Four-Temperament Ensemble
Clockwise from top left: Phlegmatic, Sanguine, Choleric, and Melancholic.

Note: All stereotypes can be any of the four temperaments, as style is a separate factor to ones temperament.

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 has been a theory long-since 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.

Along with a list of characteristics, the four temperaments are:

  • Sanguine (blood): Extroverted, emotional, and people-oriented.
    • Key Strengths: Charming, cheerful, loves-people, energetic, talkative, passionate and compassionate, positive, sometimes unpredictable, expressive influencer, an excellent comedian, salesman or clown, quirky or eccentric and just plain fun.
    • Key Weaknesses: Undisciplined, too talkative, emotionally unstable, hyperactive, scatter-brained, gullible, disorganized, and sometimes frivolous.
      • In common with phlegmatic: Weak-willed, too people-pleasing, gullible, not fault-grasping.
      • In common with choleric: Impulsive, egotistical, shallow and self-absorbed at times
    • Expressive high, responsive high; response's delay short, duration short.
    • The Inspired Influencer of DISC.
    • Corresponding element, season, and division of a day: (hot and moist) air, spring, and morning.
    • In a person's life, it corresponds to young childhood (roughly ages 0-13).
    • Myers-Briggs types in general: E—P
    • Will often correspond with the Optimist when in a Four-Philosophy Ensemble.
    • Amongst the "Dere Types" can qualify as a pure Yandere (Playful and Obsessive).
    • Organ: Liver.
    • Archetypal color: Gold, brighter shades of yellow, all shades of pink or aqua (the colors of the Sky).
    • The Yin-Yang Duo: Yang (white).
    • Planet: Jupiter.

  • Choleric (yellow bile): Extroverted, unemotional, and task-oriented.

  • Melancholic (black bile): Introverted, emotional, and task-oriented.
    • Key Strengths: Detailed, conservative, analytical, organized, perfectionistic, faithful to a fault, kept-quiet will of stone, elegant (in the more dignified ways), self-sacrificing, an excellent medic or lawyer.
    • Key Weaknesses: Rigid, too straight-laced, critical, bashful, pessimistic, moody, depressed, impractical (yes, both practical and impractical), has unrealistically high expectations, very paranoid, desires obsessively to be regarded formally, such as Mr/Mrs, or Dr.
    • Expressive low, responsive low; response's delay long, duration long.
    • The Contemplating Conscience of DISC.
    • Corresponding element, season, and division of a day: (cool and dry) earth, autumn, and evening.
    • In a person's life, it corresponds to middle-aged adulthood (roughly ages 35-65).
    • Myers-Briggs types in general: I—J.
    • Will often correspond with The Cynic when in a Four-Philosophy Ensemble.
    • Amongst the four main "Dere Types" can qualify as a pure Kuudere (Cold and Blunt).
    • Organ: Gall Bladder.
    • Archetypal color: Navy blue, dark purple, olive green, all shades of brown or black (the colors of a cave or cavern).
    • The Yin-Yang Duo: Yin (black).
    • Planet: Saturn.

  • Phlegmatic (phlegm): Introverted, unemotional, and people-oriented. note 
    • Key Strengths: Calm, humble, an excellent assistant, spy or librarian, kept-quiet will of steel (flexible steel), elegant (in the simpler ways), thoughtful, patient, modest, a real sweetheart, accommodating, steady-paced, sympathetic, perceptive, very compassionate, assuming innocent until proven guilty, a good listener, and empathetic to all.
    • Key Weaknesses: Indifferent, submissive, lazy, slow, slacker, indecisive and too yielding.
      • In common with melancholic: Timid and docile, scared of sudden change, stubborn (about certain things), easily embarrassed
      • In common with sanguine: teasing, too compromising, forgetful, not fault-grasping
    • Expressive low, responsive high; response's delay long, duration short.
    • The Stable Supporter of DISC.
    • Corresponding element, season, and division of a day: (cool and moist) water, winter, and deep night.
    • In a person's life, it corresponds to older adulthood (roughly ages 65 and up).
    • Myers-Briggs types in general: I—P.
    • 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 (Shy and Calm).
    • Organ: Lungs/Brain.
    • Archetypal color: Teal, green, white, gray, all shades of blue or black (the colors of the ocean).
    • The Yin-Yang Duo: Yin (blue).
    • Planet: Moon.

The four temperament system, while interesting, was seen as flawed even back then as some people did not fit with any of the presented humors, so a neutral temperament has been used, labeled sometimes as the Leukine, other times the Eclectic, although in fiction this has been mostly reserved either for the lead character or more commonly for secondary characters; additionally, this "fifth humour" often shares many common elements with the Phlegmatic.

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.

They are similar to the four Personality Blood Types, and are sometimes also a Four-Element Ensemble.

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 (older version with blends here), and The Other Wiki offers its information here. For another way to split up a group of four, see Four-Philosophy Ensemble.


    Fan Fiction 
  • The four main anthropomorphic animal characters in the Sonic X fanfic Don't Keep Your Distance. Paint (Sanguine), Maxwell (Choleric), Jewel (Melancholic), and Arrowhead (Phlegmatic) seem almost designed after the four classical temperaments at times.
  • Barack and the White House Boiz, consisting of Barack Obama (Melancholic), Joe Biden (Sanguine), Bill Clinton (Phlegmatic), and Mitt Romney (Choleric) in the RPF Ice Ice Baby. Barack is cautious and thoughtful, and refuses to be divisive. Joe is the happy-go-lucky, loudmouth of the bunch, Bill is humble in his talents, quiet and always willing to lend a helping hand. Mitt stays plotting, and only wants what's best for him. The four boiz work together to stop the assassination of Queen Elizabeth II.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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. Nurgle god of despair and disease is phlegmatic.
  • This is an explicit game mechanic in Promethean: The Created, where four out of the five main player Splats is full of a specific humour that affects their personality and powers (with the fifth, Ulgan, being filled with the "ectoplasmic" humor of spirits). There are even mechanical benefits to travelling with a full Four-Temperament Ensemble.

Alternative Title(s): Four Humour Ensemble, Five Temperament Ensemble, Four Humor Ensemble