Created By: Routerie on June 17, 2012 Last Edited By: Dravencour on April 17, 2017

Five Victim Ensemble

The teens that die in a horror flick follow these standard roles.

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Trope
Genres tend to obey de facto rules, and in some genres, one of those rules concerns the number of characters in a given ensemble. These ensembles are generally thematically grouped — whether by elemental powers or philosophical outlooks. In the case of this trope, however, the ensemble is thematically grouped by who dies.

The genre that most notably utilizes this ensemble is Horror — more specifically, it tends to be the Sci-Fi Horror or Survival Horror genres.

The ensemble is typically a group of teenagers, and there are exactly five members. Each member virtually personifies specific death tropes commonly seen in Horror. The five characters, and their typical secondary characteristics, are listed below:
  1. The Slut: A girl who is associated with Death by Sex and who is usually The Ditz and dies first;
  2. The Jock: A guy who is associated with Laser-Guided Karma (coupled with Karmic Death) who is usually The Big Guy or a Jerk Jock;
  3. The Brain: Another guy who's associated with Death by Genre Savviness who's usually The Smart Guy;
  4. The Doofus: A third guy who is Too Dumb to Live (or suffers from Death by Mocking); and...
  5. The Virgin: A girl who's associated with either Kill the Cutie (if she dies) or Virginity Makes You Stupid (if she survives). Usually the Final Girl.

The first character is usually, but not necessarily, female, whereas the second is Always Male. The third and fourth are usually male, too. The fifth character in the roster is Always Female and either dies last or is the only survivor. Expect her to have Contractual Immortality.

This has become somewhat of a Discredited Trope since the 2010s, as seen in films like The Cabin in the Woods directly parodying this trope.

Contrast Five-Man Band, which is an adventure team consisting of Heroes that includes The Leader and The Lancer (both of which this trope usually lacks).

Note: The following examples should contain one bullet per group and adequate information per ensemble member.

As a death trope, expect spoilers below.


Examples:

Film
  • The Cabin in the Woods is notable for parodying this trope, conversing it and pointing out its ridiculousness. The characters were, in-universe, shoehorned into the five roles — even though each of them fit better in a different role.
    • Slut: Jules's hair-dye makes her a moron and she dies immediately after initiating sex with...
    • Jock: Curt, whose "chemical treatment" turned him into a jerk jock.
    • Brain: The drugs that affected Holden made him so smart that he, somehow, remembered his Latin which he hadn't used in years.
    • Doofus: Marty was just a funny stoner, and the chemicals were supposed to turn him into a complete moron, but his weed counteracted the treatment.
    • Virgin: Dana slowly becomes more naive, despite the horrible events around her, and she completely forgets about a love affair she once had with a professor.
  • Friday the 13th (2009): The original decoy cast at the start of the film, most of whom die.
    • Slut: A Manda is the flirtiest of the group and is Ms. Fanservice and puts on a show for Richie.
    • Jock: Mike is the most physically domineering and athletic.
    • Brain: Wade is particularly nerdy and obviously the most intelligent of the group.
    • Doofus: Richie is shown to be the least intelligent and most moronic.
    • Virgin: Whitney is clearly the most innocent of the group, and she is the sole survivor from the opening scene.
  • Altitude: - Zero Context Example
    • The Slut: Mel, caught in a love triangle with Cory and Sal
    • The Jock: Sal, who bullies Bruce and acts like a jerk.
    • The Scholar: Bruce, comic-book reader and creepy stalker-guy
    • The Fool: Cory, who, of course, dies first
    • The Virgin: Sara, the cool-headed one
  • Return of the Living Dead, the group that goes into the cemetery to meet their friend: - Zero Context Example
    • Slut: Trash, who spends most of the movie without any clothes on
    • Jock: Suicide, the jerk
    • Brain: Chuck, the nerdy one
    • Fool: Token Minority Spider
    • Virgin: Tina
Community Feedback Replies: 49
  • June 17, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Sorting Algorithm Of Mortality has this pretty well covered, I'd think.
  • July 26, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Unless this is a stock cast, in which case, the name should be adjusted. Most Common Slasher Victims?
  • July 26, 2012
    animeg3282
    'slut' is the best name for the whore I think.
  • July 27, 2012
    fulltimeD
    This is covered by the Sorting Algorithm Of Mortality.
  • July 27, 2012
    abk0100
    Sorting Algorithm Of Mortality is an awful page and also not really the same thin.
  • July 27, 2012
    Routerie
    Does Sorting Algoritm Of Mortaility cover this? That's a page covering death likelihood. And though this trope contains two points about death order (slut dies first, virgin is the Final Girl) most of this trope just specifies the five archetypes that form the cast of characters.

    I'm also not sure Sorting Algoritm Of Mortaility actually replaces any trope pages. For example, it mentions that white characters outlive minorities, but we still have a Black Dude Dies First page. It mentions that slutty characters die quickly, but we still have a Death By Sex page. It mentions that children outlive everyone, but we still put examples on an Infant Immoprtality page.
  • July 27, 2012
    AP
  • July 28, 2012
    PapercutChainsaw
    It almost corresponds with the Five Man Band model, doesn't it?

  • July 28, 2012
    Routerie
    ^^ This trope doesn't say the Jerk Jock dies first, or dies early. It just says he's one of the group. Does that movie have the other members too?

    ^ By the usual, ultra-broad Five Man Band definition, yes, but not by the correct definition.

    • The Virgin is the story's hero/protagonist, but she is not the leader of the group, which is what Five Man Band's The Hero is.
    • The Whore may or may not act as the foil to anyone, though she does seem to be the virgin's opposite.
    • The Jock is not the big guy. The jock is athletic but he is no Beserker or Gentle Giant or Boisterous Bruiser - he is a jock, which we here generally call a Jerk Jock.
    • The Scholar a smart guy, but he is not The Smart Guy, for the same reason that the jock isn't The Big Guy: This isn't a team of adventurers who go on missions.
    • The Fool isn't The Heart. He's a happy-go-lucky ne'ev-do-well.

    This isn't an adventure team... if anything, it should close to tropes we have for Teen Dramas. We have Six Student Clique. but a TRS thread showed that it didn't hold up to analysis.

    Of course all this assumes that this is a trope at all. I don't know much about horror flicks. I just know that Joss Whedon says it's a trope, a I believe he isn't entirely disliked on this site.
  • July 28, 2012
    HonestGent
    Didn't Scream point out this pattern years ago, at least to the point that virgin is more likely to surive?
  • July 28, 2012
    Routerie
    Yeah, and we've got that as Sex Equals Death.
  • September 13, 2012
    abk0100
    the name is kind of meh.

    • Altitude:
      • The Whore: Mel, caught in a love triangle with Cory and Sal
      • The Jock: Sal, who bullies Bruce and acts like a jerk.
      • The Scholar: Bruce, comic-book reader and creepy stalker-guy
      • The Fool: Cory, who, of course, dies first
      • The Virgin: Sara, the cool-headed one
  • September 14, 2012
    Rognik
    If the Two Foils And A Mediator gets pushed through, would this be a subtrope of that? Jock and Scholar are generally foils, along with the whore and virgin, with I guess, the fool to be the mediator.
  • September 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    "the name is kind of meh."

    What about my proposal in the second reply?
  • September 14, 2012
    Damr1990
    Also, each characters death can be linked to a specific Death trope
  • September 14, 2012
    KingZeal
    Take out the part about the "slutty" girl getting killed first. Establishing any sort of death order for this trope is asking for a magnet of Justifying Edits and "Subversions".
  • September 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    "The Fool -> Too Dumb To Live"

    Or Death By Mocking.
  • September 14, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • An episode of Special Unit 2 starts with a girl making out with her boyfriend on a deserted beach at night and commenting on how her professor dismissed the "whore dies first" cliche as "misogynistic". Cue the virgin-hunting Monster Of The Week.
  • September 14, 2012
    Damr1990
    @Dragon Quest Z note that the Jock may also suffer Death By Mocking when he either subestimates the threat the villian/Monster posseses or doesn't belive it's existance at all(probably Killed Mid Sentence while calling the others chickens)
  • September 14, 2012
    abk0100
    It still counts when there are more than just 5 people in the group, right?

    • Return Of The Living Dead, the group that goes into the cemetery to meet their friend:
      • Slut: Trash, who spends most of the movie without any clothes on
      • Jock: Suicide, the jerk
      • Brain: Chuck, the nerdy one
      • Fool: Token Minority Spider
      • Virgin: Tina
  • September 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ I actually already know that, since I wrote up that trope.
  • September 14, 2012
    cabr321
    • Paranorman, though none of them actually die:
      • Slut: Courtney, who dresses in tight outfits and constantly hits on the
      • Jock: Mitch, a heavily muscled sports star, is as dumb as a post in contrast to the
      • Brain: Norman, the only one in possession of the knowledge to end the curse and the ability to talk to the dead. He's best friends with the
      • Fool: Neil, a chubby, dimwitted 12-year old, who bonds with Norman over both getting bullied by the
      • Virgin: Alvin, though constantly talking himself up, has no actual success with women.
  • September 15, 2012
    TheHandle
    The fool isn't The Fool, that's an entirely different trope.
  • September 10, 2016
    Dead-Rogs
    Friday the 13th (2009) The original decoy cast at the start of the film; The Virgin - Whitney, the most innocent and sole survivor of the five. The Scholar - Wade, the most intelligent and nerdy of the group. The Fool - Richie, shown to be the least intelligent and most moronic. The Athlete - Mike, the most physically domineering and athletic. The Whore - Amanda, the flirtiest and a definite Ms. Fanservice, to the point of getting nude and putting on a show for Richie.
  • September 12, 2016
    ErikModi
    The Cabin in the Woods example specifically points this out as the trend in American/Western horror movies. The organization has several branches in a bunch of different countries, and they operate under their own local rules for what makes an appeasing sacrifice to the Eldricth Abomination. For instance, the Japanese branch (which has "won" several years running") involves a bunch of elementary-age schoolgirls, none of whom should be "The Jock," let alone "The Slut" (unless there was a massive dose of Getting Crap Under The Radar involved).
  • September 12, 2016
    Snicka
    How about Five Victim Ensemble as a name?
  • September 15, 2016
    Dravencour
    Five Victim Ensemble sounds good.
  • March 24, 2017
    Pichu-kun
    I haven't actually brought this comic yet, so I don't know how the characters die besides the first one. I also know Betty and Ronnie survive to the end, or at least near the end. However aren't all the characters virgins?

    • Archie Vs Predator:
      • The Slut: Cheryl, the resident Ms Fanservice of the Archie-verse is the first character to be killed, alongside her brother.
      • The Athlete: Archie or Reggie.
      • The Scholar: ?
      • The Fool: Jughead.
      • The Virgin: Betty and Veronica?
  • March 24, 2017
    WaterBlap
    Added a bomb because:
    1. Trope Namer Syndrome and Needs A Better Name: Five Victim Ensemble is much better than the list. Furthermore, the TNS is even in the types. That is poor description writing, which leads me to...
    2. Needs A Better Description and Type Labels Are Not Examples: The "types" need to be changed, regardless of the example format. However, Five Man Band is a terrible Zero Context Example magnet just like this one already is. "The Scholar: Bob. The Fool: Alice." These are ZC Es and poor example writing.
    3. The type labels are confusing. "The Fool" here (the label) is not The Fool (the trope).

    I suggest removing the type labels completely. Use the tropes we already have. Then, inside the description, give an entry example. Insist that Example Indentation rules require that we do not use subbullets.

    I don't think that would solve the problem outright, but it is better than nothing.

    I think we could take a look at other Ensemble Tropes, such as Four Element Ensemble or Four Philosophy Ensemble, rather than Five Man Band (which has just one or two lines of description for each role).
  • March 24, 2017
    sarysa
    I think this trope has potential, but the name just won't do. The above suggestion is nice, I'll also offer: Five Damned Band

    (assuming it doesn't violate policy and doesn't feel too forced)

    This seems like a necro trope that someone else adopted, though...2012...
  • March 24, 2017
    Madrugada
    I will toss a bomb on any name that is a snowclone of, or based on Five Man Band.

    ~Water Blap expressed a good number of my reservations about this, especially the use of type labels.

    I do have one they didn't mention: the misuse of Trope Codifier in the description. The codifier is the work that solidly established how the trope is used, according to that page, it's " is the template that all later uses of this trope follow". This trope was codified long before Cabin In The Woods, although I have no idea which slasher movie actually did the codification. It has been so thoroughly codified that Cabin In The Woods enforces it onto the group with the various drugs they're given to make them fit into the types..
  • March 24, 2017
    Getta
    So Five Victim Ensemble?
  • March 27, 2017
    Koveras
    • Word Of God for Lovely Little Thieves (an interactive homage of the classic 80ies Slasher Movies) is that almost all of the main characters started off as one of these stock archetypes, before being fleshed out, and eventually moving quite far from their origins. Specifically, Danielle was the Slut; Russell, the Jock; Colin, the Brain; Randy, the Fool; and Dawn, the Virgin. As stated, however, the characters in the final story are quite different from the stereotypes, e.g. Dani, despite possessing intense feminine charms, is actually rather conservative and committed to the person she (secretly) loves, namely, Dawn.
  • March 30, 2017
    WaterBlap
    Suggestion for a new description (I'm not sure if "personifies" is the right word):

    Genres tend to obey de facto rules, and in some genres, one of those rules concerns the number of characters in a given ensemble. These ensembles are generally thematically grouped — whether by elemental powers or philosophical outlooks. In the case of this trope, however, the ensemble is thematically grouped by who dies.

    The genre that most notably utilizes this ensemble is Horror — more specifically, it tends to be Sci Fi Horror or Survival Horror.

    The ensemble is typically a group of teenagers, and there are exactly five members. Each member virtually personifies specific death tropes commonly seen in Horror. The five characters, and their typical secondary characteristics, are listed below:
    1. A girl who personifies Death By Sex and who usually dies first;
    2. A guy who personifies Laser Guided Karma (coupled with Karmic Death) who is usually The Big Guy and the cockiest in the group;
    3. Another guy personifying Death By Genre Savviness who's usually The Smart Guy;
    4. A third guy who is Too Dumb To Live (or suffers from Death By Mocking); and...
    5. A girl personifying either Kill The Cutie (if she dies) or Virginity Makes You Stupid (if she survives).

    This fifth character in the roster is Always Female and either dies last or is the only survivor. Expect her to have Contractual Immortality.

    This has become somewhat of a Discredited Trope since the 2010s, as seen in films like The Cabin In The Woods directly parodying this trope.

    [placeholder for compare/contrast]

    Note: The following examples should contain one bullet per group and adequate information per ensemble member.
  • March 30, 2017
    Unicorndance
    I have a few questions. 1. You called the jock a *bleep* hole. Does this imply that they are always a Jerk Jock and never a non-jerky jock? 2. You called the jock "he" and the virgin and the slut "she". Does that mean the jock is Always Male and the virgin and the slut are Always Female?
  • March 30, 2017
    Madrugada
    Removed the line calling Cabin In The Woods the Trope Codifier. It's not.
  • March 30, 2017
    WaterBlap
    Last edits (other than Madrugada's) were done last September, so I'm pretty sure this is Up For Grabs. The name that seemed to have the most support was Five Victim Ensemble, so I changed it to that. I moved my suggested description to the draft (and updated it given the comments following it) because — and I've noticed this elsewhere, too — it seems that people base their bomb/hat and comments all on the stuff way up there (not complaining; it's just a fact).

    I'm still not sure of the use of the word "personified" up in the list of roles.

    I think it still needs work, but hopefully I fixed a number of problems.
  • March 30, 2017
    Madrugada
    Personification isn't quite right. Try something like "is associated with"
  • March 31, 2017
    WaterBlap
    Started editing the examples. I'm not sure if that much context is necessary, especially since it became a paragraph. IDK, what d'y'all think?
  • March 31, 2017
    Madrugada
    Context is always necessary in case like this: unless the characters are completely one-dimensional, the examples need to explain what makes each character fit the type they're being slotted in as.

    It doesn't have to be a paragraph for each one, this is one with a sufficient amount of context:

    Slut: Courtney, who dresses in tight outfits and constantly hits on the

    Jock: Mitch, a heavily muscled sports star, is as dumb as a post in contrast to the

    Brain: Norman, the only one in possession of the knowledge to end the curse and the ability to talk to the dead. He's best friends with the

    Fool: Neil, a chubby, dimwitted 12-year old, who bonds with Norman over both getting bullied by the

    Virgin: Alvin, though constantly talking himself up, has no actual success with women.
  • April 1, 2017
    Snicka
  • April 1, 2017
    WaterBlap
    I don't think Five Man Band is related.
  • April 1, 2017
    Snicka
    ^ Why not? It also deals with a five character ensemble, putting them into five distinct character types. (Although, considering Five Man Band is a magnet for both Zero Context Example and Square Peg Round Trope, I understand your reluctance to add it as related).
  • April 2, 2017
    WaterBlap
    On a meta level, Five Man Band suffers from a lot of misuse and ZCE and comparing this trope to that one might lead people to think they can write examples for this exactly the same as they do for FMB (i.e. without any context). So you're right on that account. On a troping level, one is about character tropes in a team, the other is about death tropes in a group that has no leader or lancer. Also on a troping level, as Routerie said in 2012, "By the usual, ultra-broad Five Man Band definition, yes, but not by the correct definition. ... This isn't an adventure team."

    It is not the case that every group of five characters is a subtrope or sister trope to Five Man Band. Further separating them is the fact that this is specific to the horror genre, whereas FMB can be found in any genre in which there is an adventure.

    Maybe writing something for a contrast could help, actually.
  • April 3, 2017
    WaterBlap
    Cleaned up and added to the example section. Also if nobody dies (like in the Paranorman example), I don’t think it could count as this unless the work is parodying this trope.

    I’m not sure about The Lovely Little Thieves example, Koveras.

    Pichu-kun, is there any more information to put into the example?

    The Altitude and Return Of The Living Dead examples don’t have enough context for me to call whether they should stay or go.
  • April 9, 2017
    WaterBlap
    I know there are five hats now, but this obviously needs more examples. Bumping for examples (or at least people dumping a work that has this as an example so we can work on the example or something).
  • April 10, 2017
    Koveras
    ^ There is a bunch of examples in the comments (including mine), which nobody seems to care for enough to put them into the write-up.
  • April 12, 2017
    WaterBlap
    ^ Dude, I said three comments up "I'm not sure about that example, Koveras" and "Pichu-kun, is there any more information to put into the example" and "The A Ltitude and Return of the Living Dead examples do't have neough context for me to call whether they should stay or go."

    It isn't that I don't care; it's that I don't know due to ZCE or the part in your example that states "the characters in the final story are quite different from the stereotypes." That makes it seem like they don't actually fit.
  • April 16, 2017
    Koveras
    ^ Dude, you've made, like, five unrelated posts between my example and your reply to it. Don't blame me for losing hope of any reply from you after the third one.

    As for the ZCE, what I meant was that the characters in the final story still outwardly conform with the five archetypes, but were all given Hidden Depths, making each an active subversion of the respective stereotype.
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