Did Captain Janeway violate the Prime Directive by stealing the Borg transwarp coil in "Dark Frontier, part 1" since she and the Voyager crew have no right to steal from any species just for their own personal needs, without there being any kind of special circumstances?

  • Unfortunately that's the way I roll
    – Darren
    Jan 26, 2016 at 9:17
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    “the Voyager crew have no right to steal from any species just for their own personal needs” — that’s... not what the Prime Directive says. Jan 26, 2016 at 11:00
  • Yeah you would think it would be the wrong thing to do, just because there Borg it makes it ok
    – Darren
    Jan 26, 2016 at 11:02
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    @Darren: I’m not clear why you think stealing a transwarp coil breaches the Prime Directive. The Prime Directive doesn’t say “don’t do things that are wrong”. Jan 26, 2016 at 11:04
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    @Darren: then your question, and especially the title, should say that. The edit button is your friend! Jan 26, 2016 at 11:07

2 Answers 2


The Prime Directive (although never quoted verbatim in complete length in canon, and apparently quite long) forbids Starfleet officers from interfering with the development of pre-warp species. The Borg have not just discovered interstellar spaceflight, they reached a level of technology which is even higher than that of the Federation, so the Prime Directive does not apply to them.

Also, the theft of that one transwarp coil was definitely not a notable interference with the development of the Borg species as a whole.

There likely are other directives which address under what circumstances Starfleet officers are allowed to steal from other species or commit other crimes on them, but that's not what the Prime Directive is about.

  • Well in Star Trek insurrection the prime directive forbids the federation from relocating the Baku a warp capable species
    – Darren
    Jan 26, 2016 at 8:58
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    @Darren If I recall correctly, the Federation in Insurrection wasn't aware that the Baku were warp-capable but simply chose to not apply that knowledge and live a simpler life. This is a fringe-case the prime directive might not cover appropriately.
    – Philipp
    Jan 26, 2016 at 9:03
  • Yeah my point is the prime directive has more rules than just non interference with non warp capable species, like not being able to trade weapons for example
    – Darren
    Jan 26, 2016 at 9:05
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    The Prime Directive overall doesn’t just apply to pre-warp species (for example, it was cited to justify Starfleet not getting involved in the Klingon civil war), although it prohibits more things with pre-warp societies. “There likely are other directives which address under what circumstances Starfleet officers are allowed to steal from other species” — oh I really hope so! Starfleet General Order 86743: When (and how!) to Steal Stuff. Jan 26, 2016 at 11:05
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    As it happens, I never noticed anything about "pre-warp" anything outside Stack Exchange. Still, Darren, you seem to be confusing the same thing… not being able to trade weapons isn't "more rules than just non interference…" it's a text-book example of non-interference. The level of technology used in the weapons might matter; it might be OK to trade bows and arrows or rifles or rocket-propelled grenades but not nukes, and isn't that a different Question? Jun 17, 2020 at 0:04


Memory Alpha describes the Prime Directive as follows:

A complicated order, the Prime Directive had 47 sub-orders by the latter part of the 24th century. (VOY: "Infinite Regress") However, a high-level summary was "no identification of self or mission; no interference with the social development of said planet; no references to space, other worlds, or advanced civilizations." (TOS: "Bread and Circuses") The directive provided guidance on what constituted prohibited "interference" with a society, covering such matters as:

  • Providing knowledge of other inhabited worlds (even if individuals or governments in the society were already aware of such) (TOS: "Bread and Circuses"; TNG: "First Contact") Providing knowledge of technologies or science (TOS: "A Private Little War"; VOY: "Caretaker")
  • Taking actions to generally affect a society's overall development (TNG: "Who Watches The Watchers")
  • Taking actions which support one faction within a society over another (TOS: "The Omega Glory"; TNG: "Too Short a Season")
  • Helping a society escape the negative consequences of its own actions (VOY: "Time and Again", "Thirty Days")
  • Helping a society escape a natural disaster known to the society, even if inaction would result in a society's extinction. (TNG: "Pen Pals", "Homeward"; Star Trek Into Darkness)
  • Subverting or avoiding the application of a society's laws (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold"; TNG: "Justice")
    • Interfering in the internal affairs of a society (TNG: "Symbiosis", "Reunion", "Redemption", "Redemption II", "The Price"; DS9: "The Circle", "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"; VOY: "Thirty Days")

None of these were violated in Janeway's actions, meaning she definitely did not violate the Prime Directive.

Additionally, looking at the various Starfleet protocols and regulations that we know of, Janeway did not break any of those.

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