What fictional characters do you relate to as an ESFP?
Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic and intriguing characters are ESFPs and today we’re going to talk about seven that I think real-life ESFPs 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 ESFPs can serve as examples for what real-life ESFPs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.
The things that makes ESFPs such great fictional characters are much the same things that make them so magnetic in real-life. ESFPs are engaging, passionate people who love “tangible reality” (to quote Jung’s description of Sensation types). They’re charming, interested in other people, and often have a talent for entertaining. Plus, ESFPs also have a highly practical side. It’s no wonder the fictional versions of this type can make for such intriguing characters!
Like other EP types, Amelia Pond from Doctor Who thrives on new experiences. More specific to ESPs is the fact that Amy is very much in-tune with the physical world and finds ways (like modeling and working as a Kissogram) to engage with that world in sensual ways. She’s also easily bored when there aren’t new places to explore and experiences to be had (which is one reason she loves traveling with the Doctor).
Though a Feeling type, Amy is guarded with her emotions and often struggles with picking up on what other people are feeling. The Feeling side of her personality is turned inward, and mostly shows up as a strong desire to be true to her authentic self. She makes decisions based on what she believes is right. When she does share her thought processes, it’s mostly in a no-nonsense way that makes use of her tertiary Extroverted Thinking. She’s one of the fictional ESFPs that demonstrates this type has much more to offer than just being the life of the party. They can also be intelligent, stubborn, and principled people like Amy.
When we first meet Finnick Odair in Catching Fire, he seems very much the hedonist. Live in the moment and do whatever feels good because we might (quite literally) die tomorrow. And that’s definitely a part of his character as an SP type. There’s a more serious side to him, though, as with many ESFPs in real life. It’s easy to think their Extroverted Sensing is shallow and all about having fun, while in reality they process things deeply.
Finnick is the youngest person to ever win the Hunger Games. He’s intelligent and dangerous, but easy to underestimate because he’s also charismatic, flirtatious, and enjoys messing with people. He hides his true feelings down deep but always does his best to live in alignment with what he thinks is right. When he does turn his Judging function outward (that’s the T/F in Myers-Briggs), it’s his tertiary Extroverted Thinking that we see.
It’s also worth noting that ESFPs and ESTPs are the types that Naomi Quenk says tend to bounce-back the fastest after stressful experiences. While Finnick is deeply affected by the trauma of the Hunger Games, he’s good at finding ways to ground himself in the present and move on.
Princess Jasmine’s insistence on living her own life, longing to be seen as herself rather than an abstract prize to be won, and her ability to understand Aladdin’s motivation for lying to her all point to her using Introverted Feeling (aka “Authenticity”). She wants others to respect her individuality even if they don’t understand it and she’s willing to respect their decisions as well (even when Aladdin’s choice to “stop pretending to be something I’m not” would take him away from her).
Jasmine longs to experience the world for herself, and so she runs away from home without a plan and immediately immerses herself in the marketplace. It’s all about her immediate, physical experie She pole-vaults the space between rooftops. She goes back to Aladdin’s place with him right after they meet. She takes off with Prince Ali when he offers her a magic carpet ride. She’s eating up new experiences without worrying about consequences. Those are all traits of an SP type.
I type her as an ESFP instead of ISFP (who uses the same functions) because I feel like her sensing function is dominant. Choosing this type also puts Extroverted Thinking as her tertiary function (which we glimpse when she makes decisive, impersonal decisions and threatens Jaffar) and Introverted Intuition as her shadow function (which typically shows up under stress as impulsiveness, irritability, and paranoia).
Sensibility is defined as “the ability to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences.” In Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility, Marianne is the Dashwood sister represented by sensibility. She’s impulsive, emotion-ruled, and thrives on taking experiences to the extreme.
Marianne starts out the story as an ESFP who relies wholly on her Extroverted Sensing and Introverted Feeling. She doesn’t plan-ahead and she doesn’t let other people or logical concerns drive her decision-making. She lives in the moment and does whatever seems most true to herself. As the story progresses, she does develop more balance in her personality and begins to demonstrate a practical side (tertiary Extroverted Thinking).
The first thing many people notice about ESFP types (especially the fictional portrayals of them) is that they’re fun-loving people who live for the moment. Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog is no exception. From the moment he arrives in New Orleans, Naveen throws himself into the music and culture of this city and drinks up all the experiences (and female attention) it has to offer. At the beginning of the film, he’s every stereotype of the irresponsible, playboy ESFP and he loves it.
ESFPs are more than this, though, and so is Naveen. Like other SPs, his Extroverted Sensing side loves to live in the moment and experience physical reality as much as possible. This gives him the ability to adapt quickly to new experiences, which is one strength of his personality. His co-pilot Introverted Feeling also gives him a strong urge to do what he believes is right, and by the end of the film he’s reevaluated what that means and has found a sense of responsibility and nobility that’s authentic to him.
When I put together my (now mostly out-dated) Lord of the Rings MBTI chart, Pippin was the first character I added. One of the nicknames for the ESFP type is “The Performer,” and I keep picturing Pippin dancing on a table while singing, “The only brew for the brave and true comes from the green dragon!” ESFPs in performing-mode are talkative, engaging, like to be around people, and become the center of attention wherever they go.
Because Extroverted Sensing is their lead function, many ESFPs like Pippin enjoy sensory experiences (such as good food and drink). They tend to act first and ask questions later, preferring to experience the world than analyze it from a distance (which often gets Pippin in trouble with Gandalf). With Introverted Feeling as his auxiliary function, Pippin also has a seriousness to his character which is not readily visible. That’s not the part of himself he usually shares with others. We don’t really get to see it until the siege of Minas Tirith prompts some somber reflection and soul-searching. He’s still has an SP’s ability to quickly adapt to what’s going on in the real-world, though, which helps him save Faramir’s life.
It might be a bit controversial to type Sam Wilson as an ESFP because he doesn’t quite fit the stereotype of the fun-loving performer. However, the more I think about it the more I agree with this article that he’s a very healthy and emotionally stable example of an ESFP who has chosen to use his skills in a way that’s just not what we typically expect from this type.
Sam is quick to adapt to the changing, unpredicable realities of the present moment (the neuroscience behind this is really cool — Extroverted Sensing types’ brains actually fire in a “tennis hop” pattern that lets them react quickly). We also get to see quite a bit of his other extroverted function, an ESFP’s tertiary Extroverted Thinking. He relies on it quite a bit (possibly more than the typical ESFP), effortlessly blending his Sensing and Thinking sides to deal with reality in a straightforward and efficient way. Thinking isn’t what he bases decisions on deep-down, though. That’s Introverted Feeling, which prompts him to stick with what he believes is right regardless of what other people say.