These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Horatio Hornblower
Angst Dissonance: Hornblower has a habit of becoming more depressed after successes, taking himself to task for the "foolish" risks he's taken. His awareness of this doesn't actually help. Conversely, he sometimes gets more cheerful when facing difficulties.
He's Just Hiding: Captain Bush after the events of Lord Hornblower. Because it's as hard for fans as it is for Hornblower to imagine a world without him in it.
Hilarious in Hindsight: In Commodore, a general firing howitzers mentions the possibility of timing the fuse so the targets wouldn't have time to extinguish it. In Hotspur, Hornblower does precisely that. The reason it's "Hilarious" is that while Hotspur is the earlier book in sequence, it was written afterCommodore.
Ho Yay: Between Hornblower and Bush. Bush is never shown to have romantic interest in anybody (male or female), but he's devoted to Hornblower. He could be Asexual and merely devoted to his closest friend, but given the Hide Your Gays period the author was writing in, Bush could be homosexual and supporting his hetero captain's relationships; the text gives no clues. From Flying Colours, while Bush is recovering from his serious injury:
For a few seconds Bush's hand stroked his feebly, caressing it as though it was a woman's. In all their years of service it was the first sign of affection either had shown the other.
The Scrappy: Maria. In and out of universe. Hornblower marries her largely out of a sense of guilt because he's too passive to reject her unwanted affection and hurt her feelings. He manages to spend his marriage under a cloud of guilt and repressed, hidden unhappiness. Her presence generally results in making Hornblower less likable as a character by bringing out his emotional/social cowardice. Her fate makes her a Woobie as well.
Hornblower. It's hard sometimes to see him wrestling with his "accursed unhappy temperament", excoriating himself viciously for any tiny mistake, and unable or refusing to recognize that he actually has good qualities and considerable ability. He even turns his good qualities (disdain for brutality, saving a man from an unfair execution) into flaws to beat himself up over. Quite frankly the man could be a case study for Imposter syndrome.
Maria's basically a sweet if naive girl, and she adores Hornblower so unreservedly that many of his complaints would probably be solved by simply telling her about it. (e.g. Being called "Horry.") The abandonment and the hollow falseness of the affection she receives from the "hero" is almost heart-breaking at times. Mercifully she never knows nor even suspects he doesn't love her as much as she loves him.
In The Hornblower Addendum, George III. It's 1812 and he's gone completely bonkers, and we are treated to one of his doctors telling Hornblower the king's typical (and utterly horrific) treatment plan. The king himself is completely sweet to Hornblower and fearless in the face of sea action, but cowers badly when faced with his own doctor. It's hard not to want to give him a hug and punch his doctor.
Wellard from Lieutenant. Unlike the miniseries where he's at least an adult (if a young one), here he's hardly more than twelve, which makes the way he's singled out for abuse by Sawyer and beaten into unconsciousness even worse. He's also shown to be a clever, likely lad who would be a Plucky Middie if he wasn't on a ship run by a tyrant; once Sawyer is out of command he starts to flourish. And then he drowns in a storm offscreen.
And after the fall down the hold, Captain Sawyer himself. The injury and trauma shatters what sanity he had left and reduced him to a straightjacketed, weeping wreck who saw an enemy in every person that came into his cabin. When he's murdered during the prisoner mutiny even Bush, one of his victims, thinks that Hell couldn't be hot enough for the person who did it.
The Film Adaptation Captain Hornblower R.N.
Ho Yay: It seems to be just about every man in the British Navy towards Hornblower, apart from Lady Barbara's husband.
The A&E series:
Accidental Innuendo: Mr Bush's mention of the "spanker boom" excited many a fan-girl's imagination, even though it's fairly clear that it's just naval terminology. Yet the connection to Kinky Spanking is irresistible...
Plenty of speculation regarding Simpson, who is theorised about due to the ominous and vague lines other characters say in regards to him ("You don't know half what he's capable of") and the question of what, exactly, he'd been doing with the other midshipmen prior to Horatio's arrival.
In Series Two, the interpretation of how Captain Sawyer fell down the hatchway. The question of whether or not it was an accident leads often enough to the secondary question, whether it was in the nature of any of the characters present to actively push the captain.
Captain Pellew is prone to such a treatment. In Series One, he is universally loved, and everybody is impressed and awed by his character and abilities. In Series Two, his reputation suffers a serious blow because of his favouritism and lack of interest in other officers other than Hornblower. In Series Three only proves than the truth and honesty might not be an integral part of his character and his morals are questioned. Some fics try to find deeper meaning in his lack of concern for other sailors, and many Fix Fics in Alternate Universe try to absolve him.
Known to fans as the "It's the bloody Indy!" theme.
The "Excitement" theme. The bustling music is telling you that the Navy boys are going to have a hell of a fight!
Base Breaker: Archie, to an extent, caught between those fans who dislike his addition into the series as he wasn't in the books, and those who think he added a nice element to the narrative and a more accessible side to the title character.
"The Even Chance": Midshipman Jack Simpson ruthlessly torments his fellow midshipmen, both physically and psychologically. He is a sadisticbully who takes great pleasure in his evil games. He claims that he knows the guys' secrets and what gnaws their souls, and uses it as blackmail. He keeps beating themmercilessly. His abuse of Archie Kennedy is the worst as he is the one most terrified of him, and Simpson's mere presence gives him stress-induced Convulsive Seizures. Simpson is able to manipulate the situation and is never held responsible, and the others are punished instead. Later he tries to kill his shipmates in the middle of a raid by setting one adrift in a boat and shooting the other. When challenged to the Duel to the Death, he cheats and claims it was a misfire. Finally, when his life is spared, he's unable to deal with Cruel Mercy and tries to stab his opponent In the Back.
"The Frogs and the Lobsters": Colonel Marquis Moncoutant is one of the leaders of French Royalist troops who set on a mission to restore the monarchy in France during the French Revolution with the help of the British Navy. However, he doesn't care much about the cause and not at all about his soldiers. The fate of other aristocrats doesn't concern him either, but he's very proud that he's Blue Blood and he believes that common people are impossible to improve, comparing them to animals. He killed a mayor and nearly shot a child for singing Marseillaise upon his arrival to his village, and later he keeps gleefully killing off villagers with his personal guillotine one after another for no bigger offence than selling old bread. He never shows any remorse for his evil deeds.
Archie Kennedy, first to the writers and cast, then to the fans. Archie was only intended to be in "Even Chance" but he (and his actor Jamie Bamber) were so well liked by the cast and crew that he got written into "The Duchess and the Devil and "Frogs and Lobsters", making him a favorite among fans. The substantial expansion of his role in the series gets him beyond an Ensamble Dakrhorse and pushes him to the realm of Breakout Characters. This led to the events in Executive Meddling.
Major Edrington in "The Wrong War"/"The Frogs and the Lobsters". Only appears in one instalment, but he's very popular among the fans.
Everybody's favourite Duchess is quite delightful. A sexy older woman befriending the hero, who's an inexperienced youth. Both have brains and enjoy each other and have great chemistry? What's not to love?
Estrogen Brigade: Why, you thought swashbuckling adventures, officers of the Royal Navy, wooden ships, gory scenes with blood spattering around, wars and fights would appeal mainly to guys? There is this one thing that ladies can't have enough. Hot men in uniforms? Yes please. Hot men out of their uniforms? YES PLEASE. Hot men being shirtless and wet? YEEES! PLEASE MORE. Mr Bush and Archie Kennedy seem to attract special attention, and they appear to be winning over the main man Hornblower, but he shouldn't worry too much. Female fans are known to like and write Slash Fic, and Hornblower/Bush or Horatio/Archie are the most popular ships. Pellew is a great favourite as well, as are other characters like Mr Wellard, Major Edrington, Mr Orrock and Majot Côtard. So much eye candy! And they have deep and interesting personalities as well.
Fanon: In the series, not much is known about Archie Kennedy's background, but some facts are intriguing and fans elaborated on them. Lots of the fan fic stories focus on Archie's days spent at theatre, because he said that he once knew Drury Lane as if it was his home. He also seems to love William Shakespeare since he quoted or paraphrased him several times. In fan fics, he's a total Bookworm who knows his Shakespeare really well. Jamie Bamber, his actor, said in interviews that he thought that Archie was the third son of a Scottish lord, and fans have embraced this idea. Needless to say, his family tends to be pretty screwed up. Most fics also take for granted that Simpson's abuse of Archie was sexual.
Fanon Discontinuity: Whether anything after "Retribution" — or namely Kennedy's death, happened. Fandom actually uses the terms 'LKU' and 'DKU' to differentiate whether this fic has Archie as alive or dead. It stands for 'Live Kennedy Universe' and 'Dead Kennedy Universe'.
Harsher in Hindsight: The line "You were born to hang, Mr Hornblower" becomes horrifying in the context of what nearly happened in "Retribution".
He's Just Hiding: Lots of fanfic stories are tagged 'Live Kennedy Universe'. Fans like to dream that he in fact did not die. You can't prove it didn't happen as anything is possible in fiction.
Ho Yay: The show is considered kind of... slashy. Even people who do not interpret the events that way like to joke about it.
It's noticeable especially between Hornblower and Archie Kennedy. Archie was caressing Horatio's shirt and chest at one point!
Series 3 has Ho Yay between Hornblower and Bush. Lt. Bush was shown to be a great admirer of the captain.
Some people ship Pellew/Hornblower. Considering that Captain Pellew regards Hornblower as his son, it is a little... disturbing.
Young Jack Hammond seems to have a crush on Captain Hornblower. He's beyond excited when he's to serve aboard his ship, and then beyond disappointed when he finds out that he's not allowed to interact with the captain as often as he would like.
Internet Backdraft: A more literal case, rumor has it that so many people went on the A&E boards to react after Archie Kennedy's death that the servers crashed.
After many, many Kick the Dog moments, Colonel Moncoutant from "The Frogs and the Lobsters" crosses this when he orders half his village beheaded. Gleefully.
Jack Simpson from "The Even Chance" may have crossed this before even appearing on-screen, considering the fact that his mere presence gives Woobie Archie Kennedy seizures, but he absolutely crosses it by the end of the boarding of the Papillon, when he attempts to murder both Kennedy and Hornblower.
No Yay: In the first instalment, if you're prone to noticing subtext, the Inquisition scene is full of this. Simpson leaning in way too close to Hornblower and suggesting he fancies other boys? Add to that the popular Rape as Backstory interpretation of Simpson's interactions with Kennedy, and it gets really suspicious.
One True Threesome: Hornblower/Kennedy/Bush during the second series is a fairly popular ship.
Romantic Plot Tumor: In "The Frogs and The Lobsters", Horatio gets into a brief romantic subplot with Mariette, a local peasant girl, during a mission in France. The story was already dealing with three separate plot threads and the romance could have been taken out without changing any major events, and since Mariette's never mentioned after the conclusion of her little story arc, its usefulness as character development for Horatio is questionable. She mostly seems to be there to provide female eye candy, and eventually to get killed in the final act so Hornblower could have some angst.note By all appearances, it seems they just took the character of Marie Ladon from the books, and moved their meeting to before she married the son of the Comte de Gracay. Both women notably suffered similar fates, albeit under very different circumstances.
The Scrappy: If there ever was a universally disliked character in the TV 'verse of Hornblower, it would have to be Mariette, Horatio's shallow Satellite Love Interest from "The Frogs and the Lobsters" (aka "The Wrong War"). The blame is cast on both the writers who didn't bother to make her interesting enough, and her actress's poor and unconvincing performance. The nicest thing fans would say about her is that she was really pretty and rare female eye candy. At best she's ignored, and there are some fics that make fun of her rather endearingly, but that's about it.
Seasonal Rot: The third series loses its previous excellent production values, going for half-measures and Conspicuous CGI instead. The characterization is also sloppy—Pellew, as noted above, goes from being an excellent captain to almost a parody of an admiral, and Styles becomes completely unlikable. Rather than combining Adaptation Distillation with Adaptation Expansion as they had previously, the story only loosely resembles the events of Hotspur and turns minor mentions of Irish unrest into the whole plot; there are some frankly absurd moments with the deep-cover Irish agents (both in terms of narrative plausibility and their ability to survive explosions without a scratch). That said, unimpressive Hornblower still makes for pretty impressive television and the acting doesn't suffer.
Stoic Woobie: Horatio. While he may rise in rank and become quite successful in his career, he has been through a lot of misery (including losing several friends, a love interest, and being tormented in the early days by a sadistic midshipman to the point of seriously contemplate suicide, and later on by a crazy captain) and by the third series, is living in poverty and evident loneliness, even telling Maria that he thought for a long time she was his only friend in the world. That combined with his constant self-doubt makes him incredibly sympathetic, but he never complains outright.
They Just Didn't Care: The first series was filmed on ships, and it looked awesome. The second series wasn't; still looked pretty good. But in the third series, they denoted snow at sea just by painting the sets white — there are paint drips clearly visible when the gunports are opened.
Archie Kennedy. Whenever he's not suffering horribly, he's a high-spirited person who makes it a point to keep Horatio from getting too serious. However, when he's tormented by Simpson, tortured in Spanish jail or troubled by being over-shadowed by Horatio, you just want to hug him, take him home, wrap him up in fluffy blanket and feed him with cookies, telling him that he's a fine young man and that everything is going to turn all right.
In "Mutiny", Wellard becomes The Woobie and Kennedy helps him cope. Captain Sawyer be damned for having him beaten up. He was just doing his duty, for mercy's sake! And he's such a cutie-pie.
Clayton in "The Even Chance". Tormented by the sadistic Jack Simpson as any of them, shamed by younger Horatio who stands up to the sadist instead of him, and dies way too young. Sob-sob.