MBTI: The Types (of Types) of Heroes
A few weeks ago, we did a podcast for our Top 5 Heroes. If you haven’t listened to it, correct your mistake! If you listened to it and couldn’t understand one of us, well, that host has since been shot and tossed into a ditch. Anyway. What are, generally, the best ways you can tell what kind of hero is which type? Some of the best written examples can be the most confusing to enthusiasts because they defy stereotypes which is normally what you could go off of.
This is a quick guide to about half the MBTI-related articles you’ve seen here.
Keep in mind, these are heroes, not villains.
*Additions made to the INTJ heroes section on 5/4/2015
Guardians (SJ) ESFJ
Friendly yet protective, these types of heroes are generally found to be the boy scouts of all heroes. They’re big mistakes are their rigidness at times when it comes to unfamiliar situations but they’ll usually be fighting for their family, whoever that is. Getting one pissed off is a terrible idea though it’s unlikely to lead to death in whichever universe the story is set in.
It’s also highly difficult to even get them to that point as their Fe usually has them in a good mood, only carrying out more violent acts when it absolutely has to be done.
Quiet and often unsure, the “Protector” variant is (of course) similar to their extraverted cousin, the ESFJ, albeit more closed off. Where the ESFJ may attempt to save anybody that resembles someone that looks even close to someone they know, the ISFJ is fine with letting those “trivial” things go, preferring to only deal with loved ones.
Any acts of heroism performed is generally as the most faithful sidekick/assistant/partner/whichever-term-doesn’t-offend-you that the hero could ask for. And while chauvinists may think this to be unimportant, it’s often the assistant that figures out the most vital clue for the hero, or end up having to save the day if the protagonist has become too weary. The best way to sum it up is that the spotlight just isn’t where they want to be. This thought entertains them occasionally but once they get a taste of it, they humbly bow back out. As the main hero, they’ll often be pushed until they can be pushed no more.
The jerkiest of all the heroes, if the ESTJ isn’t the loudmouth chief behind the desk, he (or she) is certain to be the one demanding that the other characters go as close to the book as possible. This might even lead to a scuffle between the ESTJ and another protagonist about how things should be done.
Like in real life, ESTJ heroes are born to lead yet are terrible with people. Their leading Te makes them want to do everything as closely to the manual as possible while telling you how to do it that way too. And while their way isn’t always the best way, you’ll never have to worry about an ESTJ protagonist not completing their mission if they’ve decided to undertake it-even if it means to die trying.
If the ESTJ is the jerkiest of all heroes, the ISTJ could be in second place (maybe third but we’ll get to that). These heroes prefer to do things alone but if that can’t be the case and they have to play with others, they’ll still expect you to do things their way. Like all SJs, ISTJ heroes are unfamiliar with and hate the unknown. So if the ISTJ can add their antagonists “List of Moves” so to speak, they’ll perfectly defeat them as an unrelenting, brutal force.
Their weakness is having to deal with their enemies’ “ace in the hole” or some other unexpected trick that the tunnel visioned ISTJ couldn’t have seen coming- after all, they’re logicians, not strategists.
Guardian Hero Giveaways- Often rigid, annoyed with outsiders/too many questions, either REALLY nice or REALLY jerky, often do things for the ingrained belief that it’s right.
The most naturalistic of all heroes, the ISFP hero may be the most classic as well, next to the ESFJ; both are caring and will generally not look for a fight. But it’s the ISFP that will also avoid one even at their doorstep, only choosing to fight after the first swing by the enemy has been taken. It’s always a moral battle for the ISFP hero more than anything else and that’s the only reason they would fight in the first place.
The ISFP hero will be unfaltering in their objectives which is abnormal for the “Perceiver” hero who will often be fine with letting the villain drop off a cliff. But the ISFP hero will often choose to save the villain, only letting them drop off Mount Rushmore or striking the killing blow when the villain has decided to make one last effort for the hero’s life. Dead giveaways for an ISFP hero will stick out to those familiar with the ISTP hero, though the ISFP might be a little more prone to reacting emotionally when they eventually open up about what happened to their loved one and why they’re fighting in the first place.
In the rare occasion that the ESFP plays the hero, they’ll constantly be screwing things up in the process. Not because they’re idiots necessarily, but because heroics aren’t really their thing; they probably just got caught up in the middle of something bigger than themselves and keep being forced along in this horribly boring tragedy known as the story. They like to take it easy, having fun, and don’t care about the problems of the world.
But don’t let the ESFP child-like ways fool you; for all of their antics and flat-out silliness, when the ESFP decides they’ve been offended or simply realizes that they’re going to have to do something for all of this world-ending business to effectively end, they often have the potential to be the most powerful of all characters, their power or ability being something no one else has, or at least not to the ESFP’s extent.
We’ve talked about them before. We’ve seen them maybe too much. Cold and efficient loners, the ISTP will often be the hero that, on the surface, has the closest traits to the villains themselves outside of the Rational party. ISTP heroes might just do what they do for the money or the rush of it all, but will often still come to the conclusion that they’ve got to do what needs to be done or things will get a whole lot worse for everybody.
Sex, smoking, and gun fights will be staples of these heroes’ stories, with emphasis on “Anti” in their Anti-hero. Don’t expect a hug from this hero at any point, although you can expect to find out a SOB story at some point about their past, even if it’s just in a quick “I don’t want to talk about it” line. ISTP heroes are similar to the ISFP hero in many ways, but this is where they diverge and don’t cry about their tragic origins but get annoyingly mad at the supporting character for asking.
The loudmouth cousin of the ISTP hero, the ESTP hero has also been widely discussed here, due to their mainstays as heroes in contemporary Action fiction. Their preferences for all things loud and dangerous make them perfect for the fictional realm concerning Spy work and freelance agent-type stuff. Why? Because in the fictional world, having the greatest skills isn’t enough but knowing exactly when to disobey stuffy superiors is key.
They’re often agents and soldiers for the rush rather than the morality, though they’ll often finish the job properly due to their morals ultimately getting the better of them. The big difference between the ESTP and ISTP hero aside from how much they talk? The ISTP hero will probably get you killed while the ESTP hero will have a girlfriend by the end.
Artisan Giveaways- Morality can be toyed with, fights more personal battles, often involved in more violent settings than other heroes, Normally associated with the Spy world of fiction- where adrenaline and money collide.
One of the rarer heroes, INFP heroes will often do what they do solely for their inner principles rather than any other reasons. Their life goal is to make a universal truth put into everyday practice and they’ll go to great lengths to make it that way. Half measures aren’t an option for the INFP hero whose cause has been decided almost from birth it seems and one cannot be separated from the other.
Often times the INFP hero has spent a great deal of their time under the idea that it has been misspent, either by peers or even themselves, but eventually things are made clear to those around them that the trail the INFP hero had been on was just and noble.
The goofiest of all heroes, the ENFP hero will do things with a flair that other types just don’t get. Similar to the ESFP hero, the ENFP hero will spend much of their time joking around to the point that others don’t take them seriously even if they’re the most powerful character. Like all NF heroes, the ENFP’s mission is a personal one though their love of the people around them (and all people really) will have their mission somehow affecting anyone and everyone they’ve ever met and then some.
Other characters will be annoyed by this heroes’ positivity but will eventually succumb to it, realizing that this hero’s strength comes from their near inability to slow down.
The most somber of all heroes, the INFJ hero is often he who trains the hero rather than saving everyone directly. This, in a sense, is the most important role to the story since it is them who guide the hero and lead them to their destiny. An actual INFJ hero is a real rarity, as in real life, but in fiction this type is often the aid to the protagonist that may or may not get caught up themselves in the action.
For example, they may have ties to the villain that the protagonist(s) don’t yet understand. They may be more powerful than the hero but are often bound by some morality or universal code that prohibits them in one way or another.
If your hero is the nicest character in the story and a great leader, you’ve probably got an ENFJ hero. Not only can they not help but set their goals above and beyond what the human race is normally inclined to achieve, they’ll want everybody on board with them and for no reason other than that everybody needs to be at their best in the ENFJ hero’s eyes.
Family matters more than anything, much like the SJ heroes, but the ENFJ hero’s principles on family may be deeper than any other type as they don’t simply believe that telling you how is the key, but rather you truly believing it as well. And there’s this weird trend of them coming back to life…
Idealist Giveaways- Strong principles regardless of the law, every objective is personal no matter the cost, often break down in some way before the final act is over from temporary disbelief in oneself, a mainstay in the Fantasy genre.
Another of the rarest heroes, INTP heroes won’t usually won’t want to leave the confines of their home or, more likely, lab. Still, the INTP hero is in fact, a hero; and will do what needs to be done. Their genius hacker skills or whatever abilities they have are necessary to the other protagonists as well as making them their own worst enemy.
The INTP hero’s brain works on a level no other humans in the story can really comprehend other than the villain that absolutely hates them with a passion that the INTP can’t understand because they’re basically human computers. And emotion don’t compute. The INTP hero might sometimes make choices that others might be unsure of but if they trust the INTP implicitly it will probably work out perfectly or blow up in everyone’s face.
Something like the INTP hero but with a tiny voice in their head that tells them to never stop talking, the ENTP hero is okay with making their presence well known to anyone who happens to be around. The ENTP hero is similar to the ESTP hero but a little less direct and a little weirder. Or a lot weirder. Even still, their occasional penchant for somehow making deals with the enemy puts them in a position to be considered somewhat untrustworthy by the other characters even if they like him.
The ENTP hero prefers to manipulate his way to victory and can be manipulated as such; specifically by telling him/her that they “don’t have the guts to do something.” Gets’em every time.
While I’ve previously grouped together INTJ and ENTJ into one entry on this post due to their absence of heroic personalities in fiction, the INTJ can be found in between villainy and what simply needs to be done. They can be mistaken for villains themselves if not careful as their demeanor and image will seem dangerously close to those they’re fighting against.
Manipulation is not beyond them though from their point of view (and perhaps the audience’s) it will be justified in one way or another. Whether or not it’s right is up to the individual. Despite all this, the INTJ hero will still persist in their goal resiliently, making only a few close associates in their battle against whatever oppressive forces they face. It takes special circumstances for any supporting characters to be able to understand and work with the INTJ in the same way the INTJ hero will need to deal with their own issues if they are to work with others and achieve their objectives.
Prefers to work alone, but will have team mates if necessary, generally acting more like subordinates.
As far as ENTJs go, Lt. Vincent Hanna of Michael Mann’s film Heat is the only ENTJ I can say for sure is a hero of any kind and that particular type. While I try and find more, enjoy the ENTJ villains!…Sorry.
Rational Giveaways- YOUR morality can be played with, principles waiver almost to the point of them seeming like villains, control and/or freedom of self is key for these heroes; preferring to lead or be alone.