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The Borg are a major threat in Star Trek: TNG and Star Trek: Voyager (I haven't watched the latter, but looking at this it seems they are).

Those two series happen at roughly the same time as DS9, but the Borg were barely mentioned in DS9. In fact, the only mention I remember was in the first episode, and only to explain the death of Sisko's wife and his hatred of Captain Picard. After that we never heard that Federation had to deal with the Borg at all.

Is there any in-universe explanation of this?

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Probably because they have more local concerns to worry about, like the Cardassians and Dominion, which are both essentially right next door. Voyager has to deal with the Borg threat because Voyager has to fly through Borg-controlled space. – Ellesedil Jan 5 at 20:01
Because all the fancy new props from the First Contact film (along with the TNG Borg props) were given to the production team for Voyager in return for all the DS9 uniforms and props. – Valorum Jan 5 at 20:01
@Richard: That's interesting. Do you have a citation for that? (Or is it a joke? Hard to tell sometimes.) – Mason Wheeler Jan 6 at 2:59
Out-of-universe, the Borg informally belong to the Voyager writers, see 2nd question. – Sean Fahey Jan 6 at 14:45
Also, VOY had a main character who was a Borg. That's like asking why DS9 had so many Bejorans and Ferengis, or why TNG had so many Klingons and Betazoids, or why TOS and ENT had so many Vulcans. – Darrel Hoffman Jan 6 at 16:56
up vote 27 down vote accepted

DS9 is in a different quadrant to both Borg space and the main Federation worlds:

  • Most of the Federation is in the Alpha quadrant, including DS9. The rest of the Federation is in the Beta quadrant.
  • The Gamma quadrant contained the Dominion space and the other end of the Bajoran wormhole.
  • The Delta quadrant contained the Borg homeworld and is where most of the Voyager series was set.

See this answer for more details on the quadrants.

Hence, given the huge distances, it was never likely that the Borg would encounter DS9, either directly or via the Bajoran wormhole.

An image of the four quadrants of the galaxy.

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But the Borg made it to Federation space, and I see no reason they couldn't make it from there to DS9—relatively speaking it's right next door, compared to the distance the Borg had to travel to get to the Federation. Your answer explains why the Borg play a bigger role in Voyager, but not why they wouldn't show up at all in DS9. It seems to me that this is better answered out-of-universe rather than in-universe: why did the show's producers decide to downplay the Borg? Probably because they wanted to introduce new threats for DS9 to keep things interesting. – Chris Page Jan 6 at 3:44
@ChrisPage: "Your answer explains why the Borg play a bigger role in Voyager, but not why they wouldn't show up at all in DS9." That is probably deserving of a separate question on it's own. What you'd need to ask is "What reason would the Borg have to attack DS9 while the Federation is still whole?" The only attractive resource is the wormhole, which may or may not work for the Borg considering the beings who live in it. And the Borg would still need to deal with the Federation, and now the Dominion on top of it. So, the Borg would need some strong justification to attack DS9. – Ellesedil Jan 6 at 4:06
I was under the impression that the Borg consider all sentient life forms a target—at least in the long run—and don't need more specific reasons to attack specific ones. Also, this question didn't ask about the Borg attacking the DS9 station in particular, but rather asked why they didn't play a role in the DS9 series. Why wouldn't the Borg attack the space surrounding DS9? – Chris Page Jan 6 at 4:11
@ChrisPage "at least in the long run" There's your answer in a nutshell. Just because everyone's your enemy doesn't mean you attack haphazardly and without a plan. The Borg are like North Korea, if North Korea had 22nd century weapons in a 20th century world. They also have a lot of patience and time. Their strength is also hard to estimate (why send 1 cube to assimilate Federation HQ when you have thousands?). In short, DS9 is not a priority. The wormhole was there ages ago and they already have Transwarp Relays, so too little gain for too much exposure. Why attack now and not later? – ivy_lynx Jan 6 at 8:59
@ChrisPage They're looking for perfection. Assimilating the surroundings of the wormhole must be low on the priority list for achieving that goal. – Mast Jan 6 at 9:54

TNG only has a few episodes involving Borg after the launch of DS9, and they never face another Borg invasion/attack until the First Contact movie. The First Contact attack is again a single Borg vessel, against which the Federation is ultimately successful.

Unless the Borg cube flew directly by Deep Space 9, they would have had no ability to affect it, so it wasn't really mentioned. Though Sisko does mention that the Defiant was specifically designed to fight Borg vessels after Wolf 359, and the USS Defiant itself reported to the second invasion commanded by Worf.

Voyager spends much of its series flying through Borg controlled space, and thus they interact with the Borg a great deal.

Ultimately, there was very little Borg threat to the Federation during DS9's run, and any threat there was would have been pre-empted in the area around DS9 by the Dominion threat.

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This is simply a matter of geography of the Galaxy and specifically the alpha quadrant in relation to the delta quadrant which is where Borg space is principly located

The romulan empire is closest to the Borg, hence that's why our first encounter with the Borg in alpha quadrant space is along the nuetral zone.

Next is the federation which controls a huge portion of the alpha quadrant.

bajor and therefore DS9 is on the opposite end of federation space near the edge of the Galaxy and is the farthest region of the Galaxy from the Borg. The Borg have to get somewhere before they can build a transwarp conduit, so they really have no means of getting to DS9 without traveling the entire breadth of federation space.

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The closing scene of Endgame would seem to contradict your final sentence. Then again, it also contradicted almost every other Borg/Federation conflict we've ever seen, so... – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 6 at 12:13

Most of the contact the Federation has with the Borg happens before DS9. And Voyager has tons of Borg contact because it’s in the Borg-controlled quadrant of our galaxy, while Deep Space 9 resides far from active Borg space.

In late 2366, a Borg cube invaded Federation space and assimilated Jean-Luc Picard, whose tactical information contributed, along with the Borg's own vastly superior power, to Starfleet's disastrously one-sided engagement with the cube, the Battle of Wolf 359. A fleet of forty starships assembled to combat the cube. All but one of these ships were destroyed, while the cube remained intact, damaged but healing rapidly. The Enterprise-D recovered Picard and used his connection to the hive-mind to disable the cube before it could attack Earth. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds", "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II")

We witness some of this event in DS9: this battle is where Sisko's wife dies.

During the next few years the Borg face major set backs in the Delta quadrant; this is witnessed by the Voyager crew.

The next major incursion by the Borg into Federation space happens in 2373 (in the TNG movie First Contact) — the same year the Dominion War happens, a major plot theme in Deep Space 9. And as Richard states, this Borg attack is centered directly on earth, far from the Dominion War and Deep Space 9.

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Is there a ceasefire before DS9? Why does the contact stop? – user69715 Jan 5 at 20:13
There's no "ceasefire" with the borg, they just don't turn up again for another few years. When they do arrive (in the film First Contact) they immediately start trying to assimilate Earth. – Valorum Jan 5 at 20:16
@Ellesedil - Janeway does. Repeatedly. – Valorum Jan 5 at 20:21
"this is witnessed by the Voyager crew" To be fair, this is in large part caused by the Voyager crew. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 6 at 12:14

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