The Fugitive

Comprehensive Storyform

The following analysis reveals a comprehensive look at the Storyform for The Fugitive. Unlike most of the analysis found here—which simply lists the unique individual story appreciations—this in-depth study details the actual encoding for each structural item. This also means it has been incorporated into the Dramatica Story Expert application itself as an easily referenced contextual example.

Story Dynamics

8 of the 12 essential questions

Main Character Resolve

Dr. Kimble maintains he is innocent, and does everything he can to prove it including consistently putting his life in jeopardy.

Main Character Growth

Dr. Kimble must wait for this terrible situation—the ignorance of his innocence and efforts to remove him permanently from society—to end.

Main Character Approach

Dr. Kimble responds by acting first, thinking later, which often puts him into dangerous situations.

Main Character Mental Sex

Dr. Kimble is trying to find out who was responsible for his wife’s murder, and the reasons behind the heinous act, by locating the information that leads back to the killer.

Story Driver

Dr. Kimble’s decision to report the failing results of RDU90 (Provasic) leads to his wife’s murder; the jury’s guilty verdict leads to Dr. Kimble’s death sentence; the guard’s decision to open the grating leads to the wreck; Dr. Kimble’s decision to return to Chicago leads to multiple chases and near misses; Dr. Nichols’ decision not to turn in Dr. Kimble leads to his being hounded by Gerard, etc.

Story Limit

There are only so many one-armed murderers in Chicago, only so many places to hide, and once Richard Kimble is caught again, it is unlikely that he will be able to escape a second time.

Story Outcome

The actual murderer is discovered and the forces behind the murder revealed and brought to justice.

Story Judgment

Dr. Kimble’s steadfastness allows him to prove his innocence.

Overall Story Throughline

""Pursuing the Fugitive""

Overall Story Throughline

A murder in Chicago has taken place.  An innocent man has been accused, tried, and convicted for the crime.

Overall Story Concern

Dr. Kimble is concerned with his future (or lack of it) if he cannot clear his name.  Dr. Nichols is concerned with his future as a board member of the large pharmaceutical company.  The police are concerned with the future safety of the public if the fugitive(s) remain at large.  The large pharmaceutical company’s future will be greatly impacted by the success of its new product, RDU90.

Overall Story Issue

Dr. Kimble is assumed to be (and subsequently found) guilty on circumstantial evidence; the large pharmaceutical company accepts the doctored test results because of Dr. Nichols’ reputation and because it is in its best interest to do so, even though the suspiciously timed death of the pathologist working on the case might call the data into question; Once convicted, Dr. Kimble is considered to be a dangerous felon even though his actions indicate otherwise; Dr. Kimble is able to make headway on his search for the one-armed man because who would think that he’d return to Chicago—or return to his old hospital—or enter the Federal Building?; The true villain is not discovered for a long time because Dr. Kimble cannot imagine that his great friend Dr. Nichols is responsible.

Overall Story Counterpoint

Overall Story Thematic Conflict
Preconception vs.Openness

Overall Story Problem

Every time somebody tries to help it causes problems.  Dr. Kimble lends his car (and keys) to his pal Dr. Nichols which sets him up for the murder rap;  the help that Dr. Nichols gives Dr. Kimble by approving his access to the samples at the hospital sets Dr. Kimble up to be assassinated by the one-armed man; Helen Kimble’s call for help is misinterpreted as an identification of her husband as the killer; Dr. Kimble stays to try and help his wife survive instead of capturing the killer and while trying to resuscitate her, is scratched leaving his skin under her nails; the guard’s attempt to help the “sick” inmate results in the bus crash; Dr. Kimble’s efforts to help the guard (including getting him out of the wreck and later assisting at the hospital) gets him identified; the call for help that Dr. Kimble makes to his attorney gets his whereabouts identified; Dr. Kimble’s diagnosis of the injured child almost gets him caught by the police; the Chicago police’s helicopter cops’ attempts to shoot Kimble almost kill Gerard; etc.

Overall Story Solution

When Dr. Kimble makes public the RDU90 result tampering at the dinner honoring Dr. Nichols, it forces Dr. Nichols to attack him (and subsequently the FBI) directly.

Overall Story Symptom

Illustrations of how attention is focused on “control” in the objective story are: controlling the media; controlling the crime scene; controlling the “circus” at the train wreck; controlling the spillway and river search; controlling the hectic hospital; controlling the RDU90 test results; controlling the color of the Chicago river; controlling the parade; controlling the Chicago Police after a policeman is downed on the elevated train; controlling access to and from the convention site; etc.

Overall Story Response

Illustrations of how the efforts in the objective story are directed toward “uncontrolled” are: being a fugitive “on the run;” jumping off the dam; attempting to escape the bus by mimicking a seizure; Dr. Kimble creates a diversion by claiming that Gerard is shouting and wildly waving a gun around; Dr. Kimble escapes capture by dashing into the St. Patrick’s Day parade; Eddie Copland’s panicked attempt to resist arrest by grabbing the FBI agent Noah and holding him at gun point while screaming wildly and threatening him; the brutal murder of Helen and Dr. Kimble’s fight with the one-armed man; the train wreck; the accident that hurt all of the children that were brought to the hospital; the “uncontrolled,” unidentified car that killed Dr. Lenz; the uncontrollable bleeding caused by the drug RDU90.

Overall Story Catalyst

The guard in the bus gives Dr. Kimble the keys to the handcuffs/leggings because he believes that Dr. Kimble will help the injured guard; Gerard’s openness to the possibility that the prisoners are not dead gets them on the heels of the fugitives almost immediately; the FBI’s openness to the possibility that ex-cop Frederick Sykes is dirty forces Sykes and Dr. Nichols to try and kill Dr. Kimble again; Dr. Kimble’s pathologist friend Cath doesn’t presume that he is guilty, nor what the RDU90 results mean without further observation; Gerard’s willingness to re-evaluate the evidence against Dr. Kimble allows him to come to the conclusion that Dr. Kimble is innocent.

Overall Story Inhibitor

An illustration of how self-serving actions slow down the progress of achieving the story goal is depicted in Sheriff Rollins’ grandstanding in front of the media, allowing precious time to go by while the fugitives escape.

Overall Story Benchmark

The standard by which progress is measured in the objective story is illustrated by how close Dr. Kimble is to discovering the identity of the killer; how close the FBI is to catching the fugitives; how close is it to the release of the drug RDU90.

Additional Overall Story Information →

Main Character Throughline

Dr. Richard Kimble — Fugitive

Main Character Throughline

Dr. Kimble is tracking down the murderer(s) of his wife.

Main Character Concern

Dr. Kimble wants to obtain the identity of the person responsible for his wife’s murder.

Main Character Issue

Though Dr. Kimble is by nature a caring and giving person, under the current circumstances he is willing to do just about anything to find out who murdered his wife—stealing the overalls, the patient’s clothes and food, the ambulance, keeping his whereabouts hidden, stealing the hospital ID, impersonating a janitor to gain access to the hospital records, breaking into Sykes’ building, etc., and of course doing everything he can to prove his own innocence.

Main Character Counterpoint

Main Character Thematic Conflict
Self-Interest vs.Morality

Main Character Problem

So long as Dr. Kimble continues to pursue his wife’s killer, he will find himself in threatening situations—mainly because his wife’s killer is in Chicago and a very public figure.

Main Character Solution

Dr. Kimble needs to avoid getting caught, killed, or stopped before he discovers his wife’s murderer(s).

Main Character Symptom

Dr. Kimble tries to stop the one-armed man from escaping; he tries to methodically resuscitate his wife even though he is visibly shaken; he maintains calm during the repeated questioning by the detectives; calm during the trial; controlled while he is being taken to the prison to be executed; controlled as he rescues the guard; controlled as he enters the hospitals; controlled as he injects and sutures himself; controlled as he searches for an exit in the tunnel; controlled as the police raid the upper floors of his “hideout;” controlled as he exits the Federal Building; controlled as he hides in the parade; controlled as he is about to be shot by Sykes; controlled as he confronts Dr. Nichols with the truth about RDU90; etc.

Main Character Response

Dr. Kimble’s efforts are principally directed toward freedom (complete lack of restraints). They can also be seen reflected in his manner of gaining that freedom:  after the train wreck, Dr. Kimble runs wildly through the forest; once in the ambulance, he drives recklessly away as fast as possible; trapped in the dam, he jumps and allows the river to take him wherever; after managing to control himself in front of the police in the Federal Building, he madly dashes through the bullet proof exit gates; he ends up getting into a frenzied life or death struggle with Dr. Nichols on the top of the hotel.

Main Character Unique Ability

Dr. Kimble is the only doctor involved (directly or indirectly) with the testing of RDU90 to not buy into the company’s perks.  He keeps his professionalism as a physician unencumbered by political obligations.  As a result, he has both the know how, sources, resources, and freedom to make the corporate connection when nobody else seems to have a clue.

Main Character Critical Flaw

Dr. Kimble’s decision not to follow after the one-armed man sets his efforts back significantly; his hanging around the emergency room (where the injured kid is) gets him roped into helping the emergency staff and almost caught; his hanging around the hospital gets him spotted by Sykes and almost killed.

Main Character Benchmark

Dr. Kimble is tracking down the person responsible for his wife’s murder—every time he is sidetracked he is not making progress, or worse yet, he is backsliding.

Additional Main Character Information →
Main Character Description

Dr. Kimble is a very successful physician.  He is middle-aged, healthy, resourceful, attractive, passionate, and totally in love with his wife.

Influence Character Throughline

Sam Gerard — Fugitive Retriever

Influence Character Throughline

Gerard never makes assumptions, only believes (but not necessarily understands) what he personally sees, touches, smells, tastes, or hears—though he often doesn’t believe what he’s told—he drives his people hard until he gets what he wants.  His cunning and tenacity forces Dr. Kimble to make desperate moves.

Influence Character Concern

Gerard is concerned that he may become “soft.”  He is the “Big Dog”—no one should argue with the Big Dog.  But if he begins to care about his “prey,” it may change who he is.

Influence Character Issue

Gerard is of the old school where “he always gets his man.”  He arrives at the site of the train wreck in the middle of the night; personally chases Dr. Kimble down into sewers—even after Dr. Kimble becomes armed; leads his team into the house to catch Eddie Copland; is never hinted at having any type of private life—especially during a case; he personally follows Kimble and Dr. Nichols onto the roof and into the laundry facilities of the hotel.

Influence Character Counterpoint

Influence Character Thematic Conflict
Commitment vs.Responsibility

Influence Character Problem

Gerard is a career FBI man who has sworn to help society by recapturing escaped bad guys.

Influence Character Solution

Gerard need only to make it difficult for the Chicago Police to kill Dr. Kimble (he orders the helicopter away and secures his portion of the hotel) for his belief in the fugitive’s innocence to be proven; Kimble saves Gerard from Dr. Nichols.

Influence Character Symptom

Gerard’s approach to his job—capturing fugitives from justice—is to assemble a highly intelligent team and to reason where the fugitives have gone.  This enables him to keep right on their trail and recapture them in short order.

Influence Character Response

As Gerard gets a “feel” for how Dr. Kimble thinks, he becomes more and more interested in pursuing these “peripheral” avenues (like what Sykes is up to, what Dr. Nichols is up to, and re-examining Helen Kimble’s murder file) which leads him to discover Dr. Kimble’s innocence.

Influence Character Unique Ability

Even though his job is to capture fugitives from “justice,” he can ignore the possible innocence of his quarry.  In response to Kimble’s declaration of innocence, Gerard replies at gun point, “I don’t care.”

Influence Character Critical Flaw

Gerard hopes that trapping Dr. Kimble in the tunnel will lead to a quick recovery, but it ends up allowing Kimble to escape; Gerard hopes that Kimble’s contact with his friends will help them nab him, but his friends end up making it more difficult by giving inconsistent information; Gerard hopes that being able to predict where Kimble might go next will allow them to catch him unawares, but Kimble still gets into Sykes’ place and the Federal Building under their noses.

Influence Character Benchmark

Gerard is slowly getting worn down and frustrated with being the fugitive retriever for this particular convict.  After he has Dr. Kimble in his custody, Gerard admits that he is glad the chase is over because he needs to get some rest.

More Influence Character Information →
Influence Character Description

Self-assured, calm, professional, physically fit, man in his late forties.  Nothing gets by him—except Dr. Kimble.

Relationship Story Throughline

""I Did Not Kill My Wife!" "I Don't Care!""

Relationship Story Throughline

Dr. Kimble professes his innocence while Gerard absolutely believes that Kimble’s guilt or innocence is irrelevant.

Relationship Story Concern

Dr. Kimble’s actions in caring for other people, even at his own risk, create a great conflict with Gerard’s refusal to even consider caring.

Relationship Story Issue

At every opportunity, Dr. Kimble denies his guilt and his denials, in conjunction with is caring actions, force Gerard to consider information he has already determined as unimportant.

Relationship Story Counterpoint

Relationship Story Thematic Conflict
Denial vs.Closure

Relationship Story Problem

According to Gerard’s understanding of guilty criminals, it is not logical for Dr. Kimble to help wounded police, steal ambulances, jump off dams, return to Chicago, allow his whereabouts to be determined; etc.  However, it is Gerard’s strong logical powers that keep him only two steps behind Kimble.

Relationship Story Solution

It is only when Gerard learns to “care” will he be able to understand how Kimble thinks and find him.  It will also force him to consider the question of Dr. Kimble’s guilt or innocence.

Relationship Story Symptom

Both Gerard’s approach as pursuer and Dr. Kimble’s approach as fugitive is to proceed in as controlled a fashion as possible, and the apparent problem between them comes from who appears to be in control at any given time.

Relationship Story Response

Gerard believes that the less focused Dr. Kimble’s efforts become, the easier it will be for the FBI to catch the doctor (no such luck).  Dr. Kimble sees his seemingly unpredictable efforts as what keeps him one step in front of the law.

Relationship Story Catalyst

When it is known that Dr. Kimble is indeed alive, Gerard is able to get his people moving; when it is discovered that Dr. Kimble did not die from his jump off of the dam, Gerard is again able to start up the cat and mouse game; when Gerard discovers why Dr. Kimble risked going to the hospital (to find the one-armed man), Gerard is able to guess where his next moves will be; when the case of Helen Kimble’s murder is resolved for him, he is able to change and pursue Kimble with the intent of helping him, not harming him.

Relationship Story Inhibitor

Dr. Kimble’s commitment to find his wife’s murderer, forces him to avoid capture and therefore minimizes any interactions with Gerard.  Only on a very few occasions is Gerard able to catch up with Kimble—thereby delaying the resolution of their personal/professional conflicts.

Relationship Story Benchmark

At the beginning of the story, Dr. Kimble’s “flight” response is completely automatic.  However, over the course of the story Dr. Kimble’s automatic “flight” response to Gerard lessens and lessens to the point where he is able to ignore it and bash Dr. Nichols unconscious as Dr. Nichols attempts to shoot Gerard.

Additional Relationship Story Information →

Additional Story Points

Key Structural Appreciations

Overall Story Goal

Everyone is concerned for Dr. Kimble’s future: Will he be caught by the Federal Marshalls?  Will he prove his innocence?  Will he expose the real murderer(s)?

Overall Story Consequence

The fugitives will fall into despair at their recapture and death sentences; the humiliation or worse of having RDU90 be found to have horrible side effects; Dr. Nichols plans for the future would be dashed and he would have to become a fugitive or worse; Gerard and his FBI team would suffer self-doubt or possibly be doubted by their superiors and co-workers.

Overall Story Cost

Dr. Nichols becomes a cold hearted, calculating murderer; Gerard becomes a caring person—which is not considered a plus for someone in his position; Dr. Kimble becomes a desperate “fugitive;” the Chicago Police become bumbling “boneheads;” Helen Nichols transforms from a beautiful, vibrant woman to a bloody corpse.

Overall Story Dividend

Dr. Kimble is delivered food as he shaves in the hospital; he gets a ride to Chicago unexpectedly; Dr. Nichols gets to be guest speaker at the medical convention; Dr. Kimble gets evidence of the RDU90 test results tampering; Dr. Kimble gets some funding from Dr. Nichols.

Overall Story Requirements

Dr. Kimble must be apprehended by the FBI to settle the Kimble case once and for all; Dr. Kimble must discover the progress of the RDU90 test results and drug release to find out who is truly responsible for his wife’s murder; the media must become more critical of the Chicago Police in order to change its attitude about the CPD’s handling of the Kimble case.

Overall Story Prerequisites

Dr. Nichols must be able to maintain composure in normally threatening circumstances with the police so that they will not be able to connect him to the Kimble murder; Dr. Kimble needs to control his desire to “run” every time he sees a policeman (of which there are MANY in this story).

Overall Story Preconditions

Dr. Kimble must pretend to be a “doctor,” a “janitor,” a “friend of an inmate,” and most often just a “normal citizen.”

Overall Story Forewarnings

The FBI are generally one step behind Dr. Kimble—they corner him at the dam, find his hideout, stakeout Sykes’ place, almost catch him at the Federal Building, and surround him at the convention site.

Plot Progression

Dynamic Act Appreciations

Overall Story

Overall Story Signpost 1

Everybody is concerned with what happened at the scene of the crime.  Who was there, what happened, who did what to whom, etc.

Overall Story Signpost 2

Everyone is concerned with the progress of the fugitives.  How fast are they going?  How far are they getting?  How close are they to being caught?

Overall Story Signpost 3

The drug company and Dr. Nichols are concerned about the future of the new drug as exemplified by the convention; Dr. Nichols is concerned about securing his future and has the hitman Sykes try to take out Dr. Kimble; the cops are concerned with ridding Chicago of the fugitive(s); etc.

Overall Story Signpost 4

Heedless of the consequences, Dr. Nichols forgets about the future and decides to risk everything by attempting to kill Dr. Kimble and even several FBI agents including Gerard; the Chicago police forget about trying to bring Dr. Kimble to justice because they want justice NOW; Gerard and the FBI no longer worry about where Dr. Kimble is—they know that—and cordon off the hotel to keep him in one place for the time being; Dr. Kimble focuses on the moment to confront Dr. Nichols with his treachery and the drugs negative effects; etc.

Main Character

Main Character Signpost 1

Dr. Kimble is concerned with understanding what happened in his home the night of his wife’s murder.  How did events get twisted so much that he is determined to be the murderer?

Main Character Signpost 2

Dr. Kimble escapes from the law, makes his way to Chicago, and establishes a base of operations from which to work.

Main Character Signpost 3

Dr. Kimble gets the information on the prosthesis, the one-armed man (Sykes), photos that connect Sykes to the person(s) that may have hired him, and most importantly, he gets the tissue samples of the drug testing that will give him the last bit of information he needs to discover the person responsible for his wife’s death.

Main Character Signpost 4

With the information Dr. Kimble has obtained he is able to learn about the drug testing program, its connection to other deaths, how Dr. Nichols is involved, and ultimately why his wife was murdered.

Influence Character

Influence Character Signpost 1

Once upon the train wreck scene, Gerard mentally reconstructs what events were necessary to create that scene.  This allows him to determine the accuracy of various testimonies, etc.  He then conceptualizes where his quarry might be, based on terrain, timing, etc.

Influence Character Signpost 2

In order to effectively capture the fugitives, Gerard imagines himself to be the fugitives.  This allows him to guess their next moves and keep hot on their trails.

Influence Character Signpost 3

Gerard’s “play acting” alters substantially as he gradually “becomes” like Dr. Kimble.  This is evidenced by his giving credence to Kimble’s belief in the one-armed man, his distrust of Sykes and interest in finding out more about this dirty cop, and ultimately his “caring” enough (for which Dr. Kimble is characterized) to check into the case history on his own.

Influence Character Signpost 4

Gerard is able to put the various clues together and comes up with the novel idea (for him at least) that Dr. Kimble may indeed be innocent.

Relationship Story

Relationship Story Signpost 1

Dr. Kimble’s passion to save human lives causes him to twice save the guard’s life—once on the bus and the second time at the hospital.  This is in direct conflict with Gerard’s feelings about fugitive behavior—fugitives only think about escaping from the law—period.

Relationship Story Signpost 2

While in the bowels of the dam, Dr. Kimble’s behavior doesn’t jive with what Gerard expects.  When Dr. Kimble gets Gerard’s gun, Gerard expects to be shot immediately.  Instead, Dr. Kimble turns and runs (after some exchange of words).  When Gerard corners Dr. Kimble at the exit of the sewer, Dr. Kimble unexpectedly jumps to an apparent death.

Relationship Story Signpost 3

In Chicago, Dr. Kimble always manages to stay one step ahead of Gerard by out thinking and out planning him.  Dr. Kimble even goes so far as to break into a location the FBI are staking out (Sykes’ place), finding what he wants, then placing a call to Gerard from Sykes’ place and allowing the call to be traced—just so he can get Gerard to see the evidence he wants him to see.

Relationship Story Signpost 4

The power of Dr. Kimble’s memories concerning his murdered wife drive Gerard to re-examine some case issues that bring the court rulings into question.

Plot Progression Visualizations

Dynamic Act Schematics


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