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  1. #1
    Member nightwatcher's Avatar
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    Default The low percentage of INTPs in Western Fantasy and Science Fiction

    INTPs appear to be under represented in Western fantastic fiction, which often seems to pit INTJs against ENTPs. Why isn’t a character like Light from the Death Note series (who seems clearly INTP to me) so scarce? Forget other types for now and just focus on the NT’s. My “unscientific” type lists of protagonists and antagonists for Western fantasy/sci fi novels, comics, movies, TV series contain an exceedingly high percentage of INTJ’s (number one) and ENTPs (a close second). ENTJs are in the middle, and INTPs are in the cellar. Even if I’ve mistyped some of the characters, I don’t think I’ve gotten enough of them wrong to alter the apparent fact that there are notably fewer INTP main characters than the other types in these stories. (Consider that statistically, NPs outnumber NJs in the “real” world and INJs are the rarest type.). I’m not fluent enough in manga/anime to be certain which types are most common, and wonder if there are more INTPs like Light than you find in Western fiction? The Far East does seem more INTPish than the West (e.g. the cool rationality of Buddhism, which seems Introverted Thinking to me), and perhaps the IT (NP) point of view is more often represented in its fictional characters? I’m trying to remember the main characters from animes like “Ghost in the Shell” and “Akara” that I haven’t seen in years, and I’m not sure of their types.

    One possible reason that types whose dominant function is N (INJs and ENPs) are most likely good guys and the villians of fantasy/sci fi is because they are the ones most likely to be drawn to “sorcery”, the “dark arts” and other “N-zone” stuff. It may also be because NJs are more driven to control the environment, whether for “good” or “evil” purposes, while bad guy ENTPs like the Joker and Walter o’Dim (from King’s Dark Tower epic) are primarily motived to create discord and chaos, and INTPs are generally less interested in either.

    I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic.

  2. #2
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    The most obvious answer is that INTPs make "boring" and ineffectual main characters.

    They're not externally active.

    Usually they function as a sidekick or sage in a story -- someone who "has insight" into a particular situation.

    But they tend not to do much, because they don't want to commit to action, they want to keep things open to observation and continual analysis.

    Other character types are far more active within a story line.

    As a writer, I need dynamic characters to carry a plot. INTPs are generally NOT that... unless of course they have developed other aspects of their personality and aren't "typical" INTPs.

    ISP types are far more active externally (they deal with the sensate world).
    IJ types do things, via Fe or Te -- they also act externally.
    INFPs get personally involved so they'll be more apt to fight for causes. Again, they choose to participate in the plot.
    INTPs "act" by retreating within, observing, and actively building models of reality. Bring ANY of them up and I will bet they play the sage, the observer, the "wise person," the eccentric, etc.

    Andrews in the movie "Titanic" -- not a SF/Fan movie -- even fits this. He built the ship, he provides valuable info about it to the main characters, he's kind and considerate to Rose, he seems the most "aware" on the ship, and he shows his consideration of others not by emotional display but by doing logical things, like giving Rose his life vest.

    If we cast the Scarecrow in Oz as an INTP, it's rather the same. He acts in an advisory position to Dorothy but really he's just along for the ride.

    I will rack my brain for more INTPs in my scifi/fan/comic reading and see what I can come up with.

    Yes, your Eastern nod to Buddhism and INTP makes sense, there's a connection there.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  3. #3
    Lallygag Moderator Geoff's Avatar
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    I think there are an in fact an overrepresentation of INTPs, as with most N's in western fantasy and fiction. Not that it's easy to determine, because people write using caricatures, not real personalities. Often more so in a fantasy world.

  4. #4
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    INTPs are overrepresented in certain roles (sages and of the like) but aren't usually cast anywhere else. (Nevermind that Light is usually typed as INTJ or even ENTJ).

    Well, I mean, main characters are usually introverts, the reason probably twofold -- the writer is usually an introvert himself, and also introverts will tend to cultivate few, close relationships, which lets the writer juggle fewer characters and altogether makes things easier for him.

    ISPs usually have an element of badass to them, as ISFPs being more typically heroic and ISTPs being more antiheroes. IJs are more often in supporting roles (unassuming and dependable, especially ISJs) but occasionally get the lead and become a powerful force in moving the story forward. INFPs, like Jennifer says, will have personal stakes in the story so are more likely to get involved.

    Which leaves the INTP. That's what I see, anyway.
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  5. #5
    Senior Member 6sticks's Avatar
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    Ender Wiggin from Ender's Game seemed like an INTP when I read it ages ago. I haven't read the other books though, so maybe not.
    No offense.

  6. #6
    Member nightwatcher's Avatar
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    Death Note typo correction: L is the probable INTP, Light a probable INTJ.
    "Space was big, and the boys from Earth were awed despite themselves by the things they found there: but worse, their science was in a mess. Every race they met on their way through the Core had a star drive based on a different theory. All those theories worked, even when they ruled out one another’s basic assumptions. You could travel between the stars, it began to seem, by assuming anything.”

    —M. John Harrison, “Light”

  7. #7
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haphazard View Post
    ... INFPs, like Jennifer says, will have personal stakes in the story so are more likely to get involved.
    Typical examples of NFs (and particularly INFPs) in fantasy are Terry Brooks' Shannara series. (I think Brooks is INFP.)

    I tried to think of more INTPs in fantasy last night and really couldn't. Often the sage position is given to INTJs (Gandalf, Alannon) because they are more striking characters and get involved in the plot.

    I haven't read any Orson Scott Card, really, though. I wouldn't be surprised if he (or Pratchett even?) had more INTP representation.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  8. #8
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6sticks View Post
    Ender Wiggin from Ender's Game seemed like an INTP when I read it ages ago. I haven't read the other books though, so maybe not.
    I'm not convinced Ender isn't an F. What type is Bean, do you think?
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  9. #9
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightwatcher View Post
    Death Note typo correction: L is the probable INTP, Light a probable INTJ.
    That sounds more normal.

    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    I'm not convinced Ender isn't an F. What type is Bean, do you think?
    I've heard for Bean INTJ or INFJ. I don't remember much about that book, though -- too mechanical. Didn't really catch my interest.

    I'm trying to think of more INTP characters... I once heard Indiana Jones as INTP, but I'd almost say he's more ISTP. Whatever he is, he's awesome.
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  10. #10
    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    Examples of NT characters in movies / pop media -

    INTP
    Data (Star Trek)
    Beast (X-Men)
    Nathaniel "Natty" Bumppo / Hawkeye (Last of the Mohicans)
    Dr. Bruce Banner (Marvel)
    Hank Pym (Marvel)
    Gandalf the Grey (LOTR; I disagree with the popular belief that he's INTJ - too serene)
    Dr. Ho Yinsen (Marvel / Iron Man)

    INTJ
    Dr. Strange (Marvel)
    Lore (Star Trek)
    Magua (Last of the Mohicans)
    The Martian Manhunter (DC)
    Keyser Soze (The Usual Suspects)

    ENTJ
    General Maximus Decimus Meridius (Gladiator)
    William Wallace (Braveheart)
    Sauron (LOTR)
    The Borg Queen (ST: TNG)
    Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek)

    ENTP
    Conan O'Brien (The Simpsons)
    Spiderman (Marvel)
    Zatanna Zatara (DC)

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