MBTI: Hero Typing Tropes
I had to word the title carefully so as not to make it sound like I was typing “Heroes,” the show and so it wouldn’t so like the other post, MBTI: The Types (of Types) of Heroes. Though I guess any writer who knows how to bring in the readers would have made it sound like both of those posts just to get everybody. But that ain’t me.
If you’ve come here enough, you’ve seen links to what has to be one of the greatest sites on the internet, TV Tropes. Yes, even better than BubbaliciousBlackBubbleButts.com. If that’s a real site, I had no idea. And from TV Tropes and Typing, can come the realization that every type fits well within the confines of some of the many sorts of heroes fiction can bring us. So while we’ve described how each type is represented in the Hero mold, let’s reverse this to see how the Hero mold can fit certain types.
If you see the name, there is a link to it.
As a heads up, just because the character is in the picture doesn’t mean I’m saying they’re the same type as the trope I’m associating with that type, but that they are an example of the trope as well.
ESFJ- My Girl Back Home
The “My Girl Back Home” Hero. Just look at him. Blue eyes, blonde hair, and sacrificial to boot. Always with their loved one on their mind, this hero will be willing to risk it all for noble reasons but they’ve always got their “girl back home” on their mind, who is patiently waiting for their man to return. This can happen in reverse as well, though it’s only more recently that the woman is away while the man waits. In fiction, but sure, we can go with reality as well.
In real life, if the ESFJ you know isn’t in the military or some other work that takes them away from their sweetie pie peach muffin, they’ll always have them on their mind anyway. And probably talk about them. A lot. They can’t help it, man. It’s just how they are. The dominant Fe in them is expressive and caring while the Si keeps them thinking about the familiar and desired. From this, it’s easy to see how this type of Hero as a whole fits the ESFJ mold.
It says a lot about them as well to have something/someone they love and willingly be away from them to perform a more stoic duty. Not to toss the person waiting on the hero to the side either, as they have to continue their life at home and pretend to be okay, possibly fitting the trope as well. It’s commendable in the sense that this is the hero giving up what’s personal to them for the sake of others.
ISFJ- The Fettered
Though Ben Kenobi himself is no ISFJ, the Jedi Order carry on principles that fit this type. The Fettered is the hero that quietly dedicates themselves to a life of [fill in the blank with something righteous here] in monk-like fashion with little regard to their own well being. If this is the job, society, family, whatever, the Fettered is entirely committed and unwavering in their responsibility. These guys can be villains too, but when dealing with the hero variation, which we are, you get a character of soldier-like obedience to their goal.
This is much like the ISFJ if you couldn’t already tell; whose purpose in life is to fulfill their obligations in life, whatever that may be. A lot of ISFJs may disagree with this as this is life as normal for them, rarely recognizing how easy it is for others to get sidetracked or lose focus in their own lives. In comparison, the ISFJ has blinders on, moving toward their daily goal as scheduled in their mind. Or maybe on a sheet of paper too, depending on how organized the particular ISFJ is.
Where does this get us, as far as heroism go? In many stories, the point may involve a character overcoming their own personal issues to resolve the conflict in the plot. The closest characters of this trope come to that is understanding that to do what needs to be done, they need to forget all the unnecessary problems that come with being human. This isn’t to say they lose their personality, but that they drop all the chains we carry around and could be done with if we just decided to. Past this, the Fettered are the rock of the story with others overlooking them and their abilities until they’re the only ones that can do anything.
Don’t get me wrong with this Hero trope, the ESTJ can be on either side of this fence. But in this case specifically, he’s on the side of righteousness. This is the hero that, when faced with their villainous arch-nemesis, resort to telling the oh-so-falsely polite villain where they can stick it. It tells you all you need to know about a character and a person that’s willing to ultimately look death in the face and ask them how the villain’s mom is doing from a couple nights earlier from her and the hero’s lovemaking session. He’s a hero, he doesn’t need to get crude. Just enough to let the bad guy know that they’re not scary, and the hero is confident enough even at his/her lowest levels that they can make jokes/act casual.
Vin Diesel is a big fan of this one. Riddick, Dominic Toretto, Xander Cage, and Bald Fury are all examples of a character that knows at the very least, they should get a good jab in, even if their hands are tied. Yes, I made up Bald Fury.
This fits the ESTJ in the sense that their dominant Te is forceful and unrelenting. There’s a reason they’re considered a jerk but there’s also a reason they’re everybody’s boss. Getting things done as efficiently and smoothly as possible can still have them run into problems but it’s often their blunt tenacity that gets them out of it as well. Staying on the logical side of things can make a person tough to deal with but when dealing with things logically, the only real problem are those fighting it. And who wants to be on that side?
ISTJ- Knight in Shining Armor
When you read that title, you’ve probably got the specific image of the ultimate goody two shoes; the guy nobody is and every girl wants. They always save the day and somehow their teeth never get stained. Well, that’s not really who I’m talking about.
[TV Tropes and] I am talking about the person who does everything they can to keep things going the way they should. By the book not for the book’s sake, but because the book is there for a reason in its’ (hopefully) tried and true methods. You can always count on the Knight in Shining Armor because they were knighted for a reason and this is something you should want. He/she is the unfaltering hero that if they don’t win, they’ll die trying.
Sounds a bit dramatic but the ISTJ and the KISA go well together. Having practiced/trained/researched tirelessly throughout their life, the ISTJ’s dominant function is Si and if you’ve got an ISTJ that decided to stick with something, it’s not going to be long before they know everything their is to know about it. It’s part of the reason ISTJs get the reputation for being boring. Sure, this can be true. And yet it’s the exact kind of person you want as say, an air traffic controller or another job that requires immense concentration in a darkly lit room staring at a screen when people’s lives are in their hands. You don’t want an E–P personality but someone who will do everything they can to come through in a job nobody else wanted to take.
Though they get a bad wrap (…rap?) or rather, a goofy one, the ESFP, as mentioned previously, has the potential to be the most powerful or impactful character within whatever story they’re a part of. Such is the title of the Determinator, whose main premise, aside from being a heroic character, is that no matter what they’re goal is, let’s quote the opening lines of TVtropes themselves-
“There is no stopping the Determinator. They do not understand tact…Do not expect them to realize they might be better off letting it go, even if they can barely stand.”
This is the hero that knows no bounds, including their body’s. It can be unfortunate for them in the long run but for those the hero is looking out for, this hero is the best chance they’ve got. In reality, the ESFP can mirror this in the sense that they also don’t know when to stop. If they’ve decided to help you out, they’ll do everything they can until their body gives in….and then they’ll try even more.
The unfortunate side of this is that this specific strength can also lend itself to some pretty unhealthy habits that take a toll on the ESFP rather than them using their gifts for others. But if properly channeled, the ESFP is a powerful force, in and out of fiction.
ISFP- Heroes Love Dogs
You always know who the good guy is in the movie/book/show because it’s whoever’s got the dog. And we’re not talking about a Pit Bull at the end of a giant chain scaring some hostage, but the kind of dog you can bring home to the wife unexpectedly and she’d still take it in.
B-b-but how can they be the good guys? How will the audience figure it out? They’ve got a huge army and the colonel is drinking like a fish!
Give’em a dog. Then the people will know.
It’s not a fact of some kind that all ISFPs love animals, kids, nature, etc. But chances are- they do. And with that comes the kind of person you can just get along with. If you love all three of those things listed above, what does that say about you? I’m not exactly sure but it’s got to be something positive. Serial killers don’t particularly care for any of those things so that should give a hint or two.
The ISFP will be in touch with the natural side of things, including weapons, within fiction. In real life, ISFPs give off similar vibes. Though they might not be carrying bows & arrows, handcrafted swords or the like, they bring an earthy vibe with them wherever they go and with this, the sense that to be heroic doesn’t necessarily mean charging the front lines; just doing what you can in your own life to keep yourself and those around you from collapsing under the weight of the world’s insanity.
The Underdog personified in all three of these tropes! You won’t find a better fit for this type of hero in anyone more strongly than in the ESTP, who’s always got a certain flair about them down among the blue collar crowd.
Right Man in the Wrong Place can best be summed up by the picture of John McClane in the first Die Hard, crawling through that vent to ultimately save the day. I was going to post a picture of Gerard Butler in Olympus has Fallen but Die Hard is more iconic and Olympus has Fallen sucked really bad. But any one of those “Working man in an extraordinary situation” movies from the 90s will do. This is the type of character that made audiences realize you can talk more than Clint Eastwood in The Dollars Trilogy and still be a cool action guy.
The name of the trope speaks for itself. A cop on vacation, a retired special ops guy, a former assassin, whatever- happen to be somewhere right when terrorists (or whoever) take over. This sucks for the hero mentioned, but thankfully for everyone else, they’re there to take control of the situation in the most unconventional way possible.
The ESTP in real life has a way of handling even the most mundane of tasks with their own talkative style that will either drive you insane or make you kind of enjoy the ride. ESTP types, when helping others out, can easily come off like the ESFP Determinator, only less manic, more direct energy. Don’t push them too far though when it comes to their help. As the Working Man titles suggest, they’ll see the help they give you as something to be done with when they’ve done what they feel is enough. No NF idealism here to see here, people.
ISTP- Nominal Hero
The ESTP will work for his fellow man then feel just fine where they decide to leave it. The ISTP Nominal Hero would rather not do anything- unless they have to. Or you don’t expect them to. Pretty much whatever you expect to happen is what this character will do the opposite of. You don’t think they’ll help? Well, it looks like your ass has just been saved. You think this character owes you? Nah, you can all go wait to be killed by the villain…until the last minute when all hope is lost.
Not to say that the ISTP in real life is always a jerk, but the Nominal Hero and the ISTP are easily a perfect fit given their relaxed nature and way of turning even the most noble of causes into something they do for themselves. It’s the only way the inferior Fe can cope with being so…nice.
They already had a vendetta with the lead villain and were planning a revenge shootout but since your village didn’t know that and has offered to pay the Nominal Hero, why not kill two birds with one stone? Or rather, a bunch of bullets. It’s not that the ISTP isn’t beyond doing anything good for anyone, but doing something just because it’s good doesn’t often appeal to them outside of their immediate circle, making them a good match for the hero who possibly comes closest to being the villain outside of the villain themselves. Notice the third Hero Trope I’ve given them above as well, just to balance it out.
ENFP- Spanner in the Works
Spider-Man ain’t no ENFP, but his spider sense acts as the perfect example to how many villains he’s pissed off just by having his low level precognition ability immediately find a way around even their most ingenious of plans. Spanner Hero lives this way. No matter how meticulously thought-out the newest scheme of the villain is, the Spanner will end up slipping on a banana peel and catching themselves on the handle that then turns off the nukes, the villain’s ultimate deterrent. This will then lead to them helping themselves up by pressing the buttons on a control panel that causes the automated machine guns to turn and fire on the evil army. How did the Spanner make it up to the control room? They don’t know either.
If I’ve painted the picture of a klutz, it’s not exactly intentional, but it can come with the territory. The Spanner might have the best of all abilities as they don’t know what kind of trouble they’re in so they can hardly be afraid and they’ve got the real ultimate deterrent- luck.
The ENFP is driven by Ne and doesn’t like telling themselves no- unless you think they should say yes to themselves. They’re not trying to be difficult, they’re just constantly seeing the other side of things. From this, the ENFP ends up in the most unique of situations throughout life just by having accidentally put the puzzle pieces together over time without even realizing what they’re doing. Is it subconscious? Pure chance? Like the Spanner Hero defeating the villain- the ENFP doesn’t know how they got there either.
INFP- Tragic Hero
Let’s not harp on the negative stereotypes of INFPs. No reason to beat it into the ground the images of Tim Burton, Edgar Allen Poe and Kurt Cobain. Yet even as a hero, the INFP is still able to get caught up in the more morose side of it all. It can’t be helped. Fi/Ne is a bizarre combination, specifically in that order. Lead by their inner values, the Tragic Hero is known to be in the most melancholic state while experiencing the worst that life (and sometimes afterlife) has to offer. It’s terrible for them but entertaining for the fan.
INFPs aren’t always depressing like ISTPs aren’t always a jerk but there’s a reason for stereotypes. All the same, INFPs and Tragic Heroes’ similarities can be found in the way that their goals aren’t always about saving the world but saving their own soul. It may not seem like much compared to the fate of the galaxy, but if you can’t defeat your own demons, what good are you to anybody else? The INFP/Tragic Hero tale is a life/story you can examine for yourself to understand more about the human condition. In it’s darkest moments, what are you really made of?
It’s easy to get into stories where the hero is revered for having saved the city, but what about the ones where the hero is faced with machinations of a Machiavellian design? They’re the stories not everyone wants to be a part of for the nauseous feeling they can invoke but as far as heroes go, this is the best fit for the INFP, whose third trope I’ve listed as Hope Bringer, which is the inspirer. But more often than not, it’s their most inner thoughts that the INFP-esque heroes will battle.
ENFJ- The Chosen One
We need a solution to our problem. The world is ending soon. Or is it an evil warlord wanting to murder all the women and children to his demonic god? Whatever the case, you need the Chosen One. Chances are, there’s a prophecy somewhere that deliberately tells us who the Chosen One is. They may not even believe it themselves but sooner or later they’ll have to realize that they’re the only ones who can stop all this madness.
This isn’t the same as any hero that steps up to the plate and does what no one else would. The Chosen One does what no what else can. The ENFJ and the Chosen One were meant to be together. Like Sid and Nancy without the overdosing and scurvy. Is this to imply that the ENFJ is the best type? No. But that in the fictional universe, this is the kind of role they play and in the real universe, they’ll end up being a personality you’re not only drawn to, but recognize there’s something different about the kind of magnetism they have.
The ENFJ’s general love of people not only draw them toward humanitarian minded jobs as previously mentioned, but they’ll be pretty dang good at it too without feeling too drained for extended periods of time as most people might. Sure, they need their alone time. But helping people is what they do in one way or another and they’ll be back at it again before long. Also notice the third trope I’ve listed for them, as this way of life has its positives, it also comes with the attitude that they can’t stop themselves from being (too) helpful.
INFJ- The Paragon
The ENFJ is down among the people, maybe only slightly elevated. The INFJ is in a quiet, dimly lit hut in the corner, with a small group of followers who then go out and spread the word. This is to paint a picture of the Hero trope we can strongly associate with the INFJ, The Paragon.
The Paragon doesn’t preach far and wide the things that should be done and then disappear to say the same thing to another town, the Paragon teaches the hero how to be the hero. An ESTJ may act as a drill sergeant in such a position but the INFJ comes to understand the hero-to-be and know what makes them tick. From this point, their goal is to refine our former loser into the man/woman who will save us all. So in a sense, you could call them the real hero of the story; the spiritual adviser to main character opposing the INTJ villain’s manipulation of their own army (or whatever).
INFJs aren’t always perfect sages but in real life, their MO is solemn guidance through one-on-one discussion or simply being there to listen. It may not always be advice that leads their disciple to change the world but if it can help them enough get through the day, then its a success all the same.
ENTJ- Good is Not Nice
Pretty sure the title of this one is self-explanatory. While we’ve got our good good guys (ESFJ) and our bad good guys (ISTP), Good is Not Nice is an example of a hero that can be either one of those but the point is that they don’t play nice. Getting the job done by their standards won’t consist of this hero treating the villain like a gentlemen and possibly to the point that you might see some of the villain in them.
The ENTJ and GINN are a match due much to their dominant Te. Much like the ESTJ, strong Te users don’t give off the warmest vibe. But also like the ESTJ, they get things done, and by their own admission, it’s not going to happen because you considered everyone’s feelings. The whole point of GINN from many creators of these kinds of heroes is that the world they live in won’t allow the character to act in a way that isn’t a complete jerk since, that’s the world they live in. There’s a place for heroism but better manners? Now you’re just being naive.
The ENTJ isn’t known for pessimism and that’s not what I’m saying either. But when you add a type known for their drive, from a writer’s standpoint, if this is in a story with good versus evil, you’ll often just get a villain. Notice that in the Heroes article, there isn’t a full ENTJ section. Because ENTJs don’t do anything for people other than themselves? No. Because their personality lends themselves to a more extreme character the viewers find it harder to sympathize with. Hence, Good is Not Nice.
INTJ- Hero with Bad Publicity
The ENTJ tropes display a character that does what they need to do, and well, they’re not nice about it. Hero with Bad Publicity isn’t necessarily a really nice or a really bad one, but regardless of this, they’ve got bad publicity. Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, Spider-Man, and even the Ghostbusters fall into this. No matter what good they’ve done for the city, the world, or even helping an old lady across the street, it seems they’ll always be in a negative spotlight.
It could be because of something they’ve done in the past. Could be due to the fact that they look like a monster. Could be that they are a monster. Either way, it’s going to take a lot for them to get a decent reputation if they ever get one in the first place.
Compare to the INTJ, who can easily get a reputation as a jerk for any of several reasons. Could be because somebody keeps making these things but it’s often just miscommunication. From personal experience, I’veexchanged emails/ had discussions with several INTJs lamenting on the fact that their type has an image of the eternal jerk and that they’re much more sensitive to others without knowing how to “properly” communicate. This is the reason for Hero with Bad Publicity. Because not all are the same in their views toward the public but they’ll pretty much always have that appearance. When you’ve got types like ESFP and ESFJ running around, how could an INTJ look like a nice guy?
ENTP- Pragmatic Hero
He’s not the ideal hero and he’s not an anti-hero, the Pragmatic hero is somewhere in between, trying to do what they’re supposed and hopefully getting what they want as well.
As Tropes will tell you, the Pragmatic Hero is a character of a strict moral code, though it’s just not one people might expect of a straight anti-hero or the Knight in Shining Armor. I used Star-Lord as the image because when reading over Pragmatic Hero I immediately think of the scene where Quill attempts to find a way to keep the galaxy safe…while still selling the same stone that could kill everyone to the highest bidder. In his mind, his morals are still in place as well as his “real world” priorities.
The ENTP is the “have their cake and eat it too” type. Everybody has their moments but the ENTP tries to live in a way that walks the line between how things are and how they want them to be. This can be positive in balancing needs and wants but can also leave those around them feeling like the ENTP could abandon and/or betray them when it’s convienient for the ENTP. While their actions are completely justifiable to them, it doesn’t always come across so clearly for others.
INTP- Socially-Awkward Hero
As much as the title would imply that this hero is not much of a hero, it’s precisely the opposite. This is the hero that can save the day as though it’s no big deal, like they’re clocking in and out of shift…but talking to a girl is what has them tripping over their feet. It’s not always about romance either. Going to the grocery store has them feeling paranoid about the large masses and all those loud noises they make. They would rather be putting on a mask to fight crime or they’d be right at home decrypting some database and all that other hacker-type stuff.
This should be pretty obvious how the INTP and the Socially-Awkward Hero fit together. While the INTP poster-boy Einstein was a genius in several ways, his hair looked like a vacuum got a hold of it. Never mind his theory of relativity, what a dork, am I right??
In all seriousness, the INTP will be the one to go to with a question about something you’d never expect anyone to know the answer to, or at the very least, take seriously. However, the INTP qualifies all the weird and unexpected aspects of life and it is their life in many ways. So while you wouldn’t necessarily call that heroic for them to be able to answer your question about how feasible it would be to live on a giant island made of trash out in the ocean, you still got your question answered, didn’t you? Move along!