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Playable races in World of Warcraft e
Alliance World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Draenei (0800World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Lightforged) · Dwarf (0800World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Dark Iron) · Gnome · Human (0800World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Kul Tiran) · Night elf (0800World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Void elf) · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Worgen Both (Alliance and Horde) World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Pandaren Horde World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Blood elf (0800World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Nightborne) · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Goblin · Orc (0800World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Mag'har) · Tauren (0800World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Highmountain) · Troll (0800World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Zandalari) · Undead
For the playable race, see Orc (playable).
Lok'Tar Ogar! - Victory or Death!
- Orcs

The green-skinned orcs, or Greenskins[2] are one of the most prolific races of Azeroth. Born on the world of Draenor, the orcs were brought to Azeroth through the dimensional gateway known as the Dark Portal and waged war on the humans while under the influence of the Burning Legion.

The orcs once cultivated a noble, shamanistic society on Draenor. Tragically, the proud orc clans were corrupted by the Burning Legion and used as pawns in the Legion's invasion of Azeroth. The orcs managed to rebel, however, and they were ultimately able to help turn the tide against their demon masters. Led by the young Warchief Thrall, the orcs have reclaimed their strength and honor. The orcs moved from the Eastern Kingdoms to Kalimdor, and there they founded the nation of Durotar.

Now, the orcs stand ready to fight not for the sake of conquest, but for their very right of survival in their adopted world.


The Orc Crest

To their enemies, they are brutal and fearsome opponents, without parallel in their ferocity and cunning. To their allies, they are noble and honorable, following the traditions of a rediscovered past. The orcs of Lordaeron are part of a race that has once again found its true spirit, shunning the cruel practices of arcane and demonic magic for the paths of wisdom and power. Some orcs still hang on to the arcane practices of the past, but their time is fading. Though brutal in combat, orcs fight with a feral grace that equals even the finest fencing of an elven noble. For an orc, skill in battle brings great honor. The concept of personal honor that pervades all echelons of orcish society has made the race more cohesive and more of a threat to their adversaries in the Alliance. Even the naming of an orc is temporary until he has performed a rite of passage. Once an orc has brought honor to his name and the name of his clan, the elders give him a second name based upon his deed.

For an orc, personal reputation is as important as his or her clan, and most will fight to the death in defense of either. This is in drastic contrast to when they were led by the forces tainted by the Burning Legion, and were a bestial force barely controlled by demonic magic. While the orcs might seem quick to anger, they are tempered by the wisdom of their leaders and their shamans. There are few of the demon-worshiping clans left, for the Alliance or the Horde itself has hunted down most of the remnants of such clans. Now, most of the orcs have embraced the values embodied in the leadership of Thrall as taught by his mentor, Orgrim Doomhammer. The orcs are one of the most populous races on the world of Azeroth. While many of the Alliance races perceive them to be brutish and savage, the orcs have forged a complex society that embraces many occupations and many different races. No doubt the leadership of Thrall and the support of the tauren and jungle troll elders has aided in this solidarity, but it is quite apparent that humanity has underestimated the ability of the orcs to unify and create their own distinct and powerful culture. Perhaps in time, the two factions might come to an understanding, but with the current division of Alliance and Horde, no one can say how or when peace might come.[3]

When they were freed from the Burning Legion, orcs experienced a cultural revolution as the unnatural, arcane bloodlust left their bodies, giving them calmer and more focused states of mind. They, for the most part, follow Thrall as he forges ahead to reform the Horde both inside, with his shamanism, and outside, with the founding of Durotar. Still, not all orcs are pleased with these movements, namely the evil orcs who still reside on Azeroth. These orcs, who include a good number of the surviving warlocks, actively raid Alliance and Independent caravans and towns, and renounce all that Thrall proclaims the Horde is. Like the two faces of the Alliance, the different Horde factions meet rarely; but there are some orc warlocks on Kalimdor who would very much like to retake control of the Horde forces and are gaining strength in the wilderness to do so.[4]


An orc overlooking Draenor.

Early history

The orcs of Draenor had lived in a noble shamanistic society, roaming in tribes the grasslands of Nagrand on their dusty world of Draenor, for over 5,000 years. They lived in peace with the draenei refugees and were at war with the ogres. Eventually, the presence of the draenei drew the Burning Legion to Draenor. After investigating their world, the powerful Eredar demon lord Kil'jaeden tricked the respected shaman Ner'zhul into striking a bargain with him. He convinced Ner'zhul that the draenei were conspiring against the orcs, and were planning on attacking. In exchange for their service to the Burning Legion, Ner'zhul and all of the orcs would receive the power necessary to conquer vast new lands, and Kil'jaeden would have an army able to crush the draenei. To obtain this power, the orcs would need to first drink from the blood of Mannoroth the Destructor, a mighty pit lord of the Burning Legion. Grom Hellscream was one of the first to drink, and easily convinced the other chieftains and their clans to follow suit. This put them under the Blood Curse.

The Rise of the Horde

With the mass murder of the draenei, the elements refused to aid the orcs in their war. Believing that the elements had turned on them, the orcs turned on Ner'zhul. Gul'dan was then introduced as the new leader of the Horde. Slowly the entire race was corrupted into rampaging clans that would later be forged into the Horde. Over the next few decades the draenei and many other indigenous races of Draenor were almost utterly destroyed. Completely devoured by their demonic bloodlust and without new enemies to fight, many orc clans began fighting amongst themselves. Petty rivalries escalated into full scale bloodbaths, and total chaos descended upon orcish society. The few remaining draenei took advantage of this and started a guerrilla campaign that continues to this day.

During this time, Ner'zhul, no longer willing to watch his race destroy itself, betrayed Kil'jaeden and was subsequently replaced as Spiritual Leader of the clans by Gul'dan. Gul'dan cared little for the Horde and easily agreed to follow Kil'jaeden in exchange for even more power. Kil'jaeden taught Gul'dan how to project himself into the Twisting Nether and to commune with the dead. Gul'dan was changed by these encounters and realized how to attain even more power. Gul'dan also changed the way the orcs were ruled by giving Blackhand the title of Warchief during the war.

Orcs have bases in Outland.

Gul'dan gathered all warlocks who shared a desire for ultimate power and attempted to the share knowledge of communing with the dead. Many died in the process, but the few who survived formed the initial ranks of the Shadow Council. Through careful manipulation and intricate machinations, the Shadow Council became the real ruling body of the Horde, with the clan chiefs under their thumbs. By using the promise of new lands to conquer on worlds other than Draenor, the Shadow Council was able to form a tenuous unity within the Horde. Gul'dan and his warlocks began probing the Twisting Nether, desperately searching for new worlds within easy reach before the clans' bloodlust exploded beyond control. Gul'dan also founded the schools of Necromancy to spread the new demonic magics to even more orcs.

Visions of Medivh

One night, an extremely powerful entity touched the thoughts of many orc warlocks. Gul'dan sought the advice of Kil'jaeden as to what this new presence might be, but his summons went unanswered. If Gul'dan's own tutor Kil'jaeden feared this entity, then it could prove to be a powerful tool if he could re-establish contact with it. Weeks later, Gul'dan was finally successful and opened up communication with Medivh, a sorcerer on some distant world. Gul'dan attempted to probe the designs of this Medivh, but Medivh's mind moved far too quickly for Gul'dan to discern much of any value. Gul'dan knew with near-certainty that Medivh was attempting the same, and did not want Medivh to gain an advantage, and so quickly broke contact.

Medivh later returned to the dreams of the warlocks on Draenor, presenting them with images of the land of Azeroth. The Shadow Council, despite the debate over Medivh's true intentions, decided to do Medivh's bidding if he could furnish a way to bring the horde into Azeroth. Those warlocks who were not members of the Council but had experienced the vision, were killed to keep the coming invasion secret. Weeks passed with no further word from Medivh and some members of the Council believed he was playing tricks on them. But then the rift appeared.

The Invasion of Azeroth

Orcs' symbol in Warcraft I.

Orcs stand triumphant after battle.

With time and much effort the orcish warlocks were able to expand the rift enough to allow orcs to squeeze through. Though their first scouts were driven mad, either by the rift itself or by what they had seen, the council was able to confirm that on the other side of the rift was the world Medivh had shown them. A small contingent of orcs was sent through the stabilized rift, now known as the Dark Portal, to scout and construct a base of operations.

The caution urged by the Shadow Council fell on deaf ears when the clan chieftains learned of how seemingly weak the native humans of the area were. Bloodlust soon overcame the Horde, and they launched a preemptive strike against the most powerful establishment of humans in the area, the Kingdom of Stormwind. Led by Cho'gall of the Twilight's Hammer Clan and Kilrogg Deadeye of the Bleeding Hollow Clan, this attack ended in a humiliating defeat for the Horde. Each chieftain blamed the other for this failure, and the Horde split into two factions. The Shadow Council attempted to reunite the Horde, but could not act directly, and so they chose an avatar to act as their puppet ruler: Blackhand the Destroyer was named Warchief of all the Horde once again.

War continues

Under Blackhand's iron fist, order was restored. It was then that Medivh once again made contact with Gul'dan. Medivh seemed even more powerful, but less sane. Medivh ordered Gul'dan to have the Horde destroy the Kingdom of Stormwind, and make Medivh the new ruler of the humans. Gul'dan initially refused to do Medivh's bidding; after all, the Horde had a new target and Medivh's usefulness, in Gul'dan's eyes, had run out. Desperate to see his plans succeed, Medivh tempted Gul'dan by promising to reveal the location of the Tomb of Sargeras, the lord of the Burning Legion and Kil'jaeden's master. And so the First War between the Horde and the humans of Azeroth occurred, ending with the destruction of the Kingdom of Stormwind.

Near the beginning of that conflict the Frostwolf Clan, one of very few clans of orcs that had rejected the demonic gifts of Kil'jaeden, was exiled to Azeroth and its leader Durotan was murdered by Gul'dan's forces as a warning. His infant son was left for dead but was taken in by a nobleman from Lordaeron fleeing the carnage of Stormwind. The Frostwolves, leaderless, fled to the far northern mountains. Toward the end of the war, a surgical strike was launched by the humans to kill the treacherous Medivh. As Medivh was assaulted, Gul'dan felt the psychic trauma waves that Medivh emanated and realized that his chance to obtain the power of Sargeras was about to slip out of his grasp. He entered Medivh's mind and attempted to steal the location of the Tomb of Sargeras while Medivh was weakened and distracted. It was at this moment that Medivh died, and Gul'dan, having been in his mind at the time of death, was thrown into a coma.

When he awoke, Gul'dan learned of a major power shift within the horde. Blackhand the Destroyer had been overthrown by Orgrim Doomhammer after he had learned of Blackhand's role in corrupting the Horde. Doomhammer was not as gullible or easily swayed as Blackhand had been, and quickly discovered the Shadow Council's presence in orcish affairs. He completely eradicated the Council through accusations of treason. Gul'dan survived only by 'swearing' allegiance to Doomhammer, and by promising to provide a vast undead army for the Horde's use. He formed the Stormreaver Clan and began the process of re-animating the corpses of fallen knights with the spirits of the fallen members of the Shadow Council.

These new Death Knights, along with other fel projects (such as the capture of Alexstrasza), gave the Horde enough strength to advance steadily north despite facing the might of the unprecedented Alliance of all the human nations (Lordaeron, Stromgarde, Kul Tiras, Gilneas, Alterac and the magical forces of Dalaran). The elven nation of Quel'Thalas sent support to the Alliance, and after the Horde took their beloved lands of Khaz Modan, the dwarves and gnomes gladly joined the ranks of the Alliance. When the Kingdom of Alterac betrayed the Alliance, the victory of the Horde seemed inevitable, but the Horde was to suffer a betrayal of their own.

Gul'dan's folly

With victory in sight, Gul'dan convinced Cho'gall of the Twilight's Hammer clan that he knew the location of the Tomb of Sargeras. Together, along with the Stormreaver clan, they abandoned their posts and set out to claim the demonic power for their own. This loss of nearly a third of the Horde brought their campaign to a standstill at the doorstep of Lordaeron. Doomhammer, furious with the insubordination at such a critical time, deployed a large portion of his own forces to attack the deserting clans and their leaders. This allowed the Alliance forces to rally and crush the Horde while they were divided. With the destruction of the Dark Portal the Second War ended. Although a number of powerful men in the kingdom of Lordaeron wanted the orcs rounded up and executed, King Terenas ignored them and had the orcs placed in internment camps with hopes that they would one day lose their bloodlust. There, cut off from their demonic rulers and with no way to replenish their fel stamina, the orcs languished and eventually slipped into lethargy.

Thrall's rise

Several years after the Second War, Thrall, the son of Durotan, escaped from his cruel human master Aedelas Blackmoore at the Durnholde internment camp and set out to find the rest of his people. In his travels he encountered Grom Hellscream, who along with his Warsong Clan had been hiding out in the wastelands of Azeroth in hopes of another chance at conquest. Thrall became friends with Grom, and eventually met Orgrim Doomhammer, who had escaped from the humans' prison several years before. From Doomhammer he learned about his father and the Frostwolf clan, and the betrayal of his father by the Shadow Council. After learning this, Thrall made his way to the exiled Frostwolf clan stronghold, where the shaman Drek'Thar taught him about the orcs' noble heritage and how they had been corrupted by demons. Thrall swore to free his people from the chains that bound them, and as Drek'Thar's new student, embarked upon the path of the shaman. Together with Grom and Doomhammer, Thrall successfully launched attack after attack against the internment camps to free the captive orcs. It was difficult to rouse the orcs from their lethargy, but Thrall was able to prove to them that their destiny was not yet at its end, and the clans rallied behind the new Horde. Unfortunately, during the attack on the last internment camp, Doomhammer was struck down. In tribute to the fierce and proud orc, Thrall donned Doomhammer's black armor and the hammer which bore his name to lead his people from their captivity. This internment camp was later captured by the Horde, renamed in honor of Doomhammer, and is now the Horde outpost of Hammerfall in the Arathi Highlands.

A troop of orcs marching to a kodo's war drums.

Thrall knew the human nations would not stand idly by and let the Horde regroup or settle down. Fortunately for Thrall, a prophet appeared in the form of a raven and advised him to leave The Eastern Kingdoms for the distant land of Kalimdor. Thrall, having no better alternatives, captured some human ships and set sail for the new land, taking all of his orcs out of Lordaeron. During the journey, the orcs helped a tribe of trolls escape from their sinking island. The Darkspear trolls were immensely grateful for Thrall's assistance and swore allegiance to his new Horde. When they arrived in Kalimdor, they were greeted by Cairne Bloodhoof and his tauren. The orcs helped Cairne fend off the centaurs, and in return, he told the orcs the location of the Oracle. The Warsong clan however, was sent to Ashenvale to cut lumber as punishment for attacking the humans without permission. There they battled the Night elves. The Pit lord Mannoroth took advantage or the fact that the orcs were losing to empower them with his blood, and thus brought them back under his control. Thrall allied with the human sorceress Jaina Proudmoore at the indication of the Prophet (who was actually Medivh). They captured Hellscream and turned him back to normal. Thrall then went with him to confront the Mannoroth. Mannoroth quickly subdued Thrall, but Grom was able to kill the demon, though it cost him his life, and free the orcs from their demonic master.

The founding of Orgrimmar

With the Battle of Mount Hyjal over, and with it the immediate threat to the world, Thrall set out to found the new orcish homeland in Kalimdor. He named the land Durotar in honor of his father, and founded the city of Orgrimmar in honor of Orgrim Doomhammer. With the orcs' new allies, the tauren, becoming part of the Horde and with the support of the Lordaeron survivors led by Jaina Proudmoore, Thrall was able to build quickly. However, this was not to last. Grand Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, Jaina's father, arrived in Kalimdor (having left before the war was over to look for any surviving forces) and launched an attack against the fledgling orc nation. During the initial assault the Darkspear trolls lost their new home on the Echo Isles and with the help of the Mok'Nathal half-orc Rexxar, came to live with the orcs in Durotar. The witch doctor Vol'jin pledged the tribe's eternal allegiance to the Horde in return.

Thrall, not knowing what humans had attacked him, initially suspected Jaina's forces, but her loyalty was proven when she helped the orcs destroy the invading forces of her father Admiral Proudmoore.

Dominance of the Horde

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The True Horde and fracturing of Orgrimmar

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria This section concerns content exclusive to Mists of Pandaria.

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Recent history

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An Orc family.

Though once a symbol of evil and corruption, the Horde has reclaimed the Altar of Storms as part of their rebirth.

Orcish society has always been characterized by hardy and rugged living. As a result they are staunch pragmatists, and never shy from killing if it will protect the future of the orc or his clan. All orcs, regardless of gender or station, are expected to pull their own weight and weakness is considered a grave liability. The weakness of one contaminates the strength of all, and it is punishable by the greatest humiliation an orc can receive: exile. Different orc clans however have different personalities; Thrall and the Frostwolves are notable for having brought a measure of mercy and compassion to the Horde, typically seen in Thrall's kinder treatment towards peons, who were once viewed as a despicable sub-race. On the other hand, clans such as the Warsong remain who still cling to the rigid, spartan beliefs valued in the original Horde as it was first established on Draenor.

Yet regardless of their clan affiliations, orcs prize honor over all other things in life — first to bring honor to their clan (and by extension, the Horde) and secondly bringing honor to the self and to their sense of self-worth as an individual. Likewise, hospitality is considered one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed. The orcs and tauren have become fast and unswerving allies because the tauren gladly offered the orcs shelter in a strange new land as well as their assistance regardless of the cost to themselves.

There is no discrimination between genders in orcish society. Women are able to pursue the same career choices as men, rise to positions of power and are even expected to answer to the call for battle just as men are. Strength (both physical and mental), courage, initiative and independence are prized traits in all orcs. Traditionally, children are seen as children of the parents, but are raised as children of the clan. However, because of the newly unified Horde and the current diaspora of individual orc families creating homes and settling down in various areas around Durotar, the Barrens and beyond, this typical clan scheme has been changing, and life is beginning to become more centered around the nuclear family rather than the greater clan.

One tradition of the orcs on Draenor was a ceremony for newborns of the clan. The infant's parents would stand in a body of water near the encampment with the entire clan observing from shore. The mother would hand the baby to the father, who would then proclaim the child as his, through himself and his father, and present the baby for the clan's blessings. The clan chieftain would then hold the baby and declare the infant under their protection, with the hope that they bring honor and glory to the clan. The chieftain's heir would then give a blessing. Finally the Elder Shaman would ask for the blessing of the elemental and wild spirits, and the hope that the ancestors would watch over the newborn.[5]

In some clans, if the child appears sickly or frail, they will instead be drowned, likely by the father. A common expression of scorn is that an orc "should have been drowned at birth". This is likely the reason that the parents would stand in the water when presenting a newborn. The Blackrock clan and Bonechewer clan were noted for doing this without any qualms. The Frostwolf clan however, were known to have rejected such cruel practices.[6]

Orcs instinctively revere the rugged forces of the natural elements, and as such, Shamans are held in high regard. They generally have a close relationship with the nature elements and angering them is considered a grave offense.[7]

Wolves are a major symbol of the orcs, serving as guards, scouts, pets, partners and mounts. Many such wolves came from Draenor. Horde shamans can speak to them and summon spectral wolves and many serve a giant wolf spirit.[8]

Orc Culture…

  • is concerned with survival over artistic achievement.
  • reveres its elderly and honors its ancestors.
  • does not apologize for past actions, nor does it demand apologies from its enemies.
  • values valor over cunning—as long as valor doesn’t lead to disaster.
  • resembles "Primitive" human societies, but is, like those societies, far more sophisticated when examined closely.
  • distrusts arcane magic, especially the magic of warlocks—but does not (yet) shun arcanists.[9]


Orcish religion takes the form of an animistic faith that has strange parallels with the practices of the Kaldorei. Orc shamans draw their power from the spirits of nature, forming an intimate connection with the very world that surrounds them. This awareness has led to even more revelations of their race’s true nature, as the orcs realize that they live more in harmony with the world than many of the races of the Alliance.[10]


The practice of slavery has historically existed in orc society, and while in modern times it seems to occur less, the practice still continues among the orcs, though it is unclear how widespread it is. Despite Thrall's work to ensure that no orc would be cast into slavery ever again[11], a small number of orcs have been found enslaved by other orcs in the Horde, for example Bloodeye Redfist. It appears that some orcs are also willing to enslave members of other races, both Horde and Alliance.[12][13][14] Many of these slaves were once criminals whom were brought to justice. It is unclear why the orcs still allow slavery, and to what extent, or why they choose to ignore it.

The fact that the Crimson Ring, a gladiatorial circuit that very often includes slaves, is described as underground[15] seem to indicate that slavery is an illegal or heavily discouraged practice. However the secrecy may be due to the nature of the matches, which many times include battles to the death. Surprisingly the Crimson Ring's gladiatorial death matches and the enslaved gladiators are in the open at times, some of the tournaments taking place in Orgrimmar's and other Horde arenas[16]. Bloodeye was well known enough to be described as a "champion of the orcs".

Another example is the case of Jinxo, who had been captured by the orcs, and was going to be sold into slavery to a goblin, had she not developed a plan for escape.[17]


Orcs know Orcish and Common. Orcs tend to only favor the languages of their allies, for example Goblin, Taur-ahe, and Low Common.[10] They have probably learned Zandali, Gutterspeak, and Thalassian in recent times as well.

Orcish names

An orc from a Korean commercial.

Most orcish names derive from words in their language that have some complex meaning or hidden significance to their families. Typically, this is the name of a favorite thing or relative. Family names don't exist; most orcs have last names related to some great deed of heroism or honor. However, in the case of truly incredible deeds, an orc might take on the last name of his father to ensure that the chronicle of that terrific deed lives on.[18] The concept of honor is seen in every level of orc society, even in their naming practices. An orc’s first name is given early in life, often derived from a family name or the name of a great hero. The tribe bestows the second name after the orc reaches maturity, this name based upon some great deed. Such a practice gives rise to surnames such as Doomhammer, Elfkicker, Foe-ender, Skullsplitter, Thumper, and the like. This second name may be changed if a new one seems more appropriate.[19]

  • Male Names:

Grom, Thrum, Drog, Gorrum, Harg, Thurg, Karg.

  • Female Names:

Groma, Hargu, Igrim, Agra, Dragga, Grima.

  • Family Names:

Doomhammer, Deadeye, Forebinder, Elfkiller, Skullsplitter, Axeripper, Tearshorn, Fistcrusher, Nosebasher, Scruton, Hellscream.

This article or section includes speculation, observations or opinions possibly supported by lore or by Blizzard officials. It should not be taken as representing official lore.

Orcish surnames are usually derived from great acts or merits a previous ancestor was lauded for, but some exceptional orcs earn their own surnames (Kilrogg Deadeye, Kargath Bladefist), and many prefer to use the names of their fathers (Thrall, Son of Durotan). Only the family leader can hold an eponymous title (For example, there can only be one Doomhammer or Deadeye at a time), and the rest of the clan identify themselves through their line of birth.

Two types of orc names appear to have arisen: two syllables separated by an apostrophe and a simple name shortened from a longer one. The two-syllable ones — Gul'dan, Drak'Thul, Dal'Rend — appear to have initially been only used for spellcasters, but later exported (Gar'Thok was a Grunt colonel). The second type was highly cultural; only those with powers over the warrior could use their full name, such as Shamans and chieftains, or the orc's personal religious leader. For example Brox's full name was Broxigar, a term which he allowed only Tyrande and Krasus to use. Grom Hellscream's full name was Grommash, which Mannoroth used to address him as demonstration that Hellscream was his. This is very inconsistent, however; most of the known orcish names (such as Durotan, Orgrim, Nazgrel, and Kargath) are never documented being used in short forms, this is perhaps because they have no shortening.

Notable clans

Dark Horde
Fel Horde
Other Clans
True Horde


An orc as seen in an early cinematic.

Female orc draws up battle plans

Female orc charges into battle

Female orc

Orc males are massive and brutish looking creatures. Weighing in at 250 to 300 pounds and standing from 6 to 7 feet in height, they are not a small race. Even orc women tend to be only a half-foot or so shorter and 50 to 100 pounds lighter than most males (and some of them are equal in stature to their male counterparts), having broad shoulders and muscular, powerful bodies. Orcs tend to have coarse and bristly hair and beards, often black or brown in color, graying with age. Orc males sometimes choose to grow beards that are wild and untamed, while others prefer them to be braided and tasseled. These beards always hang from the chin, as orcs do not grow heavy facial hair above their upper-lip. Orcs are green-skinned, usually ranging from a light chartreuse yellow or olive to a dark forest or emerald green, and fel orcs often possess red skin. Untainted orcs, however, have brown skin. Orcs wear a variety of clothing styles, from furs and hides in some clans to heavy metal armor in others. They favor clothes of hide, and armor and arm themselves with a variety of gear.[3][20]

Orc eye colors include blue, brown, hazel, amber, red and orcs who drank the blood of Mannoroth had eyes that glowed a bright, blood red. Pure blue eyes are quite rare in the orcish race, and are seen as a sign of great destiny.[21]. Thrall has blue eyes, and Garona in some depictions is shown with blue eyes, though this may be more a sign of her half-orc heritage and not her fate. An orc's face would be described by some races of Azeroth as monstrous, their hideousness comparable to that of trolls. Orcs have large heavy jaws from which protrude sharp, tusk-like teeth, heavy brows, a broad and flat snout-like nose, and pointed ears. A fair amount of sexual dimorphism exists between the orc sexes, with male orcs possessing more extreme orcish physical characteristics, most noticeably broader shoulders and larger tusks. Male orcs (as depicted in World of Warcraft) possess a slight slouch, while females stand entirely erect. Orcs, especially orc warriors, are fond of tattoos of orcish symbols that have abstract, yet personal meaning to the individual orc, such as a clan symbol or a battle standard. In orcish society, scars are a source of pride for an orc; the amount of scars an orc has received in battle marks his experience as a warrior.

Their blood is black—as seen in the "Tutorial" Warcraft III cinematic and as quoted from Daelin Proudmoore. However, other sources show that their blood is red.

Skin color

All original orcs were brown-skinned; from bark-like brown to reddish-brown. However, their bodies react when exposed to warlock magic; though the nature of this change is somewhat different in other fel-touched races. The nature of orcish fel magic means that all nearby orcs, including those who avoid warlock magic, take on a green pigmentation and gain body mass (though why the Mag'har are much bigger than Durotar orcs in World of Warcraft is unknown). This color change appears to be genetic as Thrall, who had little direct exposure to warlock magic until recently, has had green skin from birth.

As this corruption progresses, the orc's eyes may become flaming orbs of red or green and their skin will soon change from green to scarlet, transforming them into fel orcs. Through certain rituals, this state is reversible. However, should the orc continue to drink large amounts of demonic blood, they enter the final irreversible stage of transformation and mutate horrifically; growing additional fangs and erupting with horns from their backs, arms and hands.

Currently, orcs of the Horde have a wide variety of "natural" pigments, ranging between shades of light green, dark drab olive, brown to grayish brown.[3][22] Most orcs of the Blackrock clan have gray skin tone. As of World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Warlords of Draenor, many of the orcs of the Burning Blade clan also have gray skin tone.

Orc relations

In the newly established Horde, the orcs have strong ties to the recent race members of the Horde who are originally from Kalimdor. The ties between the orcs, tauren, and jungle trolls are unquestionable. In the aftermath of the Third War, Thrall, Cairne, and Vol'jin reluctantly allowed the Forsaken to join the Horde ranks, and with the reopening the Dark Portal the Horde recruited a fifth race to its ranks, the Blood Elves. Although the Horde has five notable races, the Horde also counts as its members Mok'nathal, a race of half orcs, and the Stonemaul Ogres. Recently, Thrall has tried to establish a connection to the Ironforge Dwarves in order to minimize wars between the two races. This can be seen in a quest chain taking a Horde player into the Blackrock Depths to find the daughter of Magni Bronzebeard. However, it is safe to assume the dwarves will not improve relations anytime soon due to their current affiliation with the Alliance. Either way, this mission proves to be a failure since the princess refuses to return to Ironforge. In the Wrath of the Lich King, the Horde becomes allied with the Taunka — an ancient offshoot of the Tauren — and the Tuskarr. The Taunka are Horde specific but the Tuskarr are a naturally neutral race. Orcs have a long history of violence with humans, though they grudgingly respect their strength[23] and some still cling to old hatreds even despite the fact that they fought alongside each other during the Third War.[24] However, while they don't like humans generally, the orcs do respect their own leader Jaina Proudmoore, especially since she had chosen to side with them over her father.

Notable orcs

Main article: Notable orcs
Name Role Condition Location Allegiance
IconSmall ThrallShaman.gif Thrall Ex-Horde Warchief. Warrior Shaman. Savior of his people who restored the orcs to shamanism Alive Grommash Hold, Orgrimmar Horde, Frostwolf clan
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Durotan Father of Thrall. Former Chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan Deceased Buried in Alterac Valley Horde, Frostwolf Clan
IconSmall Orc Female.gif Draka Mother of Thrall. Daughter of Kelkar, son of Rhakish Deceased Unknown Frostwolf clan, Horde
IconSmall Mag'har Male.gif Garad Father of Durotan. Former Chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan Deceased Unknown Frostwolf clan, Horde
IconSmall Greatmother Geyah.gif Greatmother Geyah Mother of Durotan. Spiritual leader of the Mag'har Alive Garadar, Nagrand Mag'har, formerly Frostwolf clan
IconSmall Drek'Thar.gif Drek'Thar Elder Shaman of the Frostwolf Clan and leader in Thrall's place Alive Frostwolf Keep, Alterac Valley or Garadar, Nagrand Frostwolf Clan, Horde
IconSmall Mag'har Female.gif Mother Kashur Previous elder shaman of the Frostwolf Clan. Drek'thar's mentor Ghost Spirit Fields, Nagrand The Mag'har, Frostwolf clan
IconSmall Orgrim.gif Orgrim Doomhammer Warchief of the Horde and Chieftain of the Blackrock Clan during the Second War. Lieutenant of Blackhand, friend of Durotan, mentor of Thrall Deceased Hammerfall Orcish Horde Blackrock clan
Thunderlord clan
IconSmall Blackhand.gif Blackhand the Destroyer Warchief of the Horde and Chieftain of the Blackrock Clan during most of the First War. Killed and Succeeded by Doomhammer Deceased Unknown Blackrock clan, Horde, Shadow Council
IconSmall Rend.gif Rend Blackhand Son of Blackhand. Co-Chieftain of the Black Tooth Grin Clan and later Warchief of the Dark Horde and Chieftain of the Blackrock Clan in service of Nefarian Killable Blackrock Stadium, Upper Blackrock Spire Blackrock Clan, Dark Horde, Black dragonflight, Black Tooth Grin Clan; (former) Horde
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Maim Blackhand Son of Blackhand. Co-Chieftain of the Black Tooth Grin Clan. Killed in an attack by Dark Iron Dwarves Deceased Unknown Blackrock Clan, Dark Horde,Black Tooth Grin Clan, Horde
IconSmall Orc Female.gif Griselda Blackhand Daughter of Blackhand. Ran off with rogue ogre Turok Deceased Unknown Turok, formerly Horde, Blackrock Clan
IconSmall Garona.gif Garona Halforcen Formerly she was an emissary of the Horde during their invasion of Azeroth, she was the reluctant murderer of King Llane Wrynn Alive Unknown Shadow Council, Stormreaver clan, Kingdom of Azeroth, Horde (presumed)
IconSmall Grom.gif Grommash Hellscream Chieftain of the Warsong Clan. Liberator of the orcish race from the demonic blood pact made with Mannoroth Deceased Buried in Demon Fall Canyon, Ashenvale Horde of Draenor, Horde, Warsong clan
IconSmall Garrosh.gif Garrosh Hellscream Son of Grom Hellscream. Leader of the Warsong Offensive Current Horde Warchief. Deceased Garadar, Nagrand or Warsong Hold, Borean Tundra Mag'har, Warsong Offensive Horde
IconSmall Kargath.gif Kargath Bladefist Chieftain of the Shattered Hand Clan. Warchief of the Fel Horde on Outland in service of Illidan Stormrage Killable The Shattered Halls, Hellfire Citadel Illidan's forces, Fel Horde, Horde of Draenor, Shadow Council, Shattered Hand Clan
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Kilrogg Deadeye Chieftain of the Bleeding Hollow Clan. Only chieftain to avoid capture after the Second War and return to Draenor Deceased Unknown Horde
IconSmall FelOrc Male.gif Tagar Spinebreaker Chieftain of the Bonechewer Clan Killable Hellfire Peninsula Bonechewer Clan, Orcish Horde, Fel Horde, Illidan's forces
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Fenris the Hunter Former Chieftain of the Thunderlord Clan Unknown Unknown Horde, Thunderlord Clan
IconSmall Mag'har Male.gif Garm Wolfbrother Last Chieftain of the Thunderlord Clan Deceased Thunderlord Stronghold, Blade's Edge Mountains Mag'har, Thunderlord Clan
IconSmall Zuluhed.gif Zuluhed the Whacked Shaman Chieftain of the Dragonmaw Clan. In service of Illidan Stormrage Deceased (lore), Killable (WoW) Dragonmaw Fortress, Shadowmoon Valley Dragonmaw clan, Illidari (formerly Horde)
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Nekros Skullcrusher Chief Warlock of the Dragonmaw Clan. Jailer of Alexstrasza Deceased In the belly of Alexstrasza Horde, Dragonmaw Clan
IconSmall Ner'zhul.gif Ner'zhul Shaman Chieftain of the Shadowmoon Clan and former spiritual leader of the Orcs. Caused destruction of Draenor via multiple portals. Now the Lich King Undead Unknown Horde of Draenor, Shadowmoon Clan, Kil'jaeden, later only the Undead Scourge
IconSmall Gul'dan.gif Gul'dan Warlock Chieftain of the Stormreaver Clan and creator of The Shadow Council Dead
(Alive in alternate timeline)
Unknown Stormreaver clan, Shadow Council, Burning Legion, Old Horde, Shadowmoon clan
IconSmall Teron.gif Teron Gorefiend Former Orc Warlock killed by Doomhammer and returned from the dead by Gul'dan. He is now a disciple Deathknight. Killable Altar of Shadows, Shadowmoon Valley or Gorefiend's Vigil, Black Temple Illidari presumed. Formerly, Shadowmoon clan, Horde of Draenor, Death knights, Shadow Council
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Broxigar Brother of Saurfang. Famous Veteran of all three wars. Traveled back in time and participated in the War of the Ancients Deceased Unknown Horde, Kaldorei Resistance
IconSmall Varok.gif Varok Saurfang Brother of Broxigar. Supreme Commander of the Might of Kalimdor in the war against the Silithid and their Qiraji masters Alive Warsong Hold, Borean Tundra The Horde, Might of Kalimdor, Warsong Offensive
IconSmall Dranosh.gif Dranosh Saurfang Son of Varok. Killed at the Battle of Angrathar the Wrathgate. Soul claimed by Frostmourne and raised as the most powerful of the Lich King's deathknights. Undead Kor'kron Vanguard, Dragonblight or Icecrown Citadel The Horde, Warsong Offensive, The Scourge
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Nazgrel Veteran of the Second War and former Orgrimmar security captain. Leader of Horde expedition into Outland Alive Thrallmar, Hellfire Peninsula Horde, Frostwolf Clan
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Eitrigg Former warrior of the Blackrock Clan, now a member of Thrall's shamanistic Horde. Trusted friend of the Human Paladin Tirion Fordring Alive Grommash Hold, Orgrimmar or The Argent Stand, Zul'Drak Horde, Argent Crusade
IconSmall FelOrc Male.gif Jubei'thos Chieftain and Blademaster of the Blackrock Clan, slain by Arthas Deceased Unknown Blackrock Clan
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Urok Scratcher Urok Scratcher was an apprentice shaman and chief adviser to the ruthless commander of the Blackrock clan, Orgrim Doomhammer Unknown Unknown Orcish Horde
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Haomarush Blademaster of the Blackrock Scouts Deceased Unknown Blackrock Clan/Burning Legion
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Mazrigos Guard of the gate Deceased Alterac mountains Blackrock clan
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Drak'Thul Former disciple of Gul'dan; Island hermit Alive Broken Isles Himself, formely Stormreaver clan
IconSmall Mag'har Female.gif Aggra Captain, Go'el's lifemate Alive Lost Isles, Maelstrom, & Mount Hyjal Earthen Ring
IconSmall Orc Male.gif Kash'drakor Nazgrel's ancestor Deceased Unknown Old Horde or Frostwolf Clan (presumed)

Player race

Main article: Orc (playable)





  • Warcraft is one of the very few fantasy franchises where orcs are put in a positive light. This is still true after two games with the traditional bloodthirsty interpretation. In fact, reviewers often credit the humorous voices and comments of Horde units from Tides of Darkness (making the "bad guys" more fun to play) as the direct influence on the choice to portray their redemption.
  • Orcs have a great influence in the Warcraft game series; an unusual thing to see in fantasy and medieval folk lore, where the orcs are just easily-killable, bestial and brainless enemies.
  • Orcs played a major part in every Warcaft novel up until Night of the Dragon.
  • Several of the orcs' allies — including the ogres, the blood elves, and the Forsaken — were at one time enemies of the Horde.
  • Orcish culture and history has several similarities to the culture and history of the Huns:
    • They both invaded a new continent and shattered the whole life of the inhabitants.
    • They both have strong shamanistic beliefs.
    • They both conquered nearly the entire world.
    • Both were later pushed (nearly) completely back into their own land.


See also

External links