January 27, 2023

He’s at the top of the favorites list star trek Characters that may have something to do with its portrayal by the well-loved and highly charismatic Jonathan Frakes. When he was first introduced Star Trek: The Next GenerationLt. Commander William Thomas Thelonius Riker was an ambitious young officer with a distinguished career ahead of him.

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Riker did not disappoint and his adventures continued star trek franchise and its audience far beyond the exploits of the Starship Enterprise, culminating in a future where he finally has his own ship. Despite his enduring popularity, there’s a lot even die-hard fans don’t know about William Riker.


7/7 Frakes ran a gauntlet of auditions

Star Trek: Data and Riker

It may seem like Frakes is the perfect and obvious choice, but the reality is that he had to jump through numerous hurdles before landing the role. That means seven auditions over the course of six weeks, including review by the show’s producers and Gene Roddenberry himself.

The series of lawsuits and screen tests eventually ended with the Vice President of Paramount and other various television executive-class bigwigs approving Frakes as a Riker.

6/7 Started by the book

Star Trek: Riker

The development of the character itself was a long process that didn’t stop with the casting. In the first few episodes, Riker was originally designed based on the character of Willard Decker who appeared in the first star trek Film released in 1970. Willard was more of a boy scout who played by the rules and aspired to be as stoic as his captain, but also opposed to him.

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By the end of the first season of TNG, Riker had evolved more as a counterpart to his boss’s serious, even bureaucratic nature. His ambition, too, was somewhat dampened, and for years he was happy as first mate, shunning any offer of his own command. This dichotomy has been at the heart of some compelling character-driven episodes starring Riker.

5/7 Icarus of Alaska

the icarus factor kyle riker tng star trek

In which TNG Episode “The Icarus Factor” fans learn more about Riker’s past. It was interesting in that it was quite unsettling and consisted of growing up in a harsh environment. That’s partly literal because Riker grew up in the Alaskan wilderness, but also objectively because of a fragmented and lonely family life.

Betty, William’s mother, died when he was an infant and his father raised him alone, at least to some extent. Painful memories of his son’s mother made spending time with him difficult, and after a few happy moments hunting and fishing together, Kyle Riker left his son when the boy was just 15 years old. William held a grudge for decades.

4/7 A descendant of Yankees and Mountain Men

Star Trek Picard and Riker

It may have been part of the macho personality writers tried to give to William Riker when they decided he was going to become a womanizer, but the fact is that the Enterprise’s XO descended from a laundry list of real American heroes. One of the better known is Thaddius Riker, a Union colonel who fought in the American Civil War, a name that some viewers may be familiar with because it’s also the name of Riker’s son.

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Other ancestors include a rugged frontiersman who was his great-grandfather who died from a rattlesnake bite after three days of intense pain, conjuring up images of settlers and hunters taming a vast wilderness. Something about the search for new life and new civilizations sounds familiar, even if it involves great personal risk, it runs in the family.

3/7 The USS Pegasus

USS Pegasus

Riker’s first assignment to Starfleet was as communications officer on the USS Pegasus. Known to his friends by the nickname “Ensign Babyface,” he had a reputation for loyalty and a sense of duty. His resolve was tested when he discovered that Captain Erik Pressman was using the Pegasus to test a phase cloak device.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the Treaty of Algeron made the device illegal, and the crew and officers mutinied against Pressman. Riker was one of the few who stood by the Captain and would resent in later years if he had done the right thing.

2/7 First worked with LaForge

Geordie LaForge Data Capt Piccard Worf Riker

Riker undertook several duties before finally landing on the USS Enterprise, and the starship that preceded this famous post was the USS Hood. He had been promoted to lieutenant and served under Captain Robert DeSoto.

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It was Riker’s performance during a crisis involving the captain that caught Jean-Luc Picard’s attention. The young lieutenant refused to allow the captain to beam down into a hostile situation on Altair III, and the incident was publicized in the TNG Episode “Encounter at Farpoint”. Riker was eventually commended for his actions and as a result he was offered command of the USS Drake or as first officer on a brand new USS Enterprise.

1/7 Imzadi

Deanna Troi and William Riker

Some of the drama that mattered to more than a few TNG Episodes was the recurring relationship Riker had with Counselor Troi. Some viewers might even have overlooked the fact that she was a part of Betazoid, and it was something that wasn’t explored until later in the show with a few episodes involving her mother.

Troi’s extraterrestrial background is the origin of the word “Imzadi,” and it’s a term of endearment Deanna and William often use to refer to one another. It comes into play later in the lore, when the couple has settled into married life and Riker is better able to use his cooking, building, and other survival skills.

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