Peter Cairns was found with serious injuries on a footpath near Stonebridge Close, in Aqueduct, Telford, on June 11 and died in hospital later that evening.
The teenagers, one aged 14 and three aged 15, all from Telford, appeared in the dock or via video link at Stafford Crown Court on Monday.
None of the defendants were asked to enter a plea at this stage, and a plea and case management hearing will be arranged for the coming weeks.
A provisional trial date has been set for the week beginning November 22.
There were no applications for bail and Judge Kristina Montgomery QC remanded all four youths, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, in custody.
In a touching tribute on behalf of the family after his death, Mr Cairns' mother said her 26-year-old son had been a gentleman who would always do his best to help other people.
She said: “Let me tell you about this boy/man, Peter. He was perfect from the start.
"He then grew into this inquisitive little person who loved to ask questions and talk about anything, loved life and was so innocent.
“His best friend was his brother, Chris - double trouble - and has remained so with the added bonus of a boy called Lewis.
“Peter took time with his brothers to offer them his wisdom. As a family we were told Peter would never live a normal life because of his ADHD and autism but with hard work his dad and I put plenty of routine in and a repetitive reassurance to Pete so he flourished.
“Peter was a kind, loving, extremely special individual who was there for everyone and was extremely opinionated but was our family’s voice of reason.
“He always was a gentleman and respectful to everyone’s needs and even his own. No matter the person in need, he’d always do his best to help. He saw the world so differently to us but taught us that different is so much better and good.
“His dad and I and the rest of our family had the privilege to have this amazing individual person for 26 beautiful years and his brothers for all their lives. We are proud and thankful this sweet boy was our son/brother. Gone our darling son and brother but never forgotten Rest In Peace.”