Despair (DC Comics)

Publication information

Publisher: DC Comics
First appearance: The Sandman vol. 2 #10 (Nov. 1989)
Created by: Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg

In-story information

Alter ego: Despair 
Phonetic: dɪ̀spɛ́r
Notable aliases: Aponoia, Aponia
Relatives: Destiny (brother), Delirium (sister), Death (sister), Desire (twin sister/brother), Destruction (brother), Dream (brother, deceased), Sandman (Daniel Hall, brother reincarnated), Lyta Hall (Fury, step-mother), Hector Hall (Dr. Fate, step-father, Orpheus (nephew, deceased), Miranda Walker (niece), Rose Walker (grandniece)

Team affiliations: The Endless
Abilities: nigh-omnipotent aspect of despair and dread and its opposite, hope
Base Of Operations:
Despair's realm


Alignment: Neutral
Identity Secret: Secret
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Personification of Despair and Dread and its opposite Hope


Gender: Female
Eyes: Gray
Hair: Black
Unusual Features: She is squat, flabby and pale-skinned, with black hair, gray eyes, and pointed teeth. Her voice is little more than a whisper, and she has no odor, but her shadow smells musky and pungent, like the skin of a snake. She does not wear clothes. On a finger of her left hand she wears a ring with a hook attached to it, with which she habitually carves her flesh.

Origin: Born into existence shortly after the first lifeforms appeared in the universe
Universe: New Earth

10 billion years ago

Despair came into existence once sentient lifeforms capable of despairing appeared in the universe. Despair was one of the Endless, personifications of ideas and concepts that were tied to life, and were fated to fulfill their functions until the universe ended and all life disappeared from the cosmos. The original Despair was killed by a man, and a new personification of Despair came into existence.
Despair and her sister Desire began a long series of intrigues to bring down their brother Dream


London, Despair observed the despair brought about by the plague. She was visited by Destruction, and he hinted that he was planning on splitting away from the rest of the Endless.

Destruction called a family meeting of the Endless, and announced to Despair and the rest of his family that he was abandoning his duties as one of the Endless and taking his leave of them for good. Despair begged him to reconsider, but he'd already made up his mind.

September, 1859

Despair presented Joshua Norton to Dream. Despair had driven him towards ruin and suicide, and speaking for herself, Delirium and Despair, she challenged Dream to save him through dreams. Dream found that Norton craved success and respect, so he gave him the dream of being Emperor of the United States.

January, 1880

Norton I died, and Dream won his challenge against Despair. He never entered her realm once between the time Dream gave him his dream of being emperor and the time he died. Dream told Despair she should thank him for the lesson he taught her, but she didn't see any lesson to be learned.
Desire called Despair to the Threshold and informed her of a new opportunity for their scheming to bring down Dream. A new dream vortex had been born, and was of Desire's blood. If Dream destroyed the vortex he would bring ruin on himself, and if he didn't the vortex would destroy the Dreaming. called a gathering of the Endless, telling them a meeting with the Fates made him aware that he had to call the family gathering to set in motion a chain of events that would cause change and upheaval. Despair was reminded of her beloved brother Destruction, because at the last meeting Destruction abdicated his responsibilities as one of the Endless. Desire goaded Dream into going to Hell, and Despair pointed out that the Endless never argued like this when Destruction was still around.

Delirium visited Despair and asked her to help in a quest to locate their missing brother Destruction. Despite the fact that she longed to see her brother again, Despair refused to help, claiming to respect Destruction's privacy, but really fearing what Desire would do if she helped Del.

Despair visited Dream and Delirium and told them she regretted not having gone with them to find Destruction, who had quit the Earthly plane after they found him. Despair reported to Delirium that Dream had doomed himself by seeking Destruction, because in order to find him he gave his son Orpheus the release of death, making him the rightful prey of the Kindly Ones. Despair and Desire always sought to undo Dream, but they were more scared than happy that Dream had done it to himself.

Despair was distraught when Desire cut off communication with the rest of the Endless.

Powers and Abilities


  • Personification of Despair: One of the seven Endless, inconceivably powerful beings, Despair is both lord and personification of all Despair and Dread, She had god-like powers and absolute power over her realm, which was filled with her pet rats and windows that looked out on mirrors of the mortal world. She could drive mortals to despair by sinking a small hook into their hearts. The Power she held is over hopelessness, fear and anxiety and in turn hope.
  • Omnipresence: Being Despair, she is everywhere on Earth at any moment, but not in a form visible to humans, usually.
  • Shapeshifting: Despair could change her appearance and clothing.
  • Teleportation: She can travel instantly anywhere in the mortal realm that people die and live, and, so long as she shows proper respect, she can easily enter and transit most magical realms too.
  • Immortal: Despair was ageless and virtually immortal.
  • Sorcery: Nigh-Omnipotent mastery of magic

Strength level


  • Ancient Rules: Despite her great powers Despair, like the rest of the Endless, was bound to a complex set of rules and customs.
    • One which requires her not to spill the blood of family or she is no longer protected as the personification of Despair from other Personifications
    • Another is that she cannot fall in love with a mortal or the mortals downfall is assured.