I am not a super-villain.
But according to those Myers-Briggs-typologies-with-fictional-characters chart popping up all over the internet, I am.
I’m an INTJ, a rare type in the general population, 2 percent overall, and even more rare among women, about .8 percent. The fact that the Word Nerds are a team is exceptional because we both are INTJs. We’re known for long-range thinking and strategy, being decisively independent, confident and knowledgeable and for being cold, aloof and distant with others.
So. A few weeks back, I saw the MBTI chart with the characters from Downtown Abbey. I clicked on it, thinking I could likely be Thomas, knowing full well I wouldn’t be Mary and hoping I might be Cousin Matthew. Nope. No. No. No. This chart put O’Brien, the evil maid, in the slot of INTJ. To review, in the Harry Potter chart, the INTJ was Draco Malfoy (but honestly, it’s really Voldemort, but people would feel bad putting that on a chart.) In the Star Wars chart, it’s Emperor Palpatine. In Downtown Abbey, the manipulative lady’s maid. Three villains in a row.
Sure, I have my days of thinking like Dr. Horrible, “The world is a mess and I just need to rule it,” but most days, I want to use my powers for good!
An ongoing conversation with a good INFJ friend ensued, trying to figure out why other types weren’t villains and if there were INTJs that weren’t villains in modern fiction/movies. Any personality type probably has the ability to descend into super-villainy (For example, Loki from Thor/The Avengers is a villain an an INFJ, I think.)
So, I decided to look for some INTJs who were good guys, from other books and movies. A number of other blog sites do this, but I tried to think of them first, type them and then confirm based on what else I saw online. I’m not a Myers-Briggs expert but I’ve read about INTJs quite a lot (INTJs want to know things because we’re all curious and knowledge is power, after all, so I’ve read about other types too).
Doctor/surgeon, from Firefly/Serenity
Introverted — Simon believes himself to be the perpetual outsider, even when the rest of the crew is accepting (well, maybe not Jayne) to his presence and keeps to himself because he doesn’t need their input to contribute to his success. Intuitive — Simon’s whole life is wrapped up in the long-term goal of keeping River safe. His actions are all about navigating to that end. Thinker — Simon thinks about the big picture of River’s safety all the time at the cost of missing the feelings of the people around him. He’s oblivious to Kaylee’s interest in him and doesn’t really care who might get hurt (think the pilot episode when he’s willing to let Kaylee die if they don’t run from the Alliance.) Judger — He makes the decisions he has to make to reach his big goal of River’s safety. This is really obvious in the backstory of doing what he did to get her out of Alliance hands. (Surgeons, interestingly were also pretty high on that psychopath chart…)
The wizard in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
I poked around online and there’s debate about Gandalf’s type, but I still think he fits the category.
Introverted — Gandalf plays his plans close to the chest all the time. He doesn’t see anyone else on his level with whom he can share his goals. Intuitive — N’s go with their gut. They may like to have all the information, but they are willing to play fast and loose when they have to. So, Gandalf’s big, abstract goal in LOTR is getting the ring to Mount Doom which is why he has to wing it when he comes to the gates of Moria because he hasn’t been worried about a detail like that. Thinker — Do I really have to explain this one? He’s a wizard who knows so much that he forgets a lot of it and trusts what he knows over what he feels. Judger — Js don’t really want to lead, but they will when they see the course that must be taken and that no one else will do it.
The new BBC Sherlock walks the very fine hero/villain line with Sherlock so exceedingly well, with the giant assist from Moriarty, who’s an ENTJ (and look, a villain who’s not an INTJ!) But, Sherlock as Sir Arthur wrote him was still an INTJ. INTJs are notably terrible at interpersonal relationships, often getting described as cold, aloof and unresponsive. Yep, that’s him. Introverted — Sherlock has no true friends, living the life of the mind. Intuitive — Ink-stained fingers and dirty trouser knees are all that Sherlock needs to gather together his grand deductions. His reasoning goes way beyond simple observations that would make him an S. Thinker — Sherlock could care little (and understands little) about how people feel. Also, he like Gandalf, knows a ton of information that lets him make decisions and process the world. It’s when information doesn’t line up that he gets uncomfortable. Judger — I’ve seen Sherlock listed as a P, that he’s open to new information being the distinction, but I think that’s wrong. Js are OK with new data, but are confounded by it when it won’t fit into the pattern they think they’ve already intuited. Sherlock doesn’t get stumped, per se, but he does get annoyed and mostly at himself when he finds out something new that makes him have to revise his assessment.
Ok, so what about Moriarty? Moriarty (the BBC version for sure) is an extrovert, thriving on being around people, even his arch-nemesis. But the rest of it? Moriarty is just like Sherlock. It’s really good to show that their roles could easily have been switched and how any type could be the villain. Both Moriarty and Sherlock have moments where you hope or fear that they will tip the other way, into goodness or into evil.
The World War Z narrator
Survivor, researcher and interviewer
This character doesn’t have a name, isn’t part of the action. But after 400 pages, I’m pretty sure this character is an INTJ. Introverted — This character is never named, isn’t the story. The narrator meets people one at a time, getting them to share their stories without sharing his/her own. Intuitive — Oh, the logic in this book. You could have told this story with the end first, or starting at the Battle of Yonkers or a dozen other ways. But the narrator lays out the events in this sweeping arc so you can follow along without being caught up in the emotion of it. Thinker — This goes hand-in-hand with the N in this one. The narrator could tell the story with heart-wrenching emotional, dramatic detail. There are some heart-wrenching things that his interview subjects relate, but he doesn’t dramatize them, doesn’t try to play up the horror and emotional reaction of them. They just are what they are. People may have feelings, but he employs a detached, journalistic sensibility in telling the story. Judger – This narrator reveals that the first report he turns in to the UN is revised down to facts and figures and that they don’t want the human story. Maybe the narrator doesn’t get all the feelings of the people he interviewed, but he knows that telling the story of the people is the right thing to do and is upset that the report wasn’t presented that way (this is the big-picture way to do it, right?) INTJs have fairly strong moral compass (it’s all internal and we might have a hard time explaining it, but it’s there).
I tried to type Harry Dresden as an INTJ and I couldn’t do it. I think he’s an ISFJ or INFJ. Harry can be cold and vicious, but he’s so deeply in to protecting others and making sure they are safe, he just can’t be an INTJ.
What type are you and who has your type in fiction or movies?