What fictional characters do you relate to as an ISTP?
Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also use the system to type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic and intriguing characters are ISTPs — they make particularly good action heroes — and today we’re going to talk about seven that I think real-life ISTPs will find relatable.
One great thing about looking at character personality types is that it helps us better understand people who have different types than we do. Fictional ISTPs can serve as examples for what real-life ISTPs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.
One of the things that makes ISTPs such great fictional characters is that they pair the spatial awareness and physical skills needed to lead an action/adventure story with the clever quick-wittedness that we like to see in a hero. Tactical skills, good luck, and a dry sense of humor aren’t the only things that characterize ISTPs types, though. I love it when we see ISTP characters developed throughout several movies or in a TV series so there’s more of an opportunity to for them to grow beyond stereotypes, and that’s the case with most of the characters on this list.
While not every ISTP — fictional or real — is going to fall into the action hero mold, a high percentage of action heroes in fiction are ISTPs. We could probably put most of Harrison Ford’s roles on this list, but as a huge Star Wars fan I’m going to to with our favorite scruffy-looking nerf herder Han Solo. He’s also the ISTP Susan Storm chose for her post “The Greatest Movie Heroes of Every Myers-Briggs® Personality Type.” I’d like to quote part of that article:
Han Solo captures the devil-may-care, quick-thinking qualities of the ISTP. We see his Introverted Thinking (Ti) in the way keeps his rational thought processes internalized. He is constantly expanding and making improvements to the Millennium Falcon, and needs to know why he must do something before making a decision. This constant tinkering and modifying and the search to constantly know “why” are all hallmarks of Introverted Thinking types.
Han also shows an ISTPs co-pilot process (extroverted Sensing) in his ability to respond quickly to the outer world. He’s impulsive and often jumps into things without much of a plan, but he has a talent for figuring things out as he goes.
Jack O’Neill from Stargate SG-1 has many traits of a typical ISTP action hero — strong awareness of the physical world, disregard for traditional authority structures, and a knack for having plans that he makes up as he goes turn out well in the end. But it’s also clear that he’s much more intelligent and logical than most people give him credit for (ISTPs and INTPs share the same dominant Thinking function, but for some reason NTs are the only ones who get labeled “rational”).
One of the many reasons I love Stargate is because they spend as much time developing the characters as they do the story. I include Jack on this list of relatable ISTPs not just because he’s such a great character, but also because the show lets us see there’s more to him than fist meets the eye. He isn’t just an action-hero stereotype. We also get to see him using his Introverted Thinking and tertiary Introverted Intuition to come up with creative plans, predict what’s likely to happen next, and see through deception. Those are skills many real-life ISTPs have as well, which some people might overlook if they assume the ISTP is all about physical action.
While real-life ISTPs don’t exactly have superpowers (though it might seem like it at times), I’m sure there are still quite a few who can relate to Logan/Wolverine from X-Men. As usual with ISTP fictional characters, the most noticeable aspect of Logan’s personality is his strong Extroverted Sensing side. He adapts quickly to his environment and relies on his physical skills when taking action.
Another trait that Logan shares with some ISTPs (actually Thinking types in general) is that while it can seem to others that he’s only out for himself, he’ll take ridiculous risks to keep the people he cares about safe. We also get to see his dominant psychological function of Introverted Thinking in scenes where he demonstrates analytical problem solving abilities that help him quickly come up with rational solutions for facing a crisis.
I don’t watch The Walking Dead, but from what I’ve heard it seems like both Michonne and Daryl are ISTPs (and possibly a couple other characters as well). Apparently this type is good at surviving a zombie apocalypse. Their minds are pretty much hardwired to respond quickly and logically when faced with unexpected situations.
Michonne is a survivor capable of handling an apocalypse even while on her own. Like many ISTPs, she has the ability to adapt to extreme situations and find ways to work them to her advantage. She also has excellent spacial awareness and strong physical skills, which are typical strengths of SP types. Like other Thinking types, she can initially come across as cold but is intensely loyal once she cares about/trusts someone.
As with many ISTPs, it’s easiest for us to see Mulan’s Extroverted Sensing side. Though Mulan struggles with training at first (it uses skills she’s been discouraged from developing until now), she still becomes one of the best fighters in the time it takes the entire group to pass basic training. She’s also driven by a need to take action that affects the real world. Like so many SP types, Mulan thrives when exploring real things she doesn’t yet understand or taking action that she knows will lead to a predicted outcome.
When Mulan fires the cannon into the mountain to start an avalanche, several things happen. She’s taking observations about the physical location (Se), analyzing the possibilities with her introverted judging function (Ti), predicting what will happen with tertiary intuition (Ni), and then taking action (Se). That all happens in a moment, but it’s a great snapshot of how her mind works.
We also get to see a deeper, more reflective side to Mulan than we do with many other fictional ISTPs, who all too often fall into the trap of being one-dimensional or cliche. That’s another thing I really like about her. If you have more questions about why I type Mulan as an ISTP rather than a Feeling type click here to read my Disney Princesses post.
I just watched Avengers: Endgame a week ago Sunday, and I knew I wanted to write a post with Black Widow in it as soon as possible. I’ll avoid spoilers, though, just in case someone reading this hasn’t seen Endgame yet. For this post, I’ll be focusing on the MCU character, not the comic book version.
It’s hard to separate what aspects of Natasha’s character are due to her Black Widow training and what is her personality type. But from a type perspective, it’s her dominant and co-pilot functions of Introverted Thinking and Extroverted Sensing that gives her the apparently instinctive ability to make logical, in-the-moment decisions and take decisive tactical action. Like many other ISTPS, Natasha has developed a particular skill set that she’s insanely good at and which she uses based on a personal code.
I’ve seen Winry typed as an ESFJ quit a bit, but I think that’s because people are seeing her inferior function of Extroverted Feeling (which is the function ESFJs lead with) and assuming it plays a bigger role in her personality than it actually does. She is more comfortable expressing her emotions than your stereotypical ISTP, but she processes those emotions logically. She’s driven by a desire to make sense of things and understand how they work, whether that’s people or automail parts.
One of the nicknames given to ISTPs is “The Mechanic,” and that’s exactly what Winry is. I like having her on this list because she shows not every ISTP (even in fiction) is going to fit the action-hero mold. The unique strengths of this personality type lend themselves to all sorts of a careers, interests, skills, and hobbies.