As incredible as Peter Jackson's adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series are, no one can argue that they completely follow the original source material. For some, that's a good thing: parts of Tolkien's works can be lengthy and even dull at times, and some of the lengthy parts that are enjoyable in the books really aren't designed for movie-making.
Then again, for die-hard fans, the lack of even a piece of character lore can seem critical, and a few changes made between the books and films really do alter the events at hand. None of the Orc changes made really detract from the overall meaning of the series, but they certainly do prove that artistic license was used to make the movies.
10 Nameless Orcs Take Out Boromir
In Peter Jackson's film, Boromir, portrayed by fantasy fan favorite Sean Bean, is famously slain by the Uruk-hai commander Lurtz. We pretty much need Bean to be taken out by someone big at this point to make his many demises mean something, but in the books, Boromir wasn't offed by the hand of Lurtz but a whole bunch of random old Orcs.
It's pretty sad to think that Boromir's demise wasn't nearly as impressive as it was in the film, but he really was outnumbered. A bunch of Orcs coming at you really isn't something you can avoid easily.
9 They're Not Idiots
In the Peter Jackson films, Orcs often come off as absolute imbeciles, easily manipulated and barely able to function beyond bestial means. This just isn't true in the books. They aren't anywhere near the ballpark of a wizard's intellect, but they aren't idiots, either. In fact, in some ways they're smarter than hobbits.
Orcs are highly industrialized creatures, and Tolkien wrote them that way in order to represent some of the darker shades of mankind with their towers, means for siege and other means of industrialization. Their accomplishments aren't anything that a species without moderate intelligence could ever accomplish without higher thought.
8 Orc Forest Harvesting Was Well-Known
When the Ents find out about the Orcs tearing down their forests in the film Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, they are so shocked and hurt that we feel deeply for them, but we also can't help but think that they're rather ignorant. How could they not know about the Orcs' actions while they're living in the forest itself?
It turns out, they knew. In the books, the Orcs are famous for their violence and the Ents were well aware of it. They really don't need convincing to fight the Orcs so much as a rational approach to going about it, which Treebeard proposes at the Entmoot.
7 They Aren't Distracted By Merry And Pippin
Nobody likes to see the Fellowship of the Ring break up. It's more painful than witnessing your favorite hobbit boy band bite the dust. But Peter Jackson added more flair to the whole thing, not only in the scene with Boromir's demise but also with Frodo's big goodbye.
Mr. Baggins departs with little fanfare in the book, but in the film his friends either give him emotional sendoffs or distract the orcs from following him, as Merry and Pippin do when he embarks on his journey. The orcs either get extra screen time here, or they are depicted as idiots once again as they chase the wrong hobbits, whichever way you look at it.
6 Orcs Weren't Always A Big Threat
While Morgoth tortured many Elves and bred thousands of Orcs as a result, the villains weren't always the major problem we see them as in the films. In Tolkien's universe, up until the events we witness unfold in the trilogy, Orcs were pretty much a minor nuisance. They mostly bothered Dwarves and although they could be wicked opponents who could obviously take you out, they certainly weren't the force to be reckoned with that we see in Jackson's films.
This all changed when they were organized into an army, which transformed them into an organized threat that needed taking down.
5 They Are Fantastic Miners
J.R.R. Tolkien purposefully wrote the Orcs as terrible creatures with few redeeming qualities in order to represent the dark side of industrialization, and it's indicative of the black-and-white villains and heroes of his time. We have to remember that this was long before today's appreciation of multi-faceted villains, anti-heroes and other layered characters.
Still, the Orcs are good at some things that are hailed as positive activities when performed by other races, such as mining. The Dwarves are celebrated for their mining finesse, but they would be reluctant to admit that Orcs are also gifted at the skill.
4 They Are Essentially Goblins
While J.R.R. Tolkien once highlighted the differences between Goblins and Orcs in some of his writing, they're pretty much interchangeable in the works that he published. While they're called Orcs in The Lord of the Rings, they're referred to as Goblins in The Hobbit. Even the baddies of the great Dwarf and Goblin War are called Orcs in Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings.
This makes for some head-scratching while reading, even after it's become common knowledge that the two terms refer to the same species. Without any good explanations, and with the various sizes and shapes portrayed in the films, it can get confusing.
3 Orcs Sing
There's a LOT of singing in Tolkien's works, which makes sense in a world of war where song might be the only solace a person can find. There's a bit of singing in the films, particularly if you watch the extended versions, but not nearly as much as in the books themselves, which include Orc songs.
It's probably for the best, since Orcs sing really terrible songs in The Hobbit. Other aspects of Orc culture are much worse than their singing, though, such as their implied cannibalism, constant hunger for everything from horse to man flesh, and invention of various torture devices.
2 There Are Orc Women
Orc women aren't depicted in the films, and Tolkien doesn't explicitly describe them in the books. However, he did confirm that they existed, not only in a letter but in subtle clues. For example, young Goblin-imps are mentioned in the books, implying that they had been born of some female creatures.
In his Silmarillion, Tolkien also mentioned that Orcs "had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Ilúvatar." Tolkien is famous for not recognizing many female characters in his works and Orc women, while they do exist, are no different, so we don't even see them in their adaptations on screen. As ruthless as Orcs are, it seems as if they could have battled alongside the male Orcs.
1 There Are Orc-Human Hybrids
Not only are there Orcs bred with humans to create hybrid Men-orcs and Orc-men, but they are considered the worst of what Saruman was responsible for doing. Also known as half-goblins, they are described by Merry in The Fellowship of the Ring as "horrible: man-high, but with goblin-faces, sallow, leering, squint-eyed."
These hybrid creatures are some of the villains responsible for the scouring of the Shire, a terrible tragedy in the books where the hobbits' home has been destroyed. Saruman was responsible for this horror as well, although he worked beneath the secret name "Sharkey" while governing the Shire.