Hurley kicked three goals in the opening term, snagged another two in the dying minutes of the third quarter and then kicked the match-sealer in the final term to help secure the 17.11 (113) to 14.5 (89) triumph.
Essendon's ninth win of the season keeps them right in the hunt for a top-four spot, while the Dockers face a major battle just to make the top-eight after slipping to a 6-6 record.
The Bombers entered the match on the back of a two-game losing streak and some major concerns over their recent record at Patersons Stadium, where they had tasted victory in just once of their previous 12 visits.
Essendon started brightly courtesy of Hurley's early flurry, but the Bombers looked to be in trouble when the Dockers slammed through the first five goals of the third quarter to open up a 17-point lead.
But the final 40 seconds of that quarter proved decisive, with goals to Paddy Ryder and Hurley turning the momentum back Essendon's way.
With their tails up, the Bombers ran away with the contest in the final quarter, restricting Fremantle to just 0.1 while kicking 4.6 themselves to seal the victory.
Dockers forward Chris Mayne booted four goals and skipper Matthew Pavlich chipped in with three in a brave effort, while returning midfielder Nick Lower and Matt de Boer provided good midfield grunt.
But Essendon's superior run proved telling, with Bombers skipper Jobe Watson shaking off a tight tag from Ryan Crowley to finish with 26 possessions and a goal.
Fremantle defender Adam McPhee could come under strife for a jumper punch of Bombers goalsneak Leroy Jetta.
The Dockers were also dealt a blow late in the match when Mayne and Greg Broughton clashed heavily in a marking contest, leaving both of them severely groggy.
"I suppose we focused on it all week to try to bury the hoodoo and have a win, so it's pleasing," Hurley said after the match.
"It was nice to get on the end of a couple. I was disappointed with my first half of the season and made an effort to back up well."