MBTI: NF Villains and Other Miscreants

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Sure, they’re out there. There have been a few on here. But for the few that can be named, there’s a nine out of ten chance that whatever villain whose presence you’re enjoying isn’t a good ol’ Idealist.

The answer seems obvious enough given that on average, your “run-of-the-mill” Idealist loves people and just wants a big ol’ hug, blah blah blah…But not every Rational wants to poison the city’s water supply nor every Artisan want to rob, rape and kill- so where are the NF villains?

Anybody else ever see these things online and get confused?

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I see these things online all the time. Initially just glancing over them, I didn’t think much about it. But I’d seen so many I started wondering if this is how NFs often see themselves. Well, I don’t think it fits them.

From several emails and searchin’ the ‘net, I really couldn’t find many NF antagonists that stuck as real NFs and villains. In real life, it’s hardly disputed that Adolf Hitler was anything but an Idealist with most guesses going between INFJ and INFP.

In real life, it’s nature and nurture that dictates your personality while in fiction, the personalities are based simply on what we can observe what’s written for them. A real person says “I don’t want to come in last place, so I’m going to train hard to win.” And for a person to live this way, we could assess that they may be an ESTJ or ESTP, so on and so forth with many exceptions of course.

"Jew think I can't win a footrace??"

“Jew think I can’t win a footrace??”

In fiction, a writer decides that he wants a character that always wins and then may work backwards to tell how he came to be such a strong-willed, disciplined character. If the writer even chooses to go into the back story.

All of this is to say that when searching for NF villains, you’d have to dig deeper than the average story to find one because NF motivations can often be much deeper than the regular villain. We’ll start with other types of villains-

SJ Villains- Dutiful; often the villain because it’s their job. They don’t actually look for reason in what they do but rather follow orders which often leads them to do heinous things.

SP Villains- Adrenaline Junkies; When SPs are villains, it’s mainly due to circumstance- bad childhood which led them to search for that rush in all the wrong places leading them to murder, robbery, and other fun stuff.

NT Villains- While their methods are more complex, NT villains are always searching for their own sense of power be it by controlling others (TJ) or by doing things for themselves in such a way that harms others (TP).

Pictured above: Probably no NFs.

Pictured above: Probably no NFs.

So while the other groups’ motivations are fairly understandable by any viewer/reader/etc., NF villains can’t be understood in the same way because their goals are more complicated to begin with. We would exclude NT villains in this case because even though we’ve acknowledged their complexity as a whole, everyone understands the need to be in control of themselves and goes about it in their own way; the NT way just happens to be a bit further out there.

So what are NF villain goals? What sets them apart from the groups mentioned? First look at what NFs care about to begin with. While the rarer NTs can still be looked upon with certain admiration for their intellect and capabilities in logic, NFs care about people in a way that other types have a much harder time grasping.

It’s not that other people can’t care as much if you were to put it on a scale somehow, but the way NFs look at the world around them isn’t always appreciated by the world itself.

While Sensors have their practical activities and agendas, and NTs have their own weird little way of combining the real world with what’s in their head, NFs have ideals about society that can easily be dismissed as noble, yet naive and childish. The ISFJ you know may want to take care of her family and though she is shy and timid, their minds are more naturally in tune to every day life.

INFJs appear similar to ISFJ but have their priorities nowhere near what the ISFJ’s are. The same work that the ISFJ simply sees as part of the job makes the INFJ feel like they’re dying inside- and you can see it on their faces because they can’t hide it. That is, unless they feel like they’re making a real contribution to things and really making a difference. It can only help if the work is creative, but otherwise the Idealist is going to feel empty.

"Mom, can you get my bed ready? It's been a long day."

“Mom, can you get my bed ready? It’s been a long day.”

Helping people doesn’t really cover it for NFs in the work place. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably read enough about your type to fill a book so I’m not going to get into the details of it all, but you know the basics- be it privately or publicly, the NF you know wants to help the world on a superhero-like level, spiritually, mentally, whatever.

There’s a reason Keirsey calls them “Idealists” in the first place. Goals like theirs could only be considered idealistic and often to the point of them having no rational way of working them out, they just know they’ve got to do something for mankind, even if it’s by focusing on animals or mother earth. Not that they’re all hippies.

So how does this relate to the NF villain? Well, when your mind is naturally set to do the best you can for humanity, it seem they’re the least likely to go that path of destruction and chaos. Certain villains have been labeled as NFs but simply aren’t.

Many that are labeled NF are done so because they either have a temper (meaning that they give into their feelings more easily thereby being a dominant feeler); or that their villainous actions involve people in some way- they hate the world and want everyone to be as miserable as they are or something of the like.

But as Jung says, and as I mentioned in the Darth Vader MBTI article, while feelings overwhelm Thinkers, thoughts control Feelers if not properly processed. So for a “bad guy” to be doing villainous things he’s probably not going to be in an unhealthy state as much as they are just wrong, either for their goal or their method.

"This guy's not doing his job and you're telling me I can't choke him?" -ISTJ

“This guy’s not doing his job and you’re telling me I can’t choke him?” -ISTJ

NFs as villains are more likely to fall on the side of an evil method rather than a terrible goal and this can be difficult for a writer to create without having you lose interest in the character entirely.

One villain I’ve typed as an Idealist is Batman rival Ra’s al Ghul as an INFJ. His goal is to purge the world of the vile, corrupt people that hold it back from being as righteous as it could be. But this goal is often pursued by murder and crime on a global scale, with Ra’s feeling that the ends justify the means.

Keep in mind that Ra’s is leading a group that’s been long before him. He’s not the cold-hearted Mastermind but someone who was perhaps swayed by the idea of taking out the garbage and had the vision (or Ni) to continue in tradition.

As talked about in the article, he even wants Batman to take his daughter as his wife and for him to be killed by the dark knight and to have him become the new leader of his clan. It’s what sets him apart from other Batman villains. He’s not simply out to kill or rob but to cleanse the world for the betterment of mankind.

As unique as Ra’s type is, is as unique as his character. While other characters might be the villain while thinking what they’re doing is right, it’s just as easily done for fame, glory, and other understandable but selfish reasons.  Not the case for Ra’s.

"I'm all about humans. The GOOD ones."

“I’m all about humans. The GOOD ones.”

Another Idealist villain I was able to type with some level of confidence was Lila from Dexter as an ENFP. While she was doing horrible things which can’t necessarily be considered natural, her frame of mind was to live life to the fullest; with a deeper understanding of human nature than a sensor would care to see things, her apparent Ne seemed to lead her from one violent, illegal misadventure to the next- she’d just lost all touch with others’ emotions and needs.

My Horror Villains list has a very short section on Horror Villains and even then, I think I was reaching. While Misery’s Annie Wilkes could be the crazed, imaginative INFP that can’t combine reality with the dreamworld in her head, Pennywise the Clown really can’t even be typed (As I’d done, ENFP) being that he’s more of an entity than a personality.

But past these few, combing the internet, my DVDs, friend’s brains, and Netflix, I was really only able to come up with those few.

And why? Because the goals mentioned for villains of other varieties are much more likely to play into things people can understand even if they’ve never shared a similar idea themselves.

Who doesn’t become robotic in the execution of their job? You’ve done it a million times and people who don’t listen are just annoying now. Who wouldn’t want all the money you could ever spend? Rob a bank! Who doesn’t like the idea of being completely free from society’s reigns? You’re on top now, Baby!

But the Idealist goal is tougher to write, much less carry out in a way that doesn’t seem insipid or hokey. The roles NFs are normally apt to play are the struggling hero, the sidekick that never stops, or the perfect romantic interest, even with their little imperfections. Villainy doesn’t suit them and many would take that to mean “They’re just not badass enough.”

This isn’t the case. The fact of the matter is that while others have goals that can more easily in the right or wrong direction, the NF is set up to care about people rather than implore an idea or set in motion a plan that would do them harm.

Often people stretch the boundaries of MBTI by stating that this NF villain is “very twisted” as a way of saying that they can still be NF but like, super messed up. But how can one operate so fluidly while living in a stressed state? You can’t, and it’s why most of said typed characters aren’t actually NF.

If they were written as a character that didn’t care about people, well then, they’re not NF are they?

Now in real life? That’s anybody’s territory.

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8 Responses to “MBTI: NF Villains and Other Miscreants”

  1. Cognitive functions in real life are kind of life superpowers for superheroes and villains in comic books. Everyone has 4 superpowers (cognitive functions) that are stacked in a certain order to have certain abilities. However you choose to use those functions, in a good way or in an evil way, has to do with the wildcard of personal experience and personal choices. I could see INFJ powers at hand to carry out the actions of the S.S and the Third Reich and ENFP powers at hand to carry out Hugo Chavez’s Communist dictatorship. Conversely, Ghandi also utilizes INFJ powers to spread peace and enlightment and Hiraldo uses ENFP powers to take down cruelty against the mentally ill.

  2. […] sense of justice and a misguided strategy of “helping” the world.  The writer at Zombies Ruin Everything put it well when he said “NFs as villains are more likely to fall on the side of an evil […]

  3. Interesting article! I definitely see a lack of NF villains, though I’ve been fortunate enough to come across a few in the books I’ve read this past year. My favorite NF villain (and fellow INFJ) would be Zaheer from Legend of Korra’s third season. He’s an idealist, deeply spiritual, and believes he is truly liberating the common people from tyrannical governing powers, going as far as to violently assassinate a world leader and monarch (I think that’s the scene that forced Nickelodeon to move the show off-air and to their online platform) and even attempt to murder the protagonist—not because he disliked her (in another world, he would’ve been her mentor and teacher) but because her role as the Avatar makes her arguably the highest governing power there is. She may not have true legal authority anywhere, but she is respected by the masses as the Avatar, and by many (but not all) world leaders, and she could’ve been an ally if she didn’t strongly oppose his ideas (inserting note: as an ESTP, she is his opposite). His ideas and presence are powerful enough to attract many followers, though he clearly prefers isolation, barring his small circle of close friends and allies. Zaheer’s organized, methodical thinking and reasoning, all based on a people-related idea that is so important to him that he’d risk decades-long imprisonment, torture, and death to realize that idea, makes him a very extreme INFJ, and a very interesting villain to watch. Bonus points for Zaheer’s air-bending powers, with air being the element of freedom, commonly associated with higher thought and spirituality.

    “When you base your expectations only on what you see, you blind yourself to the possibilities of a new reality” — Zaheer

    • Taylor Says:

      Thanks. Sounds like a pretty interesting villain. I’ve never seen the show myself and INFJs seem to be the most likely of NF villains altogether for whatever reason. I’ll have to look them up.

      • Robin Says:

        The first season villain could be an ENFP. Can’t say much about his backstory without spoiling it, though 🙂

  4. In anticipation for the new Harry Potter universe movie coming out, I was reading up on Gellert Grindelwald (harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Grindelwald) ex-flame to Dumbledore and considered one of the most powerful Dark Wizards (second to Voldemort).

    It seems like he could easily be one of the NF villains you describe here: in the first place, that wikia article is littered with describing how Grindelwald was incredibly idealistic. His villainous motto was “For the Greater Good”, trying to right the injustices wizards had received at the hands of Muggles throughout history. He considered Voldemort an idiot who couldn’t tell what was important in life; he refused to attack his former friend’s country and maybe tried to prevent Voldemort from desecrating his friend’s grave, and his overall goal was rather complex. Much like you’ve described in some of these articles.

    So…
    I’d say he was an NF villain.

  5. Camerlengo from Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. Not movie, book. Total ENFJ according to me.

  6. Well, INFJ would work too…

Discuss!

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