MBTI: John Luther-ISTP


It can be tough to type a character whose occupation often relies on intuition, but also a good sense of surroundings. While in reality, detectives and the like don’t embody all the perfected qualities of a puzzle solver or master tracker a la Sherlock Holmes, Luther doesn’t either and it’s what makes him fun.

In fact, it’s his temper that creates most of his own problems seen throughout the show.

Most detectives on TV fit the perfect stereotype of a hardboiled cop that’s always inches away from crossing the line when it comes to their violent rapist suspects….but they don’t. And then everybody pats them on the back for it.

And for good measure, pats on the butt also.

And for good measure, pats on the butt also.

On the other side of that fence is Luther, who also comes close to crossing the line though he does so in secret because he may actually get locked up by his own colleagues. A lot of this went into deciding what the actual type of the Luther is because the show is so well written and performed that when you’re not dealing with an open stereotype of a type, they can be tougher to make a decision on.

But Luther’s first function is Ti, which was going to be his first function on either type he really was (the choice being INTP), but his deconstruction of a case, crime, or scene constantly has him analyzing what’s happened and where to go from there. While strong Te users aren’t idiots by any means, the likelihood that they would excel in the deconstruction of a crime scene is only going to fare as well as they’ve been taught or learned.

But from the beginning, we see Luther being introduced to new information and taking it apart piece by piece. He’s quickly able to determine that Alice is the murderer of her own parents by piecing little bits of information together. Now proving it is another thing…

Maybe he SHOULD separate work fromm play...

Maybe he SHOULD separate work from play…

The big difference between why Luther is an ISTP and not INTP is that while he does use intuitive skills to help him with his work, Se is much more likely the auxiliary function seeing as how when he gets mad, he can’t contain himself. It gets him into as many problems as it helps him solve. While his Se allows him to take advantage of every situation, doing exactly what he needs to at that moment no matter what protocol is, it also leaves him prone to outbursts.

Deciding to use fake diamonds from another case to help solve a current case where a woman’s life is on the line could be an example of Se, not to mention the ISTP’s aversion to disobeying authority if it gets in their way. He also douses himself in gasoline and gives the criminal he’s facing down the lighter. His gambits usually pay off but it leaves him rushing from one place to another, never 100% sure of how he’s actually going to get out of that particular scenario.

"Like this-" *projects steeley gaze*

“Like this-” *projects steeley gaze*

On the other side of Se, smashing the window in his office after his ex-wife tells him that she’s officially done with him…leaves him wide open later on when his wife is murdered. Witnesses can only say “Well, she came in earlier and it didn’t end well…” If only the ISTP could control themselves.

The ISTP’s Inferior function is Fe which is just likely to make the user seem cold as it is to make them seem like they should be in anger management. It’s also what makes Luther the loner he is- his marriage fallen apart, his obsession with his work, and his inability to stay out of trouble that some would call “extralegal.”

It’s also interesting to note the “projects” Luther takes on. As cold as he comes off, it’s not as though he doesn’t have a friggin’ soul. From the teenage porn actress he rescues to the kids on the bus that were going to be killed outside of town, Luther’s renegade (yet positive) ways aren’t just limited to his job.


“I don’t always save underage prostitutes, but when I do- I get them ice cream. In public of course.”

As Idris Elba puts it-

“You know when you watch the news and someone has killed their children? And your instinct is to be like, ‘Oh, if I got my hands on them’? Well, his instinct is to do that but he’s a police officer. And when he does get his hands on them, he doesn’t necessarily follow procedure. He will be as vindictive as the criminal.”

Much to the dismay of whitey.

Much to the dismay of whitey.

The ISTP is a type that has a little more to them than you might think, but it’s not as though they’re a different person at work than they are everywhere else. While some might put on a smile when they clock in, the ISTP remains the same and what you see is what you get- for the most part.

Here’s a trailer for the third and final season-

6 Responses to “MBTI: John Luther-ISTP”

  1. Alice Morgan?

    • Taylor Says:

      Oh, INTJ for sure. Bit of a stereotype with her character, though entertaining nonetheless.

      • Geoff Says:

        But she seems fun

        • Taylor Says:

          Oh yeah in a psychopathic sort of way. Think female Hannibal Lecter.

          • My question is how would an aspd enfp look different than an aspd intj?

            • Taylor Says:

              Difficult question since I don’t have any examples on hand drawing from real life. In fiction the obvious is usually the answer to go with but I’d imagine a character with ASPD is going to come off like a more villainous version of their type all the same. Many villains could be given disorders and conditions to account for their methods.

              But here, Alice gets a kick out of torturing Luther but she also doesn’t despise him. ENFP would be more random while Alice likes exerting control over others; typical TJ behavior turned vile. ENFP with ASPD would probably resemble something like the Joker with less of a point, more for the hell of it. Think Mad Hatter from Batman. More far fetched than a character like Alice, but he fits the profile.


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