Star Trek: Picard Originally Didn't Include Jonathan Frakes' Riker
Actor Jonathan Frakes' Riker originally wasn't in the entire first season of Star Trek: Picard. Frakes started out with the franchise way back in 1990, as the director of Star Trek: The Next Generation season 3, episode 16, "The Offspring." He went on to become popular character William T. Riker, as well as a feature director responsible for what's considered to be the best Star Trek: The Next Generation movie, First Contact.
Although it may have never been, Frakes' inclusion in the new web series is record-setting. He's now the first Star Trek actor to have played the same character across five different series, appearing as William in Star Trek TNG, imposter Thomas Riker in Deep Space Nine, then William again in Voyager and Enterprise before reprising the role in Picard. Riker was a first officer beneath Patrick Stewart's Enterprise Captain, Jean-Luc Picard, for a long time and the pair became close both on and off the screen. Frakes, who has worked as part of several other projects over the years, including Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and The Orville, has been back with Star Trek since 2018. He's directed three episodes of Discovery and, more recently, episodes 4 and 5 of Picard, one of which he reckons Gene Roddenberry would have disapproved of.Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
It would have been very strange for Riker not to be involved in a show centered on the returning Captain Picard but, as Frakes tells IGN, he very nearly wasn't, despite the man playing him being part of the set on a daily basis. According to Frakes, the former first officer wasn't included in the first part of the writing for the first season but the writers found a way to bring him back when the second half of the season was written.
Frakes also admitted being apprehensive over getting back on the other side of the camera as he hadn't acted in over 10 years - he was keen on playing an alien in The Orville, though. The 67-year-old said he felt like Stewart was in the best acting shape he's ever seen him in, while Marina Sirtis, who returns as Counsellor Deanna Troi in Picard, was also in impressive fettle after recently starring in a play. Frakes revealed having spent every morning focusing on the script so he didn't get "buried" by his friends, claiming he would have felt bitter if that had turned out to be the case.
It's crazy to think that Riker could have been left out of Star Trek: Picard, considering the nature of the series. Of course, Frakes would have worked with his old friend (Stewart) in any case, but fans would have likely been confused by the lack of a TV role for the famed director after all of the moments he's shared with the Captain on screen.
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