Where did the orcs come from? Now when we answer this question there are several things we must keep in mind. Firstly, whether we’re talking about the first orcs or those of a later generation, and what type of orc we’re talking about cause there’s the regular orc and the more elite form known as the Uruk-HaiNow there’s a common misconception that goblins and orcs are different creatures, when in fact they are only different half-orc names for the same thing.
Tolkien primarily used the term goblin in the hobbit while he usually used orc for other writings and Lord of the Rings. Now some differences between orcs and Uruk-hai are that orcs are typically shorter, slumped forward and they have long arms. They also tend to be very weak to sunlight, while Uruk hai on the other hand is tall, they stand straight, and typically they can function in sunlight though they still hate it. Now to answer the question of where Orcs came from, we’re going to have to take bits and pieces from different writings of Tolkienas the question itself doesn’t always have a straight forward answer, and thus I think by establishing a strong foundation it’s good as we can build upon it.
So to start, I’d like to talk about one of Tolkien’s writings, where he said that evil in Lord of the Rings wasn’t capable of independent creation and by this, he means that evil couldn’t create, it could only corrupt and twist that which already existed. Now, this gives us a lot of information and it allows us to establish that orcs in middle earth weren’t created from anything but instead they were a twisted form of life. So Tolkien wrote the history of middle earth throughout his lifetime and thus his works often have more than 1 explanation for a question. Thus to get past this I’ll list the potential answers and we can go through them. Some orcs are well-known demon names as they are assassins as you can see in the movies.
So the first explanation, is that Morgoth who was the first dark lord and Sauron’s master had kidnapped elves and tortured them into orcs. Now in some of Tolkien’s later writings, he suggests that Morgoth might have also kidnapped men and tortured them by similar means into orcs. The second explanation is that orcs always existed, but at first, they were a soulless mindless beast. Morgoth then discovered them and in them, he saw the potential to make the perfect minion, and thus he twisted them to serve his purpose and he taught them and transformed them into a weapon of his will. Now, this is encouraged by the fact that once the dark lord is defeated, the orcs tend to become confused and easily beaten by the forces of good, and we see this both when Morgoth and Sauron are defeated, and this indicates that without the will of a dark lord pushing them, the orcs revert back to their old form, a mindless beast, a confusing beast.
The final explanation also involved Morgoth. Now Morgoth was initially one of the Valar who was sort of gods in middle earth. When he turned evil he corrupted many other spirits who serve the Valar. Now some of these spirits were great spirits such as Sauron and the balrogs, but there were many lesser spirits, and its believed that some of these lesser spirits might have taken the form of orcs. So that covers were the first orcs came from. But what about future generations? So, now we must ask: Did the orcs breed? Were there female orcs? Were they cloned? Did they hatch? So in Tolkien’s written works, no female orcs are ever mentioned, however, in the Silmarillion, he states that orcs lived and multiplied in the same way that the children of Iluvitar did, and thus this suggests that they did breed, and therefore female orcs existed. In the books, we also see certain orcs having a relationship of sorts, for example in the hobbit we see an orc called Bolg whose the son of Azon, or Gollum describing what it’s like to have eaten a goblin youngling, which suggests that you know goblin parents, younglings, children, etc. Now on this point Tolkien did actually once confirm, that female orc existed, and he had written, and I quote: “There must have been orc-women.
But in stories that seldom if ever see the Orcs except as soldiers of armies in the service of the evil lords, we naturally would not learn much about their lives and thus not much was known” There is one last point I’d like to make, and that is that in the books, there are some theories that Saruman might have bred orcs with men. Now, this crossbreeding is believed to have resulted in Uruk-Hai and Half-orcs, and this is why Uruk-hai are said to be more resistant to light, and typically smarter and stronger than the average orc. Half-orcs are described as having a human build but their face has some goblin features, and thus they could pass as humans, but people would notice there’s something off about them. They typically would have no problem with sunlight and they used to be cruel in nature, and dimmer than the average man. So this really the majority of the theories for where orcs came from, and we’re lucky that most of them are backed up with writings from Tolkien himself. Now I really think it’s interesting to think about orcs having a family or a female orc, or an orc actually carrying a baby. You know it’s something we’ve never seen in the films and I find it so hard to imagine, I really think it would be kind of cool to one day see it in film or at least learn more about it.