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Henchmen Race
As everyone knows, Villains have henchmen, but some aren't content with recruiting from the existing races and decide to make their own. The result is this trope, a race or species of beings that were created for the sole purpose of acting as troops for their creator, who for some reason is generally the bad guy, although there might be a non-evil example out there somewhere. The degree to which the Henchmen Race is "purpose built" can vary somewhat, ranging from the "customization" of an existing race to making one from scratch.

May lead to Always Chaotic Evil, depending on the work. May overlap with Servant Race and Clone Army.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach has the Arrancar, which were artificially created from Hollows. Some had existed prior to Aizen's experiments but were largely weaker than those created with the Hogyoku.
  • Originally, the Abh from Crest of the Stars were this. They are now at war with descendants of their creators.
  • The Zentradi of Super Dimension Fortress Macross and sequels had been created by Protoculture as giant warriors to police their space and to fight an unidentified threat (possibly the Vajra). Wary of the threat of a Zentradi rebellion, Protoculture implanted them a directive of not attacking the human-sized Protoculture members, that came to bite them in the ass when the experiment to create a more powerful Henchmen Race went horribly wrong, becoming the Protodeviln and started raising an army of mind-controlled Protocultures that the Zentradi were unable to fight. To contain the threat, the free members of Protoculture deactivated the directive. That bit them back in the ass too: the Zentradi used their numerical superiority to wipe out the enemy army and allow the Protoculture to seal away the Protodeviln, but then rebelled and destroyed their masters before they could reactivate the directive that kept them under control.
  • The Saibamen from Dragon Ball Z.

    Comic Books 
  • Darkseid's Parademons in DC Comics. Whether they're created as they are or modified from "normal" citizens of Apokolips (or some of each), they're superstrong, tough, nearly feral, and obey Darkseid's orders without question. Only two or three have exhibited an individual identity or the ability to speak.
  • Marvel Comics
    • Skrulls are often used by non-Skrulls as mooks. Then again, even when the Skrulls attack on their own, the entire race seem to be nothing but a lot of mooks to be kicked around by the heroes. Unless they're good guys themselves.
    • The Mole Man from Fantastic Four has a race of Mole Men to do his bidding. They usually just hop around and serve as cannon fodder until the Mole Man uses his much-more formidable giant monsters.
    • The Inhumans. They are a race of super-beings created several centuries ago by the Kree in order to have an army of super soldiers. Things didn't work out as planned since the colony decided to have nothing to do with them, initially. In fact, the Inhuman royal family is now lording over the entire Kree Empire, making this an inversion, if nothing else.

    Fanfiction 

    Film 
  • Clone Troopers in Star Wars. They're obviously genetically members of an existing race, but they were specifically manufactured as soldiers, maturing at an accelerated rate and made genetically inclined to be docile and obey orders (probably including "ignore orders from the enemy").
  • The Lord of the Rings films have the Orcs. Neither Saruman or Sauron are orcs but that doesn't stop them from using them for their armies - the Orcs' pact with evil goes back a long way, right back to their creation by Morgoth, in fact. Saruman even created his own superior breed of Orc based off the 'Uruk-Hai' template first used by forces of Mordor just a few hundred years beforehand. That said, the orcs seemingly use trolls to this effect as well.
  • Koreans in Goldfinger. Auric likes them because they are "the cruelest people on Earth." Yeah...

    Literature 
  • In Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series, The Piper creates the New Nithlings in order to be his servants and army.
  • The Orcs of The Lord of the Rings were created by Morgoth from corrupted Elves. (Maybe.) Several thousand years and some changes in the nature of reality itself later, the wizard Saruman managed to make them stronger and properly resistant to sunlight (probably by crossbreeding them with Men). Saruman didn't pioneer this technique - the forces of Mordor were the first to develop the Uruk-Hai - but his specimens were arguably of un-rivaled quality.
    • Trolls, too, were created by Morgoth in mockery of the Ents. In the Third Age Sauron took the use of them to new heights with the creation of the 'Olog-Hai', a superior breed of trolls which were trained to use armour and weaponry. They were employed to devastating effect in the Siege of Gondor.
  • In the Discworld's Unseen Academicals it is revealed that the Evil Emperor of Überwald did the same thing except he just used humans—although most people think he used goblins. It's also revealed the orcs were driven into battle by men with whips—which Glenda points out means you can't judge them as Always Chaotic Evil based on that.
  • The Howlers from the Animorphs books are a particularly interesting example since instead of the usual blind obedience or aggression, their creator made them so that they had almost child-like minds and thought that fighting and killing was a game.
    • The Hork-Bajir are a variation on the customization variant, since they were turned into a henchman race by being made into controllers. They were actually genetically engineered to (unknowingly) fulfill this role to a third race called the Arn, which the Yeerks wiped out.
    • And the Taxxons, who voluntarily became a henchman race.
  • The various shadowspawn from The Wheel of Time were created by Aginor to serve the Dark One and the Forsaken. Most, such as the Trollocs and Myrdraal, do so without problems- others, like the Gholam, are much more dangerous and difficult to control.
  • Young Uplifted species from the Uplift series. Client races are indentured to their Patrons for 100,000 years or more. They can also be treated (badly) as traditional Henchmen, including being used as cannon fodder. Some semi-legal species are specially made as weapons. Non-evil examples from the 'good' Patrons happen, but indentured servitude is generally insisted upon anyway because this has been the accepted practice since the dawn of sentience. Humans, being universally loathed anyway for having no creator race, consider the tradition to be a major reason for the Modern Stasis every other race is stuck in and subvert it meticulously with their own client races: neo-chimpanzees, dogs and dolphins, monitoring them as supervisors and counsellors but otherwise granting them as much independence as their competence allows.
  • The Sranc from The Second Apocalypse were bred by the Inchoroi to form the bulk of their army.
  • The eponymous shadows Philonecron steals in The Shadow Thieves are the souls of Zee and Charlotte's friends and fellow students, which Philonecron was using to make an army to overthrow Hades.
  • The James Bond novels are infamously racist, but Goldfinger takes the bigotry cake and swallows it whole. Goldfinger's henchmen race is Koreans, because they are apparently "hey are the cruelest, most ruthless people in the world". He only hires Koreans for this reason. Yeah. And lest you think this is Deliberate Values Dissonance, Bond agrees with him:
    Bond intended to stay alive on his own terms. Those terms included putting Odd-Job or any other Korean firmly in place, which in Bond’s estimation was lower than apes in the mammalian hierarchy.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe
    • Many races have origins serving this function for the Rakata. The Noghri however regain the hat after the decline of the Precursors after Darth Vader tricks them back into this role until Leia uses her status as heir to release them.
    • The Arkanians, a race of mad scientists, genetically engineered various sub-species of their own race, generally referred to as "Arkanian Offshoots," as servants. They had a distinctly different appearance than baseline Arkanians, and were treated somewhere between second-class citizens and vermin.
    • Ever wondered why the Hutts have the Nikto, Klatooinians, and Vodrans amongst them? They're all vassal races of the Hutts.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Planescape, as stated on The Other Wiki, "The Tanar'ri are a race of numerous demons originally created by the Always Chaotic Evil Obyriths as slaves."
    • The Obyriths bit is a Retcon from 3rd Edition, which used the planes but not Planescape. However, most other planar races can be divided up by whether they are "naturally occurring" expressions of their plane, or created as servitors for the gods. Oddly enough, the most clearly identifiable Henchmen Races work for the good gods, as the good gods share what works - the Aasimon (angels) are available to all the good gods, and some other races (like the Asuras, Per, and Einhariar) are shared among subsets of the good gods or specific pantheons. Evil gods are more secretive and create their own agents or recruit from the dead souls of a particular race.
  • Technically speaking, every existing species in Exalted was intended as this (although it was most overt for the Dragon Kings to the gods and the Jadeborn to Autochthon), and the Exalted have a few of their own as well (the Solars engineered numerous races, and the Lunars typically breed beastmen). Primordials/Yozis have the most direct examples in their First Circle Devas/Demons (custom made spiritual servitor races, in contrast to the Second and Third Circles, who are their patrons' literal souls).
  • The hat of the Old Ones of Warhammer 40,000 is this. Of course, every time it backfired horribly: to fight the Necrons and their masters C'tan, the Old Ones created various psychically-gifted races (including the Eldar) to exploit their enemies weakness against the power of the Immaterium, succeeding in driving them back but with the collateral effect of twisting the Immaterium into the Warp and unleashing the Enslaver Plague on the galaxy; to fight the Enslaver Plague, they created the Orkz, a Proud Warrior Race that loves fighting for fighting's sake that fought off the Enslavers with enormous collateral damage. It's not clear if the Slann are what remains of the Old Ones or another Henchmen Race of theirs, but in both cases the Old Ones are not that important anymore.
    • The Kroot fill this role to the Tau Empire, as they are hired guns who serve in close quarter combat, which the Tau are fall short of.

    Video Games 
  • Technically speaking this is more or less the point of a King Mook, for example Bowser leads the Koopas and Goombas (bar the good ones). Often though the Mook King is more of a general overall in the villain's army.
  • Sligs from the Oddworld series. They're essentially the same as their bosses, the Glukkons, only less enterprising. Unlike some of the examples of this trope, they're completely unsympathetic, as they are shown to be totally sadistic, conniving jerks. They're also examples of the 'modification' variety, since they weren't created by the Glukkons, but they were outfitted with legs and guns by them.
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, it's implied that half-ogres were bred for this purpose by gnomes, but then it's revealed that it's all fake- or not, it got confusing. They were. You can even find breeding facility. But you just can't prove anything.
  • The obscure strategy game O.R.B as this as a major plot point. The two playable races were created by a Precursors race and they're at war because they believes the other destroyed their creators. The main enemy race is also an example, and it's never settled if the fourth race is or not.
  • The Reapers in the Mass Effect series have the Keepers and the Collectors. The former were kept as docile as possible to keep their Artifact of Doom In Working Order without attracting attention, while the latter were highly genetically modified to serve as general muscle. Husks of assorted types are the "converted" types. Also, the Keepers have since been sabotaged, so they no longer work completely as intended because they don't respond to the Reaper signal to shut down the Citadel. A splinter faction of the Geth were actively trying to gain this status in the first game by helping them.
  • In Halo, the Jackals, Elites, and Brutes serve primarily as military muscle for the Covenant's Prophets, while the Drones all think of said Prophets as their "queens". However, the trope is played with in that the Elites also have substantial political power of their own within the Covenant (being the only other race with High Council representation), while the Jackals are at heart independent-minded pirates who spend as much time robbing their superiors as they do fighting for them.
    • After the Covenant falls apart post-Halo 3, its various races have largely tried to go their own ways (with varying degrees of success), with the Elites having the most to relearn about how to maintain their own society.
  • Overlord has the Minions who serve the Evil Overlord protagonist as either frontline fighters (Browns), ranged specialists (Reds), assassins (Greens) or medics (Blues). They'll also take care of any grunt work needed. This is so essential to their existence that they actively recruit the overlord in both games.
  • Dragon's Dogma has a heroic example in the form of Pawns. They're basically homunculi who only exist to aid the Arisen in defeating the dragon.

    Webcomics 
  • This is SOP for many Sparks in the Girl Genius 'verse, particularly those well-disposed towards biology. (Those more inclined towards metalworking may settle for an army of Clanks instead.) The most notable example is, of course, the Jagerkin, created as fanatical and nigh-unstoppable footsoldiers by the old Heterodynes... the fact that they're still around today, and prospering despite the absence of their masters, is testament to their impressive engineering...
  • The "ghouls" from Sluggy Freelance were these for Leono, an alien who bred them by sleeping with random women. Because "asexual reproduction is for wussies!"

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Possible Real Life example: Dogs. Before mankind had even managed to figure out agriculture, we managed to take a competing predator, the wolf, and through selective breeding turned it into something that often looks nothing like a wolf, wants nothing more than to please us, and serves dozens of functions. Somewhat subverted in that the devotion isn't one way and, according to some studies, neither was the modification. The Soviets repeated the process in a much shorter time frame by domesticating the silver fox in less than fifty years, It helped that they knew what they were doing and had the ability to restrain the undomesticated generations. Lacking either of those, the original dog domestication probably took quite a while longer.

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