In the Q Who episode, Guinan tells Picard that humanity’s encounter with the Borg came "much sooner than it should have". She also says if humanity had met the Borg when they were supposed to, a relationship of sorts could have been established. She also says that since they are now aware of humanity, they will be coming.

How can the Borg just be aware of humanity now, when they had scooped up the human and Romulan colonies along the Neutral Zone? Guinan made it seem as if humanity wasn't supposed to meet the Borg for a long, long, long time, but the Borg were already only a month or two or so travel from Earth and Romulus.

So let's say we weren't supposed to meet them for 200 years, how would we be technologically ready to face them even that far in the future? From what I've seen, the Federation just improves on its basic tech which the Borg would have undoubtedly just adapted to in only a few shots. Were the Borg just that uninterested in us until Q flung the ship 7,000 light years away?

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    In fairness the Borg were not fully conceived when we first met them. There may be no answer to your question in-universe. Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 22:35
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    This is true. I've read that the writers strike of 1988-1989 kind of messed the story up. It's just always bothered me about the plot hole.
    – Ryan
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 23:50
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    Well Guinean was in the Nexus which is obviously some time rift, which allows for a very different view on chronological order of events compared to us prisoners of mundane space-time. The Borg first encountered humanity a few day before the first human warp flight and it can't be ruled out that they actually did send some sort of signal into the delta quadrant back then. I have no source of any form to back this up. I'm just babbling ... Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 13:21
  • Possible dupe of How did the Borg come to know about Earth?
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 21:03
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    No, not a dupe. My post is about the discrepancy of Guinean saying we were not supposed to meet the borg for such a long time, vs. Them being only a month or so from Earth earlier in the series.
    – Ryan
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 0:59

4 Answers 4


the Borg were already only a month or two or so travel from Earth and Romulus

Sure, but it’s not like “Federation space” has a fence around it with welcome signs. Unless a Borg ship happens upon evidence of the Federation, they could be very nearby and yet go on blissfully unaware of how close they are.

Were the Borg just that uninterested in us until Q flung the ship 7,000 light years away?

I think so. The Borg had already assimilated the Hansens (Seven of Nine and her parents), and possibly even been to earth (depending on how time travel worked that week) before scooping up the colonies near the Neutral Zone. Colonies can be pretty low-tech, and thus much less interesting to the Borg than the flagship that Q dropped right in front of them. Note that even after encountering the Enterprise, they only sent two ships, seven years apart, to attempt assimilation of earth.

The Borg’s goal is perfecting themselves, not relentlessly hoovering up every other life form in the order they discover them. And, as Douglas Adams said:

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

So the Borg had plenty of other stuff to keep them busy, and plenty of room to not come into contact with the Federation.

let's say we weren't supposed to meet them for 200 years, how would we be technologically ready to face them even that far in the future? From what I've seen, the Federation just improves on its basic tech which the Borg would have undoubtedly just adapted to in only a few shots

Even accepting your “basic tech” premise (basic???), Guinan didn’t say “Bro, you shoulda met later when you had all those sick chroniton phasers and tachyonic torpedos”. She said:

perhaps when you're ready, it might be possible to establish a relationship with them

Which is exactly what a single starship captain, stranded tens of thousands of light years from earth, managed to do eight years later, albeit temporarily. In Star Trek, as in life, humanity prevails via communication. Eventually, they’ll do so with the Borg.


Guinen has been shown to be aware of alternate timelines, the events leading up to first contact with the Borg is a stable time loop

Read this answer as Valorum suggested https://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/17361/68984

To elaborate further: Q started this loop by putting the Enterprise in front of the cube. If Q hadn't done so, the time loop wouldn't have started in the first place (before Q started the loop the Borg may not of been encountered until, lets say the 26th century onwards, who knows)

Guinan would be aware of this 'original timeline' before Q started the loop, the same way she knows Tasha Yar was supposed to be dead in another episode, and that the Federation shouldn't be at war with the Klingons.

I've merely elaborated on the other questions answer, to explain why this is the same question. Hope this helps

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    I think Ryan’s pointing out that the Borg seemed to have already visited locations much closer to the Federation before Q flung the Enterprise to the Delta quadrant, and that it therefore seems like even if Q hadn’t done that, surely the Borg would have encountered the Federation fairly soon. Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 16:21
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    agreed, but space is big, they could of just thought 'a few primitives, nothing special' and left though, and not actually run into the federation for a few thousand years (assuming guinen is referring to the original timeline not the loop: that does answer the question), the chance of a random encounter in space is very low given the size of the galaxy. They wern't 'looking' for the federation before the loop
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 16:29
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    Someone should put that as an answ— oh. Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 16:37
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    The Enterprise would not have survived their first encounter with the Borg if Q hadn't returned them to Federation space: Picard even begged him to 'get them out of there'. It is quite likely Voyager would have been destroyed/assimilated with their first contact (or Janeway uses the self-destruct). Voyager only survived because of its prior knowledge of the Borg (Janeway would have tried to talk to them like Picard did)
    – Matt
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 11:40
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    It is also likely the Borg were only interested in the Federation because of 'HOW' the Enterprise outran the 1st cube (to the Borg this would look like some kind of transwarp drive, which makes the Federation worthy: the Borg didn't know Q returned them - they just knew that ship flew REALLY REALLY fast and escaped)
    – Matt
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 11:40

It is a plot-hole, or else Guinan was mistaken.

The first problem, is that in TNG and the Star Trek movies (including the recent Abrams alternate universe ones), the Borg and Federation alike were not shown on the same scale that we see them in Voyager or DS9. In later series, the size of Starfleet is depicted as thousands of ships, not dozens, and the Borg are depicted as having tens of thousands of cubes.

The second problem is that Q's actions were redundant. In Star Trek Enterprise (specifically the episode Regeneration), it turns out Borg drones who died in the destruction of the Borg Cube in First Contact, were frozen on earth. These Borg hijacked a ship, assimilated it, and then sent a message into the Delta Quadrant.

The Borg would have received the message by TNG.

If we assume Guinan was mistaken, then Q did not really introduce humanity to the Borg, but instead introduced the Borg to humanity.

Ok, however, I guess we could get all time-loopy and argue that Q created the timeline in the first place that led to First Contact, which means the Borg were only on earth because of Q.

Additionally though, there is no evidence to suggest that if Q had not introduced humanity to the Borg, that the caretaker would not have sent Voyager into the Delta Quadrant less than 5 years later.

Voyager came into the Delta Quadrant due to a completely unrelated series of events. They would have come into the contact with the Borg on their own, less than 5 years later.

Seven of Nine also comes from a family of humans who ventured into the Delta Quadrant following a Borg Cube and were assimilated decades ago. The Borg should have known about humanity from that too, regardless of Q or Voyager.

There isn't any evidence though that Guinan would have been aware of the Borg on earth hundreds of years ago anyways, and her comments make no sense given that Voyager comes into contact with the Borg less than 5 years after she said that.

  • “her comments make no sense given that Voyager comes into contact with the Borg less than 5 years after she said that” — that wouldn’t necessarily have happened without Q introducing the Enterprise to the Borg. Without the battle of Wolf 359, who knows whether the Federation would have made the same peace deal with the Cardassians, and thus whether the Maquis would have existed, prompting Voyager to go hunting for them right in the Caretaker’s sights. Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 12:09
  • And even if Voyager had still been flung into the Delta Quadrant, without prior knowledge of the Borg, evading them would have been a struggle. So odds are it would have been one Starfleet ship lost to the Borg on the other side of the galaxy, and never heard from again. Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 12:12

The Borg already knew about humanity and the Federation (and who knows what else) via the Hanson family by that point. The Neutral Zone incursion was probably a test to see what would happen. When the Borg got there, they saw that their outposts were mirrored by the Romulans and attacked both. If they could be identified by the Federation and/or Romulans, they would have a better idea of their capabilities. We have no idea what kind of ship attacked the outposts, but if anything my guess would be a probe (one of the box-shaped ones w/rounded corners) or scout ship (a small sphere) instead of a cube.

Keep in mind that the Borg at this point are likely focused on the Delta Quadrant area with longer-term plans for territory outside their domain, and as @paul-d-white said, space is HUGE. It would have taken the Federation probably another 100 years minimum to grow to include solar systems as far out as would be needed for their transmissions to be picked up by the Borg.

Lastly, keep in mind that just because the Federation makes contact with the Borg, it doesn't mean that word of that contact would make it back. After all, the ship/colony that made contact would likely be assimilated before it were possible.

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