The Star Trek: TNG episode “Conspiracy” was supposed to lead into The Borg.
If you’ve ever seen the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Conspiracy, then you know just how wild it is. If you’re not sure if you’ve seen it, then you haven’t. It’s not an episode anyone really forgets, mostly because the end of it sees a Starfleet commander die after a gut-buster of an alien explodes forward, only to get melted away by phaser fire from William Riker and Jean-Luc Picard. It’s an image and scene that stays with you…That TNG episode set up the idea of a conspiracy in Starfleet where those alien gut-busting parasites were secretly infiltrating the organization. So after the threat is thought to be stopped, Conspiracy ends with a signal being broadcasted by the alien parasites. Who were they broadcasting to? The Borg, as it turns out.
According to The Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future by Michael and Denise Okuda and The Next Generation Companion by Larry Nemecek, the parasite aliens were supposed to be a progenitor of sorts to the Borg.
That’s right, the alien parasites from Conspiracy were actually originally introduced to help set up the arrival of the Borg. There’s just one problem, the Borg and parasites have nothing in common. That’s because at the time The Borg were supposed to be insects. Due to budget cuts that ended up not being the case and instead the Borg were changed from insect aliens to cyborg-space-zombies.
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The change from bug to ‘borgs was the right idea for TNG and Star Trek
While it made sense for a strictly budgetary reason, the change from bugs to cyborgs not only helped the budget from taking a big hit but made sure to give Star Trek arguably its most defining villain. By the very nature of the series and its creations, no alien race is “evil” or “bad”, just aligned with or against the Federation. They’re not villains tying women to train tracks, they’re usually just governments that disagree with how to do things.
Sometimes with a lot more enthusiasm than others.
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At any given time the Klingons, Vulcans, Romulans, and even Cardassians could be villains or allies depending on the situation. That isn’t so much the case for The Borg. While yes, they did have a cease-fire of sorts with Voyager, that was only due to them wanting to destroy a far bigger threat, Species 8472. Which in fact validates the stance that the Borg are always going to be a pure villain; because the Borg routinely refuses to care about you until you’re a threat. So of course they’d side with Voyager at that moment. It’s in their nature. Their nature is to always destroy those that threaten them.
Their nature also involves the assimilation of many species of aliens, which makes them a threat to every corporeal being in the universe, not just the ones wearing the Delta insignia. Taking that part away kind of nullifies their mystique and overall spookiness as a baddy. That’s why changing them from bug to ‘borg makes a lot of sense. After all, no one saw the Xindi-Insectoid and went “Oh, so spooky!”
They probably just said, “ew, that CGI…”.
So, regardless of what was supposed to happen, if you ever wondered what that signal at the end of Conspiracy was supposed to lead to, you now know.