A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

Were there two endings to the old "Fugitive" TV series?

February 3, 1978

Dear Cecil:

Please help my friends and me solve a point of great confusion and save us from having to sit through five years of "Fugitive" reruns. We would like to know if there were several different endings to the "Fugitive" series shown in different regions of the U.S. In the Midwest, we seem to recall, the last episode revealed that Kimble's best friend had murdered his wife after a lovers' quarrel, while on the East Coast a friend saw a version in which the crime was pinned on the infamous "one-armed man." Are we crazy, or were there really different endings? And what was the West Coast ending?

Cecil replies:

You are crazy. Only one ending was filmed for the ABC series, and it went, ahem, something like this:

After four seasons of searching, Inspector Gerard (played by the incomparable Barry Morse) finally manages to catch Johnson, the mysterious "one-armed man" (played by the sublime Bill Raisch). But Gerard, an incurably suspicious sort, still has doubts about Dr. Kimble's innocence, and he leaks the news of Johnson's capture to the press, hoping to lure Kimble into his clutches. Kimble (played by the unspeakable David Janssen) falls for it like a ton of bricks and turns himself in. But meanwhile, Johnson has escaped, leaving Kimble, nearly annihilated by the irony of it all, to plead with Gerard for one last chance to clear himself. A fine fellow after all, Gerard relents and allows Kimble to search for the one-armed man, while he follows at a discreet remove. Kimble tracks Johnson to an amusement park, where, during a terrific fight atop a water tower, the one-armed man confesses to having killed Kimble's wife, Helen (played by the inconspicuous Diane Brewster). As the fight rages, Gerard looks on from below. Finally, Johnson is about to kill Kimble, and it falls to Gerard, who has not heard the confession, to make the final judgment. After a heart-stopping pause, the crack of a rifle shatters the night sky: Johnson is dead, and Kimble, relatively vindicated, is free to leave the series and become a contract player at Universal.

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