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My Favorite Video Compiles the Special Way Star Trek‘s Commander Riker Sits Down

Happy 30th anniversary, TNG.

I’ll never forget the day, years ago, when a co-worker turned to me, incredulous: “You’ve never seen the Riker sits down video?” Reader, I had not.

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But my life was about to change. At this point, the video is the stuff of legend amongst Trek fans, having been viewed more than 3 million times. William Riker’s distinctive approach to taking a seat even has an informal name now: “The Riker Maneuver,” a play on actual tactical maneuvers mentioned on the show.

The best thing about the Riker Maneuver is that you may not have noticed it before, but now, when you watch The Next Generation, it’s impossible to miss. You’ll find yourself wondering if you’ll be gifted with the sight of the Riker Maneuver in the wild as you watch.

Actor Jonathan Frakes pulls off the Maneuver with the same confidence that he brought to playing the headstrong commander. And while the Mary Sue has posted about this marvel before, we had not explored the reasons behind it. According to a reddit thread on the matter, a commenter gives a likely explanation of the maneuver’s origin:

Frakes had a back injury, caused by having a job moving furniture. The result is the “Riker Lean,” where you often see him on set leaning on chairs or consoles, or with one leg propped up on something. You can also see his body is tilted a little when he’s standing up straight.

I’d guess this has something to do with that. For each time we see him sit down, he probably had to do that same move dozens of times for each take. Just lifting one leg and sitting right down was probably easier for him than turning, contorting his back, and squatting down over and over. It’s the same thing with the Riker Lean: he probably had no problem standing up for a few minutes, but shooting that show probably resulted in standing on set for hours on end. Dude had to find a way to work around his injury by leaning on things, or he wouldn’t have made it

This comment was then replied to by actor Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) on reddit, who wrote, “Confirmed. Source: I served on the Enterprise with Riker for 5 years.”

Knowing that the move likely resulted from Frakes’ old injury and was a work-around delivered by him without any comment from anyone makes me admire the smoothness and the sheer joy of the Riker Maneuver all the more. Happy 30th anniversary, TNG. You always were the most clever.

(image: screengrab)

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.

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