Resistance was futile long before the ominous line of dialogue “Resistance is futile” was first uttered on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” That phrase is virtually synonymous with “The Next Generation” and the show’s most famous and most notorious villains, the Borg. The Borg Collective first made the threatening statement in “The Best of Both Worlds,” which, according to Memory Alpha, was the 26th episode of the show’s third season, airing on June 18, 1990. As scripted by the late Michael Piller, it occurred during the following interaction between Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the Borg, after the Enterprise captain has been kidnapped by the Borg.
“Captain Jean-Luc Picard, you lead the strongest ship of the Federation fleet. You speak for your people.”
“I have nothing to say to you! And I will resist you with my last ounce of strength!”
“Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours.”
“Impossible! My culture is based on freedom and self-determination!”
“Freedom is irrelevant. Self-determination is irrelevant. You must comply.”
“We would rather die!”
“Death is irrelevant. Your archaic cultures are authority-driven. To facilitate our introduction into your societies, it has been decided that a Human voice will speak for us in all communications. You have been chosen to be that voice.”
‘Resistance is Futile’ Made its ‘Trek’ Debut in the ‘TNG’ Episode, ‘The Best of Both Worlds’
That “Resistance is futile” line would go on to be heard numerous other times throughout the “Star Trek” franchise, right up to the present day. Perhaps most prominently, it served as the tagline for “Star Trek: First Contact,” the Borg-centric second “Next Generation” feature film which co-starred actress Alice Krige as the Borg Queen. The line even appeared prominently on the film’s poster.
However, “Resistance is futile” and lines quite like it had been featured years before in several other science fiction properties — and even within the “Star Trek” franchise. Aliens, in a 1967 episode of “Lost in Space” titled “Wreck of the Robot” stated that “Resistance would be futile. The renegade alien Time Lord known as The Master said “Resistance is futile” in 1976, in “The Deadly Assassin,” the ninth episode of the fourteenth season of “Doctor Who.” Later, in 1977, in an episode of “Space: 1999” titled “The Dorcons,” the titular alien race said, “Resistance is futile.” The next year, 1978, in “Fit the Second,” an episode of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” radio series, a young Vogon Guard declared that “Resistance is useless.” And, in 1979, in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” nearly a decade before “The Next Generation” debuted, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) pointed out that “Any show of resistance would be futile.” Similarly, in the 1980 sci-fi classic “Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,” Darth Vader (voice of James Earl Jones) intoned to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), “You are beaten. It is useless to resist. Don’t let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan did.”
The Line ‘Resistance is Futile’ Was Spoken in Several Series Prior to ‘TNG,’ Including in ‘Space: 1999’
The phrase continues to be used in all manner of pop culture enterprises. It served as the title of an episode of “Dexter” in 2007 and was spoken by Galactus in “Planet Hulk,” an episode of “Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.” that aired in 2015. The alternative rock band Oh Hiroshima released their album “Resistance Is Futile” in 2011, while the rockers Manic Street Preachers dropped the album “Resistance Is Futile” in 2018. Ann Coulter, the conservative media pundit, published the book “Resistance Is Futile!: How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind” in 2018. Those are just a few examples.
And in the “Star Trek” franchise, fans also have heard “Resistance is futile” spoken in post-“Next Generation” episodes of “Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager,” “Enterprise,” and, most recently, “Lower Decks.” The current animated “Star Trek” comedy series included the line in the second-season episode “I, Excretus,” which premiered on September 30, 2021. Alice Krige, who played the Borg Queen in “Star Trek: First Contact” and in the “Voyager” episode “Endgame,” voiced the character again for “Lower Decks.”