Many of my friends my age and a bit younger watched Avatar: The Last Airbender when they were kids. We didn’t have TV growing up so I missed that, but now Netflix has made it possible for me to find out what the hype was all about. And with people who loved the series when it first came out re-watching it as well, this seems a perfect time to take a look at the personality types of the characters in this series.
This was turning into an enormous blog post, so I decided to split it in two. In today’s post, I’m talking about the “Team Avatar” characters — Aang, Katara, Sokka, Suki, and Toph. In the next post, I’ll be talking about the Fire Nation characters (yes, I know Zuko could go on both posts, but if I put him in part two there’ll be five characters for each post so that’s why he’s in the Fire Nation group).
One more note: usually when I type fictional characters I research other people’s typings as well, but for this post I chose to approach the characters with fresh eyes. I haven’t read any other articles about the Myers-Briggs® types of Avatar characters. This is all just my perspective on the characters after binge-watching the series on Netflix for the first time.
Aang — ENFP
Aang is a character who loves life and sees endless possibilities in the world. He thrives when at peace with people, but also believes in staying true to his personal convictions even when that puts him at odds with those he cares about or with every Avatar who has come before him. He’s not tied to just one way of seeing the world and can see possibility for change even in the most unlikely people. Read more →
One of the things I like to do when studying personality types is find examples of the different types in fictional characters. It helps each type make more sense to me if I have some example to link it to. While I was reading The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, I started having fictional characters come to mind as I was reading. The types “clicked” as I realized I understood them well enough to relate each to a fictional character.
Much has been written in books and online about the numbers on Enneagram, and today’s post is not going to re-tread that ground with complete profiles of each Enneatype. I’m just going to give a brief example of each type using a fictional character that I think is a good example of that type. I’m still an Enneagram beginner, so don’t take everything I say as the definitive view on the Enneagram. But I hope to give a overview for others who, like me, are trying to get a better sense of how the Enneagram shows up in real life using examples of fictional people. I’ll be quoting from the book I mentioned earlier as well as type profiles from The Enneagram Institute®.
Ones — Steve Rogers
These types are perfectionists who follow rules to the letter and are deeply committed to the concept of fairness. They tend to believe that their way is the right way and they’re very sensitive to criticism (both from other people and from their harsh inner critic). Ones have a mind that naturally compares things and makes value judgements, but as The Road Back To You points out, they tend to be shocked that other people see them as critical. They’re “The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic” according to The Enneagram Institute. Read more →
I love typing fictional characters. Partly it’s the same part of me that enjoys studying English literature in an academic setting. I like analyzing stories and character motivations, and writing deep-dives into why something works the way it does. It’s also partly about my interest in typology. I like thinking about how Myers-Briggs® types show up in actual people and fictional characters can provide a nice way to analyze that.
It’s this second reason that starts to get at why I think it’s useful as well as entertaining to type fictional characters. Discussing the personality types of fictional characters gives us a chance to exercise our typology skills without running the risk of wrongly interpreting real people’s motivations. My friend might not appreciate me micro-analyzing their every word and action to figure out what their type is but Tony Stark, Scarlett O’Hara, and Luke Skywalker don’t mind.
Typing fictional characters also lets us use them as examples when we’re describing personality types. One of the first questions my mom always asks if I’m talking about a specific type is, “Do I know any of them?” Sometimes I can give her an example of someone she knows in real life but more often I’ll use a fictional character as an example. They’re a great way for us to see examples of how a single type can look in different for different people based on their individual preferences and personal background. And it also shows that we can relate to people even if they don’t share a type with us (such as the INFJs I’ve talked with who relate to ISFJ Cinderella).
This brings us to the reason for today’s post. I ran out of time to write a full-length post for Tuesday this week because I was working on a post for my other blog, Star Wars Personalities. Susan Storm asked me to guest post about the Myers-Briggs® types of Star Wars characters, and I got that post done with plenty of time to spare (I’ll share a link with you when she publishes it). But then I got distracted writing a full-length post about Princess-General Leia Organa’s personality type. Here’s the link if you’d like to click over there and read it.
One of the most common stereotypes around Myers-Briggs® types as they relate to the world of fiction is that most villains are NT types. Not all of course (I even have a whole post about the comparatively rare NF-type villains), but it does seem that an unusually large percentage of bad guys in fiction have an NT personality type. Specifically, we see the INTJ “Mastermind” filling the ranks of villains probably more often than any other type. ENTJs might come close, but they’re less often stereotyped as the villain. Maybe they just have better PR teams.
Casting these types as villains makes for some of the most calculating, clever, and creepy antagonists in fiction. But what (if anything) does it tell us about real-life INTJs and ENTJs? Are they secretly as evil as their fictional counterparts? Or do we stereotype these personalities as “evil” because we simply don’t understand them?
Every person has the potential to use their talents and gifts for good or evil; to choose the light or the dark. This holds true for INTJs and ENTJs, and we do them a great disservice if we assume they’re evil or treat them as the villain without getting to know them as they truly are.
There some great posts out there (like this one from Introvert, Dear) combating the whole “INTJs are villains” thing. Today, though, I want to take some of those villainous stereotypes and see if we can use them to learn something about the real-life INTJs and ENTJs in our lives. Read more →
What fictional characters do you relate to as an INFJ?
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 INFJs and today we’re going to talk about seven that I think real-life INFJs 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 INFJs can serve as examples for what real-life INFJs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.
The things that makes INFJs such great fictional characters are some of the same things that make them such interesting people. Though the rarest personality type on the planet, INFJs are fairly common in fiction. They’re thoughtful, introspective characters with a unique way of looking at the world and a keen interest in other people.
It’s fascinating to read the narrator of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov discuss the story’s hero Alexi Karamazov (more often called by his nickname Alyosha/Alesha). He spends most of the introduction apologizing for presenting readers with such an unusual hero. “He is by no means a great man,” the narrator explains, but he is doubtless “a strange man, even an odd one.” He was strange “from the cradle,” growing up a quiet child preoccupied by something inside him while at the same time loving people. I’m sure many INFJs can relate to that in their own childhoods — liking other people but being too preoccupied by their inner worlds to be considered sociable.
As the story progresses, we see Alyosha dreads conflict with a loathing that I think all INFJs (and the other FJ types as well) can relate to. We see him weeping when others are hurt, displaying the empathy that’s so much a part of real-life INFJs. We see him make social blunders in an effort to make everyone happy and at peace, all with an INFJ’s insistence on working toward harmony in all situations. Like so many INFJs, he’s sensitive, emotional, indecisive on certain things (though quite decisive in others), and isn’t afraid to appear weak so long as he’s being true to his beliefs. Read more →
What fictional characters do you relate to as an ESTJ?
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 ESTJs and today we’re going to talk about seven that I think real-life ESTJs 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 ESTJs can serve as examples for what real-life ESTJs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.
The things that makes ESTJs such great fictional characters are much the same things that makes them such interesting people in real life. They tend to be well organized, disciplined, and skilled at making tough decisions. This makes them excellent leaders, something we see in most of the ESTJ characters on this list.
I haven’t seen Taken, but Susan Storm lists Bryan Mills as the ESTJ in her post “The Greatest Movie Heroes of Every Myers-Briggs® Personality Type.” She says that he “He embodies the quick-thinking precise nature of the ESTJ. He knows how to take charge, create an effective plan, and can easily give instructions to other people over the phone on how to move forward.” Like so many TJ types, he’s able to put emotions aside and take decisive, logical action.
As for the other aspects of his character, Susan says, “Mills shows his Introverted Sensing (Si) in the way he systematically pays attention to everything around him.” Like other ESTJs, he’s a detail-oriented person and can easily recall important information. He also relies on skills acquired in his past to solve the problems of his present situations — something SJ types tend to do very well.
Eve Baird from The Librarians is a fairly stereotypical example of an ESTJ in fiction, embodying the ESTJ’s blunt demeanor, no-nonsense attitude, and ability to keep things moving forward. ESTJs like Eve are grounded in reality and care about keeping the world running as it should be, a trait Eve devotes to keeping the Library safe and magical artifacts out of the wrong hands. Though she can seem gruff, she’s very loyal and cares deeply about people (a TJ trait that’s often overlooked).
Like other ESTJs, Eve’s preferred mental process of Extroverted Thinking involves measuring and managing impersonal criteria when making decisions. There are examples of this in literally every episode. Her co-pilot process is Introverted Sensing, which filters everything she learns learn through the lens of her own memories and experiences. That’s not to say ESTJs are inflexible. Once given enough information to work with, they’re quick to adapt their actions to match the situation. Anything else would be inefficient. This is partly due to the fact that they prioritize effectiveness, and partly due to their tertiary Extroverted Intuition.
Leia Organa of the Star Wars saga has a much different personality type than your typical princess figure in fiction. Most are Feeling types, but Leia’s response to Darth Vader, her criticism of her seemingly inept rescuers in A New Hope, and the way she instantly takes charge of every situation are characteristic of dominant Te types. She’s a take-charge sort of person who is fiercely loyal to family and values, and expects the same level of commitment from others.
Like other Sensing types, Leia’s focus is on the here and now. Even through she and the Rebellion (and later the Resistance) are fighting to change the future of the galaxy, she does that by shaping the present in a practical way. Her strengths as an ESTJ type make her a fantastic leader both in the Rebellion against the Empire and, later, in a variety of political and leadership roles. She also makes good use of her tertiary Extroverted Intuition (especially later in life) to help her see multiple solutions to problems and adapt quickly to changing situations.
Nick Fury from the MCU might be more of an ENTJ than an ESTJ, but I include him on this list because I think ESTJs will find the way he uses the TJ side of his personality relatable and (depending on how you read his character) there’s also an argument to be made that he is an ESTJ type. Either way, Fury leads with a strong Extroverted Thinking function and (like many real-life ESTJs) he’s good at crashing through red tape to get the job done. He has zero patience for people who make stupid decisions, and he has cultivated the power needed to go around them.
Fury is motivated to make the world a safer place, even if he has to do that in ways that make other people like ISFJ Captain America uncomfortable. He’s concerned with the big picture and future security (more typical of ENTJs, but could be an ESTJ’s tertiary Extroverted Intuition). He is also highly pragmatic and makes decisions based on what he has learned in the past (more typical of ESTJs).
If you haven’t yet watched Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood I highly recommend it. It’s full of amazing characters, including ESTJ Olivier Armstrong. She is an extremely talented leader who commands absolute loyalty from her troops. While people might see her (and, in many cases, real-life ESTJs) as harsh and critical, those who get to know her find her scrupulously honest and see she doesn’t expect anything less of herself than she demands from others.
Major General Armstrong is the sort of character who self-confident, aggressive, go-getting ESTJs will find highly relatable. She doesn’t let other people, circumstances, or even herself stand in the way of what she wants to accomplish. She lives in a world of concrete facts and is devoted to a strong, efficient moral code much like many real-life SJ types.
Peter Pevensie has been my favorite character from The Chronicles of Narnia since seeing the 2005 movie for The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (I didn’t read the books until later). In our modern world, ESTJs have a reputation for being the hard-hitting, no-nonsense types that steamroll anyone in their way. Peter’s an example of the more gentle, guardian-like role that characterizes certain ESTJ types.
Like many ESTJs, Peter likes to be in charge but he doesn’t abuse his power. He uses it for others’ good, and is reliable, practical, and logical in all his roles from eldest sibling to high king. He takes his responsibilities very seriously, even making them part of his identity, and has a hard time adjusting to the real world once he has to leave Narnia. Like many real-life SJ types, he doesn’t like change and it takes him a while to figure out how to navigate new situations if he doesn’t have an existing framework for interpreting reality.
Like many real-life ESTJs, Tiana from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog is never shy about sharing her thoughts or making decisive decisions. She’s assertive and expressive in the face of friends, creditors, and villains alike. With her strong work ethic, family-focus, and adherence to doing what’s right, Tiana is strong example of the SJ Guardian type. She also has another trait I’ve noticed in SJs — they are, as Naveen observes, “secretly funny.”
Even better, Tiana isn’t an SJ stereotype. Many people assume types using Introverted Sensing as one of their functions are unimaginative, solidly traditional, and somewhat boring. That’s far from being true. Like other Sensing types, SJs are concerned with taking in information about the world around them, but they’re also interpreting that information in a highly subjective way. And so you get Tiana, building up a dream of the future that doesn’t look practical to outside observers, but makes perfect sense within her framework of reality. Her dream is solid, detailed, planned, and responsible.
What did you think of this list? If you’re an ESTJ, which fictional characters do you relate to best? Is there anyone you’d add to or take off of this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!