5961 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

William Riker (Jonathan Frakes in Star Trek)

Commander William Riker


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Star Trek: The Next Generation was a science fiction TV series that ran from 1987 to 1994. As can be imagined it is set decades after the original Star Trek series, but takes place in the same universe. Played by Jonathan Frakes, Cdr. Riker is the XO of the new Enterprise spaceship.


Background

  • Real Name: Commander William Thomas Riker.
  • Marital Status: Married.
  • Known Relatives: Deanna Troi (wife), Kyle Riker (father), Betty C. Riker (mother, deceased) Thomas Riker (“brother”), Col. Thaddeus “Iron Boots” Riker (distant ancestor).
  • Group Affiliation: Starfleet, United Federation of Planets.
  • Base Of Operations: Currently U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-E.
  • Height: 6’4” Age: 43 (As of ST: Nemesis).
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Black


Advertisement


Powers and Abilities

William T. Riker is an veteran Starfleet commander who has demonstrated a talent for courageous and innovative leadership. He is a highly skilled pilot, ranked as the best on the Enterprise. Riker is also a very capable combatant, having practiced the martial art of Anbo-Jyutsu  since early childhood.

Riker’s skill at gambling has attracted a fair amount of attention. His skills as a poker player (particularly bluffing) got him nominated as a negotiator for the Barzan wormhole (“The Price”). He was the only Starfleet officer to win a triple-down at Quark’s dabo  tables on Deep Space 9.

(Thomas Riker does not have Will’s familiarity with Klingons, as he did not serve alongside them as Will did with Worf and in the Officer Exchange Program. However, Thomas has studied Cardassians  extensively as a member of the Maquis and developed a wider range of infiltration skills because of his guerilla efforts.)


History

(Though the Star Trek novel Imzadi II is not considered a canon source, I used it to fill in some historical gaps. This is noted when used, as are specific episodes and movies when appropriate.)


Advertisement


William Riker was born in 2335 in Valdez, Alaska. His mother died when he was two and his father Kyle raised him alone. He had a troubled, highly competitive relationship with his father. Riker became bitterly resentful when his father abandoned him at age 15 (“The Icarus Factor”).

Riker entered Starfleet Academy in 2353. He graduated eighth in his class four years later.

The Pegasus incident

His first assignment was helm officer aboard the U.S.S. Pegasus. The Captain of the Pegasus, Erik Pressman, was leading testing of a phased cloaking device. However, this was in violation of the Treaty of Algeron . The crew discovered what Pressman was doing and mutinied.

Ensign Riker, feeling that loyalty to his commanding officer outweighed the illegality of Pressman’s acts, defended Captain Pressman. As Riker put it later, “(I was) seven months out of the Academy, my head still full of words like ‘duty’ and ‘honor’.”

They both escaped the Pegasus in a shuttlecraft, which disappeared moments later when the inexperienced crew tampered with the cloaking device.

The surviving officers, Riker included, swore to secrecy at the resultant court-martial. On his end,Pressman used his security connections to cover up the incident. Riker had profound doubts about the incident afterward, but decided to defer to the more experienced Pressman’s judgment (“The Pegasus”).

After the Pegasus court-martial was resolved, Riker was promoted to Lieutenant. He was then stationed at the Federation Starbase on the planet Betazed in 2361. While there, he began a romance with a young psychology student named Deanna Troi.

The Potemkin

When Riker was offered a promising post on the U.S.S. Potemkin, he decided that pursuing his career was more important than remaining on Betazed with Troi (“Encounter at Farpoint”, “Second Chances”).

Six weeks after joining the crew of the Potemkin in 2362, Riker led a rescue mission to the planet Nervala IV. Nervala IV had a distortion field around it that kept anyone from landing on or transporting to the surface except for brief periods once every eight years.

Riker was the last person on Nervala IV and beamed out just before the transporter window closed. The transport was extremely difficult, so the transporter operator used a second transporter beam.

The second beam was blocked by the distortion field and redirected to the surface, creating an exact duplicate of Riker. This second Riker unknowingly eked out a solitary existence for the next eight years until being rescued by the Enterprise-D.

Riker was promoted to Lieutenant Commander for his “exceptional valor” during the Nervala IV rescue. This also prompted his shift from operations to command.

Six weeks after that mission, Riker was supposed to visit Troi on Betazed, but did not keep the appointment. Riker and Troi decided to end their relationship, since their careers were both moving in different directions (“Second Chances”).

Riker continued to serve on the Potemkin for a time. He later transferred to the Hood, where he served as First Officer under Captain DeSoto. His exemplary duty in those postings earned him a promotion to full Commander in 2364.

Concurrent with that promotion, Riker was offered several new posts including command of the U.S.S. Drake and First Officer of the newly commissioned U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-D, “Fifth Ship to Bear the Name.”

To boldly go (part 1)

Riker chose the Enterprise, anticipating that many more career opportunities would be available after serving on the flagship of the Federation (“Encounter at Farpoint”). Picard was impressed with Riker’s record. Though they’d never met Picard picked Riker out sight unseen from among the 50 candidates for the position.

Being First Officer of the Enterprise-D was even more interesting than Riker had expected. He was reunited with Deanna Troi, who now served as Ship’s Counselor. They developed a strong friendship from their previous relationship.

He grew very close with the rest of the crew as well. He enjoyed Geordi La Forge’s enthusiasm and encouraged Data’s explorations of the human condition.

Riker was somewhat competitive with Picard at first. But he settled into a supportive role as he gained an even deeper respect for his new Captain. Picard came to trust Riker greatly and gave him many command opportunities so that his hard-charging First Officer would not feel too restricted in his subordinate role. Picard soon referred to Riker as Number One , following a historic Earth naval tradition.

To boldly go (part 2)

Riker and Worf had a sort of friendly rivalry that became a very strong bond. In many ways, they became like brothers. When Worf contemplated suicide after a crippling accident, he asked for Riker’s help in the same way he would have asked his own flesh and blood kin (“Ethics”).

When Riker sought to rescue his friend Soren from the J’naii, Worf joined him in the mission even though it was a serious violation of Federation law (“The Outcast”).

There were many learning experiences for Riker during his time on the Enterprise. For a while he had the powers of the Q, only to reject them as too much temptation (“Hide and Q”). He also took part in an officer exchange program with the Klingon Empire (“A Matter of Honor”).

When his father Kyle came aboard, he and Riker finally came to an understanding of sorts after years of silence (“The Icarus Factor”). He also led a great many away team missions and commanded the Enterprise when Captain Picard was absent. It was most notably the case during the first Borg invasion in 2366 (“Best of Both Worlds, Parts I & II”).

Riker has resisted two offers to captain other ships (the U.S.S. Aries and the U.S.S. Melbourne) in large part because he enjoyed the synergy he had found with the Enterprise crew. Troi noted that he was the happiest she’d ever known him to be on the Enterprise (“Best of Both Worlds, Part I”).

Even more importantly, Riker looked forward to commanding the Enterprise or another equally prestigious ship and did not want to settle for less.

Body double

In 2369, the eight-year cycle in Nervala IV’s distortion field had come full circle. The Enterprise traveled there to recover the last of the data from the research that had been begun eight years earlier. There Riker and the crew encountered the duplicate Riker that had been inadvertently created in the transporter accident.

(It should be noted that because of the nature of the accident, either Riker has an equal claim to being the “true” Riker).

This Riker had not yet decided to break up with Deanna Troi when he was trapped on Nervala IV. Thus, the incident became a rather emotional examination of Riker’s past choices and current life for both of the Rikers and Troi. In the end, Lt. Riker from Nervala IV decided to go by “Thomas” (Riker’s middle name). He transferred to the Starfleet science ship U.S.S. Gandhi (“Second Chances”).

(Thomas Riker subsequently went AWOL from Starfleet in 2371 to join the Maquis, an resistance group of former Federation planets in the Federation/Cardassian Demilitarized Zone. He assumed William Riker’s identity in order to steal the U.S.S. Defiant for Maquis operations.)

(He succeeded in his mission, exposing an illegal Cardassian Intelligence shipbuilding program at Orias III. Riker then surrendered to the Cardassian military with the information he had in exchange for his crew being turned over to Starfleet instead of the Cardassian Empire. Thomas Riker was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment at the Lazon II mining camp (DS9: “Defiant”).)

From the past

In 2370 Eric Pressman, now an Admiral with Starfleet Intelligence, came aboard the Enterprise to conduct a search for the long-lost U.S.S. Pegasus. The Enterprise found the lost vessel partially embedded in the inside of an asteroid. When the Enterprise went inside the asteroid to retrieve vital equipment from the Pegasus, a Romulan Warbird trapped it.

Riker ended his crisis of conscience over his acts years earlier when he admitted to Captain Picard both the mutiny and the tests of the phased cloaking device onboard the Pegasus. The Enterprise used the device to escape and Pressman and Riker were arrested.

Though the incident is a black mark on his record, Riker’s cooperation during the subsequent investigation and related trials spared him a demotion or discharge (“The Pegasus”).

It’s always Klingons

Later that same year the friendship between Riker and Worf was strained when Worf and Deanna Troi began dating. This troubled him both because of unresolved feelings that he had for Troi and possibly because he and Worf were close enough to feel a bit of sibling rivalry.

As this tension developed, Captain Picard was sent into other times by Q as another test of humanity. Among many other things, Picard witnessed the results of this rift between Riker and Worf and talked to both of them separately afterward. The two of them resolved together to see to it that “certain things never happen” (“All Good Things…”).

In 2371, the Enterprise-D had a fateful encounter with a group of renegade Klingons and the insane El-Aurian scientist Tolian Soran. During this mission the Klingons found a way to match the Enterprise’s shield frequency, effectively nullifying the shields. Despite being effectively defenseless and being attacked by surprise, Riker figured out a way to defeat the Klingons.

The Enterprise-D was badly damaged, though. A warp core breech occurred, destroying the engine section and leaving the crew no choice but to crash-land the saucer section on the planet Veridian III (ST: Generations).

Then comes marriage, part 1

The loss of the Enterprise made Worf realize that there were some things that should not be put off. He proposed to Deanna Troi, who accepted. Riker publicly congratulated the two of them, but felt strong misgivings about their impending marriage.

Troi also had doubts, but kept them to herself, particularly since Worf was willing to make a commitment and Riker wasn’t. Back on Earth, Riker finally admitted to himself that he still loved Deanna. He went to Betazed to declare his feelings and ask her to call the wedding off.

At this same time, Thomas Riker was captured by a group of Romulan Tal Shiar  agents while they were attempting to rescue one of their spymasters from the Lazon II mining camp. Sela, the leader of this group and an old enemy of the Enterprise crew, mistook Thomas for Will Riker, and included him in her plans to assassinate the Klingon chancellor Gowron.

Riker played along until he could find a way to stop Sela. His role was made more believable by the appearance that Starfleet had abandoned him on Lazon II and his dismay upon hearing that Deanna was to marry Worf. Said dismay was being enhanced by the influence of a Romulan empath in Sela’s employ.

Then comes marriage, part 2

Sela’s group made their way to Betazed to capture Worf, Deanna, and Worf’s son Alexander as part of their plan to kill Gowron. Worf fought the Romulans and was believed killed when he fell into a nearby lake, badly injured. Unknown to the Romulans, he was beamed out by Gowron’s flagship, which had arrived to counsel Worf about marrying Troi.

Gowron was concerned about the propriety of a Klingon hero marrying a non-Klingon from a planet of pacifists. Riker arrived at the same time. After some confusion over his identity and Thomas’s, Worf and Will went after the Romulans and were also captured.

Sela had both Deanna and Alexander tortured until either Worf or Will agreed to carry out her planned assassination of Gowron. Riker finally relented, to Worf’s disgust. The two of them also ended up getting in a fistfight back in their holding cell over Troi. Thomas replaced Will at the last moment and managed to sneak out a message to Picard while he was on the Klingon homeworld Q’uonos.

Thus, the assassination attempt was halted (just as Thomas planned to sacrifice his life to stop it, no less) and the U.S.S. Excalibur was able to intercept the Romulans and rescue the captured Enterprise crewmembers. Thomas Riker snuck out during the chaos using a stolen Federation Runabout he took from the Romulans and is currently at large.

A new Enterprise

In the wake of those events, Worf and Troi realized that their personal philosophies were just too different for them to make a good couple. They called off their wedding. Troi and Riker began talking about their feelings for one another, though neither was sure what direction they should go yet.

Worf transferred to the Starfleet outpost Deep Space 9. He eventually found a better romantic match with Jadzia Dax (“Imzadi II: Triangle”, Star Trek novel).

The crew of the Enterprise-D was reassigned to a new Sovereign-class vessel, christened U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-E. The crew proceeded to take the ship through a customary shakedown cruise, which it finished just in time to help repel the second Borg invasion in 2373.

The Enterprise-E traveled back to 2061 during this mission and Riker ended up joining the legendary Zephram Cochrane on the historic first flight of the Phoenix, Earth’s first warp-capable spaceship (ST: First Contact).

During a mission in the Briar Patch in 2375, Riker commanded the Enterprise-E while in combat with two So’na warships. After ejecting the Enterprise’s warp core to stop a highly illegal So’na Subspace Weapon from destroying the ship, Riker tried a new strategy against the So’na.

He personally piloted the ship into a cloud of metryon gas, which he gathered using the ship’s bussard collectors. He then flew the Enterprise near the So’na ships while dumping and igniting the gas. The resultant explosion destroyed one ship and crippled the other. This subsequently became known as the Riker Maneuver.

The regenerative effects of the Ba’ku planet the Enterprise was protecting during this mission also encouraged Riker and Troi to express the romantic feelings they still had toward one another (ST: Insurrection).

Titan

In 2378, Riker was promoted to Captain and finally accepted a command of his own, the U.S.S. Titan. Deanna Troi decided to transfer with him and the two were to be married on Betazed shortly before Riker took command of the Titan.

On the way to Betazed the Enterprise-E was diverted to Romulus to deal with a diplomatic crisis. A coup had begun, engineered by the Remans under the command of their leader Shinzon. Riker and the Enterprise-E crew foiled Shinzon’s plans, earning the regard of the remaining Romulan leaders.

Riker’s first assignment as commander of the Titan was to travel to Romulus and begin diplomatic negotiations with the new government (ST: Nemesis).


Description

Riker is a tall, broad-shouldered and huskily built white male with thick black hair and blue eyes. He often has a neatly trimmed beard but is sometimes clean-shaven. He has a friendly smile and a charmingly relaxed demeanor most of the time.

When Riker is angry (or wants someone to believe he is), he bears a fierce glare and will use his size to his advantage, standing over others in an imposing manner.


Personality

Riker is very aggressive in performance of his duties, which he carries out as he sees them. Things like “pointing out all alternatives” and “never allowing the Captain to risk himself” aren’t part of Starfleet regulations, but he insists on doing them because he believes it to be the best way to do his job.

In less formal situations, he can be very casual and light-hearted. He has even played a few jokes on Captain Picard. The best example of these was seen in “Captain’s Holiday”, though his impression of Captain Picard in “The Pegasus” was also very entertaining.

When Riker first joined the Enterprise crew he tended to carry himself with a very intense bearing, but he has relaxed and matured greatly over the last few years. When he is angry his youthful intensity still shows very clearly (most clearly shown in “Chain of Command, Part II”).

This happens most frequently when defending the Enterprise and her crew from criticism, which he takes very personally.

Other traits

Will can be very charming, particularly with the ladies. He was quite the womanizer in his youth and his early years on the Enterprise. He still enjoys flirtatious banter (an excellent example of which was seen with Guinan in “The Dauphin”).

While Riker has a tendency to assume command of any situation he’s in, he can usually balance that quite well with his supporting role as First Officer. He often dictated the standard orders in emergencies (“Red Alert! All hands to battle stations!”) while Picard devoted his energies to assessing the situation at hand.

Riker has become quite accustomed to that independence. Thus, he has serious difficulties working with more controlling officers such as Captain Jellico. He also takes every opportunity to exploit the privileges of being First Officer, leading away teams whenever he can.

Riker has learned to temper his earlier risk-taking with a rational assessment of the situation. Ironically, he has also found himself riding herd on junior officers that show the same rebellious hard-charging attitude that he had as a young man.

This sometimes caused Riker to question whether he had become more seasoned (a phrase that irked him at first) or simply more complacent. Riker has since come to terms with his maturity.

When he is off-duty, Riker enjoys playing the trombone and is an aficionado of music in general with a strong love for jazz music. He also participates in other artistic activities — he was the lead in two of Dr. Crusher’s plays, for example (“A Fistful of Datas”, “Frame of Mind”).

Riker has many athletic hobbies too, including Parrises Squares, bat’leth and mok’bara training, mountain climbing and fishing.

Thomas

Thomas Riker’s personality is much the same as his “brother’s”, though he still struggles to some degree to cope with having lost eight years of his life to solitary exile on Nervala IV and with having a more successful counterpart.

Part of Thomas’s motivation for joining the Maquis was a personal quest to establish himself as a separate person, though he did genuinely believe in the cause as well.


Quotes

“Red Alert ! All hands to battle stations !”

“What the hell is going on ?!”

“There’s a lot to be said for an experience that’s primitive.”

“We’re through running from these bastards.”


DC Universe History

The Enterprise-E crew has encountered the Marvel Universe’s X-Men on two occasions.

The first encounter occurred when the Enterprise-E attempted to use the Borg temporal vortex to return home from 2063 (ST: First Contact). The Enterprise-E crew was accidentally shunted into the Marvel universe and helped the X-Men fight Kang the Conqueror (the MU villain, not the Klingon Commander) before returning home (Star Trek: The Next Generation/X-Men: Second).

Later, several X-Men traveled to the 24th Century and assisted the Enterprise-E crew in dealing with spontaneous mutations on a Federation-allied planet (“Planet X” novel).

The Enterprise crew could easily encounter residents of the DCU under similar circumstances, particularly if Hypertime  is involved. Riker’s involvement in the phased cloaking device project on the U.S.S. Pegasus might also attract attention, especially if the device turned out to have some additional potential for temporal or dimensional travel.

It is even possible that Thomas Riker is not just a transporter duplicate but a temporal twin, created by the interaction of residual cloaking device energies with the distortion field on Nervala IV. This would certainly attract beings such as the Time Trapper or the Linear Men.

Other alternatives

Separately, Riker himself would fit in well as a starship captain or military liaison for any of the various space-faring humanoid races in the DCU, particularly as a Science Police Captain in the 30th Century of the Legion of Super Heroes.

With a little tweaking to fit the circumstances in question, Riker’s stats even serve well for an outstanding second-in-command of an elite unit (such as Dum-Dum Dugan was for Nick Fury in the Marvel Universe).

It would even be possible to incorporate Thomas into the mix — the two could be twin brothers, Will a naval commander and Thomas a troop commander whose uncertainty stems from the horrors he has witnessed in battle.

Alternatively, Riker could have participated in a military experiment such as the Philadelphia Project  (a real life military project surrounded by conspiracy theories of temporal and/or dimensional travel) that produced Thomas as some sort of temporal/parallel reality duplicate.


Sharing



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Commander William Thomas Riker

Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Thrill of Adventure
Int: 07 Wil: 07 Min: 06 Occupation: First Officer, Starfleet
Inf: 07 Aur: 06 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: N/A
Init: 021 HP: 065

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing)*: 05, Artist (Cooking, keyboard musical instruments): 03, Artist (Actor, Trombone): 05, Charisma: 08, Gadgetry: 04, Martial Artist: 06, Military Science: 05, Thief (Stealth): 04, Vehicles (Space): 07, Weaponry (Firearms, Melee)*: 05

Advantages:
Attractive, Expertise (Music), Gift of Gab, Intensive Training, Iron Nerves, Language (Ferengi, Klingon), Leadership, Military Credentials (Medium, Rank: Commander), Scholar (Gambling, Jazz, Klingon Culture, Spacecraft Propulsion Systems).

Connections:
Enterprise-D & -E Crew (High), Starfleet (High).

Drawbacks:
None demonstrated.

Note:
As of ST: Nemesis, Military Credentials are raised to High (Rank: Captain).

Equipment:
See the Star Trek Federation Equipment write-up.


Design notes

Wealth is not applicable because Starfleet provides anything that their personnel may reasonably need.


Lieutenant W. Thomas Riker

As a result of a transporter accident, Will has an exact duplicate who goes by the name Thomas (their middle name), thought the two have diverged since the time of Thomas’s creation as a result of their different experiences.

W. Thomas Riker
In response to Kira’s questioning: “You shouldn’t go fishing today; You won’t catch anything.”

Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Thrill of Adventure
Int: 07 Wil: 07 Min: 06 Occupation: Fugitive
Inf: 07 Aur: 06 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 021 HP: 040

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing)*: 05, Artist (Actor, Trombone): 05, Charisma: 08, Gadgetry: 05, Martial Artist: 06, Military Science: 05, Thief (Stealth, Security Systems)*: 05, Vehicles (Space): 07, Weaponry (Firearms, Melee)*: 05

Advantages:
Attractive, Expertise (Music, Poker), Gift of Gab, Intensive Training, Iron Nerves, Leadership, Military Credentials (Low, Rank: Lieutenant), Scholar (Cardassians, Jazz).

Connections:
Maquis (High), Will Riker (Low).

Drawbacks:
Mistrust (After the Defiant hijacking), Uncertainty.


Riker in the Mirror Universe

William Riker’s talent for military matters made him a valued Terran servant of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. When Emperor Tiberius emerged from his decades-long stasis and began his plot to conquer the Alliance, Riker was one of his best recruits.

Riker became Tiberius’s Commandant of Security and served as the Emperor’s closest bodyguard. The mirror Riker had “a kiss from an iopene cutter” — a lightning-bolt scar running down his forehead, beneath the leather patch over his missing left eye, and down his cheek through his thick beard.

Security Commandant Riker had the following adjusted stats: Drop Artist Skills, Expertise (Music), Scholar (Jazz), and all Connections; add Detective (Identification Systems)*: 05, Thief (Security Systems)*: 05, and a Low Connection to Emperor Tiberius (formerly to the Alliance).

Riker’s equipment includes :

  • A full-body set of jet-black CARDASSIAN BATTLE ARMOR [/BODY/ 08, Sealed Systems: 12, Limitation: Sealed Systems does not protect against radiation (-1FC)].
  • Two Disruptor Pistols [BODY 05, Energy Blast: 07].
  • And a MOBIUS BLADE [BODY 04, Claws: 03, Sharpness (Claws): 04]. The mobius blade is a teardrop-shaped device attached to the right forearm of Riker’s battle armor. When pressed against a target, a small cluster of monomolecular wire loops like an egg-whisker extend into the target, shredding their internal organs. Altogether the loops are only the size of a large knife blade, limiting the actual damage done. The weapon’s usefulness lies in its ability to penetrate the body armor typically used by Riker’s opponents.

By John Walchie, Roy Cowan & Peter S Piispanen.

Source of Character: Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV series & movies), character played by Jonathan Frakes.

Helper(s): John Colagioia, David Johnston.

Writeups.org is a non-commercial, community site

We chat and work at the DC Heroes Yahoo! group .