Sherlock Holmes: INTJ

Sherlock

Sherlock INTJ INTP? MBTI

Dominant Ni: Sherlock is wired for problem solving, He frequently makes logic jumps to pinpoint future occurrence and then works his way backwards to develop a strategy to prevent the outcome. His talent for reading people is almost supernatural, and because of his quickness to anticipate other people’s actions, he is able to adjust his plans accordingly. Though he loves problem solving, he isn’t overly fond of surprises because he’s used to being able to accurately predict everything. For instance, when Magnussen turns out to be far more dangerous than Sherlock originally deduced, he doesn’t have a backup plan to account for the surprise, and does the only thing that he can think of in the moment (this is Se acting up to foil Ni) and shoots him. Sherlock is incredibly focused on his work as a consulting detective and does not waver for anything. He thinks long-term, considering the consequences of his decisions before moving forward and allowing him to remain ten steps ahead of everyone else. He recognizes absurd, but totally logical patterns, but can’t always understand why no one else can see the things that he thinks are so obvious.

Sherlock INTJ INTP? MBTI

Auxiliary Te: Sherlock has a sarcastic tongue and rarely filters his words to make others feel comfortable. He corrects people’s grammar and choses his own words carefully (though not regarding how it will make others feel). He is quick to devise strategies for getting from Point A to Point B, and works through each step in detail without so much as stopping to explain his plan to anyone. Certain tasks seem menial to him in comparison to the wider problem (such as sending texts, or getting his own phone out of his jacket) and so he delegates them. Sherlock is usually comfortable with deadlines, but doesn’t like to keep to anyone else’s schedule. Most of his decisions are made without the input of his emotions, and he views the world through a logical lens. He perceives the universe as a maze of interlocking systems that can be navigated definitively “What do we say about probability?” “The universe is rarely so lazy.” Sherlock subconsciously views most of his opinions as fact (and he’s usually right), but this makes him come off seeming arrogant and rude.

Sherlock INTJ INTP? MBTI

Tertiary Fi: Sherlock is facially expressive at home when in the company of only a few people, but the moment you put him in a crowd, he assumes an awkward poker face. He’s embarrassed to feel fear and views most emotion as a hindrance, which must be eliminated at all costs. At the same time, we can’t deny that he is extremely emotional. He has very few friends, but he would do anything for them, even sacrifice his life and reputation so that they could live. He would rather they think badly of him than allow them to come to any harm. At the same time, he’s sensitive about becoming emotionally dependent on anyone, so he deliberately makes few connections with people. “Alone is what I have. Alone protects me.” Though he has a vast understanding of how people think, he’s a non-conforming thinker who doesn’t understand social rules at all. At parties, he doesn’t know how to behave and he often experiments with social taboos just for the fun of it. His principles are immovable. He refuses to kill unless he sees no alternative solution, and when Mycroft opts to let him walk away naked, he chooses not to.

Sherlock INTJ INTP? MBTI

Inferior Se: When focused, Sherlock is incredibly perceptive to his external environment. This allows him to make wild and accurate deductions because he notices all the minute details that the police miss. When external evidence is lacking however, he is less accurate in his assumptions. Moriarty deliberately leaves a mass of external clues in his wake, which is why Sherlock is so quick to unearth his schemes. Magnussen on the other hand, leaves no trace, and thus, Sherlock’s presumptions about his nature are regrettably wrong. When under too much stress, Sherlock acts in the moment, rather than thinking long term, and almost ends up going to jail as a result of an impassive decision to shoot Magnussen. Too much external noise and people overstimulate Sherlock. We can visibly see his dislike for being in front of cameras, and he leaves John’s wedding early because he doesn’t know what to do with himself there. At times, he can literally zone out of the physical world altogether, living inside the internal world of his mind palace.


I’ve seen him typed quite a bit as an INTP, however, he’s a clear Te user.

23 thoughts on “Sherlock Holmes: INTJ

  1. Compelling arguments. But I think Sherlock, somewhat akin to his medical counterpart, House, is more of an INTP or an INTx hybrid slanted towards INTP. INTPs are stereotyped as too lackadaisical to serve as compelling plot engines. But plunk a bit of INTJ drive into them and you’ve got an entertaining character. Both protagonists display many of the typical INTP foibles: isolation, intellectual obsession for its own sake, distrust, drug addiction (certainly for the original Sherlock), eccentricity, a disregard of social and legal conventions, and a lack of ambition. The last is the most compelling: despite his brilliance and fame, Sherlock, in his 30s, lives in a rented room with a flatmate and no real plans or goals other than solving cases he finds amusing. Not high-profile or important cases. Amusing ones. And for all his intellectual flamboyance, he has no need to be correct for its own sake. INTJs would be humiliated to admit not knowing that the earth revolves around the sun. INTPs don’t care.

    Enjoyable site. Thanks for the post. Keep it up.

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    • Hi M, I read the thread you linked. Many of the arguments are about personal interpretations of Sherlock’s internal thought process, which is rather impossible to unravel with 100% accuracy.
      To be honest, the most interesting argument was bobnickmad’s ISTP logic as a middle ground for the INTP vs INTJ debate. He linked an interesting article about ISTPs /INTPs, probably for this bit related to explaining why Sherlock is so focused on solving crime: “ISTPs seek to distill and comprehend the unifying principle(s) that governs a focused, distinct set of ideas, or even a singular idea”.
      I will quote the conclusion of this article he linked: “Both types [INTP and ISTP] favor precision and clarity over expediency and efficiency. With Te types the opposite is true.”
      That can be a tough line to draw in the sand. For example, I love precision and clarity *to make a discussion more efficient so that we reach a conclusion*. I will only seek that clarity and precision to accomplish something, and not for the pure sake of knowledge.

      So, do you sense that Sherlock is the precision/clarity guy, or the expedient/efficient one?

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  2. Hey! Nice blog there!
    I agree when you say that Moriarty is an ENTP. But I’m pretty sure that he’s an INTP. He seems more perceptive than judging, because he works in spontaneous, and random energy bursts.

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  3. Thank you for this and this website in general. I identify as anINTJ and this website has truly help because I most certenaly don’t fital the INTJ stereotypes. Since I learned about MBTI I knew Sherlock was INTJ and I think that’s why I connect with him so much. This wed site has also helped me understand my self more and more about the MBTI theory. Thank you.

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  4. There is clear affect driving his decision to leave the wedding early. Watson is occupied and the girl he sees as an opportunity is otherwise engaged. There’s a reason he half steps toward her after the camera shows John and Mary. It also brings it back around to the story told at the beginning of the episode about the “friend forever” that left the wedding early.

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      • I have not read any of Ayn Rand’s works– though Atlas Shrugged is on my personal reading list, and while “Flannery O’Connor” sounds familiar, I am not familiar with her writings. Would you recommend any specific books by those authors?

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        • Flannery O’Connor didn’t write any books that I consider amazing, but I’d recommend all of her short stories with top marks.

          Of Ayn Rand, I’d recommend Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

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        • Actually, O’Connor did write two novels–Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away–but she was a more natural short story writer, and her stories are a better place to start. (A book of her essays and a collection of her letters were also published after her death. I love her essays and letters, but for the best literary experience, start with the stories.)

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    • You might want to give Elizabeth Marie Pope’s “The Perilous Gard” a try, if you don’t mind older YA fiction (the book won a Nobel Honor maybe 30 years ago and is a sort of historical fiction/fantasy meld). The main character, Kate Sutton, is a female INTJ whose ESFP younger sister gets her into major trouble with Mary I of England. Kate was the first female character that I ever really identified with.

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  5. I think that one of the reasons why the show is so popular is because the audience loves the friendship between two seemingly very opposite individuals: INTJ Sherlock and ISFJ Dr. John Watson. They use completely different functions with different preferences. I think one of the reasons why Dr. John Watson is able to have a friendship with Sherlock is because he has developed his Ti function and tries to use Ne more often.I know ISFJs who have done exactly this). I imagine that this is not always the case in real life interactions between ISFJs and INTJs.

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      • As an ISFJ who does try to develop my Ti, I am glad you like those kinds of ISFJs. It was very difficult to type myself at first because I have a couple of conditions that complicate my thought process in regards to MBTI. Also, my dad is very big picture oriented (definitely a Ni user) so I am happy to participate in theory sometimes.

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  6. Obviously he is a fictional character, and is some sort of outlier to whatever type he is.
    I would say he’s more of an estp, since he very VERY clearly leads with extroverted sensing. Then he follow with ti (analysis)
    People say hes an obvious te user, but I dont think so. It may seem that way because, he comes to clear concise conclusions, very quickly, but he described his how he thinks himself, as analyzing all possibilities, then deleting unnecessary information. And since he has a super mind, he is able to do this exreamly quickly. (Paraphrased)
    Since he is a sociopath, and is very impulsive, he tends to ignore his fe.
    Then he finishes with ni (for seeing effects/implications)
    I think people see him as an intj because he seems very cold and emotionless (like intjs) when in reality intjs are actually very good at analyzing their emotions, to make make logical choices. It just isn’t outwardly expressed, and they never act irrationally because of emotions.
    I think in the case of sherlock he actually is very cold, and cares far more for the excitement of solving cases, than he cares about how anyone feels.
    I think people might also see his as intp since intps are master deducers.
    To me he looks very much more like an estp. (Coming from an intj)

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    • Sherlock will always be a controversy, and I welcome controversy, so thank you for sharing your viewpoint.

      Coming from my end, I don’t think Sherlock is a sociopath. Sociopaths don’t attach themselves to their ‘friends’ the way Sherlock attaches himself to John Watson –and if you need evidence of Sherlock’s ability to analyse his emotions, rewatch the Hound of Baskerville. Not to mention how strictly he lives by his moral codes. Sherlock may be cold to the point of thinking that he’s a sociopath, but when it comes down to analysing the symptoms of sociopathy, he only displays a handful of them, while managing to elude others.

      He doesn’t seem that impulsive to me. Any time he jumps up to leave, it’s always in pursuit of his one true obsession (solving crimes), which suggests an Ni focus. Se doms will jump up and leave without notice too, but not to focus on their mission –to get distracted from their mission. Think James Bond. Oh, look, pretty lady. I bet there’s a bed somewhere nearby. Or, if you want another example, think Jack Harkness, who gets distracted from his Torchwood missions by pretty much anything remotely sensual. Hmm, Ianto or saving the children of Earth? I think we’re going with Ianto, yeah?

      Se doms usually tend to rely on improvisation, while Se-inferiors typically freak out and make mistakes when they have to improvise. You’ll notice everything works out just fine in Reichenbach Fall because Sherlock has planned 10 steps ahead of Moriarty, but in going up against Magnussen, Sherlock has to resort to desperate measures (murder) because his detailed plan didn’t work out.

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    • Christian, thanks for sharing a different analysis here. Surprised with ESTP! I’ve read ISTP arguments, but first time I see ESTP ones.
      I have to side with A on this one. To me, Sherlock does not seem to seek sensory input as a basic need to feed a dom Se cognitive function: it looks like he prefers a mental challenge over a physical or sensory one, and I don’t see him actively seeking external approval for his looks or abilities even though his behaviour can be interpreted as a show off in some scenes (which might be an impression devised by the filming crew to make him look like the cool jerk to the audience).
      I believe, from an external point of view, that INTJs and ESTPs do share a certain bluntness/insensitivity when speaking with people. They can get bored equally (for very different reasons though!), and they can both be perceived as very competitive folks.
      A major difference between both types is that ESTPs often detest planning and talking about things, they would rather do the thing ASAP, and discussions become difficult when the goal is further in time, or becomes highly strategic/theoretical/system-related. I (an INTJ) clash a lot with ESTPs on that specific point.
      Another distinctive feature I’ve observed is that they use this kind of argument in heated debates: “we are going to look stupid”, “people are going to think that…”, which an INTJ is unlikely to use as the main baseline to defend their points (INTJ will most likely argue efficiency first). It takes a little more time and patience to get an ESTP’s Ti arguments out in the open, and I’ve never heard one actually explain in details their own arguments, it comes out rather short and to the point (i.e. they won’t babble like Sherlock does a lot in BBC version).

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      • And I just noticed the top comment was made last year. I completely missed the interesting arguments on this very post, which I read today for “sake of completion”. Sorry about the “necro” :)

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