Commander Riker almost didn’t make it to the 7th season
Remember that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where there was a double transporter lock that resulted in two separate Will Rikers? In “Second Chances,” Commander Riker discovers he has a twin, Lt. Riker, and needless to say, it’s awkward, especially when Deanna Troi starts a relationship with the lieutenant. But the real story is that the producers, including Rick Berman, seriously considered killing off Commander Riker and replacing him with the duplicate.
In The Fifty-Year Mission The Next 25 Years, Rene Echevarria, who was one of the writers for The Next Generation, said the team thought it was a great idea. They could kill off the current commander and replace him with the newly-discovered Lt. Riker. The producers figured this would shake things up and change the dynamics between all of the characters. It would be a simple way to make a drastic change which they felt was needed since they were having a hard time coming up with stories for Jonathan Frakes’ current character aboard the Enterprise.
Commander Riker is still alive thanks to Rick Berman
The idea was extremely popular in the writers’ room and was taken up the ladder to Executive Producer Rick Berman who, after considering it for some time, decided the shake-up was too massive. With The Next Generation going to the movie screen after the seventh season, it might have been too confusing for audiences.
Fortunately, Commander Riker wasn’t killed off, and his duplicate ended up on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for a one-off episode which ends with him facing time in a Cardassian prison. He was never heard from again.
Can you imagine what the series would have been like without Captain Picard’s Number One? Not only would the decision have changed the remainder of the series and the movies, it would have had ripple effects even into Star Trek: Picard. This is one idea I’m glad got passed over.