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


Military career

Riggs joined the United States Army at age 19 as 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 by killing him, but unable to do that himself with suicide. The factor which initially gave Riggs the edge is that because of his wife's death, he was so suicidal that he didn't care whether he lived or died, and this gave him a definite advantage in showdown situations. By the end of the first movie, he has resolved these suicidal tendencies. In the second film, we learn that his wife's death was actually a murder attempt on Martin himself, gone wrong.

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. 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.

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.

Lorna Cole

Riggs eventually falls in love with Sgt. Lorna Cole (played by Rene Russo) in Lethal Weapon 3, and they have a child at the end of Lethal Weapon 4. 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 back to Sergeant.


Throughout all four films, Riggs has used martial arts, including Jujutsu, Judo, and boxing, (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 fire power. Riggs has previously claimed to have killed a target in Laosmarker 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 achieved.

Other traits

Riggs dislocated his shoulder once [the details of the incident are unknown], and can now do it at will. Riggs also loves dogs, and refuses to shoot them, with the quote "I can't kill dogs. People okay, but not dogs." in Lethal Weapon 3.

It isn't unlike Riggs to be comedic. A good example of this is shown 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 then calls Leo (who was a private investigator then) on his cell phone and asks him to investigate his privates, charging Leo 3 dollars for a phone call.

Riggs drives a black GMC truck that is seen multiple times, though the exact model and year changes throughout the Lethal Weapon series.

Riggs is also a fan of The Three Stooges.

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