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Space Elf

TNG Writers Toyed With The Idea Of Killing Off Will Riker

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OMG I just found this article and I am shocked to see what was planned. I like Riker's character and I do not think the show would have been the same without him.

From the article:

Remember "Second Chances"? For those who don't, it's the episode where the transporter creates two separate but equal Rikers. In the series, the two parted ways with "Tom Riker" taking a position on the USS Gandhi, but that wasn't the original plan. Read the writers initial plan according to their wiki below...

According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, the TNG writing staff toyed with the idea of killing off Will Riker in "Second Chances," permanently replacing him with Thomas Riker as the new ops officer and moving Data to the first officer position.

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Edited by Space Elf

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Remember "Second Chances"? For those who don't, it's the episode where the transporter creates two separate but equal Rikers. In the series, the two parted ways with "Tom Riker" taking a position on the USS Gandhi, but that wasn't the original plan. Read the writers initial plan according to their wiki below...

According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, the TNG writing staff toyed with the idea of killing off Will Riker in "Second Chances," permanently replacing him with Thomas Riker as the new ops officer and moving Data to the first officer position.

That would've been a very bold step, and to be honest, it would've added a lot of heartfelt emotion to the show (I'm a Riker fan; I think he came a loooooong way from S1).   But having "Thomas" Riker still around afterward would be a nice way of killing off a main character but without using the reset button.   

But Data, as much as I love him, was already enough of a limelight stealer (by his very nature, he's more intriguing as a character), and I like Frakes too much to see him play second fiddle to Data.   Usually I'm one for shaking up a complacent status quo, but this may have been one of the times where "maintaining an even strain" (to quote Tom Wolfe) was probably wisest. 

I think it was also interesting to have Tom come back on DS9 and be 'the bad guy' too (DS9 S2, "Defiant"); it was an interesting way to show what Will Riker is capable of without actually tarnishing the character (which already sort of happened in the brilliant "Pegasus"; possibly my favorite episode of TNG S7).

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That would have been REALLY interesting.  I liked what Frakes did with Thomas Riker.  Like usual, though, TNG played it safe--as did most of TNG/VOY era Trek.  DS9 was the only Trek with any real guts!  Here's hoping the next Trek series makes some bold decisions like that.  Modern TV audiences demand more of this, I think.

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Will Riker became such a stagnant character, stuck in Picard's shadow despite apparently being offered command after command. His career hit a wall because the writers made him readyfor his own ship in the second season. Tom Riker would've nicey shook up the show and changed up the dynamic in an interesting way. I would've totally supported that change, particularly because it didn't mean losing Frakes. 

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Will Riker became such a stagnant character, stuck in Picard's shadow despite apparently being offered command after command. His career hit a wall because the writers made him readyfor his own ship in the second season. Tom Riker would've nicey shook up the show and changed up the dynamic in an interesting way. I would've totally supported that change, particularly because it didn't mean losing Frakes. 

Agreed.   I liked Frakes' contribution to the show too much to lose him completely. 

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I think a better idea would have been, if Stewart had indeed not re-upped for Season 7, that they left him for dead and gone on with Jellico.

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I knew about this from way back - it's a piece of info that was featured in the annual Cinefantastique round-ups of TNG, DS9 and Voyager while they were on air, curated by Mark Altman.

I too think it could've worked - the genius of it being that you don't lose Frakes, who I think was one of the show's greatest assets. You don't lose the character of Riker, although you make him a lot hungrier - for command, for proving himself, for rekindling his romance with Troi, But it only would've worked if they'd had the guts to really go for it and upset the status quo of the bridge crew. I don't think they'd have done that - the senior production team (rather than the writing staff) tended to play safe, until they weren't looking or were busy elsewhere, which is why DS9 developed the way it did after season 2.

Riker's ongoing refusal to take the big chair became a millstone around the neck of the character. Had Stewart left at the end of season 3 and stayed as Locutus, Riker's inheritance of the Enterprise would've been fine; same for Prome's suggestion above, which I think would also have been a really interesting shake-up. But those would both have been offstage reasons forced on the production team that would've changed the character dynamics; this was something they could've instituted in the writer's room to infuse the storytelling with greater heart - and they didn't do it. I think it's a shame - it would've helped give us a snappier seventh season.

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I'm also a Riker fan, and though I do agree that bold steps like those would have been great and all, I don't think TNG was the right one for it. TNG has it own charm in my opinion. He is the way he is, in that format that even on the worse of times still kinda "happy" because you know everybody is cool and no one never dies.

Ds9 was quite different. It was, from the start, something with a different spirit. Right in the first episode we're dealing with a man who has a son to rise alone, and is hunted by memories of the past. We're dealing of a occupation that destroyed a planet and it's people. It fallows another path.

I'm not quite sure of how TNG would have been if they hadn't followed the "this world is cool never bad happens" formula of Roddenberry. Something about a happy world that has people that are all good and honest with one another, and the heroes always find a way has it's charm. I think most of the success of it came from there. It was something people could watch and dream. It had that message and for that it did a great job.

Ds9 had another message from the start. It wasn't supposed to be another show that just continued Roddenberry's ideas. It was a show that was suppose to be more close to home, with more relatable characters. It's less about dreaming and more of "let's do this! The world is a place of both happiness and sadness, but we're here, doing our jobs, because we believe in something." Of course, something like that is much more relatable because it makes sense in our own world. And it did a great job doing that.

But to each one it's own prize. I also hope the new show will be bold like Ds9 but I do hope that not MUCH bold. We must remember specially if it's gonna be on a ship, which probably will, that this world is about a humanity who left behind it's problems. Something do dream about. They shouldn't make it "Walking Dead in Space".

Edited by Garak the spy

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It would have been interesting, but the way I look at it I see Picard/Riker the same as we see Kirk/Spock in the last two TOS films as they are more co-Captains, if you see my point (though Riker is still Commander). To be honest, I don't think Riker was all that ready to be a Captain early on. 

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