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William Riker
Then-Commander William T. Riker
Species Human
Home planet Earth
Affiliation United Federation of Planets
Posting USS Pegasus helmsman
Betazed, starfleet detachment
USS Potemkin, security chief/tactical
USS Hood, first officer
USS Enterprise-D first officer/commanding officer
IKS Pagh first officer (exchange program)
USS Hathaway, acting captain for wargames simulation
USS Excalibur, acting captain for Romulan tachyon blockade
USS Enterprise-E first officer
USS Titan commanding officer
Rank Commander
Captain (Current)
Portrayed by Jonathan Frakes

Captain William Thomas Riker, played by Jonathan Frakes, is a fictional character in the Star Trek universe primarily appearing as a main character in Star Trek: The Next Generation.



Frakes went to seven auditions over six weeks before being cast as Riker. Frakes stated: "I started with the cattle call, then the casting director, the producer, then other directors, to Gene Roddenberry, and then through the Paramount execs, including the vice-president himself and the heads of television."[1]

Character story

For the first two seasons, Riker is portrayed as bold and confident, an ambitious young officer; however, over time Riker's character becomes more reserved, as experience teaches him the wisdom of a patient, careful approach. He becomes comfortable on the Enterprise, repeatedly turning down offers of his own command, and he learns to cherish the company of his fellow officers. Nonetheless, Riker retains a willingness to occasionally disregard the chain of command. Riker is usually referred to as "Will", although in early first season episodes of TNG he is sometimes called "Bill" by Deanna Troi. He is also usually (and informally) called "Number One" by Captain Picard, due to his position as First Officer on the Enterprise.

Riker's background is first explored in the second-season episode, The Icarus Factor. In the episode, Riker's estranged father Kyle visits the Enterprise to offer his son the command of the USS Aries, which Riker refuses. We learn that Riker grew up in Valdez, Alaska, that his mother Elizabeth died when he was two years old, and that he was raised by his father until the age of 15, when he left home. In the episode, Riker has not spoken with his father for fifteen years, but they manage to partially mend their relationship over a game of martial-arts sparring called Anbo-jyutsu. In the episode "Lower Decks" it is also implied that Riker is Canadian, however, he refutes this claim.

In two-parter "The Best of Both Worlds" Riker takes command of the Enterprise assuming the rank of Captain through a field promotion and orchestrates Picard's rescue. The sixth-season episode "Second Chances" reveals Will Riker was duplicated long ago by a transporter malfunction. The "second" Riker takes the name "Thomas", which is revealed to be William Riker's middle name. In the seventh-season episode "The Pegasus," Riker must confront his former commanding officer, Admiral Eric Pressman, over a cover-up related to the destruction of the USS Pegasus.

Before the beginning of the show, Riker was involved in a romantic relationship with Counselor Troi on her home planet of Betazed. The two characters are close friends throughout the series, but their relationship does not resume until Star Trek: Insurrection, the third Star Trek film set in the Next Generation era, although Thomas Riker, the duplicate created by a transporter malfunction, attempts to re-spark their relationship in "Second Chances". The following movie, Star Trek Nemesis, begins with their wedding on board the Enterprise-E. They often refer to each other as imzadi, which is a Betazoid term of endearment, meaning "beloved". By the end of the film, Riker accepts a promotion to Captain and an offer to command the USS Titan; during the movie's final scenes he bids Picard, and the Enterprise, farewell.

Riker was originally scripted as a much more serious, by-the-book officer—by the middle episodes of the first season, however, it was felt that he was too "official", and his character was toned down, and became more of a ladies' man.

Guest appearances

Frakes appeared in dual roles in "Second Chances", a TNG episode in which it was established that Riker had a "twin" created years earlier by a transporter malfunction. A similar scenario had previously been explored in Star Trek: The Original Series with Captain Kirk's evil twin being created. Frakes appeared as the twin, Thomas Riker, in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Defiant," in which he impersonates the original Riker in order to commandeer the starship Defiant as a member of the Maquis. The following year he guest-starred as Commander Riker along with Q in the episode "Death Wish" of Star Trek Voyager. Frakes reprised his role of Commander Riker in the 2005 Star Trek: Enterprise series finale, "These Are the Voyages...".


The following actors also auditioned for the role of William Riker; they have all appeared at least once on Star Trek TNG or a Star Trek series that followed it:


  1. ^ Schrager, p. 48-49.


  • Schrager, Adam (1997). The Finest Crew in the Fleet: The Next Generation Cast On Screen and Off. New York: Wolf Valley Books. ISBN 1888149035. 

External links


Simple English

William Thomas Riker is a Star Trek: The Next Generation character. He is played by Jonathan Frakes. He is 1st officer on the starship Enterprise. This means that he is second in command of the starship and can give orders if the Captain is away.

Character story

Riker soon becomes very comfortable on the Enterprise, many times refusing offers of his own command. On part 1-2 on the episode "The Best of Both Worlds" Riker takes command on the Enterprise and orders Jean-Luc Picard rescued.


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