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Fearsome foursomes

After eight gasp-filled seasons of "Desperate Housewives," the sun finally sets on Wisteria Lane as the comedy/drama/mystery series reaches its two-hour finale Sunday at 9 p.m. on Channel 5. And though we must say our goodbyes to Bree, Lynette, Gaby, and Susan, the trusty TV formula that brought them together isn't going anywhere. "Desperate Housewives" is part of a proud TV lineage of fearsome female foursomes from "The Golden Girls" right up to "Girls." At the heart of the formula's success is a precision-crafted dynamic that keeps the characters hugging, fighting, and talking it out, while viewers toggle their empathies between archetypes that never wear out. Below, a breakdown of TV's finest queen-quads.

The voice of reason

The bruised idealist

The passionate diva

The perpetual innocent

Girls

2012-

Voice of reason

No expert on men herself, Marnie still tries to bring Hannah to her senses about her non-texting fake boyfriend.

marnie
Allison Williams

The bruised idealist

"You know what I'm gonna do from now on? I'm gonna ask people if they're gay before I have sex with them."

hannah
Lena Dunham

The passionate diva

On contracting HPV: "All adventurous women do."

jessa
Jemima Kirke

The perpetual innocent

"I'm like the least virginy virgin ever."

shoshanna
Zosia Mamet

Hot In Cleveland

2010-present

Voice of reason

After escaping from the Nazis, this Polish widow isn't fazed by anything, especially three neurotic tenants.

elka
Betty White

The bruised idealist

Joy is a type-A entrepreneur with little to show for her life but a long trail of plucked celebrity eyebrows.

joy
Jane Leeves

The passionate diva

Her soap opera has been canceled, but she still thinks people want her autograph.

victoria
Wendie Malick

The perpetual innocent

Newly reintroduced to the dating scene, Melanie was the only one who was surprised to discover that her new love interest was married.

melanie
Valerie Bertinelli

Desperate Housewives

2004-2012

Voice of reason

Trusty in an emergency. Not only did she hide her son's hit-and-run, she also helped Gaby bury her stepfather.

bree
Marcia Cross

The bruised idealist

She raised her sisters because her mom was an alcoholic. Now she's raising her own kids while separated from her husband.

lynette
Felicity Huffman

The passionate diva

"The only person more self-centered than me is Carlos; he's so self-centered he doesn't even know how self-centered I am."

gaby
Eva Longoria

The perpetual innocent

Once locked herself out of the house while naked.

susan
Teri Hatcher

Sex And The City

1998-2004

Voice of reason

Worked through a lot of her problems not to mention her friends' in her column.

carrie
Sarah Jessica Parker

The bruised idealist

"Soul mates only exist in the Hallmark aisle at Duane Reade Drugs."

miranda
Cynthia Nixon

The passionate diva

"I'm a tri-sexual. I'll try anything once."

samantha
Kim Cattrall

The perpetual innocent

So prim, so proper, she once asked the girls not to cuss in Vera Wang.

charlotte
Kristin Davis

Living Single

1993-1998

Voice of reason

"Regine, you are an embarrassment to desperate women everywhere."

maxine
Erika Alexander

The bruised idealist

She couldn't get a firm grip on boomerang beau Scooter until the very last episode.

khadijah
Queen Latifah

The passionate diva

"All I want is the best. I mean, I want a man that knows that fine wine doesn't come with a twist-off cap."

regine
Kim Fields

The perpetual innocent

Khadijah: "Synclaire, I try to be there for you, but you take that fork in the road and you lose me every time!"

synclaire
Kim Coles

Designing Women

1986-1993

Voice of reason

"Have you all just completely lost your minds?"

julia
Dixie Carter

The bruised idealist

Whether dealing with her awful ex-husband or her on-again/off-again boyfriend, Mary Jo just can't seem to catch a break.

mary jo
Annie Potts

The passionate diva

"I got pulled over this morning for having all the mirrors in the Mercedes turned so I could see myself."

suzanne
Delta Burke

The perpetual innocent

Poplar Bluff is to Charlene as St. Olaf is to Rose Nylund.

charlene
Jean Smart

The Golden Girls

1985-1992

Voice of reason

If there's a problem, chances are she's got an (almost) analogous tale from Sicily.

sophia
Estelle Getty

The bruised idealist

An exasperated roll of her eyes could launch a thousand ships and send Stan running for the door.

dorothy
Bea Arthur

The passionate diva

"I swear with God as my witness, I will never pick up another man! In a library. On a Saturday. Unless he's cute. And drives a nice car. Amen."

blanche
Rue McClanahan

The perpetual innocent

Rose: "Can I ask a dumb question?"

Dorothy: "Better than anyone I know."

rose
Betty White

SOURCE:Internet Movie Database

Patrick Garvin, Michael Brodeur/Globe Staff

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