The Two Towers: is Grishnákh the orc in Fangorn Forest?

Fangorn Orc_Closeup

Even I doubted what I saw, for many years.

If you’ve seen The Two Towers (film), remember the orc with the evil voice who taunts and threatens Merry and Pippin? His name is Grishnákh. Remember when he comes close to knifing the hobbits before a Rohan spear drives itself through his chest?


Now, remember a few scenes later when Merry and Pippin venture into Fangorn Forest and are chased by a wounded orc, before said creature is squashed to death by Treebard’s foot?

See the similarities between the two orcs? Here’s an image of the two side-by-side.

Grishnákh - Fangorn Orc_comparison 1

I could have sworn that both were one and the same character. I believed so even after numerous viewings of The Two Towers. Other fans also believe this to be so. In fact I’ve seen the latter image of the orc pop up numerous times on websites, ascribing to him the name of Grishnákh.

Recently, I had changed my mind and thought they actually are two different orcs. For even as I was watching both scenes numerous times, there were discrepancies which were hard to ignore.

Now, I’m not so sure.

Allow me to delve into some quick analysis.

Here’s another (unfortunately too close) detail of both characters:

Grishnákh - Fangorn Orc_comparison 2

The Two Arguments

In Favour of the Fangorn Orc being Grishnákh

Costume and appearance. Both Grishnákh and the the Fangorn Orc bear a particular appearance. The shape of the face and head, the hunched posture and the general behaviour, are synonymous with each other. Even the costume, which seems to be the strongest piece of evidence against the second argument, is pretty much the same. The fur around the neck, the breast plate, the pieces of bone dangling by the side.

The motive. Only Grishnákh would have known that Merry and Pippin escape into the Forest during the attack by the Riders of Rohan. So it is only natural to conclude that the only orc hot on their trail would be the same orc who tried to killed them earlier.

The weapon. In both instances, the “two orcs” wield a distinctly similar weapon to the other. Then again, these are orcs and their arms bear the same kind of forging style.

Against the Fangorn Orc being Grishnákh

First off, the eyes. Grishnákh’s pupils are way more dilated than the orc in Fangorn Forest. In fact, the latter’s eyes are more human in appearance and such a massive change in detail does not necessarily entail a “slip-up” from the filmmakers.  True, the film industry is prone to all sorts of continuity issues and gaffs. But we’re talking about The Lord of the Rings where, were attention to detail, especially when it comes to identifying characters, was given crucial attention [then again, they DID manage to mix-up Legolas’ eye colours].

Secondly, the voice. There are two distinct voices between Grishnákh and the orc that bursts through the trees in Fangorn. Tolkien himself describes Grishnákh’s voice as “softer but more evil” and this trait has been presented itself clearly in the film. The Fangorn Orc’s voice is more typically ascribed to most of the other orc – gruff, harsh and brash.

Thirdly, the wound. Having just been skewered by a swift and precise Rohan spear through the chest, is it really conceivable that Grishnákh would have travelled far into the Forest to chase the two hobbits? The orc that does has a face wound and a distinct limp in one of his legs – hardly someone who has just had one or two of his lungs punctured.

So, why this post?

Primarily, for my own satisfaction. I’ve wanted to reason out this issue for a long time and decided to just go ahead and do it.

Now, I rest my case. I have presented the two arguments and leave it up to you to voice your opinions on the matter. I’m interested to know whether you’ve ever considered this issue when you saw the film for yourselves.

Let us know below 🙂

Till next time.


8 thoughts on “The Two Towers: is Grishnákh the orc in Fangorn Forest?

  1. I always thought that Grishnákh was also the same Orc in Fangorn Forest. As for the voice, well; if they are the same Orcs, then he was wounded multiple times, on the face, on his leg, and his chest. And we later see him still chasing after the hobbits, causing one of them to lose their belt. I’m pretty sure his voice isn’t going to be so quiet after all that just for Merry and Pippin.

    And when the Orc caught Merry, his voice does seem “softer but more evil,” since he did catch Merry.

  2. I assumed he was the same, just based on the outward similarities. But I did think it strange that he would survive, and then be obsessed enough to chase after the Hobbits. But then, I can’t see any other orc caring enough to do so really.
    I say they’re the same.

  3. It makes more sense that they are both the same because the orc in Fanghorn has such a strong desire to kill Merry and Pippin. Grishnákh was the main orc that wanted to kill them before the Rohirrim arrived, so the continuity just makes sense to me. The eye changes could be because of the change of scenery/set. The injury could just be a production slip, as unlikely as that seems with Peter Jackson and co. To me, Grishnákh has the strongest motive to kill the hobbits.

  4. Wow. I had never thought about this before. I have always thought that the two Orcs were one in the same, though how could an Orc get so far after being speared like that??
    Its quite the toss-up. I think he’s the same Orc, and the differences are just minor mistakes that aren’t very noticeable.

    Wait a minute…His face was wounded when Merry kicked him right in the face!!! That’s my theory.

  5. A very interesting post! I always thought they were two different orcs, probably because I mostly watched the movies in Italian and the voices were very different, so I never actually questioned myself about the identity of these orcs. 😀

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