Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Picard's Riker Appearance Breaks a Star Trek Actor Record

William T. Riker will appear in Star Trek: Picardat some point this season; not only is the character's return an exciting prospect for Star Trek: The Next Generationfans, but it also will be setting a new record for the Star Trek franchise: the most series one actor has appeared in as one character.

Jonathan Frakes portrays Riker, TNG's most romantic crew member. Riker was a long-time first officer underneath Jean-Luc Picard, and the two formed a close working relationship across the series' 7 seasons and 4 feature films. Given how close Picard and Riker became during their time serving on the Enterprise — Picard was Riker's best man at his wedding — it would be odd for Riker not to appear in a show focusing on the former captain.

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Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Riker and Picard reuniting onscreen is that the cameo will set a new record for the Star Trek franchise. Jonathan Frakes will be the only actor to have played the same role on 5 different series: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine(this one's complicated — see below), Voyager,Enterprise, and Picard. While there are numerous actors and actresses who have played various supporting roles across Star Trek series, Frakes is the only actor to reprise his role in 5 of them.

William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation

Jonathan Frakes played First Officer William T. Riker in all 7 seasons of The Next Generation, as well as the movies. TNG was the character's main series, and in it the character experienced several arcs — including his on-again-off-again romance with ship counsellor Deanna Troi. Riker's goodbye to Picard in Nemesis as he's leaving the Enterprise for his own command position is arguably one of the most touching scenes in the entire film. The love between the two characters is palpable, and Riker leaving the crew certainly feels like the end of an era.

Thomas Riker on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Frakes appears in an episode of Deep Space Nine as Riker— but not as William T. Riker. The Deep Space Nine episode "Defiant" sees William T. Riker onboard the space station; however, he eventually reveals himself to be an imposter, at the station posing as the high-ranking Starfleet officer because he is a Maquis sympathizer. His involvement with the terrorist group leads to his capture by the Cardassians, who sentence him to life in a labor camp.

In a world of transporters and DNA scans, how was the imposter able to fool the highly-advanced Starfleet security team into thinking he was Riker? Well, because he was Riker — in a manner of speaking. The character is Thomas Riker, a duplicated version of Riker from the TNG episode "Second Chances." In a bizarre twist of events, Riker was duplicated by a transporter beam incident during a mission in 2361. The duplicate Riker was stranded on the planet Nervala IV for eight years, until the events of the TNG episode. After discovering he is a duplicate, the once-stranded Riker adopts the name "Thomas" (his middle name) and attempts to continue his Starfleet career.

William T. Riker on Star Trek: Voyager

Riker appears briefly in just one Voyager episode. In the season 2 episode "Death Wish," Voyager and her crew encounter the Q Continuum and become involved in a dispute between the Continuum and one of its members. Q (John de Lancie) transports Riker onboard as a witness to help settle the dispute. The cameo has little long-term impact for the show — Q clarifies that Riker's memories will be erased when he's returned, preventing him from being able to alert the Federation that Voyager is stranded in the Delta quadrant — but the part is a fun role, nonetheless.

 William T. Riker on Star Trek: Enterprise

Riker's final appearance is infamous compared to the other cameos: the controversial series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise, "These Are the Voyages...". The episode features Riker and Troi onboard the Enterprise-D. Essentially, the episode is Riker witnessing the final mission of the original Enterprise using the holodeck. The episode was poorly-received, which was unfortunate for those involved; however, thanks to Star Trek: Picard, it would seem Frakes will get the opportunity to do one final, and hopefully better, stint as William T. Riker.