Four-Element Ensemble

A Sub-Trope of Elemental Powers, but more specific or "classic" form.

Despite the idea of the "four elements" being obsolete, writers love to play with the idea in fiction. Sometimes, a writer will merely use the idea of the "four elements" for an Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors system. Other times, however, writers will base not a character, but an entire ensemble on the classical elements.

This can sometimes be used literally by giving each member of the ensemble power over the particular element. Other times, however, it can be used on a more symbolic level, by giving each person personalities associated with the element in question or by using Theme Naming to assign each person an element.

The classical Western set is commonly used in the band. The set is made up of earth, air, fire, and water. This also tends to correspond with the Four-Temperament Ensemble. Traditionally melancholic ≡ earth, choleric ≡ fire, phlegmatic ≡ water, and sanguine ≡ air, though there are other interpretations.

Usually, there will be four elements represented, but shows/games that absolutely need a Five-Man Band will possibly add another: western creations prefer something like Heart and eastern creations will use light or lightning, which will probably end up in the hands of The Hero.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • God's Right Seat from A Certain Magical Index follows this trope with Vento of the Front, Terra of the Left, Acqua of the Back, and Fiamma of the Right.
  • Fairy Tail has the enemy team of Element 4: Aria of the Wind, Totomaru of the Fire, Juvia of the Rain, and Sol of the Earth.
  • Go! Princess Pretty Cure starts out with the trio of Cure Flora, Cure Mermaid and Cure Twinkle representing, respectively, land, sea and sky, and halfway through the story adds Cure Scarlet, representing fire.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, disciples of Mage of the Beginning comes in this flavour (plus Dynamis).
  • Sailor Moon gives the original line-up of Sailor Scouts power over a different element. Sailor Mars is Fire, Mercury takes Water, Jupiter swaps Earth for Lightning note  and Moon of course takes Air. When Sailor Venus joins them she of course has Light.
    • The Witches 5 from the first anime's S season have this too. Eudial is Fire, Tellu is Earth, Viluy is Water/Ice and Cyprine is Air. Mimete appears to be the odd one out as her attacks involve shooting stars from her guns.
  • The four generals in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann are not only generals of their respective element, but half of their Theme Naming comes from a traditional Elemental Embodiment. There's Thymilph for fire, Adiane for water, Guame for earth, and Cytomander for air. Oddly, the embodiments Thymilph and Cytomander are named after are swapped in regards to their elements.

    Comic Books 
  • The Batman and the Outsiders villain team The Masters of Disaster featured characters with water, earth, air, heat and cold powers.
  • The Fantastic Four's powers, while not all are Elemental Powers, they are sill evocative of the elements.
    • Reed: Water. Like liquid, he is able to change his shape and fit through obstacles that solid objects can't.
    • Ben: Earth. In addition to being super-strong and resilient like rock, his appearance is similar to that of a golem.
    • Johnny: Fire. He has the power to self-ignite, so it's fairly obvious.
    • Sue: Air. She has the power to become invisible and can make the air exert force, like the wind.
  • W.I.T.C.H. has the four elements for Irma (water), Taranee (fire), Cornelia (earth) and Hay Lin (wind), plus Energy for Will.

    Fan Works 
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer fic Unmentionable has elemental auras as a subplot and how they work with each other; Tara is Earth and Willow is Air, while Buffy is Fire and Spike is Water.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GSTART has the Sykonetyks, a strange street gang who dress in thematic jumpsuits and wield Decks of their corresponding Attribute. Their nicknames are even the Greek-derived prefixes of their elements: Hydro, Aero, Geo, Pyro.

  • The Craft Nancy represents Fire - she is the most passionate and dangerous of the girls, Sarah represents Earth - the most grounded and mature of them, Bonnie represents Air - she is the most in tune with her surroundings , and Rochelle Represents Water - she is a swimmer.
  • The Ghost Rider movie used this to justify villain Blackheart's Quirky Miniboss Squad's theming of Air, Water, and Earth — with the Rider himself handling Fire.
  • The four murders in Sherlock Holmes planned by Blackwood correspond to the four classical elements:
    • Earth:Reordan is buried in Blackwood's dirt-filled coffin after being killed.
    • Water:Sir Thomas is drowned in his bath when when Blackwood sneaks a paralytic chemical into it.
    • Fire:Standish is burned to death when his pistol backfires.
    • Air:Everyone in Parliament is nearly killed by poison gas. Instead, Blackwood ends up hanging himself.
    • This is never mentioned, at all. Presumably they wanted to be careful around another recent movie that had coincidentally pulled exactly the same trick.
    • Additionally, the elements are paired with their opposites for each murder.
      • Earth:Reordan is Buried Alive and dies from a lack of air.
      • Water:Sir Thomas dies submerged in water that is heated by fire.
      • Fire:Standish is immolated by fire, hastened by the fact that he was soaked in a chemical he took to be water.
      • Air:Parliament would have been killed by poison gas pumped in from beneath the earth.
  • In Sucker Punch each of Baby Doll's fantasies when she's dancing is based around a different element. The first one in the temple is water/ice. The World War I stage is Earth. The medieval castle stage is Fire. And the final monorail stage is Air.

  • Angels & Demons uses the theme of the four elements in the murders of four Catholic Cardinals and in the clues to the location of the Illuminati's meeting place.
  • In Shannon Hale's Books Of Bayern, the four female leads could qualify. Isi is a wind ie. air speaker, Enna is a fire speaker, Dasha is a water speaker and Rin is a tree speaker, which could be reinturperated as earth
  • Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series, exactly as it says on the tin.
  • Harry Potter:
    • J. K. Rowling has stated that the four Hogwarts houses are based off the four elements. Gryffindor is fire, Hufflepuff is earth, Ravenclaw is air, and Slytherin is water.
      • This can be subtly seen in some of the Houses' more prominent members: Slytherin is headed by Snape, a Potions professor who spends most of his time brewing liquid concoctions; Hufflepuff is headed by Sprout, an Herbology professor who spends most of her time potting plants in her greenhouse; Ravenclaw is headed by Flitwick, a Charms professor who is first seen teaching the students how to magically levitate feathers; the most prominent (adult) Gryffindor in the series is Hagrid, who is infamous for his obsession with dragons, and is most often seen in a cabin with a roaring fireplace.
      • Their dormitories also reflect on it: The Slytherin dormitories are in the dungeons, close to the lake. The Ravenclaw dormitories are in the highest tower. The Hufflepuff dormitories are underground. The Gryffindor dormitories are not located anywhere specifically related to fire, but the common room has a prominent fireplace.
    • According to Word of God, the Triwizard Tournament was originally going to have four tasks with each one based on a classical element. However, Rowling had difficulty coming up with tasks for all of them. In the end, the First Task combines air and fire while the Second Task is water and the Third Task is earth.
  • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel has the Four Swords of Power. Clarent is the sword of Fire, Excalibur of Ice/Water, Durendal as Earth and Joyeuse as Air. The twins also intend to learn each of the four Elemental magics though only Sophie ends up learning them all and Josh only learns Fire, Water and Air.

    Live Action TV 
  • Charmed naturally features this, being a show about witches:
    • Paige's past life, the Evil Enchantress had the power to conjure the elements. We only see her use Fire and Air, though Paige counters Fire with a blue light possibly representing Water.
    • Another episode has the sisters using the four elements in a spell to reveal the Eternal Spring. They use dirt from the garden, a fan to create wind, matches to create fire and some water from the tap.
    • The house itself is built on a spiritual nexus, surrounded by notable elemental points. Oddly this episode used the five Taoist elements instead of the classic ones. Wood was used instead of Earth and the fifth element was Metal.
  • The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg: "Fire within me! Earth beneath me! Air above me! Water around me!"
  • Super Sentai and Power Rangers often use this setup with their Five Man Bands, though with a fifth member it's a little loose with who the resident "Earth" Ranger is: the combination of elements is usually Fire/Water/Air/Earth/Wood (Kakuranger, Shinkenger/Samurai) or Fire/Water/Air/Wood/Lightning (Gingaman, Magiranger/Mystic Force).

  • In Mozart's Magic Flute the hero & heroine undergo ordeals of Earth, Fire, and Water; Air seems to be missing, until you realize that the Flute itself is a wind instrument.
  • Spice Girls

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Champions adventure "The Coriolis Effect". Donnah Hannah and three anonymous NPC's are transformed into elemental themed villains (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) by the Black Enchantress.
  • Dungeons & Dragons had the Elemental Princes of Evil: Cryonax (cold), Imix (fire), Ogremoch (earth), Olhydra (water) and Yan-C-Bin (air).
    • And their Good counterparts. But neither set ever teams up.
  • The Chaos gods of the Warhammer universe.
    • Khorne - the raging fire. To extrapolate, red is his color, his forges are powered by his rage, and his spiky armoured silhouette and the silhouettes of his demons also look like a men on fire.
    • Nurgle - the hungry earth. The god of rot, decay, acceptance, and humility (the most "down to earth" god). His mansion is located in a garden, and his colors are generally brown and green.
    • Tzeentch - the uncatchable air. His color is blue, "The winds of change" is a saying used in Warhammer Fantasy rather often, he's constantly in motion/change just like air, he has flying chariot demons, and his greater demons are birds.
    • Slaanesh - the beguiling water. The Eldar refer to her as "She who THIRSTS", her demon steeds are tamed by giving them a drink (of the milk of loyalty), fond of reflective surfaces (Slaanesh's palace is filled with them), and many of Slaanesh's demons are crab-themed.

    Video Games 
  • Battle Realms: The 4 clans can be seen as this, the Dragon clan are water, as they are about meditation and discipline, the Serpent clan are fire, as they freely use gunpowder, and fire, the Wolf clan are earth, as they have a close connection with nature, and use stone and shale as weapons and armor, and the Lotus clan are wind, as their warlocks cast bolts of lightning, and are quick on their feet.
  • Boktai gives you access to earth, fire, water, and wind type elements each with their own propertiesnote . You also get solar as the default attack, lunar which expends no energy but inflicts no damage, and dark which is reserved for the New Game+. It only gets more complicated in the sequels.
  • In Brave Frontier, four of the six elements (Fire, Water, Earth and Thunder), forms a variant of this ensemble, where they form an elemental wheel.
  • Breath of Fire IV kind of does this. Nina uses wind, Cray uses earth, Scias uses water, and Ursula uses fire. There are, however, two more characters in the party, with Ershin getting the most powerful spells of all elements but have little mana to use them regularly, and Ryu's dragon forms focusing on fire but also having access to wind and earth.
  • In Brütal Legend, the elements of the world of Heavy Metal are Fire, Noise, Blood and Metal.
  • Dragon Quest VII has the heroes awaken and round up the four Elemental Spirits. They're also Bonus Bosses.
  • Final Fantasy frequently has four elemental crystals - Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Often there's the Four Fiends to go with them. Both pop up in Final Fantasy I, Final Fantasy IV, and Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. Final Fantasy IX brought the Four Fiends back but not the crystals, and Final Fantasy III has the crystals but not the Fiends.
    • Final Fantasy IV has the Fire, Ice, Lightning trio of Ifrit, Shiva and Ramuh, with the Earth-elemental Titan as slightly stronger, but remakes and the sequel bump Titan down to their level of power and importance for a four-summon ensemble.
    • Near the beginning of Final Fantasy V, each of the four protagonists is associated with one of the four elemental crystals along with a personality trait associated with said element. Bartz gets wind and quest, Lenna gets water and kindness, Galuf gets earth and hope, and Faris gets fire and courage.
    • Final Fantasy X actually reduces the traditional series of elements down to just four (there had always been about eight or nine in previous games). Lightning and Ice replace Earth and Air. It also mixes up the strengths/weaknesses a little, with lightning and water being opposed to each other, and the same with fire and ice. There's also the fifth Holy element (Which is good against most things, but especially undead), but it's very rare and hardly ever used.
  • In both Golden Sun games, each of your party members maps to a specific element, and they characters of each element in the original and the sequel even look alike. But when you get access to the first game's characters in the sequel, you can put together parties of whatever you like.
    • Continued in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, where you eventually end up with two party members for each element as in The Lost Age.
  • Kingdom Hearts coded has Fire, Ice, Wind and Thunder variants for a lot of commands, and each of the four elements go beyond the usual third-tier of spells into advanced commands that each parallel each other.
  • The Legend Of Zelda Ocarinaof Time has the Spiritual Stones: The Kokiri Emerald, spiriual stone of the Forest (Air/Earth), the Goron Ruby, spiritual stone of Fire, and the Zora Sapphire, spiritual stone of Water.
  • Used throughout the Quest for Glory series, especially in the second game, where Shapier is threatened by four Elementals representing the four elements. Four of the five games in the series (discounting III, which was made at the last minute and thus is the Odd Name Out) also represent the four elements, with I representing earth, II fire, IV air and V water. There is a fifth "pizza" element, used mostly as a joke, though the AGD Fan Remake of II includes a Pizza Elemental as a Bonus Boss.
  • Romancing SaGa has 4 Elemental Lords; beings that embody the elements: Pyrix (Fire), Adyllis (Earth), Strom (Water), and Avi (Air). Fighting them is optional; however, failing their Ecology Quests forces you to fight a corrupted yet stronger version of them.
  • Shounen Kininden Tsumuji has the five dark ninjas represented by an element in their boss fights. (Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, and Metal).
  • The four Vibes in Super Princess Peach: Calm=Earth, Gloom=Water, Joy=Wind, Rage=Fire.
  • The Elemental Lords/Masou Kishin robots in the Super Robot Wars series uses the classic formation of Earth-Wind-Water-Fire. There's Cybuster (Wind), Granveil (Fire), Goddess (Water) and Zamzeed (Earth). These are the highest order of the elemental robots, there's tons more lesser robots corresponding to those elements too.
  • The four Space Pirate leader bosses in Super Metroid are associated with the four elements. They are the following; Draygon (water), Kraid (earth), Phantoon (air), and Ridley (fire). Draygon is fought underwater, Kraid is the only of them who is fighting from the ground, plus he spits rocks at you, and while both Phantoon and Ridley are airborne and attacks with fireballs, Phantoon can turn invisible, and Ridley has his lair inside the fiery Norfair.
  • Total Annihilation: Kingdoms: The four factions and their monarch are base on the four elements they have control over. Elsin of Aramon-earth, Kirenna of Veruna-water, Lokken of Taros-fire, Thirsha of Zhon-air.
  • Wrath Unleashed: The four factions and their leaders Aenna water demigoddess, Epothos fire demigod, Durlock earth demigod, and Helamis air demigoddess.
  • In Bayonetta there are the Auditio, also known as The Cardinal Virtues, which are angelic physical representations of Divine Will, but also are each associated with one of the four Western elements. They act as major antagonists in the game, working in ensemble with the Big Bad, and include; Fortitudo, Cardinal Virtue of Fortitude and the Bringer of Flame, Temperantia, Cardinal Virtue of Temperance and Manipulator of Wind, Sapientia, Cardinal Virtue of Prudence and Controller of Seas, and Iustitia, Cardinal Virtue of Justice and Giver of Life (who represents Earth).

    Web Comics 
  • Played with in 8-Bit Theater when the Dark Warriors find the elemental orbs of light and divide them amongst themselves. Two were clear cut (the Earth Orb for the elf and Water Orb for the pirate), but the other two were just given to whoever.
  • Each one of the four kid protagonists in Homestuck is associated with a classical element (among other things). John is wind, Rose is water, Dave is fire, and Jade is earth.
  • There's a Kevin & Kell strip where the Dewclaw family are defined by the elements: Solid and reliable Kevin is Earth; adaptable working mom Kell is Water; intellectual flight-lover Lindesfarne is Air; hot-tempered artist Rudy is Fire; and carnivourus bunny Coney is "maybe that weird 'plasma' thing that no-one can define".
  • In The Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius once complained about Redcloak refusing to play by this trope and summoning elementals based on the periodic system instead.
    Vaarsuvius: Titanium elementals. Very distasteful. Does he not know the classic elements are classic for a reason?

    Web Original 
  • In the hybrid webcomic/browser game Demon Thesis, the four main characters find themselves gifted with these powers after a mysterious entity from another dimension starts interfering in our world. There is one exception though: Sam's powers are actually over ice rather than water.
  • The Global Guardians PBEM Universe featured Gaea's Children, a supervillain team themed after the four classic elements. The members were Flame, Mountain, River, and Wind.

    Western Animation 
  • Action League Now: The Flesh represents Earth (has strength far surpassing an ordinary Chuck-o-mation character), Thunder Girl represents Air (her super ability is flight), Stinky Diver represents Water (he's a scubadiver, no doubt), and Meltman represents Fire (what else but fire, or Heat, to have givin him his melted form?).
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: Zach: Earth (very connected to his family, very literally grounded, augmented strength, Lawful Good leader), Shane: Water (shapeshifter, friends with dolphins, names his horse after a sea god), Niko: Fire (Fiery Redhead, psionic blasts), Doc: Air (Air is the element of ideas, communication, and bullshit - and he's well-stocked on all three)
  • Adventure Time has an alternate selection of elements from tradition, and this is represented in their present-day Elementals: Fire Princess, Patience the Ice Elemental, Bubblegum Princess (controlling the Candy element) and Slime Princess.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender's Five-Man Band (in the second half of the third season) has this along with Sokka as the Badass Normal. Sokka jokes about it in the finale.
    Sokka: Team Avatar is back! [series of dramatic zooms] Air! Water! Earth! Fire! (grabs some large leaves for himself and Suki) Fan and sword!
    • The four nations themselves are based around the elements they control, the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: The five members have the powers of earth, fire, wind, water, and... heart.
  • It may not be intentional but in Code Lyoko the sectors seem to reflect the elements. The desert sector is fire, the ice sector is water, the mountain sector is air and the forest sector is earth. In fact sector 5 could be considered the aether.
  • The Xiaolin Monks of Xiaolin Showdown each control one of the four elements.
  • Young Justice: T.O. Morrow created his "Reds" to have powers over the four elements: Red Torpedo (water), Red Inferno (fire), Red Tornado (air) and Red Volcano (earth).

     Real Life 
  • Electromagnetism, gravity, and strong and weak nuclear forces are the four fundamental forces in particle physics.
  • States of matter. Earth, water, air, fire? Solid, liquid, gas, plasma.
    • (Fire is sometimes plasma, sometimes not. It's complicated. But many people consider it to be plasma because strong fires can be affected by magnetic fields.)
  • Sources of renewable energy: Geothermal (Earth), Hydroelectric (Water), Wind (Air), and Solar (Fire). Probably the closest thing to Elemental Powers in Real Life.