A second season episode of The Next Generation I watched the other day had Cdr. Riker turning down an offer to command his own ship. I seem to remember other offers being rebuffed by Riker, though he ultimately accepts one in his last on-screen appearance in Star Trek: Nemesis.

4 Answers 4


First, the ACTUAL commands:

  • 2366 : Temporary field promotion to captain by Adm. Hanson during Borg crisis

  • By 2379, Riker decided to accept promotion to captain of the USS Titan. The Titan was dispatched to the Romulan Neutral Zone to serve as the command ship for a diplomatic task force. ("Star Trek Nemesis")

  • [NOTE: This bullet is from fanfic-level Memory Gamma, so not part of any canon or official info ] In 2385, Riker accepted a promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral (lower grade) and reluctantly turned over command of the USS Titan to his Executive Officer, Commander Christine Vale, assuming command of the new Yamato-class Heavy Battleship USS Paladin and Task Force Paladin despite not wanting to leave the Titan yet.

Next, command offers (from http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/William_T._Riker#Command_offers)

Riker was offered several commands during his tenure aboard the Enterprise. Including:

  • the aforementioned USS Drake,
  • he was offered the USS Aries in 2365

    The Aries command was offered to Riker because of his exceptional abilities as a scientist. He turned down the Aries posting because he felt he was not yet ready to leave the Enterprise and the distinction that the first officer post held. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor")

  • the USS Melbourne in 2366. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds")

    Starfleet put a great amount of pressure on Riker to accept command of the Melbourne. Many admirals and even Captain Picard felt that he had remained too long on board the Enterprise and should have accepted a command by that point in his career, lest it seem like he was standing still in a sea of upstart officers like Shelby. Even Riker questioned why he remained as Enterprise first officer, and was unable to understand what kept him from leaving. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds")

    "She's a fine ship, Will." "Yes, but she's not the Enterprise." Picard and Riker (about the Melbourne)

  • Q said in Voyager:"Death Wish" that he "was betting Riker" would have taken command of the USS Voyager, which may mean he was also offered command of that ship before Captain Janeway.

SUMMARY: At least 3 and possibly four turned down promotions

  • 1
    The link for the USS Paladin doesn't seem to site any direct references (that I can see) regarding Riker taking that command. Do you happen to know where that is from?
    – Xantec
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 16:45
  • @Xantec - i clarified that it's from Memory Gamma (fanon, basically fanfic level "canon"). Basically, fan-generated noise, but elegant enough to merit mention IMHO; especially as it is tangential to main question/ Commented May 31, 2011 at 17:06
  • 1
    Since you included Riker's temporary command of the Enterprise during the Borg crisis, you may want to also include his temporary posting as captain of the Excalibur during TNG Redemption pt 2.
    – Xantec
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 21:32
  • 1
    @Xantec that's probably pushing it. The command of the Enterprise during the Borg crisis was permanent as Picard was thought to be lost forever. Riker (apparently) willing accepted demotion to Commander to stay as Picard's first officer when he was rescued from the Borg. I'd actually say that the fact that he stayed with the Enterprise means he turned down a command to remain. Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 22:16
  • 1
    It was part of an officially sanctioned exchange tho.
    – Broklynite
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 10:33

Rejected Commissions:

1) USS Drake: NCC 70956 (Andromeda Class).

2) USS Aries: NCC 45167 (Renaissance Class).

3) USS Melbourne NCC 62043 (Excelsior Class).

Accepted Commissions:

1) USS Enterprise: NCC1701/D (Galaxy Class). (Returned Command of the Ship to Captain Jean-Luc Picard).

2) USS Titan: NCC 80102 (Lunar Class). (Current Assignment).


Possible Rejected Commissions:

1) USS Voyager NCC 74656 (Intrepid Class)

In the episode "Death Wish" in "Star Trek, "Voyager"", Q commented To Captain Kathryn Janeway, that he was, "Betting Riker would get this Command". Ergo, it is possible that William Thomas Riker was offered that Ship! However, this is pure speculation!

  • @psubsee2003: Oh, I see, I misread. Retracted. Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 20:27
  • I would add, I think the intent of @AdmiralJaeDax is to say that "Riker" referring to our Riker is the speculation. I don't think that's right. I think we can assume that if the script mentions Riker, the intent is our Riker. The speculation would be only on whether that line means that he was definitely offered the position. Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 20:32

I'm not going to repeat what have been already well covered in the previous answers, but there is another likely command rejection that does not appear to be covered in canon (at least on screen, I can't confirm whether this is covered in any of the books).

But to expand on Riker's promotion during the original Borg crisis. He was promoted to Captain and given command of the Enterprise. This occurs after he passed on command of the Melbourne (and the Melbourne is destroyed shortly thereafter during the Battle of Wolf 359).

After Captain Picard's rescue and after Picard was restored his position as captain of the Enterprise, you have the following exchange between Shelby and Captain Riker.

SHELBY: We'll have the fleet back up in less than a year. I imagine you'll get your choice of any Starfleet command, sir.

RIKER: Everyone is so concerned about my next job. With all due respect, Commander, sir, my career plans are my own business, and no one else's. But it's nice to know I'll have a few options.

The next time we see Riker, he is a Commander and is again the First Officer of the Enterprise.

Based on Shelby's statements, we can guess that he was offered a command during this period between Best of Both Worlds Pt 2 and Family, and since he was back at his old posting, we can also surmise that he turned down that command and elected to remain on the Enterprise.

  • Actually, we know that Riker was offered a command during the episodes you are referring to (Best of Both Worlds - Parts 1 and 2): the USS Melbourne. It was the topic of several conversations early on in Part 1, which became moot when it seemed that Picard was lost to the Borg and Riker was promoted to Captain of the Enterprise. This is already part of the existing answers.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 23:04
  • @Ellesedil that was before Best of Both Worlds. I am talking about after. The USS Melbourne you are referencing was destoryed during the Battle of Worf 359 Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 23:25
  • Actually, it was at the very beginning of Best of Both Worlds. "Alone with Picard, Hanson details his approval of Shelby. He tries to encourage the captain to accept her as his first officer and convince Riker to assume captaincy of the USS Melbourne, a command offer that Picard was heretofore unaware of and follows two previous proposals – the USS Drake and the USS Aries – that Riker has declined." Picard, Shelby, and several others spend much of the episode talking to Riker about accepting it.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 23:28
  • Riker likely reaffirmed his preference to decline the Melbourne after Best of Both Worlds is resolved, particularly since high-level Starfleet officers were still hoping he would accept it.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 23:30
  • @Ellesedil yes, that is stated in the episodes, but still completely irrelevant to this answer. I'm not talking about the Melbourne. I am talking about the period after Best of Both Worlds Part 2. By this time I am addressing, the Melbourne was destroyed, Riker was a captain, and possibly/likely had his choice of command. He chose to remain on the Enterprise. Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 23:32

In addition to the examples given in previous answers, Riker also served as first officer aboard the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, the IKS Pagh, in "A Matter of Honor", and briefly relieved Captain Kargan of command, before returning it to him. By not killing Kargan, as per Klingon custom, he effectively turned down command.

  • 1
    Ah, but is not taking command of a Klingon warship "turning down promotion" or "dodging a bullet?"
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 19:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.