Created By: NoirGrimoir on March 13, 2011 Last Edited By: NoirGrimoir on March 19, 2011
Troped

Four Philosophy Ensemble

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Needs More Examples, especially in the lit section. May need a better title. Rolling Updates. Will launch this weekend if no objections are raised.

This is a trope applying to the dynamics of groups of four. While the Four-Temperament Ensemble seeks to classify members by their personality, this trope classifies members by their outlook, or life philosophy, especially as demonstrated when the Group is faced by a problem or challenge.

Keep in mind that this trope crops up in more character-driven works and will probably be absent from a work where the group of heroes are more cohesive or single-minded. That is to say, if there isn't much argument within the group, then they never have much chance to demonstrate the differing traits making up this trope.

The dynamics for this trope are very effective because it combines the best parts of a Red Oni, Blue Oni (The Cynic vs. The Optimist) and a Power Trio, (The Cynic (Ego) - The Realist (Superego) - The Optimist (Id)) placing The Realist in between the two opposing views, along with a fourth member (The Apathetic) to contrast all of them at once, including a fourth dimension to the argument, and even the potential for a fifth to be conflicted over the issue, often resulting in a Three Plus Two. All of this in a package that can even be coupled with the Four-Temperament Ensemble for double the fun. This is some serious Cast Calculus. Basically the trope is this:

A Four-Philosophy Ensemble is divided as such:

Occasionally the group will be joined by a fifth, called The Conflicted to make a Five-Man Band, or the The Conflicted will replace The Apathetic.

A variation on this trope involves there being a group of four with a Cynic and an Optimist who are always as such, but the remaining two members trade between being the Realist, Apathetic or Conflicted roles, or do away with two of the roles, simply having them share the same role, with one being the main holder and the other in a supporting role or crossed with aspects of the Apathetic.

It is possible to expand the group beyond four or five members using this trope as a template and fitting additional characters into each slot, portraying different parts of the role, four is simply the minimum to qualify for this trope. Beyond that the number of members is unimportant so long as a significant amount of the members are not Apathetic, in which case it pretty much defeats the purpose of the trope, which is group conflict. If only a small part of the group (such as just the leader and his lancer) is ever involved in the conflict then it's not this trope, and probably a more job or role-oriented ensemble trope, such as Five-Man Band, Six Student Clique or Magnificent Seven.

Example of this Trope in Action:

Situation: Our group is on an Adventure IN SPACE!, when suddenly they get pelted with space debris, their propulsion system is destroyed and they realize they are on a collision coarse with a meteor with very little maneuvering capabilities.

  • The Cynic proposes they dump the ship and all their belongings and escape in space pods, even if it means leaving that urgently needed medicine they are transporting on board to be destroyed.
  • The Optimist finds this idea appalling and insists that either they will fix the ship in time to get out of the way or what maneuvering capability they have will be enough, usually without any evidence to support this idea.
  • The Realist goes over the pros and cons of the situation, calming down the argument to the point where actual decision making can happen. Eventually he chooses a side or proposes a third option everyone can live with. This may lead to acting on whatever plan he supports.
  • The Apathetic may be a mechanic running about in the background, frantically trying to fix the propulsion systems with little time to think of anything else. Another portrayal is as an enigmatic passenger, watching the proceedings with bemusement, seemingly unaware of apathetic of the danger. Alternatively they are gathering up their things, hopping in an escape pod without consulting anyone and saying "It's been real guys, see ya." Then again, they might just be insane.
  • The Conflicted, should there be one, will be on the verge of tears throughout the ordeal. They may be in the corner quietly worrying, wanting to to believe in The Optimist, but unable to stay strong when faced with everything that can go wrong. It might be that rather than distress over the situation, just as bad or worse is the way it has split the members of the group against each other. Conversely, they might just opt to scream "What are we going to do!?" in the background without contributing anything constructive.

Compare Cast Calculus, Morality Kitchen Sink, Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, Four-Temperament Ensemble, Four-Element Ensemble, Five-Man Band.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Black Lagoon: Revy as Cynic, Rock as Optimist, Dutch as Realist, Benny as Apathetic.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (Early episodes): Simon as Cynic, Kamina as Optimist, Yoko as Realist, Leeron as Apathetic.
    • Later it becomes: Simon as Cynic, Nia as Optimist, Yoko as Realist, Leeron as Apathetic.
    • At the beginning of season 2 is was: Rossiu as Cynic, Kittan was Optimist, Simon was Realist and Viral is Apathetic, then it turned into Gimy as Cynic, Simon/Kittan as Optimist, Leeron/Yoko as Realist and Lordgenome as Apathetic. Maybe.
  • Naruto: Sasuke as Cynic, Naruto as Optimist, Kakashi as Realist, Sakura as Apathetic.
    • A later incarnation of the team, is Sai as Cynic, Naruto as Optimist, Yamato/Kakashi as joint Realists and Sakura showing definite Conflicted tendencies.
    • Other teams get in on it too
      • Squad 8: Shino as Cynic, Kiba as Optimist, Kurenai as Realist, Hinata as Apathetic,
      • Squad 10: Shikamaru as Stoic, Ino as Optimist, Asuma as Realist and Choji as Conflicted or another Realist
      • Team Gai: Neji as Cynic, Lee as Optimist, Gai as Realist and Ten Ten as Apathetic.
      • Team Kakashi Gaiden: Kakashi as Cynic, Obito as Optimist, Minato as Realist, Rin as Conflicted.
  • Trigun: Wolfwood as Cynic, Vash as Idealist, Meryl as Realist, Milly as Apathetic or Conflicted.
  • Dragon Ball Z (Namek Saga): Bulma as Cynic, Gohan as Optimist, Krillan as Realist, Vegeta as Apathetic.
    • (Cell Saga): Android 18 is Cynic, Goku is Idealist, Android 16/Future Trunks are Realists, Vegeta is apathetic, and you can sneak Krillin in there as Conflicted.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Kyoko/Mami Tomoe (timeline 3) as Cynic, Madoka/Sayaka as Idealist, Homura Akemi as Realist, Kyuube as apathetic.
  • Princess Tutu, Krahe as Cynic, Princess Tutu as Optimist, Fakir as Realist, Drosselmeyer as Apathetic
  • Cowboy Bebop: Spike as Cynic, Faye as Optimist, Jet as Realist, Ed as Apathetic.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Roy as Cynic, Ed as Optimist, Riza as Realist, Al and Winry as Conflicted.
  • One Piece: right at the beginning when there were only 4 members, it was Uusopp as Cynic, Luffy as Optimist, Zoro as Realist, Nami as Apathetic.
  • Digimon, Adventure 2: TK as the Cynic, Davis as the Optimist, Kari as the Realist, Yoli and Cody rotate between Apathetic and Conflicted, and Ken checks in as the Apathetic until he joins the team and becomes a second Realist.
  • Lucky Star: Tsukasa (Optimist), Kagami (Cynic), Miyuki (Realist) and Konata (Apathetic).
  • Bakemonogatari: Araragi (Optimist), Senjogahara (Cynic), Oshino (Realist), Kanbaru (Apathetic) and Hanekawa (Conflicted, but goes Cynical when she becomes black!Hanekawa).
  • D.Gray-Man's four main characters: Allen (Optimist), Kanda (Cynic), Lenalee (Realist), Lavi (Apathetic, or at least tries to be)

Comics
  • Empowered: Emp (Optimist), Ninjette (Cynic), Thugboy (Realist) and Caged Demonwolf (Apathetic). Sistah Spooky probably counts as a second Cynic.

Literature
  • Circle of Magic: Tris as Cynic, Sandry as Optimist, Briar as Realist, Daja as Apathetic.
  • Lonely Werewolf Girl: Daniel (Cynic), Moonglow (Realist), Vex (Optimist) and Kalix (Apathetic).
    • Beauty and Delicious (co-Optimists), Dominil (Cynic), Thrix (Realist) and Malveria (Apathetic).
  • Everworld - Jalil as the cynic, April as the optimist, David as the realist, Christopher as the conflicted, Senna as something of the apathetic.

Film
  • Inception: Cobb as Cynic, Ariadne as Optimist, Arthur as Realist, Eames as Apathetic, Yusef as second Apathetic by default of he's barely part of the group, and Saito is more of a Sixth Ranger than anything else.

Live-Action TV
  • Babylon 5: Ivanova is the Cynic; Dr. Franklin is the Optimist; Garibaldi is the Realist; Sheridan is the Conflicted. Marcus is the Apathetic.
    • Alternatively Marcus is the Optimist and Franklin is the Apathetic.
  • House, M.D.: (Beginning of the show) House is the Cynic, Cameron is the Optimist, Foreman is the Realist, Chase is the Apathetic.
    • The cast goes through some changes to the point that it doesn't fit this trope but in the sixth season it picks back up with House as the Cynic, Masters as the Optimist, Foreman as the Realist, Chase as the Apathetic and Taub as the Conflicted.
  • iCarly: Sam is The Cynic, Carly The Optimist, Freddie the Realist, Spencer the Apathetic
  • Victorious: Before Tori shows up, Jade is The Cynic, Cat The Optimist, Robbie the Realist, and Beck and Andre share the Apathetic role.
  • Firefly: Original crew is Jayne as the Cynic, Inara as Optimist, Mal as Realist, Zoe as supporting Realist, Wash as Apathetic and Kaylee as Conflicted. Later Simon becomes another Optimist, Book becomes another Realist, and River another Apathetic.
  • Star Trek Voyager:This probably applies to the rest of Star Trek shows. While there are obviously more than four or five characters, the overlapped roles have characters that fall under different aspects of each role. For example, Tuvok is the coldly-logical Cynic, Paris is the street smart Cynic and Torres embodies raw hostility.
    • Cynic: Tuvok, Paris, Torres
    • Optimist: Neelix
    • Realist: Janeway, The Doctor
    • Apathetic: Chakotay, Seven
    • Conflicted: Kim, Kes
  • Fringe: Peter is the Cynic, Walter is the Optimist, Olivia is the Realist and Astrid is the Apathetic.

Video Games
  • Gears of War 2: Marcus as Cynic, Domin Santiago/Cole the train as Optimist, Baird as Realist, Dizzy as Apathetic
  • Final Fantasy XIII: Hope as Cynic, Snow as Optimist, Lightning as the Realist, Fang as the Apathetic, Vanille and Sazh as Conflicted.
  • Half-Life 2: Barney Calhoun as Cynic, Alyx Vance as Optimist, Dr Kleiner as Realist, Dr Mossman as Apathetic.
  • Legend of Dragoon. Dart is the Realist, Lavitz is the Optimist, Rose is the Cynic, Shana is the Conflicted. Haschel later joins as the Apathetic. This setup holds from the time Rose joins all the way until Dragoon's It Was His Sled moment happens, where it transitions into a proper Five-Man Band.

Western Animation
  • Gargoyles: Demona as Cynic, Goliath as Optimist, Eliza Maza as Realist, Xanatos as Apathetic
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Season 1: Sokka as Cynic, Katara as Optimist, Aang as Realist (seems weird I know, but he's actually the mediator most of the time while the siblings argue, and Katara is so obviously The McCoy), Zuko or Momo/Appa as Apathetic
    • Season 2: Toph as Cynic, Katara as Optimist, Aang as Realist, Sokka as Apathetic or a milder Realist.
      • Dark version which fits it even better: Zuko as Cynic, Ty Lee as Optimist, Azula as Realist, Mai as Apathetic
    • Season 3: Turns into a Five-Man Band, doesn't fit right.
  • Young Justice: At the beginning when there were only 4 members, it was Speedy as Cynic, Kid Flash as Optimist, Calder as Realist, Robin as Apathetic. Later, when Speedy left and Superboy joined them, he replaced Speedy as the Cynic and Me'gann came in as the Conflicted.

Web Comics
  • In 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage as Cynic, Fighter as Optimist (because he is so child like and optimistic and contrasts black mage, they even came in together at the start of the story), and then Red Mage and Thief are both Apathetic, because Red Mage only cares about stats and Thief only cares about money, neither of them are interested in getting between Black mage and Fighter, though Red Mage does have some Realist and Leadership tendencies of thinking up plans and trying to actually get the group to complete missions and what not.

Web Original
  • Homestuck: John (Optimist), Rose (Cynic), Dave (Realist) and Jade (initially a second Optimist, but quickly becomes conflicted).
    • The four patron trolls: Kanaya (Optimist), Terezi (Cynic), Karkat (Realist) and Vriska (Apathetic).
    • The Midnight Crew: Spades Slick (Cynic), Diamonds Droog (Realist), Clubs Deuce (Optimist) and Hearts Boxcar (apathetic).

Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • March 13, 2011
    FallenLegend
    • Dragonballz (cell saga) Idealist goku, realist future trunks, cynic vegeta, apathetic android 18
    • Puella Magi Madoka Magica Idealist Madoka/Sayaka, cynic Kyoko/Mami Tomoe (timeline 3), realist Homura Akemi , apathetic Kyuube
    • Princess Tutu idealist , realist Fakir , Cynic Krahe,apathetic Drosselmeyer
    • Gearsofwar 2 realist Baird, Cynic Marcus , idealist Domin Santiago/Cole the train, Apathetic Dizzy
    • Final fantasy XIII Idealist Snow/Vanille, realist Lightning,Cynic Hope stein, apathetic Oerba Yun Fang
    • Gargoyles apathetic Xanatos, realist Eliza Maza, Cynic Demona , idealist Goliath
    • avatar the last airbender Realist Sokka, idealist Aang ,Apathetic Suko ( season2), Cynic Katara ( season 3 the southern raiders)
    • Haf Life 2 Idealist Alyx Vance, Realist Dr Kleiner, Cynic Barney Calhoun, Apatetic Dr Mossman.

    Awesome trope idea man. It's very widely used . So true I never realized by myself..From my experience I can tell you that the hero can be any of them ( excep the apathetic) while the apathetic isnt with the others too much time. And it's hardly ever part of the team
  • March 14, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    I'm sure there's a situation where the apathetic is the hero, but yeah it's much less common. I can see an instance of the hero being the apathetic for instance in a situation where the other three members are after some specific goal to right the wrongs of the kingdom or something and over-throw the Big Bad, and the apathetic is along for the ride, because joining up will help him get close enough to save his love interest, that The Dragon kidnapped. In this case, he's The Hero and one of the others is The Aragorn.

    ^ Actually for DBZ, at least during the cell saga there are way too many z fighters around to split them into a group of 4. The Namek Saga however fits great. Bulma as the Cynic, pissed off at being left behind, Gohan as the Optimist waiting for his dad (though a realistic one, actually), Krillan as the Realist perfectly aware things suck and is trying his best, and Vegeta as the Apathetic doing his own thing against Freeza yet kind of on their side by coincidence.
  • March 14, 2011
    Aminatep
    In Eight Bit Theater Black Mage is a Cynic; Red Mage an Optimist, being obsessed with stats and perfection; Thief a realist, since he searches for profit in everything; Fighter an Apathetic because he just really likes to hit things with swords.
  • March 14, 2011
    Bailey
    I have epically failed Troper Demographics by not being familiar with many of the examples here. So let me ask: if the crux of the trope "Power Trio plus an extra guy who doesn't care or is grading on a completely different scale"?
  • March 14, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Babylon Five:

    Ivanova is the Cynic. Dr. Franklin is the Optimist. Garibaldi is the Realist. Sheridan is the Conflicted. Marcus is the Apathetic.

    Alternatively Marcus is the Optimist and Franklin is the Apathetic.
  • March 14, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    ^^ Mostly, though the extra person can also be unable to choose a side or be inconsistent. The page is really wordy but I just wanted to get everything on there. When I have more time later in the week I'm going to try and condense it down so it doesn't look like Text Wall of Doom as soon as you look at it. Suggestions would be helpful.
  • March 14, 2011
    FallenLegend
    Don't forget to mention dragonbll zin the cell saga. Btw goku in the namek saga was an idealist too.
  • March 14, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    They didn't really form a group, though, did they? At least not one that didn't already include a whole bunch of other people to the point that you need to be looking at tropes for six or seven people. Haven't seen DBZ in a while and DBZ Kai hasn't caught up to those episodes yet.
  • March 14, 2011
    FallenLegend
    yeah they did.Even tough android 18 was a villain.After cell absorbed 17 They z warriors started to protect her (specially krillin) so she did joined them. Vegeta was with them also (he in fact pwned cell, but was looking for his own agenda)
    • Idealist Goku Realist android 16/Future Trunks cynic Android 18, apathetic Vegeta
  • March 15, 2011
    Koveras
    Am I the only one who thinks that "Four Philosophical Ensemble" sounds a bit awkward? Because "phisophical" was an adjective last time I checked, so the cardinal number "four" grammatically refers to the only noun "ensemble", which is not plural, but singular. See what I mean? It's the same reason why Four Temperament Ensemble isn't called "Four Temperamental Ensemble". I think "Four Philosophies Ensemble" would be a better name for this trope...
  • March 15, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Sounds good to me.
  • March 15, 2011
    mack
  • March 15, 2011
    TwoGunAngel
    I like this! This will be a worthy addition to the Ensembles page. I will be watching this with interest.
  • March 15, 2011
    Bailey
    I hate to be picky, but shouldn't that be "Four Philosophy Ensemble" instead of "Four Philosophies Ensemble"? It's not ("Four Temperments Ensemble" any more than it is a Thirty Xanatoses Pileup.)
  • March 15, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    ^ I get what you're saying, I'll change it. I'm not exactly committed to this name period though, if anyone thinks of something better I'd like to hear of it.
  • March 15, 2011
    MC42
    Video game example: Legend Of Dragoon. Dart is the Realist, Lavitz is the Optimist, Rose is the Cynic, Shana is the Conflicted. Haschel later joins as the Apathetic. This setup holds from the time Rose joins all the way until Dragoon's It Was His Sled moment happens, where it transitions into a proper Five Man Band.
  • March 15, 2011
    MC42
    Live Action TV example:
    • Star Trek Voyager:
      • Cynic: Tuvok, Paris, Torres
      • Optimist: Neelix
      • Realist: Janeway, The Doctor
      • Apathetic: Chakotay, Seven
      • Conflicted: Kim, Kes

    This probably applies to the rest of Star Trek shows. While there are obviously more than four or five characters, the overlapped roles have characters that fall under different aspects of each role. For example, Tuvok is the coldly-logical Cynic, Paris is the street smart Cynic and Torres embodies raw hostility.
  • March 15, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    ^Yeah I just put a note in the page about that. This is actually a pretty versatile trope. You can have more than 4 in the group, 4 is just the minimum, you could almost have as many as you want for each role, so long as a significant amount of the people aren't apathetic, in which case it pretty much defeats the purpose of the trope, which is group conflict. If only a small part of the group (such as just the leader and his lancer) is ever involved in the conflict then it's not this trope, and probably something more role or job-based.
  • March 16, 2011
    Taelor
    • Homestuck: John (Optimist), Rose (Cynic), Dave (Realist) and Jade (initially a second Optimist, but quickly becomes conflicted).
      • The four patron trolls: Kanaya (Optimist), Terezi (Cynic), Karkat (Realist) and Vriska (Apathetic).
      • The Midnight Crew: Spades Slick (Cynic), Diamonds Droog (Realist), Clubs Deuce (Optimist) and Hearts Boxcar (apathetic).
    • Lonely Werewolf Girl: Daniel (Cynic), Moonglow (Realist), Vex (Optimist) and Kalix (Apathetic).
      • Beauty and Delicious (co-Optimists), Dominil (Cynic), Thrix (Realist) and Malveria (Apathetic).
    • Lucky Star: Tsukasa (Optimist), Kagami (Cynic), Miyuki (Realist) and Konata (Apathetic).
  • March 16, 2011
    Taelor
    Regarding the Full Metal Alchemist example: Riza fits in nicely as The Realist.
  • March 16, 2011
    MC42
    Think we have enough material in here to launch?
  • March 16, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Probably, it's pretty solid. I'll launch this Thursday or Friday evening unless someone has any issues with it. I just want to know if you guys think its clear and concise enough. Also like I said, not married to the name, so if someone thinks of something better I'd like to here it. Until then I'll keep adding any examples anyone has. The literature section is especially woe-begone. I'd be nice if anyone had some additions for it.
  • March 16, 2011
    jate88
    ‚ó¶Common Attributes: logic, practicality, criticism, Deadpan Snarker, hostility or antagonism, caution, prioritizes survival over other goals, skepticism, 'possibly lacking in empathy', disregard for social norms such as rules or politeness, questionable morality, book smart or street smart.

    Is the lacking empathy part the same thing as Lack Of Empathy?

  • March 16, 2011
    MC42
    Lacking empathy would be the pop culture definition of empathy; that is, they'll probably know that someone's hurt but they won't care. Lack of compassion would be more accurate, Lack Of Empathy is possible in a Cynic but not a common enough trait.
  • March 16, 2011
    Taelor
    Lack Of Empathy would probably be more an Apathetic trait. Also:

    • Bakemonogatari: Araragi (Optimist), Senjogahara (Cynic), Oshino (Realist), Kanbaru (Apathetic) and Hanekawa (Conflicted, but goes Cynical when she becomes black!Hanekawa).
  • March 16, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    ^Well, Apathetics aren't usually apathetic to how people feel or morality (though they definitely can be), they are just apathetic to how the situation turns out, or apathetic to the argument, they aren't invested or just want to stay out of it.

    ^^^What I meant by possibly lacking in empathy was that the Cynic may believe his solution or way of seeing things is absolutely correct to the point that anyone who disagrees on the grounds of harshness, lacking morality or involving painful sacrifices, needs to suck it up. It's not that they don't care about other people but they don't suffer those they see as idiots who are bringing everyone else down by not being willing to make the needed sacrifices. I'll try to think of a more clear way to say that in a word or short phrase. Once again, suggestions welcome.
  • March 17, 2011
    Taelor
    • Empowered: Emp (Optimist), Ninjette (Cynic), Thugboy (Realist) and Caged Demonwolf (Apathetic). Sistah Spooky probably counts as a second Cynic.
  • March 18, 2011
    Xandriel
    • D Gray Man's four main characters: Allen (Optimist), Kanda (Cynic), Lenalee (Realist), Lavi (Apathetic, or at least tries to be)
  • March 19, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Bump. Will probably launch today or tomorrow.
  • March 19, 2011
    Rolf
    Go for it. its been ready for days. :)
  • March 19, 2011
    Topazan
    Wow, this is a great trope. Never noticed this before.

    • Everworld - Jalil as the cynic, April as the optimist, David as the realist, Christopher as the conflicted, Senna as something of the apathetic.
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