The Endless are a somewhat dysfunctional family of seven siblings. They may appear in different forms but usually have light skin and black hair, with the exception of redheads Destruction and Delirium. Their appearance can change to fit the expectations of others. When asked by Marco Polo if Dream is always so pale, the Dream King replies "That depends on who is watching."
The origin and exact nature of the Endless is unknown, and few hints are ever given as to exactly why the Endless exist; it is more implied that they are natural processes. While it is stated outright that they are children of Time and Night, this may be true only in the abstract sense.
The Endless are as old as the concepts that they represent, and although exact ages for any of them are unavailable (only relative ones are), they are known to have at least existed for far longer than life on Earth has. This is possible because of the existence of many advanced alien civilizations from long before the creation of the earth.
One example of this is when Dream is recognized by the Martian Manhunter as the dream god on ancient Mars, as well as as in the Endless Nights chapter "Dream: The Heart of the Star", which takes place before the Sun's planets have "awakened" with life. Death has claimed that she was there when the first living thing stirred, and Destiny has said that Dream had given the Earth itself the fond dream of being able to support life.
Functions and Domains
The Endless spend most of their time fulfilling their functions as embodiments of natural forces. For example, Death leads the souls of the dead away from the realm of the living, while Dream oversees the realm of dreams and imagination ("The Dreaming") and regulates dreams and inspiration.
Some of the Endless are more dedicated to their tasks than others. The younger Endless, especially Desire, are known to play games with mortal lives. Destruction, often called "The Prodigal", abandoned his duties altogether. If one of the Endless are destroyed then he or she will be replaced by another aspect of their role, but this does not occur if they are simply absent or inactive. In such cases the aspect of existence supervised by that member of the Endless becomes more random and chaotic.
Each of the Endless has a realm in which they are absolutely sovereign. Within their realm, each member of the Endless has a gallery containing symbols, or sigils, of the other Endless. The Endless may contact each other by holding the appropriate sigil and calling for that member of the Endless. Destiny is also able to call his siblings by using his gallery of portraits.
The Endless are generally uncomfortable in each other's realms. They do not travel into the realms of their siblings except when absolutely necessary. Death is the exception, as her role requires that she have the ability to freely travel wherever she needs to go.
In addition to overseeing their own sphere of influence, the Endless also help to define their own opposites. This dualistic aspect of the Endless has been confirmed in the case of Death, who not only ends lives but also begins them. Destruction has an interest in creative pastimes, including art, poetry and cooking (even though he is rarely good at them). Dream seems to have some power to shape reality, A Dream of a Thousand Cats, in which a large number of entities, dreaming of an alternate reality, create said reality and make it so that the reality of the dreamers was always like they dreamed.
The Endless are not known to have proper names, although Dream has a habit of collecting different names for himself. They are each known by their respective function.
- Destiny: The oldest of the Endless, Destiny appears as a blind man dressed in grey or brown robes, carrying a large book. The book is chained to him, or he is chained to the book, and within the book is written the entire sum of existence, past, present and future. Destiny seems the most possessed by his function and responsibilities of any of the Endless. He rarely demonstrates much personality. His symbol is his book. His speech appears as a regular word balloon with letters in itallics.
- Death: Death appears as a spunky, attractive, level-headed young Goth woman. She wears an ankh (representing the afterlife) and usually has an Eye of Horus painted under one of her eyes. She prefers to dress and act casually, and is on better terms with Dream than any of the other Endless. Her symbol is the ankh. Her speech is presented in regular letters in a regular balloon.
- Dream (Morpheus): Dream's usual appearance is as a tall, pale man with wild dark blue-black hair. He dresses in a shapeless cloak of "night" with "flames dancing in its folds". His eyes are pools of shadows with glimmers of light within. He is known by many names, most commonly "Morpheus." He has a long history of insensitivity towards others, and throughout The Sandman he must come to deal with his past cruelties. He is very concerned with fulfilling his responsibilities. His symbol is his dream-helm, made from the spine and skull of a long-dead god. His word balloons have wavy edges and a black background outlined in white, with white lettering.
- Dream (Daniel): Morpheus's successor appears as a tall, pale young man with white hair and a white costume. Like Morpheus, his eyes are formed by shadows with a glimmer of light in their center. Before becoming the new Dream at the end of The Sandman, he was a young boy named Daniel. Daniel was born in dreams to Lyta Trevor-Hall and the ghost of Hector Hall. He is generally softer in his approach than Morpheus. Daniel carries an emerald eagle stone, although his symbol remains the same (that of the dream-helm). His word balloons are similar to Morpheus's, only with a white background and black lettering.
- Destruction: A very large, robust man with red hair, who sometimes appears bearded and sometimes shaven. Destruction abandoned his responsibilities as one of the Endless three hundred years ago, causing much conflict between him and his siblings. He has a passion for creative and constructive endeavors, but little talent. His symbol is the sword. Since abandoning his realm, he is often referred to as "the Prodigal" or "Brother" rather than "Destruction" by his siblings. His text is in bold font, outlined in the balloons.
- Desire: Desire is beautiful, slim, and truly androgynous, capable of appearing as a man, a woman, or neither. Desire has a cruel streak and a long-standing rivalry with Dream. His/Her symbol is a heart shape. Although Desire is Despair's twin, in a sense he/she is older than Despair. The current incarnation of Desire is the original one, while Despair is currently in her second incarnation. Desire's text is defined by a specific letter style in a normal balloon.
- Despair: Twin sister to Desire.
- The Second Despair: A short, obese woman with greyish skin and irregularly-shaped teeth. She is always naked. Despair has a cold, quietly intelligent manner. She has a habit of carving her flesh with a hooked ring that she wears. This hooked ring is also her symbol. The aspect of Despair we see throughout the comics is not the original manifestation. Despair's text is normal in a balloon with ragged-waved edges.
- The First Despair: In her first form, Despair had many of the same physical qualities as her later form, but is taller and is tattooed with intricate red lines. She was also much more talkative than her later incarnation.
- Delirium: The youngest of the Endless, Delirium appears as a young girl whose form changes the most frequently of any of the Endless, based on the random fluctuations of her temperament. She has wild hair and eccentric, mismatched clothes. Her only permanent physical characteristic is that one of her eyes is green with silver flecks and the other blue, but even those sometimes switch between left and right. She was once known as Delight, but some traumatic event caused her to change into her current role. Her symbol is an abstract, shapeless blob of colors. Her speech is portrayed in standard graphic novel block-caps, characterized by wavy, unpredictable orientation and a gradient background.
Equipment: None known.
Weapons: None known.
- The concept of the Endless was created and developed by writer Neil Gaiman.
- One of the few references to any sort of parentage for the Endless is in Sandman (Volume 2) #70, where some sentience in the Necropolis Litharge that guards the symbols of each of the Endless wails "like a mother sorrowing for her departed child."