The main shtick of the Borg is lack of individuality, homogeneity; one borg being functionally no different from the rest. They are assimilated with nanobots and from those nanobots implants are grown. Implants that are inserted surgically could be manufactured to all be the same.

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The Borg drones here all supposedly serve the same purpose, yet each has a different set of implants on their heads alone.

Is there a reason for their lack of homogeneity? Is this some small advantage they try to hold by not having too much redundancy? (E.g. implant A has a weakness against a species' tech but implants B, C, and D on the other drones don't).

Despite this there would be advantages to having identical implants in that repair and recycling of implants would be smoother and more efficient (something I know the Borg really dig).

Why don't all Borg have exactly the same implants?

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    I presume by "look the same" you are not referring to facial or body characteristics which are inherent to the assimilated individual or their species. Aside from that, have you ever heard the phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none?". That's pretty much what you'd end up with, if all Borg were the same. So many features crammed into one body, that none of the features can be made to be particularly potent. There is some advantage to having specialized individuals, and certainly the Borg understand that. They also seem fairly modular though, so their specializations can be changed.
    – Iszi
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 22:19
  • Pardon the comment-answer. There's more to that, which I may turn into a full answer when I have time later. However, I do not currently (nor may we ever) have any canonical source for this.
    – Iszi
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 22:21
  • @Iszi it's more that where it seems several drones serve the same purpose, they have different implants. See my edit.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 22:23
  • It's quite probable that the ways in which they differ do not matter for the purpose to which they've been assigned at this time. Besides that, there's still a number of other reasons why implants may differ between individual Borg. @chcuk has proposed a rather likely one. Still, I expect any answer to this question could only be speculation - it's unlikely this has been covered canonically.
    – Iszi
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 3:16
  • I don't think you can conclude that Borg strive for homogeneity - assimilation does not naturally lead to homogeneity; Nor is homogeneity a good way to achieve perfection. Many small variations and mutations and hive-like cooperation lead to more robust designs, in fact it would be dangerous to have too much homogeneity as an exposed weakness would mean the end of the Borg.
    – flq
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 20:03

4 Answers 4


The Borg give each drone a task. The drones are modified to do that task to the best of their abilities. While I'm sure each drone can do any job on the ship or for the Collective, they are certain to have specialties. Drones specialized for combat or repelling invaders would need a different set of implants than ones specialized for damage control, for example.

Further, Borg assimilate individuals. These individuals each have their own quirks and physical features. If, for example, a drone who is supposed to receive an optical implant has one eye that is significantly worse than the other, that eye would be more likely to be replaced.

All Borg drones likely have to meet a certain standard of acceptable efficiency, and are augmented until they reach that level.

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    IIRC there was a mention to a "medical drone" in an episode of voyager. +1 Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 21:51

Minor physical deviations are irrelevant. This probably sounds harsh and summarily dismissive -rather like the Borg, which is the point of putting it that way- but there's a lot behind this, and the concept of "irrelevance", to unpack.

Pragmatism and perfection are two of the pillars of Borg philosophy. The Queen sees disembodiment as the epitome of perfection, but it is not practical for many purposes: even the Queen herself has to use a body from time to time. Certainly the whole Collective cannot be disembodied, or they would do it without delay.

Because of this, a Borg's body is something of a necessary evil. It is to be used and upgraded and adapted as necessary to optimally perform the tasks it is given, but there is no "perfect form", because even having a form is a sort of imperfection. For that reason, the Borg do not worry so much about drones looking identical: having a body is already such a detraction from perfection (albeit one that must be tolerated for the time being) that minor deviations vanish into the margin of error. Freed from the distraction of a futile search for overall physical perfection, they can instead focus on a local optimum: whatever form is most suited to the task a drone is given to perform. This will vary from drone to drone as their tasks and environments differ, but once again, that is a distraction. Disembodiment is perfection, so the search for bodily perfection is futile, and because of this, these minor physical deviations are irrelevant.


IIRC this is due to their constant search for perfection. Like in your example part A has a weakness, Part B adapts to that weakness but a new one is discovered, and so on. I think it comes down to they have not gotten around to updating all the older models with the new adaptions(like most large corporations).

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    Unlike most corporations though the Borg are able to upgrade efficiently surely?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 21:41
  • I have never met one yet that did not run into a constant bog when trying to update their systems. And corporation may be the wrong word but if you have ever dealt with schools or hospitals (not necessarily corporations) but upgrading can take every bit of several years after the equipment has been verified.
    – chcuk
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 21:43
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    I've never met a corporation, school or hospital that behaved like a Borg collective either, though.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 21:46
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    Borg may be able to upgrade efficiently, but may also be constrained by resource limitations or complications in the surgical process, or any number of other issues.
    – Iszi
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 3:15
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    So Borg invented the A/B testing? Commented May 11, 2012 at 5:08

I'd consider this their own way of doing "mutations". Just consider it like "you can't have everything at the same time", so e.g. there are three different approaches to augmented vision, so grab three different series of eye replacements. Having one specialization for every situation (if you can't have everything on every unit, either due to lack of ressources or considering it ineffective) seems to be the perfect solution (as they don't seem to have a problem withholding drones till they are needed). Also considering they seem to rely heavily on their own sturdiness (regeneration, shield adaption, etc.).

Also - although it's most likely been some kind of pure plot decission - when working with the crew of Voyager they elected only one single drone, even after learning that they prefer voice communication without networking. To me it looked like they'd have been faster with more drones helping them, but at the same time it might have been considered ineffective (as two drones can't work on the exact same thing at the same time - like a multithreading issues).

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