Lethal Weapon

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Riggs and 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!"

'"Hey, that's no fair. The building guy lived."
Murtaugh and Riggs

Lethal Weapon is a tetralogy of American action movies/comedies directed by Richard Donner and starring 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 is playing 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 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 behind drug smuggling. As it turned out, he was responsible for the death of Mrs. Riggs.

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) /BigBad 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.

Now has a character sheet

The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the Lethal Weapon franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Delores towards Rog in the 3rd movie.
  • Action Girl: Lorna Cole.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Eventually, even Murtaugh can't help but chuckle at the "rubber plant" left on his desk in Lethal Weapon 2.
  • Addiction Displacement: From cigarettes to dog biscuits.
    • As well as the onion.
    • By the end of Lethal Weapon 3, he jokes about going back to cigarettes to deal with his "dog biscuit problem".
  • The Alleged Car: Murtaugh's wife's station wagon turns into this over the course of the second film.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: The first movie, when Riggs has dinner with Murtaugh's family, the oldest daughter is 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.
      • For that matter, presumably the late Mrs. Riggs.
    • Unfortunately for Murtaugh, another detective named Lee Butters got to her while he was distracted.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: The first movie.
  • And This Is For: Riggs does this in the final scene of part 2 when he starts shooting one of the bad guys and saying the names of all the slain officers and Rika.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Deconstructed in Lethal Weapon 3. 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.
  • The Artifact: In the second film Leo is introduced as a key witness and much of the plot revolves around protecting him; for the rest of the series he is reduced to the Plucky Comic Relief, though he still briefly helps out in both cases.
  • Ate His Gun: Riggs is outright suicidal in the first film. In an early scene, he actually puts his gun in his mouth, but doesn't shoot.
  • Avenging the Villain: Near the end of the fourth film Wah Sing Ku is attempting to flee Riggs and Murtaugh with his brother, all the other villains having 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.
  • Badass Boast: Riggs has several throughout, but his Defining Character Moment in the first film really hits this trope hard: "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."
  • Bash Brothers: Riggs and Murtaugh don't embody this trope until the final fight against Ku in the fourth movie.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Mr. Joshua in the first film, and the South Africans in the second.
  • Bombproof Appliance: A bathtub. The MythBusters eventually tested this as in the scene, and aside from the detonation method, it all worked exactly as advertised.
  • Bond One-Liner: From the second film: "Nailed 'em both." Also, the one in the next entry.
  • Boom! Headshot!: Roger's signature maneuver, done once a film, after rolling his head from side-to-side to crack his neck.
    • How Roger takes care of the driver of General McAllister's car.
    • After Arjen claims "Diplomatic immunity", Murtagh puts a bullet in his head.
  • 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.
  • Brick Joke: Chekhov's Nailgun 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.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Martin Riggs.
  • Buddy Cop Film
  • Call Forward: The musical riffs we first hear in the original film are later used in Sting and Eric Clapton's "It's Probably Me", the hit single from the third film.
  • 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. It does not work.
  • Catch Phrase: Most famously Murtaugh's "I'm too old for this shit," as well as his "Go spit, Riggs!"
    • Leo has one as well: "OK, OK, OK..."
      • Ku, from the fourth film: "If this was Hong Kong, you'd be dead."
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: The end of the second film.
    • The SWAT team arriving about a minute or so after Riggs shoots the playground sniper near the beginning of the first film.
      • This scene was (wisely) cut from the theatrical release and reinserted for the Directors Cut DVD.
    • Subverted in the third film, where 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: In Lethal Weapon 3, 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!"
  • 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 Nailgun: In Lethal Weapon 2.
    • Chekhov's Dog Biscuits for Angry Guard Dog, for that matter
      • Chekhov's Dislocated Shoulder which keeps coming back. In the second film, Riggs voluntarily dislocating his shoulder to get out of a straitjacket on a bet is used comedically to show how nuts he is. But when the villains try to kill him by putting him in a straitjacket and tossing him into a river, he's able to get out of it, swim up to the surface, and take out two of them.
    • During the fight with Wah Sing Ku, 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.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Riggs ability to dislocate and reset his shoulder was used as a gag early in the second movie, only to become important to Riggs escaping a death trap. Similarly, in the third movie Riggs taught Murtaugh a basic defensive kick which was made into a prank with Murtaugh kicking over a water cooler, with Murtaugh used instinctively in the climax.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Riggs and Murtaugh are both subjected to this in the first film, 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.
  • 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.
  • Comically Missing the Point: From Lethal Weapon 3:

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: Many scenes from previous films are mentioned throughout the series. Perhaps the funniest continuity nod is in Lethal Weapon 3, in which 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.

    • Granted the thing with the picture window happened before Leo knew Riggs and Murtaugh, and therefore he may have been told a different story from what really happened-- but it was the good guys who actually drove the car through the window in the first film.
      • Fridge Brilliance: Murtaugh would probably have spun the story that way to the insurance company.
    • Also, Riggs and Lorna flirting in the third film, Riggs mentions a 'whole family of .44s on the back' from where Arjen Rudd shot him at the end of LW 2 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.
  • The Danza: Delores Hall plays Delores in Lethal Weapon 3.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: Arjen Aryan Rudd claims diplomatic immunity to make the heroes back off in the second movie (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).
    • For extra ballsiness, at one point he does this while SHOOTING at Riggs.
      • And Murtaugh revokes it a second later.
      • Of course, even the highest level of diplomatic immunity is only immunity from prosecution, not immunity from harm. If a diplomat is attempting to murder you then its perfectly legal to shoot back at him in self-defense. It might still cause a diplomatic whoopsie, but it is legal.
  • The Dragon: Typically opposing Riggs. Mr. Joshua in the first, Pieter in the second.
  • Dragon Their Feet: In the first film, 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".
  • Driven to Suicide: The first film opens with one, as young Amanda jumps off a balcony.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Every movie but the second, which is decidedly more bittersweet.
  • "El Niño" Is Spanish for "The Nino": In the fourth film, 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 "Yao Mihn Bi". When asked what that means, Uncle Benny explains, "'Yao Mihn Bi' means... 'Yao Mihn Bi'."
  • Evil Albino: Mr. Joshua.
  • Evil Brit: Jack Travis in the third movie.
  • Evil Counterpart: Mr. Joshua again.
  • Fridge Brilliance: One instance actually happens in-universe, and is not trivia.

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: So you are boinkin' her.
Roger Murtaugh: [big grin] Yeah, Yeah I'm boinkin' her!

  • Evil Versus Evil: The Corrupt Chinese general's men vs. The Chinese Triads. As Riggs said "Let them kill each other."
  • Follow the Leader: The series spawned a lot of buddy-cop films.
  • Foreshadowing: In the first film, there's a magnet on the Murtaughs' refrigerator that says something to the effect of "End apartheid in South Africa." Guess who the villains of the second film are?
  • From the Mouths of Babes: The six-year-old witnesses to Dixie's house being bombed in the first film. "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.
  • Genre Savvy: Subverted hilariously. In the third film, Riggs insists that he and Murtaugh go into the parking garage to try and defuse the bomb because "the bomb squad never gets there on time", as if that's a truism he's learned from experience or possibly from watching too many movies. After Riggs screws it up ("GRAB THE CAT!"), the bomb squad arrives seconds later. They would have had more than enough time to defuse the bomb if not for Riggs. They give him a sarcastic round of applause, too.
    • Played straight by Murtaugh in the same scene, who argues against messing with the bomb because he's only eight days from retirement and he doesn't want to do anything stupid.
    • Played straight in the first film by the bus driver whose car collides with McAllister's. He quickly backs the bus back several yards, just in case the car were to explode. Smart man.
  • Gilligan Cut: Murtaugh, stuck on the toilet, begs Riggs to keep his call to the bomb squad discrete. Guess what happens instead?
  • Give Me a Sword: Murtaugh tosses Riggs a nightstick in the fight with Mr. Joshua near the end of the first film, in response to the latter using a pole against him.
  • Gonna Need a Bigger Warrant: The crimes always end up being more complex and involved than they appear on the surface.
  • Good Cop, Bad Cop: Almost immediately after meeting Leo Getz in Lethal Weapon 2, 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."
  • Good Is Not Dumb: After Riggs is blown through a window by a shotgun in the first film (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.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Murtaugh from 4; when 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?"
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: The idea that "cop killer" bullets are an option for normal pistol calibers is nonsense. By the time you've juiced up, say, a regular 9mm with a sufficiently hardened bullet (just being pointy won't cut it) and enough propellant to punch through thick steel or kevlar, you'd need to create a special gun to fire it, because you've just invented an entirely new cartridge. Best to just chalk the whole mess up to Rule of Cool.
    • Very, very minor truth in television with the Russian GSh-18 pistol, which is designed for just such an overpressure 9x19mm round. The timing's off, though, having entered service a full 20 years after the third movie. Even then, using said round in a weapon chambered for 9x19mm Luger will quickly ruin the gun, so the original point stands.
    • Actually 9mm Parabellum round gives pretty high maximum pressure, so overpressurized load complete with hardened and specifically shaped (or saboted) round could easily defeat an ordinary kevlar vest. On the other hand, using such ammo in the ordinary SMG set to full auto would be extremely dangerous to the shooter.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Averted; Joe Pesci is famous for such roles played scarily straight but his character Leo Getz is harmless. In fact, he plays a fall guy. He's still liable to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation, but everyone's more than aware it's all bluster and Riggs and Murtagh are more than willing to tell him to shut up.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: The flamethrower and machinegun wielding lunatic at the start of the fourth movie.
  • Heroic BSOD: In the second film, when The Dragon reveals he killed Riggs' wife Victoria, and then he kills Rika, too.
    • In the third film, Murtaugh goes on a drinking binge after he was 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.
    • He's Back: And when he recovers from it, and is told by said teenager's mourning parents to "get the man who put the gun in [their] son's hands" ... oh boy, is he back.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Riggs & Murtaugh. But bordering on Ho Yay; arguably, deep within Ho Yay territory.

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!

  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The fact that General Mc Allister has explosives in his car enables Roger to kill him (by killing his driver, causing an overturned-vehicle crash) in the first film.
    • Riggs stabs Vorstedt with his own knife in the second film.
    • Riggs kills Travis with a gun modified with cop-killer bullets (which Travis helped put back on the streets to begin with) in the third film.
      • 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.
  • Hot Amazon: Lorna Cole.
  • Hot Pursuit: Played straight to the point of parody to the point of subversion back around to straight, all in record time.
  • Idiot Ball: "Wow, good thing we escaped your evil employers who just tried to kill us, Miss Van den Haas. Now let's drop you off at your apartment, where they know you live, without any police protection!" *hands ball to her* "Hey, great idea, Officer Riggs!"
    • Also Arjen Rudd in the second movie. 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. Should he refrained from shooting, the protagonists could have done nothing without provoking major international incident.
  • 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.
    • In part 2, how about fatally shooting the pilot of a helicopter in the dark from about 100 yards away. With a pistol.
    • The "have-a-nice-day" moment in the first film. Murtaugh lampshades Riggs' improbable aiming skills perfectly:

Murtaugh [re: Riggs' gun]: You sleep with that thing under your pillow or something?
Riggs: I would if I slept.

    • When Roger rolls his head from side-to-side and cracks his neck, watch out.
    • As for Murtaugh, he pulls off an excellent shot to kill the Big Bad of both parts 1 and 2. In part 1, he shoots the driver of a 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. And in part 2, he revokes Rudd's diplomatic immunity with a damned impressive head shot.
      • In fact, in part 2, Murtaugh not only scores a head shot on Rudd, but the bullet goes through Rudd's photo on his diplomat ID. Making it, in fact, two headshots with one bullet. Yeah.
    • Funny enough, it's Averted completely in the third film--where Murtaugh has to ventilate a shed to get Darryl, then uses a machine gun on Jack Travis--and Deconstructed in the fourth, where Wah dodges the shot--only for it to hit and kill his brother.
  • Interrupted Suicide
  • It's Personal: Each movie eventually turns into this. Riggs even says the trope by name in part 2.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Riggs and Murtaugh are both promoted to Captain in the fourth film, in the hopes that giving them desk jobs will cut down on the destruction they cause in the city. It doesn't work.
  • Large Ham: Riggs, especially in the first movie.

Riggs: Do you really wanna jump ?! DO YOU WANNA?!? Alright, then, let's do it!

  • Lethal Chef: Trish Murtaugh.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Riggs of the hard hitting fast guy type.
    • Pretty deconstructed in the fourth movie, when his age takes away the 'lightning part'. He's still faster and a better fighter than Murtaugh, but his age showing in his fighting prowess is a major plot-point.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Parodied in the third film. After Riggs and Murtaugh are busted down to patrolmen, they catch a guy jaywalking; when they say they're gonna cite him for it, the jaywalker is apoplectic. "You've got people actually committing crimes in this city, and you're busting me for crossing the street?" Eventually, he gets on Riggs' nerves to the point where he's about to pull his gun on him. "Lemme shoot him, Roger! We can make it look like suicide!" After the jaywalker takes off on Roger's advice ("Get out of here before my partner kills you! No, not that way, the other way!"), Riggs and Murtaugh both laugh their asses off-- they were only having a little fun with the guy, apparently.
    • But played painfully straight in the second film when 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 second movie.
    • The 22-year-old cop, Edwards, who's the butt of jokes at his expense about his age and height throughout the third film, and takes it all with good-natured, innocent charm. He ends up dead at the hands of Jack Travis.
  • 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?!

  • Mistaken for Gay: Butters was trying to be nice to his father-in-law.
  • Mood Dissonance: There's a tense scene in the first film in which Riggs prepares to blow his own head off-- while a Looney Tunes Christmas special is playing.
  • Nail'Em: Murtaugh is attacked by South African agents and defends himself with a nail gun in Lethal Weapon 2.
  • Neck Snap: Riggs does this a lot.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The hockey teams playing at the Forum in Lethal Weapon 3 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.
    • 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.
  • Odd Couple: Riggs and Murtaugh, naturally!
  • Oh Crap: From the third film:

Riggs: Roger?
Murtaugh: Yeah?
Riggs: Grab the cat!

    • Possibly literally in the second film, when Murtaugh realizes that the toilet he is sitting on is rigged to explode with a dead man's switch.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: A brutal example in the third film. Possible Deconstruction, definite Tear Jerker.
    • Also in the fourth film with Wah Sing Ku who is younger than both Riggs and Murtaugh and very skilled in a deadly form of martial arts.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The pyromaniac in the beginning of the fourth film.
  • One-Man Army: Riggs for the first three films, until his age finally catches up to him in 4. In all fairness, the only guy he has trouble with in 4 is Jet Li's character.
  • Overly Long Gag: The target takes a long time to get to the end of the range, and a long time to come back.
  • 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".
  • Pet the Dog: Literally. Riggs went from Ax Crazy Death Seeker to Bunny Ears Cop when he chose 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.
    • In the first film, Riggs gives an adorable prostitute $100 just to come home and watch television with him.
  • Platonic Prostitution
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Leo Getz in all movies after the first, but manages to stay out of Scrappy territory because Riggs and Murtagh annoy him just as much as he annoys them.
  • Politically-Incorrect Villain: The South Africans from the second film. What else would you expect from diplomats of the country that named Apartheid?
  • Product Placement: From the first film:

Joshua: [while jacking a car] Mind if I test-drive your Audi?

  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Non-verbal version; after putting a bomb in Murtaugh's toilet, the bad guys wrote "boom" on the toiler paper.
  • The Purge: The villain in Lethal Weapon 2 does this to the LAPD detectives investigating him, with Riggs and Murtaugh the only survivors.
  • Psycho for Hire: Mr Joshua.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The MythBusters tested the scene in the second film 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 to walk out of the house, and diving into the tub wasn't necessary.
  • Redemption Quest: The entire series is one for Riggs. Murtaugh had his in the third movie after killing a teenager in self-defense.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Riggs with the suicide jumper in the first film. He was crazier than the jumper.

Martin Riggs: "DO YOU REALLY WANNA JUMP? Do you WANNA? Alright, then, let's do it!"

    • Riggs is this trope. His 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.

Murtaugh: Hey... what's your signal?
Riggs: You'll know it when it happens.
Murtaugh: [sighs] Somehow, I think I will know.

    • In the third film, Riggs follows Travis out of the subway station by riding on the front of the subway car.
  • Retirony: Subverted. Early on in Lethal Weapon 3, Murtaugh's wife shoves a bulletproof vest on him, to make sure he always wears it.

Roger Murtaugh: She loves me.

  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Riggs in the second movie, when he finds out that the South Africans killed his wife and his current girlfriend. Good thing Murtaugh was there...
    • Not quite as vicious, but when Murtaugh returns after Darryl's funeral in the third movie, 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.
  • Running Gag: Getz's various "They fuck you with/at ___" rants, which even sparked a bizarre bonding moment between him and Butters, who previously had met in very bad terms. Butters was confused after their cooperative rant.
    • In the second film, 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.
    • 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."
    • "Hey guys, can I have a gun this time?" "No."
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Wah Sing Ku and the Triads in the fourth movie.
    • Arjen Rudd and the South African mobsters in the second one.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: The bomb squad in the third (see The Cavalry Arrives Late).
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Scar Survey: The scene where Cole and Riggs strip down to show off their scars.
  • Shoot Everything That Moves: Riggs tells Murtaugh the plan for rescuing Leo in the second movie:

Murtaugh: What's the plan?
Riggs: Wait for my signal, then just go in and shoot those fuckers.

  • Shooting Gallery: In the first movie, recently-teamed partners Riggs and Murtaugh are trying to one-up each other on the range. Murtaugh, annoyed at Rigg's 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.

  • Staying Alive
  • 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.
  • Stealth Pun: In the second film, 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.

  • Stuffed in The Fridge: The original plan for Rika in the second movie was for her to survive and attend the Thanksgiving party at Murtaugh's house with Riggs. Instead, she was killed off just so Riggs would be properly "motivated" for the rest of the movie.
  • Super Speed: In the 4th movie 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..."
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In Lethal Weapon 3, Riggs gets a hold 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."
  • Take That: Lethal Weapon 4 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.
  • Tempting Fate: In the first film. "There's no more heroes left in the world." Cue Riggs' Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • They Fight Crime
  • Title Drop: Done in the first film.

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.

  • Tragic Keepsake: Murtaugh finds the watch he gave to the elderly Asian immigrant he befriended...
  • Trope Maker
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Lee Butters.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In the first film: When Riggs, Murtaugh and Lianne 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 first film, this is averted when Hunsacker screams at Murtaugh to "KILL THEM! JUST KILL THEM!" Several people in the background briefly look in his direction.
  • Vapor Trail
  • Villainous Valour: Only Wah Sing Ku is able to disassemble a Beretta in 5 seconds with his own bare hands and then knocking off 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.
  • Visual Pun: The "rubber" tree in Lethal Weapon 2.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Riggs and Murtaugh may well be the Trope Codifiers.
  • Wire Dilemma: Occurs in the third movie... and the bomb goes off.
  • You Have Failed Me...: In the second movie, after Rudd's henchman Hans loses a million dollars worth of gold Krugerrands, Rudd has him executed.
    • In the third film, the Big Bad, 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.