In The Hobbit: The Nonsense Battle of the Four-to-Seven-or-so Armies, Depending on What You Count, the Orcs of Mount Gundabad use Were-worms to move their army quickly.

Are the Were-worms intelligent enough to be reasoned with? If so, what were they given or promised in return? If they're just mindless creatures, how did the Orcs tame or control them?

  • Maybe they heard about Bilbos boast "if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert" and wanted to give the hobbit a chance to live up to his boast. Or maybe they just dangled food infront of the worms carrot on a stick style. I don't think the movie script writers gave it much thought Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 7:57
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    +1 for The Hobbit: The Nonsense Battle of the Four-to-Seven-or-so Armies xD
    – Aegon
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 8:47

2 Answers 2


Sauron raised and tamed them

Okay, I'm going to give this more thought than Peter Jackson did... :)

In LOTR, we learn that Sauron raised and tamed the fell beasts of the Nazgûl.

A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, fingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed.

We also know that Sauron is extremely powerful, even able to control the weather:

'I wonder if this is a contrivance of the Enemy,' said Boromir. "They say in my land that he can govern the storms in the Mountains of Shadow that stand upon the borders of Mordor. He has strange powers and many allies.' 'His arm has grown long indeed,' said Gimli, `if he can draw snow down from the North to trouble us here three hundred leagues away.' 'His arm has grown long,' said Gandalf.

So Sauron probably has the power and skill to raise and tame the were-worms (either by himself or by proxy). Since the worms themselves didn't do any fighting, we can assume they were unsuitable for combat. If they're anything like regular worms, they just like to dig, which is what they were used for in the movie.

Why would he do this?

Sauron orchestrated the attack on Erebor by Azog and Bolg's armies. Since it was a surprise attack, the ability of the were-worms to dig holes was useful for this. We can speculate that he raised the were-worms over the course of many years for this very purpose.

Why didn't Sauron ever use were-worms again?

He flees to Mordor after the White Council attacks Dol Guldor, and the orc army that oversaw the were-worms was destroyed. So, he would have lost contact with the were-worms used in the battle.

Maybe it was impossible to find them again, and it would take too long to raise new ones.

How did the orcs control where the were-worms moved?

We're never shown this, of course, but with some imagination you can think of some ways. For example, maybe the worms could be trained to seek a certain sound. So if you took some of the drummer trolls and had them play a certain rhythm, the were-worms would move towards the sound.

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    I'd be more inclined to think the Orcs used hooks, like in Dune. Perhaps Sauron is a big Frank Herbert fan and that's where he got the idea. :-) Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 0:57
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    FRODO v.o. (delerious) "The worm is the Ring! The Ring is the worm!" Frodo puts on the Ring. "And I have the Power to destroy the Ring forever!" Far off, atop the immense battlements of Barad-dûr, a voice screams. GANDALF v.o. "And how can this be? For he is the Kwisatz Holbytlach!"
    – Ber
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 2:56

I would assume the orcs herd the were-worms like cattle or sheep, but with light. In the movie, when the were-worms come out of their holes the didn't start fighting. As soon as they were above ground they immediately withdrew back into the darkness of their holes, probably for fear of the light; being creatures of darkness that live underground. Maybe Azog used many orcs or trolls with bright torches to frighten the were-worms into the direction they wanted.

  • Aren't the orcs and trolls also creatures of darkness?
    – Blackwood
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 1:57
  • They were made evil and they shun the light of day. However in the movie and the book they are forced to come out during the day to do war with their enemies. They also don't seem to be afraid of the light of fire nearly as much as the light of the sun. In fact they seem to enjoy it. Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 0:08

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