"You get life, and breath, a world to walk and a path through the world--and the free will to wander the world as you choose." ~ Destruction
Destruction is the fourth eldest of the Endless, and is depicted as a big, red-haired, bearded man. He is also known as Olethros. In appearances set in earlier centuries, he is depicted wearing military gear (such as a musketeer's uniform, or plate armour), though in more recent times he is shown in colourful casual clothes. When Delirium and Morpheus encounter him in the seventh collection of issues in the series, Brief Lives, he has taken to wearing his hair in a ponytail, and owns a talking dog, Barnabas . Since he abandoned his realm, there is no sigil in the galleries for him, though he keeps his own gallery (wherein is a sword, his sigil of old). His realm is not portrayed in the series.
Destruction abandoned his realm and his responsibilities some time around the turn of the seventeenth century. The reason for this was the onset of the human Age of Reason, which would eventually culminate in the invention of the atomic bomb. Destruction was unwilling to be responsible for the destruction this would cause, and therefore left the family. He did not cease to exist as the active aspect of Destruction, he simply stopped directing the affairs over which he has control. As he says, destruction did not stop, it was merely no longer his fault. His point is shown in the spinoff series Lucifer character Fenrir, who is described as the act of destruction itself. Though not said, it has been postulated that this is the manifestation of Destruction's realm.
Destruction features most prominently in Brief Lives, in which his siblings Morpheus and Delirium set out to track him down. When they finally meet they talk at cross-purposes; Destruction's choice of path baffles and to some degree infuriates Morpheus, while Destruction finds it hard to comprehend Morpheus' position and concentrates on trying to impart to him some wisdom on the necessity of change and self-knowledge. Delirium just wants her brother back; she is reliant on her siblings for support, particularly her elder brothers. In the end, Destruction simply leaves, packing his sword and his scrying pool into a bundle, stepping into the sky and vanishing.Destruction is self-obsessed in the most positive sense of that term; after giving up his responsibilities he concentrates instead on attempting to learn about his own nature and exert control over it. This is manifested in his deliberate attempt to subvert his own essential nature and create instead of destroy; he is shown at various points writing indifferent poetry - Barnabas' critique of which, "Well, at least it wasn't long", painting an indifferent picture, which Barnabas summed up, "I thought you were colorblind," a sculpture which Barnabas referred to as "...that thing you left in the garden," cooking a meal left untouched by those for whom it was intended, and brewing Greek coffee which Delirium samples and returns the opinion of "Yeeuchh." Several characters refer to him as being a terrible artist. He tells Dream in Brief Lives that each Endless is really a lord of opposites: life and death, dreams and reality, destruction and creation, destiny and freedom, desire and hatred, despair and hope and delirium and sanity.
As an aspect of change, the search for Destruction also foreshadows the eventual downfall and replacement of his brother, Dream. It was Destruction, in fact, who told Orpheus that Death had a way for him to visit the Underworld, which set off the chain of events leading to Dream's destruction.
In a story in Endless Nights set billions of years before the events of the Sandman Series, Destruction is shown as being vastly different (as the rest of the Endless, save for Destiny). Destruction is depicted as being nervous and stuttering in stark contrast to the jocular and eloquent Destruction in the main series, just as Delirium was once Delight.