Characters as they were portrayed in the TV series:
Horatio Hornblower (Ioan Gruffudd)
The hero, Horatio starts as an uncertain and awkward midshipman but quickly displays a knack for innovation and leadership that sets him rising up the ranks. Despite his abilities, he continually doubts himself.
- The Ace: Nearly everybody is taken with him and foresees his great future in the Navy. He has some doubts about himself, which makes him a bit of a Downplayed Broken Ace. Ultimately, he's as good as it gets and he inspires nothing but absolute loyalty in his men.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the novels, Hornblower considers himself something of a Kavorka Man (though his viewpoint is admittedly subjective). In the TV series and film, he's played by the likes of Ioan Gruffudd and Gregory Peck.
- Adorkable: He's at his most adorkable when he meets Captain Foster, a legend of the Navy, and reacts as an enthusiastic fan-boy, and when he charms people with his clumsy behaviour at his probably very first formal dinner party at the Governor of Gibraltar.
- Alliterative Name: Horatio Hornblower. His friend Duchess of Wharfedale likes to call him "Mr Aitch".
- Authority Equals Asskicking: When he becomes The Captain, one would think that he will be sending his midshipmen and lieutenants to participate in landing parties and their missions. However, he insists that exercise will do him good and rarely stays aboard.
- Badass Bookworm: He reads a lot, and is not afraid to use it!
- Brainy Brunet: Clever? Check. Brown hair? Check. Optional: Hot and a love interest? Check.
- Card Games: He's an excellent whist player. In "The Even Chance", Simpson accuses him of cheating and he takes it as a chance to challenge him for a duel. In "Loyalty", he uses his skill to win some money when naval officers starve on a half-pay.
- The Captain: He's got his first command of a captured ship in "The Even Chance". He's visibly chuffed when Matthews addresses him as 'captain'. He started as Midshipman, continued as Acting Lieutenant and Lieutenant, and finally got promoted to the rank of Commander. The third (and thus far final) series ends when he's promoted to Post Captain.
- Combat Pragmatist: He has a strong sense of honour but he does not hesitate to employ some dirtier tricks when he fights British enemies. War is war, and he intends to win.
- Cowardly Lion: Every time he sends whatever ship he's on into and out of the fire, he's constantly second-guessing himself and feels like he's lying to his admiring crew because he doesn't give them any hint how honestly frightened he is of being killed or maimed.
- Cunning Linguist: He studied Latin and Greek, speaks very good French, and learns Spanish while imprisoned in Spain, and he uses his knowledge of these languages in his naval service.
- Death Glare: His eyes are quite expressive, and it's very lucky for some sailors, captains and admirals including, that literally speaking his look cannot kill.
- Dressing as the Enemy: He could have patented this morally dubious strategy. He used it several times in Series One, sailing under foreign ensign in the first episode and later wearing French uniforms to try and slip through a Spanish fleet. (The latter fails.)
- Embarrassing Nickname: Their fellow midshipman of a bully calls him "Snotty" and his wife Maria "Horry". The first one is clearly meant to be offensive, but Maria genuinely doesn't know that he dislikes hers. In the books, his crew uses "Old Horny".
- Good with Numbers: He's an extremely skilled mathematician. It's handy during his navigational exercises, when he plays cards and when he plans his strategic attacks.
- The Hero: Why, the show is titled Hornblower!
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: He beats himself up over nearly every decision he makes. Despite being one of the finest promising officers in the Royal Navy, he has a hard time imagining that people meant their praise seriously. This feature of his is much more prominent in the book.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: First with his fellow middie/fellow lieutenant Archie Kennedy and later with his First Lieutenant William Bush.
- I Gave My Word: His word binds him and he would never break his promise.
- Innocently Insensitive: When he offers to pay Maria's bills in Series 3, she warns him that she couldn't keep her reputation because there is a word for a woman who takes money from a man. He cheerfully says that word is "friend".
- In-Series Nickname: When a character has several In-Universe nicknames, you know he's really popular: "Snotty" by Jack Simpson, "Mr. Aitch" by the Duchess, and "Horry" by Maria.
- Ironic Fear: He's a naval officer who's prone to sea-sickness and who's really afraid of heights. He has to climb on masts and in the riggings quite lot, or jump from high cliffs.
- Kavorka Man: In the novels, Hornblower doesn't really get why women like him. Four known women fall in love with him during the books through little to no active effort of his own. One even tells him he's an easy man for women to love. The last one was a teenage girl who fell in love with him the second she met him.
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": His reaction to meeting Captain Foster is dangerously close to squeeing. Foster enjoys his admiration and is taken with the promising acting lieutenant. Horatio ends up disillusioned when Foster takes some beef from Horatio's quarantine ship; he realizes that Foster doesn't care about anyone's life and has no sensible sense of caution (like: don't take beef from a ship that might be carrying the actual Black Death).
- Manly Tears: He cries rather inelegantly at the end of "The Frogs and the Lobsters".
- Moe Couplet: Reserved, serious, unemotional Horatio is paired with cheerful, high-spirited, outgoing, sarcastic Archie.
- Mr. Fanservice: Shirtless scenes, being wet, swimming and diving, having a shower on deck completely naked, you name it!
- Nerves of Steel: He can hold his nerves very well and most of his plans work out because he's patient and careful.
- New Meat: He's beyond green during the first part of "The Even Chance" when he comes aboard Justinian. Luckily he has some time to adapt, but he has the worst first day ever — he vomits while the ship is harboured and his fellow middies mock him. Suffering from sea-sickness and fear of heights also sound like excellent disposition for a sailor. On top of that, he has to deal with a sadistic bully.
- Nice Hat: Generally speaking, naval hats are not very flattering, but one midshipman's hat that Horatio wore had a fairly good design. In "The Examination for Lieutenant", Horatio had a very cool, very dashing straw hat. Finally, Captain's hats look way better that Lieutenant's.
- No Sense Of Humour: A somewhat Downplayed example, but it's definitely a part of his personality. It takes him some time to figure out a sarcasm, but it gets to him. He tried to tell a mathematical joke about a bridge being slightly bigger that a river, and he did crack up some successful jokes. For example, when he suggested to the recovered Archie that he was going to call an inn-keeper and order him a proper English breakfast while they were in a bloody prison, or when he poked fun at Mr Bush's dislike of turnips.
- Not So Stoic: He usually doesn't show his emotions but when he breaks down, it's a major crisis.
- Oblivious to Love: Oblivious to Maria's romantic feelings for him, to Pellew's fatherly love, to Bush's admiration and affection for him in Series Three.
- Plucky Middie: He's older than he should be when he starts his naval career and the first scenes left viewers wonder whether he is plucky or not. But he is, and very much so, saving the Indefatigable twice, Big Damn Heroes style, while he still has the rank of a midshipman. He climbs up the officer ladder quickly.
- Power Trio: Freudian Trio: With Archie Kennedy and William Bush in "Mutiny" and "Retribution". Horatio represents the ego since he is well-intentioned, heroic, but hesitant to mutiny, and he mediates between Archie and Bush. note
- The Stoic: His default mode. Though beneath his mask, he's rather troubled.
- Worthy Opponent: Colonel Ortega and Wolfe consider him a worthy adversary.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He suffers from a fear of heights, which is established in the first episode, and as a naval officer, he must deal with it a lot. He's shown at least twice to face his fear voluntarily. He climbs a mast once just for the kicks of it to enjoy the sail, and he volunteers himself once during a military operation to descend from a high cliff.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: As far as appearance goes, he's got it all: a tall slender figure, dark curly hair, dark eyes, tanned complexion, and a handsome manly face. However, he's really fairly skinny and by no means a Hunk, especially when he's younger.
- Throwing Down the Gauntlet: He challenges Simpson to a duel when he accused him of cheating in cards. He felt kind of suicidal as death would be better that living aboard the ship with Simpson or desertion.
- Sarcasm-Blind: Generally, Horatio does not understand snarky remarks easily and it takes him a veeery long time to figure out that somebody is being ironic. However, he gets Archie's snarks quite quickly and they actually bring about most of his fairly rare smiles.
- Smart People Know Latin: Horatio studied both Latin and Greek before joining the Navy. He's one smart cookie.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: Horatio is reserved and formal with most people, even beyond the point required by naval hierarchy. However, there are a handful of people with whom he shows a warmer side, most prominently with Archie.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: When he's troubled, he tends to stare and he appears unfocused.
Sir Edward Pellew (Robert Lindsay)
Captain of the Indefatigable, where Horatio is assigned when war is declared. He soon takes a shine to his new midshipman and remains a mentoring figure throughout each series, to the point of outright favoritism on occasion.
- Ascended Extra: He was more than an extra in the books and does show affection for Hornblower, but here he is outright fatherly and a prominent feature throughout Hornblower's career.
- The Captain: An excellent one; he's strict, just, caring and fatherly. He's considerably less awesome as Admiral though.
- Chew Out Fake Out: He excels in these speeches which are given mainly to Horatio. He starts dressing him down, reprimanding him for breaking rules or not following his orders, and then says how excellently executed Hornblower's action was. Sometimes it's followed by handing him a promotion.
- Deadpan Snarker: A delightful example. He snarks a lot and is so deadpan that it takes forever to Horatio to figure it out.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Lampshaded in "The Even Chance" when he shoots Jack Simpson from a very long distance.
- A Father to His Men: He really cares for every single man aboard his ship.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: He gasps "poor devils!" and stops as their enemy ship's black powder's magazine blows up violently. However, he recovers quickly.
- Historical-Domain Character: Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth.
- Mentor Archetype: He's Horatio's mentor with the interesting twist that he sometimes pretends to be furious with him just to mess with him and have some fun.
- Mr. Fanservice: He has some shirtless and getting-dressed scenes.
- Nice Hat: Captain Pellew looks cool with or without his Nice Hat.
- Officer and a Gentleman: He's amazing at the dinner party in "The Duchess and the Devil". Ladies sure do like him a lot.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He is a hard captain, but with a strong sense of justice and concern for the lives under his command.
- Rousing Speech: He can speak very effectively when he wants to cheer his men and put them in action.
- Secret Test of Character: Near the end of Loyalty, he says that the Irish should just put up with the terrible conditions in their country and owe unquestioning loyalty to England (despite England being the cause of those conditions). Hornblower disagrees, and Pellew smiles and expresses his approval of the way Hornblower has grown up.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: His first assignment to Hornblower presents him as a hard captain. He does not approve of Hornblower's challenging a fellow officer and letting another one fight the duel, and questions his abilities. He assigns him as a division leader of a band of misfits, inherited from the very same bully he has challenged.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: He is an older version of this trope. He has a tall and well-built figure (appropriate for a naval captain), dark eyes and dark hair, his complexion is tanned and slightly weather-beaten (he spends his life aboard a ship after all), and his facial features are very fine and quite pleasant.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: He's the non-arrogant, non-evil example that does not need to be redeemed. However, his personality and appearance fits the description. He does not always welcome the Admiralty's plans and snarks both at his superiors or at his crew.
Archie Kennedy (Jamie Bamber)
Horatio's first friend in the Navy. After suffering at the hands of Simpson and time in a Spanish prison, he starts to come into his own by the end of the first series and is a capable lieutenant in the second.
- Adaptation Expansion/Ascended Extra: Appears in one relatively inconsequential scene in Midshipman after Hornblower is transferred to the Indefatigable and is never mentioned again the series.
- Almost Dead Guy: He's severely injured when their ship is taken by escaped Spanish prisoners. He lives long enough to commit a Heroic Sacrifice and falsely testify at their trial to save Horatio's life and career.
- Badass Adorable: Manifested especially in the scene after his first battle. He runs to Horatio to babble excitedly about how he "killed two! well, one, certainly!", all covered in blood and looking cute. He gets increasingly more competent in action throughout the series, yet he remains as adorable as ever.
- Blood from the Mouth: When Horatio finds out that Archie is injured, he's shattered and just hugs him. Archie tries to cheer him up that it's not as bad as it looks, but the ominous blood coming from his mouth indicates that he's dying.
- Break the Cutie: Jack Simpson made his life on the Justinian a living hell, and the Spanish jail did not help his spirits either. Poor lamb.
- Catapult Nightmare: Jack Simpson obviously haunts his dreams. He wakes flinging himself up and gasping the dreaded name in "The Duchess and the Devil".
- Chekhov M.I.A.: In "The Even Chance", he gets lost in importantly inconclusive way — lost at sea during a stealth raid, and presumed dead. He resurfaces as Hornblower and Hunter's cell-mate in "The Devil and the Duchess".
- Composite Character: In the Midshipman story "The Duel" (partially adapted from "The Man Who Felt Queer"), the sailor suffering a seizure is a seaman named Hales who becomes missing in action after the longboat is lost in the expedition. In "The Wrong War" (adapted from "The Frogs and the Lobsters"), the facetious midshipman is Bracegirdle. Archie gets his lines during the corresponding episode thanks to his expanded role and the fact that Bracegirdle is the first lieutenant in the miniseries.
- Convulsive Seizures: He suffers from epilepsy or something similar, and his fits appear to be stress-induced.
- Dismissing a Compliment: He dismisses Horatio's reassurances that he's a capable officer in "The Duchess and the Devil" and "The Frogs and the Lobsters".
- Dying Moment of Awesome: His death was inevitable, being fatally wounded from a battle, so at least he used it to save his friend from the gallows.
- The Cutie: He is extremely attractive, kind, and so darn cute! His cuteness does not interfere with being a competent officer though.
- Deadpan Snarker: To a lesser extent than, say, Captain Pellew, but his smartass comments are quite precise, and he manages to have a straight face. He sometimes laughs when snarking, though.Archie: [to Horatio] From Acting Lieutenant to commander of a dung cart in no more than a step. My career is looking up!
- Despair Event Horizon: He loses his will to live in "The Duchess and the Devil". Being tormented and abused, lost at sea, imprisoned, tortured, constantly overshadowed and surpassed by your friend, and feeling like a burden to your fellows will do that to a guy.
- Disabled Snarker: In "The Even Chance" and "The Duchess and the Devil". Later, he seemed to have recovered from his trauma-induced seizure disorder, but luckily, he kept his snarky commentary tinged with slight self-depreciation.
- Driven to Suicide: He decides to starve himself to death when his spirits are completely broken in the Spanish prison. Horatio tries to help and he ultimately makes it through.
- First-Name Basis: He and Horatio call each other by their Christian names since their first days on the Justinian. He only refers to Horatio with "Mr Hornblower" or "sir" in formal contexts, and when he wants to tease him.Archie: [saucily] I remember when you used to be scared of heights, Mr Hornblower.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Interesting that he does not sacrifice his life as he was fatally wounded and dying anyway, but he sacrificed his honour and his good name which mattered a lot back then.
- Foil: Archie's cheerful, open manners and sunny disposition contrast with Horatio's reserved and serious nature. He is also in many ways Horatio's alter ego. Horatio from the books is full of introspection, self-loathing and self-doubt, while Horatio of the series has this characteristics in much smaller degree, but Archie openly admits his fears and misgivings. Archie's career in the Navy shows that he is an intelligent and competent person but without Hornblower's extraordinary luck or heroic qualities. When Horatio meets Archie again in the Spanish jail, it humbles him as a reminder that not everything is going swimmingly and that even his career might have been shaped differently. Archie also represents Horatio's conscience as it is him who first voices Sawyer's incompetence, his horrifying mistreatment of Wellard, the injustice, and the lack of discipline on the Renown.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend:
- His friendship with Clayton was very deep but when Clayton dies he appears to be too go-hung and excited by the upcoming war that he barely remembers him.
- He himself becomes a forgotten pal to Horatio. Horatio never mentions Archie in "Loyalty" or "Duty", despite the fact that he was clearly established as one of the most important and closest people in Horatio's life. Fans were not pleased.
- Go Out with a Smile:Archie smiles tearfully at Horatio before he dies.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Horatio and Archie became friends nearly immediately after they had met, and more or less from the ending of "The Duchess and the Devil" they just belong together.
- Hidden Depths: He obviously loves theatre as he claims he knew Drury Lane as if it was his home. He has probably a special love for William Shakespeare.
- Kill the Cutie: There are several scenes in "Retribution" that endear him to the audience even more, only to kill him off and break the audience's hearts.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: He has sweet blue eyes. They express his vulnerability, innocence and amiable nature.
- The Lancer: To Horatio's Hero. They are best friends and both bring out the better out of themeselves.
- Lost at Sea: We don't know much about what he experienced during this time and how he dealt with it. Ultimately, he got captured by enemies which saved his life, but ended up in Spanish prison.
- Mr. Exposition: In "The Even Chance", he explains Horatio and the audience his view on the situation in France, and he also informs us later that the French killed their king.
- Mr. Fanservice: Wet scenes and shirtless scenes, all very nice.
- The McCoy: He is the show's heart and soul, especially in "Mutiny" and "Retribution". He's very humanistic, cares about people (like Midshipman Wellard), and he always, always wants to do what is right and just.
- Moe Couplet: Reserved, serious, unemotional Horatio is paired with cheerful, high-spirited, outgoing, sarcastic Archie.
- More Expendable Than You: Archie knows he's dying anyway, so he takes sole blame for the mutiny to save Horatio's life and career.
- Mortal Wound Reveal: Horatio is worried when he notices that Archie got blood on himself, and is absolutely horrified when he rips his uniform open and sees how serious Archie's wound is.
- Motor Mouth: He talks super quickly when he's excited.
- Named by the Adaptation: Was addressed on a Last Name Basis, thus his first name was never given in the book.
- Nice Hat: A midshipman's cylindrical hat was tolerably cool. Those pointy side-to-side or front-to-back naval uniform hats look better off, even on Archie.
- Power Trio: Freudian Trio: Formed with Horatio and William Bush in "Mutiny" and "Retribution". Archie represents the id as he's quicker to speak up, he's emotional and intuitive. note
- Pretty Boy: Longish fair hair, blue eyes, a chiselled jaw line, a cutest smile ever, a body to kill for, and Horatio's taller.
- Plucky Middie: Even though he is slightly prone to panic, he's a very good officer. He's even promoted to Acting Lieutenant and Lieutenant. You go, Archie!
- Secret Stab Wound: In "Retribution", he tries to keep secret from Horatio that he has been shot. When Horatio notices, he insists that it's just a scratch and not as bad as it looks.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Archie seems to be a big fan of the bard. He knows him well enough to quote and paraphrase him.
- When Hornblower and the other midshipmen on the Justinian await their possible transfer, Archie enthusiastically announces: "We few, we fortunate few! Keene has recommended our transfer to the... Indefatigable!" It very much resembles King Henry's line "we few, we happy few, we band of brothers" from Henry V.
- He quoted lines from Antony and Cleopatra in "The Duchess and the Devil" when he was delirious.
- He mentioned several possible roles of Kitty Comham: Cleopatra, Gertrude, Lady Macbeth or Beatrice.
- In "Retribution", he reports the result of Mr Bush's shot on a Spanish ship by shouting "A hit, a hit, a palpable hit!" paraphrasing Osric's "a hit, a very palpable hit" from Hamlet.
- Silent Scapegoat: In "Retribution", he decides to take the blame for Captain Sawyer's fall, even though probably nobody ever believes him. He's legally declared guilty and as such, his truly Heroic Sacrifice counts.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Archie's blank, vacant and unfocused stare into nothingness is one of his trademark looks in the first series.
William Bush (Paul McGann)
"I expect you to know this ship like the back of your hand, or else you shall know the back of mine. Is that understood?"A serious-minded lieutenant who first appears in the second series. Initially unimpressed with Hornblower and Kennedy, he soon realizes that they're the only other competent officers on the ship. Though he's Hornblower's only friend in the books, in the series he forms a Power Trio with him and Archie.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Bush's appearance in the books is described as craggy, weatherbeaten, and hardbitten. He's played by Paul McGann.
- Deadpan Snarker: He's sarcastic and very deadpan in his first scene. He continues to speak as such throughout the series.
- Does Not Like Spam: Does not like turnips. Never touches 'em.
- First-Name Basis: In "Loyalty" and "Duty", he becomes Horatio's first officer. They start to call each other William and Horatio respectively.
- The Lancer: To Horatio's Hero in "Loyalty" and "Duty". He's generally more cautious, by-the-book, and stoic.
- Mr. Fanservice: There are moments with his shirtless scenes, wet clothes scenes and similar hot stuff.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: The match with Horatio was made in "Loyalty".
- Number One: In Series Three, he becomes Horatio's First Lieutenant and is responsible for the crew and that the Hotspur runs smoothly.
- Power Trio: Freudian Trio: With Horatio and Archie in "Mutiny" and "Retribution". He's calm, rational, observant, evaluates the situation but does not act impulsively: he's the superego. note
- The Reliable One: His job in the third series, which he takes very seriously.
- The Stoic: Somewhat less so than in the books, but he faces most troubles with a straight face.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: He's a very attractive manly man. His wonderful blue eyes contrast nicely with his dark brown hair.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: He is not arrogant or obnoxious, but he's just a really handsome Deadpan Snarker. He can appear intimidating at first, especially to younger officers — in Series 2 to Archie and Horatio who are his subordinates as third and fourth lieutenants, as well as Midshipman Wellard, and in Series 3 to midshipmen Jack Hammond and Charles Orrock.
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Finds himself unable to shoot Woolfe in spite of Horatio's order, because the man is unarmed. When Woolfe tries faking it a second time, though, Bush promptly fills him with lead.
Matthews (Paul Copley)
The most experienced man on the lower deck. He offers Midshipman Hornblower some tactful help and advice. He's later promoted to petty officer.
- Adaptation Expansion: Appears in two scenes with Styles in Midshipman and doesn't reappear in any other book.
- Air Hugging: He air-hugs Horatio in "Retribution". This trope is often played to feel awkward or express problems showing affection, but this particular Air Hug is the sweetest thing ever.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: He and Styles are nearly inseparable since the very first episode.
- Mentor Archetype: He's a very experienced sailor and extremely competent. He can offer valuable insight and a piece of advice to younger seamen, which includes even to young officers. He's very caring and never condescending or patronizing, and always absolutely cool. He's a mentor mainly to Hornblower, and it's very prominent even when Hornblower is a 3rd Lieutenant aboard Renown.
- No Name Given: It's just Matthews.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: For the lower deck. As the eldest and most sensible he's their de facto leader in Series 1, and is promoted to petty officer for the next two series.
- The Reliable One: Easily the steadiest man on the lower deck.
- A Taste of the Lash: It's him who leads Hunter through the gauntlet, as boatswain he has to cane Mr Wellard, and he even has to flog his best friend Styles.
- Those Two Guys: With Styles. In the first series, they formed a larger group with other sailors like Finch and Oldroyd, but they fit this trope quite well since "Mutiny".
Styles (Sean Gilder)
A troublemaker, but Matthew's best friend. Styles is surly and sarcastic, but didn't take the Surly Seaman of the Week role until the third series.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Styles and Matthews belong together, there is no denying it. They appeared in all three series.
- Lethal Chef: He's rather hopeless as a Captain's steward in "Loyalty".
- No Name Given: His first name is never mentioned.
- Those Two Guys: With Matthews. They were part of Hornblower's division with Finch and Oldroyd, but they fit this trope since "Mutiny" when Matthews is a boatswain and Styles his mate.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Between series two and three. None of the trouble with Doughty would have happened if he hadn't been so jealous of Doughty.
Midshipman Clayton (Duncan Bell)
One of the midshipmen on the Justinian. Resigned to Simpson's tyranny until Hornblower turns up and tries to fight back, shaming him into action.
- Blood from the Mouth: Ah, poor Clayton, did we ever know ya? He's shot in the duel with Jack Simpson and the blood pouring from his mouth indicates that he's not going to make it, even tough he does not die instantly.
- Death Is Dramatic: He has a heart-breaking scene with Horatio at his deathbed, explaining why he did what he did.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend:
- Averted in "The Even Chance" as Horatio deeply mourns his death...
- ...but played straight later as he's not mentioned in the subsequent episodes at all.
- Archie seems to forget him extremely fast.
- More Expendable Than You: He steps in in the first episode to get Hornblower out of a duel with nasty Simpson. He thought he should do the dirty work by himself, but he also thought he could win. Little did he know...
- Nice Guy: He was sweet and compassionate when he took care of sea-sick Horatio. He suffers a fate of many a Mr Nice Guy by becoming Mr Dead Guy.
- No Name Given: Only his surname Clayton is known, even though he's such a prominent character and close to The Hero and his Lancer in "The Even Chance". He used Christian names when he talked to Horatio and Archie, but they always referred to him as Clayton or Mr Clayton. Interestingly, he also called the evil Jack Simpson "Jack", but Simpson called him Clayton.
- Plucky Middie: He's a midshipman but when he's around and alive, there is no war and his ship is stationed at Spithead. He's probably one of the most senior midshipmen, but he did not stand up to their bully properly, and it shamed him that Horatio, a boy much younger than himself, did. He tries to make amends. Archie later mentions that it was Clayton's dream to serve on a frigate like the Indefatigable.
- Percussive Prevention: He clubs Horatio to prevent him from fighting a duel with Simpson.
- Sorry That I'm Dying: The scene at Clayton's deathbed is heart-wrenching. Clayton's sorry he's dying so very young and feels shamed by much younger and inexperienced Horatio who was more courageous when dealing with their nemesis. Clayton says he's sorry he didn't manage to kill Simpson. He thought he had an even chance.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: He was extremely kind to Horatio and Archie and tried to stand up to Simpson as well as he could, such as in the I-will-trim-the-walls-with-your-brains scene but unfortunately, he was not very effective. He died way too young and his fate was utterly tragic. Poor guy.
Master Bowles (Colin MacLachlan)
The sailing master of the Indefatigable, higher than an ordinary seaman but lower than the officers. He's a competent, sensible man.
- Dressing as the Enemy: He is sent to accompany General Charette to brief Captain Pellew about their progress and success. Nearly everybody in the troop gets killed except him, and the General advises him to disguise himself and return back to his ship, as it is not right to die in a foreign war. Luckily Styles does not shoot him as Oldroyd recognized him in advance.
- No Name Given: He's only referred to as Mr Bowles.
- Playing Possum: He plays dead and kills a French soldier whose uniform he needs to disguise himself and return back to his ship. He's British and of the Royal Navy, never mind his playing dirty, which was not a war crime or illegal in the era. In addition, the French soldier was stealing valuable things from the dead and had it coming.
- Put on a Bus: He doesn't appear in series two or three, probably because he's still on the "Indy".
Lieutenant Eccleston (Robert Bathurst)
First lieutenant of the Justinian, and later transferred to the Indy. Although he tries to keep discipline, it's an uphill battle.
- Blood from the Mouth: Variation of the trope, as the blood doesn't seem to come from internal bleeding, but his mouth or lips have been cut. Visually it's very much this trope.
- Corporal Punishment: He has Horatio entangled in the ship's rigging when he's certain that Horatio has been fighting, but keeps claiming that he fell. Horatio was fighting, but couldn't tell it was with their resident bully Simpson.
- Death Is Dramatic: They dropped a yardarm on him after the cutting-out of the Papillon. He's dying, but manages to delegate command to Horatio. Simpson is the senior midshipman but he was not assigned on the Indefatigable. It was also a reasonable thing to do since Horatio just accused Simpson of trying to murder him, and Eccleston was aware who is more trustworthy.
- No Name Given: Just his rank and surname is known.
- Number Two: First lieutenant on the Justinian, then (briefly) the Indefatigable.
Lieutenant Chadd (Roger May)
- No Name Given: Just Chadd.
- The Quiet One: Lieutenant Chadd hardly opens his mouth, and mostly he only grins or looks worried, awed or amused, as the situation requires. He spoke exactly twice. First when he ordered his men to fire guns, and second when he got a splinter in his arm, he allowed Doctor Hepplewhite to take care of Hornblower's sailor ahead of him because the poor guy had lost his leg.
- Character Death: He dies during a battle after they successfully boarded a French ship.
Dr Hepplewhite (Simon Markey)
- The Medic: He's the surgeon aboard the Justinian and got transferred to the Indefatigable.
Midshipman Hether (Richard Lumsden)
- Big "YES!": He gives a Big Yes when Archie tells that they are being transferred to the Indefatigable. Complete with jumping excitedly from a chair and cheerfully hitting the ship's ceiling.
- No Name Given: Just known by his rank and surname.
Midshipman Cleveland (Frank Boyce)
- No Name Given: He's just known by his rank and surname.
Midshipman Jack Simpson (Dorian Healy)
The oldest midshipman on the Justinian, Simpson is a petty tyrant who dominates all of the junior officers through physical and psychological torment. Everyone is completely cowed by him, until Hornblower decides it'd be better to die in a duel than keep on living with him.
- The Big Bad: The villain and the main antagonist of "The Even Chance".
- The Bully: He bullies all the other midshipmen, and probably does something much worse to Archie.
- Crocodile Tears: He sheds some fake tears when he comes aboard the Indefatigable after being rescued from the Justinian. Captain Pellew and other officers are visibly uncomfortable.
- Dirty Coward: He's unable to Face Death with Dignity and begs for his life when Horatio has right to fire at will at their duel. Horatio's you-are-not-worth-the-powder sneer absolutely psychs him out morally, and he tries to stab Horatio In The Back.
- Duel to the Death: He killed Clayton in a duel with pistols who fought by proxy in Hornblower's stead, and another duel with Hornblower marked his demise, even though Hornblower decided for a cruel mercy and spared his screwed life. Captain Pellew shot him from distance because he was going to murder Horatio by stabbing him In The Back.
- Enemy Eats Your Lunch: He takes Horatio's meat from his plate in his very first scene. Archie is forced to inform him that he usually takes the best of their meals, their spirit rations and clean shirts.
- Evil Laugh: He gives horrifying, sneering fits of laugh.
- Face Framed in Shadow: He frequently comes from the shadow when he makes his appearance at the scene. He is a very dark character and pure evil.
- I Know What You Fear: He finds out that Hornblower is afraid of heights and uses the knowledge to torture him.
- In the Back: He attempted to murder Horatio by stabbing him in his back. Luckily Captain Pellew intervened.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: There is no limits to his level of evil. He knocks Horatio down and he looks finished, yet Simpson keeps kicking him pitilessly.
- Kubrick Stare: He has this creepy and ominous look on the "Indy" when Horatio makes it clear that these are new times and he's not going to bother them anymore. He tilts head down and looks up beneath eyebrows, being half in a shadow.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Simpson beats the living crap out of Horatio, smacks his face against a table, and kicks him mercilessly in the stomach. Horatio's bruised face is a horrible sight after the incident.
- Prepare to Die: Before duelling with Hornblower, he takes some time to boast, and actually blabs that he attempted to murder Archie Kennedy.Simpson: I am going to kill you, Snotty. Just as I killed Clayton. And your little pal Archie.
- Sadist: He enjoys torturing his fellow middies both physically and psychologically.
- Tattoo as Character Type: He has an ominous-looking skull tattooed on his hand.
- Ungrateful Bastard: The fact that it's Horatio's boat which saves him from drowning in the wreck of the Justinian does absolutely nothing to change his attitude.
- Villainous Breakdown: He's usually very calm and enthusiastic in his evil games, but when Horatio informs him that Lt. Eccleston gave him a command of the Papillon, he loses his cool and throws a tantrum, insisting that he is the superior midshipman while stamping his foot. The crew follow Horatio's orders.
- Your Mom: During the Inquisition scene, Simpson insults Horatio's mother by hinting that she's a prostitute. Horatio is absolutely infuriated.
Captain Keene (Michael Byrne)
The Justinian's elderly commanding officer and (in the series) a friend of Hornblower's father.
- The Captain: A very frail captain, nearly unable to perform his duties.
- Deadpan Snarker: He snarks quite nicely, and his picking on Simpson is satisfying to watch. (According to the book, this is how he vents the pain from his mortal illness.)
- Gratuitous Latin: He enjoys dearly mocking his midshipmen and wonders what terrae incognitiae (unknown lands) they might have discovered during their navigational exercise.
- Incurable Cough of Death: He's a very old and frail man who coughs and wheezes all the time. It's clear that he's dying, and he really ends up dead after the obligatory two thirds of the episode, but interestingly enough, he died when his ship Justinian was attacked and sunk by the French.
- Ironic Name: Clayton observes that 'Keene' sounds quite ironic for such an old and tired captain.
- Smart People Know Latin: When Horatio comes aboard, Captain Keene asks him about his education. Horatio says he was a Grecian at school, meaning that he studied both Latin and Greek. Keene promptly tells him that in the Navy there is no use for absolute ablatives and similar stuff. However, there is, apparently. He uses it as a means of mocking his middies with style.
Bracegirdle (Jonathan Coy)
First lieutenant of the Indy, a promotion from his book incarnation. He's a reliable Number Two to the captain and offers a few pieces of advice to Hornblower as well. Returns in the third series as a captain whose ship was destroyed.
- Death by Adaptation: In the books, Bracegirdle is a fellow Midshipman of Hornblower's (Archie often takes on his role in the show) in Mr Midshipman Hornblower and reappears in Hornblower and the Atropos as a Flag Lieutenant. In the series he gets promoted to captain, but then dies in an explosion.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: It would seem he appeared in "Loyalty" just to contrast him with the more successful Horatio. Then they dropped an exploding cannon ball on him.
- No Name Given: Only his surname is known, and his rank. He's a Lieutenant and in Series Three a broken Captain.
- Number One: He's Pellew's first mate in the first series.
Oldroyd (Simon Sherlock)
An ordinary seaman from Simpson's division. Not very bright.
- Dope Slap: Styles keeps smacking him in "The Duchess and the Devil". He joined Hunter's gang and tried to escape with them, and caused Mr Hornblower's punishment.
- El Spanish O: He is usually the one who tries to add the flavour of the foreign accent to his native English. It's usually French: "Come on, French-ie, this-A way-A!" Or "No steal-ie, savvy! You steal-ie, get chop! plenty!! damn!! vite!!!" The ending is properly emphasised.
- Nicknaming the Enemy: He calls the French sailor a Frenchie in "The Even Chance", and continues to do so in "The Frogs and the Lobsters". He drops some Frogs, too. He has a soft boyish voice and it sounds quite cute.
- No Name Given: As most lower-deck sailors, he's only known by his surname.
- Put on a Bus: After the first series, he was put on another ship. Or more simply, he was not transferred to the Renown as other Indefatigable's men from Horatio's division.
Finch (Chris Barnes)
An ordinary seaman in the division transferred from Simpson to Hornblower. He saves Hornblower from drowning after Simpson's treachery, but dies of scurvy in the second episode when supplies run low.
- Burial at Sea: He gets one, and Matthews tries to raise money for his widow by selling off his stuff.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: He had a close friendly relationship with Bunting. However, it never appeared on-screen and feels like an Informed Attribute.
- Incurable Cough of Death: He suffers from it and promptly dies in "The Examination for Lieutenant".
- Mauve Shirt: Named, likeable, saves Hornblower's life in the first telefilm. So his death of scurvy makes an impact.
- Living Emotional Crutch: To Bunting; Finch helped him out when Bunting was first pressed into service. When he dies, Bunting goes off the rails.
- No Name Given: He's only known as Finch.
Captain Foster (Denis Lawson)
A fighting captain regardless of the situation. Foster's reputation for action is well-deserved, but he's reckless and spendthrift with the lives of his men.
- Awesome Ego: In-Universe. He spends a lot of time boasting how he nailed his missions and how awesome he was. His fan-boys aboard the "Indy" agree. Pellew's Mileage May Vary.
- Broken Pedestal: Hornblower's admiration for Foster is dashed when Foster insists on taking meat from Hornblower's supply ship, which is still under quarantine for plague.
- The Captain: A fearless captain who has earned his place in history.
- Fearless Fool: He certainly doesn't lack for physical courage, as seen when he boards the fire ship. What he does lack is any sense of caution or consideration for the men under his command.
- Foil: To Captain Pellew, who is so much more awesome and a true Father to His Men. Foster doesn't give a damn about the lives of common seamen.
- In-Series Nickname: Captain "Dreadnought" Foster, the name of his ship and an accurate description of his personality. He fears nothing, not even attacking a ship when he has no chance to win, or taking meat from a plague ship. He's quite a legend in the Navy.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Attacking a French frigate with a supply ship. The next we see him, he's floating in the wreckage with the few survivors.
- Living Legend: He's an ultra-famous captain and lots of people aboard the "Indy" admire him immensely, young Horatio included. Pellew is reluctant to join in heaping praise on him and doesn't like Horatio's boundless admiration.
Captain Hammond (Ian McElhinney)
First appears as a member of the examination board for Lieutenant, where he gets into a shouting match with Foster. He shows up again as a naval court judge in Series 2 and finally fulfilling his function as a fighting officer in the third.
- The Captain: He is a very respected captain. However, not a lot of his commanding abilities or interaction with his crew are shown. His dramatic role in the series is different.
- Driven to Suicide: He blew his brains out after his cause failed and his nephew is killed.
- Hanging Judge: In the second series. He really wants to execute someone for what happened on the Renown and zeroes in on Horatio. The fact that Hammond's a spy implies that he saw Hornblower as the most competent officer, and thus the one Britain would most miss.
- In Series Nick Name: He is known as "Black Charlie" Hammond.
- The Mole: It was revealed in "Loyalty" that he has been secretly working for the Irish resistance his whole life.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Ambiguously. In Hornblower and the Crisis, Hornblower meets "Dreadnought" Foster again and remembers that Hammond had challenged him to a duel after the fire ship incident, and evidently Foster won. Nothing is confirmed, though, and it was common enough for a duel to end in a draw.
Mr Tapling (Ian McNeice)
An officious man from the Diplomatic Service who's sent to negotiate the purchase of rations from Oman.
- Ass in Ambassador: He's demanding and rude and constantly complains about conditions on naval vessels, but his attitude improves after Horatio puts him to work with the steward.
- Nice Hat: He has a nice boater and several other rather cool hats.
- No Name Given: He's known only as Mr Tapling of the diplomatic service.
- Took a Level in Kindness: He starts as whiny diplomat, but he improves: working in the kitchen and being appreciated brings him satisfaction. And he actually tries to comfort Hornblower when he suffers over the loss of one of his men.
Bunting (Andrew Tiernan)
Surly Seaman of the Weak. Thinks that the officers are still on full rations when supplies run low, tries stealing from the hold, and then attempts to desert after his friend falls victim to scurvy.
- Burial at Sea: He was shot on dry land, but Hornblower decided to take his body and give him a sailor's burial.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: After two attempts at desertion, he considers Horatio's attempts at recapture to be Cruel Mercy since he's certain to be hanged. So he'd prefer to be shot here, thank you.
- Canon Foreigner: Can be found nowhere in the books.
- Dangerous Deserter: Desperate and afraid that they will starve, he starts talking mutiny and decides to desert. He's caught, but Hornblower gives him a chance to prove himself worthy. However, Bunting knows it still means a court-marshal, and he tries to escape whenever he can. He's the only one who tries to mutiny and desert, so he's not that dangerous to the crew.
- Press-Ganged: Matthews implies that he did not join the Navy quite voluntarily. Matthews also says that Finch helped him to settle down.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: He and Finch were close pals, and he suffers a lot when Finch dies. Finch was a prominent lower-deck character and a pal of Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd in "The Even Chance", while Bunting appeared only in "The Examination for Lieutenant".
- No Name Given: As most of the common seamen, his first name is never mentioned.
- Remember the New Guy: Kind of. He's mentioned as being a close friend of Finch's, which is why he's so angry over Finch's death, but he wasn't present in The Even Chance.
- Suicide by Cop: When he attempts to desert for the last time, Hornblower catches him and wants to have him court-marshalled, which means he'll swing. Bunting considers it cruel and far worse than dying on the spot. He tries to escape and twists Hornblower's pistol, knowing that it'll force Hornblower to shoot him.
- A Taste of the Lash: He gets a gauntlet for stealing food when the crew is on half rations.
Hunter (Christopher Fulford)
A fellow midshipman on the Indy, Hunter is the third episode's Surly Seaman. He's violent and antagonistic.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Jumps into the water with a still-wounded leg to help a Spaniard get to the boat at the end. It's hard to tell if he's genuinely swept off or if he deliberately let go of the gunwale before Horatio could pull him back in.
- Jerkass: Understated, compared to other examples here, but he needles and resents Horatio, plus he's rather violent.
- Leeroy Jenkins: He wants to attack every enemy and runs out of patience very quickly when captured, with disastrous consequences.
- No Name Given: He's just Hunter or Mr Hunter.
- Patriotic Fervor: No Spanish fruit, dammit! British beer and beef!
Duchess of Wharfedale AKA Katherine "Kitty" Cobham (Cherie Lunghi)
Despite her title, or maybe because of it, she's completely informal and enjoys teasing a certain awkward acting-lieutenant when he's asked to bring her back to England. However, she proves that she's willing to put her life on the line for England.
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head:
- She gently touches Horatio's face when she teases him about not having any razors to shave himself. That lady knows how to flirt.
- She affectionately strokes Archie's forehead when he lies in bed, slowly recovering from his suicide attempt by starvation. Lucky Duchess and lucky Archie.
- Alliterative Name: Her real name is Katherine "Kitty" Cobham.
- Blue Blood: She is a British duchess, and appropriately titled as "Her Grace". She's quite cheeky and spirited. However, she's no duchess.
- Brainy Brunette: She is an older, but still very sexy dark-haired woman with brains.
- Heroic Seductress: She used her sexiness and sex to preserve her alias, and consequently to save her and Horatio's life. It also saved Horatio's super important dispatches for the Admiralty she's hiding for him. The inquisitive French soldier she had to sleep with was sleazy and she was not happy about it but she saw it as the only way.
- Master Actor: She was impersonating The Duchess of Wharfedale, and for a long time nobody suspected it. She does such a good job acting her part that if Archie and later de Vergesse hadn't recognised her, she would have been escorted home with absolutely no one suspecting she wasn't who she seemed.
- Mrs. Robinson: She's toying with Horatio, perhaps trying to seduce him, but their relationship is in all likelihood innocent.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Many of her outfits were really beautiful with pearls or little ribbons.
- Spirited Young Lady/Cool Old Lady: As a middle-aged cool spirited lady, she falls somewhere in-between these two tropes.
- Silk Hiding Steel: She can take a good care of herself, and nobody in the Spanish prison suspected she could be hiding Horatio's dispatches for the Admiralty. When at last a French officer starts to be inquisitive, she's able to pull off a Femme Fatale on him.
Don Massaredo (Ronald Pickup)
The commander of the Spanish fortress where Horatio and his men are held in "The Dutchess and the Devil". Though an amiable, courtly man, he himself warns Hornblower that he is quite capable of being cruel if the prisoners misbehave.
- Affably Evil: He likes Hornblower and gives him a wide latitude of privileges, loaning him books to study Spanish and even dining with him, but he comes down very hard after the ill-judged escape attempt.
- Punishment Box: His favourite method of punishment. He's not afraid of being cruel, as he himself puts it.
- Worthy Opponent: He gains a great deal of respect for Hornblower and refuses to believe that the escape attempt was his idea.
Colonel Moncoutant (Antony Sher)
A French exile who joins General Charette's expedition largely to reclaim his old lands from the revolutionaries. The fact that he packs a guillotine in his luggage tells you what that's going to be like.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Shooting citizens, children and beheading villagers counts.
- Blue Blood: He's a French Marquis. He's very proud that he's an aristocrat, and he believes that common people are impossible to improve.
- Beauty Mark: He has a small mole on his face. It's a fake one as its place is not consistently the same. Well, it was the fashionable thing to have at the time.
- Catch Phrase: "Vive le roi!" That's about his only concern about the Restoration of the monarchy, and he repeats it whenever he can.
- Disproportionate Retribution: He comes very close to shooting a young boy in the face for reflexively singing Le Marseillaises.
- Face Death with Dignity: Possibly the nearest thing he has to a redeeming feature; when the villagers and Republican forces give him a taste of his own medicine, he meets his end fearlessly with a defiant cry of "Vive le Roi!"
- French Jerk: He's a very unsympathetic French character.
- Karmic Death: The villagers gleefully behead him when the royalist forces collapse.
- Would Hurt a Child: His actions show that he would kill a small boy. Though, to be fair, singing Marseillaise even after it got the mayor shot is kind of testing his limits and pushing his buttons. Horatio talked him out of it.
- Off with His Head!: He owns his personal guillotine, and beheads quite a few villagers. And it bites him in the butt, as he's executed when the republican forces reach his village.
- Skewed Priorities: Moncoutant is very disgruntled to leave off executing half the village when Hornblower insists that he should maybe do something about the attacking Republican forces.
General Charette (John Shrapnel)
A French exile leading a counter-revolutionary force into France, hoping to raise an army of royalists across the countryside. The British support him because they're at war with Napoleon.
- Historical-Domain Character: François de Charette, although he was considerably younger than portrayed here.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Kind of. His plan falls to pieces quickly, but he seems like a decent man and tells Bowles to get out of there when they're ambushed. And he's certainly better than Moncoutant.
- Rousing Speech: He gives quite an effective rousing speech to his French royalist troops.
Admiral Lord Hood (Peter Vaughan)
- Blue Blood: He comes from the British aristocracy.
- Historical-Domain Character: Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood, notable among other things for being a mentor and early patron of the young Horatio Nelson.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Averted. He insists that Pellew and three other ships pursue their mission even though it has little sense and some documents have been stolen by spies, making it all the more dangerous.
Fauré (Jean Badin)
- Honour Before Reason: He refuses to submit to Moncoutant and never acknowledges his power over his former property, even when it's clear that it will get him killed.
- Self-Made Man: A mayor of Muzillac. From a vendor of the unmentionables to career in politics.
Mariette (Estelle Skornik)
A schoolteacher in Moncoutant's old village. She hates both the royalists and the revolutionaries, seeing them as equally brutal. She falls in love with Horatio.
- Composite Character: She has elements of Marie and Maria from the books. However, she has considerably less personality than either of those women.
- Everyone Looks Sexier If French: Probably a reason why Horatio liked her in the first place.
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Her English has a French touch. But how come a French peasant girl learned to speak English?
- Hidden Depths: She has very little personality, but after all, she is a French peasant girl who learned to speak fluent English.
- Nice Gal: She's very nice to Horatio, all right. Also, whenever Mariette is shown, she's protecting a child, holding a child, picking up a child, carrying a child, cradling a child, or putting down a child. Because she's such a Nice Gal.
- Satellite Love Interest: Nearly everything she does in the episode is related in one way or another to Horatio who likes her and she reciprocates. For example, when she's insulted by the chauvinistic Marquis, it's just a set-up for Horatio to act like a gentleman even to a peasant girl.
- Temporary Love Interest: She exists solely to have a brief romance with Horatio and then die. Viewers were not impressed with the level of their chemistry. The characters in the novels she's partially based on, Maria and Marie, are much more involved with Hornblower.
The Earl of Edrington (Samuel West)
A snobbish Army officer sent on the expedition to Muzillac who makes it clear that he's unimpressed with the Navy and the French forces (though the latter with justification). However, he is a highly competent officer and ultimately, not a bad fellow.
- Blue Blood: He's the Earl of Edrington, and prefers to be addressed "My Lord".
- Foil: Narratively speaking, he serves as a contrast to Colonel Moncoutant, a man of nearly equivalent rank and status. Where Moncountant is sadistic and obsessed with status, Edrington is a quiet professional who is a least willing to grant subordinates some earned respect. When the Republicans attack, Edrington is leading his troops on the front lines, while Moncoutant has to be dragged away from his executions when it's time for a last ditch defense.
- Gentleman Snarker: He snarks and sneers delightfully, yet he never betrays his perfectly gentleman-like behaviour.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He starts off as a snob and makes frequent digs at the French, the British sailors, and Hornblower. He turns out to be a decent chap who sympathizes with Hornblower's loss and hurries to explain the situation to Pellew.
- Majorly Awesome: He ranks as Major in the British Army and he's an excellent soldier.
- Nice Hat: The Army's hats looked way better that the Navy's. Lord Edrington's military hat was really cool and he wore it with style.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Politeness, good manners and etiquette never leave him. He's very civil to his superiors and people of proper social rank, and to certain extent to all people. It becomes clear he does not respect Moncoutant at all, yet he never confronts him openly. Though, in fairness, as senior British officer, he has to keep the peace with their allies.
- The Proud Elite: He's definitely a stuck-up member of the proud elite and looks down upon French disorderly soldiers and even British sailors, who are way less polished than his men. However, he has some redeeming qualities. Not only is he a capable soldier and leader, but he also comes to acknowledge the sailors' competence, and most importantly, he shows that he cares about Archie and Horatio on a personal level.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Hornblower addressed him "Major" Edrington. Edrington informed him the right form of title was 'My Lord'. At first it seemed to identify Edrington as an annoying toff but he turns out OK, and Horatio has no problem calling him as he pleases.
Captain James Sawyer (David Warner)
The captain of the Renown and a hero of the Nile, but now just under the threshold of paranoid insanity. He tyrannizes his lieutenants and destroys discipline on his own ship by favoring bad men and constantly rooting out plots that don't exist.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Captain Sawyer may have been unjust, insane, and violent but seeing how far he's fallen from the officer he used to be, and by the time he is killed, it's hard not to pity him.
- The Big Bad: He is the main antagonist of Series Two. It becomes evident when he slipped from being irritable and incompetent into utter paranoia and madness.
- Broken Pedestal: He's a hero of the Nile and one of Nelson's own and all his lieutenants admired him. Horatio and Archie are pre-broken, seeing his errors and incompetency. Bush joins the crew later and comes to realize over the course of "Mutiny" that Captain Sawyer is unable to command a ship and unable to admit it.
- Conspiracy Theorist: He sees conspiracies against him everywhere and he interprets every event as an attempt to undermine his authority.
- Corporal Punishment: Not only does he like inflicting A Taste of the Lash, he has some more imaginative ideas up his sleeve: he lets Horatio be on a continuous watch that is being constantly extended - to whole days. Needless to say, if the officer of the watch is found asleep, he's dead already.
- Death Seeker: He wants to die, and would love to go with the glory of dying in battle. At one point, he pleads Horatio to shoot him, and later he gets his ship Renown under heavy fire and aground. They are helpless there, and it was a freaking miracle that his lieutenants got the ship afloat and that she was not blown to pieces or burnt down by hot shots.
- Face Death with Dignity: He regained some lucidity and admitted Wellard was worthy of respect, standing side-by-side with him as the Spanish burst into the cabin to kill them both.
- Insane Admiral: He is an Insane Captain which puts his lieutenants into a horrible, horrible position. A captain at sea is basically the emperor of his ship.
- I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: He gets angry at Horatio for no better reason that he informed him that he's shortening sails (perfectly according to the orders), and not asking him beforehand whether the captain permits that. He decides that he will teach Horatio a lesson by getting men from his division punished. The last man to get down from the mast gets flogged, which causes panic and a lethal accident as one sailor falls down. Horatio, Archie, Styles and Matthews must scrub him off the deck. Sawyer even orders them to toss him overboard immediately without a funeral.
- Large and in Charge: in the TV Series he is noticeably taller and more physically imposing than any of his crew including Hornblower and all of the Lieutenants.
- Living Legend: He's a national hero and one of Nelson's own. It causes several problems, such as Horblower and especially Mr Bush realizing with delay that he's unable to command the ship. In addition, if he weren't this famous, the court-martial might have been a mere formality or the jury wouldn't have been so hard-ass on the lieutenants. They felt they had to preserve Sawyer's reputation and that general public must never suspect that he lost his sound mind and that his last command was taken from him.
- The Paranoiac: Is deeply suspicious of his officers, spies on them with his toadies, and interprets nearly every action is a demonstration of their "plotting". For example, when a sail gets caught and Midshipman Wellard orders the hands to stop hauling, Sawyer concludes that he deliberately ensured that it would get caught to make Sawyer look bad and has him beaten. He takes a great deal of satisfaction in doing so and shortly after has Wellard beaten again to supposedly get the truth out of him. He purposely weakens the authority that the lieutenants have over the hands so that the hands will be loyal to him instead. Of course, all of this induces the lieutenants to seriously consider mutiny, and (maybe) for either Hornblower or Wellard to push Sawyer down the hold. The television version is actually worse.
- Sanity Slippage: He starts off as viciously critical, soon falls into outright paranoia and then genuine madness.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Captain Sawyer is erratic, violent, paranoid, and believes his lieutenants are conspiring against him. Because of this behaviour, his lieutenants... begin conspiring against him.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Horatio, at least, imputes his madness to many long years as a fighting captain.
- A Taste of the Lash: He has made poor young Wellard his whipping boy.
Lieutenant Buckland (Nicholas Jones)
"I never expected [command] to be easy. I expected to be fit for it."The Renown's first lieutenant. Although he's not incompetent, he's weak-willed and unprepared when he winds up commanding the ship when Sawyer is declared insane. He's all too aware of how inadequate he is next to Hornblower.
- The Ditherer: Patently terrified of the responsibility that he's thrust into. He wavers and shies away from any decision he'll have to account for later—it takes a lot of persuasion and prodding from his juniors to actually commit to a course of action. He's unhappily aware of it, too, and is highly envious of Hornblower's natural leadership.
- Drowning My Sorrows: He's not fit for command, and alcohol helps him to deal with it.
- The Drunken Sailor: By the end of "Retribution". He starts drinking when he realizes he simply isn't made for captaincy and turns full-on drunkard after he's humiliated in court. The last view we have of him is watching his wineglass overflow as he pours.
- Got Volunteered: When he's in command, he makes Horatio volunteer in a Suicide Mission.
- No Name Given: His Christian name is never revealed. Not surprising as lieutenants in the Navy generally are on Last Name Basis, and he wasn't especially close to any of them, being much older than the rest of the officers aboard the Renown.
- The Uriah Gambit: Everybody suspects he sent Hornblower to blow up the fort because he felt overshadowed by Hornblower's excellent skills and his inability to command shines all the more brightly for it.
Gunner Hobbs (Philip Glenister)
Sawyer's chief toady. His loyalty is absolute and genuine, but he refuses to see how badly Sawyer's abilities are deteriorating and highly suspicious of his "fall" into the hold.
- Nice Hat: Cylindrical hats for gunners had their level of cool.
- No Name Given: No first name given. He's only known as gunner Hobbs.
- Undying Loyalty: His loyalty towards Captain Sawyer is admirable to a certain degree, but unfortunately it's really misplaced. He failed to recognize that Captain Sawyer lost his mind and was thus unable to command his ship.
Doctor Clive (David Rintoul)
Sawyer's good friend and the ship's surgeon. He's clearly trying to manage Sawyer's deteriorating mental state, with dwindling success, and copes with most problems by applying generous amounts of laudanum.
- The Alcoholic: When the lieutenants decide that something must be done about the captain situation, they want Dr Clive to declare him unfit to command. However, he's drunk as lord and unfit to do his duty as well. Captain Sawyer was distributing rum quite generously and it's implied he drinks quite a lot. Not to mention his vast supply of laudanum...
- The All-Solving Hammer: In fact, that laudanum is his most frequent prescription.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: A rather dark version. It quickly becomes clear that he's aware of Sawyer's mental problems and is trying very hard to manage them without actually removing him from his post.
- Doctor Jerk: He's the ship's surgeon, and well... a jerk. He's nearly always extremely unhelpful outside of the context of actually performing medical tasks.
- The Drunken Sailor: He drinks a lot. One memorable scene demonstrated it when the lieutenants tried to pronounce their Captain unfit to command. However, he tried to look cool for a time, but he was absolutely wasted.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: It's clear that he's been friends with Captain Sawyer for years, which makes his enabling behavior a little more sympathetic. (In the book he was just a ninny who didn't want to take the risk.)
- No Name Given: He's only known as Doctor Clive.
- The Medic: He's the surgeon on the Renown, and he's actually not bad at his job during and after battles.
Midshipman Wellard (Terence Corrigan)
A raw young officer who suffers particularly from Sawyer's vindictive paranoia.
- Blood from the Mouth: He's shot by the Spaniards and dies with blood from his mouth, poor thing.
- Break the Cutie: Captain Sawyer be damned for oppressing and tormenting this nice and cute boy!
- The Cutie: His pretty-boy-likeness and vulnerability make him sweet and attractive. Similarly to Archie, he's still a very capable midshipman.
- Face Death with Dignity: He stands up to his bully, decided to kill him and make it look like it happened during a raid, but Alas, Poor Villain! and his strong moral grounds do not allow him to shoot the Captain. They stand together and face the enemy.
- Impairment Shot: When Randall is beating Styles half to death, Wellard just watches because he's been dosed with laudanum, making his vision wobble and waver.
- Kill the Cutie: Ah, as if killing off one beloved character in "Retribution" was not enough. He dies and it is heart-breaking.
- New Meat: He demonstrates being wet behind his ears by throwing up when a sailor gets splattered on deck, and by being incapable to make lower-deck seamen shut up and break their fight. He also spends much of "Mutiny" being high on laudanum, and men don't respect him a lot. In "Retribution", he gets a chance to prove himself and he does his best.
- Nice Hat: The cylindrical midshipman's hats are flattering and add some cool.
- No Name Given: His first name is not mentioned in the series, but fans sometimes use Henry, which was his Christian name in the book.
- Not Afraid of You Anymore: He tries to stand up to Sawyer when he wants to solve the captain situation at the end of "Retribution". He tells him that he's not his whipping boy any more. It kind of works, as Sawyer admits Wellard's brave.
- Plucky Middie: A young, competent, and brave midshipman. He is probably supposed to be in his late teens.
- Pretty Boy: Teen-aged, black hair, dark eyes, very fair skin and soft features.
- A Taste of the Lash: He gets caned twice, unjustly, and it ain't pretty. The second beating renders him unconscious.
Captain Collins (John Castle)
One of the captains judging the court-martial. The only one who's actually impartial, between Pellew's determination to get Hornblower off the hook and Hammond's determination to spit him on it.
- Deadpan Snarker: He utters some sarcastic remarks at Horatio's expense at the Lieutenants' trial.
- No Name Given: As most naval figures, he's just known by his surname and rank. No fancy nickname either.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He's the only one of the judges who seems properly impartial, praising and criticizing the lieutenants in equal measure. It's quite a contrast between Hammond's vindictiveness and Pellew's favoritism towards Horatio.
Randall (Gilly Gilchrist)
Goes beyond surly seaman. He's a brutal bully who thrives in the ship's ill discipline, disrespecting officers and doing what he likes.
- Dangerous Deserter: Randall and several men decide to desert in "Retribution" when the situation on the ship becomes difficult. Randall clonks Hobbs unconscious, not caring whether it kills him or not, and the deserters hurt or kill several Red Shirts on their way to sea. They are later discovered dead, killed by the slave rebel army who thought they were their former Spanish masters.
- Jerk Ass: He's a really mean, nasty character with no redeeming qualities. Ew.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: He is very hostile to Styles and fights with him nearly all the time. Styles is no wuss, but Randall manages to get away his friends, mainly Matthews. Randall and two other sailors help him beat Styles up into one bruised and bloody pulp. Had Horatio and Matthews not figured out what was happening, they might have very well killed him.
- No Name Given: Just known by his surname — Randall.
Senora Ortega (Katia Caballero)
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Senora Ortega speaks English as was demonstrated during her dinner with Mr Buckland, but when she tries to seduce an unfortunate soldier who guarded the Spanish ladies, she invokes this trope and chooses to speak Spanish, a language the English guard didn't understand.
- Happily Married: She and her husband appear to be a happy couple, falling perhaps close to Sickening Sweethearts. They are very tactile and would hold hands and touch each other a lot.
- Heroic Seductress: Her point of view when she seduces an English guard when her people are prisoners on the Renown and she tries to help them. For our heroes, she an evil Femme Fatale who killed the poor stupid guy.
Colonel Ortega (Antonio Gil)
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: He gently caresses his wife's jaw when they exchange a worried look after they were forced to surrender unconditionally.
- Death by Adaptation: In the novel, Ortega was last seen wounded in the leg, but alive as the prisoners were taken off in Jamaica. In the series, he's shot by Bush, and his death lends a finality to the end of the prisoners' revolt.
- Happily Married: He and his wife appear to be happy together.
Maria Mason AKA Mrs Hornblower (Julia Sawalha)
The daughter of Hornblower's landlady. She's deeply infatuated with him, and although he considers her to simply be a friend, he doesn't have the heart to turn aside her affections.
- Alliterative Name: Maria Mason.
- All Love Is Unrequited: She's mad about Horatio, but his feelings for her are strictly platonic and he only marries her out of pity.
- Disappeared Dad: Her father died while he served as a sailor in the Navy. Maria never mentions him, but she and her mother were in a difficult situation financially and emotionally.
- Old Maid: She's visibly in her late twenties or early thirties and there is no suitor in sight. She even contemplates becoming a governess or a teacher so that she could support herself and her mother, for they are deeply in debts. (In the book, she was indeed a schoolteacher.)
Mrs Mason (Barbara Flynn)
Hornblower's landlady. She's suspicious of his ability to pay his rent and does not at all appreciate her daughter's interest with him, as Mr. Mason was a sailor who died at sea.
- The Alcoholic: She drinks. No surprise for a poor widowed landlady who can barely support herself and her ageing daughter.
- Cranky Landlord: Mrs Mason is Hornblower's Cranky Landlady. She's nervous when he owes her rent as officers starve on half-pay and is displeased that he goes to the club to play cards, where he actually earns some money most of the time because he's a mathematical genius. When he brings his friend Mr Bush, she grunts whether he has money to pay her. Her daughter Maria is crazy about him, which she doesn't like either, because her husband was a sailor and died at service, and she might be angry at Hornblower because he's not interested in Maria romantically and considers her just a friend.
- Mama Bear: Mrs. Mason is hard on Horatio because he's not timely with his rent, but also because her husband died at sea and she doesn't want Maria to go through that. She probably thinks he's messing with her feelings.
- No Sense of Personal Space: She has a habit of coming too close to people. At one scene, she leaned a little too much in Mr Bush's general direction.
- Shipper on Deck: When she finds out that her daughter loves Horatio, she shakes her hatred for him and starts to support their relationship.
Wolfe (Lorcan Cranitch)
An Irish seaman and a troublemaker. There's more to him than simply being surly, though, and it causes no end of trouble.
- The Big Bad: He's the main antagonist of Series Three and does everything bad, from sabotage (causing Styles to be beaten unjustly) to trying to launch a French invasion of England.
- I Surrender, Suckers: He tries to pull off this dirty trick at the end of "Duty" and tries to fight back and escape after he surrendered. It doesn't end too well for him.
- Manipulative Bastard: Does his best to play on Hornblower and Bush's sense of honor, particularly when held at gunpoint.
- The Mole: He joins the crew of the Hotspur and pretends to serve a King in the British Navy, but he's in fact an Irish rebel who works for the resistance and is an ally to Napoleonic France.
- Meaningful Name: His name is Wolfe. As in big bad vicious wolf.
- No Name Given: No first name given.
Major Côtard (Greg Wise)
An expatriate Frenchman who is assigned to the Hotspur in order to carry out a mission against a French battery. He doesn't endear himself to anyone, but he does really hate Napoleon.
- All of the Other Reindeer: He seems to be genuinely hurt when he realizes exactly how little people around him trust him. Even though that makes perfect sense.
- French Jerk: He's always complaining, and unreasonably so, tries to order Mr Bush around, and the Hotspur's crew, including Captain Hornblower, are highly suspicious of his true loyalties. However, he's really a British ally and supports the French anti-Napoleon movement, and his fighting skills are fairly bad ass.
- Majorly Awesome: Much less awesome than Major Edrington from Series One, but he is still a decent soldier and an ally worth having.
- Race Lift: Well, nationality shift. In the books, naval Lieutenant Côtard was from Guernsey; a British national who grew up speaking French (Hornblower borrowed him because his own French accent wouldn't be natural enough). Here, he's straight-up French, which gives him a deeper backstory as well as a lot of conflict with the British characters.
Midshipman John 'Jack' Hammond (Christian Coulson)
Admiral Hammond's nephew. He joins the Navy because it's expected of him, but he proves to be unable to prove himself: inept and rather useless in action.
- Composite Character: A combination of Seaman Grimes (a rather sad coward) and the generic, hapless young gentleman given to the Hotspur by the Naval Academy.
- Dirty Coward: Played for sympathy. Hornblower encourages him to find a profession that is less violent and dangerous. He insists on staying and winds up ditching Hornblower.
- Honor Before Reason: He joins the Navy because it's expected of him even though he is clearly unsuited for the job.
- New Meat: He's enthusiastic to serve in the Navy, however, he's not suited for it. He can't learn naval signals, and he's squeamish and panicky. He freaks out when he gets sputtered with a little boy's blood. Even Matthews who's usually caring and fatherly and who originally tried to help him loses his patience with him.
- Plucky Middie: Subverted. He is a young midshipman and very eager to serve in the Navy, especially under Hornblower, but he lacks the plucky part of the trope and is rather inadequate.
Midshipman Charles Orrock (Jonathan Forbes)
An Irish midshipman. Unlike Hammond, Orrock is smart and capable, but he does attract some suspicion because of his origins.
- Adaptational Badass: Orrock here is competent from the get-go and quickly becomes a valuable assistant to Hornblower. The book's Orrock was as clueless as his classmates.
- Ascended Extra: Mr. Orrock was one of several inept officers-in-training from the Naval Academy in Hornblower and the Hotspur and had no distinguishing features. Here, he's a prominent character and his Irish name Orrock becomes significant.
- Category Traitor: Faces this from both ends. He reminds Styles not to assume that all Irishman are traitors to England; Woolfe, meanwhile, considers him a traitor to Ireland for sticking with Hornblower.
- Plucky Middie: He is a plucky midshipman, probably meant to be an older teenager. Quite a fine specimen of this trope.
- Foil: A capable midshipman to Jack Hammond's incompetent counterpart, although they seem to be friends.
Steward James Doughty (Ron Cook)
Captain Pellew's most excellent steward. Pellew "gives" him to Hornblower as a wedding present, where he proves to be a most useful man. Unfortunately, this makes Styles very jealous.
- Chekhov's Skill: In "Duty", Doughty has a chance early on to demonstrate his skill at swimming.
Jerome Bonaparte (David Birkin)
- Blue Blood: He's Napoleon's younger brother.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: He and his wife Betsy. Even though they managed to elope, it doesn't end happily for them.
Betsy Bonaparte (Camilla Power)
A young American who eloped with Jerome before running into a nasty storm, from which they're rescued by the Hotspur.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Jerome and Betsy have it tough. They managed to run away, but it doesn't end too well for them.
- What the Hell, Hero?: When Hornblower refuses to return her to Jerome, she says she feels sorry for his wife. (His response is basically that he does too.)
Captained by Sir Edward Pellew, the Indy is the setting for most of the first series. It's a 64-gun ship-of-the-line that is rarely out of action.
- Affectionate Nickname: She is deeply loved and has several affectionate nicknames: "Indy", "Indie" or "The Bloody Indy".
- Big Damn Heroes: The Indefatigable kicks some serious ass in Series One. She manages to appear out of the blue Just in Time and rescues for instance Horatio and his crew, Spanish castaways or the British military landing party.
- Boarding Party: She's never taken, but her men board other ships several times. What a ship!
- Cool Boat: Without a doubt the coolest ship in the show. With Papa Bear Pellew for a Captain, she has a fatherly and comfortable atmosphere.
- Leitmotif: Hornblower has epic score in general, but "It's the bloody Indy!" theme is probably the most memorable. It sounded properly during her first appearance, and then for her heroic moments.
- Meaningful Name: Indefatigable — it's all there in her name. Her men never give up!
- Weapons Understudies: A 64 gun ship-of-the-line razéed to a 44 gun heavy frigate portrayed here by the 20 gun post ship Grand Turk.
HMS RenownA 74-gun ship of the line captained by the tyrannical James Saywer.
- Cool Boat: A ship of the line with gazillion of guns. Less cool than the Indy, but still a very decent ship. She has an oppressing, suffocating atmosphere at first, but it's clear that her sailors admire her, nay, they even love her.
- Leitmotif: She has her own Leitmotif.
HMS HotspurA small sloop of war that doesn't rate a post captain; this kind of vessel is instead run by a commander.
- Cool Boat: Captain Hornblower's second command. Would you expect this ship anything less than stellar? You'd be wrong.