Four-Temperament Ensemble

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"Leonardo leads,
Donatello does machines,
Raphael is cool but rude,
Michelangelo is a party dude!"

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A Five-Man Band specializes by role to the team. Someone leads, someone disagrees, someone is smart, someone is tough, and someone ensures that none of the above kill each other.

Unfortunately, when writing within context of a certain profession, goal, or genre, some of these roles are useless, and especially when characters are in groups that are supposed to be specialized, it doesn't make sense to have some of these roles; in a group of scientific researchers, wouldn't all of them be smart? In a group of politicians, wouldn't all of them lead and disagree? Don't astronauts have to be well-rounded and exceptional in many ways?

But there is a way to make a group of people diverse without giving them specialized roles in a form of a group that would probably best be specialized for questing. One way is through personality, in this case based off of wacky ancient pseudoscience.

The four temperaments (also called the "four humors") was a theory that behavior was caused by concentrations of body fluids—the "humours" of Classical medicine: namely blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. Each of these would affect a person's personality differently, and the way these fluids were thought to affect behavior eventually became a part of personality theory, eventually separated completely from the idea that fluids actually controlled behavior. However, the names still remain. An ensemble based on these four humors can make the ensemble diverse without actually changing the roles of the characters in the show's continuity.

The four temperaments (humors) are:

Alternatively, there's a system of five temperaments where the Phlegmatic is moved into a central, fifth position, with the fourth corner being filled by the Supine temperament:

  • Supine (tears): Quiet, friendly, nonconfrontational, and dependent on others. Basically narrows the first type phlegmatic category down to those whose introversion is due to shyness and/or low self-esteem.
  • Phlegmatic II: The "middle of the road" temperament. Someone who typically doesn't exhibit the extremes or weaknesses of the four basic temperaments. In a positive light: Balanced and well-rounded in character (half-way between temperaments). In a negative light: Empty and devoid of character (having no temperament). If the character is a hero, then Hot-Blooded can hold this role (due to being standard, and most other characters would recieve Choleric or Sanguine for such behaviour). The positive light is commonly reserved for secondary characters like Wise Old Mentors, because more extreme "temperamental" characters are easier to identify with and thus make more popular heroes.

A Four Temperament Ensemble will have one character to fit each one of these four temperaments. Sometimes a Five Man Band with four members will also be a Four Temperament Ensemble, but in many cases, they're mutually exclusive. For the five-temperament version, the most common match-ups for the roles would be: The Hero - Phlegmatic (type II), The Lancer - Choleric, The Big Guy - Sanguine, The Smart Guy - Melancholic, The Chick - Supine.

There is also some overlap with Power Trio scenarios: The McCoy is usually Sanguine, The Kirk is usually Phlegmatic, and The Spock is usually Choleric; in these cases, the Melancholic role will be filled by a prominent supporting character, who is still clearly outside of the triad. in Red Oni, Blue Oni, a Red Oni will likely be Choleric or Sanguine, while a Blue Oni will more likely be Melancholic or Phlegmatic. A five-temperament version could be seen as the maximum extension of a Power Trio - The Phlegmatic Type II is The Kirk, The Choleric and The Sanguine are The McCoy, the angry side and the carefree side respectively, and The Melancholic and The Supine are The Spock, the obnoxious side and the withdrawn side respectively.

They are also similar to the four Personality Blood Types, and are sometimes also a Four-Element Ensemble. See also Cast Calculus for the overarching archetypes in this and differently numbered ensembles. Here is an Image Archive for this trope.

Additionally, Pseudolonewolf (of MARDEK fame) has a page that goes into great detail on the four temperaments, here.

For another way to split up a group of four, see Four-Philosophy Ensemble.

Examples of Four-Temperament Ensemble are listed on these subpages:


  1. And whenever a female joins the group, they become a five-man version.