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Here's The Formula For Every Group Of Characters In Pop Culture

Once you know about this pattern, you'll see it everywhere.

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Mitchell Hurwitz, the creator of Arrested Development, has said in many interviews that he created the Bluth siblings based on the paradigm of "matriarch, patriarch, craftsman, and clown."

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"At one point I remember learning that there was this classic archetype of matriarch, patriarch, craftsman, and clown," Hurwitz explained on a recent episode of Julie Klausner's podcast How Was Your Week. "I just thought it was the coolest thing, and started seeing it everywhere there were successful quartets."

Hurwitz explained the meaning of the archetypes in terms of the characters on The Golden Girls, a show he wrote for early in his career.


"Rose is the matriarch because she has the maternal instinct, and Dorothy is the patriarch," Hurwitz says. "I think the clown is Blanche, because of all her sexual sort of clowning, and the craftsman, the serious one who sees things as they are, is Sophia." These archetypes come from Commedia dell'arte, a form of theater based on a wider range of stock characters and narrative tropes that originated in Italy in the 16th century.


Seinfeld follows the pattern too, though Hurwitz notes that the craftsman isn't quite who you'd expect. "Kramer's the craftsman because he's on a track," he says. "He's serious and focused on things."


Many family sitcoms, like The Simpsons, follow this pattern in a fairly literal way, with one serious child and one silly child.

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(Maggie, as a mostly non-speaking character, doesn't fit into the pattern.)


The classic '70s version of the X-Men followed this pattern, with Wolverine and Cyclops competing for the patriarch role.


Jean Grey would be the second matriarch, and Beast would be another craftsman.


The cast of Star Wars allows some characters to play different roles. Luke is usually a craftsman, though sometimes he's the second patriarch.


C-3P0, R2-D2, and Chewbacca all can fit into the clown role, though the latter two can also be considered craftsmen.

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