Characters: Lethal Weapon
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Martin Riggs (played by Mel Gibson)
- Anti-Hero: He's an Unscrupulous Hero in the first film. The only reason he does anything is because he loves being a cop. He changes into a Pragmatic Hero in the others - he cares about his surrogate family, but he's still willing to resort to dirty tactics.
- Ax-Crazy: Primarily in the first movie, mellows down in the sequels.
- Bad Ass: Deconstructed in the first film. He's an extremely good soldier, but doesn't feel like he's good at anything else.
- 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 movie. 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: He doesn't really care about procedure. He even wears cowboy boots.
- Deadpan Snarker: Especially around Murtaugh.
- Death Seeker: In the first movie.
- Disney Death: In the second movie, 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 movie except the fourth.
- Friendly Sniper: In the first film.
- The Gadfly: Enjoys teasing ol' Rog to no end.
- Good Is Not Nice: He's a good cop, but he loves tormenting suspects and his coworkers.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: He actually pretends to have this in order to scare his enemies.
- Heartbroken Badass: In the first two movies. The fourth reveals that he never really got over his wife's death.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Once he gets over his Death Seeker tendencies and mellows out a bit, his craziness is more Played for Laughs.
- Hot-Blooded: "YOU WANNA SEE CRAZY?"
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Justified. He was a Special Forces Sniper in Laos and Vietnam. He once made a hit that he thinks only ten other people in the world might have been able to make.Riggs: It's the only thing I was ever good at.
- 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 movie, where he has a heartfelt conversation with Leo, who he spends most of the series abusing.
- Large Ham: Especially in the first movie. He's become 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.
- One Last Smoke: Hilariously defied in the second movie 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?Rika: With, of course!Riggs: Heh. Woman after my own heart.
- Salt and Pepper: He's the Salt.
- Sociopathic Hero: In the first movie.
- Title Drop: In the first movie, Roger refers to him as a "lethal weapon".
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.
- 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 movie.
- "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 movies 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 movie.
- Papa Wolf: Seriously. Don't mess with his kids.
- Salt and Pepper: He's the Pepper.
- Retirony: Subverted in the 3rd movie.
- 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 movie despite supposedly being "too old for this shit". Murtaugh was written as an older character (50 in the first movie).
Leo Getz (played by Joe Pesci)
- The Artifact: He's only plot relevant in the second film. The fourth film rectifies this by making him a PI and having him join in on the case.
- Butt Monkey: He cops a lot of abuse from Riggs and Murtaugh.
- Catch Phrase: "They fuck you with/at..." and "Okay, okay, okay..."
- Chew Toy: He goes through a lot of crap throughout the series, and it's all played for laughs.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Lampshaded when he asks a reporter in the fourth movie if he can say "fuck" on air.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's slimy and abrasive, but still a good guy.
- Motor Mouth: Seriously, he talks really fast.
- Nice Hat: In the fourth movie.
- Plucky Comic Relief: This is his main role in the third and fourth films.
- Out of Focus: In 3.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: He curses. A lot.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: His friends like him, but he can be really annoying.
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 movie, 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 movie.
- Tsundere: To Riggs.
Lee Butters (played by Chris Rock)
- Accidental Misnaming: Riggs and Murtaugh have major difficulty in getting his name right. Ironically the one time they did, he was injured.
- Genius Bruiser: He has a psychology degree.
- Hot-Blooded: Oh yeah.
- Meaningful Name: He constantly tries to "butter" his father-in-law up.
- Mistaken for Gay: Thanks to Riggs, poor Roger believes Lee swings that way.
- Motor Mouth: It's Chris Rock.
- Wretched Hive: Where he had grown up in, and the reason he joined the police force.
Mr. Joshua (played by Gary Busey)
- Backstab Backfire: Trying to shoot someone in the back when you are surrounded by cops is not a smart idea.
- Bad Ass: He and Riggs are roughly on-par.
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Makes him look super creepy.
- Cold Sniper: From a helicopter no less.
- Defiant to the End: Doesn't go down without a fight.
- The Dragon: To McAllister.
- Dragon Their Feet: He survives the confrontation that kills his boss, and attempts to kill Riggs and Murtaugh.
- Establishing Character Moment: Allowing the general to burn his arm, while Joshua clenches his teeth and takes it, establishing Joshua's loyalty (and insanity).
- Evil Counterpart: To Riggs.
- Fisticuffs Boss: He and Riggs throw down after the good guys have won.
- The Heavy: It's his actions that drive the plot of the first film.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Being well-dressed seems to be a prerequisite for Shadow Company.
- Psycho for Hire: This is what makes him Riggs' evil counterpart. Whereas Riggs focuses on using his skillset to be a good cop, Mr. Joshua kills people for money and has no scruples.
- The Rival: To Riggs.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: He's very polite and calm to Riggs during the torture scene.
- Worthy Opponent: He and Riggs are almost cordial.
General Peter McAllister (played by Mitchell Ryan)
- Big Bad: In the 1st movie
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: He runs a successful club and must be on a good fund from his military career. Why does he need to run a heroin shipping operation?
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The credits and script just refer to him as "The General," even though he's called by name more than once.
- Evil Old Folks: He calls everyone "son" a lot.
- Faux Affably Evil: Always pleasant and amiable, even when he's having people tortured.
- General Ripper: He used to be this.
- Jerk Ass: He's unpleasant to just about everyone he meets.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Spends most of the film in a seriously nice white turtleneck and sports coat combo.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He's pretty sexist.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: He barely (if ever) raises his voice.
- Villainous Breakdown: Near the end of the film.
Arjen Rudd (played by Joss Ackland)
- Big Bad: Second movie.
- Diplomatic Impunity: And he's not even a consul or ambassador. Works well, until it gets revoked.
- In-Series Nickname: Riggs calls him "Aryan."
- Politically Incorrect Villain: As above.
- Too Dumb to Live: Flashing your immunity when you've killed cop friends of main characters. Surely he'll be more than willing to let you go.
- Smug Snake: Didn't realise his diplomatic immunity had been revoked.
Pieter Vorstedt (played by Derrick O'Conner)
- Bigger Bad: By killing Riggs's wife, he is indirectly responsible for making Riggs suicidal in the first film and made him the crazed Cowboy Cop that the audience know and love.
- Blonde Guys Are Evil: Very blonde, very evil.
- The Dragon: He's Rudd's top enforcer and right-hand man
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Literally, Riggs kills him by dropping a container on him.
- Fisticuffs Boss: After a series of verbal confrontations throughout the film, his last fight with Riggs is a martial arts match without a word said.
- In-Series Nickname: After being unable to pronounce his name, Riggs says, "Ah, fuck, I'll just call you Adolf."
- Lightning Bruiser: Bests Riggs in the martial arts department easily.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Sports a natty blazer and tie combo.
- You Killed My Father: He's responsible for the death of Riggs's wife.
Jack Travis (played by Stuart Wilson)
- Big Bad: Third movie
- 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.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Killed by the same "Cop-killer" bullets he has stolen and smuggled.
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.