The subject of this article originates from non-canonical sources.
To learn about what is considered "canon" see LOTR:Canon.
Berserkers were tough Orcs bred in Isengard.
They were larger, even more fearsome versions of the Uruk-hai, standing about six-and-a-half feet tall and weighing an estimated three hundred pounds. Before they were sent into battle, it is said that the bowl of their small, tight-fitting helmet was filled with the blood of their enemy, and then pushed onto their heads. The intoxicating smell awakened a blood-lust that drove them to a battle-frenzy and made them immune to pain. Berserkers had no regard for personal safety, wore no armor except their helmets, and were expected to fight to the death. Their sole object was to establish a bridgehead. One Berserker was given the task to set off the explosive mines planted by the Uruk-hai.
The Battle of Helm's Deep
For Helm's Deep they almost certainly would have been trained to climb onto the siege ladders as they were raised up against the Deeping Wall, then to buy enough time for their comrades, who were swarming up the ladders and in behind the Berserkers. It proved very difficult to get close enough to wound the Berserkers, so although they only numbered about thirty, they were able to inflict heavy losses on the defenders before they were finally all killed. Gimli himself accounted for three or more, hitting one in the chest and two in their nether regions.
The Uruk Beserker's main purpose at this battle was to:
- Scale the ladders the Uruk Sappers had brought from Isengard.
- Kill as many of the enemy as they possibly could when they reached the top of the ladders so there was room for the Uruk-hai swordsmen coming behind them.
- Ignite the blasting powder that Saruman had created for destroying the Deeping Wall, with their torches.
The Hobbit Trilogy
In The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, a new breed of Orc Berserkers plays a critical role in the final battle on Ravenhill. Bolg arrives at Gundabad and releases the legions, including the Berserkers.
They are portrayed as tall, bulky Orcs with pale skin and glowing eyes.
Berserkers used only one weapon, a huge sword with a five-foot blade and a foot-long double spike at the end; it was a cumbersome sword, requiring an enormous amount of strength to wield, but the eighteen-inch-long handgrip allowed the Berserker to apply leverage in the swing by placing his hands wide apart, and had two spikes protruding from the tip of the weapon. Each side of the four-inch-wide blade was hammered to a sharp edge, and one blow from it could cut a man in a half. It was not an elegant or particularly efficient sword --- for example, the spikes could be caught in the victim --- but the level of intimidation generated by such a nasty weapon was huge. They wore no armor, except a thin groin covering and a small bowl-shaped helmet; This allowed them complete freedom of movement, and being such fanatical soldiers, they were unfazed by pain, making this lack of armor viable.
In the film and some of the game adaptations, there are also a few Berserkers that rather than devastating the enemy front ranks with their powerful swords, handle and use Saruman's Fire of Orthanc bombs. In the Battle of Helm's Deep, they first placed many bombs in a small culvert in the Deeping Wall, the one weak spot in the impenetrable outer fortress. After the bombs are piled, one of the Sappers runs forward with a lit torch, ready to light the bombs. Legolas shoots the Sapper with two arrows, but fails to bring the Uruk down before it lights the bombs, creating a huge breach in the Deeping Wall. The army of Isengard is then given a huge opening into the Deeping wall, which they exploit immediately.
In the game adaptation, there are Uruk-hai that have Fire of Orthanc bombs strapped to their backs. These Uruk-hai attack by self-destructing themselves in a devastating explosion that damages all units around them, either friend or foe. This occurs whether the Uruk-hai are killed, or they set off the detonation themselves. Though they can easily be taken down by arrows before they reach their target, if they do reach it, then the effect of the explosion is devastating.
Toys & Video Games
LEGO made the normal Uruk-hai red, but the Berserkers and Lurtz have brown skin, like their depictions in the films.
In The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest, two are faced. The first is in Helm's Deep, where he is defeated by Aragorn. He seems to be the leader of the army, and is called an Uruk-hai Champion. The second is in Pelennor Fields, near the docks. He doesn't have the White Hand markings and is blacker in color, but otherwise almost identical. It is unlikely that Sauron had Uruk Berserkers in his army.
In LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game, Helm's Deep's front wall is mostly non-LEGO, but the middle is. Underneath this LEGO wall is the culvert in which the bombs are piled. When the Sapper detonates the bombs, only the LEGO portion of the wall is destroyed.
In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, and its sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of War, "Berserker" is a term for the bigger, tougher Uruks of Mordor that wield dual weapons such as swords, axes, maces, and clubs, and do slightly more damage than the others. They are unable to be attacked with frontal basic attacks as they are able to parry, and knock the player back. They swing both weapons at the same time as if they had a two-handed axe. Branding Berserkers with the Wraith's mark can create valuable allies.
- The Berserkers are characters in The Two Towers (film), and are not present in the books; thus, they are non-canonical.