INTJs will relate to these four fictional book and TV characters.
Stories help us make sense of our lives, especially when we’re young. As a teenage INTJ, I grew up reading epic fantasy novels and watching anime, like Dragonball Z. While I loved their themes of heroism and friendship, I now look back and realize that I didn’t have many fictional role models applicable to myself as an introvert — and especially not as an INTJ, one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types inspired by the work of Carl Jung.
In addition, the INTJs that I did see were often quirky, eccentric characters who were hard to relate to in my everyday life, like Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Darcy, and L from Death Note.
So here are four characters who are more relatable to us as INTJs and have provided me with insight into how I can live as an introvert in an extrovert’s world.
(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)
4 Fictional Role Models for INTJs
1. Jojen Reed from Game of Thrones
A loyal sidekick to Bran Stark, INTJ Jojen Reed accompanies him, Hodor, and others beyond the Wall to find the Three-Eyed Raven. Called “The Little Grandfather” in the book, the 13-year-old crannogman from the swamp — like many INTJs — has wisdom beyond his years that guides Bran toward his destiny. Jojen loves reading, knows many stories, and appreciates the need to learn from others; he tells Bran that “a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies; the man who never reads lives only one.”
Although physically weak, Jojen has powerful insight, a signature strength of INTJs. His older sister Meera, despite her much greater physical prowess and skill, always heeds his counsel. And although placed in challenging circumstances, Jojen never loses faith in his visions. No matter how dire the situation becomes, he can say with confidence that he will make it through, as he knows (and has foreseen) his ultimate fate: “Today is not the day that I die.”
What we can learn from Jojen: INTJs can learn a lot from Jojen’s confidence in his visions. We INTJs may become jaded or lose hope when our dreams or ideals aren’t realized, but we can find serenity in knowing that what is most valuable is within ourselves rather than outside — and listening to our intuition is key to achieving this.
Misfortune may happen, but through our insights, if we come to understand what matters most in life (and if we dedicate ourselves to living in line with that), we can be at peace among the challenges life throws at us.
2. Abed Nadir from Community
As he navigates the social dynamics of a quirky community college study group, Abed shows us how INTJs can be authentic to ourselves in an extroverted world. Yes, INTJs are often drawn to philosophical and scientific pursuits, but that doesn’t mean some are not drawn to the arts, too, like Abed. (Other creative INTJs also include Jane Austen, Issac Asimov, and H. P. Lovecraft.)
Abed has an obsession with stories, especially movies and television, and is adept at understanding the patterns, tropes, and archetypes of storytelling. He even switches majors early on in the show to focus on filmmaking. And even though, like most INTJs, he’s never able to reach professional success in the extrovert-oriented market, he still helps his friends discover more about themselves and the world through his filmmaking and movie reenactments.
Like the quintessential INTJ, Abed doesn’t have what most would consider “typical” human emotions or interests, and he doesn’t understand many of his friends’ mainstream social conventions, such as those surrounding practical jokes, relationships, and status hierarchies. He’s at his most “typical” when he’s copying movie characters.
Because of this, some fans place Abed on the high-functioning end of the Autism Spectrum (Asperger Syndrome). Regardless, he’s one of the most prominent INTJs in fiction who has to deal with an everyday environment and relate to people in mainstream social situations that challenge his INTJ way of engaging with the world. And while Abed certainly stands out for being socially different, I think we could say the same for INTJs overall and how they appear in mainstream settings (which underscores the need to find friends who accept us for who we are).
In fact, in one episode, Abed describes how he feels most closely connected with the group while using his brilliant analytical mind to run a cafeteria chicken fingers racket. Everyone has their role in the racket, including himself. His role is to keep the system’s interlocking pieces intact to get the others what they want. INTJs long for solutions to things, as Abed demonstrates.
And even though he controls the whole system, what he really wants is the human connection that the system affords. While the system does break down by the end of the episode, we learn an important lesson about what Abed’s filmmaking, studying, and story references are all about: deeply connecting with others. Even though INTJs may appear to be loners, they do highly value their close friendships.
What we can learn from Abed: Like many INTJs, Abed lives in his head and often expresses his ideas through the metaphorical imagery of stories. Yet he also has to face obstacles in the outside world, such as a social world that often doesn’t understand him.
Through Abed, we INTJs can learn that we can accept how different we are from others without trying to be something we’re not. We can make friends with people who don’t expect us to conform to most mainstream expectations and who will appreciate us for our unique selves.
We can also think about career choices and hobbies not based primarily on money, popularity, or status, but on their ability to help us express our deepest insights and connect with others in our unconventional ways.
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3. Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Buffy the Vampire Slayer series usually focuses on the show’s teenage protagonist, the Slayer, who defends humanity from vampires and demons in Sunnydale, California. But one of Buffy’s crucial supports is her mentor and Watcher, middle-aged British high school librarian Rupert Giles.
Dressed in a tweed suit and glasses, Giles would rather spend an evening perusing the dusty stacks for ancient lore or sitting quietly by the fire than joining Buffy and her “Scooby Gang” friend group on a patrol for vampires. (This is similar to how INTJs like to be invited out, yet we may very well prefer to stay home.) In fact, Giles rarely plays more than a minor role in the physical combat that Buffy encounters.
But his role as researcher, antiquarian, and intellectual, as well as his mature, stable presence, provides an anchor to Buffy’s team. While Buffy excels at quick thinking and can leap into action, Giles plays the counterbalancing role. He thoughtfully researches, coordinates the group’s actions, and waits and watches to learn more about the situation in typical problem-solving INTJ fashion.
Plus, Giles doesn’t mind being seen as stodgy or old-fashioned; he has quiet confidence in his abilities. And when he discovers an ancient text or prophecy that bears on the current situation, the Scooby Gang quiets down and listens — because they know that his knowledge may make the difference between life and death.
What we can learn from Giles: I know from experience that we INTJs may be drawn to the glamorous jobs in the middle of the action, like being the center of attention in politics, art, or public discussions. We have ideas to share and want to make an impact.
But where we will often excel the most is in a support capacity like Giles: research, learning, thinking, and counseling caution before taking action. We may not be the best at performance or motivating people, but we can be invaluable when it comes to thinking up solutions: studying and doing the behind-the-scenes work that contributes just as much to saving the day.
4. Edmund Bertram from Mansfield Park
Most of us know Jane Austen’s mysterious, handsome INTJ hero, Fitzwilliam Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice. He performs quiet acts of service, single mindedly courts a woman his wealthy relatives don’t approve of, and looks out for his friend’s best interests.
But it’s hard to consider him a role model for an ordinary person today. We weren’t born into the landed gentry, still need to hold down a day job, and don’t have 10,000 pounds a year in investment interest (the equivalent of $16 million today in purchasing power).
A more relatable INTJ role model comes from Austen’s lesser known hero of Mansfield Park, protagonist Fanny Price’s true love, Edmund Bertram. Six years Fanny’s senior, Edmund acts as protector and confidant to the shy, sensitive INFP Fanny throughout the years she lives with his family in Mansfield.
Where others ridicule or ignore her, Edmund comforts her with gentle words, consults her on important moral questions, and listens carefully to her answers. As an INTJ, Edmund realizes his limitations when it comes to feelings and relationships, so he finds the person best qualified to give him advice — Fanny — despite her lower social status and others’ disregard of her.
He also has a strong sense of honor, virtue, and morality. Against the wishes of his first love interest, the sophisticated and witty Mary Crawford, he chooses to go into the clergy, which she sees as lazy and unambitious. Edmund defends his choice on principle: Clergy members can be a force for good in reversing social trends toward selfishness and frivolous displays of wealth.
Although Edmund finds himself initially attracted to Mary, his dedication to honor and principles causes him to eventually discover how unprincipled she is. These principles also help him realize Fanny’s goodness and show him that they are, and always have been, a perfect match.
What we can learn from Edmund: Despite how it may appear, INTJs are sensitive, gentle souls at heart. We don’t like conflict and are often at our best when acting as a bridge to other introverts in dealing with an extroverted world that, to many introverts, feels harsh and disorienting.
Second, INTJs can function in highly structured systems — schools, churches, bureaucracies — and can use this talent to find our calling in life.
Third, INTJs can be deeply dedicated to principles, rather than status, and can often become quiet (but unrelenting) champions of truth and justice.
Finally, while we must be wary of the allure of the fashionable, we can use our powers of discernment to cut through error — even when it is our own. When we humble ourselves and trust in our insights rather than popular trends, we can find the people most qualified to complement our talents and give us wise counsel, even if society overlooks them.
If you want to learn more about introversion, Jungian types, and how the mind works, subscribe to my podcast, Introvert University, available on Apple, Google, Spotify, and more.
Image credit: Jojen Reed Game of Thrones Wiki
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