"I walk across the dreaming sands under the pale moon: through the dreams of countries and cities, past dreams of places long gone and times beyond recall."
Dream, in Brief Lives.
One of the seven Endless, who are inconceivably powerful beings older and greater than gods, Dream is both lord and personification of all dream and stories, all that is not in reality (which, in turn, Dream may define by his existence). He has taken many names, such as Morpheus and Oneiross, and his appearance can change depending on the entity seeing him. He is described in Season of Mists as appearing to human mortals as "rake-thin, with skin the color of falling snow" and that he "casts a human shadow when it occurs to him to do so".
Morpheus usually appears as a tall, thin man with bone-white skin, black hair, and two distant stars looking out from the shadows where his eyes should be. Most often they are silver, blue, or white, but when he becomes angered, they have been known to turn red.
Morpheus' appearance ranges widely "depending on who's watching." People generally perceive him as wearing a style of dress appropriate to their region and era. In the Dreaming, he is often seen wearing a grey tee-shirt and dark pants. He appears to be light skinned when interacting with white characters, but the people of Tales in the Sand 's primordial African city see him as a starry-eyed African man. Although he is most often seen in human form, Morpheus appears as a giant black cat when speaking to the lonely cat-pilgrim of Dream of a Thousand Cats and as a cat-headed god when addressing the Egyptian feline goddess Bast . The Martian Manhunter sees Morpheus as a Martian god in the shape of a flaming alien skull and identifies him as Lord L'Zoril, but Mister Miracle; looking at him simultaneously, sees Morpheus as a man. However in Season of Mists, he appears in the same form to all the Gods (Bast comments, "I much prefer you in cat form, Dream old friend"). In The Dream Hunters, which is set in ancient Japan, Morpheus appears as a Japanese man to a Buddhist monk and as a fox to a fox spirit. It is unclear whether Morpheus' appearance is determined by the expectations of onlookers, or if he chooses to manifest himself in different forms. He deliberately changes the style of his clothing to be less conspicuous when he visits the waking world.
He customarily wears a billowing black cape, sometimes with a flame motif. In battle he wears a helmet made from the skull and backbone of an enemy god who he defeated. This helmet, which resembles a World War II-era gas mask, is also his sigil in the galleries of the other Endless; as well as appearing in the dreams (and at least once on the staircase wall) of Wesley Dodds. His face and appearance resembles his creator Neil Gaiman in his twenties.
Morpheus' speech is usually portrayed as white text in black, wavy-edged speech bubbles bordered in white. The text is capitalized normally (sentence case) in stark contrast to other characters' speech; generally in block caps text.
Though ultimately a heroic character, Dream has many flaws. He has trouble catching sarcasm and jests causing him to often appear cold and humorless. Dream can be insensitive, self-obsessed and slow to forgive or forget what he perceives as slights. He has a long history of broken romances and is shown both directly and implied to be prone to harsh reactions when his relationships fail. As Mervyn Pumpkinhead remarks after the end of one of Morpheus' romances, "He's gotta be the tragic figure standing out in the rain, mournin' the loss of his beloved. So down comes the rain, right on cue. In the meantime everybody gets dreams fulla existential angst and wakes up feeling like hell. And we all get wet." Near the end of the Brief Lives story arc, Desire says of Dream: "He's stuffy, stupid, and thinks he knows everything, and there's just something about him that gets on my nerves." There is a long-standing enmity between Morpheus and Desire, stemming from Desire's involvement in the breakup of one of Dream's romantic relationships (seen in Endless Nights). It is implied that before his imprisonment he was in some ways crueler and more blind to his flaws, and much of The Sandman is focused on Morpheus' desire to atone for his past behavior (e.g., helping past lovers Calliope and Nada). Morpheus has great pride that does not tolerate damage or embarassment, examples include banishing Nada to Hell for rejecting him and being angry (originally) at the notion made by Hob Galding that he seeks companionship and is lonely.
Morpheus is constantly aware of his responsibilities, both to other people and to his territory. He is detailed and exacting in their fulfillment, as noted in Season of Mists, where Morpheus is described as, "Of all the Endless, save perhaps Destiny, he is most conscious of his responsibilities, the most meticulous in their execution." He shares a close, reciprocal bond of dependence and trust with his elder sister, Death. He consistently strives for understanding of himself and of the other Endless, but is ultimately defeated by his most tragic flaw: his inability to accept change. In The Wake, when asked by Matthew "Why did it happen? Why did he let it happen?, Lucien remarks, "Charitably... I think... sometimes, perhaps, one must change or die. And in the end, there were, perhaps, limits to how much he could let himself change."
Morpheus is noted in Season of Mists as "accumulating names to himself as others make friends, but he permits himself few friends." He is given more names in The Sandman than any of the other Endless, far beyond the many translations of Dream.
A very different version of Dream was shown in Endless Nights where he had a positive relationship with Desire and was very happy. However, this changes during the events of the story in Endless Nights.
Dream has had a history of romantic relationships, all of which ended poorly for various reasons. Despite his cold exterior, Dream is often passionate and infatuated with his lovers. Whenever his respective relationships end he is crushed and goes into a state of massive depression. Nearly all of Dream's relationships are never depicted in the Sandman Library, forcing readers to infer the causes of the break-up. Dream seldom mentions his past relationships, they usually are only mused upon by his servants or by his siblings.
The most ancient of Morpheus' known relationships. Just like the others of the story, the Dream in love with Killala is vastly different, far more cheerful and outgoing. While Morpheus deeply loved Killala she was uncertain of her feelings to him and ultimately left him for Sto-Oa (her planet's sun) at a conference of universal manifestations. This event was initiated by the interference of Dream's sibling Desire. The events are implied to have changed Morpheus into the solemn serious figure of the Sandman Narrative and changes his relationship with Desire.
A young African Queen of an ancient kingdom. She fell in love with Kai'ckul after seeing him out the window of her castle. She would search the world for him, until at last discovering Kai'ckul in the Dreaming. Despite being in love with Kai'ckul she rejected her love as forbidden upon realizing that Kai'ckul was of the Endless. Kai'ckul disregarded her words stating that he too loved her, and that no woman had ever sought him, and swore to make her his Queen. Nada, however, ran from Kai'ckul who chased her around the desert. Eventually the two consummated their relationship, only to discover the Sun destroyed Nada's kingdom in punishment for the improper coupling. Nada ashamed killed herself, however, Kai'ckul followed her to the netherworld, enraged by her rejection he sent her to Hell.
Years later Kai'ckul would see Nada again in Hell, however, he stated that while he still loved her he did not forgive her and refused to free her. Kai'ckul would relent when he was accused of being unjustly cruel to Nada by Desire, which Death concurred. Kai'ckul then decided to return to Hell, only to discover that Lucifer had forsaken his kingdom and Nada was nowhere in sight. Nada had been taken by former Triumvir Azazel as a bargaining tool to reclaim Hell. Azazel challenged Kai'ckul to release Nada by going inside him, which Kai'ckul accepted, and freed Nada while imprisoning Azazel into a jar.
Kai'ckul apologizes half-heartedly to Nada, which she responds angrily to at first, but Kai'ckul becomes more sincere, and Nada forgives him. Kai'ckul again offers Nada the opportunity to be his queen but she turns it down, and Kai'ckul chooses not to relinquish his role as Dream of the Endless to be with Nada. Nada is instead reincarnated as a male chinese baby. The baby possibly appears in this form an Kai'ckul's funeral.
A muse of poetry that was at one point married to Oneiros. The couple lived separately as to make their meetings special. Calliope is the only known consort of Oneiros to have had a child with. Their son Orpheus grew up in the Dreaming, where he was treated well by Oneiros, though a rift was beginning to form between Calliope and Oneiros by then. After Orpheus wedding the couple began to argue over Oneiros cruel treatment to Orpheus, leading her to insult Oneiros and leave him. Calliope while still in love with Oneiros was not able to reconcile as the next time she returned to the Dreaming the guardians of the gate pretended they did not know her. Calliope and Oneiros would not see each other for millenia until 1989 in which he freed her from her imprisonment by Richard Madoc. Calliope offered to see Oneiros again implying that their relationship could start again, but Oneiros brushed it off as a bad idea. She would later attend Oneiros Wake and spoke in the trio of Oneiros Lovers, she regarded it more as remembering a friend than a lover, and out of gratitude for ending their son's misery.
The last of Dream's lovers, Thessaly was the last of witches who has lived for thousands of years. Thessaly was not intimidated by Dream when they met in a skerry and chastised his actions. Months later she to her surprise dreamed of the Dream Lord, which he had not expected or desired, yet the two had a long conversation that eventually led Dream to offer Thessaly to stay in the Dreaming. Dream quickly became hopelessly in love with Thessaly, though she did not truly feel likewise and realized such when he stopped courting her and resumed working. Thessaly left Dream who did not attempt to convince her to stay. Dream was crushed by the break-up and vainly hoped he would see Thessaly when he accompanied Delirium on her quest to see Destruction.
Thessaly and Dream met once later, when Dream was threatened by the furies who entered the Dreaming through Lyta Hall. Thessaly made a circle to protect Lyta making it impossible for Dream to kill the living body of Lyta in the waking world. Dream and Thessaly mused that she may have done so out of spite. Dream said that he never intended to hurt her, but she spitefully replied that he had regardless of intentions. Thessaly would to her surprise miss Dream's company and later said to Lyta that she wanted to kill her for killing Dream.
Thessaly attended Dream's Wake and funeral, speaking in a trio of Dream's lovers. She wept, breaking the promise that she would never shed another tear for him after leaving the Dreaming.