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Firefly

Firefly | Putting Serenity Through the Myers-Briggs Personality Test

Ever wondered which Firefly character shares your Myers-Briggs personality type? You wouldn’t be a true fan if you didn’t!

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or often simply the MBTI, is a personality test designed to classify individuals as being one of 16 different types. The test is most often used to help managers and other decision-makers to better understand the strengths and needs of their teams but has become increasingly popular outside the business world for its depth of insight and positivity.

Sure, not every type is represented on Firefly but this rundown ship of space cowboys boasts a rich tapestry of extroverted and introverted personality types – each of whom has their own strengths, weaknesses, and mighty damn quirks, too.

So, who’s who? Let’s dive on in and find out…

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Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) in the Firefly episode ‘Our Mrs. Reynolds’. Mal is in the hold of Serenity looking serious.
Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) in the Firefly episode ‘Our Mrs. Reynolds’ (S1, Ep6). Although Mal was his first lead role in a series, he previously appeared in The Outer Limits episode Starcrossed(S5, Ep21) which was a science fiction riff on Casablanca (1942). | 20th Century Fox, 2002.

Malcolm Reynolds (ESFP)

“That’s ‘cause I got people with me, people who trust each other, who do for each other and ain’t always looking for the advantage.”

Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly, ‘Our Mrs. Reynolds’ (S1, Ep6).

I know what you’re thinking; Captain Mal Reynolds is a commander, not an entertainer! And, sure, I can see why you might think that – but hear me out. 

Mal is bold, strong, and at his utmost best when he has to improvise in the moment – be that physically or, like, y’know… with a witty retort or something. He believes in the ‘verse he can see and feel, and doesn’t like to waste time on Shepherd Book’s philosophical what-ifs. And he’s not just some petty criminal, despite what he might have us believe; he’s the sort of Big Damn Hero that puts on a show for everyone watching.

Like all entertainer personality types, Mal is surprisingly emotional and VERY vulnerable to criticism (just ask Inara!). And it’s well worth remembering that, despite his penchant for mischief and “shoot first, ask questions later” hijinks, his fun-loving exterior belies a soft inner world of feeling. Believe me; his care for others runs DEEP, and it’s actually his unwavering adoration for his Firefly family that fuels him and inspires him each and every single day of the week.

Throw in the fact that he always throws himself at any problem to solve it in the moment, and you have a textbook ESFP: Mal is the undeniable entertainer of the good ship Serenity, and that’s probably why we all love him to little pieces. 

Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres) in the Firefly episode ‘The Message’. Washburne is looking off to the right.
Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres) in the Firefly episode ‘The Message’ (S1, Ep14). Gina Torres was already well established in genre television, with a recurring role in Alias, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and a lead role in the absolutely excretable Cleopatra 2525. | 20th Century Fox, 2003.

Zoe Washburne (ENTJ)

“First rule of battle, little one: Don’t ever let them know where you are.”

Zoe Washburne, Firefly, ‘The Message’ (S1, Ep14).

Mal may not be our textbook MBTI commander, but, thankfully, someone else on Serenity is. 

Hell yeah, I’m talking about Zoe Washburne!

A natural-born leader, Zoe positively radiates authority and charisma – and she’s renowned for maintaining an almost eerie level of calm, all whilst thinking strategically and coming up with the sort of plans that will undo the chaos that has almost definitely been wrought by the rest of the crew that same day. Maybe that same minute, even.

Essentially, Zoe is the kind of person who rises to every challenge and smashes it, seemingly without even having to try too hard. And all of this contributes to her authentic confidence, which in turn makes her a truly dynamic lover – the kind that’s always coming up with new ways to express her affection to her husband in a manner befitting a total badass (see, for instance, the moment she demanded Mal take the helm so that Wash could fulfill her desire to “tear all my clothes off”).

All hail Zoe, then, for being the commander we didn’t know we needed. Or, rather, the eternal perfection we never actually deserved. Fact.

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Shepherd Book (Ron Glass) meets Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite) in the Firefly episode ‘Serenity’. The two are outside in a busy market setting.
Shepherd Book (Ron Glass) meets Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite) in the Firefly episode ‘Serenity’ (S1, Ep11). Glass, who passed away in 2016, was cast from outside science fiction, with his only credits being an episode of Star Trek: Voyager in 2000 and The Twilight Zone in 1985.| 20th Century Fox, 2002.

Shepherd Book (INFJ)

“I think everybody could stand to calm down a bit.”

Shepherd Book, Firefly, ‘Serenity’ (S1, Ep11).

Say hello to the rarest and most precious personality type of all; it’s Shepherd Book, our beloved INFJ and advocate! 

Shepherd is the sort of person who radiates calm, which means that he’s brilliant at deescalating emotionally-charged environments – a skill which, as you can probably guess, comes in incredibly handy onboard Serenity. And, idealistic and principled, he finds joy in acting as a force for good in the ‘verse, which means that, yes, he takes tending to his “flock” very seriously indeed.

This means that Shepherd naturally stepped into the role of the ship’s father-figure the moment he came aboard, gently guiding everyone else aboard towards the path that will see them evolve into the best versions of themselves. Y’know, eventually.

If you’re looking for someone, then, who’s approachable, contemplative, intellectual AND compassionate, you need Shepherd in your life. Hell, what am I saying? We all need Shepherd in our lives! And that’s why (spoilers) the events of the Serenity movie still sting so bad.

Sigh.

Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin) in the Firefly episode ‘Serenity’. She is standing in her decadently decorated chamber aboard Serenity.
Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin) in the Firefly episode ‘Serenity’ (S1, Ep11). Former model Rebecca Gayheart was originally cast in the role and even filmed a few scenes before leaving the production with her lack of chemistry being cited as the reason. Baccarin auditioned and was on set a day later. | 20th Century Fox, 2002.

Inara Serra (ENFJ)

“You’re lost in the woods. We all are. Even the captain. The only difference is, he likes it that way.”

Inara Serra, Firefly, ‘Serenity’ (S1, Ep11).

Let’s face facts; Inara is the definition of a ‘protagonist’ personality type. She’s passionate, for starters, and ridiculously charismatic. She’s diplomatic, too, and a shrewd negotiator. And she’s always incredibly vocal about her values – which means that, yes, this altruistic “ambassador” (to coin Mal’s nickname for her) will always speak the hell up when she perceives something as unjust or wrong. 

To put it in sci-fi terms, Inara is an empath, which, sure, makes her very, very good at her job as a Companion. It also means, though, that nothing brings her a deeper sense of joy and fulfillment than guiding her friends and loved ones to grow into their best selves – particularly when that friend/loved one is Mal Reynolds. Sometimes, sure, she pushes him too hard. And sometimes, sure, she comes across as… well, a little hyper-critical, which leads to him feeling resentful or unfairly judged. But it’s all those clashes and flying sparks that amp up the sizzle between these two, making them one of the most shipped duos in all the wide ‘verse. 

Fingers crossed he eventually deserves this perfect protagonist, eh?


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Hoban Washburne (Alan Tudyk) in the Firefly episode ‘Our Mrs. Reynolds’. Washburne is sitting at a table looking blank.
Hoban Washburne (Alan Tudyk) in the Firefly episode ‘Our Mrs. Reynolds’ (S1, Ep6). Tudyk is now better known as a voice/mo-cap actor, with a particular highlight being Mr. Nobody in Doom Patrol and K-2SO in Rogue One (2016). | 20th Century Fox, 2002.

Hoban Washburne (ENTP)

“Is there anything else on your mind that I should know about? There’s all sort of twists and cul-de-sacs. It’s wild.”

Hoban Washburne, Firefly, ‘Our Mrs. Reynolds’ (S1, Ep6).

Easily the funniest person aboard Serenity, Wash is the king of making a joke of every situation – within reason, of course; ain’t nobody messing with his beloved Zoe!

Our seasoned pilot is as quick-witted as he is playful, which makes him approachable as hell. No wonder, then, that he gets along with basically everyone on the ship. Thankfully. Because Wash is also the sort of guy who’s more than willing to challenge conclusions made by others in the group and enter into a little friendly high-spirited debate – even when tensions are running skyscraper-high.

Unlike some ENTPs, Wash understands the value of consideration and compromise – largely, in part, due to his magnificent relationship with Zoe; they may disagree at times (usually about the captain), but they always have each other’s backs. And this means that their romance is the kind that wows everyone thanks to its strength, depth, and spark. So much spark.

Basically, Wash is a thoroughly entertaining leaf on the wind. And we love nothing more than to watch him (sob) soar.

I’m sorry. It’s still too raw.

Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite) in the Firefly episode ‘Serenity’. She is standing at the foot of Serenity's ramp smiling at Shepherd Book.
Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite) in the Firefly episode ‘Serenity’ (S1, Ep1). | 20th Century Fox, 2002.

Kaylee Frye (INFP)

“You like ships. You don’t seem to be looking at the destinations. Whatcha care about is the ships and mine’s the nicest.”

Kaylee Frye, Firefly, ‘Serenity’ (S1, Ep11).

A thoroughly vibrant romantic, Kaylee is just as happy tinkering with Serenity’s engine as she is twirling around a ballroom in the fluffiest pink ballgown she can find. And that’s because she’s a dreamer, through and through; she has a truly idealized view of everyone around her – particularly her beloved cap’n – and she longs for the kind of deep, soulful relationship that the poets spin yarns about. With Simon, in particular. Even if he unwittingly upsets her in 90% of their conversations.

To be fair to Dr. Tam, his ability to trample all over Kaylee’s feelings isn’t entirely his fault; INFPs are famed for their sensitivity. But this apparent weakness is also her greatest strength, as it’s Kaylee’s emotional intelligence that makes her the most compassionate and nonjudgmental person aboard the ship she loves so much.

Think about it; Kaylee is always willing to sit and listen to another person’s story. Her capacity for forgiveness runs deep. And, whenever someone opens up to her or turns to her for comfort, she doesn’t just listen and help; she makes it clear that she feels honored to do so, too.

Underrated MVP? We think so. All hail Kaylee!



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Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) in the Firefly episode ‘Trash’. He is sitting on a bed, smiling at his sister who is off-camera.
Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) in the Firefly episode ‘Trash’ (S1, Ep11). Beginning 2014, Maher can be found voicing Dick Grayson/Nightwing in the DC Animated Universe. | 20th Century Fox, 2003.

Simon Tam (ISTJ)

“I don’t care what you’ve done, I don’t know what you’re planning on doing, but I’m trusting you. I think you should do the same. ‘Cause I don’t see this working any other way.”

Dr. Simon Tam, Firefly, ‘Trash’ (S1, Ep11).

Like so many other ISTJs, Simon is responsible, realistic, and practical – qualities that sometimes set him apart from others aboard Serenity. In fact, his strong sense of duty and incredible work ethic routinely leads to him shouldering the responsibilities of others (and becoming frustrated and discouraged as a result).

While he has unerring respect for rules and hierarchies, Simon lives by his own strong moral code. The kind of strong moral code which, say, results in him turning his back on his lucrative medical career, busting his sister out of an Alliance-run facility, and going on the run with a bunch of space pirates. Relatable stuff, right?

If Simon has a flaw, it’s that he doesn’t express his emotions particularly well. And, yes, this can lead to clashes with his fellow crew mates – particularly the sensitive Kaylee (so pure, so wonderful), whom he has unwittingly hurt on a number of occasions.

That being said, Simon might be a man of few words, but he shows the important people in his life that he loves them through his actions (see, again, that “busting his sister out of prison” thing). And it’s this – along with his clarity and dependability – that makes him such a dreamy prospect for all the Kaylees in the big wide ‘verse.

Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin) in the Firefly episode ‘The Train Job’. He is wearing a hat with ear flaps and speaking.
Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin) in the Firefly episode ‘The Train Job’ (S1, Ep1). Baldwin built his career on military roles, with parts in Full Metal Jacket (1987), Independence Day (1996), The Patriot (2000), and others. | 20th Century Fox, 2002.

Jayne Cobb (ENFP)

“You know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I go get and beat you with ’til you understand who’s in ruttin’ command here. Now we’re finishing this deal. And then maybe – maybe – we’ll come back for those morons who got themselves caught. You can’t change that by gettin’ all… bendy.”

Jayne Cobb, Firefly, ‘The Train Job’ (S1, Ep1).

He’s the guy you love to hate, and the guy you hate to love, and he’s all of that for good reason; Jayne is one seriously lovable son of a bitch.

Sure, sometimes he betrays people to the Alliance. Sure, sometimes he hoodwinks an entire town’s populace into believing he’s their hope and savior. Sure, sometimes he does some really terrible-awful things. And sure, sometimes he actually does all of the above… all the time, actually. In spite of his regular contributions to the ship’s social stress levels, though, Jayne cares deeply about the people around him – and, even if he’s clumsy with it, he does try to connect with them on a deeper level wherever and whenever he can.

On top of that, Jayne is also the guy who wants to help – even if that means lobbing a literal grenade into a situation. And he’s never afraid to make a decision and stick to it, even if it’s… y’know, terrible. Because, like so many ENFP personality types, Jayne (“isn’t that a girl’s name?”) sees himself as a problem-solver and a fiery source of unstoppable energy. 

And, to be fair to him, he is absolutely the latter. Absolutely he is.

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River Tam (Summer Glau) in the Firefly episode ‘Trash’. She has her head tilted to one side and is suppressing a smile.
River Tam (Summer Glau) in the Firefly episode ‘Trash’ (S1, Ep11). Summer Glau had previously worked with Firefly creator Joss Whedon on Angel, appearing in the episode ‘Waiting in the Wings’ (S3, Ep13) as a ballerina. | 20th Century Fox, 2003.

River Tam (INTJ)

“I can kill you with my brain.”

River Tam, Firefly, ‘Trash’ (S1, Ep11).

River might not be the best at expressing herself emotionally (seriously), but she feels things deeply – indeed, her inner world is an intensely private and incredibly complex one.

Just as you’d expect from an INTJ, River has an uncanny (almost eerie) knack for seeing right through people to their deepest and most secret selves. She doesn’t just observe, though; she analyses. She analyses everything. In fact, she struggles to find anyone who’s able to keep up with her relentless analysis of the world around her – and heaven help anyone who gets in her way.

River might have a few frightening quirks (her ability to kill as gracefully as a ballerina, without emotion, being one of them), but she’s good people. And so, when things go wrong or when she hurts others, she sinks a lot of time and energy trying to figure out why things happened the way that they did.

On top of that, she’s an independent intellectual – not to mention seriously innovative and creative to boot. No wonder she takes it upon herself to save Serenity time and time again, eh?

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Kayleigh Dray has somehow managed to balance her severe sci-fi addiction with a pretty full-on career as a working writer for going on 10 years now. During the week, you can find her hunched over her laptop and tapping away furiously. On a weekend, though, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate, rewatching Stargate for the millionth time, and/or playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends.

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