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Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future was a dystopian science fiction television series that aired in North America for only one season (1987-1988), and which had J. Michael Straczynski as its head writer.

The primary antagonist was "Lord Dread". From Wikipedia:

With the new opportunities offered by the human-machine combination, [Dr. Lyman] Taggart becomes obsessed with the precision and "perfection" of machines and convinces himself that merging human consciousness with mechanical bodies is the next step in human evolution. OverMind [a supercomputer] achieves self-awareness and shares Taggart's beliefs as they take over Bio-Mech armies throughout the world and attack humanity in a conflict known as the Metal Wars.

Here is Lord Dread, as he appeared in the series:

enter image description here

Now, here is a typical Borg from Star Trek:

enter image description here

The Borg first appeared in 1989 (in "Q Who"), two years after Lord Dread and his Bio-Mech army were introduced in Captain Power.

Given the similarity between Lord Dread and the Borg in both appearance and goals, is there any evidence that Lord Dread was an inspiration for the Borg in Star Trek?

  • 3
    Meh. See also this image from the original Terminator movie, which came out 4 years before Cap't Power. I'm almost positive that there have been many cyborg characters that look more or less like that, but I can't remember which ones or where I have seen them. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jun 24 '15 at 4:44
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    Found one. The DC comic book character Cyborg first appeared in 1980, and his head has always looked more or less the same. See this image from a much more recent comic. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jun 24 '15 at 4:50
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    @WadCheber : Nice finds. (The Cyborg is a lot closer in look than the Terminator, I think.) Anyway, it seems there is a book called Star Trek: The Continuing Mission that confirms that the Borg were based on Lord Dread! – Praxis Jun 24 '15 at 4:57
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    @WadCheber : It's not only the look, but also the goals: that cybernetic organisms are the next phase of evolution. :-) – Praxis Jun 24 '15 at 4:58
  • This answer (to a different question) answers this question as well. – Reinstate Monica Jun 24 '15 at 5:19
32

Originally, the Borg were not intended to be the cyborg race they were, but a race of insects:

The Borg were initially conceived by Maurice Hurley as a race of insectoids. Hurley wrote in to "The Neutral Zone" a plot point that Federation and Romulan starbases along the Romulan Neutral Zone had been mysteriously wiped out, having been "scooped off" the face of the planet in the same way that would later be referenced in "Q Who" and shown in "The Best of Both Worlds". This was intended to lead into a series of episodes that would have introduced the Borg as a main villain in the wake of the Ferengi's complete failure to meet with audience expectations of a major Starfleet antagonist. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, pp. 169, 180)

(Source)

So, no, Lord Dread was not the original inspiration for the Borg.

However, this does not mean that Lord Dread was inspiration for the cyborg version of the Borg.

The costume designer for TNG, Durinda Rice Wood:

was inspired by a drawing by H.R. Giger, known for his work on the film Alien.

(Source: kudos Praxis)

Due to time and budget constraints though, she couldn't go through with the original designs (see below):

A company I worked with already had certain mechanical human part moulds and so I incorporated those into my design.

(Source: kudos Praxis)

Now, after a search on Wood it turns out that she worked on Beyond Hawaii which used the company MacGillivray Freeman Films, which was also used on Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future according to IMDB. So it is entirely plausible that they were using the same parts for the Borg and Lord Dread.

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    I'm gonna keep on researching this to see if there was any link later on – Often Right Jun 24 '15 at 4:35
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    Very interesting about MacGillivray Freeman! – Praxis Jun 24 '15 at 5:29
  • Damn it, you beat me to the Giger reference. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jun 24 '15 at 5:51
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    Recycled parts omg... – user16696 Jun 24 '15 at 14:48
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    Recycling props is actually pretty common in television, because it's cheaper and faster - both good qualities in the TV business. – Allen Gould Jun 24 '15 at 15:48
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While there are many similarities between the two characters you mentioned, the overall appearance of both has plenty of precedents in science fiction.

enter image description here
The Marvel character Deathlok, introduced in 1974

enter image description here
The DC comic book character Cyborg, introduced in 1980.

enter image description here
The Judge Dredd character Mean Machine Angel, also introduced in 1980

enter image description here
The Terminator, from the original 1984 movie

enter image description here
Whatever the hell this thing is, from Flash Gordon (1980)

However, I would guess that in terms of visual inspiration, the Borg were modeled primarily on the art of H.R. Giger.

enter image description here

As for motivations and ideology, of course, there are presumably many differences between each of these characters, as well as between these characters and the ones you mentioned. The stories are also completely different. But as far as the appearance of the Borg being inspired by the appearance of Lord Dread, I don't think we can say that there is a definite connection. This is simply a fairly common visual motif.

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    +1 for "Whatever the hell this thing is, from Flash Gordon (1980)" – Often Right Jun 24 '15 at 5:52
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    That flash gordon thing was the inspiration for google glass. – NotMe Jun 24 '15 at 14:09
1

I might take flak for my answer to the question and things others have said in this thread but here it is anyway, namely a comprehensive approach to the origins of the Borg design:

  • There is solid evidence for Lord Dread being an influence on the Borg: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q_Who#The_Borg
  • Doctor Who fans (of whom I am one, albeit reluctantly at first) are almost certainly right that part of the Borg concept is derivative of the Cybermen. They will often point this out gleefully but I have two responses to this:
    • The traits of the Cybermen are clearly not the totality of who the Borg are.
    • The Cybermen are themselves partly derivative of the Treen from Dan Dare, which was a comic strip series for children.
  • Anyhow, regarding the Cybermen and the Borg: they're both a race of cyborgs (duh), they both want (nearly) everyone to be like them and neither of them give a damn about anyone's objections to achieving their respective visions of perfection. They also claim that resistance is "useless" or "futile", respectively. I have also long noticed how the recesses Cybermen are known to stand in while dormant are quite similar to Borg alcoves.
  • There are substantial differences though. For the most part the Cybermen have always had implicit or explicit leadership roles whereas the Borg (with the possible exception of the Borg Queen) have a far more amorphous structure, lacking clear leadership, something I always found one of the strongest points of their design. To borrow a term from the field of computing, the Borg and their technology exhibit "graceful degradation", meaning that damage to either tends not to lead to catastrophic failure quickly. The loss of the Cyber-Leader or the Cyber-Controller would seem to have a much greater impact on the race of Cybermen. Paralleling how the Cybermen more closely resemble our own current society in this respect, there is also the use of "I" from the outset, a word Borg typically have a very hard time saying. Cybermen seem substantially more separate from each other than the Borg, who are essentially a continuous superorganism. In Attack of the Cybermen, the Cyber-Leader even tells one of his underlings to shut the hell up at one point. ("He lies, Leader!" / "Silence! There is logic in what he says.") (Of course this was the the excellent Cybermen era. Not everyone likes the excellent Cybermen and not everyone likes the Borg Queen but both can be seen as efforts to make for more familiar villains than a more or less uniform mass of phlegmatic tyrants.)
  • (Taking things in the other direction, Doctor Who writers seem to have pilfered ideas from the Borg in recent years. The return of the Mondasian Cybermen in The World Enough and Time mentions that Cybermen are "part of a neural network", implying an existence similar to that of the Borg. And earlier, in The Pandorica Opens, a severed Cyberman head tells Amy Pond she will be assimilated, not a word the Cybermen have ever used before.)
  • The work of H.R. Giger was indeed a profound influence on the ultimate design of the Borg, though he never consulted with the show creators as he did with Alien and Prometheus. (Aesthetically, I consider the Borg light-years ahead of any Cyberman design for precisely this reason.)
  • A last, highly probably influence not mentioned here: science rather than other science fiction. Recall that the original Borg concept is that they were to be insectoids. If you read a book like Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration by Bert Hölldobler and E.O. Wilson, Borg similarities come up over and over again; at least this was my experience. One of the strongest examples I can think of is how the Borg like keeping their environment hot and humid, which makes little sense at first. They're machine-men and electronic components like they have generally function better in cool, dry conditions. However, many species of ants like to keep their nests pretty hot and humid, at least relative to what humans would generally find comfortable. Additionally, the very first appearance of the Borg in Q Who refers to the lone Borg on the bridge as a "scout". Ants also send out scouts to probe the surrounding environment for opportunities in this fashion. Furthermore, the Borg appear to exhibit caste divisions in functionality like ants. Things like this make me suspect strongly that the designers of the Borg were reading about actual eusocial insect behavior and the close similarities are not merely coincidental, though I don't have explicit evidence of this.

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