Riker standing in Picard

‘Star Trek: Picard’ Reignited My Childhood Love of William Riker

Star Trek and I go way back. In fact, as I was writing a piece explaining the finale of Star Trek: Picard, I came to the realization that I know a lot about Trek even if I do not have the same unconditional love for it that my brother does. But my love of Star Trek is just different than his and that’s okay. My love is based on specific characters and their journeys throughout their time in Starfleet. Whether it is the appeal of Worf working on himself or my undying devotion to the Kelvin-verse, I just love what I love about Star Trek.

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The beauty of the franchise, though, is that you can always find something to love in it.

And one of the characters I’ve loved since I first watched the series is William Riker (Jonathan Frakes). What can I say? I have a soft spot for a tall boy who is in touch with his emotions. From the memes about Riker and the way he sat in chairs to his love story with Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), there are just so many things about him to love. And what I really appreciated about Picard was that throughout the series I found myself just longing for Riker to be right at Picard’s side, which is what season 3 gave me.

That’s what they always had on The Next Generation: Each other. Picard season 3 really was a highlight of what makes Riker such a fascinating character to explore the galaxy with. (Even if he did not once sit backwards in a chair, even if I was waiting for it to happen.)

The Riker appeal

Riker looking at Worf
(Paramount+)

There are plenty of reasons to love Riker: His charm, his wit, his ability to sit in a chair. But he’s a character who is always evolving for the better and making it his goal to grow into a better person. That’s what I find so fascinating about Riker, especially in where his character is at in Picard. He’s more about his own emotions and his family than he is about anything else, and it was refreshing to see Riker this way.

As a young straight woman, I probably loved Riker because … well, he’s hot. And to be fair, Jonathan Frakes is still hot (I know he follows me on Twitter, so if he sees this: I am just speaking the truth!). But the appeal of Riker as a character goes far beyond his appearance. He has the swagger that Captain Kirk did, with the beauty of him as well, but he’s also completely dedicated to his friends in such a way that you can’t help but love him.

A dedicated man

Picard and Riker together on the bridge
(Paramount+)

The moment in the Picard finale that really drove home for me why I love Riker is when Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) has run off to save his son Jack (Ed Speleers), and Riker is left with Worf (Michael Dorn). The two are standing and listening to the crew on the bridge tell them about beaming back while they still can, but the idea of doing so left Riker the minute he knew Jean-Luc would get trapped there. He says something to Worf about owing a lifetime to Jean-Luc Picard, and that right there is why I am fascinated by Riker.

Worf is always ready to fight until the end. He’s a Klingon. It’s part of who he is. But Riker is just the kind of man who will do whatever it takes to protect people he loves, and that includes Jean-Luc. Throughout the entire season, he’s made sure that he pointed Jean-Luc in the right direction with Jack. Even when they fought with each other, Riker still came back to support his friend.

All because of Riker’s own dedication to those he cares about. And the person he cares about most in this world is Deanna Troi.

Riker and Deanna

Riker and Deann together
(Paramount+)

Picard has, for the most part, given Deanna and Riker their happy family, but with a sad and somber note playing through the background of each moment between them: The loss of their son, Thad. From the first season, when we see Kestra running around as Riker making pizza in his pizza oven in a moment of domesticity, you can tell that they’ve found a new kind of happiness but with that longing for Thad to be with them, too.

But throughout season 3, we saw what that pain has done to them both. They’re struggling in their grief and it took Jean-Luc’s chance with his own son for Riker to finally open up about the pain of losing his. It then, in turn, brings him closer to Deanna when he realizes that she was also captured by the changelings.

deanna and riker
(Paramount+)

We didn’t get much of them throughout the season until the very end, but what we did see was a couple who have been through a lot working together to still have their happiness despite everything against them. Riker’s love for Deanna, his dedication to Jean-Luc and Worf, and his ability to be the best captain he can be is why I love him so much.

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And so this is, as always, a William Riker stan account.

(featured image: Paramount+)


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Author
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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.