While some say that the ’80s TV drama thirtysomething was simply about yuppies who complained all the time, the show offers up an intelligent look at friends navigating a crucial time in their lives. From Hope and Michael starting a family to Ellyn doing better in her professional than her personal life, from Melissa wondering if she would ever find happiness to Gary’s refusal to grow up, these characters stay in the minds and hearts of anyone who has watched the series.
thirtysomething aired for four seasons from 1987 to 1991 and was created by Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, known for My So-Called Life and also working on the final episodes of Nashville. What would the Myers-Briggs Personality Types of these 30-something characters be? Let’s take a look.
10 Susannah Hart: ENFJ
Susannah Hart (Patricia Kalember) is the woman who was able to tame Gary’s wild ways as they fell in love and had a daughter, Emma.
As someone who works at a non-profit, Susannah’s MBTI would be ENFJ or “Compassionate Facilitator.” She is “trustworthy” and “warm” and “compassionate.” She is also someone who will “inspire change.” She’s not the friendliest person around and she’s not one to have a big group of friends, but she comes to terms with Gary’s death and is kind toward his friends in the afermath.
9 Nancy Krieger Weston: ESTP
Patricia Wettig’s thirtysomething character is artistic (she takes art classes and illustrates a children’s book), a great mother, and a very deep thinker and sensitive person. She’s married to Elliot, and they almost split up when he cheats on her, but they end up staying married.
Nancy’s MBTI would be ESTP or “Energetic Problem-Solver.” Nancy is “observant” and “fun loving.” She doesn’t let anything stop her, not her difficult marriage or when she learns that she’s been diagnosed with cancer.
8 Elliot Weston: ESFJ
Timothy Busfield’s character on this TV drama is an ESFJ or “Supportive Contributor.” He is defintiely second fiddle to Michael at work and often has trouble brainstorming ideas and being creative. He’s “personable” and “enthusiastic” and that is sometimes to his detriment, like when he cheats on his wife Nancy.
Elliot wants to be liked by everyone, and it’s tough for him to talk about his feelings or decide what would actually make him happy.
7 Ellyn Warren: INTP
Ellyn Warren (Polly Draper) is a career woman who is doing an amazing job at City Hall. She doesn’t have a great personal life as she works all the time and then hangs out with her best friend Hope. At the beginning of the series, she has trouble adjusting since Hope is now a mom and that has altered their friendship.
Ellyn’s MBTI would be INTP or “Objective Analyst.” She doesn’t like “socializing” just like these types and she’s intelligent, “intensely curious” but also “reserved.”
6 Ruth Murdoch: ISTJ
Hope has a strained relationship with her mother, Ruth Murdock (Shirley Knight), who comes to see her and her family in the first season episode, “The Parents Are Coming.” Hope is totally freaking out about this.
Ruth is a traditional mother figure and that makes her an ISTJ or “Responsible Realist.” She is “dependable and systematic” and “painstaking” along with being “orderly.” She is the reason why Hope has trouble figuring out if she wants to be a stay-at-home mom or if she can do something different.
5 Miles Drentell: ENTJ
David Clennon’s thirtysomething character is Miles Drentell, Elliot and Michael’s boss at the advertising agency where they are both work. It’s tough for them to deal with him since not only did their own business not work out and that’s why they went to work at DAA, but Miles is one of the most demanding bosses that anyone could have.
His MBTI would be ENTJ or “Decisive Strategist.” He’s an incredibly tough manager and fits this description: “They like to organize people and resources efficiently in order to accomplish long-term goals and tend to be comfortable with taking leadership roles over others.” He’s “assertive” and he doesn’t like having a “lack of control.” Take this quote from Miles, which proves his intelligence (but also his toughness): “Nobody wants to be unpopular. That’s why we’re here. That’s the dance of advertising. We help people become popular.”
4 Gary Shepherd: INFP
Peter Horton’s thirtysomething character, Gary Shepherd, dies tragically when he is riding his bike and gets struck by a car. It was a devestating moment for fans of the series but had a certain poetic quality to it since his death makes Michael think about what it means to be happy and what it means to grow up and truly be an adult.
Gary was a prof. who loved books, his friends, and dating around. He was the Peter Pan of the group and although he and Michael’s cousin Melissa used to date, he just can’t commit to her (or anyone else). His MBTI would be INFP or “Thoughtful Idealist.” No one is more of an idealist on the show than Gary, who treated Hope and Michael like his parents and never wanted to make any adult decisions. He was “introspective” and “individual” and “caring.” He finally found love and a family with Susannah.
3 Melissa Steadman: ISTJ
Melanie Mayron played Melissa Steadman, who is an amazing photographer who lives in a cool artsy loft but can’t seem to find love. All she wants is to be in a good relationship but it hasn’t worked out for her. Melissa is kind, cool, and does her own thing.
Melissa’s MBTI would be ISTJ or “Responsible Realist.” She approaches her personal life and her career in the same logical way. Even though she dresses in a creative, individual way, she wouldn’t rock the boat and tell someone how she really feels about them. She’s a bit nervous about sharing her emotions and she just tries to do the right thing. She’s “practical” and “duty bound.”
2 Hope Murdoch Steadman: ISTP
Hope Murdoch Steadman (Mel Harris) and Michael have a happy marriage and a sweet baby girl named Janie, but they struggle with balancing their work and family life. Hope is a talented writer and decided to quit her job to take care of her baby, but she wonders about having a career, too.
Hope is an ISTP or “Logical Pragmatist.” She “can remain calm while managing a crisis” from taking care of her baby to hosting Thanksgiving for the whole gang. She’s “independent” and “confident.” She’s really the mother of the group, and she’s a caring person who doesn’t make decisions without careful thought beforehand.
1 Michael Steadman: ISFP
Before Ken Olin was the acclaimed director on This Is Us, he played the main character Michael Steadman on thirtysomething. Michael is a relatable character as he’s a family man who wants to succeed in business but not at the expense of his personal life.
When the series ends, Michael is wondering if he should leave his job, and he’s figured out that the key to happiness isn’t killing himself for the man in advertising. Michael’s MBTI would be ISFP or “Versatile Supporter.” He’s “cooperative” and “attuned to others” and he enjoys working with his best friend Elliot, but he’s also “caring” and “sensitive.”
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