In multiple episodes drones adapt quickly to phaser fire. Within a few shots they develop a shield that can block phaser blasts.

How is it possible that they are susceptible to a physical punch?

Data and other officers have punched and physically assaulted drones with both their fists and hand weapons, and made contact with them after a phaser blast could not.

How is that possible?

And on that note of just plain physical force, as the drones transported down why not just transport boulders or other large objects above their heads and let gravity do the rest?

  • 2
    Sure, they punch them, but how much damage do they do? Really only Data and Worf can make them feel it, anyone else and they just shrug it off. I always assumed that they don't adapt for the same reason you don't wear armor around rambunctious 3-year-olds: it just isn't a big enough threat.
    – Nerrolken
    May 8, 2015 at 16:28
  • If they have adaptive shields for something as powerful and complex as phaser fire, shouldn't their shields work for a physical blow which almost any society would have?
    – JMFB
    May 8, 2015 at 16:32
  • 3
    Yeah, but why would they? Physical blows are generally ineffective against the Borg, and drones do often block attacks with their arms, etc. Why waste power on fancy shields for a blockable attack that probably won't do anything anyway?
    – Nerrolken
    May 8, 2015 at 16:39

4 Answers 4


Borg are looking to achieve their idea of perfection: a melding of the ultimate technology and biology. To achieve this they must assimilate species with a high technological or biological quotient (or preferably both: see species 8472).

Because 99% of the technologically advanced species in our galaxy are physically very similar to the Borg, the Borg wait for them to develop significantly interesting technology. Coincidentally, most species that develop something interesting to the Borg have also developed and become dependent upon energy weapons as their primary means of attack and defense. In the process they have abandoned martial prowess and physical firearms as by-products of a less civilized age.

Because of this, almost any physical attack that a Borg is likely to be on the receiving end of will be ineffectual against their cybernetic bodies. This leaves energy attacks as the only conceivable threat, for which the drones have adaptive shielding.

There are obvious exceptions, of course. But as others have pointed out, effective physical attacks against the Borg are singular events caused by hero characters. Any time that a regular schmoe has tried to assault a Borg drone physically they have typically either been killed or assimilated.

  • 3
    Love the typo of "marital prowess" :) May 8, 2015 at 19:01
  • Ah. Gotta love autocorrect. Although with there being a queen maybe that's how the Borg started.
    – Xantec
    May 8, 2015 at 19:17
  • Well... I'm aware of 3/4 possible options for the Borg starting... that's a new one on me :p May 8, 2015 at 19:21
  • I wonder how well would a Klingon boarding party fare against the Borg. With their swords and knives. Or how well would kinetic weapons work, such as M4A1 or AK-47. A tommygun worked wonders.
    – Petersaber
    Jul 7, 2015 at 12:27
  • "regular schmoe"... Otherwise known as the Redshirt (even though TNG era were more yellow shirted)
    – user001
    Sep 1, 2015 at 8:54

It is mentioned in at least one episode (can't remember which just now) that the Borg don't innovate, they acquire technology from the species they assimilate. If no species has ever developed "punch blocking shields" (which actually seems quite likely if all species develop energy weapons before shields) then the Borg can't possibly have them as they can't do their own research. 7 of 9 mentions the Borg acquiring the adaptive shield technology from another species, so all the Borg have to do is rotate the frequencies until they find the one that blocks the phaser fire they are currently receiving, no imagination required.


Get zapped with phaser -> raise shields -> annoy adversary -> they come in for a punch -> inject with nanotubules

Looks like a good defense strategy to me.


Most of the time, the Borg drones do not deal with physical threats. When fighting the Borg hand-to-hand, you have to dismember the drone before it becomes useless, as the nanoprobes can keep the body alive through almost anything. You might be able to stun and disable one for awhile, but it will repair itself, and continue its advance. The few times we have seen physical attacks work on the Borg, it's been done by hero characters. These moments are amazing, out-of-the-ordinary things that happen infrequently in the various series or movies. A physical assault would not be a good way to engage the Borg, as being in close proximity to a drone threatens you with getting infected by nanoprobes, and becoming a Borg yourself.

  • They could transport a large object over their heads and crush them. The could hurl large objects at them. The drones would always be way out numbered. A large number of physical attacks could stop them or at least slow them down. Either way the physics of it don't make any sense.
    – JMFB
    May 8, 2015 at 17:37
  • the borg are not assimilating races that are using physical weapons. in an invasion you dont have time to rig up a catapult something that your species hasnt used in thousands of years, and toss large objects at people. the borg are equally capable of teleporting out from under said large object teleported on top of them ect. If the planet required that each drone have a personal protective shield, it would not be hard for the borg to simple adapt a cube full of drones to have a kinetic shield installed.
    – Himarm
    May 8, 2015 at 18:08
  • @alexwlchan Why would you make those edits to his post? The dashes were unnecessary and aren't really a correction. If you disagree can you please explain to me how they make the response better and what parts or speech, grammar, or otherwise have been perfected.
    – JMFB
    May 9, 2015 at 3:00
  • @alexwlchan Additionally Borg, borg, Borg, borg, does not necessarily have to be capitalized or I would have done that when I edited it. Does human get capitalized? Maybe, or maybe not, but not. Earthling is capitalized because it's named after a planet, but earth isn't always capitalized. Maybe earthling shouldn't be. A Terranite I guess would be too, if that's a word. Borg is not based off another proper noun, like Vulcan, so I'm not sure...dwarf, elf, orc, etc. are not capitalized. Why does borg necessarily need to be capitalized, which necessitated the need for an edit? Hmmm....
    – JMFB
    May 9, 2015 at 3:03
  • 1
    @JMFB the borg is a proper noun because their is only 1 Borg. the Borg are a collective entity, their are many drones, but their is only 1 Borg, hence why its a proper noun. Its incorrect to refer to each drone as an individual, there are not 10 borg on our ship, there are Borg on our ship, 10 drones. Elves are different as they are not a collective being, they are individuals of the race elves.
    – Himarm
    May 12, 2015 at 13:13

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