Without a doubt, the Borg are the most fearsome threat the Federation has ever faced. It’s not their appearance, superior technology, or utter lack of empathy that makes them so feared, it’s the fact that to be defeated by them means being assimilated into their Collective and essentially robbed of one’s freedom and individuality.
Making their debut on The Next Generation, these cyborg menaces have plagued multiple crews across several series. They figured prominently on Voyager, as the titular ship was lost in Borg space and incorporated a rehabilitated drone named Seven of Nine into their crew. Regardless of the series, a Borg episode was always an event.
10 Descent (TNG): 8.1
The final season cliffhanger for Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) featured a group of self-aware Borg who had managed to break away from the Collective. This became possible following the Enterprise’s encounter with a young Borg survivor whose time amongst the command crew infused him with a sense of individuality he later shared with an entire Borg ship. To complicate matters, these Borg rejects teamed up with the renegade android, Lore, to destroy the Federation.
Emotional and self-aware Borg drones are not what audiences are used to seeing, nor the favored iteration of this alien race amongst diehard Trekkers, but these two-part episodes were significant in that Data finally got back possession of his emotion chip from his brother, Lore.
9 Unimatrix Zero (Voyager): 8.1
Part of what makes the Borg the most frightening race of antagonists in the Star Trek universe is that once they have assimilated an individual, their sense of freedom and individuality is forever erased and sacrificed to the Collective. Yet, some drones were able to avoid complete subjugation by visiting Unamatrix Zero during their regeneration cycles: a virtual reality world where they could continue to be individuals.
Unfortunately, the Borg Queen discovered this hideaway and actively sought to purge it from the Collective. Star Trek: Voyager would be the series to feature the Borg most prominently, but perhaps nowhere more poignantly than in these episodes.
8 Dark Frontier (Voyager): 8.6
Seven of Nine took a while to acclimate to life aboard Voyager, trying to rediscover her humanity over months and years. When she did manage to settle in, she was an integral part of the crew.
Her time amongst humans is what made her return to the Collective so appealing to the Borg Queen. Hoping to use her knowledge and memories to facilitate the assimilation of humanity, she attempted to coerce Seven back to the Borg during a daring Voyager mission to steal a transwarp coil from a Borg ship. Thankfully, the Queen failed, Seven stayed with Voyager, and the crew shaved 15 years off their voyage home.
7 Regeneration (Enterprise): 8.6
Widely considered one of the best Star Trek films ever (usually right behind Wrath of Khan) was First Contact, which pitted the Next Generation crew against their cybernetic arch-nemeses not just in the 24th century, but in the past as well. The Borg were defeated at the climax of the film, but not before several of their crew were frozen in the Arctic.
They were found by a research team 100 years later. When revived, they assimilated the team, salvaged their downed ship, and began the long journey home to the Delta Quadrant. Unfortunately for the Borg, they crossed paths with Captain Jonathan Archer and the crew of the NX-01 Enterprise, who managed to destroy them before they could reach home, but not before they could send a message to the Collective containing Earth’s coordinates.
6 Endgame (Voyager): 8.6
The entire premise of Star Trek: Voyager was that the titular ship was trying to get back to Earth after being stranded in the Delta Quadrant, and in the series finale, it did just that. Of course, doing so took some star-crossed time traveling by a future version of Kathryn Janeway, as well as a final reckoning with the Borg Queen.
Trying to convince her younger self to return to Earth instead of using some newly discovered transwarp conduits to cripple the Borg’s ability to travel the galaxy, Janeway got the best of both worlds: she destroyed the conduits and got Voyager back to Earth safely.
5 Drone (Voyager): 8.7
Transporter malfunctions seem to happen routinely on starships, and in the Voyager episode, “Drone,” just such a mishap merged elements of The Doctor’s 29th-century mobile emitter with Seven of Nine’s nanoprobes. The result was the creation of a Borg drone with futuristic technology. Named “One,” the Voyager crew quickly realized that should the Borg ever assimilate him, the knowledge and advanced technology they would gather would make them unstoppable.
Complicating matters were Seven of Nine’s growing attachment to him, as well as the Borg’s awareness of his existence. Ultimately, One decided to sacrifice himself to deprive the Borg of his superior technology.
4 I, Borg (The Next Generation): 8.8
Answering a routine distress call, the crew of the Enterprise is shocked to find the wreckage of a Borg scout ship and a young male drone on a remote planet’s surface. For humanitarian reasons and at Dr. Crusher’s urging, Captain Picard rescues the drone as Crusher and La Forge nurse him back to health. He eventually begins to develop an individual identity as well as a relationship with his rescuers, even as they plot to use him as a trojan horse for an invasive program that would destroy the Borg.
Named Hugh, the young Borg’s emergent personality is enough to deter Captain Picard from using him as a weapon, and the character later figures prominently in the first season of Star Trek: Picard.
3 Scorpion (Voyager): 9.0
Star Trek has never shied away from showing different races working together in peace towards a common goal, however, the addition of a Borg drone to the crew of the USS Voyager was definitely something fans couldn’t envision, considering the hostile nature of the species.
Seven of Nine’s addition to the show occurred when the Borg opened a rift into fluidic space and encountered an enemy that even they couldn’t overpower: Species 8472. In order to navigate Borg space and repel this new and deadly enemy, Captain Janeway struck a deal with the Borg: in return for safe passage through their space, Voyager would help the Borg defeat their new enemy. The gutsy gambit paid off, and anticipating the Borg’s betrayal, Janeway had Seven of Nine severed from the Collective in order to escape from their assimilation efforts. With nowhere to go, Seven joined the crew and in time, became a most valued member.
2 Q Who? (The Next Generation): 9.0
It may not be common knowledge, but it was actually the roguish and all-powerful entity Q that first introduced humanity to the Borg. Kicked out of the Continuum and looking for something to do, Q approached Captain Picard to let him join the Enterprise crew. Citing his omniscience and omnipotence as potential boons to space exploration, Picard rebuffed him, claiming that they were more than ready to encounter whatever was out there.
To show Picard just how inadequate humanity was in encountering certain lifeforms, Q flung the Enterprise into the path of a Borg ship. Forced to grovel his inadequacy to Q in order to be saved, Picard and the Enterprise’s first encounter with the Borg, though deadly, provided them with a preparatory wake-up call as to what was coming their way.
1 The Best Of Both Worlds (The Next Generation): 9.4
“The Best of Both Worlds” not only tops this list but routinely places at the top of the best Next Generation episodes of all time. Following their tentative exploration of the Alpha Quadrant and encounter with the Enterprise through Q, the Borg embark on a full-fledged invasion of the Federation.
Making a beeline to Earth, the Borg captured Captain Picard and turned him into their mouthpiece: Locutus. Making short work of the Federation fleet at the Battle of Wolf-359, the Borg would have succeeded if not for the timely intervention of the Enterprise crew.
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