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Henchmen Race

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As You Know, 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.

This often goes hand in hand with the presence of a King Mook. Often, though, the King Mook is more of an overall general in a greater villain's army.

May lead to Always Chaotic Evil, depending on the work. May overlap with Servant Race and Clone Army. When combined with Woobie Species, it results in an army of Sympathetic Sentient Weapons.


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    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.
  • Crest of the Stars: Originally, the Abh were this. They are now at war with descendants of their creators.
  • Dragon Ball Z: The Saibamen, who are spawned from seeds by the Saiyans to serve as disposable grunts.
  • Macross: As established in Super Dimension Fortress Macross, the Zentradi were created by the Protoculture as giant warriors to police their space. Wary of the threat of a Zentradi rebellion, the Protoculture implanted in them a directive to not attack the human-sized Protoculture members, which came to bite them in the ass when their experiment to create a more powerful Henchmen Race went horribly wrong, becoming the Protodeviln, who started raising an army of mind-controlled Protoculture that the Zentradi were unable to fight. To contain the threat, the free Protoculture deactivated the directive. That bit them 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.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Skrulls are often used by non-Skrulls as mooks. Then again, even when the Skrulls attack on their own, the entire race seems 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:
      • The titular race of super-beings were 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.
      • The Alpha Primitives are a slave race created by the Inhumans, first appearing in Fantastic Four #47. Because of the Inhumans' low population, they created a labor force of hominids bred to be strong, but of limited intelligence. They were also rendered unable to breed, being produced only by cloning.
  • Darkseid's Parademons in New Gods. Whether they're created as they are or modified from "normal" citizens of Apokolips (or some of each), they're super-strong, tough, nearly feral, and obey Darkseid's orders without question. Only two or three have exhibited an individual identity or the ability to speak.
  • Star Trek: Early Voyages: In the two-part story "The Fallen", the Chakuun serve as the shock troops of the Tholian Assembly, destroying various Federation colonies at the behest of their masters.

    Fan Works 
  • Kage: Meridian didn't have any other shapeshifters than the bestial Mogriffs one millennium ago. By the time Prince Kronos usurped the throne, he had his sorcerers study the Mogriffs' abilities and instill them into members of Meridian's sentient races. The first created shapeshifters helped Kronos rule with an iron fist until his downfall. Those not imprisoned scattered amidst Meridian's population, with most of their descendants living as recluses these days. There are still unfounded accusations of them all being vile and in service to Prince Phobos, partly because of Cedric's status as The Dragon.
  • Ripples: The first shapeshifters (or Changelings) were originally human criminals and other social outcasts taken from Earth (the early Roman empire, specifically) and transformed to serve as the Elite Army of Meridian's royal family. It was not until one of the following queens attempted to exterminate them out of fear that they rebelled. The survivors and their descendants have lived as rejects of Meridian's society since then. After Phobos takes the throne, he reinstates them to their original purpose.

    Film — Animation 
  • Despicable Me: The Minions were apparently created by Gru, though as of their very own movie they were retconned into a race that has existed since prehistoric times serving any bad guy they find.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Frankenstein Island, Sheila Frankenstein has created a race of guard creatures by experimenting on shipwrecked sailors. They are programmed to be the perfects and have no blood, making them unstoppable by anything short of being cut in half by a machine gun. Some of them are prone to fits of unstoppable rage, however.
  • The Lord of the Rings has 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.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Thanos the Mad Titan has a couple of henchmen races under his employ that he lets his allies borrow. In The Avengers (2012), he gives a Chitauri army to Loki so he can take over Earth, while Ronan the Accuser has Sakaarians working as mercenaries for him in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Thanos himself deploys his Outriders — four-armed Xenomorph-looking monsters — to invade Earth in Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Star Wars: Clone Troopers. 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").

  • Animorphs:
    • The Howlers 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.
    • The Taxxons voluntarily became a henchman race in exchange for the Yeerks helping them to sate their eternal, mind-breaking hunger.
  • Cronus Chronicles: The eponymous shadows Philonecron steals 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.
  • Discworld':
    • In 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 Igors also count, though most of them don't work for outright villains anymore, and one is even employed by the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.
  • 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 "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.
  • Keys to the Kingdom: The Piper creates the New Nithlings in order to be his servants and army.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The Orcs 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.
  • Second Apocalypse: The Inchoroi are masters of Organic Technology and have created a number of "weapon races", ranging from the orc-like Sranc to the draconic Wracu, for the express purpose of wiping out humanity.
  • Star Wars: The Expanded Universe has many examples (especially the Legends continuity):
    • Many races, including humanity, 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 all became vassal races of the Hutts after their homewards were conquered or bought out from under them.
    • Stormslayer have Fulgurites, a group of goblin-like critters piloting the Eye of the Storm. They're born and bred by the vessel's lord, the Weathermage Balthazar Sturm, and exists solely to serve Sturm and commandeer his ship.
  • Tenabran Trilogy: Deconstructed. Goblins are a peaceful and artistic people of ancient lineage, but as a species they have a low resistance against telepathic domination that makes them really handy to anyone with mind-control powers and a sudden desire to field an army. Because they generally keep to themselves when they're not being forced to do an evil overlord's bidding, most humans have only encountered them on the battlefield and think they're an Always Chaotic Evil henchman race.
  • Uplift: Young Uplifted species are this to their creators. 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 (or, as the other species see it, claiming to have 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 Wheel of Time: The various shadowspawn 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: The Drakh were this to the Shadows, making their home on the same planet until it was blown up. The Streib were also Shadow lackeys — they're the ones we see doing the creepy surgical work to prepare captive sentients for things like becoming battlecrab CPUs, or taking on Keepers. The relationship between these races and the Shadows, and their roles, is further detailed in the Expanded Universe Technomage Trilogy novels and their prequel The Shadow Within.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Ogrons — featured in the stories "Day of the Daleks", "Frontier in Space", and very briefly in "Carnival of Monsters" — have been mooks of both the Daleks and the Master. Even the Daleks, though not completely original, were created by Davros by heavily mutating and converting an existing race, the Kaleds, in order to fight under him. The Daleks are further seen with another race of pig slaves under their command in "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks".
    • The Tivoli, introduced in "The God Complex", are an unusual example in that they naturally evolved that way: they are a race of rat people who have the dubious honor of living on the most easily conquerable alien planet ever. "Ruled by alien warlord" has been the default form of government for most of their history, and they eventually decided to just go along with it.
  • Farscape: The Sebaceans are a strange example. The Eidelons created them by genetically modifying primitive humans and used them to assist with negotiations and peacekeeping, not violence. Given what they turned into after the Eidelons vanished, though, they could certainly be considered a more traditional henchmen race as well.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: The Orcs were enslaved first by Morgoth, and later by Sauron. The show delves in their origin and explore the ethical themes behind it. They were Elves once, possibly from Beleriand, and were used by Morgoth as henchmen, and by Sauron as lab rats. Adar, an Orc who retained most of his Elvish threats, got tired of seeing the Orcs used by evil overlords and decided to take matters into his own hands and give them the freedom and home they never had by temporary killing Sauron and turning the Southlands into Mordor, where they could thrive without serving other masters.
  • Power Rangers: Rita, in the original series, had minions known as Putties that she had to create on her own. Later seasons gave us the Tengas, the Piranhatrons, the Sting Wingers, Batlings, Putrids, Kelzacks, Tyrannodrones, Hidiacs/Styxoids, Lava Lizards/Chillers, and Moogers/Spitfangs.
  • Stargate SG-1: The Jaffa are examples of the "take an existing race and modify it" variety.
  • Hidrer Soldiers in Dengeki Sentai Changeman are impish blue aliens hatched from eggs to serve as grunts for the Gozma.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Jem'Hadar and maybe the Vorta are this to the Founders. Word of God says that the Jem'Hadar were an existing race whose DNA the Founders messed around with, though this is never made explicit on the series, and the Vorta are a bit complicated. The first Vorta we meet claims that they threw in their lot with the Dominion voluntarily at first and some of them are having second thoughts, but she turned out to be The Mole, meaning this should be taken with a large grain of salt even if it doesn't fall under Early-Installment Weirdness. A later Vorta tells a story that sounds much like an Aesop's Fable that points to their being a pre-existing but non-sentient species that was "uplifted" by the Founders. What is certain is that the Vorta are Middle Management Mooks and/or some sort of officer class with the Jem'Hadar being the disposable grunts.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Most planar races can be divided up by whether they are "naturally occurring" expressions of their plane, or created as servitors for the gods or other powerful entities.
    • 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.
    • In Planescape, the Tanar'ri — the demons — were originally created by the ancient Obyriths as slaves. Then they rebelled, destroyed most of the Obyriths and took over the Abyss for themselves.
  • Exalted: Technically speaking, every species in existence was intended as this for some group or another (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 for the purpose). 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).
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Creating such races is something of the Old Ones' hat. 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 Orks, a Proud Warrior Race that loves fighting for fighting's sake that fought off the Enslavers with enormous collateral damage.
    • 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. In turn, the Tau Ethereal Caste was created by the Eldar, although the precise reason why is unknown.
  • Warhammer Fantasy:
    • The Hobgoblins act as this for Chaos Dwarfs, as the latter are very few in number and utilize them as slavers and auxiliaries to fill out their ranks. At one point, when the Dawi-Zharr were more numerous, they used all the races of Greenskins as well as Ogres as servants. Then they decided to create a new, perfect, slave race — stronger, smarter, more obedient, and more cooperative than the others. The resulting Black Orcs used these strengths to lead a massive slave revolt that reduced the Chaos Dwarfs to their current limited numbers and then ran off. After that, they mostly stuck with Hobgoblins and the occasional Ogre, both of which can at least be generally bribed to stay loyal.
    • The Lizardmen are a Henchmen Race to a Henchmen Race. The Slann were the froglike servants of the Old Ones, and are extremely powerful wizards (one of them is a corpse and still kicks more ass than a standard wizard), who then created the Saurus, Kroxigor and Skinks serve as basic troops, heavy labor and priests, attendants and bureaucrats, and domesticated the local dinosaurs.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Halo, the Jackals, Grunts, Hunters, Elites, and Brutes serve primarily as military muscle for the Covenant's Prophets, while the Drones all think of said Prophets as their "queens" and the Engineers work to maintain the Covenant's technology and infrastructure. 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.
  • Mass Effect: The Reapers 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.
  • Oddworld: Sligs. 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.
  • ORB has 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.
  • 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.
  • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue have the Batlings from the TV series, depicted in video game form, who appears so frequently they're the only non-boss enemy the entire game!
  • Shantae: The Tinkerbats are a race of shadowy humanoids that loyally serve Risky Boots, and previously, the Pirate Master. As their name suggests, they're very good at tinkering with gadgets in top of the traditional henchmen jobs of Zerg Rushing and plundering.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The Mogu were created by the Titans to act as soldiers in a war against the races aligned with the Old Gods. After the Titans left and the Mogu were transformed by the Curse of Flesh they fell to infighting. The Thunder King united the people with the goal of continuing their service to the Titans by fighting against the Mantid.
    • The Saurok were created by the Mogu artificially evolving basilisks. The resulting species was meant to act as cannon fodder in their wars but the Saurok eventually rebelled, having adopted the worst traits of the Mogu.
    • The Stoneborn of Revendreth are the realm's soldiers, created by carving gargoyles from stone and then infusing them with anima. They are very intelligent and have free will but are also extremely loyal both to Sire Denathrius and Revendreth as a whole.
    • An in-game journal heavily implies the Nathrezim were created by Sire Denathrius to act as his spies by infiltrating and subverting the other cosmic powers.

  • Girl Genius: This is SOP for many Sparks, particularly those well-disposed towards biology. Those more inclined towards metalworking may settle for an army of Clanks instead. The most notable example is the Jägerkin, created as fanatical, nigh-unstoppable and hat-obsessed 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.
  • Sluggy Freelance: The "ghouls" were these for Leono, an alien who bred them by sleeping with random women. Because "asexual reproduction is for wussies!"

    Western Animation 
  • Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!: The Tomatoes are the henchmen race of Dr. Gangreene, and are fully sapient.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Grubs and the Brain Pods (scientists) serving under Emperor Zurg.
    • The Grubs are Zurg's equivalents to the LGMs of Star Command (though far less competent). They perform mechanical and technical duties. The Grubs work for Zurg against their will and also desire freedom, but many of them are simply too afraid to try to defect.
    • The Brain Pods are cybernetic brains in mobile jars, who serve Zurg as scientists and researchers. Although they take pride in their creations, they secretly harbor a desire to escape from Zurg's control.
  • Free Willy: Early in the series, The Machine jettisons his ship's skipper, a rather nervous fellow by the name of Captain Frye, revealing he has created, à la Frankenstein, four green, slimy, synthetic henchmen called Amphonids from inanimate toxic waste.
  • Looney Tunes: The Instant Martians employed by Marvin the Martian in "Hare-Way to the Stars".
  • The Raccoons: The Bears as workers of Cyril Sneer.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: The Goblins as servants of Samhain. Samhain also has the power to control every spirit or ghost in town.
  • Star Street: The Adventures of the Star Kids: The Blub Blubs are green blob creatures who communicate by saying their name. They work for Momo the Glutton.
  • In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, the Ogres as servants of Duke Igthorn and the Troggles (jackal-like creatures) to Lady Bane.
  • The Transformers: The Transformers themselves were originally created to be a henchmen race by the Quintessons. The Transformers didn't like this arrangement and ended up rebelling in the distant past, overthrowing the Quintessons and driving them into hiding. In Transformers: The Movie, they're served by the Sharkticons, but their Bad Boss tendencies were apparently just as bad as the Sharkticons also ended up rebelling (after being inspired by Grimlock telling them to execute the Quintessons instead of the Autobots).

    Real Life 
  • 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.
  • Most termite colonies have a special caste of "soldiers" bred for no purpose other than killing other creatures and defending the termite nest. They can't even feed themselves without help from worker termites. They're basically insect Living Weapons.