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YMMV / The Fugitive

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TV Series

  • Designated Villain: Lt. Gerard can kind of be seen as this.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In "The Breaking Of The Habit" Marie (the student who rats out Kimble) is played by Heather North, the futurenote  voice of Daphne Blake, she's even dressed in purple!
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Every Wandering Hero television show that followed — such as The Incredible Hulk (1977) and The Pretender — copies from The Fugitive by relying on the Wrongly Accused and Stern Chase tropes this series added to that concept.
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  • Special Effect Failure: The train derailment, shown in the Season 1 opening, is very obviously done with a miniature model. It doesn't help that it's clearly a French train.
  • The Un-Twist: The series finale is a two-part story. In Part 1, the One-Armed Man is caught and held in jail for an unrelated crime, but is inexplicably bailed out by someone else. He tells the bail bondsman that he didn't kill Helen Kimble but saw who did and it wasn't her husband. When Kimble breaks into the bondsman's office later, he finds the bondsman dead, murdered, and sees in the bondsman's file that the name of the person who paid for the One-Armed Man's bail is... Leonard Taft, Kimble's own brother-in-law! In the week that passed in between the initial airing of both parts, specualtion that Len would turn out to be the killer was so rampant that Las Vegas oddsmakers picked Len to be the odds on favortite for being Helen's killer. In Part 2, it turns out that, nope, the One-Armed Man was just lying to the bondsman whom he then murdered. He really did kill Helen. It even turns out that Len wasn't even the guy who paid the One-Armed Man's bail. Instead it was a next-door neighbor who had witnessed the One-Armed Man murdering Helen and told no one about it, who paid the bail using Len's name.
    • As one of the producers said later, "If it hadn't been the One-Armed Man who did it, it would have been a joke. (Kimble) would have looked like a jerk. What was he doing for four years, chasing the wrong guy?"
  • Values Dissonance: On the night of Helen Kimble's death, she and Richard had a shouting match over whether or not Helen could love an adopted child, reminding us that adoption was once less widely accepted than it is now.
  • The Woobie: Kimble, of course. It's an essential part of his Plot Armor. Everybody Kimble meets will either 1) instantly believe he's innocent, 2) will realize he's innocent by the end of the episode, or 3) be a guilty criminal. And Gerard.


  • Adaptation Displacement: At least to some extent since the film was made 26 years after the TV show ended, although most viewers were at least aware that the show existed.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Was the Chicago Police Department so stuck in the dark about who actually murdered Kimble's wife, or did they frame Kimble to protect Sykes (Sykes being a former CPD cop)? The fact that Sykes also somehow had "15 people" corroborate his "business trip" alibi is very suspicious. Especially if those 15 people were coworkers.
  • Awesome Music: The entire soundtrack by James Newton Howard. Awesome enough that cues of it were recycled for the (short-lived) remake TV series.
  • Catharsis Factor: Throughout the movie, the CPD have done nothing but accuse, chase, and hunt down Kimble like some preordained criminal. Even when they brought him in for questioning, he was guilty in their eyes before they started to investigate the crime scene. At every conference, they respond to their interviewers with hard-nosed pride that Kimble is a killer who murdered his wife because she was "more rich". By the end, when Kimble clears his name, the CPD are left battling questions from interviewers about their glaring incompetence and poor judgement. Not to mention they'll have to answer for trying to get an innocent (and grieving) widower executed for the rest of their career.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Harrison Ford held the movie together with his portrayal of Kimble, but it was Tommy Lee Jones who really stole the film as the no-nonsense Gerard. It's telling that they made a Spin-Off for Gerard in U.S. Marshals.
    • Newman as well. There are as much fanfics about him as Kimble and Gerard.
    • Copeland, the prisoner from the bus who helps Kimball get out of his shackles, made some fans wish he'd escaped the manhunt.
  • Faux Symbolism: Kimble's leap from the dam. Director Andrew Davis described this as "his baptism. That's the moment he becomes 'The Fugitive'".
  • Foe Yay: Subtle but there with Sam Gerard and Richard Kimble. Sam refuses to believe in Richard's guilt, Richard calls Sam's office despite having no reason to trust him, Sam's blatantly lying when he says he doesn't care, and Richard lampshades it at the end of the film. There's a reason these two won "Best Onscreen Duo" at the MTV Movie Awards despite their adversarial relationship.
    • The novelization takes it even further, explicitly stating that Kimble calls Gerard because despite everything, he's come to respect him and realize that he needs them on his side. Gerard himself begins to feel sincere concern for Kimble's wellbeing, even as he still thinks he's guilty, which kicks into high gear upon realizing that he's innocent. By the end, the two of them share a Meaningful Look after Kimble becomes so overwhelmed with gratitude that Gerard is now his ally that he can't even speak.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Harrison Ford plays an innocent Doctor framed for the murder of his wife. Years later in What Lies Beneath, he plays a doctor trying to kill his wife.
    • Kimble disguising himself as a hospital janitor is amusing given that Neil Flynn (the Janitor from Scrubs) has a small role in the film. That show actually does a Call-Back to this scene by having the Janitor turn out to have been the actor in that scene within Scrub's universe.
    • Art Mullen as the police officer who comes into conflict with Gerard.
    • Three actors who appeared in this film would go on to appear in media adaptations of Batman (Tommy Lee Jones, who plays Gerard, would a couple years later play Two-Face in Batman Forever; Sela Ward, who plays the ill-fated role of Kimble's murdered wife would voice Calendar Girl in The New Batman Adventures and finally Ron Dean, who plays the shortsighted Chicago police detective who arrested Kimble would play another police detective in The Dark Knight, which like Batman Forever also features the supervillain Two-Face).
  • Iron Woobie: Kimble. Between grieving his wife and literally running for his life, you can count on one hand the number of times the poor guy doesn't seem to be this close to bursting into tears. The iron comes from his relentless determination to clear his name and find his wife's killer.
  • It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars: Tommy Lee Jones reportedly told Joe Pantoliano, "It's not like anyone is going to win any awards for this film." Well...
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Someone who's obviously, visibly guilty of something blaming "the one-armed man" (also doubles as Analogy Backfire, seeing as how Kimble was telling the truth).
    • "I didn't kill my wife!" "I DON'T CARE!"
    • Richard's jump off the waterfall has been homaged and parodied everywhere from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater to The Simpsons.
    • Gerard's "search every ____house" speech.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Helen's murder. Imagine that you're supposedly safe in the comfort of your home, preparing for a romantic evening, only to be suddenly and brutally attacked by an intruder, with all your efforts to fight back in vain.
    • During the train crash scene, the way the train cars decouple and smash into the ground make it seem as though the train is actively trying to kill Kimble as he scrambles to safety.
    • The whole scenario. A loved one is murdered and you're wrongly convicted and sentenced to death—it is estimated that 1 out of 9 death row inmates are innocent.
  • Out of the Ghetto: On paper, The Fugitive is a rather straightforward action thriller, making no overt attempts at being Oscar Bait or anything more than a popcorn-chewing suspense ride to close the summer. But because it was so well-acted and developed, critics almost unanimously praised its craftmanship, with several notables like Roger Ebert unequivocally deeming it one of the best films of the year. On top of being an expected box office smash, the film wound up with seven nominations at the Academy Awards, and netting Tommy Lee Jones a statuette for Best Supporting Actor, accolades rarely doled out for action movies.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Julianne Moore as the ER doctor.
    • Neil Flynn as the cop on the subway, especially due to the scene's appearance in Scrubs.
    • L. Scott Caldwell (Rose from Lost) is one of the marshals in Gerard's team.
    • Jane Lynch has four lines as a doctor being questioned by the marshals, who Richard later goes to talk to.
  • Signature Scene: The dam jump and the prison bus / train wreck escape.
  • Special Effects Failure: Although the visual effects overall are good, especially for the time (see below), the shots where Kimble falls from the waterfall use a very obvious dummy.
    • When Kimble drives the ambulance into the tunnel, the shot of the dam is a still shot (notice that the water isn't moving?)
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: They crashed an actual train for the train derailment scene.
  • What an Idiot!: When the police bring in Kimble for a statement after his wife's murder, the CPD who are watching the questioning check the forensics report and note his fingerprints are all over the lamp and his gun as though they were evidence of his guilt. Well NO DUH! They're his lamp and his gun in his own home!
    • Also, Gerard had a chance to catch Kimble off guard in Cook County Jail by sneaking on him quietly and apprehend him from behind. But no, he just shouts out his name out loud while he's not much far from him, which provoked another chase where he loses him yet again.


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