Please be aware that the following article contains spoilers for several Star Trek shows and films.
The Borg are a formidable enemy of not only Starfleet but of all species within the Star Trek universe. They plague the galaxy and assimilate whoever they come in contact with. So, how exactly did Starfleet defeat the Borg?
The truth is that Starfleet didn’t actually defeat the Borg. The Borg Queen has been killed twice by members of Starfleet, but the Borg collective is harder to destroy. In fact, it’s likely that they can’t be killed due to the nature of their existence. It’s almost impossible to know for sure.
Let’s take a closer look at what exactly happened between Starfleet and the Borg.
Who Is Starfleet?
Starfleet is an organization within the United Federation of Planets that mostly represents the human sector of the group. Their headquarters is located on Earth, and most of the members are human, though some aliens have also joined.
Starfleet is who trains and prepares its members for space exploration. They teach their cadets everything they need to know in order to survive the dangers of the “final frontier.”
Many believe that the head of Starfleet’s fleet of starships is the Enterprise. However, this is not their only starship. Each starship in one of the TV and movie adaptations of the Star Trek franchise is part of Starfleet.
Two of these ships have had well-known altercations with the Borg collective. Both times the Borg were believed to have been defeated for good. However, it’s possible that this isn’t the case at all.
Who Is the Borg?
The Borg are a hive-like collective of various species who share a consciousness. The Borg are composed of trillions of cyborg beings who were assimilated from countless worlds into the Collective. Fans of the franchise are first introduced to this hostile species in Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG).
They use nanobytes and other synthetic materials to create the connection they share with each other. Their minds are one entity. Every thought shared. Individual identities are erased. There have been instances when a Borg drone (as they’re called on the show) was disconnected from the collective mind.
These occasions are rare and involve complicated engineering to get the individual back. There were two characters in the franchise who were separated from the collective: Seven of Nine (Star Trek: Voyager) and Hugh (TNG). This resulted in both characters finding their own identities while surrounded by the human crews of Voyager and Enterprise.
In the film Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg seem to be governed by a Queen, though this film is her first appearance in the franchise, and before this, Starfleet believed they didn’t have a hierarchy structure at all. It is later found out that the Borg Queen works more like a controller.
Despite the way it looks in First Contact, the Borg Queen doesn’t refer to herself as their leader. In fact, she merely tells Picard, “I am Borg. I am the Collective.” She uses the “I” and “we” pronouns interchangeably. This is something different than the other members of the Collective, who stick to the “we” pronoun.
The Borg quickly became one of television’s biggest villains. They weren’t seemingly indestructible. The concept of their existence is a scary one. Becoming a cyborg against your will is frightening enough, but to lose one’s identity in the process adds a new level of terror.
The Ideal Key to Defeating the Borg
Once the Borg Queen was introduced to the crew of the Enterprise, they believed that to defeat the Borg, they had to kill the queen. The Borg Queen was thought to be the head of the Collective. Cut off the head, and the rest of the drones should drop as well. At least, that was the idea. Unfortunately for the universe, it didn’t play out that way.
The origins of the Borg are unknown, though the Queen in First Contact alluded to the fact that they were once similar to humans. It was originally believed that the Borg were created by the Queen, but in Star Trek: Voyager, it was revealed that the Queen is just another drone that had been assimilated. It was almost as if she had been promoted to Queen once she connected to the Collective.
Why the Borg Can’t Be Defeated
There have been times when it seemed very clear that the Borg had been defeated. However, each time they have been defeated, they’re still able to make an appearance in future television adaptations.
In First Contact, Starfleet is up against the Borg in a strange new way. They have to go back in time to stop a Borg sphere from destroying the moment of First Contact. The Borg’s goal is to assimilate Earth once First Contact isn’t made with the Vulcans.
In Voyager, there are several episodes where the starship and its crew encounter the Borg. This TV adaptation deals with the Borg more than any other Star Trek show in the franchise. They even have a disconnected Borg crew member.
At the end of both First Contact and the TV show Voyager, the Borg would appear to have been defeated. Below are the two major ways that the Borg were defeated by Starfleet.
In Star Trek: First Contact, the Enterprise encounters a Borg sphere that plans on going back in time to assimilate Earth. They’re easily able to destroy the sphere before it has a chance to carry out their plan. However, a couple of Borg drones manage to beam aboard the Enterprise before the ship is destroyed. They begin to assimilate the crew of the starship.
In this film, viewers are introduced for the first time to the Borg Queen. This gives the crew of the Enterprise the idea that in order to end the Borg, the Queen must be destroyed.
They manage to kill the Borg Queen at the end of First Contact. This was accomplished by the combined efforts of Data and Picard. Data destroyed the Borg Queen’s organic parts by flooding the chamber with plasma coolant. Once that was done, Picard severed the mechanical spine of the Borg Queen. This proved to be a fatal blow to the character, and she was defeated.
Once the Borg Queen was dead, the Borg on the Enterprise fell down and died as well. This allowed the crew of the Enterprise to regain control of the ship. It was thought that since the Borg Queen died, and her drones on the Enterprise died as well, that the Borg had been defeated for good. However, the events of Voyager proved that not to be the case.
In Voyager, the crew encounters the Borg more than a hundred different times. Viewers of the show are shown more of the complexity of the species through a more in-depth exploration. The crew member Seven of Nine is able to give more insight into how the Borg operate since she was assimilated as a small child and grew up with them.
Now, it’s the appearance in the series finale (“Endgame“) of the future Admiral Janeway that turns the tides with the Borg for the human race. Admiral Janeway found a way to bring the Voyager back to the Alpha quadrant sooner. This involved using one of the Borg’s methods of transportation, known as a transwarp hub.
With the help of Captain Janeway and her crew, the Voyager was able to destroy both the Borg Queen and the collective as well as their transwarp hub. The Borg Queen is back in this show and proves to be as formidable an enemy as ever.
Admiral Janeway infects the Borg Queen with a neurolytic pathogen. This worked as a virus to infect the entire Borg collective. It appeared to have destroyed the hive mind and all of the Borg drones.
Theories on Why the Borg Can’t Be Defeated
It’s hard to determine anything when it comes to the Borg. Things seem to change depending on which show or film you watch. The Borg act differently in Voyager than they do in TNG and in First Contact. There are several different theories for why this is; however, none of them seem to be the correct one.
Some believe that the Borg can’t be defeated because they use time travel to assimilate those who would defeat them. In this theory, this is the reason that the Borg sphere goes back in time to disrupt the first contact in the film with the same name.
Since the Enterprise destroyed the Borg cube at the beginning of that film, the Borg launched the sphere to go back in time. The idea is that the Borg does this to prevent the future attack from happening.
Check out this video below for a longer explanation for the origin of the Borg Queen and why the Borg seem invincible:
Does Star Trek: Picard Bring the Borg Back?
The Borg became an important part of Picard’s character arc throughout the course of the franchise. It was a major part of Star Trek: First Contact, but it also plays a big role in Star Trek: Picard. This TV adaptation takes place 20 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis (the last TNG film). It would appear that the universe is living in a post-Borg era.
While the events of the series finale of Voyager seem to have led to the true defeat of the Borg once and for all, that might not be the case at all. Once again, the Borg have become the subject of another Star Trek adaptation. Even though the Borg in Star Trek: Picard are more or less deactivated, one can’t deny that it could simply be a matter of time before we see another full return of the Borg.
In this show, we see that the Romulans are working on a Borg cube. There is a theory that the Romulans were the ones to create the Borg. Whether this is true or not seems to be something Star Trek: Picard is preparing to explore.
The Novel That Did Defeat the Borg
The novels of Star Trek aren’t considered to be canon for the franchise. However, there is one novel in which Starfleet did defeat the Borg.
In the novel The Return written by William Shatner, Captain Kirk and Captain Picard team up in an effort to defeat the Borg. The Borg have allied themselves with the Romulans in their attempt to destroy the Federation.
During the novel, Kirk and Picard locate the central node of the Collective. They determine that once it’s destroyed, the entire Borg collective will be destroyed with it. Kirk sacrifices himself in order to defeat the Borg once and for all.
While this is an exciting concept, it isn’t part of the Star Trek canon. However, it looks as if a bit of the story is inspiring parts of Star Trek: Picard. Particularly where the Romulans are concerned.
Different Times the Borg Appeared in Star Trek
The history of the Borg in the franchise is a complicated one. Starfleet has encountered the Borg on several occasions throughout both TNG and Voyager. They also made a brief appearance in Star Trek: Enterprise. This encounter bothered many fans because the Borg aren’t mentioned at all in Star Trek: The Original Series, to which Star Trek: Enterprise is a prequel to.
A Borg sphere was left in the arctic regions of Earth after the events of the First Contact film. In that film, the Next Generation crew of Enterprise followed the Borg through a wormhole that brought them back in time. To a time when the first contact with the Vulcans hadn’t been made yet. Humans didn’t have warp speed, and the crew of the Enterprise had to save the human race before the Borg could assimilate them into the Collective.
Many felt this messed up the canon of the franchise. However, it was corrected when the Borg sent a distress signal into the Delta quadrant, where the Borg live. The message would take 200 years before it reached the Borg. It would take another several years before the Borg would be able to reach Earth. By then, it was hoped that Earth would have the technology to protect themselves.
During TNG, the Starfleet officers on the Enterprise encountered the Borg a handful of times. In the finale for season three, Captain Picard was assimilated to the Borg. The intent the Collective had was to use Picard as a sort of bridge between humanity and the Borg. Picard was rescued and disconnected from the Borg. Although, the traumatic event stayed with him for years afterward.
This ended up being a big part of the plot in Star Trek: First Contact. The Borg Queen uses Picard’s alter ego, Locutus of Borg, to try and convince him to rejoin the Collective. Her attempts fail, and she proceeds to do the same with Commander Data. Ultimately, her plan is foiled.
In Star Trek: Voyager, the writers explore the Borg more in depth here. They encounter the cyborgs more in this show than any of the others because the show takes place in the Delta quadrant, where the Borg primarily reside.
In addition to that, Seven of Nine is brought on as a crewmember after being disconnected from the Borg collective. This proves more difficult than initially thought. The Borg Queen was still able to access Seven of Nine when Seven used her Borg alcove to regenerate (which is a form of sleep for the Borg).
It’s revealed that the Borg Queen was intent on Seven of Nine rejoining humanity. The Queen wanted to use Seven’s new memories on the starship Voyager to better understand their weaknesses. The plan was that Seven would then use a virus and assist the Collective in assimilating the crew.
However, this didn’t go according to plan. Seven didn’t want to hurt the people she had grown attached to on Voyager. This was a flaw in the plan that the Borg didn’t foresee, and it led to the destruction of Borg drones and ships.
During the running of the TV show Voyager, the starship was able to destroy hundreds of drones, but it never seemed to make a dent in their numbers or capabilities. When one Borg cube was destroyed, there was another one ready to take its place.
Check out the video below for a history of the Borg timeline in Star Trek:
For such a powerful enemy, it’s easy to want to believe they have been defeated by Earth’s biggest space organization. However, the Borg have technology far superior to anything Star Trek has to offer.
While it would seem they have been defeated, it’s likely they’re gearing up for another appearance in the future. They’re able to “rebirth” themselves a queen and rebuild their ships when needed. In the end, Starfleet didn’t defeat the Borg. They merely set them back a bit.
- Wikipedia: Starfleet
- Wikipedia: Star Trek
- Wikipedia: Borg
- Wikipedia: Star Trek: The Next Generation
- Fandom: Borg History
- Fandom: Borg Queen
- Wikipedia: Star Trek: Voyager
- Wikipedia: USS Voyager (Star Trek)
- Wikipedia: USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D)
- Wikipedia: Star Trek: First Contact
- Wikipedia: Jean-Luc Picard
- YouTube: Star Trek: The History of the Borg Timeline
- Fandom: Neurolytic pathogen
- Star Trek: Borg
- Star Trek: Borg Queen
- Fandom: Locutus
- Stack Exchange: Are the Borg defeated?
- Fandom: Borg
- Fandom: Star Trek: First Contact
- Fandom: Endgame (episode)
- Screen Rant: Star Trek Theory: Romulans’ Big Picard Secret Is That They Created The Borg
- Nerdist: Resistance Is Futile: A History of STAR TREK’s The Borg
- Star Trek: ‘Star Trek: Picard’: The Borg Storyline So Far, Explained
- Stack Exchange: Were the Borg destroyed at the end of Voyager?
- Wikipedia: Seven_of_Nine
- Wikipedia: The_Return_(Shatner_novel)
- Fandom: Locutus of Borg
- Tor: 5 Reasons Star Trek: Discovery is Bringing Back the Borg (And 3 Reasons Why It’s Not)
- Star Trek: One Trek Mind: 10 Scariest Things About The Borg
- Indie Wire: ‘Picard’ Burning Questions: That Ending Explained, and Everything You Need to Know to Catch Up
- Reddit: The Borg can never be fully defeated. Even stronger than a force of nature (we have weather control systems)
- Tor: This Star Trek Fan Theory Explains Why the Borg’s Attacks on the Federation Make No Sense
- Stack Exchange: Given the multiple defeats at the hands of the Federation, why only one Borg Cube?
- Screen Rant: 15 Things That Make No Sense About The Borg
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