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Film / The Fugitive

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"Listen up, ladies and gentlemen. Our fugitive has been on the run for ninety minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground barring injury is four miles an hour; that gives us a radius of six miles. What I want out of each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse, and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive's name is Doctor Richard Kimble. Go get him!"
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard

The Fugitive is a 1993 action thriller film directed by Andrew Davis (Above the Law, Under Siege), based on the classic 1960s TV show.

Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), a respected Chicago cardiovascular surgeon, returns home one night to find his wife Helen (Sela Ward) brutally murdered by an intruder, a one-armed man. The killer flees and the police disbelieve Kimble's story as lots of circumstantial evidence makes him look guilty, so he's wrongfully convicted of his wife's murder. Soon after, he escapes from custody and returns to Chicago, determined to find the real killer. Kimble also must contend with a dogged team of U.S. Marshals, led by Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), who pursue him relentlessly. Both Kimble and Gerard eventually discover that the case is bigger than the both of them, and that several parties involved want to see Kimble dead.

The film was highly acclaimed by both critics and moviegoers, spending six weeks as the #1 film in the United States, and grossing a total of $369 million worldwide against a $44 million budget. It was also nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture; Tommy Lee Jones won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. It had a spin-off in 1998, U.S. Marshals, which featured Gerard and his team pursuing another fugitive and also inspired the hilarious spoof film, Wrongfully Accused starring Leslie Nielsen, released in 1998.

It's notable for being one of the first successful major films ever to be based on a television series, something which used to be fairly rare (the Star Trek movies notwithstanding) before this film popularized it. Thanks to the old "Thirty-Year Cycle", films based on television shows from the 1960s became particularly common throughout the remainder of the '90s—with The Addams Family, Mission: Impossible, The Brady Bunch, The Beverly Hillbillies, and The Flintstones being among the most famous. Even McHale's Navy and The Mod Squad got made into movies in the '90s (although you probably don't remember them).

Julianne Moore has a small part as the doctor at the hospital where Kimble goes looking for evidence. Jane Lynch has another small part as a lab technician.

The Fugitive was one of the first four films to be released on DVD when the format debuted in Japan in 1996, together with Eraser, Assassins, and Blade Runner: The Director's Cut.

Not to be confused with the 1947 film directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda, which is a loose adaptation of The Power and the Glory.

The Fugitive provides examples of the following tropes:

  • 1-Dimensional Thinking: When Kimble sees the train that's come off the tracks heading for him. Also an Oh, Crap! moment. Justified in that he's got an uphill run across the train tracks to his left and the river to his right.
  • Abandoned Warehouse: The laundry room, despite being neither abandoned nor a warehouse, functions as this for the finale. Its bare furnishings and industrial aesthetic make it an effective setting for armed folks running around trying to catch each other.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Gerard does it to the Sheriff in charge of the train wreck investigation.
    Gerard: Hi. Who's in charge?
    Officer: Sheriff Rollins. Just follow the TV lights.
    Gerard: Sheriff Rogers.
    Others: Rollins!
  • Actor Allusion: Someone's trying to catch the character played by Harrison Ford, and a set of doors nearby are being closed, with Harrison Ford going through just in time, leaving his persecutors to demand the gate be opened again. Not the first time.
  • Actor IS the Title Character: Some posters (like the one above) for the film state that "Harrison Ford is The Fugitive".
  • Adaptation Deviation: It's a Pragmatic Adaptation to the point that it's possible to use the same plot summary to refer to both the original series and this film adaptation. The only major changes are the motive for the murder (a botched robbery in the series, and a premeditated hit as part of Dr. Nichols' plan to release a new medical drug with a very dangerous side effect in the film) and the events of the climax (Gerard shoots and kills the one-armed man just as he's about to shoot Kimble in the series finale, and Kimble knocks out Nichols right before he's about to shoot Gerard in the film.)
    • Also, an early draft of the script had much more similarities to the series—the Kimbles' troubled marriage, Kimble traveling around the country to find his wife's killer (presumably, this version of the film would have taken place over a much longer time period than the finished product did), and Kimble finding love again (with Helen's sister, no less).
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Gerard's first name changes from Philip in the original series to Samuel in the film.
    • The one-armed man was known as Fred Johnsonnote  in the original series, but is known here as Fred(erick) Sykes.
  • Alliterative Name: Two of Gerard's men, Bobby Biggs and Noah Newman.
  • Anonymous Public Phone Call: Pay phones are a crucial part of Kimble's search for his wife's killer, as he needs to keep moving to evade the U.S. Marshals. He's shown placing calls to various suspects, claiming to be tracking them for a high school reunion; the one time he uses a house phone is to lure the Marshals there, as the house belongs to Sykes, the one-armed killer.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Gerard to the guard from the prison bus, after the discovery of Kimble's empty leg irons exposes his Blatant Lies:
    Gerard: Do you want to change your bullshit story, sir?
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: While Gerard's chasing Kimble at the city lockup, he yells at the guards to shut the doors in order to stop him. After Kimble narrowly gets through the doors, Gerard yells in exasperation to open the doors.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Kimble splits up with Copeland after the train derailment. After his dive off the dam, Kimble's seen walking down a road at night. A woman stops and offers to give him a ride. Kimble climbs in and the car drives off. We cut to the U.S. Marshal's office in Downtown Chicago where Cosmo Renfro tells Gerard, "Yes! All right, Sammy, we've got him - shacked up with some babe over in Whiting", and Deputy Erin Poole replies, "She left work tonight and took him home." The dialogue's phrased in such a way that it's meant to make you think that Gerard and his men have received a tip about Kimble's whereabouts and they're on their way to grab him. Surprise — it's Copeland, whom no one has seen since he fled the train wreck. He's shot by Gerard after he tries to take Newman hostage. The "babe" that Renfro was referring to was the girlfriend hiding Copeland.
    • An extremely quick one when Kimble first returns to Chicago; the first car he sees is a police car which startles him with its lights and siren, but it has nothing to do with Richard.
    • Later, Kimble's having another dream about his wife when he wakes up, hearing cars screeching to a stop outside. He looks out and sees police advancing on the house. He panics as the tactical assault officers circle the house, and announce themselves. He breathes a sigh of relief when he realizes that the police have actually come to arrest the son of his landlady who lives upstairs and apparently is a drug dealer. Unfortunately for Kimble, the son remembers him and is quick to sell him out when the detectives question him.
  • Batman Gambit: While fleeing from Gerard at the courthouse, Kimble tells a police officer that "there's a man in a blue top coat, waving a gun and screaming". Seconds later Gerard roars around the corner like a madman and the officers instinctively try to apprehend him. It delays him just long enough for Kimble to get away.
  • Beardness Protection Program: Inverted: Kimble shaves off his beard immediately after escaping to disguise himself. An early draft of the script shows that the trope was originally going to be played straight—Kimble would have grown a beard to conceal his appearance. Harrison Ford requested the change so he wouldn't have to wear a beard for the majority of the film.
  • Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: Inadvertently happened to Kimble. As the cops are interrogating him, several others note that "his fingerprints are on the lamp, the gun, and the bullets." As it turns out, the killer wore gloves and the fact that this is Kimble's house and his fingerprints would naturally be all over everything somehow escapes their notice.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Twice in the climax.
    • First Gerard to Kimble, heading into the hotel while the CPD is locking it down, intent on gunning down Kimble since they see him as a cop killer. Gerard's presence buys Kimble enough time to hunt down Nichols while also directly intervening to prevent Kimble from being shot.
    • Next, Kimble to Gerard in the laundry room where Gerard tells Kimble he knows he's innocent and that he's trying to help him. Unbeknownst to Gerard Nichols is also there, incapacitated Renfro and has stolen his gun with the intent to shoot both Gerard and Kimble. Just as Nichols is about to get the drop on Gerard, Kimble takes him down with a piece of pipe, saving Gerard's life.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": A very understated version; Gerard only has to say "Shut up" for Copeland's woman to stop screaming and just stare at him in fear. A quiet shut up with big impact.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Copeland gives one to the guard after his name's called and the guard tells Copeland to be nice. Later, Gerard delivers one when Newman discovers that Kimble had been at the hospital to collect some tissue samples.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • At one point, Gerard says "andiamo, bambini," which is Italian for "Let's go, kids."
    • Later, Kimble, while walking around the hospital, is asked by a nurse if she can help him. He responds "el lugar incorrecto, gracias." This is awkwardly-said (though correct) Spanish for "the wrong place, thanks."
    • The Polish landlady states, "So what do you think? I think he'll like it" when Kimble's looking at the apartment to rent. Later, when detectives enter her house in search for clues on Richard's whereabouts, she's saying, "What is going on? Who are those gentlemen? What is that supposed to be?"
  • Bittersweet Ending: Kimble's wife is dead and he can never bring her back, but he's caught those behind her murder and will eventually be freed.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • The corrections guard's recollection of the bus crash and how he saved his partner's life (when in reality he just abandoned him and left Kimble to do it). Gerard calls him out on it after they find Kimble's empty leg irons.
    • Played for laughs when Gerard claims he knew that was an elevated train the whole time.
    • Sykes' is very quick to let the police know he has an alibi for the night Kimble's wife was murdered, including the exact number of people who will testify he was out of the country if necessary.
    • When Gerard shows a picture of Dr. Alec Lentz to Dr. Nichols, Nichols denies knowing who he is. Since we see in a flashback that Nichols introduced Dr. Lentz to Kimble at the reception this is the first hint that Nichols has his own agenda.
    • Gerard's Meaningful Echo of "I don't care" at the end of the film, given that by now, it's obvious that he does care.
  • Book Ends:
    • The movie starts with a shell-shocked Kimble being put into the back of a police car to be taken to the station. It ends with Kimble being put in the back of the U.S. Marshals car, although this time, it's on a more triumphant note—Kimble has caught those responsible for his wife's murder and taken the first steps towards officially securing his freedom.
    • On a lesser note, it also begins and ends with Kimble attending a hospital fundraiser. The first time, he's content and thriving in his career. The second, he's come to confront his treacherous friend Dr. Nichols.
  • Calling the Cops on the FBI: Kimble uses this when being chased by Gerard out of the jail. He tells some cops that there's a man in a coat brandishing a gun and screaming at a woman. Naturally, when Gerard comes around the corner acting just like that, the officers do as they're trained to do and restrain him.
  • Cassandra Truth: The cops' disdain and disbelief of Kimble's bizarre story about a one-armed man murdering his wife is obvious from the moment they arrive. The novelization has a deleted bit where even Kimble's lawyer has him saying "no one will buy this story" and Kimble realizes his own lawyer doesn't believe him.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Happens twice to Kimble. After escaping from the dam, Kimble has a nightmare about the murder of his wife. Sure enough, at the end of the dream, he bolts upright as he wakens. It happens again later, just before the police raid the building he's staying in (to arrest some drug dealers also staying there).
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Nichols brains Kimble with a chair once he knows the jig's up.
  • Chekhov's Gun: At the beginning of the movie, watch carefully or you'll miss it: Dr. Nichols returns Kimble's keys to him, and thanks him for lending him his car. Then during Kimble's trial, Detective Kelly (Ron Dean) states that there was no evidence of a break-in or robbery, making him doubtful of Kimble's story of an intruder. They're blink-and-you-miss-it moments that seem completely insignificant and unrelated until the end, when Gerard realizes (and tells Kimble) that Nichols used the keys to let Sykes into Kimble's home — "No forced entry, Richard".
  • Chekhov's Party: At the beginning of the film, Dr. Richard Kimble remembers that on the night he found his wife murdered by an intruder with one arm, he was at the hospital benefit talking to some other doctors, when his best friend, Dr. Charles Nichols comes over and thanks him for letting him borrow his car, and returns his keys. At the very end, when he's cornered in the laundry room, pursued by U.S. Marshall Gerard and the Chicago Police Department, Gerard tells Richard the reason why the CPD detectives determined he was guilty of killing his wife is because there was no forced entry. The reason for that is because Nichols drove to Richard's house, unlocked the door, called the one-armed former cop to wait for Richard and his wife, who left the party early, and kill him by making it look like a robbery gone wrong.
  • Clear My Name: The premise of the movie. Dr. Kimble has been found guilty of killing his wife and seeks to demonstrate his innocence.
  • Climbing Climax: Kimble heads to the high-rise Chicago Hilton to confront Nichols, effectively guaranteeing that he will be recaptured.
  • Convenient Photograph: When Kimble searches Sykes' flat, he conveniently finds photographs showing him with Lentz.
  • Cop Killer Manhunt: Richard Kimble's believed to have killed a Chicago policeman (actually it was Sykes). Gerard knows that he has to get to Kimble before the Chicago cops do because they will be shooting to kill.
  • Corporate Conspiracy: Richard Kimble discovered that Devlin-MacGregor is producing the medication Provasic, knowing that the drug causes severe liver damage, and after he found out, Nichols arranged the attack against him and Helen.
  • The Corpse Stops Here: Richard Kimble comes home and grabs a bottle of wine before heading upstairs to enjoy a romantic evening with his wife, only to find her nearly beaten to death by an intruder. After struggling with the man, he tries to revive her, to no avail, and that's when the cops burst in—she'd managed to call 911 before succumbing—find him holding her, and naturally assume he's her killer.
  • Crash in Through the Ceiling: During the climactic fight, Kimble and Nichols fall through a glass ceiling onto the elevator car.
  • Cry Laughing/Mirthless Laughter: Kimble does this when Gerard tells him that Nichols used his keys to let Sykes into his house, realizing that his nightmarish ordeal might never have happened had he not done something as simple as lending his friend his car.
  • Cut Apart: At one point, it appears as though Kimble and Gerard are about to meet on the same staircase, Kimble going down while Gerard is going up. It's revealed that they're actually separate staircases on either end of the building's elevator lobby. Gerard still gets suspicious when he glimpses Kimble going down the other staircase.
  • Death Glare: In the novelization it's mentioned repeatedly that Gerard has cultivated one of these, known as The Look. He's made it so much a part of his schtick that he can't get rid of it, leaving him unable to play "Good Cop". On the plus side, he's genuinely impressed with those who not only aren't intimidated by it, they can match it with "Looks" of their own.
    [from the novel] "Dr. Anne Eastman was young, overworked, and completely uncowed by The Look. Gerard liked her immediately."
    • Kimble himself gives a pretty epic one of these to his wife's killer when he confronts him.
  • Death of a Child: In the novelization/original script, Richard and Helen had a child who died a few years earlier. This was one of the reasons why he decided to help the sick boy in the ER.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Gerard, although in this case it's excusable due to being extremely surprised:
    Gerard: Guy did a Peter Pan right here off of this dam right here!
  • The Determinator: Gerard will catch Kimble, who will find out who really killed his wife.
  • Dirty Coward: The guard who releases Kimble's chains on the bus jumps out the window to save his own ass while Kimble stays behind and rescues his injured partner. When Kimble asks for help, he says "To hell with you!" before diving to safety. Then later, when questioned by the police about the crash, he claims he pulled his partner out. "He woulda done the same for me." Obviously. Gerard, upon finding Kimble's empty, unhooked chains nearby wonders if the guard wants to change his "bullshit story" in light of the evidence.
  • Double Take: Gerard barely glances at the man passing him on the opposite staircase and continues going up before suddenly freezing in place and whipping around as he realizes it might be Kimble.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: Kimble stops by hospitals several times, and on each occasion he feels compelled to help someone (even if only a little). While posing as a janitor he is recruited to help take a kid from the ER while they are dealing with multiple victims from some kind of traffic accident. Since he is a world class doctor, he catches a mistake, rewrites the ER doctor's orders, and takes the kid to emergency surgery instead of to an observation room. Another doctor sees him checking the X-rays as he wheels the kid out and confronts him when she later finds the kid was sent to surgery. She relays all this information to Gerard, but adds that by changing the ER doctor's orders Kimble saved the kid's life.
  • Dye or Die: This is what Kimble appears to be trying to do when he dyes his hair darker.
  • Empathic Environment: The novelization begins with a snowstorm on the night of Helen's murder. There's another that kicks into high gear during the climactic final, and at the end, as Kimble has caught those responsible for his ordeal:
    "...the wind and snow had ceased. The clouds had cleared, leaving a sky full of stars, and the night was perfectly still."
  • Enhance Button:
    • An audio tape is enhanced until a voice on a PA system in the background can be clearly heard saying the name of an 'L' train station.note 
    • A second more reasonable example when the marshalls blow up a photograph found at Sykes' place revealing the label on Lentz's shirt to be from "Chicago Memorial" tying him to Kimble.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Gerard's first scene is there to show how competent he is. His men finds Richard's leg chains "with no legs in 'em" and takes over the investigation within a few minutes.
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • Gerard's team's trying to figure out why Kimble was at Cook County Hospital, then they see a one-armed man walk by them headed for the prosthetics department.
    • While reviewing fraudulent lab results with friend Kathy Wahlund, Kimble has a sad and angry version of this when he realizes that his friend Dr. Nichols is the only one who could have tampered with the results and is therefore ultimately responsible for the whole mess.
    • Near the end of the film, when Gerard's investigating the files the CPD has on Kimble's case, he also asks one of his deputies to check the phone records to see if Nichols and Sykes had called one another. When nothing comes up, the same deputy informs Gerard that Kimble called Sykes from his car-phone on the night of Helen's murder. When Gerard cross-checks the investigation timeline of Helen's murder, he quickly realizes the call was made during the time that Dr. Nichols was driving to the hospital event to return Kimble's car.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: Kimble gives an epic one of these to his wife's killer. The one he lays out on Nichols is even more epic.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • The state trooper doesn't realize that he's talking to the very escaped prisoner whose wanted poster he's holding, though he does spot that the anonymous doctor's fly is down. To be fair, Kimble has shaved his beard and is deliberately and nonchalantly playing along with the resemblance. "Every time I look in the mirror, pal. Except for the beard of course."
    • Gerard doesn't see Kimble sneaking away from the parade despite practically being right behind him. Kimble does have the advantages of having removed his jacket and having several parade goers between them.
    • Despite having loaned his friend Dr. Nichols his keys, Kimble somehow never realized in the entire year since Helen's murder that this was how Sykes was able to get into his house, even as he racked his brain about it. Not even when he realized Nichols' duplicity did he figure it out.
    • The cop who tries to arrest Kimble on the train fails to realize that Sykes is the one with a weapon and is gunned down as a result.
  • Fake Alibi: Sykes (the One-Armed Man) says earlier in the film that he had an alibi for the murder of Richard Kimble's wife. Since it turns out that he was in fact the killer in question, this also means there was a conspiracy to give him the fake alibi in question (and those people, which could include members of the Chicago PD, will be going to prison along with Sykes and his boss, Charles Nichols).
  • Fatal Family Photo: As Helen Kimble's life slips away, among the objects scattered on the floor around her is a picture of her and Richard, obviously taken during happier times (and driving home just how tragic her murder is).
  • A Father to His Men: Although Gerard initially appears callous with his "I. Don't. Bargain.", he later blows off a superior with "He was about to shoot one of my kids".
  • Feedback Rule: Occurs when Doctor Nichols takes the podium to announce his new anti-cholesterol drug. Subsequently averted when Doctor Kimble seizes the mic to declare The Reveal. In this case, the squealing mic can apparently Detect Evil.
  • The Film of the Series: This was the movie that popularized the concept again. It's often considered the gold standard for it.
  • Flashback Effects: The flashbacks to the night of the murder are either in black and white or the audio is treated with an echo effect.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • While he's questioned by Gerard, Dr. Nichols emphatically tells him, "Richard is innocent." He would know. He's the one who framed him.
    • As Richard returns to the hospital disguised as a Janitor, two ambulance drivers can be heard discussing the school bus crash. Richard's reflex to help one of the victims will complicate his escape later.
  • Frame-Up: The set-up for the movie. Although an Unintentional Backup Plan since Kimble was the original target of the assassination.
  • Freudian Slip: When Dr. Charles Nichols is giving a speech at a conference, he says as he notices Kimble has arrived to confront him:
    Nichols: [Provasic] was developed in cooperation, not competition, with Chicago Memorial Hospital, in what we hope will be the model for a continued dishonest... excuse me, honest open joint venture.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    • Despite all of Gerard's ostensibly antagonistic actions towards him, Kimble clearly recognizes him as someone he needs on his side—why else call him upon finding the real killer? Similarly, by the end, Gerard isn't trying to capture Kimble to arrest him, but rather to protect him from the vengeful cops and to stop him from committing murder for real in order to avenge his wife.
    • There's also just the tiniest hint of awe on Gerard's face after Kimble's leap from the dam. He might not yet know or believe that Kimble is innocent, but the fact that he's willing to go to such desperate lengths to stay free tells him that this is no ordinary fugitive.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Barely averted. When Gerard guns down a man who has one of his men in a chokehold, gun to his head, he does so be popping around a corner and shooting the man from a foot away. As a result, his hostage subordinate has hearing damage and the bullets' passage shredded his clothes down to the skin.
  • Fugitive Arc: The Movie.
  • Glad I Thought of It: Gerard first doubts that the sound on the tape was from an elevated train but by the end concludes, tongue-in-cheek, that he knew it all along.
  • Glasses Pull: Nichols does this to convey his Oh, Crap! reaction when Kimble confronts him with proof of his deception and involvement in his wife's murder.
  • Good Versus Good: There's U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard, whose job is to recapture convicted murderer Richard Kimble. Richard Kimble is innocent, however, and his job is to find the real murderer and clear his own name.
  • GPS Evidence: Henry insists Kimble has to be in a city with an elevated train after he claims to hear one in the background of a wiretap recording. Another deputy agrees with him, pointing out that he lived under an 'L' for many years. Use of the Enhance Button provides a precise location - a payphone off the Wells Street Bridge.
  • Gun Struggle: On the train, Kimble and Sykes fight over a revolver. Kimble wins out and gives Sykes a Pistol-Whipping.
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: In the novelization of the film, after stealing a workman's uniform, Kimble notes the irony of the fact that his wrongful murder conviction has resulted in him committing a crime for the first time in his life.
  • Hand Signals:
    • Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard seems to be well versed in this.
      • When Gerard receives word of Kimble escaping in an ambulance, he gives a thumbs up to his helicopter pilot as a signal to start the engine.
      • While Gerard's leading the other marshals through the drains, he makes a gesture indicating they should turn off and take one of the tunnels.
      • Gerard makes a "shut up" signal to the other marshals when he realizes that the person calling him is Kimble.
      • Gerard makes a gesture to the other marshals during their raid on the hotel, indicating that they need to cover the exits.
    • Deputy U.S. Marshal Cosmo Renfro makes a "stretch it out" signal to Gerard to indicate they need more time to trace Kimble's call.
  • Hanging Judge: The trial judge not only upholds the miscarriage of justice but gives Kimble the worst sentence for murder possible, death by lethal injection, due to Kimble's "lack of remorse" (since Richard insisted that he was not the killer).
  • Happily Married: Though we only see their relationship in brief flashbacks, it's obvious this applies to Helen and Richard Kimble (a notable difference from the series, where their failing marriage was part of the case against him).
  • Hard-Work Montage: About halfway through the film, we get one of these showing the parallel investigations of Kimble looking for his wife's killer and the marshals looking for him.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Subverted when Richard calls Nichols about his suspicions about the drug study and Lentz's involvement, and the latter asks exactly that. But Richard has already clued in Gerard, who is carrying around a picture of Lentz and Sykes and soon asks Nichols about the former, cluing in Gerard when Nichols lies about not knowing Lentz.
  • He Knows Too Much: Kimble ran afoul of the pharmaceutical company after he noticed liver damage in their test group. It's implied that Dr. Alec Lentz also fell victim to this.
  • Hey, Wait!: Kimble, disguised in hospital clothing, walks past an Illinois State Police trooper sent to the local hospital to be on the lookout for him, holding his wanted poster. Just when he thinks he's safe, the trooper calls to him... only to gesture to him that his fly's down.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Said state trooper thinks Kimble's a doctor and asks him if he's seen someone matching Kimble's description. Kimble, who's just shaved his beard, says, "Every time I look in the mirror, pal. Except the beard, of course." Sounds risky, but it might have been more suspicious if he didn't acknowledge it.
  • High-Dive Escape: Dr. Richard Kimble jumps off a dam to escape Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard.
    Cosmo: What happened?! Where'd he go?!
    Gerard: The guy did a Peter Pan right off of this dam, right here!
  • Hollywood Law:
    • Helen Kimble's 911 call is treated as the most damning piece of evidence against Richard, yet it starts with her saying "There's someone in my house" (i.e. a stranger). If Richard was her attacker, she would not have referred to him as "someone". In her last words before dying, "Richard... he's trying to kill me...", Helen was calling to her husband and begging for help, not identifying him as the killer. Richard knows this. If his lawyer couldn't convince the jury of it, or at least instill reasonable doubt, he's so shockingly incompetent he should be disbarred.
    • Kimble is a respected model citizen who has lived an exemplary, lawful life and never committed a crime, but the judge decides that the only adequate punishment to such a man for a single murder is the most severe one — the penalty of death. No reasonable real-world judge would pass such a sentence if they were in this situation. The main point of penalty in modern judicial systems is not to make criminals suffer or to exact vengeance (we could've stuck to the good old Code of Hammurabi if that were the idea) but to motivate them to change and — if necessary — separate them from society until they're ready to rejoin it. If there is a possibility that a perpetrator in question may live a normal life in the future and commit no more crimes, sending him to prison would absolutely suffice. Penalty of death is way too extreme for such people and reserved only for extreme cases as well — and Kimble's is definitely not one of those.
    • Not to mention the fact that Kimble is (apparently) moved right to the death row shortly after the sentence has been passed — something which would not happen in the real world, where penalty cannot be executed as long as the judgement is final but appealable (i.e. when it still can be changed or revoked altogether by a higher court). Even if Richard had literally the most incompetent lawyer to ever exist and he argued against filing an appeal, death sentences require at least one mandatory appeal to uphold the ruling before an execution is scheduled and the defendant is moved to death row.
    • During the climax, the police officer in charge at the scene orders the sniper in the helicopter to kill Richard the moment he gets a clean shot. There are strict rules about when police officers are allowed to use lethal force, and those orders, given regardless of whether or not lethal force was necessary to subdue the fugitive at that time because of Kimble's status as an alleged Cop Killer, could be considered an order to commit murder. Especially since the shots fired ended up endangering Gerard and the other Marshals trying to take Kimble alive. This could be particularly damaging considering how, given the fact that it could look like the Chicago Police may have framed Kimble to protect Sykes, it now could look like they were trying to silence a witness to police corruption. At any rate, it could be Truth in Television; in Real Life, cops aren't always particular about strictly following protocol when shooting at suspected cop killers.
    • A minor one but after Gerard kills Copeland, we see Illinois State Police cars and deputies outside the house. Thing is, the house is said to be in Whiting, Indiana, which is on the Illinois-Indiana state line, so the Indiana State Police should've been there instead.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Inverted, as the audience does not know from the beginning who framed Dr. Kimble. So out of necessity the film tells the story of Richard Kimble turning from the hunted to the hunter.
  • Idiot Ball: Kimble steals an ambulance—a highly visible vehicle—and promptly begins driving it in an erratic manner, instantly garnering the attention of the police and almost getting him caught.
  • Improvised Weapon: Dr. Nichols knocks Cosmo unconscious with an iron girder.
    • In that same scene, Kimble uses a metal bar to finally knockout Nichols before he can shoot Gerard.
  • Inconvenient Hippocratic Oath: Kimble sneaks into a hospital disguised as a janitor, then takes enough time to correct the diagnosis for a child admitted after a bus crash (with the aid of a Radiograph of Doom), rushes him to surgery ("They sent this one up from downstairs!") instead of observation. Inconvenient, considering that it almost gets him caught. On the plus side, it finally tips Gerard off to the possibility of Kimble's innocence.
  • Inheritance Murder: The detectives who oversaw the investigation determined that Kimble was guilty of killing his wife because her life insurance named him the sole recipient of the claim's payout. Gerard's... skeptical, to put it nicely, pointing out that Kimble was already one of the best paid surgeons in the Chicago area so he couldn't possibly have been in any financial straits. To this, the detectives just respond that Helen "was more rich".
  • Insane Troll Logic: Gerard accurately points out the inconsistency of an extremely wealthy, successful surgeon like Kimble killing his wife for an insurance policy. The cops respond by simply saying that she was "more rich." Even Gerard's incredulous reaction says it all.
  • Institutional Apparel: Yellow prison jumpsuit.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Apparently between the U.S. Marshals and the Chicago Police Department, as the latter are Rabid Cops who are more interested in busting Kimble to compete with the Marshals on who are the better lawmen in the manhunt over actually looking into if Kimble is really innocent that the Marshals are actually doing.
  • Ironic Echo: A subtle example. At one point, Gerard and his men join the Chicago Police Department detectives in charge of the Kimble investigation for a press conference, during which a reporter raises a question about Kimble's possible innocence. The detectives smugly brush the question off, pointing out that Kimble's fleeing from justice obviously means he's guilty. At the very end after the final confrontation, we briefly see those same detectives once again facing the media... this time clearly facing some rather pointed, uncomfortable and awkward questions about the fact that Kimble actually is innocent.
  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: When Gerard mentions to Kimble that Nichols used his keys to let Sykes into his house, Kimble laughs bitterly, realizing that if not for his run-of-the-mill act of loaning his friend his car, his wife might still be alive. In a cruel irony, this also saves Kimble's life while simultaneously contributing to his ordeal—had he not received the emergency call from the hospital, he would arrived home with Helen and likely been murdered along with her—and not been accused of killing her.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: If this is Chicago, it must be St. Patrick's Day. This was actually a late addition to the scriptinvoked resulting from the fact that it was St. Patrick's Day when they were doing the location filming.
  • It's Personal: While Kimble is clearly enraged when beating up Sykes, his wife's murderer, he's even more furious—and the beatdown's even more intense—when he fights with Dr. Nichols upon realizing that his friend of 20+ years is responsible for everything.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration:
    • As they advance on Copeland's hideout, Cosmo is disguised as a plumber (borrowing a work van from his cousin) while Biggs and Henry are disguised as garbage truck drivers, Poole is disguised as a homeless woman, and Gerard and Newman are disguised as drunk bums.
      Gerard: Be drunk, Newman.
    • Kimble sneaks into the hospital disguised as a janitor in order to snoop through medical files and track down his wife's killer.
  • Jerk Ass Has A Point: Kelly and Rosetti while they believe the quick and easy answer to the investigation is that Kimble killed Helen for her life insurance—and are unreasonable otherwise to what Kimble tries to convince them of—do say that the evidence doesn't support Kimble's insistence that the One-Armed Man broke into his house and was the one who killed her (as nothing in the house was stolen since Sykes was only there to kill Kimble and Nichols giving him the keys meant he could just walk right in). The trial also shows how the evidence was misinterpreted—specifically Helen's 911 phone call—to unintentionally support the idea that it was Kimble and no one else. Also, if Sykes is to be believed, police did apparently question him and he had an alibi—even though it clearly isn't true.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:: Gerard is abrasive and sarcastic even to his own colleagues. He also absolutely refuses to negotiate or even play nice with his targets even what that'd be in his favor - casually dismissing Kimble's protests of innocence rather than keep him talking while this backup arrives, or shooting Copeland when he has Newman hostage (possibly damaging Newman's hearing in the process, to say nothing of the risk of accidentally shooting Newman). In the latter case he expresses no regrets or misgivings to Newman, who is annoyed at what he did. But despite all this he does investigate Kimble's case and eventually does come to the conclusion that the man is innocent, breaking his own "never negotiate" rule to talk Kimble down at the end.
  • Jurisdiction Friction:
    • Sheriff Rollins, while investigating the crash of the prison bus and the train derailment that resulted, is sure that none of the prisoners made it out alive, and is ready to close the case when Gerard's team shows up. When Gerard insists on making sure, he makes clear that he has the authority to take jurisdiction. Somewhat reluctantly, Rollins turns over all aspects of the investigation to them so that they won't receive complaints from the locals. Their attitude towards the case (and by extension the Feds) pulls a complete 180 when evidence is found that the eponymous fugitive is Not Quite Dead, which causes the U.S. Marshals and the Illinois State Police to successfully work together.
      Rollins: All right, fine. You want jurisdiction over this mess? You got it. Okay boys, gather around here and listen up! We're shuttin' it down. Wyatt Earp's here to mop up.
    • In the final act, there's a disagreement between Gerard and the Chicago Police Department after Kimble is believed to have shot a police officer on the 'L' train (which was actually Sykes, who Kimble was able to disarm): the CPD wants to kill him in retaliation, and Gerard and his team want to take him alive. The blood is so bad that Gerard actually gets pinned down by sniper fire from a police chopper while chasing Kimble on the roof of the hotel.
  • Just Train Wrong:
    • The Chicago 'L' does not have a station on Balbo Avenue. The shot itself of Kimble's fight with Sykes on the 'L' train actually happens at Clark / Lake station.
    • At one point, there's a shot of Kimble boarding a Brown Line / Ravenswood train at a Loop station. The destination sign reads "Kimball - Belmont", which would be accurate if this was a train operating the Ravenswood Line's late night shuttle service between Kimball and Belmont Avenue. Also, the next shot is of the train going around the Harrison Street curve that the Orange and Green Lines use to enter the Loop from the south - the Brown Line enters the Loop at Lake and Wells Streets - the northwest corner - coming off the Wells Street bridge.
    • When Kimble is making the call, Gerard's team picks up an 'L' train announcement in the background. While PA announcements are now made only inside the train, in the early 1990s they were clearly audible in the station (maybe more so than inside the train), and even in the nearby streets.
  • Killing in Self-Defense: Exploited in the original script/novelization, Nichols taunts Kimble about this during their fight:
    Nichols: I always knew I'd have to kill you. But now I can thank you for giving me 200 witnesses who will support me when I say it was self-defense.
  • Kill on Sight: After the One-Armed-Man kills a police officer during a battle with Kimble, Deputy Marshall Gerard bemoans the fact that since Kimble is now accused of being a Cop Killer, that means the Chicago Police will shoot to kill if they find him.
  • Lifesaving Misfortune:
    • Kimble being called in to work to perform emergency surgery unwittingly foils Nichols' and Sykes' plan to murder him. Helen ends up going home alone and only she gets killed.
    • Kimble getting recognized on the train provides a crucial distraction when Sykes shows up. Unfortunately, this gives Kimble the reputation of a Cop Killer, setting Chicago police on him.
  • Lost in a Crowd: Kimble flees into the St. Patrick's Day parade.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • Helen Kimble's murder appears to be the result of an interrupted burglary, a random crime—until Kimble finds evidence that it was an orchestrated hit.
    • According to Cosmo Renfro, Dr. Lentz met his demise when an unidentified car swerved and catapulted him into the concrete barrier separating Lake Shore Drive from Lake Michigan.
      Cosmo: Yuck.
  • Manly Tears: Kimble sheds plenty of these, most notably as he holds his dead wife in his arms, then breaks down while being interrogated by the police as the full impact of what's happened starts to sink in.
  • Marquee Alter Ego: At the beginning of the movie Kimble has a beard. As part of Kimble's attempt to disguise himself, he shaves off the beard and looks more like the Harrison Ford with whom audiences are familiar.
  • Match Cut: During Kimble's nightmare. He leans over Helen to kiss her... and the next shot is of him frantically giving her mouth-to-mouth in an attempt to resuscitate her.
  • Media Scrum: The press crowd at the end in front of the Hilton Hotel.
  • Menacing Hand Shot: At the dam, Gerard reveals his hidden second gun which gets dramatic focus as he sets out to hunt down Kimble.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Murder of Kimble's wife. -> Dr. Nichols' plan to market a deadly medical drug to an unwitting public.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Kimble's conviction.
  • Missed Him by That Much:
    • Kimble flees Cook County Hospital via a back entrance just as Gerard and company are arriving at the main one.
    • Had Gerard turned around a few seconds earlier, he would have seen him sneaking out of the parade.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: This happens to Kimble twice, first regarding his wife, then regarding the transit cop.
  • Mistaken for Prank Call: The marshals snicker when told that Richard Kimble is calling, obviously assuming this (background dialogue, "Another one?" suggests they have gotten a lot of these). Until Richard speaks, saying something only he could know - and they realize that it's legit.
  • Mood Whiplash: In-universe. The flashbacks to the night of Helen's murder show that the couple had a lovely time at the hospital fundraiser, as well as strongly implying that the two were going to enjoy a romantic evening once Richard returned home... only for him to find her near death and Sykes still in the house intending to finish him off as well.
  • The Most Wanted: The main plot is about a medic who was framed for the murder of his wife and Wrongly Accused of doing it. With all against him, he decides to escape and get the real murderer to justice. The Chicago Police Department appeared to be a little too overzealous and eager to arrest Kimble no matter what, even going so far as to declare martial law on him when they thought he was a Cop Killer in the climax.
  • Motive = Conclusive Evidence: The fact that Kimble had something to gain from his wife's death (money, even though, as a top surgeon, Kimble is already personally wealthy) is the crowner of the barrage of (circumstantial) evidence the Chicago Police Department use to arrest Kimble and call it quits. When Gerard talks to the detectives who did the investigation to get a feel of how to continue his pursuit of Kimble, the tone of his voice suggests he's a bit skeptical about what led the CPD to come to such a conclusion when he doesn't see anything that suggests that Kimble gained something from Helen's death.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: When Kimble steals the ambulance and gets chased to the dam, we see a pretty literal depiction of this trope. (Most of the film's location shooting was done in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina; the train wreck set is still there on the scenic railroad; a sign for Murphy, North Carolina can be seen during the car chase leading up to the dam, and a real hospital near where the train crash scene was filmed is referred to by its actual name.)
  • Mouthing the Profanity: While Kimble is escaping from Deputy Gerard he manages to get on the other side of some bulletproof glass. When Gerard fires repeatedly at him but the glass stops the bullets, Gerard mouths the words "son of a bitch".
  • Mr. Fanservice: Dr. Richard Kimble. Not just in looks, but in personality. During an interview, Ford speculated that women were drawn to the film because they were so moved by the emotional undercurrent of Kimble's unrelenting grief for his wife.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Dr. Nichols is going to an awful lot a trouble to protect RDU-90. The fact that his drug is poisonous will come out eventually; killing everyone involved with it won't change that but it will allow him to make a great deal of money off sales, which would be impossible if the drug never gets released. The fines a company pays are never as much as the profits they make from bad drugs.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • During flashbacks to the fundraiser early in the film, a sign for the pharmaceutical company Devlin-McGregor mentions their work in pediatric care. In the original The Fugitive, Dr. Kimble had been a pediatrician. Additionally, Helen's murder is thought to be the result of a botched burglary, as it was in the original series, before veering into the conspiracy discovered as the film progresses.
    • It's probably not a coincidence that Chicago plays a major role; the original series' "Search in a Windy City" is the first episode where the one-armed man actually appears in the story.
  • Never Found the Body: After Kimble jumps from the dam. It's why Gerard is convinced he's still alive.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Then-local Chicago reporter Lester Holt. Pam Zekman, who is a well-known longtime investigative reporter in Chicago, might also count.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Nichols lying to Gerard about knowing Lentz tips off Gerard that Nichols is not to be trusted and he starts looking for links between him and Sykes.
  • No Escape but Down: Kimble jumps from a dam into the river far, far below.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: When Gerard mentions to Kimble that Nichols used his keys to let Sykes into his house, Kimble laughs bitterly, realizing that if not for his mundane act of loaning his friend his car, his wife might still be alive.
    • Kimble agreeing to assist a fellow surgeon with a difficult operation saves his life (because he would otherwise have arrived home with Helen and likely been murdered along with her) but also leaves him accused of being his wife's killer.
    • Kimble saves the life of one of the prison guards by pushing him from the prison bus and off of the train tracks. The next day the guard recognizes him on the way into the hospital, allowing the US Marshals to pick up his trail and identify the ambulance he stole.
  • No One Could Survive That!:
    • Gerard's colleagues initially insist that the waterfall jump killed Kimble, but Gerard requests a search and rescue team.
      Trooper: The guy is fish food!
      Gerard: Fine. Go get a cane pole, catch the fish that ate him.
    • And later,
      Trooper: Face it, the guy is dead!
      Gerard: That oughta make him easy to catch!
  • Novelization: By J.M. Dillard, it’s based on the original script, with some slight changes from the finished film.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Kimble, when asked who the beneficiary to Helen's life insurance is during the interrogation. Even though he's innocent, he knows where the investigation is about to go.
    • Another occurs in the "I don't care" scene when Gerard realizes Kimble has picked up the gun he dropped. The fact that Kimble doesn't shoot him despite having every reason to is Gerard's first hint that Kimble might be telling the truth.
    • When Gerard calls to him and Kimble looks up.
    • Nichols when he spots Kimble in the auditorium and again—paired with Glasses Pull—as Kimble lays out his plot for everyone to hear.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Throughout most of the film, Richard is polite and (fairly) calm, even when dealing with Gerard. But when he shows up at the hotel to crash Nichols' speech, he starts to lose it. He gives Nichols a Death Glare to begin, then angrily confronts him, and when Nichols tries to steer him out of the room, Richard violently shrugs him off and then shoves him repeatedly. Once they're out of the room, they get into a knock-down, drag-out fight that goes through several rooms, with Richard finally venting his rage about Helen's murder.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Although Dr. Nichols is ostensibly American, Jeroen Krabbé's Dutch accent is sometimes apparent. Note his exchange at the hotel with Gerard and Cosmo.
  • "Open!" Says Me: Gerard kicks down Copeland's door.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Seriously, Kimble, forging an ID with a Hispanic name?
    Gerard: "Desmondo, Jose Ruiz???" [Gerard tears off laminate] Whoo-hoo. Where are you at, Desmondo?
  • Parting-Words Regret: Helen told Richard "I'll wait up for you" when he dropped her off at home to return to the hospital for an emergency surgery. In the interrogation room, the words echo repeatedly in his head and he seems utterly stunned that something so ordinary was the last thing she said to him.
  • Person as Verb:
    • When Cosmo asks Gerard about what happened: "He did a Peter Pan right off this dam here. BOOM!"
    • Also, there's "I bet he pulled a Casey Jones" at the site of the train wreck.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite callously abandoning Kimble and the injured guard to escape from the soon-to-be flattened bus, Copeland has enough of a shred of decency to return and pull Kimble from the wreckage. Note that this is more than what the guard's own partner did.
  • Phone-Trace Race: Invoked when Kimble calls Gerard from Sykes' home and the Marshals trace the call. Kimble is aware of this and makes a point of leaving the phone off the hook when he leaves the building so that Gerard will come to Sykes' house.
  • Playing Drunk: While Gerard and Newman are approaching Copeland's hideout, they pretend to be drunken bums to avoid arousing the suspicion of the neighbors. Gerard even says, "Be drunk, Newman."
  • Plot Hole: In the recording, Kimble's wife clearly says "There's someone in my house", which should eliminate her husband as a suspect, seeing how she wouldn't have said that if it were him.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: There wouldn't even have been a movie had Helen Kimble not been murdered.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • The Chicago Police Department comes off looking pretty incompetent as far as the Helen Kimble case went. Gerard looks incredulous at their theory that the already-rich doctor murdered his "more rich" wife for the money. In the novelization, they admit they didn't even bother to look into Kimble's claim that a one-armed man was responsible, as they just disbelieved it.
    • Rosetti and especially Kelly in particular have such an inexplicable and blatantly obvious bias against Kimble that it's shocking they were never taken off the case or at minimum just written up for misconduct.
    • By the end, it looks even worse than that; since it turns out that Frederick Sykes was an ex-cop, even if they didn't, it at least could look like there's a possibility that they might have arrested Kimble to cover for one of their own.
    • Subverted with Gerard and his team of marshals, who are not the least bit incompetent, and veer strongly into Scarily Competent Tracker: their ability to stay no more than two steps behind Richard at all times despite not knowing what he's up to until the third act is impressive, and their insistence on looking at the original case in light of the new evidence that Kimble has uncovered during their pursuit leads them to the truth, which they insist on even if it is inconvenient to their capture.
    • The cops arrest the son of the Landlady of the pad Richard is staying in for drug dealing. It seems rather odd that they'd not be searching the place, and the attached unregistered apartment, and not find Richard himself.
  • Predatory Big Pharma: Richard Kimble discovered that Devlin-MacGregor was producing the medication Provasic, knowing that the drug causes severe liver damage, and after he uncovered this, his friend Charles Nichols hired the one-armed man to attack him and his wife Helen.
  • Propping Up Their Patsy: When U.S. Marshall Gerard, and a deputy go to interview Richard's closest friends, he interviews Dr. Nichols, Richard's best friend since medical school, who admits that he had an encounter with Richard that morning, and gave him some money. When Gerard asks what he thinks of Richard, Nichols tells Gerard and his deputy that Richard is a smart man and innocent of all charges. He should know, since he's the reason why Richard was sentenced to death for the murder of his own wife.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: A rare whispered example, with Gerard's "I. Don't. Bargain."
  • Put on a Prison Bus: Happens to Sykes at the end when he gets transported off in a police car.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: Where the prison bus rolls onto the tracks. During the derailment of the oncoming train, it appears the train is doing everything it can to kill Kimble.
  • Red Herring: Dr. Alec Lentz is set up to be the Big Bad of the movie and orchestrator of Kimble's downfall. However, we learn halfway through the film that Lentz was killed in a car crash soon after Kimble's incarceration, and that the real villain was Dr. Charles Nichols.
  • Reflexive Response: While leaving the jail, Kimble passes Gerard on the stairwell. A couple floors later, Gerard realizes that the man he passed might be the fugitive he's looking for, so he looks down and calls out "Richard!" When Kimble reflexively looks up on hearing his name, Gerard knows it's him. In the original script, he doesn't look up, but he does freeze in place for a moment, no doubt stopping himself from the reflexive response, before continuing down the stairs at a visibly faster pace than before. The deliberate lack of reaction tips Gerard off just the same.
  • Remake Cameo: Richard Kimble was played by David Janssen in the original television series. The actor died suddenly from a heart attack in 1980, but his mother, Berniece Janssen, is an extra in the courtroom scene. You can spot her behind Harrison Ford's head while they play the 911 call, and when he is declared guilty. She is whispering with another woman.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: While Gerard and his subordinates are listening to Kimble's phone call to his lawyer, Gerard asks for part of it to be enhanced and repeated so they can hear it clearly. They eventually use it to find a hidden "Next stop, Merchandise Mart" train announcement in the message and determine that Kimble is actually in Chicago.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: During the final minutes of the film, after Kimble has discovered Dr. Nichols' duplicity and sets out to find him, so angry that he doesn't give a second thought to the fact that he's out in public where someone could—and does—easily recognize him. Unlike most examples of this trope, his rage is limited to one person (or rather, two, counting Sykes).
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Gerard hounds his quarry (along with Dr. Nichols) onto the convention center roof — and then back down to the basement.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Part of the reason that Kimble gets so far is that rather than going to ground, he starts conducting his own investigation. Gerard eventually starts believing his innocence because no smart murderer would take risks like appearing at a hospital or talking to his coworkers.
    • Kimble's final gambit to convict Nichols is to walk right into the hotel holding the convention and then start laying out the evidence in front of the entire crowd when Nichols begins his speech.
  • Sarcastic Confession:
    • As a freshly-shaved Kimble walks past the state trooper at the hospital, the trooper asks if he has seen a fugitive who is "6'1, 180, brown hair, brown eyes, beard".
    • Sykes gets one while being interviewed by Gerard, who asks him if Kimble would have any reason to be after him. Sykes says, "Hell yeah! I have a prosthetic arm! I must've murdered his wife, right?" He did.
  • Saying Too Much: A subtle version, in the same interview Gerard has with Sykes: When Gerard asks off-handedly whether Kimble had been present on a company sponsored fishing trip, Sykes angrily retorts, "You don't see him in the pictures, do you!?", a rather specific answer for a man claiming to be a total stranger, tipping Gerard's suspicion that Sykes is lying through his teeth.
  • Say My Name: Gerard consistently calls Kimble by his first name.
  • Screaming Woman: Copeland's girlfriend can't stop screaming during the raid much to Gerard's annoyance. Then again, her boyfriend did just get killed in front of her.
  • Self-Surgery: After he reaches the hospital, Kimble sews up the wound he received in the bus crash. Justified because he's a doctor.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: When Gerard's team tracks down Copeland to a house in the Chicago suburb of Whiting, Indiana, Copeland takes Newman hostage with his own gun. Gerard carefully maneuvers through the house, and from behind cover, shoots Copeland at close range.
  • Shout-Out: That bit where Kimble is "chased" by the derailing train looks familiar...
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: The marshals have a fair amount of this during the slower parts of the hunt for Kimble.
    Biggs: If they can dye the river green today, why can't they dye it blue the other 364 days of the year?
    Gerard: Biggs, do I know?
  • Skip the Anesthetic: Subverted when Kimble does Self-Surgery after the bus crash; he's seen injecting himself beforehand.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Helen Kimble. She dies in the opening two minutes and is only seen in a few flashbacks, but the whole plot centers around her murder.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Non-villainous example. The prosecution lawyer sports a arrogant smile and attitude when presenting the "facts" how Kimble killed Helen.
    • The Chicago Police Department detectives in charge of the Kimble case are a bunch of jerks that didn't investigated any further the moment they thought they had a guilty man (Richard) in custody. When Gerard points out how it doesn't makes sense that Richard, one of the richest doctors in Chicago, killed his wife for money, they bluntly say "she was more rich". And at the climax, they stand in Gerard's way to try to prevent him from entering the hotel and tell him they will take care of Kimble, an order they don't rescind until they almost shoot Gerard.
  • Soft Water: Kimble's leap from the dam, which should have killed him or at least broken every bone in his body.
    • However, the cascading water falling down the dam may have broken the surface tension for him.
  • Spotting the Thread: Gerard first begins to doubt Kimble's guilt when he learns the Chicago police's ascribed motive for Richard killing his wife doesn't add up.
    Gerard: "What do you mean 'he did it for the money?' He's a DOCTOR, he's already rich."
  • Stairwell Chase: Gerard spots Kimble at Cook County Jail.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Averted. When Gerard shoots Copeland, who is holding Newman at gunpoint, Newman has temporary hearing loss.
  • Stern Chase: It's what causes most of the tension and action of the film.
  • The Stinger: At the very end of the credits, a scene of fireworks erupting over Chicago is shown for no apparent reason.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: When Gerard is reviewing Kimble's case and quizzing the Chicago detectives about it, he seems to be thinking this. Understandable given that their main justification is that the rich doctor murdered his rich wife to get more money.
  • Survivor Guilt: Kimble gets hit with this hard in the novel upon realizing that he was the real target, even briefly wishing that he had died as well.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: Zig-zagged. In the interrogation at the beginning, the Chicago police seems to believe Kimble just enough to ask him if he remembers any details about the one-armed man (if he can remember his assailant's eye color, etc.), but Kimble can only remember the fact he wore a prosthetic arm. Then we see ample proof that the Chicago police didn't care about the one-armed man and believed all along that Kimble was acting crazy to try to play innocent, while Kimble (by breaking into the local hospital's database and requesting a list of men who had their prosthetics repaired or replaced shortly after Helen's murder) got to Sykes within a day or so.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • Sykes is very quick to tell Gerard that he has an alibi for Helen's murder and 15 people who can confirm it.
    • Aside from Sykes, the morgue attendant whom the marshals question lies and claims that he hasn't seen Kimble.
    Newman: That's not what I asked you.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Gerard's job is to hunt people who have escaped custody, full stop. He learns that Kimble is innocent and sympathizes with a good man who lost everything, but his job is still to bring him in.
    Kimble: I didn't kill my wife!
    Gerard: I don't care!
  • Trojan Ambulance: While at a hospital, the fugitive Richard Kimble steals an ambulance as an escape vehicle. Unfortunately for him, the theft is reported to his official pursuers, who close in on him and cut him off.
  • Unintentional Backup Plan: A villainous version. The plan was apparently to kill both Richard and Helen in what would appear to be a botched robbery. But when Richard was able to fight Sykes off and only Helen was killed, it now looked as though Richard was the killer, leaving him to be convicted and sent to death row, effectively getting rid of him anyway.
    • After Kimble confronts Nichols, the latter declares (in the novel), "I always knew I'd have to kill you. Now, I can thank you for giving me 200 witnesses who will support me when I say it was in self-defense.", this revealing his OTHER impromptu back-up plan, to make it look like Kimble's a lunatic trying to blame his wife's death on his friend.
  • Use Their Own Weapon Against Them: Helen keeps a revolver in her nightstand but it's being used against her by the intruder.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    Dr. Nichols: You never give up, Richard, do you? YOU NEVER GIVE UP!
  • Wham Line: "To see a friend."
    • Also, Gerard at the end.
      Gerard: Richard, I know you're innocent! I know about Frederick Sykes! I know about Dr. Charles Nichols! Richard, he borrowed your car the night of your wife's murder, he had your keys! No forced entry, Richard! He telephoned Sykes from your car, Richard! Richard, give it up! Richard, I'm either lying or I'm gonna shoot you, what do you think? Give it up, it's time to stop running!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Averted. After the train wreck, Kimble and Copeland are the two escapees from the train. However, when a shack of leg irons is found with no body attached to them, Gerard announces that Kimble has escaped and institutes a manhunt for Kimble. The manhunt we see focuses solely on Kimble and seems to ignore the fact that Copeland had gotten out. However, it turns out that a different team was hunting for Copeland, and thus, a few days after the escape, the Marshals descend on a house where Copeland's hiding out with his girlfriend.
    • After the climax, Sykes is being arrested while Renfro is taken away in an ambulance, but neither of those things is seen happening to Nichols, which lends to the idea that getting struck with the rebar pole may have actually killed him.
  • Working the Same Case: Kimble and Gerard about 3/4 of the way into the film. As Gerard points out to Kimble, he's trying to hunt down a criminal, not solve a mystery. But once Kimble alerts Gerard to Frederick Sykes aka The One Armed Man, Gerard and his team start to assemble the other half of the puzzle Kimble is piecing together with his own investigation.
  • Workplace-Acquired Abilities: Kimble being a doctor comes in handy at numerous points in the film.
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Played with; Dr. Kimble commits multiple crimes in the course of proving that he didn't murder his wife, beginning with his original escape from custody, which is illegal whether or not you are innocent of the crime you are accused or convicted of. Notably, however, the film ends with him in the custody of the US Marshals who were pursuing him throughout the movie. While he's cleared himself of the original murder, there's no indication that all the other stuff is going to be forgiven automatically. It can be argued that he's got good grounds for defense; the point is that his righteousness is not taken for granted.
    • There would likely be no appetite from the authorities to prosecute Kimble for anything. The District Attorney and CPD would already be hard-pressed to explain why an innocent man was convicted of capital murder on incredibly flimsy circumstantial evidence for such a serious crime and was essentially forced to find the real killer himself. Furthermore, given that the real killer, Frederick Sykes, is a former Chicago cop, it's possible that the media and the public might be led to believe that the Chicago Police Department framed Kimble to protect one of their own. There's also the small matter of them instituting a 'shoot-to-kill' policy on Kimble (albeit under the assumption that he's a Cop Killer) to the point where Gerard, a federal marshal, was afraid for his life due to being caught in the middle — which, in light of the above, could be easily spun by any half-decent lawyer or public relations official as the CPD trying to silence a potential witness to police corruption. It also doesn't help that the Chicago Police Department has a pretty lengthy and notorious reputation for corruption and abuse of authority. The Chicago authorities are already facing a lot of awkward questions about this mess when the dust settles; the only way they could make themselves look worse would be to charge Kimble with anything else. That's in addition to Kimble having saved one of the prison guards even as the other guard left them both to die which would make going after him an even worse idea.
    • Clearly, even if Kimble were convicted of some of these things, it still beats the lethal injection he was otherwise facing.note  The most likely outcome would be prosecutors agreeing to drop charges in exchange for time served, that is, the time Kimble spent incarcerated before and during his trial, sentencing and transport, and perhaps a token period on probation, perhaps in return for him not suing them into oblivion for wrongful imprisonment, not to mention trying to kill him twice.
    • And unlike many, many cases, Kimble actually could sue them into oblivion big time, since he has the resources to pull it off due to being one of Chicago's highest-paid surgeons, his story is public, and even U.S. Marshals would surely speak against the CPD if pressed or requested as they witnessed their ineptitude and incompetence firsthand. Needless to say, the City of Chicago and the CPD would want the fiasco off the public consciousness ASAP.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Gerard vs. Kimble. Particularly towards the end, as Kimble goes from trying to evade Gerard to realizing that he needs him on his side. So when Kimble finally finds the man who killed his wife, he deliberately lets Gerard trace him there (escaping before he arrives, of course), knowing that Gerard (who has already begun to suspect that Kimble is innocent) will start putting things together. To top it off, both men soon realize the extent of the conspiracy surrounding Kimble and how it was masterminded by his so-called friend Dr. Nichols, leading Gerard to race to find Kimble not to arrest him, but to protect him from the police and prevent him from committing murder for real in order to avenge his wife.
  • You, Get Me Coffee:
    Gerard: Newman, what are you doing?
    Newman: I'm thinking.
    Gerard: Well, think me up a cup of coffee and a chocolate donut with some of those little sprinkles on top, will you? While you're thinking?
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Said word-for-word by Biggs when Kimble somehow completely vanishes from the tunnel where he's been cornered. We soon see what really happened — he crawled into the storm drain — but it's so carefully filmed that for a moment, even the viewer is thinking this.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Kimble has a moment like this when he is being interviewed by the police after his wife's murder, as the mounting (circumstantial) evidence against him points to his own guilt.
  • You No Take Candle: The Polish landlady speaks this way.


Beardless Fugitive

Dr. Richard Kimble starts his fugitive run by shaving.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / BeardnessProtectionProgram

Media sources: