Lethal Weapon was an action-packed hit for Fox, but it hit a rough patch toward the end of Season 2 when news broke of allegations of misconduct against Clayne Crawford, who played Riggs. The allegations ultimately resulted in Crawford’s firing from the show, which cost Lethal Weapon one half of an iconic partnership. As it turns out, after Crawford was fired, the rest of the Lethal Weapon cast believed the show was cancelled and would not be back for Season 3.
Keesha Sharp, who plays fan-favorite Trish Murtaugh, chatted with CinemaBlend about all things Lethal Weapon, and she had this to say about the the aftermath of Crawford’s removal from the show as well as its uncertain future beyond Season 2:
Before we started shooting, of course there was a few nerves. Riggs died, and that was a big part of Lethal Weapon, that character. But at the same time, I had so much trust, to be honest, in the writers and the showrunner, that we were able to overcome the movies. Everybody thought that we couldn’t do the television series and people came in with their eyes side-eyed. ‘It’s going to be terrible.’ They were able to overcome that, so I knew when that script came out, I knew it was going to be great. It was. But before that, yeah, of course you’re like, ‘Well, how are they going it? I trust them, though.’ And so once you read the script, you’re like, ‘Ah, they did it. They did it.’ So none of us had nerves after reading the first script, but before there was a little bit of that, of course. We just didn’t know how they were going to do it and who the character was going to be. Nothing, we knew nothing, we were told nothing except that we were moving on once we were cancelled. I don’t know if people really realize that, that the show was cancelled after that decision was made. We weren’t coming back. And so to be saved at literally right before upfronts was a blessing. We were like ‘Whoa! Yay! If anybody can do it, it’s these writers and this showrunner. If they can make it happen, it’s going to happen.’ And they did.
As far as the Lethal Weapon cast knew, the show was done and not coming back after the fateful decision to fire Clayne Crawford. Many fans had the same fears when rumors began to circulate about Lethal Weapon feeling the need to remove Crawford from the series. After all, what is a Lethal Weapon series without Riggs?
Well, as the first two seasons proved, Riggs and Murtaugh were surrounded by a strong ensemble. A movie franchise may be able to sustain itself mostly on the performances of two stars, but a multi-season TV series needs more. If the show had indeed been permanently cancelled as the cast believed prior to the Fox upfronts in May, we would have lost characters like Murtaugh and Trish on top of Riggs.
Luckily, the week before upfronts delivered good news to the actors who believed that the Lethal Weapon ride was over and done with. The renewal meant that they would be back for at least one more season, and the show just got some additional good news from Fox. There were some nerves going into Season 3, as Keesha Sharp indicated that the decision to kill Riggs in order to write out Clayne Crawford was a very big deal for the show.
Still, Lethal Weapon had beaten the odds before by becoming a hit right out of the gate at a time when movie franchise adaptations to TV weren’t all winning audiences in primetime. Sure, there were naysayers who believed that the show couldn’t accomplish what the movies accomplished, but the show stuck around, developed its characters, and won an audience. Once the cast got their hands on the premiere script and learned about the man who would step into Riggs’ place, they were confident about Lethal Weapon‘s new direction.
Keesha Sharp went on to explain why Lethal Weapon got its second life with Cole as Murtaugh’s new partner:
Oh yeah, it was not coming back. It wasn’t coming back. I don’t think people realize that. The show wasn’t coming back. It was not coming back. It was done. It was cancelled. And the week before upfronts is when we started getting the call about they found a new person, and they’re going to do a new character. All of that was a week before upfronts, and so we were saved. We were saved. And really by the writers and this showrunner, and the studio and the network believing in Matt Miller. Like, ‘If anybody can do it, you can do it. We trust you.’
The series got a save when all signs seemed to point toward a permanent cancellation, due to faith in showrunner Matt Miller. As the man responsible for turning a movie franchise starring Danny Glover and Mel Gibson into a hit TV show with new actors tackling iconic roles, Miller certainly earned some faith from the higher-ups. Fox TV Group CEO Dana Walden revealed back in May that production studio Warner Brothers asked that Crawford be removed from Lethal Weapon, meaning either to kill Riggs or recast Riggs.
As we know now, Riggs was not recast. Instead, he was killed off, and Seann William Scott signed on to play a brand new character. As Cole, he’s a different kind of partner for Murtaugh, Trish, and the rest of the family to get used to. Nevertheless, he’s been a fun addition, and the ease with which he has found a place on the show proves that Lethal Weapon is more than just Murtaugh and Riggs.
In fact, Fox TV Group boss Gary Newman stated that until the addition of Sean William Scott’s character, the fall schedule would not have had a place for Lethal Weapon. Now we’ll have to wait and see if the show is able to sustain itself in the long run. Damon Wayans recently announced that he plans to leave Lethal Weapon in Season 3, and he even landed a new gig. If there’s no Roger Murtaugh on Lethal Weapon, it would certainly be interesting to see how the action continues.