In the Voyager episode Mortal Coil, Neelix is brought back to life after being dead for eighteen hours using Seven's nano probes.

What's the in-universe explanation for this not being used to revive anyone else in the series?

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    Bad writing. They tended to not check against other episodes when they were writing new ones - it's likely no one remembered she'd done that.
    – Jeff
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 14:47
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    It's because nanoprobes are made of plot and so only work on main characters.
    – Kevin
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 15:03
  • 7
    I wish people who claim "bad writing" on plot points they don't like or similar complaints could go through the experience of putting out a TV show where you have to complete a new episode for each week and deal with all the decisions that have to be made in story and production meetings. Armchair quarterbacking is SO easy when you don't have that kind of load on your shoulders 24/7.
    – Tango
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 16:47
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    @DVK: While I didn't sell to Trek, I did get close enough to see there is MUCH more that goes into writing the series than most people have any idea about. The other processes you talk about are empirical: they can be tested and either fail or pass. Writing isn't like that. I retired 20 years early because of my almost-bug free code, but I've been writing years longer than programming and have found that error free writing is much tougher because it's not clear cut. Even "Hamlet" is filled with errors. We can dwell on the errors or on what the writing tells us about ourselves.
    – Tango
    Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 16:48

1 Answer 1


While I can't omit the possiblity of it being forgotten about by the writers, there is also this: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Starfleet_casualties_(24th_century)#USS_Voyager_.28NCC-74656.29

Mortal Coil, where the Borg revival technique was first used, aired after almost all the confirmed deaths. The only exceptions are:

  • Ahni Jetal, episode 5x11, death by massive synaptic failure
  • Lyndsay Ballard, who appeared in episode 6x18 as Jhet'leya long after her death. She died on stardate 51563
  • Unidentified human in episode 4x25, One, due to subnucleonic radiation
  • 3 unnamed casualties in episode 6x01, Equinox, Part II, from the Nucleogenic lifeforms

Due to this massively smaller death toll after Mortal Coil, I would argue that they were using it, just not onscreen. As for these 6 people? Yeah, the writers probably forgot about it.

Possible in-universe theories:

  • Ahni Jetal's death was caused by an attack from some alien weapon. It may have disrupted the nanoprobes. In this part of space (this part of the series), there were quite a few species actively building weapons to combat the Borg.

  • Lyndsay Ballard's description of her death was a little inconsistent. The stardate places it after Mortal Coil, but according to Memory Alpha, her other descriptions all put it before Mortal Coil.

  • Death due to nucleonic radiation & 3 deaths due to a lifeform from another dimension. The circumstances of their deaths may have been enough to disrupt the nanoprobes so that revival would not work.

EDIT - I'm watching Latent Image now, and it turns out Ahni Jetal died 18 months before that episode - the Doctor even states that it was before Seven came aboard. So we're down to 5 deaths after Mortal Coil.

  • 3
    Great answer. Seven may have saved billions of lives with her Borg-inspired contributions to medical science once she made it back to Earth.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 20:11
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    Lt Carey also died in the episode 'Friendship One', and was immediately transported to Voyager due to the plotline at the time - This would be another death that doesn't line up with the 'Borg Nanoprobe Revival' idea
    – Robotnik
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 7:29
  • @Robotnik I found this page and your comment as I watch the episode and this point came into my mind, I don't understand them missing this specially after they use the probes to heal the male suffering from severe radiation damage.
    – Someone
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 21:45

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