Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I just finished watching Star Trek: Voyager and it occurred to me that the Borg (especially with the transwarp hub that Voyager destroyed) could have assimilated the Alpha Quadrant with waves of ships.

In episode 26 of season 4 (Hope and Fear), Arturis mentioned how the Borg surrounded their entire system with a thousands of ships. I thought this reference was surprising as that was really the only instance of the Borg acting collectively to assimilate a species beyond the incident with fluidic space.

share|improve this question
This could be a case of hyperbole - even one Borg ship, with its humongous size, is a terrifying prospect, so any number of them beyond one would likely be exaggerated. Which is not to mention that he makes no reference to what size those ships are - we only see one massive cube and one somewhat massive sphere in the Alpha quadrant, but it's possible they have smaller ships – Zibbobz Mar 25 '14 at 14:13
There was a "Borg scout" designed for an episode or film - I unfortunately can't remember which one - which would have been a shuttlecraft-sized Borg vessel. – James Sheridan Mar 26 '14 at 0:28
@JamesSheridan the Borg Scout was used in I, Borg - a TNG episode. – HorusKol Mar 26 '14 at 0:39
@HorusKol: Thanks for that. – James Sheridan Mar 26 '14 at 0:40
they don't bother to send a fleet of ships because they don't care enough. It is after Janeway's destruction of a Hub that they finally start caring and launch an invasion – Petersaber Jul 8 '15 at 6:56
up vote 15 down vote accepted

This is a known plot hole. Unfortunately, any answer requires some speculation.

There are several theories, the best of which is that the Borg, aware of the time-loop created by Star Trek: First Contact, were attempting to keep the timeline intact up to that point, with a plan to attack in force at a later date.

There is also a theory that after the events of Regeneration the Borg sent their nearest ship to Earth in an attempt to quickly kill off the nascent Federation. Bear in mind, several hundred years worth of travel may not be out of the ballpark for a ship travelling from the Delta Quadrant, assuming the Borg were at a lower level of technological development when they received the message than they are by Q Who. This is especially the case if the cube is stopping along the way to assimilate useful technology and replace its used-up drones with new stock, as may be implied by The Neutral Zone. The follow-up attack may have been the next-closest drone.

It's also highly-likely that the Borg, while considering the Federation both worthy of assimilation and a possible threat, have more problems back home in the Delta Quadrant. After all, it is not unheard of for the Borg to bite off more than they can chew, and there are other species in the Delta Quadrant that could pose significant threats to the Borg. It is probable that the Borg only act in concert, as in the war with Species 8472 and the assimilation of Species 116, when they see a considerable threat. Humans don't yet qualify.

share|improve this answer
Hoshi's statement at the end of Regeneration was that the message sent would arrive in about 200 years, IIRC. So it took them only about about 20 years to arrive in Federation space. – Izkata Mar 25 '14 at 11:44
Thanks for that. Still, 20 years is a reasonable length of time, assuming that the Borg didn't go off half-cocked, and actually probed the area first, which The Neutral Zone indicates they did. My other points still seem to stand. – James Sheridan Mar 25 '14 at 12:04
I'd add one more reason to this: Arrogance. – Tango Mar 25 '14 at 15:25
@Tango: Great point. – James Sheridan Mar 26 '14 at 0:25
@JamesSheridan: Feel free to go on and include that if you want. – Tango Mar 26 '14 at 8:10

It'd be inefficient.

Although the wrong universe, let me motivate this in Adams's words:

Space, is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space [..]


In addition, the Borg have an almost religious attachment to efficiency (and perfection).

They are constantly in the process of assimilating new species (as shown in Scorpion) --- it's routine. There are enough of those in the Delta quadrant to keep them busy (space is big, remember?), so it'd be inefficient to dispatch an entire armada of cubes to take care of the relatively insignificant Federation on the other side of the galaxy. The time that this would occupy all these cubes is time that the same cubes cannot be flying around assimilating other species.

share|improve this answer

All the other answers are correct, but I'd like to add one more point that no one has mentioned:

Because they don't care.

Picard was surprisingly tricky, and they had some fun hijinks with the Voyager crew, but the Borg have no reason to bring their entire civilization's might toward assimilating Earth, or even the entire Alpha Quadrant. We're just not that important.

The Borg are, above all, attracted to technology that can help them improve. The Federation has basically none. Humans are chock-full of gumption, trickiness, and a can-do attitude, so they often pull off feats that the Borg didn't expect. And because of that, they sent a cube to assimilate Picard and Earth, and another one when the first failed.

But when two cubes in a row were defeated by tricks, and with no notable tech to make the endeavor worthwhile, the Borg probably gave a galactic shrug, made a mental note to get those rascally Humans in a few hundred years, and then turned their attention back to the 10,000 other planets they were in the process of assimilating at the time.

share|improve this answer
Your judgement that the Fedreation has "no technology that can help the borg improve" isn't supported by the facts. We know what the Borg do to species that don't contain useful additions, and it isn't to try and assimilate them. (If nothing else, humans demonstrate an understanding of AI that seems unique in the galaxy, between Soonian androids and the numerous holographic persons.) – DougM Jan 19 '15 at 21:00
Exactly, humans are a intellectual curiosity at best. – user16696 Jan 19 '15 at 21:07
@DougM I don't remember the episode (it might be the Borg's first appearance?) but I seem to remember Q specifically saying that the Federation was unimpressive by Borg standards, and that the Borg traditionally only assimilate species whose technology interests them. The Queen does seem mildly intrigued by Data in First Contact, but otherwise the Borg's undeniable superiority indicates that the Federation's tech is nothing new. – Nerrolken Jan 20 '15 at 17:25
Read up on why the Borg didn't assimilate the Kazon. The federation isn't a threat or a priority, but the borg would be better with more humans and human tech. – DougM Jan 20 '15 at 19:20

Because they might lose.

Sending thousands of ships to assimilate one species risks the loss of all those ships even if the Borg expect success. The risk would vastly outweight the potential reward. Consider that the Borg cube that decimated Starfleet at Wolf 359 wasn't supposed to fail, but it did. Humanity might have other tricks up their sleeves. The impossible geometric pattern attack that Picard balked at using in the TNG episode "I, Borg" could have disabled all Borg everywhere. An armada of Borg cubes may not discover their vulnerability until it is too late. Hence the more subtle strategy of detonating a biogenic weapon in Earth's atmosphere which risks much less but retains all the potential rewards of conquest.

share|improve this answer

They did (warning, dubious canon ahead)

In the Trek novels "Mere Mortals" and "A Singular Destiny" the Borg send a fleet of over 7000 cubes to attempt to assimilate the Alpha Quadrant. At the cost of thousands of vessels they eventually establish a toe-hold in the quadrant and, before their eventual destruction (courtesy of the Caeliar) they wreak havok on Klingon empire and kill over 63 billion sentients.

share|improve this answer
That's dubious canon, considering there are many other novels that contradict that story. It's also a terrible series, so let's hope it's ret-conned out of existence along the way. – James Sheridan Mar 26 '14 at 0:26
I believe the way Trek cannon works (or has worked prior to the re-boot) is that, if it is not on television it does not exist. With the exception of The Animated Series, it has been my understanding that only one or two episodes of that program were considered canon. Those written by Original Series alumna D.C. Fontana. – Hikaru Ichijyo Mar 26 '14 at 4:15
For the record, I heartily agree that the books are completely non canon. – Valorum Mar 26 '14 at 6:21

They have already assimilated human DNA and ships that have (it would seem) complete databases on the federation so in theory there is nothing new for them to gain from the quadrant, there is no point in assimilating the DNA of other federation species either as what they need is 8472-we know the Borg think they have superior Genetics to all other life.

share|improve this answer

The reason the Borg don't invade the Alpha quadrant is relatively simple, they can't spent the resources to conquer the alpha quadrant because they need them to fight they're war with Species 8472. Species 8472 was discovered by the Borg in the fluidic space, another dimension, and the Borg saw them has the ultimate species of organic evolution unfortunately for them this species turned out to be a bit too perfect, since it was immune to assimilation and had technology which dwarfed the Borg, a single one of their ships destroyed 15 Borg cubes. Basically the Borg are fighting for the first time an enemy which is superior to them and has such they couldn't afford send many ships to the alpha Quadrant has they would like. Although they still want the Alpha Quadrant they are prioritizing they're resources against a threat to they're very existence.

share|improve this answer
Welcome to SFF:SE. These are good thoughts, but you should try to support your speculations with information like dates. Had the Collective already encountered Species 8472 at the time of, say, "Best of Both Worlds"? If not, you should provide alternate reasons for why the Borg did not send waves of ships to the Alpha Quadrant. – Praxis Jul 19 '15 at 14:40

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.