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When elves first appeared in the eastern lands of Middle Earth, some of them wandered from their kin and were never seen again. It was believed that these elves were captured by Melkor. After being tortured and twisted, these became the race of orcs who served Melkor/Morgoth and later Sauron and were always enemies of the elves. Orcs usually formed the bulk of their armies and always fought on the side of evil.

In appearance, orcs were generally shorter than men and with stooped posture. They avoided sunlight if possible. Like elves, they did not grow old. Their life expectancy was probably not long due to their warlike nature but some orcs grew very old. One orc in Lord of the Rings made a referce to having ben present at a battle which took place thousands of years earlier.

Types of orcs


This is a name sometimes used to refer to orcs (especially in The Hobbit). It generally doesn't refer to any particular type of orc but was sometimes used specifically to identify orcs who lived in areas such as the Misty Mountains.

Half orc

There were some in the sevice of Saruman who were a crossbreed between men and orcs. One example is the southerner who was with Bill Ferny in Bree. Frodo thought at the time that he looked a lot like a goblin. Many similar men were also seen later on in the service of Saruman in his wars with Rohan. At the end of the books in the scouring of the shire, the hobbits returned home to find the shire overrn with half-orcs sent by Saruman. They were sometimes described as squinty eyed men, though the hobbits referred to them directly as half-orcs.


A lower class of orc who often acted as slaves. Generally smaller than other orcs.


Uruk Hai orcs attacing BoromirThis was the black speech term for orc. Usually, however, this term was only used to refer to the stronger soldier orcs originally bred by Sauron that came from Mordor and Isengard in the Third Age. For example, when Frodo and Sam were in Mordor, Sam overheard some orcs speaking and one of them referred to the orcs from Minas Morgul as a pack of rebel Uruk-hai. Saruman also made use of Uruk-hai for a large portion of his army along with normal orcs and half-orcs. These orcs were larger and stronger than other orcs and were also able to withstand daylight better. The books often portrayed Uruk-hai asserting their superiority over smaller orcs.

The Peter Jackson film indicated that Saruman combined orcs and humans to create the Uruk-hai which differs from the books. Although, Saruman had both half orcs and uruk-hai in his army in the book, they were not the same. Nor was there any indication in the books of Saruman creating them in the unusual way depicted in the film.

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