Ed Murphy is the Captain of the Los Angeles Police Department, notably the detective bureau. As a Captain, he takes his job very seriously and does not enjoy owing the city money from damages caused by his notable men, Riggs and Murtaugh.
In the third film, when both cops take it too far with causing an explosion at the ICSI Building while trying to defuse a bomb and not even waiting for the bomb squad, he demoted them to patrolmen as punishment so they can cause minimal harm to the city. He later reinstates them as Sergeants when they both prove to their boss that they can focus on the job more seriously than he thinks after they've busted Billy Phelps for pulling a heist from a bank by impersonating armored car drivers.
In the fourth film, with the department losing its insurance carrier on city property, he is unable to have Riggs and Murtaugh fired since they are the best cops he has, since they're veteran officers and firing them isn't really an option for him and the department. Instead, he tells them the deaprtment is promoting them both to Captains, something he has done in order to assure the other detectives can follow their lead when they bust a Chinese smuggling ring. Despite their troubles, Murphy considers them his good friends and is even welcomed into the family of Roger Murtaugh when he brings them and Riggs and Lorna gifts for the babies when they're born. He gives them back their old positions as Sergeants, stating the city has become self-insured and that the Hongs are going to be granted asylum in the US.
We first see Captain Murphy talking to Dr. Stephanie Woods in the hallway of the police station. They bring up the subject of Martin Riggs' suicidal and instability issues, which Woods believes is taking control over the actions he commits while on the job. However, Murphy assures her that Riggs will be fine and he still counts on him doing his job. But Woods ignores his statement and keeps complaining about it when Murphy needed to use the bathroom as he said, "Excuse me", then pointed to the men's restroom sign.
He was later seen passing by Roger Murtaugh and commented how he looked younger with the beard he had shaven off. Murtaugh sarcastically replied, "Thanks, Captain."
Murphy is very upset with Murtaugh, Riggs and the other detectives for letting a suspect get away from them the previous night. He is even more frustrated when he hears Murtaugh's story that a helicopter came from out of nowhere and a gunman began shooting in general directions.
The next day, after Murtaugh's attack at night, in his office, he assigns both Riggs and Murtaugh an assignment to protect a federal witness named Leo Getz. They immediately became disappointed and call the case a "shit assignment". Murphy tells them otherwise that he doesn't "give a fuck" and that they should be considerate he is giving them a chance. In addition, he shows Riggs his "No Smoking" sign, since he was smoking a cigarette during the whole conversation. But Riggs says he knew about it and sees the same rule on the glass wall to his right and tells Murphy the same thing he told them. Later, after Riggs, Murtaugh and the other detectives attempt to arrest Arjen Rudd, Pieter Vorstedt and their men, and were unable to due to their diplomatic immunity, he tells Riggs and Murtaugh that he'll have to make a formal apology to the South African Consulate, stating that Rudd is a diplomat and beyond the law, and therefore couldn't be arrested, tried, convicted or prosecuted.
A couple of days later, he hears of the murders on Wyler, Shapiro, Friesen, Collins, Cavanaugh and Moss. He tries to get a hold of Riggs, but he is unable to. He isn't seen for the rest of the film, as Riggs and Murtaugh go after the diplomats and their cartel on the Alba Varden ship, while Leo goes to the station in Roger's car and waits for the federal marshal to show up.
Captain Murphy is in his office with the Head of Internal Affairs Herman Walters. He tells his currently demoted patrolmen Riggs and Murtaugh he, too, just found out the news about the armor-piercing bullets (or cop killer) case being transferred to Internal Affairs. The next day, he reinstates Riggs and Murtaugh to their positions for their valiant effort in catching Billy and Smitty, foiling their attempted robbery.
While watching the security footage of the man who killed Billy Phelps in the interrogation room, Murphy gets upset because he was covering up from the view of the camera when he knew it was there. Luckily, Cole had a tape recording of the suspect in the interrogation room Billy was killed in which internal affairs installed 6 months before, something Murphy comments he never knew about until now. With this tape, he discovers the killer is former LAPD cop Lieutenant Jack Edward Travis. He tells Riggs and Murtaugh Travis and his partner were on a stakeout once before, and that he left for a cup of coffee, but he never came back.
Exiting the police station, Murphy and Walters discuss their differences in the department so they do not pity each other as Murphy heads to his Chevrolet Caprice squad car when he sees a man leaning down next to his. Thinking he might be hurt, he checks to see if he is alright, but it is a trick when Jack Travis turns and faces Murphy, brandishing his gun on him. Murphy surrenders his own weapon and Travis tells him to drive to the underground subway police compound as his henchmen join him.
Upon arrival, Murphy is told by Travis about his special operation in the subway. He reluctantly watches Travis shoot one of his cops and then use Murphy's clearance to steal the guns and ammo (which was Travis' intent, since he could no longer use his own due to being exposed on the footage from Phelps' murder). Murphy then reminds Travis he used to be a cop himself, but Travis tells him that good cops do not have futures. Murphy is handcuffed and taken downstairs to be held captive. One of Travis' men handles Murphy and brings him to an incomplete section of the currently under construction subway system.
When Riggs, Murtaugh, Cole, and Edwards start a shootout in the subway, the henchman Hatchett brings Murphy onto the rails and they both plummet upon landing from jumping. Murphy pushes the henchman with his leg into an electrical circuit on the railing, thus electrocuting him to death.
While Riggs chases Travis, Murtaugh and Cole (Edwards got killed in the gunfire) help Murphy out of the low rails in the subway and Murtaugh subsequently borrows his Captain's car to locate Riggs. Murphy is not seen again after this but it is apparent he has returned to work immediately after the shootout at Rancho Arroyo with Travis and his men.
Captain Murphy calls his detectives into his office. He tells them how they are like dinosaurs headed for extinction, and the department is looking for new cops with guns and psychology degrees like Sergeant Lee Butters. This is due to the destruction Team Riggs/Murtaugh caused over the years in the department with the latter losing its insurance carrier.
However, since Murphy says the department can't fire them, he tells them they're promoting them both to the rank of Captain. It comes as a surprise for both Riggs and Murtaugh (who initially expected Lieutenant positions).
Later, Murphy pays a visit to the hospital to see Rianne and Lorna's new born babies and brings them gifts. He then gives his two men back their old positions of Sergeant once again after telling them the city has been self-insured. He tells Murtaugh that the Hongs are being granted asylum. Accepted as family, Murphy poses for a photo with the Murtaughs, Riggs', Leo, Butters, and the babies.
Behind the scenes Edit
The actor who played Captain Ed Murphy, Steve Kahan is related to Richard Donner, who is the director of the Lethal Weapon film series. Steve Kahan's first movie he film in that was in 1978 Donner was directing was Superman, where Kahan credited as Armis.
To view the Ed Murphy gallery, click here.
Characters: Martin Riggs | Roger Murtaugh | Leo Getz | Rianne Murtaugh-Butters | Trish Murtaugh | Nick Murtaugh | Carrie Murtaugh | Captain Ed Murphy | Lorna Cole-Riggs | Lee Butters | Dr. Stephanie Woods
- Captain Murphy has the shortest amount of screen time in Lethal Weapon, whereas in Lethal Weapon 3 he is given an incredible amount of screen time, thus making him a major character in that film.