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The Sandman

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The Sandman (or Mr. Sandman) is a mythical character in Western and Northern European folklore who puts people to sleep and brings good dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of people while they sleep at night. Usually depicted as good, in some stories he is also depicted as bad, as well as neutral. The Sandman as an entity of dreams receives many names (like Morpheus in Classical Mythology), but this character has specific traits that distinguish him from other such entities:

  1. He could be a human or an Anthropomorphic Personification. In some cases, he only has the powers associated with this trope and is not a supernatural entity otherwise.
  2. In his good form he's considered the Guardian of Dreams, but in his bad form, he's an interpretation of the Boogeyman (who might otherwise be his nemesis).
  3. No matter the form or alignment he has, he always uses a magical sand to put people to sleep.

This trope is about Sandman and all his representations in the different media. Compare Sentient Sands (although some examples overlap).

Not to be confused with the Spider-Man enemy (literally a sandman), the comic book, the series based on the comic book, the video game, the short story, or the animated film based on the short story.

Sub-Trope of Dream Weaver.


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    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics has used the name of this mythological character for various different characters:
    • The Sandman was conceived originally as a Vigilante Man with a gas mask that covers his face and fights villains with a sleep gas pistol. Wesley Dodds, the original Sandman, was created in The Golden Age of Comic Books and, following the revival of the Sandman name by the Gaiman version, was featured in Sandman Mystery Theatre. His Kid Sidekick, Sanderson "Sandy the Golden Boy" Hawkins, would join the 2000s revival of Justice Society of America as Sand.
    • Only loosely inspired by him was was Garrett Sanford (created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon), who wore a yellow superhero costume with an hourglass on the front, who became trapped in the Dream Dimension, guarding everyone's dreams from nightmare monsters, but especially those of a kid named Jed Pauleson. He was succeeded in Infinity, Inc. by Hector Hall (son of Carter Hall, and formerly Silver Scarab, who also becomes the reincarnation of Doctor Fate).
    • Probably the most known version is The Sandman (1989) written by Neil Gaiman and published by Vertigo Comics and being based on mythology, and also retconned as the inspiration for the Golden Age superhero of the same name, while Sandord and Hall were more direct attempts by the beings of the Dreaming to replace him. The story in general is about Sandman, also known as Dream of the Endless, Morpheus, Dream Shaper, Oneiros, and other names and his adventures on Earth and other realms.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 
  • Rise of the Guardians: The Sandman, or Sandy for short, the Guardian of Dreams is the oldest of the Guardians and the first Guardian chosen by Man in the Moon which is also made entirely of sand. He does not speak, but communicates through sand images that he conjures above his head. He's also a Guardian Entity of children's dreams as well part of The Guardians, a legendary league led by Nicholas St. North with other child entities like the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the second and third The Santa Clause films, Sandman (Michael Dorn) is a respected member of the Council of Legendary Figures, along with Santa, Father Time, Mother Nature, Jack Frost, The Easter Bunny, Cupid, and the Tooth Fairy.
  • There's a huge list of movies and shorts about Sandman, the majority of them are horror movies that show Sandman as the equivalent of the Boogeyman. The complete list is in IMDb, but some examples are:
    • Sleepstalker from 1995: Seventeen years after slaughtering all but one member of a family, a vicious serial killer known only as "The Sandman" awaits execution. But first, his jailers allow a minister to visit the killer to give him last rites, unaware that the minister is a voodoo priest and an ally of the condemned prisoner. The priest places a hex on the Sandman so that when he is executed, his soul migrates into a new body made of sand. To sever his ties with his former life and achieve absolute power, the Sandman must find and kill a man named Griffin, the sole survivor of the last family murdered by the killer.
    • The Sandman from 1995: Gary is a trailer park romance novelist who can't seem to sleep at night. He also thinks that he saw a monster assaulting his girlfriend while she was sleeping. People is his trailer park begin to die in their sleep. Soon, Gary's friends begin to think that he has gone crazy with all his ranting and raving and that all he needs is a good night's sleep. Gary is afraid to sleep...
    • The Sandman from 2017: A little girl with formidable powers imagines into existence the Sandman, a terrible monster from her nightmares that brings harm to anyone who wants to hurt her.

  • Sandman (full name Sanderson ManSnoozy) appears in The Guardians of Childhood books as the Guardian of Dreams. Being mostly based on this book, this Sandman is based for the one seen in Rise of the Guardians.
  • The fairytale Ole Lukoje by Hans Christian Andersen in which the titular character spends a week giving pleasant dreams and telling stories to a boy named Hjalmar. Lukoje is Danish for "Shut-eye", which is the Danish name for Mr. Sandman.
  • In The Sandman (1816) by E. T. A. Hoffmann, Nathanael not only believes that the story of the Sandman is real, but also that Coppelius is the Sandman. However, in this short story, the Sandman doesn't simply throw sand into children's eyes. He steals their eyes if they don't go to bed. Part of the conflict is Nathaneal's inability to realize there is no real Sandman.
  • Like the real world, the Discworld has a Sandman who sends children to sleep with a bag of magic sand. Unlike the real world, the Discworld version doesn't bother taking the sand out of the bag first.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Electric Company (1971): In one sketch, a crossover appearance of Spider-Man where he fights Sandman, not the known enemy of his rogue gallery, but a one based on this version (seen in nightshirt and cap).
  • Charmed: In the episode "Sand Francisco Dreamin'", the Sandman is a creature that makes people sleep and have dreams. The Tracer Demons go after Sandmen so people won't sleep, which is the main reason why the Charmed Ones are chased by their nightmares.
  • The Sandman, an adaptation of the comic book, revolves around Morpheus, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Dream. He is the creator and ruler of The Dreaming, the Dream Land in which all humanity's dreams are manifest. One of his signature tools is a bag of sand which he can use to put people to sleep (among other uses). His domain includes both pleasant dreams and nightmares; he explains that the latter have a role to play in inspiring people to face up to their fears and weaknesses.
  • Sleepy Hollow: The episode "For the Triumph of Evil" is about Ro'kenhronteys, aka a demonic version of the Sandman (also known as that in the series) that Ichabod and Abbie have to fight against to save more people of dying in dreams because of him, including Abbie's sister.
  • In Doctor Who the episode "Sleep No More" featured Sandmen as the Monster of the Week, which were literally humans made from sand. It's later revealed they were made from "sleep dust" (the crusty substance in your eye) and that Sandmen could be created from any human after being exposed to an electronic signal.

  • "Mr. Sandman" is an iconic song composed by Pat Ballard in 1954 and recorded in the same year by by Vaughn Monroe & His Orchestra, The Chordettes and The Four Aces (the last two are the more known versions). The song is about a man/woman (depends on who sings the song) that asks Mr. Sandman to "bring me a dream" of a beautiful partner so he/she won't be alone anymore.
  • "Enter Sandman" by Metallica is a song about to deal with the concept of a child's nightmares and as the name says, plays with the mythical figure of Sandman. The music video goes further with a young boy being chased in nightmares by various dangers and in one scene where he's praying, an old man appears being Sandman himself as The Man behind the nightmares (ported by R. G. Armstrong).
  • "The Sandman Never Sleeps" is a song from the EP "Geek!" of My Bloody Valentine made in 1985 and talks about this character in the lyrics as the name says.
  • "Sandmann" is a song of the German group Oomph! which is about the poverty and the bad situation of children. The chorus invokes The Sandman to put to sleep and end his suffering.
    Sandman, Sandman! Please put out the light, The truth is a big scam, So let me dream tonight.
  • "Sandman" is a song from group HURTS and is about a man who wants to see Sandman in person and waits for him and so sleep forever.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Sandman most are familiar with is a figure from Scandinavian folklore who sprinkles sand and grit into children's eyes to bring on sleep and dreams.
  • The lesser-known Greek god of dreams, Morpheus, is sometimes conflated with the Sandman (as in the Neil Gaiman example). The drug morphine is named after him.

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    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Fiend Folio supplement (1981) introduces the sandmen. A sandman is a humanoid monster made up of sand held together by magic. Any creature that comes within 20 feet of it must save vs. spell or be put to sleep for at least 30 minutes.

  • Hansel and Gretel (1893): The Sandman appears to Hansel and Gretel in the forest, signaling that it is time for the children to sing their evening prayer and go to sleep (though a Dream Ballet ensues). The Sandman's morning counterpart, the Dewman, appears to wake them up again with a very similar song as the curtain goes up on the third act.

    Theme Parks 
  • Dutch theme park Efteling has it's own interpretation of The Sandman mythos called "Klaas Vaak" created in 2009. Klaas Vaak is a friendly old man who lives in a castle and travels by riding a night owl at an unknown location. He creates magical sand to help children have pleasant dreams with some assistance from a group of gnomes. He also dislikes seeing children's dreams quickly turning unpleasant and nightmarish. Klaas Vaak starred in a web series called "Sprookjes van Klaas Vaak" where he creates scenes (via making drawings on sand) from various fairy tales while reading the stories out loud. Efteling later created a musical stage show which expands the character's role and universe at "Efteling Theater" (located near the park's entrance).

    Video Games 
  • Punch-Out!!: Invoked with the Mr. Sandman character, a boxer whose quotes are about putting the opponent "to sleep".
  • In The Sandman (2014), the titular character is the main antagonist of the game, who has found a way to use sleep sand to put everyone in the world to sleep permanently. Although it turns out he's not that malicious; he just desperately wanted to get some sleep himself, but couldn't do that when there were constantly people that needed to be put to sleep.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: The Sandman is a recurring demon. His flavour text usually identifies him as a faerie from German folklore who puts humans to sleep with his magic sand and sits on the eyelids of anyone who resists.

    Web Animation 
  • Epithet Erased: Sylvie, thanks to his "Drowsy" epithet. He can create a golden dust that lulls people to sleep and brings their dreams to life, either as a cloud around him or a flock of Counting Sheep minions. He can also make himself fall asleep to unleash one of his own dreams, Dr. Beefton.

    Western Animation 
  • Classic Disney Shorts: A canine version of the Sandman appeared in the 1948 short Cat Nap Pluto. His efforts to help Pluto sleep were thwarted by a playful Figaro, who kept waking him.
  • A sinister Sandman appeared in an episode of The Real Ghostbusters, who wanted to put the entire world to sleep, creating a city populated by slumbering people and dreams run amok.
  • The Sandman (1991) is an animated short adaptation of German short story The Sandman (1816) (see above), in which the Sandman is a scary horror figure who plucks out children's eyes.
  • The Sandman appeared in The Powerpuff Girls (1998) as a being who just wanted some time to sleep, but kept being called to put to sleep children from every region before he could. So he magically put everyone into an eternal sleep so as to give him time to get some shuteye. He is able to get plenty, but the girls are able to enter his dreams through their own and convince him to return to his job.
  • in Courage the Cowardly Dog, the Sandman was also unable to sleep, despite being the God of Sleep himself, so he stole Muriel's magic sand that every living being possesses in order to. Courage had to get it back, and discovered that the Sandman had lost his teddy bear, which funnily enough was the reason for his insomnia, and when he found it stuck under the Sandman's giant bed, the Sandman gave the sand back so that both he Muriel could sleep again.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: After Timmy wished for a world without sleep, the Sandman was introduced as being both the master of all things sleep related and the owner of a mattress store in Dimmsdale. He shrinks and loses his powers when nobody sleeps, making him unable to revert Timmy's wish until Cosmo and Wanda fell to sleep on his new mattress.
  • Nilus The Sandman was a 1990s cartoon where the Sandman helped kids overcome their fears and similar obstacles. He was a pretty well-meaning, grandfatherly type, albeit a bit of a doofus.
  • Miraculous Ladybug has a Villain of the Week named Sandboy with the power to bring people's nightmares to life.

    Real Life 
  • Because of the legends of Sandman, the rheum (a thin mucus naturally discharged from the eyes, nose, or mouth during sleep) is known as "sleepy sand" and "sleep dust" in some countries.


Video Example(s):


Dream of the Endless

The lord of sleep, personification of dreams and nightmares, and ruler of the Dreaming, he has spent over a hundred years trapped on the mortal plane. After finally escaping, he begins to seek out the items of his power and rebuild his realm after it was abandoned by its residents in his absence.

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