Bad cop, bad cop

No other show in the history of American television portrayed the men in blue in as sinister a light as
The Fugitive did. Protagonist Richard Kimble is constantly menaced by them; every police station has his mug shot tacked up to their bulletin board of most wanted criminals, and his fingerprints are on file, too. At best the cops are conscienceless lackeys of a cold, unjust system, at worst corrupt, self-aggrandizing, and even sadistic hypocrites who posture as upholders of the moral fabric but are in fact, quite ironically, much worse characters than the falsely convicted man they are hunting. In a class by himself is the most prominent police officer on the show, Lieutenant Gerard, whose icily schoolmasterish demeanor makes J. Edgar Hoover look like Barney Fife from the Mayberry P.D.

In accordance perhaps with a higher standard of justice, the cops' foibles are sometimes exactly what allows Kimble to escape their merciless clutches, for example in such episodes as
TUG OF WAR and THE GOOD GUYS AND THE BAD GUYS. The only way cops can be good guys on this show is if they are too incompetent to recognize Kimble for who he really is (as in COME WATCH ME DIE), or if they deliberately shirk their duties and let him go (as in WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS). In one episode of the series, there is even an explicit comparison between this almost subversive perspective on law enforcement, and the typical take seen in shoot-'em-up crime shows with their do-no-wrong police heroes.


Created and maintained by Joseph Rosenzweig,