Throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation, one question typically emerged amongst fans and even characters within the show: why doesn’t Riker leave the Enterprise and take his own command?
The obvious answer was because his character was so well received during the show's airing and even today having appeared on the new Star Trek: Picard series. Despite this question, Riker continued as Picard’s Number One for the remainder of the series and frequently turned down any promotion offer so he could stay with the Enterprise crew.
The conflict of Riker staying on the Enterprise was almost fixed in the season 6 episode “Second Chances.” In the episode it’s discovered that Riker had unknowingly been cloned when he was a Lieutenant. During the writing process for the episode, the idea emerged of having Commander Riker die and replaced with Lieutenant Riker for the remainder of the series.
Data would become Picard's new Number One and the crew would have to face the challenges of adapting to a whole new Riker. “He wouldn’t be Number One, he would be at ops and have to prove himself and build his career” said TNG writer, Jeri Taylor.
Writers of the show were looking for a good way to rejuvenate the series for the seventh and final season and saw this twist for Riker as their opportunity. It's an interesting idea and would also put to rest the age old question of why he chose to stay on the Enterprise with his clone starting his career over again.
Of course head writer for the series, Michael Piller, turned down the idea of the clone replacement. Lieutenant Riker would go his separate way taking the first name “Thomas” after his middle name and even appear on an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
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