How Long Do Orcs Live in LotR? (& The Oldest Orc)


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When it comes to the world that JRR Tolkien created in The Lord of the Rings and his other writings, one of the things that we know is that there are a lot of different living beings that come from different races. Out of all of the races, the ones that are inherently evil are the Orcs, which are the main soldiers that form the armies of Morgoth and Sauron. These Orcs have existed for thousands of years as there have been plenty of Orcs that threatened the different races of Middle-Earth. But how long do the Orcs in The Lord of the Rings live?

There is no definite lifespan for an Orc because no Orc has lived long enough to determine how long these creatures live. However, an Orc named Bolg was able to live close to 150 years old. That means that it is quite possible that the Orcs are able to live for more than a century.

The thing about the Orcs is that they were never bred for quality. Instead, Morgoth created them for quantity as he needed foot soldiers for his war. That means that what mattered more for Orcs was that they were able to outnumber their enemies and overwhelm them with sheer numbers. And that is probably the reason why no Orc has ever lived long enough for us to know their lifespan.

How Long Do Orcs Live In The Lord Of The Rings?

Throughout the history of JRR Tolkien’s writings in The Lord of the Rings, the one thing we came to understand was that there were different races of living beings in Middle-Earth, as these creatures were able to populate the land and live there for thousands of years. But out of all of the different creatures on Middle-Earth, the ones that were inherently evil were the Orcs because they were created by the original dark lord, Morgoth, for the purposes of waging war against the Children of Ilúvatar well before the First Age.

Of course, we know for a fact that the Orcs were also Sauron’s main foot soldiers during the Third Age when he was waging war against Middle-Earth in the events of The Lord of the Rings. And because Sauron was once Morgoth’s most trusted lieutenant, we know for a fact that these Orcs have been around for thousands of years already, as they formed the bulk of the armies of these dark lords during the first three ages of Middle Earth.


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So, if Orcs have been around for thousands of years, that means that they could breed and propagate among themselves. This went on for thousands of years because Orcs continued to roam Middle-Earth while Sauron tried to regain the strength that his old master, Morgoth, once had. But how long are the lifespans of these Orcs?

At this point, there is no clear answer regarding how long Orcs get to live because JRR Tolkien did not elaborate on the overall physiology and longevity of these creatures. And unlike the other characters, who have definite dates of birth and death, Tolkien did not write anything about the birthdates of his Orcs.

Nevertheless, we do know that there is one Orc that was able to live for about 150 years, give or take. In that regard, it is quite possible that Orcs have lifespans that are quite long as well and are longer than the lifespans of Men and Hobbits. Regular Men have lifespans that can reach 80 to 90 (double for the Dúnedain and a lot more than that for Númenóreans). Meanwhile, Hobbits can live up to more than a hundred.

Are Orcs Immortal?

There is no definite answer as to where Orcs came from because JRR Tolkien only wrote that these creatures suddenly appeared out of nowhere and were able to form the bulk of Morgoth’s forces during the Years of the Trees. However, only Eru Ilūvatar, the supreme god of creation in The Lord of the Rings, is capable of creating life out of nowhere.

Considering that Morgoth cannot create life, the standing theory is that Orcs were not created but were corrupted. Of course, the only creatures that could have been corrupted during the time when the Orcs appeared were the Elves. This is why Orcs are often considered Elves that were corrupted as they ended up becoming their own race. But, considering that Orcs could have been elves at one point in time, does that mean that they are also immortal like the Elves?

While it could be possible that the Orcs were once Elves, we cannot say for certain whether or not they are also immortal because there are no records of Orcs that were able to live for thousands of years or even more than 150 years. But we can make a few assumptions based on what we know about the Orcs.

Morgoth quite possibly bred the Orcs from the Elves that he corrupted not because he wanted to rule over his own people but because he wanted foot soldiers that he could use for war. In that regard, the Orcs were made for quantity and not quality. They were bred to outnumber their enemies, and that explains why Saruman’s army was able to quickly overwhelm the Rohan forces during the events of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

This suggests that Morgoth never intended the Orcs to live very long lives because they were always made to be dispensable foot soldiers. As such, we do believe that Orcs are not immortal but are still capable of living more than 100 years.


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But the fact that the Orcs were always made for war meant that they were going to die sooner or later, as they didn’t exist to live the peaceful lives that Men and Elves have. As such, even if we were to assume that the Orcs are also immortal, they don’t get to live long enough because they end up dying before they could even reach a fraction of the lifespans that Elves live.

Who Is The Oldest Orc In The Lord Of The Rings?

As mentioned, JRR Tolkien never elaborated when it came to the dates of birth and death of his Orcs. However, we do know that there is an Orc that lived long enough for us to know that he is quite possibly the oldest out of all of them. We are talking about Bolg


In The Hobbit, Bolg existed alongside his father, Azog, as they went on a revenge tour against Thorin Oakenshield’s company. Bolg, however, was second only to Azog in terms of his strength and skill in the movies. But, in the books, Azog was slain by Dáin II, and that’s why it was Bolg who led the orcs in the Battle of Five Armies.

According to Tolkien’s writings, Azog was slain on TA 2799, and that means that Bolg lived before his father died. Meanwhile, Bolg died during the Battle of Five Armies on TA 2941. That means that he was somewhere around 150 years old when he died. 

Out of all of the Orcs in The Lord of the Rings, Bolg is the only one whose age could be estimated because all of the other Orcs don’t have estimated birthdates. This is why we believe that Orcs can live up to 150 years old or even more than that.

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