Typing characters in a movie presents more difficulties than typing in a soap. For one, soaps run for much longer - the average season of a soap such as Bold and the Beautiful runs for 250 episodes at 20 minutes each; in contrast, Blade Runner (1982) clocks in at just over two hours. The shorter length does not leave us with much time to obtain an in-depth picture of a character. In addition, soaps are driven by dialogue, movies for the most part are not: the director's cut of Blade Runner - in which Harrison Ford's voiceover is removed - doesn't have that much dialogue at all. So, for typing characters in Blade Runner, one must rely primarily on visual cues - and that can be a real challenge.
II. How to type: the four-letter method
Regardless of whether the medium is a film or a TV show, when we type a character, we need to look at through the lens of Jung's four dichotomies: Introversion / Extraversion, Sensing / Intuiting, Thinking / Feeling, and Judging / Perceiving.
Extraversion / Introversion
Extraversion / Introversion can be determined in a movie character as follows.
The Extravert will often wears clothes, accessories with bright colours, and the Intuitive, clothes, accessories with somber and muted colours. (This rule doesn't apply when nearly all the characters wear a uniform with the same colours, e.g., the Starfleet uniform in Star Trek).
The Extravert will talk at length and generally try and take command in a conversation; he is sociable, gregarious, perhaps a little overbearing. He may grin a lot and he generally has an animated facial expression, and clearly displays any interest (or lack of it) in the matter at hand when he is interacting with others. On a set, the actor playing an Extravert character may position himself in the center, or at least the area where he gets the most attention. The environment he habitually dwells in (whether it be home or office) will be brightly lit, like a stage.
In contrast, the Introvert doesn't talk much; appears socially withdrawn; has a standoffish and stony demeanor; prefers a dark or at least dimly-lit and secluded environment; will unconsciously slink into the shadows and merge into the background when talking to another character... In general, he does not like to be seen.
With the above in mind, I think it is easy to tell, from these photographs, who is the Extravert, who is the Introvert:
Sensing / Intuiting:
The chief question here is, how does a character get the information which defines their type? Do they get it through the Senses or Intuition? All characters use either function, but a character - during the brief amount of time that he occupies the screen - will be biased to one over the other. MBTI, at bottom, concerns biases, disproportionalities, in the use of the functions.
It is dialogue that usually reveals whether a character is a Sensor or Intuitive.
The Sensor's dialogue consists of line such as, 'It is the case that x', or 'The facts to date show that x, y, z...'. The Sensor, as general rule, abides by appearances: he accepts the world, life, reality, as they are and does not attempt to look past what he sees.
Intuition is much more complicated. Jung, in the glossary of Psychological Types (1921) defines Intuition as
That psychological function which transmits perceptions in an unconscious way... Through intuition any one content is presented as a complete whole, without our being able to explain or discover in what way this content has been arrived at. Intuition is a kind of instinctive apprehension... In the same way, the certainty of intuition depends upon a definite psychic matter of fact, of whose origin and state of readiness, however, the subject was quite unconscious.
In other words, Intuition gives a character information out of left field, nowhere - nowhere in conscious perception, that is. Ideas pop into the head of the Intuitive, without him asking for them, and these ideas can leave either a positive or negative impression.
In an Intuitive's dialogue, key sentences are about what is not present to the senses. Generally, they involve what will be or could be.
The 'What will be' lines make predictions of something that will happen in the future, good or bad: 'I have a sudden premonition that...'; 'I have a feeling that someone is walking on my grave'; 'X is the wave of the future'; 'X represents progress'; 'Such and such a person is doing well now, but I portend a dire fate for them'.
The 'What could be' lines represent discoveries of the potential in things - a potential which has little to no connection to what there is in front of us, in the present, in the senses. 'I just had this crazy idea'; 'This presents an intriguing possibility'; 'This looks like a good place to make an investment'; 'I'm bored with what there is, let's try instead something which is totally unrelated to it'; 'When x comes up in the conversation, I'm going to bring up non-sequitur y (as I'm quirky and zany)'.
The Intuitive tries to get past what is and look behind it - or above it. 'X has always been the case, and will be in the future, forever more'; 'I will explain to you my grand and philosophical overview of existence'; 'What's really going on here, what is the ultimate truth behind the surface appearance?'.
Two examples of Intuitive behavior in Blade Runner are: when Tyrell unveils the replicant Rachael to Deckard, and makes pronouncements that she represents the wave of the future; and Roy's famous 'Tears in the Rain' speech.
Thinking / Feeling:
The difference between the Thinker and Feeler can be reduced to: the Thinker is left-brained, the Feeler, right-brained.
The Thinker treats others as instruments, tools, and as such, does not pay attention to the rights of the person concerned. Think of Tyrell and Roy, who use others as pieces on a chessboard (and both play chess). As such, the Thinker can be manipulative, immoral, and even cruel.
A character, if he is a Feeler, will talk and think in sentences such as: 'I value x'; 'X means a lot to me'; 'The right thing to do is y'; 'I feel y'; 'I don't like x'; 'That was an enjoyable (or horrible) experience'... The Feeler is centered on values, meanings, emotions.
An example of a Feeler character: Leon, who accidentally leaves behind his photographs in his apartment. The photos hold meaning for Leon, whereas to Roy, they represent a sentimental attachment. Another example: Pris, when she meets Sebastian for the first time: one of her lines is, 'We scared each other pretty good, didn't we?', a choice of words which signifies that it is the emotional side of her experience that takes priority.
Judging / Perceiving:
This dichotomy pertains to what drives a character and what directs their life. As such, we need to consider a character in his totality.
The Thinking or Feeling function (both Judging) occupies the base, or dominant function slot, of the Judger; the Intuiting or Sensing function (both Perceiving), the base function of the Perceiver. (Here I go by Jung's definitions of what a Judger and a Perceiver are - MBTI takes a different view).
A Judger, according to Jung, has a preconceived view of the world and way of going about things. He follows a protocol which has been carefully worked out before he encounters reality. If he is a Thinker and a Judger, he works by a method which emphasises systems of organisation; if he is a Feeler and a Judger, he puts on a pedestal values, ethics, customs, what is the right thing to do in such and such circumstances and what values should take precedent.
Are Judging characters judgmental? In theory, they shouldn't be, but in practice, they almost always are. The Judger believes very strongly in how things ought to be, and if he is an Extravert, he will tell you what he believes, at tedious length, and moreover, he will attempt to force you to adopt his belief-system.
What of the Judgers who are Introverts? Seeing as Introvert characters do not talk that much, we need to look at the overall picture and what it is that the character does with most of his screen time. In the case of Deckard, if we are to step back, we see that methods, systems of organisation dominate; in the case of Rachael, value-judgments. Rachael experiences strong feelings of attraction and repulsion which, as we can see right away, manifest themselves behind a cold, disconcerting and mask-like facial expression, and these feelings would be defined by Jung as value-judgments. And she does this judging all throughout the movie.
The Perceiver, says Jung, is irrational - that is, he does not have a worked-out world view, an agenda, and he takes things as they are. He uses his Perceiving function - the Senses or Intuition - to discover information about the world and then he works with it and allows it to define his life. The Perceiving function could be compared to a probe; or to use another analogy, a surfboard with which the character rides the waves of life.
Neither Pris nor Zhora have any agenda, any mission, to bestow on the world. They structure their lives around the information they gather. And what is that information? Socionics defines Extraverted Sensing (Se) as 'Discrete spatial boundaries that delineate territory and control'. Also, 'Information about spatial territory, ownership, and influence'. This is what makes these characters what they are: volition, force, will, territoriality... They each have an agenda, which is, for Pris, self-expression, for Zhora, survival. But neither character wants to put others into neat little slots, that is, neither of them Judgers (the anthem of the Judging character is 'Everything in its right place' by Radiohead).
Are Perceivers more flexible and spontaneous than Judgers? This is a common misconception in MBTI and Socionics. Jung describes the Judger as someone who sifts through information, excludes what they don't want and includes what they do want, all in order to make a cohesive whole. Judgers will edit - and even censor. The Perceiver neither edits nor censors, he accepts all of the information he receives. He takes life as it comes, with no fixes or modifications, whereas the Judger is obsessed with fixes and modifications.
The result of this is that the Perceiver adopts a more hedonistic attitude than the Judger. Admittedly, this can sound strange given that a Perceiving type - the ISTJ - enjoys a reputation as the martinet of MBTI, of being a stickler for rules and regulations. But the dominant function of the ISTJ - Introverted Sensing Si - prizes comfort, continuity, relaxation, quiet, harmony, domesticity, down-homeness... All these can be enjoyed, and the ISTJ likes being in his particular groove, and he looks at the Judging types as people who overexert themselves and make much ado about nothing. The Perceiver, in comparison to the Judger, can appear to be more plugged in into the deepest well-springs of life. He is more 'in the zone', more 'centered'.
The Perceiver can also seem to be passive and reactive. That sounds strange, as the likes of Pris and Zhora do not strike as passive and reactive: but they are, as they do not seek to take life by the horns and impose a system, an agenda, upon it. They take the attitude 'This is life, let's see what happens'.
II. The example of Roy Batty and J.F. Sebastian
Keeping all of the above in mind, we will now type Roy and J.F.
Extravert or Introvert?
To anyone who has seen the film, it becomes apparent fairly quickly that Roy is an Extravert: he steals the scene and talks frequently.
The meek Sebastian feels comfortable in the background, and chooses to dwell in a dark, isolated and quiet apartment.
The scene where Roy, Pris and Sebastian are gathered together in his apartment illustrates the Extravert / Introvert dichotomy the best. Pris and Sebastian engage in highly exhibitionist behavior while bullying Sebastian into setting up a meeting with Tyrell. In response, Sebastian doesn't assert himself, and he appears to melt into the background.
Roy is an Extravert, an E, Sebastian is an Introvert, an I.
Intuitive or Sensor?
Sebastian lives in the present and hardly sees beyond it. Roy, on the other hand, doe see beyond it: he is always looking towards the future - which is a mark of Introverted Intuition (Ni). He lives in a mental world of grandiose visions, absolutes, ideals - see his famous 'Tears in the rain' speech.
Sebastian: S, a Sensor; Roy: N, an Intuitive
Thinker or Feeler?
The warm and sentimental Sebastian is a Feeler, the cold and calculating Roy is a Thinker.
(Roy does show some empathy and understanding on occasion, but overall his instrumentalism - his tendency to view the other as a means, not an end - predominates).
Sebastian: F, a Feeler; Roy: T, a Thinker.
Judger or Perceiver?
Sebastian accepts life as it is, and in fact, takes the evidence of his senses for all that there is. To Roy, life has to be structured: he goes by an elaborate system of protocols, as laid down by his primary function, Te (Extraverted Thinking). Roy is all about organising other people according to a pattern, a plan.
Sebastian: p, a Perceiver; Roy: j, a Judger.
Putting it all together
In MBTI, as we know from previous articles, all the Introverted Perceiving types are classified as Judgers, all the Introverted Judging as Perceivers. That reverses Jung's meaning. But I will use the MBTI system here as it is what most of my readers are familiar with.
In Jung or Socionics, Sebastian would be an Introvert + Sensor + Feeler + Perceiver, or ISFp. In MBTI, he would be an ISFJ.
Seeing as Roy is an Extravert, Roy's personality type sees no change under the MBTI system. Roy is an ENTj in Socionics, an ENTJ in MBTI.
III. The characters, in order of appearance
Leon Kowalski: ISFJ
Big, dumb, strong, sentimental, someone who values his family (and to Leon, his fellow replicants are his family) and keeps mementos of them, Leon reminds me a lot of another ISFJ, Colossus from Marvel's X-Men.
Rick Deckard: ISTP
ISTP characters in the movies and comic books tend to be assassins, mercenaries, smugglers, bounty hunters, and Deckard is no exception to the rule.
Like a good many ISTP characters, the hard-drinking Deckard is rough around the edges.
As mentioned, Deckard uses his primary function - Thinking - all throughout the movie. It is Introverted Thinking (Ti), which reveals underlying systems and patterns. This is best illustrated in the famous 'photo analysis' sequence. And it is also related to Deckard's use of deception and subterfuge to track and get close to his prey. (Deckard pretends to be an agent from a 'Committee for the Prevention of Moral Abuses' when he introduces himself to Zhora, a friend of Sebastian's when he introduces himself to Pris). Deckard knows that he cannot survive a direct confrontation with a replicant, and in both the instances when he loses the initiative in his hunt, first to Leon and then to Roy, he nearly dies.
Gaff and Bryant: ISTJ and ESTJ
No surprises here. Bryant is the ESTJ police chief, Gaff the faceless ISTJ functionary who lurks in the background and who is rather bland and boring (except for his eccentric hobby of making origami sculptures).
Rachael's primary function, Introverted Feeling (Fi), is a Judging one, and makes judgments on the basis of strong feelings of attraction and repulsion (in Rachael's case, mostly repulsion). Jung explains that the Fi-dominant enjoys a tranquil inner life far removed from the disturbances of the outer world. A great intensity exists beneath the Fi-dominant's cold, icy exterior (it's a case of still waters run deep). But when ripples occur on that surface, the Fi-dominant reacts with disgust, aversion, repulsion.
Gulenko, the Socionist, defines what he calls negative (or minus) Fi as:
-Fi = minimization of negative relationships. This element is critical of evil. They desire to get away from bad people and poor relationships, and to protect themselves from enemies and adversaries. They want to minimize negative experiences, because as we know from psychoanalysis, all extruded problems are liable to generate an emotional reaction one way or another, with a physical cost...
− Fi - poor relations, hatred, animosity, antipathy, repulsion, indifference in relations, alienation, unsociability, remote psychological distance, wickedness, mercilessness
The above describes Rachael perfectly. And it should be noted that all the attributes of -Fi can be observed in Rachael in her first five minutes on the screen.
Dr Eldon Tyrell: ENTJ
Extraverted thinking (Te) makes up the dominant function of the brilliant tycoon / scientist Tyrell, and this is a particular kind of Te as defined in the aforementioned Gulenko article, what he calls negative (or minus) Te:
-Te = business logic of risk and entrepreneurship... − Te - useless, unprofitable, wasteful, utilization, deterioration, exhaustion, costs, expenses, risk-taking, experimentation, sales, trade, action in atmosphere of chaos, ingenuity
In other words, the type that values -Te is prepared to lose money to make money, to take risks, to stake all on one particular gamble. Tyrell builds an empire through what is in essence a risky enterprise: manufacturing replicants. That, combined with his secondary function Introverted Intuition Ni, makes the ENTJ character a visionary and a daredevil.
Roy Batty: ENTJ
Roy gives us an instance of the NTJ (that is, ENTJ or INTJ) villain stock type - the NTJ master planner and manipulator. The two functions Te and Ni lend themselves to organisation (and manipulation) over the long term.
Unlike an INTJ character, Roy, a typical ENTJ villain, exudes charisma and charms others. He performs the role of the charming rogue (much like that other ENTJ bad guy, Gul Dukat from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). A natural leader, Roy uses his dominant function Te to wield power and make an impression, but unlike the other Te-dominant type, the ESTJ, he is off-beat, eccentric and unpredictable - he is not a force for stability like the ESTJ.
In his encounter with Tyrell, Roy engages in a discussion of the science of replicant life and death - a discussion which is pedantic, and amusingly so. Both Tyrell and Roy are Te dominants, and the conversation between them illustrates, as Jung points out, how mind-numbing Te science can be.
J.F. Sebastian: ISFJ
Friendly, kind, hospitable, empathetic, Sebastian meets the fate of many an ISFJ character: he is used and abused. Others, most notably Tyrell and Roy, take advantage of his kindness and meekness.
Interestingly, Socionics describes the relationship between the ISFJ and the ENTJ as one of Conflict. Both Tyrell and Roy are ENTJs.
The two main functions of the ISFJ, Extraverted Feeling and Introverted Sensing, can combine to make a beautiful and comfortable home environment. Sebastian does this with his apartment.
At first when we see Pris, she is homeless, alone, and tries to hide herself under a pile of garbage. From that we can deduce that she is probably an Introvert, but in this we are mistaken, as her first scenes do not actually reflect her true temperament. We only get to know the real her once she is inside Roy's apartment, paints her face to look like a doll or clown, and performs exhibitionist feats. It is then that she recalls Harley Quinn, another ESFP.
In the ESTP, the two main functions are Ti, Introverted Thinking, and Se, Extraverted Sensing: how do they work together? In the case of Zhora, her sensing function makes her cynical and blunt; her thinking, calculating and deadly. Like Deckard, she knows how to use deception, and where and when to apply a blow where it hurts the most. (I am referring to the scene where she tricks Deckard and lulls him into a false sense of security - at one point he turns his back on her to go through her wardrobe - and then she knocks him to the floor and strangles him).
IV. In conclusion: what sort of film?
In Blade Runner, certain types preponderate. We have Deckard, Rachael, Zhora, Pris - four type that Keirsey calls Artisans. Behind them stand two Rationals, Batty and Tyrell, and four Guardians, Gaff, Bryant, Leon and Sebastian. Of the Idealists - NFJs and NFPs - there are none. So what does this mean? Should we consider Blade Runner to be an Artisan film or a Guardian film, given that there are more Artisan and Guardian characters than Rationals and Idealists?
Socionics classifies groups of types differently: it thinks in terms of Quadras. Interestingly, four out of the nine Blade Runner characters belong to the Gamma Quadra: Rachael (ISFP), Pris (ESFP), Tyrell (ENTJ), Roy (ENTJ). The surrogate father and daughter pair, Tyrell and Rachael, relate to one another as Duals.
The implication of this is that Blade Runner may be considered a Gamma movie. I suggest you read Gulenko's article, linked above, and make up your own mind.