In The Sandman: Overture #5, Morpheus speaks with Night while paying a "social visit". There, Night claims Morpheus and Desire are very much alike:

"Desire and I... we had disagreements." "Yes, you two are too similar." "We are nothing at all alike. Desire is manipulative, it is selfish and single-minded. It cares nothing for its responsibilities. It is the opposite of me in every way."
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I tend to agree with Morpheus on this one. It is true that he acted dumbly by dooming Nada to Hell; he has other quirks as well, like always demanding to have things his way.

However, I wouldn't say he and Desire are alike. For one thing, Morpheus takes his responsibilities very seriously.

What made Night say Morpheus and Desire are alike?

  • 1
    It's been so long since I read them, so I can't use the text to support atm, but one component would surely be that they both represent things that are not (i.e. dreams and desires are sometimes synonyms). I mean this in the sense of potentialities as opposed to actualities.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 21:53
  • @DukeZhou But all of the Endless are ethereal, in a sense. Destruction addresses this in Brief Lives. In fact, from his argument we can derive that Dream is the most real of them all, sinse by defining things that are not, he also defines the negative, meaning reality. Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 7:54
  • @Gallifreyan But both Dream and Desire, in a fundamental sense, refer to the future (though Dream is not strictly limited to this, "dreams" can be desires, and dreams can be oracular.) This condition is not shared by Destruction and Delirium. Destiny is about the future, but is not volitional (i.e. is not affected by human wants and actions.)
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 15:39

2 Answers 2


Dream and Desire are the most humanized of the Endless, especially in that they commit so heavily to a specific identity that pervades any and all given manifestation of themselves. All of the Endless do this to an extent, more or less consciously, but Dream and Desire take it a lot further than the others.

I don't dispute Ralph Crown's interpretation of Night's motivation but I also don't feel like I can speak to it extensively. If I run with the idea that Night is tricking Morpheus, though, I still read her "too similar" barb as having more than just a grain of truth.

It seems to me that Dream over-identifies with his persona so much that he has long neglected his real responsibilities in favor of those inflicted upon him by his attachment to his, uh, 'humanity'. Desire not caring about its responsibilities is part of its role, but Dream ~failing~ to care about his appropriate responsibilities is his downfall. His over-commitment to fixing problems caused by his over-commitment to his humanity. Nada and the "other quirks" mentioned in this question's text are perfect examples of Dream's misguided sense of responsibility.

Night says that Dream and Desire are "TOO similar", notice. I'm claiming that that excess is specifically a lack of intentional focus on the cosmic/metaphysical responsibilities of the Endless. Desire is not supposed to have that intentional focus. Dream is supposed to have it, but because he gets distracted by basically 'human drama' (note that Dream is pretty "selfish and single-minded" himself) he loses that focus and becomes "too similar" to Desire.

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    I think you're right. Considering this is happening before Morpheus' imprisonment, during which he had the time to reflect on his actions and become more tolerable (in Gaiman's opinion as well), it's entirely possible that Morpheus and Desire were alike then. I think I was wrong in my question because I judged them based on the main series, not Overture itself. Think about it - Morpheus is so sure of himself he doesn't realise it's not "his cat", and he wouldn't accept help from anyone else. Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 20:58
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    Dream's whole arc in the main series is dealing with the fallout of the abdication of responsibility and attachment to identity that I described above. The culmination of the story in Daniel replacing Morpheus is contingent on Morpheus's entrapment by Roderick, which is what the problems of Overture lead up to. So the McGuffin-baby ends up becoming the new manifestation of the title character. A human becomes an Endless to correct for the problems of a too-human Endless. I love Gaiman and his recurring theme of 'being vs. pretending to be".
    – russ ull
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 21:11
  • Fun fact to note: Both Morpheus (Dream) and Eros(Desire) are children of Nyx (Night) in Greek mythology. Night is acting like mom pushing Dream's buttons here.
    – jo1storm
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 8:46

Gaiman plays with mythology, but he also plays at mythology. The Endless, like classical Greek gods, descend into petty squabbles that mortals would quickly resolve. Grudges, such as Desire's grudge against Dream, can fester for decades or centuries because time is not a factor.

Night represents darkness, of course, but the darkness can obscure as well as hide. Mothers play favorites, even if they claim otherwise. Before she helps Morpheus, she wants to pinch him, and not in a good way. She mentions the other children. He brings up Desire, but before he can ask for information or intercession, Night pushes one of his buttons. He whines. The moment passes.

My conclusion is that Night is playing with Dream. She claims that Desire doesn't visit, but she knows about the plot to destroy Dream. Before she can give away anything, she distracts him and changes the subject. She knows Desire and Dream are not alike. After all, it's Dream's sense of responsibility that will be his downfall. Night doesn't care. She knows, because she promises they will never meet again.

Why is Night so callous? She is as old as Time, and yet she eats continuously. Inside her there is a void that can't be filled, a black hole that pulls at everything, a pall that consumes every ray of light, an addiction, an endless hunger. Next to that, love for her family runs a distant second.

The gods have their problems, but they usually end up as constellations or strange animals. Gaiman leaves Night in a hell of her own making, willing to lie to her own son and let him go to his doom.

  • That's a very interesting answer. Are you saying she tricked Morpheus because she was bored? Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 19:29
  • It's not a trick, except in the sense of a distraction. She doesn't want to talk about Desire, fearing Dream will pick up on something in her tone or her eyes. She knows her children, but they know her too. Dream is a writer, in a sense, and very observant. And she's not bored, she's very busy eating. Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 20:41

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