Star Trek’s Jonathan Frakes Has a Major Regret About the Enterprise Finale

Even Star Trek legend Jonathan Frakes admits the Enterprise finale was a mistake.

Photo: James Sorenson/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Ever since Jonathan Frakes played the first officer of the USS Enterprise-D Will Riker, Frakes has gone on to appear in almost every Star Trek series since, albeit as transporter accident-spawned clone Thomas Riker in Deep Space Nine. Usually, fans love to see the adventurous Riker swing into a guest appearance on another series. But that wasn’t the case when Riker and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) showed up in the series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise.

“It was sold as, ‘Oh, come on and do the episode, it will be a Valentine to the fans,’” Frakes told Variety when recalling his appearance in that show’s series finale. As the last episode in a continuous run of Star Trek series that began with Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987, the Enterprise finale “These Are the Voyages…” sought to connect the end to the beginning. And so the episode follows not Scott Bakula’s Captain Archer and his crew, but Riker, who visits the NX-01 in a holodeck program.

Enterprise has always been the least popular of the four ’90s Trek series, stumbling for its first few seasons, as did every entry in that franchise era. But by season four, Enterprise had really found its footing. The Xindi Incident storyline connected the show to the audience’s post-9/11 malaise and gave the series a tighter, more exciting storyline. Yet, where all other series of the era ran for seven seasons, Enterprise was cut off at four, kneecapping it just as it started to get good. Focusing the finale on Riker instead of Archer and the rest of his crew, and unceremoniously killing off fan favorite Trip Tucker (Connor Trinneer), “These Are the Voyages…” showed no respect to those who stuck with the series.

“[I]t wasn’t a Valentine to the fans,” Frakes now admits. “The fans didn’t want to see us.” Even though he feels that “These Are the Voyages…” was “a good episode” and that he “had a blast doing it in many ways,” Frakes acknowledges that fans felt betrayed by the bait and switch. “The more I think about it, the more I hear from fans about it in particular, it may not have been the best choice we’ve made on Star Trek.”

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Fortunately, fans have quickly forgiven Frakes and continue to thrill at his return. When he and Sirtis lent their voices to a multi-episode arc on Lower Decks, fans were thrilled to see Riker as the adventure-loving Captain of his own ship, the USS Titan. Even better was his reunion with Jean-Luc Picard in the excellent third season of Picard.

But what of the NX-01 characters? Thus far, no one in that cast has reprised their roles for a modern Trek series, although Trinneer and Malcolm Reed actor Dominic Keating do host the Enterprise rewatch podcast The Shuttlepod Show. But the NX-01 and her crew have not been forgotten by characters in the world, whether it be Scotty admitting that he almost killed Archer’s dog Porthos in the 2009 Star Trek movie or, more recently, the crew of the NCC-1701 geeking out about their predecessors in the Strange New Worlds standout “Those Old Scientists.”

Enterprise may have had a long road getting to a place of respect, but between Frakes’s admission and the name drops in “Those Old Scientists,” it seems that its time is finally here.