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Orphanhood is a terrible state to be in. There's Parental Abandonment, being shipped off to the Orphanage of Fear and being constantly rejected as an outsider. Of course, the foster parents will likely be neglectful or outright abusive. And then there's Raised By Orcs.

The child isn't so much raised by a pack of wolves or even natives (who while foreign or wild, genuinely love the child), but by their Always Chaotic Evil equivalents. Usually the orphan is from an orc raid, and his or her adopted parent(s) took them in out of either a rare display of paternal/maternal instinct, or to spite their human foes by twisting their children into cruel mockeries of themselves. Their life will probably consist of Training From Hell coupled with nihilistic life lessons, and focus on combat over social interaction. They will be taught Might Makes Right, that Asskicking Equals Authority, and to worship their God of Evil if they have one.

Of course, having not come from the Always Chaotic Evil stock, evil is not In the Blood for them and is "all nurture", so they're prime Heel Face Turn material. This can actually escalate if their foster parent(s) do love them, and the Orc Raised adult manages a community wide turn.

While Orc is part of the trope name, the group need not be inhuman fantasy creatures, any evil human or non-human group will do. However this trope and the Heel Face Turn becomes much more pronounced if they're not human looking.

Examples of Raised by Orcs include:

Anime & Manga

  • In Princess Tutu, it's eventually revealed that Rue/Kraehe was an ordinary human child abducted by the Raven and raised as his daughter, rather than actually being his daughter as she believed.

Comic Books

  • In the DCU, Granny Goodness raises any children under her "care" to serve Darkseid loyally, most conformed but out of the following:
    • Scott Free/Mr. Miracle refused to be corrupted or break and ran off, followed by his future wife Big Barda.
    • Knockout, while never good, also fled from them.
  • Several surviving Kryptonian influences and Sufficiently Advanced Aliens floating around the DCU seem to think Superman is this trope, and that they should help him recover his "true nature" rather than abandon him among the unworthy, inferior, savage human race. Clark Kent has a few issues with this interpretation.
  • The Lanfeust spin off 'Trolls of Troy' is an entire comic series following the exploits of Waha, an human female adopted by a troll. He kept her as a fresh snack but grew fond of her before the time to eat her came. He raises her as his own, eventually leading to a 'what do you mean, adopted?' moment. She's the best of her class.

Fairy Tales

  • A very common plot in Scandinavian folk tales: the trolls steal a child and raises it for their own. Sometimes they leave a troll child with the human parents, sometimes they don't.
  • In the Arabic folktale of The Ghul's Daughter, a girl comes home to find her family murdered. A ghul arrives to feast on their flesh, but doesn't harm the living girl, deciding instead to raise her and transfer some of his magic powers to her.
  • Vasilissa the Beautiful spent time living with and working for Baba Yaga the witch rather than her abusive stepfamily. In most versions of the tale she learns courage and self-sufficiency, but in a few she also learns magic.
  • The Japanese hero Kintaro was raised by the mountain hag Yama-Uba in a benevolent mood.


  • The alien Megamind is raised by convicts in a prison and taught right from wrong (more specifically, that right is wrong). He seems to have had a happy and emotionally healthy childhood, despite having a very limited understanding of social skills.
  • In Blood Diamond many children are kidnapped and brainwashed by the rebels into Child Soldiers, unfortunately very much Truth in Television.


  • Tagg in The Taggerung is a textbook example: he's an otter whose father was killed by vermin, and is later raised by them. He grows to be the biggest, toughest, fastest, strongest of them all (well, otters are bigger than ferrets and rats)... and this being Redwall, he can't bring himself to kill an unarmed creature, and is kicked out of the tribe.
    • They didn't kick him out, he ran off. The main reasons that they chase after him are a) he stole the chieftain Sawney's knife, and b) they think he killed Sawney.
  • Inverted by Mr. Nutt in Unseen Academicals. He is an orc, and possibly one of the very few left; raids by humans killed off most of the orcs. Mr. Nutt was then raised by humans and Friendly Neighborhood Vampires before being sent off to Ankh-Morpork. And he definitely proves orcs aren't Always Chaotic Evil.
  • Oliver Twist -- Nearly all adults and most of the children Oliver lives with during the story are despicable. Oliver remains pure and good however. In the end, it turns out his parents indeed were upper class. When the story was first published, the general view was that poor people were incapable of being good and noble, while the "better people" were that by their very nature.
  • The Ilse Witch, aka Grianne Ohmsford of The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara was raised by The Morgawr and his Mwellrets following the deaths of her parents. She grows up hating everyone, including the Mwellrets; The Morgawr is the only person she respects, and even than it's just barely.
  • Played with in many ways with the character Tahiri Veila, a Jedi Apprentice (and later Jedi Knight) from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, particularly the New Jedi Order. She actually was raised by Tusken Raiders, but this was closer to Raised by Natives since the Tuskens, their outings in the movies notwithstanding, aren't all bad. Then the Yuuzhan Vong show up, kidnap Tahiri, and attempt to brainwash her into believing she's one of them (in order to create a Force-using Vong warrior)- so she ends up with two sets of memories, in one of which she was raised by, essentially, space orcs crossed with space dark elves, as one of their own. Further complicating matters, the Vong Shapers tell her that she was one of them captured and raised by humans before beginning said brainwashing, which considering the Vong see themselves as the good guys and their enemies as Always Chaotic Evil, is basically this trope from the opposite perspective.
  • Duncan, in the Stardoc series, was raised by Hsktskt.

Live Action TV

  • Scorpius on Farscape. He's the product of Scarran scientific study that involved raping Sebacean women in order to determine if any potential mixed-species offspring could be of use to the Scarran Empire. He was the lone hybrid who survived. This upbringing made him join with the Sebaceans to destroy the Scarrans.
  • Connor from Angel was kidnapped by Knight Templar villain Holtz. Who is actually human, and he would otherwise have been raised by a (good) vampire. Still, being raised by a fanatical vampire hunter in a demon dimension had a pretty clear negative effect on his stability.
  • Star Trek: Voyager had Seven of Nine (formerly Annika Hansen), the child of a human couple who were exploring the Delta quadrant and anthropologically studying the Borg. Their cloak against detection failed, and the Borg assimilated them all. Later, Seven was separated from the collective and Janeway freed and "deprogrammed" her.
  • Inverted on Star Trek: The Next Generation, where Worf (a Klingon) was raised by humans. Granted Klingons aren't the enemy of humanity anymore (mostly) but the principle is the same. This was played with quite effectively, with Worf often being truer to Klingon principles from having learned about them while surrounded by humans than most Klingons we meet, who are often sloppy and dishonourable from lacking this incentive to be true to their culture.
  • In Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, a young Ryan Mitchell is taken by the demon Diabolico, and raised to hate his human father.

Tabletop Games

  • Exalted features a few examples, but one of the standouts is Harmonious Jade, the signature Night Caste. She was raised in a cult devoted to the demon Sondok, and spent her days as an assassin who struck at enemies of the cult. And then she was chosen by the Unconquered Sun to be one of the Solar Exalted. As demons have... issues with the Unconquered Sun, Jade quickly became a target of the cult.


  • In Tomorrow The World, a 1943 problem play by James Gow and Arnaud d'Usseau, a liberal college professor in the midwestern U.S. adopts his twelve-year-old nephew who has been orphaned in Nazi Germany. The boy is given to clicking his heels, repeating Nazi propaganda lines such as "To be an American is to be a member of a mongrel race" and declaring that his father was a traitor and a coward. Typical Enfante Terrible-style mischief ensues.

Video Games

  • Goblins in Dwarf Fortress always try to kidnap children of any race. If they're successful, the adults act exactly like ordinary goblins, and can be seen snatching more children and participating in raiding parties. Even more horribly, snatched dwarves will adopt goblin aesthetics and shave their beards.
    • This can easily be taken to a ridiculous extent in world-gen as kidnapped children will eventually have their own children, thus "goblin" civilizations will often have their entire populations replaced by the descendants of the kidnapped other races. This isn't noticeable in Fortress Mode, because sieges only consist of goblins and possibly some dwarf squad leaders, but in Adventure mode you can often find Dark Fortresses completely devoid of goblins and the player characters themselves (who can't normally be goblins) will often be from such civilizations.
  • Culcha (a human) in Spectral Force 3 was raised by Goblins. However, being a good but misunderstood race they were actually good parents. She views and is looked on by other goblins as a "big sister" and her Mama Bear is truly bearlike.
  • The Force Unleashed had Starkiller, the son of a Jedi, raised as a Sith by Darth Vader. He's got the scars to prove it. Has the mother of all Heel Face Turns- he decides to become a Jedi and founds the Rebel Alliance, although, of course, Redemption Equals Death.
  • Chrono Trigger's Magus. As a kid, he gets dumped in the middle ages via time portal only to be discovered by Ozzie. He then proceeds to impress the monsters with his magic so much that he grows up to rule over them.
    • This is arguably an inversion: Magus never loses sight of who he is or what his goals are: namely, avenging himself upon Lavos, the planet-eating parasite responsible for casting him adrift in time, destroying his homeland and, as it turns out, assimilating his sister. The monsters worship Magus as their Fiendlord, but in reality Magus sees them as only a means to an end.
  • In the Skyrim mod Interesting NPCs the character Bergrisar is a Nord (Human) raised by Giants, usually hostile to any trespassers on their land.
  • There is a quite literal inversion of this trope in the Warcraft universe in the form of Thrall, who is an orc who is raised by humans. Picked up by Aedelas Blackmoore (the man in charge of the Orc internment camps) Thrall was raised as a gladiator and trained to be a puppet ruler of the orcs. Ironically, Thrall escaped slavery, and eventually did go on to lead the orcs. Arguably, his unique upbringing gave him a great deal of perspective on the now generations-long conflict between the Alliance and the Horde.
  • After his defense attorney father dies, Miles Edgeworth is adopted by prosecutor Manfred von Karma and raised to be one of the most vicious and effective prosecutors his district has ever known. Of course this was all part of von Karma's extended revenge against Gregory Edgeworth. He murdered him and then plotted to turn his son into a twisted mirror of everything Gregory Edgeworth stood for, and without Phoenix Wright to confuse matters he probably would have succeeded.
  • One of the possible character backgrounds in Daggerfall.

Web Comics

  • Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire has the character Kharnak, who fits the letter of the trope, but since in this strip orcs are a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Native Americans he's closer to Raised by Natives in practice. He still fits under this trope as well, however, as a key part of his character is feeling out of place no matter where he goes. Though the orcs took him in, he was never really fully accepted by them because of his physical differences (humans can't eat Orc vegetables which are as tough as bark).
  • Unusually inverted in the webcomic Goblins: Life Through Their Eyes, which briefly shows a group of various monsters, which includes an orc that had been part of a raid on a dwarf settlement the previous winter. During the raid he encounters the very young son of a dwarf he killed, and because he couldn't leave the child to die the orc has been taking care of him ever since. Obviously the orc isn't exactly the normal Chaotic Evil brute orcs are generally presented as. However, the hideout gets raided by a dwarf paladin named Kore, who wipes out all the monsters, including the orc as the orc begs for Kore to spare the child. Because Kore is a crazed Knight Templar, he believes that because of this trope the child will be tainted by evil and likely to sympathize with monsters, so in a major Kick the Dog moment, he kills the kid too.
  • Inverted in Two Kinds: Flora is an anthropomorphic tigress who was raised by humans.

Western Animation

  • Adora from She Ra Princess of Power was kidnapped by Hordak as a baby and raised by the Horde, though it doesn't take much for her to do a Heel Face Turn since for some bizarre reason Hordak didn't try to instill his Always Chaotic Evil values on his de-facto daughter, instead raising her to believe in crazy stuff like justice and honor, and lying to her that he was a just ruler and that the rebels were misguided troublemakers.
  • Adventure Time: Strongly suggested with Susan Strong. Her debut episode leaves it open whether she's actually human, or one of the "hyoomens" (fish people) she lived with. In "Beautopia", though, she seems to confirm to Finn that she's human like him.

Real Life

  • While the Always Chaotic Evil part is a matter of perspective, this was basically how the Janissaries were made. Well, from a European perspective anyway. Christian boys were taken from their families at a young age, and were raised as Muslims, educated and trained to be elite soldiers for the ruling Ottomans.
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