Played by: Alec BaldwinCIA intelligence analyst, author, part-time historian and professor of Naval History at the United States Naval Academy. Currently stationed in London as a liaison with MI-6.
- Badass Bookworm: Due in part to actually having been a Marine, though few are able to guess this without knowing his history.
- Cunning Linguist: Which he keeps to himself at first, until he laughs at something one of the officers says about Captain Mancuso having a gun strapped to his hip. When asked about his Russian ability, he replies that it is wise to study the ways of your enemy. To which Captain Ramius agrees, in English.
- Face Your Fears: Has a fear of flying, due to being in a helicopter crash early in his career. Through the course of the film, ends up flying on four occasions, each time worse than the last (slightly-turbulent transatlantic airliner, US Navy C-2 Grayhound in bad weather, US Navy SH-3 Sea King helicopter in a even worse weather lowering him on a cable down to a submarine before releasing himself from the cable and falling into the freezing waters to get aboard). The last flight, after he has saved the day, in contrast, has him sleeping peacefully with a teddy bear seated next to him.
- Good Parents: Save the world? Sure, that's important. But don't forget to get a teddy bear for your daughter on your way home.
- Non-Idle Rich: Made enough money on the stockmarket to be immune to pressure when he gives an opinion.
- Semper Fi: Was originally a Marine
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Suffers from a fear of flying due to being in a helicopter crash in a field training excercise during his third year at the Naval Academy. Of course, ends up having to fly several times through the course of the plot, including a harrowing flight in a helicopter in storm-tossed seas where he drops himself from the chopper into the sea to get aboard the USS Dallas.
Captain Marko Aleksandrovich Ramius
Played by: Sean ConneryCaptain 1st Rank and Commanding Officer of the Red October.
- The Ace: Has been this to the Red Banner Fleet for decades. He has also trained most of their senior submarine officers, and has enough clout to hand-pick his subordinates for any assignment. This allows him to ensure that most of Red October's officers are men who will help him.
- Badass Beard: Post-Bond Sean Connery. Of course.
- Benevolent Boss:
- Even though he tricks his crew into abandoning ship, he still makes sure that they'll be rescued.
- After revealing to his officers that he told Moscow about their plans to defect, he allows them to vent their shock at him (including Slavin accusing him of being an egotist) before calmly explaining that he has his reasons, just like everyone else.
- Chest of Medals: Wears almost every medal the Red Fleet had, minus Hero of the Soviet Union.
- Cunning Linguist: Fluent in English, evidently for the same reason that Jack Ryan had studied Russian.
- Married to the Job: Confides in Borodin that he regrets it, even saying of his wife that "I widowed her the day I married her."
- Nerves of Steel: Quizzes Ryan about Ryan's books while a torpedo is homing in on their sub.
- Nice Hat: His ushanka◊ when he goes outside of the submarine.
- Old Master: His nickname is "the Vilnius Schoolmaster". As he himself points out when discussing the Soviet Navy coming after them, "I know their tactics. I have the advantage."
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Decides to defect, in part, because he recognizes the Red October as a ship that can only serve one purpose: To start a nuclear war.
- We Used to Be Friends: With Tupolev. Subverted, in that Tupolev believes they were friends and holds Ramius in high regards, while Ramius appears rather disdainful of Tupolev.
Commander Bart Mancuso
Played by: Scott GlennCommanding Officer of the USS Dallas.
- Age Lift: In the novel, Mancuso is said to be in his mid-thirties, young for a command of this level. Scott Glenn was 48 at the time the movie was made.
- The Captain: Of USS '"Dallas''
- Casual Danger Dialogue:The hard part about playing chicken is knowing when to flinch.
- Nerves of Steel: See Casual Danger Dialogue. He does get pretty agitated when Konavolov launches a torpedo at Red October soon after the Americans board her. For the most part, he seems to treat the engagement like one might a game of chess.
- He even one-ups Ramius in this regard. Both captains each have a moment where they wait until the last possible moment to give the order to turn away from an approaching torpedo (Ramius during the trench run, Mancuso during the fight with the Konavolov). However, while Ramius shouts his order, Mancuso doesn't even raise his voice.
- Not So Different: To Ramius as a seasoned submarine commander with a maverick streak. He even repeats Ramius's 'give the order to turn at the last possible moment while his crew are freaking out' moment during the battle against the Konavolov.
- Properly Paranoid: Insists on each member of his boarding party taking a sidearm just in case things turn hostile on Red October, despite Ryan's confidence that Ramius intends to defect peacefully. Ryan hadn't accounted for a GRU saboteur on the sub, and ends up using the gun to prevent Red October's destructoin.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Zigzagged. On the one hand, he is immediately accepting of Jonesy's ideas to track the Red October, despite the somewhat dubious nature of his evidence. On the other hand, he is far less accepting of Ryan's claims that Ramius is trying to defect. Justified, given that the former is a long-time and trusted member of his crew, and the other is a guy he just met.
- The Stoic: A rather calm and soft-spoken officer, not entirely unlike Captain Ramius.
Ronald "Jonesy" Jones
Played by: Courtney VanceSonar Technician 2nd Class of the USS Dallas.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: He is able to derive all sorts of details from the sounds he picks up on Dallas's sonar, up to and including telling American and Soviet torpedoes apart by the pitch of the sound they make.
- Black and Nerdy: Knows the BQQ-5 sonar system better than the computers that run it.
- Cultured Badass: He loves his classical music. In the book, he also listens to whale songs.
- Hyper Awareness: A necessary trait for a sonarman. A good portion of his Awesomeness by Analysis skills are due to how much attention he pays to details in sound.
- Mr. Exposition: He explains all sorts of basics of sonar and sub tactics to Beaumont, some of which anyone on board a sub ought to already know.
- Veteran Instructor: Much of his exposition is in the form of teaching Seaman Beaumont the tools of the trade.
Captain Vasily Borodin
Played by: Sam NeillCaptain 2nd Rank, Executive Officer of the Red October.
- Retirony: "I would have liked to have seen Montana."
- Sacrificial Lion: The most well-developed character out of all of Ramius's officers, and the only one fatally shot by the saboteur.
- Undying Loyalty: To Ramius.
Vice Admiral James Greer
Played by: James Earl JonesVice Admiral and CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence (DDI).
- I Was Never Here: The Trope Namer, dropping the line to a watch officer aboard the frigate USS Reuben James.
Captain Viktor Tupolev
Played by: Stellan SkarsgårdCaptain 2nd Rank, Commanding Officer of the V.K. Konovalov.
- The Captain: Of the V.K. Konovalov
- Hoist by His Own Petard: A very literal example, as he is outmaneuvered by Dallas and Red October into being hit by his own torpedo.
- We Used to Be Friends: Subverted with Ramius, see above.
- Worthy Opponent: To Ramius.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Believes he has the advantage over Ramius when he goes for the kill by firing a torpedo with no safeties on. Unbeknownst to him, Ramius had already anticipated this move, and had given command of the Red October to Mancuso, which Tupolev would have not been able to anticipate.
Played by: Richard JordanNational Security Advisor to the President of the United States.
- Deadpan SnarkerPelt: Andre, you've lost another submarine?
- Self-Deprecation: Claims that, as a politician, he is either kissing babies or stealing their candy, to explain that he's willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Dr. Yevgeniy Petrov
Played by: Tim CurryChief medical officer of the Red October.
- Anti-Villain: A genuinely decent man, who is only an antagonist because he is a loyal Soviet citizen and Party member
- Butt-Monkey: Particularly the way he's more or less thrown out of the officer's mess during dinner so the conspirators can discuss their plans in private.
- Chummy Commies: He's the only senior officer who's a staunch party loyalist, and thus he's the only one not in on Ramius' plan. He is visibly unnerved when Ramius takes the political officer's missile key for himself, giving him sole authority to launch the missiles.
- Nice Guy: He may be a party loyalist, but he's a friendly and good-natured guy who takes his job seriously and is genuinely concerned for the well-being of the crew. When the (fake) reactor meltdown happens, his first instinct is to convince Ramius to order an evacuation of the ship.
Senior Lieutenant Alexander Melekhin
Played by: Ronald GuttmanChief engineer of the Red October.
- The Engineer: His role on the submarine.
- Everybody Smokes: Melekhin is frequently shown smoking whenever he's not in the engine room.
- Smart People Wear Glasses: He's the only Russian officer who wears glasses, and he's the chief engineer of a nuclear submarine.
- The Stoic: He is the only officer who doesn't share in the Heroic B.S.O.D. after Ramius says he announced their defection to Red Fleet Command. In fact, despite the extremely tense situation surrounding him the entire movie, the only event that gives him any visible distress is the sabotage to the caterpillar drive, as it was the first sign that they had a genuine saboteur on-board.