Often, people have very erroneous views on the colors of Magic: The Gathering—primarily, understanding some colors to be good and others evil. This is most often considering Black and Red as evil, White and Green as good, and Blue as neutral. This is understandable; people like to simplify things, and judging the colours by superficial traits is simple. Black, for instance, symbolizes selfishness and darkness/death, which are generally seen as evil, while Green values nature and community, which could be seen as "good." However, this is an overly simplistic take, and if things were actually this simple, there would be a lot less diversity of both cards and characters. This page is intended to explain a little more about the colours, and thus how things actually work.
The first color usually to be mentioned is White (and for some time it has gone first on official card lists). White is easily seen as the "good colour", because it is the color of morality: it concerns itself with other people, focusing on forming a community. Its ultimate goal is peace, and its elemental domain is light, which people see as good. However, while White is well-intentioned, calling its methods "good" is... an arguably inaccurate description. To keep the peace, White believes that it has to control its community, using laws and structure to do so; because White is more focused on the group than the individual, it finds satisfying the desires of every single citizen to be impractical in terms of time and resources, and so its laws restrict personal freedoms. Individuality, seen as the origin of conflict, is thus looked at askance by White, which tries to eliminate it to varying degrees. White will readily discriminate against ideas and actions for the sake of them being unpopular or perceiving them as being too individualistic, even if they're largely harmless. The end result is that White, while caring about the community, has little concern for the individual, sacrificing freedom for peace (hence, systems like fascism and communism are essentially White in nature). White will even sacrifice individuals for the sake of the group; at the extremes of the color’s actions, an individual may be forced to make a great sacrifice so that two other people will be a little better off. In addition, because it sees its philosophy as not merely superior but morally correct, it is also essentially xenophobic, and willingly destroys those that oppose it. White is the colour most interested in spreading its philosophy—for lack of a better term, it’s evangelical—and depending on the society in question, it may either do so by converting other people to its cause through diplomacy, or by eliminating even nonviolent outliers that refuse to accede to its hegemony. In war, it is lethally efficient—White is the master of strategy, organization, and large armies, and has a strict policy of "killing first, asking questions later". Combined with its, ahem, black and white view of the world (derived from its focus on morality: whoever strays from it is considered evil), it is very easy to argue that White is more tyrannical than benevolent, even if it's more Lawful Stupid than Lawful Evil (note that all Lawful alignments are possible within White). So, White can produce a rabid Knight Templar just as easily as it can produce an Ideal Hero, because its light isn't always good.
Blue is the next color in the wheel. Blue is often seen as inherently neutral; its main motivations are curiosity (as it wishes to learn as much as possible) and perfection (as it wishes to change itself and the world for the better). Theoretically, these goals are good, as Blue's attempts to improve both itself and the world often benefit people (Blue being the colour of technology and progress). Unfortunately, Blue is generally not very interested in people, other than using them as subjects in its experiments, as it is emotionally disconnected and secretive. Thus, it is neutral with regards to morality; it seeks to improve the world, but tends not to care about what happens to other people as it does so. Much like Black, it is a very individualistic colour, but unlike Black, it is not particularly selfish, as it believes that the accomplishment of its goals will improve others, which ties in with White's need to make the world better for its people. Still, its general lack of interest in what other people think or feel, as well as its desire to learn more, might eventually lead Blue to conduct questionable experiments: to Blue, its curiosity and belief that its actions will make the world better are more important than morality. Furthermore, one person's idea of "perfection" might not tie well with another's; many, for example, would not willingly submit to experiments to make them "better". Thus, it is no wonder that some of MTG's main villains are pure Blue, though there is an equal if not superior number of Blue heroes. Sometimes they’re even the same character.
Black is far and away the color most associated with evilnote Aesthetically and marketing wise. The staff stressed very much that it, like the other colours, doesn't have a moral alignment, and that any evil associations are mostly derived from the things that use it being evil.. Its core philosophy is that one should only care about oneself; as the color of amorality and parasitism, it believes that it can do anything it wants, regardless of the consequences. Many villains are classifiable as Black, and as it represents darkness and death, many people call it evil. However, Black is just as neutral as the other colors, and in fact can be quite benevolent—at least sometimes. It represents both individuality and ambition. The first means that Black values the needs of the individual more than anything, and the latter means that Black is the color that most encourages one to follow his/her dreams. (contrary to what some entertainment says, ambition is not an evil; if it was, you might as well not bother trying anything, because then you're being evil.) Hell, even amorality is not strictly evil—it's easily confused with immorality. The first is the absence of morality, a lack of concern for the concepts of right and wrong. The latter directly opposes morality, reveling in making the "wrong" choice and being malevolent for fun. While some Black characters are immoral, most leave other people to their business and expect to be left to theirs. In addition, being identified with a colour of magic doesn't mean someone will follow its philosophy to the core; just like many White characters aren't oppressive extremists and many Blue characters don't vivisect people in the name of progress, many Black characters are simply selfish and can feel sorry for doing some actions. A few pure Black protagonists do exist in MTG, and the staff behind the game identifies likable characters as Bart Simpson and Daffy Duck as pure Black.
"Second, many of the things black embodies can be used for good. For example, black is the color that stresses the importance of the individual. This is a fundamental part of things like capitalism and the American Constitution. Selfishness has its good uses. Sometimes, people really should put themselves first."
— Mark Rosewater
Another relevant part of Black's identity is it's association with death. While this is generally played in the cards as necromancy and killing, Black has been identified again and again with death in it's positive form: the acceptance that life ends, and that death is a natural part of the world and thus very necessary. This is best seen in the Kamigawa saga, where the protagonist identifies Black mana with the normal process of decay and it's relevance in the natural cycle. In the Theros Block, Black's identity is less focused on ambition and more on the classical notions of acceptance, particularly of Fate; neither the local Black god, Erebos, nor his attendants, the lampads, are evil, and instead mirror closely historical perceptions of pagan afterlives.
Before we're done with Black, it should be said that some people erroneously assume sadism is a feature of Black. While some Black characters are sadists, not all are, and sadism is present in other colours, most being found in Red. White characters are not immune to sadism, as Akroma clearly shows, and in theory, Green characters could display it too—even some animals can at least seem cruel. The colour least likely for sadism to be present is Blue, because it is the colour that is the least concerned with emotions, and causing pain for no other purpose than one's own pleasure is all but pointless. In fact, all four main types of sadistic personality disorders fit neatly into non-Blue colours: Tyrannical Sadism is Black (sadism solely for the sake of power), Explosive Sadism is Red (sadism as means to vent emotional frustrations and get back at perceived injustices), Enforcing Sadism is White (sadism against rule-breakers and other perceived moral affronts), and Spineless Sadism is Green (in effect, an extension of how frightened animals react).
Red is a color that is easy to understand, but it's also easy to completely miss its point. The color of freedom and emotion, it is very impulsive; while certainly capable of thought, it prefers to guide itself through emotion. This can result in a wildness that allows Red and Green to mingle, the Green value of the strong surviving working just fine with Red. Paying such heed to one's own emotions is fundamentally selfish, so Red shares Black's focus on the needs of the individual above all else; hence, why a selfish, brutish villain driven only by his/her wants and needs can easily be pure Red. However, because Red is driven by emotion, it gladly embraces love, friendship, joy, compassion, and affection—Red characters can care about loved ones as much as, if not more than, themselves, not to mention the fact that being driven by how they feel might make a Red individual unwilling to take certain actions that don't feel right to them. Freedom is what Red wants, to do as it wills without anything between it and what it wants, and as such it tries to directly destroy barriers to freedom, sharing White's policy of "killing first and asking question later". Of course, lack of order will occasionally cause a few conflicts, but being the colour of chaos, Red is fine with that. Red is as neutral as the other colours, being both the colour of war and slaughter and of art and passion, and as such it is as easy to create a Red hero as it is to create a Red villain. Just as easily as there can be a mindless brute, there can be a Hot-Blooded hero.
Just as Black is often mistaken to be evil, so is Red often taken as the "stupid colour". Impulse versus reason is a common dichotomy, and Red falls into the impulse side, while Red's enemies, White and Blue, are the colours most directly associated with rationality and self-restraint. However, a person being driven by their emotions doesn't necessarily mean that they're is incapable of thinking straight, and in fact several psychological studies have shown that strong emotions lead to creative thinking (this is why the less emotional Blue is often depicted as uncreative and incapable of actually strategising, for instance). Examples of smart Red characters are Tahngarth, Starke, Krenko and Chandra, all of which are very impulsive and emotional people but more than capable of outsmarting their opponents; likewise, Mark Rosewater considers Aladdinto be another example of a Red smart character, and indeed the Aladdin card from the Arabian Nights set, despite having a Blue effect, is red.
Green is often simplified as caring about the environment, but in truth has quite a complex philosophy. Standing between Red and White, it shares two fundamental traits from both colors: impulsiveness (Red) and value of the community (White). It is guided by instinct, and as such is probably the colour that least values thinking (although some Green characters can think, they generally prefer to not do so). Yet, being the colour of interdependence, it seeks to form a community, caring about the other members of its "pack" or "clan" as much as for itself. And, naturally, nature's well-being is its biggest concern. It is easy to see Green as benevolent: it cares about others and it cares about the surrounding world. And, while it does not really value knowledge, making it a counterpoint to blue, Green is the color of wisdom and insight. Standing against Black, it has little to no interest in spreading its philosophy, and doesn't want to change the status quo; indeed, there are very few pure Green antagonists in MTG. However, like all colors, it has its more sinister side: its insistence in keeping the status quo means it will be opposed to not just progress for progress's sake, but progress as a whole, though evolution is, naturally, acceptable. Being driven by instinct means that Green is often irrational, and this, combined with the raw power it commands, means that a lot of damage and casualties can occur when it goes on a rampage—Green is not very good at precision. There's also a tendency in Green MTG villains to be elitist—elves being the primary example, as they believe themselves and nature to be superior to everything else. Few people in general are pure Green, since very few human beings are purely driven by instinct, but other aspects of Green philosophy, like caring for the community and nature as well as keeping the status quo, are very common. However, many animals are fundamentally Green, as are plants in general. Remember, it's the colour of life; it's bound to be plentiful.
Thus, every colour's philosophy is naturally neutral, capable of both good and evil. It is very foolish to assume that some colours are entirely good and others entirely evil, though most do restrict the number of moral alignments within them. For instance, White is always Lawful and Red is always Chaotic.
Horror and Evil tropes outside of Black
One of the staff’s stated reasons for the creation of Innistrad is to further spread horror outside of the colour most stereotypically associated with it, having somewhat succeeded already in New Phyrexia (and arguably making a failed attempt way back in 1995’s The Dark). While Innistrad has traditional Black horrors, it also has werewolves, which are traditionally Green. But one doesn't need any particular set to prove that horror and evil don't require Dark Is Evil.
Each color in M:tG has its allies and enemies. What's not always clear is why the colors ally or square off the way they do. As a guide to helping the average troper understand Magic's particular Faction Calculus (which, Mark Rosewater tells us, is one of the key aspects of its identity), here is a list of each color and how its ideologies shape not only its alliances, but the gameplay features it shares with other colors.
BLUE (article here): White and Blue are allies because they both believe in the common good and in creating improvements in the world. Having said that, White accomplishes this by implementing laws and regulations for society as a whole, whereas Blue uses science to improve individuals; one offers police officers, the other doctors. White and Blue tend to have a lot of "answers": almost any spell you can play, White and Blue can somehow interfere with. Having said that, Blue tends to strike preemptively with counterspells whereas White uses Power Nullifiers after the fact. Plus, counterspells are expensive; White's answers are cheaper but, like most Power Nullifiers, can be removed again, or give you something to compensate for your loss if it results in a permanent change.
White/Blue cards are all about order and control—sometimes excessively so. A spell that is white and blue might represent a social improvement program with significant and trustworthy research backing its ideals, or a hidebound, undemocratic bit of bureaucratic red tape. Depending on who you ask, the same spell might be both.
In Ravnica, the Azorius are a group of scholars who function as the courts of law in the city-world. They are obsessed with law, order, record-keeping, and governance. They will ignore the spirit of the law to follow the letter of it, and are blind to the growing dissent, chaos, and crime on the plane. Despite the destruction of their guildhouse and death of their guildmaster when the Guildpact was dissolved, they have resurged with a new leader, a great sphinx named Isperia. Their new mechanic, detain, completely locks down a creature, preventing it from doing anything.
In Shadowmoor, the kithkin are bigoted, highly xenophobic assholes that kill anything that isn't a kithkin. Granted, 90% of those things are evil as well, but even "good" races like the elves are not safe. The Lorwyn merfolk were better...and they still were self-righteous people who red-tapped anything they saw as a threat.
Mark Rosewater considers the iconic oldwalker, Urza, to be White/Blue. Although he was a Big Good, he wasn't the least bit heroic at all, being a social darwinistKnight Templar that was willing to sacrifice everything and manipulate everyone to destroy Phyrexia. All for naught, as he came to make a Face-Heel Turn when he came to see Phyrexia as everything he wanted the world to be.
Outside of Magic, there is Ozymandias in Watchmen. He mixes Blue rationality, practicality and deception with White altruism and Knight Templar thinking.
Twilight Sparkle is a good example of the level-headed leader that this color combo can produce. She combines the logic-based thinking and love for learning of Blue and the planning, leadership skills and (sometimes excessive) want of order of White.
BLACK (article here): The ideological schism between White and Black is at a fundamental level. White is all about The Needs of the Many, and it needs to have lines that should not or must not be crossed, whereas Black believes "It's All About Me" and is willing to destroy or sacrifice anything to achieve goals. Black believes in protecting its individual ambitions from the world, White in protecting the world from individual ambitions. As such, White doesn't call Black "Selfish Evil"; to White, Selfish is Evil, making the second word largely redundant. In the same vein, Black just calls White "Lawful" because, to Black's way of thinking, Lawful implies Stupid. Long story short, The Fettered vs. The Unfettered; it's no surprise these two would have problems getting along.
White/Black cards tend to fall into one of two molds: either a full-blown hypocrite, who pretends to White's piety and selflessness as an act to hide or support its Black core; or a Knight Templar who is willing to use Black's methods for White's goals, doing whatever needs to be done for the greater good: if an innocent has to die a gruesome, horrible death (or endure some other similarly terrible fate) most wouldn’t wish on their worst enemy in order to save a civilization, that's a fair trade. Black/White is the combination of the Villain with Good Publicity, or someone who believes Utopia Justifies the Means. There can also be a sense of self-sacrifice bordering on the insane with a White/Black hero: White heroes might lay down their lives, Black heroes might sacrifice even a loved one to save the day, but a White/Black hero might sell their own soul to protect their charge. Other Black/White cards, usually spells and not creatures, also represent the merging of the infernal with the divine or the crossing of other fundamentally opposed forces, often resulting in something new, extremely powerful—and dangerous. How dangerous? Think matter/antimatter.
In Ravnica, the Black/White Orzhov Syndicate produced the heroine Teysa Karlov, but committed many atrocities as well. They were, in effect, an organized crime syndicate masquerading as an organized religion. Their mechanic, "Haunt", brought dead creatures back as enchantments, usually with negative effects to be put on an opponent's permanents. They're still around in the new Ravnica, and they've learned new tricks, all to ensnare the flock. In Gatecrash, their new mechanic, Extort, lets them bleed opponents for life every time they cast a spell.
As the name implies, Greed is unambiguously selfish and ambitious, but does have a sense of honour and concern for his "possession".
Scrooge McDuck is consistently depicted as extraordinarily greedy and selfish but honourable and, in later years, devoted to his family, making him the most iconic example of a Black/White Disney character ever.
Commissar Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) is a heroic example who believes he is the out-and-out hypocrite version. The person compiling and editing his memoirs believes he is being too hard on himself, though she agrees that he is very self-centered.
Linkara has a strong moral code and idealizes traditional hero models, but is also extremely pragmatic and frequently criticises cases of Honor Before Reason and moral inflexibility, embodying both White's and Black's best traits. He also has an arrogant streak and nearly turned evil because of it.
RED (article here): White opposes Red for similar reasons as it does Black. White understands the utility of putting away its emotions; Red is ruled by nothing else. White thinks Red is Chaotic Selfish, too obsessed with its own pleasure to be trustworthy. For its part, Red sees White as needlessly controlling and doesn't like all the annoying little rules White uses to harsh Red's not-so-mellow. White, with its aforementioned specialty in Power Nullifiers, can impose a lot of new rules on players; Red has all the spells that bend the rules and shake things up (e.g., "Spell which used to target [X] now targets something else, which you get to choose" or "Shuffle all permanents in play and deal them out randomly"). Put as simply as possible: Order Versus Chaos.
White/Red cards tend to be about the middle ground of Red's emotion and White's determination—taking an emotion and harnessing it to a greater cause. In-game, this is most commonly expressed as martial zeal, loyalty, and passionate faith, but other emotions work as well. Red/White is in many ways The Kirk to white's Spock and red's McCoy, able to use the strengths of both philosophies to achieve greater things than either could alone. However, Red/White seems to usually use hybrid means for either White-like goals or to combine the effects of opposing spells, rarely Red-like goals alone.
The Boros Legion in Ravnica is heroic, but extreme (to the point that only a few characters are "good", not the whole group) and somewhat hypocritical, as they are willing to break their own rules to impose the law. In Return to Ravnica, they have become much more activist with their new leader, having deposed Feather. In Gatecrash, their new mechanic is Battalion: creatures with Battalion activate special abilities if at least two other creatures attack alongside them.
Meanwhile, the Nobilis of War from the Shadowmoor uses White methods for Red goals; namely, utter and total devotion to war. Both colours are in fact those most comfortable with war as a concept: White as a tool for peace (irony!), and Red as an outlet for aggression.
Another example is the Mirran Resistance in the Scars of Mirrodin block, fueled by both devotion to their cause, and defiance to the ever-increasing Phyrexian influence on the world. This leads to the few surviving uncorrupted Mirrans to keep from losing hope of a pure Mirrodin once again, by remaining defiant to the new Phyrexian rule reinforced by a staunch belief that even in this state they can reclaim their home. (This hope is rewarded by the Red Phyrexians deciding not to hurt the resistance so long as they cause no trouble in the Furnace.) This color combination can create a really stubborn Determinator.
An example of the duality of Red/White is to compare Alucard and The Major from Hellsing; both are Red/White Charcters but in opposite directions. Alucard uses his Red bloodlust to attain White’s ideal of a vampire-free England; whereas the Major uses White’s organization to spend 50 years preparing for a Red-style bloody war.
The staff classifies V and The Punisher as W/R; both are murderous yet meticulously careful anti-heroes. Interestingly, V is an excellent example of using White methods (careful plans and stratagems) for Red ends (anarchy overthrowing a fascist state). Rosewater has also stated that Worf and The A-Team are further examples.
Sam Vimes is a rugged man with an anti-authoritan streak and is not afraid to fight dirty if needed, but his dedication to the law and justice is absolute, and his sense of morals is one of the strongest in the Discworld despite his cynicism. Indeed, Agrus Kos, a Boros hero from the first Ravnica block, seems to be based somewhat on Vimes.
General Alister Azimuth from "Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time". A true patriot of the Lombaxes who was exiled after unwittingly helping Emperor Percival Tachyon exact vengeance on the Lombaxes prior to the Ratchet & Clank games, he wants to use the Great Clock to change the past so the Lombaxes never leave their home universe, thereby making up for his past mistakes. He displays passion and fervor in pursuit of this goal to the point he's willing to shoot Rathet, the son of his own childhood friend, and risk the entire universe in the process.
GREEN (article here): White and Green are both concerned with community. Green is all about keeping everything strong, but also encourages Social Darwinism, which is why it has a Bad Ass Army and single-target Status Buffs which make individual creatures stronger. In comparison, White cares about the Littlest Cancer Patient, and has a Redshirt Army, using global buffs (or the occasional high-powered champion) to make them all stronger.
Green/White cards tend to be about society existing in harmony with nature. Sometimes society shapes nature into forms it finds pleasing or useful, such as gardens or tree farms; other times society shapes itself around nature to avoid despoiling it. Green and White working together often seem quite benevolent, perhaps the most so of any color pairing, but again, the needs of the individual are sublimated to that of the group, perhaps even more so than in White alone. They are the color combination with perhaps the highest average of both good small creatures and good big creatures, making a fearsome army, and almost all healing effects in the game are either white or green; combined, some of the most efficient life-gain spells in the game are present.
The Selesnya Conclave in Ravnica are a group dedicated to peace, healing, and the betterment of the community (which they do through brainwashing the masses). Most guild members were dryads, human-like tree spirits, and their "leader" was a collective mind called the Chorus of the Conclave, which expressed itself through the bodies of high-ranking members, using them as figureheads. The new guild leader is a single dryad composed of three minds, and they seem to be stepping up their activities. Selesnya has become evangelistic, and more than a few cards emphasize how abhorrent they find the undead. Their new mechanic, "Populate", creates a token copy of a creature you control.
Fluttershy and Applejack embody the Green/White mixture in different ways. Both are close to nature, Applejack tending to her farm and Fluttershy tending to her pets. Applejack is white because she places importance on her friends and her large family and Fluttershy towards nurturing her animals.
Friedrich Nietzsche invented a being with the worst attributes of Green and White in the Last Man, combining White’s emphasis on conformism and lack of any personal ambition with Green’s dislike of thinking and creating to create a being devoid of the will or vision to improve or stand out.
Kimba has traits that show not only Green’s and White’s comparisons, but their contrasts as well. As the king of a jungle, he is a Nature Hero determined to protect it and its denizens from human and animal threats. He also uses his rule to attempt to integrate traits of human society onto the animals of his kingdom. He protects nature (Green) but also tries to place new laws to try to improve it (White).
Other examples listed by Mark Rosewater include the Ewoks, a species with a primitive tribal structure living in wilderness with a deep sense of community, and the Oompa Loompas, a group of strangely-identical hard-working people in the food manufacturing industry with a penchant for bursting into choreographed song and dance routines.
BLACK (article here): Blue and Black get along well, because both are The Unfettered. Both consider themselves Above Good and Evil; Blue sees everything in the world as fair game for use in experiments For Science!, and Black sees everything in the world as fair game to use for their own betterment because It's All About Me. Blue and Black share the ability to gain card advantage, but Blue usually expresses this as general knowledge gain, where Black has targeted spells that get you just what you need (or, more accurately, just what you want). Black is also willing to self-cannibalize to get ahead, which Blue isn't into, wanting measured progress where Black wants more power at any cost.
Blue/Black can be...dangerous. It tends not to just give you knowledge, like Blue, or attack another’s mind, like Black. It lets you see what others are planning and time an attack to mess them up right when it would hurt the most, such as a spy stealing an enemy’s plans and leaving disinformation or a spell tearing apart another’s mind and feeding you the choice memories. It’s the color combination of espionage, secrecy, domination, deception: rationality combined with self-interest. Yet at the same time, it is the pairing for the insatiably curious, the knowledge-seekers and collectors. These aren’t people who do so for its own sake—that’s Blue—or for some insidious long-term goal—that’s Black—but because they get satisfaction out of knowing and having things, no matter how trivial. Blue/Black, in other words, might well be the color of fandom.
With the defeat of Szadek, the Dimir were all but destroyed, but in time reformed, this time as a more general spy/information broker faction. In Gatecrash they have spells with the Cipher ability that can either be cast normally or "encoded" on creatures and activated every time said creatures sneak past their opponents' defenses.
Innistrad expands zombies from Black, the traditional color of undeath, to Blue; the Blue zombies are the Frankenstein's-monster-type skaab, and they tend to be stronger at the cost of discarding cards or requiring certain cards in the graveyard. Black has the more standard Zombie Apocalypse cards, which tend to be slower and smaller but inexorable. Where Blue can pull out an individual 6/9 zombie, Black can get a number of 2/2s.
The Master Control Program from TRON is an example of a Blue/Black villain. It seeks to appropriate programs which satisfies the blue goal of becoming smarter and the black goal of becoming stronger and it works in secret to infiltrate major orgnizations such as the Pentagon.
Daria is an example of a Blue/Black protagonist. She is both emotionally detached and extremely cynical and self-centered, but she is still sympathetic and non-malicious.
Hermaeus Mora from The Elder Scrolls series desires knowledge above all else. His Daedric Realm Apocrypha contains the unknown and unknowable, and he is always seeking to expand his collection. Not because he actually wants to use it, but simply because he gains satisfaction from having the knowledge in his possession. He can be very ruthless about it too.
The DCAU incarnation of Brainiac. An emotionless artificial intelligence who has decided that its purpose is the collection and preservation of all knowledge...and destroying the worlds from which he gathers said knowledge just to make it more valuable. Interestingly enough, he merges with Lex Luthor, a rather different variation of the same color combination.
RED (article here): Blue and Red fall on opposite sides of the Emotions vs. Stoicism spectrum. One's passionate, one's logical; one uses fire, earth, and lightning, the other water, wind, and ice; one's—look, do we really need to spell this out? Blue has all the poker-face spells, the ones that win games but only if you have the skill to use them; Red, on the other hand, has all the spells that involve both the Random Number God and straightforward burnination of the opponent down to zero with fire and lightning.
Red/Blue was originally quite rare (although it certainly happened), but has become more common in recent years; when it appears, it tends to involve copious amounts of Science! and explosions. Think of Red/Blue as Blue's Madness Place—where the research, creativity, and drive to know ever more go a little overboard, leaving behind little things like pragmatism and stoicism. This can result in a mass of explosions and twisted metal and cries like “I think I know what I did wrong!” (or just as commonly, “Oh, I am hurt! I am very, very hurt!”). Somewhat more rarely, it comes about because Red and Blue are the two colors most likely to have Elemental creatures and pure-elemental effects—there's even an entirely separate creature type for red/blue "elementals", the "Weirds". And aside from oozes (which don’t really count and are most often green), Red/Blue is where you find non-Newtonian fluids, like gels. Red/Blue is the main colour combination associated with arts, with Red providing the passion and Blue perfectionism.
The Izzet Guild in Ravnica is mostly Chaotic Neutral, with a few bad and good apples. They are frenzied researchers on the bleeding edge of mad science. Their leader the genius dragon Niv-Mizzet continually retools the guild’s signet to suit his passing whims, and can turn burnination into SCIENCE! Basically...run. (In the sequel block, he's got people working on dozens if not hundreds of seemingly unrelated experiments, for Reasons. Their new mechanic, Overload, allows single-target spells to instead hit every legal target. Run faster.)
The best traits of a Red/Blue mixture are embodied in the Übermensch as talked about by Friedrich Nietzsche, combining Blue’s desire to innovate and improve with Red’s emphasis on emotion, individuality, and self-expression. Mark Rosewater considers the Red/Blue mixture to be opposed to the Green/White mixture, somewhat fitting as Nietzsche also essentially contrasts both (see above). Whereas one supports ultimate conformity, the other supports ultimate individuality.
Aperture Science, at their height. They do what they must. Because they can. For the good of all of us (except the ones who are dead).
GREEN (article here): Blue and Green don't get along because of their attitudes towards the world, nature in particular, which boil down to Harmony Versus Discipline. Green believes that Status Quo Is God: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." This tends to result in thinking Science Is Bad for meddling with Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. Blue, on the other hand, is trying to figure out how to build a half-monkey half-pony to please you. Blue loves technology, and has a number of spells that work well with artifacts; while less common, it also has some expensive and eye-popping effects in enchantment form. Green hates tech, and currently has the best artifact- and enchantment-destruction in the game. In fact, the artifact- and enchantment-destruction spell, Disenchant, was permanently moved from White to Green (as "Naturalize") after The Powers That Be realized it belonged there better. Blue is progressive and wants to actively improve things, while Green is conservative and thinks that if change happens it should come about organically.
Blue/Green, like some other hybrids, involves mixing one color's ends and another's means. Most commonly, Blue drags Green kicking and screaming into the Century of the Fruitbat, although Green sometimes appreciates the potential for power or deadliness Blue can add. In addition, while Green tends to spurn knowledge, it is quite at home with wisdom. (One of the most noteworthy historians in the game, Reki the History of Kamigawa, was Green. In fact, Green and Blue are the colors where cards may be most frequently drawn for either a little mana or meeting a simple requirement; other colors, if they affect the way you draw cards at all, might withhold cards for a beneficial effect, or make getting more of them possible but painful.) This sort of "natural wisdom" generally manifests as bluish effects on Green cards, but it can cross over into full-on hybrids. Another common Blue/Green hybrid connects Green to Blue's small but still-present natural side in the form of water. We trust we don’t need to emphasize the importance of water to life, though Blue prefers saltwater and Green freshwater. Selkies and feral water-folk from Shadowmoor, humidity-loving jungle foliage, and natural springs of time-twisting water use Green means for Blue effects. Lastly, Green with Blue sometimes manifests as a great hunter with a razor-sharp intellect, making them that much more dangerous.
As of Return to Ravnica, the Simic Combine has seemingly moved away from Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke and returned to their more druidic roots, with the help of a race of merfolk found in a vast underground ocean, which use Green's spirituality and duty and Blue science and analysis to preserve (and encourage improvement upon) nature. Their new mechanic in Gatecrash, Evolve, makes creatures stronger every time a stronger or more durable ally appears.
RED (article here): Black and Red get along because neither is afraid to say "It's All About Me," and both love the freedom to do whatever the heck they want. Having said that, they fall on opposite sides of the Enthusiasm Vs Stoicism spectrum, in that Red is Hot-Blooded whereas Black prefers The Plan. It's like the difference between The Spock and The McCoy: both have cards which let you make sacrifices to get ahead, but Red ditches short-term resources (creatures, land) for immediate results, whereas Black sacrifices long-term resources (Hit Points, cards in hand, cards in library) for long-term gain. For Red, crippling yourself is a Desperation Attack; for Black, it's just the beginning. They also share creatures that are powerful, but come with a drawback, with Black's tending to be bigger and taking correspondingly larger chunks out of their owner's side, while Red’s tend to be extraordinarily cheap and fast for their size but don't last long.
Black/Red spells tend to be destructive (including self-destructive), discordant, and entropic. There is no Black/Red spell that is intended for defense, not counting the ability of creatures to block (though a fair number of Black/Red creatures, a higher percentage than the game’s average, actually can't). Black and Red combined are the color of the most dangerous madness, the most reckless attacks, the most devastating natural and unnatural forces, the most negative of emotions and the most sadistic of tortures. That being said, black and red together is also the color of people who take the greatest joy in the pleasures of life and have the most aggressively protective attitude towards friends—they would sooner let the world burn than let a loved one die.
The Cult of Rakdos in Ravnica is violent, brutal, hedonistic, and fatalistic. They’re here for a good time, not a long time. The rubble left behind by their revels nearly covers the bodies left behind. Rakdos himself is a monstrously powerful demon that hurts when you summon him—and hurts your opponents more when he attacks. Rakdos and his guild are still kicking as of Return to Ravnica, and their new mechanic, Unleashed, allows you to place a free +1/+1 counter on a creature when you summon it...but those creatures with +1/+1 counters on them can't block. Oh, and they run a carnival now.
Innistrad's vampires are Black and Red. Generally, the Black ones gain you life and are harder to block (or just do direct damage), while the Red ones get stronger as they feed.
The Boggarts from Lorwyn are the good version. They're sensation junkies, sharing experiences with fellow boggarts. All experiences (they don't have self-preservation instincts and believe in reincarnation, so...). All evil boggarts are ostracized, and they usually don't tend to be anything worse than pranksters anyways.
Sarkhan Vol falls into madness thanks to Nicol Bolas' influence and his time trapped in the Eye of Ugin. Casting aside his Green affiliation in favor of Black mana, his new abilities reflect his new reckless self-destructive streak. He is notably the only planeswalker card with no way to increase his loyalty (and the one ability that has no loyalty cost damages him anyway) meaning sooner or later he will destroy himself.
Bayonetta is a heroic example. She is quite self-focused and playful, and overall not very interested in outright heroics (not to mention hinting strongly at the hedonism inherent to this colour-mixture), but only sadistic and malicious to the angels (who are White villains, fittingly enough), avoiding most people except her two or three friends.
Spike from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic could count as this. He's naturally prone to greed thanks to his draconic nature, and giving in to it turns him into a powerful out of control monster, and he sometimes comes across as a little brat (he is still a child after all). He can also be pretty selfish too, willing to shirk his responsibilities in favor of doing what he wants. Spike is also very devoted to his friends, especially his foster sister/mother figure Twilight, to the point that he gets very jealous and insecure when his position as her "Number One assistant" is threatened, and his crush Rarity, to the point that being reminded of a gift he gave her snaps him out of his aforementioned Superpowered Evil Side.
Pinkie Pie as well. Like the Lorwyn Boggarts, she's a playful, fundamentally hedonistic person that represents the best of this combination. Her one nervous breakdown implies that she sees friendship as a form of self worth, but she does genuinely care for her friends.
Marceline from Adventure Time is another non-evil example. Amoral? Check. Artistic? Check. Individualistic? Check. Seflish yet very emotionally attached to her friends? Check. A vampire and a half-demon? Check.
Jane from Daria. While her friend turned her cynicism into detachment from the human experience, Jane's is a means to question society and grow as an artist.
Luffy of One Piece may be the best example of a heroic Red-Black character. He lives for freedom, adventure, and fun. He freely admits that he's selfish since he's the kind of guy who would rather eat meat than share it with others. He's also willing to declare war on the entire world for the sake of a friend.
GREEN (article here): A color that embodies the Nature Hero versus a color that embodies the Eldritch Abomination. Are you not seeing the Conflict Ball? To be specific, Green protects the cycle of life and death, while Black disrupts it for its own gain. Both have the ability to bring creatures back from the graveyard, but Green tends to bring things back to your hand instead of directly onto the battlefield, so the next cycle of life and death can continue. Black spells of this type are flavored to rip the bodies straight out of the ground and the creature in question comes back wrong. Green may also have the ability to sacrifice one creature to grab another—survival of the fittest, and all—but Black will generally sacrifice its creatures to power something else entirely.
The essential identity of Green/Black is quite nicely summed up by the flavor text of "Golgari Signet"—either Green/Black cards are hideous abominations, natural things infested and warped by unholy energies, or they are aware of the balance of life and death, the cruelty of instinct and the value of deviousness, and are Above Good and Evil. And, as the text suggests, which is which largely depends on who's talking.
Notably, Ravnica's Golgari Swarm is one of the few Black guilds to produce a hero—and a damn caring one at that. The Golgari effectively rule the undercity, effectively acting as the sewer workers and other "dirty jobs" men of the plane, but have parlayed it into a sort of power. Their first mechanic, Dredge, allowed you to burn small amounts of your library to get a card with the ability back from the graveyard. In Return to Ravnica, they're more or less the same, though like the other guilds showing more ambition and dynamism; their new mechanic, Scavenge, is likewise more aggressive, allowing cards with the ability in your graveyard to be exiled to permanently boost a creature in play.
This intersection of colors is the fullness of the cycle of nature and all of its complexities. It embodies both life and death, all living things die, but from that death new life comes. It also embraces the entirety of nature...not simply strong beasts, but the worms, the parasites, the bacteria, the mold and fungus. Every form of life is accepted by Black/Green. And for the treatment/consideration of others... Black cares for the self, Green cares for the group. Black/Green cares for both...Black/Green doesn't think about "Me" and "My team": It thinks about "Me and my team." It does what's good for itself and for its True Companions, it betters itself, but tries to do that in ways that help its allies. Another bit of harmony between black/green is that it doesn't waste anything. Black sees everything as a resource, and so everything can be used. With Green mixed in, everything can be used then re-used. A creature can be played, then sacrificed, then recovered, only to be played and even sacrificed again, only to be recovered again later. The other half of Soylent Green is Black.
Nurgle from Warhammer 40,000 emmbraces the duality of Black and Green by rotting growth and growing rot. The followers of Nurgle are rotten and saturated with disease, in line with Black, but embrace Green to grow stronger through their hardships and persevere.
Audrey II mixes Green's emphasis on growth with Black's desire for conquest.
GREEN (article here): Both Red and Green embody the idea of "Don't Think. Feel", and as such they get along quite well. Both colors are Hot-Blooded in different ways and share the highest damage potentials in the game: Green through its Bad Ass Army, and Red by Playing with Fire. Both win by hitting the opponent hard and fast, green with creatures, red with spells. They also complement each other’s weaknesses well: outside of its dragons Red has little in the way of air defense, while Green’s air defense is some of the strongest in the game. Red has a burn spell for every occasion, and Green...does not. Of course, Red runs off of unbridled passion and emotion where Green takes a bit of time to listen before acting on instinct. Finally, Green (though it prefers to remain True Neutral and maintain the balance) does have an outright altruistic streak represented by life-gaining, which Red just doesn't get: if you need to heal, you just let your body take care of it after you've hacked off all your enemy's limbs—that's what lulls between battles are for.
Green/Red working together is raw power and wildness. Law and civilization tend to fall by the wayside. Even the most destructive force of nature can be made stronger by adding Green to Red, or more chaotic by adding Red to Green. But hey, everyone knows sometimes you’ve just got to shut up, stop thinking, and act.
Note that red is the color with the least creatures (even less than blue !), while green is the color with the most, and biggest. For this reason, green/red creatures tend to look like green creatures, but with things that a red instant or ritual would do strapped on it.
The Gruul tribes are a loose collection of clans of iconoclasts and outcasts, raging against the total urban development of the plane of Ravnica, living in abandoned slums and trying to tear them down to wilderness. Their leader, the great cyclops Borborygmos, is not really in charge of the clans as a whole but is instead the leader of the Burning Tree, the strongest clan, granting him a position of great respect even among his rivals. The chaos following the dissolution of the Guildpact has advanced the Gruul's desires, allowing them to actually return some areas to true wilderness. Not all is well for Borborygmos, though, as he is getting on in years, and while he can still take on all challengers to his position, the victories get narrower every time. In Gatecrash they gain the Bloodrush ability, which allows creatures to be discarded from the hand to provide another creature with a temporary boost that essentially "adds" the discarded creature's abilities and powers to the target.
Innistrad's werewolves are Red/Green. Although both colors have similar effects, the Red werewolves are almost exclusively humans from the city, while many of the Green ones are pagans, hunters, and people closer to nature.
Sarkhan Vol idolized the raw untamed power of nature, and he worshipped dragons because he saw them as the embodiment of that power. All that changed when he met Nicol Bolas.
In contrast with the brutish werewolves and Gruul, Therossatyrs are playful hedonists, living life to the fullest. The populace sees them as wondrous spirits of much delight and joy, but in true Fair Folk-fashion, they are actually rather monstrous people who lure poor humans into their hedonist cults and enslave and humiliate them (at best), and engage in violent and rapist revelries.
Xenagos, a satyr planeswalker, used to be like that, but after ascending (probably on one of such bacchic rituals), he realised how utterly insignificant he was on the great scheme of things, so he returns to Theros, and attempts at godhood to prove his worth.
The Character of Stephen Colbert embodies the intersection of Red and Green through his philosophy of "Truthiness". The concept embraces Red's emphasis on emotion and Green's emphasis on instinct to believe what "feels" right as opposed to the Blue way of study and evidence.
The colors can also combine in trios or even quartets. The most common trios have two colors that oppose each other and one color that both are allied with, usually indicating that the allied color is the "dominant" of the triumvirate.
GREEN/WHITE/BLUE - "Bant"
Though it need not be so, the combination of White, Blue, and Green tends to be the most benevolent, focusing on law and order, rationality, and life. However, with little tolerance for emotion and individual desires, it can be oppressive. With superb defense, flexible removal, and adequate card advantage and control, the triad's only real drawback is an inability to do damage without use of its (often quite powerful) creatures, and, like most three-color combinations, a relative sluggishness.
The Shard of Alara named Bant provides the most cards in this combination. (The plane of Alara was splintered by a cataclysm long ago into five Shards, each "incomplete" with regards to magic and having only three colors; it happened so long ago that none remember things ever having been different, though there are some legends and other evidence.) Bant is the epitome of a reasonably benevolent society, where humans, rhox (rhino-people), and aven (bird-people) live in harmony. They are watched over by angels, left behind by a being named Asha, worshipped by the peoples of the shard as a goddess. However, it is caste-based, and while it is not unheard of for people to move from one caste to another based on merit, it is extremely difficult to do so. Too, the rigid order allows for bureaucratic corruption, and greed resulting in crime is not unheard of—though most times this targets magical sigils (marks of favor from those in a higher caste) rather than money. Exalted, the Shard’s mechanic, allows a creature to receive massive bonuses from your other creatures when attacking, but only when it attacks alone.
Sofia Lamb is a good example of a Green/White/Blue villain; she values community good above everything, but she also believes in using ADAM to rewrite the genes of people to make them into her ideal citizen, a Green/Blue Belief.
WHITE/BLUE/BLACK - "Esper"
This combination exemplifies the melding of discipline, reason, and desire, and in many ways embodies modern villains. These are not sadistic monsters or ravening brutes—they are calm, they are rational, and above all they are in control. Their contingency plans have contingency plans. In game terms, the three “control” colors meld power nullifiers, countermagic and death rays into a versatile system that, if you know what you’re facing, can lock down the board against all comers. Putting together a WUB deck and want a spell or creature with a particular trait? There’s a card for that. Heroes and villains alike of this combination tend to have come to their alignments (whether good or evil) by rationally and logically thinking things through to the point where they have consciously chosen to be in it for themselves or try to make the world a better place—with the former not necessarily being a villain, and the latter not necessarsily being a hero...
Esper is a shard of Alara where there is a place for everything, and everything has its place. There are thirty-seven different winds, each named and categorized. The night sky itself is blazoned with a grid. The society itself is ruled by the inscrutable sphinxes and strictly structured around control of the extraordinarily rare mystical metal etherium; almost every permanent spell from Esper was an artifact, and introduced the concept of colored artifacts. (It has also been noted jokingly that it is fitting such a tech-focused society could be abbreviated with WUB, i.e. the sound most associated with dubstep.)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better example of a White/Blue/Black character, villain or hero or...otherwise, than David Xanatos. A technocrat, always calm and in control, with seemingly endless resources (and contingency plans), he can manipulate people into doing what he wants even though they know they're doing what he wants by making it so it's what they want, too.
BLUE/BLACK/RED - "Grixis"
Perhaps the most sinister of the three-color combinations. Because Black is aligned with both Red and Blue (who oppose each other), BUR cards tend to have a strong black feel with the versatility of added Red and Blue effects—dealing direct damage or drawing cards for less cost or pain than Black normally can, or destroying multiple targets as opposed to just one. "Grixis" cards tend to seem sinister or cruel, at least from the human perspective: they hurt everyone who isn't you in multiple ways at once or let you pick your poison. The apparent madness of Black/Red, the boundless genius of Blue/Red, and the cold rationality of Blue/Black combines into a mindset that would tend to care nothing for others except as tools or opponents. It isn't impossible for this combination to produce someone or something benevolent or good or even just nice, but those cases are badly outnumbered. So far, only Tetsuo Umezawa (from the Empire of Madara arc on Dominaria), the foil to Nicol Bolas (ironically, also BUR) really qualifies.
Grixis takes its name from the sub-plane of the Alara setting where only those three colors of magic occur naturally. The lack of green and white mana, the stuff of life, results in a world where the undead and the infernal rule, squabbling over what little life-energy, called there “vis”, remains. The vis itself tastes staler and weaker with each cycle through the food chain, and the few living mortals left are relegated to little more than prey or slaves.
Urza's younger brother Mishra. He was initially a decent example of BUR. Mishra was a very different person from his brother though they were arguably equally gifted artificers. While Urza was a cold man who cared more for artifacts than people, Mishra enjoyed interacting with others. Everything went downhill for the two when they had an accident with a Thran powerstone. The stone split into two halves and each brother claimed one half. Mishra's resentment and ambition came to a head after he got drunk one night and tried to steal Urza's half. Their teacher Tocasia was killed in the struggle and Mishra fled in shame, leaving him vulnerable to Phyrexia's influence. Of course, Phyrexia was ultimately able to corrupt Urza too.
Eric Cartman from South Park is at his heart motivated by selfish desire like Black, but can orchestrate complex schemes in line with Blue, and is also sadistic and easily angered like Red.
Rarity combines the meticulousness of Blue, the artistry, passion, and creativity of Red, and her occasional bouts of greed and self-centeredness give her a distinctly Black bent. The "Black" aspect represent her greatest character flaws, and most Rarity-centric episodes revolve around her overcoming it.
Giegue/Giygas is a ruthless, calculating conqueror while sane, but is a volatile beast underneath the cold exterior, torn between hatred for his adoptive father and love for his adoptive mother and thus unable to view humanity in a consistent way; after his cognitive dissonance drives him insane, he becomes an all-powerful Eldritch Abominationunable to think fueled entirely by rage and insanity.
As mentioned, Nicol Bolas and Tetsuo Umezawa are two canon examples of this color combination, with different motivations. While Tetsuo was initially a loyal subject to Bolas, he eventually turned into a worthy adversary to the dragon, making him a rare heroic example of the color combination, interestingly pitted against a villainous example of the very same combination. In Champion's Trial we have this to learn about how this particular combination is used in a non-evil way:
"Tetsuo considered black mana to be a test of his honor. He appreciated the power of black mana and strove to use it without forsaking his honor. The Umezawa clan is full of "dark adepts" and "dark geniuses" who view the death and decay inherent in black mana as a natural counterweight to life and growth. Thus Tetsuo really has no qualms about using black mana. His honor caused him to rebel against his god-king and the Madaran Empire; thus he had no problem bringing black mana to bear against the Imperials. However, we learn that the Umezawas temper the allure of black mana with the creativity, or artistry, of red mana and the calm, logical perspective of blue mana."
For some reason, a lot of mad scientists fall under this. Doctors Wily, Eggman AKA Robotnik, and Nefarious are all robotocists with short tempers and big egos who generally want to take over the world and are willing to use destructive force to do so. Despite their flaws, they are bona fide geniuses which they pride themselves on.
Jafar from Aladdin. He displays blue manipulation (hypnosis, diguises, deliberate lying) as well as a knack for using artifacts (the scarab, the staff, the sultan's ring, the giant sandstormy hourglass thing that uses the ring), black ambition and ruthlessness, and later red passion and even lust.
BLACK/RED/GREEN - "Jund"
Probably the most aggressive possible combination, Black's ambition, Red's passion, and Green's savagery combine to form a rampaging monster that subverts, consumes, or destroys all that oppose it. Red is usually the leader of this trio, its aggressiveness augmented by Black's death-dealing and Green's resilience, and perhaps further encouraged by being able to do so much more than merely burn its way past obstacles. This combination is not unfeeling, and it might be the combination that best exemplifies pure desire, but it could be said to feel entirely too much and think much too little.
Jund, the shard of Alara with no Blue or White mana, boasts such a vicious and efficient ecosystem that even though Black magic is powerful there, bodies don't last long enough to be turned into undead. The rulers of the shard are dragons, though they don't quite count as fully sentient, who hunt humans, goblins, and everything else on the plane. Because great flaming flying bloody lizards get hungry, dammit. The mechanic of the Shard, Devour, allows you to sacrifice other creatures when summoning a creature to provide a permanent boost to the creature you’re playing.
Bucky Katt From Get Fuzzy is a creature driven by largely by a combination of selfishness, impulse and his own animal instincts.
The embodiment of nature not quite unfettered—the natural world with both chaos in the wild places and order in the settled places. The mere existence of the natural order is not the way of this combination—the beauty and power of the wild must be appreciated, exulted in, protected, and revered. Raw physical power and brutality tends to rule this combination—society rarely rises above the tribal, and this is not a place for courts or philosophy—but .
In the Shard of Naya, massive wild creatures called behemoths roam the jungles, and are revered by the native elves, humans, and catfolk. Because they require three colors, and because of the nature of the colors represented, some of the pound-for-pound most inexpensive big creatures with fixed power and toughness and no drawbacks are found here.
Characters equally able to get along in the wild, among "primitives", and in society, such as Strider/Aragorn, fit well into this combination.
Tarzan, King of the Jungle, though he usually becomes disenchanted with civilization and eventually returns to the jungle.
However, a single color can also be merged with its paired opposing colors, resulting in a very different interaction. Each such triad is called a "wedge". The color "outnumbered" is still the focus and thus commonly dominant, but working with its enemies results in very different interactions. These combinations are rarer—probably not enough to be statistically significant to determine behavior, in fact—but there have been multiple examples of each. Since there are so few, we’ll be looking at each card individually.
WHITE/BLACK/RED – Vengeance is mine, sayeth the player
White's desire for order, justice, and morality combined with Black's ambition and drive and Red's passion and emotion. Among other things, this combination embodies vengeance, justified or otherwise. Hypocrisy is likely, but so too is fervent sincerity.
Virtually any character that is focused on revenge to the exclusion of all else would count. Batman would not, for example, but the Silencer, who joined an insurrection for no other reason than vengeance for the deaths of his fellow soldiers, might.
BLUE/RED/GREEN – Ever played Magic...on weed?
Take Red/Blue and add pharmacology (recreational or otherwise). This combination seems to represent dreaming, souls, illusion becoming reality, and surrealism. Unusual ways of gaining card advantage or gathering more powerful creatures abound.
Animar, Soul of Elements: Anything that isn’t one of the more primal elementals can go away. We’re makin' big creatures.
Guided Passage: Yes, you know everything I know. You still have to give me something for it.
Doctor Strange, at least as presented in the 60s and 70s, is probably this.
Fran Madraki shows how the colors intersect, the blue part of her manifests in her constant studying to attain green goals of preserving and improving life whatever the cost, and the red part of her manifests in her passionate dedication and ability to to come up with unorthodox solutions; this also shows the downside of this combination as she gets so caught up in her experimets she can't stop what she is doing and she tends to be focused more on being able to do things rather than the long term consequences of her actions.
Professor Ratigan is meticulous and clever enough to stay one step ahead of Basil until the very end. He also displays classic narcissistic traits omnipresent in Blue/Red, and is very refined. Post-Villainous Breakdown, though, we get to see the primal rage that drives him.
BLACK/GREEN/WHITE – I understand Death. It’s something that happens to other people.
If the colors are in balance, this combination has the potential for great power tempered with wisdom and control. It can also manipulate the cycle of life and death like playing an instrument, and through that true immortality can arise. As might be expected, however, true immortality comes at some kind of high price.
Overgrown Estate: It’s not useful anymore? It will feed you. (The taxes were killing you anyway.)
Teneb, the Harvester: Doesn’t matter who they "belong" to. They’re not done yet, because they haven’t served you.
Any character that is permanently immortal in a way that they had to seek out (i.e., they were not born immortal), but that doesn't result in them being undead, would probably fall under this wedge.
RED/WHITE/BLUE – U.S.A! U.S.A.!
Not just a joke. Quite aside from the first W/U/R card, Lightning Angel, being nicknamed “Miss America” by fans, the United States is a product of the Enlightenment, and could not have come to pass without it (Blue). Yet faith and religion (White) have also been a big influence on America’s history (even if it wasn’t really “founded as a Christian nation”, freedom of religion was a big part of it, and religion continues to be a major political influence to this day). But at the core is a certain rugged individualism, desire for personal freedom, and capacity for violence in defense of both (Red), which have also been hallmarks of the US—or at least how it sees itself. White/Blue/Red as a combination seems almost irrational, veering between extremes; aggression abounds—one creature has to attack each turn—yet at the same time there is a more than a hint of diplomacy and peace, which (not to get even more political) also seems to embody elements of US foreign policy.
Lightning Angel: Miss America? No; the US Air Force—always ready and incredibly fast.
A concrete, yet non-MTG character example would be Solf J. Kimblee. He embodies the Mad Artist personality so visceral to Blue/Red, yet the extreme relevance of his code of honour firmly aligns him with White (no matter how bizarre said moral code is, he is far too fervently devoted to it to be just Blue/Red). Add in Blue Lack of Empathy and White Moral Sociopathy, and you have a villain that even your average Black aligned overlord cowers in fear from. Besides, these three colours most invoke Light Is Not Good.
The Protomen interpretation of Dr. Light uses his intellect in order to create robots for the betterment of mankind, supported by a strong moral center and a willingness to help the people of the city. He is also very passionate about liberating the city once Wily takes his work and uses it to create a dystopia, determined to set the people free even when he's nearly lost all hope.
Dr. Light in general seems to be this. He believes in creating a better, peaceful world (white) through the use of robots and other technology (blue) but also values free will and emotion (red), both of which he wants robots to experience.
GREEN/BLUE/BLACK – I'm gonna hit you in ways you can't even comprehend.
What happens when you have a hard core of Green's naturalistic brutality coated in Blue planning and Black ambition? You have a savage in a well-tailored suit, who can pass for civilized in a good light, and can outthink or outwit many "smarter" foes thanks to killer instincts—but those instincts come from the primal nature of the person. G/U/B makes the perfect hunter, able to use its intelligence to adapt to any environment, with a mean streak a mile wide.
The only four-color cards in the game, the five Nephilim are mysterious beings. They tend not to be personally very powerful, but can have impressive effects on the game itself, which seem to be the result of being composed of four colors, each of which is allied with one and opposed to two, with their ally being allied to and opposed to one each of its’ opponents. The complexity of the color interaction and the scarcity of cards means little can be inferred about the behavioral tendencies of these combinations. They debuted in Ravnica, the block focused on color pairings. Wizards had said that the Nephilim would be important in future sets, but with Dragon's Maze, the last Return to Ravnica set, about to see release, they've since clarified that an apparent lack of player interest, along with Dragon's Maze being a small set, prevented any more from being present on this go-round.
An easier way to look at four-color combinations would be to take everything these four colors represent, and remove everything that is associated with the fifth from them.
BLACK/RED/GREEN/WHITE – Dune-Brood Nephilim
The Dune-Brood, true to its name, turns the land itself into an army of sandy children.
BLUE/BLACK/RED/GREEN – Glint-Eye Nephilim
Many creatures have a "spy" mechanic wherein you draw a single (rarely, two) cards when they damage an opponent. The Glint-Eye Nephilim is one of only two creatures that let you draw cards equal to the damage dealt. In addition, while it is fairly small, it can become bigger, thus doing more damage and getting you more cards...if you discard cards.
RED/GREEN/WHITE/BLUE – Ink-Treader Nephilim
A creature with a spectacular ability; it seems to embody some sort of magic-amplifying matrix. Each time it is the sole target of a spell, every other creature on the battlefield that is a legal target becomes one as well.
GREEN/WHITE/BLUE/BLACK – Witch-Maw Nephilim
This creature literally feeds on its master's magic, getting permanently stronger each time the controller casts a spell, and once it gets strong enough, nothing can stop it.
WHITE/BLUE/BLACK/RED – Yore-Tiller Nephilim
This Nephilim has the ability to overcome death to bring in allies on its side, which going by its name seems to be based on an ability to dig back into time itself.
When all the colors come together, it is of course for something that embodies aspects of all five colors simultaneously. They are usually extremely powerful, versatile, or both, especially for their cost, as the difficulty of "hard-casting" something that has at least one mana of each color means the card had better be worth it. If it is a spell, it is usually a combo effect of some kind, rarely doing one thing; if it's a creature, it's either extremely large for its cost, has a wide array of abilities, or both.
The Slivers, an (at least partially) engineered Hive Mind race of Bee People, have subspecies in each color; the first official five-color card was the Sliver Queen, the mother of the entire species. Each time the Slivers have been brought back in the game (as has happenedtwice) they have received a new five-color "commander", the same size as the Queen but with different abilities.
A similar idea, but more of a joke one, was done with the Atogatog; other subspecies of Atogs had been printed for each color, but the Atogatog was at once their ruler and a predator upon the species. This has also been done more seriously with dragonsthe Scion of the Ur-Dragon, referencing the five legendary Dragons from the Invasion set—and scarecrows, from Shadowmoor.
The first card to create an on-the-card alternate winning condition was Coalition Victory, which emphasized the idea that if all five colors could work together, the resulting alliance would be greater than the sum of its parts.
The first artifact that was all colors didn't, in fact, have all five mana colors in its casting cost; it had a colorless casting cost, but had rules indicating it was to be treated as being all five colors. The Transguild Courier golem was intended as a diplomatic courier sent between the guilds of Ravnica.
The block that dealt the most with five-color cards was Alara, which had six in its latter two sets—which only made sense, as the story was about five demi-planes with access to limited colors of mana being forced back together into a "true" five-color plane. The planeswalker Nicol Bolas began nudging and tugging the shards back to their original state, and the conflux resulted in devastation and powerful new melding of magic and creatures, as well as one of the single most unkillable creatures in Magic history, more or less a Physical God and the soul of the healed plane.
The culmination of Urza's work was the Legacy Weapon, the weapon that ended the threat of Yawgmoth forever. In card form it has a colorless casting cost, but its activated ability uses one mana of each color to exile (as in make Deader than Dead) anything that doesn't have some kind of protection against it.
Of course, the way colors work in competitive, cut-throat tournaments are generally quite divorced from their general archetypes.
Strict mana curves. Legacy is perhaps the most strict when it comes to mana costs. In general, the mana costs of a legacy deck average at slightly higher than 2. This accounts for how efficient "answers" (removals or counterspells) tend to be in legacy.
Removal needs to cost 1 mana if it is single target. It can cost two mana if it bypasses defenses (ex forcing the opponent to sacrifice a creature bypasses pretty much every protection possible). It can cost three mana if it can hit every relevant permanent type (vindicate, maelstrom pulse).
Creatures are rarely more than 3 mana. Each creature needs to either have a large body, debilitating effects on the opponent, or be extremely flexible (or a combination thereof). In the cases where creatures are 4 mana or more, they should put you in a game winning position on the spot, or be largely immune to removal or disruption.
In general, spells that costs 4 or more should put you in a game winning position.
General Single Colors: Legacy
BLUE: is almost exclusively utilized for its ability to draw cards and counter spells. Blue creatures are usually only good if they allow more spells to be played, not because of their aggressive threat. Despite this, it is generally agreed that blue is the most powerful and influential color. While it may not kill directly, the free/ and efficient counterspells hampering the enemy and draw-spells digging for your own threats can easily turn the tide of a game. The only notable exception is the merfolk deck, which is admittedly powerful. Blue also lends itself pretty well to combo decks in general due to its draw spells, but more specifically due to one card in particular, show and tell, which allows players to put a card from their hand onto the battlefield (while seemingly symmetrical, this obviously leads to you putting the Infinity+1 Sword creature you included in your deck onto the field, while they play a generic, if efficient, threat.
WHITE: in legacy is a jack of all trades. It has the most efficient removal in the game (swords to plowshares), and the best board wipes in the game (terminus). It also features many popular low-costed creatures who's effects range from toolbox (stoneforge mystic) to anti-control (thalia, guardian of thraben), to flexible hate (qasali pridemage), to efficient bodies (knight of the reliquary). White in combination with green make up the majority of aggressive creatures utilized in legacy.
RED: Is largely limited to burn spells. Red is mostly played for its cheap removal and burn spells. It also sees play for its fast mana in some combo decks, though this roll is usually relegated to black. It does feature some nice aggressive creatures, but they are largely irrelevant, and only feature in a couple of decks (which aren't really that good). (Burn, Red Stompy)
GREEN: Is played predominately as a creature toolbox due to a single card (Green Sun's Zenith). In most decks that feature it, its creatures form the actual "core" threat. These creatures are typically very efficient bodies for their cost (EX: Tarmogoyf is on average a 4/5 for 2 mana, and in the late game easily reaches 5/6 or 6/7). Green is also utilized with black for common universal removal spells (abrupt decay, maelstrom pulse, pernicious deed), making it a surprisingly good "pure control" color.
BLACK: Is played strongly for its control aspects. Its has cheap targeted discard (Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek), and a broad spectrum of removal, from cheap, to more expensive, but more flexible. Black creatures are less used than white or green ones, but still see play as efficient threats (tombstalker, bloodbraid elf). It also features the most powerful legal card draw engine in the game relative to price (dark confidant). Black also tends to be the most combo-tastic color because of its access to fast mana (dark ritual, cabal ritual), the most powerful legal draw engine (ad nauseum), and the most efficient legal storm finisher (tendrils of agony). Separately, its cheap resurrection spells (entomb, exhume, reanimate) are also powerful combo pieces.