Lethal Weapon (franchise)

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Lethal Weapon
Lethal Weapon collection Blu-ray set
Created by Shane Black
Original work Lethal Weapon
Owner Warner Bros. Pictures
Films and television
Television series Lethal Weapon
Video game(s) Lethal Weapon
Soundtrack(s) Lethal Weapon

Lethal Weapon is an American buddy cop action comedy franchise created by Shane Black. It focuses on two Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detectives, Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. The franchise consists of four films released between 1987 and 1998, as well as a television series in 2016. All four films in the series were directed by Richard Donner and also share many of the same core cast members, while the television series recast the main roles with younger actors instead.


Lethal Weapon (1987)[edit]

Anxious with age and retirement, homicide detective Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is partnered with young and suicidal narcotics officer Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson). Together, they work the case of the alleged suicide of Amanda Hunsaker, daughter of a wealthy businessman who served with Murtaugh in Vietnam. Murtaugh and Riggs soon discover that Hunsaker was involved in a heroin-smuggling scheme led by a retired general (Mitchell Ryan) and his lead enforcer (Gary Busey).

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)[edit]

During a car chase, Riggs and Murtaugh stumble upon a trunk full of smuggled South African Krugerrands. This sparks a series of attempts at their lives, forcing them to take a less dangerous case, protecting Leo Getz (Joe Pesci), a loud-mouthed whistleblower with whom they gradually form a bond. However, they realize that Getz was involved in the same South African illegal activities. As a result, the three men become entangled in a drug-smuggling operation involving South African diplomats in Los Angeles, using their immunity and biting wit as a shield. Riggs kills the murderer of his wife who is among the criminals.

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)[edit]

As Murtaugh, who is one week from retiring, and Riggs investigate a robbery committed using a duplicate armored car, they find themselves in the middle of an Internal Affairs investigation led by Sergeant Lorna Cole (Rene Russo). With assistance from Leo, they learn that the subject of the investigation is a rogue AWOL cop (Stuart Wilson) who is stealing impounded weapons and selling them on the black market. During the investigation, Murtaugh shoots and kills a teenager who attacks him and Riggs; he turns out to be a friend of his own son. This prompts Murtaugh to capture the man responsible for the distribution of illegal firearms and to rethink his retirement.

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)[edit]

While both Lorna, and Murtaugh's daughter Rianne are pregnant, Riggs and Murtaugh team up with Leo and rookie Detective Lee Butters (Chris Rock) to investigate a Chinese immigrant smuggling ring. Wah Sing Ku (Jet Li) is a ruthless enforcer who personally attempts to murder Murtaugh's family by burning them alive in their own home. As the story progresses, Murtaugh discovers that Lee is the father of his daughter's unborn child. The two slay dozens of Chinese gangsters and ultimately manage to catch up with the boss of the smuggling ring.

Fifth film[edit]

There has been talk of a fifth Lethal Weapon film, although both Mel Gibson and Danny Glover have expressed a lack of interest. In 2007, Moviehole.net received word from sources that Warner Bros. were in the early stages of trying to relaunch the Lethal Weapon series sometime in 2009 or later.[1] A spec script treatment was written by Shane Black and Chuck Mondry,[2][3] leading to rumors that the sequel was on fast track by Warner Bros. with Black in the director's chair. In November 2017, Mel Gibson hinted that a fifth movie might happen and that he, Richard Donner, and Danny Glover have discussed the idea to return. In December 2017, Donner confirmed in an interview on the Spocklight podcast that Gibson and Glover have agreed to return as Riggs and Murtaugh respectively and that he has a story all set. The only obstacle is Warner Bros. Pictures greenlighting the film and Donner has recruited Channing Gibson, the original screenwriter from the fourth film, to begin writing the script. The story will take place in present day and will be the final film in the series. In February 2018, Donner revealed the film's official title to be Lethal Finale; while also stating that the film is being held up by the production company.[4]


Lethal Weapon (2016–present)[edit]

Deadline reported that Matthew Miller will create and co-executive produce a Lethal Weapon TV series with Dan Lin and Jennifer Gwartz for Fox.[5] In February 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that FOX had officially picked up the Lethal Weapon pilot, with McG directing and Clayne Crawford as Riggs and Damon Wayans as Murtaugh.[6][7] The cast was further expanded in February and March, with Keesha Sharp replacing Golden Brooks as Trish, Jordana Brewster as Dr. Maureen Cahill, Kevin Rahm as Captain Brooks Avery, Chandler Kinney as Riana Murtaugh, Dante Brown as Roger "R.J." Murtaugh, Jr. and Johnathan Fernandez as Scorsese.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14] Fox gave Lethal Weapon a series order on May 10, 2016.[15] For the third season, Crawford will be replaced by Seann William Scott, as a yet-unnamed character; Crawford was fired from the show after several incidents of hostility to others on the show's set.[16]

Cast and characters[edit]

  • A Y indicates the actor portrayed the role of a younger version of the character.
  • A dark gray cell indicates the character was not in the film.
Characters Films Television series
Lethal Weapon Lethal Weapon 2 Lethal Weapon 3 Lethal Weapon 4 Lethal Weapon
1987 1989 1992 1998 2016-present
The Gang
Martin Riggs Mel Gibson Clayne Crawford
Chase MangumY
Roger Murtaugh Danny Glover Damon Wayans
Leo Getz Joe Pesci Thomas Lennon
Lee Butters Chris Rock
TBA Seann William Scott
Riggs' Love Interests
Lorna Cole Rene Russo
Miranda Riggs Floriana Lima
Karen Palmer Hilarie Burton
Molly Hendricks Kristen Gutoskie
Sophia WoodwardY
Murtaugh's Family
Trish Murtaugh Darlene Love Keesha Sharp
Rianne (Riana) Murtaugh Traci Wolfe Chandler Kinney
Nick Murtaugh Damon Hines
Carrie Murtaugh Ebonie Smith
Roger Murtaugh Jr. Dante Brown
The Cast
Captain Ed Murphy Steve Kahan
Dr. Stephanie Woods Mary Ellen Trainor
Mr. Joshua Gary Busey
Gen. Peter McAlliser Mitchell Ryan
Michael Hunsaker Tom Atkins
Arjen Rudd Joss Ackland
Pieter Vorstedt Derrick O'Connor
Rika van den Haas Patsy Kensit
Mickey McGee Jack McGee
Jack Travis Stuart Wilson
Tyrone Gregory Millar
Wah Sing Ku Jet Li
Uncle Benny Chan Kim Chan
Hong Eddy Ko
Detective Ng Calvin Jung
Dr. Maureen Cahill Jordana Brewster
Captain Brooks Avery Kevin Rahm
Bernard Scorsese Johnathan Fernandez
Detective Sonya Bailey Michelle Mitchenor
Detective Alejandro "Alex" Cruz Richard Cabral
Detective Zach Bowman Andrew Creer


Crew/Detail Film
Lethal Weapon Lethal Weapon 2 Lethal Weapon 3 Lethal Weapon 4
1987 1989 1992 1998
Director Richard Donner
Producer(s) Richard Donner
Joel Silver
Writer(s) Shane Black Screenplay by
Jeffrey Boam
Story by
Shane Black
Warren Murphy
Screenplay by
Jeffrey Boam
Robert Mark Kamen
Story by
Jeffrey Boam
Screenplay by
Channing Gibson
Story by
Jonathan Lemkin
Alfred Gough
Miles Millar
Composer(s) Michael Kamen
Eric Clapton
Michael Kamen
Eric Clapton
David Sanborn
Director of photography Stephen Goldblatt Jan de Bont Andrzej Bartkowiak
Editor(s) Stuart Baird Robert Brown
Battle Davis
Frank J. Urioste
Dallas Puett
Production companies Silver Pictures Silver Pictures
Doshudo Productions
Distributor Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) March 6, 1987 July 7, 1989 May 15, 1992 July 10, 1998
Running time 110 minutes 114 minutes 118 minutes 127 minutes


Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Reference
North America Other territories Worldwide All time domestic All time worldwide
Lethal Weapon March 6, 1987 $65,207,127 $55,000,000 $120,207,127 #795 $15 million [17][18]
Lethal Weapon 2 July 7, 1989 $147,253,986 $80,600,000 $227,853,986 #190
#323 $25 million [19]
Lethal Weapon 3 May 15, 1992 $144,731,527 $177,000,000 $321,731,527 #199
#189 $35 million [20]
Lethal Weapon 4 July 10, 1998 $130,444,603 $155,000,000 $285,444,603 #255 #236 $140 million [21]
Total $487,637,243 $467,600,000 $955,237,243 $215 million(E)
List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates the information is not available for the film.
  • (E) indicates an estimated figure based on available numbers.
  • (A) indicates the adjusted totals based on current ticket prices (calculated by Box Office Mojo).

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Lethal Weapon 84% (51 reviews)[22] 67 (16 reviews)[23] A[24]
Lethal Weapon 2 83% (36 reviews)[25] 70 (13 reviews)[26] A+[27]
Lethal Weapon 3 57% (44 reviews)[28] 36 (18 reviews)[29] A–[30]
Lethal Weapon 4 52% (66 reviews)[31] 37 (21 reviews)[32] A–[33]
List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates the information is not available for the film.


  1. ^ Kegar, Kirby (August 6, 2007). "Will Lethal Weapon be reloaded?". Moviehole. Archived from the original on September 26, 2007. Retrieved October 27, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Gibson and Glover Up for Lethal Weapon 5?". ComingSoon.net. August 6, 2008. Retrieved October 27, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Shane Black on The Nice Guys, buddy comedies, Lethal Weapon, Predator & more". Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  4. ^ http://www.comingsoon.net/movies/news/919259-donner-reveals-lethal-weapon-5-title-but-is-doubtful-it-will-happen
  5. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (October 2, 2015). "Lethal Weapon TV Series From Forever Creator Set At Fox As Put Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  6. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 10, 2016). "'Lethal Weapon': Clayne Crawford To Star As Mel Gibson's Martin Riggs In Fox Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 11, 2016. 
  7. ^ Stanhope, Kate; Goldberg, Lesley (February 12, 2016). "Damon Wayans Sr. to Star in Fox's Lethal Weapon Pilot". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 14, 2016. 
  8. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 19, 2016). "'Lethal Weapon' Pilot: Golden Brooks Cast". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 9, 2016. 
  9. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 3, 2016). "'Lethal Weapon' Pilot: Jordana Brewster To Co-Star". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 3, 2016. 
  10. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 7, 2016). "'Lethal Weapon': Kevin Rahm To Co-Star In Fox Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 7, 2016. 
  11. ^ Petski, Denise (March 16, 2016). "'Lethal Weapon' Casts Chandler Kinney; Sarayu Blue Joins 'No Tomorrow'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 16, 2016. 
  12. ^ Ge, Linda (March 15, 2016). "'Lethal Weapon' Pilot Casts Newcomer as Murtaugh's Son (Exclusive)". TheWrap. Retrieved March 16, 2016. 
  13. ^ Petski, Denise (March 17, 2016). "'Lethal Weapon' Pilot Casts Johnathan Fernandez; Tommy Savas In 'The Fluffy Shop'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 17, 2016. 
  14. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 17, 2016). "'Lethal Weapon' Fox Pilot: Keesha Sharp Set For Co-Starring Role In Recasting". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 17, 2016. 
  15. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 10, 2016). "'The Exorcist', 'Lethal Weapon', 'Making History', 'Pitch', 'The Mick' & 'APB' Get Fox Series Orders". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved May 11, 2016. 
  16. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (May 8, 2017). "'Lethal Weapon' Star Clayne Crawford Out as Producers Scramble to Recast". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  17. ^ "Lethal Weapon (1987)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Lethal Weapon - Production Budget". The-Numbers. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  21. ^ "Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  22. ^ "Lethal Weapon". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  23. ^ "Lethal Weapon (1987): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  24. ^ "CinemaScore". CinemaScore. Retrieved April 27, 2018. 
  25. ^ "Lethal Weapon 2". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  26. ^ "Lethal Weapon 2 (1989): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  27. ^ "CinemaScore". CinemaScore. Retrieved April 27, 2018. 
  28. ^ "Lethal Weapon 3". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  29. ^ "Lethal Weapon 3 (1992): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  30. ^ "CinemaScore". CinemaScore. Retrieved April 27, 2018. 
  31. ^ "Lethal Weapon 4". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  32. ^ "Lethal Weapon 4 (1998): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  33. ^ "CinemaScore". CinemaScore. Retrieved April 27, 2018.