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When Morpheus escapes his prison and brings the son of the man who captured him to justice he learns that he wasn´t the target but that his sister Death, was whom they had really wanted to capture. When Morpheus learns of this he mentions that they can thank their lucky stars they didn't succeed in their endeavor.

Do we actually know what would have happened if they had managed to capture and imprison Death?

Would it have been a little like when Lucifer decided to leave his post and lock up hell or have we at any point been given an answer to what would have happened if Death had been captured?

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  • Death is the most powerful of the Endless. The "hedge magic" circle wouldn't have contained her and she would have killed them for their impertinence
    – Valorum
    Aug 21, 2022 at 17:14
  • Or, as happens in Deadpool Vs. Thanos, the disappearance of Death appears at first to be a blessing, but the inability of germs to die means that everyone will eventually succumb to endless incurable sickness or worse, become another cancerverse
    – Valorum
    Aug 21, 2022 at 17:20
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    Speculation: the effects of Dream being imprisoned suggest what Death’s imprisonment could cause. That being people not dying and/or dying at the wrong time for no reason, souls adrift and perhaps haunting the living, and I expect Death would never have been willing/able to restore the loved ones that Burgess and cronies wanted back. Aug 21, 2022 at 17:37
  • It certainly is possible - Destruction of Endless is gone for quite a while and yet destruction happens.
    – Yasskier
    Aug 22, 2022 at 3:04
  • @Yasskier - He's still alive though, just not really participating.
    – Valorum
    Aug 23, 2022 at 22:03

2 Answers 2

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First, it is indeed really doubtful that Burgess could imprison Death of Endless. As @Valorum pointed out, she is indeed the most powerful of the Siblings, and the only reason that Dream was trapped was because he was weakened. But let's assume for a moment that indeed Death became imprisoned:

Arguably, Endless are not the only force in their realms: when Dream was imprisoned, most people didn't stop dreaming (Constantine for example has endless nightmares), but the dreaming process became a bit chaotic - in extreme cases some couldn't wake up at all (the "sleeping sickness") or were in the constant near-dream, sleepwalking state. One of the Endless - Destruction - at some stage decided to quit and no longer takes care of his realm and doesn't attend to his duties, yet a force of destruction is still present in the world - just he is no longer managing it.

So what would happen if Death stopped taking care of dying? Well, most likely nothing pleasant, as death would become more unpredictable: some people (animals, plants, germs) would continue to live long after they shouldn't, which on the one hand would give them a chance to recover, on another it could turn their lives into a nightmare. Probably the opposing would also be true, making some people die for no apparent reason. And since Death is also a guardian of the Sunless Lands, you could expect a wave of the dead to come back to the world of the living.

EDIT

Something like this actually happened, when Lex Luthor merged has merged with the Zone Child, becoming nearly omnipotent - he has stopped death as a force. The Death of Endless was... quite happy actually, enjoying a bit of a break.

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In theory

When Dream gets captured, dreaming ceases. When Death gets captured, it stands to reason that dying would cease, and indeed we see Death ensnared in several other Marvel properties including Deadpool Vs. Thanos Vol.1. In that particular instance the cessation of death appeared to be a blessing (no more people dying) but it very rapidly becomes clear that it wasn't all a bed of roses, with sick people remaining sick indefinitely, since germs and bacteria were now subject to the same immortality.

In extreme cases, the death of Death has led to the mass of the universe being converted into a gigantic corpse. Earth 10011 is otherwise known as the 'Cancerverse') and suffice to say it ain't pretty.

In practice

Dream was only captured because he was in an extremely weakened state and with Burgess given support and assistance by Desire. Death is, simply put, the most powerful of the Endless and basically not capturable using the 'petty hedge magic' of the Magdalene Grimoire. The most likely outcome is that she would have simply not been summoned or, if summoned, would have just broken the circle.

Dream is fairly convinced that she would have punished those involved. We can assume that her punishment would have been suitably symbolic, either killing them (she is Death, after all) or, conversely, by making them immortal.

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    "dreaming ceased" - that is not really true: People were still dreaming, but there were some who were affected with a sleeping sickness. The realm of Dream of Endless has turned into ruin, but dreams and nightmares were very much alive
    – Yasskier
    Aug 24, 2022 at 20:27
  • @Yasskier - I'm reasonably sure that one of the prose stories mentions that normal dreaming (e.g. for the bulk of the population) has stopped, to the point that younger people consider it to be a fantasy story
    – Valorum
    Aug 24, 2022 at 20:57
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    Sandman is DC and barely connected yo the main setting at that, so I do not think that Marvel is too relevant.
    – Adamant
    Aug 24, 2022 at 21:06
  • @Adamant - It's still DC though. And in recent years they've made them more, not less interconnected
    – Valorum
    Aug 24, 2022 at 21:11
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    But you mentioned Marvel, not DC....
    – Adamant
    Aug 24, 2022 at 21:13

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