistaken for an expected guest.
** The gatekeepers attempt to welcome the Furies, as per their duties. It is a mistake.
* MoreTeethThanTheOsmondFamily: The Corinthian, since he has mouths in his eyesockets instead of actual eyes.
* MulticoloredHair: Delirium (usually) and Rose Walker for most of ''The Doll's House.''
* MundaneSolution: When some people try to hide from Death by blocking her out with a magic gate in ''Endless Nights'', she asks a passing, off-duty soldier for help. The soldier, not knowing who she is or what is going on, but smitten with her and eager to impress such a hot girl, tears the gate down with brute force.
* MurdererPOV:
** This is how we first meet the Corinthian, which is particularly disturbing once you learn a little more about his...anatomy.
** We never see Lyta when she's possessed by the Kindly Ones; all of her panels are drawn from the first-person perspective.
* MuseAbuse: Both literally and figuratively:
** The muse Calliope is kidnapped and sexually abused by a human author for years.
** In the final issue, Shakespeare discusses the more traditional version of this. Even when he was in love or grieving a loss, part of him was always analysing his own feelings so he could describe them later.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone:
** Foxglove is disgusted with herself for cheating on Hazel with a random girl. Hazel forgives her on finding out, since [[spoiler:Foxglove came to Death's realm to rescue her and Alvie.]]
** Lyta becomes horrified on learning that thanks to her actions [[spoiler: Daniel has become the new Dream and has lost her forever, the Dream Realm has suffered a massacre, and dozens of magical beings are after her. She's pretty subdued on attending Dream's wake and reuniting with Daniel]]
* MythArc: Dream's failings and self-loathing coming back to bite him.

* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast:
** If you're a mortal (or even a god), anyone whose name starts with a "D".
** There are plenty of other big names (with original owners) to run away from, Lucifer and Azazel being just two.
** The Kindly Ones.
* NeedleInAStackOfNeedles: "Where do you hide a book? In a library! Where do you hide a flower? In a garden? Where do you hide a severed head ..."
* NestedStory: The entirety of ''World's End'' is narrated by a man who appears in the framing story. UpToEleven when the cycle features a story told by one character, an apprentice, about (among other things) hearing a man tell a story about Destruction telling a story. In the end, it's revealed the whole thing was a story he was telling his bartender. That's a five-deep nested story if you're counting.
** Book -> Narrator to Bartender -> Apprentice to Narrator -> Man to Apprentice -> Destruction to Man
* NewWeird: One of the defining examples in comic books.
* NobleBigot: Wanda's aunt Dora from ''A Game of You'', who stayed in contact with her and talks with her, even though she prays for "him" to repent "his" wicked ways and considers "him" a sinner. [[spoiler:She's the one who invites Barbie to Wanda's funeral and talks with her about what happened when Barbie woke up after the hurricane. When Barbie is recalling what happened when she first saw Wanda in a body bag, screaming for the paramedics to get her out, Dora doesn't correct her calling Wanda "her" and holds her hand.]]
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Roderick Burgess, leader of the Order of Ancient Mysteries, is a ''rival'' of Aleister Crowley. You know, like [[Film/CitizenKane Charles Foster Kane]] was a rival of Randolph Hearst. In one of the spinoff novels, Burgess is a rival of both Crowley and Mocata, the Crowley {{Expy}} from ''Literature/TheDevilRidesOut''.
* NonIndicativeFirstEpisode: ''Preludes And Nocturnes'' is dubbed the prototype for the series in the introduction, and its DarkerAndEdgier style is worth mentioning. The series as a whole is a dark epic fantasy, with occasional horror elements. The first volume, however, is horrific enough to be a ''Franchise/{{Hellraiser}}'' movie.
* NonLinearCharacter: Destiny, who knows everything before it happens, and Death, who is there everytime someone anywhere in the universe is born or dies, no matter whether it's past, present or future from other characters' points of view. Delirium could be one too.
* NonSequitur: Delirium's dialogue, although it generally stays on point, is a rambling string of non sequiturs that sort of meanders its way to what she's trying to get across.
* NotHelpingYourCase: In "Calliope", Dream once he's free confronts Richard Madoc about keeping the muse prisoner and raping her. Madoc, who at this point has gotten years of success due to literal MuseAbuse, at first tries to deny that he's imprisoned Calliope. When Dream gives him a DeathGlare, he claims that he needs her for the ideas. Unsurprisingly, Dream gives him TheReasonYouSuckSpeech and an abundance of ideas until Madoc's compelled to free her.
* NotHimself: Matthew has this reaction to [[spoiler:the new Dream resurrecting the characters the Kindly Ones killed during their rampage]]. Several other characters have similar reactions to other things [[spoiler:Daniel does which Morpheus either never did or would never have done]].
* NothingIsScarier:
** Abel's House of Secrets has "something unspeakably terrible" that lives in the basement. The fact that it's never seen by anyone only confirms its unspeakable terribleness.
** The MurdererPOV the Kindly Ones get, meaning we never see what they really look like as they ravage the Dreaming.
* NowIKnowWhatToNameHim: Lyta Hall is told by Morpheus that her son is named Daniel.
* TheNthDoctor:
** [[spoiler:Morpheus implies to Matthew that he and his replacement, Daniel, are merely different facets of the concept of Dream.]]
** Matthew is not Morpheus's first raven.
** There have been two Despairs.

* TheOathbreaker: Roderick Burgess, upon realizing that his [[TheStarscream second-in-command]] has stolen his mistress ''and'' a good chunk of his cult's treasury: "As this blood is shed, so spills your blood, Ruthven Sykes, adept of the 33rd, whose secret name is Ararita... Traitor and Oath-Breaker." [[YourHeadAsplode Cue skull implosion.]]
* OfficialCoupleOrdealSyndrome:
** Dream and Nada. It is not meant for a mortal and one of the Endless to fall in love; Nada's realization of this and Dream's resulting wounded pride result in horrible consequences.
** Lyta and Hector, to an extent. [[spoiler:Dream's dissolution of her dream life with Hector and plan to claim their baby plant the seeds of her actions in ''The Kindly Ones''.]]
* OffingTheOffspring: [[spoiler:Dream kills Orpheus. He would have killed his grand-niece Rose, not knowing they were related, had not Unity Kincaid interfered.]]
* OffScreenBreakup: Thessaly and Dream apparently had a bad one, sometime between the events of ''A Game of You'' and ''Brief Lives''. Morpheus is moping about it at the start of ''Brief Lives'', leading to Mervyn's snarky comment under EnvironmentalSymbolism above.
-->She...has decided she no longer loves me.
* OhCrap:
** Gilbert when he and Rose pass by The Corinthian in the elevator. He leaves Rose with Morpheus's name to utter in emergency and goes to rescue [[spoiler:Jed]].
** Philip Gist, [[spoiler:a magazine editor, gets this when the Corinthian and Doctor corner him at the convention. They know he's impersonating the Boogeyman and plan to kill him slowly.]]
** Gilbert also has this when Matthew tells him [[spoiler:Rose is the Vortex, since it means "Dream will have to kill her". He immediately goes to the Dreaming, turns himself in to Morpheus, and tries to bargain for Rose's life.]]
* Richard Madoc when he arrives home and finds a strange man sitting on his couch. The man, who happens to be Dream, also knows that Madoc has a captive Calliope.
** ''"I feel cold."''
* TheOlderImmortal: This shows up in multiple fashions in the franchise, but the most prominent example is the Endless themselves, who in order of age are Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, the twins Desire and Despair, and Delight/Delirium.
* TheOmniscient: Destiny, supposedly. Like everything dealing with the Endless, this is not as simple and straightforward as it appears (although he plainly doesn't think so).
* OneMythToExplainThemAll: Subverted. While there ''are'' mythological figures from many diverse cultures coexisting together, it's revealed that a few well-known gods and goddesses were just the Endless in different guises. The Greek god Morpheus, for example, was really Dream, and the goddess Mania was actually Delirium. And in an early issue, the ComicBook/MartianManhunter sees Dream as a well-known god who is worshipped on Mars. It's not a hard and fast rule, however--in the same issue where we learn that Dream is really Morpheus, Death and the god Hades both appear as separate characters, and it's made clear that they're nothing alike. Though technically Hades isn't the god of death, he's the god of the underworld. The Greek god of death is Thanatos, so this could just be an example of ShownTheirWork.
* OrphanedPunchline:
** "... looking for rabbits, vicar?"
** "You're Thor? I'm tho thore I can hardly pith!" Metahumor ensues.
* OrpheanRescue: Twice, by both Morpheus and Orpheus.
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: Lord Ruthven is a minor dream figure named for a famous literary vampire, and his dress, voice, fangs, and demeanor all seem to imply that he is indeed a vampire here ... and he has a rabbit's head. Yeah.
* OurWerewolvesAreDifferent: You don't become a werewolf, you're born one, and they're apparently a very insular, reclusive race of people who rarely associate or marry outside of their line.

* PaintedTunnelRealTrain: In a scene in ''Brief Lives'', a worker in Dream's palace is seen pasting up wallpaper with a picture on it depicting a corridor lined with books. When he's done, Dream comes down the corridor that was just put up.
* PalsWithJesus: Good old Hob Gadling, who maintains his friendship with Dream for centuries [[spoiler:and laments his passing when Death informs him]].
* PerkyGoth: Death is arguably an UrExample.
* PetTheDog:
** Nuala warns Barbie about what's going to happen in ''A Game of You'' before [[spoiler:she returns to the Land with the Porpentine's help]].
** Dream, for all of his JerkAss tendencies, gets quite a few of these, usually either rescuing a tertiary character (Cluracan, Marco Polo, Calliope, Prez, etc) from danger when he doesn't have to or else having a quiet FriendshipMoment with someone. He saves Rose when she summons him, despite [[spoiler:needing to kill her later on]].
** Daniel [[spoiler:offers his mother, Lyta Hall, eternal protection despite the fact that what she did in her quest for revenge against the first Dream was worst than what the murderer of the first Despair did]]. Later on, [[spoiler:when Lyta and Hector are resurrected as heroes only to die later, Daniel offers them permanent refuge in the Dream Realm]].
** Cain has occasional dog-petting moments with Abel, coming to a head during ''The Wake'', when he tries legal threats on the new Dream to get his brother recreated.
** Even Desire gets a couple of PetTheDog moments. 1) when they come to the rescue of a lost, frightened Delirium (''Brief Lives''), 2) when they bring devastated Tiffany's life around (again, ''Brief Lives''), and 3) when they give [[spoiler:grand-daughter]] Rose her heart back (''The Kindly Ones'').
* ThePhilosopher: Many, ''many'' examples. Even the peripheral characters are apt to wax philosophical to some degree. For a specific case, try this remark by Destruction:
-->They are using reason as a tool. Reason. [[PerfectSolutionFallacy It is no more reliable a tool than instinct, myth, or dream.]] But it has the potential to be far more dangerous, for them.
* PlanetOfHats: ''World's End'' introduces us to the Necropolis Litharge, a great metropolis where the only job that anyone seems to have is the ritual disposal of dead bodies. Their entire society is funeral-based, and it's almost all they do.
* PoorCommunicationKills: Morpheus ''could'' have taken the extra couple of seconds to explain to Nuala ''why'' it was a very bad idea for him to come to Faerie just then; and earlier, he could have prevented a lot of trouble by explaining his meaning to Lyta Hall more clearly. Justified in both cases [[spoiler:in that the disastrous consequences are what he secretly wanted all along]].
* PowerBornOfMadness: In Delirium's chapter of ''Endless Nights'', Daniel, Matthew and Barnabas need to assemble a team of CrazyHomelessPeople to rescue her from whatever inner world she's created for herself, suspecting that anyone sane wouldn't be able to handle it. Each of them sees their particular hallucinations and paranoias coming harmlessly true and [[SpiritAdvisor enabling them to easily navigate Delirium's world]], and it's implied that doing so helps them come to terms with their mental illness and function better in society afterwards.
* PrecisionFStrike: From Rose after she finds out the guy she has been sleeping with is in a relationship; it's especially notable in that it was the first F bomb dropped in a Vertigo title.
* TheProblemWithFightingDeath: Dream uses this as a threat to Desire after finding out that Desire tried to get him to kill a blood relative and call the Furies on himself. [[spoiler:Ultimately subverted in that Morpheus eventually does exactly that.]]
* PreInsanityReveal: The youngest of The Endless 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 MadGod. In a few flashbacks, we get to see her before her MadnessMakeover.
* PublicDomainCharacter: Baba Yaga in "The Hunt"; Haroun al-Rashid in "Ramadan"; Titania, Oberon, and Robin Goodfellow in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"; various Biblical characters; figures from Greek, Norse, and Egyptian mythology; and...well, damn, there's a lot, let's just put it that way.
* PumpkinPerson: Merv Pumpkinhead, the Dreaming's janitor, is an animated pumpkin-headed scarecrow. He's rather a CaptainErsatz for Oz's Jack Pumpkinhead.
* PunBasedTitle:
** Matthew's loneliness as the only raven in the Dreaming is part of his characterization, as is a brief discussion of the proper name of a group of ravens (an unkindness) vs. that of rooks (a parliament) or crows (a murder). These two combine to create an unlikely CallBack to both in the title of a Matthew storyline in ''The Dreaming'', "The Unkindness of One."
** [[spoiler:''The Wake'' is about the funeral of Morpheus, that is, the end of dreams. It also deals with the aftermath of the Kindly Ones' rampage, as in the wake of a disaster.]]
** "Hob's Leviathan" is both a reference to the SeaMonster seen in the story and a ShoutOut to Thomas Hobbes' ''Leviathan''.

* RadishCure: This is Dream's punishment for an author who kept a Muse (who also happened to be his former lover and the mother of his son) captive.
-->You say you need the ideas? Then you shall have them. Ideas in '''abundance'''.
* RageAgainstTheReflection
* RaiseHimRightThisTime:
** The Corinthian gets a reboot, and while he's still a cold-blooded killer, he's not as malevolent as his former self.
** [[spoiler:Morpheus set Daniel up to become the new Dream because his more human perspective would make him a kinder, gentler aspect of Dream, and more able to adapt to change.]]
* RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil: Rape is treated as appropriately horrifying, and the act most likely to rouse Morpheus out of his usual indifference to human suffering.
** One exception is Nathan Diskin, who rapes and murders ''children''. Morpheus is curiously merciful to him, and the induced dream he's put into reveals his natural inclination is to be kindly to children if not for the Corinthian's influence screwing him up. With that said, Rose Walker had summoned Morpheus by his name to rescue her, and he was simply using a pleasant dream to incapacitate Nathan and get him out of the way. Nathan's punishment came later, when Morpheus took away the Collectors' dreams of being special and delusions that they were anything but monsters.
** The sketch notes at the back of ''Dream Country'' specifically state that the rape of Calliope was supposed to be creepy and horrible, which definitely comes across in that story. All things considered, Morpheus and Calliope let the man off extremely easy on this one.
* RealityIsUnrealistic: Weird in-story example; when the other characters object to a seemingly miraculous magical event in Cluracan's story and ask how it's possible, he responds: "How should I know? I didn't make it up, I lived it."
* RealityWarper:
** In their realms, all the Endless have this power to a nearly unlimited degree. In the mortal world, they're more limited, but still wield enormous power relative to the element of reality they represent.
** In ''The Doll's House'', we learn about the nature of the "Dream Vortex", a person who, for reasons unknown, disrupts the nature of the Dreaming, and can easily destroy it and the waking world. This happened once before and destroyed an entire ''world'' when Dream didn't stop it in time; he's thus committed himself to never letting it happen again. (The full story of the previous Vortex is told in ''Overture''.)
* RealityWritingBook: Destiny, the eldest of the Endless, only intervenes when the Book of Destiny says that he is doing so...or the other way around, [[WhenIsPurple not that it matters]].
* RecursiveReality: The ''Worlds' End'' arc is about a group of people trapped in a tavern by a storm, passing the time by telling stories. Some of the stories include stories-within-stories, and at least one includes a story-within-a-story-within-a-story, told by a man who mentions that he once heard ''of'', but never himself ''heard'', an oddly familiar-sounding story about a group of people trapped in a tavern by a storm, passing the time by telling stories ...
* TheReliableOne: Lucien.
* {{Retconjuration}}:
** The world as we know it was created from another one that was [[CatsAreMean ruled by cats]]: when enough humans dreamed of a new world at the same time, the old one was gone as though it had never existed. Or else ItWasAllADream. Or [[AlternateUniverse both.]]
** Dream suggests to a cat that it could get enough beings to share its dream of a world ruled by giant cats that hunt humans for fun, which would in turn make it reality. The implication is that the above example only existed because of Dream's suggestion. Yes, this is [[MindScrew as paradoxical as it sounds.]]
* RetroactiveLegacy: There have been several earlier [[Franchise/TheDCU DCU]] heroes called "The Sandman"; over the course of the series, each is [[RetCon shown]] to have been inspired in some fashion by Dream.
* TheReveal:
** ''Worlds' End'' features a funeral procession with almost every major and minor character in the series present, but does not offer any direct hints to the identity of the deceased, though this is made plain in the next arc.
** Over the course of the series, many characters call Morpheus out on how bad an idea his HonorBeforeReason approach to his job is. Finally, in ''Brief Lives'', Morpheus breaks his promise never to see his son again. Almost immediately after, he goes back to being rigidly responsible to his duties, even when enemies and allies point out that bending his rules would allow him to fend off the rampaging Kindly Ones. It's ultimately only Nuala who realizes what's going on and why:
---> [[spoiler:You ... you ''want'' them to kill you, don't you? You ''want'' them to punish you for your son's death.]]
* RightBehindMe: This happens to Mervyn every time he's talking smack about Dream. It's probably by design.
* RoaringRampageOfRomance: Morpheus and Nada make love once. Her home city is reduced to glass shards. It's suggested that had they remained together, the entire world would have been destroyed.

* SacredHospitality: Dream cannot harm his guests in any way. The demon Azazel [[WhatAnIdiot chooses to renounce his hospitality ...]]
* {{Satan}}: Lucifer Morningstar is a key character, especially prominent in ''Season of Mists''.
* SatanicArchetype: Along with the actual Satan, there's Boss Smiley, who repeatedly appears to MessianicArchetype Prez Rickard and tries to tempt him into serving him.
* SceneryGorn: Hell, as is to be expected.
* SceneryPorn: The series has some seriously gorgeous background art. Special mention goes to the Dreaming.
* SealedEvilInACan:
** Azazel, among many, as Morpheus stuffed him in a bottle near the end of ''Season of Mists'' and left him in a trunk. Many of the evil forces sealed in the Dreaming end up being released during ''The Kindly Ones'', although the worst of the worst were apparently kept in a more secure can.
** Haroun al-Rashid summons the Sandman by threatening to open his personal Sealed Evil on the world if he doesn't appear on command. Dream is less than amused.
--->'''Dream:''' It is unwise to summon what you cannot dismiss.
* SecondPersonNarration: In one of the final chapters, ''everyone'' shares a visit to the dream world. The narration specifies that you, the reader, have attended the gathering (although you might not remember it upon waking). At the end of the story, Destiny states that all but one of the dreamers have awakened. That last dreamer would be you, because you do not awake until the last panel.
* SelfInflictedHell: All of it, [[AmbiguousSituation at least in theory]].
* SerialKiller: A whole ''convention'' full of them, most memorably the Corinthian.
* ShaggyDogStory: Lyta Hall's quest [[spoiler:to get Daniel back]]. Not a ShootTheShaggyDog story, though, in that [[spoiler:Daniel ''kind of'' still lives as the new Dream]].
* ShootTheShaggyDog: Barbie's dream quest in ''A Game Of You''. [[spoiler:Everyone in the Land dies, TheBadGuyWins, and Dream is perfectly willing to let her friends stay on a barren piece of land for eternity even though they came to save her.]]
* ShakespeareInFiction: Dream inspires him, and asks for two plays (''A Midsummer Night's Dream'' and ''The Tempest'') in return.
* ShapedLikeItself: In "The Hunt", a character tells a fairy story in which one of the strange objects the hero accumulates is a small bone carved into the shape of a small bone.
* ShapeShifterGuiltTrip: Loki tries this to stop the Corinthian from strangling him; it doesn't work.
* ShapeShifterShowdown: To get back his mask, Morpheus had to fight Choronzon in a ritualized shapeshifting duel.
* ShoutOut:
** To other DCU, Vertigo, and Gaiman characters:
*** One panel in ''Worlds' End'' shows a character wearing [[Comicbook/{{Watchmen}} a bloodstained smiley-face pin]].
*** In ''A Game of You'', Barbie notes a race of creatures carrying a walled room across the Land. They are once referred to as the [[Comicbook/DoomPatrol Room Patrol]].
*** If you look closely at a scene in the ''The Kindly Ones'', there's a copy of ''Literature/GoodOmens'' by the bed.
** Also in ''The Kindly Ones'' is the last of the seven swans from the fairy tale of the same name.
** Several to Music/ToriAmos (who returned the favor in her song "Horses").
** Three prominent ones from ''The Doll's House'':
*** The title is reminescent of the play ''Theatre/ADollsHouse'' by Creator/HenrikIbsen. Both works are about people who are being manipulated by other people without realizing it, like dolls.
*** The characters of Barbie and Ken are a reference to {{Franchise/Barbie}}. In ''A Game of You'', it's mentioned that Ken left Barbie for a girl called Sindy. Sindy was a [[TransatlanticEquivalent UK-specific girls' fashion doll, like Barbie]].
*** The CoolOldGuy who befriends Rose shares an appearance, personality, and first name with Creator/GKChesterton (one of Gaiman's favorite writers from childhood). [[spoiler:[[GodWasMyCopilot That's because he's a dream.]]]]
** Lucien, the MagicLibrarian who used to be a raven, is partly a reference to Mr Raven in ''Lilith'' by Creator/GeorgeMacDonald.
** Jed's dreams are done in the style of ''ComicStrip/LittleNemo'' complete with things going crazy at the end and Jed waking up... to his rat-infested basement and abusive foster parents.
** Gaiman's friend and fellow author Creator/KimNewman appears as himself in "Calliope" (he's the interviewer).
** Averted by Loki's claim to the name '''Loki [[Franchise/StarWars Sky-Walker]]'''--that's actually one of his many sobriquets in [[Myth/NorseMythology the original sagas]]. Although undoubtedly Gaiman threw it in for the double-meaning.
*** He does take the name '''Luke''' while disguised as a human. It's also interesting to note how similar his facial features are drawn in ''The Kindly Ones'' to the DCAU incarnation of ComicBook/TheJoker, who is, of course, voiced by Creator/MarkHamill.
** At one point in ''The Doll's House'', a poster for Music/TheCure can be seen on the wall.
** During the chapter in ''Season of Mists'' set in the BoardingSchoolOfHorrors, one character mentions "[[Music/TheWall the happiest days of our lives]]".
** The strip club where Tiffany and Ishtar work is called "Suffragette City" and the segment containing Ishtar's LastDance is called "Wham bam thank you ma'am", yet another Music/DavidBowie shout out.
* ShrugTake: In ''Preludes and Nocturnes'', one guy's reaction when a nude Morpheus bursts in, steals his popcorn, and runs out.
* ASimplePlan: Cited almost verbatim when Morpheus assures Lucien that his roadtrip with Delirium is "Completely straightforward" and that nothing could go wrong. Just the phrase "roadtrip with Delirium" should be enough to indicate how naive that is.
* SingleTear: Duma doesn't speak in ''The Wake'', as he has not spoken ''since the beginning of the universe'', but he eloquently expresses his feelings via this trope.
* SlasherSmile: Loki and Puck are doing this pretty much all the time. And then there's Boss Smiley, who has a yellow happy face for a head. Look, we never said the trope always makes sense, okay?
* SlaveryIsASpecialKindOfEvil: The immortal Hob Gadling experiences ({{justified}}) WhiteGuilt for centuries for being an influential early slave trader who help establish the system that made the slave trade an economic powerhouse in the 17th through 19th centuries. He did it at the time because [[ValuesDissonance it was just kind of what you did]], and quit the trade relatively early after Dream advises him that "it is a poor thing for a man to own another", but he gets to witness first-hand the consequences of his actions throughout history.
* SoleSurvivor: Tiffany is the only one to make it out of the club in ''Brief Lives.'' Desire gives her a coat and the [[Literature/MobyDick "And I alone am escaped to tell thee ..."]] line.
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent: A trademark of the series is its habit of interrupting large storylines with brief, single-issue short stories with a radically different tone, like "Men of Good Fortune" in ''The Doll's House'' and "Charles Rowland Concludes His Education" in ''Season of Mists''. Additionally, ''World's End'' features "The Golden Boy", a story that is weird even by the standards of this series. A political allegory about the nature of democracy and its relationship with religion, it tells the story of Prez Rickard, TheChosenOne who becomes President of the United States while still a teenager, opposed by a shadowy political machine chief called Boss Smiley, who has a yellow happy face for a head. Yes. Bonus points for actually being based on [[ComicBook/{{Prez1973}} a short-lived DC Comics series from the 1970s]].
* SoulsavingCrusader: The angel Remiel takes on a rather NonSequitur version of this trope as his new mission in life, as he wants to reform ''Hell'' and make the torment redeeming. It only makes Hell worse, since now they're torturing you because they ''love'' you, but he doesn't see this. The tormented, incidentally, are astonished that Remiel accomplished this feat.
* SpiritualSuccessor: Many fans consider it one to Creator/AlanMoore's run on ''ComicBook/SwampThing'', DC's previous champion in pushing dark, sophisticated storylines out of what was originally a third-string DCU character. Less figuratively, ''The Sandman'' picks up and expands on several plot threads and themes established in ''Swamp Thing'', such as Cain and Abel's roles in the human consciousness, the "culture" of {{serial killer}}s in America, and the [[SelfInflictedHell nature of Hell]].
* StabTheScorpion: The second Corinthian pulls this on Matthew -- whom he had previously sworn to kill -- in ''The Kindly Ones'', throwing a knife that kills a monster that was just about to attack. Dream later tells Matthew that the Corinthian had genuinely intended to kill him, but Daniel exerted his influence to save Matthew's life by bringing the monster to the throne room at just the right moment, so the Corinthian would change his mind in the heat of the moment.
* StarfishAliens: It's implied that Cain & Abel were originally these. Rather than being the actual characters from the Bible story, they're actually the very first intelligent lifeform in the entire universe to commit murder and its victim, preserved in the collective unconscious and, like the Endless themselves, perceived as a member of whatever species is viewing them.
* StayOnThePath: Used a few times throughout the series, especially when Morpheus tells his guests during ''Seasons of Mist'' that they should do so inside his castle. Clurucan, of course, strays and ends up creating his nemesis. Also, "You killed my friend. Stray from your path."
* StealthPun: The fairy is gay. In fact, not only is the fairy ''gay'', but the ''fairy'' is [[HaveAGayOldTime gay]].
* StevenUlyssesPerhero: Prez is short for ''president'' and sure enough...
* TheStoic:
** Destiny, of course (how could he not be?).
** Duma, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin the Angel of Silence]], who only ever reacts to anything[[note]]He was informed--by the celestial version of e-mail--that he was forbidden to return to the Silver City and must spend the rest of eternity as one of the new monarchs of Hell.[[/note]] once in the entire series (by shedding a SingleTear).
* StunnedSilence: After Lucifer's announcement that [[spoiler:he's quit]], the next three panels show a variety of expressions flit across Dream's face as he tries to process it. He wasn't sure what to expect, but he certainly didn't see that coming.
* StylisticSuck: Destruction's awful poetry...and art...and sculpture. He himself just couldn't care less: he's just happy to ''create'', never mind the quality of the result. He finally does find a creative endeavor he's pretty good at: cooking...which is loaded with irony because cooking is inherently destructive to the ingredients.
* SunglassesAtNight: The Corinthian. This is because he has [[EyeScream tiny mouths with razor-sharp teeth where his eyes should be]].
* SympathyForTheHero: Lucifer, of all people, expresses this for Dream during ''The Kindly Ones''.

* TakeMeInstead: In ''Doll's House'', Gilbert offers [[spoiler:to die in Rose's place]]. Dream tells him that it's not happening since [[spoiler:Gilbert aka Fiddler's Green isn't the Vortex and thus can't fulfill the requirements]]. [[spoiler:Rose's grandmother, Unity Kincaid, ends up taking Rose's place since she was meant to be the original Vortex.]]
* TakeThat: This being a Neil Gaiman series, a jab at Freud is pretty much inevitable. In Volume 2, when Rose and Morpheus are flying together through the Dreaming:
-->'''Rose''': Do you know what Freud said about dreams of flying? It means you're really dreaming about having sex.\\
'''Morpheus''': Indeed? Tell me, then, [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic what does it mean when you dream about having sex?]]
* TemptingFate: When Morpheus and Delirium go looking for their brother, they are ''literally seeking Destruction.'' Things go downhill from there.
* ThatManIsDead: [[spoiler:Daniel refuses to take the name Morpheus, reserving it as having belonged wholly to his previous incarnation.]] He also refuses to go by his original name. [[spoiler:He is simply Dream of the Endless, no more and no less.]]
* TheyFightCrime: Matthew and the Corinthian have a very brief episode of this in ''The Kindly Ones''. Even gets {{lampshade|Hanging}}d:
-->'''Matthew''': It was like a bad TV show. 'He's a reincarnated serial killer his partner's a bird. They're cops.'
* ThinDimensionalBarrier: "Soft places" are spots where reality is weak, leading to easier inter-dimensional travel and time working oddly. There is one in the Desert of Lop in China (a real place).
* ThoseTwoBadGuys: Brute and Glob.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Duma and Remiel, the angels "volunteered" to take over rule of Hell in Lucifer's absence.
* ThresholdGuardians: Dream's doormen, a griffon, a wyvern, and a [[CallAPegasusAHippogriff hippogriff]]. They can keep out ''gods''. Not an assembly of several pantheons however, unless Dream gives them a power boost. [[spoiler:The Kindly Ones kill the griffon when they try to bar entrance to Dream's castle.]]
* TimeAbyss:
** The Endless, of course.
** ''Brief Lives'' mentions that there are "only" around ten thousand humanoids on Earth who remember the sabre-toothed tiger, a thousand who remember the first {{Atlantis}}, five hundred who remember the [[{{Precursors}} lost civilisations that pre-dated the dinosaurs]], and maybe seventy who are older than the planet itself.
* TitleDrop: There's one for every arc but ''Preludes & Nocturnes'' and ''Fables & Reflections''.
* ToHellWithThisInfernalJob: Lucifer closes Hell, chases all the demons and damned souls out, locks the gates, and hands Dream the key before heading off to Earth.
* TomeOfFate: Or rather, the Book Of Destiny, containing the history of '''everything'''.
* TooHappyToLive: Orpheus and Eurydice, though this was of course a ForegoneConclusion.
* TookALevelInKindness: If one reads the story in chronological order, one will notice Dream is at first vindictive, selfish and excessively proud. After his imprisonment, however, he develops some empathy, enough in fact to call Hob Gadling a friend, rescue Calliope and Nada and [[spoiler: kill Orpheus]]. He is nonetheless very callous when he merely informs Lyta Hall that he will take her son. His fate is ultimately sealed by his incapability of changing further or changing back.
* TopHeavyGuy: Thor has so many overlapping muscles on his upper torso he looks deformed.
* TragicMonster:
** Despair is, by her nature, rather unpleasant to be around, and something of a sadist, but it's not really her fault. She is a rather tragic figure in her own right, especially since she is not the original Despair, meaning that some part of her was once mortal and had to become this.
** Cain is really a victim of his own tropes; he has some PetTheDog moments with Abel, but he can't ''not'' abuse him, it's not the nature of their story.
* {{Transgender}}: Wanda, in ''A Game of You''. Her family has disowned her because of it.
* {{Trickster}}: Loki and Robin Goodfellow/Puck, among others.
* TrueCompanions: The inhabitants of Dream's castle become quite close over the course of the series. Similarly, the three guardians of the door (the griffin, hippogriff, and wyvern), which makes [[spoiler:the killing of the griffin by the Kindly Ones]] all the more shocking.

* UnaccustomedAsIAmToPublicSpeaking:
** Cluracan insists at length that his story is dry and dull and that he almost shouldn't bother telling it in the first place, then goes on to tell a swashbuckling adventure story about how he deposed a tyrant.
** Destiny drops this bit during ''The Wake'' (and then Desire lampshades it by quoting the line verbatim), but in his case it's a subversion, since as it turns out he really isn't much of a speaker at all.
* UnreliableNarrator: Each of the stories in ''World's End'' is offered by its teller as ostensibly true, but it's anyone's guess how trustworthy the teller is. Cluracan in particular seems unreliable.
* TheUnreveal:
** It is never explained why Delight turned into Delirium [[note]]it's heavily implied that she wandered too far from the borders of Destiny's Garden, and saw ...''something'' and was DrivenMadFromTheRevelation, but what that something was is never revealed[[/note]], or how the first Despair was killed. It's also implied Delirium's not done changing yet.
** Dream implies that two of Matthew's predecessor ravens have moved on to new roles in the Dreaming. Dream explicitly states one is Lucien the librarian, who does not remember, but does not reference the other.
** We never do find out who put Loki and Puck up to the kidnapping of little Daniel; the story presents Remiel, Lucifer, Loki himself, and even [[spoiler:Dream]] as potential suspects, but there is no concrete answer. Puck only drops us this little hint when asked who he's working for:
---> '''Puck:''' [[spoiler:I could answer you ''endlessly'', and perhaps you expect me to ...]]
* UnspokenPlanGuarantee: Subverted; the plans for what would happen if Dream were captured or killed in Hell are never needed. (Though it's speculated that the plans he would have used if he fell in Hell are the same that came into place during his confrontation with The Kindly Ones.)
* UnusualEuphemism: The story-within-a-story (within another story ...) about the hangman features a staggering assortment of euphemisms about hanging people and being hung, such as "A jump from the leafless tree," and "A hearty choke with caper sauce!" [[note]]"Caper" refers to the victim's legs kicking and twitching. Lovely, innit?[[/note]]

* VengeanceFeelsEmpty: After escaping from imprisonment, avenging himself on his captors and regaining his kingdom and his tools, Morpheus goes to Central Park and mopes because he does not feel as satisfied as he thought he would. [[GrimReaper His older]] [[PerkyGoth sister]] snaps him out of it.
* VerbalTic: Gilbert's "HOOM!"
* VerbThis: Well, more of a "Plural Noun This", but still, Mervyn's FacingTheBulletsOneLiner deserves mention...
-->'''Furies:''' ''You''? What are ''you''?\\
'''Merv:''' Me? Lady, I'm your worst nightmare -- a pumpkin with a gun.\\
'''Furies:''' We have no nightmares. We are the hounds of Hades. Gods fear us. Demons fear us. We have hounded kings and angels. We have taken vengeance on worlds and on universes. We are the Kindly Ones. We are the Eumenides.\\\
'''Merv:''' Yeah? Well, Eumenides '''''this'''''! *[[MoreDakka BUDDABUDDABUDDABUDDA!]]*
* VictimizedBystander: This happened to the patrol officer that pulls over Delirium for driving like...well, like Delirium.
* ViewersAreGeniuses: Gaiman, on his sponge-like capacity for folklore, myths, and religions.
-->As a kid I thought everyone knew Adam had three wives.
* VillainousBreakdown: Played with. Lyta is not a villain until after her breakdown, but the trope still works pretty much the same way (and her breakdown is ''epic'' in scale).
* VillainProtagonist: Richard Madoc in "Calliope", who rapes Calliope repeatedly to tap her for inspiration for his stories.
** Dream himself sometimes comes very close to this, with his frequently cruel actions and BlueAndOrangeMorality.
* TheVoiceless: Duma is the "Angel of Silence", so of course he never talks. Even after he stops being the Angel of Silence and is allowed to speak, he chooses not to.

* TheWallsHaveEyes
* WantingIsBetterThanHaving:
** One story is about a man who [[LoveBeforeFirstSight falls in love with a woman after seeing her picture in her locket]] and goes to great lengths to meet her. But when he finally does (and she is indeed every bit as beautiful as the picture made her out to be), he only gives the locket back to her and asks for nothing more, as he realised that she couldn't possibly live up to all his dreaming about her.
** {{Lampshaded}} in the first Creator/WilliamShakespeare story:
---> '''Dream''': The price of getting what you want is having what once you wanted.
** Upon finding out that Nuala's in love with him, he offers her a dream of his love, since he can't offer her his love like a gift. Nuala smiles, and reminds him she already has that.
** Desire deals this in spades. They even lampshade this (in a rare moment of sincere honesty) by telling a young woman that there is a very big difference between getting what you want and being happy.
* WarriorPoet: Destruction. He's horrible at it, though. [[CaptainObvious The poetry part, that is]].
* WellDoneSonGuy: Most of Abel's troubles stem from his desire to live happily with his murderous brother, Cain.
* WhamLine:
** From the ''Seasons of Mist'' arc: when Morpheus enters hell to [[spoiler:free Nada from imprisonment]], he sends warning to Lucifer - Lucifer being the one whom Morpheus utterly humiliated in a previous arc, and has sworn vengeance on him. Upon hearing this news, Lucifer gathers the hordes of hell and the souls of the damned and makes what appears to be a ThisMeansWar! declaration, promising that it will be a day that Morpheus and everybody else will never forget. When Dream eventually arrives, [[spoiler:Hell is totally empty, besides Lucifer himself]]. Dream demands that Lucifer explain what's going on.
---> '''Lucifer''': Isn't it obvious, dream king? [[spoiler:I've quit.]]
** There's also the moment in ''The Kindly Ones''; "[[spoiler:[[OhCrap He DID kill his own son]]]]". Even though the reader knows that TheOmniscient Hecate Sisters probably knew about it already, it's still a gut punch when it's absolutely confirmed that the Kindly Ones are coming, and there's nothing Dream can do about it.
** The climax of ''Brief Lives'' arguably has the WhamLine for the series: [[spoiler:"I have to kill my son."]] Doubles as a GeniusBonus since, as far back as ''The Doll's House'', it's been foreshadowed that [[spoiler:killing a blood relative]], even with the best of intentions, means crossing a line that not even one of the Endless can return from.
** Inverted in ''The Kindly Ones'', when Nuala realizes aloud Morpheus' motivation for everything that's happened this arc. He confirms her suspicion silently, with a look of hopelessness:
---> '''Nuala''': [[spoiler:You... you ''want'' them to do it, don't you? You ''want'' them to punish you for your son's death.]]\\
'''Morpheus''': ({{Beat}} Panel)
* WhatTheHellHero: Death, among others, calls Dream out on his less-than-noble acts, such as imprisoning Nada in Hell for ten thousand years. Even Delirium does it -- when Dream tells her that cursing a man to feel as if insects are crawling on his skin "forever and ever" is too harsh, Delirium retorts that "you've done lots worse. ''Lots'' and ''lots'' and ''lots''."
* WhenIsPurple: The TropeNamer; in ''Death: The Time of Your Life'', Death uses this as part of a rhetorical argument about why the universe isn't fair.
* WhereEverybodyKnowsYourFlame: The club where Delirium accidentally approaches a PerkyGoth who she thinks is Death.
* WholePlotReference: Barbie's dream world initially seems like a vague, wide-reaching reference to ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia'', with the talking animals, tons of pretentiously-named objects and PurpleProse and whatnot. [[spoiler:"A Game Of You" then becomes a far more ''direct'' plot reference to ''Literature/TheLastBattle'', with Dream filling the role of Aslan (famously straight down to the same imagery), Barbie in the role of Jill, and "The Cuckoo", who is actually a facet of Barbie's psyche, as a combination of Shift the Ape and the White Witch. In [[CanonDefilement perfect Gaiman tradition]], it also shifts the narrative around a bit, in that Cuckoo has a good reason for what she does and ultimately "wins", to some degree, and Barbie survives her ordeal and rather than going to Heaven and isn't quite sure what lesson to take from it all.]]
* WhoWantsToLiveForever:
** Element Girl, who wants to kill herself but literally cannot conceive of a method that would work.
** [[spoiler:Both Orpheus and, ultimately, Morpheus.]]
** Mostly subverted with the other immortal characters, who are either completely fine with it or think it's great. Particularly Hob, who at one point experiences a run of bad luck which leaves him completely destitute and he learns the agony that starvation holds for a man who cannot starve ''to death''. Nevertheless, when offered a chance to finally die, he rejects it outright.
* WillTheyOrWontThey: Dream and Bast have apparently been playing this game for a ''long'' time. Ultimately they never do.