Jonathan Frakes Leaving Star Trek Only Illuminates His Enormous Legacy To The Franchise

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

jonathan frakes star trek

Star Trek fans are very accustomed to looking to Commander Riker for leadership, and that goes double for his actor. In addition to his amazing acting skills, Jonathan Frakes has proven to be a very capable director, bringing us some of the most memorable eps and films of the entire franchise. Now, Jonathan Frakes’ time directing Star Trek media seems to be slowing if not stopping altogether, and the prospect of a franchise without him has only made us appreciate his legacy that much more.

Frakes Bit By The Directing Bug

jonathan frakes

While Jonathan Frakes became a household name thanks to playing Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation, he got the directing bug before that show was even over. He ended up directing some of the best TNG episodes, including some of our favorites like “The Offspring,” “Reunion,” “The Drumhead,” and “Quality of Life.”

Frakes would go on to direct two of the TNG films (First Contact and Insurrection) and three episodes each of the spinoff shows Deep Space Nine and Voyager.

Surprisingly enough, Jonathan Frakes didn’t direct any episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, though he did controversially appear as Commander Riker in that show’s series finale. After Enterprise was canceled, it looked like his time directing for the franchise might finally be at an end.

However, once Paramount decided to do a full-court press to bring Star Trek back, Frakes ended up directing eight episodes of Discovery, six episodes of Picard, and one episode (so far) of Strange New Worlds.

No Starfleet Academy For Frakes

jonathan frakes

Obviously, Jonathan Frakes has stayed very busy with the franchise, so why are Star Trek fans getting nervous about him leaving the big chair–in this case, the director’s chair?

While the actor-turned-director is slated to direct some of Strange New Worlds’ fourth season, he made some fans nervous by announcing that his prior commitments will keep him from directing anything for the first season of the Starfleet Academy spinoff. Compounding this uncertainty about Frakes’ future with Star Trek is the general uncertainty regarding Paramount itself. 


jonathan frakes

In short, Paramount shocked us all when they prematurely canceled Discovery and then Lower Decks. It was particularly shocking to see Discovery canceled because its fifth and now final season has been consistently landing in the Nielsen top 10 spot for original streaming programming, which may be proof that Paramount has other reasons for axing these shows other than bad streaming numbers.

Considering Sony is currently trying to buy Paramount out, it is possible that fears of an acquisition are causing the studio to kill or significantly slow its once-burgeoning NuTrek focus. 

Things Appear Uncertain

jonathan frakes

Long story not very short, Jonathan Frakes himself seems to already be pulling away from Star Trek, and Paramount may effectively slam the door behind him if they keep canceling shows. Sure, we’re likely to get however many eps of Strange New Worlds he is slated to direct for the next season(notably, he has only directed one so far), but who knows if that show will be next on Paramount’s chopping block?

It’s entirely possible we could be facing a future with far less Star Trek content and even less (and perhaps none) of it directed by Frakes.

Selfishly, we’d hate to see a franchise future where Jonathan Frakes isn’t crafting killer Star Trek episodes. He has a confident and defined visual style that has helped him pull off some real miracles, including making the Strange New Worlds crossover ep with Lower Decks into a major success.

Beyond our selfishness, though, we found gratitude–on a very literal level, Star Trek would not be the successful franchise that it is without the talents of Frakes both in front of and behind the camera.

His Legacy

jonathan frakes

Should he decide to get out of the captain’s chair, Frakes leaves an enormous legacy, one that he should always be proud of. However, if he’s still interested in directing future eps, we hope that Paramount is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Frakes around. Quite simply, he has been the real bridge between old Trek and NuTrek, and without his deft directorial eye, the franchise may become more adrift than ever before.