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This question already has an answer here:

The average or expected lifespan of Hobbits, Men and Dwarfs is easily found but I can find no definitive answer for the 'expected' lifespan of an Orc. All I can find so far is, 'unknown'.

marked as duplicate by Valorum, Rogue Jedi, Adamant, Jason Baker lord-of-the-rings Sep 9 '16 at 22:10

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    Depends on how many orcs Sauron wants to waste in frontal assaults – The Fallen Apr 8 '13 at 4:15
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    Until they meet Gimli, Aragorn, or Legolas. – Jeff Apr 8 '13 at 12:49
  • Did Aragorn actually kill any Orcs? He seems to be more fond of fighting Trolls – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 8 '13 at 16:13
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    @DVK: Well, y'know, even he gets bored occasionally. Orcs are like his potato chips - not going to be a satisfying meal, but ok if you're in a hurry. – Jeff Apr 8 '13 at 16:58
  • @Valorum Wouldn't it be better to dupe the other way round? The answer to whether they're immortal (no) doesn't tell us the answer to how long the live, but the answer to how long they live does tell us whether they're immortal. – Rand al'Thor Sep 9 '16 at 21:22
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In the 10th volume of The History of Middle-earth (specifically in the "Myths Transformed" essay) it's written that Orcs had short lifespans in relation to the Númenóreans, which would mean that they weren't immortal.

But at least Orcs could live a long life. The proof for that is Bolg, who died 140 years later than his father, Azog.

Of course it may vary among different breeds of Orcs.

  • Thanks for edit, that was a poor language mistake of me. :) – Darek Wędrychowski Apr 8 '13 at 19:28
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    "The proof for that is Bolg, who died 140 years later than his father, Azog." - well, either Orcs have long lifespans or female Orcs have really long pregnancies. – Rand al'Thor Jun 22 '16 at 21:22
  • The two orc chiefs above the stairs into Mordor that Frodo, Sam and Gollum climbed talks about some "great unrest" or something along those lines. I've always thought they were referring to the Siege of Barad Dur as Orcs as far as I knew were immortal as they were corrupted elves from the Age of Stars. – Johan Jun 19 at 11:45
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Orcs seem to have lifespans based on how famous they are. Azog lived to be at least 319[1], but died through combat at the Battle of the Five Armies. No definite age is given, only how long he ruled Moria. Bolg lived to be at least 150[2] years old. The Uruk-hai(Saruman Breed) were months/years old. And some orcs(hinted at, with no evidence) spent their entire lives in Minas Morgul, which spanned several human generations. And in the behind the scenes(RotK, I think) one of the modelers on the tower made the mention of having orcs live for 100-150 years, then a new set would begin a new set of construction on Barad-dûr[3]. So if you look closely, the CG model of Barad-dûr has a different look all the way up the tower.

In conclusion:
Really infamous orc: Possibly 500 years, at least 319
Known orc: 150-200 years
Peons: ~100 years
Uruk-hai(Saruman Breed): 3-4 years

[1] - Tolkien, The Hobbit, ch. 1: "An Unexpected Party".
[2] - Tolkien, J. R. R. (1937), in Douglas A. Anderson, The Annotated Hobbit,
[3] - I am unable to locate an internet source for this bit of information, or an exact
 time stamp since my DvD player reads 19:99 at anything over 20 minutes.
  • I don't think you can compare Tolkien's orcs to orcs from other works of fiction :) By the way, where did you get the 3-4 years for Uruks? – Andres F. Apr 8 '13 at 21:23
  • The timeline for Isengard's betrayal. I am making the reasonable assumption that Saruman started his corruption of the world with his fighting Uruk-hai when he started to use the Palantíri and was corrupted by Sauron. Then the Treants and horsemen wipe out any trace of Isengard's corruption. It is also safe to assume that a few are left over during the hobbit war at the end of lotr. This gives a timeline of a few years at best. No notable Uruk-hai really live longer than a housefly in the whole of the story. – AbeLinkon Apr 9 '13 at 3:37
  • Ok, that's for Saruman's armies. What about the lifespan of Uruks from Mordor? – Andres F. Apr 9 '13 at 4:26
  • Not sure on that. I edited my post to clarify that. – AbeLinkon Apr 9 '13 at 4:29
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    With some more work this could be a great answer! I'd remove the extraneous info about orcs from other works (which is offtopic) and add references for each assertion (e.g. where do you get the average for orc "peons"? -- by which I assume you mean trackers and low-rank orcs such as the one referred to as Snaga). Also, consider that maybe notoriety doesn't grant lifespan, but the other way around: that long-lived orcs are notorious because they've avoided getting killed! – Andres F. Apr 9 '13 at 4:51
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Since orcs were a corruption of another race (Maiar, elves, men, depending on which fragment you chose as canon), their lifespan would have been similar to that of that race. However, the violent culture of the orcs would mean that few "old" orcs would survive.

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    maiar? I don't think so... Balrogs were evil/corruptes maiar, not orcs. Sauron was a maiar. If orcs were maiar Gondor would have been screwed! – Bakuriu Apr 8 '13 at 12:16
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    @Bakuriu: This question and answers give you some a reference to orcs being maiar -- Morgoth's Ring in the section "Myths Transformed". Or wikipedia... – Sardathrion Apr 8 '13 at 12:28
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    My understanding is that Orcs as corrupted Elves would be immortal. – RobertF Dec 16 '13 at 17:57
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The uruk hai probably had life spans similar to men, and there is no indication that they had accelerated aging. Saruman began his treachery in TA 2759 when he settled at Isengard with the intention of using the Palantir there, and began to fortify Isengard and communicate with Sauron ten years after the Necomancer was driven from Dol Guldur. This is the most likely time that he started to breed his Uruk Hai, which were a variant of the Black Uruks used by Sauron starting around TA 2475. It is highly improbable that they were only a few months or years old.

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Since "myths transformed" are not canon as they where never published, and seemed to be in flux at the time of their writing....the short answer is no one knows....however if you ascribe to the common belief of "the wise" of Middle Earth, and Tol Eressëa , Orcs are immortal, and reincarnate after death if possible like the elves whom they where bred from. Since their fea more than likley would not obey the summons to the West...this could likely explain how they were able to recover so quickly from crushing defeats.

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I always thought that once the power of Sauron was finally lifted after the destruction of the ring, the orcs of middle earth gradually changed back to their former selves whether they were elves or men. I would think that orcs live forever under the influence of Sauron until that point.

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    Do you have any evidence to back up this opinion? Answers here are generally expected to be supported either by canonical citations or solid reasoning. – Rand al'Thor Jun 22 '16 at 20:55

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