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"Wesnoth Orcs are brown; a portrait showing them as green is inconsistent."
Artistic Guidelines for Contributing Artists from the open-source game Battle for Wesnoth

Ever since Tolkien, the worlds of fantasy literature and video games have been overrun with tribes of ugly, bellicose humanoids, whose main purpose for existence is to serve as the Mooks of the Forces of Evil. Trolls, goblins and/or hobgoblins (and such) are usually also closely associated with them, or may just be different names for the same thing.


The word orc comes from Old English and shares linguistic roots with ogre, borrowed from French. Both terms are related to the Latin Orcus, the name of an Etruscan/Roman god of The Underworld which came to denote the place itself (like Greek Hades). Later, Orcus was glossed as a term for a demon or hell itself. Thus, the Old English word orc, as attested by medieval glossaries—as well as cognates in other languages like French ogre and Italian orco—denoted a kind of demon or monster. However, the only appearance of orc in surviving Old English literature comes from Beowulf in the form orcnéas, "demon-corpses", sometimes translated as "living dead"—ghouls, perhaps? Orcnéas are said to be evil creatures descended from Cain, together with eotenas (giants), ylfe (elves) and gigantas (giants, again, so eotenas is sometimes translated as ogres or trolls). note 


In modern fiction, Orcs come in two general flavors: the original model developed by J. R. R. Tolkien who borrowed the word from Beowulf and used it for his version of goblins, and a revisionist model best exemplified (but far from invented) by Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft series.

Tolkienesque or "traditional" orcs:
Top: Orcs from The Lord of the Rings
Bottom: Orks from Warhammer 40,000

  • Are Always Chaotic Evil.
  • Often have pig-like snouts or upturned noses that resemble pig snouts. (Sometimes taken one step further by actually giving them pig heads, like in early editions of Dungeons & Dragons.) May have tusks. This is likely drawn from the fact that "orc" is Welsh for "pig", and Welsh was the inspiration for Tolkien's Sindarin. This look was popularized in Japan by RPGs like Dragon Quest. Often called Porcs on the internet, a pun on "pork".
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  • Are of varying colors; ranging from sallow to gray to red. Green is not unknown, though generally not the vibrant green of "Blizzard" orcs (Dungeons and Dragons orcs are grayish-green).
  • Are most likely to be Faceless Goons/Mooks.
  • Are usually carnivorous or hypercarnivorous, often cannibalistic. If not, they may instead be Extreme Omnivores.
  • Are dumb, though this is a case of Flanderization: Tolkien's Orcs did have superior technology matched or exceeded only by the Numenorians and Dwarves, and possibly the greatest of the Elves.
  • Have little or no culture outside of raiding/war parties and worshiping gods of war or the local Evil Overlord.
  • Related to the above two points, they tend not to invent anything, but steal/corrupt things others have made.
  • Usually have oppressive, patriarchal societies, with females being treated as property, provided if female orcs are shown or mentioned. In Tolkien, female orcs were never shown or discussed, though it seems they must have existed. It's possible that orcs in this case exhibit no sexual dimorphism, and so males and females could not be distinguished without taking a look under the hood. The film bypassed this by having the Uruk-hai created whole from the Earth.
  • Are oftentimes made solely as artificial creatures rather than reproducing naturally, thus explaining the aforementioned lack of females.
  • Are of variable strength and size, shorter than humans or elves but taller than dwarves.
  • Are often hunched or stooped in build or posture with awkward musculature and proportions, and may lope like a great ape when running.
  • May or may not have a British cockney accent (as popularized by LOTR and Warhammer 40,000).

Blizzard-style or "revisionist" orcs
Top: Thrall, the most prominent exemplar of this type, from WarCraft
Bottom: An Orsimer from Skyrim

  • Are a Proud Warrior Race with an extensive honor system inspired by the Japanese, the Norse, or other "warrior" cultures. They've been referred to as "green Klingons" in the past.
  • Have intelligence on par with humans and other races (though other races might not see it that way). Their technology and magic might even be on par with humans and elves, though their magic will be more shamanic than arcane, and their technology will be more "earthy".
  • Are far more likely to have a more fully fleshed-out culture than Tolkienesque orcs. But unlike other races, they rarely have a direct real-world counterpart, but are instead a mishmash of various tribal cultures, although most can be summed up as Proud Warrior Race Guys.
  • Have an animist and/or shamanistic religious structure.
  • Are more likely to be omnivorous.
  • Are more likely to have cities or settlements beyond war camps, although other races will likely still consider them barbaric and primitive.
  • May appear rugged and violent to other races because historically they lived in dangerous environments that have very few resources available so they resort to a spartan way of life.
  • Are more likely to have females portrayed, gender equality or even female leaders. Although sexual dimorphism does exist, Orcish women are expected to fight to exactly the same degree as men, and usually also have the same degree of martial ability. More fearsome females may exemplify the beastess trope.
  • Have green skin and tusks, and are physically similar to (some) trolls from European folklore.
  • Have simian rather than porcine features (though this varies by setting), and they aren't necessarily outright repulsive. They can even be attractive, with the women shown as Amazonian beauties and the men burly and ruggedly handsome.
  • Are larger than humans and nearly always stronger. An Orc will be probably about 6-8 feet tall, and much more stocky and robustly built. Limbs are close to a foot thick. Competitive Balance usually ensures that this does not make them superior to other races in battle: elves are still much more agile and attuned to nature or magic, dwarves have comparable strength, toughness and superior equipment, and humans have superior logistics, tactics, and coordination on the battlefield.
  • May have incredibly thick muscle, broad chests and shoulders and somewhat elongated arms, but generally stand upright and appear undeniably humanoid.
  • Are vastly more likely to be protagonists or at least supporting characters as opposed to rank-and-file Mooks.

Although the two interpretations differ significantly, they broadly share both a monstrous, primitive appearance and conflict with humanity and the other Five Races. The author's choice of which model to emulate usually depends on whose perspective the story is written from, the story's relative position on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, and whether or not the author intends to explore ramifications of killing sentient beings. In any case, expect humans to treat revisionist orcs as if they were Tolkienesque orcs, at least initially.

In modern fiction, "orc" is sometimes spelled as "ork", both to make the orcs that much more different and for Xtreme Kool Letterz appeal. For whatever reason, 'orc' is usually the spelling in Medieval fantasy, while 'ork' is the norm in modern or futuristic settings. The form "orke" appeared in early modern English during the Renaissance period, perhaps influenced by the French "ogre". Tolkien considered spelling it "ork" late in his life, but never got around to revising his published stuff for it.

Orcs typically share a close relationship with Goblins, and indeed Tolkien originally used the words "orc" and "goblin" more or less interchangeably, though modern fantasy typically separates them into distinct species. Orcs are also frequently associated with other monstrous humanoid races. See: Our Ogres Are Hungrier, All Trolls Are Different and Our Giants Are Bigger. The trope often overlaps with Pig Man, though the pun on "pork" is linguistically coincidental. They are often the "adopting" parent when a child is Raised by Orcs.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The series being a Japanese work, the orcs of Daily Life with Monster Girl are Pig Men of human-level intelligence. Typical for the series, while the males closely resemble the "Boar-men" orcs of Dragon Quest, the females shown in spinoffs are attractive humanoids who are a Little Bit Beastly instead.
  • Orcs in The Death Mage Who Doesn't Want A Fourth Time look like bipedal pigs and are a One-Gender Race that needs to use females of other races to reproduce. While lesser orcs are generally mindless beasts who are spawned by Dungeons, the Noble Orcs, who were created to control the lesser ones in the distant past, can be just as intelligent and civilized as humans. Our protagonist ends up creating a new variant of orc with his magic by accident named Orcus, black orcs who are just as big and intelligent as Noble Orcs.
  • Delicious in Dungeon's orcs have porcine noses but are primarily Blizzard-style, respecting strength and courage and despising cowardice. They have a wholly justified reputation as murderous raiders, but the humans and elves they target can't be called innocent, having historically committed their own fair share of atrocities against the orcs.
  • In That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, orcs are initially portrayed as type 1, being an army of over 100,000 savages who trample through the land, killing and eating anyone they encounter. However, it turns out that they were only acting that way due to the influence of Geld's "Starved" skill (which allows them to absorb the power of anyone they eat at the cost of feeling perpetual hunger]], which Geld himself only accepted to learn because his nation was suffering from a severe famine. Once Geld is defeated, the orcs turn into a rather peaceful people who are happily accepted into Rimuru's nation of monsters.

    Board Games 
  • Dark Tower: The Brigands, although bearing antlers and beaks, clearly serve the function of Tolkienian orcs.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Orcs had a presence in early sets, before growing out of focus due to goblins taking over the niche of small Red-aligned creatures, leaving little need to maintain orcs as a separate creature type. They made a reappearance in the Khans of Tarkir expansion after being absent for about fifteen years. While early orcs were exclusively aligned with Red mana (the color of impulsivity, emotion, chaos and ferocity), modern orcs are split fairly evenly between Red and Black (the color of self-interest, ambition and amorality).
      • Early orcs don't fit the Tolkensian archetype or the Warcraft archetype very well. Rather, they are sort of "goblins, but bigger (and somehow even dumber)". Their primary distinguishing characteristics are their supreme cowardice and complete incompetence; early orc cards were printed with abilities that made it difficult or impossible to force them into any combat that would kill the orc, while others had ridiculous drawbacks for minor effects that made them a bigger liability to their controller than the opponent outside of overly complicated combos.
        They warn the army of danger as they squawk past in swift retreat.Ironclaw Buzzardiers Flavor Text
      • Orcs on Tarkir are much closer to Blizzard's orcs. They are often found as warriors in the Mardu or Abzan clans.
      • Ixalan's orcs, found in the Brazen Coalition, are Blood Knights who have been known to raid their own ships if they go too long without plunder.
    • Orggs are a rare creature type created from the crossbreeding of orcs and ogres. They're characterized by their large and pointed ears, four arms and incredible stupidity.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In The Last Ringbearer, orcs avert and invert stereotypes of them — here, Mordor is a higly advanced civilization, with constitutional monarchy, universities, beautiful art and high scientific achievments, and they are destroyed by barbaric and genocidial hordes of humans and elves.
  • The Fall: Louise is familiar with the Tolkienesque types, coming from a medieval fantasy world infested with them herself. In the Mojave however, she is told a story of Super Mutants, who are capable of being the Blizzard types, if still having a penchant for violence, and usually not being that much smarter than her type. She even Lampshades it.
  • The Rainsverse: The caprataurs of the Everfree Forest bear a strong resemblance to Tolkienesque orcs. They are violent, cannibalistic, have little culture beyond demon-worship, and their females are little better than property. The Heartlands have been fighting off raids from their war-herds for as long as anypony can remember.
  • Prince Staghorn's Known World: True Orcs are a type of elf with a strict honor system. By contrast, the Orks are a type of sapient pig that are blatantly based on those in Warhammer 40,000. During the War of the Deer, two further varieties were created by crossbreeding Orcs with bicorns to serve as soldier races; the fierce but isolationist Urgals and the vicious Uruk-hai.
  • Splint: Orcs are based directly on the ones Tolkien created, but are depicted as more emotionally and morally complex beyond being simple Mooks, with some dashes of Blizzard-style orcs. Female orcs are clearly shown to exist — Rukhash explains that Saruman and Sauron kept a lot of the women back in the "breeding pits" to continuously supply Mordor's armies with soldiers, while the men were sent out into battle, which explains why no female orcs were seen in the novels.

  • Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have orcs as sharp-toothed humanoid monsters ranging from the very impish-looking goblins of the Misty Mountains to the hulking and brutish Uruk-hai of Isengard. Those that do speak do so in low-class British accents, with screechy or grating voices. Fitting with the pro-nature theme of the series, orcs are focused on ruthless industry, shown tearing down trees and building crude, jagged weapons of war in service of their dark masters.
  • The mid-80s Rankin/Bass version of The Return of the King blended the two, as the orcs were depicted as being forced to march to war and, in a Dream Sequence, are seen happily waving to Frodo and Sam as they pass by in the Shire.
  • WarCraft, being based on a game made by the Trope Codifier of Blizzard-style orcs, obviously has a multitude of examples of the latter type. There's a lot of women, and orcs have friendships, families, a Code of Honour and sacred traditions. The orc protagonist Durotan is treated as just as important as humans and questions and then opposes the actions and motivations of Gul'dan, the Sorcerous Overlord who commands the Horde.
  • Star Wars: The Gamorreans, first appearing in Return of the Jedi, are brutish, strong, green, pig-snouted and tusked, matriarchal, violent brutes with low intelligence, often used as minions and low-level grunts by Hutt crime lords.
  • In the Name of the King features the Krug, who are mindless humanoid monsters for the heroes to slaughter.
  • Bright: Orcs live integrated with humans and other races in a modern-day Earth. Orcs are pretty normal people for all of their racial differences. They maintain some vestiges of being a Proud Warrior Race, with the idea of being "blooded" having a central role in their society. They have intelligence roughly on par with humans, though they're stereotyped as dumb. The main orc character, Jakoby, is frequently slow on the uptake, but much of this might just be a combination of "doesn't understand human verbal play" and "inexperienced cop who hesitates," and he's more thoughtful, serious and idealistic than his human partner. They are apparently larger, heavier, stronger and slower the humans on average, and Jakoby exhibits some extraordinary toughness. They are extremely clannish and generally discriminated against by other races, making them second-class citizens in the wider society — so no wonder they're big on their own clans/gangs.

  • In NERO orcs are green and tusked. Half-Orcs generally look exactly like orcs but can be PCs. Whether they are of the Tolkienian or Blizzard variety seems to vary from tribe to tribe.

  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is, of course, the Trope Maker. Ironically, orcs are the least fleshed out race in Tolkien's work, and he was generally conflicted about basic aspects of the species. Tolkien orcs have, of course, most of the "classic" characteristics of the trope: they are short, ugly, fanged, sallow-skinned, violent, and serve as mooks for the Big Bad. They have human-level intelligence, however, as well as a good knowledge of technology. Tolkien never officially settled on an origin for Orcs. In some versions, they are an Always Chaotic Evil corruption of elves and therefore cannot procreate themselves. However, Tolkien also stated in writings that there had to be Orc women. Other writings even imply that there were orcs who actually resisted Sauron. As a devout Christian, Tolkien had moral issues with the idea of an Always Chaotic Evil species. Tolkien’s Orcs were also a very diverse lot, and numerous varieties were around during the War of the Ring, largely as a result of the various dark lords breeding them like livestock to suit their needs. To wit:
    • Firstly, there were the goblins of the Misty Mountains, sometimes referred to as northern Orcs or “Northerners”. They’re generally assumed to have descended from the survivors of Morgoth’s First Age armies, who fled beneath the Misty Mountains following their lord’s defeat. They’re usually described as smaller than other kinds, possibly from having lived underground and on their own for so long, possibly from their ancestors not being as “refined” for war as later breeds.
    • The Orcs of Mordor, also called Black Uruks or just Uruks,note  were the “main” breed of Orcs during the War of the Ring, large and strong and ferocious. Sauron bred them during the late Third Age from the remnants of Morgoth’s armies, in order to obtain a superior fighting force.
    • Then there were the Uruk-hai, more-or-less explicitly created from crossbreeding Orcs and Men and created by Saruman as elite soldiers. They were larger than other Orc types, and more upright and humanoid — the other Orcs were usually described as hunched over and ape-like. They did not fear the sun (most of Sauron’s and Morgoth’s creatures could not stand sunlight and did not travel by day) and were usually described as being better-organized and more dangerous foes than “common” Orcs.
    • There were also several lesser Orcs in Mordor and Isengard, usually referred to as “Snaga” (meaning “slave” in the Black Speech). These appeared to be used for labor and garrison duty, and were sent out to war when soldiers were particularly badly needed.
    • Finally, a specialized breed of small Orcs known as “snufflers” appeared to be meant to act as trackers, possessing a highly developed nose and sense of smell. Only one snuffler is seen in the books, in the service of Mordor.
  • The Ur-Example is the original Orks, which was the word for "Boar Monster" in an ancient mythology. Very few Orcs ever look anything like Boar Monsters, possibly except the huge fangs.
  • Also before Tolkien were the "swine-things" of William Hope Hodgson's The House on the Borderland: evil pig-men with glowing greenish skin, that ate their own dead and were even more bestial than Tolkien's orcs, going naked and sometimes running on all fours. Call them "proto-orcs", maybe.
  • Urgals in the Inheritance Cycle start out looking like Tolkien orcs, but it's revealed in the climax of book one that they were under mind control by the Shade Durza. In book 2, they prove to be more civilized and honorable than they originally seemed, and ally with the Varden against Gallbatorix. They do not have tusks, but have fur and horns, and also come in an oversized variety called Kull. They originated in the continent of Alalea, like the elves did, and followed them across the sea when the elves came to Alagaësia. In the modern day, they mostly live in the wildernesses of the Spine mountains.
  • Grunts! by Mary Gentle portrays orcs in a sort of middle ground between the two. The Orcs of Grunts! exhibit most of the characteristics of the classic "Tolkien" orc; carnivorously cannibalistic, porcine of face and nose and have a wide range of skin colors (from black to albino white, with shades of brown, green, and gray in between). They don't really have much interest in things outside of raiding and doing the bidding of the Nameless and the Dark Lord, until they come into contact with the cursed modern weapons, which upgrade them from pure evil mook status.
  • Trollocs fill the role of Tolkien orcs in The Wheel of Time. They are Mix-and-Match Critters, each sporting a blend of human and animal features. They come from a variety of clans, each of which has a name vaguely similar to a real-world mythological monster. They are strong, but stupid and cowardly. By the fourth book, none of the main characters have any trouble fighting off droves of them.
  • A fantasy trilogy by Stan Nicholls called Orcs: First Blood embodies this trope. It tells a fantasy story in which a unit or Orc grunts are the protagonists, participating in a war in which they have no investment and fighting for a leader they don't believe in — their own commanders simply transferred their contracts to the Evil Overlord (actually an Evil Overlady). Unsurprisingly, they decide to Screw Destiny and stop being faceless mooks.
  • In the Thraxas books by Martin Scott, there's a people called Orcs who more-or-less fit the "Blizzard" category, but their skin is apparently a dark reddish shade, and it's never made clear just what differentiates them from humans. They're referred to as ugly, but Thraxas has a friend who's half Human, a quarter Elf, a quarter Orc ... and all gorgeous. There's also a half-Orc villain who's described as being rather handsome, making it an unresolved question just what's wrong with the appearance of the pureblood Orcs.
  • John Ringo's Council Wars series features Tolkien orcs created in a future Earth using genetic modification and nanotech. The 'orcs' are the villains' idea of Super Soldiers. It doesn't work out very well, because the orcs are too aggressive to organize or train efficiently.
  • The ogrilloi from The Acts of Caine are slightly closer to Warcraft Orcs, with the exception of the Black Knife tribe, who are the ogrilloi that other ogrilloi tell horror stories about and act like Tolkien Orcs on a real bad day. In Matthew Stover's novels, "orc" is an Earth word for the species they view as an Aktir pejorative; on Overworld they're informally known as 'rilloes or grills. Ogrilloi differ from the typical depictions of orcs in their physiology (namely their quadripedal lope, ridged back, and fighting claws).
  • The 1993 short story "The Only Good Orc" by Liz Holliday features an orc trying to get out from under the usual stereotypes.
  • David Weber
    • Hradani from The War Gods series would be either Dark Elves or Orcs depending on your viewpoint. Seven feet or higher, prone to rages, living in a tribal society, used in the past as cannon fodder by Dark Wizards. They fit the Blizzard mold by being a proud, honorable warrior race, and the Tolkien pattern by having been "twisted" in the last (wizard) war from being so very peaceful and even tempered that they were named for it.
    • Scrags are genetically engineered Tolkien Orcs working for Mesa in Honorverse except for one Amazon Brigade who are Defectors From Decadence and slip into Proud Warrior Race Guy mode.
  • Discworld's orcs first appear in Unseen Academicals, where Pratchett wonderfully deconstructs the Tolkienesque, Always Chaotic Evil orc. To everyone on the Disc they're terrifying bogeymen from an ancient war, remembered as the typical Tolkienian orc. However, as it turns out, orcs were genetically (or, well, magically) engineered from humans as tactically-minded, nigh-immortal killing machines. They were then horribly abused by their Sauron-ish creator and given no option but to kill. The humans who won the war and wrote the history didn't know or didn't care about that, and set about exterminating them all. Mr. Nutt, the only orc in the story so far, is actually extremely hard-working, highly skilled, and has memorized basically an entire library, but is crippled by a need to "achieve worth"—because he's an orc, and, well, see Discworld's perception of them. He is able to become cultured, intelligent etc because Children Are Innocent, no matter what species they are, and when Nutt was found as a seven-year-old chained to an anvil, Mightily Oats cut him free and sent him to Lady Margolotta for an education, instead of getting the terrible conditioning other orcs went through. Nutt may have grey skin, retractable claws and enough strength in his skinny body to shatter any chain that binds him, but damn if he doesn't talk posher than a wizard.
  • In The Stormlight Archive the Parshendi are of the Proud Warrior Race variety mixed with Blue and Orange Morality. Though they switch over to the Mook of Evil version when they assume a "form of power" and are possessed by Voidspren.
  • In Monster Hunter International the orcs are definitely of the Blizzard variety; they originated in Uzbekistan, but were transplanted to Alabama where they act as allies to MHI. They also have a special ability that makes them each excel at a single skill. For example Skippy is the ultimate helicopter pilot while Gretchen is the ultimate healer.
  • In E.E. Knight's Age of Fire series, they are called blighters and, according to dragons at least, were the first sentient race. Dragons were in fact originally created to keep them from overwhelming the planet. They apparently once had a high-level civilization that dominated the other hominid races, but are now squabbling tribes that mostly fit the Tolkienian version of the race. That being said, they aren't Always Chaotic Evil, as the ones living in Old Uldam befriended by AuRon and Wistala at different points are still quite civilized and sophisticated to an extent.
  • The German Sci-Fi-Series Perry Rhodan gives us the alien race called 'Dscherro', which are blizzard-style orcs in all but name—green, stout, nomadic plunderers with foot-long horns on their heads. They invaded Earth at one point and laid quite the beat-down on the capital city of Terrania.
  • The koloss in the Mistborn books are a twist on this. They're enormous, blue-skinned, violent creatures who constantly grow throughout their lives until they become massive twelve-foot-tall beasts and die of heart failure. Their skin is loose and flabby when they're young but begins to stretch and rip as they age and grow larger. They also attack one another over the the most trivial things. It turns out that they are humans altered by having four "spikes" pounded into their bodies, which contain the power of hemalurgy, the Blood Magic of the Omnicidal Maniac god Ruin, which drives them into violent frenzies.
    • Interestingly, by the time of The Alloy of Law, set several hundred years after the Mistborn books and after Ruin was absorbed into Harmony, the koloss are less mindlessly violent, turning into a more Warcraft-style of orc with distinct cultures and tribal societies, and due to the influence of Harmony recreating the world, they have developed into their own distinct species capable of interbreeding with humans.
  • Jim Butcher's Codex Alera features the Canim, which have all of the Blizzard Orc traits except for green skin (being wolfmen instead). Until they get fleshed out in the fifth book, the Icemen have most of the Tolkien Orc traits with a layer of frost thrown over top. The Marat may also count, being "savage", physically powerful Neanderthal-descendants who bond with animals and periodically raid the outskirts of Aleran civilization — though they're only antagonists in the first book, and are firmly heroic in all the rest.
  • The Mutes in Patrick Tilley's Amtrack Wars series are mutated humans who have weird skin patterns and bony extrusions on their heads who fall into Blizzard territory but are regarded as Tolkienian by their enemies, the Federation.
  • The Orcs in Benjamin Epstein's Captive of the Orcs have inklings in both. No one kills more Orcs than other Orcs. And the combination of tribal wars mixed with an aggressive religion could conceivably lead to resembling the Tolkien Orcs, were they somehow able to unite under one banner.
  • In Richard Bartle's Learning to Live With Orcs, the orcs (along with fourteen other species like elves, dwarves, etc) are an offshoot of humans, but are neither Tolkienian nor Blizzardish — they're essentially lazy slobs (or so they appear at first). They resemble cats in that there ARE things they're good at — they're just not very interested. They have a complex social structure, are natural mathematicians, and drink a LOT.
  • New Jedi Order: The Yuuzhan Vong warrior caste are orcs IN SPACE! The other three major Vong castes (shaper, priest, intendant), who are less savage and more cunning, fall closer in many ways to Dark Elf status than anything, though, and the Vong's backstory confirms them as Space Elves gone bad. In any case, they follow a narrative trajectory somewhat similar to Blizzard's orcs, being initially portrayed as unrepentantly Always Chaotic Evil before being more fleshed out and finally doing a race-wide Heel–Face Turn.
  • The orcs from the Chronicles of Siala combine elements of the "Tolkien" and "Blizzard" elements, with a few twists. They're a Proud Warrior Race with a strong emphasis on personal honor, but are also high militarized with a bit of a fascist bent and consider themselves the Master Race because they are the "Firstborn", meaning the oldest intelligent race on the planetnote . They're very closely related to the elves, and unusually look very similar (both races have grey-brown skin, yellow eyes, and fangs — orcs are generally bulkier and have longer fangs, but it's often hard for outsiders to tell them apart at a glance). They're allied with the Nameless One, not because they're particularly loyal to him (after all, he's not an orc) but because they think he's their best bet for destroying their enemies, the elves and humans.
  • The Emberverse: The tribes of human cannibals that still exist (long after they've learned to find other food sources, they've turned it into a combination of ritual and sport) are referred to as yrch or orcs, especially by the Dunedain (a group of rangers funded by a rather kooky Tolkien fan).
  • Tim Marquitz's The Blood War Trilogy stars the Grol as the primary antagonists, being basically orc-werewolves. Their usual Always Chaotic Evil status is subverted by the Tolen, who are the same race but lack all of their kinsmen's I Am A Humanitarian The Horde qualities.
  • The Sorceress's Orc parodies the Tolkien orc cliché; the humans believe that orcs are Tolkien orcs, little more than animals. This, however, is nothing but Fantastic Racism. The orcs are actually as intelligent as humans, and their culture rather superior to that in which the human protagonist lives.
  • Alan Garner called the svart-alfar into being for his novel The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. The name literally means dark Elves, but the underground creatures have far more in common with Orcs or Goblins. In the sucessor novel The Moon of Gomrath, the place of evil footsoldier is taken by the bodachs from far Albany: these are a more lizard-like sort of goblin, still humanoid and intelligent enough to forge metal and organise as war-bands. The concluding novel in the trilogy, Boneland, pays Homage to a well-founded theory that as newer sub-species of the human race arose, the predecessor races they co-existed with and then succeeded over inevitably became the goblins, dwarves and Elves of our legend.
  • In Victoria, "Orcs" is an in-universe term for roving packs of black and Latino gangbangers who swarm out of the cities and terrorise the New England backwoods and rural communities inhabited by the white protagonists. Yeah...
  • Space Captain Smith: Morlocks (M'Lak in their own language) may be nicknamed after an H.G. Wells reference, but as a race of tall, strong, betusked, greenish, humorously homicidal headhunters, their racial concept is solidly in the orc mode. Atypically, they are on the protagonist's side.
  • Mithgar has Hloks, man-sized creatures with black skin, bat-winged ears, fangs, and a mean streak. They are related to both Rucks (Goblins) and Ogru (Trolls), with all three just being different sized variations on the same creature.
  • Just so you know that modern orcs are largely J. R. R. Tolkien's contribution, Paradise Lost's orcs are giant sea monsters similar to whales that are mentioned to abide by the beach where Noah landed his ark.
  • In A Practical Guide To Evil, orcs are a Proud Warrior Race, but it's hard to tell how much of that is biological. They do have millennia of interspecies hostility to blame for their fixation on conflict, but they're also obligate carnivores with a still-current tradition of eating the dead of their enemies. Recently they've gained more acceptance, and shown themselves quite capable of peace and discipline.
  • In the Fighting Fantasy Choose Your Own Adventure books, the orcs of the "Titan" setting are the illicit creation of the minor god Hashak, who served the Earth Goddess. Hashak hid them on Titan when ordered to destroy them, but the Dark Gods exploited his naivety and corrupted the first orcs with chaos and evil, afflicting them with malevolence and a tendency for Red Right Hand mutations. Since then, many sub-species formed through diversification, interbreeding with other species, and magical experimentation.
  • In The Salvation War, Orcs are the native inhabitants of hell and were enslaved by Satan and his demons when they invaded. Their native language, uniquely, is immune to the demons' (and presumably angels') tongues ability, though they can speak others. When the war goes really badly in hell, they start lynching their demonic oppressors (when they can).
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: The Jaghut are greyish-green skinned and tusked. By the time of the main series only a few Jaghut remain, but they are considered one of the four Founding Races and have a strong affinity to ice-aspected magic. Jaghut prefer to live in solitude, although some have been known as Jaghut Tyrants — powerful Jaghut who pretended to be as gods and enslaved the Imass, causing the latter to rebel and eventually to vow to hunt the Jaghut into extinction. Later books reveal that the Jaghut used to have a thriving civilization, which they simply gave up and walked away from because the Lord of Hate, aka Gothos, convinced them that civilization is pointless. A trait common to most Jaghut is their dry as dust sense of humour.
  • Second Apocalypse: The sranc are a race of monsters engineered to achieve sexual pleasure from violence and rape. As a homage to J. R. R. Tolkien, they are "corruptions" of the nonmen (the "elves" of this setting) and genetically engineered to have nonman faces. There is even a second, larger, better armored, and more disciplined breed called ursranc, Eärwa's own uruk-hai.
  • Chronicles of the Emerged World: Fammin — hairy, tusked humanoids with long arms, four-fingered hands and toes, and powerful claws — fill the niche of Tolkienian orcs, being a race artificially created by the Tyrant to serve as an army of remorseless killing machines. This worked less well than the Tyrant might have hoped, as some fammin retain enough conscience to dislike killing and war, and have to be magically forced to fight against their will.

    Live-Action TV 


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons was highly influential in making orcs a standard part of fantasy settings. The game's characterization of orcs varies widely based on the edition and campaign setting, (to say nothing of dungeon master interpretation). One of the monster guides gave a picture showing the different interpretations of the monsters including a Tolkien inspired orc. One trait that has remained consistent throughout editions is the ability to successfully interbreed with other races. Known orc hybrid races include the Tel-amhothlan (half-orc/half-elf) from Kingdoms Of Kalamar, the Dworg (half-orc/half-dwarf) from Midnight), the Losel (half-orc and half-baboon), the Orog (orc father/ogre mother, resulting in an orc with increased stature, vigor and intelligence), and the Ogrillon (orc mother/ogre father, a violent, dimwitted brute whose skin is covered in bony armor). This trait has become somewhat less pronounced as time has gone by — Orogs were presented as a smarter subrace of orcs originating from the Underdark in the 3rd edition Forgotten Realms'', whilst in 5th edition Orogs are the recipients of a divine blessing from the orc mother-goddess, Luthic.
    • Early editions of the core game follow Tolkien model fairly closely. Orcs are violent humanoids who dwell underground and find sunlight uncomfortable. They are said to be highly competitive and good tacticians. Earlier editions had them as Lawful Evil, but later editions made them Chaotic Evil. Half-orcs are also a playable race, receiving extra strength but lower charisma. In the first edition, Orcs were drawn as piglike creatures despite the description not mentioning this. As many early and popular JRP Gs, most notably Dragon Quest, based their monsters off of first edition Dungeons & Dragons illustrations, this helped popularized the "porc" look in Japan.
    • Second Edition and subsequent editions are largely Tolkien model, but include hints of the Blizzard model. Orcs are violent, stupid creatures who typically serve as fodder for low-level heroes to slaughter. They have a shamanistic (albeit violent) culture, and a more troll-like appearance. They are typically drawn with green skin, though this can vary. Edition 3.5 explicitly states that they have grey skin, though this is not borne out in most of the illustrations.
    • For the most part, the Forgotten Realms has followed the usual D&D variety straight, but it has been played with over time. The Legend of Drizzt series eventually saw the founding of the Kingdom of Many-Arrows, a legitimately recognized orc kingdom founded by a Visionary Villain, Obould Many-Arrows. In 4th edition, the Many-Arrows kingdom had been enjoying a real peace with its formerly hostile neighbors for decades, implying orcs in at least that part of the world were finally climbing out of their Always Chaotic Evil niche... and then 5th edition came in and had Many-Arrows destroyed and orcs cast out again, with Salvatore's novels claiming the gods themselves had denounced Many-Arrows' existence as an aberration in the natural order that never would have worked. Before Many-Arrows, there was Thesk, which wasn't a orc kingdom but as a result of a grand coalition involving a Zhentarim orcish mercenary army had a significant and mostly non-evil orcish minority from a while into 2E onward.
    • The Forgotten Realms are also home to the Ondonti, a rare group of pacifistic Lawful Good orcs who prefer to tend their farms and mind their own business. They're believed to be descendants of orcs who were saved by the clergy of a minor goddess of peace and agriculture who chose a third option to the traditional Orc Baby Dilemma.
    • Orcs in Eberron are somewhat "Blizzard orcs," but somewhat fulfill the role of elves in other settings (Eberron elves are a Proud Warrior Race). They have little actual conflict with the other races, are the best druids in the setting (despite a fullblooded orc getting a Wisdom penalty) and actually have a sort-of company that finds Dragonshards — crystals that are essential to create magic items. Their shamanistic culture is responsible for keeping one type of Cosmic Horror from causing The End of the World as We Know It.
    • In the Spelljammer setting, there's a villain race called the Scro, who are tougher than normal orcs, and are also more "civilised" (i.e. "usually Lawful Evil).
    • The D&D Adventure Drums on Fire Mountain introduced the kara-kara, a primitive race of green-skinned, island-dwelling orcs. Their primitive weaponry and garb are logical enough for humanoids living in such an environment. They also have afros. The race has been swept under the table for years due to accusations of political incorrectness.
    • Hobgoblins in D&D sit at a juxtaposition between this and Our Goblins Are Different. They also derive from the original Tolkienish model of the orc as a bestial humanoid dedicated to war and conquest, but more strongly take up the Hordes from the East aspect — the earliest hobgoblin artwork even depicts them wearing distinctly Japanese styled armor. The main difference in early versions of the game was that hobgoblins were more proactive and organized, whilst orcs tended to usually be busy fighting amongst themselves until somebody else took charge. From 3rd edition, the two races took a greater divergence; orcs became a Chaotic Evil Proud Warrior Race and hobgoblins became a Lawful Evil Proud Soldier Race.
  • Pathfinder
    • Orcs seem to look more like the Blizzard variety. However, to say that they act like the Tolkien variety would be to vastly underestimate their sheer batshittery. They also have varying appearances, with different bloodlines with more or less human blood. Because of this, they vary between Beast Man and Green-Skinned Space Babe, depending on the individual. Even the sourcebooks on them and their homeland of Belkzen pretty much portray them as irredeemable savages.
    • Half-orcs don't look quite as monstrous and do not have penalties to their Intelligence or Charisma.
    • Hobgoblins, as in 3e canon, are the Lawful Evil Proud Soldier Race to the orcs being a Chaotic Evil Proud Warrior Race. They were an attempt to engineer a Living Weapon against the elves from goblin base stock, though.
  • In Wicked Fantasy, a third-party setting for Pathfinder, orks were the standard Always Chaotic Evil raider race... until they decided that they hated it and murdered their malevolent creator-gods to try and forge their own path. Now, they've made a tentative peace with humanity. They're still war-like and rather creepy, with their religious philosophy about the value of pain, but they're not evil all the time anymore. Also, they weren't created by evil gods, but by a malevolent race of amoral scholarly Snake People called the Hassad.
  • Warhammer Orcs are a ruthless, violent and undisciplined species who love fighting. Their culture is war-centered, but includes Shamans. They worship Gork and Mork, one of whom is "cunningly brutal" and the other "brutally cunning." Physically they are large, strong, and tougher than humans. Their official skin color has been solidified as bright green. They are also genderless, producing by spores. Orc armies often include a number of other greenskin races, such as goblins. They have thick Cockney accents written phonetically in flavor text.
  • Warhammer 40,000 uses Orks, which are Orcs from Warhammer IN SPACE with Funetik Aksents and Xtreme Kool Letterz. They have Mekboyz, who have an instinctive knowledge of technology, and a gestalt psychic ability that improves the functionality of many machines and can be channeled by Weirdboyz to more dramatic effects (long story short, Ork technology operates on Clap Your Hands If You Believe). Orks are extremely durable and persistent; because they reproduce through spores that fly off from their skin, ork infestations are hard to eliminate once they have set foot on a planet. Orks are genetically engineered to fight and win, and any ork that's not participating in a Waaagh! against aliens is probably participating in some intra-ork civil war. 40K is such a Crapsack World that, due to their straightforward attitudes, hooligan-style Funetik Aksents, and Insane Troll Logic, these bloodthirsty, amoral monsters are the comic relief.
  • Orks in Shadowrun tend to be more belligerent and not quite as bright as humans, but not to the same degree as Tolkienian orcs; more to the degree of the redneck shit-kicker one might meet in their local bar. Like all the other metahuman races except possibly elves, orks are also descended from humans, and thus show the full human range of pink-to-brown skin tones rather than the green skin typical of orcs. They do, however, retain D&D features such as tusks. Orks have developed their own culture and language which seems to draw many parallels with African-American & Hispanic "Gangsta" cultures. There are such things as non-orks embracing ork culture and becoming ork posers. Lacking the prettiness of the elves, the non-threatening appearance of the Dwarves, or the sheer scariness of the Trolls to keep people off their back, and the fact that they reproduce abundantly (twins and triplets amongst Orks being the norm, not the exception) ensures that the Orks get the worst of the Fantastic Racism, as they are often seen as threatening to take over Humanity's place due to their expanding numbers.
  • RPG creator John Wick created a small-press RPG titled Ork World in direct rejection of traditional tropes about orcs. The orcs of the RPG are a peaceful, tribal society who are slowly being hunted to extinction by imperialistic humans and elves.
  • In the Swedish fantasy RPG Eon, Orcs, (3 different sub species: Gûrd, Tirak, Trukh) while being based in a culture of might-makes-right, are not evil, though they are often brutish. One clan of these Orcs is even assimilated into human culture and behaves like the culture they're part of. The barbarian might-makes-right clans, while being brutal, are also among the forefront opposers to all things demonic.
  • Orcs in the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series generally adhere to the Tolkien model of orc, although they have a few notable differences. Fighting Fantasy orcs are known for being able to eat almost anything, including, wood, rocks, and metal, although they prefer fresh meat. They also stand out due to their violent team sports, such as a variation on volleyball where the players of the losing team are eaten by the winners, or a variation on rugby played with a live slave at the ball that has no restrictions on play, often turning into a bloodbath as a result. One notable exception is Daggers of Darkness (set in an area with a Mongol-like culture) in which Orcs appear to have near-human intelligence and mingle freely with humans; some are servants of the Big Bad, but there's also one illustration (opposite section # 346) which shows Orcs mixed in with the human warriors of one of the villages you visit.
  • In the German RPG The Dark Eye, Orks are smaller than humans, but stronger. They are covered in black fur (Blackpelts) and have tusks. Normaly nomadic, they have begun building cities in recent years. Due to a coming choosing of a race that will govern a new age, they could overpower humans. They believe in Brazoragh, the god of males, power and war, and Tairach, the god of death and magic. Brazoragh killed his father Tairach, becoming the new godly chieftan. The orkish culture is just like that, constant fighting for the highest place. The only reason they have begun buidling cities, instead of killing themselves and everybody else, is their new leader, the Aikar Brazoragh (Chosen of Brazoragh): as strong as a giant (meaning amongst the strongest creatures on the planet), more magical power than three archmages and, being the sole chosen of a god, having more clerical power than all human high priests together. He had to beat every single chieftan though until his people accepted him as leader.
  • Two of the three Deadlands settings use orc-like characters. Surprised? In the Post-Apopalyptic Hell on Earth, the "Road Orcs" are a mutated band of road gangers who loot and plunder for fun and profit (think Mad Max with tusks). The Space Western Lost Colony has an entire alien race, the anouks. Peaceful, friendly anouks are technologically primitive, but shamanistic Proud Warrior Race Guys. Not so peaceful anouks typically don't think much of humans or their weaker kin. Because, y'know, a Space Western needs Space Injuns.
  • In the tabletop RPG Burning Wheel, Orcs are Tolkien style for the most part. The game plays up the brutal and vicious aspects of Orc society by giving orcs a 'hate' attribute. Orcs are more likely to be killed or maimed by another Orc than by their real enemies. Naturally, Orc campaigns mostly deal with power, treachery and deceit within a group of Orcs.
  • The orcs of Heroscape are Tolkien style, but are bright blue. And they ride dinosaurs.
  • Talislanta's Kang are Blizzard style, but are bright red. And much like Heroscape's orcs, they ride dinosaurs.
  • In Chronopia the Blackblood orcs are a mixed between Tolkien and Blizzard-style orcs with Mongolian themes. They also specialized in Alchemy.
  • The closest thing to Traveller space orcs is the Ithklur. These are a reptilian Proud Warrior Race that serves in a Gurkha-like role to the Hivers. They have an innate love of combat in their psychology, but are not evil per se. Rather their hat is as a Boisterous Bruiser race.
  • Legend System: Hallow Orcs were originally the shock troops of chaos gods, kept stupid and unquestioning to serve their gods' purposes. Once introduced to Hallow, they were freed from their mental shackles and started their own (still militaristic) society, becoming Hallow's most prominent mercenaries. In other words: Blizzard orcs who were forced to act like Tolkien orcs for most of their history.
  • The roleplaying game Ork! has all player characters be Orks. In this game, the Orks are boar-faced, green and furred humanoids that usually go naked aside from armor they scrounge off of killed opponents (or each other). They live in tribes ruled by a Shaman and have strange biology — baby orcs burst out from growths on an Ork's body, a process known as "The Urg!", for instance. They are also mostly omnivores, but they explode if they eat Broccoli. Only their shaman is allowed to be smart and magical. As in; "If I catch you doing card tricks or not talking like you got hit with a shovel as a baby I will straight-out murder your ass." Orks aren't given a name when born, but have to earn them. Finally, they worship the local God of Evil, a deity that alternatingly grants them victory and punishes them for metely existing.
  • In Kings of War Orcs are typical evil barbaric green skinned savages. They're almost the same as the Orcs of Warhammer Fantasy.
  • While the Iron Kingdoms setting has no races actually called orcs, there are races that fit both the Tolkien and Blizzard models.
    • Trollkin have many elements of Blizzard orcs, being large, physically powerful creatures with a sophisticated tribal culture, a shamanistic religion, and history of being screwed over by other, more advanced cultures. They're significantly more Scottish than most orcs (or trolls, for that matter), though.
    • Ogrun, although their name suggests ogres, also are pretty much Blizzard orcs. They're a proud people, but have no real enmity with the other races of Immoren, although a corrupt and evil subrace called Black Ogrun are allied with The Necrocracy of Cryx — they effectively sit somewhere between the Tolkien and Blizzard models. In a particularly unusual twist, in contrast to the standard dwarf/orc enmity, ogrun often serve dwarves as loyal servants, as their feudalistic culture relies heavily on a distinct chain of hierarchy and dwarves make excellent masters in their eyes.
    • The skorne, meanwhile, are heavily based on Tolkien orcs, with elements of the Easterlings. Appearance-wise, they have the upturned noses, and human-like build of Tolkien orcs, and their culture is abhorrent to the other peoples of Immoren: They make extensive use of slavery, Blood Magic and torture, to the point of having a dedicated torturer caste, and one of their models in HORDES is a baby elephant-like creature tortured into insanity so the skorne could weaponise its screams. They also take on the role of Hordes from the East. D&D players will probably identify the skorne more with hobgoblins, although their cultural basis in pain-fueled Blood Magic is very distinctly different.
  • In the steampunk Victoriana RPG, Orcs are one of the Human Subspecies of the setting, subject to Fantastic Racism from the others, being ostracised and pushed to the outskirts of civilisation. They have a strong sense of spirituality and a knack for mechanics.
  • Tenra Bansho Zero depicts Oni as Blizzard orcs in contrast to their usual Always Chaotic Evil portrayal, being a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Ainu who are hunted by humans because their crystalline hearts can be used to power Magitek. Oni also look enough like humans that they can pass as human by cutting off their horns, though this causes them to lose their racial Psychic Powers.
  • Hack Master, as a Darker and Edgier Affectionate Parody of old-school Dungeons & Dragons, presents its orcs as a race of violent, vicious, filthsome humanoid swine who are incredibly physically mutable because they rely extensively on kidnapping women from other races and raping with them to produce biological half-orcs, which are considered true orcs in orc culture.

    Video Games 
  • In the Battle for Wesnoth in most campaigns orcs are the Tolkien type. They are mostly portrayed as pretty much Evil, but sometimes they have motives beyond that as well. Some orcs are also allied to the (generally) good Knalgans. Appearance wise they have simian characteristics and brown or grey skin. Their massive numbers are explained by orcs being born in large litters, the runts being called goblins. Strangely, the average orc soldiers seem to have better armor and weapons then the regular human soldiers. Due to Wesnoth's decentralized development structure, the portrayal of Orcs and Trolls suffers from a touch of Depending on the Writer.
  • Warcraft: The orcs were initially a brown-skinned, peaceful, hunter-gather society, but were manipulated by demons and turned into a ruthless army of monsters. Further demonic influence turns them red. Color-Coded for Your Convenience! In the earliest games, orcs were portrayed as stupid and Laughably Evil in unit quotes and like, but they were still ruthless killing machines.
    • By the events of Lord of the Clans and Warcraft III, the orcs have returned to their original ways and are now as intelligent and well-rounded as humans. Current lore portrays them as going from a primarily hunter gatherer society to a full on industrial war machine within a matter of decades, although they most likely had help from the goblins. By the time of World of Warcraft, they've become one of the Horde's most important member species.
    • The first orcs descended from ogres, who in turn arose from a species of hulking cyclopean humanoids native to Draenor known as the ogron. The ogron further descend from a lineage of increasingly gigantic cyclopes leading back to Grond, a mountain given life by a Titan in Draenor's earliest days, making the orcs technically a species of very, very small giants.
  • Blackthorne, an early game by Blizzard, features the grag'ohr, green skinned humanoids who closely resemble the orc grunts of Warcraft, being burly and fanged humanoids, usually with greenskin and horned helmets. In this setting, Grag'ohr were once humans who fell under a curse. They are one of the main enemies in the game and use automatic rifles. Blizzard even calls them orcs in later material for Blackthorne.
  • Orcs in Final Fantasy XI are one of the more consistently evil beastmen in the game. According to a guide that was only ever released in Japan, martial ability is so prized that orcish mages hide their faces in shame. Like Tolkien's original orcs, they have good technological ability. Physically, XI's Orcs are green skinned Lizard Folk.
  • Final Fantasy XIV replaces the previous MMO's orcs with the Amalj'aa. Most Amalj'aa are Tolkienesque, in that they are constantly raiding civilized settlements and merchant caravans in service to their deity, the primal Ifrit. As the story progresses, though, the Warrior of Light can ally with the Brotherhood of Ash, a tribe of Amalj'aa who adhere much more to the Blizzard model, being Proud Warrior Race Guys who oppose the worshippers of Ifrit because their culture dictates that honor is found in battle against strong warriors, not by victimizing the weak.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Within the TES universe, the Orcs are another race of Mer (Elves), known as the "Orsimer" or "Pariah Elves/Folk," and to say that they have undergone Characterization Marches On is an understatement. As with most of the races of Mer, their split with the Mer Precursor "Aldmer" was over religious differences, though in the case of the Orcs, it was not voluntary. They were originally the worshipers of the Aldmeri spirit Trinimac, but Trinimac was "eaten" by the Daedric Prince Boethia and later excreted. Trinimac's remains became the Daedric Prince Malacath, while his Aldmeri followers were transformed into the Orcs. (Malacath is the central figure and patron deity in Orcish religion.) The Orcs possess strong, muscular builds and green skin. They are known for their ferocity and courage in battle, as well as their skill as armorers and smiths (especially with the rare metal Orichalcum), making them some of the finest heavy infantry on all of Nirn. The are a Proud Warrior Race who believes that Asskicking Equals Authority, which leads to their chieftains gaining that position via Klingon Promotion. They exhibit a number of other Blood Knight and Death Seeker traits as well, having a Martyrdom Culture. They've long been victims of Fantastic Racism due to their bestial appearance and perceived barbaric culture, and have been Fighting for a Homeland (or fighting to keep their homeland) for ages. Details per game:
      • In Arena, the Orcs are an Always Chaotic Evil enemy race. Essentially, flat out Tolkein Orcs.
      • In Daggerfall, the Orcs begin to receive some greater characterization. In fact, they are Blizzard Orcs before Blizzard invented Blizzard Orcs. One of the game's possible endings is to hand over the MacGuffin to the Orcish leader, which allows him to establish the first Orcish state in Tamriel.
      • In Morrowind, the Orcs are Promoted to Playable. Rather than just being dumb/barbaric, it is shown that the Orcs have been severely marginalized for ages. Emperor Uriel Septim VII began to use the Orcs as elite heavy infantry in the Imperial Legions, which gained them greater acceptance throughout the Empire.
      • Oblivion features a lampshade when you talk to one of the Orcs at Malacath's Daedric shrines. He says something like: "People think we're evil. Do I look evil?" There is also Dark Brotherhood member, Gogron Gro-Bolmog, who takes an unsubtle approach to his contracts but "has his heart in the right place".
      • By Skyrim, the Orcs have been driven back into a diaspora in the years since the end of the Septim dynasty. They now have tribal strongholds dotting Tamriel, worship Malacath and raid as bandits, although many are still Imperialized as smiths or soldiers for the Empire. (One Orc even implies that this is the norm for those that leave their stronghold.) There are couple others that stand out, like several Orc bards and even one of the faculty at the Winterhold College (for mages). He's the archivist/librarian, to boot. He threatens to sic Atronachs on you if you mistreat his books, but still.
    • Falmer in Skyrim stand in for Tolkienian Orcs, or more specifically Moria Goblins, both in appearance and in backstory (they used to be a race of Mer called "Snow Elves", but were enslaved and blinded by the Dwemer). With one (technically two) exception. They also overlap significantly with The Morlocks.
  • Orcs, goblins and trolls in Ultima are straight-up Tolkien-style, in the first three games, they could even be unmade by magi using the Repond spell.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura mix Tolkien and Blizzard Orc traits. While Orcs are primarily Tolkienian outside of cities, serving as Random Encounters (unless you play as a half-orc; then they'll just apologize for bothering you) or being seen in bandit gangs on the outskirts of towns, in industrialized cities they appear as a unjustly oppressed underclass working poorly paid jobs in factories. One Sidequest centers around this, as a group of workers are in a standoff with the police when they take control of a factory to demand better rights. How things work out in the end depends on how you handle the situation.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic games usually featured orcs as part of Stronghold faction.
    • Heroes of Might and Magic 2 featured orcs as Barbarian troops. These orcs were pink-skinned and porcine, and attacked with crossbows.
    • Heroes of Might and Magic 3 featured orcs primarily as Stronghold troops. These were greenskinned and attacked with throwing axes. The game also featured orcs who road on wild boars and wielded maces as a neutral troop.
    • Heroes of Might and Magic 4 featured orcs as part of the Chaos (Asylum Town) faction, with their design especially boar-like and first orcish heroes being mostly sorcerers.
    • The second expansion of Heroes of Might and Magic 5, Tribes of the East, introduced them as a whole new faction. Apart from having brown skin (or sometimes spreckled with red, and having horns) and being created a la Tolkien by the Wizards as slave warriors to fight the demons (by injecting demon blood into human criminals), they are very close to their Warcraft counterparts in almost any conceivable way.
  • The Orcs in the Warlords and Warlords Battlecry series are of the Tolkienian type. They're a bunch of Always Chaotic Evil thugs with no redeeming qualities other than the fact that they fight each other as often as they fight other, more civilized, people.
  • The Orcs from Kingdom of Loathing are primarily Frat boys. They're a parody of frat boy stereotypes, but the stereotypes (being big, muscular, unpleasant and thuggish in personality, lack of culture aside from breaking other people's stuff) make them pretty close to the Tolkienian version. A second group of orcs called the smut orcs were introduced several years into the game. Their culture seems to be designed around building things out of materials with awful double-entendre names (e.g. "raging hardwood plank" and "thick black caulk").
  • The Brutes of Halo in everything but name. They're big, bulky, and very strong, to the point where the Hunters are the only known contemporary species capable of physically overpowering them. They even resemble several different Earth beasts (mostly gorillas), complete with fur and tusks. As their name implies, they are very brutal, to the point where they commonly eat other sentient races (they openly discuss eating an Elite in one of the first cutscenes of Halo 2). In the bonus material, it is revealed that they managed to make their way into space, only to nuke themselves into the stone age, and had just rediscovered radio and rocketry when the Covenant found them, without having learned anything from their past mistakes. In fact, they are the most directly violent of the races of the Covenant; the Elites have honor, the Prophets are power hungry, the Grunts are enslaved, the Hunters and Drones are enigmatic, the Engineers are neutral, and the Jackals are Hired Guns, but the Brutes seem to just like killing people. All that said, a lot of Expanded Universe media have shown that they're not Always Chaotic Evil, with a number of individual Brutes even being somewhat sympathetic.
    • Also, the weapon designs of the Brutes are orc-like. The rest of the Covenant use sleek and curvy guns of fantastical design that shoot plasma and other energy projectiles. The Brute weapons however, are angular, awkward-looking, and all shoot metal projectiles (except for their version of the plasma rifle, which is just the same, except painted red and a little more rapid-firing). Also, they have bayonets on all their guns (and even their hammers), except for the aforementioned plasma rifle which they hardly ever use. Their vehicles also differ from the standard Covenent designs, and follow their own angular and primitive design (in fact, one of them is repurposed farm equipment), and they have names like "Prowler" and "Chopper", compared to those of standard Covenant craft like "Ghost" and "Shadow".
    • It should also be noted that due to the relative recency of their induction into the Covenant, the Brutes had a traditionally less restrictive attitude towards modifying technology than the other Covenant races, though most of that advantage has been lost thanks to the Great Schism forcing the other former Covenant species to quickly rediscover their old technological creativity. Still, between that and their status as primates, the Brutes are one of the more humanlike aliens in the Haloverse.
  • Orcs of Lineage 2 are both Tolkenien and Blizzard-type. The player controlled orcs generally follow the Blizzard version closely, being Proud Warrior Race Guys and following a shamanistic culture based around their progenitor Pa'aagrio, god of fire. There are some aesthetic differences, mainly that they don't generally have horns or tusks or really big teeth, just hairstyles that look like horns. Their melee classes essentially fill the role of the big, muscular Scary Black Man, except with green skin. Their women are something else entirely. Only Dark Elf women are bustier. The orc Mooks you fight, which by the way the player orcs HATE, are nearly always Tolkenien in most ways, being mostly dumb, savage tribal guys who generally pillage their neighborhood.
  • In Master of Magic not much is explained about orc society, but worth noting is that orcs are the Jack of All Trades of the races, having access to the entire tech tree (they are also devoid of any extra-special units or interesting characteristics, making them fill the role humans usually take). To elaborate, Orcs can build Universities whose students help in the player wizard's research, Alchemists' Guilds to produce magical weapons for the troops, War Colleges to produce Elite Mook squads, Merchants' Guilds, and Engineers.
  • Knight Orc was an extremely snarky Interactive Fiction game where you play a genuine Tolkien Orc. Solving the puzzles and defeating opponents requires you to think like a cruel, underhanded cheating bastard, since in a fair fight you are a weak, sword-fodder mook. A third of the way through the game, a malfunction reveals that you're actually a robot orc in a futuristic virtual-reality MMORPG, and the objective becomes breaking the game to escape.
  • The Darkspawn of Dragon Age are twisted corruptions of the races of the world with poisonous, tainted blood who live underground in perpetual war with the Dwarves. They are normally fairly mindless Always Chaotic Evil but are capable of forging and using metal weapons and armor and intelligent enough to kidnap others to propagate their species. They are drawn by the call of Archdemons, constantly digging to find them and when they do, it leads them on an organized warpath to conquer the surface, known as a Blight.
    • the Qunari fit into the Blizzard Orc archetype. They're Large horned humanoids stereotyped as violent conquerors by humans, are technologically advanced compared to every other race in the setting, and have a distinctly alien culture.
  • There's an Orc monster in Golden Sun: a shirtless pig headed man with a sword that lives in the desert.
  • In the Gothic series Orcs are intelligent, nomadic members of a Proud Warrior Race. They attack Myrtana (the land of the Humans) to capture slaves and perform archeological excavations on the sites that bear religious importance to Orc Shamans. Also, unlike many other games, they aren't low-level mooks — they're among some of the more powerful enemies in the game.
  • Orcs are often found as random encounters in the Dragon Quest series, and default to the Tolkienian model, being humanoid boars with spears. Interestingly, they (and their variations) tend to be rather powerful, usually being encountered mid- to late-game.
  • Orcs in Allods Online and Evil Islands are gray-skinned Blizzard-types (and dimorphic as hell). The otherwise unthinkable "Orc Paladin" also exists in-game.
  • The Gorn in Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant in all but name. Green, porcine features, and tusks. Xenophobic, militaristic, and live mostly underground on account of living directly in between two powerful races that hate each others' guts, but honorable and have an Asian-influenced art design.
  • The orcs from Dungeon Keeper in name only. Long white hair, purple skin and wrinkles all over make them look more like trolls. In fact, the trolls in the game look more like orcs than the orcs themselves.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity has shaggy, blue-skinned ice orcs in the Frozen Reaches.
  • In Dungeon Crawl, no official description of orcs is given beyond "[they] combine the worst features of humans, pigs, and several other creatures." Cave orcs (mooks) err towards the Tolkien model; they're Always Chaotic Evil, worship the proud but ruthless (and canonically evil) god Beogh (who refuses to accept non-orc worshipers). Hill orcs (playable) are a bit more Blizzard-like; they can play as any class, though their priests follow Beogh instead of Zin. Those who do serve Beogh can attempt to become the Dark Messiah of the orcs.
  • The Drauga of Kohan are technically Orcs (just like the Haroun are elves and the Mareten are Humans). They are large, decidedly simian, warlike and posess a shamanistic culture. They follow Darius after he defeats their former leader, and become his powerful supporters later in the game (though some of them will insist that you beat them to earn their respect).
  • Whereas The Legend of Zelda's moblins fall more under "ogre" and the bokoblins under "goblin/troll", the green-skinned bulblins in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess were full-on orc, complete with their leader having a Proud Warrior Race Guy attitude.
  • Serious Sam 2 features Orcs as one of the many variety of mooks for the Big Bad. Mostly used as Cannon Fodder, and are not really shown having any sort of intelligence other than basic ability to operate military equipment like the Kozak Helicopters, laser rifles, plasma ball launchers, and propellers that they use as jetpacks. Background material states that they are actually a primitive alien race drafted by Mental and given training and weapons.
  • In Orcs Must Die! and its sequel, the Orcs and the rest of the Horde are Always Chaotic Evil. Interestingly, they do have rather a sympathetic motive for trying to invade Earth: their own world is a barren wasteland. They can also be pretty Laughably Evil at times.
  • In Of Orcs And Men, Orcs are of the Blizzard Orcs variety and are at war with the Human Empire, who wants to use them as slave laborers due to their strength. They're actually the heroes of the game, specifically Arkail.
  • In The Fairyland Story, orcs are basic cutlass-wielding Mooks with pointed ears sticking out of their helmets. Like all characters in the game, they're cute and Super-Deformed.
  • In the Spellforce series, orcs lean largely toward Blizzard-style orcs but have Tolkien-orc elements. They're explicitly darkness-aligned and willing to do the ravaging horde routine, and are pretty much always at odds with the light races of humans, elves, and dwarves; but they have a culture based on honor and clan allegiance, with an animistic religion.
  • In Spyro the Dragon, there are the Gnorcs, which are mostly green, have protruding teeth that look like fangs or tusks, and vary in size (the Big Bad Gnasty Gnorc and some of the mooks are very large, but most Gnorcs aren't much bigger than Spyro). Their name is supposedly a combination of "gnome" and "orc" but they're much more like orcs than like gnomes.
  • The orcs of Dungeon Maker II: The Hidden War are neither Tolkienian nor Blizzard variety. They're actually humanoid boars with a love of spears. They also like to hang out in kitchens, since in orc culture using metal cookware is considered a sign of sophistication.
  • Mid-1990s game Thunderscape came close to having Blizzard orcs before Warcraft and Daggerfall. One of player races were juraks — fur-covered brutes with large fangs, who made good warriors, but could just as well be Combat Medics, mages or mechanics.
  • Endless Legend has Orcs in the form of the minor race, the Urnas. Visually they are Blizzardian, with tusks, green skin, and a bodybuilder physique. They are belligerent by default — like all minor races — but can pacified and absorbed into an another empire. They are excellent archers and are hardy, being unaffected by the movement penalty caused by the brutal winters that are destroying the planet.
  • Fallout has the Super Mutants. They're big, they're green, a few of them eat humans, and all of them can kick ass. Regardless of whether they're portrayed sympathetically or not, they're usually portrayed as more aggressive and warlike than other in-game factions, and are rarely very bright. They all start out as humans, becoming Super Mutants after being exposed to the Forced Evolutionary Virus, a mutagen that turns their skin green, massively increases their muscle mass, drops their IQ a notch or three and, as an unintended side-effect, turns them sterile as mules.
    • They come in two broad groupings, differentiated by what specific strain of mutagen was used to make them and by where that strain originated from: East Coast Super Mutants are almost always vicious Tolkien-esque monsters, while West Coast Super Mutants are more likely to be Blizzard style.
    • The art book for Fallout 3 puts even more emphasis on the Tolkien part as well as the "ogre" aspect as they are shown to make their own cobbled-together armor and guns, as well as forge melee weapons such as axes, swords, maces, and flails/meteor hammers.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X:
    • The Prone are essentially Space Orcs — their skin colors include pink and purple rather than green, and they have tentacles hanging off their faces, but aside from appearance they are essentially Blizzard orcs. They come in the Cavern and Tree Clan varieties, and tend to have aspects of both Tolkien and Blizzard orcs, usually depending on how likely they are to shoot you.
    • Meanwhile, the Marnucks, being one of the primary Mook races (alongside the Prone) for the Ganglion, are essentially Tolkien orcs, aside from their blue skin, being reptilian, preference for guns, and having invented their own military technology. What little we know about the Marnucks is that they don't just love war; their chief deity is their god of death, and they think killing people in battle is an honorable act. Their homeworld was destroyed by a global civil war, and the only ones left are the ones that sided with the Ganglion.
  • Grohk the Lightning Orc from Paladins is a blue-skinned eccentric support champion who heals allies with his healing totem and fries enemies with his lightning staff. He's definitely not brutish like Tolkien Orcs, and very into his shamanistic side like Blizzard Orcs... but he's just bizarre.
  • In Pillars of Eternity, they’re a race called the aumaua. They’re musclebound and sharp of tooth, but have multicolored skin similar to tropical fish instead of the usual green or brown. The typical orcish hats are also defied; aumaua have a warmongering history, but are more civilized about it and you don’t really encounter any “Proud Warrior” types. In fact, they actually have a strong seafaring tradition and the one who joins your party is a Badass Bookworm.
  • In the online card game, Hex: Shards of Fate, the orcs are actually members of the Ardent faction alongside humans, elves and coyotle. They have a Mayincatec-styled Religious Bruiser culture that favors an aggressive playstyle in-game.
  • The Charr of Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 are basically "orcs, but cat people". In the first game, they're Tolkenian, being the sworn enemies of humanity lead by evil sorcerors. In the sequel, having overthrown said sorcerers, they're Blizzard-style, having been Promoted to Playable, and being a meritocratic Proud Warrior Race who use Steampunk technology, compared to the other race's Magitek or magic.
  • The Malefic playable race in Soulcalibur VI are green-skinned humanoids with red eyes and tusk-like teeth that were originally primeval warriors corrupted by Astral Chaos energy.
  • Mutant Football League has "Monster Orcs" among the player races, fat green-skinned creatures that vary greatly in size. Fluff states they're tough to coach and each generation of orcs is less intelligent than the last, "like a VHS copy of a VHS copy of a VHS copy." On the field they're typically slow but strong, and are thus mostly linemen, but a handful are bruising receivers or tough running backs.

    Visual Novels 
  • The orcs in Sword Daughter might have been lifted directly from a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, with all the usual trappings: they're green-skinned, brutish and cruel, not very intelligent, and in most story paths they're working as Mooks for the main villain.

    Web Original 
  • Orcs have not been seen in Tales of MU, perhaps because they're not native to the continent on which the story takes place, but they form part of the cultural backdrop. "Going orcshit" is a common expression, and a history class revealed that orcs occupied the role of Hessian mercenaries in the equivalent of the American Revolution: mooks for hire with a vicious rep. The same class revealed their racial Berserk Button: attacking orc women and children. There's also one character (Coach Callahan) who appears to be part orc, and who is the biggest badass in the series.
  • While not specifically called Orcs, the Stonewights of Ash & Cinders show various Orcish tendencies. They're brutush, stupid, killing machines. The Rock Lord's first appearance is even reminiscient of Tolkien's description of the Great Goblin from the Hobbit.
  • The orcs of Tales from My D&D Campaign were once standard Tolkien/D&D orcs, brutish, stupid, cowardly, and only dangerous through their vast numbers. But when the orcs pissed off a goddess by killing her mortal lover, the goddess cursed them and turned their homeland into a desert. Within a couple of generations, the orcish numbers fell from tens of millions to just a few thousand, but the survivors became unparalled warriors. These days, two or three orcs could easily burn a small city to the ground and two-three orc bands regularly slaughter hundred-man patrols.
  • Gaia Online introduced orcs for the 2008 Rejected Olympics event, but they've never been seen since. The only thing we really know about Gaian orcs at present is that they're basically cave-dwelling greasers that were recently discovered.
  • Orcs in the Graven Hunter Files are are the typical tolkein-esque orc, with greenish-gray skin, tusks, and a bad temperament. Sye encounters a trio of vampire converted orcs working for the Zemrelt clan, the most aggressive and warlike of the clans.
  • In The Midgaheim Bestiary, orcs are a type of boogeymen, a family of The Fair Folk which also includes goblins, bugbears and trolls and specializes in forming connections between Fairyland and the mortal world, allowing the fairy world to consume small portions of mundane reality to maintain some measure of internal stability. Orcs themselves are sapient, humanoid boars — their legs end in hooves, and their hands have only three, distinctly hoof-like fingers — and were explicitly bred by other fairies to be a race of soldiers. While garrulous, short-tempered and militaristic, they aren't the mindless Mooks humans tend to see them as — they're noted to have strong poetic traditions, and even have some epics that aren't about epic wars they've fought.

  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Unsurprisingly, subverts the usual "Tolkienian" characterization of Dungeons & Dragons orcs. The orcs shown in the webcomic are just a primitive tribe; and those of the paperback prequel are just mistaken for hostile by townsfolk because they are heavy metal fans.
    • Several characters are also half-orcs. While technically all of them are bad guys, Thog is a Psychotic Man Child who's mostly Obliviously Evil, Bozzok is a business-minded gangster who negotiates with the heroes, and Therkla is more of an Anti-Villain with a good dose of Villainous Valor. Therkla also subverts the trope of halfbreeds being born of rape: her orc mother and human father were happily married.
    • There is a race of green-skinned goblins that are more civilized, if still stuck living at the edges of civilization. Unlike most recent portrayals of goblins, they are the same height as humans, making them much like Blizzard model orcs. The conflicts between the goblins and the humans drive much of the backstory of the current conflict and are integral to the goblin villain Redcloak's Start of Darkness.
  • Gruvalg from Ananthalos is intelligent and rational as opposed to the barely-articulate orc archetype still found in a lot of fantasy stories. With his green coloring and bald head, he also appears more like an ogre. The comic's creator acknowledges that Shrek was an inspiration for Gruvalg's character design.
  • The orcs in Dominic Deegan, Oracle For Hire lean towards the Blizzard model with a lot of Fantasy Counterpart Culture traits for Native Americans (not to mention being completely obligate herbivores), but most of the clans are still heavily patriarchal. They are also heavily shamanistic, with their magic being a "gift from the land", tapping entirely to the natural elements, which include life and death itself.
  • Although not strictly orcs, the tribe of the main characters of Goblins: Life Through Their Eyes fits the Blizzard model almost perfectly; other tribes and races of "savage" species (including actual orcs) have varying degrees of conformity to this model, but even the evil groups aren't exactly Tolkienian. One of the few orcs who's appeared so far is a big hulking brute... who speaks politely and takes The Stoic personality up to eleven: Tribe been dead for 200 years? "Meh." Apparently they get raised that way.
  • Gaia Online: The orcs look somewhat like the Blizzard kind, but dress and act like they belong in a Dungeon Punk story. Apparently, they lived under the mountains near the city, until they were discovered and subsequently employed in Factory Town of Aekea. Why you would need to hire orcs in a city that already has an ample supply of robots is questionable...
  • Linburger has the Trokks. They're a savage race that roam the wilderness and kill anybody they meet. The main character, Lin, encounters them on occasion whenever she searches the junkyard for spare parts. There's also an alcoholic beverage made by them and only them, nobody knows the secret ingredident, and the only way to get the beverage is to live among their tribe for a set amount of time.
  • Girl Genius has the Jaegermonsters, who — other than their nigh-immortal Super Soldier by Mad Scientist origin — fit this trope very nicely. They have a code that defines them to the point that there are "former" Jaegers. Their loyalty to the (Mad Scientist) Heterodynes and ludicrous strength tends to lead them to be Europa's bogeymen. They also have an interesting culture around (comedic) violence and hats, which are evidently a combination of status symbols and a sign of worthiness. Also, when we see a bar for (patched-up, too wounded to fight) Jaegers at one point in the story, it's a pretty typical rowdy establishment... until the nightly bar fight starts, at which point everything becomes a massive Improvised Weapon brawl.
  • Tales of the Questor orcs are nomads or traders, although even merchant clans are pretty darn tough. They have a strong code of honor and stick up for their friends (against almost all enemies) and are generally fairly Blizzardish. Their appearance is fairly distinctive, though: they basically have the faces of long-eared blue bulldogs.
  • Fairy Dust orcs are the generic barbarian race, living in familial clans lead by a patriarch who owns up to thirty women and as many castrated serfs. They stopped being a serious menace as the humans they were competing against won through numbers and technology. The lucky clans can still live as they please on reservations, as long as they don't attack the cities.
  • Orcs in Guilded Age have little political presence in the world and are largely used for slave labor by both the Gastonians and Savage Races. Both parties view them as little more than labor animals with sub-human intelligence, and though nothing has yet explicitly disputed that, the main authority on the subject is so racist and unreliable that it's impossible to take this assumption at face value.
  • Zukahnaut's protagonist rejects the descriptor of "orc" despite his appearance, but his one-page origin story hints that his people may have lived up to the brutal stereotypes inherent in it.
  • Drowtales has kotorcs in the Blizzardian model, being a tribal culture with a heavily honor based society. They're considered "goblins" along with humans, with hints of a common ancestor. There's also a sub-species known as Noz who have more in common with the Tolkien orcs and appear much more wild, and can best be described as looking like humanoid hyenas.
  • Sluggy Freelance's World of Warcraft parody naturally has its own version of orcs, called Gorks. The only notable thing about them is the joke that they're the race of choice for players who like to pretend they're playing as monsters when they're really green humans with tusks.

    Western Animation 
  • The Futurama movie "Bender's Game" features "Morcs", who wear rainbow suspenders and mumble words like "Nanu-nanu" and "Shazbot".
  • Wolverine is predictably depicted as a Blizzard variant (though he's referred to as a troll), in a fairytale told by Jubilee in one of the later seasons of the X-Men animated series.
  • Most of Prince Phobos's minions in W.I.T.C.H. are orc-like humanoids; they're initially portrayed as the Tolkien variety. They are revealed, though, to have been fed on propaganda and aren't necessarily that bad; most of them do a collective Heel–Face Turn after Phobos is defeated, and the main orc who remains villainous, Raythor, is nonetheless an honorable Noble Demon. The lurdens, Phobos' more monstrous and bestial minions, are Tolkien orcs played straight.

It's not easy bein' green....

Alternative Title(s): Our Orks Are Different, Orc