How Lethal Weapon Changed With Cole Instead Of Riggs

lethal weapon season 3 cole
(Image credit: Image courtesy of Fox)

In Season 3, Lethal Weapon managed to pull off something that many would have once deemed impossible: replacing Riggs. The maverick half of the iconic franchise duo was killed off in the Season 3 premiere to explain the absence of Clayne Crawford, who was ousted from the show after alleged misconduct. Instead of recasting Riggs, Lethal Weapon introduced a new partner for Roger, by the name of Cole. Keesha Sharp, who plays the unforgettable Trish Murtaugh, weighed in on what is different about Lethal Weapon with Cole instead of Riggs:

What does he bring that's different? First of all, I loved what we did with Riggs, and I love what they're doing with Cole. Cole's character is a lethal weapon, but it's different. He brings this kind of soul that is looking to redemption. He's looking for redemption in his life, and not revenge. So Riggs was revenge. 'I want to revenge my wife's death.' And there's a part of that everybody understands. If you lose someone like that, you want to revenge it. So his was from that place, and also we found out things about his past where there was a lot of trauma from his past. Now with Cole, his is redemption. He comes from a place of being able to kill with his bare hands. Talk about a lethal weapon! He is a lethal weapon. He was trained to be a lethal weapon.

Lethal Weapon could have gone the easy route and introduced a new character who is basically just another version of Riggs, but Seann William Scott as Cole is quite different from Clayne Crawford as Riggs. Although both characters have had traumas in their pasts that shaped them and their actions in the present, their ways of dealing with those pasts very much contrast one another.

As Keesha Sharp said, there was something understandable and relatable to Riggs' ways of acting out. Even though most of the viewing audience presumably doesn't jump off of buildings or get into car chases with bullets flying to process their grief and anger, who can't relate to wanting vengeance for a loss suffered?

Riggs' quest for revenge was dangerous, and frankly, one of the most believable things to happen on Lethal Weapon is that he paid for his quest with his life. His methods had him courting death so many times that the show's decision to write him out by killing him off just made sense, even if it was tragic. With Cole, his quest may involve car chases, bullets flying, and occasionally courting death, but he wants redemption.

Cole is basically the physical embodiment of a lethal weapon thanks to his past with the CIA. If he was unleashed on a mission for revenge, he could rack up a body count very quickly. By seeking redemption, he wants to keep the body count as low as possible. Lethal Weapon has only given bits and pieces of his past so far to prove that he is not at all the same man as Riggs. Fortunately, we don't have to wait too much longer to learn more.

On top of performing as Trish, Keesha Sharp directed next week's episode of Lethal Weapon, called "Panama." She went on in her chat with CinemaBlend to tease some of what we'll learn about Cole when her episode hits the airwaves on November 6:

But [Cole] now suffers from -- and this is somewhat of what you'll see in my episode, and I'll just tease a little of it in terms of -- you'll understand why, where that started. That's all I'll say with that, but there's some great stuff in that for understanding Cole and why he is who he is now. But the last thing he wants to do is kill. So he's trying everything possible to do the right thing, to make up for the things he did as a CIA agent, and those things for him, he was doing that what he thought for the right reasons, but that doesn't change the fact that they were horrible things. And taking people away from their families. It's a whole thing.

From what we've seen of Cole in Lethal Weapon so far, he's always been a good man. Scenes of him before joining Roger at the LAPD reveal him as a deadly force to be reckoned with, but not a monster. He didn't just become the lovable Cole he is now overnight. That charming guy was always there; he was just tasked with doing not-so-charming things for his job.

The series has shown the toll his work took on his family, and it cost him his relationship with the woman he loves and a lot of time with his daughter. Keesha Sharp's episode should provide a closer look at why he is the way that he is at this point, now that he's returned from his CIA work overseas. His attempts at recovery and redemption will clearly be ongoing, and it should be compelling to learn more about him.

Keesha Sharp obviously couldn't give away everything that is going to happen in her episode, but it sounds like there's a lot to look forward to. She elaborated on how Cole's past with the CIA really sets him apart from Riggs, saying this:

It's just like when I think of people fighting for our country, they're doing the right thing fighting for their country, but it still doesn't change the fact that it's rough and hard to do the things that they do and they come back with PTSD because of some of the things they had to do for the good of the country, but still, it's hard to kill someone, even if it's for the right reasons. You're seeing someone die, or taking someone away from their family who may be good. All of that kind of thing, so it's so different from the Riggs character. Riggs was really about his family. Cole is about a whole. About the big picture of saving everybody as much as he can, and about coming to be the best father he can, and Riggs didn't get a chance to be that. But Cole, he wants to redeem himself with his daughter, to perhaps get back with his love. It's different. Just as dramatic.

Although both Riggs and Cole have been haunted by their pasts, Riggs' family was left behind in his past. Cole has a bit of an uphill battle if he wants to earn the love and trust of Natalie once again. She has moved on in his absence to a man who seems perfectly fine and safe. That said, Natalie appears to still hold a torch for her former flame, and his status as the father of her daughter means that they're connected for life.

Could Natalie fall in love with Cole again, and help him further down his path to redemption? Only time will tell. Cole has a lot on his plate as he tries to save lives, protect the innocent, solve crimes, and make up for lost time with his family. We can only hope that Lethal Weapon has the time to tell more of his story.

Given that Damon Wayans recently announced his intention to leave Lethal Weapon at the end of Season 3, the show could have significantly more time for Cole if it continues beyond the third season. It's too early to say if Fox will save Lethal Weapon again, but Lethal Weapon did get some good news from the network about the third season.

Throw in the fact that a new maverick character is joining the series as the new partner for Bailey, and there are plenty of story avenues for the series, whether or not Damon Wayans departs. For now, you can look forward to Keesha Sharp's episode of Lethal Weapon, which airs on Tuesday, November 6 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox. For some additional viewing options now and in the not-too-distant future, check out our fall TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.