William Thomas "Tom" Riker was a result of a transporter accident in 2361 that created two William Thomas Rikers, genetically indistinguishable from each other, with personality and memories identical up to the point of the duplication. One of the duplicates continued to be known as William Riker. The other chose to use his middle name and be known as Thomas Riker.
A descendant of Yankee forebears, William Thomas Riker was born in 2335 to Kyle and Betty Riker in Alaska on Earth. (TNG: "The Last Outpost", "The Icarus Factor", "Conundrum", "Second Chances") His distant ancestors included Thaddius Riker, a Union Army colonel who fought during the American Civil War of the mid-19th century, and a particularly rugged great-grandfather of note. (VOY: "Death Wish"; TNG: "Shades of Gray")
Betty died when Will was only two years old, leaving his father to raise him alone. (TNG: "Interface", "Time Squared". The Rikers remained in Alaska at Betty's wish. The only thing which kept Kyle going was Will, but he did not feel as if he could discuss the situation with him, even when Will was older. The memories of Betty's presence at their Alaska home were also painful for both. This initial trauma created a rift between the two Rikers which lasted thirty years. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor")
When Will first started school, at the age of five, he told all of his new friends that his mother was still alive. Eventually, he told the story so often that he began to believe the lie. Soon, his teacher learned of this problem, and both she and Kyle had to talk to Will and make him realize that his mother was dead and was not coming back. Will cried the entire night following, but later realized it was an important step in accepting his mother's death. (TNG: "Interface")
He also practiced anbo-jyutsu with his father. By 2347, when Will was twelve, Kyle admitted that his son's skills at the sport were superior. Will did not know that the only reason he always lost was because his father used illegal hachidan kiritsu moves.
Will entered Starfleet Academy in 2353. Paul Rice was at the academy at the same time, and they were friends. Riker's superintendent was a Vulcan, who had taken the time to memorize the personnel files of each and every cadet. (TNG: "Chain of Command, Part I", "The Arsenal of Freedom", "The First Duty")
Upon graduation in 2357, Riker was ranked eighth in his class. He set lofty goals for himself, and hoped to reach captain before thirty-five years of age. (TNG: "Chain of Command, Part I", "Second Chances")
Early Starfleet career
Seven months after graduation, Ensign William Riker's first posting was to the USS Pegasus under the command of Erik Pressman. He was the ship's conn officer, and his youthful appearance earned him the nickname "Ensign Babyface," coined by fellow crewmember Lieutenant Boylen. (TNG: "The Pegasus")
Fresh from the Academy, Riker was still somewhat serious about his work. Loyalty and obedience to his commanding officer were top priorities, with his ears still ringing with words like "Duty" and "Honor". This attitude caused him to behave against the principles of the Treaty of Algeron during a crisis on board the ship.
Captain Pressman had been illegally testing a prototype phasing cloaking device aboard the Pegasus. This top-secret project was in violation of the Treaty of Algeron, not to mention extremely dangerous to the crew, leading most of the Pegasus officers, such as the first officer and chief engineer, to mutiny against Pressman. Riker was the only bridge officer to defend the captain, picking up a phaser and instigating a running firefight all the way to the escape pods. Only a few other crew joined Riker and Pressman. Once safely away, Riker and the others watched as the Pegasus apparently exploded, killing the remaining seventy-one personnel.
Although Pressman commended Riker for his unquestioning loyalty, over the years Riker began to have doubts about whether he had made the right decision. The Starfleet Judge Advocate General investigated the Pegasus incident, but the survivors participated in a coverup. The Judge Advocate General discovered evidence of a mutiny aboard the Pegasus before its destruction. While further investigation was recommended, Starfleet Intelligence declared the entire incident classified and no followup was ever conducted. (TNG: "The Pegasus")
Following the Pegasus incident, Riker was stationed on Betazed. While there, he met Deanna Troi. The two began a relationship which lasted several years. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint", "Ménage à Troi", "Second Chances")
Sometime during his early career, Riker needed to wear a feathered costume while on a diplomatic mission to Armus IX. Similarly, he wore furs to meet with the leadership council on Kabatris. (TNG: "Angel One")
By 2361, Riker was promoted to lieutenant and served in the operations division aboard the USS Potemkin. Aboard the Potemkin, he developed a tactic which involved using a planet's magnetic pole and shutting down all ship's systems to confuse an enemy vessel's sensors. (TNG: "Peak Performance")
Later that year, Riker led an away team to Nervala IV to rescue researchers stranded at the outpost on that world. Riker was the last to beam out. Atmospheric distortions threatened to dissipate his pattern, so the Potemkin transporter chief compensated by creating a second confinement beam. Only one beam was needed for Riker to rematerialize, so the second beam was shut down. The Potemkin crew did not realize that the second beam had, in fact, been reflected back to the planet's surface. In an odd twist of fate, the second transporter beam, which had exactly the same phase differential as the distortion field, maintained its integrity and created a duplicate William T. Riker. The duplicate Riker remained stranded on the surface for the next eight years. Up until that moment, both Rikers were the same person. As a result, both had an equal claim to being the "real" William T. Riker.
Eight years later
The existence of this other William Riker (hereafter referred to as "Thomas") was discovered on Nervala IV eight years later in 2369 when the USS Enterprise-D returned to retrieve scientific research that had been left behind. With the aid of Thomas, who had altered the computer systems on the planet to aid in his survival, the Enterprise away team was able to access the information and return to the ship with Thomas.
Relationship with Deanna Troi
During the time he spent on the planet, Thomas had remained deeply in love with Deanna Troi, his girlfriend at the time. Thomas had planned to meet Deanna on Risa the year of the transporter mishap, a fact upon which he had dwelt while stranded. In contrast, the Riker that beamed off-planet eight years prior was soon promoted and made his career a priority over their relationship, and never made the trip to Risa with Deanna.
Upon his rescue, Thomas told Deanna that he could not believe Will had failed to meet her as planned and that he was hoping their relationship could resume. Initially, Deanna was opposed to the idea, but found herself won over despite her objections. In the end, however, Thomas decided that he could not remain on the Enterprise alongside his counterpart, while Troi's feelings for him were not strong enough for her to leave the Enterprise with him.
Thomas and William clashed almost immediately due to the resentment each felt towards the other. The eight years of living different lives made them entirely different men – William evolved into a cautious and duty-driven officer while Thomas remained impulsive and reckless. As a result of conflicts with William – who was by that time a superior officer (a commander) – Lieutenant Riker decided to leave the Enterprise. He chose to use his middle name, Thomas, to distinguish himself from his counterpart. Captain Jean-Luc Picard managed to get Thomas a posting on the USS Gandhi where he could continue his Starfleet career. Upon Thomas' departure, William seemed to have accepted Thomas' existence and gave him his (or rather, their) trombone as a parting gift. (TNG: "Second Chances")
In 2370, Thomas expressed dismay at the Federation's policies towards the Cardassians and the Federation colonies in the Demilitarized Zone, and later joined the Maquis resistance. In early 2371, Thomas, posing as William Riker, came aboard Deep Space 9 and stole the newly-commissioned USS Defiant.
With Major Kira as his unwilling passenger, Thomas took the Defiant to the Orias system, deep in Cardassian space, where the Maquis believed that the Cardassians were building a fleet of warships. Major Kira accused Thomas of still acting like a Starfleet officer instead of a terrorist; more concerned with intelligence reports and interstellar politics than with simply hurting the enemy. Trying to locate the Defiant with the assistance of Commander Sisko, Gul Dukat swore that he knew nothing of the fleet in the Orias system. He was telling the truth, as the fleet had been constructed by the Obsidian Order in direct violation of Cardassian law. As the Defiant arrived at Orias, it was intercepted by a number of Cardassian warships.
Sisko achieved a compromise with Dukat and negotiated Thomas' surrender – in exchange for the Defiant's sensor logs of the secretive Orias base, Thomas' sentence would be reduced to life imprisonment in the Lazon II labor camp, while the Defiant would be escorted back to the Federation-Cardassian border returning the rest of the Maquis crew to the Federation for trial. Thomas was initially wary of accepting the terms offered to him, but Kira pointed out that it would accomplish his mission and let his crew escape Cardassian imprisonment, even challenging his reluctance as some kind of death wish, a desire to go out in a blaze of glory in order to distinguish himself from the more successful Will.
Immediately after Thomas surrendered the Defiant to the Galor-class cruisers of the Cardassian Central Command, the Kraxon extended its shields around the Defiant to protect her from the fast approaching ships from Orias (upgraded Keldon-class cruisers with markedly higher top speeds than regular ships of the class). Dukat was confident that the Orias ships would not dare fire on Cardassian ships. Upon seeing this, the ships from Orias – under the command of the Obsidian Order and not technically part of the Cardassian military – turned around and returned to the Orias system.
Thomas Riker was played by actor Jonathan Frakes, who also portrayed Will Riker.
The TNG writing staff toyed with the idea of having Thomas Riker permanently replace Will Riker in "Second Chances". With Will killed off, Thomas Riker would have become the Enterprise's new ops officer, and Data would have been moved to the first officer position. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
Jonathan Frakes described Thomas Riker as being "much less confident than Will. But he's also tender and sweeter. I think I like Tom better." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) Troi actress Marina Sirtis concurred, "I preferred Thomas Riker. I thought he was cuter than Will." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 113, p. 19)
Jonathan Frakes filmed his scenes for "Defiant" between Wednesday 5 October 1994 and Tuesday 11 October 1994 on Paramount Stages 4, 17, and 18. According to the call sheet, he received a hair and beard cut prior to filming on 5 October 1994. The call sheets also distinguished the parts of "Will Riker" and "Tom Riker" in the cast section by using the numbers 9A and 9B.
The DS9 Companion notes that Thomas' return was on a list of stories the DS9 writers were not interested in hearing pitches on. In an interview with Jonathan Frakes provided with the TNG Season 6 DVD box set, however, he stated that he had approached Ronald D. Moore regarding a Thomas Riker DS9 episode involving Damar's rebellion, an idea that was not brought to fruition by the conclusion of the series. Towards the end of DS9, a rumor that Tom was to be revealed as a member of Section 31 emerged, although Moore said it was not true. (AOL chat, 1998)
In John Vornholt's novel Quarantine, set in 2371, Thomas transferred from the operations division to the sciences division after a conflict with the Gandhi's first officer. He wore a blue Starfleet uniform and served as a medical courier pilot. It was in this function that he abandoned Starfleet for the Maquis, joining Chakotay and B'Elanna Torres' cell after working with them to stop a dangerous virus. According to Quarantine, it was Chakotay's idea to steal the Defiant from Deep Space 9.
In Peter David's novel Triangle: Imzadi II, also set in 2371, Thomas was freed from the Lazon II labor camp by Romulans, and had a brief affair with Sela, who believed that he was the original Riker. Driven by jealousy over news of Worf and Deanna's recent engagement, Thomas was manipulated into aiding an assassination attempt on Klingon Chancellor Gowron and Emperor Kahless, but it was averted due to Odo's interference, as Riker and Worf managed to replace the bottle that Thomas had been given – he had been told it contained poison that would only kill Gowron but it actually contained a dangerous nano-virus that would annihilate the Klingon race – with Odo. Thomas managed to escape capture, but his actions actually strengthened the Klingon-Federation alliance; believing the bottle to be poison, Thomas had been prepared to drink it himself before Gowron, thus prompting Gowron to reflect that there was still value in the alliance with the Federation if even a discredited Starfleet officer was willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of their alliance. This novel also featured some reflections on Thomas' reasons for abandoning Starfleet, including the idea that he sees himself as an "alternate" for Riker – having witnessed what Riker became as a loyal Starfleet officer, he decided to find out for himself how he would do as something else – as well as Troi speculating that Thomas had come to idealise their relationship, to the extent that he appeared to have forgotten how their last few days on Betazed had actually unfolded (Imzadi revealed that Riker and Troi's last meeting on the planet occurred when Troi walked in on Will in bed with another woman when he was drunk and believed that Lwaxana had convinced Troi to abandon any future relationship).
In the Malibu Comics Deep Space Nine title, two stories were published extending Riker's story. "Sole Asylum, Part One" and "Part Two", set at the end of 2371, showed that Riker had been taken to Cardassia Prime and that Cardassian scientists were trying to discover the secret of his duplication in order to create an army of duplicates. It was also revealed that Riker's cells were only nine years old, suggesting their complete creation at the time of the accident. Unable to rationalize the accident against the Law of Conservation of Mass and proven transporter theory, one of the scientists, a Dr. Nol, told the Cardassian High Council that he must be from an alternate dimension. Because of this, the Council decided to send him back to a labor camp.
In the computer game Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Dominion Wars, set between 2372 and 2374, a Federation Alliance mission involves rescuing Thomas from a Cardassian convoy, after which point he is available as a commander for your ships. A Dominion mission in the same game requires the player to destroy the Galaxy-class starship under his command.
In Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens' novel series Millennium, an alternate timeline found Thomas rescued from the labor camp by the Grigari. Feeling abandoned by Starfleet, Thomas joined the Bajoran Ascendancy, although he secretly worked as a double agent for Starfleet. By 2399, he was the commanding officer of the USS Opaka and was killed on Christmas Day of the same year after failing to kill Kai Weyoun 5. This timeline was later reset thanks to Benjamin Sisko and the crew of Deep Space 9.
The eBook A Weary Life revealed that, shortly before the events of Star Trek: First Contact, Will Riker still felt betrayed by Thomas' actions in stealing the Defiant. In a conversation with Deanna Troi, it was revealed that Thomas had left the Gandhi and her crew to join the Maquis. Thomas had been recaptured by the Cardassians after the attempt to assassinate Gowron, and had been returned to the labor camp on Lazon II. All of these feelings had Will questioning his inclusion on a mission to the DMZ assigned by Picard. The feelings came to the surface again when Will met with Kalita and discovered that Thomas had allowed himself to be captured to save his Maquis conspirators. Discovering this led Will to feel pride for his "twin," the first positive feeling he'd had since Thomas joined the Maquis.
According to the Star Trek: The Fall novel The Poisoned Chalice, Thomas Riker was still alive in 2385 and had been recruited into a Starfleet Intelligence black ops team known as Active Four, working with Tuvok and Nog to find those responsible for the recent assassination of the Federation President, only to nearly be killed as part of a conspiracy to frame the Typhon Pact – a recent collection of anti-Federation powers – for the crime rather than the Cardassian terrorists truly responsible. In the next novel Peaceable Kingdoms, he assists Doctor Crusher and a Cardassian contact in finding evidence that the current Federation pro tem president – then holding the position for sixty days after the assassination until a full election can be held – is actually a former collaborator with the Cardassians during the Occupation of Bajor who adopted another Bajoran's identity to fake his death.
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