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A video compilation of Commander Riker sitting down has recently been going around the Internet. It demonstrates something that I had never noticed before: Riker has a rather... unusual approach to chairs on the Enterprise.

Is there any explanation offered by Jonathan Frakes, or other cast or production members, as to where this unusual maneuver originated? Is it an intentional affectation to demonstrate some aspect of Riker's personality, or just a mannerism originating with Frakes himself?

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The Riker Maneuver. – Xantec May 10 '13 at 13:30
He positively straddles them, doesn't he? – Paul D. Waite May 10 '13 at 14:33
That 'stepping over the chair' is a cowboy move and it's how a real man sits down. It doesn't hurt to be 6'4". – Morgan May 10 '13 at 15:46
Wow, TNG! We always had the Picard sit-down and pull uniform maneuver and now this too! – AthomSfere May 10 '13 at 16:34
Riker also had a curious way of walking with his head down, like he's walking into a storm. Especially evident when he exits a room. – RobertF Nov 18 '13 at 3:40
up vote 121 down vote accepted

Allegedly a back injury is behind the maneuver. From a post on Reddit and confirmed by Wil Wheaton. Scroll down the Reddit post to find the section pasted below. The reply from user 'wil' is Mr. Wheaton.

[–]AmishAvenger 1162 points 2 days ago*

Frakes had a back injury, caused by having a job moving furniture. The result is the "Riker Lean," where you often see him on set leaning on chairs or consoles, or with one leg propped up on something. You can also see his body is tilted a little when he's standing up straight.

I'd guess this has something to do with that. For each time we see him sit down, he probably had to do that same move dozens of times for each take. Just lifting one leg and sitting right down was probably easier for him than turning, contorting his back, and squatting down over and over. It's the same thing with the Riker Lean: he probably had no problem standing up for a few minutes, but shooting that show probably resulted in standing on set for hours on end. Dude had to find a way to work around his injury by leaning on things, or he wouldn't have made it.

EDIT: Apparently my highest-rated comment is about Jonathan Frakes' back injury, and how it affected his time on the set of TNG. Could be worse, I suppose...

[–]wil 906 points 1 day ago


Source: I served on the Enterprise with Riker for 5 years.

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Wil Wheaton continues to impress me with just how friendly, personable, and generally likeable he seems. It makes me feel bad about all those years of Wesley Crusher bashing I participated in with my friends. – Beofett May 10 '13 at 18:24
@Beofett - well, you don't feel bad for disliking Hitler despite having no issues (presumably) with the actor who played him in Valkyrie or any other movie of the kind. :) – DVK-in-exile May 10 '13 at 18:58
@DVK Actually, I have an issue with any actor who played Hitler and isn't Dick Shawn! – Beofett May 10 '13 at 19:11
I'm amazed at the number of votes this has garnered but am curious as to the downvote. A comment would be helpful and appreciated. – Stan May 12 '13 at 1:26
@Stan The question got one unexplained downvote as well. Likely it is someone who feels that behind the scenes stuff like this really doesn't belong on this site. Don't take it personally; your answer is excellent. – Beofett May 16 '13 at 19:42

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