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Headscratchers: The Fugitive

The movie

  • Plot Hole: Any decent defense attorney should have been able to get Richard Kimble acquitted. Granted, there would be no movie. . . Kimble wasn't abusing his wife, wasn't cheating on her, and was a wealthy doctor with no financial problems, eliminating most motives for killing her. But the most notable screw-up is when the prosecution plays a tape of Helen Kimble's 911 call, where she says, "Richard. . .he's trying to kill me." Fair enough, although she was actually calling TO her husband, begging for help, NOT naming him as the killer, as the prosecution claims. However, the first thing she clearly says to the 911 operator is "There's someone in my house". As in an intruder. How the prosecution fails to notice this, as well as the defense, is beyond me. If nothing else, it provides the jury with reasonable doubt, if not outright proof of Kimble's innocence.
    • It all depends on how dumb the jurors and defense attorney are. It's not the least bit unrealistic to think they could do much worse than that. *cough*O.J. trial.*cough*
    • The recording should never have been presented to the jury in the first place as it would be considered circumstantial evidence.
      • I don't think you know what "circumstantial" means. Whether either side would choose to admit it is one thing, but it is clearly admissible.
    • It is at least brushed upon when Gerard speaks with Detectives Rosseti and Kelly about the killing:
    Samuel Gerard: So why did Richard Kimble kill his wife?
    Detective Kelly: He did it for the money.
    Samuel Gerard: [skeptically] What do you mean "he did it for the money"? He's a doctor. He's already rich.
    Detective Kelly: Oh, she was more rich.
    • It is also possible that the CPD in this case were corrupt and knew more than it appears. If they had discovered that the real killer was a former cop, they might have framed Kimble to cover up the crime.
      • That would definitely explain why the CPD was particularly hellbent upon eliminating Richard during the hotel climax.
      • Actually, in all fairness, that was because they (wrongly, of course, thought that Kimble had killed the transit cop and were determined to take him out for taking out one of their own
      • I also think they're corrupt, because of two examples. In the press scene they dismiss the possibility of Kimble being innocent simple because he's convicted. It isn't rocket science that innocents can be convicted too (Fritz Moen, Per Liland, Ron Dalton, Darryl Beamish, John Button, Timonty Ewans ect.), and the police of all people should know that. Also the aforementioned climax after Sykes killed the transit cop. The witness reports were unclear and they still wanted him killed.
      • Real life prosecutors and cops have repeatedly shown great reluctance to admit they were wrong, even in the face of DNA and other such evidence (sometimes justifiably, sometimes not).
    • Though Word of God apparently denies it, it's entirely possible that the movie (and the TV series it was made from) were loosely based on an actual case of a doctor named Sam Sheppard who was convicted of killing his wife but claimed an intruder did it. He didn't escape, though was later released because the Supreme Court told Ohio to either let him go or give him a new trial.
    • There was a lot more evidence than just the 911 call as well. His skin under her fingernails, the lack of forced entry into the house the intruder had keys, a financial motive, and so on. Certainly enough to convict.
      • There's also a ton of evidence that would prove it's not him. No gun shot residue on his hands, the lack of high volicy blood splatter on himself (Meaning he wasn't there when she was struck). A reasonable attorney would have had an easy day tearing the police's case open.
    • We are shown Kimble's lawyer is a friend of his ("My advice, as both your friend and legal counsel...") in a flashback, it's possible Kimble picked a lawyer he trusted but who might not have been that good. Furthermore, another scene seem to show that Kimble tasked his lawyer with finding the "One Armed Man". It's possible that Kimble demanded his lawyer focus on that lead (Hoping to at the same time catch the man who killed his wife), instead of the evidence and the lawyer complied with a strategy that far less likely to lead to a successful defence because it's what his client, a close personal friend, demanded of him.
  • Doing a Peter Pan off a spillway overflow pipe into water at the base of a dam and surviving? Several hundred foot jump into water and not being even slightly injured? REALLY?
    • Well it was explicitly and repeatedly lampshaded.
    • Also, sliding down the dam would slow his fall, and the flow would disrupt the surface tension below, so he wouldn't hit the water as hard.
      • He also doesn't exactly come up smiling afterwards.
  • After his escape from the dam, we see Kimble dying his hair—but it's also much shorter than before. When did he get a haircut?
    • A deleted scene shows him swiping a pair of scissors along with the hair dye, so he probably cut it himself before or after coloring it.
  • Helen Kimble was shot. Wouldn't a residue test on Kimble have shown that he DIDN'T fire a gun? Giving the jury even MORE reasonable doubt as to his guilt?
    • Residue tests aren't 100% effective. Finding the residue goes a much further way to proving you fired the gun than not finding it goes in the opposite direction.
    • Still, the burden is on the prosecution to give positive proof. They can't say "Oh, that doesn't prove he didn't do it, therefore he did do it".
      • They had other evidence against him.
    • Wasn't she bludgened to death? Because Helen was not shot by the Kimbles' Colt DS, and while Sykes brought a Beretta, he is not seen using it.
  • The villain and the motive: Nichols tried to have Kimble killed because he knew Provasic caused liver damage. But when the drug hit the market people would find that out anyway. Granted, Nichols got on the Board of Directors of the drug company and there would be shitloads of profit until the jig was up.
    • Not quite. The drug tested out as dangerous only for a small percentage of subjects, and perfectly efficient for the rest.
    • Also, if memory serves, part of the plan was to pin the coverup on Kimble and then murder him so that he couldn't spill the beans. If the plan was uncovered later, Devlin-MacGregor could plausibly claim that Kimble had falsified the relevant data before his untimely death, undoubtedly amid much "regret" over such a tragedy. Of course, his escape wasn't part of the plan, but that's what you get for hiring a killer with only one functional arm; had Kimble not been able to fight off Sykes, the plan would have gone off without a hitch.
    • Nichols could have also assumed that they could have fixed the drug given time, but that Kimble or the FDA would have shut it down before that happens.
  • Idiot Ball: Kimble making his escape from the hospital by stealing an ambulance, a highly visible vehicle, then pulling several stunts (crossing the railroad tracks as the gates are going down) that are bound to get him noticed. Granted, it kicks off a great chase scene, but it's still a highly stupid move on his part.
    • Bear in mind, I think the reason why Kimble steals the ambulance is because it is more readily available, plus the keys are likely left in the ignition.
    • And people will pull over to let him through.
  • Why didn't Dr. Nichols simply pull a Wounded Gazelle Gambit after Kimble interrupted his speech? "Chicago PD? This fugitive you're after is right here, and has gone off the deep end, blaming me for his wife's murder. Oh, you're right outside? Well, gee, I'd hate for you to kill him, since he used to be my friend, but he ''is'' dangerous, and I don't want to contradict your orders or anything. So yeah." Granted, this might not have worked out in the end; Gerard at least is aware of Kimble's innocence, and he's in charge of the case, and Kimble's accusations caused quite a stir among the audience, but the situation shouldn't be completely unsalvageable from Nichols' perspective. Considering he initially tried to act surprised and innocent when Kimble first showed up, it seems sudden and more than a little out-of-character for him to suddenly decide, "Well, jig's up. Might as well just drop the charade completely and expose myself, even to those who wouldn't have reason to suspect me of anything yet."
    • Ironically, the original script has him planning to do just that. During the fight in the hotel room, Nichols says, "I always knew I'd have to kill you. But now, I must thank you for giving me a room full of people who will support me when I say it was self-defense."
  • Dr. Nichols' plot shouldn't have worked. For a drug to be approved it is sent to hundreds of different hospitals and given to thousands of people. While the executives in question managed to cover it up at one hospital, all hospitals have microscopes and can notice their patients dying of liver failure. It's really hard to find people to test new drugs. The drugs are untested, you may get a placebo, so not many people agree to it. You really need to cast a wide net to get enough people. You need a lot of hospitals. How was falsifying a small number of records at one hospital supposed to help long term approval?
  • Why did Nichols help Kimble as much as he did? Why not call the police immediately and cooperate to have him arrested? Even granting that he wanted to play the part of the friend in order not to raise Kimble's suspicions, why did he lead him right to the incriminating evidence?
    • I figure he was planning on having Sykes do the dirty part, which is the reason for the fight on the train between Kimble and Sykes.
    • And by helping Kimble, Nichols now has a better idea of where Kimble will go, thus helping Sykes track him down.
  • Why is one of the nurses at the hospital on roller blades? Is this a thing in the USA where hospital are very lax about these kind of things? Isn't that sort of pointless dangerous?
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