Where do the orcs in The Lord of the Rings come from? While JRR Tolkien otherwise fleshed out and thought through almost every corner of his fantasy world to the smallest detail, this is a question that is surprisingly difficult to answer. Because Tolkien changed the background story of the orcs once or twice over the many years that he worked on Middle-earth.
The most well-known variant is that they were once Elves who were tortured, mutilated and turned into Orcs by the Dark Lords Morgoth and Sauron. This is what Saruman (Christopher Lee) tells in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
And this is where the mysterious Adar (Joseph Mawle) comes into play, who in “The Rings of Power“Episode 3 is mentioned for the first time and now in Episode 4 it has its big entrance. Adar is obviously an Elf and not an Orc, yet he takes such loving and fatherly care of the Orcsthat his name (“Adar” means “father” in the Elvish language Sindarin) is most appropriate.
So could Adar simply be the first Elf captured and “converted” by Morgoth? We see in The Rings of Power that half of his face is scarred, so he obviously bears the marks of torture and/or injuries. And he seems to be firmly on the side of evil, which he himself would probably see differently (“many lies have been told to you,” he says to Arondir, for example).
We also learn that Adar has been alive for a very long time. He tells Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova) that he once walked around the land of Beleriand, which fell at the end of the First Age – many years before the action time of “The Rings of Power”. And probably not coincidentally, Beleriand is also the part of Middle-earth where the orcs were first seen.
There it seems quite possible that after his capture, Adar in some way helped turn more elves into orcsand is therefore actually something like the father of this entire race – even if its origins may go back even further (as I said, this is not entirely clear with Tolkien).
Or maybe we are presented with a completely different version of events in “The Rings of Power”. Even before the start of the series, producer Lindsey Weber and mask designer Jamie Wilson gave an insight into the plans of those responsible for the series for the orcs – and spoke there, among other things, of female orcs, which will exist in “The Rings of Power”.!
So perhaps the question of the orcs’ origin is answered in a surprisingly simple and obvious way in The Rings of Power: Whether they were once Elves or created directly by Morgoth, they may reproduce in exactly the same way and wise like all other peoples of Middle-earth… If the Elven theory is correct, Morgoth would have had to change them on a genetic level, so that they then reproduce as Orcs.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Episode 5 will be released on September 23, 2022 on Amazon Prime Video. You can find out more about Adar and the origin of the orcs in the video embedded above from minute 6:40.