The Orcs are a hostile species from the Pits of Utumno in Middle-earth and appear as major antagonists in the Middle-earth Saga.
The origins of the Orcs are a mystery, although the most likely case is that they were once Elves who were kidnapped by the First Dark Lord Morgoth and tortured by him and experimented on to due to Morgoth's obsession to create life and bend it to his will.
In The Silmarillion
This filled them with rage and anger at their new forms and came under the service of Morgoth until his defeat at the War of Wrath were he was imprisoned in the Void until the Dagor Dagorath.
They were bred by Morgoth in Utumno, his first fortress, and then they were unleashed to Middle-earth during the Fourth Age of the Stars. This murderous assault of the Orcs took the Elves by surprise, for they had been living years of peace and were unaccustomed to Monsters or war. The Orcs assaulted the initially defenceless Elves but then the Elves went to the Dwarves of the kingdoms of Nogrod and Belegost and they paid for weapons. The Dwarves forged them swords and then they killed all the Orcs and drove them out of the land of Beleriand. This was the First Battle.
At the end of the Ages of Stars, the Orcs marched out in open war, and the Wars of Beleriand started. The Orcs came out of Angband, Morgoth's new Headquarters, in black armour and armed with poisoned blades, and they assailed the Elvish armies. They were met by King Thingol and King Denethor's Gray Elves, who slaughtered all the Orcish armies. This was the Second Battle, the Dagor-nuin-Giliath, in the Elvish Noldor tongue.
The Orcs were conquering everyplace, so the Elves all teamed up and drove the Orcs back into Angband, slaughtering many on the way. This was the "Glorious Battle" for although many Elves fell, the Orcs were indeed imprisoned within their own Fortress along with Morgoth and thus began the Siege of Angband. This siege was successful, but then suddenly the siege broke and Morgoth sent tongues of flame out of Angband's volcanoes to burn up all the Noldor. This was successful; only a small portion of the Noldor survived and the Orcs could once again break free and slay any Elves they wanted.
The Noldor met their final defeat in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, where the Orcs had grown so numerous that they ambushed the Elves and through human treachery, the Orcs prevailed. They killed every Noldor on the battle and went on to conquer Beleriand and other parts of Middle-earth and would have won had not Earendil, father of Elrond, sailed to Valinor to plead for the Valar's assistance in freeing Middle-earth from the terror the Orcs installed. The Valar agreed to end Morgoth and his reign and they went to Middle-earth and completely obliterated the Orc legions and forced the few survivors to flee into the Mountains and they cowered under the Earth, fearing those outside. But even though the Valar did conquer Morgoth and force him out into the Void, the Orcs still survived inside the Earth, in caverns and pits, waiting for a leader to announce himself.
In The Hobbit
A Dark Age began in the Third Age of the Sun when a dark form named the Necromancer appeared in Dol Guldur, an evil kingdom in Mirkwood. This Necromancer gathered to him numerous Orcs, and although many believed he was a Ringwraith or just a human, the Necromancer was revealed, through the efforts of Gandalf, who bravely went into Dol Guldur, to be the Maiar Sauron returned from the Downfall of Numenor. Sauron had regained all his former power. Dol Guldur attracted all the Ringwraiths, aka the Nazgul, and the Necromancer began his assault on Middle-earth.
Thorin Oakenshield had been driven from his kingdom of Erebor by Smaug the evil Dragon, and so Thorin made a bargain with Gandalf to reclaim it. They recruited the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins into stealing back their treasure, and arrived after many perilous adventures at the Lonely Mountain, and Smaug was eventually killed by the human Bard the Bowman.
However, the Dwarves and Bilbo had run in with Orcs in the Misty Mountains, sheltering from Giants during a storm, wherein Orcs captured them and were going to eat them upon realizing their allegiance with Elves, until Gandalf stepped in, killed the Great Goblin, and put out the lights with his magic, causing the Orcs to panic and go mad. The Dwarves and Bilbo fled, and they were pursued by Orcs. The Orcs caught up with them and they had to kill them. Bilbo was seperated from the Dwarves in the chaos, and wound up finding the One Ring and putting the fate of Middle-earth in his hands.
Once they learned of Smaug's death, the Orcs plotted in their Headquarters, Mount Gungabad, to kill everybody at the Lonely Mountain. So they travelled underground, and by night, to the Mountain, where half of them were completely killed by the Elves. Then the Dwarves and the humans of Esgaroth also attacked, and this decimated more Orcs. They were joined by the Eagles and the human Beorn, who had taken on bear shape, and he killed their leader, Bolg. This put many Orcs shrieking to flight and they were hunted down by Elves and almost all the Orcs in the North died.
In The Lord of the Rings
As of the Third Age 3018, Sauron no longer used the name of the Necromancer, and openly declared himself. He had tortured the Hobbit Smeagol, aka Gollum, and from him learned of the Ring. He knew Hobbits possessed it, so he sent the Black Riders to the Shire. Then Sauron assailed Gondor with his Orcs. Once the Hobbits Meriadoc and Peregrin reached Gondor and Rohan, the Orcs were already attacking. Meriadoc and Peregrin were ambushed and kidnapped by Orcs and made to run through Rohan with them before the Orcs were killed by the Rohirrim.
The traitor Saruman had made a new breed of Orc-Men hybrids: the Uruk-hai. When these creatures ambushed Helm's Deep in a Battle they were all killed by the arrival of the Rohirrim and the Huorn Trees of Fangorn Forest.
However, Sauron had doubled Saruman's Uruks, and although his servant Saruman had been defeated by Gandalf and apparently imprisoned in his Tower of Orthanc, the Orcs and Uruks were declaring war on Gondor. Peregrin went to Minas Tirith, capital of Gondor, with Gandalf, to warn Denethor the Steward of the invasion, and Meriadoc remained in Rohan and had to prepare for war. Then the Orcs all invaded but thanks to the arrival of the Rohirrim they were all killed.
Meriadoc and Peregrin as well as Gandalf and Aragorn and everyone who survived the Battle of Gondor went to
Mordor itself to the Black Gate to tell Sauron to surrender. However, instead of coming forth, he unleashed his remaining forces. This was his greatest force, held back in Mordor until what he judged to be his victory and the final battle. It was the final battle, but only for the Orcs, who were all killed when the One Ring was thrown into Mount Doom and Gollum died with it. Thus all the Orcs went mad since Sauron's control was gone, and they slew themselves or ran into caves and hid.
In the movies, however, when Barad-dur explodes and Orodruin (Mount Doom) erupts, a massive earthquake begins which breaks the fault line in Mordor, and the ensuing earthquake swallows half of the Orc army, leaving the rest fleeing. Still many thousands remain, but they are nowhere large enough to pose such a threat again, without Sauron they are powerless.
Although all the Orcs in Mordor were gone, many Orcs in Khazad-dum still survived.
Kinds of Orcs
- Black Uruks (Mordor Uruk-hai)
- Goblins (Orcs of the Misty Mountains)
- Gundabad Orcs
- Morannon Orcs
- Morgul Orcs
- Moria Orcs
- Orcs of Isengard
- Orcs of Mordor
Orc Man Hybrids
- Black Uruks
- Ruffians (Saruman's thugs)
- Squint-eyed Southerner (agent of Saruman)
- Uruks of the White Hand (Uruk-hai)
- Main article: The Uruk-hai
The Uruk-hai were a larger and more advanced breed of Orc that appeared during the Third Age, created by Saruman (not to be confused with Sauron's Black Uruks which were smaller) during the War of the Ring. When Isengard was destroyed, they (most likely) fled to Mordor.
- Main article: Goblins (Middle-Earth)
Goblins are what Tolkien called the Orcs that Thorin and Company encountered in the book The Hobbit. They lived deep under the Misty Mountains in many strongholds, ever since the War of Wrath in the First Age.