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Film / Lethal Weapon (1987)

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Lethal Weapon is an action / buddy cop film and the the first instalment of the Lethal Weapon series, directed by Richard Donner and released in 1987.

Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is an LAPD cop who prefers to play by the rules, cares for his family, and worries about getting too old (for this shit). He gets partnered with Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), a suicidal narcotics cop still grieving the recent death of his wife, and is also well versed with both martial arts and gunplay which, added to his berserker tendencies, make 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 military.

Followed by Lethal Weapon 2.

Lethal Weapon provides examples of:

  • 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).
    • Roger can somehow hear Riggs' conversation with a jumper several stories up from the street. Said street was also filled with people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as well as several squad cars running their sirens. And Riggs was speaking in a normal conversational tone.
  • Actor Allusion: This isn't the first time Mel Gibson plays a burnt-out cop whose wife has been murdered.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: When Harper Murtaugh meets her dad's new partner, she asks if Riggs is a crook. Riggs responds with a bark of laughter.
  • 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!!!
  • 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 they knew of each other's names and reputations in the film.
  • Always Someone Better: In the shooting range scene, Roger has a respectable grouping on his target and is very pleased with himself. Riggs then shows Roger that he has much tighter groups in the center mass and head regions. Roger then shows off by hitting the target in the center of the head from a quick draw. Riggs counters by sending the target much further downrange and turning it into a smiley face, much to Roger's consternation.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Riggs pulls out his Beretta in the middle of the police station, a very stupid thing to do, especially since he wasn’t in uniform. Inspired by recent events in-universe, Murtaugh instantly attempts to tackle him, thinking he was a shooter.
    • Averted in the very next scene. When Murtaugh asks to examine Riggs' piece, Riggs removes the mag and ejects the round in the chamber before handing it over.
    • There are numerous incidents with Riggs pointing weapons at himself, explained if not justified by his borderline suicidal mentality.
  • Artistic License – Law Enforcement:
    • Riggs and Murtaugh are introduced when Murtaugh is told he's getting a new partner. He sees another plainclothes detective showing Riggs around, but has no idea who Riggs is. When Riggs is left alone, leaning against a desk, for some reason he pulls his gun, prompting Murtaugh to scream "GUN!" and charge him. Murtaugh's reaction was 100% correct, and he would have even been justified to draw his own weapon and order Riggs to disarm. For a police officer to pull their gun for no reason whatsoever in a squad room full of cops is simply insane. Police procedure dictates that you only draw your weapon if you're in a situation where you may need to use it. In Real Life, such a stunt would have gotten Riggs suspended immediately, with his gun and badge taken away to boot. After a review by his superiors, he probably would have ended up discharged from the force with that "psycho pension" everyone thought he was trying to get.
    • Riggs grabbing the suicidal man, handcuffing himself to him, and then jumping off the building with him should have ended with him being kicked off the force for good. That was just too far over the top for any police department to tolerate.
  • As You Know: A police psychiatrist helpfully explains some of Riggs's backstory.
    "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 Murtaugh's revolver, but is only stopped because Murtaugh sticks his finger between the hammer and the chamber (in other words, if Murtaugh was half a second later, Riggs would've actually killed himself).
  • 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."
  • Badges and Dog Tags: Both of the main protagonists were Vietnam veterans before becoming cops. Murtaugh mentions how his old buddy Hunsacker "took a bayonet in the lungs" for him during the War, and while Riggs is cryptic about his experiences, he has a special forces tattoo and mentions both sniping and an encounter with Shadow Company during the war.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Shadow Company hang out in a bar and do business there.
  • Barefoot Suicide: Amanda Hunsacker is barefoot when she commits suicide.
  • 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 wouldn't risk harming his own daughter.
    Murtaugh: If she's going to die, she's going to die with me! My way, not yours!
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Murtaugh shoots to disable whenever possible and is a Nice Guy. He becomes a cold blooded killer and executioner when his daughter and family are threatened.
  • Big Bad: General Peter McAllister runs the heroin ring our heroes are busting up.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Murtaugh is about to be killed by General McCallister, who pauses to give his Evil Gloating, ending with the line "There are no more heroes." At that exact moment, Riggs bursts in and dispatches him and his minions.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Murtaugh takes care of the driver of General McAllister's car.
  • Bringing Running Shoes to a Car Chase: The climactic battle on the first movie has Riggs chasing after Mr. Joshua on foot while the latter is running away on a car (and managing to intercept him, but Joshua still manages to run away for a very short time). The second movie starts with a car chase that Riggs spends a short part of running on foot.
  • Brutal Honesty: Riggs, after dinner with Murtaugh's family.
    Murtaugh: You really like my wife's cooking?
    Riggs: [Beat] No.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Riggs is apparently killed during a drive-by shooting and does the "vest reveal" bit to explain his survival. He also makes a big production 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.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Initially played straight (and even cited in-universe) by Hunsacker when Murtaugh questions why Shadow Company killed Amanda rather than just kill Hunsaker himself. McAllister can't kill Hunsaker, because his banking background's a perfect front for laundering their profits and not drawing Federal attention. However, it ultimately gets subverted when McAllister decides that as valuable as Hunsaker is, it's simply too dangerous to leave him alive.
  • Car Cushion: The film opens with Amanda Hunsaker committing suicide by throwing herself off a balcony and onto a parked car below.
  • Car Meets House: A car drives through Murtaugh's front window. The repairs are going on for the rest of the movie and later movies reference how much work had to be done.
  • 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' references to Vietnam and his combat stories prove important when one of the bad guys 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.
  • Collateral Damage: The shootout at the Christmas tree lot is kicked off when one of the thugs there tries to shoot Riggs but accidentally shoots one of his comrades.
  • Cool Guns: Riggs uses a Heckler & Koch PSG1 with a 20 round magazine during the scene in the desert where they try to get back Murtaugh's daughter.
  • 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.
  • Deadfoot Leadfoot: Played With. McAllister and his driver escape in a car through an alley, only for the driver to be shot dead by Murtaugh. McAllister desperately attempts to take the wheel, but is thwarted when the car is hit by a bus and ultimately destroyed by a live grenade in the back seat.
  • Dead Man Honking: Murtaugh shooting McAllister's driver is punctuated by the driver falling onto the car horn.
  • Dead Man's Switch: During the hostage exchange, Murtaugh takes a grenade from his pocket, removes the pin and says he'll blow them all up if his daughter isn't released first. It's a smoke grenade.
    Joshua: Take him!
    Mercenary: He has a grenade!
    Joshua: He's bluffing! He wouldn't risk killing his own daughter.
    Murtaugh: If she's going to die, she's going to die with me! My way, not yours!
  • 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.
  • Designated Bullet: Riggs tells Murtaugh that he has a special bullet picked out in case he ever decides to kill himself (which he thinks about every day). At the end of the film, he gives Murtaugh the bullet as a symbol that he's come to terms with his inner demons and is no longer suicidal. The bullet is stated to be a hollow-point, to minimise the odds of botching the job note .
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: They do, actually, by starting off the movie to "Jingle Bell Rock." It is also shown by the tree in Murtaugh's house and the complete destruction of a large stack of eggnog cartons in an action scene. During the climax, Joshua shoots a TV playing Scrooge (1951) and declares, "It's goddamn Christmas!" Plus, Riggs busts a drug dealer using a Christmas tree lot as a front for his real business.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Mr. Joshua attempts to kill Riggs and Murtaugh after the latter had killed his boss while he was attempting to escape.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Mr. Joshua to General McAllister. He ends up becoming Riggs' personal arch-rival in the movie. His actions drive the plot of the first movie, and he even outlives his boss in the climax.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Mr. Joshua flees the scene of the movie's semi-final battle and instead chooses to battle Riggs and Murtaugh in front of Murtaugh's home after McCallister bit it.
  • Driven to Suicide: At one point Riggs nearly shoots himself, and tells Murtaugh that every morning when he wakes up he makes a decision whether to off himself or not.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: Amanda Hunsacker had on just some panties and a skimpy robe, which was worn open and fluttered around her body as she fell.
  • Duck Season, Rabbit Season: Toyed with.
    Riggs: You're driving!
    Murtaugh: I'm driving!
    Riggs: No, you're driving!
    Murtaugh: No, I'm driving!
  • Duel to the Death: Happens at the end between Martin Riggs and Mr. Joshua.
  • 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.
    • Since it also shows how Riggs and Murtaugh meet, it's also the only film in the series that opens without an Action Prologue showing the two handling an unrelated case at the beginning.
  • Electric Torture: Riggs is tortured by Endo, who is trying to find out what he knows about the bad guys' heroin shipments.
  • 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.
    • Allowing General McAllister to burn his arm with a lighter, clenching his teeth and taking it, establishing Joshua's loyalty (and insanity).
  • 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 topless, for no reason at all. They at least followed this up with equal-opportunity fanservice by showing Mel Gibson's butt two scenes later.
  • Favouritism Flip-Flop: Rianne comes to Murtaugh and Riggs and shortly engage in a discussion about alcoholic consumption at her age. Her father says she shouldn't drink, but she brushes him off. However, when Riggs asks the same, she - having a crush on him - promises to take his advice and whole-heartedly agrees with him.
  • 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.
  • Forced Friendly Fire: Riggs storms a room full of bad guys to rescue his partner Murtaugh and daughter Rianne. He forces Mr. Larch to shoot a buddy with an arm lock then turns the gun back onto Larch 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 witness to Dixie's house being bombed: "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: During Riggs' fight with Mr. Joshua, Mr. Joshua grabs a metal pole and begins swinging at Riggs. Murtaugh then tosses Riggs a nightstick so that he has a fighting chance again.
  • 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.
  • He Knows Too Much: Riggs is tortured by the bad guys to find out what he knows about their impending shipment, which is nothing.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Shadow Company was a black operation founded to disrupt the North Vietnamese's efforts to fund the war through drug smuggling. When the war ended, they went into drug smuggling themselves.
  • He's Got a Weapon!: Murtaugh suddenly notices that a man in the police station has pulled a gun. He immediately charges out to tackle him, only to discover that the madman waving a gun around is his new partner.
  • The Heavy: It's Mr. Joshua and his actions that drives the plot of the film.
  • Hidden Disdain Reveal: Riggs is being led at gunpoint to Shadow Company's hideout by General McAlister:
    I ran into some of those Shadow Company pussies in Saigon in '69.
  • 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.
    • One of the Mooks, Mr. Larch, is forced to shoot himself by Riggs.
  • 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). In addition, due to Riggs having been involved in a deadly police shootout (two in the extended cut) in his opening scenes, he should have been been placed on administrative leave for a few days while IA reviewed the incidents, not given a partner and sent back into the field the next day, even if they were clean shoots (especially since the station psychiatrist was trying to get him benched for mental health reasons anyway).
  • Human Shield: Subverted when Riggs is taken hostage during a drug bust by one of the dealers. Riggs immediately starts shouting at the officers to just shoot him, which caused the situation to get chaotic enough to distract the dealer enough for Riggs to take him down. (Of course, it bears mentioning that Riggs is suicidal...)
  • Hurting Hero: Martin Riggs spends most of the movie suicidally depressed after the death of his wife.
  • 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.
  • I'll Kill You!: Not in a truly antagonistic way, though.
    Riggs: I think your daughter kinda likes me.
    Murtaugh: You touch her, and I'll kill you.
    Riggs: You'll try.
  • Idiot Ball: 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.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Riggs and Joshua fight on Murtaugh's front lawn. Just as Riggs has Joshua in a killing pose, he stops, saying Joshua isn't worth it— despite Murtaugh egging him on to "break his fucking neck". As two uniformed officers are taking Joshua into custody, he grabs a gun and starts taking aim at Riggs. Murtaugh and Riggs both open fire on him, justifiable defense.
  • 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.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Riggs and Murtaugh question a kid who may have seen who planted a bomb to kill their prime suspect. When Murtaugh asks the kid his name, one of his friends shouts, "Don't tell him your name, Alfred!"
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The "have-a-nice-day" moment, which has Riggs shooting a perfect smiley face on a target in the shooting range. Murtaugh lampshades this perfectly:
    Murtaugh [re: Riggs' gun]: What do you do, sleep with that thing under your pillow?
    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.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Riggs' first action scene in the Director's Cut has him empty his Beretta into a sniper firing at schoolchildren.
  • Large Ham: Riggs, since in this movie he wants to die and is very unhinged.
    Riggs: Do you really wanna jump ?! DO YOU WANNA?!? Well then, that's fine with me! Come on!
  • The Lost Lenore: Victoria Lynn Riggs. Her death is the reason Riggs is a Death Seeker in the first film. It's only his unlikely friendship with Murtaugh that later helps him get over it, though when Pieter in the second film tells him that he killed her, Riggs goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Macho Masochism: Mr. Joshua holds his arm in a lighter flame until it sizzles, as a demonstration of Badass Loyalty because his boss tells him to.
  • 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 Murtaugh sees scruffy, wild-eyed Riggs in the police station, and Riggs draws his gun, Murtaugh thinks he's a criminal and tackles him.
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: Murtaugh says that "thin" is his middle name; Riggs uses it as an opportunity to insult his wife's cooking.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: A simple suicide → a heroin-smuggling operation run by Vietnam War special forces troops.
  • 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.
  • Murderous Thighs: Riggs chokes out Endo this way while his hands are bound. He nearly does it again during the climactic battle with Mr. Joshua near the end of the film.
    Murtaugh: Break his fuckin' neck!
  • 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.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: General McCallister is able to sneak up on Riggs without the latter noticing, and is clearly proficient with firearms. He just chooses not to get his hands dirty.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: When Riggs and Murtaugh start walking across the street to the hooker's house, Murtaugh is taller than Riggs. In the next shot showing them from the back, just before the explosion, Riggs is taller than Murtaugh.
  • 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.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Murtaugh states his preferred method is to shoot a felon in the leg so he can question them later. This is mainly to differentiate him from Riggs. That's not how police operate if they've decided firing their weapon is necessary. Riggs' methods are correct. He just does it way more than any real police officer ever would.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Mel Gibson hadn't quite shed his Australian accent yet and it can be heard occasionally leaking through, such as when he says ""you guys already know what your rights are" during the scene at the Christmas tree lot.
  • Overly-Long Gag: The target takes a long time to get to the end of the range, and a long time to come back.
  • Pillow Pistol: Riggs sleeps with his service pistol. At least, he would if he slept.
  • Platonic Prostitution: Riggs pays a prostitute $100 just to watch TV with him, and not for the more traditional purpose of hiring a hooker.
  • 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.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: A mild example where Murtaugh (seeing the situation he is in with Riggs as a partner) says "God hates me", and Riggs responds "Hate Him back: it works for me".
  • Refuge in Audacity: Riggs with the suicide jumper. He was crazier than the jumper.
    Martin Riggs: "DO YOU REALLY WANNA JUMP?! Do you WANNA?! Well then, that's fine with me!"
  • Revised Ending: The film originally ended with Riggs and Murtaugh 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: Played With: Riggs, the hotshot badass, packs a slick automatic while Murtaugh, the aging family man, packs an old-fashioned revolver. Riggs notes that "Lotta old-timers carry those". However, a running gag in the series has Murtaugh display sniper-like accuracy with a single aimed shot.
    • A bit of Truth in Television since Murtaugh is carrying an adjustable sight Smith & Wesson revolver which is much better suited to carefully aimed shots than Riggs’ fixed-sight Beretta.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Mutaugh, in a Role Reversal, becomes the Blood Knight obsessed with killing the General for the fact he kidnapped his daughter as well as murdered her boyfriend. He proceeds to go back to the base they just escaped, shoots the driver, and wrecks his car before leaving him to burn to death.
  • Rule of Cool: The only reason to justify Riggs's fight with Joshua at the end.
  • Rule of Pool: As the heroes are escorting a suspect past a covered pool, the suspect goes for a weapon and Riggs reflexively shoots him. He was trying to be nonlethal (this time) but the injured suspect falls in the pool, is tangled in the plastic covering, and drowns.
    Riggs: Oops.
    Murtaugh: You ever met anybody you didn't kill?
    Riggs: Well, I haven't killed you yet.
  • Salt and Pepper: Subverted, Murtaugh is the old, grizzled but by-the-book cop, Riggs is the young, reckless, titular lethal weapon.
  • Shoot Everything That Moves: Murtaugh has been deriding Riggs' gun-happy approach until the bad guys kidnap his daughter.
    Riggs: We do this my way. You shoot, you shoot to kill. Get as many as you can. All you gotta do is just not miss.
    Murtaugh: I won't miss.
  • Shoot the Television: Mr. Joshua does this when he finds Murtaugh's house empty, and a showing of Scrooge (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.
  • Sniper Rifle: Riggs uses a sniper rifle at one point to back up Murtaugh when his daughter gets kidnapped.
  • Soft Glass: Riggs takes a shotgun blast from Mr. Joshua and flies back through a window without any injuries worse than getting the wind knocked out of him. Of course, Riggs is crazy enough to ignore many injuries.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Jingle Bell Rock" is the first song we hear. And then a half-naked, coked-up prostitute throws herself off a hotel balcony.
  • 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.
  • Suicide Dare:
    • 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 doesn't really think Riggs is suicidal, just acting crazy to get an early pension, and is a danger to himself and others due to the acting he does to look crazy. Murtaugh tells Riggs to just kill himself already, thinking that he's calling Riggs' bluff. 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. Suddenly Murtaugh realizes, to his horror, that Riggs is serious and is about to go through with it. He assumed Riggs was bluffing the whole time, and has to act quickly to stop Riggs from killing himself right then and there.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Inverted. Riggs is spectacularly bad about it. He starts out with the sympathetic angle, smoking a cigarette with the would-be-jumper, then he handcuffs them together, and then Riggs jumps, taking the would-be jumper with him, much to the alarm and dismay of the jumper who cusses him out and calls him crazy after the fact. There was an airbag to break their fall, however, brought in while Riggs was distracting the suicidal person.
  • Tempting Fate: "There's no more heroes left in the world." Cue Riggs' Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • There Are No Therapists: Zig-zagged. Dr. Stephanie Woods is the police station's resident psychiatrist, but she spends all her time warning officers about Riggs like he's a monster instead of trying to treat him herself (she actually doesn't speak to him at all in the film). She also seems convinced he's psychotic and never considers his problems stem from PTSD and isolation; notably, once Riggs starts socializing with the Murtaughs he opens up much more easily.
  • 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.
  • Torture Technician: Endo fits this and is described by Joshua as "having forgotten more about dispensing pain than you and I will ever know."
  • 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: Murtaugh says this when Riggs criticizes his driving:
    Murtaugh: I was driving before you were an itch in your daddy's pants.
  • With My Hands Tied: Riggs manages to kill Endo while tied up and hanging from the ceiling.
  • Wunza Plot: if not the Trope Codifier, then certainly one of the trope's revivers.