MBTI: Walter White- INTJ

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SPOILERS, B!TC#!

There may never be another INTJ in fiction written with the depth and moral complexity of Walter White. While the Keirsey name for the INTJ is “Mastermind” (A name many take to mean ‘born genius’, not accurate), Walt actually lives up to the name, though not by the stereotypical way of “rising through the ranks, flawlessly and untouchable.”

No, Walter White is definitely flawed, giving television one of the greatest shows ever made and majorly because of the characters. An INTJ that doesn’t just sit on his throne in the dark, cackling? *Gasp!*

Walt’s Ni should be pretty obvious to anyone familiar with Type Theory. As soon as he gets word that he has lung cancer, he immediately resorts to coming up with a solution to taking care of his family after he’s gone.

While a meth manufacturer isn’t necessarily the first thing that would come to any INTJ’s mind, Walt’s position as a chemistry genius is rare to him, but also fits the INTJ profile of being involved in not only the sciences, but doing his best to master his trade. And at the start of the series, Walt turns 50 and he’s got it down pretty well.

Walt’s Keirsey name is lived up to throughout the series in multiple ways as well, from the general premise of the show to the amazing finale that premiered last night. His long range plans are what keep him alive in many moments where death seemed certain. The entire series could be considered one huge example, but a more specific one would be his plan to kill Gale so he could be kept around long enough to eventually kill Gus. For purely business reasons, of course.

Walt’s Te is very well established, as it seems he’s only really willing to say what he already knows, responding to unexpected remarks with things that give off the impression he’s on mental track with no intention of getting derailed.

Extraverted Thinking is all about organizing and making things happen, so quick comebacks aren’t usually in the INTJ repertoire so much as curb-stomping discussion-enders are. Te deals with information already on hand rather than new, incoming information.

"Meth is dangerous? Let me ponder this."

“Meth may be a bad idea? I’ll get back to you on this.”

This, in a sense, is also what makes Walt such an unconvincing liar.

Now does he get away with so many lies? Yes. But most of his fabrications are built on the fact that the people he’s telling them to people who want to believe him in the first place or have no concrete grounds to truly suspect him of telling them otherwise. His nerdy demeanor tends to have people believe that he’s incapable of lying in many cases it seems. No one more so than his brother-in-law, Hank.

When asked an unexpected question by his wife and one that “needs” to be responded to with a lie, Walt doesn’t twist the truth or flip words around, mixing the truth and lies together- he just responds the Te way, with the “yes or no” response first and then builds his lie on top of that. When Jesse accuses him of poisoning Brock, his girlfriend’s son, Walt lies to Jesse telling that he didn’t when he did. The most convincing thing about it all to Jesse is that Walt points out that he has no reason to do that to Jesse, though their enemy Gus does.

This isn’t so much the brilliance of the lie, but it is the brilliance of the plan since Walt wanted Gus dead.

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Here is an excerpt from the Breaking Bad wiki about the difference between Walt and Heisenberg’s personalities-

As Heisenberg, Walt prefers to die in a fight a leave a legacy (good or bad) instead of giving in. The argument can be made that the cancer was merely a catalyst for Walt (generally family-oriented, employable, and mild-mannered) embracing another side to his personality—the Heisenberg side, the side that is gratified, feared, ruthless, and powerful—that was there all along.

This pretty much sums up the INTJ. While having two sides to a personality could be said the same of anybody in many ways (You at home/you at work, etc.), many people mistaking Walt for an ISTJ is just a bit misguided.

While not every INTJ in real-life is a bad-ass (Gotta be honest- I imagine fat greasy nerds at a computer in many cases- Just sayin’), they still have the complexity to their thought process that, in part, makes them an INTJ. ISTJ on the other hand, has a very similar operating process, albeit much more simple.

ISTJs just do the things they mean to do in a relatively short period of time and that’s all there is to it. They may go as far in their in their career as an INTJ but they didn’t necessarily plan to; they’re just good workers. INTJs will generally lay out a plan to get to where they want to go and what they want to do. This is where the stereotypical “power lust” comes from- “Why just work for money? I want to make ALL the money I can.” An INTJ friend of mine would want to know what we were doing if we left his house. But then he would ask, “Well, what after that?” And we may or may not know.

Then, after a final question about the evening’s “plans,” He might conclude it with “No, I’ll just stay.” Then we would get a (very) short dissection on why what we wanted to do was so stupid. If it isn’t leading to something solid for them, they opt out all together rather than see what happens.

Walt’s display of emotions is similar to INTJ’s, whose Fi is third. Even before the height of Walt’s megalomania, he still displays a very weak understanding of how other people work.

Walt constantly berates Jesse when a simple explanation could do, explains few of his actions and becomes increasingly upset when he’s questioned, as his Te doesn’t want to tell you “why,” just the “what.” Don’t question them even though they just questioned you for ten minutes, just do it. He’s got a plan and it needs to be stuck to- there’s no time for your complaints nor emotions.

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Much of the negative side of INTJs is only worsened by the fact that they like what’s wrong with them- “Sure, I’m arrogant, but how can’t I be? You’re stupid.” are the kind of things going through an INTJ mind and they see no reason to change just because you can’t handle it. Criticisms are tuned out or turned into compliments in their own mind, allowing them to continue on their own path, no matter how controlling and destructive it may be. This can be difficult for loved ones when their attitude is dismissive as they can’t see how your problem with them can’t be fixed by you changing.

But as Walt found out, listening to what others have to say or at the very least, respecting a different way of doing things other than his own would have done him well.

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15 Responses to “MBTI: Walter White- INTJ”

  1. Sweet.

  2. Erick Zingali Says:

    Disagree with Walt being the best example of an INTJ, that guy would be Dr. House

    • Taylor Says:

      Can’t say much, don’t watch House. One thing though is that aside from Walt being an extremely well written character that even fits the manipulative “mastermind” villain, he’s also a confirmed INTJ with little argument against it. I know several types claim House and much of it seems to be the all-encompassing nature of the character; as if he’s been written to the point that he can’t be typed because he’s got a little bit of everything. I don’t know personally though.

    • bobnickmad Says:

      House is not even an INTJ in the first place.

  3. John Mancini Says:

    WW is no INTJ at all, not even close. WW is a clear cut case of ISTJ, this is very easy to conclude. I am often amazed at the willingness to type WW as an INTJ but then again, that’s what shitty tests will do for you.

    Many people seem to think that ISTJs and INTJs are similar, only one letter off. This is not the case at all. ISTJs have Si (introverted sensing) and INTJs have Ni (introverted intuition) These are very different. Si need to read something from a book or get the facts and/or data in order for anything to make sense. That s the only thing they get excited about; “What is the truth?” They know what things cost, mileage, sports records, world records, dates in history, list of presidents etc. And not only this, but they go crazy for shit like that and they will argue and start fights over shit like that. They will hair split and ask for evidence. They will deny things if you don’t support opinions with facts and “the truth”. INTJs on the other hand are more interested in “what’s next?”, “does it work?”, “where do we go from here?”

    Here are some Si examples:

    “…leave your name and phone number and state the reason for your call…” (Only ISTJs leave messages like that, INTJs expect people to understand what to do in that situation)

    Cutting the crust off the bread like he did. (INTJs give squat about straight lines and symmetry in bread issues)

    Hanging on to a marriage falling apart (Family values and good ol times)

    Keeping a drug addict moron around and saving his life all the time. (Not very pragmatic or psychopathic at all, INTJs would have killed his ass a long time ago)

    Only REACTING to problems instead of planning ahead and being organized. (Gale for instance)

    Always being taken by surprise and always confused about Gusesees motivation and actions. (WW is always learning by trial and error since he cannot read up on being a drug lord from a book. INTJs would have “seen the picture/matrix” after the first couple of troubles and corrected things accordingly.)

    Bragging to Hank about Gale not being Heisenberg (An INTJ would wait until being the kingpin before bragging himself to the grave)

    Walking up to Gusesees house in an attempt to kill Gus?!? (WTF, this would only make sense to an ISTJ, you know; “Go to house were he is so that I can kill him, yeah, that outta work”)

    Chemistry (Need I say more? High school chemistry would bore the shit out of an INTJ)

    He tries to use logic and rational thought when talking to Sky. (Only ISTJs would do this, all other types get that you don’t talk to women using logic and rational thought.)

    The point being; an INTJ would plan things, get organized, analyze the situation and have a few outs in the pocket. INTJs would get in to the drug business using their head. Walter White is very intelligent and knows his chemistry but he has done amateur mistakes and errors every step of the way. An INTJ would KNOW that there will be Tuco kinda guys, he wouldn’t be surprised by being bugged or followed since these are things he would do himself in that situation. The main difference is an ISTJ like WW would cook the purest product there is and expect the money to fall in to his lap, expect the people to admire his cooking ability and praise his product since this is based on FACTS. An INTJ on the other hand would know that being a drug kingpin is a complex and dangerous endeavor that requires more than just a product, you need the whole system in place, since this is BIG PICTURE.

    • fatalfuryguy Says:

      You’re wrong

    • Taylor Says:

      Sorry, can’t agree here. Much of what you said relies on a VERY specific outcome and one that really can’t be proven with each type. A lot of this seems to be based on the idea that INTJs wouldn’t make mistakes while the ISTJ is just a giant moron of a type, with any positive qualities being negated by the next stupid thing they do.

      One thing you seem to misunderstand about the entire series though is that Walter White suffers from insufferable pride. He can’t just work for Gus and make his money, he can’t just do things simply and be done with it, he’s not making meth to make money but because he’s “in the empire business.” And it’s what leads to his rise and fall as Heisenberg. It’s not because he’s ISTJ that he makes stupid decisions but because he’s prideful to the point of being blindingly arrogant. It’s what gets him into most of his bad situations and gets others hurt or killed.

      So again, yes, he’s an INTJ. Not because of his faults, but these are faults (and positives) that fall in line much closer to INTJ than ISTJ. If I were to give you a list of INTJ weaknesses, Walter White fits them to the tee. You don’t have to agree, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor by getting rid of your bias that ISTJs are self-inflicted accidents while INTJs hover instead of walk.

      • You don’t agree? The good thing is you don’t have to agree…

        INTJs do of course make mistakes and ISTJs have good qualities. But you know what, I’m not in the “feel good” business. I am more interested in the topic at hand than interested in making ISTJs feel good. The whole “assurance thing” (that there is good and bad in everything and no type is better than any other is so last season) is unnecessary and kinda lame.

        Pride doesn’t count for personality traits, pride is pride. In this case it would be a question of how pride will show.

        An INTJ would make plans from the start. They would “research” the drug trade and make plans accordingly. They would definitively make plans after the fiasco with Crazy-8. WW just Forrest Gumped his way day after day and was forced to REACT to various crises situations as they came up, never being a couple of steps ahead. Things like having a “drug phone” to communicate with was too complicated for our “Mastermind” Walter White. Saul even asked WW about planning for things when the whole RV thing happened.

        An INTJ would have organized safe bank accounts instead of being caught pants down with millions in cash.

        Biases? No, I have a good understanding of how this stuff works. People just want to identify with INTJ as well as with WW and that’s how things get mixed up, that’s all.

    • I disagree as well and will try to explain what I think are explanations for your S examples

      “leave your name and phone number and state the reason for your call…” (Only ISTJs leave messages like that, INTJs expect people to understand what to do in that situation)”

      INTJs expect people to understand what to do but after dealing with too many “stupid” people, devise a plan to get what they want done. Hence a detailed and instructed message. “I dont have time to listen to useless information. Get to the point and get out”

      “Cutting the crust off the bread like he did. (INTJs give squat about straight lines and symmetry in bread issues)”

      INTJs can be maniacal about what they like and don’t like. Cutting off bread in an efficient manner to get them exactly what they need and no more.

      “Hanging on to a marriage falling apart (Family values and good ol times)”

      INTJs dont want to have a good time. They want to do what’s interesting. INTJs are VERY loyal because they ALWAYS start what they finish. It has nothing to do with family values, it has more to do with Ni saying that if I work more at this, I will succeed and turn around a failing marriage. It’s actually an interesting and difficult problem. Why go the easy route and leave when you study the fascinating problem of human relationships?

      “Keeping a drug addict moron around and saving his life all the time. (Not very pragmatic or psychopathic at all, INTJs would have killed his ass a long time ago)”

      Actually Jesse is ESSENTIAL to his business and has inspired me to keep around FP types. Jesse handles the human and unpredictable parts of his business that Walter can never handle. He balanced Walter’s calculation so the business is actually more robust and anti fragile. Jesse is more quick on his feet when unexpected things happen. Jesse gives Walter the time to make his plans (like the death of Tuco series). Although, Jesse screws up his plans half of the time. Also, Walter is keeping with being loyal. He started with Jesse. He will either kill Jesse himself or finish the job with him.

      “Only REACTING to problems instead of planning ahead and being organized. (Gale for instance)”

      INTJs NEVER react to problems. EVER. Not quick on their feet. They only look like they are because they have computed several hundred different scenarios in their heads and, when something changes, whip out a previously computed scenario. If something is completely new or unexpected, they dont react very well and need time to regroup. If they dont have time to think it out, they will probably die. Once again, Tuco’s death. Jesse was quicker in seizing a gun to shoot while Walter was thinking up some better, more complicated plan. The lack of a higher S and P function

      “Always being taken by surprise and always confused about Gusesees motivation and actions. (WW is always learning by trial and error since he cannot read up on being a drug lord from a book. INTJs would have “seen the picture/matrix” after the first couple of troubles and corrected things accordingly.)”

      Human beings always surprise INTJs because of a lack of sensing and P function. Anything random or unpredictable tires out the thinking function and the intuition function cant even work.

      “Chemistry (Need I say more? High school chemistry would bore the shit out of an INTJ)”

      No. That is the hallmark of an INTJ. They must be the top 10 in the WORLD in their field of expertise. He was probably the top 1%. If you think chemistry is boring, I suspect you haven’t ever work in BigPharma trying to cook up molecules to cure cancer. That’s when detailed molecular chemistry comes in handy. The guy has a nobel prize in chemistry that started a billion dollar industry. ISTJ? I think not. An ISTJ would still be working for those guys even though he hated their guts.
      High school? INTJs like to teach and expound on their knowledge. It’s quite gratifying and makes them feel smart. Walter has to be the smartest man in the room. But prefer to teach older folks not kids so you dont have to deal with nurturing and the emotional aspect of kids.

      “He tries to use logic and rational thought when talking to Sky. (Only ISTJs would do this, all other types get that you don’t talk to women using logic and rational thought.)”

      Only rationals try to use logic to explain anything. Or would just not explain at all. Rationals are the most inexperienced at normal human relations and are the only ones who dont know any better. An ISTJ would just try to find a past experience to explain. Or not speak at all.

      • woah123 Says:

        Don’t u remember how he killed Gus and turned Jesse against him.that tookk carefull planning of how Jesse would react and the old Salamanca guy would help him

      • Wow, you got most of it 100% wrong, didn’t you. You will benfit a great deal by actually learn the stuff before commenting.

        You don’t seem to get that you were showing why WW is an ISTJ more than showing how he is not.

  4. Arrkhal Says:

    I think Walt’s seemingly ISTJ traits are probably a result of his education and background in hard science. Going into a field like chemistry requires you to develop a pretty strong sense of… sense. Hard facts and specific figures rule the day. An INTJ is constantly asking “does this idea WORK?”, while an ISTJ will be asking “do the observed and recorded facts and figures support the idea?” And the latter approach is the only way to get anything published in a scientific journal. A theory is proven by concrete numbers and observations, not by successful implementation (which is the purview of engineers, not researchers).

    I kind of think the only way an INTJ can survive in a pure research environment is by either pretending to be an INTP, or pretending to be an ISTJ. Walt went with the latter.

    Walt’s incredible bitterness over Grey Matter is definitely proof of his underlying INTJ-ness. Not only was he denied credit and cash, he never got to IMPLEMENT any of the ideas he thought up. He left a job half-done, only for the other half, the IMPORTANT half, to be finished by someone else. That’s just about the worst thing you can do to an INTJ. I think an ISTJ would have been much more inclined to accept Elliot’s job offer, and almost certainly would have accepted “as far as we’re concerned, the money is yours” as a reason to accept charity. The INTJ response would be more like Walt’s, “no, that money ISN’T mine, goddammit, but it SHOULD have been!”

  5. Thank you, holy shit. I’m so tired of the “Walt is ISTJ/INTP” arguments. I’ve even heard ISFJ for him.

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