Despite making history as one of the most screwed-over Trek characters ever, Thomas Riker was nearly given the upper hand by producers, who wanted to kill off Will and replace him with Thomas. The plan was to "reboot" the character, putting him in the Ops position and having him work his way back up the ranks. This would provide a far more realistic excuse for Riker continuing to be on the show instead of constantly deferring a promotion to captain. Also, as Thomas was still very much in love with Deanna Troi, this would introduce a new potential romantic subplot to the show and provide an element of tension about whether he might, uh, breach her warp core.
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Ultimately, the writers decided that killing OG Riker would be going a little too boldly where no one had gone before, so they beamed Thomas off to the planet of unresolved plotlines. They also felt it would be more interesting to have both versions of Riker floating around the galaxy, leaving the door open for awkward get-togethers in the future. A door which they utterly forgot about forever.