Donna Preston as Despair in Dead Boy Detectives.

‘Dead Boy Detectives’ Has Not One, But Two Endless Cameos

Dead Boy Detectives is now streaming on Netflix, and it starts off with an exciting cameo: Death from The Sandman, played by Kirby Howell-Baptiste. But if Sandman fans keep watching the series, they’re in for another treat.

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Warning: this article contains major spoilers for season 1 of Dead Boy Detectives!

In episode 7, “The Case of the Very Long Stairway,” Edwin finds himself trapped in Hell. As he tries to make his way out, witnessing the harrowing fate of one of the bullies who tormented him in boarding school, Edwin ends up in a chamber full of mirrors. And he isn’t alone.

A woman with a ring that looks like a fishhook is gazing into the mirrors at the lost souls in Hell. Those who watched The Sandman season 1 will recognize her even before she introduces herself to Edwin: she’s Despair of the Endless, played by Donna Preston.

But who is Despair? If your Sandman lore has grown rusty since the ’90s, don’t worry: here are the basics.

Who is Despair in the Sandman universe?

Donna Preston as Despair in Netflix's The Sandman, sitting on a red couch.
(Netflix)

Despair is a member of the Endless, personifications of the primordial forces that govern the universe. A younger sister of Death and Dream, Despair is Desire’s twin. In the comics, she’s portrayed as a large nude woman with messy hair and large bottom teeth protruding from her mouth. She always has her hooked ring.

Despair’s appearance is a bit different in the Sandman Netflix series. She appears as a normal looking clothed woman, although she still has her ring. When she gets excited, she uses the ring to tear at her own flesh.

So what is Despair doing in Hell? A better question would be, what wouldn’t she be doing there? If Despair is unbearable sorrow and the absence of hope, then of course Despair would be drawn to a place where souls are tormented for their sins in life.

Will we see more of Despair in the future? It’s very likely. The Sandman season 2 is currently in production.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>