Groups of Four


Remember that scene in the Wild Bunch, when the four outlaws grab their guns and walk down the street, ready to face off against an entire army to save their cohort. Or how about the scene in the Angel episode Darla when Angel, Darla, Spike and Dru all walk in a group out of the ruins of a Chinese town. We see this image, four warriors walking together, fearless, again and again throughout film and television. Hell, even the bible talks of the four horseman of the apocalypse. There’s something about four warriors, grouped together, moving together as a unit, fearlessly, that awakens some very primal memory within us all, regardless of how they’re shown. It doesn’t work with three, it doesn’t work with five (which just adds a guy), it doesn’t even work with a whole army of mighty warriors, and you’d think that would be a lot more inspirational than just four.

Every time we see this image we see it as something powerful, as something noble and righteous, and it inspires within us hope. Even in Angel, when it’s villainous vampires that are feeding, it still inspires these emotions.

There are four archangels at the very top. There are always four. Upon every world, in every dimension, from the highest planes down to the lowest each has four archangels on the very top. In our world they are Micheal, Gabreal, Raphael, and Uriel. On other worlds they have other angels with other names. But there are always four. Together, as four, they compromise what is supposed to be the most powerful being of their world. Together, at least in theory, there should be nothing stronger than they are. They are warriors and guardians who know not of fear. They typically act separately. But when called upon, all four at once, they are something strong and powerful, something that should be able to defeat even the most powerful of threats.

Each of us has this memory buried within us. This idea. Most will never quite grasp it, never quite get it, never know what exactly it means. But when we see a similar image, four warriors, together, fearless, we’re reminded of the power and the hope they bring.

2 Responses to Groups of Four

  1. Giania says:

    Going with another blatant pop culture reference: in Kill Bill (1/2) it took four of the world’s deadliest assassins to bring down The Bride, headed by an unseen controlling over-mind, i.e. Bill. And in turn, she took out all four, one by one, with the ultimate goal of destroying that central figure. It could be argued that her primary motivation for eliminating the four was simply revenge, but in truth – could she really have taken out Bill without first disposing of those four guardian figures?

  2. David S. says:

    Good post! Even the demons have their groups of four, ruling over the elements and the directions.

    With reference to the groups of five, I have noticed a pattern. You are right in that five isn’t the same as four viscerally, but what’s interesting is that there are many stories where a group begins with five members, one member dies, and then the remaining four must take on some kind of quest or journey to resolve the death of their fifth member. I’ve seen this in “Desperate Housewives”, “Thunderstruck”, and “Four Brothers”. The fifth member represents the quintessence of spirit and is not fully appreciated until he or she departs and the group realizes the hollow that has been left behind.

    The resolution varies – sometimes it is based around revenge, sometimes it a mystery to uncover the cause of the 5th’s disappearance, or a pilgrimage may be undertaken to satisfy a dying wish for the fallen comrade. You can sometimes see this storyline with fewer members (4 to 3 in “The First Wives Club”), but 5 to 4 appears to be very popular.

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