The Borg have shielding and adapt to energy weapons, rendering them useless after a couple of shots.

Voyager - Paris shooting Borg

Why can phasers be used at various times immediately well, then again at a later date/episode/series, despite invariably being rendered useless previously?

  • 2
    The in-universe explanation would probably be periodic "re-tuning" of the phasers to emit at a different frequency - one that the Borg haven't adapted to yet. The more mundane (but also more likely) out-of-universe explanation is just that Trek script writers are inconsistent on the subject.
    – Helbent IV
    Jul 3, 2018 at 7:50
  • 1
    One of the Borg episodes, Worf explains that they have set the phasers to cycle through frequencies at random every three seconds to try to prevent the Borg from being able to shield themselves.
    – Broklynite
    Jul 3, 2018 at 7:57
  • 2
    I thought the borg could only be resistant to a certain set of frequencies at one time, which is why swapping them every now and then worked.
    – Josh
    Jul 3, 2018 at 7:58
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    @josh That ties in with the general explanation of how Shields work, at least on Starfleet ships. Broad range protection from all energies or physical objects makes them vulnerable to certain types of targeted attacks. But I really don't remember where I read/heard/watched this, it may be ST:VOY related
    – JayV
    Jul 3, 2018 at 8:10
  • This is completely speculative so not an answer; but it would make sense for the borg shields to only be able to defend against a certain number of types of weapon at once. So the borg loose the adaption to weapon A after adaption to B through Z (using up all the slots so kicking out A) and then reaquire resistance to A when required (I think the immune system is a bit like this)
    – user20310
    Jul 13, 2018 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


Fairly certain any answer is going to be speculative, that being said.

The best in universe explanation I can think of is every time they encounter the Borg someone says a line like "program phasers to fire on a random modulation"

This allows them to get a couple of kill shots in before the Borg adapt to the "randomness"

Of course the more I think about this the more it ticks me off, the way Borg shields are depicted really does not mesh with the way they are explained

  • 2
    This answer really could use some more meat and some more references. I mean, if we're speculating, then I would offer that individual drones don't have the adaptation because the Borg are wide-spread and Federation encounters so rare and/or there are tradeoffs involved such that any individual drone or group of drones just don't implement the adaptation until they need to. Or the Borg don't really plan at that level -- they just forge forward and re-adapt along the way. Jul 13, 2018 at 15:29

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