The primary means of creating Orcs (besides breeding if that is even possible) is to capture elves and men and through physical torture, forcefully shape them into one.

Are there any named beings who are known to us before they were captured and turned into orcs, and how many/which of those survived the process?

Edit: Does not have to be actual person-names. Identities such as titles etc. is accepted too, as long as they weren't purely anonymous.

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    Related. There are a few conflicting theories as to the origin of the Orcs, but I don't think any of them allow an actual Man or Elf to be turned into an Orc within their own lifetime. Some say Orcs were descended from captured and corrupted Men or Elves, but I think that's the best you're going to get.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 1:14

1 Answer 1


No. It's not even clear that the Orcs actually were created by twisting the Elves, although it's one of the more popular theories.

However, regardless of their proper origin, none of the Orc progenitors are named in Tolkien's writings. The (in-universe) earliest named Orc I can think of is Boldog, an Orc-captain named in some early drafts of the Lay of Leithian. It's possible he was one of the first orcs, but there's no confirmation of this; in fact, as Tolkien himself noted in a footnote to his essay on Orcs, it's possible that "Baldog" was a title, or that he was a Maiar-spirit in Orc form:

Boldog, for instance, is a name that occurs many times in the tales of the War. But it is possible that Boldog was not a personal name, and either a title, or else the name of a kind of creature: the Orc-formed Maiar, only less formidable than the Balrogs.

History of Middle-earth X Morgoth's Ring Part 5: "Myths Transformed" IX

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    We've been through a few of these "where the heck did these guys come from" episodes on this site. Namely the biggest point I took away was from this question I posted some time ago: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/103881/…. As I see it, Orcs are just some kind of crossbreed between fallen Ainur spirits and possibly elves/men. Just like the Dunedain are cross breeds between Maiar and Elves/Men (abeit one Maiar, but nevertheless, still has a bloodline). Sometimes the mysteries surrounding the legendarium are most fascinating.
    – John Bell
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 11:32
  • @JohnBell "The Dunedain" are hardly such a cross breed. That only applies to the line of Elros. The Dunedain were a much larger group, most of which had no Elven, let alone Maia blood. Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 2:18

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