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In Sandman (I've only seen the Netflix show, but answers from the graphic novel are welcome), certain dreams like the Corinthian and Fiddler's Green are shown to easily travel from the Dreaming to the real world and take a physical form. Even after the amulet of protection sends the Corinthian back tot the Dreaming, he has no trouble traveling back to Earth soon afterwards. Also, Gault manifested only within dreams (Jed's) and not physically on Earth, although it was unclear whether that was her decision or just the limit of her power.

Is there an explanation for why dreams seem to be able to physically travel to Earth so easily (even after Dream is freed from his prison)?

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  • Presumably because some dreams are especially puissant (because they were hand-crafted, like the Corinthian) or because they are powerful beings in their own right (like Fiddler's Green, who's essentially a minor god)
    – Valorum
    Sep 17, 2022 at 4:37
  • I've edited out neil-gaiman as that's not required to answer this question. Also, only a partial comment: nightmares aren't restricted the same way as dreams in terms of manifesting outside of the dreaming, and separately Sandman never full banishes the Corinthian as far as I can tell. He was attempting to unmaking when he got summoned away.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Sep 17, 2022 at 9:57
  • @AncientSwordRage - He unmade him in the comics. He then made him again because 'humans need nightmares as well as dreams'
    – Valorum
    Sep 17, 2022 at 10:33
  • @Valorum I was addressing the OPs comment on Dream banishing the Corinthian 'the first time ' whereas in the show it only happens once IIRC
    – AncientSwordRage
    Sep 17, 2022 at 13:21
  • @ancientswordrage thanks I actually realized I had misspoken. I was thinking of the first time the Corinthian had been sent back to the Dreaming, and that was done by the Amulet of Protection. Apologies for the error.
    – ETL
    Sep 18, 2022 at 22:34

2 Answers 2

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This is a speculative answer, as both comic and series leave the answer vague and mysterious, better befitting dreams.

However, the answer is down to regular human mortals.

You'll note a lot of arrivals and departures on the shore outside the Gate of Ivory. It's not an accident. The ocean is still part of the Dreaming, but it represents the mass of typical random dreams people have. Morpheus can exert will on this space - he finds and collects his gifts for the Three while jumping from dream to dream in the water, and he does dream crafting nearby, plucking elements from the waters perhaps? - but so long as nothing is amiss he doesnt meddle with the entire ocean.

It's also not an accident that the only citizen able to move back and forth at will is the raven. They are all made from human souls, Matthew included, although it's not made clear where Lucienne gets them (in the comics it is Eve's duty to choose souls that become ravens).

So, mortals have their way in, and this naturally means dreams have a way out. In the comic the just freed Morpheus finds a bus to move around in - and Merv Pumpkinhead was driving, which implies all dreamfolk can "hitch a ride" if they're lucky, but whether they have enough power to get where they want is an open question.

The dreams we see doing so are the most powerful ones. The Corinthian is Dreams foremost nightmare, meant to be his magnum opus of a sorts. Which means a lot of time and energy was put into him. Fiddlers Green is a long term myth given it's own form, and a genius loci would certainly have power enough to move at will.

This leaves Gaunt. (Comics wise Jed's dreamscape was taken over by different characters.) The series makes it clear that Gaunt was the last dreamfolk logged visiting Jed, so its very clear Gaunt rode him back to the waking world. Whether Gaunt was strong enough to manifest physically is an open question, but it's clear Gaunt chose to stay with Jed and try to do something better than simply escape, so its ability is moot.

It's likely that Morpheus cannot close the borders without actively harming the Dreaming. Which leaves the main reason of dreams not leaving as fear of Morpheus himself.

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Having read all of the comics, and assuming the show writers don't have especially different ideas about this, I would say the general rule is that there are no rules. Dreams and all sorts of other supernatural entities can travel between worlds pretty easily in the Sandman cosmology; the main reason you don't see it happening all the time is that most of the dreams aren't interested in that, and/or they'd be afraid of getting in trouble with their boss. When he was imprisoned, his organization fell apart and several dreams figured he wasn't coming back and decided to do their own thing, and no one was keeping track. Once he returned, he couldn't immediately track them down because he's not omniscient in the waking world.

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