The "Lethal Weapon" Martin Riggs has been unceremoniously killed off after two seasons on TV -- based on the hit movie franchise that saw Mel Gibson bring the maverick character to prominence through four successively lackluster films.
But the television show is not dead -- despite losing the titular character it's named after. If you haven't been following the off-screen drama, Riggs was killed off because of the actor playing him, Clayne Crawford, and his reportedly inappropriate conduct behind-the-scenes.
Clayton was accused of confrontational behavior towards two crew members and later an incident (which was partially caught on audio tape) between him and fellow star Damon Wayans. Fox and Warner Bros. Television ultimately decided to fire Clayton and replace him with another actor.
Enter comedy favorite Seann William Scott as the new co-lead of "Lethal Weapon." While he's no Martin Riggs, his character, Wesley Cole, is very similar to the iconic daredevil cop. First off he's a former special ops agent with overseas combat experience and a penchant for "chaos." He's also scarred by violence and has a complicated family dynamic.
Many fans, however, were not pleased with the abrupt termination of the beloved character Riggs, whose life both on the big and small screen has now spanned 31 years, only to be replaced by a new unknown partner for Roger Murtaugh (played by Wayans).
In the opening minutes of Tuesday night's Season 3 premiere, audiences were hurried through the death of Riggs (he was killed by his suicidal brother), an introduction to Cole, and how Murtaugh and Cole meet and eventually become partners. That's a whole lot for one episode.
While some fans thought it cruel and a disservice to the beloved character of Riggs, many critics commended showrunners and writers for the series on how they handled a tricky transition after two popular seasons.
Dino-Ray Ramos of Deadline had this to say: "The season 3 premiere closes the chapter on Riggs in the best way possible so that we could all move on from the behind the scenes drama. Scott's presence gives the show a new found energy and he provides a breath of fresh air void of controversy. Scott's comedy action sensibilities mesh well with Wayans and he serves as a perfect replacement. But don't get it twisted — Scott is not Riggs. He's not trying to be. He's a new character whose purpose is to fill one-half of an odd couple — and at that, he succeeds."
Matt Fowler at IGN wrote: "[The premiere episode] had the deck stacked against it, but it surprisingly managed to provide a story that honored Riggs while believably moving Murtaugh into a new space, with a new partner in Cole. And Seann William Scott feels, already, like a joyful addition to the Lethal-verse."
ScreenRant's Kevin Yeoman acknowledged that while both the writers and actors attempted "to end Riggs' story in a poignant and significant way" it was overshadowed by the highly publicized behind-the-scenes drama that led to the casting change. "Try as it might, the series can't ignore evidence of the on-set animosity between its two stars," Yeoman wrote. "As such, any effort to paint Riggs and Murtaugh as true partners and the best of friends will inevitably raise a few eyebrows, necessary though it may be."
And eyebrows it raised indeed at least among many fans of the series. It should be noted, however, that a great number of fans actually like the change and thought Seann William Scott was a welcome addition.
Read the tweets below to see how people reacted to last night's episode.
Tuesday was a busy Twitter night because of #LethalWeapon but since Riggs is gone, I can't....watched the first 15 minutes to check it out, but seeing Murtagh all sad and fake crying in the hospital just pissed me off. @ClayneCrawford was the show for me. Good luck. 🍀
So tired of the #LethalWeapon boycott. And I was a big Riggs fan, too. But don't punish the whole cast on account of one person. And Seann is doing a great job! So give it a chance at least. I dunno just my opinion.
RIP #LethalWeapon. I loved this show, but in seeing how you handled this situation, im out. Whoever thought this change was a good idea should be fired & black listed. I gave you 1 episode to change my mind and you failed miserably.