In the Voyager episode Death Wish (S2x18) in the hearing between Janeway, Tuvok and Q there is a moment when Q brings three people from Earth across space and time to illustrate the effect that the Q known as Quinn has on all life, even the little things like individuals.

Right at the end of this part Q says,

"Oh, and lest I forget... without Q the Borg would have assimilated the Federation."

Is this in reference to something in the canon I do not know of, or is it something new that we have no more details about?

Does anyone know the events he is speaking about?

  • 2
    To my knowledge no, we've never seen Q's direct involvement in saving Earth from the Borg. I always thought Q was making a very long-winded point about how he caused Riker to exist, and just look at all the good things Riker's done Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 4:29
  • 6
    @JasonBaker, I'm not sure the existence of Riker is a net win for humanity. media.moddb.com/images/groups/1/1/981/rikerwomen.jpg
    – A E
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 12:19
  • @JasonBaker - You're right. See my answer. He lists it in the list of things that Riker was able to accomplish due to existing.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 19:27

4 Answers 4


Q1 (De Lancie) is referring to the fact that Q2 (Quinn) saved Riker's relative; Colonel Thaddius "Iron Boots" Riker at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in 1864. Because of this intervention, Cmdr. William T. Riker exists in the future and was therefore able to prevent the Borg invasion of Earth in 2366 (TNG : Best of Both Worlds).

Please note that all my quotes are from the original show-script, not the episode transcript.

Q1: In fact, he carried your wounded ancestor two miles from the front line... (to Q2) Didn't you?

Riker looks over at Q2, who shrugs modestly.

Q2: Yeah, I did. - VOY : Death Wish

Q1 then goes on to stress that had Riker not been saved by Q2 . . .

Q1: Without that, there would have been no William T. Riker at all. And I would have lost at least a dozen really good opportunities to insult him over the years. Oh, and lest I forget, the Borg would have assimilated the Federation too. (turns to the witnesses) Thank you. VOY : Death Wish

The addition of the word "too" in the original script makes it explicit that Q1 is referring to Riker preventing the assimilation of the Federation.

  • 2
    Specifically, Riker providing some "some brilliantly unorthodox strategy".
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 20:25
  • 1
    @Ellesedil - Yes. All things being equal, Shelby would have been in command and her plans were pretty uninspired.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 20:31
  • 2
    Was therefore will have been able?
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 0:49
  • 1
    I think this is the best answer here. Thanks, I'm willing to go with this.
    – aJynks
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 6:12
  • Though without the original Q, the Borg wouldn't have discovered the Federation nearly as soon, so if Q1 hadn't interfered, then Q2's actions which enabled Riker's existence might not have mattered whenever the Borg naturally got around to attacking . . .
    – Mary7678
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 17:34

While the episode does not outright say as much, it is highly likely that Q is referring to the events of the episode Q Who, where Q sends Picard and the Enterprise-D into uncharted space where it encounters the Borg. This chance encounter - while later ret-conned as not being the first encounter between the Federation and the Borg - enables the Federation to prepare for the coming of the Borg, who were already probing Federation space, as hinted at in The Neutral Zone.

  • 5
    This is what I understood from the episode... though Voyager was not fastidious with it's continuity. Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 8:19
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    @HikaruIchijyo: Neither was any other Trek. Kirk worked for at least three separate fleets before 'Starfleet' was decied upon in Court Martial, and I believe one of the previous names (United Earth Space Probe Agency, or UESPA [you-spah]) may have even been used earlier in that episode. TNG changed the Borg invasion plot twice, and DS9, while better than the rest, was still prone to mistakes. Enterprise altered continuity on an almost weekly basis. Voyager's continuity changes were more annoying, possibly because often altered continuity deliberately. Other shows simply made errors Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 8:45
  • 7
    I'm not sure about "chance encounter". It seems very deliberate. Q felt the Federation were ill-prepared for an encounter with the Borg and arranged a preview.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 9:24
  • 3
    I think that this is the right answer. Although this seems a little far-fetched as "without Q the Borg would have assimilated the federation", it suits Q's character perfectly to construe it that way. Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 10:00
  • 5
    @ James & Hikaru - Very true James, but I recall a few Voyager 'mistakes' like when they traveled to the 1990's and there wasn't a Eugenics War (or somehow that history was changed by having a new kind of processor and no one brought it up)... Though it was fun to see Sarah Silverman on Star Trek! Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 11:00

just to add another perspective

Death wish episode was on stardate 49301.2 which is April 20, 2372, Time: 05:44:26

Q states that Quinn has been locked up for 300 years

2372 - 300 = 2072 the year Quinn was locked up

first contact was April 5, 2063

Quinn must have interfered somehow when the Borg tried to assimilate Earth. And since Quinn appears to be a Q that is sincerely helping humans out (as evidenced by the other witnesses) then Quinn's character would suggest he would try to help humanity.

references from http://www.chakoteya.net/Voyager/210.htm Q: A slight accident. Oh, let me guess. You were trying to commit suicide. Now you see why we've locked him up for the last three hundred years

Captain's log, stardate 49301.2. We have assigned quarters to our new passenger, who has entered his name on our crew manifest as Quinn. I am anxious to engage him in ship activities as soon as possible.

from http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/First_Contact#Human-Vulcan_first_contact The First Contact took place on the evening of April 5, 2063, when a Vulcan survey ship, the T'Plana-Hath, having detected the warp signature of the Phoenix, touched down in Bozeman, central Montana

  • This answer, albeit well-researched completely fails to take account of the fact that the Q are not bound by linear time. It's perfectly possible that Quinn could have been inside the comet as well as outside, at the same time.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 18:35
  • Also, the event that precipitated his incarceration was an article in "The New" about his desire to commit suicide; img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20060211220919/memoryalpha/en/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 18:47

So, there is a theory:

In First Contact, the Borg contaminate the time line, and go to the past to assimilate Earth. Enterprise E defeats them, in part by destroying the sphere that goes back in time. The debris is scattered over the north pole.

As that timeline moves to the time of the series "Enterprise", a group of researchers locates the Borg from the future and reanimates them. They take control of a freighter, and NX01 destroys them as they are sending a signal to the Delta Quadrant.

This signal, in theory, attracts the ship that Q sends Entsrprise D to confront at the end of season 2. So, the Borg were on the way to Earth without the help of Q, and Q actually aided the Federation by sending the Enterprise to confront them.

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Your answer appears to be essentially the same as this previous answer.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 17:21

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