Left to right: Fred Johnson (aka the One-Armed Man), Richard Kimble and Lt. Gerard.
"The name: Dr. Richard Kimble. The destination: Death Row, State Prison. The irony: Richard Kimble is innocent."
The Fugitive was a ground-breaking TV drama series that aired on ABC from 1963-67.Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen), an innocent man, is wrongly convicted for a murder he did not commit. However, while being transported to Death Row by train, there is an accident that enables him to escape.Now Kimble must continually travel throughout the country, looking to find the true murderer (a man with one arm who Kimble saw running from his house before finding his wife's body) and clear his name.In addition to his quest, Kimble is pursued by Lt. Philip Gerard (Barry Morse), a police detective who is determined to capture him, thus precluding the fugitive from simply settling down in an remote area with an assumed identity. In the meantime, Kimble takes small jobs and inevitably gets involved in the personal lives and problems of the strangers he encounters.The Fugitive was adapted as a feature film in 1993, and a short-lived remake series in 2000 which starred Tim Daly as Kimble.This premise has since become a subgenre of action and drama shows.
Embarrassing Rescue: Kimble is put in the odd position of having to save Gerard's life in several episodes. Other episodes had Kimble saving Gerard's son and wife.
This ends up paying off in the finale, when Gerard captures Kimble, but in return for all the times Kimble saved him he agrees to give him 24 hours to try and find the One-Armed Man and exonerate himself before being brought in.
It's not just that. By this point Gerard is also convinced that Kimble is innocent, to the point where they go together to the final confrontation even past the deadline. He is also influential in convincing the witness to Helen's murder to testify, which is ironic because the one person chasing after Kimble for over four years ultimately is the one who helps set him free.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Although the One-Armed Man had a real name (Fred Johnson) and several aliases, most everyone just remembers him as, well, the One-Armed Man.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Some of the bad guys Kimble meets can't fathom his frequent attempts to help others, even when the smart move is to run for his life before the cops show. Conversely:
Subverted with, of all people, Gerard. As he pursues Dr. Kimble across the country, Gerard comes to learn how Kimble thinks and acts, and comes to realize that Kimble can be trusted to behave in certain ways. Gerard especially knows that Kimble would never hurt a child... which is why Gerard isn't upset when Gerard's own son is stuck with Kimble during a dire crisis. It's just that pesky murder of Mrs. Kimble, you see.
It's actually not a subversion: Gerald's a Good Cop and so not evil to begin with. He's pursuing Kimble because it's his job.
Lampshaded in the MAD parody, "The Phew-gitive". Both Kimble and Gerard realize that if they ever actually catch the One-Armed Man and Kimble, repsectively, the series will be over, so when each narrowly misses his quarry the response is actually one of relief ("Phew!") rather than disappointment.
Gerard. He may be obsessed with capturing Kimble, but he's incorruptible, honest, and will aid the local law enforcement in arresting the other criminals who happen to be guest-starring that episode. Also By-the-Book Cop: Gerard may be obsessed with capturing Kimble, but he'll bend the law only so far. The only time Gerard comes close to breaking the law is in the final episode, when he gives Kimble 24 hours to find out who helped the One-Armed Man jump bail.
Kimble does get caught by other incorruptible cops during his ordeals, but is able to escape thanks to some moral dilemma that forces the cop to look the other way, or in some cases through sheer good fortune.
Grand Finale: One of the first shows to have a final episode to wrap up the whole series. It was at the time one of the most-watched episodes ever.
I Am Spartacus: "Nightmare at Northoak" ends with a variation of this: Gerard accuses a small-town sheriff of having helped Kimble (who'd rescued several of the town's children from a burning school bus) to escape from the local jail while awaiting extradition, and threatens to bring him before a grand jury for aiding and abetting a fugitive. The sheriff's wife then steps forward to confess to it, and Gerard tells her she'll have to be arrested...leading to a whole roomful of townspeople standing up one by one and "confessing" to him.
I Owe You My Life: In "The Evil Men Do", Kimble is working as a stable hand when he rescues the stable's owner from an out-of-control horse. When the owner, a former Mob hitman, discovers Kimble's identity and plight, he attempts to repay his debt by killing Gerard.
If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: in "See Hollywood and Die," Kimble is forced to pretend he's a hardened criminal to keep two hoodlums from killing him and a female hostage. When the hoodlums find out he's really the famous doctor "who killed his wife," it makes it easier to deal with the hoodlums but harder to deal with the woman who's now terrified for her life.
When Kimble finally corners the One-Armed Man he angrily asks him why he killed Kimble's wife. Johnson answers back "'Cause she wouldn't let me go!" This stuns Kimble, because he had been arguing with his wife about a divorce because she refused to adopt.
In "Corner of Hell", Kimble is befriended by a group of moonshiners, who subsequently capture Gerard and plan to lynch him after the daughter of one moonshiner is beaten unconscious and Gerard is found next to her. As it happens, Gerard saw another man running from the scene of the crime just as he arrived...but he can't prove it.
Law of Inverse Fertility: Helen Kimble had a miscarriage before the plot proper begins. It left her incapable of bearing future kids, and the issue becomes a strain on her and Richard's marriage. Their arguments over the merits of adopting becomes the "motive" in the prosecutor's argument that Richard killed her.
Not So Imaginary Foe: Gerard doubts the existence of the One-Armed Man, believing him to be a figment of Kimble's guilty imagination. However, by the final season, Gerald has caught glimpses of the One-Armed Man, and by the finale he even interrogates him and and openly doubts his alibis.
Novelisation: The pilot episode was novelised, much to series creator Roy Huggins' disgust - he held the rights to all merchandising and the book had been written without his knowledge or consent. There were, unsurprisingly, no further novelisations (and not much merchandising).
The Other Darrin: Kimble's brother-in-law, Leonard Taft, was played by several different actors.
Also Gerard's wife. She appeared briefly in 2 episodes, each time played by a different bit actress (one of them was even uncredited). The one time she had a major role to play was in a rare two-parter where she was played by Special Guest Star Barbara Rush.
Recycled Soundtrack: Unlike many series of its time in the '60s (and subsequently), the series relied on a specially composed library of music by Pete Rugolo and licensed music written for CBS shows rather than have any episodes (even the Series Finale) receive an original score.
Which led to problems for the show's DVD release; specifically, the season 2 set was initially released with an entirely new score of synthesized music (in order to get around licensing issues), leading to an uproar from fans angered by the change.
Much of the music in season 4 is taken from Dominic Frontiere's scores for The Outer Limits.
Recurring Character: The One-Armed Man, Captain Carpenter, Donna Taft, Leonard Taft, Mrs. Gerard.
And technically Mr. Gerard, since he appears (outside of the opening) in only 37 of the show's 120 episodes.
Helen Kimble, also. She first appears in flashback mid-Season 1, her body is seen in the opening credits of Seasons 2-4, has a voiceover in another episode, and one final flashback in the Grand Finale, revealing the one clue that finally clears Kimble: There was a third person in the Kimble house the night of the murder, who witnessed the One-Armed Man murder her, and kept silent solely because he didn't want to be exposed as a Dirty Coward.
Finally, there's Sister Veronica, a nun Kimble encounters in a rare two-part episode in Season 1. She turns up again in Season 4, becoming the only recurring character who's neither a Kimble family member, nor directly connected to Helen's murder.
Rousseau Was Right: Most characters that Kimble meet along the way are willing to help him escape the police when they get close to catching him. Often because Kimble's already done them favors and they realize he's not really a killer.
In the few instances people don't help, it's because they're either bad guys or because they're helping the One-Armed Man. One episode had Gerard surprised by a woman who was actively trying to get Kimble captured because she was secretly the One-Armed Man's girlfriend.
In the episode "Landscape with Running Figures", this happens to Gerard's wife...while she happens to be with Kimble.
Kimble himself falls victim to this in "Second Sight".
Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Urban folklore states that the show was inspired by Dr. Sam Sheppard, who was falsely convicted of murdering his wife in an extremely high-profile 1954 court case, and served nearly 11 years of a life sentence before the Supreme Court declared the original trial a mis-trial. He was subsequently re-tried, acquitted, and released from jail. The creators have denied the inspiration, but the similarities in Kimble's and Sheppard's cases do lead one to wonder...
A more likely proximate inspiration was the 1946 David Goodis novel Dark Passage (better known for its 1947 film adaptation starring Humphrey Bogart), which also involves a man taking it on the lam after being falsely convicted of his wife's murder and then escaping. In fact, Goodis sued United Artists Television (which distributed The Fugitive) for copyright infringement; the case was eventually settled out of court following his death.
Walking the Earth: what Kimble does during his chase for the One-Armed Man. The plot that he was wrongly accused helped solve a problem with earlier TV shows that had wandering characters getting involved with other people's problems: "Why won't the heroes take the problem to the local authorities?" In Kimble's case, he couldn't.
Worthy Opponent: Kimble and Gerard have a great deal of respect for each other. Kimble calls Gerard a "brilliant" detective on several occasions (and Gerard often demonstrates this). While Gerard thinks Kimble is guilty, he's aware of the number of people Kimble's helped and believes Kimble will never kill again.
Abuse Mistake: The already suspicious Gerard becomes convinced that Kimble is his wife's killer when people who saw them jogging in the park the day of the murder claim to have seen him grab her and throw her to the ground, never realizing that the two were merely goofing off and playing.
Chekhov's Gunman: Kimble's medical training forces him to come to the rescue on numerous occasions, even if doing so might reveal his identity.
Freudian Excuse: Gerard's first wife was killed in a car accident. It's obvious that his lingering grief and guilt is the reason he's so determined to capture Kimble.
Happily Married: The Kimbles. A notable change from the original series. The remake is based more on the film rather than on the original series.
How We Got Here: The pilot episode starts out with Kimble escaping from the wrecked prison transport van. As he runs through the woods, pursued by Gerard, numerous flashbacks take us through his marriage, the day of his wife's murder, the investigation, arrest, trial, right up until the van crashes, all within the first 15 minutes.
Setting Update: Much was made of the technological advances—computers, the internet, television—that would now hinder Kimble's ability to stay on the run, or even help him—one episode, titled "drrichardkimble.com" had him being aided by the founder of a website dedicated to proving his innocence.
Theme Tune Cameo: Whereas the 1993 movie didn't use the theme from the original TV show, the new series used the theme from... the 1993 movie.
Too Happy to Live: The prologue of the premier episode established that Dr. Kimble had an ideal life—a beautiful wife who he adored, plans to have children and buy a new house, and a stellar career as a surgeon—before it was blown apart by his wife's murder.