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Funny / Horatio Hornblower

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Hornblower book series

  • Mr. Midshipman Hornblower's Comeback Tomorrow moment in "Cargo of Rice". After arguing with the French captain and resorting to English to say "go to the Devil", he remembers the French after going into the cabin to do some navigation. And then says "allez au diable" out loud, even though he's alone.
  • Hornblower beating himself up over the hot shot setting off a cannon prematurely, loudly pacing and upbraiding himself. Bush, who puts more into the fact that Hornblower has worked out how to fire heated shot in about an hour, without having ever done so before, can only be amused. (As well as a little jealous of Hornblower's innovation.)
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  • After the court of inquiry concludes at the end of Lieutenant Hornblower, Cogshill, the ship's new captain, invites his three new lieutenants to dinner. He then proceeds to get all of them utterly soused and apparently has brought half of the drinks brewed in Europe to celebrate. Bush's mood improves with each successive toast (his own contribution is "Glorious war, oceans of gore, prizes galore, beauty ashore," and he's very proud to have remembered it). When Hornblower is called away and returns with a promotion, Bush cheers loudly and serenades him with "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" when they're weaving back to their cabins. The text notes that Bush always remembered it as one of the most successful dinners he ever attended.
  • Bush training the signal midshipman in Hotspur at the top of his lungs, alternating with calmly informing Hornblower what the signals say. At one point, Hornblower mentally likens his bellowing to the cow in the ration boat.note  And his double exasperation because Hornblower won't let him swear at them.
    "Of course it does! You ought to know all routine signals by now, Mr. Foreman, you've had long enough. Sir, Tonnant signals us to send a boat."
    "Not that halliard, you careless... you careless young gentleman!"
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  • During the tense Stern Chase with the Loire, Mr. Prowse is full of gloomy predictions. Hornblower really wants to say "Perhaps you'd advise us to haul down our colours now and save the trouble." (But he can't, because it would contradict the Articles of War.)
  • Sitting down to dinner with the fleet captains and Admiral Cornwallis, Hornblower mentally adds a postscript to the naval protocol about commencing the salute when the admiral's head reaches the level of the deck: "When the admiral's bottom shall touch the seat of his chair...."
  • Hornblower restrains himself from contradicting Bush's firm belief that gales happen on the equinox because it's the equinox (rather than the fact that gale-causing conditions are coincident with that time of year), knowing that "if he expressed such an opinion it would be received with the tolerant and concealed disagreement accorded to the opinions of children and eccentrics and captains."
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  • From Atropos, Hornblower taking the piss out of the officious Eisenbess, who is railing about the need for ceremony and protocols to announce His Serene Highness the Prince of Seitz-Bunau—currently serving as Mr. Midshipman Prince—to a formal dinner.
    "Yes," said Hornblower. He put out his hand and bent the Prince's head forward. "You might be better employed seeing that His Serene Highness washes behind his ears."
  • After the irascible and superior McCullum gets himself shot in a duel with Eisenbeiss, he's still irritating and finds many ways to say that Navy officers are incompetent clods. Hornblower won't give him the satisfaction of visibly rising to the bait, but still....
    "Hornblower, swallowing his irritation at that remark, wondered how McCullum had managed to live so long without previously being shot in a duel."
  • The academic debate on the Natividad's firing between Bush and another lieutenant. Specifically, they're discussing the way that the Natividad is shooting at them at this moment—they are briefly interrupted by a need to give orders regarding damage, and then Bush seizes on that as evidence for his opinion.
  • When first introduced in Beat to Quarters, Hornblower has fallen back on clearing his throat ("Ha-hm") to avoid being over-talkative to his officers. Lady Barbara promptly teases him into abandoning this "useful non-commital sound".
    Lady Barbara: And if my name should escape you, Captain, you can always simply attract my attention by saying "Ha-hm."
  • In one of the books, Hornblower orders the men into action, and some nameless wit shouts "Ol' Horny is at it again!" The officers try and fail to figure out who said it.
  • The Running Gag of Bush, Crystal, and/or Gerard bickering about whether or not the enemy officers are doing this or that with their guns and navigation.
  • In Ship Of The Line, Captain Hornblower joins a Marine officer to observe an ongoing ground battle. The Marine reassures Hornblower that the French marksmen have no hope of hitting the two officers at this range... and Hornblower's hat is promptly knocked off of his head by a musket ball. Hornblower decides that it is time for him to retire from this battlefield, and the other officer agrees.
  • Near the end of Flying Colours, the escape from France finally concludes when Hornblower, Bush, and Brown are hailed by the Triumph. Hornblower decides to hell with it and gives the standard answer—Captain Horatio Hornblower, captain of His Majesty's cutter Witch of Endor, knowing full well he's been "dead" for half a year and his ship has been an enemy prize for a whole one. The Triumph's officer of the watch does a verbal Double Take.
  • After being driven to distraction by Lt. Mound continually reaching for his pockets and then stopping guiltily, Commodore Hornblower snaps "For God's sake, put your hands in your pockets and leave off fidgeting."
  • Commodore Hornblower has to quickly come up with an excuse to get out of the ceremonies for the Czar so he can stop an assassination attempt on the Czar. So what does he go with? A Potty Emergency.
  • Aboard a small brig after a successful action, Hornblower, a commodore, feels like The Pig Pen and decides he MUST have his usual naked bath on deck, with pumped sea water. In the English Channel. In November. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Whenever Commodore Hornblower visits a different ship in his squadron, it has to fire a salute, and the novelty wears off quick. On instinct, he snaps "Belay that nonsense!" when he boards Mound's bomb-ketch and is momentarily horrified with himself for dismissing a sacred ceremony in such a way, and Mound is grinning as he orders his men to stop.
  • When Freeman starts wondering aloud how their mission will go in Lord Hornblower, Hornblower (privately anxious as usual) snaps that idle speculation is pointless, fully expecting that a display of crabbiness will shut him up. Imagine his shock when Freeman unabashedly replies that idle speculation is interesting, forcing Hornblower to lamely say that he just doesn't want to speculate, and privately acknowledge that he's gotten way too comfortable with misusing his long-suffering friend Bush in this fashion.
  • Admiral Hornblower discovers to his dismay in West Indies that the Governour's daughter has fallen in love with him with the obsessive tendency that only a teenage girl can muster. Through the course of the story, he manages to redirect her affections towards one of his lieutenants, who being both young and unmarried, is much more appreciative of the attention.

Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N.

  • When Lady Barbara comes aboard, Gerard notes that they've never seen Captain Hornblower speak to a lady. Bush still knows the exact words he'll say, and they make a bet on it. What are they? An awkward, incomprehensible cough. Cut to Bush silently holding out his hand for the guinea.

Hornblower TV series

  • From "Retribution": I CAN'T SWIM! Shouted by a panicked Lieutenant Bush as Hornblower and Archie basically drag him off of a cliff with them to avoid getting killed by an exploding Spanish fort and being stranded on an island held by the slave rebel army. (For those wondering about an officer of the Navy who cannot swim, read an article on Wooden Ships and Iron Men. It was a fairly common thing.) Later on, when Archie questions his own bravery, Hornblower points out that he jumped off a cliff into the ocean accompanied by "A man afraid of heights and another who couldn't swim." Which would be funny if Archie hadn't been dying.
  • Archie's overly-interested reaction to the officer and lady kissing on the tower in "Retribution". Bush is not impressed.
  • "Retribution": Hornblower is blowing up a Spanish fort, when Kennedy and Bush turn up to join him.
    Horatio: Archie, are you mad?
    Archie: Very possibly, but we thought you could use the company!
  • Any moment when Captain Pellew chews out Hornblower for some reason or other... then hands him a promotion or a new command. Horatio's stunned expression is priceless each time.
  • In "The Wrong War", Hornblower's failed attempt to get on a horse. He ends up going around in circles, one foot in a stirrup, much to Major Edrington's amusement.
    Edrington: I can see why you chose the Navy.
  • From "The Wrong War"/"The Frogs and the Lobsters", Horatio and his riding skills:
    Horatio: Damn this animal. What it needs is a rudder!
    Edrington: Show it who's master, Mr Hornblower.
    Horatio: [desperately] I don't need to, it knows.
  • The fantastically awkward moment in Series 2 ("Mutiny") where Horatio is showering on deck, and Captain Sawyer comes out of his cabin to arrest his lieutenants. The moment where Horatio realises why everyone has suddenly stopped and what they're looking at is immediately followed by his look of horror at having been caught prancing around starkers by his lunatic captain.
  • The captains on the board of examination in "The Fire Ships". After Hornblower and "Dreadnought" Foster have stopped the titular ship from destroying the fleet at anchor, Foster and Hammond immediately start bickering and get so riled up that Hammond challenges Foster to a duel. Hornblower's bewildered and slightly hypothermic expression as he watches them makes the scene all the better. Deadpan Snarker Pellew later describes them as "three men who would not agree on the color of an orange".
  • Horatio's Tactful Translation to a Spanish captain who brought them a message about Spaniards' becoming neutral. Pellew is furious and tries extremely hard not to let his mask of politeness slip and gives a crooked smile, while Horatio says random polite stuff in French. The unassuming Spaniard is impressed and even bows in respect. The entire exchange is hilarious, from Hornblower's insistance on reading out the Duke of Belchite's titles in full note  to Pellew's final word on the matter:
    Captain Pellew: (forcing a smile) Get him over the side. [beat] With dignity.
  • This fan video has a pretty solid selection of priceless moments from "Mutiny", "Retribution", "Loyalty" and "Duty". Some of them were funny intentionally, some of them... not so much.
    • #1 The Tackle: Mr Bush comes aboard the Renown, and is nearly hit by a net full of barrels. Horatio knocks him down just in time. Interesting welcoming ceremony, indeed.
    • #2 The Two-syllable There: Mr Bush suggests to Horatio that something more than met the eye happened when captain Sawyer fell.
      Mr Bush: Is that all?
      Mr Hornblower: All? What do you mean all?
      Mr Bush: You know what I mean. You were the-ere.
    • #3 Quietly as You Can: A disagreement between Styles and Mr Bush who suggests that if Styles is loud during their night attack, he will silence him for good. Matthews, despite being friends with Styles, approves of Mr Bush's interference, and then not-quite-whispers (that is, he shouts) to the crew: "Softly now, quietly as you can."
    • #4 Gawking at the Lovebirds: The already mentioned scene. Archie obviously likes to watch. Who knew he was such a voyeur? And how come a voyeur can be so adorable?
    • #5 The Thousand-yard One-shot Kill: Archie has some Improbable Aiming Skills, that's certain sure.
    • #6 Indignant Horatio: Features Horatio's Shot vs Mr Bush's Shot. Horatio is not pleased that his was a miss.
    • #7 Sourpuss Horatio: Horatio tries using heated shots to attack the Spanish ships. Unfortunately, one of the guns overheats and blows. Chaos ensues. Luckily, their crew manage to run and they do not get blown up as well.
      Mr Bush: I know what happens when metal overheats. My uncle was a blacksmith.
      Mr Hornblower: I believe they call it the co-efficient expansion, sir.
      Mr Bush: Oh. I call it bloody dangerous. [Mr Kennedy gives a laugh.]
      Mr Hornblower: I'm glad you find some amusement in this situation, Archie. Because of my elementary mistake...
      Mr Bush: Come, gentlemen, no time for soul-searching. The furnace awaits. [They leave, and Horatio gives them a hard look which is very close to a stink eye or even a Death Glare.]
    • #8 The Turnips: Horatio must face his fear of heights, and Archie takes some malicious joy of mischievously reminding him of his anxiety.
      Mr Kennedy: [being saucy] I remember when you used to be scared of heights, Mr Hornblower.
      Mr Hornblower: [measures the height he must descend from] Nothing's changed, Mr Kennedy.
      Mr Bush: They say one must always do what one dislikes.
      Mr Hornblower: Oh, yes?
      Mr Bush: [nods] When I was a boy, I had to eat turnips.
      Mr Hornblower: Eat them now, do you? [starts to climb down]
      Mr Bush: Never touch 'em. [smiles]
    • #9 The Jump: I caaan't swiiiim! See above.
    • #10 The Spanish Ladies: Mr Hobbs desperately wants Captain Sawyer to remember his accident and leads him to the hole where it happened. Ominous music keeps playing. When Hobbs asks what he can see, Sawyer answers: "Spanish Ladies." True enough, in the very place are now kept imprisoned Spanish Ladies.
    • #11 The Back of Mine: Mr Bush is a bad ass 1st Lieutenant, and is not afraid to bitch-slap.
      Mr Bush: [to midshipmen Hammond and Orrock] As Midshipmen, 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?
    • #12 The Voice Crack: Mr Bush's voice breaks when he orders the crew to follow him to attack the fort:
      Mr Bush: Renown's, to me-e!
    • #13 Funny French Face: Major Côtard played by Greg Wise has priceless facial expressions.
    • #14 The Survival of the Impossibly Huge Explosion: Exaggerated Stuff Blowing Up and Outrunning the Fireball — not very convincing, and frankly, quite laughable.
    • #15 The Bird Squawk: When Major Côtard gets shot, some seriously strange noise is heard. Oh well.
    • #16 The Lean: Mrs Mason has No Sense of Personal Space. Poor Mr Bush! But his crooked weak smile is priceless.
    • #17 Horatio's Flood Pants: Too short pants and white socks? While climbing a dark rock? Not a good fashion choice, Horatio. What happened to your nice uniform?
    • #18 The Horrifically Butchered American Accent: Some sensitive ears don't take lightly Fake Americans.
    • #19 Like True British Sailors: Crazy Captain Sawyer is doped by laudanum (it must be a lethal dosage by this point) and is totally losing his wits. When Mr Buckland hosts Colonel Ortega and his wife so that those would lose their attention, while the other lieutenants prepare for action, Sawyer decides he wants to sing as loudly as possible. The uncomfortable looks, especially Senora Ortega's, are just hilarious.
    • #20 The Pity: Captain Sawyer singing performance continues and Acting Captain comes to his room to silence him.
      Acting Captain Buckland: Sir! Stop this madness!
      Captain Sawyer: Ah. The acting captain. So glad you're here.
      Acting Captain Buckland: Sir?
      Captain Sawyer: When I see you, I feel so much less pity for myself.
    • #21 The Mildew-ed Canvas Bed: Major Côtard who is by this point of the story just insufferable French Jerk does not like his berth. Or berth-mate?
      Major Côtard: [absolutely outraged storming into Captain's room] Capitaine 'ornblower, if this is a joke, it is in poor taste.
      1st Lt. Mr Bush: Sir, only Captain's steward may enter without knocking.
      Captain Hornblower: What's the problem, Major Côtard?
      Major Côtard: Do you seriously expect me to sleep in a mildewed canvas bed with a common crew?
      Captain Hornblower: [to Mr Bush] I thought he was sharing your berth?
      1st Lt. Mr Bush: He is.
  • From The Even Chance, Captain Keene is overseeing the Midshipmen's training, and is checking their work. What follows is a long series of him checking their slates and saying "No... no... no..." as each one proves incorrect. Judging by one midshipman's face, he genuinely was proud of the answer he presented until the Captain shot him down as wholly incorrect. He declares that Mr. Simpson has found the source of the Nile River, noting that Simpson made a navigational calculation that - as far as Keene can work out - would have placed their ship in the middle of Africa.
    Captain Keene: You are to be congratulated, Mr. Simpson, for the source of the Nile has been discovered - since, as far as I can tell from your illiterate scribblings, your ship is in Central Africa!
  • A subtle moment in "The Examination for Lieutenant" when Horatio is rowing Mr. Tapling to shore to negotiate supplies. Hornblower gives the orders "lay on your oars" first and then "toss your oars." The order means to raise the oars vertically, but Tapling gives him a "what the hell?" look, apparently taking it more literally.
  • From the same episode, Horatio's search for a clean uniform to take the exam in is given the same treatment as Horatio undertaking some daring and dangerous tactic—he even gets the action leitmotif as he hunts down a clean shirt and bargains with the steward to use the flatiron. Any military person who has ever had to scramble to get together a complete dress uniform at the last minute will sympathize.
  • In "Mutiny," Matthews quietly informs Horatio that not all of the crew is satisfied with the way Sawyer is handling the ship. Horatio tells him to bite his tongue.
    Matthews: Aye-aye, sir. [without missing a beat] I speak for a third of the crew, sir.
  • In "Loyalty," Bush, without even looking up, silently sticks his arm out to prevent Côtard from storming off to badger Horatio right after Horatio's boarded the ship.
  • Orrock overenthusiastically leading Horatio and Maria's wedding carriage—drawn by twenty sailors—through the streets, yelling and waving his hat like a schoolboy.
  • In “The Fire Ships,” when the titular vessels attacks the British port, Hammond and Foster hit their heads together when they try to look through a telescope at the same time.


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