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Fugitive Arc

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Fletcher: John, don't run.
Anderton: You don't have to chase me.
Fletcher: You don't have to run.
Anderton: Everybody runs, Fletch. Everybody runs.

This trope comes into play when the government, and maybe even 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 Frame-Up, the villain taking control of the government, or the government itself turning evil. The heros are, quite literally, outlaws.

The heroes are now in a Fugitive Arc. A fugitive needs some goal other than not getting caught, because otherwise, the hunt will last forever and Living Is More than Surviving. 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 escape the hunt. Perhaps by gaining enough power to take down the villain or arranging some sort of spectacle to get the citizens back on their side. Or by reaching a place of enduring safety, like exile, sanctuary with a powerful patron, a new identity, or being dead. The latter cases are more precarious, because the hunt can resume when circumstances change — such as a few episodes later or in a sequel. Alternatively, this can become Protagonist Journey to Villain if they decided they are fed up with how the others treated them and become the full-blown criminals they asked for instead. Sometimes, they actually get caught — and may or may not stay that way.

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. The hero has no safe haven and little access to help. Additionally, there's the fact that The Hero usually doesn't want to hurt his pursuers who are simply cops pursuing someone they believe to be a criminal.

A subtrope of The Chase where the government endorses and performs the chasing — though they might subcontract to a Bounty Hunter. There will inevitably be a Chase Scene and many Escape Tropes. The hero may be an Action Survivor. The heroes will probably have "Wanted!" Poster shenanigans. See Noble Fugitive for when the character is fleeing aristocratic intrigue. Contrast Living MacGuffin, who is hunted not for being a perceived criminal, but for what they are, or the Kidnapped Scientist / Kidnapped Doctor for what they can do. An inversion of the Cop Show and Police Procedural, where the fugitive is sympathetic (or at least interesting).

The Fugitive Arc differs from stories about La Résistance, who is always being hunted by The Empire, spies undercover, and general Crime Fiction in its intensity and focus. While these types of stories can have a Fugitive Arc, when they do, it means these outlaws have attracted the attention of the authorities. Their general status outside the law turns into being chased specifically, often at the highest priority. The hunt goes from a background threat to the core driver of the plot.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Buso Renkin: After Kazuki discovers that he has a black Kakugane and is turning into a Walking Wasteland, the third arc of the series sees him, Tokiko, and Gota are hunted by their former allies from the Alchemist Army.
  • A Certain Magical Index: The final volume of the Magic God Othinus arc has Touma ally with Othinus, an international terrorist and former Physical God. Their goal is to reach the spring in Denmark where Othinus first gained her power, so that she can give up her power and then surrender. For the duration of the volume, the entire world is out to get them, including the former allies of both. Played with, in that many of Touma's allies deliberately let him through.
  • In Digimon Data Squad this trope is what ensues after Kurata convinces the world that Digimon are evil and that any Digimon sympathizers are not to be trusted.
  • Fractale begins with Phryne fleeing from not just from Enri and the rest of Lost Millennium, but 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.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: 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.
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero has this happen to Naofumi's party due to a conspiracy by the Three Heroes Church to kill Melty and usurp the throne. He almost convinces the other Heroes that he's innocent, only for Malty to create yet another lie, this time about Naofumi brainwashing his party.
  • 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.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has a variant where it isn't the main character who was on the run, but rather his rival. During the Duelist Kingdom arc, Pegasus conspired with KaibaCorp's board of directors (the Big Five) to take over the company, and Seto Kaiba goes into hiding. He resurfaces in Duelist Kingdom as a Wild Card (not even an official competitor) in order to take back his company from Pegasus and rescue his kidnapped brother Mokuba.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: Happened to half of the Avengers members following Marvel's Civil War (2006) 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.
  • The Batman storyline Bruce Wayne: Fugitive, which had the Bat-family try to find out if Bruce really did kill someone or if it was all planted.
    • In the DC Future State continuity, the Bat-family is turned into fugitives thanks to the Magistrate taking over Gotham City and ruling it with an iron fist.
  • 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 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.
  • In "Dead End Kids", the Runaways are on the run from SHIELD after tearing up one of its secret prisons during the Marvel Civil War. Since they don't trust any of the superheroes, they turn to the Kingpin, except that they manage to piss him off, too, resulting in him sending a whole squad of ninjas after their asses. In desperation, they activate a device that propels them back in time to 1907. By the time they find a way to return to the present, the Secret Invasion (2008) is well underway, so nobody's looking for them anymore.
  • The "End Game" storyline of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) had Sonic being framed for Princess Sally's murder and having to go on the run. The cover of one issue even crossed out "Hedgehog" and replaced it with "Fugitive".

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.
  • In Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run, Lola Bunny and Bugs Bunny become "the most wanted rabbits in the country" when Lola accidentally creates the film's MacGuffin, an Invisibility formula, and they spend most of the film being chased by people who want the formula.
  • NIMONA (2023): Ballister Boldheart is a knight, sworn to protect the kingdom from Villains and Monsters. Branded a Villain for the murder of the queen, he spends the entire movie on the run from the Institute's other knights, seeking the real culprit and reluctantly teaming up with a Monster — the titular Nimona.
  • In The Simpsons Movie, the titular family is on the run from both the people of Springfield (for Homer turning the town's pollution problem From Bad to Worse) and the law because they escaped the dome that sealed Springfield in as environmental control.
  • Superman/Batman: Public Enemies sees the two eponymous superheroes become the target of a manhunt for the murder of Metallo, with an army of supervillains coming together to collect the bounty. Most of the heroes present in the film were also after their heads, especially those sponsored by the same person who issued the warrant for their arrest in the first place, U.S. President Lex Luthor.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 the target of a massive manhunt by the NSA.
  • The Fugitive is naturally a movie-long Fugitive Arc with Kimble trying to clear his name for his wife's murder.
  • In Double Jeopardy , which is essentially a Distaff Counterpart to The Fugitive , a woman skips out on parole to search for the very much alive husband she was framed for killing.
  • 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.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • In the second half of Thor: The Dark World, Thor and company intentionally commit treason by trying to take the Aether out of Asgard and breaking Loki out of prison. This leads to most of Thor's friends holding off (and eventually captured by) the soldiers that tried to stop them.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier has Cap and Black Widow going on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D. for a good part of the movie. Then it turns out they're actually on the run from HYDRA forces that have infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • It happens again in the third film, Captain America: Civil War, where the Avengers are torn in half by differing opinions on the Sokovian Accords, with one half of the team trying to hunt the others. Their criminal status will last for most of Phase 3, giving a handwave to why the team can't be around to face any new threats, at least until Avengers: Infinity War.
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Because of his actions in Civil War Scott Lang goes on house arrest, and Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne on the run from the FBI. However, because he had an encounter with Janet van Dyne while in the quantum realm, Scott finds himself working with Hank and Hope again while fooling the FBI into thinking that he’s still in his house.
    • Spider-Man: No Way Home: The film begins with Mysterio framing Spider-Man for his death and exposing his identity, making him an international fugitive.
  • Mexican Hayride: The film's plot revolves around Lambert and Bascom having fled to Mexico, separately, to escape the police after Lambert tricked Bascom into helping him with a swindle.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • This trope drives the first Rambo film First Blood when top soldier John Rambo runs afoul of local law enforcement, who discover the hard way that they are horribly outclassed.
  • 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.
  • Wolves: After killing his parents while in Wolf form, Cayden goes on the run. After some time as a fugitive, he encounters Wild Joe, who steers him towards Lupine Ridge.
  • Parodied in The Wrong Guy: The protagonist thinks he's in this situation when he discovers his murdered boss' cadaver and does stupid things with the knife, so he tries to Run for the Border. In reality, the police has ample proof of who is the real murderer and don't care about him, the investigator in charge is dragging his feet so he can tourist around town on the police's dime, and the murderer constantly runs into the protagonist by sheer coincidence and thinks the protagonist is chasing him a la Richard Kimble.

  • In book #45 of Animorphs, Marco and his dad fake their deaths and go into hiding in the Hork-Bajir valley. The other human Animorphs and their families join them four books later, after the Yeerks find out that they're human. This is generally considered to be the start of the series' endgame.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Harry, Ron, and Hermione throughout most of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after Voldemort takes over the wizard government.
  • 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.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: For the first seven books, Count Olaf pursues the Baudelaires in a series of ludicrous disguises. In the seventh book, he fakes his own death and frames the Baudelaires for his murder. For the rest of the series, they must evade the authorities, as well as a now anonymous Olaf, in a series of equally ludicrous disguises.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens Once a Season on 24: At one point during each Jack will be wanted by the authorities and his fellow agents and chased for several episodes, either because someone has framed him or he has disobeyed protocol.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In the aftermath of the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier the team finds themselves on the run from the United States government starting at the tail end of Season 1. About halfway through Season 3, however, they manage to strike up a backroom deal with the President — while SHIELD is still formally a rogue organization, they work with their replacement agency the ATCU to handle threats said agency can't.
  • 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 gang are the only ones not under her thrall and thus need to avoid everyone affected by Jasmine while still finding the means to defeat her.
  • 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.
  • The Blacklist:
    • For the first half of Season 3, Elizabeth Keen is on the run from the FBI after the Cabal frames her as a Russian sleeper agent responsible for a series of terrorist actions (though her killing the Attorney General, a Cabal member himself, certainly doesn't help her case). This is resolved when Reddington gains leverage on the Cabal leadership, blackmailing them into scapegoating one of their members and pardoning Keen. And even then, Keen still gets kicked out of the Bureau and can only hang around as a consultant until midway through Season 4, when Reddington manages to blackmail the new President into finalizing the pardon and getting her reinstated as an agent.
    • Liz ends up a fugitive again in Season 8 when she goes rogue to enact a Roaring Rampage of Revenge after Reddington kills her mother, seemingly to cover his own tracks as a Russian Double Agent. And since unlike last time, she's actually guilty of her own actions, her friends are left emotionally torn on how to deal with the situation.
  • Blindspot: In the final episodes of Season 4, Madeline Burke manages to frame Jane's team for her own crimes, sending them on the run while she uses the public sympathy for her "suffering" from said crimes to take over the FBI as part of a larger plan. The heroes proceed to spend most of Season 5 in hiding and trying to find the evidence needed to clear their names and take Madeline down eventually succeeding in the final episodes.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Occurs frequently in Doctor Who serials:
    • From 1963 to 1969 this was an understated, but ever-present, background arc as the Doctor was depicted as being on the run from his own people for reasons not revealed until he is finally captured in the 1969 story "The War Games" and put on trial.
    • 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.
    • Series 9 in 2015 ended on an open-ended fugitive arc, with the newly immortal Clara Oswald last seen on the run from the Time Lords.
    The Doctor: (to Clara) Run like hell because you'll always have to.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 second half of Heroes's third season is titled "Fugitives", with most of the main characters on the run from a government program led by Nathan Petrelli to capture and harness people with powers for military purposes.
  • Heroes's sequel series, Heroes Reborn (2015), has the Fugitive Arc as its entire premise as after Claire's revelation of the existence of powers, there was a huge backlash and anti-power sentiment which got even worse after a horrible bombing in Odessa. It was blamed on powers and Mohinder Suresh, forcing all the surviving specials who hadn't been killed to go into hiding.
  • This was the central premise of Johnny Bago. Johnny is framed for killing The Don's son and goes on the lam.
  • After spending the past seasons as Time Police, the Legends of Tomorrow are now on the run from a rogue Knight Templar Waverider during Season 7, who intends to prevent them from further altering the timeline.
  • Leverage uses this trope twice, given that the main focus is a gang of thieves.
    • The second season finale has them on the run from the FBI after accidentally foiling an arms dealer plot when going after a corrupt mayor.
    • The fourth season finale has them hiding from the series' very first Villain of the Week Victor Dubenich, who isn't really law enforcement but has powerful security and blew their covers.
  • 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.
  • Monk: The season 6 finale, the two-part "Mr. Monk is on the Run", revolves around Monk being framed for the murder of Frank Nunn, one of the conspirators in the murder of Monk's wife. After being caught by a local sheriff and sentenced to prison on an insurmountably high bail, Monk escapes from jail and flees from the cops as he tries to piece together who the true killer is.
  • 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.
  • Filipino cop drama FPJ's Ang Probinsyano (2015) had its eponymous protagonist Cardo Dalisay go through this ordeal in two rather long arcs that he has spent more time as a wanted criminal than as a law enforcer.
    • The first time was when he was framed as a drug lord by corrupt cops, with only his family and fellow honest cops believing his innocence. He spent the first part of this arc serving time in prison before escaping and under circumstances becoming an enforcer for a notorious kingpin in Cebu.
    • After the untimely death of his son, Cardo rejoins the Special Action Force in order to get justice, only to come under the care of the Pulang Araw (lit. "Red Sun"note ), the very rebels he was tasked to hunt. He eventually joins these rebels, warming up to them, even up to warning them of an incoming assault by the Armed Forces, a battle of which only a scant few Pulang Araws survive. Cardo joins the survivors in trying to exact revenge on the man responsible, Renato Hipolito, a Pulang Araw turncoat and aspiring politician that sold them out for his ambitions. Hipolito turns this event around and makes it a variant of Engineered Public Confession in his favor, turning Cardo into one of the country's Most Wanted. The Pulang Araws' (later renamed "Vendetta" and joined by some of Cardo's trusted allies) ongoing conflict with Hipolito eventually escalates when Hipolito allies with the corrupt Vice-President Lucas Cabrera and even the President of the country himself, Oscar Hidalgo (who is not actually corrupt, but rather is an Unwitting Pawn tricked into believing Vendetta are truly enemies of the state). Having realized that he was being Used All Along and declared Legally Dead, Hidalgo went into exile with Vendetta as he has nothing to lose after the death of his family.
  • Several times on Person of Interest:
    • First in season three's mid-season 3-part finale, John and Carter go on the run with the head of HR trying to bring him into FBI custody with all of HR's forces on their backs hunting them down.
    • Again in the season finale, after Samaritan is successfully implemented and uploaded online. Team Machine ditch their old base of operations and their cover identities and run for an abandoned subway station.
    • Then again in season four finale. After narrowly evading capture and defeat, the team make an escape with Harold carrying what's left of the Machine in a briefcase while John and Root gun down Samaritan mooks.
  • Poker Face According to the trailers, the series follows a woman on the lam after her Living Lie Detector abilities get her in trouble with dangerous people.
  • The flashforwards of Quantico has main character Alex Parrish going on the run after finding out she's been framed for the bombing of New York's central station.
  • 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.
  • The second half of Star Trek: Picard's final season turns into this: after Ro Laren's shuttle is destroyed taking out one of the nacelles of the Intrepid, Picard, Riker, Crusher, Captain Shaw and Seven of Nine take the Titan-A and whatever crew is still on board and go on the run to figure out just how deep the Changeling infiltration of Starfleet is and what they plan to do.
  • Supergirl (2015): Kara has to go into hiding after Lex uses Red Daughter to frame her for attacking the President.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff": the protagonist is on the run for being accused of murdering sheriff John Brown, which he admits he did, though he had nothing to do with the murder of his deputy.
    • "Running Away" from Kaya is another Marley song in this vein.
      You're running and you're running and you're running away, but you can't run away from yourself
  • The Fugees' band name was inspired by this trope.
  • Rapper Tay-K released the song "The Race" about going on the run from the police while he was also actually on the run from the police after a robbery that turned deadly. The song managed to chart 44 on the Billboard hot 100 before he was caught on June 2017 and found guilty of murder two years later.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions adventure Deathstroke. After Deathstroke steals the isotopes, the Player Character 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.
  • 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 Player Characters are behind it all. The mob will start hunting the Player Characters and will kill them if possible.
    • If the Player Characters are 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • Breath of Fire IV
    • God-Emperor Fou-lu wakes up from a deep, centuries-long slumber once he senses that his "other half" has appeared, and learns shortly that his own empire doesn't want him back on the throne. Fou-lu spends most of his storyline on the run from Imperial troops, which only goes horribly wrong in the end for all those involved.
    • A downplayed example 2/4s into the game with Cray. He is up for trial after leading an illegal excursion into Imperial territory as well as losing the Eastern Alliance's symbol, the King's Sword. His friends break him out and they seek refuge in Cray's hometown of Worent and later Wyndia, but the plot point of Cray being a wanted man is immediately dropped as the story progresses and more pressing matters come to light. It only got brought up again, very briefly, when some checkpoint guards recognize Cray, but then it's completely forgotten again.
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has this for one level. In "Utopia", Mitchell, Ilona, and Gideon discover, via a recording, that their boss, Johnathan Irons, allowed the KVA terrorist attacks to occur just to make money off of them. He has Mitchell and Ilona detained but lets Gideon go. With the help of the Sentinel Task Force, Mitchell and Ilona escape and are forced to fight their way through New Baghdad. You can even see wanted screens of the pair on various televisions.
  • Criminal Case
  • In Dead or Alive, Kasumi is on the run from her village due to leaving it in search of her brother Hayate in the first game. Her storyline from that point on is trying to stay one step ahead of everyone while getting involved with various events.
  • 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.
  • Final Fantasy
    • The second half of Crisis Core sees Zack Fair trying to make it back to Midgar with a comatose Cloud, while Shinra's troops are hunting them down to keep the Nibelheim incident under wraps.
    • 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.
    • In the second half of Final Fantasy X, Yuna and her pilgrimage persecuted by most of Spira for murdering Maester Seymour. The heat was only temporarily lifted off of them when the leader of the Corrupt Church believed Yuna had finally obtained the means for the Final Summoning to defeat Sin, when in reality Yuna and her party defeated Yunalesca, the summoner who was supposed to grant the power of the Final Aeon.
    • In the finale of the 2.56 patch of Final Fantasy XIV, The Warrior of Light and the Scions of the Seventh Dawn are accused of murdering Ul'dah sultana Nanamo ul Namo and they run off. The Scions save for Alphinaud, Urianger and Tataru all disappear holding everyone back and allowing the WoL to escape. The first part of the Heavensward story arc involves trying to piece together what happened and fix things. Interestingly, no one believes you're a murderer and the other country leaders give you freedom to come into their countries.
  • The beginning of the Revelations path in Fire Emblem Fates has the Avatar and Azura on the run after being branded traitors to both warring kingdoms.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: this ostensibly happens after the mission "Green Sabre" as Tenpenny warns CJ not to come back to Los Santos, but aside from no missions taking place inside the city until the end of the game, there are no actual consequences with entering the city.
  • In Half-Life 2, the first few chapters have Gordon being pursued by the Combine, and he is forced to travel to Black Mesa East for shelter.
  • 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
    • In the Mega Man X series, Zero is a Maverick Hunter who takes down dangerous criminal Mavericks. This gets reversed in the Mega Man Zero series where Zero joins a rebellion to protect innocent Reploids who are unfairly persecuted, getting labelled a Maverick himself in the process.
    • Happens in Mega Man Battle Network 6: Cybeast Gregar and Cybeast Falzar during 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 Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team, 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.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic:
    • The first few chapters of Knights of the Fallen Empire has the Outlander, along with an exiled Sith, a former Knight of Zakuul, the late Zakuulan emperor's estranged lover and HK-55, hiding out in the swamps of Zakuul trying to lay low until they manage to escape into uncontrolled space.
    • The third act of the Bounty Hunter storyline has the player's rep sheet being filled with enough fraudulent crimes to make them the Galaxy's Most Wanted, making them unhireable save for a particularly ruthless Sith Lord. Granted, the player is already a war criminal by that point, but the events basically pin them as (and force them to become) terrorists.
  • Ken Masters of Street Fighter ends up undergoing this in Street Fighter 6. After getting tangled in business with JP, Ken gets framed for leading terrorist attacks and committing significant financial crimes (both of which were the doing of JP), torpedoing his reputation and causing him to become the target of JP's forces, who intend to finish him off. Interpol actually sees the truth fairly quickly and does their best to prove Ken's innocence, but with JP's pursuit threatening him and his family, Ken is forced to go on the lam while figuring out how to to clear his name and take down JP.
  • 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.
  • Theia - The Crimson Eclipse: In the second half of the game, Seth is framed for murdering Emperor Trayant Levizoa by Prince Lademis, who is possessed by Mishra. This makes him the enemy of all the major nations and forces him to join the Mavericks, a Robin Hood-like criminal organization that believes in his innocence. Additionally, many of Seth's friends are considered guilty by association and are forced to be fugitives with him. Martia is framed for prisoner trafficking by her commanding officer and ends up joining Seth in the Mavericks organization. Both of them are cleared after Lademis is freed from Mishra's control and explains the situation to the world leaders.
  • XCOM 2 counts as this for the overall series. In this one, the aliens succeeded in their conquest of Earth, turning it into a totalitarian state. The remnants of the XCOM program have become an underground resistance movement in the 20 years since, and ADVENT propaganda calls them terrorists. You can even spot wanted posters of your soldiers on some missions.
  • Roughly halfway through Ys SEVEN, the king of Altago gets murdered and protagonist Adol becomes the prime suspect. After surviving his execution (a Duel Boss where Adol is extremely ill-equipped), his friends bust him out and they have to spend the second half avoiding Altago's soldiers.

  • In the final arc of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the Big Bad, King Radical, successfully overthrows the U.S. government and has the Dr. declared an enemy of the state. He briefly relents due to considering the Dr. a Worthy Opponent. But after the Dr. stops King Radical from killing billions and causing The End of the World as We Know It, the entire world of Gullible Lemmings turns against him on King Radical's behalf.
  • During a good part of Sonic the Comic – Online!! Sonic is seen as a criminal and a traitor by almost the entirety of Mobius due to being slandered by the media and then framed by a shape-shifting robot. Revealed to all being planned by Grimer, as revenge for Robotnik's insanity. By issue 275 Sonic finally clears his name

    Web Video 
  • Economy Watch: David goes under house arrest in the Season 1 finale.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
    • In Book 3 of The Legend of Korra, Korra and the heroes are declared enemies of the state by the Earth Kingdom after rescuing airbenders the Dai Li have been kidnapping. Zaofu is the only place in the Earth Kingdom that doesn't have it out for them.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door
    • "Operation: E.N.D." sees Sector V apprehended by the KND and set to be decommissioned, and Numbuh One, the only member to escape, has to figure out who set his team up.
    • "Operation T.R.E.A.T.Y." had Numbuh 1 discovering a conspiracy that will sabotage the peace talks between the kids and teenagers, and was now being hunted by both sides. His teammates are Locked Out of the Loop this time and can't provide support, so Numbuh 1 enters an alliance (very reluctantly, with Chained Heat added in) with the person who revealed the conspiracy in the first place: Fallen Hero Chad.
  • Happens in Justice League halfway through the "Starcrossed" arc, when the League is declared enemy combatants by the Thanagarian occupation force.
  • Ninjago:
    • During Skybound, the Ninja are framed for a crime spree by the shapeshifting Djinn Nadakhan. They're hunted down and sent to prison by Bounty Hunter Ronin, and break out of prison to stop the Djinn. It's only after they're seen defending the city from the Sky Pirates by the Police Commissioner that they're no longer on the run.
    • The Ninja get arrested again during Crystalized, this time for crimes they actually committed. After breaking Aspheera out of prison and stealing her staff to save Nya, the other Ninja are sent to prison. While they initially planned to serve out their sentences, the imminent threat of the Crystal King convinces their friends to break them out of prison, leading all of them to go on the run.
  • The final story arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars before it was Un-Canceled had Ahsoka framed for murder and on the run, complete with a Shout-Out scene to The Fugitive.
  • In the Storm Hawks episode "Atmos' Most Wanted", the Storm Hawks discover that they've become wanted criminals and have to work to clear their names while evading their fellow Sky Knight squadrons. The crimes they're wanted for turn out to have been a series of Frame Ups by the Raptors wearing Paper Thin Disguises.
  • 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.
  • In the "Turtles in Space" storyline in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), a teleporter accident sends the Turtles into the middle of an alien war between the Federation and the Triceratons. And they find themselves facing heat from both sides for protecting their new friend the Fugitoid, who is the only one who can help them return home.