A video compilation of Commander William 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?

  • 7
    The Riker Maneuver.
    – Xantec
    May 10, 2013 at 13:30
  • 6
    He positively straddles them, doesn't he? May 10, 2013 at 14:33
  • 20
    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, 2013 at 15:46
  • 6
    Wow, TNG! We always had the Picard sit-down and pull uniform maneuver and now this too!
    – AthomSfere
    May 10, 2013 at 16:34
  • 1
    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, 2013 at 3:40

2 Answers 2


Allegedly a back injury is behind the maneuver. From a post on Reddit and confirmed by Wil Wheaton. The reply from user 'wil' is Mr. Wheaton.


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...



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

  • 76
    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, 2013 at 18:24
  • 5
    @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. :) May 10, 2013 at 18:58
  • 2
    @DVK Actually, I have an issue with any actor who played Hitler and isn't Dick Shawn!
    – Beofett
    May 10, 2013 at 19:11
  • I can't remember the episode, but there's one where you can hear Riker grunt as he sits down in the normal fashion in the ready room. Jan 23, 2020 at 7:04

I know everyone thinks it's because of his back, but he says in a podcast that it started as a joke and he knew it was good and he had to keep doing it.

Q: There was a recent video that went around, called "Riker Sits Down".

Frakes: Yeah, did that go viral or what?

Q: So what happened there?

Frakes: That, at one point in one room there was this chair that had virtually no back, like sort of a stool with a mini-back and because I'm 6'4'', I'm able to mount it like a horse... and then it became a thing and I'm like, until I saw that youtube, I had no concept that I'd done it that many times. And now I'm so grateful that it's become a thing.

Q: Were you the only one, did anyone else in the cast sit like that

Frakes: Usually if you got a 'bit' like that in early, no-one could steal it from you.

Q: Oh, so you knew it was a funny thing when you were doing it?

Frakes: Oh yeah!

NPR: How to Do Everything - Batholiths, Milk and The Full Riker

  • 2
    Nice find... the bit about the chair is from 9:10 minutes in... I don't hear where he says it's a "joke" - more that he was just the first to do it and no-one else was going to nick it... It'd be awesome if you could edit a transcription of that podcast into your answer and just have a link to the podcast as a reference resource though :) Mar 1, 2019 at 21:19
  • 2
    @JonClements - What he says doesn't preclude that it was a 'back thing', he just agrees that it was funny as well.
    – Valorum
    Mar 1, 2019 at 22:57
  • 1
    @Valorum Sure - and I didn't say that it did. What I was saying is that I find it a little tricky to interpret it as it started as a joke... eg: he thought "I know what'll be funny given that stool and this scene today that'll make my co-workers laugh"... I could probably get behind he did it to start with because it was just easier and it got some chuckles and then he consciously thought to do it now and again for a laugh (and didn't realise how many times he'd actually done it for that purpose or for plain convenience...). Mar 2, 2019 at 0:57

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