Martin Riggs

Martin Riggs
Martin Riggs
Lethal Weapon series character
First appearance Lethal Weapon
Portrayed by Mel Gibson[1]
Gender Male
Occupation Sergeant
Captain (Lethal Weapon 4)
Spouse(s) Victoria Lynn Riggs (deceased)
Lorna Cole
Relatives 1 son (unnamed)
Nationality American

Martin Riggs (born October 16, 1950) is a fictional police officer and protagonist from the Lethal Weapon franchise. He is played in all four films by Mel Gibson.[2]



Military career

Riggs joined the United States Army at age 19, eventually becoming a member of 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' time in special forces was in Vietnam, where he served as an assassin under the CIA's "Phoenix Project" directive; while his ability as a trained killer would later plague his conscience, he thought of it as "...the only thing I was ever really good at."

Death of his wife

In 1984, Riggs' wife of 11 years, Victoria Lynn, dies in a car accident, sending him into a deep depression. Driven to the brink with grief and anger, he regularly puts himself (and anyone else near him) in harm's way, secretly hoping someone will put him out of his misery, something he has been unable to do himself. This total disregard for his safety gives him an edge over his enemies, turning him into a Lethal Weapon. By the end of the first movie, he has resolved these suicidal thoughts. In the second film, we learn that his wife's death was actually a murder attempt on Martin himself, gone wrong.[3]

As a cop

In Lethal Weapon, Riggs is transferred from the narcotics division to the homicide division after a shooting incident. He is partnered with fellow detective sergeant Roger Murtaugh in hopes that the older, more conservative veteran will keep him in line.[4] After a rough start, the two become good friends, even though Riggs always gets on Murtaugh's nerves. By the end of this film, the two have worked together to rescue Murtaugh's daughter, who had been kidnapped by drug lords and military mercenaries.[5]

In Lethal Weapon 2, Riggs discovers some shocking details about his wife's death. It is revealed that the South African crime lord Arjen Rudd he and Murtaugh are pursuing had in fact ordered his death in 1984, but his enforcer, Pieter Vorstedt, killed Victoria by mistake and, to cover their error, made the murder look like an accident. After avenging the deaths of his wife and Rika van den Haas (whom Riggs had briefly become involved with romantically before she too was murdered), he is able to finally put his demons to rest and move on with his life.

His badge reads: Detective LAPD (not Detective Sgt) badge number 5893.

Lorna Cole

He met 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 found themselves to be equals in temperament and attitude (not to mention that Lorna is shown to be a fan of the Three Stooges), and worked closely together after a stolen impound gun was found to be involved in a shooting incident where Murtaugh was forced to kill a friend of his son's in self-defense. The two ended up falling in love, and moved in together after the end of the film.

In Lethal Weapon 4, Riggs and Cole are still living together, and Cole 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 by the end of the movie their status is returned to Sergeant. At the end of the film, Riggs makes peace with his first wife Vickey and remarries to Cole, while she is giving birth; at the same time, Murtaugh's eldest daughter, Rianne, is giving birth as well, and Cole's son and Rianne's daughter are in the hospital's nursery together.


Throughout all four films, Riggs has used martial arts, including Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, boxing, and muay thai (leading Murtaugh to jokingly suggest that Riggs himself be registered as a "lethal weapon") and a Beretta 92F (assume FS) pistol as his signature weapon, though he will often commandeer an H&K MP5 sub-machine gun or AK-47 assault rifle from a vanquished foe if more firepower is needed, and also briefly used a Heckler & Koch PSG1 sniper rifle in the first film, for ranges exceeded by accurate 9x19mm (Luger) fire power.[6] Riggs has previously claimed to have killed a target in Laos from a distance of 1000 yards "with a rifle shot in high wind," something he claims 8 to 10 people in the world could have accomplished.

Other traits

Riggs lives in a travel trailer on a beach along the Pacific Coast Highway in Los Angeles. His original one was destroyed by the South Africans during Lethal Weapon 2, but he escaped along with Rika van den Haas, who was also there at the time. He has a new trailer in deleted scenes (restored in a director's cut) in Lethal Weapon 3, and still lives there with Lorna Cole in Lethal Weapon 4.

Riggs has a loose shoulder which can dislocate easily. How he developed the issue is unknown, but it could be possibly it might be a battle injury from his times during the war in Vietnam. He is able to dislocate and re-set it at will, although resetting it is very painful for him. He sometimes demonstrates this as a trick, but it has also proven quite useful for him. It helps him escape execution by the South Africans in Lethal Weapon 2 when he is able to escape a straitjacket while tied up underwater.

Riggs also loves dogs. He owns a collie named Sam who is seen in all four films (and escaped the trailer attack in the second film). He refused to kill a Rottweiler that was defending a drug operation in Lethal Weapon 3, saying, "I can't shoot a dog. People okay, but not dogs." He instead befriended and rescued the Rottweiler, and still keeps him as a pet along with Sam in the fourth film.

It isn't unlike Riggs to be comedic. He particularly enjoys antagonizing Leo Getz. After Getz was shot while pursuing rogue cop-turned-gun runner Jack Travis at a hockey game in Lethal Weapon 3, Riggs added proctology to Getz's medical chart, dooming him to a needless rectal exam. In Lethal Weapon 4 where he is annoyed by Leo Getz ranting about cell phones charging you for the first minute after you make a call and get cut off, Riggs calls Leo on his cell phone and asks him to investigate his privates, charging Leo 3 dollars for a phone call.

Riggs prefers driving GMC trucks, and owns a different GMC truck in every film. All four trucks are black. In the first film, he drives a 1986 GMC 3500 crew cab dually. In the second film, he drives a 1989 GMC Sierra 3500 club cab dually. In the third film, he drives a 1992 GMC 3500 dually, which looks identical to the one in the second film. In the fourth film, he drives a 1999 GMC Sierra 1500 Z71 club cab.

Riggs is also a fan of The Three Stooges and is sometimes known to imitate Curly while taunting his enemies.


Critics have given the character a positive reception.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13]


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