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Q throws the Enterprise into uncharted space where it encounters and is engaged by a dangerous alien vessel of a previously unknown species: the Borg. When the vessel instantly and effortlessly overwhelms the Enterprise, Picard realizes that the Federation may not be as ready for the future as he thought.



Gomez and Picard

"Yes, Ensign. It's all over me."

New ensign Sonya Gomez orders a hot chocolate from a replicator in engineering. While doing so, La Forge passes, and the two converse, La Forge noting Gomez' polite manners toward the replicator, saying "please" and "thank you". Gomez wonders why not, and explains she does this as the replicator is listed under "intelligent circuitry". After all, she notes that working with so much artificial intelligence can be dehumanizing and she combats this with using simple courtesy. As the two walk to main engineering, La Forge urges the talkative and enthusiastic Gomez to relax. After arriving, he notes to her that she is carrying food or drink in the premises of engineering, which is forbidden. As she turns around to go finish it elsewhere, she spills some all over Picard's uniform. La Forge tells Picard that Gomez just transferred to the Enterprise from Starbase 173 and accepts responsibility for what just happened. Picard, though not entirely unvexed, welcomes Gomez to the ship.

Picard excuses himself to change his uniform. He walks to the nearest turbolift to get to his quarters. However, when the doors open again, he finds that the turbolift did not make it to his quarters, but is inside a shuttlecraft far away from the USS Enterprise-D. He quickly realizes that he has been kidnapped by Q. Picard reminds Q about their agreement from a year earlier, when Q agreed never to trouble Picard's ship again; Q points out that they are nowhere near the Enterprise. Q is, however, kind enough to clean Picard's uniform with his abilities.

Act One[]

Guinan senses something strange

"Is there anything unusual happening?"

In Ten Forward, La Forge and Gomez arrive and talk some more at a table. Meanwhile, Guinan is tending to her regular duties. While talking to Martinez, she pauses and wanders around the room for a moment, before making contact with the bridge. Commander Riker answers and wonders what she wants. Guinan wonders if everything is fine with the bridge, since she felt something she only encountered long ago, but merely brushes it off and tells Riker to forget she called. Later, La Forge notices something is up with Guinan, and wonders if she's OK. She merely responds, "I don't know." La Forge decides to leave and check on engineering. Gomez gets up from her seat and joins him.

Meanwhile, in the shuttlecraft, Picard tries to make contact with Enterprise. However, Q tells him there is no point, since at the current distance, no one on the Enterprise would think to look where they are. Picard attempts to communicate anyway. Q explains that they have business to discuss, but Picard will not discuss anything with him, stating that keeping him prisoner will not convince him to listen to what Q has to say. Q merely says that he will, eventually.

Q and Picard

"Do we stay out here years? Decades?"

Counselor Troi walks onto the bridge and wonders where Captain Picard is. When she hears he is in his quarters, she decides to contact him, but there is no response. Riker asks the ship's computer, but according to it, Picard is nowhere to be found. Furthermore, Lieutenant Worf reports that a shuttlecraft is missing from the shuttlebay. With the captain missing, Riker orders Wesley to bring the ship to a full stop. They hail the shuttle on all frequencies, but there is no response. In fact, there is no trace of a shuttle anywhere in the sector.

"First officer's log, Stardate 42761.3. We have not been able to determine why or how Captain Picard left the Enterprise. We can't even be certain he is in the missing shuttle although that is the assumption on which we are proceeding. For the last six hours, we've been searching without success."

While the Enterprise continues to search for Picard and the missing shuttlecraft, Picard demands Q to return him to the ship. Eventually, he agrees to give Q's request a full hearing and, a second later, they're back on the Enterprise in Ten Forward, and the shuttle is back in place. Worf reports that the shuttlecraft has returned, and the computer tells the crew that Picard is in Ten Forward, allowing Riker to conclude that Q has returned.

Act Two[]

Guinan reacting on Q

"I knew it was you!"

Guinan immediately confronts Q, revealing to Picard that she and Q know each other, and not at all in a friendly way. Q calms down and expresses his desire to join the Enterprise crew, after being cast out from the Q Continuum. Skeptical, Picard refuses his request, especially after he put the crew on trial for the crimes of Humanity and asked Riker to join the Continuum. Q argues that they need him since they are not prepared for what awaits them. Picard claims that they are ready to confront the unknown, and Guinan adds that the Humans' ability to adapt is their great advantage.

Guinan warns Picard and Riker to head back

"What can you tell us?"
"Only that if I were you, I'd start back now."

Q, in rebuttal, seeks to test how prepared they are, and casually tosses the Enterprise seven thousand light years into uncharted space, to give them "a preview of things to come" upon which he disappears. Guinan advises Picard to return to Federation space immediately, but he decides to explore the nearby System J-25 first.

"Captain's Log, Stardate 42761.9. Despite Guinan's warning, I feel compelled to investigate this unexplored sector of the galaxy before heading back."
First view of Borg cube

"Protect yourself, captain, or they'll destroy you."

A survey of the only class M planet in the system reveals that while there was once an industrialized civilization there, it has been ripped away from the planet, "identical to what happened to the outposts along the Neutral Zone." A cube-shaped ship then approaches the Enterprise, and scans of the ship show nothing. Picard asks Guinan for her advice, and she reveals that the ship belongs to the Borg – a cybernetic race who were responsible for the near-extinction of her people a hundred years ago. "Protect yourself, Captain," she advises, "or they'll destroy you."

The Borg proceed to transport one of their own into engineering, as if the Enterprise's shields were useless. La Forge spots the intruder standing next to the warp core and requests security to report there immediately.

Act Three[]

Borg drone in Enterprise-D engineering

The first Borg ever seen, attempting to access the ship's computer

Picard and Worf arrive with a security team and see the Borg apparently making a survey of the ship. Q appears for a brief moment and warns Picard that it's not interested in Human lifeforms, only the ship's technology. Before leaving, he advises the captain not to allow it to interfere with the operations of the Enterprise. When the Borg attempts to do so, Picard orders Worf to stop it. A security officer tries to drag it away, only to be hurled clear across the room.

Worf then tries to stun it with his phaser, to no avail, and is forced to increase the phaser to full power. They successfully destroy the Borg, but almost instantly another is beamed aboard in its place. Worf again attempts to destroy it, but shields form around it, protecting the Borg. It tampers with the same engineering console, then turns and removes some components from the dead Borg before it is beamed back to the cube and the corpse disappears.

Picard holds a conference, in which Guinan further details what the Borg are, and how they destroyed her people. She advises them that the Borg do not negotiate with people, at which point they hail the Enterprise. Picard tries to reason with them, but the Borg voice completely ignores him and simply informs the crew that they will not be able to defend themselves against the Borg ship, threatening to "punish" them if they attempt to do so. Troi tells Picard that every Borg is part of the same mind, and that they have no distinct leader.

Enterprise fires at Borg cube

"They still have us!"

The Borg lock onto the Enterprise with a tractor beam that also drains their shields while preventing the ship from moving. The Borg then use a cutting beam to slice a section out of the Enterprise hull on the saucer section, and all eighteen crewmembers in that section are "vaporized" {assisimilated into the Borg}. Picard orders Worf to use whatever force is necessary to sever the Borg's beam, and they are ultimately successful after three phaser attacks, which blast several craters into the surface of the Borg ship.

Q shows up at another crew meeting in the observation lounge, telling them that the Borg are not concerned with the crew nor the Federation, only the Enterprise and how they can use her technology and identified it as something they can consume. Picard asks him to reveal that this is just another illusion, only for Q to respond that the situation is perfectly real, as everything else, before vanishing. With the ship temporarily immobilized by the damage, Picard decides to send over an away team consisting of Riker, Worf, and Data in an attempt to learn more about the Borg, over Guinan's strong objections.

Act Four[]

"Captain's Log, supplemental. We have been attacked without provocation by an alien race which Guinan calls the Borg. It appears that we have neutralized their vessel. Commander Riker is leading an away team in an attempt to learn more about them."
Enterprise-D away team inside Borg cube, 2365

"Our readings were incorrect. The Borg crew survived."

The away team discover the ship to be full of Borg, most of whom are in stasis in regeneration alcoves. The few active Borg take no notice of the team, or are ignoring them. The away team then finds what they believe to be a Borg nursery, where the Borg are born as biological lifeforms, and, immediately after birth, they begin growing artificial, cybernetic implants. What Riker finds astounding is that the Borg have developed the technology to link artificial intelligence directly into the humanoid brain.

Data notices that the Borg seem to be using their collective mental focus to repair the ship, which is why the team has not been noticed or attacked. Alarmed, Picard has them beamed back to the bridge, and says "Let's get the hell out of here". They start leaving at warp 8, but the Borg follow with ease. Q appears on the bridge, warning the crew that the Borg will not stop until they have them in their grasp. He even says to Picard, "You should have stayed where you belonged."

Act Five[]

"Captain's Log, supplemental. We are unable to maintain the gap between the Enterprise and the Borg ship."
Borg Shield neutralizer

"You can't outrun them. You can't destroy them. They are relentless."

They increase to maximum warp, but the Borg are still gaining. Riker orders them to arm photon torpedoes and Picard gives the order to fire, but the torpedoes have no effect. The Borg ship, after getting within firing range, fires a shield-draining missile twice and the Enterprise, now with very low shields, fires torpedoes again, with the same result.

Q then makes the Borg threat perfectly clear to Picard: "You can't outrun them; you can't destroy them. If you damage them, the essence of what they are remains; they regenerate and keep coming. Eventually you will weaken, your reserves will be gone… They are relentless."

The Borg fire twice more and the Enterprise loses both shields and warp drive. The cube re-engages their tractor beam and holds the Enterprise. Riker orders Worf to prepare to launch another spread of photon torpedoes, but Data warns that at close range, without the protection of their shields, it is highly likely that a photon detonation will destroy the Enterprise. Picard nods in approval as Riker orders Worf to prepare to fire.

Q prepares to leave the crew to their fate, as Picard implores him to end the confrontation. Q asks the captain why he should now terminate this encounter between the Enterprise and the Borg. Picard responds by pointing out that if they are destroyed, Q will not be able to gloat. He admits that they are frightened, and that Q has, for the moment, shown them to be inadequate. "You want me to say, 'I need you'? I NEED YOU!" Picard exclaims. With a snap of his fingers, Q flings the Enterprise away from the Borg ship and back into the same spot in Federation space they originally were.

Q appears besides Picard in Riker's chair, but instead of gloating, he looks thoughtful and even somewhat impressed. "Another man," he muses, "would have been humiliated to say those words"', even to the point of sacrificing himself and his entire ship rather than admit he needed help. Picard tells Q he understands the point out of what they have been through, but feels the lesson could have been learned without the loss of eighteen members of his crew. Q is unapologetic, telling him that if Humanity wants to explore the galaxy, then it promises a universe of wonders, but they must also be willing to confront dangers they have never imagined. He then disappears, to be replaced by a startled Riker. The Enterprise sets course for the nearest starbase, which is Starbase 83.

Picard and Guinan (2365)

"They will be coming."

Reflecting upon events in Ten Forward while playing three-dimensional chess with Picard, Guinan says that the encounter with the Borg happened before it should have. She believes that at some point, perhaps, it might be possible for the Federation to establish some kind of communication between them and the Borg, but for the time being, they are just raw material to be consumed. Guinan begins, "Since they are aware of your existence…" … "they will be coming," Picard continues. Guinan ominously warns, "You can bet on it." Picard comments that perhaps Q did the right thing, for the wrong reasons, to shake Humanity out of its complacency for whatever lies ahead.

Log entries[]

Memorable quotes[]

"Are we going to stay out here for years? Decades? I'm ageless, Picard; you're not."

- Q, to Picard

"Guinan? Is that your name now?"

- Q, after meeting Guinan again in Ten Forward

"Ah, the redoubtable Commander Riker! And Microbrain! Growl for me; let me know you still care!"

- Q, to Riker and Worf in Ten Forward

"Picard, you are about to move into areas of the galaxy filled with wonders you cannot possibly imagine. And terrors to freeze your soul!"

- Q, to Picard in Ten Forward

"To learn about you is, frankly, provocative. But you're next of kin to chaos."

- Picard, to Q, when he asks to join the crew of the Enterprise

"You judge yourselves against the pitiful adversaries you've encountered so far: the Romulans, the Klingons. They're nothing compared to what's waiting."

- Q to Picard in Ten Forward

"Oh, the arrogance. They don't have a clue as to what's out here."
"But they will learn, adapt. That is their greatest advantage."

-Q and Guinan

"Why? Why, to give you a taste of your future, a preview of things to come. Con permiso, Capitán? The hall is rented, the orchestra engaged. It's now time to see if you can dance."

-Riker and Q, before Q leaves after sending the Enterprise to J-25

"Interesting, isn't it? Not a he, not a she, not like anything you've ever seen before. An enhanced humanoid."

- Q, describing a Borg to Picard

"We mean you no harm. Do you understand me?"
"'Understand' you? You're nothing to him."

- Picard and Q, after a Borg beams into engineering

"He might try to take over the ship. I wouldn't let him!"

- Q, commenting to Picard about the Borg intruder

"The Borg are the ultimate user. They're unlike any threat your Federation has ever faced. They're not interested in political conquest, wealth, or power as you know it. They're simply interested in your ship, its technology. They've identified it as something they can consume."

- Q, commenting during a senior staff briefing

"Eighteen of our people have died. Please, tell us this is one of your illusions."
"Oh, no. This is as real as your so-called life gets."

- Picard and Q

"We have analyzed your defensive capabilities as being unable to withstand us. If you defend yourselves, you will be punished."

- The Borg's only message to the Enterprise

"Admit it, Picard. You're out of your league. You should have stayed where you belong!"

- Q, when the Enterprise is being chased by the Borg cube

"Q… end this."
"Moi? What makes you think I'm either inclined or capable to terminate this encounter?"
"If we all die here, now, you will not be able to gloat. You wanted to frighten us? We're frightened. You wanted to show us we were inadequate? For the moment, I grant that. You wanted me to say, 'I need you'? I NEED YOU!"

- Picard and Q, about the pursuing Borg

"That was a difficult admission. Another man would have been humiliated to say those words. Another man would have rather died than ask for help."
"I understand what you've done here, Q, but I think the lesson could have been learned without the loss of eighteen members of my crew."
"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid."

- Q and Picard

Background information[]

Production history[]

Story and script[]

Rob Bowman and Patrick Stewart

Director Rob Bowman instructing Patrick Stewart

  • Initially conceived by writer Maurice Hurley as a race of insectoids, Hurley had originally planned the Season 1 episode "The Neutral Zone" to be the first part in a trilogy that would introduce an entirely new threat to the Federation, introducing a plot point that Federation and Romulan starbases along the Romulan Neutral Zone had been mysteriously wiped out. 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 failure to meet with audience expectations of a major Starfleet antagonist. Unfortunately, the Writer's Guild strike of 1988 prevented this from coming to fruition. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., pp. 60 & 86; Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 169) Hurley finally got to proceed with his planned sequel with "Q Who", although only one passing reference was made of the strange destruction of outposts referred to in "The Neutral Zone", by Data stating, "It is identical to what happened to the outposts along the Neutral Zone."
Tim Trella, Borg drone makeup review

Reviewing the final Borg makeup and costume design

  • This is the only Q episode that Maurice Hurley wrote. Melinda M. Snodgrass commented, "Maurice Hurley always thought Q was here to teach us a lesson, to guide and instruct us." (The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, p. 107)
  • In the revised final draft of the script, in the scene in the observation lounge where Riker confronts Q about how he exposed the Enterprise to the Borg, which led to the deaths of eighteen crewmembers, his temper flares and he moves to assault Q, who warns Riker to stop, or he would kill him. In the final aired version, Q merely dismisses Riker's comments with an "Oh, please." [2]

The Borg[]

David Fisher and Rick Sternbach Borg drone sketches

Preliminary Borg concept by David Fisher and Rick Sternbach

Borg concept art 2

Detail sketch by Rick Sternbach

Tim Trella, Borg (behind the scenes)

A Borg stuntman's (Tim Trella) costume being adjusted between takes

  • Budget constraints kept the Borg from being depicted as insectoids as Maurice Hurley had originally intended, though the hive concept survived to become the overwhelming group mind known as the Collective. In addition, the Borg's unique, cube-shaped ship, and their eerie appearance – reminiscent of both the biomechanism designs of H.R. Giger and the cybernetic, laser-eyed Lord Dread from the 1987 syndicated series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future – all contributed to the Borg ascending to the height of Star Trek villainy, exactly as intended. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, p. 90)
  • Costume designer Durinda Rice Wood recalled, "I was tired by the streamlined, stainless-steel concept of 'scary'… With the Borg, the idea was that the drones lived for centuries, and that their body parts would wear out and be replaced with mechanical body parts. I wanted to show that they didn't wear out uniformly, so some of them had eye patches, and some had fake legs or arms." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 104)
  • Makeup designer Michael Westmore remarked that the Borg were given a zombie-like pallor "so that viewers would know they were seeing a creature that couldn't be reasoned or negotiated with… the life has been leached out of them." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 105)
  • The Borg's name was derived from "cyborg", meaning cybernetic organism. The Borg were intended to provide the series with what the Ferengi had failed to deliver – a deadly, remorseless enemy that could not be reasoned with or defeated. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, p. 90)
  • Precisely because of their powerful nature, the Borg would appear in only five further episodes through the run of The Next Generation. Their infrequent appearance was due to the writers' difficulties in finding ways to defeat the Borg, as well as due to cost. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 202) However, just as Khan returned to battle Kirk in the second Star Trek film, the Borg would also make the transition to the big screen in the second The Next Generation feature.
  • The graphics displayed on monitors in the Borg "slots" were referred to as "Borg Spaghetti" by the production staff. (citation needededit)
  • The Borg Collective voice heard in the episode was synthesized from the voices of Maurice Hurley, director Rob Bowman and Bowman's assistant. Sound design and processing was done by Francois Blaignan using Symbolic Sound's Kyma system. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 147, p. 32)
  • While it is not explicitly stated in this episode, the overall ambition of the Borg seems to be the acquisition of technology, not the assimilation of other species as in later episodes. While "The Best of Both Worlds", the next episode to feature the Borg, dealt with this changed premise by stating in dialogue that their objectives had changed, subsequent Borg episodes would ignore it entirely.
  • The later episodes ENT: "Regeneration", VOY: "The Raven" and VOY: "Dark Frontier" suggest that not only was Earth Starfleet previously aware of the existence of the Borg, Federation scientists actually pursued them – even if they were considered mere rumor. (This ultimately led to the assimilation of Seven of Nine years before the events of Season 1 of TNG in the fictional history of the series.)

Cast and characters[]

Special and visual effects[]

Borg (concept art 3)

Storyboards for the Enterprise-D's confrontation with the Borg cube

USS Enterprise-D assaulted by a Borg cube

Visual effects shot from the episode

  • The complexity and cost of The Next Generation's visual effects sequences demanded detailed planning before a single frame was shot. As the visual effects supervisor for the first episode to feature the Borg, Dan Curry created these storyboards as a blueprint of the Enterprise-D's first engagement with a Borg cube. The frames from the completed episode show how closely the visual effects team followed the storyboards. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, p. 90)


  • Two sound effects are introduced in this episode and used for the rest of the series: 1) the "click/snap" effect when the main view screen is magnified; and 2) the "trigger" effect when the ship's weapons are fired.
  • Ron Jones happened to compose the score for this first episode to feature the Borg before doing the music to "The Best of Both Worlds" and "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" and after scoring "The Neutral Zone", which hinted at their existence from the start.


  • This episode marks the only time Guinan's office is seen.
  • This episode refers to events of previous episodes, Q's trial ("Encounter at Farpoint"), his return when Riker temporarily became a Q ("Hide And Q"), and the mysterious destruction of Romulan Neutral Zone outposts ("The Neutral Zone").
  • The conflict between Q and Guinan, revealed in this episode but never fully explained, is revisited (with the tables turned) a year later in "Deja Q".
  • It is later portrayed that, due to the events shown in Star Trek: First Contact, ENT: "Regeneration", and VOY: "The Raven", and VOY: "Infinite Regress" the Borg already knew of Earth's existence and were on their way. In VOY: "Death Wish", Q would say that without his own actions in "Q Who", the Federation would have been assimilated. In "First Contact", when the remains of the Borg sphere crash landed on Earth, it became frozen in the Arctic Circle in 2063. During the events of "Regeneration", which are set in 2153, scientists discover the wreckage and are assimilated. Despite the Enterprise NX-01 destroying the rest of the Borg, they are able to send a signal out into the Delta Quadrant, where it takes 213 years to reach the Borg, leading them to send a Borg cube towards Earth in 2366. Then, the events of "Q Who" take place in the fictional history of the series, delaying the invasion of Earth. In "Dark Frontier", it is portrayed that the Federation was aware of an entity known as "The Borg" 12 years prior to this episode but dismissed such as a thing as mere "rumors or sensor ghosts". Furthermore, the Borg assimilated the Hansens, citizens of the Federation, in 2350.
  • Q states the Enterprise crew was exonerated of the crimes of Humanity, but years later tells Picard "the jury is still out on that" ("All Good Things...").
  • Since Q propelled the Enterprise out of the tractor beam it was held in from the Borg ship, it is unclear if the Borg immediately set a pursuit of the Enterprise which led to their invasion of Federation space a year later in "The Best of Both Worlds." In that episode, Riker postulates whether or not it is the same Borg ship they faced at System J-25, to which Data can neither confirm nor deny.
  • LD: "First First Contact" portrays Sonya Gomez having achieved the captaincy of her own command, the USS Archimedes, by 2381. When an ensign on her crew experiences a somewhat embarrassing incident in front of her, Gomez assures her that she's done "way worse in front of much more intimidating captains", referring to the hot chocolate incident with Picard.


  • The book Star Trek 101 (p. 72), by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode as one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Director Rob Bowman later recalled, "That was a very abstract, almost avant-garde episode with Q and what he was trying to prove with the Enterprise, telling Picard to be aware because there are some bad-asses out there that you're not prepared for no matter what you think. This is just a lesson to you to keep your eyes and ears open because there are things out there that you don't understand, and here's an example. For television, it's big stuff, but in order to make big stuff, there's a lot of investment by everybody involved, and it all came together wonderfully." ("Rob Bowman – Director of a Dozen", The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 10, p. 19)
  • A mission report for this episode by Will Murray was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 9, pp. 15-18.


  • It is revealed in the novel Greater than the Sum that the eighteen crewmembers who disappeared during the Borg's slicing of the Enterprise-D's hull were actually assimilated.


  • This episode won two Emmy Awards. Only four other episodes of Trek have won this many. It won for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series. It was also nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects.

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Also starring[]

Guest stars[]

And special guest star[]

Uncredited co-stars[]



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Unused production references[]

Grand Unification theory; supersymmetry


External links[]

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