Not every scoundrel has to live his life outside the law. In fact, when the scoundrel in question is part of the establishment itself, that makes it even more interesting. Starfleet has a history of scoundrels, but for number seven, I decided to look in on my favorite scoundrel-y Starfleet officer. You may know him as Number Two, but Lieutenant Commander William Thomas Riker definitely has a scoundrel side to him and I think that’s part of why I like him so much.
Will Riker was born in the year 2335 in Alaska (nice to see that state still exists some three hundred years from now). Like many scoundrels, one of his parents died when he was quite young. Will’s mother, Betty, died when he was only two years old, leaving him in the care of his father, Kyle. Will’s relationship with Kyle was never that great and his father abandoned him when he was 15 years old. Like many scoundrels, Riker’s poor relationship with his father helped turn him into a very independent young man. Riker entered Starfleet Academy at 18 and excelled in this new environment, revealing a keen tactical mind that helped him graduate eighth in his class.
Riker’s first post in Starfleet was aboard the USS Pegasus. This would also be the first time Riker’s actions were against what others would consider right due to his code of honor. Captain Pressman of the USS Pegasus was using the ship to test an illegal Starfleet-designed cloaking device. This cloaking device was extremely dangerous and the crew mutinied against Captain Pressman. However, because he was fresh out of the Academy, Riker’s sense of duty and loyalty to his captain put him at odds with the rest of the crew and was one of the only crew members to defend Captain Pressman. The mutinying crew was killed when the USS Pegasus’ cloaking device overloaded and destroyed the ship. Riker and Captain Pressman survived and Pressman commended Riker for his loyalty. As Riker grew older, he questioned whether that decision was right. Starfleet later investigated the Pegasus incident, but Starfleet Intelligence classified the incident and any further investigation was halted. While Riker benefited from this decision, it still bothered him that neither he nor Pressman faced justice for their actions.
Following his stint on the USS Pegasus, Riker then transferred to the USS Potemkin where he developed a new starship combat technique that used a planet’s own magnetism to confuse enemy sensors. It’s something that only someone who was willing to think outside the box could come up with. While serving aboard the USS Potemkin, Riker wound up accidentally getting cloned by a transporter beam. Riker was on a rescue mission to a research station and like any good hero, he refused to be transported back to the ship until all the researchers were saved. However, while Riker was beaming out, the atmospheric conditions that created problems for the researchers nearly dissipated Riker’s transporter beam. To compensate, the transporter chief used a second confinement beam on Riker’s pattern. Riker was successfully beamed back to the USS Potemkin and the transporter chief shut the other containment beam down. In a move that could only happen in Star Trek, though, the second transporter beam was reflected back into the research station and another Will Riker materialized there. This Will Riker remained stranded in the research station for eight years until the USS Enterprise arrived at the research station and the Rikers met up. Will Riker remained on the USS Enterprise while his accidental clone took the name Thomas and became part of Starfleet as well. Will Riker would serve on the USS Hood before joining the USS Enterprise crew in the year 2364.
While aboard the USS Enterprise, Riker had a wide variety of adventures. He led quite a few away teams and was killed and brought back to life by several different alien entities. Right away, he drew the attention of Q. Q thought Riker was so interesting he gave him the powers of the Q Continuum. Of course, Riker with Q Continuum abilities did not end well as every time he used the powers, something bad would happen. Picard eventually convinced him to give up the abilities. Shortly after dabbling in Q powers, Riker wound up seducing a computer program designed to distract him so the Bynars could steal the USS Enterprise to save their planet. This would mark the first, but definitely not the last, time Riker thinking with his dick would get either himself or the Enterprise in trouble. Mercifully, Riker would grow a beard after his first year on the Enterprise and apparently his beard made him less of an idiot, though more of a scoundrel.
Riker was tasked with assisting Starfleet prepare for the Borg invasion and developed several new combat techniques that relied on cunning and deception. Captain Picard was assimilated by the Borg and it was up to his number two, now promoted to captain, to stop him from assimilating Earth. Riker launched a daring rescue mission after the Battle of Wolf 359 to free Picard from the Borg, hoping that if they could free Picard (now going by the name Locutus), the Borg would stop their attack on Earth. While this plan didn’t work as planned, Picard was able to briefly break free from the Borg’s control and tell Data how to stop the Borg fleet. Riker’s multiple commands of the Enterprise (including during the Borg War) usually ended with the ship nearly being destroyed. It happened during the Borg War, but the ship was also overwhelmed and boarded by the Ferengi when Riker was in command because Captain Picard was turned into a child, and it happened a third time when Riker was left in command and had to use the Enterprise to fight the Klingon Duras sisters. Riker managed to take down the Duras sisters using some quick thinking that exploited a flaw in their outdated ship’s plasma coil, but the Duras sisters’ Bird-of-Prey damaged the Enterprise’s warp core during the fight. Riker had to abandon the engineering section of the ship but the shockwave of engineering blowing up from a massive warp core breach caused the saucer section to crash into the planet Veridian III. Everyone survived, but Riker had yet another destroyed starship under his belt.
Riker was an excellent tactician (though an incredibly unlucky captain) but he was also an essential part of Starfleet diplomatic missions. However, when it came to Riker making “first contact” with a species, it was usually more of a sexual variety. While he may not have banged as many aliens as classic space-pimp James Tiberius Kirk, Riker was no slouch—hooking up with at least 15 different alien ladies. Heck, even when he wasn’t himself he had some pretty good luck with women. As part of a diplomatic mission, Riker had to play host to a Trill symbiont. The alien developed an infatuation with Dr. Crusher and because Riker was such a good looking man, she hooked up with Riker because, thanks to the symbiont, there was no way Riker would ever remember they did it. Of course, Riker’s longest lasting relationship was his on again, off again relationship with Deanna Troi. Even that relationship was complicated, though, thanks to Troi’s mother (played by Gene Roddenberry’s real-life wife…that had to have been an awkward day for Jonathan Frakes, having to play grabass with his series’ creator) who decided he was an ideal candidate for her to mate with. That’s just how pimp Will Riker was—even his then-girlfriend’s mother wanted to jump his bones.
A year after the Enterprise-D was destroyed under Riker’s command, he and the rest of the crew reunited on the newly-commissioned Enterprise-E and in the year 2373, the Enterprise-E helped Starfleet fight off another Borg invasion and followed a Borg sphere back in time to the year 2063 to stop a Borg plot to alter history. The Borg planned to keep Zefram Cochrane from breaking the warp barrier in the Phoenix. If the Earth didn’t get warp technology, the Earth wouldn’t be part of the Federation and the Borg wouldn’t have to deal with pesky Earth-men screwing up their plans to assimilate the universe. The Borg attacked the Phoenix, severely damaging it and Cochrane’s confidence. Riker talked Cochrane into taking the flight and both he and Geordi LaForge joined Cochrane on the Phoenix’s initial flight, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Riker, sans beard (which explains why Star Trek: Insurrection wasn’t a great movie), joined the Enterprise crew in defying the Federation regarding the Ba’ku people. The Federation was working alongside the Son’a people to harvest the metaphasic radiation from the Ba’ku’s homeworld. Riker took the Enterprise out of the system to tell the Federation that the forced relocation was part of a Son’an plan to eliminate the Ba’ku but the Enterprise was attacked by Son’a vessels en route. Because Riker was in command, the Enterprise was severely damaged. The ship had to eject its warp core to seal off a subspace tear so the Enterprise couldn’t even run. Riker, thinking on the fly, found a way to use the Son’a’s own weapons against them using a tactic later dubbed the “Riker maneuver” which involved collecting metreon gas and redirecting it towards the enemy ships. Son’a weapons reacted badly to this gas and the Son’a weapons wound up destroying their own ships.
In 2379, Riker finally moved on from the Enterprise and took command of the USS Titan with his wife, Deanan Troi by his side. However, fate (and Hollywood) decided to get the Enterprise crew back together for one last mission as the Reman overthrew the Romulans. While the Romulans may not have been the friendliest people in the galaxy, the Remans were more warlike and genocidal. Having spent centuries as the Romulans slave labor caste and as cannon fodder for the Romulan war machine, it was not exactly a surprise that these people wanted to cause pain. The Remans planned to destroy Earth by using a weapon that unleashed thalaron radiation on the planet. The Reman’s brutal attacks crippled the Enterprise (for once not while Riker was in command) and Riker and Worf headed up the security details to repel the Reman boarders. In a battle of Number Twos, Riker squared off with Viceroy, Praetor Shinzon’s second in command, on board the Enterprise. Riker eventually defeated the Reman by knocking him down a maintenance shaft.
Again, with Will Riker we see a lot of evidence for a scoundrel-y nature, even though he’s part of the establishment. He was an exceedingly gregarious and outgoing character. He liked to hold an against-regulation poker game in his quarters. It may not have been Starfleet approved, but all the Enterprise command staff was in on it. Then we look at Riker’s track record with the ladies and you definitely start cementing the scoundrel vibe. Riker was such a smooth talker, he didn’t even need to be the same species to get ladies’ attention. Plus, Riker wasn’t afraid to make crazy decisions on the fly. Yeah, it usually resulted in the destruction of whatever ship he was commanding, but doing so usually meant that he kept something even worse from happening. You don’t get that kind of outside-the-box thinking from someone who’s at least not a little bit scoundrel.