‘Lethal Weapon’ Creator Wants Damon Wayans Back for Season 4, But Says There’s a ‘Shelf Life’

TCA: Though the crew has made significant changes to accommodate its star, "Lethal Weapon" creator Matt Miller said the Fox drama isn't meant to go on forever.
LETHAL WEAPON: Damon Wayans in the “Coyote Ugly” episode of LETHAL WEAPON airing Tuesday, Feb. 5 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2019 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX
Damon Wayans in "Lethal Weapon"
Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Lethal Weapon” could be over in a matter of weeks, if Fox doesn’t renew the hourlong drama, but it will be over in a few years — so said creator Matt Miller, who expressed his desire to make a fourth season Wednesday afternoon while admitting he can’t see the show going 10 seasons.

“I don’t know if this is a 10-season show,” Miller said. “It has a shelf life to it, and that’s OK with me. If we could tell a few more delightful seasons of television — six, let’s call it six — that would be perfectly fine with me.”

That six-season figure was prompted by Miller’s fellow guests on a panel for Fox dramas during the company’s TCA presentation. As he hesitated giving a specific number, the onstage showrunners like Danny Strong (“Empire”) and Matt Nix (“The Gifted”) shouted out “six seasons” as an option. Miller agreed to it as an estimate before clarifying what he needs to keep going.

“As long as it feels you’re dealing with fresh snow, that we haven’t gone down this road before, […] it’s great for me to do this show and will hopefully be great for the audience,” Miller said.

Of course, he also needs his star, Damon Wayans. In October, Wayans posted a video saying he planned to leave the series after Season 3 wrapped. This caught fans off guard, especially since the show went through quite a bit of behind-the-scenes drama to get Season 3 going at all. Original star Clayne Crawford was terminated, his character was killed off, and Wayans’ onscreen partner was replaced by Seann William Scott, as a new character named Wesley Cole.

“I’m a 58-year-old diabetic and I’m working 16-hour days,” Wayans said in the video.

“As a result of that, it made us sit down and roll up our sleeves and ask, ‘You’re sick, what do you need?’” Miller said on the panel. “It was a cry for help, you know? […] We all sat down and worked on ways to help him out.”

LETHAL WEAPON: L-R: Damon Wayans and Seann William Scott in the "A Game of Chicken" episode of LETHAL WEAPON airing Tuesday, Feb. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2019 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX
Damon Wayans and Seann William Scott in “Lethal Weapon”Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Miller said that was when the producers and crew really realized how hard the show was on Wayans’ health. “It was tough for him,” Miller said. “He’s not a young guy. This is a crazy show to make […] really grueling.”

But once they had that discussion, things have improved.

“Since that time, it’s been an absolute delight to make the show,” Miller said. “He may have a different take on this, but seeing him [on set], he had a smile on his face the entire time.”

Miller said Wayans had even bought the crew Season 3 wrap gifts — “expensive” jackets — and went on to call Season 3 “an unbelievable gift” from Fox. He said restarting with a new character may have been the best thing that could have happened.

“From a creative point of view, we kind of ran that relationship into the ground,” he said of Murtaugh, played by Wayans, and Riggs, played by the fired Crawford. “It was really an incredible gift to be able to relaunch a new version of that relationship from scratch.”

In linear, same-day viewership, “Lethal Weapon” has been down approximately 30 percent from Season 2. That puts it as Fox’s 10th best scripted show in total viewers, but the season was given two additional episodes at the end of 2018, and Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier said earlier in the day that the network was happy with the show’s recent performance.

“I think that show has really hit its stride well,” Collier said during his executive panel. “I’ve been told by the producers they’re running in lockstep, and what’s on screen reflects that. […] How we judge a show is really show by show, case by case, [and] over the last few weeks that show has done well.”

“Lethal Weapon” airs new episodes Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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