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The Borg - history and origins of Star Trek’s most terrifying villain

If you love Star Trek, you're going to want to know all about the history and origins of the Borg as the most fearsome and mysterious villains in the franchise.

Captain Picard as Locutus in a Borg cube in Star Trek TNG

What are the Borg in Star Trek, and what do we know about their mysterious origins and timeline? Let’s get straight into it: there’s a lot to cover.

The Borg are undoubtedly the most terrifying threat faced by Starfleet and The Federation, and they’ve helped to define Star Trek in the cultural consciousness since The Next Generation season 2, which marked their introduction. While they’re best remembered for battling all the best Star Trek characters across the various TV series in the franchise, if you’re rewatching the Star Trek movies in order, you’ll eventually come across them there, too. Their terror isn’t just confined to the best TV series of all time (TNG, in our humble opinion), and their broad history merits some proper investigation. Here’s everything you need to know about the horror of the Borg.

The Borg and their origins in Star Trek explained

The Borg are a cybernetically enhanced collective of various species, all assimilated into a single hive mind.

Other than the Borg Queen (as well as rare exceptions like Hugh and ex-Borg like Seven of Nine), there were no single individuals within the Borg. Instead, much like an ant colony, every Borg drone acted in mindless service of the queen.

A Borg drone in Star Trek TNG

Each Borg drone was also enhanced with cybernetic implants replacing limbs and other biological body parts in order to gain a technological advantage over their opponents and give them additional abilities to analyze technology.

The Borg traveled across the galaxy through Transwarp conduits, which connected various regions of space, in their Borg cube starships. A result of millennia of assimilating various technologies from alien races, the Borg cubes were exceptionally powerful vessels that could withstand assaults from multiple Starfleet ships.

The origin of the Borg is mostly vague, remaining one of Star Trek’s greatest mysteries. But here’s what we do know: they emerged from the Delta Quadrant, having evolved over millennia as an organic and biological race that steadily incorporated technology into their being.

We also know their conquest across the galaxy was slow at first but expanded exponentially as their technology improved and as their numbers grew. To be honest, part of the intrigue and allure of the Borg, and what makes them such brilliant villains, is the ambiguity that surrounds them.

Every time some element of them has been explained (and even, arguably, the introduction of the Borg Queen), it de-mystifies them, which makes them just a little less terrifying. So, to us at least, the less we know about the origins of the Borg, the better.

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A complete history of the Borg

The history of the Borg as we know it is long and expansive, but here’s what you really need to know.

First of all, the Borg have been involved with Earth for centuries, beginning with the discovery of a destroyed Borg sphere from 2063 in the Arctic Circle. However, it wasn’t until three centuries later that official first contact was made between The Federation and the Borg in episode ‘Q, Who?’.

In the episode, Q set Picard’s USS Enterprise on the path with the Borg as a punishment for Picard’s perceived arrogance in the year 2365, a year after they were believed to have attacked a series of outposts in the Neutral Zone. Since then, the Borg have targeted The Federation in an attempt to assimilate the technological and biological distinctiveness of the interstellar government.

A Borg drone on Enterprise D in Star Trek TNG

In the year 2366, this culminated in the Battle of Wolf 359 as the Borg attempted to assault Earth, assimilating Picard along the way. In 2373, the Borg traveled back to the year 2063 (leaving behind the sphere in the Arctic Circle) to prevent humanity’s first contact with the Vulcans. They were pursued by the crew of the USS Enterprise-E, who stopped the Borg plan.

There were multiple instances of Borg involvement with Janeway’s USS Voyager in the following years, spurred on by the arrival of Seven of Nine on the ship. In 2378, this came to a head when a version of Janeway from the future traveled back into the past and used future technology to speed up Voyager’s return to Earth, nearly destroying the Borg along the way.

In 2401, the Jurati-Borg reached out to Picard seeking a temporary alliance, and later in the year, the remnants of the main Borg faction attempted to assimilate Starfleet through a new strategy using Picard’s DNA. However, this plot was foiled, and the Borg Queen was finally killed.

Key dates in the history of the Borg:

  • 2063 – The Borg arrive in Earth’s past
  • 2364 – The Borg destroy outposts along the Neutral Zone
  • 2365 – Q instigates the first meeting between Starfleet and the Borg
  • 2366 – The Battle of Wolf 359
  • 2373 – The Borg travel back to Earth’s past in 2063
  • 2378 – Janeway deals a crippling blow to the Borg and brings Voyager back to Earth
  • 2401 – The Jurati-Borg seek peace with The Federation, and the last Borg remnant attacks Earth for the final time

A Borg cube locking its tractor beam on the Enterprise D in Star Trek TNG

Have the Borg ever been defeated in Star Trek?

The Borg have been ‘defeated’ a few times now, but after the end of Picard season 3, we really can now say: yes, the Borg have finally been beaten.

The last vestibule of Borg strength was led by the semi-destroyed Borg Queen, who spent years rejuvenating her strength from inside her giant Borg Cube. She was hidden inside Jupiter while concocting a plan to assimilate Starfleet from the inside, making Earth and The Federation finally susceptible to being conquered. She was destroyed, though, by Picard and the senior staff of the Enterprise-D after Jack Crusher rejoined his father’s side.

However, that doesn’t mean that all Borg have been defeated. Firstly, we have the Agnes Jurati faction of Borg as established in Picard season 2. They still exist, though are a benevolent presence rather than a malicious one. Secondly, we know that there will still be pockets of Borg scattered throughout the galaxy, across each of the quadrants they’ve branched into.

Anything otherwise wouldn’t make sense: they were interconnected, yes, but their reach was so vast that there’s bound to be some remaining scouts and drones spread across the galaxy. Without the Borg queen, though, whether or not they can re-organize themself into a coherent presence and threat remains to be seen.

Certainly, there could be some story left to tell with these scattered individuals, though, even if it isn’t quite the same Borg threat we’ve all gotten used to.

The Borg Queen in Star Trek first contact

Are the Borg Star Trek’s most important villains?

Since The Best of Both Worlds Part 1 concluded TNG season 3, the Borg have presented the most serious, consistent threat to the Star Trek galaxy, positioning them as the franchise’s most important villains.

They continued to have a presence in TNG, something which would be picked up in the second Picard-led TNG movie, First Contact. Here, they traveled back in time to assimilate Earth in the past, prevent the development of warp technology, and interfere with the first meeting between humans and Vulcans.

The Borg also posed a notable threat in Voyager, menacing the ship as it attempted to escape from the Delta Quadrant. Famously, Janeway formed a pact with the Borg to defeat Species 8472, before ultimately dealing them a devastating blow in the grand finale Endgame.

Still recovering from the combined impact of Janeway and Picard’s actions, the Borg would again return as villains in Star Trek Picard season 3 (and 1 and 2, but let’s just not go there). Now, though, it looks like the Borg’s time as Star Trek’s most important villains could be over after their huge defeat at the end of the season seemed to show them being defeated for good. It could very well be time for new Star Trek villains to arrive.

That’s it on the Borg: for more, see our guide on how to watch the TNG Borg episodes in order if you really want a treat. Or, learn about the Star Trek The Next Generation cast, before checking out the status of Strange New Worlds season 3 and Star Trek Legacy.

You can also see what’s new on Paramount Plus, and swap sci-fi franchises to learn about the upcoming Marvel movie The Marvels.