Where have all the good INTJs gone?

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).

simon

Simon Tam

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…)

Gandalfgandalf

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.

Sherlock Holmes Jim Moriarty BBCSherlock Holmes

Fictional detective

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.

WWZ cover

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?

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23 thoughts on “Where have all the good INTJs gone?

  1. Sara says:

    I am INTJ as well… and I’m also a bit tired of the association of INTJs with villains. I quite like the good examples you picked up. I remember reading that some people associate Sherlock Holmes with another type, but I think INTJ is better suited.
    Good review and thank you for sharing!
    Cheers to all the good INTJs out there 😉

  2. Sara says:

    I am INTJ as well… and I’m also a bit tired of the association of INTJs with villains. I quite like the good examples you picked up. I remember reading that some people associate Sherlock Holmes with another type, but I think INTJ is better suited.
    Good review and thank you for sharing!
    Cheers to all the good INTJs out there 😉

  3. According to the simplified tests online, I’m an INTJ as well. Not that I can say that I truly trust the online tests or the Myers-Briggs typology system itself, but the personality description seems to be embarrassingly accurate. Anyhow, if it is true, I don’t know if a true INTJ really gets bothered by the villain stereotype. Why does it matter? I personally found it interesting to see the Breaking Bad character Walter White was listed on an INTJ fact page. It seems right. He is a character who is not about good or evil, he’s just looking for what makes the most practical sense in his current and foreseeable future, and as his circumstances change, he changes. Sometimes he appears good, other times he appears cruel.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the post and thanks for mentioning Firefly. You’re allright!

  4. I’m a female INTJ, although life experiences have taught me a lot about interacting with people socially – so many people at first encounter assume that I’m an E. However, the E side of me is purely “on the clock” and when I’m done I simply can’t wait to go hide somewhere. Interestingly, I’ve found that my closest female friends are almost exclusively also INTJ or INFJ. Most other female personality types just have no idea what to do with how INTJ’s process the world and interact with knowledge. As a professional business owner in the media field, I’ve found it much easier to work with males than females, in general (except for fellow female INTJs, because we just “get” each other). I’d definitely LOVE to see more positive portrayals of the INTJ type in media characters – especially among leading female roles. I’ve wondered – is it possible that the character of Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife is INTJ? I think her female counterpart Kalinda might also fit the bill… And what about Jessica Pearson in Suits?

  5. Bethany K. Warner says:

    Sarah, I operate that way a lot too, learning how to be an E on the clock. I’m unfamiliar with your examples of other possible female INTJs, so I can’t speak to those. I wonder if being in fields — business, media, fundraising, writing, etc — where we have to forward thinking leads us to encounter other INTJs (even though we’re apparently rare?)

  6. Jeroen Soenen says:

    I’m an INTJ too and I struggle with the same question.

    I personally think that people just can’t make the difference between a cool head and a cold heart. It’s counterintuitive that a villain should rather come over as a very friendly person but if you think of it, only such a person could really be a good villain.

    To add to your list of good-hearted fictional INTJs:
    * Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
    * Edward Rochester (Jane Eyre)
    * Edward Lewis (Pretty Woman)

  7. Pierre-Emil says:

    I don’t really agree with either of those. The maid is some sort of feelie, and obsesses over quite small things such as social status. so ISFJ probably. Draco malfoy is a shortsighted idiot obsessed by revenge. INFJ? Palpatine might be an INTJ, but since he is a charismatic politician ENTJ might be better.

    Sherlock is an INTP. He needs to now how things work, to solve the mystery. he doesn’t really have a plan beyond that. His brother on the other hand.

    Simon Tam is willing to sacrifice everything for his sister, while not having a long term plan at all. INFP?

  8. annesquared says:

    House. Don’t forget Dr. House! He’s a hero in my book and and INTJ.
    INTJ here 🙂

  9. Jade Doe says:

    High fives to all the fellow female INTJ’s out there. I’m utterly frustrated at the lack of non-villain INTJ characters portrayed in media today (especially FEMALE characters). It’s always so frustrating when people say, “Oh, I’m an -insert type here- ! My characters are Harry Potter/Luke Skywalker/ John Watson! Who are your characters??”
    And I have to reply, “Voldemort. Hannibal Lecter. Basically anyone who kills your characters.”

    This list is refreshing.

  10. Kate Watson says:

    Hello fellow INTJ women! I’d like to propose another good gal among our fictional brethren. While others have claimed she’s an ENTJ, I believe Olivia Pope of Scandal is an INTJ. Clearly a rational (NT), she also likes order and organization (J), and IMHO she’s a bit too private and protective of her home, using it as a haven from the cruel world, to be an E. Plus, childhood Olivia preferred reading to interacting with family at the breakfast table. Anyhoo, I hear you on the frustration with our personality type being characterized as the bad guy. The thing that really frosts my britches, however, is when they inaccurately assign someone to us. Neither Draco Malfoy nor Downton Abbey’s O’Brien are INTJs. Draco may actually be an extrovert — always surrounded by minions — and O’Brien is an F. I don’t even think Voldemort is an INTJ. Everything he does is motivated by fear (of death), plus he seems to need quite a posse too.

  11. Vya says:

    I’ve been pretty much desperately trying to find a god INTJ character in ANY fandom ever since I discovered this thing and found out I’m an INTJ. Its been really disappointing really, seeing so many bad guys listed as INTJ’s while the characters I felt more of an affinity to were in truth something different. For example I always saw myself as a bit of a Zuko, but it turns out the INTJ slot belongs to Azula (Avatar the Last Airbender). Some of them are pretty cool (Seto Kaiba hell yes), but for the most part its just a bit frustrating.

    I’d love to pick up a book or start watching a TV Series only to find that the personality types in association to their roles has been switched around. The day when an ESPF (or other stereotypically heroic) character is the villain and an INTJ character is the hero is the day I will cheer like mad.

  12. Vya says:

    P.S – I’ve heard that Matilda is apparently an INTJ. 🙂

  13. Mark says:

    I’ve also read certain versions of batman is INTJ. Another INTJ hero is Katniss Everdeen

  14. Dr Luck says:

    My english is not my native language, but I hope that you will understand what I am meaning.
    Comics Batman is Intj, Nolan´s Istj. Here is a good breakdown: http://zombiesruineverything.com/2014/02/18/mbti-the-dark-knights-istj-versus-the-comics-intj/
    House was an Intj in first seasons, He was motivated by his owm morality and by his individual perception of live, if he was an Intp he would be obsessed by understanding and studying things (Ni is perception vs Ti examine/analyse). Since fourth seansons he change into entp (at the same time an original screen writer was changed). Matilda and Gandalf are bouth Infj becaouse they are kind and they can motivate another people ( Te is jerk, Fe is shoulder to hang).
    Scherlock Holmes. Original in books he is Istp, in the tv show he is Intp ( because of dominative Ti they want to solve everything, but were Se is laid back and friendly, Ne is wierd and unpredictible). Katniss Everdeen is Istp. Most action movie heros are Istp or Estp.
    Intj can be mistaken for istj, intp, infj and istp. But rememer. If he is just a puppet by someone else he is Istj (Darth Vader), if he is kind and mystical but ruthles under his skin than he is Infj, if he is curious than he is an Intp. And if he is underdog than he is Istp
    When you try type a fictional charackter ask yourself “what is his motivation?” Then compare it to stereotypes ( never, ever to yourself or to your personal experience, remamber this is a fictiion).
    How to be sure that someone is INTJ? They have plans, motivation and they are independent (they action and morality is they own creation, they lacks an Enfj mentor). If an fictional charackter has all these quality than he is probably INTJ.
    PS Sheldon Cooper is Istj or Intp. All MBTI types can be jerks.

  15. Amber McNeil says:

    I completely agree. As an INTJ, I find it both insulting and infuriating when people push us into a stereotypical box. Sure INTJs can make a great villain (see Lord Voldemort) but they can also make a great hero or at least a companion. Most INTJs look don’t seek for evil and value peace just like most human beings.

  16. Lehua McGuire says:

    I was actually wondering why INTJs are typically thought at as villains. I’m glad I’m not the only one who that that. However, I don’t mind having James Moriarty as another INTJ.

  17. DEEZ NUTS says:

    Voldemort is definitely not an INTJ

  18. Kelly says:

    I was just thinking about INTJs in media and couldn’t come up with a single positive example: Littlefinger from Game of Thrones, Walt from Breaking Bad, the Governor from Walking Dead, the list of bad guys goes on.
    I can absolutely see why we are portrayed the way we are. Take our intellect, vision, and occasional arrogance and couple that with being notoriously in-our-own-heads, and you’ve got a type that can seem shady and baffling to everyone around us.
    But I did think of one example of a positive female INTJ! She’s not a flawless case because the writing on the show just isn’t all that realistic, but I think Miranda from Sex and the City is an INTJ. She’s a smart, successful lawyer who’s quick to apply her insight and objectivity to help her friends solve their problems, and she’s as idealistic as she is cynical. Her BFF Carrie is an ENFP, well-known as a great pair with INTJ. One thing that doesn’t fit for me, though, is her relationship with her bar owner husband Steve. He seems like an ESFP, which strikes me as a very unappealing partner to an INTJ. Their extraverted sensing would be exhausting–I need some intuition to keep things interesting!
    And so, I find myself posting here. Glad to see other INTJ ladies had the same desire for positive INTJs–hopefully that proves we’re not all evil 🙂

  19. I’m so excited to find a site dedicated to this subject. I too have wondered why most INTJs are represented as the villains in movies. This really disturbs me. I personally feel like I have little in common with these characters. I am a very positive person who values peace. I do not trust people immediately but because I’m so intuitive, I’ve normally observed people for sometime before they even notice me, and so I’ve established the type of person they are already. I do value my alone time but also enjoy time with my girls! In fact, I’m extremely welcoming to those people on the fringe therefore being very inclusive (another result of my N). As for the T function, my little mind is indeed always active but my F function is also very active. I definitely hate crying in public but have found myself tearing up when someone has shown a genuine kindness, a sentimental story is told, or I’m simply in pain. I likewise find it strange that although I LOVE math and even majored in the subject, my true love is creativity. I would rather decorate cookies, paint a room, dress in something darling or do anything that involves making something beautiful. Is this normal for an INTJ? Anyway, back to the movies…I find Katniss to be much more in line with my mode of thinking than any of the other characters mentioned. I realize that she is a ISFJ but I would beg to differ with that opinion. Are there any other females who feel like I do? I’ve always felt like I was an anomaly but now realizing that among the 2% females in the world, I am even “strange” among them!

  20. Javier says:

    The simpler and practial explanation is almost always the best.

    In this case I think what happens with good part of the villians is that they develop another type of moral code. Once you have removed the tags of “good” and “bad” they simply hold different values than the rest. Independency of thought is in the end what characterices most villians and INTJ are the most independent type of all.

    We just simply do not have inside us the “herd spirit”. And everything outside of the herd it’s considered “bad” or “evil” (By the standards of the herd of course)

    Salud.

  21. Dr.Azaar says:

    I personally like us INTJs as villains, we make fantastic villains and badass antiheroes. Many people assume I’m ENTJ but that’s only when I need to turn my social skills light on (at work ie at the hospital, at the medical school interviews, and at the residency interviews). Unfortunately, I frequently forget to pretend I care (I have ASPD ie basically a literal sociopath [fitting isn’t it] [and even weird seeing as how I’m a surgical resident]) and be nice lol. I try, I do. I’m also a writer and I love writing INTJs as heroes (antiheroes more specifically). I mean, we can be heroes (ish) too right?

  22. BlueHeron says:

    One well known INTJ is Batman according to many online sources

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