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Lethal Weapon: How Riggs Died (& Why Clayne Crawford Was Fired)

lethal weapon poster

Clayne Crawford's very public exit from the Lethal Weapon TV series meant the end of the road for his character Riggs - here's why the actor was fired. Lethal Weapon started life as a screenplay by Shane Black which revolved around two mismatched cops having to work together to solve a mystery. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover were cast as Riggs and Murtaugh respectively in the 1987 action movie, and due to the chemistry of the two leads, the witty script and exciting action, it became a smash hit.

The success of Lethal Weapon led to a slew of similar buddy comedies during this era, including Tango & Cash, Red Heat, and The Last Boy Scout, which was also scripted by Black. Riggs and Murtaugh would reunite once every few years for further sequels, which ended with 1998's Lethal Weapon 4. The series had sadly become stale and predictable by the time the fourth entry came around, though director Richard Donner is still seeking to reunite his leading men one last time for Lethal Weapon 5.

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While it's still unknown if Lethal Weapon 5 will eventually move ahead or not, the franchise was revived as a TV series in 2016. Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans were cast as Riggs and Murtaugh, and while the series received mixed reviews for bringing little that was fresh to the concept, the chemistry between Crawford and Wayans proved strong enough to attract an audience.

Clayne Crawford as Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon FOX

This speaks to the talent of the two actors since it's been revealed in hindsight they could barely stand one another. This led to increasing hostility between the pair during the production of Lethal Weapon season 2, which came to a boil when Wayans was hurt by shrapnel during an episode directed by Crawford. Audio leaked of a furious argument between Wayans and Crawford on set, and then a video emerged of an angry Crawford yelling at a crew member, which led to Fox opting to fire the star.

This called the future of the series into question since it would be tough to have Lethal Weapon without Riggs. The showrunners ultimately opted to bring in a new partner for Murtaugh named Wesley Cole, played by Seann William Scott (American Pie). The season 2 finale set Riggs' exit in motion, as he clashes with his father Nathan, a criminal who kidnaps Murtaugh's wife Trish. Riggs frees his half-brother Garrett to exchange for Trish but ends up killing his father in the ensuing fight. In the final scene, Riggs visits his wife's grave to say goodbye since he plans to move back to Texas with new love Molly and her son. That's when his brother Garrett appears and shoots Riggs in the chest.

With Crawford being fired before filming began on Lethal Weapon season 3, its no surprise the premiere episode reveals he died of his gunshot wound. Riggs' brother committed suicide shortly after the shooting, robbing Murtaugh of seeking justice for his partner's death and sending him into a depression for six months. While the behind the scenes situation on the series was obviously something of a mess, Lethal Weapon handled Riggs' passing in a surprisingly respectful way. Fox decided to call it quits with the show after the third season, however, after reports emerged Wayans was seriously considering exiting the show too.

Next: Lethal Weapon Season 3 Review: The Series Can’t Replace Riggs But Tries Anyway

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