It's 2019 and criminals run amok in a society entirely governed by a totalitarian state. This government rules over everything including the media. Through this control the government ultimately controls censorship and news events that might make the government look bad are deleted.
Now Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been wrongly accused, and convicted, for a crime he did not commit and his sentence is death!
Capital Punishment in this day is carried out through the use of a futuristic televised game show that means certain death, however should the convict survive they are allowed to lead a liberated life - however this show has never seen such a winner...until now that is! This show is called "The Running Man" and is presented by the sadistic Damon Killian (Richard Dawson).
While running over wastelands, away from champions with Chain saws and sharpened hockey sticks, such as Dynamo (Erland Van Lindth), Buzzsaw (Gus Rethwisch) and SubZero (Professor Toru Tanaka), Damon Killian is busy with calls to the network about ratings.
During the game, a group of freedom warriors aided by Richards and his friends; Laughlin (Yaphet Kotto) and Weiss (Marvin J. McIntyre) break the security code for the ICS satellite and are now able to control televised broadcasting. Now they begin telling the truth about the daily evils and lies that the government commits on a regular basis.