In Episode 4 of The Sandman, Morpheus and Lucifer fight an epic duel that Morpheus only gets to win with the power of hope - but could the outcome have been different? The interesting and quite original form of battle has led fans to wonder what kills hope in The Sandman.
Morpheus and Lucifer's Duel
When Dream descends into hell to get his helm back, he's caught up into a duel with the very ruler of hell. The stakes are extremely high, as he'll lose more that his helm should he be defeated.
But while we show Gwendolyn Christie fight duels on her role as Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones, her Lucifer's fighting style is different.
This is essentially a battle of wits and imagination, though it does take physical dimensions. While at it, the opponents must impersonate something that would beat what the other is impersonating.
Dream is able to defeat all of Lucifer's ideas, but he has a very hard time when Lucifer impersonates the total absence of life. Eventually, he is only able to win by impersonating hope, to which Lucifer doesn't have a satisfactory comeback.
So, could Morpheus have been defeated in any way?
What Kills Hope in The Sandman?
It is not easy to provide a definitive answer as to what would kill hope, as this is a conceptual battle - though there are theories and even Reddit and forum threads in which fans continue Morpheus and Lucifer's battle coming up with their own solutions.
Some fans go for funny or literal ideas, such as a minimum wage job, unpayable debt, and so on, to which one could reply that they're a union leader, and the list goes on and on.
At the end of the day, this type of battle seems to focus on whether one can get their opponent at a loss of words, startling them to the point of being unable to come up with something better, as opposed to implying that there isn't anything that could have been said to match one's opponent.
But could there also be a literal explanation? After all, the opposite of hope would be despair and Despair is a literal character in the show.
One of the Endless and twin to Desire, Despair had very little screen time in Season 1 of The Sandman, but since she's participating in Desire's machinations, she clearly hates Morpheus and would see him fail.
f the battle was ever revisited, could she play a role in it? We can only hope that The Sandman Season 2 will actually happen - and provide some answers!