Characters / Lethal Weapon

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Martin Riggs (played by Mel Gibson)

  • Anti-Hero: He is an Unscrupulous Hero in the first film, where the only reason he does anything as well as his primary reason for not going through with suicide is because he loves being a cop. He changes into a Pragmatic Hero in the sequels, finding more people to care about and reasons to live, but still willing to resort to dirty tactics.
  • Ax-Crazy: Primarily in the first film, mellows down in the sequels.
  • Bad Ass: Somewhat deconstructed in the first film; he was a Special Forces sniper in Laos and Vietnam prior to the films, and while we never see him as a soldier, we see him as a cop, both proving and justifying his Improbable Aiming Skills. He notes, however, that from his perspective, it's all he's good at.
    Riggs: I do it real good, y'know. [...] When I was 19, I did a guy in Laos from a thousand yards out. It was a rifle shot in high wind. Maybe eight or even ten guys in the world could have made that shot. It's the only thing I was ever good at.
  • The Berserker: Even after getting over his suicidal tendencies, he still has a cavalier regard for his own survival.
  • Byronic Hero: In the original.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's obsessed with The Three Stooges and Looney Tunes, and very good at his job.
  • Cartwright Curse: Until the third film. Although Lorna does get shot in the climax of Lethal Weapon 3, and for a while there it looks like she may not survive.
  • Cowboy Cop: Has little care for procedure or doing things by-the-book, contrasting Murtaugh. He even wears cowboy boots.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Especially around Murtaugh.
  • Death Seeker: In the first film.
  • Disney Death: In the second film, Riggs is shot several times by Rudd, who is killed by Murtaugh in return. It turns out Riggs is fine, though.
  • '80s Hair: In every film except the fourth.
    • Notably, as seen in a picture of his wedding to his late wife, Victoria Lynn, he had just about the same short hairstyle he has in the fourth film.
  • Friendly Sniper: In the first film.
  • The Gadfly: Enjoys teasing ol' Rog to no end.
  • Good Is Not Nice: A genuinely good cop, but loves tormenting suspects or messing with his co-workers.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Riggs is rather quick to anger if things don't go in his favor when dealing with criminals, and even moreso if he's inflicted any kind of pain by them. He does, however, overplay the trait to intimidate people.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Once he gets over his Ax-Crazy tendencies and mellows out a bit, his craziness is more Played for Laughs.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Murtaugh, natch. After being partners for so long, it's hard for either of them to imagine life without the other. Riggs articulates it beautifully in the third film:
    "You're the only family I've got! I got three beautiful kids. I love them and they're yours. Trish does my laundry. I live in your icebox. I live in your life!"
  • Hot-Blooded: Nothing seems to light a fire up Riggs' ass like being on a criminal's trail.
    Riggs: [hitting the insides of Murtaugh's car while screaming excitedly] GOD, I LOVE THIS JOB!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As much as he loves tormenting his friends, he does care about them. Best shown near the end of the fourth film, where he has a heartfelt conversation with Leo, who he spends most of the series abusing.
  • Large Ham: Especially in the first film. More composed in the sequels.
    "Do you really wanna jump?! DO YOU WANNA?!?"
  • Lightning Bruiser: In the first film, he takes out a room full of guys before they can react.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He spends a lot of time naked or shirtless; is even introduced that way.
  • One Last Smoke: Hilariously defied in the second film for a bit of Mood Whiplash.
  • One-Note Cook:
    Riggs: I may have exaggerated a bit about being a gourmet chef. All I know how to make is chili. Do you like your chili with or without crushed Oreos?
  • Red Oni: To Murtagh's Blue Oni.
  • Salt and Pepper: He's the Salt.
  • Sociopathic Hero: In the first film.
  • Title Drop: In the first film, Roger refers to him as a "lethal weapon".
  • Worf Had the Flu: By the fourth film, Riggs is clearly not at his peak, having grown both older and afraid of dying. He admits being aware of the trope and declares an intent to defy it.
    • A bit more subtle in the first film's climactic fight, due to sleep deprivation and having undergone torture.

Roger Murtaugh (played by Danny Glover)

  • Badass Grandpa: In the fourth film.
  • Badass Mustache: Has a full beard in his first scene, and ditches it real fast.
  • Blue Oni: To Rigg's crazy Red Oni.
  • By-the-Book Cop: This is why he gets partnered with Riggs.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "I'm too old for this shit." Inverted in the fourth film.
    • "Riggs you crazy sonuva b...." as well
    • "Go spit, Riggs!"
  • Character Tic: He cracks his neck before shooting people. This is typically followed by a Boom, Headshot.
  • Deuteragonist: Murtaugh has virtually the same amount of screentime as Riggs, but he doesn't get the same level of character development. This is done well, since it provides a good contrast to Riggs' journey from a suicidal maniac to a committed family man.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After killing an old friend of his son's out of self-defence.
  • Feeling Their Age: Murtaugh's Catch Phrase was "I'm getting too old for this", appropriate for an older family man who had to deal with a wild card younger partner in Riggs. Nevertheless he continued to say it through all the films and it eventually came around to Riggs in 4, as he started to feel his age too.
  • Heroic BSOD: When Rianne is kidnapped in the first film.
  • Overprotective Dad: Regarding his eldest daughter Rianne, and is always afraid that she gets hooked up with Riggs until the 4th film.
  • Papa Wolf: Seriously. Don't mess with his kids.
  • Salt and Pepper: He's the Pepper.
  • Retirony: Subverted in the 3rd film.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Though, he does carry an automatic as a backup weapon.
  • Younger Than They Look: Danny Glover was only 40 years old when he filmed the first film despite supposedly being "too old for this shit". Murtaugh was written as an older character (50 in the first film).

Leo Getz (played by Joe Pesci)

Lorna Cole (played by Rene Russo)

  • Action Girl: Kicks some major ass.
  • Cowboy Cop: Almost as much as Riggs.
  • Disney Death: She is shot several times by Travis with the armor-piercing bullets in the climax, but it turns out she was wearing two bulletproof vests.
  • Distaff Counterpart: To Riggs.
  • Groin Attack: In the 3rd film, she delivers a harsh kick in the family jewels towards a random thug from within a warehouse. Later on, she crushes one thug's testicles BARE-HANDED in a fight scene!
  • Internal Affairs: Which masks her Cowboy Cop nature.
  • Pregnant Badass: Kicks the asses of Wah Sing Ku's goons in the 4th film.
  • Tsundere: To Riggs.

Lee Butters (played by Chris Rock)


Mr. Joshua (played by Gary Busey)

General Peter McAllister (played by Mitchell Ryan)

Arjen Rudd (played by Joss Ackland)

Pieter Vorstedt (played by Derrick O'Conner)

Jack Travis (played by Stuart Wilson)

  • Evil Counterpart: Like Riggs, he was an incredibly tough cop who bent the rules and got results, and they have many of the same snarky personality quirks. He's essentially a dark "what-if" version of who and what Riggs might've become if he'd continued down the self-destructive path he was on after Vicky died. Naturally, he and Riggs hate each other immediately.

Wah Sing Ku (played by Jet Li)

  • Badass: Probably the most Badass character in the entire series. He takes on Riggs and Murtaugh at the same time, twice, and both times he kicks their asses. The first time, effortlessly; the second, he wants them to suffer, but even though he dies he still nearly kills both of them with his bare hands (literally) and after the fight both characters are in crutches. He kicks the ass of many other characters in the film as well. He also takes Rigg's gun apart in one swift move with one hand, and at one point he actually dodges a bullet.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Inverted; he spends the whole film working to buy the release of his older brother, then tries to avenge him once Riggs and Murtaugh kill him.
  • Catchphrase: "In Hong Kong, you'd be dead".
  • Dragon-in-Chief: He is technically working to free his bosses, one of whom is his brother. But since they are all in prison he's the one who actually drives the plot.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: His brother.
  • Fisticuffs Boss: He takes Riggs and Murtaugh on in a two-on-one fight near the end.
  • Implacable Man: Nothing slows him down.
  • Lightning Bruiser: He beats Riggs and Murtaugh. At the same time.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: One of these guys.