Martin Riggs

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Martin Riggs
Lethal Weapon character
Martin Riggs.jpg
Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon
First appearanceLethal Weapon (1987)
Last appearanceLethal Weapon 4 (1998)
Created byShane Black
Portrayed byMel Gibson (films)[1]
Clayne Crawford (television)[2]
In-universe information
AliasMad Cop, Chaos
Patrolman (Lethal Weapon 3)
Captain (Lethal Weapon 4)
OccupationPolice officer
Nathan Riggs (father, deceased)
Garrett Riggs (half-brother, deceased)
Victoria Lynn Riggs (deceased)
Lorna Cole Riggs
Miranda Riggs (deceased)
Children1 unnamed son
1 stillborn son

Martin Riggs is a fictional character from the Lethal Weapon film series created by Shane Black. Riggs was originally played by actor Mel Gibson in all four films from 1987 to 1998, and later by Clayne Crawford in the Fox television series from 2016 to 2018.[3][4][5]

Originally a member of the Los Angeles Police Department's Narcotics Division, upon being reassigned to the Homicide Division, Riggs is partnered up with strait-laced sergeant Roger Murtaugh. Riggs and Murtaugh remain partners and best friends throughout the film series.


Military career[edit]

Riggs joined the U.S. Army at age 19, eventually becoming a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, receiving specialized training in weaponry and hand-to-hand combat. These skills would later serve him well when he became a police officer. Most of Riggs's time in special forces was in Vietnam, where he served as an assassin under the CIA's "Phoenix Project". The first time he became a killer when he shot a man to death with a sniper rifle from a long distance (1000 yards) in Laos; while his ability as a trained killer would later affect his mental health, he thought of it as "the only thing I was ever really good at".


In 1984, Riggs's wife, Victoria Lynn, dies in a car accident, sending him into a deep depression. Driven by grief to the brink of suicide, he regularly puts himself (and anyone else near him) in danger, hoping someone will kill him. This total disregard for his own life makes him completely fearless, turning him into a "Lethal Weapon". By the end of the first movie, however, he has vowed to move on with his life. In the second film, it is revealed that Victoria was actually murdered during an attempt on Riggs's life.[6]

In the films[edit]

In Lethal Weapon, Riggs is transferred from the narcotics division to the homicide division after a shooting incident. He is partnered with Detective Sergeant Roger Murtaugh in hopes that the older, more mature veteran will keep him in line.[7] After a rough start, the two become best friends, even though Riggs always gets on Murtaugh's nerves. By the end of the first film, the two have worked together to rescue Murtaugh's daughter, who had been kidnapped by drug lords and mercenaries.[8]

In Lethal Weapon 2, Riggs discovers that South African crime lord Arjen Rudd, whom he and Murtaugh are pursuing, ordered Riggs's death in 1984. Rudd's enforcer, Pieter Vorstedt, killed Victoria Riggs by mistake and made the murder look like an automobile accident to cover up their involvement. After avenging the deaths of his wife and Rika van den Haas (whom Riggs had become involved with romantically before she, too, was murdered by Rudd and his minions), he is able to move on with his life. Meanwhile, Riggs and Murtaugh are assigned to protect a comical federal witness, Leo Getz, (played by Joe Pesci) whom they ultimately become close friends with.

He meets Sgt. Lorna Cole (played by Rene Russo), an internal affairs officer, in Lethal Weapon 3 during an investigation into the disappearance of weapons from LAPD impound. The two make an immediate connection and work closely together to clear Murtaugh's name after he is forced to kill his son's friend in self-defense. Riggs and Cole become romantically involved and move in together after the end of the film.

In Lethal Weapon 4, Riggs and Cole are still living together, and she is pregnant with their child, but they have dodged the issue of marriage. Both Riggs and Murtaugh are promoted to captain by the fourth film in order to keep them out of trouble, but are demoted back to sergeants at the end of the film. Leo helps Riggs finally make peace with his wife's death; Riggs marries Cole while she is giving birth to their son.

Television series[edit]

In a March 10, 2016 newspaper article, the plot for the television pilot is as follows: "when Texas cop and former Navy SEAL Martin Riggs...suffers the loss of his wife and baby, he moves to Los Angeles to start anew. There, he gets partnered with LAPD detective Roger Murtaugh...who, having recently suffered a "minor" heart attack, must avoid any stress in his life."[4] Riggs is ultimately killed at the end of Season 2, when he is shot in the chest by his half-brother, Garrett, while visiting his wife's grave.



  • Lethal Weapon (1987) - Beretta 92F
  • Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) - Beretta 92FS
  • Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) - Beretta 92FS
  • Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) - Beretta 92FS


  • Season 1 - Beretta 92FS
  • Season 2 - Heckler & Koch VP9

Riggs is also a practitioner of several styles of martial arts that include Wing Chun, Judo, Taekwondo, Boxing, Capoeira, Shotokan Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


Critics have given the character a positive reception.[9][10][11] He is praised for his dramatic and brutal fight scene with Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey) and the sharp and clever dialogue provided by Shane Black. Martin Riggs is number 100 on Empire's list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters.[12][13][14][15][16]


  1. ^ "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters". Empire. Retrieved September 10, 2010.
  2. ^ "Clayne Crawford Out at Lethal Weapon, Last-Minute Recasting Underway Ahead of Potential Season 3". 2018-05-08.
  3. ^ "Top 25 Movie Franchises of All Time: #22". IGN. November 27, 2006. Archived from the original on July 26, 2010. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Goldberg, Lesley (March 10, 2016). "Fox's 'Lethal Weapon' finds its Mel Gibson". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  5. ^ Ausiello, Michael (2018-05-08). "Clayne Crawford Out at Lethal Weapon, Last-Minute Recasting Underway Ahead of Potential Season 3". TVLine. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  6. ^ "The Passion of the Mel". IGN. Archived from the original on 2010-02-04. Retrieved 2010-09-11.
  7. ^ Maslin, Janet (1987-03-06). "FILM: 'LETHAL WEAPON,' A THRILLER WITH GIBSON". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-11.
  8. ^ Wilmington, Michael (1989-07-07). "MOVIE REVIEW: A Lethal Weapon 2". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-05-09.
  9. ^ Lichtenfeld, Eric (2007-04-27). Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie - Eric Lichtenfeld - Google Books. ISBN 9780819568014. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  10. ^ Adams, Rachel; Savran, David (2002-02-15). The Masculinity Studies Reader - Rachel Adams, David Savran - Google Books. ISBN 9780631226604. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  11. ^ Lyden, John (June 2003). Film as Religion: Myths, Morals, and Rituals - John Lyden - Google Books. ISBN 9780814751817. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  12. ^ "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters". 2015-06-29.
  13. ^ Aichele, George; Walsh, Richard G. (2002-05-01). Screening Scripture: Intertextual Connections Between Scripture and Film - Google Books. ISBN 9781563383540. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  14. ^ Willis, Sharon; Willis, Sharon A. (1997). High Contrast: Race and Gender in Contemporary Hollywood Films - Sharon Willis - Google Books. ISBN 9780822320418. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  15. ^ Adams, Rachel; Savran, David (2002-02-15). The Masculinity Studies Reader - Rachel Adams, David Savran - Google Books. ISBN 9780631226604. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  16. ^ Malin, Brenton J. (2005). American Masculinity Under Clinton: Popular Media And the Nineties "Crisis ... - Brenton J. Malin - Google Books. ISBN 9780820468068. Retrieved 2012-05-07.