The Endless are some of the strangest and most influential characters in the DC Universe, though they mostly are kept to the Vertigo imprint. They made their first appearance as a family in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.
The Endless are personifications of natural forces of existence and much of their own existence revolves around the performance of their duties. However, as living personifications, tensions arise and motivations clash between members of the family. Here are the Endless ranked by just how influential they are.
8 Dream (Daniel)
Daniel, who took over for Morpheus upon his death as the "Dream of the Endless," is a distinct member in the Endless. By virtue of his being new, he is still very much untested and with much to learn, but he exhibits a great many characteristics of the previous Dream, Morpheus. This includes all of the powers and rules associated with his status as one of the Endless. Born within The Dreaming to Lyta-Trevor Hall and Hector Hall, Daniel was chosen by Morpheus to serve as the next Dream. Daniel first appeared in Sandman Vol. 2 #22 in a moment where Morpheus investigates the child born of The Dreaming.
Delirium is the youngest of the Endless even though she is still millions of years old. She serves as the personification of delirium and sanity and occupies a chaotic realm. Her abilities can induce madness and sanity to anyone she desires. Delirium is most often depicted as a teenage girl with shifting, mismatched hair and clothing. After the "Brief Lives" story arc she is often seen with Barnabas, the dog formerly belonging to her brother, Destruction.
Because of the chaotic nature of the character, Delirium often delivers prophecies that do not seem clear at first. Mystery surrounds Delirium as well because she was not always Delirium, but began her existence as Delight. There is no direct explanation for why she became Delirium, either. It is one of the greatest mysteries of the Endless.
Despair, like some of her other siblings, has taken on multiple forms. However, the bulk of her appearances in The Sandman are of her second form, a squat, naked and gray woman. Despair and her twin, Desire, are most often antagonistic forces throughout The Sandman, working together to try to bring down Dream. One such fascinating storyline revolves around a contest between a few of the Endless over the fate of a mortal man named Joshua Norton in The Sandman #31.
Despair's first form, however, may have been one of the most influential figures in the DC universe. In Chapter 3 of The Sandman: Endless Nights, it is hinted that she may have been involved with the destruction of Krypton!
Desire, the twin sibling of Despair, is one of the primary antagonists of The Sandman. The term "sibling" is necessary here because Desire's gender is completely mutable, allowing them to change their form as the situation requires. Desire is also one of the more cruel members of the family, often teasing or interfering with the duties of their siblings. This behavior, often in collaboration with Despair or Delirium, occurs for millennia.
The animosity between Desire and Dream culminates in Desire raping Unity Kinkaid, leading to the birth of Rose Walker, who Desire pushed Dream to kill. However, killing "blood" of the Endless is an inviolable rule of the Endless and would have had major repercussions for Dream had he gone through with it.
Destruction, the fourth eldest of the Endless, represents the aspect of destruction in all forms. However, the abdication of his duties is a primary genesis for a great deal of the drama between the Endless. Around the 17th century, the historical "Age of Reason," Destruction steps away from directing the act for which he is named because of the future development of the atomic bomb, not wanting to be responsible for such devastation.
Delirium and Dream eventually quest to track down their rogue brother so Delirium can make up with him. This is covered the "Brief Lives" storyline of The Sandman (issues #41 - 49). In a curious turn, Destruction's attempts to write his own path involves him taking to acts of creation such as cooking and painting.
3 Dream (Morpheus)
The primary protagonist of The Sandman, Morpheus, also known as Dream, is one of the most influential of the Endless and the target of several schemes. Morpheus is tall, thin, pale, and very much the goth ideal in appearance, and just as moody. Morpheus is also known for a long line of romantic partners and spends a great deal of The Sandman dealing with the fallout of these relationships.
Morpheus's realm, The Dreaming, exists as a central point of all dreaming of all life across the DC Universe. This makes Morpheus the custodian of one of the most influential realms. Morpheus' influence is so vast that he is also considered to be the lord of all stories. This is particularly apparent in Dream's chosen fates for the biblical Cain and Abel, turning them into occupants of The House of Mystery and The House of Secrets accordingly. This can all be seen in The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, issue #2.
Destiny, the eldest of the Endless, is one of the most powerful and influential of them all, though he does not take a hugely active role in the stories. As the ultimate observer, Destiny is the personification of fate and is generally all-knowing, but he too has his limits. Destiny is portrayed as blind and largely unconcerned with action, merely observing. Destiny, however, was able to foresee the chain of events that would play out in the demise of Morpheus.
One such case of Destiny lacking information came from the "Book of Destiny" arc of The Brave and the Bold. It turns out that The Challengers of the Unknown are the only souls that are not recorded in his Book of Destiny. At one point during this story arc, Destiny turns the book over to them for safekeeping for a time.
If there is a constant in the multiverse it is death. Few denizens of any reality can ever truly escape death as a concept. Death is the most iconic of the Endless and one of the most powerful beings in existence in the DC Universe. Her ultimate duty of as the embodiment of death lasts until the last living thing dies and she puts the universe itself to rest. Portrayed, generally, as an adorable goth woman, Death is very popular with DC fans.
One of Death's quirks is that she spends one day each century as a mortal. This began as a way for her to cope with the harsh realities of her duties, which also changed her personality a great deal. During the events of The Sandman: Endless Nights "Heart of a Star" the Death that is seen is far more cold and impersonal than she would later be seen.