Damon Wayans has announced that he will be leaving FOX’s Lethal Weapon series. Based on the popular film franchise starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, Lethal Weapon aired its first episode back in 2016. Rectify’s Clayne Crawford was cast in the role of Martin Riggs, Gibson’s character. Wayans, meanwhile, won the role of Glover’s character, Roger Murtaugh. The announcement of the series was met with an understandable amount of skepticism. The show ultimately debuted with mixed-to-positive reviews and solid ratings.
Over the course of the show’s second season, however, an apparent feud between the two stars was revealed. In a report, Wayans criticized Crawford for his conduct and behavior on set. The animosity peaked when Wayans was reportedly injured during an episode Crawford was directing. Many were quick to back up Wayans’ statements, revealing their own discomfort around the actor. FOX ended up firing Crawford ahead of season 3, choosing to kill off the Riggs character and replace him a wholly new one played by Seann William Scott.
With season 3 only two episodes in, the future of the show has once again been thrown into doubt. Speaking to EUR, Wayans revealed that he will quit the show at the end of the current 13-episode run. An apparently emotional Wayans explained that, as a 58-year-old diabetic, the 16-hour days were beginning to take their toll. He also conveyed that the strain was not only on his health but also his family and personal life. The dissonance of playing a “loving, supportive father/husband/ friend on TV” while being unable to be as such in real life was becoming too much. “I have seven grandkids. I’ve been missing recitals and graduations. To me, it’s just not worth it. There is a better way to live life.”
Wayans believes that the filming of the 13 episodes will provide more than enough time for FOX to find a replacement. It’s easy to imagine, however, that FOX may simply consider just wrapping up the show entirely at this point. After all, losing one actor and iconic character is tricky enough a situation to recover from, but two? It’s too early to tell how successful of an addition Scott will be to the show, and how season 3 will be received overall, but it’s difficult to picture anything Lethal Weapon without both Riggs and Murtaugh.
Although Scott’s character, Wesley Cole, is meant to be brand-new, he’s clearly a simple facsimile of Riggs. To have Wayans leave and the character coincidentally replaced by another cautious and by-the-book character will no doubt stretch the show’s credibility. Had the show simply replaced the actor rather than the character, things might have been different. As things stand, however, it might be better to have season 3 serve as a swan-song for the show as a whole.
Lethal Weapon airs on Tuesdays at 8pm on FOX.