Captain Picard was assimilated by the Borg collective and turned into a drone. When he was freed from it, all traces of Borg hardware were removed from his body and he returned to being a fully-functional human (physically, at least). That shows that it is possible to completely reverse the Borg assimilation process.

However, when Seven of Nine was rescued from the collective, the Doctor left a large number of Borg implants in her body. Why didn't he restore her human physique completely using the same methods which were applied to Picard?

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    If I remember correctly, they never fully Borg-ified Captain Picard, because their plans for him required him to retain part of his humanity.
    – Ixrec
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 15:49
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    its important to note, that picard was a fully functioning adult, while seven of nine was a child still with a developing body, the nanites may have taking over parts of her body they were still under developed, leading to certain parts of her body entirly relient on borg tech, while picards body already fully worked, and so only needed modifications.
    – Himarm
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 16:13
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    Picard had a prosthetic arm from BoBW until the end of his life. Vaguely relevant perhaps, as it shows that Picard's assimilation wasn't completely reversible. Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 18:10
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit This is the first I'd heard of his prosthetic arm - is there a canon source for that?
    – fluffy
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 0:08
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    Although he appears fully human externally, the events of First Contact lead me to think that he still has a tiny bit of Borg technology inside him, especially as he knows the Borg is coming from a dream/nightmare. Now I want to ask about Picard's artificial heart which failed in Tapestry! Wasn't it upgraded by the Borg?
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 2:07

4 Answers 4


According to Memory Alpha's entry on Seven of Nine:

The Doctor, Voyager's holographic chief medical officer, was able to remove most of her implants and restore most of her Human appearance, but her long-term assimilation meant that some parts were vital to her survival and could not be removed.

That implies that the longer one has been assimilated, the more one relies on the implants, presumably because the biological systems atrophy or are removed by the Collective as being inefficient. Picard, having been recently assimilated, has fewer problems. Also, as noted by user enderland, she was assimilated at an early age, which might lead to further complications due to fewer years of her systems running on their own and/or assimilation happening alongside or as the result of maturation.

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    an additional factor is that the Doctor was on a small, isolated ship. Picard not only had the full resources of Starfleet's flagship, but Earth and Starfleet Medical was right there to assist if needed. Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 7:18

Out-of-Universe: Patrick Stewart probably didn't want to permanently don a costume like the experience that Michael Dorn had to endure. Being anti-Borg may not have been a primary defining characteristic of Picard's overall character, at least when they starting showing the very next episode. In contrast, Seven's character was always intended to have lingering Borg references.

In-Universe: Picard could sense the Borg via a dream, as shown in the opening scene of Star Trek: First Contact. He also seemed to be able to listen to their communications, which led to Picard choosing how Starfleet should start to act during the remainder of the battle with the Borg Cube from that movie. So, Picard may have been de-Borgified in external appearance, but perhaps still had some lingering Borg pieces lying around.

Yes, I know the counter argument: IMBD Quotes from The Drumhead (Drumhead script,Drumhead script) where Picard says "Yes, I have completely recovered." However, Picard was making a statement to defend what was at stake, which was his credibility. As shown in the Star Trek: First Contact movie, that statement may not have been entirely true, from a Biological point of view. Even if Picard did have some remaining nanites in his blood, if his day-to-day life wasn't consciously affected, and his judgments were purely originating only from biological components, Picard's statement may have been entirely honest.

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    FWIW, the dream could have been just that, and the "whispering" on the bridge a hint at a flashback.
    – Raphael
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 18:24
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    @Raphael: It is highly unlikely that the whispering on the bridge was a flashback since Picard knew exactly where to target the Borg in the circumstances he was currently in. It is much more logical that he heard how the Borg were responding to the existing damage the battle had caused and realized he could destroy the cube by focusing fire on something that "does not appear to be a vital system". In fact, later in the movie, the Borg Queen confirms: "What's wrong, Locutus? [snip] You can still hear our song."
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 19:15
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    @Ellesedil I always assumed he had some inside knowledge on Borg cube design which he remembered. The hestitation and whispering are him getting drawn back to his trauma, then he catches himself applies the knowledge he gained during that time. But nevermind, I forgot the Queen said that. Not that she's the most reliable of conversation starters. (And it can be understood figuratively, as in "you remember the song, you know the allure".)
    – Raphael
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 19:19
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    @Ellesedil Indeed, I don't remember thinking of that quote as being tied to Picard's extra Borg sense. However, it does make quite a bit of sense. At times like these, I'm sorry that upvoting comments doesn't affect your overall rep. Thank you for the insight.
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 19:22
  • Its worth noting that all Borg tech including nanoprobes can be removed AND still hear the borg, the nanites created 'organic' interlink nodes in voy: survival instinct. Picard may be fully organic but with a basic organic interlink that couldn't be removed surgically
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 15:08

According to the Seven of Nine article on Memory Alpha, it was due to the amount of time she'd spent as a drone.

The Doctor, Voyager's holographic chief medical officer, was able to remove most of her implants and restore most of her Human appearance, but her long-term assimilation meant that some parts were vital to her survival and could not be removed.

Picard spent significantly less time as a drone, a matter of days. Though not stated, there was significantly better medical capabilities available for the de-assimilation of Picard - he was at Earth, rather than on a small starship in the middle of nowhere.


Length of assimilation - Seven of Nine spent 18 years in the Borg Collective. It is possible that beyond the initial assimilation a drone's biological components are only gradually replaced. Assimilation is often an endeavor that involves millions of individuals. It makes sense to only assimilate them to a point where they can be put to use on low risk jobs or shelved where they don't cause any troubles. This frees up work space to process new arrivals. Further alterations can then be performed when it is convenient. This seems to line up with several experiences:

  • When several Voyager crew members are assimilated in the episode Unimatrix Zero, all of them retain their facial features
  • When the arctic research team is assimilated in ENT Regeneration, at least one of them is later seen without facial implants

Age of assimilation - Immature individuals or artificially conceived drones are placed in borg maturation chambers, that accelerate the drone's growth. Even in the fetal stage a drone is already heavily assimilated. This would suggest that the Borg don't replace biological components without consideration. In fully functional adult individual it is probably more efficient to simply coopt the existing infrastructure and augment where needed whereas in an immatue individual the balance is shifted more towards immediate replacement.

Locutus' role - Unlike other drones, Locutus was intended as a sort of ambassador to Humanity and the Federation. It's possible that the Borg have deliberately avoided, massive alterations on Captain Picard to make use of his well known appearance. An experiment that didn't really work and a premise that would not apply to a child that spent most of her individual life surrounded by exactly two other humans.

Lack of resources - The discrepancy in available resources between the whole of Starfleet and a lone ship lost in the delta quadrant seems like another sensible argument at first. But this "lack" of resources did not prevent Voyager from building a near inexhaustible complement of shuttles, a highly sophisticated astrometrics lab, an advanced fighter craft and a transwarp core.

  • This seems like a nice answer but would be even better if you could edit in some primary sources in places to back it up such as quotes.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 14:12

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