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Film / Lethal Weapon

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2 of the craziest cops in 4 of the craziest films. Pictured left to right: Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs and Danny Glover as Roger Murtaugh.

Murtaugh: See how easy that was? Boom, still alive. Now we question him. You know why we question him? Because I got him in the leg. I didn't shoot him full of holes or try to jump off a building with him!
Riggs: Hey, that's no fair. The building guy lived.

Lethal Weapon is a tetralogy of American action movies/comedies, originally written by Shane Black and entirely directed by Richard Donner. The series starred Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as a pair of mismatched detectives in the LAPD. The first movie effectively defined the entire Buddy Cop Show genre. The unbalanced, unhinged Riggs was contrasted with calmer, stricter family man Murtaugh.

In Lethal Weapon (1987), Glover plays Roger Murtaugh, the strict cop that plays by the rules, and worries about getting too old (for this shit). He is partnered with Martin Riggs, a suicidal badass despairing over the death of his wife. Riggs is well versed with both martial arts and gun play and added to his berserker tendencies makes him a candidate to be registered as a lethal weapon. They start tracking down the Big Bad of the film, a major drug dealer who has ties within the force.


In Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), they received a comedy sidekick played by Joe Pesci as a witness and insider to the new bad guys. The Big Bad of the movie was Arjen Rudd, a South African diplomat using diplomatic immunity to hide his large-scale drug smuggling activities.

In Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), Riggs finds a new Love Interest in Lorna Cole (Rene Russo), a fellow cop who is as tough and crazy as he is. She helps them to investigate a rogue officer who's been selling specialized armor-piercing "cop killer" bullets to the mob and onto the streets. Looming over Murtaugh's head is his upcoming retirement and trying to figure out his life as a cop and what it will be like after retirement.

In the final installment, Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), Lorna is pregnant with Riggs' baby and both he and Murtaugh are contemplating the implications of growing older. Meanwhile, Riggs and Murtaugh receive a brash younger detective named Lee Butters (Chris Rock) and are dealing with Chinese Triads when they uncover a boatload of illegal immigrants. The Dragon (In Chief)/Big Bad of this group is Wah Sing Ku, played by Jet Li, by whom Riggs finds himself entirely outmatched.


Each movie played out like a cross between the typical cop show and Indiana Jones, with spectacular stunts at a breakneck pace while following a chain of evidence.

There is now a new television series beginning in 2016 on Fox starring Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford on the respective roles of Murtaugh and Riggs.

Trope Examples:

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    Series-wide tropes 
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Real life cops would never handle firearms as recklessly as Riggs and Murtaugh do. The only time it's arguably justifiable is in the first film, when Riggs was borderline suicidal and thus was pointing his gun at his own head on purpose.
  • Author Appeal: Riggs is a fan of The Three Stooges and occasionally apes their trademark moves. Actor Mel Gibson is an outspoken Stooges fan.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Murtaugh's signature manoeuvre, done once a film, after rolling his head from side-to-side to crack his neck.
  • Bowdlerize:
    • The films are played quite frequently on TNT and TBS, which are infamous for censoring language in films. For someone who's familiar with the theatrical version of the first film, watching it on one of these networks can be quite hilarious for that very reason. Unfortunately, sometimes the censorship seems unnecessary and arbitrary— like when they cut out Riggs punching the guy on the hood of the car in Lethal Weapon 3 after asking if he was all right.
    • Also, in Britain the theatrical release of Lethal Weapon 2 cuts the scene where Riggs kills two of the villains who drowned Rika after he uses his Houdini impression to escape the same fate.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The nailgun from the second film has a longer run than you'd expect. In the third film, it reminds Murtaugh, who is trying to sell his house, that he forgot to get permits to repair his blown-up house!
    • After Murtaugh's daughter appears in a condom advertisement, Murtaugh bemoans how his police colleagues will be planting condoms wherever he goes. That night Murtaugh and his family are attacked in their home and no-one is interested in playing jokes on him...until later on in the movie when Murtaugh shoos away some cops crowding around his desk only to find they've planted a 'rubber tree' there. Even Murtaugh can't help breaking down in laughter.
    • Murtaugh was concerned about Rianne's flirtations with Riggs and the possibility she'd end up married to a cop. The latter happened, but not to anybody Murtaugh knew.
  • Buddy Cop Show: The film pretty much codified the Buddy Cop genre.
  • Career-Building Blunder: After the third film, where Riggs and Murtaugh were busted down to patrolmen for messing with the bomb squad's job (and blowing up a building), the fourth film has the department unable to get their insurance renewed due to the propensity of the duo causing catastrophic damage in their escapades. But since they can't be demoted off the streets, the department decides to promote them, fully two steps, bypassing Lieutenant and making them both Captains, at least until the insurance is renewed, in an attempt to get them off the streets. The insurance gets renewed at the end of the movie, though, resulting in Riggs and Murtaugh being busted back down to Sergeants. Notably, while their escapades are just as frenetic and crazy as the last three films, they are not nearly as destructive, explaining why they were able to get the insurance renewed.
  • Catch-Phrase:
    • Murtaugh's "I'm too old for this shit," as well as his "Go spit, Riggs!"
    • Leo has one as well: "OK, OK, OK..."
  • Character Aged with the Actor: To the point that the fourth movie has both protagonists dealing with their aging.
  • Character Development: Riggs starts off as a suicidal, lonely man and at the end of the fourth movie is shown to be a happy member of a large family.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Riggs' "trick" shoulder that can be dislocated more or less at will:
    • Riggs' ability to dislocate his shoulder is established in the beginning of the second film, where he uses it twice to get out of a straightjacket.
    • During the fight with Wah Sing Ku in 4, after he dislocated Riggs' shoulder, Riggs gives him a short but brutal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
    • He also has to reset his shoulder twice in the third film, though not under such mortal circumstances. At one point, he slides himself into a pole to do so on the fly.
  • Chronically Crashed Car: Trish's station wagon in the first two films goes through all kinds of ridiculous damage, including being hit by a toilet.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Despite being a highly trained martial artist, Riggs isn't against groin attacks, using improvised weaponry, dropping a crate on a man, or killing him with a machine gun when it becomes clear he's not going to win a fist fight.
  • Da Chief: Captain Murphy, though he regards Riggs and Murtaugh's antics with weary exasperation, as opposed to always yelling at them like most examples of this trope.
    Murtaugh: Captain, it's a shit assignment.
    Murphy: You know what? I don't give a fuck, okay? That's why I don't have an ulcer, cause I know when to say "I don't give a fuck."
  • Denser and Wackier: The sequels get increasingly lighthearted and comedic.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Frequently inflicted upon Leo. Yeah, the guy's annoying, but is that any reason to break his nose, then grab said broken nose? Not to mention the proctological examination in the third movie.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Joshua in the first, Vorstedt in the second, and Wah Sing Ku in the fourth.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Every movie but the second, which is decidedly more bittersweet.
  • Family of Choice: At the heart of the story: Riggs' character arc is largely about how, starting out as a suicidal burnout with no one in the world to care about since his wife's death, he's gradually healed and re-socialized thanks to his friendship with Murtaugh. By the end of the last movie, he's in a hospital with his wife and newborn baby alongside Murtaugh and his entire family, posing for a picture with the photographer asking if they're all friends: "No! We're family!"
  • 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.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The main bad guys in each of the films: General Mcallister is phlegmatic, Arjen Rudd is sanguine, Jack Travis is choleric and Wah Sing Ku is melancholic.
  • Gonna Need A Bigger Warrant: The crimes always end up being more complex and involved than they appear on the surface.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Riggs & Murtaugh.
    Riggs: You're the only family I've got! I've got three beautiful kids, I love them, they're yours. Trish does my laundry, I live in your icebox, I live in your life!
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Joe Pesci's Leo Getz character first appears as a federal witness in the second film, and manages to show up in the rest of the series' films.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • Riggs pulls off some incredible shots. Sure, Murtaugh has his share, but Riggs was breast-fed on this trope. The sniper in the school, being able to shoot a smiley-face on the firing range, being able to successfully hit a helicopter God knows how many yards away, etc. all with a pistol. And then picking off Shadow Company mooks like flies. And that's just the first film.
    • Murtaugh isn't a hot-shot gunslinger, but if he carefully aims his gun and rolls his head to loosen his neck before squeezing off a shot, he'll hit with perfect accuracy. He pulls off an excellent shot to kill both the Big Bad of parts 1 and 2. In part 1, he shoots the driver of the Big Bad's car coming right at him, and then gets out of the way as the out-of-control car goes flying onto Hollywood Boulevard and smashes into a bus. The flames from the crash causes grenades in the car to detonate, killing the Big Bad. And in part 2, he revokes Rudd's diplomatic immunity with a damned impressive head shot.
      • Deconstructed in the fourth film. Murtaugh aims for Ku. Ku dodges, but it hits and kills his brother instead.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Leo from the latter films. He's often annoying and irascible, but basically a good guy.
  • Knowledge Broker: Leo Getz. "Whatever you need, Leo Gets". (Unfortunately, he tends to get himself in trouble a lot.)
  • Licensed Pinball Table: Lethal Weapon 3, released by Data East in 1993, which includes elements of the first three films.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Riggs in the first three films. In the fourth, he's getting old and is much slower.
  • Made of Iron: Riggs takes enough damage to kill several people throughout the movies, but is still able to finish off the bad guy.
  • Numbered Sequels: 2, 3 and 4.
  • Odd Couple: Riggs and Murtaugh couldn't be any more different, yet they are forced to work together to save the day.
  • Once an Episode: Murtaugh's house gets invaded by the bad guys and damaged in some way or another. It culminates in Trash the Set as the Triads burn the house down in 4.
  • One-Man Army: Riggs for the first three films, until his age finally catches up to him in 4. The only guy he has trouble with in 4 is Jet Li's character.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Mel Gibson has this problem with his Australian accent, especially in the earlier films. Note the "gold pen" speech in the second film for an example.
  • Papa Wolf: Murtaugh is fiercely protective of his family, but particularly his daughter Rianne. He even punches Riggs right in the face (and overboard) after Riggs says "I think I may have slept with someone I shouldn't have," leading Murtaugh to assume he was talking about Rianne. He was talking about Lorna. Granted, he was drunk at the time.
    • This is the culmination of three films worth of tension. Murtaugh has always been protective of Rianne, and has worried that Riggs might "go for her". Or, more likely, that Rianne would go for him, given the goo-goo eyes she had been making since they first met.
  • Playing Gertrude: Murtaugh's comments to Riggs in earlier movies suggest he's at least 16 years older than Riggs, possibly 20 or more. He's clearly stated to have just celebrated his 50th birthday in the first movie when Danny Glover was only 43 and only 10 years Mel Gibson's senior.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Leo Getz in all movies after the first, and Riggs and Murtaugh annoy him just as much as he annoys them.
  • Power Trio: Riggs, Murtaugh, and Getz.
  • Rated M for Manly: Like Die Hard, the series might be a little lighter given the protagonists are a family man and a nervous wreck. Their behavior and environment is still as manly as it gets.
  • Reality Ensues: "So, Sergeant Murtaugh, how, exactly did you rebuild your house twice, buy a new boat and send two kids to college on a police sergeant's salary? And why are you so reticient to tell us about where the money came from? Superhero Insurance isn't a thing, you know." By the time "4" rolls around, Riggs comes to the conclusion Murtaugh is on the take, and tells him as much. It turns out to be untrue, but given the amounts of money Murtaugh has thrown around not an unreasonable thing to think.
    • Similarly, when Riggs accuses him of corruption, Murtaugh is deeply hurt, and it takes nearly the entire film for the rift between him and Riggs to heal. It turns out that no matter how close you are, some things simply cannot be Easily Forgiven.
  • Re-Cut: The first three movies received extended cuts in the early 2000's on DVD, with the words "Director's Cut" being used to generate more interest and sell more copies.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Riggs as the Red and Murtaugh as the Blue in the first three films. By the fourth film, Murtaugh is still a Blue Oni while Riggs is more of a Purple Oni, and Lee Butters is the Red Oni.
  • Redemption Quest: The entire series is one for Riggs. Murtaugh had his in the third movie after killing a teenager in self-defence.
  • Running Gag:
    • Trish's bad cooking is frequently referenced throughout the series, including a great exchange where Roger wishes the toilet-bomb had instead been put in the kitchen stove. Riggs responds with "All the needless suffering could've been ended right there."
    • Getz's various "They fuck you with/at ___" rants, which even sparked a bizarre bonding moment between him and Butters in the fourth film, who previously had met in very bad terms. Butters was confused after their cooperative rant.
    • Also Getz has a different job in every movie (an accountant in 2, a real estate agent in 3, and a private investigator in 4).
    • "Hey guys, can I have a gun this time?" "No."
    • Riggs and Murtaugh can never agree on whether to go on three, or go after three.
      • Until near the end of the fourth film, when they're in perfect sync to pull the rubble off the nearly-drowning Riggs on a finger count.
    • Riggs will always find an excuse to go after criminals on foot, despite the fact that they are usually escaping in a vehicle.
    • And speaking of vehicles, Murtaugh and Trish's Station Wagons getting wrecked. Averted in 3, when Riggs and Murtaugh send in Da Chief's car, as an unmanned distraction, which absorbs hundreds of bullets for the cause.
  • Stealth Parody: These movies are more than aware of the genre they inhabit, which many people don't catch. Roger Ebert said that the main problem with the movie parody Loaded Weapon 1 was that it was trying to make fun of a movie series that featured an exploding toilet.
  • Suicide Dare: Happens multiple times.
    • Murtaugh and Riggs are responding to a suicidal man standing on the ledge of a building. Riggs goes up to the roof in an attempt to talk the man down. After talking a bit, Riggs manages to get very close to the man and slaps a handcuff on him, handcuffing them together. The man starts freaking out, but Riggs actually starts encouraging the man to jump; he insults the man, saying that he's a coward for backing down now, just because his death will kill Riggs as well. Eventually Riggs jumps and pulls them both down...onto a crash-pad the police had already set up.
    • Immediately afterwards, Murtaugh, furious with Riggs, drags Riggs into a nearby building and they being arguing. Murtaugh thinks Riggs is suicidal and is a danger to himself and others. Murtaugh tells Riggs to just kill himself already. Riggs actually pulls out his gun and points it at his head, screaming at Murtaugh that he'll do it. Murtaugh one-ups this and yells back, telling him to go ahead and do it, since it'd be doing him a favor. Ultimately, Murtaugh is horrified when Riggs almost goes through with it. He assumed he was bluffing.
    Murtaugh: You're not trying to draw Psycho really are crazy!
  • They Fight Crime!: Murtaugh is a by-the-book cop and a family man who's concerned about his age. Riggs is a crazy son of a gun who's been suicidal since the death of his wife. They Fight Crime!
  • Those Two Guys: Riggs and Murtaugh themselves quickly become this. Many characters comment about their inseparable partnership after the first film.

    Lethal Weapon (1987) 
  • Acoustic License: Riggs and Murtaugh carry on a conversation at a firing range, complete with earmuffs (though there are "amplified earmuffs" that only mute sounds above a certain decibel level, they were not widely spread at the time the movie was released).
  • Actor Allusion: This isn't the first time Mel Gibson plays a burnt out cop whose wife has been murdered.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: When Riggs has dinner with Murtaugh's family, the oldest daughter starts making eyes at Riggs, and the attraction seems to come from this, especially when Riggs sides with her in a father-daughter fight over her marijuana use. As a result, Murtaugh is paranoid about his daughter and Riggs during the entire freaking series!!!
    • Rika in the second film, Lorna from 3 onward.
  • All There in the Script: The original script had more of a backstory for Joshua, who was working as CIA assassin in Vietnam and he got a legendary status due to all the things he did in the war, as Riggs did in this version. This explains how did they knew of each other's names and reputations in the film.
  • As You Know: A police psychiatrist helpfully explains some of Riggs's backstory. Which is bizarre, considering that it's already established that Riggs is a widower.
    "May I remind you that his wife of 11 years was recently killed in a car accident?"
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The movie takes place during the Christmas holiday, with plenty of Stuff Blowing Up and fights both with fists and guns.
  • Ate His Gun: Riggs is outright suicidal throughout the film. In an early scene, he actually puts his gun in his mouth, but doesn't shoot. He also almost blows his head off with Roger's revolver, but is only stopped because Roger sticks his finger between the hammer and the chamber (in other words, if Roger was half a second later, Riggs would've been dead).
  • Badass Boast: Riggs has several throughout the film series, but his Establishing Character Moment in the film really hits this trope: "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."
  • Batman Cold Open: Riggs gets one where he leads a cocaine bust.
  • Battle in the Rain: A ruptured fire hydrant creates this atmosphere for the final fistfight between Riggs and Joshua.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: During the hostage exchange, Murtaugh takes a grenade from his pocket and says he'll blow them all up if his daughter isn't released first.
    Joshua: He's bluffing! He'd never risk harming his own daughter.
    Murtaugh: If she's going to die, she's going to die with me! My way, not yours!
  • Big Bad: General Peter McAllister runs the heroin ring our heroes are busting up.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just as Joshua and his people are about to torture Murtaugh's daughter in order to break him, a newly escaped Riggs shows up and starts shooting mooks.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Murtaugh takes care of the driver of General McAllister's car.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Riggs survives a shotgun blast because of his vest (and complains endlessly about how much it hurt).
  • Call-Forward: The musical riffs we first hear in the film are later used in Sting and Eric Clapton's "It's Probably Me", the hit single from the third film.
  • Car Cushion: The film opens with Amanda Hunsaker committing suicide by throwing herself off a balcony and onto a parked car below.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: The SWAT team arriving about a minute or so after Riggs shoots the playground sniper near the beginning of the film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Riggs's references to Vietnam and his combat stories prove important when one of the bad guy turns out to have the same Special Forces tattoo that Riggs has.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Riggs and Murtaugh are both subjected to this, as the bad guys try to find out from them what the police know. It doesn't work, because the cops don't know much of anything, and because Riggs is able to escape from Endo and go on a rampage.
  • Darker and Edgier: Although all of the movies contain a fair amount of humor and over-the-top scenarios, this movie is generally a bit darker and more grim than the more cartoon-like later movies, focusing heavily on Riggs' suicidal tendencies and framing his out-of-control nature as borderline psychotic. Then again, the unlikable moments Murtaugh has, in the fourth movie, particularly in one where he punches Roger for a misunderstanding, gives this one competition.
  • Death Seeker: A major theme of the film is that Riggs wants to die, but cannot bring himself to commit suicide. Early on, he eggs a man who has taken him hostage to kill him.
  • Dragon Their Feet: While General McAllister was barbecuing his nuts on Hollywood Boulevard, Mr. Joshua went to Murtaugh's house to go after Roger's family. But there was "nobody here but us good guys".
  • Duck Season, Rabbit Season: Toyed with.
    Riggs: You're driving!
    Murtaugh: I'm driving!
    Riggs: No, you're driving!
    Murtaugh: No, I'm driving!
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Endo the Torture Technician is first glimpsed at the desert meeting, and is in the JetRanger when it chases after Rianne in the limo. He's also mentioned in the scene where Joshua burns himself.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first movie, before the series embraced its comedic elements, is much darker, with moody sax music, and a bit of a Film Noir vibe.
  • Electric Torture: Done to Riggs by Endo with an electrified sponge. Of course, he doesn't break, because he's the hero!
  • Establishing Character Moment: Riggs is introduced by making crazy jokes during a sting operation, blowing a few mooks away, and then trying to commit suicide by crook. This all establishes him as a loony, badass Death Seeker, in complete contrast to the solid and serious family-man Murtaugh.
    • In the director's cut, before that scene is the playground sniper situation where Riggs responds to a sniper call, leading to him nonchalantly walking in said sniper's range, giving the latter an opportunity to gun him down, retaliating after the sniper fails. Riggs shows no fear for his life during the encounter, but also shows no satisfaction that the sniper failed.
  • Evil Counterpart: Like Riggs, Mr. Joshua served as a member of U.S. Army Special Forces in Vietnam, but instead of taking the "good" path became a Psycho for Hire killer.
  • Fake in the Hole: After the villains kidnap his daughter, Roger Murtaugh pulls the pin from a grenade, saying he will kill everyone unless she's released unharmed. The villains argue over whether or not he's bluffing, but when the shooting starts Murtaugh throws the grenade making them run for cover. It turns out to be a smoke grenade.
  • Fanservice:
    • In the first shot of the film, Amanda Hunsaker jumps off a balcony toplessly, for no reason at all.
    • They at least followed this up with equal-opportunity fanservice by showing Mel Gibson's butt two scenes later.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: Riggs does this as part of his role in a part of a drug bust.
  • Fingore: When Murtaugh realizes that Riggs really is crazy, he jams his thumb into the gap between hammer and chamber so Riggs won’t blow his head off.
  • Five-Bad Band: The Shadow Company
    • Big Bad: General Peter McAllister
    • The Dragon: Mr. Joshua, McAllister's top enforcer and unflinchingly loyal to him.
    • Evil Genius: Michael Hunsaker, who runs Shadow Company's heroin profits through his bank.
    • The Brute: Endo, the resident Torture Technician (just ask Riggs).
    • Dark Chick: Gustav, a lower level, bespectacled henchman who serves as Shadow Company's spokesman during the standoff in the desert.
  • Forced Friendly Fire: Riggs storms a room full of bad guys to rescue his partner Murtaugh and daughter Rianne. He forces a mook to shoot a buddy with an arm lock then turns the gun back onto the mook and kills him too.
  • Foreshadowing: There's a magnet on the Murtaugh family's refrigerator that says something to the effect of "End apartheid in South Africa." Guess who the villains of the second film are?
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Shadow Company, the bad guys of the movie, are a former group of special/covert operatives who have turned themselves into a heroin syndicate.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: The six-year-old witnesses to Dixie's house being bombed. "You're gonna bust Dixie! You're gonna bust Dixie!" Later, after the bombing: "My Mom says policemen shoot black people!" Mel Gibson looked like he was legitimately cracking up in that scene.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Subverted: Riggs finds the idea disgusting.
  • Give Me a Sword: Murtaugh tosses Riggs a nightstick in the fight with Mr. Joshua near the end of the film, in response to the latter using a pole against him.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: After Riggs is blown through a window by a shotgun (he was wearing his bulletproof vest, so he didn't die), he points out to Murtaugh that now the police have the advantage, because the bad guys think Riggs is dead. Sure enough, Mr. Joshua calls the police station for information about the shooting, claiming to be a news reporter. The officer who picks up confirms that Riggs is dead, and it never occurs to McAllister and Joshua that the police could be deceiving them.
  • Hollywood Law: Murtaugh should never have been assigned to the Hunsaker case because the victim was the daughter of a war buddy of his, a conflict of interest (the whole scene where Hunsacker starts yelling "You owe me! I want you to kill them!" in front of several witnesses would cast a great deal of doubt on whether the shootings of the villains was genuinely necessary or simply engineered to look that way by a cop who felt morally obliged to kill them anyway).
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The fact that General McAllister has explosives in his car enables Roger to kill him (by killing his driver, causing an overturned-vehicle crash).
  • Hydrant Geyser: At the end of the movie one of these creates the mood for the climactic fist fight scene between Riggs and Joshua, thanks to Joshua kills a cop, who crashed his car into the fire hydrant.
  • Idiot Ball: Shit on a spatula, the final scene where Joshua is apprehended after being defeated by Riggs. Two cops stand on either side of him and handcuff him in between them, one on each wrist. There is nowhere in law enforcement where this method of handcuffing someone has ever or will ever be tolerated. Someone handcuffed like this not only ties up two police officers, but they are perfectly capable of causing a lot of trouble. Joshua never would have been able to grab one of their guns if they had followed proper and sane police procedure and cuffed him with his hands behind his back. This wasn't an idiot ball, it was a planet-shattering idiot asteroid.
  • I Have Your Daughter:
    • Roger's daughter is kidnapped so he will give himself up to the villains, who want to find out how much he knows. Knowing they plan to kill their hostage anyway, Murtaugh and Riggs decide to pull their own surprise.
    • Hunsaker's daughter is murdered, but when Murtaugh starts to pressure him to talk Hunsaker points out he has a second daughter who can also be threatened.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The "have-a-nice-day" moment, which has Riggs shooting a perfec smiley face on a target in the shooting range. Murtaugh lampshades this perfectly:
    Murtaugh [re: Riggs' gun]: You sleep with that thing under your pillow or something?
    Riggs: I would if I slept.
  • Interrupted Suicide: On Murtaugh's daring, Riggs tries to shoot himself with Murtaugh's revolver, but Murtaugh sticks his thumb in front of the hammer as it comes down, preventing the firing mechanism from finishing its task and setting off the bullet that would have otherwise ended Riggs' life.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: When Joshua, the sole remaining bad guy, attacks Murtaugh's family alone, making Riggs to decide to take him on in a one-on-one fight.
  • Large Ham: Riggs, since in this movie he wants to die and is very unhinged.
    Riggs: Do you really wanna jump ?! DO YOU WANNA?!? Alright, then, let's do it!
  • Macho Masochism: Joshua intentionally burning his arm with a lighter flame to show off his allegiance to Gen. McAllister.
  • Manchild: Riggs has elements of this. He watches Looney Tunes, even while contemplating suicide, as well as The Three Stooges, and is generally adolescent in nature.
  • Meet Cute: A platonic example. When Murtagh sees scruffy, wild-eyed Riggs in the police station, and Riggs draws his gun, Murtagh thinks he's a criminal and tackles him.
  • Mood Dissonance: There's a tense scene in which Riggs prepares to blow his own head off— while a Looney Tunes Christmas special is playing.
  • Nay-Theist: Riggs (though most likely in jest):
    Murtaugh: God hates me, that's what it is.
    Riggs: Hate him back, it works for me.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Murtaugh is getting close to retirement, a family man who's almost to the age of becoming a grandfather, whereas Riggs was introduced as a relatively young man.
  • Overly Long Gag: The target takes a long time to get to the end of the range, and a long time to come back.
  • Platonic Prostitution: Riggs pays a prostitute $100 just to watch TV with him, and not for the more traditional purpose of hiring a hooker.
  • Playing Gertrude: Riggs was meant to be 38, yet Mel Gibson was 30. Also, Murtaugh was 50, yet Danny Glover was 40.
  • Plot Hole: When Riggs and Murtaugh head to the desert to free Murtaugh's kidnapped daughter, Riggs is dropped off with a sniper rifle and takes up position on a ridge several hundred yards away, overlooking the events. At this point, the Big Bad and his cronies believe Riggs is dead. Yet within a few seconds of Riggs opening fire on the antagonists, the Big Bad has ascertained Riggs' exact location and managed to sneak up behind him and put a gun to his head.
    • Compounding this is the fact that McAllister doesn't immediately kill Riggs, despite the fact that he had Mr. Joshua try to gun him down in cold blood the previous day. If the villains only need Murtaugh taken alive for interrogation (And Joshua explicitly states this to Riggs after his capture), why bother to capture Riggs at all?
      • Because he believes in being thorough. He said it himself. Plus there's always the chance they could get Riggs on their side. An amazingly badass person like him would be a huge asset to their organization.
    • Also, near the end of the film, when Riggs is chasing down Mr. Joshua on foot, Joshua commandeers a car and escapes. Riggs then has to run all the way back to Hollywood Boulevard to find Murtaugh, who realises that Joshua will seek revenge against his family. Bearing in mind that Joshua has a massive head-start and knows exactly where he is going, the heroes still get to Murtaugh's house so far ahead of Joshua that they have time to evacuate everyone and set up an overly-elaborate trap, which involves destroying the front of Murtaugh's house with an unmanned squad car. How did they get there so much quicker than him and why didn't they just have the plethora of uniformed cops they have with them draw down on Joshua and arrest him as soon as he rolled up? (Glaringly, their Rule of Cool approach to his capture costs two lone uniformed officers their lives, when Joshua guns them down on arrival at the house).
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Just before Murtaugh shoots McAllister's driver.
    Murtaugh: No way you live, no way.
  • Product Placement:
    Joshua: [while jacking a car] Mind if I test-drive your Audi?
  • Private Military Contractors: One of the most evil examples in film: the General and Joshua's heroin network is staffed and run almost exclusively by former Special Forces members who are now just in it for the money. The Novelization expands it even more: they also employ Irish, Arabs, Germans, Russians, South Africans, Israelis...
  • Psycho for Hire: Mr. Joshua has no compunctions against killing or torturing anyone that might interfere with his job as a hired gun.
  • Raster Vision
  • Refuge in Audacity: Riggs with the suicide jumper. He was crazier than the jumper.
    Martin Riggs: "DO YOU REALLY WANNA JUMP? Do you WANNA? Alright, then, let's do it!"
  • Revised Ending: The film originally ended with Riggs and Murthaugh parting ways, with the latter revealing that he plans to retire. Warner Bros. changed this, sensing they had a hit on their hands.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Roger Murtaugh's main sidearm is a Smith & Wesson Model 19. Riggs teases him calling it an "Old Timer's Pistol".
  • Salt and Pepper: Subverted, Murtaugh is the old, grizzled but by-the-book cop, Riggs is the titular lethal weapon.
  • Shoot the Television: Mr. Joshua does this when he finds Murtaugh's house empty, and a showing of A Christmas Carol (1951) gets on his nerves.
  • Shooting Gallery: Recently-teamed partners Riggs and Murtaugh are trying to one-up each other on the range. Murtaugh, annoyed at Riggs' tight bullethole group, sends a target further down the range and puts a single bullet through its 'head'. Riggs then sends his target all the way downrange, and shoots a smiley face in the head zone.
    Riggs: Have a nice day.
  • Signature Line: Murtaugh: "I'm too old for this shit."
  • Society Marches On: Riggs' disgust at a lesbian relationship would seem out of place in a movie produced today.
  • Starts with a Suicide: The film begins with a woman, high on cocaine, leaping from a high-rise suite to her death, which our heroes are assigned to investigate.
  • Suicide by Cop: Inverted with Riggs attempting a suicide-by-crook early in the film, when he screams at a man who has taken him hostage to kill him. When the man takes too long, Riggs just grabs his gun and beats him up.
  • Tempting Fate: "There's no more heroes left in the world." Cue Riggs' Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Title Drop:
    Murtaugh: File also said you're heavy into martial arts, T'ai Chi and all that killer stuff. I suppose we have to register you as a lethal weapon.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • When Riggs, Murtaugh and Rianne escape from the boiler room, they make their way to the main room of a nightclub. A guy holding a gun turns to face them and Riggs shoots and kills him almost instantly. It's very loud. No one seems to notice. He kills two more people in the nightclub, and no one reacts until the third kill.
    • Earlier in the film, this is averted when Hunsaker screams at Murtaugh to "KILL THEM! JUST KILL THEM!" Several people in the background briefly look in his direction.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Riggs and Murtaugh are tortured to see how much they know about Shadow Company's next drug shipment. After that scene, no mention is made of the police learning the when and where of that shipment, much less intercepting it.
  • While You Were in Diapers: Murtagh says this when Riggs criticizes his driving:
    Murtaugh: I was driving before you were an itch in your daddy's pants.

    Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) 
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Eventually, even Murtaugh can't help but chuckle at the "rubber plant" left on his desk.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Rika ends up hooking up with Riggs, a badass and somewhat unhinged loose cannon.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: The racist South African drug dealers, who are also the main antagonists.
  • And This Is for...: Riggs does this in the climactic showdown when he starts shooting one of the bad guys and saying the names of all the slain officers and Rika.
  • Big Bad: Arjen Rudd, who is using his status as a diplomat to cover up his illegal drug-dealing activities.
  • Big "NO!": The Mook driving the tow truck does one of these when a surfboard crashes through his windshield, decapitating him.
  • Bombproof Appliance: A bathtub. The MythBusters eventually tested this as in the scene, and aside from the detonation method (which actually took longer to go off), it all worked exactly as advertised.
  • Bond One-Liner:
    • Murtagh's response to killing two mooks with a nail gun: "Nailed 'em both."
    • Murtaugh's response, after the Big Bad fell back on Diplomatic Impunity: "It's just been revoked."
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Invoked several times, as the villains have numerous opportunities to dispose of Riggs and Murtaugh and don't.
  • Boom, Headshot!: After Arjen claims "diplomatic immunity", Murtaugh puts a bullet in his head.
  • Brick Joke: After Murtaugh's daughter appears in a condom advertisement, Murtaugh bemoans how his police colleagues will be planting condoms wherever he goes. That night Murtaugh and his family are attacked in their home and no-one is interested in playing jokes on him...until later on in the movie when Murtaugh shoos away some cops crowding around his desk only to find they've planted a 'rubber tree' there. Even Murtaugh can't help breaking down in laughter. Also, later, while Murtaugh is trying to figure out what is meant by Alba Varden, the same advert comes on TV. Leo gets very excited (obviously not knowing that she is Roger's daughter). Roger turns off the TV and warns Leo that he'll pretend he hear him say that. Leo also happens to repeat what the carpenter said earlier about her making him want to buy rubbers.
  • Cement Shoes: Vorstedt tries to dispose of Riggs by throwing him off a dock while chained to a weight. It doesn't work. It did work with Rika, though, much to Riggs' anguish.
  • Complexity Addiction: The South African villains send two helicopters full of machine-gun toting mooks to kill Riggs which fail conspicuously, only to later get the drop on him by just hitting Riggs over the head as he walks to his car.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The Dragon just happens to be the very assassin who murdered Riggs' wife.
  • Cop Killer Manhunt: The South African government drug dealers assassinate several LAPD police officers to make them back off their investigation. Of course this just makes Riggs and Murtaugh more determined to defeat them. Riggs kills the assassin who killed them, and Murtaugh murders the government official who ordered the hit.
  • Darker and Edgier: Easily the darkest and most violent entry in the series, particularly during the third act.
  • Death by Sex: Rika dies soon after having sex with Riggs.
  • Did Not Die That Way: In the previous film, Martin Riggs' wife was said to have been killed in a car accident. Turns out that the "accident" in question was a deliberate hit-and-run by that movie's Big Bad that was meant to kill Riggs himself but got her instead.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: Arjen Rudd claims diplomatic immunity to make the heroes back off (although in fact, he was only a consular officer, and they get a lower grade of immunity - unless he had some other official status as well, he could have been searched provided proper procedures were followed). Probably the Trope Codifier for the trope's use in modern fiction. For extra ballsiness, at one point he does this while SHOOTING at Riggs. Murtaugh revokes it a second later.
  • Disposable Woman: Rika's entire role in the plot is to fall in love with Riggs, then get murdered to make sure that It's Personal. The original plan for her was for her to survive and attend the Thanksgiving party at Murtaugh's house with Riggs, but the script was changed.
  • The Dragon: Pieter Vorstedt is a highly skilled martial artist and top enforcer to the mostly Non-Action Big Bad, Arjen Rudd.
  • Gilligan Cut: Murtaugh, stuck on the toilet, begs Riggs to keep his call to the bomb squad discreet. Guess what happens instead?
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Almost immediately after meeting Leo Getz, Riggs tells him to shut up. Getz says, "Oh, I get it— good cop, bad cop." Then Murtaugh also tells him to shut up. "Okay... bad cop, bad cop."
  • Gory Discretion Shot: A mook is killed when a surfboard flies into his windshield and hits him in the face. Not much is shown but Rigg's squicked out facial expression says it all. It's also lampshaded by Captain Murphy later. "All I know is there is a guy in the morgue and he's got a surfboard where his face used to be..."
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Pieter Vorstedt, as he revealed himself to the man responsible for Riggs' wife's death, therefore he's indirectly responsible for making Riggs suicidal and a danger towards himself and others in the first film.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Riggs stabs Vorstedt with his own knife.
  • Hollywood Law: This movie is the one that insinuates that diplomatic immunity is a license to commit crimes with impunity. In reality, once the LAPD found out that the South African diplomats were running a drug ring, they could have just notified the State Department, who would have them deported. Since South Africa is a United States ally, it's probable they would then be extradited, or at least tried in their home country. Once Rudd's men started assassinating police officers, diplomatic immunity would have gone out the window since his actions could be considered terrorism and South Africa would not dare to protect him. His government would disavow him in an instant since the entire situation could be seen as an act of war against the United States. In any case, the South African government wouldn't dare raise a fuss about the death of the Rudd under those circumstances. Murtaugh would sell it as "a man shot my partner, I returned fire", which would clear IA easily, and the South African government would have a very hard time explaining why their consular officer died holding a gun that LAPD Forensics could easily match to bullets pulled out of a police officer. It's possible that the whole thing is just a ploy by Rudd to scare the LAPD into leaving him alone (technically, they can't do anything until his diplomatic status is revoked, and in theory, they didn't have enough solid evidence to tie Rudd to criminal acts to get him deported immediately). It's clear that Rudd is planning to wrap things up and head back home (that's why he's on the boat back to South Africa), so he didn't need things to work forever, just long enough for him to cash in and get out of the country.
  • Hope Spot: A tiny window for Riggs. He and Roger survive The Purge, Riggs and Rika barely make it out of his trailer before they're blown to bits, he drops Rika off at her apartment, telling her to call in sick the next day, both looking forward to a life together. Then, Pieter and company arrive, knocking Riggs unconscious....
  • Idiot Ball:
    • No one thinks that Miss Van den Haas will need protection from her evil employers that she just betrayed and who just tried to murder both her and Riggs. They simply drop her off alone at her home, where the villains already know she lives. Rika herself grabs hold of the ball by not recognizing the fatal flaw in this plan, and it gets her a one-way trip to the fridge.note 
    • Also Arjen Rudd. Near the end of the movie he starts to shoot at the policemen and claims diplomatic immunity that can protect one from being arrested but not, you know, from being shot in self defense. Had he refrained from shooting, the protagonists could have done nothing without provoking a major international incident.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • Riggs fatally shoots a pilot of a helicopter in the dark from about 100 yards away. With a pistol.
    • Arjen Rudd manages to shoot Riggs several times with a pistol from what looks to be about 100 yards away.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: After The Reveal, because Vorstedt was the one who actually killed Rigg's wife.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Vorstedt reveals that Riggs' wife's death was not an accident as it appeared and was ruled; Vorstedt sabotaged the brakes to make her car go off the road, as he was trying to kill Riggs himself (who was not in the car).
  • Mauve Shirt: All the new detectives introduced in the movie end up dead when the South African gangsters start covering their tracks.
  • Meaningful Name: Leo tries to make this work for him (and mostly just ends up annoying people).
    Leo Getz: My name's Leo Getz. Whatever you want, Leo gets. Get it?!
  • Nail 'Em: Murtaugh is attacked by South African agents and defends himself with a nail gun.
    Murtaugh: Nailed them both.
  • Neck Snap: After returning from the dip in the water that was supposed kill him, a very pissed-off Riggs attacks a mook with a chain and twists his neck around.
    • And then, Riggs slamming a car door multiple times on the mook's partner.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Riggs should have told Rika to RUN LIKE HELL instead of dropping her off at her apartment.
  • Off with His Head!: One Chase Scene ends with an off-screen example — caused by a flying surfboard.
    Captain Murphy: All I know is, there's a guy in the morgue; he's got a surfboard where his face used to be.
  • Oh, Crap!: Possibly literally when Murtaugh realizes that the toilet he is sitting on is rigged to explode with a dead man's switch.
  • People of Hair Color: The South Africans, with the exception of Arjen Rudd, are mostly blond.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The South Africans. What else would you expect from diplomats of the country that named Apartheid? Lampshaded by Riggs, who constantly calls Rudd "Aryan" and Vorstedt "Adolf".
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Non-verbal version; after putting a bomb in Murtaugh's toilet, the bad guys wrote "BOOM YOU'RE DEAD" on the toilet paper. If they hadn't, Roger probably would have stood up and been killed as planned.
  • The Purge: The villain Arjen Rudd does this to the LAPD detectives investigating him, with Riggs and Murtaugh the only survivors.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The Mythbusters tested the scene where Riggs and Murtaugh survive the toilet bomb by diving into the tub with a bomb blanket. The method would have worked, however, it was found that spraying the bomb with nitrogen would have given the characters a full fifteen minutes of time.
  • Reality Ensues: Let's just say that the whole "diplomatic immunity as a defense" thing does not protect you from being shot by police officers in self defense.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Riggs' signal for Murtaugh to go into the stilt house and start shooting the bad guys is to use his pickup truck to start bringing the whole place down, by repeatedly full-throttle yanking a foundation column lassoed to a tow cable.
    Murtaugh: Hey... what's your signal?
    Riggs: You'll know it when it happens.
    Murtaugh: [sighs] Somehow, I think I will know.
    • Even Murtaugh wasn't expecting the magnitude of Riggs' "signal". "RIGGS YOU CRAZY MOTHER—-"
  • Reverse Grip: One of Arjen's mooks brandishes a knife this way when fighting with Murtaugh in his home.
  • Revised Ending: The film originally ended with Riggs dying from his wounds. An alternate ending featured a Thanksgiving dinner at the Murtaugh house which is attended by both Riggs and Rika Van Dan Haas. Richard Donner later decided that Rika should be killed to further fuel Riggs' hatred of the South African diplomats. With Rika dead, this entire ending had to be scrapped. This ending was filmed prior to filming some of the other scenes from the film, including most of the second half where Riggs and Murtaugh go into final showdown with South Africans. Another reason why this ending was not used is because filmmakers weren't sure about whether Riggs should die or live at the end of the film.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Leo is explaining that the reason he's marked for death is that he was skimming money from the accounts of the drug dealers he was laundering money for.
    Leo: It was easy! Millions of dollars in small bills changing hands - who's going to miss ten thousand here, twenty thousand there?
    Murtaugh: Drug dealers.
    Leo: ... yeah, that's right, they did...
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Riggs goes on one after he finds out the South Africans killed his wife and his new girlfriend. Good thing Murtaugh was there...
  • Running Gag: Riggs and Murtaugh are always telling Leo to stay in the car, which he almost always ignores. The one time he does what he's told, two bad guys commandeer the vehicle and kidnap him.
    • Murtagh's wife's new car gets more and more damaged as the film goes on. Among the damage it suffers is losing its front bumper, having its front windscreen shot (and then removed by Riggs), having its paint-work scrapped, having one of its doors smashed off, and having its hood smashed by a toilet.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Arjen Rudd and the South African mobsters.
  • Sarcasm Mode: After Riggs confirms that Murtaugh's toilet is in fact boobytrapped:
    Riggs:'ll be OK as long as you don't stand up.
    Murtaugh: Oh, well that's a relief...!
  • Shoot Everything That Moves: Riggs telling Murtaugh the plan for rescuing Leo:
    Murtaugh: What's the plan?
    Riggs: Wait for my signal, then just go in and shoot those fuckers.
  • Stealth Pun: When Murtaugh and Riggs are sitting in the bathroom and Roger is worried he's going to die on the toilet. After Riggs tells him that guys like him don't die on toilets, he adds:
    Riggs: Besides, I'm here, and I have no plans on going right now.
  • Unbuilt Trope: This was the movie that popularized the Diplomatic Impunity trope in Hollywood action movies as an example of the Rule of Drama for why the heroes can't kill off the bad guy immediately. It provides the Big Bad with a few scant seconds of protection before Murtaugh guns him down, since no sensible government is going to protect a politician who is shooting at police officers.
  • Visual Pun: The "rubber" tree that's left on Murtaugh's desk by his co-workers.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Towards the end, Riggs and Murtaugh are trapped in a container with a car and millions upon millions of dollars in untraceable cash. Riggs plays Devil's Advocate and advises Murtaugh to take some of the cash for himself, as no one will ever know. Murtaugh seriously considers it, but then calls it "blood money" and throws it away. Notably, despite being the voice of temptation, Riggs never touches the money.
  • You Have Failed Me: After Rudd's henchman Hans loses a million dollars worth of gold Krugerrands. Rudd summons him to a room with plastic sheeting over the floor and has him executed. Echoed in a scene later on, when Pieter Vorstedt meets Rudd in his office after a failure. Pieter looks down at his feet during the conversation and comments, "I am just checking to make sure I am not standing on plastic."

    Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) 
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Delores towards Murtaugh, which develops when the two chase after a vehicle together. He chooses to hide from her when she comes visit him at the station.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Deconstructed. Riggs and Cole face a rottweiler guard dog in a warehouse, and Riggs proceeds to placate the dog with dog biscuits Murtaugh gave him to help quit smoking. They rescue him in the ensuing impromptu gun raid, and Riggs still keeps him as a pet in the fourth film.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The climactic shootout.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: The "cop-killer" bullets that are the basis of the plot seem a tad inconsistent in their destruction; they are so powerful that they can not only punch through two sides of a steel drum AND a vest worn by Billy (killing him), they can even penetrate a bulldozer blade and its engine block to kill the Big Bad! Two vests, however, stops 'em dead.
  • Bland-Name Product: The hockey teams playing at the Forum were obviously meant to be the Los Angeles Kings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The colors are just about identical. Look closely enough at the right time, though, and you'll see they're wearing generic uniforms (Toronto's have a spade with a "T", and the Kings are a weird deviation of the "Chevrolet logo"). If you pay attention, the film actually features stock footage of the Los Angeles Kings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. They apparently couldn't get rights to use at least real NHL uniforms for the scenes they filmed.
  • Bookends: The film opens and ends with a bomb in a building that goes off and destroys the entire building.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Referred to throughout the movie due to "cop-killer" bullets on the street.
    Riggs: Got your protection?
    Edwards: Right here in my wallet!
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Subverted when Riggs argues that the bomb squad never gets here on time!"; they meddle with the bomb, it goes off, a massive building is leveled... and the bomb squad immediately pulls up, having arrived in plenty of time to deal with the bomb had Riggs not interfered.
  • Cement Shoes: Travis shoves a Mook who has failed him into a foundation and has cement poured over him. Quoth Travis: "Now we have a relationship we can build on!"
  • Chekhov's Gun
    • The Dog Biscuits for Angry Guard Dog eventually become and addiction to Riggs.
    • The machine gun loaded with "cop killers". Sold to Tyrone by Travis, who then sells it to Darryl, it is taken by Murtaugh when he kills Darryl. Later he uses it against the bad guys and finally tosses it to Riggs - who uses it to kill Travis.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Done exclusively in the Czech dub: When Riggs loses Jack Travis, he shouts "Fucking asshole!"
  • Combat Pragmatist: Lorna Cole isn't above using groin attacks when she grabs a man by his junk and pulls it upward rather painfully.
    Lorna: This PMS... It's murder.
    Murtaugh: I know what you mean. I've been married 25 years.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Murtaugh: When are you gonna learn you can't solve every problem with your fists?
    Riggs: Well, I couldn't use my gun; there was a crowd.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Leo serves a realty agent trying to help Roger sell his house. Because of full disclosure issues, when the prospective buyers mention that they love the picture window, he says it's recently been replaced because a drug dealer crashed his car through it and shot the entire place up. (A reference to the first film, but see below). Then he has to mention the damage that happened in Lethal Weapon 2:
      Leo Getz: The bathroom upstairs has been completely remodeled due to unexpected bomb damage.
    • The flirting between Riggs and Lorna has Riggs mentioning a 'whole family of .44s on the back' from where Arjen Rudd shot him at the end of LW2 and he also mentions the knife Vorstedt got him with in the leg at the climax.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Not so much crazy as it was clever, but Lorna managed to survive a potentially fatal cop-killer bullet wound by wearing two Bullet Proof Vests just in case.
  • Eating Pet Food: Murtaugh helps Riggs quit smoking by feeding him dog biscuits.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: While interrogating one of Jack Travis's henchmen, Riggs reads out the name on the man's driver's license: Hubert Bartholomew Smith.
    Lorna (impressed): Bartholomew!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Gangster Tyrone is visibly disgusted at Jack Travis' disposing of a rebellious mook by burying him alive in wet cement.
  • Evil Counterpart: Jack Travis is pretty much presented as being what Riggs would've become if Murtaugh hadn't come into his life.
  • Extremely Short Time Span: The film takes place over the last eight days before Murtaugh's retirement. In the end, he doesn't retire.
  • Groin Attack: Lorna Cole 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!
  • Guns Akimbo: Riggs and Murtaugh during the subway shootout.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way:
    • Thin plastic porta-potties stops armor piercing bullets while normal bullets go right through metal sheds. Then later the same kind of armor piercing bullets fired from the same gun blows enourmous holes in a bulldozer scoop.
  • The Atoner: After Murtaugh recovers from his Heroic BSoD, he is told by said teenager's mourning parents to "get the man who put the gun in [their] son's hands"... he takes it to the heart, acting very outside of the book to nail the bad guys.
  • Heroic BSoD: Murtaugh goes on a drinking binge after he is forced to kill a teenager (who was a friend of his son's). In a Role Reversal, Riggs has to play the sane man in the entire episode.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Riggs kills Travis with a gun modified with cop-killer bullets (which Travis helped put back on the streets to begin with). And it is in fact the very same gun used by the boy Murtaugh shot. Which Travis stole from LAPD impound and sold to the boy in the first place.
  • Identification by Dental Records: When Tyrone tries to back out of his gun running deal with Jack Travis, Travis tells him that "only your dentist can identify the body" when he's done with him if he does.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Lampshaded when annoying sidekick Leo struggles with the Big Bad for a gun, and is shot in the shoulder for his efforts. He thinks he's dying because he feels numb and cold all over... which is only natural, since he was lying on the ice of a hockey rink.
  • Jerk Ass: Riggs and Murtaugh towards Leo Getz, by playing mean pranks at him.
    • And a random jaywalker by pulling guns on him and pretending to gun him down.
    • And the director of Rianne's movie.
    • Lorna Cole by assaulting a crook who... verbally abused her. Hell, it appears much of the movie is a Took a Level in Jerkass for the main characters.
  • Karma Houdini: Whoever planted the car bomb in the beginning. It is never said if he/she was ever found.
  • Lighter and Softer: The film has a much more comedic tone, especially compared with the second film.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Parodied when Riggs threatens a belligerent jaywalker with killing him and making him look like a suicide. After the man scurries away, Riggs and Murtaugh laugh about it.
  • Mauve Shirt: The 22-year-old cop, Edwards, who's the butt of jokes at his expense about his age and height throughout the film, and takes it all with good-natured, innocent charm. He ends up dead at the hands of Jack Travis.
  • Of Corsets Funny: Riggs catches Murtaugh wearing a girdle under his body armor so that he can fit in his uniform when they get busted to patrol. Naturally, Riggs teases him about it.
    Riggs: Does Trish know?
    Murtaugh: It's not a woman's girdle, it's a man's girdle!
    Riggs: They make girdles for men?
    Murtaugh: Yeah, they make girdles for men! I haven't worn this uniform in fifteen years, the cleaners must have shrunk it.
  • Oh, Crap!: The moment where Riggs fails to disarm the bomb from the opening.
    Riggs: Roger?
    Murtaugh: Yeah?
    Riggs: Grab the cat!
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: A brutal example. Murtaugh gets into a shootout with a teenage gang member who turns out to be a friend of his son's.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Riggs and Lorna are both seen carrying their weapons tucked in their waistbands sans holster.
  • Pet the Dog: Literally. Riggs has gone from Ax-Crazy Death Seeker to Bunny Ears Cop when he chooses to make friends with a guard dog instead of shooting him. He justifies it by saying that, while he's okay with shooting people, he's unable to shoot a dog. This probably would've been in effect even in the first movie.
  • Redemption Quest: Murtaugh has own after killing a teenager in self-defence.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Riggs follows Travis out of the subway station by riding on the front of a subway car.
  • Retirony: Subverted. Early on in the film, Murtaugh's wife shoves a bulletproof vest on him, to make sure he always wears it.
    Roger Murtaugh: She loves me.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The cop killer bullets were based on real reports of ordinary pistol rounds being made into armor piercing ones. Of course, these reports later turned out to be made up, meaning the whole movie is about a specialized bullet that doesn't actually existnote .
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Not quite as vicious, but when Murtaugh returns after Darryl's funeral, he goes person-to-person shaking people down to trace his gun. At the first one's house, the home of one of Darryl's homeys, he rants about how gang-banging is tantamount to self-genocide for their race.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: The bomb squad does this after witnessing the building that Riggs and Murtaugh tried to save going down.
  • Scar Survey: The scene where Cole and Riggs strip down to show off their scars, and end up having sex.
  • Shoot the Dog: After the guard dog befriends Riggs, Hatchett yells for someone to "Kill that damn dog!"
  • The Stinger: Riggs and Murtaugh arrive at a building where a bomb had been discovered. They discuss again or not to go in... and just as they stop at the building, it explodes and both leave as Riggs states "I hope nobody saw us".
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Riggs gets ahold of one of Jack Travis' flunkies at the garage in which he works, asking him "where's your buddy Travis?" After Lorna is waylaid by five other guys (and beats the crap out of them) while Riggs, Murtaugh and the original suspect watch, Riggs again asks the suspect where Travis is. "I told you, I don't know a Jack Travis." "I didn't say his name was Jack."
    Riggs: You better start telling me more than jack shit.
  • Take That!: Riggs suck-starts the flow of gasoline from a fuel tanker. When he gets a mouthful of gas, he spits it out and goes "Ugh, Exxon!". The film was produced shortly after the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska.
  • Wire Dilemma: Occurs... and the bomb goes off.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Riggs in the opening, trying to disarm a bomb because "the bomb squad always arrives late." See The Cavalry Arrives Late entry above.
  • You Have Failed Me: Jack Travis does this to both guys who attempted the armored car robbery, because they were "going into business for themselves" and running the risk of screwing up the entire operation. He has one of them drowned in cement and left to be paved over, and then goes into an interrogation room and shoots the other one in the head.
  • You Just Ruined the Shot: Riggs tries to save Rianne from what he thinks is a hostage situation, but turns out to be a scene in the movie she's in.

    Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) 
  • Actor Allusion: Kim Chan (Uncle Benny) says, "Bloody marvelous!" a catchphrase often used by his character The Ancient in Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. This also isn't the first time he played a crime lord named Uncle Benny.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • Riggs' laser trick shooting in the start of the film at the tanker, with the laser sight going being able to ricochet from a surface.
    • Also in the same scene, barrels of flammable liquid are not ignited by gunfire, and they do not detonate and launch like missiles using the bullet holes as exhaust ports.
  • Avenging the Villain: Near the end of fourth film Wah Sing Ku attempts to flee Riggs and Murtaugh with his brother, as all the other Four Fathers have been killed. When Murtaugh shoots Ku's brother while aiming for Ku himself, Ku sticks around and tries to kill Riggs and Murtaugh in revenge. Riggs then shoots Ku underwater after they fall off a pier while fighting.
  • Battle in the Rain: The final fight takes place in an intense rainstorm on a pier.
  • Bash Brothers: Riggs and Murtaugh embody this trope during the final fight against Ku, who is much younger and faster than them.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The film is considerably more violent than its predecessors, with its Big Bad graphically impaled through the midsection and drowned.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted, everyone ends up having to reload, from the flamethrowing psycho at the beginning of the movie (he reloads his assault rifle) to Riggs and Murtaugh at the end of the movie ("Alright, I'm gonna go find us some more ammo!"). Interestingly, Riggs actually does shoot through about three magazines of ammunition in his Beretta in the final battle, and Murtaugh is notably cautious about how many bullets he shoots: police officers generally carry a loaded weapon and two reloads (45 bullets for Riggs, 18 for Murtaugh).
  • Catch-Phrase: Ku's "If this was Hong Kong, you'd be dead", which refers to the criminals in his home turf handling unpleasantries more efficiently.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Little Ping, who saves Riggs, Lorna, and the Murtaughs along with Rianne from a burning house.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: The State Department official who accepts a bribe from the Triads to create fake passports for the Four Fathers, and the Chinese general waiting for a larger bribe to free them.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The end credits has pictures of the cast and crew with "Why Can't We Be Friends" playing in the background.
  • Destroy the Product Placement: The car chase scene between the ’98 Pontiac Grand Am and a Mercedes Benz 420 SEL (with the former being driven by Roger and the latter by a criminal) ends with the Pontiac being partially damaged by crashing through an office and suffering some damage by a truck. That same truck ends up ramming the Mercedes Benz.
  • Dies Wide Open: Murtaugh discovers Hong's corpse this way.
  • Dirty Cop: Riggs confronts Murtaugh about this, asking how he can support his family, get his kids though college, rebuild his house and buy a fishing boat on a Sergeant's salary. Murtaugh is reticient, and this drives a wedge between them. It turns out that his wife has written several Mills and Boon Prose-heavy Romance Novels (Riggs describes them as "the cheesy sex novels") that sell extremely well, and he's been embarrassed about where the money comes from.
  • Disarm, Disassemble, Destroy: Ku dismantles Riggs' Beretta to end the Mexican Standoff between them in a scene that establishes him as a serious badass.
  • Doctor, Doctor, Doctor: Or rather, Captain Captain Captain!
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Wah Sing Ku is technically working to free his bosses, one of whom is his older brother. But since they are all in prison he's the one who actually drives the plot.
  • Dramatic Thunder: In the final fight with Wah Sing Ku.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The corrupt Chinese general's men vs. the Chinese Triads. As Riggs said "Let them kill each other."
  • Flamethrower Backfire: The opening scene has Riggs do this to a flamethrower-toting bad guy, shooting a vent on the guy's equipment which sends him to an explosive death.
  • Fridge Brilliance: One instance actually happens in-universe, and is not trivia. Note the quotation below is also Casual Danger Dialogue.
    Roger Murtaugh: You ever hear of Ebony Clarke?!
    Martin Riggs: Yeah, she writes those cheesy sex novels! Why? You boinkin' her?
    Roger Murtaugh: No, I'm not boinkin' her! Trish is Ebony Clarke.
    Martin Riggs: Trish is Ebony Clarke!? ...So you are boinkin' her!
    Roger Murtaugh: [realization followed by a big grin] Yeah...! Yeah, I'm boinkin' her!
  • Goofy Print Underwear: When Murtaugh is directed by Riggs to strip to his boxer shorts to distract a madman wielding a flamethrower, Riggs asks with a laugh "Are those little hearts?"
  • Grand Finale: Of the series.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: No, a Laser Sight can not allow you to perfectly chart a ricocheting bullet's path. It can't reflect its beam off a rusted pipe, either. Suffice to say the Artistic License on firearms was rather heavily invoked throughout the entire series.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: The flamethrower and machinegun wielding lunatic at the start wears heavy metal armour that makes him impervious to bullets.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A more comedic example would be when Riggs wants to ask the police psychiatrist for legitimate advice regarding his intent to marry Lorna, but his years of mocking her makes her instantly go on the defensive and assume he's trying to punk her again. So he then turns around and punks her for real.
  • Honor Before Reason: In the climax of the film, Riggs and Murtaugh has successfully thwarted the bad guys' plans. But they killed Ku's brother, leaving him seriously pissed. They had more than enough time to make their exit and stay away from Ku's wrath and even begin to walk the other way, talking about coming back with a howitzer or something like it. But then Riggs starts musing about Ku's crazy gun dismantling trick he pulled earlier in the film and they realize they have to face him to end it.
  • Insane Troll Logic: When Riggs and Murtaugh are looking for the Triad thugs who just tried to kill them, they ask a chopper to look for the car they took off in. A black Mercedes on a certain part of the freeway. The chopper says they've got two cars that match that description, one heading east, one heading west. Riggs, who's driving, says they're following the one heading East.
    Murtaugh: "How do you know we're chasing the right one?
    Riggs: "I don't know, but we're going east, and China's east, so..."
    Murtaugh: "Yeah, but China's west too, Riggs."
  • Kicked Upstairs: Riggs and Murtaugh are both promoted to Captain in the hopes that giving them desk jobs will cut down on the destruction they cause in the city. It doesn't work, and they're busted back to Sergeant by the end of the movie.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Played for Laughs on Murtaugh, regarding the identity of Rianne's husband, which even Riggs knows.
  • Made of Iron: Wah Sing Ku, who gets imapled with a rebar and still continues fighting. In fact, it took a full burst from an AK-47 to the torso while he was underwater to finally take him down.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Butters was trying to be nice to his father-in-law. He instead thought that he had the hots for him.
  • "El Niño" Is Spanish for "The Niño": When Riggs, Murtaugh, and Butters seek to question Uncle Benny at a dentist's office, they give him a dose of laughing gas to make him more complacent, except they give him too much gas, making him way too aloof and carefree to be very helpful. His one clue as to the location of the Hongs is "Renminbi". When asked what that means, Uncle Benny explains, "'Renminbi' means... 'Renminbi'."
  • Oh, Crap!: Done by Wah Sing Ku before he gets shot to death underwater.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Wah Sing Ku is younger than both Riggs and Murtaugh and very skilled in a deadly form of martial arts.
  • Outranking Your Job: Riggs and Murtaugh both get promoted to captain, but the promotions seem to carry no real weight. Neither is assigned any subordinates or additional responsibilities, and aside from Riggs occasionally announcing, "This is your Captain speaking!" to colleagues, both continue to chase criminals as if they were sergeants — though the whole point of promoting them was to get them out of the field.
  • Pregnant Hostage: Wah Sing Ku and his Mooks force Riggs and Murtaugh to stand down in a Mexican Standoff by dropping their guns, but taking Lorna and Rianne and holding them (and their pregnant bellies) at knifepoint.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Verbatim from the movie's main villain.
    Wah Sing Ku: Brother, America has many laws, but written by men. Money can change everything.
  • Super Speed: They had to get Jet Li to slow his fight scenes down because he was too fast for the actors to react to and the camera to catch on film.
  • Survival Mantra: "We're not too old for this shit... we're not too old for this shit..."
  • Take That!: The film contains some shockingly unsubtle jabs against the NRA. A bit hypocritical coming from a series that elevated dangerous and irresponsible gunplay to an art form.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The main villains of this movie.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Murtaugh finds the watch he gave to the elderly Asian immigrant he befriended...
  • Trash the Set: Murtaugh's boat gets blown up during the fight on the smuggling freighter, and his family's house gets burned down by the Triads.
  • Villainous Valour: Only Wah Sing Ku is able to disassemble a Beretta in 5 seconds with his own bare hands and then knock out Riggs and Murtaugh who are older and taller than him. In the final showdown he once again manages to handle them even if they are two vs one.
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: Butters's Establishing Character Moment shows that while he accepts the idea of lowlifes or even fellow cops getting killed (as he describes it, "occupational hazard"), he gets pretty upset at a normal civilian being the victim of a murder. Riggs and Murtaugh even have to tell him to calm down.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The third Four Father must have somehow disappeared when the other two Four Fathers were being shot by the General before the final shootout and when Ku and his brother fled.
    • Also, Ng and his partner aren't seen anywhere after the shootout commences and when Murtaugh tells Ng to look after Butters.
  • The Worf Effect: Done interestingly. Riggs realizes his age when the primary henchmen on the boat handily kicked his ass. But Ku ends up dispatching that henchmen with embarrassing little effort, proving that he will be quite an enemy to beat.
  • You Have Failed Me: Wah Sing Ku does this both to the freighter captain for losing the Hong family (as well as the entire shipment of Chinese), as well as Uncle Benny for generally disappointing him.

Alternative Title(s): Lethal Weapon 2, Lethal Weapon 4, Lethal Weapon 3