- Alternative Character Interpretation: The movie seems to imply that the real reason for Ramius defecting was less anger of his wife's death and more concern over the fact that the Red October's primary purpose would be to start a nuclear war due to its stealth. In that context, Ryan's comments about Ramius's wife are more that he no longer has any reason to go back home.
- It could also be said (based on both the book and the film), that the death of Ramius' wife by an incompetent/drunk, Party-connected doctor got him 90-95% of the way there, then seeing the plans for the Red October filled up the defection meter the rest of the way, as he recognized how destabilizing this new sub design would be for world peace.
- And You Thought It Would Fail: Tom Clancy really struggled to get the book published, dealing with massive publisher disinterest. He finally tried taking it to the Naval Institute Press, for whom he had previously written a number of nonfiction articles, and they agreed to print it as their first-ever foray into fiction. The novel turned into a surprise bestseller after President Ronald Reagan read it and spoke in favor of it.
- Awesome Music: Hymn to Red October, written by Basil Poledouris.
- "Common Knowledge": "Sean Connery plays a Russian sub commander". Except Ramius is Lithuanian, which is a key plot point in his defection. So, he is a commander of a Russian sub, but not a Russian commander of a Russian sub. (It's like a "large animal hospital" - is it a large hospital, or a hospital for animals that are large?)
- Critical Research Failure: Overlaps with outright Dan Browned in some instances:
- The novel has a whole bunch of critical research failures regarding the internal layout of the Typhoon class missile submarine that, while understandable, also betrays a serious case of Art Major Physics (a submarine with a pressure hull that flattened would have an enormously compromised diving depth), which also extends to the properties of the impellers used in the Caterpillar Drivenote and the ultra-high-pressure reactor plant used in the Alfa-class submarines note . The movie averts this with the Caterpillar Drive being turned into a magnetohydrodynamic propulsion system, which is more plausible and which have actually been built, but which are severely speed-restricted and wouldn't be worth using even on a missile submarine.
- The novel has Jack give the president and Jeffrey Pelt a run-down on how Soviet missile submarines differ from American ones - except that it's absolutely wrong. Soviet missile submarines from the Project 667 ("Yankee" and "Delta") classes were configured nearly identically to their American counterparts. Only the Typhoons had the differences in question.
- Again from the novel - a major Russian naval base would have more than one surgeon on duty, and given the rivalry between the military and the Communist party, a drunk surgeon using his party connections to attempt to get away from a court-martial offense would have created one hell of an uproar and would be harshly punished for it. If Ramius had lost his wife to a drunk surgeon who was the son of a party official in the real USSR, he would have had his retribution pretty quickly and be backed up by his superiors all the way to the highest ranks.
- The novel's scheme of blowing up the USS Ethan Allen to confuse the Russians into believing that the Red October had sunk is ridiculous because the Ethan Allen class of missile submarine displaced in the range of 6000 tons, a full 1000 tons less than a Los Angeles-class sub like the Dallas and a fifth of Red October's whopping 30,000+ ton mass. Unless the Soviets were brain-dead they'd notice there was far too little debris for such a large submarine. And further, a submarine reactor wouldn't cause an explosion, it'd cause a meltdown - even Chernobyl simply melted down instead of blowing up. Even real-life submarine disasters involving missile/torpedo explosions, such as the Kursk tragedy, leave the hull in one or more large, very recognizable sections instead of reducing it to scrap metal.
- First Installment Wins: Widely regarded as the best novel -and film- of the Ryan-verse, if not Tom Clancy's best (in contest with his second published novel, Red Storm Rising)
- Genius Bonus: "I have become Death, destroyer of worlds", an "ancient Hindu text", was also uttered by Oppenheimer during the explosion of the atomic bomb (a fact to which Ramius alludes in the film).
- Harsher in Hindsight: The fate of Konovalov in the book is very close to that of Kursk, right up to the rescue buoy being stuck.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- The Soviet political officer who is named Putin. Who bears a striking resemblance to ol' Vlad.
- Borodin's last words, "I would like to have seen Montana." A few movies later, he did. And 28 years later, he still wanted to have a rabbit cooked.
- Ryan sees the saboteur and remarks "The cook. It's the Goddamned cook!" is funny because just two years later there was a major naval movie where the saboteur military cook was the good guy.
- In one scene, Mancuso says "Central Intelligence Agency? Now, there's a contradiction in terms." Scott Glenn, who plays Mancuso, would star in The Bourne Ultimatum as CIA director Ezra Kramer.
- It can be funny to see Stellan Skarsgård and Tim Curry act together here as Curry had just starred as Pennywise in It (1990) and Skarsgard's son Bill, who would later play Pennywise in It (2017), was just born. Even funnier is that, in the film and book, Pennywise comes out of hiding every twenty-seven years and Bill Skarsgard played the role exactly twenty-seven years later. Additionally, Skarsgård's character would find himself at the bottom of the sea, just like Bootstrap.
- Memetic Mutation:
- "This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we will be lucky to live through it."
- "Give me a ping, Vasily. One ping only, please."
- Narm: To some native Russian speakers, Sean Connery speaking Russian in his trademark Scottish accent is hilarious. It's kind of justified in that Connery's character is Lithuanian, so Russian wouldn't be his native language to begin with. Of course, that still doesn't make sense why a person from a Baltic country would sound Scottish. Also, Alec Baldwin's American accent when speaking Russian is so thick as to be unintelligible.
- One-Scene Wonder:
- Special Effect Failure:
YMMV / The Hunt for Red October