That time they rewrote Star Trek, to add a beard


Jonathan Frakes is an actor known for a singular role, William T. Riker. Luckily for Frakes the character he will forever by synonymous with is a space-cruising, alien trim crushing walking slab of man with a beard so legendary they rewrote his character’s backstory to justify it.

To explain for anyone who’s never watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, in the first season of the show the character of Riker was a clean shaven, but still somewhat competent alien pussy slayer.

All we’re saying is that, we would.

This is in keeping with the generally established lore of the show that facial hair is seemingly defunct in the Star Trek universe among human men, which makes sense given all the other cool shit that exists in that universe. We mean, can you imagine how smooth and close of a shave you’d get with an alien future-razor?

The thing is though, Frakes didn’t like having to shave before filming every day and when filming wrapped on the first season of the show, he stopped shaving entirely. By the time came for Frakes to start rehearsing for season 2 of the show, he’d grown a beard even Kratos from God of War would compliment in between elbow dropping hydras.

According to Frakes himself, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry fell in love with Frakes’ lovingly sculpted man-whiskers the moment he set eyes on them, telling the actor they gave him look of a seasoned sea captain or some shit.

We can see it.

Thanks to Roddenberry’s intervention on his behalf, Frakes was allowed to keep the beard for season 2 on the proviso he allowed the makeup crew to trim it to make it look more nautical and authoritative. Amusingly the beard coincided with what critics and fans agree was a massive increase in the quality of the show’s writing and acting, leading to the coining of the term “Growing The Beard“. A trope used to describe the generally agreed moment a show started being fucking awesome

A problem was though that was within the context of the show, there was no given in-universe reason for Riker growing a beard. Remember, beards aren’t really a thing in the Star Trek universe so the character randomly growing one between episodes was, as awesome as it ended up being, a plot hole.

A plot hole that was explained away five years later during an episode in which Riker casually explains that he grew a beard because he was annoyed with everyone telling him how young he looked. Riker then goes on to explain that, while not common at the time the show is set, the beard was an ancient and proud tradition that symbolised virility and strength. Something he didn’t exactly exude prior to growing one.

The thing to remember here though is that this explanation was given in season 7, a full five seasons after the beard mysteriously appeared on his face in between episodes without explanation. You’d think after 5 seasons of nobody giving a shit and the beard itself coming to represent the show’s quality drastically improving the writers wouldn’t care, but no, they felt the need to explain this minor plot contrivance anyway because they could no longer ignore, The Beard.