This trope comes into play when the public has been convinced that the heroes are, in fact, dangerous criminals and need to be stopped. This may be the result of a A Frame-Up
, a Villain with Good Publicity
, or even the villain taking control of the government
and turning its resources on the heroes.
The heroes are now in a Fugitive Arc. For a few episodes, a season, a movie
, a book, a few levels, or even the whole of the work, they will have to lay low until they can gain enough power to take down the villain or arrange some sort of spectacle to get the citizens back on their side
While they are fugitives, they may have to go through a Stern Chase
or face some very tough decisions under pressure
. With their new fugitive status, they also may gain some less-than-good new friends
A Fugitive Arc is usually particularly tense because any moment can turn into a conflict, and when the entire world is out to get them the odds are not in their favor. Additionally, there's the fact that The Hero
usually doesn't want to hurt his pursuers who are simply pursuing someone they believe to be a criminal.
And they're quite likely to get into some Wanted Poster
-related shenanigans while they're at it.
Anime & Manga
- Tenchi Muyo!. Tenchi and friends find themselves on the run from the Juraian Royal Family after a coup leads to Big Bad Kagato coming to power in Tenchi Universe.
- In Digimon Savers this trope is what ensues after Kurata convinces the world that Digimon are evil and that any Digimon sympathizers are not to be trusted.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: Negi and company are forced to go on the lam during the Magic world arc.
- The entirety of Queen's Blade: Hide & Seek has Elina pursuing her sister, Leina, because she fled from home and entered the QB tournament against, their father's wishes. Elina has been ordered, by Count Vance, to capture Leina and see her back home. Of course, that isn't Elina's ONLY reason for pursuing her sister, nor is it the MAIN reason she's doing it.
- Busou Renkin: After Kazuki discovers that he has a black Kakugane, he, Tokiko, and Gota become wanted by the Alchemist Army.
- Fractale begins with Phryne fleeing from Enri, and the rest of Lost Millennium. But she's fleeing from The Temple, as well. Both factions are after her and Nessa for their own agendas. The Temple needs her to merge with Nessa, in order to reboot the Fractale System. For Lost Millennium, she's the key to destroying it.
- The Avengers: Happened to half of the Avengers members following Marvel's Civil War storyline. With the Super Registration Act in effect, the team members that rebelled against the law are forced to go underground and remain on the run. First from Iron Man's regime and then from Norman Osborn's.
- In an old Legion of Super Heroes story, the Legion is outlawed following an evil scheme by Universo to take over the government of Earth. With the mightiest members of the Legion having been shipped off to a prison planet, the others of the Legion have to stay one step ahead of the law while trying to break their buddies out and get to the bottom of the whole mess.
- Given his penchant for massive destruction and poor publicity, a frequent story arc in The Incredible Hulk is Banner Walking the Earth on the run from authorities who want to capture the Hulk.
- In The Simpsons Movie, the titular family is on the run from the law because they escaped from the now environmentally unsound city of Springfield.
- The Fugitive is naturally a movie-long Fugitive Arc with Kimble trying to clear his name for his wife's murder.
- Given the litany of minor crimes that he commits in order to pursue/protect his treasure, Ben Gates finds himself having to avoid lawmen in both National Treasure films.
- When the clairvoyant Pre-Cogs in Minority Report indicate that Chief Investigator John Anderton will murder someone in the next 36 hours, Anderton goes on the lam, hoping to glean an important clue from the strongest Pre-Cog, whose visions often include significant details that the two other clairvoyants miss and clear his name.
- Veteran CIA agent Evelyn Salt is named as a mole by a captured Cold War derelict. She escapes house arrest, then reconnects with her Soviet spy comrades. However, when Salt learns that her superiors are planning a rogue operation that will trigger a nuclear war, she works feverishly to undo their plans. This makes Evelyn Salt kill-on-sight by American and Soviet forces.
- Invoked with Burt Reynolds' character Bandit in Smokey and the Bandit, since Bandit takes the point to bait highway patrolmen to chase him, clearing the way for Cletus and his tractor-trailer.
- When a routine covert mission Goes Horribly Wrong in Mission: Impossible, agent Ethan Hunt is labeled a rogue agent. Hunt must band together other decommissioned agents to expose the true double agent, thereby clearing his name.
- When NSA chief Thomas Reynolds is caught on tape murdering Congressman Hammersley in Enemy of the State, the tape gets passed surreptitiously to attorney Robert Dean. Dean becomes target of a massive manhunt by the NSA.
- This trope drives the first Rambo film, when super-soldier John Rambo runs afoul of local law enforcement, who discover the hard way that they are horribly outclassed.
- Harry, Ron, and Hermione throughout most of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after Voldemort takes over the wizard government.
- In Deryni Checkmate, Duncan rescues Morgan from the rebel Warin deGrey and his forces, but during the battle a fire starts that burns down the shrine where Morgan was taken captive. Morgan and Duncan flee, and are soon excommunicated by the Church hierarchy. Kelson ignores the decree of anathema to consult Morgan on war preparations against a coming Torenthi invasion, and Duncan ignores his suspension and the likely excommunication to celebrate a Mass (the funeral mass for his brother and Morgan's sister). In High Deryni, after learning of the schism in the Curia, Morgan and Duncan slip into Dhassa to meet with Cardiel and his faction and get the ban lifted.
- This happens to Harry Dresden in The Dresden Files pretty often (usually because he has to keep secrets from the police, but other times he's actually framed). In Turn Coat, Harry harbors a wanted fugitive from the White Council itself for the entire novel.
- Happens to John Taylor in The Bride Wore Black Leather. Although there isn't much actual law in the Nightside, he still has to flee mob vengeance and his friends Razor Eddie, Dead Boy and the Oblivion brothers.
- Much of ''The Leonard Regime is spent with the main characters being wanted. This ultimately escalates into all out war as the characters gain followers.
- Luther had the title character forced to go on the run towards the end of the first series after he's framed for killing his estranged wife, Zoe.
- Supernatural had an extended one of these, as the Winchesters are pursued by the FBI after a shapeshifter disguised as Dean commits a murder. Not helping their case are the facts that they are often around when people inexplicably do get killed, and they do commit a myriad of lesser crimes in the course of their investigations. The heat is eventually off when they manage to be declared legally dead.
- This occurred in the Monk "Mr Monk is on the Run" two-parter.
- Angel: At the end of Season 4, Jasmine has risen to power and has the majority of the LA's populace in her thrall. The Fang Gang are the only ones not under her thrall and thus need to avoid everyone affected by Jasmine while still find the means to defeat her.
- Major Descoine twice engineers this for the title character in Remington Steele
- Once, Descoine frames Steele for a hit-and-run death. Steele and Laura have to try to solve the case while avoiding a plainclothes cop named Jarvis.
- In a later episode, Descoine calls the police claiming that Steele and Laura threatened to kill him at a particular place at noon; he himself promises them they will be dead by noon that same day, then leads them on a merry chase. The trio arrive at the designated spot, where the cop tries to arrest Laura and Steele; Laura and Steele disarm the cop and steal his police cruiser to get away and resume their pursuit of Descoine.
- This was the central premise of Johnny Bago. Johnny is framed for killing The Don's son and goes on the lam.
- This was going to be part of the plot of the Babylon 5-spinoff Crusade, if that show hadn't been cancelled in its first season. The plot would have seen the crew of the Excalibur becoming renegades as they tried to expose Earth Force's experiments with alien technology.
- Like its remake, The Fugitive is about a man wrongly convicted fleeing the police and trying to clear his name. It is in many ways a Trope Codifier.
- The A-Team is a group of commandos who were convicted of a crime they didn't commit. They escaped and became mercenaries who are still being hunted by the US Army, which frequently leads to Refuge in Audacity moments when they pull jobs right under the Army's nose.
- Firefly: Simon broke his sister River out of some Alliance facility where they were experimenting on her and now both of them are wanted by the Alliance. Mal takes them in aboard Serenity which gives them some measure of safety, but Simon and River are effectively on a season-long Fugitive Arc.
- On White Collar Neal is a Boxed Crook who helps the FBI in exchange for limited parole in New York City. From time to time he breaks parole and becomes a fugitive for a while until he can cut a new deal. Sometimes he is being framed but a few times he really was guilty.
- On Farscape, the Leviathan Moya was a Peacekeeper prison ship that was commandeered by the prisoners, making them all (even Moya, who was a sentient Living Ship) fugitives from the Peacekeepers. D'Argo was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife; deposed Hynerian Dominar (emperor) Rygel XVI seemed to be simply "guilty" of being on the wrong side of prevailing politics 130 years ago when he was first imprisoned; Zhaan was actually guilty of murder (although done against a political usurper who'd sent her father to a labor camp as a political prisoner); and Aeryn became a defector from the Peacekeepers. Crichton, who'd encountered the Leviathan after jumping through a wormhole from Earth, was hunted at first for accidentally colliding with a Peacekeeper prowler upon exiting the wormhole and killing Commander Crais' brother, then later for the knowledge of wormholes he possessed. Chiana, who joined the crew later in the first season, was a fugitive from the Nebari who'd been sentenced to "mental cleansing", a sort of brainwashing "re-education" method used on malcontents in her society.
- Occurs frequently in Doctor Who serials:
- The first Cyberman serial of the revival has the Doctor, Rose, and Mickey join up with La Résistance against Cybus Industries.
- The third series finale has Martha with a mostly (but not entirely) off-screen Fugitive Arc while she prepares for the final confrontation with Saxon.
- NewsRadio had a brief arc in which Jimmy James was accused of being notorious hijacker D.B. Cooper, and while he was on the run, his archrival Johnny Johnson took over his company.
- Invoked with Bo and Luke Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard, because the Dukes are always at odds with county magnate Boss Hogg and his corrupt Sheriff Coltrane. Fortunately for the Dukes, the General Lee, a 1968 Dodge Charger, can outrun and outwit Hogg and Coltrane.
- Happens a couple times on Chuck:
- Near the end of season 2, Chuck and Sarah go on the run together when Beckman orders Chuck to be removed to a secure facility, and are subsequently hunted by Casey.
- Once again, at the end of season 3, Chuck and his team are branded traitors after Shaw takes control of the CIA.
- Happens several times during season 5, courtesy of Clyde Decker ( who is later revealed to be in league with Shaw).
- On Bones, Brennan with the aid of her father goes on the run after Pelant frames her for murder.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer season five sees the gang fighting both a cult of murderous knights and a hell god. Toward the end of the season, Buffy decides the only reasonable thing to do is run.
- Dungeons & Dragons module I10 Ravenloft II The House on Gryphon Hill.
- Once the Creature's evil minions start possessing the bodies of townsfolk, a mob of people will form in an attempt to defeat whatever's causing the problem. Unfortunately the Creature's minions will infiltrate the mob and convince them that the PCs are behind it all. The mob will start hunting the PCs and will kill them if possible.
- If the PCs is forced to kill a possessed townsperson, either a mob will form to kill them (see above) or an arrest party of high level characters will be sent out to apprehend them.
- The second book of Orpheus, Crusade of Ashes, focuses on the Player Characters becoming fugitives after the catastrophic events at the beginning of the book. Following up, the next book, Shades of Gray, gives them the potential to return to the good graces of the authorities, or continue working outside the law.
- Champions adventure Deathstroke. After Deathstroke steals the isotopes, the PC superheroes can try to track them down. If they try to do so in their secret identities and fail their Deduction rolls, Federal agents will tell them to stop their investigation. If they continue, the Federal government will start pursuing and trying to capture them.
- In the first Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game, the main characters have to leave to find Ninetales to clear their name from Gengar's accusations that the main character is responsible for the rise in natural disasters.
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, on your second visit to Hengsha, Belltower (a PMC who have a contract to serve as the police force) are pretty pissed off at you for what you did on your first visit. They shoot down your aircraft (and possibly kill Malik if you can't save her in time or just flee) and will attack on sight even if you don't enter areas they have closed off.
- The middle of BioShock Infinite qualifies after your character is identified as "the False Shepherd" and thus an enemy of Columbia. Eventually the city succumbs to an Enemy Civil War so this stops coming into play, though you still have to fight enemies from both sides.
- Most of Max Payne has the title character on the run from the cops after his partner Alex is murdered and Max is framed for it.
- Mega Man Battle Network 6 has this in Judgeman's arc after the Judge Tree gets hacked. (though it's more of a case of EVERYONE is on the run from the law)
- In Final Fantasy IX, Zidane and company are on the run from the kingdom of Alexandria after kidnapping/aiding in the escape of Princess Garnet.
- Suikoden V: Following the Godwins coup of Sol Falena, they frame George Prime for the deaths of Queen Arshtat and her husband, Commander Ferid, and brand Prince Freyjador a rebel. As a result, they're forced to travel incognito as they flee Falena, in search of allies.
- Justice League has this half-way through the "Starcrossed" arc, when the League is declared enemy combatants by the Thanagarian occupation force.
- Occurs a few times in Avatar: The Last Airbender .
- In the second season, Zuko and Iroh wind up fugitives of their native Fire Nation, so they go incognito in the Earth Kingdom.
- The Gaang in the third season is traveling through the Fire Nation, concealing the fact that not only are they from the other nations, but also that Aang is even alive.
- The final story arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars had Ahsoka framed for murder and on the run complete with a Shout-Out scene to The Fugitive.
- Hanna-Barbera SWAT Kats has the episode A Bright And Shiny Future, wherein the evil Metallikats rule Megakat City. Chance and Razor are branded as outlaws, and must join a small but dedicated resistance force to overthrow Mac and Molly.
- Experiment 626 escapes from a prison transport in Disney's Lilo & Stitch, and flees to Earth. At first, the Grand Councilor believes "we have to gas the planet," but Obstructive Bureaucrat Pleakley points out that Earth is home to mosquitoes, "which, may I remind you, are an endangered species." A clandestine extraction team is sent instead.