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This is a question that I was wondering about since I was introduced to the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Why do the Borg want to assimilate every planet in the universe?

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    The Borg assimilates planets?
    – user14111
    Commented Feb 10 at 3:58
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    Why are Vulcans logical? Why are Ferengi avaricious?
    – DavidW
    Commented Feb 10 at 4:00
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    Do the Borg want to assimilate every planet in the universe? You haven't provided any evidence of that. Commented Feb 10 at 4:49
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    They don't. They want to assimilate anyone that brings them closer to perfection. Note that they positively refuse to assimilate the Kazon.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 10 at 7:09
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    @komodosp - Given that they refuse to assimilate inferior species, it has to be selfish motives.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 12 at 18:26

3 Answers 3

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The Borg consider all biological lifeforms to be inherently flawed, and see themself as the solution to this. It makes sense from the Borg point of view, leading the Borg to be aggressively territorial. Everything outside of the Borg is an unknown variable and therefore likely to interfere in their march to perfection. So a species is either a source of drones for expansion, or an enemy to be conquered and cleared away.

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    Is their definition of "perfection" ever made explicit? It's kind of a relative concept, e.g. someone valuing individual freedom or free will wouldn't see the Borg as perfect.
    – J-J-J
    Commented Feb 12 at 18:02
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    That would be a good follow up question to ask, @J-J-J. Go ahead and ask a whole new question about it.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 12 at 18:45
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    @FreeMan And now, I realize that it has been already asked :) scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/121601/…
    – J-J-J
    Commented Feb 12 at 18:59
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    "So a species is either a source of drones for expansion, or an enemy to be conquered and cleared away." Or the species possesses technological innovations the Borg want.
    – shim
    Commented Feb 12 at 21:40
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    Can you offer any evidence to back this up?
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 12 at 22:48
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The strength of the Borg in terms of numbers as well as offensive and defensive capabilities is repeatedly represented as far superior than many other groups in Star Trek (thanks to their practice of assimilating anyone with technology that would benefit them). For example, even a single Borg cube is a formidable threat at the Battle of Wolf 359, killing 11,000 and destroying 39 ships.

In Voyager it's clear that the Borg have their own territory, but Borg ships also show up throughout the show both before and after Voyager enters that territory. But they have the ability to travel so quickly using transwarp conduits that they could appear suddenly far outside of their own territory. In Voyager 6x19 a transwarp conduit is located less than a light year from Icheb's home planet, but Voyager's journey through Borg space was all the way back in season 3/4.

Thus it's clear that the Borg could expand their territory and assimilate almost any group, at least in the Delta Quadrant. They have the numbers, the strength, and the ability to travel anywhere. Yet they don't seem to be doing that because otherwise you would have expected the Borg to be running rampant throughout the galaxy. Guinan says the Borg have been around for "thousands of centuries" (source). When Seven reawakened the Vaadwaur they mentioned they had encountered the Borg who at the time (~900 years prior) "they had assimilated only a handful of star systems." 900 years is a lot less than thousands of centuries but it's still a pretty long time.

Additionally, we see many times that the Borg completely ignore people they don't deem to be a threat. Again and again, in both TNG and Voyager, non-Borg are shown walking around on a Borg ship without triggering a defensive response as long as they aren't deemed to be a threat. The implication is that the Borg see themselves as so superior that people walking on their ships could be analogous to insects in your home in that you might ignore them as long as they aren't too much of a problem. The Borg see themselves as so powerful that trespassers on one of their ships aren't necessarily a problem, and they are obsessed with efficiency such that even if they do detect them they couldn't be bothered to do anything about it. That explanation doesn't always make much sense but that's what we're given.

We do know that the Borg are obsessed with perfection. In Voyager 4x21 "The Omega Directive", Seven of Nine is fascinated by the Omega particle because of her time as a Borg and its ability to form a perfect structure. Memory Alpha has an article on Borg philosophy which states:

The principal philosophy of the Borg Collective was a drive towards achieving a state of "perfection" for themselves and, in their view, all life

However, some species were deemed unworthy, such as the Kazon:

Their biological and technological distinctiveness was unremarkable; they were unworthy of assimilation

-- Seven of Nine, VOY 4x12 "Mortal Coil"

So while the Borg want to do a lot of assimilation there's clear evidence that they don't "want to assimilate every planet in the universe". They could have attacked far more worlds, far more often than they actually were shown to, and they frequently ignore essentially helpless targets that are either categorized as non-threatening or unworthy.

However, we also can't definitively say that the Borg don't want to assimilate everyone. It's possible that given enough time and barring (futile) resistance they would gladly assimilate everyone, even the unworthy, but constraints on resources and strategic considerations limit what they accomplish. But clearly they prioritize efficiency and expect a return on investment so to speak when they assimilate anyone into their collective.

I should note also that the conflict with Species 8472 indicate that the Borg sought to expand even outside of the universe, as the Fluidic Space Species 8472 came from was another dimension.

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    Guinan says the quote about "Thousands of centuries" and it's not clear whether she's talking about the Borg proper or their biological forerunners
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 21 at 22:53
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    Thanks, misread that. Does the distinction between the Borg as we know them in Star Trek episodes and their "biological forerunners" really matter in this context? If the Borg as we know them were relatively new and say up until a century ago they were peaceful or something, I wouldn't expect Guinan to phrase it like that. Though the Vaadwaur said the Borg only controlled a handful of systems when the Vaadwaur were active, which was 900 years prior to that Voyager episode. A lot less than thousands of centuries but certainly a long time.
    – shim
    Commented Feb 22 at 0:11
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    The Borg are apparently not above using time travel and trying to bootstrap their way to their goals. Terms like "first" become meaningless
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 22 at 7:26
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    Didn't use the term "first" anywhere… But you make a good point. If the Borg could use time travel and they wanted to assimilate everyone then why wouldn't they just travel back in time with advanced technology to assimilate more worlds? But time travel is probably fairly resource-intensive and extremely risky since one false move could, say, cause the destruction of the Borg in the present.
    – shim
    Commented Feb 22 at 14:59
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    @shim There's also the future Federation that are busy fighting anyone who tries altering history using time travel, IIRC.
    – nick012000
    Commented Feb 23 at 2:04
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It started out as a race who used technology to increase perfection in itself. Perfection involved cooperation and communication and community. These were carried to pathological extremes, then they decided to extend perfection into the universe. It's a perfect example of too much of something good being bad.

It's absolutely Gene.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. This would be a better answer if you attributed the source of this information.
    – DavidW
    Commented Feb 10 at 22:56
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    While this is most likely true in-universe - this answer is very Original Series tropes applied to a TNG example. Commented Feb 10 at 23:58
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    @lucasbachmann Gene Roddenberry was involved in the production of TNG as well, IIRC.
    – nick012000
    Commented Feb 23 at 2:00

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