Fri
Mar 16 2012 3:45pm

5 Reasons Why Will Riker Creeps Me Out

Whether you think of him as Commander Riker, Number One, or Beardo Numero Uno, there’s no denying the omnipresence of William Thomas Riker in the collective consciousness of science fiction fans. We’ve watched him grow a beard, lean on people’s consoles, put his leg up at inappropriate times, and sometimes murder helpless people in cold blood.

And when you start to break it all down, Riker’s kind of a creepy weirdo. Here are 5 reasons why he’s a little scary, and why he probably wouldn’t have friends in real life.

 

5. Riker is an On-Purpose Loser

It would be easy to say Riker is frightening because he’s some sort of plotting, scheming asshole, but that would give him too much credit. Riker is mostly unaware of his lameness. And it’s in his “normalcy” that Riker makes one uncomfortable. Consider the notion of him passing up numerous promotions. He always says something to the effect that “serving on the Enterprise is great,” or “I really love it here.” Riker not leaving the Enterprise when he clearly has the resume and years of experience under his belt is like those 40-something guys who hang out in college towns and flirt with college kids at the bar. If you only go to that bar once, the funny older guy might seem cool, but if you live there, you know he’s sort of a loser.

 

4. Riker Acts Highly Unprofessional When People Simply Disagree With Him

When Riker has very reasonable work-related debates with people like Shelby, Ro, or Captain Jellico, he makes a REALLY big deal out of it, and these outbursts are rarely professional. He threatens poor Shelby, outright stops showing up to work with Jellico, and constantly harasses poor Ro, to the point where she should press charges. Whenever Riker is in charge of the ship in Picard’s absence, you rarely see him conferring with anyone. He just sort of does whatever he wants. And when people disagree with him, he flips out big time. What is Riker really saying in these moments? I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DON’T LIKE ME. EVERYONE ELSE DOES.

 

3. Riker is Really Terrible To Troi

Troi’s relationship with Will Riker is perhaps the unhealthiest friendship/romance ever depicted on TV. He stood her up years prior, and now she hangs around with him all the time. When they hang out and talk about Will’s problems, you get the sense that she is just giving him professional advice. She almost never speaks to him the way real friends to talk to people, (Picard and Beverly do this sometimes, despite also having a fucked up relationship) instead, Troi is distant and cold. And that’s because Riker screwed her over, and she still wants to sleep with him. Riker is truly awful, because he knows this about Troi, and instead of accepting a promotion to captain or transferring off the Enterprise and being a bigger person, he plays the “friend card” and while parading around meaningless affairs in front of Troi to hurt her feelings. She (like Beverly with Picard) rarely gets upset about this, and is in fact supportive. But if Troi suddenly is suddenly dating someone else? Watch out! Riker freaks the fuck out.

 

2. Riker’s Greatest Love Is Apparently a Porno-Hologram

In “Future Imperfect” when an alien creates a fictional version of a future life for Riker on the Enterprise, they decide to fix him up with the woman who he thinks about the most, Minuet. The episode portrays this as a “gotcha” moment Riker has on the alien, but in reality, the reverse should be true. The little alien was just scanning Riker’s brain for the person he had the strongest feelings for, and came up with the special hologram woman, Minuet. Now, we’re told over and over again that she was a very special program, but she was still a PROGRAM. Geordi and Barclay both pulled the creep card with this kind of thing too, but their hologram fantasy loves were based on REAL PEOPLE. Meaning, the alien scanned their brains, it would be like “oh Geordi is in love with Leah Brahms and Barclay is in love with everyone.” Not so with Riker. He’s basically in love with 24th century porn.

 

1. Riker Used to Be a Cool Person

Was Riker ever not creepy and messed up? Probably! We definitely get the sense of a sexier, more daring Riker in the form of his transporter duplicate Thomas Riker. Now, that version of Riker has some panache. He still wants to mess around with Troi, and doesn’t really see his “other self” as a problem. A few years later, after stealing the Defiant and getting arrested by the Federation, Thomas still makes out with Kira openly, despite the fact that he’s totally betrayed her. The difference between Thomas and Will here is simple. Will sort of lost his guts. His former self, personified as Thomas, has way more balls.

Meanwhile, Will Riker pretends to wear his sex drive on his sleeve, but is actually a little ashamed of himself, because he doesn’t want to offend the polite company of the Enterprise crew. Thomas Riker could care less about that, and is in fact the man Will should have become. When Q shows Picard the mediocre version of himself who never fought the Nausicaans, it’s depressing. The thing is, we’re seeing that boring version of Will Riker in most every episode of Star Trek.

It would be a good idea to send Riker to a shrink, but we all know how that would work out. (His shrink is his old girlfriend who tells him to watch episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise when he is confused about life. What?) The only real treatment for the Riker problem would be some kind of reintegration of his past self into his present self, kind of like that stuff they did with Captain Braxton in the Voyager episode “Relativity.” A little direct download of his previous, risk-taking; fun-loving persona might be just what Riker needs. In the meantime, like in that one Pink song, Will Riker’s mantra should be “Don’t let me get me!”


Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com. He went as Riker once for Halloween. Scary!

43 comments
StrongDreams
1. StrongDreams
Awesome!!!

(Riker's babyface in season 1 looked like a permanent $#!%-eating grin, as if he always had a little something going on the side that no one else knew about. Imagine the possibilities if they had played that up, instead of covering it...)
Joe Vondracek
2. joev
I always figured that the reason Riker never took a command of his own was because he was self-aware enough to recognize that his crew would abandon him on some primitive planet. Kinda like soldiers shooting their commanding officer during a firefight.
StrongDreams
3. Rootboy
TNG makes a lot more sense if you assume Riker is a highly functional alcoholic.
StrongDreams
4. robbadler
Rootboy: +1
StrongDreams
5. junior hugh moustache
Jeez, Ryan, was the f-bomb really necessary--twice? It's not that I expect this site to be G-rated, but resorting to profanity is just laziness, especially when we're talking about a word whose power to impress faded long ago.
James Enge
6. JamesEnge
there’s no denying the omnipresence of William Thomas Riker in the collective consciousness of science fiction fans
Um. This is totally deniable, it seems to me. What you say may be true for a segment of ST:TNG fans, but not sf fans in general.
StrongDreams
7. AlBrown
From my sea service, I can say that some people just prefer being an XO to being a CO, and that XO's are rarely the most beloved personnel on a vessel. As far as I am concerned, Ryan, all your piece shows me is that Riker is one of the most realistic XO's in the various and sundry incarnations of Star Trek. Which makes sense, because Picard is the one that most resembles a real CO.
StrongDreams
8. thelonius
If fuck lost its power then why would you care?
rob mcCathy
9. roblewmac
i've always thought Riker was just the guy who could be Kirk if fans REALLY REALY hated Picard's style. And they really could have not liked it.
john mullen
10. johntheirishmongol
I have to agree with Ryan on this one. I actually only liked a couple of the characters on TNG. Data, Worf, Tasha..
John Hardy
11. screwtape
What AlBrown said.

Regarding No. 4, in particular:

Ignoring the issue of military chains of command, even outside the world's present-day navies and coastguards, no ship is either a democracy or a debating society. And the larger the ship and crew, the less democratic it is. Any crewmember on a large civilian cargo or passenger liner who tried to backtalk the captain or XO would be off the ship at the next port of call so fast they would hardly hit the gangplank.

Personally, I have always found the suggestion that StarFleet is not a military organization to be completely ludicrous. In any event, in STNG, Riker is the XO of a heavily-armed vessel crewed by hundreds of uniformed personnel that often operates on detached duty in dangerous circumstances. On such a vessel, even if 'civilian', an XO does not have "reasonable work-related debates" with subordinates. He gives directions, commonly known as orders or commands, and those subordinates obey him . Even if they disagree with him, they obey him, because he is their superior in the chain of command. And if crewmembers disobey orders, violate the chain of command, or are otherwise insubordinate, part of the XO's job will be to maintain and enforce discipline by slapping them down - hard, if necessary. That has nothing to do with the individual XO's personality or character -- that's just his job.

And Riker is good at it.
StrongDreams
12. junior hugh moustache
@thelonius: Maybe I should have been more specific. Gratuitous profanity no longer impresses anyone--except maybe 13 year old boys--as edgey or irreverent. I'm assuming Ryan is not a 13 year old boy. Like I said, it's just lazy.
Jenny Kristine
13. jennygadget
Yes, so much, to all of this. Especially on how fucked up his relationship with Troi was.

When Jonathan Frakes played an unsub on Criminal Minds, I spent much of the episode yelling "see, I told you Riker was creepy!" :p

@ junior high mustache

It's the internet, how would you know?

But seriously, saying that Riker freaks the fuck out when Troi dates other people is not dropping the f-bomb for shock, in this case it's just the most accurate and succinct description of how he reacts.

(and where's the second one?)
Ryan Britt
14. ryancbritt
@Everyone-
Sorry for the f-bombs!
I guess the article is supposed to be a little-tongue-in-cheek and off-the-cuff. It was just a style choice I made.
I know the arguements are hyperbolic, I just happen to agree with myself on this one.

However, I do think about these things, and made the choices in the prose on purpose. :-)

BUT, all the comments about how he might just want to stay being an XO are toally legit and probably accurate and I welcome the dicussion about how me might have been a fine officer from a service standpoint. Good call.
Ryan Britt
15. ryancbritt
@6
Yeah, again, I was kind of kidding around on that one. Maybe it didn't come off.
StrongDreams
16. junior hugh moustache
@jennygadget: True enough, I'm just assuming they don't hand these blogs over to kids. Anyway, I found the post generally funny and just thought he could have been a bit more clever than to rely on the f-word. And they're both in the same paragraph, one about half way down, the other at the bottom.
StrongDreams
17. Quinn Robles
LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Too awesome. My mom was in love with that guy when I TNG was first on in my childhood. I always thought he was a major creeper.
Jenny Kristine
18. jennygadget
@ junior hugh moustache

ah, I see it now, thanks.

I think we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Aside from (maybe) the redundancy of using it twice, it doesn't come across as lazy to me, just accurate. My opinion on this is admittedly colored by the fact that I wish I had been able to put to any kind of words why his behavior struck me as WRONG and just a little bit scary when I was watching this show at age ten or so.
StrongDreams
19. junior hugh moustache
@jennygadget

That's cool. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind here, nor do I want to give the impression that I'm automatically offended by the simple use of that particular word (to everything there's a season, I suppose). It's just that it's become so ubiquitous, that when I hear or read it from someone whom I generally think is pretty bright (Like Ryan, for example, whose posts I always enjoy), I just think, "Come on, not you too. You can do better than that."

Now I'm starting to sound like Ward Cleaver ("Ryan, your mother and I aren't angry, just terribly, terribly disappointed"). Anyway, that's just one old man's impression. I hope I'm not coming off as too preachy.
Ryan Britt
21. ryancbritt
@19
I think you've got some valid points on this one. And it certainly is something to watch out for. A stand-up comic friend of mine and I talk about this all the time in relation to how much one can lean on
profanity. Also, in one of the writing classes I teach, I warn my students against it. So, it seems sometimes I might not take my own advice.

Thanks for calling me bright. That made my Monday morning. Really!
James Whitehead
22. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Too funny. I actually liked Riker, however, especially once he grew the beard. Always looked at his character as a not so subtle dig at the Kirk fans who didn't like Picard's style; can't say I did either the first few seasons.

As to the idea that swearing losing its 'power' I am reminded of a story my mum told me about growing up & reading all those books where the narrative never 'said' curse words. Instead there would be a passage such as "the sailor swore a blue streak," etc...

When she was finally old enough to know what the words meant she was terribly disappointed; feeling somehow let down.

Kato

Kato
StrongDreams
23. Fuckin' Spock
I think the creepest thing about the whole Minuet interaction isn;t that he wants to nail her, it's that Picard is there and he wouldn't have any problem engaging in a Galaxy Class three-way (y'know one with 2 nacelles).
StrongDreams
24. Susan Hutchings
Every time some critter headed for a crew member of the ST:TNG series, I'd yell 'Get Riker! Keep your paws ( or tentacles, or whatever) off of Picard and Geordi. Riker! Get Riker!' And here I thought I was the only one. Happiness loves company too.
StrongDreams
46. Stardog77
The profanity was absolutely appropriate for the chosen style. This piece is highly entertaining, and I thank you. Many of these other comments were made by obvious choads.
StrongDreams
49. Rachel1977
This was one of the dumbest things I've ever read. Just how much of a useless term is "creepy" when it can be vomited out for seemingly any arbititary reason. Maybe you can accuse Picard of being a closet pedophile and laforge of having aspergers and complete the trifecta of dumb things people say on the Internet.
StrongDreams
50. Vger23
Yeah, I don't agree with this. Riker always struck me as the only "real" person amongst the perfect set of characters on TNG. He was flawed, struggled with his career and his relationships at times, etc...but was generally a good guy, and it was those flaws that made him interesting. To me, he's much more interesting than a cardboard cut-out of human perfection like Picard.
StrongDreams
53. spinnoza
i just find him really needy and un-attractive....and too tall
StrongDreams
54. NullNix
Vger23@49, I assumed that the 'creepy' references were a reference to another tor.com review, where it is repeatedly used to refer to a character also mentioned in *this* review who has... problems... with holographic women. (Indeed, if I google for "not that that's at all creepy", the only hits I get are in said review. An excellent use of repetition for emphasis.)
StrongDreams
55. kanyaraj
jennygadget, the only nutter who took Jonathan's name in this blogslice ! We are talking about William T. Riker, not Jonathan Frakes!
StrongDreams
57. Kittycat
This blog made me laugh. Ok I'll admit I find Riker to be sexy, as he looks like a total pervert who would violate you in enjoyable ways. But- I also agree is is a chauvinistic beast who is probably a sociopath. What can I say? I have issues.
StrongDreams
58. designchick2
I really enjoyed this blog. HA, just great! This made me actually laugh out loud
StrongDreams
59. Lorraine
I always loved Will Riker, and his relationship with Troi, but that didn't stop me from laughing uncontrollably at this. There was so much truth in all this and that made it that much better! It doesn't stop me from loving him, but gosh it made me laugh! Thanks for writing this!

P.S. You really had a point about him being the old guy in a college town... :P
StrongDreams
61. Riker's Beard
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Before TNG, Riker and Troy both refused to give up their careers to save the relationship. They're friends & lovers, but work comes first and they're not the kind of madly-in-love that leads to a monogomous commitment. Speaking of which, there doesn't seem to be a lot of traditional monogomy in the Star Trek world, so it might not be appropriate to read our own jealousy in to a world with perfect birth control and STD treatments.

And speaking of Riker's career, how is he so lazy and shiftless if he's being offered his own ship at such a young age? The real reason he stays on the Enterprise is because he feels like he still has a lot to learn, and he knows he won't get a better teacher than Picard.

So where does Riker end up? In the future timeline of the final episode, he's become an admiral and achieved the highest rank in Star Fleet!

Hell, if it weren't for his hubris, short temper, and ability to screw up relationships, he'd be a damn Gary-Stu.
StrongDreams
62. Mike Chambers
I think he goes apeshit when people disagree with him because he secretly hates himself for not accepting all the offers to actually be captain on some other ship, so he's like overcompensating to feel powerful if somebody that isn't Picard opposes him.
StrongDreams
63. WillRyker
I think you're bringing your own world and ideas and putting them into the star trek universe where they don't belong. Ryker and Troi's never worked out as a couple. There relationship is somewhere between a romance and friendship but it's hard to define what it is. Ryker never left the enterprise because all of his friends were on the enterprise, what's wrong with that? If you think he shouldn't have any friends then that's bringing your own ideas into the world. Ro Laren is known to break the rules a lot on the ship which is why you often see Riker giving her a hard time. But I think that the actor who plays Riker is one of the weakest actors in the main cast and that's probably why the character may be seen as strange to some.
StrongDreams
64. NAZQAR
I don't care what anybody says. I like Riker. Hmmm..... That might look good on a button.
StrongDreams
65. AlRoper
Awesome summation. The character Riker is not ready for working without a net. Whether for plot reasons so he can remain on the show, or not, he is written this way, even though Starfleet and Picard have recommended him for a command. He takes way too many risks, and has suggested way too many courses of action, that could have resulted in many crew deaths, or even the destruction of the Enterprise, to be an ideal candidate for command. He is very lucky, so far, but I have never heard that stated as a desirable command quality. He knows his limitations, thus not taking promotion, but, unfortunately, crows a bit too arrogantly that his remaining 2nd in command is only a lifestyle choice. He is a great first officer, but character-wise, outside of his small circle of friends, a real arsehole. I must consider his 7 season body of work, and not just his outstanding performance in the Best of Both Worlds. He could have easily been written as making consistent good command decisions, but I am sorry, Riker lovers, he was not.
StrongDreams
66. KingOfTheRedShirts
Love this. Couldn't agree more. Riker shouldn't have been allowed to continue turning down commands. Two ships I can think of off the top of my head, the Drake and the Melbourne were destroyed after Riker turned down those commands. Maybe if they would have had more experienced captains, they would have survived. Riker's selfish scheme to wait out Picard, to get the Enterprise for himself has cost lives.
StrongDreams
67. TNGKing
As for the perv stuff, you should have shown the straw in his head being sucked by Crusher. Kinky!!
StrongDreams
68. Riker Fan
Are you kidding me?! Will Riker is awesome. He questions him self and wins the war in Best of Both Worlds, marries Troi in Nemesis, and made an awesome Captain in the Titan series of books. He was not the smartest or strongest but you get the feeling he was the most real. Tom was just a inexperienced kid and had 8 years on Nervala to never grow up. Riker is number 1 in my book.
StrongDreams
69. JWH
That last item is really funny when you consider that TNG producers actually considered killing off Will Riker and adding Tom Riker to the cast.

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