MBTI: The Types (of Types) of Villains
Some Minor Spoilers May Apply!
As much as we love our heroes, as seen in MBTI: The Types (of Types) of Heroes, where we examine the kind of heroes each type are in fiction, the villains are what makes their exploits so intriguing to watch. How can you have a phoenix to rise if he doesn’t burn first? C’mon.
And before you press on, understand that while we may sympathize with many villains, it’s their actions that make them such, regardless of how complex they may be.
Generally known as caring and loving to all, the nasty side of a an ESFJ comes out when they think they know best. This applies in real life, but fiction as well. Villainous ESFJs either don’t care or are entirely unaware of boundaries but ultimately, they want things done the way they want it done and your way is wrong, end of discussion.
ESFJ villains aren’t normally the type to murder or rob unless it can be a crime of passion as their criminal actions are done in the heat of the moment and unsurprisingly, involve family. Control isn’t their end goal, it’s just that for things to be done the “right” way, it looks like you’re going to have to submit to them.
An enemy to themselves as well as others, the ISFJ villain isn’t as rare as they seem, yet their method of staying out of the spotlight can have them overlooked and they are hardly ever the main antagonist. Often times, they serve the main antagonist and may even want to get away from their “master” but lack the will to do so or possibly fear the consequences of what would happen if they did.
While they can be formidable in their own right, much of what keeps the ISFJ villain in check is their own personality. Being an ISFJ isn’t a weakness itself, but the preferences of this type will often have them doing something they know is wrong, yet it’s what they’ve come to know and accept as life. The ugly side of dominant Si.
If the ESTJ Hero is the jerkiest of all heroes, you can guess what the villains are like. Demanding compliance from whoever they deem under their control (Everybody), the ESTJ villain takes rule following so seriously that entire populations may be wiped out if that’s what needs to be done. They’ve got their ways that are set in them and it’s going to be carried out. It’s also possible that the ESTJ villain’s previous way of life was discarded by them causing them to take their new way of life even more seriously.
But with all this talk of evil rule following, what rules are we talking about exactly? Whatever rules they’ve deemed appropriate of course. While the ESTJ villain will rarely be one to create the rules, they will be in the position to enforce them and this is what makes them such a powerful foe- whatever rule they follow, they’ll have an army, or at the very least a gang, at their command that’s too scared to rebel if they want to at all.
In similar fashion to the ESTJ, the ISTJ villain also takes the rules very seriously but carries out the law with eerie dedication. It’s almost as though they’ve been programmed to do what they do rather than have actual thoughts on the subject. To near-robotically perform their duty is their sole purpose and it costing the hero or themselves their life doesn’t matter as long as the job gets done.
Often times, the ISTJ carries on in their duties long after the goal has been reached or abandoned. As with the ISFJ, the ISTJ becomes accustomed to what they know and doesn’t want to know anything else. If they recognize the previously reached goal, they’ll continue on with similar goals still. Their temper is on par with the ESTJ in that to question them isn’t good for the asker. They didn’t ask questions, so why would you? Get in line and do what you’re told.
Guardian Villain Giveaways- Control and duty are mainstays, whatever their area of expertise is. Outside information or newcomers are ignored in favor of the familiar. The same things that make SJ heroes make SJ villains, with the morality twisted.
Childish and petty, the ESFP villain holds a special place in the audience’s heart. They make up what could be considered the most hated characters in whatever medium they’re in. While other villains do what they do for understandable reasons even if you can’t sympathize, the ESFP villain is quite possibly the most selfish of all.
While Se has them acting, their twisted Fi creates a type that justifies it all and screams back at anyone that doesn’t agree. God help the hero if the ESFP villain has any authority because if they do, intelligence has to be directed in how to evade them rather than outsmarting them. ESFP villains prefer to think little and act viciously, leaving little room for tricks that would work on antagonists that act with more finesse.
Bottom line is that ESFP villains are just trying to have fun. Don’t ruin their good time.
Thinking quietly and acting discreetly, the ISTP villain is an unpredictable one. While their love of adrenaline drives them, they’re not the kind of bad guy (or girl) to mindlessly jump into a fight and risk it all for the sake of the rush. They’d rather observe their enemy first before knowing what they get into, giving the hero (and audiences) an uneasy outlook on how to take them.
Then, when the ISTP villain decides to act, they’ll do so in a way that leaves everyone stunted if they’re not dead yet. ISTP villains are often nihilists who can make the leader of their own gang wonder if they’re even in control. They’re not quite “wild cards” but they make it hard to trust them. If they’re the ringleader, they may sacrifice themselves in the name of finding a worthy opponent.
Examples: Vincent of Collateral, Johnny Ringo of Tombstone, Elektra, Mr. Blonde of Reservoir Dogs, Annie Leonhart of Attack on Titan, Mystique
The louder side of the ISTP, the ESTP is all about status. But not in the way our friendly SJs are, where the title tells you who you are, but status in the sense that they’re going to beat you senseless in whatever they’ve chosen to be the best at.
Often times, they’ll sacrifice themselves in an effort defeat the hero though their chances at winning are high all the same. The rush is what they’re after and it might even take over their logical side which can make for a deadly opponent no matter what’s in control.
The ESTP villain is often times the rival for a hero due to their analytical, yet wild ways. A good match for any hero denying their primal side, the ESTP villain has given into the urges that make the hero noble for denying them.
Though any type can be a real world antagonist, fiction is pretty short of ISFP villains. It’s not that they’re aren’t any, but not enough to warrant a full entry past the explanation that they’re just aren’t many. Poison Ivy’s comic book incarnation could be typed as an ISFP though her traits would be unique to her while Wanted’s Wesley Gibson is an ISFP in the film and his comic book counterpart is most definitely a villain…though not an ISFP.
SP Villain Giveaways: Being involved in the action is a near must, May see their way of life as the “honest” way, may have respect for their enemies due to opponents skill but still hates them, morality is a toy to be played with.
While thoroughly explained in MBTI: NF Villains and Other Miscreants, NF villains come up short as well. It’s not to say that NFs don’t ever have “bad days” or insidious motives; certainly no type is without flaws or misaligned morality. But writing the deeper motives behind an villain that also fall in line with NF motives isn’t an easy task to balance for a writer, whether they were going off of MBTI or not. And they’re generally not.
As mentioned, Ra’s al Ghul is an example of an NF with an unhealthy appetite for righteousness that involves the murder of the innocent for the long term health of everyone else. But his character’s motivations are so unique that for many other antagonists to be written with similar goals with appear as a rip off in many ways.
The most likely way for an NF to be a villain in fiction would be for them to believe they’re doing the right thing. ENFJ and INFJ would see the long term outcome using Ni to a negative effect while the two Fi Idealists being misguided by morals they can’t help but see as being noble when they’re actually causing others pain and destruction. Generally though, misguided morals in the realm of fiction are left to duty fulfilling Guardians who don’t question or a type to hide behind a mask pretending to believe they care about others.
NF villains are more likely to be anti-villains due to their higher minded beliefs, regardless of actual morality.
If there’s a scientist character that steadily goes off the deep end with an experiment that ends in a new species being created and the potential death of innocents- you’ve got an INTP villain on your hands. Heck, even Bruce Banner fits this and he’s supposed to be a good guy. This should tell you how invested this type is in their own world of theories, possibilities, and putting these to work- on themselves if they have to, but by science, this is going to get done! Sure, people may die but sacrifices must be made.
The INTP type isn’t usually one to try and hurt others but if their result is to be reached, somebody’s gonna suffer. Often times the INTP antagonist isn’t the main villain but working for the main villain who can’t entirely control the experiments but hopes to direct the INTP’s lab freaks in the right direction. The real crime of the INTP Villain? They just don’t care.
The ENTP has much in common with the INTP villain in the sense that the public’s general health is of no concern to them. They lack the same scientific genius INTPs do, with people themselves being of more interest to them which is bad for people. Destruction and mayhem may take place due to the ENTP villain wanting just to see what will happen. At times, the ENTP may involve themselves as a sort of “social roulette.”
The ENTP Villain loves to discuss their views and plans almost as much as they love enacting them. This causes them to either fail gloriously or serves to make their plans all the more entertaining. Helping the heroes is possible if it serves the ENTP’s interest even if it’s just for fun and many of their actions won’t appear to make sense. Often fits the “magnificent bastard” trope.
Possibly the greatest stereotype in all of villainy, this should hardly be an entry because of obviousness. The INTJ’s personality type’s function don’t stack up to make a person void of morality in real life but in fiction? They’re a bunch of little Satans. Seeing into the future with a cold gaze, the INTJ villain will usually have an innumerable amount of lackeys at their disposable to take care of their goals which often involved total domination to some extent or another.
The last thing an INTJ villain wants to do is get their hands dirty with the hero’s blood as it would sully their reputation in their own mind as untouchable. Though this isn’t to say they won’t do it if it needs to be done. Running is rarely an option for this type though they may escape if they were even where the hero thought they’d be in the first place. This is the type to work on pure logic and to have a contingency for their contingency plan. They won’t go take a single step until every bit of their plan is sure to work.
The only thing that ever stands in their way is some uppity SP do-gooder. Manipulation by this type requires one-on-one time.
Here’s another entry that needs to make up for the Heroes article where there were practically no heroes representing this type. But that’s how it goes when your functions make up a personality that puts the plan above people and your own goals above anything else.
While INTJ and ENTJ villains can appear similar, they’re really nothing alike past wanting power, as all villains want to a degree. ENTJ villains however, are much more charismatic than their introverted counterparts and will work with whatever team of minions they’ve recruited.
They don’t necessarily like their “employees,” they just want to make sure they’re seen. If it’s for fame or notoriety, glory or power, the ENTJ villain is possibly the most egotistical of all types. Not only do they want control over anything they see as worthy of them, they’ve got the verbal sway to get you on their side. Are you expendable? Of course.
Manipulation by this type isn’t limited to “one-on-one” and can be done in a persuasive speech to a group.
Examples: Megatron, Mom of Futurama, Green Goblin, Magneto, Alec Trevelyan of Goldeneye, Light Yagami, Lex Luthor, Frank Costello, Hades of Disney’s Hercules, Tywin Lannister, Solidus Snake of MGS2, Volgin of MGS3
NT Villain Giveaways: People are meaningless past goals being achieved or entertainment to be had, Ethics are for suckers, Ultimate power for the TJs/Ultimate freedom for the TPs, More likely to be “mastermind” villains with others in their employ.