I've only seen the movie Divergent. In that, the Factionless are supposedly those that do not fit in anywhere. Yet at the same time, the Divergent cannot be classified into a single faction (per the test results for Tris); so in reality, they too do not fit anywhere.

It seems the distinction is level of aptitude. That is, a Divergent has the capabilities of excelling in more than one faction (and hence are likely to get placed into some faction), whereas the Factionless fail to meet the qualifications of their one chosen faction, and because they do not even get a chance to go try a different one to see if they could fit elsewhere, they are deemed outcasts.

Is this an accurate understanding of the distinction? Both likely evidence generality in relation the faction characteristics, but the Divergent excel in the level of those characteristics above the Factionless?

  • Factionless is just that, they belong to no faction; whereas Divergent are those who belong in all factions.
    – Möoz
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 21:41

2 Answers 2


I don't think that's exactly right. It's true that neither Factionless nor Divergents fit into the system, but trying to compare the two states is sort of like comparing apples to oranges. Read on:

Recall that the aptitude test does not determine what faction you MUST become part of - only the faction you are best suited to join. At the end of the testing process, you can still choose to join any faction you like (including remaining with your parents in the faction you were born to.) Although, common wisdom in this society would suggest that choosing a faction that's different from your test result is likely to leave you Factionless.

With that in mind, being Factionless does not necessarily mean the person didn't belong anywhere. They may well have belonged in one faction, but chose to join another and subsequently fell through the cracks. OR they could have joined the very faction their test suggested and STILL failed the initiation process (this is most common in Dauntless.)

There are also those who CHOOSE to become Factionless for personal reasons. In fact, some people might choose to become Factionless precisely because they ARE Divergent, either because they cannot cope with living in just one faction, or in an effort to avoid persecution should they be found out.

Being Divergent, however, is something different. It's not really something you can choose to be, nor is it a status that society can foist on you. It's a side-effect of your brain working in a way that makes you incompatible with the aptitude test - such that you don't get a clear reading. It's not a superpower, it's just an anomaly in the testing process. One that makes you an abomination in this society, because of the value they place on this particular test. Being Divergent means that you are "normal" by our=world standards. Remember that the experiments are made of people that are "genetically damaged," so since a Divergent is a healed person, then a Divergent is technically just a genetically normal person in our world. A Divergent person could also fail the initiation of their chosen faction and wind up Factionless as well, just as easily as a "normal" person. Tris didn't really do herself any favours by choosing Dauntless, in that regard. Luckily for her, she had pluck when it counted and passed anyway.


Here's how it goes: Factionless means that they failed initiation or somehow chose not to live in a faction. And example is that Amity boy that said, "I would rather be factionless than dead!" Divergent means that they fit into several factions.That's it. They can join a faction if they like, but they still might fail initiation. That's also why, Evelyn says, that the factionless have the most Divergent. It makes sense, she says. Some Divergent can't decide which faction to choose, and they become factionless. And also, if I divergent found out that they might die if they stayed in Dauntless, they might run away, thus becoming factionless.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.