Four Is Death, and for some reason we just like the number five. Maybe because there are five fingers to count on one hand. Or two legs, two arms and a head. Something about it makes it the perfect amount of intrigue but still simple enough to understand. Sounds like a good set up for a team.
A group of five can get a ton of combinations out of the ensemble without it feeling bloated or unwieldy.note Longrunning Toku series like Science Ninja Team Gatchaman in 1972 and Super Sentai in 1975 (adapted into Power Rangers in 1993) were iconic for five member teams.
Many groups will have members fulfill defined archetypes. This makes their contribution to the team reliable and consistent. Even without perfect role lineups however, what makes the five man band work is the sheer variety of dynamics you can observe by mixing and matching different characters and subgroups. Like with Power Trios, the odd number of characters creates the constant need to find balance. Dynamics aren't rigid and can change depending on which collection of characters the story focuses on. Characters get depth from both their closest relationships, and how they interact with the relationships around them. Some common five man band set ups are:
- The classic FMB line up of The Hero or The Leader, their contrasting foil, the complementary and emotional support, the brains and the brawn.
- A tendency towards including a clearly feminine "Pink Ranger" among four other roles or The Chick in an otherwise all male group, especially in Merchandise-Driven series.
- A Red Oni, Blue Oni pair with the other three supporting or taking sides.
- An emotional core or love interest pair, with the other three supporting.
- The Chick as the mediator between The Leader and The Lancer, with two others supporting.
- A Standardized Leader as The Kirk that mediates between four distinct characters going in different directions.
- A Cartesian plane with four characters representing the extremes of 2 distinct binaries and a fifth who is temperate or neutral on those specific traits.
- An alpha pair, a "Beta Couple", and a fifth wheel.
- A quartet of some sort that needs a fifth member to stabilize or complete them.
- A pre-existing trio and two other characters forced together.
In sum, while any collection of five people can make a group, it's the bonds between them and the way they are explored that elevates them to a band.
With the rare exception of having dividuals operating together in the same role, examples should be actual groups of five. The Sixth Ranger is meant to be a new member that shakes up the dynamics of an already existing and established five man band. If they have been there from the start or close to it, then it's a six person team and should be listed under The Team.
- Detective School Q follows the adventures of the five members of the "Q" class of Dan Detective School. This class includes: Kyu, the Stock Shōnen Hero who is the son of Dan's original intended successor and is one of the best detectives among the students; Ryu, Kyu's best friend/rival who is the only other student to stand on equal grounds to Kyu's deductive abilities; Megu, Kyu's Love Interest; Kazuma, a Child Prodigy hacker/programmer who usually provides the necessary information for the case; and Kinta, who is rather Book Dumb compared to his teammates, but is a skilled martial artist.
- Digimon: As a longrunner, it's various teams sometimes center around five members.
- Digimon Adventure 02: The team is headed up by the new kids Idiot Hero Davis, shy and sensible martial artist Cody, and outspoken computer geek Yolei, and the grown up Tag Along Kids from the previous generation TK (who Davis is jealous of) and Kari (who Davis has an crush on). After the first major arc, they recruit former Big Bad Ken as a Sixth Ranger and proper Lancer to Davis' Hero, and he mostly gets over his hang ups with TK and Kari.
- Digimon Frontier: The spirits of the Legendary Warriors are inherited by five heroic children. The Stock Shōnen Hero Takuya, Ineffectual Loner and Lancer Koji, Token Girl and Dude Magnet Zoey, Tag Along Kid Tommy, and Big Fun J.P. The show mostly centers around Takuya and Koji's rivalry and later partnership with the other members either diffusing the tension, or offering support from afar. They eventually get a Sixth Ranger in Koji's long lost twin Koichi, but he gets Demoted to Extra with the rest of the group in favor of the main duo.
- Gundam: Another longrunner that's done it from time to time.
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam: The five main Gundam fighters are later revealed to be the inheritors of the Shuffle Alliance. Each wear skintight color coded suits inside their Gundam as they fight as almost direct shoutout to sentai shows, with comically shallow Five-Token Band elements. Domon, The King of Hearts, is the Hot-Blooded Japanese leader. Chibodee the Queen of Spades is his equally Hot-Blooded American rival. George, The Jack of Diamonds, is the privately Hot-Blooded French gentleman. Sai Saici, Ace of Clubs, is the Hot-Blooded Chinese Tagalong Kid. Argo, Black Joker, is the quietly Hot-Blooded Russian berseker.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: A significantly muted version of the above, the five Gundam pilots are similarly multiethnic with an entire Numerical Theme Table. Heero is the stoic hero of the series, who is paired early on with the laidback Duo (complete with angel and devil motifs respectively). Trowa is loyal but droll, and is often partnered with Quatre who is artistic and kind. Wufei is usually the fifth wheel. In the back half of the series Heero is allowed to operate alone, with Quatre as The Strategist and The Leader of the others (except when Wufei still ends up going rogue).
- Haruhi Suzumiya: The story revolves around the adventures of the five members of the SOS Brigade. Haruhi is the founder who is the instigator of any antics that happen. Kyon, whose cynicism and bored demeanor contrast with Haruhi's energy. Nagato Yuki, an alien computer with superhuman intelligence. Itsuki Koizumi, who uses his Psychic Powers to battle Kaiju-like beings in Enclosed Spaces. And Mikuru Asahina, a cute girl whose is frequently exploited by Haruhi for her plans. Kyon's crush on her also creates a Love Triangle between him, her, and Haruhi.
- Outlaw Star: The crew of bounty hunters onboard the XGP, the legendary ship that's the key to finding the Galactic Leyline. Mostly centered around the trio of Gene, The Captain of the Outlaw Star, a hotblooded gunslinging lech, his business partner Jim, and his Love Interest the Mystical Waif Melfina. They are routinely joined by a Force and Finesse duo of bruisers, Aisha Clan Clan, a Boisterous Bruiser Beast Girl, and Twilight Suzuka, a stoic Lady of War with a simple wooden sword.
- Ronin Warriors: An all boy band of five warriors in elemental armors fighting against the evil Dynasty. Ryo of the Wildfire is the hotblooded Hero who mostly stands apart. Sage of the Halo and Rowen of Strata switch off on The Lancer and The Smart Guy roles, the former is Wise Beyond Their Years and the latter is a Teen Genius, both are likely to butt heads with Ryo. Kento of Hardrock and Cye of the Torrent are a Best Friend Odd Couple duo of a Blood Knight Big Guy and a Reluctant Warrior Nice Guy.
- Sailor Moon: An extremely popular Magical Girl band, consisting of Sailor Moon herself as the Stock Shojo Heroine, destined to become the Big Good with the Inner Senshi allies becoming her Elite Four in the future. In the present however they start off more or less as equals in a Five Man Band, with Moon and Venus switching roles depending on the adaptation.
- In the manga and adaptations that hew closer to it, Venus is the bold field leader and most experienced senshi. Mars is her refined and aloof lieutenant. Mercury is the most intelligent. Jupiter is the strongest. Moon combines The Heart and The Chosen One roles, as the pure hearted but ditzy everygirl that brings them together.
- In the 90s anime and adaptations it inspired, Moon is The Hero overall, Mars is her fiery Friendly Rival and The Lancer, Mercury and Jupiter are consistent as The Smart Guy and The Big Guy, and Venus takes on some of Moon's flightier traits as The Chick.
- Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: One of the oldest examples, possible the first place where the Five Man Band Classic dynamic and combining mecha intersected. Consisting of Ken "The Eagle" Washio (G1), driven by strong sense of justice, Joe "The Condor" Asakura (G2) the weapons and marksmanship expert, driven by his desire for revenge, Jun "The Swan" (G3) the technical and compassionate demolitions expert, Jinpei "The Swallow" (G4) the reconnaissance expert and Jun's adopted younger brother, and Ryu "The Owl" Nakanishi (G5), the Gentle Giant pilot of the Godphoenix, the teams group transport, battle aircraft, and docking bay.
- Zoids: Chaotic Century: By the time of Guardian Force, Van and his closest allies settle into this dynamic. The frontline fighters are Van the idealistic Stock Shōnen Hero, By-the-Book Cop heavy artillery specialist Thomas, and pragmatic stealthy speedster Irvine. They're supported by the no nonsense Stone Wall Moonbay who pilots their Base on Wheels, and Van's Love Interest the compassionate Mystical Waif Fiona. Van and Fiona are also somewhat Sempai/Kohai junior counterparts to Irvine and Moonbay as their respective best friends, with relative newcomer Thomas as a fifth wheel.
- Rimba Racer: The starting team, which lasts from around the start of season 1 to near the end of it, consists of five people; the main contrasting duo, Tag and Miles, and a varied supporting trio, Sonny, Meika, and Meelo. Over time, the team does away with the five-man structure, obtaining more members later on.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: While the turtles themselves are an Elite Four, they're often aided by Secret-Keeper and Token Human April O'Neil who has more than once been called the honorary "fifth turtle." The core dynamic of the turtles has the A-Team of Leo as The Leader and Raph as both The Lancer and The Big Guy, the B-Team of Don as The Smart Guy, Mike as The Funny Guy, and April as a fifth stabilizer with varying roles depending on the adaptation (either an Intrepid Reporter, another scientist, The Empath, or another Boisterous Bruiser.
- The Night Unfurls: Later on in the original story, Kyril gains four apprentice hunters — Sanakan, Hugh, Lily, and Soren. The five are the best heavy-hitters tasked to root out the Black Dogs. This trope is downplayed because there are other characters who cooperate and/or form bonds with the team, but the five hunters have closer ties with each other as a Badass Crew.
- Kung Fu Panda: The Furious Five, as of the first portion of the movie where they don't accept Po as one of theirs, form a team of five (as their name states). Tigress is considered by all of them to be a leader-figure who works with the four others — Monkey, Crane, Mantis, and Viper — and their vastly different fighting styles and skillsets.
- The Suicide Squad Bloodsport's original Squad B nearly fit the classic roles. Bloodsport himself is specifically chosen to lead the team. Peacemaker often clashes with Bloodsport over his leadership style. Ratcatcher II, is an overall caring member and a Morality Pet for Bloodsport as they form a father/daughter-like relationship. The group is rounded out by King Shark a Dumb Muscle Beast Man, and the socially awkward Polka-Dot Man.
- House of Anubis:
- Seasons 1-2. The Sibuna club, consisting of Amber the Girly Girl Genius Ditz who put the group together, Nina The Chosen One and The Hero overall, Fabian, Nina's Best Friend, and the Lovable Nerd that solves most of the mysteries, Patricia a Bully Turned Buddy counterpart to Nina, and Class Clown Alfie.
- Season 3: Season 3: Eddie, becomes another Chosen One, taking Nina's spot from before. Patricia is now his Belligerent Sexual Tension love-interest, who is jealous over his friendship with KT the new emotional core in Amber's absence that actively avoids drama. Alfie takes his role much more seriously in later seasons, and even gets physically forceful against the evil team. Fabian continues making the plans and solving the puzzles to allow Sibuna to advance.
- MythBusters: The core recurring group putting myths to the test together throughout the shows run. Considering it is a pseudo-reality show you know it was mostly intentional. Jamie and Adam are the contrasting co-hosts, the former more grumpy and the latter more gregarious. They often develop the plan for how a myth will be tackled and keeps everybody on-track in their respective roles within the build. Assisting them are electrical engineer Grant, stuntman Grant, and Fiery Redhead Kari.
- Power Rangers: A longrunning franchise built with this trope at its very core. The Trope Codifier and first exposure to the Five-Man Band for many children around the world since the 1990s (or 1970s via Japan's Super Sentai). Almost every iteration of the show will at some point feature five main Rangers. By color, the Red Ranger is almost always The Hero or The Leader. Typically the Pink Ranger is The Chick. The other rangers (Blue, Green/Black, Yellow etc) rotate roles more frequently depending on the series or continuity. They almost always get a Sixth Ranger halfway through their run as well.
- Torchwood: After the First-Episode Twist of Suzie Costello leaving the team, Torchwood solidifies into a five-person team that can take on any alien threat. The immortal Captain Jack Harkness and newcomer Gwen Cooper form the focal duo, with medical officer Owen Harper, all-around genius Toshiko Sato, and driver and administrative worker-turned-field agent Ianto Jones filling out the group.
- Fire Emblem: Because each game's army has a ton of characters, there are often five main heroes that get most of the screentime in cutscenes and can't die (getting injuries that prevent them from fighting or causing an instant Game Over where others are subject to Permadeath.)
- Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade: The main characters are the trio of Lords, Eliwood, his best friend Hector, and newcomer Lyndis, shepherding the Mystical Waif sibling duo of Ninian and Nils. These five are the only plot relevant characters from the moment they join the party on every route.
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: Ike's inner circle in the campaign against Daein, and against Begnion in the sequel. The core trio consists of Ike, the stoic company leader, The Strategist and book keeper Soren, and the powerhouse deputy and advisor Titania. His team is completed by Mist, his younger sister, and the emotionally balanced keeper of the Fire Emblem, and Ranulf his witty counterpart among the laguz and partner in both wars.
- Fire Emblem Awakening: The core team among the Shepherds, a militia group led by royalty. Led by Chrom the Exalt of Ylisse, his best friend master tactician Robin, his Battle Butler powerhouse Frederick, and his younger sister the likable Medic Lissa. Masked Marth rounds out the team as a mysterious stranger who mimics Chrom's fighting style, later revealed to be Lucina his Kid from the Future.
- Fire Emblem Fates: Corrin has two sets of four siblings, conveniently making whichever side the player chooses a heroic Five Man Band, standing against the side not chosen as the antagonistic Elite Four. Both are arranged in birthorder male, female, male, female with Corrin as the middlemost sibling. The Nohrian siblings map closer to the classic FMB roles than the Hoshidans.
- Kingdom Hearts: Sora's dearest friends in his Dive to the Heart, who team up at the end of Kingdom Hearts II. A nexus of two trios. The first being the main party of plucky Keyblade Wielder Sora, short tempered mage Donald, and easy going captain Goofy. The second, Sora's best friends from Destiny Island, his rival Riku and love interest Kairi.
- Pokémon X and Y: A team of friendly rivals as a departure from the Power Trio the series usually goes for. They even fit the stereotypes color-wise with the leader and lancer as red and blue, big as yellow, smart as green, and chick as pink. Consisting of the main duo of Rookie Red Ranger player character and the veteran main rival (the player avatar not chosen), best friend duo Tierno and Trevor (a dance battler and Pokédex completionist) and the cheerfully supportive Shauna who can float as the third member of either pair.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang's Team Avatar of bending masters (plus Sokka) in their usual arrangement from the end of Season 3◊ into the comics and other material. Avatar Aang, the Kid Hero who must master the elements and defeat the Fire Lord. The last airbender. Prince Zuko, Aang's foil and former rival, redeemed as the firebending master. Katara, Aang's Love Interest, The Heart of the team with a strong sense of justice, and prodigy waterbending master. Toph, a self sufficient Pint-Sized Powerhouse Lad-ette who prides herself as the greatest earthbending master. Sokka, "The Idea Guy", field leader, and jokester who uses weapons and gadgets for his lack of bending.
- Carmen Sandiego: After Shadowsan joins Carmen's gang at the end of season 1, the team remains at five members for the rest of the series. It consists of two contrasting duos and a mediator: V.I.L.E. defectors Carmen and Shadowsan, bumbling sibling duo Zack and Ivy, and Voice with an Internet Connection Player.
- Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers: The Rescue Rangers themselves are headed up by co-founders and partners Chip and Dale, their mutual love interest the Gadgeteer Genius Wrench Wench...Gadget Hackwrench, and the Little Guy, Big Buddy duo of Zipper and Monty.
- Codename: Kids Next Door: Nigel Uno's unit in Sector V, a parody of secret agents from a kid perspective complete with Numerical Theme Naming. Consists of tactically gifted and dedicated Numbuh One, Gadgeteer Genius Numbuh Two, excitable girly-girl medic Numbuh Three, Dumb Muscle tough guy Numbuh Four, and former leader current second in command, cool kid Numbuh Five. Numbuh One is also the fifth wheel who dates outside the team with Numbuhs Three and Four as the main couple and Two and Five as the Beta Couple.
- Teen Titans: Robin is the intense team Leader, Cyborg is a Big Fun Gadgeteer Genius, Beast Boy is The Funny Guy, Starfire is a Naïve Newcomer Girly Girl and Raven is the stoic goth. Further, Robin and Star are love interests, and Beast Boy and Raven are a subtle Beta Couple, while Cyborg's romances are mostly outside the team. Star and Raven are Light Feminine and Dark Feminine pair, Cyborg is a laidback Blue Oni Number Two to Robin's determined Red Oni leadership style, with BB on the outs. On a scale from fun to serious, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Star, Robin, Raven, where the former two love to party, the latter two prioritize work, and Star just wants everyone to get along.
- ThunderCats (2011): Shades of it in most iterations, but played particularly straight in this one where they're the surviving cats of a mutant invasion on the kingdom of Thundera. Lion-o is the Lord of the Thundercats. Tygra, Lion-o's jealous adopted brother, is second in command. Cheetara, the cleric, is both Lion-o's spiritual mentor and in the middle of the brothers' Love Triangle. The Wily Kittens are The Dividual sharing a role as Street Urchin clever tricksters. The last to join the main team is Panthro, a military vet and Genius Bruiser.
- Voltron: Legendary Defender: The paladins that form Voltron are 5, (one for each limb and head of their Combining Mecha).
- The initial lineup consisted of Team Dad Shiro, the rival duo of the hotblooded loner Keith and Casanova Wannabe Lance, and the support team of The Big Guy Hunk and The Smart Guy Pidge.
- After Shiro's dissappearance, Keith steps up as the new Leader, and Lance buries the hatchet becoming his right hand man. Pidge and Hunk keep their old roles, but Allura (formerly the Big Good) steps into the field as the new fifth paladin and The Heart of The Team. This arrangement is the usual set up in other iterations of the franchise.
- Young Justice from the end of the pilot to Artemis' introduction, the Team, a black ops-esque unit of teen heroes under the Justice League. The core trio is made up of the levelheaded Leader Aqualad, mischievous ninja Robin, and the scientific speedster Kid Flash who were all longtime friends as sidekicks to Justice League members. They're next joined by the alien duo of the stoic berserker clone of Superman, Superboy, and the cheerful but mysterious empath Miss Martian who quickly become a romantic couple. Artemis later disrupts this as the Sixth Ranger and the team continues to grow from there.