In Picard a familiar character asserts to Soji that

The Romulans on the artifact are the only Romulans ever assimilated by the Borg.

How is that possible? In TNG, Data says

The Borg activity in J-25 is identical to "what happened" to the Romulan outposts along the Neutral Zone. It is strongly implied that the Borg have had a hand in assimilating some Romulans. This question seems to affirm.

I'd buy the idea that this is a well-kept Tal-Shiar secret, except

Hugh is the one who makes the claim about the Romulans, and I'd think he would know if more Romulans had previously been assimilated or not.

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    all that is said of what happened to the outposts in both "The Neutral Zone" and "Q Who" is that all the machine elements were 'scooped' off the planets. There's no mention of what happened to the personell or talk of assimilation (of course...assimilation didn't exist out of universe yet)
    – NKCampbell
    Mar 9, 2020 at 14:13
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    Maybe the assimilated Romulans on the artefact were taken from the edge of the Neutral Zone. I don’t think there’s been any discussion in Picard of where the artefact came from, or how long the Romulans had been assimilated. Mar 9, 2020 at 15:54

2 Answers 2


It's unclear what really happened in the Neutral Zone, and if the Borg actually assimilated anyone

It might be a plot hole, but there really is no sufficient information on what happened. This is what we know:

The outposts weren't simply destroyed, they where "scooped off the planet", which is something we haven't seen on screen yet:

DATA: Captain, there is nothing left of Outpost Delta Zero Five.
LAFORGE: Must have been one hell of an explosion.
DATA: Sensors indicate no evidence of conventional attack.
PICARD: Can you determine what happened?
WORF: The outpost was not just destroyed, it's as though some great force just scooped it off the face of the planet.

(TNG: The Neutral Zone)

It's noteworthy here that this seems to have happened to multiple outposts without any sign of a "conventional attack".

We also know that these outposts have not been unmanned:

RIKER: Captain, I recommend we transfer all power to phasers, and arm the photon torpedoes.
PICARD: Wait. If that is a Romulan ship, they will read our intent. It'll force them into taking a similar posture. We don't want to engage in battle.
RIKER: Captain, this is sufficient evidence. Outposts have been destroyed. Countless lives have been lost.

(TNG: The Neutral Zone)

This is what happened on the Federation outposts. But it seems that this is exactly what happened with the Romulan outposts:

PICARD: It might be viewed as an act of aggression.
THEI: If our intent were aggression, you would not be here now.
TEBOK: If we go to war, let us be sure it is for the right reason. We are here because our outposts, which border the Neutral Zone, were also attacked.
THEI: Destroyed in the exact same manner as your own.

(TNG: The Neutral Zone)

This seems to be something in the standard repartoire of the Borg, even we don't see it on-screen, as indicated in "Q-Who":

WORF: Captain, the sixth planet in the system is Class M.
DATA: There is a system of roads on this planet, which indicates a highly industrialised civilisation. But where there should be cities there are only great rips in the surface.
WORF: It is as though some great force just scooped all the machine elements off the face of the planet.
DATA: It is identical to what happened to the outposts along the Neutral Zone.

(TNG: Q Who)

We simply don't know if "scooping up entire cities" does or doesn't include assimilating the people in it or simply letting them die. We know that the Borg prefer assimilating whole civilizations over individuals or groups, so they might just have been interested in the technology itself.

This might be some early installment weirdness to show how the borg value technology over individuals, scooping up entire outposts with no regard for the live onboard, in which case they just might have let the individuals on the outposts die.

  • As for early installment weirdness, definitely: the notion of assimilation hadn't even been written into the species' lore yet. (And I'm not just saying that because it wasn't mentioned in early episodes; it has been stated.) Mar 9, 2020 at 22:15
  • @AsteroidsWithWings At that point, the Borg weren't even cyborgs - they were intended to be insects (as I recall, the mind-control bugs from the previous episode, "Conspiracy"), but when making "Q Who" they couldn't afford suitable costumes, so they were changed to cyborgs instead. ("Q Who" was still $50,000 over budget though) Mar 10, 2020 at 15:40

For completeness I thought I should add this:

It's a plot hole.

The Romulan Orum was assimilated prior to Seven's liberation from the collective, in Voyager Unity. Additionally, in Infinite Regress, one of the personalities that emerges from Seven was a Romulan, indicating that at least one other was assimilated.

It's worth noting that the page for the Shaenor explicitly says that they are the only known assimilated Romulans, so it's possible that all the others disappeared under ambiguous circumstances (as in Philip's upvote worthy answer) such that the crew of the Shaenor are the only confirmed assimilations.

Not sure how Hugh didn't know.

  • 1
    There's nothing wrong with answering your own question and it is even encouraged.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Mar 10, 2020 at 14:19
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    Is there anything in STP that is not a plot hole?
    – user28434
    Mar 10, 2020 at 14:56
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    @user28434, Picard is still bald.
    – GridAlien
    Mar 10, 2020 at 14:58
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    I wasn't aware that the personalities in Infinite Regress were all of people that Seven had personally assimilated and I can't quite work out a reason for that to be so. Mar 10, 2020 at 16:35
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    "EMH: They're coming from within you. During your time with the Borg, the Collective assimilated hundreds of different species. All of those neural patterns were integrated into the Hive Mind." / "SEVEN: Of course." / "EMH: That means they're in your mind too, stored within your cortical implants. Dormant until now." Sounds to me that they're in her because she was in the Collective, not because she was responsible for their assimilation. So I reckon the Seven page is wrong. Mar 10, 2020 at 17:38

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