For the political scientist, see William H. Riker.
William Thomas Riker is a fictional character in the Star Trek universe played by Jonathan Frakes, who appears in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) and all the movies focussing on the TNG characters. Riker is called "Will" by those who know him; "Bill" only by the unfamiliar (such as Dr. Crusher in Encounter at Farpoint).
Will Riker was born to Kyle Riker and an as-of-yet unknown woman in Valdez, Alaska, Earth in 2335. In 2350, the elder Riker abandoned his son; his wife had died some years before. William resented his father for this and the two did not speak again until 2365, fifteen years later.
Riker entered Starfleet Academy c. 2353 and graduated in 2357. Among the earliest assignments of his career were on the Excelsior class USS Potemkin, on the planet Betazed, where he met Deanna Troi. He then served as a lieutenant and then a lieutenant commander on the USS Hood, also an Excelsior. Riker had two cruises on Hood, his second (2361–4) as XO. During his time on Hood, Riker was involved in a transporter accident while beaming up from a planet; that accident created an exact copy of him which remained on the planet. Seven years after graduation, 2364, he requested and received a transfer to the Enterprise-D, the Federation flagship of that time, where he served as first officer under Captain Jean-Luc Picard. After his assignment to the Enterprise, the fast-tracking young commander's career came to rest, and he remained on the Enterprise for nearly a decade and a half. (Starfleet has a bizarre habit of indulging officers who wish to stay with ships named Enterprise, even when it would be better for their careers to move on to new ships and postings.) Following the destruction of the Enterprise-D in 2371, Riker was reassigned to the Enterprise-E, where he again was Picard's first officer. On the Enterprises, Riker was a popular officer with many close friends among the crew, acting as the visible extension and "softer face" of the somewhat aristocratic Captain Picard's authority.
While on Enterprise, Riker was involved in the rescue of his transporter-duplicate, who continued his own career in Starfleet as Thomas Riker.
In 2379, having previously turned down several promotions in order to continue serving with Picard, Riker finally accepted promotion to Captain and assignment to command of the USS Titan. In the same year, he also married Deanna Troi.