Why Do INFP Characters Die First in Movies?

“It’s a dog-eat-dog world!” say dogs, gnawing on the leg of some other dog. At least, that’s what the business world looks like to me. As an INFP personality type, I feel like I’m not cut out for the dizzying heights of wealth and tyranny like others are. But recently I found myself subject to the scrutiny of something far more sinister—a personality quiz.

The self-quiz is a time-wasting pleasantry that sucks all of us in eventually. On this occasion, a friend of mine had become deeply interested in Myers-Briggs personality types, especially how they relate to fictional characters. Over wine and a curry, my friend told me my personality type’s fate across a range of movies, books, and TV shows. Slowly the results, much like the wine, sank into my brain. I started to notice a pattern:

  • INFPs are the disadvantaged characters.
  • INFPs usually don’t get very far in the story.
  • INFPs die first.

I felt myself becoming quietly and politely outraged. I mean, this is just for entertainment purposes, right? No need to get mad about fun.

Fine, I thought.

As the night progressed and my friend dished out more tests, I found that the patterns remained.

As a fan of the BBC TV series Sherlock, I was loathe to be likened to Molly Hooper, the timid girl who has unrequited love for Sherlock Holmes. Or the forgettable Padme Amidala, who fell in love with the soon to be Darth Vader, only to die in childbirth. And how about Éowyn from Lord of the Rings, who chased after Aragon only to be chopped up in battle?

INFPs have a tendency to appear as the lovesick puppy, but it gets worse. Take, for instance, Heidi Priebe’s analysis of what would happen if all the Myers-Briggs personality types were put into the Hunger Games together:

“Since all fiction novels seem to be written by INFPs for INFPs with the message that the person with the kindest heart wins, this type often assumes that they would champion the Hunger Games. In the real hunger games the INFP is first to get shot off their podium because they were daydreaming during the countdown and don’t notice that the games had actually started.”

My friend went on and on. The only exception was Star Wars, with Luke Skywalker being an INFP. How cool is that? Very, thanks for noticing.

Yet the question remains: why do so few INFPs survive in movies? If we are actually incapable of existing in a harsh world, then why am I still here? Granted, I have yet to be summoned to a fight to the death, but have any of us had a particularly easy life?

I put the question of INFP survival to my friends. And here, my dear reader, are some of the things they told me:

1. “You’re just too nice.”

This really irritated me. I mean, how nice is “too nice”?

Sure, I’m pleasant and I don’t stab others in the back. As far as I’m aware, I haven’t physically hurt anyone. But I don’t always feel nice. I’m not fond of most people and don’t always want to spend time with the people I do like. I don’t dream of puppies and flowers, nor believe the world is magical and full of goodness and that everyone’s dreams come true. And I don’t understand people who feel that way.

“The world is not a nice place.”— Most people

But I get it. Some folks have a tough life and it changes them. It makes them hard and cold. But we INFPs often remain kind and open to everyone we meet regardless of our troubles or history. If that makes me “too nice,” then oh well.

2. “You can’t meet anyone if you stay indoors.”

I like to stay in. When I want to venture out, I will. Assuming that INFPs are antisocial is a grave oversight. We have close, strong relationships with a handful of people we trust. These friendships are forged over years of experiences and are rarely broken.

3. “You can’t say no.”

Yes, I can.

INFPs have a great deal of patience when it comes to other people: friends, co-workers, and family. But we have a limit. Think-pieces written on “the art of saying no more” make us all consider whether we’re taking on too much work or helping without reciprocation. But as long as you’re comfortable with what you’re undertaking, what does it matter? Helping others isn’t about getting something in return, it’s about feeling at peace with your inner self. If INFPs are not happy about what they are being asked, we will let you know.

4. “You’re too trusting.”

My father likes to quote Rocky at me when I have a bad day. ‘The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows,” he drawls. INFPs often give new people the benefit of the doubt, but it takes a long time to earn our trust. The truth is, people can hurt you immediately, or they can surprise you ten or twenty years down the line. How long must you go before trusting that someone cares about you? Without being able to open up to anyone, the world can be a pretty cold and lonely place. Trust is earned and trust is destroyed for everyone at some point in their life, but INFPs pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and move forward every time.

Independent, unshakeable, and confident in their ability to make anyone’s day pleasant, INFPs are getting the short straw in the movie personality quiz. Now this isn’t a call-to-arms to ban the humble online quiz. I quite enjoy them. And I’ll admit, I may well have died first in The Hunger Games; I trip easily and sometimes snore. But out of all of the Star Wars characters, which one is still alive today?  retina_favicon1

Image credit: Lolostock/Shutterstock

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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an Introvert


  • jwarrenjr says:

    I took a Playwriting class in college, and the professor, looking over my script, said, “You have a knack for dialogue, but where’s the conflict?” I’m an INFJ, but perhaps the reason INFP characters die first is that idealistic movie characters don’t generate drama. They would tend to promote healing and defuse conflict.

  • jwarrenjr says:

    Because the INFP character would defuse the conflict. INFPs tend to generate healing rather than drama.

  • Pistis says:

    As an INFJ, I wholeheartedly agree and even relate with much of this. But the nerd in me also just needs to say… Padme Amidala is a strong character regardless of the fact that she often wasn’t done justice in the movies. She was a skilled diplomat, humble and strong leader, stuck to her guns, and was passionate about justice. And finally… Eowyn in LOTR is an absolute BOSS. She is independent, fierce, noble, and she did not get chopped up in battle – she disguised herself so she could fight in battle and then proceeded to defeat/kill the Witch King… And while she was wounded from this, she lived (but regardless, getting killed or wounded in battle isn’t a weakness. It certainly is never considered a weakness for male characters, at least). So whoever is telling you that these are forgettable, disadvantaged characters is severely misled.

    But anyway. I love INFPs and think the kindess and hope they display is nothing but immense strength. That is all 🙂

  • Shaun says:

    I think that it’s difficult for a lot of a movie audience to relate to an INFP with most of their world happening in their mind which due to movies being very visual, doesn’t translate to the screen and puts them below other types. Are there any films/TV shows at all with an INFP lead character?

  • I feel your pain on INFPs in fiction. I’m an INFJ myself, and I find that my personality type is usually the Mentor who gets killed off (Obi-Wan Kenobi) or a mystical being with one or two encounters (Galadriel from LOTR). Then again, I’ve also heard that Will Graham from Red Dragon might belong to this type, so that works out.

    And I agree with Pistis in that both Padme and Eowyn were strong fighters and leaders in their own right. It’s a pity that they couldn’t be in the spotlight more (or get a better ending in Padme’s case).

  • doctorfosser says:

    I get this, but I agree with Pistis about some of the characters you mention. Perhaps expanding the search would demonstrate that INFPs are often really great characters. Laura Roslin from Battlestar, Disney’s Belle (if you’re into the princess thing), Luna Lovegood, Shephard Book from Firefly…all really creative, strong characters who are neither stepped-on nor cannon fodder. I think IN types are rarely your stereotypical hero, but do we really want to be?

  • Issitoq says:

    i suppose the problem is, these INFP characters are often presented in a forced _stereotypical_ way.
    (see your another article, https://introvertdear.com/2016/07/11/stereotypes-infps-need-stop-beliving/ )

    so… they’re over-simplified. like… amongst other characters, they can’t have a proper character development, complexity etc. either.
    for instance, INFPs are often portrayed as lunatic idealists – feather-like crybabies who are floating above the sky. who tend to die ‘by accident’ as they’re not paying attention to reality. that’s not true. INFPs can be human-shields, bulletproof, down to earth.
    if you ask me, seems like most creators forget about that, and the ‘dark side’ of being an INFP as well. when we’re being fierce (have you seen a mother bear protecting her cubs? :P), stubborn, adaptable, using tons of extroverted Thinking. and so on.

  • I am so glad that someone wrote this article. The injustice of how I, and other INFP’s, are portrayed in movies, and anything else really, has made me so upset! Am I forgiving, compassionate, loyal, loving, and gentle…yes! But I am not stupid. And trust me, I have my rough moments, life isn’t always a daydream, but I don’t let it cripple me. I can’t say whether or not I would survive the Hunger Games…but if I put my heart to it, I would make it pretty close, and I would be sure to go out with a bang. The Hunger Games is totally one of those unjust causes that I could see myself rallying against…and pity the man that tries to snuff out or oppose the passionate cause of any INFP.

  • Hal says:

    You should check out Scrubs the main character is an INFP and the show captures his daydreaming really well. Its one of my favorites just because I can relate so well

  • mariana says:

    I think what happens is that INFPs don’t generally communicate their feelings on problems that don’t affect others. So there is conflict, but its internal conflict, and unless they communicate it or you pick up on their feelings it won’t be brought into the open. They’re good at hiding their feelings and playing off whatever signs of distress they do let out. And they help other people with their own issues/feelings/problems while doing so.
    So conflicted hearts defusing conflict.

  • TLay Lay says:

    Im an INFP and when I first saw the title I was quite upset (thinking this is so untrue), but as I thought more I had to agree. it’s a movie.. and since I’m most likely the first to die, I could probably figure out all the other Personalities and know who would do what.. (according to the story line) or I could just go back to my safe place in my room.. ^^

  • Jim says:

    I’m gonna have to disagree about the dying first. If an INFP can find a nice place to hide, he or she could just daydream about all the possible scenarios until the coast was clear…And then when he or she finally emerges, everyone else will be dead. We’d just have to fight the one guy (or girl). And that one guy (or girl) would probably already have forgotten we existed. Or just assumed we’d gotten eaten by an alligator. Element of surprise would be all ours.

  • Lyla says:

    I’m INFP. Daenarys Targaryen is INFP. She is mistaken by many to be INFJ, but it’s because she’s aware of her over-perceptiveness at times being fatal to her (greatest strength is also greatest weakness). I find it so infuriating that any time an INFP reigns, people assume they must be some other personality. Or when Steven Colbert took the test and got INFP, someone posted an article on how they think the answer was wrong and he’s probably ENFP– like a comedian can’t be an introvert. I also read that same article on how you’d die in the Hunger Games, and I and my husband both commented on how just because I daydream sometimes doesn’t mean when there is a life-threatening situation that I’m just totally oblivious. I’m seen as a love-sick puppy at times because of these misunderstandings when that’s so inaccurate. I’m actually kind of a bad-ass, glorious, rose-covered queen that is kind to a point, but then will do what is necessary in the end and then I come across as “brutal,” etc. I can’t tell you how many times I feel like they’ve got me all wrong.