Sandman Characters You'd Never Want To Make A Deal With

Nearly three decades after its publication, the long-awaited adaptation of Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman" is finally here. Premiering to mostly positive reviews, the world-bending saga of the King of Dreams is a dazzling and heartfelt journey through the centuries as Dream of the Endless (aka Morpheus, aka the Sandman) rules over all dreams and stories in the metaphysical realm known as the Dreaming. Season 1 of the Netflix phenomenon adapts the first two volumes of the original comic series, "Preludes and Nocturnes" and "The Doll's House," following Lord Morpheus through several chapters and vignettes. 

Building on this richly woven source material, the first season of "The Sandman" has no shortage of fantastical characters, some more trustworthy than others. While some, like Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong), Matthew the Raven (Patton Oswalt), and even Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), prove to be reliable, there are many more you'd never want to make a deal with. The following is a list of characters to avoid if you need a bargain or transaction. But first, a quick caveat. The world of "The Sandman" is dense mythology with ties to the larger DC Universe and Netflix's adaptation makes several changes to the source material. This list is based on the deal-making prowess of the on-screen characters rather than the entirety of "The Sandman" catalog.

Roderick Burgess

The first villain to emerge in Netflix's adaptation is responsible for more than his fair share of pain and misfortune. Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance) is a magician, occultist, and Lord Magus of the Order of Ancient Mysteries, who casts a spell intended to trap Death. His purpose is relatable: He wants to resurrect his son, a fallen soldier in the First World War. Instead of Death, he accidentally draws her brother, Dream, into a binding circle in his cellar and constructs a glass cage to hold him prisoner. By keeping the entity from his duties in the Dreaming, Burgess sparks a wave of sleeping sickness, trapping millions of people around the world in their dreams and nightmares. 

When Burgess realizes his mistake, he attempts to extort the ancient deity for as much as he can get. He steals Dream's objects of power — a ruby, a helm, and a bag of sand — and demands to know what else Dream will give him in exchange for release. It's this refusal to play fair that makes Burgess such a terrible dealmaker. In the sole position of power, he offers nothing but freedom in exchange for power and immortality, and his selfishness causes millions around the world to waste their lives away in sleep. Burgess will take any position of power and leverage it for as much as he can get, regardless of the cost to the rest of the world.

Alex Burgess

Alex (Laurie Kynaston), the younger son of occultist Roderick Burgess, seems to have noble intentions but is simply too spineless to be trusted. Only a child when his father imprisons Dream, Alex grows up afraid of both his powerful father and the immortal being trapped in his cellar. He kills Dream's beloved raven, Jessamy, in a misguided attempt to prove his familial loyalty and accidentally kills the powerful patriarch once he finally decides to stand up for himself. Now the sole heir, Alex squanders his new position of power and tries to make a deal with Dream instead of righting his father's wrong. 

Alex attempts to make several deals with Dream, sometimes seeking the same immortality his father demanded and sometimes just asking for an assurance of safety. However, Dream refuses to say a word, sitting silently in his glass prison while Alex grows old. When an orderly accidentally breaks the binding circle, Dream manages to escape and punishes Alex with a neverending nightmare. Though Alex is certainly more compassionate than his father, he is too weak to ever fully trust.


The first murderer, Cain (Sanjeev Bhaskar), is not someone you should ever trust — as his good-hearted brother, Abel (Asim Chaudhry), the first victim, knows well. Dreams based on the biblical story, brothers Cain and Abel live in twin homes, the House of Secrets and the House of Mystery, respectively, and raise a charming gargoyle named Gregory. It sounds pleasant enough until you remember the brothers are destined to live out their fabled roles every day for the rest of eternity. Each day, usually after lunch, Cain finds some reason to brutally murder his brother and bury him somewhere on the grounds, but you can't keep a good man down for long. Abel returns each day to try to form a loving connection with his cantankerous sibling. 

It's not so much that Cain would be a bad person with whom to deal, he's just not very good company to begin with. He's fiercely protective of their nightmare-turned-pet, Gregory, but seems to have no such loyalty to his own family. There's no telling what tiny inconvenience might cause him to continue his deadly rampage after Abel meets his latest grisly end. Should you dare to give a gargoyle a name not beginning with a G, you may wind up his next victim.

Ethel Cripps

Ethel Cripps (Joely Richardson) is a bit of an enigma in the waking world. Fully human, she is a member of the Order of Ancient Mysteries and the lover of Roderick Burgess. She seems to have good intentions when she enters Lord Magus's world, standing up for Alex Burgess and fleeing to save her unborn child, but before leaving, she helps herself to Dream's objects of power — his ruby, helm, and pouch of sand — along with a large sum of her lover's money. Ethel gives birth to a son named John Dee (David Thewlis), who will go on to have troubles of his own. While Ethel seems kind and decent (minus all that stealing), she's not exactly the best mother. Her constant deception gives her son a complex about lying that nearly destroys the world. 

Ethel is a master thief and a charming con artist. Going by many different names, it would be nearly impossible to tell if she would honor the terms of a contract. She would likely rob you blind, then drive a hard bargain for your stolen possessions on the black market. While Ethel is known to make deals (that's how she's survived all these years), she will always look out for herself and her son. There's no guarantee that she won't abandon the agreement and run off with your belongings.

The Corinthian

One of the worst nightmares humanity has ever known, the Corinthian is not to be trusted. He seems like a kind and affable young man with a soft Southern drawl and a charming demeanor, but his friendly persona is a ruse to get you to let your guard down. The real Corintinthian is a bloodthirsty nightmare created by Lord Morpheus to spark fear in the heart of anyone who crosses his path. His mirrored shades hide eye sockets filled with teeth, alluding to his practice of removing the eyes of the humans he kills. 

The Corinthian is likely to stick to the terms of any deal he makes. His advice to Roderick Burgess on how to imprison Dream is sound, and he rescues Jed Walker (Eddie Karanja) from his terrible foster parents. When contracted by the Cereal Convention's steering committee, the Corinthian keeps the engagement and delivers a rousing speech, but his underlying motive is always self-preservation and a fundamental need to spark terror. He will likely agree to your bargain, then kill you immediately after fulfilling it.

The Kindly Ones

Some of the most intriguing entities in "The Sandman" world are a trio of goddesses known as the Kindly Ones. Based on the Triple Goddess legend, they are Mother (Nina Wadia), Maiden (Dinita Gohil), and Crone (Souad Faress), three ever-changing women who see all and know all but deliver their predictions in hazy riddles. They are ruthless negotiators and command a high price for their often vague prophecies. With no other options, Dream seeks their knowledge about the location of his missing objects of power. Each of the three women will answer one question only, but the information they share is cryptic at best, and Lucienne, the librarian of the Dreaming, warns that they often give information no one wants to hear. 

As their name implies, the Kindly Ones can be counted on to deliver a contracted prophecy. They may even show up with an unsolicited warning from time to time, but there's no telling how much their consultation will end up costing. You're also likely to wind up more confused than you were before seeking their advice. On the plus side, they provide instantaneous knowledge of the whole of humanity, assuming you can muster the power to summon them. The catch is that they will drive a hard bargain for their answers, and there's no way to know if they will give useful information. They Kindly Ones should be treated as a last resort only. 

John Dee

John Dee is the son of Ethel Cripps and the secret lovechild of nefarious magician Roderick Burgess. He grew up using Dream's powerful ruby to turn his wildest fantasies into reality and lands himself in a mental health facility (Arkham Asylum in Gaiman's comics) after using the magical gemstone to kill. Given his chaotic childhood with a con artist for a mother, this may be the most stability he's ever had. He abhors lies and seeks to rid the world of deception, which sounds good in theory, but the reality turns out to be a nightmare. 

John Dee rarely makes deals, choosing instead to impose his will on others. He punishes based on his moral judgment and uses a demonic amulet of protection to kill anyone who threatens him. He honors his deal with Rosemary (Sarah Niles), a kind woman who offers him a ride, but he contemplates killing her as punishment for alerting a gas station attendant to her predicament. The havoc he wreaks on diner patrons in the stellar episode "24/7" is evidence enough to know that his deals are often short-sighted. John's code of ethics stems from lessons he learned at his scamming mother's knee, and he does not seem to be a reliable arbiter of power. Played by the menacing David Thewlis, there's just no telling what he will do, making him a difficult person to ever trust.

Lucifer Morningstar

Lucifer Morningstar (Gwendoline Christie) is one of the most terrifying creatures in "The Sandman ” world. Once the most powerful angel, Lucifer was cast out of heaven and now rules over hell, overseeing the torture of sinners and managing demons. This androgynous creature is a statuesque beauty with large wings and an angelic face that hides a deep current of rage and narcissism. Dream narrowly escapes her wrath in a head-to-head battle to reclaim his stolen helm from a demon under Lucifer's control. With an eternity of enslavement on the line, Morpheus emerges from the duel victorious, delivering Lucifer a humiliating defeat in front of her demonic subjects. 

The ruler of Hell is quick to honor the terms of her agreement, prompting Dream to describe her as honorable. However, the embarrassment of losing such a public battle ignites a rage in the fallen angel, and she threatens to imprison Dream in her nightmarish realm. The season's final moments show that she has been stoking the fires of this grudge and may prove to be a worrisome enemy in Season 2. While Lucifer will fulfill her obligations with the help of her henchwoman, Mazikeen (Cassie Clare), her skin is thin, and she will likely start plotting against you in the wake of any perceived slight. It's best to just avoid hell altogether.


Dream's seductive sibling, Desire (Mason Alexander Park), is easily one of the most intriguing characters in Morpheus' orbit. The personification of passion, they are a gorgeous gender-fluid narcissist with dazzling golden eyes. Desire stands in sharp contrast to their twin sister, Despair (Donna Preston), who spends her time moping and using a sharp ring to cut her face. Though we don't spend much time with the fun-loving Endless, or their lackluster sister, it's enough to know that they are not particularly trustworthy. As the cruelest of the Endless family, Desire hates Dream and concocts a devious plan to orchestrate their brother's downfall. 

Desire's motives for trying to destroy Dream remain unclear — maybe it's jealousy or a feeling that the realms of Dream and Desire are too close for comfort. Or perhaps they're simply motivated by a petty need to feel powerful. Whatever the reason, if Desire will attempt a century-long plot to overthrow their brother, there's no telling what kind of schemes they may cook up to get out of a contract with you. Supported by Despair, who is guilty by association, Desire of the Endless is an entity to steer clear of.

Hal Carter

Hal Carter (John Cameron Mitchell) is one of the most delightful characters in all 10 episodes of "The Sandman" Season 1. The friendly drag queen owns and operates a bed and breakfast in Cape Kennedy, Florida, where Rose Walker (Vanesu Samunyai) stays while searching for her brother. He has cultivated an eclectic group of friends at the estate he inherited from his grandmother but dreams of returning to New York and making his mark on the Broadway stage.  

Hal is a trustworthy friend and the heart of the group of residents who become a second family to the orphaned Rose. He immediately offers to help her search for Jed and even moves to New York to offer support to the young siblings once they are reunited, but Hal is a gossip. When booking her stay at his Bed and Breakfast, Rose and Hal become fast friends, and Rose shares many details about her life. She checks in and discovers that he's already told everyone at the Inn all about her. While Hal's intentions are good and his conversation skills are endearing, he is perhaps not the best person to trust with a secret. There's no doubt that if you make a deal with Hal, everyone will know about it.


In a world full of literal nightmares, serial killers, and Lucifer herself, the biggest monster in all of Season 1 is Barnaby (Sam Hazeldine). A friend of Rose's father, he agreed to serve as a foster parent for her little brother, Jed. He receives a fee of $800 from the adoption agency to help with the expenses of raising a child, but it seems that this money is all Barnaby cares about. Jed has essentially been sold into a living nightmare. Barnaby is an abusive man who keeps the poor boy locked in the cellar, where he sleeps on a dirty mattress among rats that interrupt his dreams. When the adoption agent plans to stop by for a wellness check, Barnaby threatens to break every bone in Jed's body if he tells her about the abuse. 

Aside from being a truly awful person, Barnaby is one of the worst people you'd ever want to bargain with. He has kept up his end of the contract by putting a roof over Jed's head, but that's about it. This heartless man has ignored the part of the deal that implies he should provide Jed with a warm and loving family and a life of safety. He is the kind of person who will make a deal with you, then cheat in every way possible to meet his own selfish needs. 

Fun Land

Not all of the nightmares Sandman comes into contact with are eternal. Some are flesh and blood human beings. Fun Land (Danny Kirrane) is a serial killer, or Collector as they prefer to be called, on the steering committee of the annual Cereal Convention (wink, wink). While this is reason enough to avoid the gentle-voiced man-child, his impetuousness and addiction to his dark trade make him especially untrustworthy. While checking people into the Cereal Convention, he befriends Jed, Rose Walker's little brother, who just happens to fit the profile of his ideal victim. Watching them interact, the Corinthian quickly makes it clear that Jed is off limits. Fun Land is not supposed to be killing at the convention anyway, as the bylaws clearly state that no member is to commit murder within 200 miles of the festivities. 

Yet, Fun Land just can't seem to help himself. When he sees Jed running from the Corinthian, he offers the boy a place to hide — in his hotel room. What looks like a gift of safety is a trap that will almost certainly lead to Jed's grisly death. Fortunately, Jed escapes in the nick of time, and Fun Land meets his own violent end. Fun Land may be a heinous murderer, but he is also exceptionally weak-willed. In addition to being a murderer, he is probably the last person at this horrifying convention that anyone should trust.

Dream of the Endless

Dream of the Endless is a cosmic deity and ruler of the Dreaming Realm. Also known as Morpheus, he makes several deals throughout Season 1, and the results of these bargains vary wildly. Though he is honorable, he is also temperamental and easily angered. Dream frequently enters into agreements with deities and mortals, but he also prioritizes his lofty job over personal concerns. An impromptu bargain with a down-on-his-luck playwright leads to the creation of William Shakespeare, and his bet with Death concerning the eternal Hob Gadling gives the pub crawler a never-ending lease on life. However, his dealings are just as likely to cause pain. He enlists Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman) to help him retrieve his pouch of sand, even though it causes the death of her ex-girlfriend. He partners with Rose Walker while secretly planning to kill her to prevent her Dream Vortex from destroying the world. 

Dream stubbornly and rudely rejects help from his librarian, Lucienne, and raven emissary, Matthew. And that's not to mention the horrendous fate that befalls his former lover Nada (Deborah Oyelade). Dream may uphold his end of an agreement, but as one of the Endless, he believes his duties place him above human concerns. There's no way to know if a deal made with Lord Morpheus will result in a dream or a nightmare.