It made me sad to see what happened to Gregory the gargoyle in the second episode of The Sandman. A very sweet, loving, and playful as a puppy creature sacrifices its own life, much to the great sorrow of its caretakers, Cain and Abel, to provide Dream with some power to find his stolen tools, i.e., his punch of sand, his helmet, and his ruby.

I have yet to finish the graphic novels, but as far as I can tell, Gregory doesn’t ever die in the original books. He’s allowed to continue living with Cain and Abel, along with a new gargoyle named Goldie (but actually secretly Irving). Perhaps he might in a later issue, but there’s nothing to suggest this.1

Seeing this tragic scene play out in the show was distressing. Not enough for me to stop watching it, mind you; give me as much Neil Gaiman as you can, please. But in the short time Gregory is on-screen, he became a quick favorite. He’s just so dang lovable! It’s clear he brought much joy to those around him.

His sacrifice is graceful and noble, but it didn’t need to happen. That moment would still have worked had Dream taken back any other thing he gave to Cain and Abel, as happens in the book. Instead, the show knowingly hurt both its characters and, I’m betting, large swaths of its audience. It was an effective manipulation. Moments before the terrible death, Gregory was seen joyfully bouncing about and playing with a ball in front of a large, handmade gargoyle house. The show’s creators wanted the audience to see dog-like qualities. What are dogs if not playful, loyal, and easily loved? Who wouldn’t despair seeing something dog-like disappear forever?

Since watching that episode, this sad moment has stuck with me. The cruelty felt immense and unnecessary, made real only to hurt.

I’ll admit that this whole thing is silly at its core: Gregory, or any living gargoyle, is not real. I’m being deeply affected by a made-up creature in a made-up television show. Gregory can never die if he never actually existed. But I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I can’t forget or ignore this sort of pain so easily, no matter how fabricated it might be. This sort of cruelty is not something I want to witness because I know how I respond to it.

I should have checked in on the valuable site Does the Dog Die before watching this show. I was foolish not to; this heartache could have been prevented. I also encourage anybody who may feel like I do about this subject matter to also regularly visit the site. They’re doing good and helpful work.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue enjoying The Sandman (it has truly been excellent), but I’m sure I’ll be on edge from now on.

  1. If you know more than I do currently, then perhaps he is gone and I’m looking like quite the fool. I suppose I’ll find out soon enough. ↩︎