It?s an inexplicable quirk of group dynamics: if four people spend enough time together, each of them will eventually turn into one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Well, not literally. That would involve toxic ooze. But, by some law of human behavior, each member of a quartet can?t help but take on one of the archetypical personality types found in our favorite crew of adolescent cold-blooded crime-fighters (or second favorite, I guess, if you really love the Battle Toads).
I didn?t discover this template, I?m merely modernizing it (if you?ll indulge me enough to accept that references to a now 30-year-old cartoon are modern). In Jonathan Lethem?s wonderful novel The Fortress of Solitude, characters describe a similar ?essential human grouping pattern? based on that other iconic quartet, the Beatles.
The Beatles or the Turtles? Certainly one of the classic questions of our time. For now, let?s use both to analyze the four universal personality types inherent in any foursome:
The idealized leader: dedicated and decisive, we usually think of this character as valiant, but they can also be the figurehead of a sinister unit. Personally, the Leos and Pauls of the world tend to bore me a little with their righteousness, integrity, and bland nobility, but your mileage may vary.
Raphael/Lennons are dynamic visionaries or explosive rebels. They are bold, creative, and intense. They also tend to be funny in a dark sort of way and emotionally or spiritually troubled. A tortured genius, if you will.
Donatello/Georges fly under the radar, but they are integral to the group?s success: they are intellectual, introspective, and possess unique talents. As you can see below, when a foursome has one female character, that woman is frequently the Donatello. Why? I think it?s an unfortunate reflection on the way women have traditionally been depicted as modest, ?token? sidekicks in male-oriented pop culture (but maybe it just reflects some bias on my part, IDK).
This jester-like character brings a much-needed dose of levity and humor. Michelangelo/Ringos are fun, if a little unsophisticated (although their flippancy may mask deeper, more complex emotions). As the TNMT theme song states, a Michelangelo may indeed be a ?party dude.?
Well, there you have it: the four archetypical personalities. Below you will find my attempt to place other famous quartets (as well as some groups of five or six) within this paradigm. Feel free to comment with your own suggestions and additions!
Boy Meets WorldCory ? LeonardoShawn ? RaphaelTopanga ? DonatelloEric ? Michelangelo
SeinfeldJerry/Elaine ? LeonardoGeorge ? RaphaelKramer ? Michelangelo(Jerry and Elaine are both Leos ? that?s why they didn?t work out together.)
Stranger Things KidsMike Wheeler ? LeonardoLucas Sinclair ? RaphaelWill Byers ? DonatelloDustin Henderson ? Michelangelo(Eleven doesn?t exist on the paradigm, obviously. She?s like a crazy Leonardo/Raphael with superpowers.)
The Golden Girls
Up to some radical shit, no doubt.
Dorothy ? LeonardoBlanche ? RaphaelSofia ? Kind of a cross between Splinter and DonatelloRose ? Michelangelo
The SimpsonsMarge ? LeonardoBart ? RaphaelLisa ? DonatelloHomer ? Michelangelo(Most of the Simpsons? issues as a family stem from the fact that they essential ly let their Michelangelo lead the team).
The Avengers (as depicted in the movies, please don?t flame me comic fans)Captain America/Thor ? LeonardoIron Man/The Hulk ? RaphaelBlack Widow/Hawkeye ? Donatello(Doubling up on Leos and Ralphs make The Avengers a particularly combustible outfit. And, in the style of the Marvel films, everyone gets their share of one-liners without any one character becoming a full-on Michelangelo/comedic relief).
Star WarsLuke Skywalker /Princess Leia ? LeonardoHan Solo ? RaphaelC-3PO/R2-D2 ? DonatelloChewbacca ? Michelangelo
FriendsMonica ? LeonardoChandler ? RaphaelRachel ? DonatelloJoey/Phoebe ? MichelangeloRoss ? Krang
South ParkStan ? LeonardoCartman ? RaphaelKyle ? DonatelloKenny ? Michelangelo
It?s Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaDennis ? LeonardoCharlie ? Raphael/MichelangeloDee/Mac ? DonatelloFrank ? A really screwed-up Splinter(Charlie doing double-duty = the epitome of ?Charlie work?)
Buff Bagwell can be Casey Jones or something.
Hollywood Hogan ? LeonardoKevin Nash ? RaphaelScott Hall ? DonatelloSyxx ? Michelangelo
The Channel 4 News TeamRon Burgundy ? LeonardoBrian Fantana ? RaphaelBrick Tamland ? DonatelloChamp Kind ? Michelangelo
The GhostbustersEgon ? LeonardoPeter ? Raphael/MichelangeloRay ? DonatelloWinston ? N/A(The Ghostbusters were wholly functional as a trio in the first half of the original movie because Peter pulls off a Michelangelo and a Raphael simultaneously. However, they weren?t harmed by the addition of Winston, because he was just a cool dude who played by his own rules.)
The Godfather SonsMichael (Al Pacino) ? LeonardoSonny (James Caan) ? RaphaelTom Hagen (Robert Duvall, informally adopted son) ? DonatelloFredo (John Cazale) ? Michelangelo
The WhoRoger Daltrey ? LeonardoPete Townshend ? RaphaelJohn Entwistle ? DonatelloKeith Moon ? Michelangelo(This is the break-down in 90% of bands (though, ironically, not The Beatles): Lead singer/Leo, Guitarist/Ralph, Bassist/Donatello, Drummer/Mikey.)
Grunge BandsPearl Jam ? LeonardoNirvana ? RaphaelSoundgarden ? DonatelloAlice in Chains ? Michelangelo
The Big 4 Thrash Metal BandsMetallica ? LeonardoSlayer ? RaphaelMegadeth ? DonatelloAnthrax ? Michelangelo
Fantastic FourMister Fantastic ? LeonardoThe Thing ? RaphaelInvisible Woman ? DonatelloThe Human Torch? Michelangelo
Full House AdultsDanny ? LeonardoJesse ? RaphaelRebecca ? DonatelloJoey ? Michelangelo
Sadly, Velma is the only one who ever learned how to read.
Fred ? LeonardoShaggy ? RaphaelVelma ? DonatelloScooby-Doo ? MichelangeloDaphne ? April O?Neil (Mostly relegated to the ?Damsel in Distress? role)
GumbyGumby ? LeonardoPokey ? RaphaelPrickle ? DonatelloGoo ? Michelangelo
Italian Renaissance ArtistsDonato di Niccola di Betto Bardi (Donatello) ? LeonardoMichelangelo Buonarroti ? RaphaelRaffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael) ? DonatelloLeonardo da Vinci ? Michelangelo