Bounty hunting has been adopted by several action-oriented vehicles, including Westerns, science fiction, fantasy and stories set in modern times. Typically, hunters are depicted as assisting law enforcement agencies in the apprehension of wanted criminals, but also as mercenaries who give their services to powerful criminal figures rather than the proper authorities. Such characters have appeared in books, TV series, movies, comics and games from around the world. These include characters like Rick Deckard from Blade Runner; Boba Fett from the "Star Wars" movies; Reno Raines in the TV series Renegade; Rally Vincent of the manga Gunsmith Cats; Jubal Early from the Firefly franchise; Samus Aran from the Metroid video game series; and several characters in Cowboy Bebop.
- In Westerns, bounty hunters are commonly depicted as loners, cynical yet romantic. The first depiction of the occupation in film was André de Toth's The Bounty Hunter in 1954 starring Randolph Scott.
- Steve McQueen played bounty hunter Josh Randall in the television series Wanted: Dead or Alive for three seasons, making him a star. The series was followed many years later by a film sequel — Wanted: Dead or Alive (1987) — in which Rutger Hauer played Nick Randall, Josh Randall's grandson. McQueen's final film was The Hunter, a biography of modern day bounty hunter Ralph "Papa" Thorsen.
- The Sergio Leone film For a Few Dollars More starred Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef as bounty hunters chasing the same criminal, but with different motivations for pursuing their target.
- In the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), the character Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter who is tasked with "retiring" escaped androids. In the film adaptation, which was retitled Blade Runner (1982), the bounty hunters are called blade runners.
- In the John Sturges film The Magnificent Seven, the character Lee (played by Robert Vaughn) is a bounty hunter, and mostly likely the other 5 are as well to varying degrees.
- Chasseur de primes (French for "bounty hunter") is a Belgian comics adventure in the popular Lucky Luke series which is set in the Old West. It was published in book form in 1972. In this story, bounty hunters are presented as being shunned and despised by society since their motivation to capture outlaws is based more on greed than an actual love for justice. An example is when a bounty hunter orders a drink at the saloon and the barman contemptuously pours it out on the bar rather than in a glass. The book has been published in English.
- Bounty hunting is depicted as a common trade in the Star Wars franchise, with such characters as Jango and Boba Fett, Greedo, IG-88, Zam Wesell and Cad Bane. Another is Valance the Hunter, a cyborg, who played an important role in the early Marvel Comics adaptations of the series in the late 1970s, confronting, and almost defeating, both Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. "Bounty Hunter" is also one of four playable classes for the Imperials's faction in BioWare's MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
- Strontium Dog is a British science fiction comic series set in the future in which physically deformed mutated humans work as bounty hunters for the Search/Destroy Agency, which answers to the galactic police force.
- In the television series The Fall Guy, Lee Majors played a Hollywood stunt man who takes bounty hunting assignments on the side (which is the focus of each episode).
- The television show MacGyver features a family of bounty hunters (brothers Jesse, Frank and Billy) as recurring characters.
- In the 1988 film Midnight Run, Robert De Niro plays a modern day bounty hunter, who is trying to bring in a mob accountant played by Charles Grodin.
- In the 1993 film Bounty Tracker, Lorenzo Lamas is a bounty hunter trying to avenge his brother's murder by catching the hitman.
- In the 1994 anime OVA Iria: Zeiram the Animation, the protagonist Iria is an apprentice bounty hunter, as are her brother Glen, their partner Bob, and Iria's rival Fujikuro.
- In the Stephanie Plum novels, written by Janet Evanovich, the main character is a bounty hunter described as "incredibly average and yet heroic if necessary" by the author. There are 15 full length novels and 4 holiday edition novellas. Each book revolves around Stephanie trying to catch her main bounty while destroying cars, getting help from love interests, and dealing with her abnormal family.
- In the Japanese manga One Piece, the character Roronoa Zoro is a bounty hunter who later became a pirate.
- In the Japanese manga Black Cat, the story revolves around assassins and bounty hunters (called sweepers). The main character Train Heartnet, is an assassin with the Chrono Numbers. He is later convinced by woman who guides him to leave them to be a sweeper (bounty hunter) with Sven Vollfied and then later a 11 year old girl cloned weapon named Eve, and other sweepers.
- In the thriller Scarecrow, written by Matthew Reilly, the main character, Schofield, is pursued by bounty hunters and is fiercely protected by Aloysius Knight, the "Black Knight", who is himself a bounty hunter.
- In Ben 10, the main antagonist called Vilgax, sent some bounty hunters to take a powerful device called "The Omnitrix"; they are Sixsix, Kraab, and Tetrax. However, Tetrax decided to protect the device.
- In 2005, the real-life bounty hunter Domino Harvey was portrayed by Keira Knightley in the film Domino. Although the film was only loosely based on the life of Harvey, making it partially fictitious, it helped to illustrate the rising popularity of bounty hunters in modern U.S. culture.
- In the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, June is a bounty hunter hired by Zuko (during the first season) to hunt down Avatar Aang.
- In the video game Need for Speed: Carbon, former Sgt. Cross (from Need for Speed: Most Wanted) returns as a bounty hunter to arrest the player.
- In The Simpsons episode Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes, Homer Simpson and Ned Flanders work as bounty hunters.
- In the 2008 Transformers Animated series, the former Autobot Lockdown quit the Elite Guard and became a bounty hunter for both factions. In one episode, Lockdown mentions that the Decepticons pay more for his services than the Elite Guard.
- In the 2010 movie The Bounty Hunter the main character Milo must chase down his ex-wife Nicole after she assaults a police officer.
- In the 2010 game Red Dead Redemption the main protagonist John Marston is forced to work as a bounty hunter by US Federal agents to try and capture members of his former gang.
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