Star Trek: What are the origins of the Riker maneuver?

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Over the years, the ever-expanding Star Trek franchise has become known for a variety of things, from fascinating alien races and cultures rich in complex socio-political infrastructure, as well as some of the best fictional technology in science fiction. It is home to everything from warp cores faster than the speed of light to full-fledged holograms so complex that they can acquire intelligence.

While these things are pretty grandiose, there are also more humorous things that shows and movies are known for. Such concepts include ridiculous degrading salamander captains or the very specific sitting and standing style of some deputy commanders. This last aspect was so iconic that it was given its own name: the Riker Maneuver.

While it may not be the best thing that can be known in the universe, it has become one of the funniest aspects of the TNG series, competing with the obvious meme champion Spock. The Riker Maneuver is a fan name for how the deputy commander of the USS Enterprise D, Commander William Riker, sits and stands. Some may not have noticed it at first glance, but he does it so often that it has become a significant part of his character. While it may seem pretty deliberate, the single-minded character style that actor Jonathan Frakes gave the character may come as a surprise that he didn’t know he was doing it until many years later.

At the congress in 2017, Frakes was asked about the origin of the Maneuver, to which he replied that he had no idea that he was sitting in such a wonderful way until he saw it on YouTube. His excuse was that because of his height (a whopping 6ft 3in, taller than some of the Klingon actors they hired), the bridge chairs were not made for a man of his height. The low backrest, apparently, prevented him from sitting normally, and this (combined with the uncomfortable uniform from the first and second seasons) led to his specific style of sitting. Wil Wheaton, the actor who played Wesley Crusher, also noted that this could be due to the fact that Frakes had to do several takes. This required him to sit on an uncomfortable chair and dance over consoles for which he was too tall, so he needed to spice it up a bit with a different position to make it bearable.

Another, potentially the most important reason for both his sitting posture and the strange way he stood with his leg raised, was that Frakes had suffered a back injury at a previous job as a furniture loader. Sitting on uncomfortable chairs, he often had to find different and creative ways of sitting to reduce the pressure on his lower back, taking the most comfortable position: leaning to the side, which, apparently, was the best for repeated takes and long days. . Standing, he often rested his foot on a console or chair and leaned forward. These details are quite easy to miss on the first viewing, but when viewed again, some of these positions look funny. However, they all became part of the character’s manner.

Although these are out-of-universe explanations, there are many reasons why Riker himself, a fictional character, would do this, besides back pain. Fans liked and still like the way he maneuvers across the bridge, and the way he sits excessively on chairs or stools — wildly throwing his leg over them from behind, instead of sitting down normally. It is assumed that Riker’s character is full of confidence and importance, managing the room with ease. His unique standing and sitting seem very regal and full of a certain style of swagger. This body language perfectly matches Riker’s character: life at a party and a real ladies’ man (with which his future wife Dianne Troy surprisingly agreed).

It’s very similar to how Patrick Stewart’s Picard is constantly pulling off the top of his uniform, straightening it out. Although this, too, was an unintended necessity born of the inconvenience created by the uniform, it became a core element of his character and perfectly reflected his need for order and strict adherence to the rules of Starfleet: always look your best and respect the uniform. Similarly, the way Frakes behaved on set, although initially it was done for his own comfort, became part of how he conveyed the character of Riker.

After all, Riker’s maneuver never interfered with the storytelling in the series, and the way the character and actor owned it made it an integral part of their personality. Although it’s easy to look at some of the shots and gifs in which he drops into a chair in a particularly strange way or throws himself at the data and his console on the bridge, and think that he looks ridiculous, these frames are often taken out of context. . During the program itself, the maneuver corresponds to his character. He never looks too out of place or strange, and never leads away from immersion in what is happening.

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