Why Are All Villains INTJs?

kahn star trek

People search that on my blog just about every week.

Let me help you out here: many villains are NOT INTJs!

How will you know if one IS an INTJ?

A well-calculated, completely rational plan from a mind ten steps ahead of everyone else involved. (Please see: Hannibal Lecter, Benedict’s Khan, Disney’s Claude Frollo, and Smallville’s Lex Luthor.)

There. That excludes a lot of villains, doesn’t it?

Simply because a villain racks up a high body count doesn’t mean they are a Thinker villain; Thinkers villains are rational. Their objective is to accomplish something in spite of who gets hurt along the way. Feeler villains often act intentionally to hurt people along the way or out of a desire to avenge their own emotions.

yuma

The combination of NTJ is rare in villains because they not only approach their plan rationally, they also see the far-reaching consequences of it and set a plan in motion regardless. Tavington in The Patriot is not an INTJ, because he fails to see the long-term results of his immediate actions, and his motivations are based on emotions (acceptance, respect, jealousy, hatred). The NTJ villain will be focused on the task at hand and dedicated to seeing it through. He/she will consider all possible outcomes, factor in all potential problems, and THEN launch an incredible, almost foolproof plan (except for the hero-fool who screws it up somehow).

Fiction has many different kinds of villains—those motivated through emotion (Carver Doone, Darth Vader, Severus Snape, the Phantom of the Opera, Bane), those motivated by enforcing social “justice” (Inspector Javert, Ra’s al Ghul), those motivated through revenge (Sweeney Todd), those motivated  through the desire to control others (Mr. Tulkinghorn, Cal Hockley, Loki, Voldemort), those motivated through the delight of chaos (The Joker, Bellatrix Lestrange), and so forth.

The INTJ has a reputation for being the “worst villain,” but they’re just the one who has factored in all possible outcomes and come up with a plan. So no, not all villains on your television screen are INTJs. There are villains in every single type, because every single type can be twisted into something evil. “Evil” is universal, and not exclusive to the INTJ. The INTJ is simply better at almost getting away with it. 😛

37 Replies to “Why Are All Villains INTJs?”

  1. I’d suggest that Severus Snape isn’t really a villain. He’s believed to be a villain by Harry and his friends, but he was one of the greatest heroes of the Harry Potter stories.

    I suppose this also gets a misunderstood heroes. An INTJ makes for a very compelling misunderstood hero.

    1. Considering how selfish and mean Snape is, anti-hero is better than hero or villain. His ending arc doesn’t really excuse his behavior throughout the franchise (mercilessly bullying children / being cruel to them, etc).

  2. It’s absurd to claim that all villains are INTJs. The reason that INTJs are typically villains is that they make perfect Chessmasters (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheChessmaster). The reason that there aren’t many INTJ heroes is, well, let’s be honest: Altruism is not high on the INTJ’s list of priorities. I’m not saying that INTJs are callous, but frankly, we have little interest in the feelings of others who aren’t personally close to us, and we measure the value of everyone else by how useful we find them. I mean, we’re not going to go out of our way to save every pathetic victim who most likely got himself into his own mess. We’ll leave that disadvantageous job to the ISFJ.

  3. HA! So there!!!
    As an INTJ I am glad to hear this being said… I’m very disgruntled with the way that type gets painted black by so many places! It’s so unfair.
    Just ’cause we’re the best at planning a successful …anything… doesn’t mean all the other types have to go getting in a huff and saying “They’re all villains!!!!”
    Talk about stereotyping. Yikes.

    😉
    Anyway, what I’d love to see are more INTJ heroes. Like Edmund Dantes, etc. Those people are so fun to read about!!! 😉 Especially if they’re matched off against an INTJ villain… ooooo… that would be some serious drama there. I like it.

    Like you said: we find ourselves drawn to the INTJ villian, even if he’s “the bad guy” and shouldn’t be liked. So; make an INTJ good guy, and we can all fangirl freely with no remorseful twinges. Right?!!! 😉

    That being said… I’m wondering if my MC’s in my writing are INTJs. I had not thought to go applying the types to my own fictional characters… but that’s an interesting thought!!! 🙂

    Thanks for the fun post!
    Elizabeth

    1. Stereotypes dominate the world, and they suck. I’m sick of them. NTJ villains are awesome… but so are NFJ, NTP, STP, SFP, and NFP villains! =P

      Maybe you should write some books with NTJ villains and heroes. I’d read them! I might still pine for the NTJ villain, though, because they usually have way more fun than the hero…

      1. Yes, I know! 😉 But not even they can be used for good or evil. 😉
        I have a major “redemption tendency” problem with any villain I remotely like, mentally re-writing the story to get him back onto the side of good! 😉 I taught my younger sister how to do that, and it’s kind of funny… after watching a movie in which she discovers she doesn’t approve of the ending; she’ll be all “I can’t talk right now. I’ve go tot go lay down and mentally rewrite that story before I can sleep!”
        It’s so fun as a writer to pass on these kind of tips to my non-writer family members. 😉

        And, yes… I believe I have written some… I shall have to double check as I come across them! 😉

        P.S. I was directed to your site by friend who knew of you, and had read one of your books… so I think I need to have a long chat with you about book publishing and indie authorship and everything!!! 😉

        1. I make up redemptive arcs for villains, too. I guess that’s why I’m delighted when I DO find a redemptive arc for a villain in a movie. Like… “Maleficent.” Wonderful arc. I got to root for the “villain” (anti-heroine?) all the way through!

          Oooh, a nice long chat would be lovely sometime! How can I help you?

          1. I love redemptive arcs for villains, too! (I’m really looking forward to seeing that one on DVD when it comes out! )
            Maybe because we could all so easily BE villains, but through the Lord’s grace we can choose NOT to be… so… therefore, anyone can change and become a better person! 🙂
            I really am big on the theme of “there’s always hope” in my works, and I think that’s because it’s such an integral part of my life. 🙂 (I need to finish the WIP in which I save Maedhros and Maglor from the Sillmarillion… I think you’d like it!) (Not sure if you’ve read that more obscure work of Tolkien’s… but suffice it to say, “hope” is not a huge theme in that work. Yikes!!! Makes me think he must have been pretty depressed when he was putting that one together. 😉 One of the reasons The Hobbit is my most favorite book!)

            Well, I’d love to hear what you’ve come to decide on publishing, (I see your Indie-authoring) and how the marketing/sales part is coming for you. After indie releasing my first two books I’m definitely convinced that I need to get better at that, and it seems to be we need to be figure out an “angle’ to work, instead of just wading out there and trying to compete with all the other stuff beign produced. Got to find and stake a claim on a niche that really likes what we have, instead of being washed away in a sea of Romance/Thriller/ParanormalYA… if you know hat I mean.
            I totally believe that there are readers out there who AREN’T looking for that… but connecting with them seems to be a missing link in our strategy.
            I’d love to correspond if you have the time… ekaiserwrites-at-hotmail! 🙂

          2. I haven’t read much of The Simmarillion. I got a bit bogged down in all the details of the prose. Plus, I lose interest in things quickly, so I probably got distracted by a squirrel or something. 😉

            I’ll e-mail the rest to you.

  4. I wrote a similar article a couple months ago. Its the power and control the -NTJs need oh so badly that often makes that villain character a Rational. I would disagree that Khan is an INTJ as he didn’t have a long-range plan past somehow getting on the huge freaking ship that hunted down the Enterprise. I say ISTP for him.

    The -NTJ villain comes off as the coldest because of their tertiary/inferior Fi I’d think. People just don’t matter- but the plan does.

    1. … I dunno, the movie didn’t tell us Khan’s long range plan but I presume it involved freeing his entire crew and resuming whatever he was doing before he was cryo-froze. And I frankly don’t think an ISTP (one of my guy friends is one) could plan and execute something that intricate — they’re more of act now, deal with the problems later. Khan had everything planned out.

      1. Hmm maybe I’ll have to watch the movie again, it’s been a few months. Yeah they’re definitely an “act now” type, I guess I don’t remember Khan actually having a plan as much as he did go with the moment and doing what he could to free his family. Did he know the Enterprise was going to pick him up and that his family would be on board? I can’t remember. If he was able to plan that out, I’d say INTJ, but if not- ISTP.

        1. I’m not sure what the intent of the writers was, but to me, it looked like Khan planned every move he made as part of an elaborate scheme to free his crew and use Kirk to do it — since I don’t want to rehash it all, here is my initial analysis.

        2. I’ve watched it many times and I can say that yes; Khan DID have everything planned out. Once he knew his crew was on board he surrendered. Once he was on board, everything fell into place. Khan obviously knew that they were stranded, and being in his position it wouldn’t be hard to piece together it was Marcus who had done it. Khan’s brilliant. He expected it all and worked it out.
          I kinda (not always for AU sake) wished they had given us a little more to go off of though….:/ Being a lover of Khan that’d be nice. XD
          Anyway hope I helped in some way.

  5. Hi! I’ve been reading your stuff for a while (this blog, your review site & your tumblr page) for a while but I haven’t left any comments yet. Anyway, I REALLY like your writing 😀 We love a lot of the same things, like villains! Also, I’ve always had some kind of interest in psychology but ever since I’ve found that I’m an INFJ my interest has increased significantly. I was just wondering – since you obviously know your stuff so well – if you could recommend me any psychology books or websites or anything like that? I hope you don’t mind! I have learnt a lot from your website of course. I’d just like to go even deeper.

    1. Thank you! It makes me happy that you find my site useful. 🙂

      To be honest, I’m not sure that I can help you. I was briefly interested in psychology and studied it for a short time in my early twenties, but haven’t kept up with it since — so I don’t have enough information about any particular website or book that could be helpful to you. Sorry!

  6. I also find it interesting because in the first Star Trek movie, the villain is the complete opposite. Nero is SUCH a feeler. He had no idea what he was doing long term. He didn’t care if his plan made sense, or worked at all. He just wanted everyone to feel the pain that he did. He was still an effective villain, especially considering all the damage that he had done, but in a lot of ways he almost seemed less dangerous then Benedict’s Khan.

    1. Excellent point!

      I re-watched Into Darkness last night and realized… Khan only “lost” because he failed to predict that Spock might BREAK THE RULES. That was his one weakness, his inability to predict that Spock could do something like arm the torpedoes. If Khan had scanned the torpedoes when he beamed them aboard, he could have beamed them back onto the Enterprise and killed everyone! :/

  7. Hi Charity!

    Have you ever watched Watchmen? If you haven’t, consider it.

    The villain, (whose name I won’t mention just in case you haven’t watched it and hate spoilers) is to me a really good example of an INTJ villain. What I love about Watchmen is that all the characters are rather flawed, and I think you’ll enjoy analysing their personalities.

    Love the posts, by the way. Just discovered your blog 10 minutes ago and I’ll definitely keep coming back for more. 🙂

  8. So the INTJs just happen to often be the most effective villain? 😉 Or perhaps most screenwriters feel that an INTJ makes for the most interesting villain to watch onscreen? This reminds me of a discussion I saw on tumblr a while ago that theorized that the reason some personality types were more “popular” in film than others, was a reflection of the personalities of people who work in Hollywood, especially screenwriters, directors and actors, rather than the entire population!

    On the other hand, look on the bright side, your blog is now intrinsically linked with the awesomest INTJ villains of the grand and small screen 😉

    1. Most writers are Feelers, which means to them, a Thinker villain is the scariest thing possible. What wouldn’t be scarier than a non-emotional, highly-intelligent villain who doesn’t care who gets in his way?

      However, they also write a lot of Feeler villains who are motivated through personal, emotional-based reasons (revenge, hatred, control, etc).

      True. Can’t say I mind. 😉

  9. Another cool post :D! I’ve never been into personality types (except for my recognition that I’m shy and most of the world is not, lol), but reading all the stuff you’ve been posting on here and your tumblr about mbti typing for fictional characters is sooo intriguing. It really brings the character’s motives and qualities to light. Even now I’m thinking about all the villains I’ve seen, trying to decide if they were motivated by emotions, revenge, chaos, etc. I love stuff like this. Keep it coming!

    1. One of the reasons I’m so into personality typing is it helps me understand other people (or characters, as the case may be). I’m less judgmental and “hard” on others if I understand their motivations for their behavior. Plus, typing for fictional characters is fun! 😀

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