Thought Catalog
May 7, 2015

A Breakdown Of the How I Met Your Mother Characters Based On Myers-Briggs Personality Types

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It was not difficult for How I Met Your Mother to steal our hearts. Unlike most sitcoms, this clever series offered a myriad of intuitive characters and delved beyond the usual realm of slapstick humour. Young intuitives will remember How I Met Your Mother as one of the first shows to represent their own zany types, in the form of relatable sitcom characters.

Robin Scherbatsky – ISTP

Function Stacking: Introverted Thinking (Ti), Extroverted Sensing (Se), Introverted Intuition (Ni), Extroverted Feeling (Fe).

Robin is a textbook ISTP. Prioritizing her career far above her personal life, she displays introverted thinking in all of her pursuits. Her communication style is frank and direct, reflecting her logical thought process.

Robin’s second function – extroverted sensing – surfaces relentlessly throughout the course of her career. She uses a trial-and-error approach to both her work and her personal life, discarding opportunities only once she sees them through. Robin displays her clear preference for perceiving over judging through her outright refusal to settle into any relationship that would deter her from realizing her dreams of travelling or broadcasting.

Though we see very little of her analytical and feeling functions throughout the course of the show, Robin does eventually employ introverted intuition to analyze the mistakes she’s made in the past and come to terms with how to implement more effective solutions in the future (I.e. when she realizes she has to stop putting work ahead of relationships). Robin certainly does care about her loved ones, she just has trouble allowing her feelings to triumph over her leading logical functions.

Barney Stinson – ENTP

Function Stacking: Extroverted Intuition (Ne), Introverted Thinking (Ti), Extroverted Feeling (Fe), Introverted Sensing (Si)

Barney Stinson embodies a perfect caricature of an ENTP. His extroverted intuition and introverted thinking run wild through his “Playbook” schemes where he backs up outlandish ideas with concrete, detailed steps for pulling them off.

Though his moments of extroverted feeling are few and far between, we see glimpses of it in flashbacks to “Old Barney” – the guitar-playing hippie who just wanted to save the world.

Though he predominantly dwells in the intuitive realm, Barney also displays strong introverted sensing through his meticulous organization of his wardrobe, his career and his detail-oriented schemes. Barney is the truest exaggeration of the dynamic ENTP personality type – he is clever, over-the-top and manipulative in every move he makes.

Lily Aldrin – ENFJ

Function Stacking: Extroverted Feeling (Fe), Introverted Intuition (Ni), Extroverted Sensing (Se), Introverted Thinking (Ti)

Lily Aldrin is a somewhat inconsistent character, which makes her tricky to type. Though she has bouts of impulsivity (I.e. breaking off the wedding to move to San Francisco), she displays strong judging characteristics for the majority of the series. Lily definitely displays extroverted feeling as her main function – she is obsessively concerned with the well being of her friends and the group in general. She takes a tough love approach to matters of the heart, which is the classic style of a dominant extroverted feeler.

Lily backs her feeling up with introverted intuition – she experiences chilling insights into the motivations of others and is easily able to come up with manipulations every bit as intricate as Barney’s (think her breaking up Barney and Robin).

Her extroverted sensing is brought to light through her artwork – rather than conceptual pieces she tends to paint concrete objects and scenes that reflect the world around her.

Lily’s fourth function, introverted thinking, is expressed through her willingness to stay in a career she isn’t crazy about in order to support herself and her family. Her tough and meddlesome yet caring nature is classic for an ENFJ. She is strict with Marshall, Barney and Ted but only because she cares deeply about their wellbeing. Lily is a giver in every sense of the word.

Marshall Eriksen – INFP

Function Stacking: Introverted Feeling (Fi), Extroverted Intuition (Ne), Introverted Sensing (Si), Extroverted Thinking (Te)

Caring, intelligent and sensitive, Marshall is a classic INFP. His first function, introverted feeling, is expressed through the high moral standards that he struggles with throughout the series. When he is asked to work for a corporation that he does not believe in, it causes him a great deal of stress, which spills over into his personal life. He also expresses great affection and extreme devotion toward his loved ones, a classic introverted feeling trait.

His second function, extroverted intuition is highlighted through his strange, quirky habits (I.e. turning various life events into video montages or over-sized charts) and frequently speculating about future possibilities.

His third function, introverted sensing is clearly shown through his nostalgic nature – he has a difficult veering away from what he’s used to and had a particularly difficult time dealing with his father’s death.

Marshall’s final function, extroverted thinking, is impressively well developed for an INFP. He presumably uses extroverted thinking at work as a lawyer, where he needs to analyze situations clearly and logically. Marshall’s loveable, goofy nature is typical of INFPs and makes his ENFJ wife his perfect match.

Ted Mosby – INFJ

Function Stacking: Introverted Intuition (Ni), Extroverted Feeling (Fe), Introverted Thinking (Ti), Extroverted Sensing (Se)

Though Ted can appear extroverted at times, his main function is definitely introverted intuition. Ted enjoys breaking down every circumstance he comes across to discover its “True meaning,” and relates everything back to the Universe’s master plan. Ted also has a flair for academia – he enjoys philosophy and higher-order thinking, which causes the group to mercilessly label him as pretentious. Ted believes that everything happens for a reason and that everything is part of a greater cosmic plan.

Ted’s secondary function is indubitably extroverted feeling. There is no length Ted will not go to when it comes to making his loved ones happy. He even declares to Robin, years after their breakup “It is my job to make you happy,” and he seems to genuinely believe this. Ted sees taking care of his loved ones as his duty and cause.

Ted’s third and fourth functions – introverted thinking and extroverted sensing respectively – are highlighted through his work as an architect. He taps into his logical, sensory side to create building designs and to execute projects.

The Mother – ISFJ

Function Stacking: Introverted Sensing (Si), Extroverted Feeling (Fe), Introverted Thinking (Ti), Extroverted Intuition (Ne)

Though we don’t get to see much of Tracy in the last season of the series, she strikes me as a classic ISFJ.

Her first function, introverted sensing, causes her to be sentimental to the core. She misses her late boyfriend terribly, mourning him for years after he is gone. She takes time to adjust to changes and plans her actions carefully and deliberately.

Tracy’s second function, extroverted feeling, is shown through her first interactions with Lily, Barney and Marshall alike. In all cases she responds promptly to the needs of those around her and seems to genuinely want to alleviate their stress.

We don’t get to know Tracy quite well enough to see her introverted thinking or extroverted intuition functions highlighted but as a whole she embodies an ISFJ character quite effectively – she is generous, loyal, accommodating and selfless. Though not a perfect typological match for Ted, she sure is cute as a button. He could have done much worse. TC mark

thumbnail image – How I Met Your Mother

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