Two Star Trek Spinoffs Pay Off Forgotten TNG Plotline

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

For Star Trek fans, one of the coolest things is seeing the franchise pay off old plotlines in new and unexpected ways, like when Deep Space Nine revealed that nobody has seen what the Breen really looked like and Discovery showed us their real faces (yes, plural) decades later. Every now and then, though, Star Trek pays off old plotlines and nobody really notices.

For example, the TNG episode “The Neutral Zone” revealed that Romulan outposts had been attacked by the Borg, and both Voyager and Picard later revealed what appeared to be survivors of these attacks.

The Dangling Mystery In The Neutral Zone

At this point, some of you Star Trek fans may think we’re pulling your leg because the Borg aren’t explicitly named in “The Neutral Zone.” Instead, that episode merely revealed that some unknown force had attacked both Federation and Romulan outposts, causing both space empires to suspect one another.

The episode never revealed who was behind the attack, but there’s a reason for that: this episode was originally going to be part of a trilogy leading into the second season, where the Borg would be officially introduced.

The Borg Were Intended To Be The Mystery Attackers


That didn’t happen, and the Borg were introduced in a very different way via the episode “Q Who.” This was the episode where Q, annoyed with what he saw as Picard’s seeming arrogance, flung the Enterprise into uncharted space where they would encounter the Borg.

When these bionic baddies returned in “The Best of Both Worlds,” it was Worf who noticed the New Providence colony on Jouret IV had been attacked in the same manner as the outposts in “The Neutral Zone,” retroactively confirming who was behind those attacks.

Romulan Survivors Periodically Popped Up

Because The Next Generation told stories from a Starfleet perspective, we never got any follow-up to the Borg attack on the Romulans. Remember, they were also attacked, and we heard about the aftermath of that attack in “The Neutral Zone” but never saw it onscreen. We would never hear anything explicit about the Borg’s attack on Romulan outposts, though fans with keen eyes might have noticed the occasional survivors.

A Romulan Borg

For example, the Voyager episode “Unity” featured a Borg drone named Orum. Strictly speaking, he is more like an ex-Borg because a freak storm broke the connection that he and other drones had with the Borg hive mind, effectively restoring everyone’s individuality. We don’t get any of Orum’s story, but because of the fact that we never heard about any other Borg attacks on the Romulans until Picard, it stands to reason that Orum was assimilated during the attacks described in “The Neutral Zone.”

The Artifact

Decades later, we would see more Romulan ex-Borg in Picard onboard a disabled Borg Cube nicknamed “the Artifact.” The episodes of this spinoff explain that most of the drones in question were those who had been assimilated in an attack on two Tal Shiar vessels.

There’s a chance the Artifact might have housed more ex-Borg survivors of the attacks in “The Neutral Zone” (especially if Hugh could find and rehabilitate them); alternatively, those earlier attacks might simply contextualize why the Romulans were so fascinated by the Cube and interested in tearing it apart to learn its secrets (certainly, the show itself didn’t give them any real motivation).

Evidence About the Attackers In Voyager And Picard

Star Trek Voyager scorpion

None of this is exactly a smoking gun, of course, but there is enough circumstantial evidence for us to believe Omrun in Voyager and possibly some drones in Picard were those who had survived the attacks we heard about in “The Neutral Zone.” Skeptics might say that the Romulans simply covered up earlier attacks so we never heard about them, but historically, Borg incursions into the Alpha and Beta Quadrants have been hard to hide from other empires. 

A Subtle Connective Thread Between Shows

If nothing else, we like to imagine a connection between these shows because it adds some of the juicy background context to the Borg/Romulan stuff that Picard was sorely lacking. And short of just guzzling several bottles of Chateau Picard (we hear it’s pretty bad!), we’ll do just about anything to make that first season of Picard suck a little less than the vacuum of space.