The original First Officer in Star Trek was Spock, who was a cold and completely logical person. When Star Trek: The Next Generation was in development, Gene Roddenberry wanted a character that was the total opposite of Spock.
He came up with William T. Riker, who resembled a young Captain Kirk in a lot of ways. Captain Picard states that the reason he chose Will Riker to be his First Officer was that he had a history of defying orders if he felt that the safety of the Captain was in jeopardy.
Will Riker was a risk-taker, who had the skills and the knowledge to make sure that his gambits paid off. He remained on the Enterprise throughout the run of the show, even though he was offered numerous chances to take up command of his own vessel.
We are here today to look at the life of the greatest First Officer in Starfleet.
From his reused character design, to his future place in the franchise, here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Will Riker.
15. Will Riker Is Basically A Rehash Of Willard Decker
Will Riker was the first character created out of the Star Trek: The Next Generation crew. This is because he is a reworked version of a character who was planned to appear in Star Trek: Phase II and who did appear in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
There were plans to create a sequel to The Original Series in the late ’70s. This show would have been called Star Trek: Phase II and would have featured a mixture of the old cast members and a few new characters.
Captain Kirk’s new second in command was going to be an officer named Willard Decker, whom he would have referred to as “First” (similar to how Picard often called Riker “Number One”). Decker was intended to be a younger, and more light-hearted character, who would occasionally remind Kirk of his younger self.
Decker would appear in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, alongside Ilia, who was also planned to appear in Phase II. When The Next Generation was in production, the Decker character was reworked into Riker and Ilia was turned into Deanna Troi.
14. The Beautiful Beard (That Saved The Show)
The term “Jumping the Shark” has entered common parlance. It refers to the point when a good TV show (or other forms of media) starts to go bad. The name comes from a scene in an episode of Happy Days, where the Fonz jumped over a shark during a stunt.
There is an opposite term for “Jumping the Shark” and it comes straight from Jonathan Frakes’ face. The term for when a bad TV show becomes good is called “Riker’s Beard” (which is also known as “Growing the Beard”). It refers to the fact that Star Trek: The Next Generation had a pretty bad first season, yet improved significantly from the second season onwards.
Jonathan Frakes had no facial hair during the first season of the show. He grew it out during the break before filming the next season and Gene Roddenberry loved it so much that he told him to keep it. Star Trek: The Next Generation only got better from that point on.
Is Jonathan Frakes’ beard so powerful that it can save a struggling show? Yes, yes it is.