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AlleyOop Relationship Status: GAR for Archer
Sep 2nd 2020 at 10:33:32 PM

I've noticed for quite a while now that the Four Is Death trope is subject to quite a lot of overuse even with the added disclaimer that it only be used for works that implicitly or explicitly associate the two. Said disclaimer being:

This is not a repository for every time the number 4 just happens to appear in a work (or for series where the fourth installment was particularly bad), nor for when bad things coincidentally happen in the fourth episode or installment; this is for when the trope is consciously addressed by having the number 4 intentionally and unambiguously associated with death or misfortune. Particular examples of common groups of four that are normally unrelated to this trope are the Elite Four, The Four Gods, the Four-Element Ensemble, and the Four-Temperament Ensemble. In particular, most groups of four mini-bosses in Eastern RPGs refer to one of those or to the shitennō — often localized into the Elite Four or the Four Heavenly Kings — and have no relation to this trope.

Launching the Elite Four trope, which I incidentally was originally responsible for posting on the TLP in the hopes of cleaning up some of this misuse, did indeed do a lot of good, but there still remains work to be done. In addition I see several examples of Western works listed when this is strictly an East Asian trope.

Some examples on the main page of misuse:

    Main Page 
Anime and Manga
  • In Fist of the North Star, there are four heirs of the Hokuto school of combat. And there is a reason if Kenshiro, the fourth of them, is the Trope Namer for You Are Already Dead. This seems to be a coincidence, and a fan connection at most. No mention of a direct in-universe acknowledgement.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the fourth Evangelion unit (really the fifth unit if you count the prototype 00, but being called the 04 was all it took) disappeared into a Dirac sea during a startup experiment, taking a large chunk of the Mojave Desert with it. Also, Unit 03 — the real fourth Evangelion — got taken over by an Angel and had to be destroyed, nearly (and in the manga, actually) killing Toji too, who was, of course, the Fourth Child. And if that wasn't enough, Toji shortly prior became the fourth person that Hikari makes lunches for. Ouch. Unit-04 was always referred to as yon-gouki in dialogue. Even Rebuild does this. And when Shinji achieves a synchronization ratio of 400%, his body dissolves into LCL. Don't worry, he came back. Borderline example considering the work has used numerological motifs before, but no conscious connection is made to my knowledge.'
  • From Naruto: Most of the following seem to be rather coincidental connections between misfortune and the number four. There doesn't seem to be causation here, only correlation. And likewise there are probably plenty of misfortunes in the series that are associated with other numbers than four.
    • Naruto's Superpowered Evil Side becomes dominant and goes into "kill everyone" mode when he grows four fox tails. At this point, he can't tell friend from foe anymore and has to be forced to simmer down.
    • The Fourth Hokage spent the shortest time in office, a tenure that ended with him saving the village with a "Seal Evil" technique that required him to sacrifice his own life and seal his soul in the Death God's stomach, in eternal combat with the sealed Evil.
    • Meanwhile, the Fourth Kazekage seemed to be the worst thing to ever happen to Suna. He sealed a Tailed Beast in his son (in this case Shukaku, the One-Tailed Tanuki) which was already contained in a tea kettle. Gaara wasn't born yet and as a result the Kazekage's wife died delivering him. He then proceeded to alienate the boy from birth and when Gaara showed signs of being Ax-Crazy (like all of Shukaku's previous hosts) he ordered the poor kid's uncle (the only person up to this point who had shown any kindness to him) to assassinate him. And to top off his career, he got his face torn off by Orochimaru as a prelude to his village being used as cannon fodder in an invasion.
    • According to the Fifth Mizukage, the Fourth Mizukage was like this for the Mist Village, and is largely responsible for the "Bloody Mist" image held by most other countries. The fact that he was being mind-controlled by Madara note  probably didn't help.
    • The Forest of Death's official title is the 44th Training Ground and has 44 gates. This is legit and worth keeping even if the rest are worth purging.
    • The fourth stage of the Uchiha's Sharingan is the Mangekyo, which requires the user kill their best friend.
    • Of the Eight Celestial Gates, first through third are Initial, Heal, and Life; the fourth, however, is the Harm Gate. When opened, this gate puts enough strain on the body that the muscles tear themselves apart. And twice that, the eighth gate, is the Death Gate (Opening that gate gives the user great power for a while and then a one-way ticket to Dead Meat County).
    • Sasuke was going to be the fourth body Orochimaru claimed before Sasuke thwarted Orochimaru and killed him, and before that, was going to be the fourth body Orochimaru had, including his original, before the Sound Four took too long and Orochimaru had to transfer prematurely.
    • Akatsuki member Kakuzu harvests the hearts of the victims he kills, and his special ability is Four Hearts Jutsu, with which he prolongs his life by adding four hearts to his own.
    • The series' final war is the Fourth Shinobi World War, and the Fourth Division, who suffers the most casualties, is first to be victimized by Madara Uchiha.
  • Chie Shinohara: The Best Collection has the one-shot Suicide Room Number 404, a room on the fourth floor, which is said to be cursed and cause women to commit suicide over scorned love. I think this one is legit. Keep.
  • One episode of Chobits deals with an apparently haunted Room 104. Possibly legit, depending on how it's handled. I'm not sure.
  • Bleach:
    • Ulquiorra Cifer is the most powerful espada Ichigo fights, leading Ichigo to initially assume he's number one. Not quite. He's ranked fourth. He's also the only Espada with a second release state, and the first release is so powerful it shouldn't be used under the dome of Las Noches. He also has deathly pale skin, black hair, permanently cold-looking eyes with lines underneath running down his cheeks like tear marks... you get the picture. Possibly legit example since he is more overtly vampiric and death-themed than the other Espadas.
    • The Eleventh Division's fourth seat is empty for both the superstition and because Yumichika thinks the kanji for "Four" is ugly. A legit example since it's explicitly acknowledged.
    • Unohana Retsu, the captain of the Fourth Division is The Dreaded. She is also the First Kenpachi of the Eleventh Division, and the worst criminal to ever exist in Soul Society. Meaning that she was (and still is) worse than Aizen. Her actual name is Unohana Yachiru, the person Zaraki Kenpachi respected the most, and Yachiru's namesake. The name "Yachiru" means 8000 styles, referring to the fact that she has mastered every sword style in Soul Society. To top it all off, she is the inventor of the Art of Killing, which she plans on teaching to her tenth successor. She is probably the most blatant example in all of Bleach. Not sure but it seems pretty weak if the reveal is that her true association is with a different number than four.
    • Askin Nakk le Vaar holds the letter designation "D", the alphabet's fourth letter, and his ability is "The Deathdealing." His power is the ability to change the "lethal dosage" of any substance he takes into his body in sufficient quantity, which lets him do anything from become completely immune to an attack to making something as simple as oxygen fatal to anyone around him. He demonstrates this by making the blood in a foe's body toxic, and the only way to escape his power is to bleed to death since he made the "lethal dosage" lower than what the body needs to survive. Oh, and it's almost impossible for him to die - even finally being taken down by Oetsu didn't stick, courtesy of Yhwach's Auswählen. This sounds more like a connection with the letter D (which is by coincidence is the fourth letter of the alphabet), than a direct connection with the number four.
    • A subtle example occurs in Yamamoto's past, which reveals that he previously went by the nickname Eijisai, written 丿字斎 - with the first character being the fourth kanji radical. This is revealed as part of the lead-in to the fight ending in his death. Unless this is openly acknowledged for its "Four" connection, it sounds like a huge stretch.
  • Dragon Ball: Aversions are no longer notable, and this is not an omnipresent trope. These should definitely be deleted. Frieza's sounds like a stretch.
    • Inverted with the Four-Star Dragon Ball, which saves Son Goku's life during his first battle against Tao Pai Pai. This Dragon Ball is a memento to his grandfather Son Gohan. In the anime, after Goku's first son was born, he gave him the name of his grandfather when Goku looked up to the Dragon Ball.
    • Dragon Ball GT takes this inverted trope even further with the Devil Dragon/Shadow Dragon of the Four Star Dragon Ball, Si Xing Long/Nuova Shenron. Si Xing Long is the Token Good Teammate, the Noble Demon and the Anti-Villain among the seven Devil Dragons. He even saves his enemy/friend Goku on several occasions.
    • Played straight with Frieza having four forms, not counting his Full Power and Golden forms, which are simply extensions of his fourth.
  • The Phantom Lord guild from Fairy Tail has the Element 4, a Four-Element Ensemble of wizards and the equivalent of Fairy Tail's S-Class wizards: Aria, Juvia, Sol, and Totomaru. This is just a non-migrated example of Elite Four.
  • Moroboshi Ataru of Urusei Yatsura was marked out as a Cosmic Plaything by being born on the second most ill-omened day in the Japanese calendar, the thirteenth of April: 4-13. (This was also on Butsumetsu, the anniversary of the Buddha's death; the only unluckier day is April 4th, which is Four Is Death squared.) Additionally in the first episode, his jersey has the number 4 on it. Deliberate. Keep.
  • Gundam's sequels and Spiritual Successors like toying with this:
    • Being the protagonist's Temporary Love Interest, Four Murasame in Zeta Gundam was so predestined to die. And she did. Twice. And again in the Compilation Movies with a bullet to the head. Probably worth keeping since her name is ominous.
    • The soundtracks for both Zeta Gundam and Gundam ZZ have a sting specifically for significant character deaths, which is exactly four chords of descending notes. Subverted at least once for a Fake Kill Scare, when the person who was thought killed turned up alive later. Probably a coincidence.
    • The second season of Gundam 00 seems to go to complete overkill with regards to the number four: it takes place 4 years at the end of the first season, the main Gundam Meisters are still composed of 4 members, the protagonist unit's designation number is 0000 and it is also the only 4th generation model at the start of the series. And if you want to take things further, the said unit is powered by two GN-Drives, one's from the very first (O) Gundam, while the other is from the protagonist's previous unit which is part of the third generation. Thus 1 + 3 = 4. And the Innovades are four pairs, and it includes the Big Bad and Tieria. This appears to be closer to thematic Elite Four than Four Is Death specifically.
    • Also worth mention is that both Gundam 00 and Gundam SEED skip the obvious fours in their Gundam lineups (there is no GN-004 or GAT-X104). We then later find out what became of 004: it's hidden underneath GN-005, Tieria's Gundam Virtue. It's a girly looking Fragile Speedster down to the flowing red "hair" coming out of its head and is called Gundam Nadleeh, which is incidentally the word for people of the third, fourth, and fifth genders in Navajo culture, which only deepens the mystery of whether Tieria's a Gender Bender. See above. Cool trivia, but not associated with death or misfortune specifically.
    • The Gundam 00 side stories play it straight: In 00P (the precursor to the TV series), the GNY-004 Gundam Plutone suffered a major malfunction which killed two of the Gundam Meisters and horribly scarred a third (including her hair turning white). The survivor, who ends up running a Celestial Being sub-group years later in Gundam 00F, is understandably reluctant to allow the Plutone to be used again. Given the above, this seems like a coincidence.
    • Gundam Wing has an interesting take on this, Quatre Winner is the fourth Gundam Pilot (it's even in his name), and has an aversion to killing whenever possible. Yet with his destruction of a whole colony with Wing Zero he has the highest body count of any of the Gundam Boys. Also he apparently killed his Mother giving birth to him. Unless it's lampshaded in some fashion, it's probably a coincidence.
  • Claymores work in fours when participating in group demon-exterminating missions. In addition, when Number 6 (Claymores are ranked by power) lists the top five for her companions to watch out for, the only one to warrant emphasis and additional description is not Number 1 (by definition the strongest) but rather Number 4, who "cares nothing for the lives of her comrades or the lives of humans in general... A woman who lusts for battle and the blood spilled." The Number 4 to take over for her, Miata, is also little more than a Psychopathic Manchild, leading at least a few to conclude that all Number 4 Claymores are crazy. Worth keeping if it's lamphased in-universe.
  • There are powers of four all over Death Note... for obvious reasons. Keep them for the most part though the "Light has four strokes" piece of trivia can probably be removed.
    • Once a name is written in it, that person dies 40 seconds later of a heart attack unless a specific cause is written during that time.
    • You have six minutes and forty seconds to write the details of the death after the name and cause - in other words, 400 seconds.
    • One of the rules unmentioned in the series is that writing a name incorrectly four times in the Death Note by accident will grant the person who the user was trying to kill immunity to that Death Note. However, writing the name four times incorrectly on purpose will not only not render the target immune to that Death Note, but kill the user who wrote the name.
    • On a far more obscure note, Light's given name is spelt as "moon" (月). This has four strokes, which is ... crashingly unlucky and symbolic. Poor Light, doomed from birth. On top of that, Mikami's office is number 4. Also, Rem is Shinigami ranked number 4.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo: Guido Mista has a very Japanese-like obsession with the number 4, which is all the more bizarre since he's Italian. When Bruno's gang is first introduced Mista is freaking out because the waiter at their restaurant brought them four pieces of cake, and when the gang rents a boat he very fervently tells Bruno not to rent Boat #4. This even extends to his Stand Sex Pistols, a set of six gremlin-like creatures who help guide his bullets; they have numbers on their foreheads, but naturally they skip the number 4. Near the end of the story, Mista accidentally drops four bullets and begs someone else to drop one more. During the second half, the villain attacks and kills multiple members of main group, and in a twist of cruel irony, there are only four protagonists left alive when it's all over. Keep, but the last fact about the four survivors can be removed.
  • In Yakitate!! Japan, Kazuma's Ja-pan Number 44 is rather dangerous. It's so delicious, anyone who eats it for the first time has a Near-Death Experience. Seems to be lampshaded, so keep.
  • Appears repeatedly in Weiß Kreuz: not only is Weiss, a team of assassins, made up of four members, so are three different groups of antagonists they go up against, and one team of allies. Sequel series Weiß Kreuz Gluhen, which re-forms the team into its fourth iteration, does not end well. This appears to be a mix of unmigrated Elite Four and the above issue with shoehorned examples of unlucky fourth iterations.
  • In Outlaw Star, the #4 Caster bullets are capable of killing the shooter if they fire them in succession. (As do the #9 and #13 bullets, both also being unlucky numbers.) Considering the theme of unlucky numbers this appears to be legit. Keep.
  • Rosario + Vampire:
    • In the anime, Tsukune arrives at the bus stop at 4:44 pm and is attacked by rivals for Moka's love. Later on, 4:44 pm is the scheduled time for his execution for being human. Keep.
    • Kuyou, the leader of the Student Police, is a youko with four tails. Delete.
  • Digimon:
    • In Digimon Xros Wars, Tactimon calls his attacks in increasing levels of severity (e.g. Ichi no Tachi, Ni no Tachi, San no Tachi). His most fearsome attack is called Shi no Tachi. Using the on'yomi for "four", the anime plays on both meanings of the term "shi". Keep.
    • In Digimon Adventure, there are four Dark Masters who are the fourth major enemy faced. And they are very deadly, as they kill several allies of the Digidestined. This is Elite Four.
  • Soul Eater: Correct usage, although the following appear to be closer to Goroawase Numbers than strictly this trope alone.
    • Weapon meisters use a form of spiritual telephone to keep in contact — the number for direct contact with Shinigami-sama is 42-42-564 ('shini, shini, goroshi' out loud — in other words, 'die, die, kill').
    • The 'shini' part gets used for Kid in the increase in the size of his soul - one scanlation translated Liz's comment as "42 soul-widths") and the Sanzu Line-enabled form for the Thompsons - Death Eagle .42.
    • This is also the other reason that Death Robbins ice cream has 42 flavors instead of 31. Ohkubo seems to really love this trope.
    • Also, the zeppelin they use to get on the moon to fight the kishin has a big '42' painted on the side ((only in the manga)).
  • Lord Fungus in Final Fantasy: Unlimited survived the first three shots from Kaze's Magun, but the fourth did him in. Shoehorned coincidence. Delete.
  • The Godhand in Berserk originally had four members before Griffith did his epic Face–Heel Turn. Misuse of Elite Four.
  • In .hack GU, Tri-Edge's mark looks like a stylized rendering of the Arabic numeral "4", rotated to its side (or mirrored, depending on how you look at it). The mark signifies those that have been killed by the enigmatic Tri-Edge, making the people that got killed fall into comas left and right. Questionable. I'm leaning towards this being a coincidence.
  • In Code Geass R2, the first person with any screen time to die against Suzaku's new Lancelot Albion is the debuting Knight of Four. In the same series, the Valkyrie Girls, a group of pilots under the command of Luciano Bradley, are four in number- and they are the first to be killed by Kallen in the Guren SEITEN. Weirdly enough, one of them (Marika Soresi) is revealed to have survived in Code Geass: Oz the Reflection. Both seem coincidental.
  • In D.Gray-Man a Level 4 Akuma could take on Generals easily and was close to annihilating the Black Order. Sounds like a coincidence.
  • In Black Lagoon, Roanapur is controlled by four criminal organisations - the Triads headed by Mr. Chang, the Russian Mafiya headed by Balalaika, the Italian Mafia headed by Verrochio (and succeeded by Ronny the Jaws following the Vampire Twins arc), and a Colombian drug cartel headed by Abrego. Coincidence, Elite Four at best but even that is a stretch.

Western Animation - See above with how this is an East Asian trope and thus any Western examples are misuse by default

  • Cars 3: Lightning McQueen's crash during the Los Angeles 500 occurred at lap 461, with 40 laps to go. He was also in fourth place when he crashes.
  • The Emoji Movie: Alex's phone store appointment is at 4:00, which is the time the phone is to be erased. Prior to this, he calls the store at 12:00 and the appointment is in four hours from then.

Live Action Film

  • Ju-on, the Japanese movie on which The Grudge is based, features a scene in which Mizuho goes back to her school to meet her boyfriend, Tsuyoshi, only to find that he isn't there. All she discovers is a mysterious cell phone that happens to be lying around. She ends up having to wait inside the school whilst a member of staff searches the building - suddenly, the room goes dark, Toshio starts running around out of her eyesight, and the cell phone she found earlier begins to ring when she is hiding underneath a desk. The number displayed on the screen is simply "4444444444". And when she takes the call, she only hears Toshio's creepy mewing noise. Of course, Toshio also happens to be right behind her at this point. Obviously, these are ghosts who like making culturally appropriate dark jokes. There's also the Ju-on short film, which is simply titled 4444444444. It is set during the first movie, and is directly connected to the scene above - it details just what happens to poor Tsuyoshi after he also discovers the mysterious phone. Keep.
  • Shutter features a horror sequence where the protagonist is running down a series of stairs. No matter how many flights he goes down, it's always level 4. Creeeepy. Specious as, plus I'm not sure if four has the same death/misfortunate associations in the Thai language.
  • In the Robert Duvall vehicle Broken Trail, his character rescues from sexual slavery five immigrant Chinese girls. Since none of them speaks English, and he obviously doesn't speak Chinese, he names them "Number One" to "Number Five". When the girls realize this, "Number Four" objects to being given an unlucky number for a name. One of the other girls eventually accepts to be "Number Four", and she does so because she fully expects a tragic fate to befall her—which indeed it does. 'Western example, but keep as it's explicitly acknowledged.
  • Japanese horror film Gakkou No Kaiden revolves around things that haunt an abandoned school when the clock hits... 4:44AM. 4:44AM typically is more horrifying than 4:44PM, where it's handwaved that it's actually 16:44. Keep.
  • 4:44: Last Day on Earth is, as its title suggests, a movie set during the last day on Earth, with everybody aware that the world will end at 4:44 AM. Strange example as it's a very deliberate number association, but also a Western work with seemingly no overt East Asian influences. I'm chalking it up to odd coincidence.
  • The Gang of Four in Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky: Huang Chan, Shorty, Taizan, and Hai. Misuse of Elite Four.
  • The Korean horror film White is about a K-pop group made up of four members, who all become cursed after covering a song haunted by a ghost. Sounds like misuse.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The clock stops with the minute hand pointing at the number 4 at the very moment Gwen Stacy dies. The actual time shown is 1:21, a subtle reference to Amazing Spider-Man #121, the original comic in which the same event occurs. Western work, thus coincidence.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: The Four Horsemen; Agent MacTaggert details their importance in En Sabah Nur's cult. Misuse of Elite Four.
    Moira: Wherever this being was, he always had four principal followers, disciples, protectors he would imbue with powers.
    Alex: Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He got that from The Bible.
    Moira: Or the Bible got it from him.
  • In Versus, the Forest of Resurrection is the 444th Portal out of 666. If the name is literal then it's not this trope.
  • Sucker Punch has a Five-Man Band of girls. On the first mission where only four instead of five take part someone dies and things go From Bad to Worse. What's more is that this is the fourth mission. Western work, coincidental misfortune.
  • Bobby, Angel, Jeremiah and Jack Mercer, the titular hooligans in Four Brothers reunite in the first act to investigate and avenge their foster mother's murder. They also lose Jack before it's all said and done. Western work, Elite Four at best.
  • In Diamonds Are Forever, when trying to kill James Bond at Slumber Inc., Albert Wint pushes the button labeled "4" on the incinerator control panel's Oven subpanel. Thanks to some well-placed forgeries, it doesn't work. Western work, Misuse.
  • Since the 2000s, as the Importance of the Asian Box Office has increased, few film series ever get to 4 (reboot the series instead). When they do, 4 is usually not in the title (Even when numbers are in early installments). Examples include X-Men Origins: Wolverine or First Class, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Fast & Furious (followed by Fast Five), Rambo, Penguins of Madagascar, Live Free or Die Hard, Open Season: Scared Silly, The Prophecy: Uprising, The Final Destination (followed by 5, a prequel), The First Purge, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, Terminator Salvation... Possible case if explicitly stated somewhere, but I'm not sure how legitimate this is.
  • The Stepford Wives (original 1975 film) Joanna notices that Bobbie and Charmaine had been living in Stepford four months before they 'changed'. It seems to take four months to perfect a robot wife. Western example, shoehorned to hell.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: All four tests guarding the Holy Grail have multiple ways of killing those who seek it. The first test has decapitation and bifurcation. The second and third tests have those step the wrong way plummet to their deaths. The fourth and final test will make you rapidly age and take away your vitality by choosing the wrong grail. Western example, shoehorned.

... And so on.

As for the wicked examples:

    Wicked Examples 
  • Tropes F To H: Subtly used in the episode, "The Only Light in the Darkness." The group in total ends up splitting up into two groups of four, and while Coulson's group ends up okay, back at Providence May leaves, and Eric is killed by Ward leading Skye to the realization that Ward is a HYDRA agent. Western example, blatant shoehorn.
  • Iron Kid: The Four Invincible Lords: Lightning, Rain, Wind, and Cloud. Misuse of Elite Four.
  • The Haunted House: The Secret of the Ghost Ball: Four is practically an Arc Number for the show. The Koo family lives in apartment 444, on the fourth floor of Shinbi Apartments. The maze ghost Keyclaws exists in a pocket dimension between the fourth and fifth floor. The Speeding Bus Ghost, especially, is bus number 4444, which arrives twice a day at exactly 4:44 AM and 4:44 PM. Given the Asian production and ghostly subject matter, likely a legit example.
  • After War Gundam X: Example is commented out for blatant ZCE.
  • Agent Aika: The four Golden Delmos. Sounds like Elite Four, plus ZCE.
  • Battle Spirits Shonen Toppa Bashin: Smile, perhaps the creepiest member of Thousand Spirits Group, is Number Four. Sounds like misuse and shoehorned association of "Four" with something generically bad.
    • He's much worse in the manga wherein he's outright demonic, and the Big Bad.
  • Blue Comet SPT Layzner: Fouron & The Demon Death Squad. Sounds like shoehorning and ZCE.
  • B't X: Subverted. The Four Knights are, naturally, four in number, and they all eventually resolve to help Teppei. The seven Demon Knights, however, are all out for his blood. Straight up not an example, not even Elite Four.
  • DARLING in the FRANXX: Hiro's locker number, as seen in Episode 2, is number 4. And Plantation 26 Squad seems to be assigned to 4th United Company during their last sortie in Episode 15. Shoehorned considering Hiro is the protagonist and isn't overtly associated with death as a theme. Sure, he dies at the very very end, but so do a bunch of main characters.
  • Devil Hunter Yohko: The producers refused to make an actual fourth OVA episode; instead, they put together a number of music videos as a special release in lieu of an actual episode. Since the episode never had an actual number in Japan (it was released as "Super Music Clip"), ADV came up with the title Devil Hunter Yohko 4-EVER as a way of working the number four into the series. See the note for how fourth installment issues do not count.
  • Digimon: The Movie: The movie's three parts are each separated by a span of four years and at the beginning four Digimon are born into the human world, Parrotmon, implied to have been the fourth to do so, being the evil one. If one were to subscribe to the theory that the virus in parts two and three was the reincarnation of Parrotmon from part one, then it's various lives would pan out as such, 1) Parrotmon, 2) Diaboromon, 3) infected Kokomon, and 4) DEATH cause Four Is Death. Shoehorned Fridge Logic.
  • Digimon Adventure tri.: The fourth installment is titled "Loss," and features both Mugendramon/Machinedramon and Metalseadramon as antagonists. Combined with Meicoomon and the Mysterious Man, there's a grand total of four villains. Doubles as a Call-Back to the Dark Masters from the first series. It also seems to end with Meiko being choked to death by the Mysterious Man. Huge stretch plus admits to being in part a case of Elite Four.
  • Ghost Stories: Some of the earlier episodes use this idea on curses. It's also uses as a solution to a problem in Episode 18. Lacking in context, but valid. Keep.
  • Guilty Crown: A contrived example, 256 (Four to the Fourth Power) Leukocytes. Admits to being shoehorning, unless the show itself is lampshading it, then delete.
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes: The very first fleet that is defeated in the original OVA (and Die Neue These) is the Alliance's 4th fleet. Most of it's soldiers are killed off. Another case of shoehorning.
  • Kado: The Right Answer: The fourth device zaShunina introduces, Nanomis-hein is easily the most terrifying of all the devices he used. Shoehorning.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: The Four Generals of the Spiral King; their Gunmen are named after the Chinese gods. And they all die. Misuse of Elite Four.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire - Essos - The Dothraki: Well, Haro died in battle, so they were this for both the Sarnori and themselves. Western work, shoehorning.
  • Americas Next Top Model Cycle Eighteen British Invasion: They had an awful time against the UK team once they were reduced to a Four-Girl Ensemble. Likewise, being a four girl team is their worst line-up. Christ on a cracker. Would be shoehorning even if it wasn't a Western work.
  • Aztec Mythology: Pothole referring to a four-year journey, in a culture that doesn't have that association. Blatant shoehorning.
  • Ten whole instances of Big Brother, which is a Western work
  • Dead or Alive 5: Applied by her experimental name. Fairly ZCE. Could be a case if the name is to indicate her status as a harbinger of doom, but otherwise may be coincidental given another clone called Alpha-152 exists where there is no numeric Meaningful Name.
  • Final Fantasy IV: Tellah is the fourth party member (after Cecil, Kain, and Rydia) to join in the fourth iteration of the franchise. He's practically marked for death from the get-go. Despite what several other characters go through, he's the only one who joins the party that dies and cannot be resurrected. Comes off as shoehorned, especially with the "fourth game in the series" mention.
  • Fire Emblem Fates Hoshido Royal Family: In the Conquest path you battle him four times, and by the last encounter, Takumi's own spirit confirms he's already dead by that point. Shoehorning.
  • Initial D: Rin Hojo's car's license plate ends with 4, befitting his deadly driving style. The following makes it very clear that it's meaningful but a strict case of Goroawase Number and not Four Is Death. Delete for that reason.
    • Goroawase Number: The full license plate of his car is "37-564", meaning "kill everyone"note 3=Mi, 7=Na, 5=Go, 6=Ro, 4=Shi.
  • Jak and Daxter: Kor has four eyes and four wings, and he is not just the fourth boss in the game, he's also the Final Boss and Big Bad. Western work and shoehorned.
  • MCU: Iron Man: Prior to Endgame, he has said the iconic "I am Iron Man." Catchphrase thrice, and all of them in his own movie trilogy. In Endgame, he then utters the same line one last time as a Pre-Mortem One-Liner to the time-displaced 2014 Thanos, prior to using the Infinity Gauntlet, then later dying as a result. Western work and oh god is it shoehorned. Plus it's very recent so it doesn't even have the excuse of being made before the clarifying note was added.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The SKULLS Unit always deploy in teams of four. Very shoehorned.
  • Naruto Akatsuki: Kakuzu harvests the hearts of the victims he kills, and his special ability is Four Hearts Jutsu, with which he prolongs his life by adding four hearts to his own. As mentioned above this is shoehorning.
  • Resident Evil 2: HUNK is playable in the Fourth Survivor, and in Umbrella Chronicles he mentions his mission in Raccoon City (where he was the only survivor) had a 4% survival rate. Additionally, he's got the nickname "Mr. Death", and his alternate costume in Mercenaries 3D is clearly based off the Grim Reaper. And in Resident Evil 4 He is The fourth character unlocked in the Mercenaries side mode. Borderline example. This much evidence makes it unlikely to be full coincidence, but still leaning towards delete but I'm not sure.
  • Rozen Maiden: Guess who the first Rozen Maiden to die was?
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants Recurring Characters: Pothole in a Western work of a man having an unfortunate mishap after 444 events, which is obviously a coincidence.
  • Twelve instances of the trope in Survivor, a Western live action show
  • The King Of Fighters The NESTS Chronicles: Alongside Lin. ZCE, plus closer to Elite Four than this.
  • Gore Vidal: (Kalki) In addition to himself and his wife, Kalki hand-picks three experts, known as Perfect Masters, to join him in the new human society; each is chosen for their knowledge and the fact that they are sterile. Teddy Ottinger will teach engineering, Geraldine O'Connor biology and genetics, and Dr. Giles Lowell medicine. Kalki's wife Lakshmi is herself a physicist, and Kalki is a chemist. Giles betrays the group and is murdered, bringing the total to four. The surviving members die childless, and Kalki finishes Teddy's memoir (and the novel) while preparing to bequeath Earth to the monkeys. Western work named after an Indian term, enormous stretch.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The time on the clock tower displayed when Gwen dies is 1:21, a reference to Gwen's death in the comics in Amazing Spider-Man #121. But look at where the hands land - the minute hand is past the four-hour mark while the hour hand is on the four minute mark. Aforementioned Western work shoehorn.
  • ProtonJon: During Misfortune Cookienote  rounds where the chat does not know what games they are voting for, only voting on "Option 1", "Option 2", etc; almost everyone votes for Option 4 for this reason (because let's be honest here, most of the people who watch Jon on a regular basis just want to see him torture himself playing terrible and/or extremely difficult games). In the first Misfortune Cookie stream they were usually right, too. In subsequent ones, Jon expected this to happen and made sure every Option 4 of the night was a good game that he would enjoy playing. Complete coincidence involving a Western streamer.
  • Fate/Apocrypha: In Episode 4 of the anime Siegfried makes his Heroic Sacrifice to save Homunculus' life. One of the examples of episode number misuse in the main page. Delete.
  • The Good Earth: When Wang Lung asks about the recently born fourth child crying, O-Lan emerges from the room and tells him the child is dead. The work by a Westerner but is set in China and involves Shown Their Work; nevertheless no causal connection is established.
  • The Three-Body Problem: Inverted in book two, where four "Wallfacers" are tasked with formulating the strategy to defeat Trisolaris. The fourth, Luo Ji, is the one who succeeds. Shoehorning.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Pothole about requiring four things to travel to the Forbidden Zone. Blatant shoehorning.
  • Shirokuma Cafe: Pothole about episode 44 having a slightly darker storyline. Again one of the above described cases of misuse.
  • A crapton more of Western-made video games, web videos, and cartoons for which any examples are, with at most a handful of exceptions, blatant shoehorning

... And so on

I think it would help if the note in the main definition was expanded to point out that not all tragedy or misfortune that happens in proximity with the number four is necessarily this trope (similar to how not all bad things that happen in proximity to the numbers one and three are, unless there's some form of lampshading to make it clear that it was a deliberate invocation of the number "Four"'s cultural association with death and unluckiness. In short clear causation as opposed to mere correlation, which can be a bit tricky to prove but the above footnote already signals that this site wants to focus on only the most clear-cut examples.

Edited by AlleyOop on Sep 2nd 2020 at 1:34:10 PM

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