The Sandman: Ranking The Endless Siblings From Least To Most Powerful

Netflix's new series "The Sandman," based on the comic book series by Neil Gaiman, introduces the world to a special set of seven siblings: The Endless. Each of the Endless represents something that is immutable and permanent in the human experience, and they are Death, Dream, Despair, Desire, Destiny, Destruction, and Delirium. Each has their own realm and powers, operating in their own unique way, though they are not exactly gods. They do, however, interact with gods and other religious figures throughout the comic series, including the fallen angel Lucifer and the Egyptian goddess of cats, Bast. They have powers that rival those of the gods, but who among them is the most powerful? 

The comic and Netflix series follows Morpheus, A.K.A. Dream (Tom Sturridge), who is captured by humans against his will despite his immense power. Eventually, all of the Endless will be introduced, and Dream will have to pick his sibling rivalries carefully. He's one tough cookie, but some of the other Endless are much more powerful. 

Let's take a look at each of the Endless, ranked from least to most powerful. The first season of the series only gets through the first major arc, "Preludes and Nocturnes," so the ranking is based on how things go in the comics. All of the Endless are powerful, but not all Endless are created equal, after all. 

7. Delirium

The least powerful of the Endless is poor Delirium, who was once Delight. The story surrounding her transformation is a mystery, but the other Endless treat her as the damaged kid sister of the crew. Delirium is a manic pixie dream girl for the ages, except that her ridiculous dreams can come true through her powers. She's a whimsical girl, a chaos being if there ever was one, but she's generally good-natured. In the comics, Delirium's speech is written unevenly and her word bubbles are rainbow-colored, indicating the surreal nature of her reality. Delirium is sometimes wise in her weirdness, though the majority of her siblings don't take her seriously enough to notice. Then again, when she rambles about things like telephone-flavored ice cream, it's hard to blame them. 

Delirium got to be the hero of the story for once in "The Little Endless Storybook" by Jill Thompson, in which she gets lost and her best dog friend Barnabas must visit each of the realms of the Endless to find her. Beyond that, she's mostly a side character and a way to introduce whimsy into the story. Delirium may be the most colorful of all the Endless, but she's definitely not the most powerful. 

6. Destiny

Someone called Destiny who embodies all of its powers sounds pretty formidable, right? In the world of "The Sandman," you'd be very wrong. 

Destiny is chained to his book of fate and can see all paths forward and backward, but he doesn't really do anything. He's kind of like the Watcher in the Marvel multiverse, observing all, but he's not exactly "watching," since he's portrayed as a blind man. Destiny is one of the weirder, more solemn Endless, and as a result, he's rather dull. The only power Destiny really has is in relation to his book, which contains every story of every being that ever lived, but he hasn't displayed any other abilities. 

You'd think that Destiny would have the power to control, well, destiny, but he's more of a caretaker of destiny than its creator. He may be the oldest of the Endless, but he's kind of boring.

5. Despair

Despair is the twin sister of Desire, and is personified as a naked, heavyset woman who wears only a ring with a hook on it, which she uses to cut into her own flesh. In the Netflix series, she is played by Donna Preston ("Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald") and is clothed, though the hook and temperament are very much the same. 

If you wondered what depression would look like as a human being, it's Despair, and she's as morose as you'd imagine. The embodiment of Despair is a miserable being that feeds on the anguish of others as she watches them from her many-mirrored realm. In her gray, dull kingdom, the only color is her own blood when she rends her skin with her hook. 

The problem with being a creature of despair is that she falls victim to her own sadness. The world is a terrible place and she's become infinitely more powerful as people's desperation grows, but she also becomes more depressed and can't really do anything about it. That's the kind of irony that could make a person (or Endless) really lose heart. Without Desire to push her onward, Despair never really does anything except wallow.

4. Destruction

Destruction is the big burly brother of the Endless, a red-headed muscle man whose interests are decidedly more peaceful than his domain would lead readers to believe. He has the power to destroy everything, of course, and could potentially be the most powerful of all of his siblings save for Death, but he doesn't want it. In fact, when he begins growing more powerful because human technology has given rise to so much more destruction, he abandons his post. He does like Samuel L. Jackson's Jules wanted to do at the end of "Pulp Fiction," and wanders the earth in search of some kind of meaning, finding beauty in nature, becoming a painter and a poet, traveling with Barnabas the talking dog, and having a merry old time. 

There's still plenty of destruction without the embodiment of it hanging around his domain. Humans are destructive creatures, after all, and they will always find ways to ruin things. Just imagine if Destruction actually stayed in his domain and loaned his power to humanity instead of leaving them to be destructive on their own. Because of his hesitance to cash in on his abilities, Destruction is less dominant than some of the other Endless, but he has the potential to destroy almost everything if he really wanted to. Good thing he's more interested in landscapes. 

3. Desire

One of the most powerful driving forces in all of this world is desire. It is the act of wanting, of longing for something or someone so badly that it feels like a need. In "The Sandman," the personification of that feeling is Desire, a non-binary, androgynous being played by non-binary actor Mason Alexander Park ("Cowboy Bebop"). Desire is something of a villain in "The Sandman," frequently conspiring against Dream with their twin sister, Despair. Desire feels as if they have been unfairly sidelined because dreams cannot exist without both desire and despair, so they and their sister should be more powerful than Dream. Because of this, they're frequently trying to wreak havoc in both the Dreaming and the waking world so that Dream can be dethroned and the twins can take over his realm. 

Desire is an incredibly strong feeling, and so the embodiment of it is incredibly powerful. While they embody sexual and romantic desire, this member of the Endless also represents every other kind of desire: for wealth, power, objects, friendships, connections. Any kind of want is fair game, and humans tend to want everything. Desire's empire is vast, but there are some things even more timeless and powerful than yearning.

2. Dream

Dream, who goes by the name Morpheus, is the second most powerful of all of the Endless, in part because his realm contains aspects of his siblings while being its own unique division. Desire, despair, delirium, and destruction can all exist within our dreams, making them a piece of the Dreaming despite also existing in the waking world. Dream's realm, the Dreaming, contains the dreams of all things, including daydreams and other kinds of exercises in imagination. Imagination is incredibly powerful, a force that keeps many people going when reality is too difficult. Dreams (and nightmares) can feel more real than anything people experience while awake, so it makes sense that the king of the dreamland would have immense power. 

There are a few things that keep Dream from being the most powerful of all the Endless, however. The first problem is that, like Dennis Reynolds in "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," Morpheus is a man who needs his tools. After he is captured by the magician Roderick Burgess (played by Charles Dance in the series), he must go searching for his magical totems because without them his power is weakened. Without his pouch of magical dream sand, his ruby, and his helmet, he isn't nearly as powerful as he would be otherwise. That's a pretty massive weakness in a world full of gods and magicians who could easily take his totems and steal some of his power. 

The other major problem is that all dreams must end. They are only stories in our minds, and they wrap up either when the dreamer wakes or is forced back into reality. Endings, however, are one of the greatest forces in the universe, and that's why Dream's sister, Death, tops the list at number one. 

1. Death

The most powerful force of all, of course, is Death. Depicted as a goth girl with a swirl beneath her eye and an ankh necklace in the comics, she's a surprisingly joyful and empathetic being who seeks to comfort those who meet their end. She will even be there when the whole of the universe dies, joking that she'll be there to "turn out the light" on the way out. 

In the series, Death is portrayed by Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and she's a perfect representation of the comic book character in almost every way. She exudes a maternal warmth that makes her seem like the kindest, safest person in the world, and she relies on her humor to deal with the suffering she must see every day. Death doesn't decide where people go after their demise, nor does she choose anything about the act of dying itself, but simply shepherds the formerly living to the next world, whatever that might be. 

In the end, all of the Endless are powerless in the face of their bubbly goth sister. After all, there is an old saying about the only two sure things in the universe being death and taxes, and thankfully Taxes isn't the eighth sibling. Fans will have to wait for more seasons of "The Sandman" to get to see the entirety of the Endless in action, but at least the most powerful one of them all is portrayed positively perfectly. 

Season 1 of "The Sandman" is available to stream on August 5, 2022, only on Netflix.