What Is The Riker Maneuver In Star Trek? It’s All In The Hips

By Josh Tyler | Updated

During his time playing Commander William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation, actor Jonathan Frakes had a very strange way of using chairs on screen. It’s since been dubbed “The Riker Maneuver” by fans and it looks like this…

Riker Maneuver

Riker never steps in front of a chair to sit down, at least not when he can step over it. It’s useful in a variety of situations, as demonstrated in the following compilation video…

For a long time, it was believed he did the Riker Maneuver, not as part of the character, but because Frakes has a long history of back problems. You can see him leaning on the furniture in a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation scenes and making it look cool like this…

The Riker Lean

The reality is that Jonathan Frakes hurt his back when he used to have a job moving furniture. Actor Wil Wheaton once even confirmed this as the cause of the Riker Maneuver in a Reddit post, but it seems Wesley Crusher got it wrong.

Jonathan does have back problems and while those are responsible for the lean they aren’t responsible for his total disregard for the backs of chairs. In a Q&A with IGN Frakes finally revealed the real origin of The Riker Maneuver.

He says, “That started in [the TNG set] Ten Forward because the backs of the chairs were so low, it was easy. And then I thought, this is really a hotdog, asshole thing to do. Nobody’s going to let me do this. And then nobody stopped me! It’s such a cocky, unattractive, kind of bad cowboy move.”

Apparently, Frakes now does the Riker Maneuver in real life too. He says, “I do when the chairback is below the danger zone… I measure twice and cut once!”

As for whether he’s seen all the YouTube compilations of him executing The Riker Maneuver Frakes says, “Whoever did the YouTube compilation of Riker sits down, it went viral and was even more embarrassing, and made me strangely even more proud!”

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