Captain Hornblower Fights WW2 and sails into Outer Space

When I took the class in crew management the instructor mentioned that captain’s style in the old Star Trek changed in the new one.

I recently finished Forester’s The Good Shepard. The main character, the captain is very similar to Hornblower, upgraded to receive information from sonar as well as lookouts.

It occurred to me check on Captain Kirk, according to Wikipedia he is in fact based on Hornblower.

The character is in part based on C. S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower hero,[25] and NBC wanted the show to emphasize the captain’s "rugged individualism

Not only did Shatner take inspiration from Roddenberry’s suggestion of Hornblower, but also from Alexander the Great – “the athlete and the intellectual of his time” – whom Shatner had played for an unsold television pilot two years earlier. In addition, the actor based Kirk partly on himself because “the fatigue factor [after weeks of daily filming] is such that you try to be as honest about yourself as possible”.[28] A comedy veteran, Shatner suggested making the show’s characters as comfortable working in space as they would be at sea, thus having Kirk be a humorous “good-pal-the-captain, who in time of need would snap to and become the warrior”.[29]

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Space-age Hornblowers, or why Kirk and co. are not space cowboys: The Enlightenment mariners and transatlanticism of Star Trek

Stefan Rabitsch


Many mistakenly perceive Star Trek to be, simply, a “Wagon Train to the stars,” a space western/opera that projects the U.S. American frontier into outer space. However, by introducing his starship captain in archetypal terms as a ‘space-age Captain Horation [sic] Hornblower,’ and by making him a descendant of ‘similar [naval] men in the past,’ Star Trek (1966-1969) creator Gene Roddenberry makes it clear that his starship captain is not based on the quintessential cowboy hero found in the U.S. American national imagination (Roddenberry, 1964: 5). In this article, I seek to (re)map the character contours of the principle Star Trek captains and compare them with C. S. Forester’s ‘man alone,’ Horatio Hornblower, as well as with Hornblower’s romanticised predecessors. I will demonstrate how ‘Starfleet’s finest’ fit the role of the sentimental naval officer/hero of the Romantic period.

Full paper: