Just curious, reading the trivia section on IMDB for the LOTR films, in the trivia for TTT and TROTK it says the following:

Tell-tale signs (grayer hair, blotchy skin) are introduced to show that the Uruk-hai are an inbred set of creatures, who are already starting to erode.

It is going on 10-15 years since I read the books and I am struggling to remember anything at all about this. Can anyone expand on this further and detail if they are actually falling apart?

I mean I understand that inbreeding is bad

  • 1
    No, there is nothing in the books about the dangers of inbreeding and, in fact, little detail about how the Uruk-hai are "created". This is likely a- made up by whoever wrote that bit of trivia on IMDb, or b- made up by the scriptwriters.
    – Andres F.
    Apr 29, 2014 at 11:49
  • I think the Uruk-hai (at least Sarumans) are cross-bred (with man, or so Treebeard assumes), not inbred. And I struggle a bit with the title of the question - shouldn't that either be "defects" or "faults" ? Apr 29, 2014 at 18:43
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    More non-Tolkien rubbish.
    – m4r35n357
    Jul 14, 2023 at 9:25

1 Answer 1


This seems to be a movie construct: there's no evidence for inbreeding, nor any for lack of inbreeding, in the books. The most that is said is the quote from the Silmarillion regarding how Orcs reproduce:

For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Ilúvatar...

"Uruk" is just Black Speech for "Orc" (derived from a primitive Elvish form) and doesn't necessarily need to denote any special breed of them, although in practical use it came to do so. This is referred to in Appendix C to Quendi and Eldar, published in HoME11:

For these shapes and the terror that they inspired the element chiefly used in the ancient tongue of the Elves appears to have been *RUKU ..... except in tales of the ancient days and the March, and then is vague in meaning, referring to anything that caused fear to the Elves, any dubious shape or shadow, or prowling creature. In Sindarin urug has a similar use. It might indeed be translated 'bogey' ..... The Orcs themselves adopted it, for the fact that it referred to terror and detestation delighted them. The word uruk that occurs in the Black Speech, devised (it is said) by Sauron to serve as a lingua franca for his subjects, was probably borrowed by him from the Elvish tongues of earlier times. It referred, however, specially to the trained and disciplined Orcs of the regiments of Mordor. Lesser breeds seem to have been called snaga.

This is the same root seen in Quenya "Valaraukar", Sindarin Balrog, and as such is a quite generic term.

"Uruk-hai" means "Orc folk" and therefore any random Orc passer-by, when speaking in Black Speech, might refer to himself as a "Uruk" and his family as "Uruk-hai". But like I said (and like Tolkien wrote) "Uruk-hai" eventually came to refer to the more superior breeds, in what I find to be quite an interesting parallel between "Men" and "Hobbits"; i.e the generic name became restricted to the larger kinds with the smaller kind picking up a separate name of their own - which for Orcs was "snaga" - let's not introduce "goblins" here, please!

That was quite a diversion, but the purpose is to demonstrate just how much this concept had been changed between book and movie. In the books "Uruk-hai" are certainly not a decaying, inbred subtype; they're actually the superior subtype.

  • ... or goblin-imps Apr 29, 2014 at 19:28
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    @DVK - NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
    – user8719
    Apr 29, 2014 at 20:27

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