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."
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" a junior officer mistakenly believes that he is Canadian.
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.
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