I re-watched First Contact today, and as sort of a followup to my previous question, why didn't Picard destroy the Borg sphere before it went back in time?

When they finally did go back in time, they manage to destroy the sphere easily.

Order of events:

  • Picard witnesses the Borg cube release a Borg sphere and orders Hawk to purse it.
  • Troi talks to him, and Crusher enters the room to reintroduce Worf to the crew

Picard knows the cube and sphere are up to no good. Why not destroy the sphere after it came out of the cube (instead of talking to Troi or interacting with Worf)?

  • 1
    It seems obvious enough: he didn't destroy it sooner because he didn't have the ability to do so. Presumably, it was too far away. Dec 2, 2018 at 6:08
  • It does seem absurd when rewatched. They even have several moments of humorous banter. I think it's a plot hole script problem. Dec 2, 2018 at 6:18

2 Answers 2


This appears to be an artifact of the way the script changed between the draft and the final product. In the original, the Sphere was merely one of a fleet of Borg ships that invaded the Sol System. During the battle this spherical warship shrugs off several shots, then heads off toward Earth, ploughs through the orbital defence systems and then does a time-jump as it enters the atmosphere. It seems that this was their secondary intention all along, assuming the fleet failed to achieve its primary objective by assimilating the Earth in realtime.

In the film, however, a single menacing cube arrives (like it did in TNG) and the sphere is contained within the cube as an escape craft with limited defences. The Queen initiates a time-jump as a last-ditch measure to take her out of the firefight. give her an unopposed shot at assimilating the Earth in the past. Not an ideal scenario, but acceptable.

This gives us two distinct reasons why Picard didn't destroy the Sphere immediately;

In the original script, they didn't challenge the Sphere because it wasn't in the immediate vicinity of the fight, having gone off in another direction shortly after engaging.

ADMIRAL HAYES: The new quantum torpedoes are doing the trick, Jean-Luc. We've destroyed forty-seven Borg ships so far... and only lost fifteen of our own.
But one of the Borg ships has broken through our defenses, and it's heading directly for Earth. Can you handle it?

In the revised script (on which the film's novelisation is based), the Sphere remains unchallenged because it was mistaken for debris, then hurtled past the Starfleet vessels before they had much time to react.

Oddly, the sight brought little comfort—a mystifying reaction until he saw, emerging from the flying dust and shrapnel, a smaller vessel. Not a cube but a sphere, with the same Borg disregard for aesthetics as its predecessor, the same peculiarly unappealing leaden color, the same honeycomb design with exposed circuitry and tubing.

The sphere flew past the assembled starships directly toward Earth.

  • Wow, I didn't know that there was such a huge difference between the movie and earlier versions of the script. Also, destroying 47 Borg ships seems ridiculous!
    – Hans Olo
    Dec 2, 2018 at 11:07
  • 1
    47 seems pretty de rigeur for Star Trek. Apr 10, 2019 at 16:40
  • 3
    @Rebel-Scum - I still think it's scarier that one cube is all it normally takes. That moment in VOY:Scorpion where dozens turn up.... And they're running from something is marvellous
    – Valorum
    Apr 10, 2019 at 16:45
  • @Valorum Indeed, I completely agree. Just the fact that a single Cube could take down the whole Federation is simply scary and it makes the Borg better villains, compared to having a whole armada (4 dozen ships) show up and just win by numbers alone.
    – Hans Olo
    Apr 10, 2019 at 20:02

It's not explained in the movie or the novelization as far as I know.

However, we can deduce some things from them: since Picard could hear the Borg in his head, he probably knew that the Sphere was at full power and that it was highly unlikely that he could destroy it quickly.

The novelization states clearly that he could hear the Borg in his head stating that a certain section of the Cube's shields were weakened, thus why he ordered the whole fleet to target this specific point of the Cube, while sensors showed nothing special.

With the battle taking place quite a ways away from Earth, he was probably counting on the help of the orbital defences to destroy the Sphere before it could do much harm.

  • I +1 this answer, but why 2 downvotes?
    – user107571
    Dec 2, 2018 at 14:10
  • I did not downvote this one, but I would guess it was due to the lack of quotes from the novelization.
    – user89104
    Dec 3, 2018 at 2:15
  • 1
    @LincolnMan - I downvoted it because it's simply an incorrect answer. The novel does mention a justification for the lack of immediate Federation response to the Sphere's presence in that it wasn't immediately noticed due to the rest of the debris.
    – Valorum
    Dec 3, 2018 at 20:29

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