Who doesn't love The Fugitive? Seriously there is just one part of the movie I don't get. This is after Kimble leaves visiting the prisoner at the city jail and is being chased by Deputy Gerard.

Tommy Lee Jones' character is supposed to be a bad ass and saved one of his crew earlier in the movie with a tricky shot. And then when he is shooting at Kimble as the bullet proof gates close we see the marks on the gates right at the heart and head of Kimble. But what the f&!$? First would his character open fire in a public place like that on an unarmed man running?

And most importantly we know he has a bad-ass shot. So he isn't allowed to shoot Kimble's foot or leg with the gate open a good 6-10 inches? Then to follow this up it seems someone (maybe even Gerard himself) should bring up that he could have shot him. Shoot his damn foot or at least try and miss.

5 Answers 5


You're right to bring up the other scene where we see he's a "bad ass shot", as we see he doesn't hesitate to shoot to hurt/kill. Why not with Kimble? In fact why the hostage scene (or even the other escaped convinct character!) in the first place? It doesn't add anything to the story does it? Unless...

By the time the city jail scene comes along, there is enough for Gerard to start having doubts about Kimble's guilt. The other marshals have started asking the question "why would he be going after the one armed man"? Gerard is relentless and professional, but he isn't stupid, he must suspect that Kimble is innocent.

During the scene - which for me is pivotal - if you notice, Gerard shoots a few times first, Kimble hits the ground and looks back. The camera switches to Gerard, who aims for the head (knowing that the glass is bullet proof by this time) and shoots again bang on target. The next shot clearly show's Kimble's foot stuck, and vurnerable. A nice big target. And unharmed.

My opinion is Gerard took the shot to the head instead of the foot to say something like "Look at what a good shot I am, I could have disabled you like I killed the other guy, but I'm giving you a chance. Now run and try and prove your innocence."

  • 1
    a logical fallacy. You don't show your approval towards an individual by shooting their head and seeing if they survive. Not on planet earth, at least... Oct 7, 2020 at 16:58
  • 1
    This theory doesn't make any sense though. He didn't know the glass was bulletproof when he took the first shots. Seconds after trying to shoot and kill him, he changed his mind and let him try to vindicate himself? Also if you watch after the first two sets of shots, you can see Gerard stunned that he didn't hit Kimball. Just after his face registers that expression, he also mumbles "son of a ...", clearly frustrated and takes some more shots.
    – Brett G
    Jul 17, 2022 at 14:22

It's quite clear from the script that Gerard was aiming to kill...he's stunned to find out that Kimble isn't dead....he wasn't aware that it was bullet-proof glass.

     Gerard FIRES seven times in two seconds.

     Kimble goes down. SHOTS and SCREAMS ECHO around the lobby. A
     long beat, then Gerard rises. THROUGH GLASS studded with
     bullet holes, he sees...

     Kimble rising... staring back. Equally astounded that he's
     alive. He runs free.

     Open the doors!

     Gerard pounds against the doors. Sees cratering in the
     glass - and then sees flattened slugs all over the floor.
     It's bullet-proof glass. THROUGH the glass he sees Kimble
     rush across the street and disappear into the parade.
  • I am sorry I am giving this a BIG downvote. Two reasons for the downvote. #1 - This script is not really how the movie plays out. There is a pause in the shooting when his foot is stuck - this is basically the climax of the scene and no mention in the script. So this script excerpt is thrown out of court. #2 - It is really apparent that Gerard, once he paused (not mentioned in the script) noticed that it was bullet proof glass - dude is a smart bad ass and this "glass" wasn't phased by his bullets from 15 feet? I really can't believe this got any upvotes.
    – blankip
    Oct 6, 2020 at 18:05

I disagree with the idea that he was intentionally missing. It is certainly NOT a plot device showing some intention by Gerard to let Kimble know he is off the hook.

  1. This is preposterous! You don't communicate with people by shooting at them!
  2. Even if you know for a certain that you are shooting at bulletproof glass (and we don't know if Gerard was on the security architecture team of the building), you simply can't reasonably RELY on it stopping the bullets.

The answer is simple: He was executing a shooting routine under stress. This is how expert shooters train to engage targets. He didn't shoot the foot because he doesn't have a foot shooting routine. Shooting the foot would require a non-routine aimed shot, which is several times more difficult than a shot executed from muscle memory.

  • 5
    This. A couple general rules in firearms training: 1) always shoot for center mass, and 2) never pull the trigger unless you are willing to kill/destroy what you're shooting at. "Shoot the gun out of his hand" and similar acts are straight up Hollywood nonsense. (Even the intended head shot in this case is a bit if Hollywood flashiness.) Kimball was saved by the glass.
    – Stephen R
    Jul 19, 2017 at 11:28

Shooting to maim is illegal. So is shooting anyone that is not currently endangering anyone else. Authorization to use deadly force without prejudice was unlikely: he's a US marshal; not a bounty hunter.

  • Had he been shot, the end of the movie would have been an episode of Law and Order, suing him for an unlawful discharge of a firearm. And still could. "We don't need those cuffs. Also, sorry I shot at you. Please don't give me fired."
    – Mazura
    Jun 15, 2018 at 17:42
  • Can you give a source that "Shooting to maim is illegal" ? Jun 17, 2018 at 3:44
  • @KevinFegan - Mayhem in the U.S. is a felony.
    – Mazura
    Jun 17, 2018 at 5:23

I want it to be that Gérard was giving him a chance to escape. However due to his eagerness to get through the door and continue the chase, Gérard was shooting to kill. Given the doubts already established to kimbles guilt, this is a mistake in the movie, taking away from the respect Kimble earns in Gerards eyes at the end. Its a missed opportunity in the film to increase the bond between them


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .