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And at this time

the brazen god of war

cast up a great lord

to lead the Savages forth
Hasdrubal, Scrivener Adept Primus - "History of Segmentae Ultima" Warhammer 40000

They come sweeping down from the mountains (or the deep forest) to Rape, Pillage and Burn, howling like death itself, and leaving only destruction and despair in their wake. They waylay travelers, ransack entire peasant villages, and sometimes even threaten entire cities. They take only what they can carry, and usually torch the rest.

The third standard fantasy government, besides The Empire and The Kingdom: A large group of barbaric or beastly warriors, bound together solely through either tribal ties (if disorganized), or the will of the Evil Overlord (if organized). Like the Proud Warrior Race Guy, they value strength above all else, but are usually not as honorable. Their leader is usually the strongest, toughest, and/or most vicious or cunning of the group. This is often because the most common way to advance up the ranks is through a Klingon Promotion.

For the 1994 video game by the same name, click here.

Often part of the Fantasy Axis of Evil. Compare The Usual Adversaries.

Common varieties include:

Examples of The Horde include:


  • Sauron's army in The Lord of the Rings.
    • While the Orcs are The Horde by nature, Sauron's sphere of influence is more The Empire--the Orcs may not like it, but they're organized much more strictly than anything you might call a horde (to the point of being "officially" known by numbers rather than names) and are forced to work with Mordor's various client states.
    • They also have rules related to the One Ring. For instance, if anyone is caught trying to sneak into Mordor, they're to be stripped, everything they have on them cataloged, and then everything is sent to Barad-dur.
    • While Sauron is sleeping orcs tend to form bandit gangs of their own.
    • The Easterling nations, especially the Balchoth and the Wainriders (though the latter are civilized enough to have invented chariots).
      • Several low-organized cultures like the Celts, the Hyksos(before they conquered Egypt) and the Homeric age Greeks had chariots.
  • The army of Lord Foul in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.
  • The wildlings in A Song of Ice and Fire are perceived thus by those in the Seven Kingdoms, though there might be something else they should be fearing more...
  • The nomad tribes in the Warworld series (part of the CoDominium setting) fill this role towards the settled farming societies. The HaBandari and the Saurons manipulate the nomads strategically, driving them back and forth across the steppe into each others' territories. In Blood Vengance when some of the allied tribes slip past the Sauron Citadel into the undefended Shangri-La Valley, one of the Bandari compares them to packs of ravenous wolves and the valley's unarmed farmers as sheep.
  • The Mongols in the Conqueror books, a rare case of The Horde being the protagonists. The Tartars in the first book might also qualify, making it a case of Horde vs Horde.
  • The Green Men from the John Carter of Mars novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs oscillate between Proud Warrior Race Guy and The Horde. This is because there are a huge number of diverse tribes of Green Men, some of whom have the Proud Warrior Race Guy code of honor and some whom are just rampaging maniacs.
    • The Horib and Korsars from Burrough's Pellucidar novels also fit this trope.
  • The more civilized states view the Plains nomads this way in the second section of A Canticle for Leibowitz. In the first section, we have references to earlier hordes and mass migrations.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Black Colossus", Natohk's nomad forces are considerably more than the usual raids, with thirty tribes.
  • The Kargs of the Earthsea Trilogy come off as this, particularly in A Wizard of Earthsea, where they're essentially Vikings. They get some Character Development in the next book, The Tombs of Atuan, but it's pretty clear that most of Earthsea considers them to be exactly this trope.
  • The Shas-ga in Mikhail Akhmanov's The Sword above the Abyss are nomadic barbarians from planet Ravana (AKA Inferno), who roam the barren steppes north of an impassable mountain range on the Western continent. While normally divided into tribal groups called Hearths, they are now united by a powerful leader called Grey Trumpeter (a title, not a name, kind of like Genghis Khan), who has managed to find a passage through the mountains to the more temperate southern lands. The Shas-ga are cannibals and often kill their own women and children for food and as sacrifices to their gods. Their warriors ride on massive ox-like beasts with a nasty temper. Now that they have crossed the mountains, their enormous horde (about 30,000 warriors, which is big number on Ravana, whose population is small) threatens to wipe out the much more civilized cultures on the southern part of the continent, unless the disparate Kjoll barons, the eastern trade towns, and even the southern barbarians join together to meet this threat.
  • The Yuuzhan Vong from the New Jedi Order start out as a space-faring version of The Horde. After taking Coruscant midway through the series and becoming the galaxy's dominant political power, they morph into The Empire.

Role Playing Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons had at least two varieties of The Horde: Goblinoids, and Orcs.
    • Somewhat subverted in Eberron, where the Horde has settled down and is trying to become The Empire. In two different areas, with varying degrees of success.
      • In fact, one of those Hordes is actually a former Empire trying to get back on its feet after a demonic invasion that, in a major departure from expectation, they were in no way responsible for, and went along ways in preventing the reoccurance of.
  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40000's Greenskins (a.k.a. Orcs and Goblins).
    • Warhammer's Marauders, Beasts of Chaos and Ogres (sometimes) would also apply.
    • The third edition Alpha Legion Chaos army typically had an immense block of fearless cultists (cannon fodder) backed up by a few actual Alpha Legion Marines.
    • The Tyranids kind of invented the Zerg Rush
  • GURPS Mass Combat is designed to simulate hordes of fighters on both sides. The first example given in 4th edition rules is ninjas that jump off dragons and float to the ground on giant kites.
  • The Sub-Demon race known as Brodkil often carry this role in Rifts North America, but there are also plenty of Human bandits such as the Pecos Empire. The Southern half of South America is commonly beset by a race known as the Larhold, the Japanese Oni have made a comeback, and the Hourne Pirates ensure that the seas aren't safe, either.
    • And in Soviet Russia, the Hordes civilize you! The ten Warlords and their armies of Cyborg soldiers hold most of the power.


  • The Reavers in Firefly
  • The Atavars in Buck Rogers Journey to Oasis.
  • The Horde (such creative naming) from the Farscape episode "...Different Destinations."

Tabletop Games

  • The Vargr in Traveller are stereotyped as this. Though they are capable of building starships which requires a lot greater organization then comparable groups among humans had had. They are capable of forming city-states and nations, but they are in the Traveller universe prone to far more instability then humans.

Video Games

  • The Orcs in Final Fantasy XI are certainly this, being a Barbarian Tribe. The Shadow Lord-owned Beastmen Confederate is also like this, if only because most of the Beastmen were forced into it.
  • In the first two Warcrafts, The Horde was an example of The Horde. In the third and in World of Warcraft, The Horde becomes closer to The Alliance (the trope, not Azeroth's Alliance); the Scourge, an undead army, takes their place in this trope.
    • There are two hordes: The Horde, and the Dark Horde, with the latter playing it straight.
  • The Zerg, from Starcraft which were, at least according to license contract legend, originally intended to be the Tyranids from Warhammer 40000.
  • The Minion Army of the Overlord games, commanded by You.
  • The Infected in Left 4 Dead.
  • The Darkspawn in Dragon Age.
  • There's a videogame called The Horde in which you defend a little town from.. ... ..Well you know, The Horde.
  • In Rome: Total War Barbarian Invasion you can take command of a horde and Rape, Pillage and Burn the civilized world, or try to repel and subjugate the hordes as the more civilized factions.
  • The Sha'ahoul in Siege of Avalon, a nomadic race of human/orc hybrids who believe that any permanent structure or farming is harming the world of Eurale and must be destroyed. Imagine their surprise when one fine day they stumble on the seven kingdoms, who do all that and more. They gather a massive horde and attack. The kingdoms' only hope is the fortress of Avalon, the only thing that stands in the way of the Sha'ahoul. The horde's leader Mithras is determined to raze the offending structure and starts the titular siege.
  • Caesar's Legion of Fallout: New Vegas is arguably a Horde trying to be The Empire. In fact, Caesar privately believes that the Legion is closer to the Gallic barbarians than true Legionnaires.


  • The land of Dikay in Van Von Hunter
  • Drowtales has several examples.
    • The Nidraa'chal actively employed demons to possess commoners while fighting the Sharen.
    • The Black Sun are a group of tribes that subsist by raiding cities and settlements, and operate similarly to Mongul hordes in the sense that they are heavily decentralized and will absorb captured enemies into their ranks, and several Black Sun tribes will band together for particularly tough fights.

Web Serial Novel

  • The Drifalcand in Guts and Sass: An Anti-Epic are an unorganized, pantheistic, (heterosexually) orgiastic invading horde who conceive of conquer as an end, not a means. They're kind of like a human natural disaster: they destroy, they move on.

Truth in Television

  • While real world raiding cultures are usually a LOT more complicated than The Horde and have an active, peaceful home life, this is how the neighbors who get raided will perceive the raiding culture. Perhaps the most obvious examples from history are the Vikings and, the Trope Namer, the Mongols.
    • The word "horde" comes from Mongolian ordo/orda/ordu/ordon, and originally referred to a tent or campsite; it became associated with the modern connotations of "horde" thanks to the Mongol armies making frequent use of mobile camps during campaigns.
    • The Mongols were actually more organized and disciplined than popular portrayals tend to show them to be. That's why they won so many battles. Not that it was any comfort to their enemies, since they had a very mobile army and looked larger than they were because several reports came into their enemies headquarters from different places at the same time. Each warrior also had two or three horses so that he could switch between them for long journeys and not exhaust them, making thee army look much larger.
  • Common perceptions on the infamous /b/ seem to veer into this territory, particularly when the Wretched Hive shuts down.