In fantasy stories, how do the Big Bad Guys always get the massive armies of loyal followers fighting for them?

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I'm just reading the Fionavar Tapestry trilgoy, and in it the evil god has an apparently endless amount of some sort dark elves fighting for him and sacrificing themselves for him without second thoughts. However, there's no explanation for where these things come from or why are they fighting for him. The same applies to Sauron's orcs in LotR, I guess. In most cases the evil guy's henchmen are portrayed as intelligent enough to make individual decisions, so it's not like they're mindless slaves or something. The basic explanation for their actions seems to be just that they're evil, but don't evil people have motivations just like good people do?

Tuomas, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 12:10 (twelve years ago) link

hall of fame already

Frogman Henry, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 12:11 (twelve years ago) link

Not only fantasy stories. James Bond villians have the same mini armies. And they're human.

Ned Trifle II, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 12:18 (twelve years ago) link

I have no answer beyond magic or because there's a back-story we're not told, perhaps these badguys aren't really the badguys they're portrayed as.
"Epic fantasy trilogies are written by the winners" or something.
I've written maybe five different crap puns about goyim, but decided to give up . Perhaps the ilx0r lollerator will provide.

Øystein, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 12:18 (twelve years ago) link

Try reading better books.

Noodle Vague, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 12:19 (twelve years ago) link

um, morgoth/sauron created the orcs. get one father issues. usually it's money or nationalism. there are no bad guys, just the other guys.

darraghmac, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 12:35 (twelve years ago) link

You know those bits where the villainous henchmen get killed in the Austin powers movie, and then it cuts to the birthday party his friends are having for him and they're all "ah he's late back from work again, would you believe it, ok give it another 1/2 hour and we'll phone"...

I saw that and thought "ah, a question I often pondered..."

I guess the bad guys offered more money and perks, and promised not to take up references.

Mark G, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 12:43 (twelve years ago) link

more money, more perks (from PILLAGE), promise of power, I presume.

Pashmina, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 12:50 (twelve years ago) link

Batman villains are the biggest/most hilarious offenders in this, because the villains usually make their goons dress in goofy outfits

latebloomer, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 12:53 (twelve years ago) link

And why are the bad guys always so crap and inefficient? Take the Lord of the Rings, how do a couple of dwarves and some doddery old wizard manage to kill droves of terrifying ruthless Orcs without getting so much as a scratch on 'em?

Tom D., Tuesday, 18 December 2007 12:56 (twelve years ago) link

The bad guys never spend enough on training courses.

Mark G, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 13:03 (twelve years ago) link

Private enterprise enthusiasm VS public service drudgery, innit

Øystein, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 13:03 (twelve years ago) link

Pay peanuts, you get monkeys

*insert Planet of the Apes reference here*

Tom D., Tuesday, 18 December 2007 13:04 (twelve years ago) link

You know those bits where the villainous henchmen get killed in the Austin powers movie, and then it cuts to the birthday party his friends are having for him and they're all "ah he's late back from work again, would you believe it, ok give it another 1/2 hour and we'll phone"...

I wonder if they took the idea from Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, which devoted one whole issue to the story of one of the bad guy's foot soldiers, whom the leader of the good guys had casually killed in a previous issue.

Tuomas, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 13:07 (twelve years ago) link

Maybe, but then I haven't seen that, so I guess Mike Myers could have just had the same idea I did.

Mark G, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 13:19 (twelve years ago) link

- Good financial policies.
- Commitment to law and order.
- Investments in infrastructure.
- Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts.

King Boy Pato, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 13:20 (twelve years ago) link

also, bad guy henchman always look like they're having fun (until the end). who wants to hang out with fucking aragorn and that cunt of an elf all day? weak.

darraghmac, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 13:25 (twelve years ago) link

um, morgoth/sauron created the orcs. get one father issues.

Wasn't it Saruman who created his own orcs? The origin of Sauron's orcs was never mentioned in LotR, or was it?

Tuomas, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 13:36 (twelve years ago) link

And even if he was their father, not all sons automatically follow their dads.

Tuomas, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 13:36 (twelve years ago) link

Scott Evil to thread

Jarlrmai, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 13:38 (twelve years ago) link

Unspeakable Evil: A Family Business

Tom D., Tuesday, 18 December 2007 13:39 (twelve years ago) link

Sauron's orcs are presumably the descendants of the ones Morgoth created; their origin is to be found in The Silmarillion

ps. Have a look at Glen Cook's Black Company stories, which feature the adventures of a group of mercenaries who are actually fighting for the big bad guys. Also, Steven Erikson's Malazan Empire would probably be the villains in most fantasy epics.

Stone Monkey, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 15:16 (twelve years ago) link

i thought LotR was all politics, ie in simple terms the Orcs hated the shit out of humans etc

Ste, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 16:35 (twelve years ago) link

(or should I say 'racial' politics)

Ste, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 16:35 (twelve years ago) link

Actually not seeing any real-world shortage of Big Bad Guys with armies of loyal followers, y'know?

Soukesian, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 18:10 (twelve years ago) link

and, as far as Fantasy novels go, if you're cannon-fodder anyway, at least you get to dress up like the guys from Immortal.

Soukesian, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 18:15 (twelve years ago) link

Journal of a New Cobra Recruit

Laurel, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 18:16 (twelve years ago) link

Whenever I play Castlevania, I always picture the families of the henchmen on level 1 and 2 weeping as their husbands, siblings and fathers leave for work that day to try to slow the progress of some guy with a whip. No one ever survives level 1 duty.

To answer the thread question, an obvious factor is that the massive armies of loyal followers of the Big Bad Guys don't see their leader(s) as evil. In contrast, they're subject to propaganda that paints the other side as evil. In reality, the loyal henchmen probably are just trying to do well enough to secure a decent salary, contribute steadily to their 401(k), and to go back to Castlevania, get promoted to last level duty instead of level 1 or 2, which is a suicide mission.

Duh!

Z S, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 18:20 (twelve years ago) link

The best thing about Attack of The Clones = fuck you Kevin Smith/Clerks, the Death Star staff is 95% robots and clone troopers after all

blueski, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 18:24 (twelve years ago) link

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/Mussolini.jpg

kingfish, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 19:23 (twelve years ago) link

there are a lot of jokes about this in the Venture Bros.

Jordan, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 19:30 (twelve years ago) link

so clones aren't human huh.

s1ocki, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 19:32 (twelve years ago) link

Hath not a clone eyes etc.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 19:34 (twelve years ago) link

they wear a power tie

pc user, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 19:35 (twelve years ago) link

star wars: episode 2: attack of the jews

s1ocki, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 19:35 (twelve years ago) link

The clones were bred to be less independent thinking

Sleep, Eat Food, Have Visions, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 19:36 (twelve years ago) link

Also its pretty obvious that droids are sentient.

Sleep, Eat Food, Have Visions, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 19:37 (twelve years ago) link

star wars: episode 2: attack of the jews

Episode 3: Revenge of the Bris?

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 19:37 (twelve years ago) link

more money, more perks (from PILLAGE), promise of power, I presume.

The bad guys never spend enough on training courses.

Pay peanuts, you get monkeys

Somewhere in here, there's a contradiction.

libcrypt, Tuesday, 18 December 2007 19:40 (twelve years ago) link

one year passes...

This cliche also helps in stories where the good guys kill the Big Bad Guy, which is dramatic high point of the story, and then you don't have to worry about what happens to the thousands/millions of his minions, because apparently all of them they stop fighting or die the moment the Big Bad is dead. In real life the minions would probably go on fighting for days if not months after their leader is finished, some of them might never even find out the Big Bad is dead, or some new leader(s) might take the place of deceased one, but that never happens in fantasy stories, because it would ruin the dramatic arc where killing the Big Bad automatically saves the word. Like in Lord of the Rings, it seems all hostilities stop after Sauron dies, because apparently all the orcs and evil men and other followers of Sauron are mere puppets who cannot function at all once their master is gone. You'd think it takes the orcs who weren't there at big battle days or weeks to find out Sauron has died? In the movie they try to patch up things a bit by making Sauron's death cause a massive earthquake that kills most of the army at the Black Gate, but it's a pretty convenient earthquake since it only kills the bad guys, even though the army of the good guys is also there.

Tuomas, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 20:42 (ten years ago) link

I asked this on the LOTR thread and got no serious answers but... do Orcs have genitals?

so, okay, Sauron (or Saruman, whatever) creates them through some combination of magic and science (orcs were originally elves, right?) and makes a whole bunch of them. afaik there's no orc women. so do orcs have genitals? It seems like it would make sense that they could do a little raping along with their pillaging and murdering or do some homo-bonding a la Roman centurions. On the other hand, having genitals and not reproducing is nonsensical.

Obama Death Panel (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:00 (ten years ago) link

Raping would have detracted from the pillaging and murdering, so Sauron had the foresight to create them genital free.

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:02 (ten years ago) link

I asked this on the LOTR thread and got no serious answers but... do Orcs have genitals?

can't believe no one took this question seriously

it's like i have a couple worked up vadges under my arms (HI DERE), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:04 (ten years ago) link

I know!

it's like i have a couple worked up orc dicks under my arms (Alex in SF), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:06 (ten years ago) link

Orcs have no genitals. One could consider their oft-mentioned acts of cannibalism a primordial attempt at satiating their psychosexual desires.

the stain specialist (Viceroy), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:09 (ten years ago) link

the real question is whether orcs have belly buttons

congratulations (n/a), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:10 (ten years ago) link

(obv no)

congratulations (n/a), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:10 (ten years ago) link

Dan how do you do this? I'm seriously embarrassed posting on threads with this screenname.

it's like i have a couple worked up orc dicks under my arms (Alex in SF), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:11 (ten years ago) link

I feel like such a puritan now.

it's like i have a couple worked up orc dicks under my arms (Alex in SF), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:12 (ten years ago) link

we need the lyrics to "Procreation (Of the Wicked)" -- that should answer all these questions.

the stain specialist (Viceroy), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:33 (ten years ago) link

"(also vadges are much less embarrassing than orc dicks)"

Esp. when they are worked up.

it's like i have a couple worked up orc dicks under my arms (Alex in SF), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:34 (ten years ago) link

yes, I believe quite a few of them were originally named Richard xxp

a being that goes on two legs and is ungrateful (dyao), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:34 (ten years ago) link

Lukacs?

goole, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:35 (ten years ago) link

see, it's SCAKUL backwards...

it's like i have a couple worked up vadges under my arms (HI DERE), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:37 (ten years ago) link

we need the lyrics to "Procreation (Of the Wicked)"

Well here's them performing it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ly-3XUahobY

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:37 (ten years ago) link

Oh goodie, individual band member bios:

http://abandoforcs.com/Fear_the_Orcs____.php

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:38 (ten years ago) link

Gogog hails from the Gore-Stained Axe Tribe of orcs. He has killed over 300 worthy and unworthy opponents, including 50 elves. His pastimes include breaking bones, pillaging villages, watching things burn, slapping around the slaves and watching monster trucks crush smaller cars. He prefers fist-fighting to weapons, but uses a two-handed axe in war, when necessary. His moniker comes from the fact that he once took an elf's arrow to the throat. He got better and now screams his way to superior Rock God Status.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 21:38 (ten years ago) link

orcs: british soccer hooligans
uruk-hai: cockney factory workers
hobbits: irish belle and sebastian fans
elves: swedish royalty
dwarves: vikings
"men": british middle class
wild men: canadians?

omar little, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 22:02 (ten years ago) link

wild men: canadians?

real answer is a bit more racisty methinks

Obama Death Panel (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 22:07 (ten years ago) link

He never did like the Scots.

EZ Snappin, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 22:16 (ten years ago) link

Wizards: dudes with degrees in ancient literature

the stain specialist (Viceroy), Tuesday, 11 August 2009 23:24 (ten years ago) link

"Like in Lord of the Rings, it seems all hostilities stop after Sauron dies, because apparently all the orcs and evil men and other followers of Sauron are mere puppets who cannot function at all once their master is gone. You'd think it takes the orcs who weren't there at big battle days or weeks to find out Sauron has died?"

Wasn't there a whole part of ROTK (the book) where the Hobbits come home and have to mop up a bunch of orcs who hadn't gotten the memo yet?

schwantz, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 23:47 (ten years ago) link

Sorta but they were Saruman's henchmen.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 23:47 (ten years ago) link

'taskmaster_head.jpg'?

thomp, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 01:38 (ten years ago) link

"If we were orcs, wouldn’t we, at a racial level, imagine ourselves to look like elves?”

jerk store (hmmmm), Wednesday, 12 August 2009 03:47 (ten years ago) link

Actually not seeing any real-world shortage of Big Bad Guys with armies of loyal followers, y'know?

but it's the FEW, the proud...

Indiana Morbs and the Curse of the Ivy League Chorister (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 12 August 2009 03:50 (ten years ago) link

http://www2.pictures.zimbio.com/mp/2tGxgrg9q1Hc.jpg

kamerad, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 04:26 (ten years ago) link

Wait, if orcs don't have genitals, how does Sauron come up with new orcs to replace the dead ones?

Tuomas, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 11:53 (ten years ago) link

don't they just grow out of the ground or something? They did in the film.

that said, I think the Orcs do have genitals, but not for procreation.

The Real Dirty Vicar, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:26 (ten years ago) link

THIS is Frankfort on the Main, November 1960. I am taking a look at the 9 p.m. performance in a little suburban cinema. The seats are hard and uncomfortable. My knees are crammed painfully against the wall of what the woman in the ticket office calls 'the V.I.P. Box'. From under the door cold gusts of mist blow into the hall. UGH! Those two lovers clamped together in the corner of my "box". They are devouring each other with the cannibalistic Salivation of mating frogs. And their moans! Ugh and Ugh again.

But I stay on.

On the screen is a thriller drama about the last war. It is all booming guns, marching steel helmets, Secret Service, and bombs. Yes, this is Frankfort, November 1960. And this, presumably, is what the German public wants. Or what the film producers think it wants.

The German Wehrmacht, it seems, was fighting two enemies during the last war, the allies and the Nazi Party. Brave young heroes from the Army, the Kriegsmarine, and the Luftwaffe, are constantly shooting it out with the Gestapo and the SS. It is just like listening to one of those speeches of old man Adenauer, when he is talking about the Eichmann affair. The Germans were all against Hitler-all except a small Nazi minority. The rest were victims of Hitler and Himmler, just like the Jews and the Poles.

http://www.seftondelmer.co.uk/1.htm

ambience chaser (S-), Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:41 (ten years ago) link

I am ashamed, but I actually checked wikipedia and apparently orcs do reproduce, there are probably female orcs off-screen, and there's some stuff about orc/human crossbreeding, but Tolkien thankfully didn't confirm how that works.

mh, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:52 (ten years ago) link

Didn't Sauron have some level of mind control or even direct control of those in his service? I seem to remember all of the orcs under his control kind of scattering and being generally useless after his destruction. So, mind control is a big one for the thread question, along with promises of money, power, etc.

I'm pretty sure the people screaming about "death panels" in the US right now are working for some sort of force for ungood or at least chaos, so it just goes to show that misinformation and passion about "alternative viewpoints" are a good rallying cause, too.

mh, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:57 (ten years ago) link

ten years pass...

Wait, if orcs don't have genitals, how does Sauron come up with new orcs to replace the dead ones?

After having finished playing The Shadow of War, this question still bugs me, because all the orcs in Mordor you see in the game are without exception male, or at least male-presenting. Where do new orcs come from, canonically?

Tuomas, Monday, 13 January 2020 12:25 (two weeks ago) link

Dropped off by the storc, presumably.

Pizza is Really Yummy for Me (Old Lunch), Monday, 13 January 2020 12:45 (two weeks ago) link

Suspend disbelief, embrace sorcery.

pomenitul, Monday, 13 January 2020 12:50 (two weeks ago) link

in the LOTR films I think you see orcs being 'forged' in a way?

doorstep jetski (dog latin), Monday, 13 January 2020 15:29 (two weeks ago) link

Have definitely never encountered that euphemism before.

Pizza is Really Yummy for Me (Old Lunch), Monday, 13 January 2020 15:33 (two weeks ago) link

xp, yeah Saruman's super-orcs are birthed out of weird rubbery mudsacs in the earth iirc. Lord only knows what Saruman did to make those though...

may the force leave us alone (zchyrs), Monday, 13 January 2020 15:38 (two weeks ago) link

Evidently the LotR films did this to avoid some awkward conversations with children.

In Morgoth's Ring, Tolkien states that Saruman did interbreed orcs and men, resulting in "Man-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men treacherous and vile." However, the relationship of the Uruk-hai, as well as half-orcs and "goblin-men", to these creatures is not made explicit.

Either there's a whole lot of raping going on, or a whole lot of interracial fetishes going on.

Now We Know (Sanpaku), Monday, 13 January 2020 15:49 (two weeks ago) link

sauron has just straight up humans fighting for him also tho? and like they're "from the east" and in the movie look like a combination of a samurai and a bedouin. problematic

bidenfan69420 (jim in vancouver), Monday, 13 January 2020 17:51 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah, Saruman's orcs are artificially created somehow, but it's never said how Sauron's orcs procreate. The implication seems to be that Saruman has found a new way to create orcs, and it's not something Sauron has done before. IIRC, in Silmarillion it's established that orcs were originally elves that Morgoth corrupted, but it doesn't seem like there enough elves left in Middle-Earth for all the orcs to have that origin, and it's not even clear whether Sauron can corrupt them like his master did. So it seems they must breed in one way or another. And even interbreeding between orcs and humans is a thing, that doesn't explain the seeming lack of female orcs... Are all biologically born orcs male, somehow?

Tuomas, Tuesday, 14 January 2020 09:07 (two weeks ago) link

Female orcs stay in the hovel and bring up the kiddie orcs, while the big bad orc-husbands go out and get themselves killed for Sauron. That's why you don't see them. Tolkien was pretty old-school, don't forget. Maybe there's an orc middle-class of teachers, scribes etc that run it all from back in "the east" and are resented by the arrow fodder orcs that have to go out to Mordor or wherever.

it's after the end of the world (Matt #2), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 10:57 (two weeks ago) link

rejected story orcs

Banáná hÉireann (darraghmac), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 11:06 (two weeks ago) link

how does this happen irl also

Appleman Appears: 20/2/2020. Whose Cider You On? (Bananaman Begins), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 11:08 (two weeks ago) link

When a Saruman and a mud puddle love each other very much

Pizza is Really Yummy for Me (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 13:15 (two weeks ago) link

this doesn't happen irl because orcs don't exist u oaf

que pasa picasso (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 13:17 (two weeks ago) link

is that a reference to something itt cause i haven't bothered reading it

Appleman Appears: 20/2/2020. Whose Cider You On? (Bananaman Begins), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 13:50 (two weeks ago) link

I’ve never read it but I bet The Last Ringbearer has a take on this.

steer karma (gyac), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 14:00 (two weeks ago) link

that sounds kinda great tbh

que pasa picasso (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 14:06 (two weeks ago) link

It’s free to read online in English if you google!

steer karma (gyac), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 14:11 (two weeks ago) link

Grudging respect for the language and anti-capitalism/industrialism, but Tolkien is such a racist colonialist anti-miscegenation mess.

Now We Know (Sanpaku), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 18:36 (two weeks ago) link

royalist and sexist should probably be in there too.

Now We Know (Sanpaku), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 18:37 (two weeks ago) link

idk, I think Eowyn killing the witch-king makes up for a lot on the gender front imo.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 14 January 2020 18:41 (two weeks ago) link

it's definitely the most "fuck YEAH" moment in the film adaptation (with extra castration imagery)

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 14 January 2020 18:42 (two weeks ago) link

but there's no arguing about all the "swarthy" = evil language and the royal bloodline crap

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 14 January 2020 18:43 (two weeks ago) link

Most Brit fantasy seems to do the true blood trope - see CS Lewis, JK Rowling and even Philip Pullman.

it's after the end of the world (Matt #2), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 18:45 (two weeks ago) link

Moorcock otoh

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 14 January 2020 18:46 (two weeks ago) link


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