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Four-Temperament Ensemble
"Splinter taught them to be ninja teens.
Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines.
Raphael is cool but rude, Michelangelo is a party dude!"

There are many ways to make a group of people diverse without giving them overly specialized roles within an ensemble. One way is through matching personality types according to a wacky ancient pseudoscience. The Four Temperaments (also called the "four humors") was a theory that behavior was caused by concentrations of body fluids — the "humors" of classical medicine: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm.

A temporary imbalance would create an illness: too much blood caused a fever, too much yellow bile caused a cough, too much black bile caused depression, and too much phlegm caused a cold. A permanent imbalance led to a person having a certain type of intentions, behavior, and personality. Though this theory has long since been discredited from a scientific standpoint, the general idea still remains and the theory is still used for personality profiling. An ensemble based on these four humors can make the cast diverse without actually changing the roles of the characters in the story.

The four temperament system was an interesting one, but flawed. Several tests noticed people that did not conform to any of the behavior types, so a neutral temperament was created. Along with a sampling of related tropes, the five temperaments (humors) are:

  • Sanguine (blood): Extroverted, Emotional, and People-oriented
    • Key Strengths: Friendly, Cheerful, Energetic, Compassionate, Loves people, Forgiving, Confident, Charming, Talkative, an excellent Comedian, and lastly, just plain fun. :)
    • Key Weaknessses: Weak-willed, Egotistical, Emotionally unstable, Gullible, Too people-pleasing, Shallow, Scatterbrained, Disorganized, Self-absorbed, and Too talkative.
    • Expressive high, responsive high; response's delay short, duration short.
    • The Inspired Influencer of DISC.
    • Corresponds to the season of spring and the (hot and moist) air element, (plus an exclusive manipulation over Lightning).
    • In a person's life, it corresponds to young childhood (roughly ages 0-13).
    • Will often correspond with the Optimist when in a Four Philosophy Ensemble.
    • Amongst the four main "Dere Types" can qualify as the Yandere.
    • Archetypal color: Gold, all shades of Pink or Aqua.

  • Choleric (yellow bile): Extroverted, Unemotional, and Task-oriented
    • Key Strengths: Takes the lead, Independent, Hard worker, Goal-oriented, Strong-willed, Practical, Confident, Loves a challenge, Thrives under criticism, Determined, an excellent Strongman/woman of the team.
    • Key Weaknesses: Hot-tempered, Cruel, Rebellious, Stubborn, Harsh, Insensitive, Arrogant, Rude, Workaholic, and Bossy
    • Expressive high, responsive low; response's delay short, duration long.
    • The Dominant of DISC.
    • Corresponds to the season of summer and the (hot and dry) fire element, (plus an exclusive manipulation over Solar power).
    • In a person's life, it corresponds with adolescence and young adulthood (roughly ages 13-35).
    • Will often correspond with the Realist when in a Four Philosophy Ensemble.
    • Amongst the four main "Dere Types" can qualify as the Tsundere.
    • Archetypal color: Yellow, all shades of Red or Orange.

  • Melancholic (black bile): Introverted, Emotional, and Task-oriented
    • Key Strengths: Deep, Thoughtful, Sensitive, Artistic, Perfectionist, Faithful to a fault, Self-sacrificing, an Excellent Leader, Analytical, Organized, Practical, and Detailed.
    • Key Weaknesses: Pessimistic, Moody, Revengeful, Critical, Depressed, Impractical (yes, both practical and impractical), Insecure, Bashful, Resentful, and Has overly high expectations, Snobbish, Very paranoid, likes to be regarded formally such as Mr/Mrs.
    • Expressive low, responsive low; response's delay long, duration long.
    • The Cautious and Conscientious of DISC.
    • Corresponds to the season of autumn and the (cool and dry) earth element, (plus an exclusive manipulation over Metal).
    • In a person's life, it corresponds to middle-aged adulthood (roughly ages 35-65).
    • Will often correspond with The Cynic when in a Four Philosophy Ensemble.
    • Amongst the four main "Dere Types" can qualify as a pure Kuudere.
    • Archetypal color: Navy Blue, Dark Purple or Green, all shades of Brown or Black.

  • Phlegmatic (phlegm): Introverted, Unemotional, and People-oriented
    • Key Strengths: A real sweetheart, Dependable, Easygoing, Patient, Accommodating, Pleasant, Witty, Gentle, Calm, and Forgiving, Quiet and Stealthy, an Excellent Assistant .
    • Key Weaknesses: Compromising, Shy and Docile, Indecisive, Slacker, Lazy, Slow, Stubborn, Too indifferent, Too yielding, and Teasing
    • Expressive low, responsive high; response's delay long, duration short.
    • The Support and Steadiness of DISC.
    • Corresponds to the season of winter and the (cool and moist) water element. (However, water also corresponds to melancholic characters that have control over ice.) (plus an exclusive manipulation over Blood)
    • In a person's life, it corresponds to older adulthood (roughly ages 65 and up).
    • Will often correspond with the Apathetic or the Conflicted when in a Four Philosophy Ensemble.
    • Amongst the four main "Dere Types" can qualify as a pure Dandere.
    • Archetypal color: Teal, Green, all shades of Blue or Black.

  • Leukine (white blood cells) note : Ambiverted and dually-oriented. The "central" temperament that was created for those who didn't have one of the four clearly-established temperaments. This type of character can generally be described as middle-of-the-road and neutral. Generally calm, rational, quiet, and reliable. Usually confused with the phlegmatic, but this temperament tends toward either true apathy or rotating among nearly all the world's emotions (nothing too explosive or extreme) at a smooth, gradual rate. In a positive light, having more than one temperament or balanced among temperaments; but in a negative light, a non-temperament, The Generic Guy, and a Standardized Leader. Usually reserved for protagonists, The Hero or other leaders when they are neither Hot-Blooded nor emotionless characters, and somewhat more independent but not as introverted.
    • Expressive moderate, responsive moderate; response's delay variable, duration variable.
    • Will often correspond with the Conflicted or the Apathetic when in a Four Philosophy Ensemble.
    • Archetypal color: White or Gray.

Some sets of four form a "Combo Ensemble", blending two adjacent temperaments each based on a common aspect. These temperament combos also form the basis for the Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator.

Historically in plays, there was a whole genre: Comedy of Humors, where the impetus of the story is the sudden banding of these opposing types. This is in contrast to the Comedy of Errors, where the story is driven by the events and situations.

Sometimes a Five-Man Band will also be a Four (or often Five) Temperament Ensemble, but in many cases, they're mutually exclusive. There is also some overlap with Power Trio scenarios: usually The Kirk is choleric, The McCoy is sanguine, and The Spock is melancholic. In these cases, the phlegmatic role will be filled by a prominent supporting character, who is still clearly outside of the triad. They are also similar to the four Personality Blood Types, and are sometimes also a Four Element Ensemble.

If this type of personality dynamic is used for a Five-Man Band, then there are — aside from The Hero as leukine and The Chick as phlegmatic — two very common sets: either The Lancer (choleric), The Smart Guy (melancholic), and The Big Guy (sanguine); or The Lancer (sanguine), The Smart Guy (choleric), and The Big Guy (melancholic). RPGs in particular like to use a simplification of the second type.

See also Cast Calculus for the overarching archetypes in this and differently numbered ensembles. Here is an Image Archive for this trope. Additionally, Pseudolonewolf (of MARDEK fame) has a page that goes into great detail on the four temperaments, here, and The Other Wiki offers its information here. For another way to split up a group of four, see Four Philosophy Ensemble.


    open/close all folders 

    Eastern European Animation 
  • 38 Parrots:
    • Sanguine: Monkey.
    • Choleric: Parrot.
    • Melancholic: Elephant.
    • Phlegmatic: Python.

    Fan Fic 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, the six protagonists are organized like this.
  • In the Death Note fic The End Is Near: Mello (sanguine), Light (choleric), L (melancholic), and Matt (phlegmatic).
  • Ed Wood, despite being a biopic, gives us four well-defined examples: Ed (sanguine), Dolores (choleric), Bela (melancholic), and Bunny (phlegmatic).
  • Roy's subordinates in the Elemental Chess Trilogy have similar assignations to those given in canon, but not identical. According to here: Havoc (sanguine), Breda (choleric), Fuery (phlegmatic), and Falman (leukine).
  • In Point Of Succession Matt (sanguine), Light (choleric), Watari (phlegmatic), and L and Near (melancholic).
  • The Elite Four of Pokeumans:
    • Sanguine: William
    • Choleric: Zeke
    • Melancholic: Dustin
    • Phlegmatic: Rikuto
  • In Nerve Damage this is how Shirou's squad of Servants is set up (including himself).
    • Leukine: Shirou
    • Choleric: Alter
    • Phlegmatic: Lily
    • Sanguine: Nero
    • Melancholic: Saber
  • In the Bleach fanfic Phases of the Moon and its sequel Chasing the Moon.
  • In Necessary To Win, the Atago family is this.
    • Choleric: Hiroe
    • Sanguine: Kinue
    • Melancholic: Hiroko.
    • Phlegmatic: Masae.

    Multiple Media 
The Hidden Dreams series of posters by ChrisConsani have united Elvis Presley, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic, respectively.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The main characters in Peanuts seem to fall into this;
    • Charlie Brown (melancholic)
    • Linus (phlegmatic)
    • Sally (sanguine)
    • Lucy (choleric)
    • Snoopy and Woodstock (Leukine)
    • Peppermint Patty (Sanguine/Choleric)
    • Marcie (Melancholic/Phlegmatic)
    • Schroeder (Choleric/Melancholic)
    • Franklin (Phlegmatic/Sanguine)
  • In Pearls Before Swine: Pig (sanguine), Rat (choleric), Goat (melancholic), and Zebra (phlegmatic).
  • Get Fuzzy:
    • Sanguine: Satchel
    • Choleric: Bucky
    • Melancholic: Rob
    • Phlegmatic: Most recurring characters
  • Blondie:
    • Bumstead family: Dagwood Bumstead (melancholic), Blondie Boopadoop-Bumstead (sanguine), Alexander Bumstead (choleric), Cookie Bumstead (phlegmatic/sanguine), Daisy the dog (leukine).
    • Other characters: Julius Caesar Dithers (choleric), Herbert Woodley (phlegmatic), Tootsie Woodley (sanguine).

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Intentionally invoked in Promethean: The Created. The five Lineages of Prometheans are Frankensteins (choleric), Tammuz (melancholic), Galateids (sanguine), Osirans (phlegmatic), and Ulgan (associated with the "humor" of ectoplasm.) The character's balance of humors is actually an important gameplay point.
    • The Unfleshed, introduced as a full Lineage in the second edition core, are associated with the "humor" of oil.
  • Also invoked in Tabletop Game/Tribe8 with the monstrous Z'Bri, whose 4 types are named after the four humors (of the old model): Koleris, Flemis, Sangis, and Melanis.
  • Magic The Gathering has this with the five Praetors of New Phyrexia:
  • While FATAL does have a humors system, there is no rule forcing your party to be a Four-Temperament Ensemble. Indeed, this would actively contradict the obsessive randomisation inherent to the FATAL system.
  • In Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, appropriately enough, the four gods of Chaos each represent an emotion and mindset. Khorne (the god of anger and bloodshed) is choleric; Slaanesh (god of passion and lust) is sanguine; Tzeentch (god of ambition and hope) is (ironically) melancholic; and Nurgle (god of despair and disease) is phlegmatic.

  • The final Hasse Och Tage revue Fröken Fleggmans mustasch is constructed around this trope, to the extent that the characters of the four person ensemble (if one excludes the pianist) are named accordingly. The quartet consists of:
  • In Mozart's opera Don Giovanni: Donna Elvira (choleric), Masetto (choleric/melancholic), Donna Anna (melancholic), Leporello (phlegmatic), Zerlina (sanguine), Ottavio (sanguine/choleric), and Commendatore/Don Pedro (leukine/phlegmatic).


Feather MotifMotifsThe Four Gods
Fish Out of Temporal WaterOlder Than RadioFowl-Mouthed Parrot
Four Philosophy EnsembleEnsemblesFreudian Trio
Exact Eaves DroppingOlder Than SteamFriendly Local Chinatown
Four Is DeathWe Are Not Alone Index'Freaky Friday" Flip
Evolutionary LevelsAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Gilligan Cut

alternative title(s): Four Humour Ensemble; Five Temperament Ensemble; Four Humor Ensemble
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