YMMV / The Sandman

The Comic Series:

  • Awesome Art: When not subjected to They Wasted a Perfectly Good Line Art, the art of the series was pretty spectacular
    • Dave McKean's beautiful and haunting covers which employed different media. Even more impressive when taken into consideration that many were made without Photoshop.
    • J.H. Williams III's art in Sandman Overture is breathtaking.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Desire naturally comes across as evil and petty, making it an obvious villain. Given, however, that the personality of each Endless is to some extent a reflection of their function and not easily changed, Desire might be understood not as malevolent, but rather amoral. Much like Delirium is insane, Destiny is indifferent or Dream is aloof, Desire is as reckless, volatile and cruel as desire itself.
    • Remiel is a perfectly capable ruler of Hell. While he's pompous and switching Hell's goal from "punishment" to "redemption" is seen as tediously unnecessary and a sign that he's incompetent at his job; in actuality he's still fulfilling the same role as Lucifer, keeping the damned souls in the tortuous afterlife as intended. When the damned claim that the idea that they're being redeemed rather than punished "makes hell worse," it could just be a new type of suffering rather than an inability to understand how Hell's "supposed" to run.
  • Broken Base: When it was first released, "A Game of You" got a very chilly reception from much of the fandom for veering away from the series' larger plot to focus on the adventures of a handful of smaller characters, only a few of whom had any connection to previous arcs. Plus it's kind of depressing, Anvilicious, and has a Downer Ending. On the other hand, it featured some of the few sympathetic LGBT characters available in comics at the time and earned Gaiman an award from GLAAD.
  • Creepy Awesome: Dream.
  • Complete Monster: Dr. Destiny, aka John Dee, transforms from a standard, somewhat campy supervillain into a nightmare inducing lunatic. When first seen, Dr. Destiny comes across as a harmless, even somewhat pitiable, man. This impression goes out the window when he, for no real reason, casually murders the woman who had given him a ride, made pleasant small talk with him, and given him a coat. Once the good doctor regains the Materioptikon, a ruby used by Morpheus to create reality from the fabric of dreams, Dr. Destiny shows off just how bad he truly is. Sitting in a diner, over a twenty-four period, Dr. Destiny begins steadily driving the establishment's patrons and employees mad. He makes them have sex with each other, mutilate themselves, and torture and kill each other. At one point he gives them their minds back and when they demand to know why he's doing this to them, he responds, "Because I can." By the time he's finished all of the diner's inhabitants are dead. All while this was going on, Dr. Destiny was using the power of the ruby to drive everyone on the planet mad. One disturbing instance had him making a kids' show host tell his viewers to slice open their wrists. When Morpheus asks him what his goal is now, Dr. Destiny replies that at first he wanted to rule but now he wants to destroy the world and dance in the wreckage.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Lots and lots, though given the size of the cast that's not surprising. Lucifer and Death are probably the standout examples (in no small part because they both eventually got their own books for a while, driven by fan demand, and have made fairly significant appearances in works even outside of those books and Sandman), while Hob Gadling, Matthew, Mervyn, Fiddler's Green and Thessaly/Larissa also all have noteworthy fanbases.
  • Fair for Its Day
    • Wanda was a character explicitly stated to be transgender, back when something like that rarely ever happened. Now that transgender characters are more common and understood, her character is being examined much more closely. In particular, there's the fact that she dies (a common fate for gay and transgender characters), and that the Moon denies her the right to accompany her female housemates to the Land because she wasn't born a woman. For what it's worth, Gaiman based Wanda on a trans woman he actually knew at the time (Thessaly was based on one of her critics, who he disagreed with), and said that he wouldn't write her the same way now. But he's still proud of her, and she's undeniably a good, loyal friend to Barbie, and Barbie treats her like the woman she knows she is.
    • On a different tack, the "ethnic" stories. Both then and now, the entire point was to show that everyone dreams, that Dream is much older than the USA (or UK) and that not all the action has to happen on the U.S. eastern seaboard, which is a pretty commendable effort compared to Sandman's contemporaries (or even many efforts afterward). In the 21st century, though, it's hard not to notice that a lot of the non-Caucasian-focused stories tend to lean pretty heavily on the stereotypes ("Tales in the Sand" and "Ramadan" are the worst offenders about this), a lot of which come across pretty negatively.
  • Growing the Beard: Gaiman's editor has said that she believes issue #8 ("The Sound Of Her Wings") to be this.
    • Also Gaiman himself; he had a hard time figuring out the characters early on, and found the need to attach the series to the DC Universe very awkward. Issue 8 was the first time he really felt he'd gotten it right.
    • Alternately, issue #13 ("Men of Good Fortune") note  could be seen as this. It marked a big step in the series breaking from its horror roots, being a largely comical story that gave humans and the Endless equal dramatic focus and featured supernatural elements as plot devices instead of as the focus of the story. It was also the first time that the series delved into historical fiction (something that it became known for), and it largely started the series' tradition of subverting and deconstructing popular fantasy tropes, featuring a notable subversion of Who Wants to Live Forever?.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Martian Manhunter's reply to Clark Kent in The Wake that he never had a dream where he was an actor in a strange TV show. Some years later, he will presumably start having dreams where he's a voice actor, or maybe a bunch of animation cels.
  • I Am Not Shazam: A strange case. "The Sandman" is just one of countless names that Morpheus is known by, but he's never actually called this except for one brief instance in issue #3. The name is mostly just used to maintain a tenuous connection to the original superhero from the 1930s. Strangely, he is always called "The Sandman" in the script of each issue.
  • Older Than They Think: The series started as an attempt to reinvent the Golden Age superhero, the Sandman, but went on its own merry way. Its popularity led to a revival for the original hero, though (Sandman Mystery Theatre ran almost as long as the Gaiman Sandman did).
    • Prez was a comic book character in his own right. Right down to being countered by Boss Smiley.
    • Many of the inhabitants of the Dreaming, including Cain, Abel, Lucien, and Eve, were the "hosts" of DC's anthology series. As was Destiny, making him the only Endless that predates this series, and thus the "eldest".
  • Rewatch Bonus: Plenty. Most readers find that the number of characters and sidestories are really well-planned-out upon rereading the tales.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Or rather, they wasted a perfectly good opportunity for a great character in Rose's mom. Lots is made about Rose being Desire's granddaughter, but there seems to be no effect on her mother despite, you know, being Desire's daughter!. She gets basically no characterization besides her role as a mother and seems to be in no way more than a normal human being.
    • Lucifer too gets wasted after he resigns his post as Lord of Hell. While he makes continuous cameos in the book, seeming to build up to getting involved in The Kindly Ones, he does precisely nothing to affect the story. On the plus side, he got his own spin-off series which was the only remotely successful one.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Line Art: Applies to much of the art, but most especially the amazing artwork from "The Season of Mists"; Ty Bender's non-fiction "Sandman Companion" featured excerpts of the same artwork without the hideous coloring, and the difference is astonishing.
    • Also, Coleen Doran's art for issue 34, part 3 of the A Game of You arc, was mangled by the horrendous inking job. Fortunately, Doran had the opportunity to ink the issue herself in the Absolute Edition
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Lyta Hall as of "The Kindly Ones." She's gone mad with grief over losing her son and being led to believe that she's dead (and Morpheus is responsible), thus leading her to seek out the Fates. Unfortunately, while possessed by them, she kills a bunch of people who had nothing to do with her grudge regarding Morpheus except for the fact that they reside in the Dreaming. Even after she learns that she was wrong and that Daniel was still alive, she later goes on to badmouth Morpheus at his wake and call him a monster. The kicker? She's basically a Karma Houdini.
  • What an Idiot: Cluracan pretty much runs on this trope.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Okay, so Volumes 1-10 can be pretty surreal, but the Delirium and Despair chapters of Endless Nights are barely comprehensible.
    • In the case of the Delirium chapter, what happened was that Gaiman sent the script to Bill Sienkewicz, the artist... who apparently painted whatever it inspired him to paint. When he got the art back, Gaiman had to cut up his script and shuffle both script and art around to come with something that worked. (Frank Miller later confirmed to Gaiman that the same thing happened when he wrote Elektra: Assassin.)
  • The Woobie:
    • Poor Nuala; sold out by the fairies, summarily ignored by Morpheus, dismissed peremptorily with a broken heart, treated like crap, and then the poor thing goes and accidentally helps her crush kill himself.
    • Lyta Hall spent several years trapped in dreams with her husband, conceiving a child that stayed in her womb for a very long time. When she was finally released, she lost her husband and ended up a single mother, and had to contend with the unwanted attentions of Morpheus, who declared that since her son was conceived in the Dreaming, he was entitled to one day take the boy away from her. Is it any wonder that she ended up going mad and becoming the host for the Kindly Ones?
    • Minor character Hazel is deeply in love with Foxglove, but ends up pregnant after a one-night stand that she very much regrets... and then Thessaly goes and blabs about her pregnancy to Foxglove and drafts both her and Foxglove for a dangerous mission into the Dreaming to rescue their housemate Barbie. She and Fox ultimately work out their differences, but the mission is a failure and results in their apartment building being destroyed, leaving them homeless with a baby on the way. And then there's the spin-offs, where Foxglove becomes a successful songwriter, but leaves Hazel at home to raise their son, who dies from SIDS, causing poor Hazel to get so desperate that she makes a deal offering to let Death take her in exchange for the boy getting a little more time. And meanwhile Foxglove cheats on her. Repeatedly.
    • Rainie Blackwell, a.k.a. Element Girl from the short story Facade; the poor woman is so desperately lonely and unhappy, you just want to give her a hug. As does Death.

The Second Installment of Uri's Strange Men Series:

  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The brief Early-Bird Cameo of the Boogie Man.
    • Sophie's fate in the second Bad Ending: trapped as the only one still awake in the eternally slumbering world, unable to wake anyone, start time up again, or even fall asleep herself. Plus, the ending implies the Boogie Man may be coming to visit her...
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Nothing gets solved by keeping problems to yourself, and people won't know your side of things if you don't tell them.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • In the third Bad Ending, Sophie deciding to give up on her humanity and being reborn as a Glimmer.
    • The final Bad Ending, earned in the Sand Man's scenario: See You In Bad Dream. The Sand Man successfully puts Sophie to sleep, just like he wanted... But watches her fight in vain to stay awake, then succumb while crying for somebody to help her. Even the Sand Man can't free her from her nightmare, and cries out of guilt.

The short story by E. T. A. Hoffmann:

  • Woolseyism: The Bealby translation repeatedly calls Coppola a "hawker" (travelling salesman) of oculars and glasses (which he refers to as "eyes"). This resounds beautifully with the tale of Nathanael's nurse, who described the Sandman as a bird-like creature who hunts for eyes—a hawk is a bird of prey, and "to hawk" also means "to hunt in the style of a hawk". But it is entirely a clever translation; in the original, Coppola is just a "Wetterglashändler", which does not strike any such associations.