Like many with even a hint of interest in film and/or science-fiction, I’m eagerly awaiting Star Wars Episode 7. In anticipation of its release, I’ve been re-watching all the movies, branching out into the animated series and some of the in-cannon books, and working on a new Myers-Briggs Star Wars chart.
While trying to type Anakin Skywalker, I discovered I’d started writing a blog post within a blog post. And so, rather than waiting until December to start blogging about my Star Wars obsession, I decided to give Anakin his own post.
Anakin/Vader’s type is almost as hotly debated as Sherlock Holmes’. I’ve seen people argue him as almost every type: ESFP, ISFP, ISTP, ISTJ, ESTJ, ENTJ, INTJ, ENFP, INFP, and INFJ just in one forum discussion. Part of this is inconsistent characterization and writing, but we’re going to try to come up with one reasonable typing anyway.
Let’s Talk Functions
Typing Anakin as a TJ type is by far the most common, since many people notice strong Extroverted Thinking (Te) tendencies in his personality. I went back and forth between ENTJ and ENxP for typing him, and I can see arguments for both when watching the films. In the first movie he really seems like a young ENxP to me, but you really can’t type children reliably at that age. By the time he’s an older teenager, and then especially as he matures in The Clone Wars (see note), it becomes more and more obvious that he leads with Te rather than Extroverted Intuition (Ne), like an ENTP or ENFP would. He still does some non-ENTJ things (probably due to inconsistent writing), but if we’re going to assign him just one type I think this is the closest.
Those who type him as a Feeler say it’s because he’s so resistant to the Jedi teachings about letting go of attachments. That doesn’t necessarily make him a Feeler, however. When Thinkers attach strongly to people, which they can do, they often have the hardest time letting go and dealing with grief. Anakin’s hypersensitivity to inner states, outbursts of emotion, and struggle to control his feelings is much more typical of interior Feeling, rather than having Feeling as his driver or co-pilot mental process.
- Note that the line, “You’re asking me to be rational. That is something that I know I cannot do” is only in reference to his emotions. It isn’t that he’s never rational or capable of logic; it’s that in this case his Feeling has taken over and he can’t rationalize how he feels for Padme. He becomes more logical about their relationship during the Clone Wars, even telling her that duty comes before spending time with her in “Senate Spy” (S2E4).
Personality Hacker’s article on how each type asks for and expresses love also gives insight into Anakin’s character. Let’s just take Revenge of the Sith as an example. Love for Padme, and fear of losing her, is one of his main motivations for the steps he takes on the way to the Dark Side. His love matches a (very warped) version of how Extroverted Thinking expresses love.
- “I will be endlessly loyal on principle” — to Padme, to my personal vision of the Republic, and when nothing else is left to my new Master.
- “I will educate myself on you and learn how you operate” — knowing you value the Republic, I will force peace on the galaxy and offer it to you to atone for my other errors.
- “I will protect you” — even if I have to turn to the Dark Side to do it.
- “I chose you. I continue to choose you” — over my oath to the Jedi, over all my other friends, and at the expense of my principles.
Sensing or Intuition
The people who type Anakin as an SP type cite his podracing skills as a clue that he’s an Extroverted Sensor. But Anakin doesn’t have fast reflexes because he’s a Sensor — it’s because he’s so force-sensitive he can “see things before they happen,” as Qui-Gon Jinn explains. If we type Anakin as an ExTJ, then the question is whether he uses Introverted Sensing (Si) or Introverted Intuition (Ni) as his co-pilot process.
Personality Hacker says of Introverted Sensing, “people use this process to learn new information based on their memories.” Si types value reliable information, and process it based on personal experience and expert opinion. As a Sensing function, it’s concerned with things that can be directly experienced. SJ type also tend to be very traditional and resistant to change. This doesn’t describe Anakin — it describes the Jedi that he’s at odds with.
Personality Hacker calls Intuition “advanced pattern recognition” (I love that description). Introverted Intuition is used to process information that can’t be directly experienced, and make speculative leaps based on the user’s own perspectives. Anakin bases his viewpoint on his own subjective ideas and experiences, not so much on tangible facts or reliable outside opinions. He’s forward-focused and innovative, not tied to tradition or following rules just because they are rules. He is also (and this is brought out in The Clone Wars) the type of innovative, independent (S1E2, 3) “always on the offensive” (S2E16) leader that inspired David Keirsey to call ENTJs The Fieldmarshal type.
Why did I go with ENTJ instead of INTJ? I’m glad you asked.
The best clue is found in everyone’s least favorite movie, The Phantom Menace. Research indicates a preference for Introversion or Extroversion is genetic, and you can tell which one a child leans toward very early (some say as early as a few months).
Little Anakin is an Extrovert. He’s comfortable walking up to Padme and starting a conversation as soon as he sees her. He has a circle of friends that he’s collected to hang out with, and seems to get his energy from being around people (we never see him retreat to re-charge, and he’s most alive when surrounded by friends and fans). He also appears more oriented to the outer world of what’s going on here and now, the people around him, and building physical objects like droids and podracers.
The fact that Anakin, and Darth Vader, looks like an introvert to many people is also consistent with an ENTJ type. They’re widely considered the most “introverted extroverts” because they don’t focus their extroversion on people or socializing. They’re oriented to the outer world, but it’s the outer world of things, plans, strategy, and ideas.
A Note On Vader
I’ve mostly talked about Anakin Skywalker so far, but Darth Vader is still the same personality type. People don’t change personality types. Traumatic experiences can change how we present ourselves to the world and how we think and react, but it doesn’t change the way our brains are wired.
As a Jedi, Anakin was relying on his driver process Extroverted Thinking and his innovative, big-picture mental process Introverted Intuition. You also see his inferior stress function Introverted Feeling show up quite a bit. As a Sith, it looks to me that Vader acts more like he’s in a “loop” with his dominant Te and his tertiary Extroverted Sensing. This bypasses his Ni process, which questions assumptions and looks at situations from different perspectives. He doesn’t want to go inside and question himself or the choices he’s made — he wants to be distracted by the external world.
When he does find out that he has a son, Vader/Anakin starts looking inward and forward again. He finally has someone he’d like to rule the galaxy with again, and makes Luke the same offer he made Padme at the end of Revenge of the Sith. ENTJs are intensely loyal, and Return of the Jedi shows Anakin’s struggle between loyalty to the his Master (who he would overthrow if Luke was on his side) and his son (who he knows won’t join him on the Dark Side). Ultimately, he chooses his son and earns his “soul” back to show up as force-ghost Anakin.
Watching all 121 episodes of The Clone Wars can be daunting (though I think it’s worth it). If you just want to catch the Anakin highlights, these episodes are the ones I recommend as essential for his character development.
- The Clone Wars film. Watch the first 25-30 minutes to meet Anakin’s padewan Ahsoka.
- Season 1, episode 19: “Storm over Ryloth.” First episode in the Ryloth story arc offers insight into Anakin as a mentor, along with deeper character development for Ahsoka.
- Season 2, episodes 1, 2, 3: “Holocron Heist,” “Cargo of Doom,” and “Children of the Force.” Further builds the relationship between Ahsoka and Anakin.
- Season 2, episode 4: “Senate Spy.” Anakin becoming jealous of Padme and questions her attachment to him.
- Season 2, episodes 5, 6: “Landing at Point Rain” and “Weapons Factory.” Shows Anakin as a leader and includes more info about the relationships between Jedi and padawans.
- Season 1, episode 22: “Hostage Crisis.” Fun episode developing Anakin and Padme’s relationship.
- Season 3, episodes 15, 16, 17: “Overlords,” “Altar of Mortis,” and “Ghosts of Mortis.” Confirms Anakin as the Chosen One and shows him wrestling with his dark side.
- Season 3, episodes 18, 19, 20: “The Citadel,” “Counter Attack,” “Citadel Rescue.” The beginnings of Anakin and Tarkin’s friendship.
- Season 4, episodes 11, 12, 13: “Kidnapped,” “Slaves of the Republic,” and “Escape from Kadavo.” Anakin has to confront the slavery in his past while struggling with his morality and anger in the present.
- Season 4, episodes 15, 16, 17, 18: “Deception,” “Friends and Enemies,” “The Box,” and “Crisis on Naboo.” Not an Anakin-centric story arc, so you could skip it, but it provides context for Anakin’s belief in ROTS that Obi-Wan could betray him.
- Season 5, episode 17, 18, 19, 20: “Sabotage,” “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much,” “To Catch a Jedi,” and “The Wrong Jedi.” Culmination of Ahsoka’s storyline in The Clone Wars. Further disillusionment with the Jedi for Anakin.
- Season 6, episodes 1, 4: “The Unknown” and “Orders.” Explains Order 66 and further destabilizing Anakin’s life.
- Season 6, episodes 5, 6, 7: “An Old Friend,” “Rise of Clovis,” and “Crisis At The Heart.” Stress in Anakin and Padme’s relationship.