INTP, The Architect, The Thinker, The Philosopher
It’s a little funny, in this case, that the archetype name for INTPs is “The Architect.” Perhaps for Neo we would do better to call him “The Thinker” or the “The Philosopher.” Whatever we call him, the fact is, he’s awesome.
Dominant Function: Ti/Introverted Thinking, “Analyze the Experience”
Neo has one question on his mind: “What is the Matrix?” He feels that something is wrong with the world, “like a splinter in your mind,” and he’s driven to find the answer. He lives alone and stays up all night, searching the Internet for clues, analyzing every bit of information he can find.
He’s willing to take the red pill, to abandon the only reality he’s known in favor of the truth.
However, once he’s in the real world, he finds the truth hard to grasp. There’s a lot of new information to take in, and he needs time to process it. While his Ti has been telling him all along that there’s a bigger reality, he still wants to see the proof of it before accepting what someone else tells him. He also has a great deal of trouble getting out of his own head and taking a leap of faith into this new world.
Neo values his independence of thought and stands stubbornly in his own ideas and personal views. He knows his rights and won’t be intimidated by the agents. He balks at Morpheus’s mysterious commands over the phone, and almost bails out of the whole adventure when Switch bosses him around in the limo. He hates being told that he’s The One, or Thomas Anderson. He also “doesn’t believe in any of this fate crap,” and prefers to hear plain, logical truth from the Oracle, not vague prophecies.
Neo loves being able to gain new skills simply by downloading the information. He goes for 10 hours in his session with Tank, “learning” every martial art they have a record for. The trick comes when he actually has to employ his knowledge, using it for real instead of just knowing about it.
Once Neo gets an idea into his head, though, he can’t be stopped. He believes he can rescue Morpheus, mostly because no one else can (that’s his Ti independence). His big turning point, when he finally begins to believe in himself and his power, comes when he declares to Agent Smith: “My name is NEO!” He discards the identity and ideas others have made for him and claims his own.
Auxiliary Function: Ne/Extraverted Intuition, “Conceptualize From the Experience”
Neo’s search for truth takes him in multiple directions. He has several different windows open on his computer when we first meet him. He remains open to any path that will lead him to the knowledge he seeks, even if it’s a symbol of a white rabbit.
Though he has difficulty accepting his new reality when he’s first released from the Matrix, under Morpheus’ guidance, Neo is able to see past what things appear to be. He begins to understand the deeper meaning and reality of what appear to be everyday objects, and thus gains the ability to manipulate the virtual world around him. “There is no spoon.”
When Neo decides to rescue Morpheus, he doesn’t know exactly how he’s going to pull it off. He just knows he will. He wings it the whole way, coming up with new ideas when he needs them. And as he literally bends around what used to be his reality, he succeeds.
Tertiary Function: Si/Introverted Sensing, “Relive the Experience”
The Matrix movies aren’t very kind to Sensors for the most part. The whole theme is about seeing beyond everyday reality to the true meaning of things, after all. Neo begins the story trapped in an artificial world that he’s accepted as true his whole life.
Even when he’s given the chance to escape the agents, Neo can’t let go of the idea that he’s “nobody, just a guy.” He doesn’t understand why this is happening to him, and probably wasn’t expecting something this dramatic and dangerous as a result of his quest. He goes back to his old world and lets himself get captured. When he’s finally released from the Matrix, the whole revelation is so disorienting that he vomits.
Later, when Neo returns to the Matrix to visit the Oracle, he reflects on all the places that were once familiar to him. “I used to eat there,” he points out to Trinity. “They had really good noodles.”
However, Si can play a big part in muscle memory—once you’ve learned how to do a thing, the movement becomes embedded in your brain, and you can recall it when you need it. Neo “learns” a lot of new skills once he’s freed—years of learning squished into a few hours of plugging in. He certainly carries himself differently once he knows Kung Fu, even more so when he learns from Morpheus what he can do with it. As he plunges forward into the fray, all his moves simply emerge from his newly downloaded memory.
Inferior Function: Fe/Extraverted Feeling, “Relate To the Experience”
Neo comes off as very cold and disaffected. He doesn’t pick up on any cues from Trinity that she’s in love with him (leading to the Oracle’s cute observation that he’s “not too bright, though.”). He cares enough about Morpheus to want to save him, although that’s mostly about defying the Oracle’s prophecy that one of them will die.
I’ll also take a moment here to say that The Matrix’s whole “Everyone connected to the system is our enemy” philosophy bothered me then, and bothers me more now, many years and many public shooting incidents later. I understand the logical premise behind being wary of anyone that an agent can control at any moment, but the ethical implications of killing everyone instead of saving them should have weighed more heavily on our heroes. The famous lobby shootout is still an action masterpiece, but it’s also a cold-hearted act of mass slaughter—even if they are all potential bad guys.
P.S. If there’s any personality type other than INFP that I’ve ever suspected I might be, it’s INTP. I’ve always related to Neo more than almost any other movie hero, so some crossover between us is to be expected, I suppose. Similarly, Neo is often typed as an INFP, and funkymbtifiction says he might be “a super cold INFP.” Some days, I think I’m a super cold, analytical INFP, and some days I think I’m an artsy INTP, and most days I relate so strongly to Fi-dom and its critical shadow inferior-Te, that I have no doubt I’m an INFP.
Such are the joys and trials of being an MBTI nerd.