I watched the extended cut of the movie and can’t seem to figure out why the director put that quote in there. Is this a hidden joke or a slip up that made it into the movie?

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    Side question: How do Uruk-hai know what a menu is? Commented May 22, 2017 at 16:01
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    Could just be tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TranslationConvention. For all we know, they're talking in the Black Tongue of Mordor. Commented May 22, 2017 at 19:27
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    Out of universe, Peter Jackson's early movies were particularly... meat-based, like Meet the Feebles and Bad Taste. Wikpedia specifically has a splatter phase heading for him. I wonder if its an obscure reference to his film history.
    – Criggie
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 8:51
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    In Google's site of lost youtubes, Christopher Tolkien explains that 'Meat is back on the menu' was in fact the name of a famous piece of orcish sculpture on display in the Barad-dur art gallery. Being an officer, the Uruk-hai commander had visited the gallery many times on dates and noticed the dead orc looked exactly the same. He exasperatedly warned the squad who, having been through this drill many times, immediately destroyed the evidence before Sauron could think they were trying to plagurise his collection which would have cast doubt on its authenticity, lowering its value.
    – user100501
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 22:32
  • @EngineerToast Military canteens have menus as well as restaurants, and that’s presumably where orcs eat when they’re in their barracks.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 10:54

5 Answers 5


tl;dr: It's just a funny* line of PJ's.

* Your funny mileage may vary.

From an in-universe perspective, I agree with Himarm's answer.

From an out-of-universe point of view, we can add that the line, together with the whole dismemberment scene, comes from an idea of Peter Jackson's.

Quoting from the production and post-production comment track in The Two Towers - Special Extended Edition:


Mark Ordesky (executive producer): This is just a classic Peter Jackson kind of beat coming up. The idea that these Orks and Uruk-hai are arguing about the two little hobbits and they are just going to completely clobber each other any minute now ... it's a real throwback to Peter early movies

Later on, they talk about this specific line:


Rick Porras (co-producer): I was always curious if some of the more "Tolkien" fans like Christian Rivers had taken umbrage to the use of such a modern term as "menu"

Christian Rivers (previz supervisor): I'm not gonna query the script writers. My only issue is that for an Uruk-hai to say that, that means ... that suggests that he lives in a society where (a) he has a menu, and (b) that menu is selective enough to have food taken off it and put back on again

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    The Uruk-hai might not be expected to understand about restaurants and menus, but pretty nearly every member of the audience knows about those things. LOTR, especially the movie version, is meant to be entertaining. Having characters speak and act like people your audience could possibly encounter in real life gives the entertainment score a big boost. Commented May 21, 2017 at 18:03
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    The various orcs are speaking the common speech (Westron), which implies they might also have some of the idioms of that (human) language. We know Saruman enjoys fine food and drink (such as the hobbits had after the ents attack Orthanc) and Saruman clearly does travel when the need arises, so he could easily be familiar with a list of dishes available at a fine inn (and that particular items might be taken off it according to availability). The Uruks might well have heard Saruman specifically use a phrase that would translate to something like that in English.
    – Glen_b
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 2:25
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    It's true that orcs probably don't frequent restaurants... However, putting these two orc/Uruk-hai "raiding parties" aside, my recollection of the books is that many groups of orcs (especially the ones amassing in Mordor) travel in the equivalent of military units, and it's plausible that they have, to some extent, a "catering corps". Thus, a phrase like "what's on the menu" (in the sense of "what are they serving today", rather than a long list of choices) could well exist.
    – TripeHound
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 8:09
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    @Glen_b Exactly! The Orc speech as rendered in the movie is a translation into idiomatic Modern English, which would reasonably include phrases like "on the menu". This is an age-old debate over approaches to translation. Otherwise, we can get into the debate over "meat" (archaic) meaning "food of any kind" - which gets confusing because they are contrasting it with "bread", which is also "meat"... (as are maggots, of course) :-)
    – SusanW
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 10:16
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    Late to the party, got here searching whether this line was a PJ throwback or it originated with this film. Upon research and reading the great comments above, I wholeheartedly agree with @TripeHound that it would not be implausible in any large military to have a phrase equivalent to "meat is (back) on the menu" even though, as the producers point out, "menu" is a modern word. The scene already established that the characters cared about food options. This thread finds a 2nd century plausible equivalent usage of "menu": latin.stackexchange.com/questions/2671/what-is-menu-in-latin
    – jkraybill
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 13:57

The orcs from the White Tower had just started a fight/finished killing the orcs from Mordor (Morgul) so they mean they are going to eat the dead orcs.

Orc saying “looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys”

It’s funny because right before that, the orc that was just killed wants to eat the hobbits.

MAÚHUR: I'm starving. We ain't 'ad nothin' but maggoty bread for three stinkin' days!

SNAGA: Yeah. Why can’t we have some meat? [His eyes rest on the hobbits.] What about them? They’re fresh.

UGLÚK: They are not for eating!

GRISHNÁKH: What about their legs? They don't need those. Ooh… They look tasty!

UGLÚK: [Shoves at the Orcs] Get back, scum!

[The other Orcs are getting restless.]

MORDOR ORC: Carve them up!

SNAGA: [Moves towards the hobbits with his blade drawn] Just a mouth full.


[Pippin and Merry recoil in fright. Uglúk jumps on the Orc and cuts off his head, which bounces off the hobbit's shoulders.]

UGLÚK: Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys!!

[The Uruk-hai and Orcs cheer and started tearing into the fresh meat, intestines flying, taking their eyes off the hobbits for a while.]

  • What's kind of interesting is that even Orcs would prefer to eat something other than Orcs -- they are not known for being picky but Orc probably is so bad that even an Orc does not want such meat if something else is available. It is kind of like, despite being terrible monsters, they share with humans (Hobbits are human) some traits. Just like in prison, for example, there is not a complete inversion of hierarchy -- the same crimes most honest people consider reprehensible are also disdained by hardened criminals also, maybe even moreso.
    – releseabe
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 0:04
  • Is there perhaps a side pun in White Tower and meat and a menu? Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 7:40

Uruk: "I'm starving. We ain't had nothing but maggoty bread for three stinking days!"

Snaga: "Yeah! Why can't we have some meat?"

[The orc rests his eyes on the hobbits.]

The quote was made because the orcs had not eaten any meat whatsoever for the past few days. So back on the menu would mean that the orcs had the opportunity to eat meat again.


It could just be as simple as the fact that they were tavelling and all they could carry in terms of food supplied was bread. Remeber they had just come back of a "failed" raid to try and capture Frodo and the ring and they had to move fast so meat was probably a luxury. I agree with the argument that the memu reference should have been excluded as argued above but in my opinion the idea that was created was they wanted proper food.

  • Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! Can you provide any sources for your answer? It is recommended that you support your answer with as much evidence to show proof your answer is valid and not just an assumption you've made.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 9:42

To be honest, I think that the fact that orcs have some idea/concept of a menu and even the fact that they can associate certain foods as being "put back on the menu" clearly suggests that there is some element of modern human culture that is known to the orcs. This can have multiple explanations. Either the orcs aren't actually as primitive as we would all think and in reality do in fact have some basic knowledge of dinning. Or, due to the war on men/elves and other advanced species, the tactics of "knowing thy enemy" has enabled the orcs to have some sort of concept of dinning due to their vast knowledge on the other races that has been gathered by gaining intelligence as it is known that the forces of Morgoth and Sauron did in fact have many spies and agents. This Intel could've ended up being engraved into their own orcish culture (as it is known that among orc society there are those who tend to food e.g. meats from local beasts that is prepared as meals).

However, it could just be that the orcs have just used the mainstream common tongue to exaggerate how they now have what they craved, meaty flesh. By exclaiming "Meats back on the menu!" clearly shows that the orcs are very excited about having their new favorite meal back as a choice, because it is rather obvious that the moldy bread they were given as rations is still an option for them to eat. These new choices of both meat or bread has created a sort of menu for the orcs, and with their knowledge of what a menu is, the uruk has exclaimed that meat is now finally back on their menu/back as a choice.

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    Hello and welcome to SFF! The first paragraph seems largely tangential to the question at hand and if there is an answer in there I can't see it. However, your second paragraph has some nice reasoning, albeit common sense/informed speculation rather than backed up from sources/evidence. Don't forget to register your account and take the tour if you haven't already!
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 10:06

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