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I am an INTJ and if you’re at all familiar with Myers-Briggs theory, it might surprise you to know that ESFJs are one of my very favorite types. ESFJs fall into Keirsey’s “Guardians” temperament, which means they’re fairly traditional; however, it should be noted that ESFJs are more likely to uphold the values of their community rather than swim against the current to uphold tradition for tradition’s sake, as an ESTJ or ISTJ might do.
Healthy ESFJs are very warm and sensitive to the needs of others because they lead with Fe (extroverted feeling) a highly empathetic function.They are very sociable and are often pillars of their communities. Like other guardian types, they can also be a bit grumpy if thrown into situations that stretch the limits of their comfort zone, as we shall in one or two examples below. So, without further ado, here are ten of my favorite ESFJ characters in the world of fiction.
1. Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump
My name’s Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.
Forrest wins the prize for best ESFJ character ever written. Like any other type, ESFJs can be very bright (see Jessica Fletcher, Bones McCoy, and Carlisle Cullen below) but what I love about Forrest is that when you strip away the I.Q. points, what you see is the pure and undiluted emotional intelligence that is the heart of the ESFJ type. Even when Forrest’s intellectual disability prevents him from discerning exactly what’s going on in a situation, his high E.Q. kicks in and always leads him in the right direction.
2. Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit
I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
It would be easy to mistype Bilbo as an introvert, since he seems to be the only hobbit in the Shire who doesn’t feel the need to socialize all the time. But just because he is not a hyperextrovert, as most of his fellow hobbits are, does not mean he does not prefer the company of others–preferably others with a more developed sense of adventure who steal his food and not his silverware. Bilbo’s idea of what life should be like gets in the way of his unacknowledged need for adventure at first, but soon he soon starts to enjoy the surprises that come with living on the road.
3. Molly Weasley, Harry Potter
Ronald Weasley! How dare you steal that car! I am absolutely disgusted! Your father’s now facing an inquiry at work and it’s entirely your fault! If you put another toe out of line, we’ll bring you straight home! Oh, and Ginny dear, congratulations on making Gryffindor. Your father and I are so proud.
Mrs. Weasley is a stereotypical ESFJ if ever I saw one. She’s warm and friendly, and she spends most of her time seeing to the comfort and feeding of the people she cares about. She can be quite stern when she needs to be; ESFJs are often, surprisingly, the disciplinarians of the house, but even when she’s telling off one of her children for doing something stupid, it’s clear that everything she does is done out of love. As an interesting sidebar, Arthur Weasley, Molly’s husband, is an INTP. I frequently see SJ/NT pairings in life and fiction, even though type-based relationship theories generally eschew such matches as incompatible.
4. Jessica Fletcher, Murder She Wrote
There are three things you can never have enough of in life, Lieutenant: chocolate, friends, and the theatre.
Jessica Fletcher is the sort of late middle-aged women that might be easily overlooked or underestimated in serious matters like a police investigation. However, underestimating her would definitely be a mistake. Her amiable personality and unthreatening demeanor make her an ideal confidant for the innocent and guilty alike. This useful trait, combined with her keen mind and eye for detail, makes her an exceptional detective.
5. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Star Trek
Dammit, Jim! I’m a doctor not an astrophysicist!
Aside from Spock, Bones is the greatest character in the Star Trek universe. I particularly love Karl Urban’s portrayal of him in the reboot film series. Bones is perpetually grumpy. That typical ESFJ love of home comforts is not accommodated in the wilds of outer space, a fact that seems to constantly set Bones’ teeth on edge. Nevertheless, he is dedicated to maintaining the health and well-being of his crew mates, even when it pushes him out of his comfort zone and right off the edge of the known universe.10 Amazing #ESFJ Characters in Books + FilmClick To Tweet
6. Dory, Finding Nemo
I shall call him squishy and he shall be mine, and he shall be my squishy.
Dory is the greatest. She has short term memory loss, which leads her into a whole bunch of scary situations, but her outgoing personality and friendly demeanor make it easy for her to reach out to others for help. It’s because of these personality traits that she becomes friends with introverted (and grumpy) Marlin and ultimately it’s these same traits that help her find her parents again. Despite barely being able to remember what happened five seconds ago, Dory is remarkably loyal, another trait of an emotionally healthy ESFJ.
7. David Nolan/Prince Charming, Once Upon a Time
I would rather die than let you fill your heart with darkness.
Their people-friendly and highly organized nature means that ESFJs often find themselves in leadership positions. Such is the case with David Nolan, a.k.a. Prince Charming, Storybrooke’s de facto leader. David is committed to his family and his community, and typically leads from the heart, making him a popular leader who gains power from his people’s love instead of fear, like the Evil Queen (an unhealthy ENFJ). Snow White is an INFP, so their joint rule has double the feeler power, though Emma, an ISTP, adds some logic-driven balance to the mix.
8. Carlisle Cullen, Twilight
Like everything in life, I just had to decide what to do with what I was given.
I read Twilight ten years ago and, well, let’s just say I’m not going there ever again. I found nearly every character to be utterly annoying or completely forgettable. The one exception was Carlisle, who is a great example of a healthy ESFJ. Carlisle is the ultimate benevolent patriarch. He keeps order in his coven in much the same way David Nolan keeps order in Storybrooke–leading with kindness and compassion. This compassion is extended to the world at large and he is intent on not harming humans–even if it means making sacrifices.
9. Anna Bates, Downton Abbey
I love you, Mr. Bates. I know it’s not ladylike to say it, but I’m not a lady and I don’t pretend to be.
Anna Bates is the heart and soul of Downton Abbey’s downstairs. She is kind and sweet and has a tendency to reach out to those who are suffering, even to people who are not usually kind in return. For example, Anna comforts Thomas after Sybil dies. Anna is efficient and organized. She is uncomfortable with challenging tradition too much, though if it comes down to a choice between tradition and following her heart, she’ll usually choose her heart.
10. Natalie Teeger, Monk
Monk: Natalie, it’s me, Adrian Monk.
Natalie: Yes, Mr. Monk, we were just talking about you.
Monk: Natalie, you have to come back here.
Natalie: I can’t right now, Mr. Monk, I’m at the pizzeria talking to the manager.
Monk: It’s Ebola.
Natalie: Excuse me?
Monk: I think I have the Ebola virus.
Natalie: No, Mr. Monk, you do not have the Ebola virus.
Monk: I’m pretty sure I do. I have all the symptoms. I have the headache, the fever, the massive internal bleeding.
Natalie: You have massive internal bleeding?
Monk: Yes, I believe I do. That is my opinion.
It takes someone with the patience of God and the soul of a saint to put up with the miserly Mr. Monk. Natalie is perfect for the job. Her ability to connect with people and navigate social situations compensates for Monk’s E.Q. deficit. She uses her dominant Fe function to accommodate her boss’s quirks, but she doesn’t let him walk all over her–usually. I was so sad when Sharona left the show, but even though she doesn’t have Sharona’s sass and style, Natalie turned out to be a great companion for everyone’s favorite obsessive compulsive detective.
See my favorite characters of other types: