A long-running Sci-Fi comic created by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra and Pat Mills, and starring the iconic character from the British Anthology Comic2000 AD, Judge Dredd follows the adventures of brutal Knight Templar lawman Joe Dredd, who cleans the streets of the grim, far-future megapolis Mega-City-One, a gigantic, decaying and crime-ridden urban sprawl which covers most of what used to be the East Coast of the USA. Dredd is a "Judge", a veteran officer in a law-enforcement force whose operatives quite literally act as Judge, Jury, and Executioner in a world where the criminal justice system and democratic government have long since disintegrated as a result of countless catastrophes and worldwide wars.The series is part DystopianSci-Fi adventure, part satirical Black Comedy. Mega City One embodies the social problems, urban decay and political issues of British and Western society since the 1970s turned Up to Eleven, with Dredd and the Judges a satire of the worst excesses of police and government authority, though some people seem to think his methods are a jolly good idea.The series is also notable for its moral complexity. By his very nature and purpose, Anti-Hero Dredd is firmly committed to his organization's authoritarian, brutal, and ruthless methods of law enforcement, but it's established that Mega City One would collapse without him and his fellow Judges, and more than once has. Though Dredd is impeccably honest and honorable, despises corruption, does not discriminate, goes out of his way to save innocents, has had some Pet the Dog moments throughout the years, and has been given cause to question his purpose more than once, he is an unapologetic authoritarian. In this setting, democracy within his society has been shown to be simply unworkable.For those who like their classical philosophy texts, Dredd's world has a distinct air of Plato's Republic about it...As well being the hero of the longest-running strip in 2000 AD, having appeared since the second issue, Dredd has appeared in his own series of comics and audio plays from Big Finish. An arcade pinball machine was released in 1993 by Williams Electronics.Judge Dredd was also adapted into a movie in 1995 starring Sylvester Stallone. A second movie, starring Karl Urban, was released in 2012 (and yes, he kept his helmet on this time).IDW has also started a comic series in the wake of the 2012 film, designed to properly introduce the character to US readers. The series also spawned a fairly good computer game.There are also numerous Judge Dredd video games, some being better than others.
Newer issued Lawgivers come with a stun setting. However, to many judges, it's something of a Scrappy Weapon, as its effectiveness is unpredictable and somewhat unreliable.
Depending on the Writer, some Lawgivers have rounds that deviate from the standard six. Exorcist rounds were developed to deal with supernatural foes. Tracer rounds tagged its target with an electronic tag, allowing a target to be tracked by computer. The marker shell tags a target with green paint. And the gas round was mentioned in Gun Play as an option for the MkII Lawgiver to replace Heat Seeker or Incendiary.
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Several examples including ones that are mounted on vehicles, robots, etc. etc.
The Ace: Dredd is undoubtedly the greatest judge to have ever patrolled the streets of Mega City One. He's a crack marksman, an expert in hand-to-hand combat, excellent on a bike and a first rate investigator. The only thing he really seems to be lacking is people skills.
Action Girl: Female Judges and many other female characters.
Affably Evil: Sabbat The Necromagus, he even teaches his zombie minions how to sing original song compositions praising him while they slaughter Sabbat's opponents.
Sabbat: You should see 'em tapdance! I always think that mindless slaughter is improved by a touch of humour, don't you? Laugh and the world laughs with you!
After the End: Several ends in fact. First the Apocalypse Wars that originally destroyed most of the planet and turned large sections of it into irradiated wastelands, later the war between Mega City-1 and East-Meg, and then the Zombie Apocalypse caused by Zabbac The Necromancer. Humanity has managed to survive so far thanks to the sheer amount of population the mega cities hold.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: It's pretty prevalent in robots. There are two Robot Wars over the course of the strip, the first of which is started by a carpenter droid known as Call-Me-Kenneth. Also, the Mechanismo Robo-Judge project runs into huge problems when the robots can't determine innocents from perps and end up going on killing sprees.
All Crimes Are Equal: Most antagonists who take Justice Dept.'s practices to their logical extremes tend to reach this conclusion, including Judge Cal, the Dark Judges, and others—all of whom punish any infraction with instant death. The Dark Judges, in particular, go so far as to deem life itself a crime because all other crimes are only committed by the living.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Apocalypse War has East Meg One nuke, then invade Mega City One. In the space of four days, they manage to capture the Grand Hall Of Justice until Dredd inadvertently burns it to the ground during his assassination of Chief Judge Griffin.
Alternate Continuity: The 1995 and 2012 movies notwithstanding, DC published two different Dredd continuities, the first of which portrayed Fargo as evil, the other being more consistent with the original stories. There was also Heavy Metal Dredd, which upped the violence considerably. Finally, there was Judge Dredd: Lawman of the Future, which was a version of Dredd toned down for younger readers where he wasn't allowed to kill anyone, but ostensibly (and very loosely) based on The Movie.
The fate of Judge Cal's closest aide, Judge Slocum. Completely paralyzed but entirely conscious, Slocum is dropped into a sealed vat of vinegar for preservation... with a smile fixed to his face.
Dredd pulls this on Sabbat the Necromagus at the end of Judgement Day by impaling his head on the lodestone he uses to control the dead. It fixes Sabbat in place. A later story establishes that he's still there and has lost his mind.
Animal Motif: Judges' uniforms have a distinctive eagle motif to them, in keeping with the Big Meg's Eagleland origins. Other cities have this too. For example, Brit Cit has a lion motif to its judge uniforms.
Anti-Hero: While Dredd is a brutal cop in a police state he is the good guy, and more liberal than everyone else. This is barring the early issues, wherein Dredd was, while grumpy, fairly standard in his dealings with the various creeps of the city. One story featured Dredd coming into conflict with a Satanic cult. They orchestrated events so that he would come to them so that they may sacrifice his "pure" soul. Dredd was quick to point out that he's an asshole, to which the cult leader replied that he's the purest being in their craptastic future, in the sense that he is utterly incorruptible, and the living embodiment of many things that the satanists oppose; law, order, discipline, duty, etc. In one story, the devil tries to tempt him with riches and power. Dredd refuses and defeats him.
Anti-Villain: Quite a few criminals are portrayed rather more sympathetically than the Judges. Notably, both Spikes Harvey Rotten and Chopper turned to crime simply to be something more than a faceless mass.
The Apunkalypse: After the End, life in the Mega City becomes a crime-ridden mess of gangs and general lawlessness. The Judges are the only ones available to try to rein in the social chaos of The Apunkalypse. In outfit terms, people generally wear futuristic punk clothing. Max Normal was part of a subculture that rejected societal norms by being impeccably dressed, and he wore a three-piece suit. Dredd even asks him why he can't just get some freak clothes like everyone else.
Arch-Nemesis: Initially filled by Judge Death, though PJ Maybe seems to have taken on this role in recent years.
Armor Is Useless: If you're hit with Hi-Ex, Armor Piercing, or Incendiary rounds armor won't do much for you. Several mutants and robots have weapons that make armor useless. This is averted by the Soviet team in the wargame story, whose armour stands up to anything the Luna City team can throw at them. The Sovs also have guns that can fire through cover, walls, and armour to detonate on the other side. Two problems with one solution.
Averted with judge helmets. Several times, Dredd has been shot in the head only for the bullet to bounce harmlessly off his helmet.
Arrested for Heroism: Justice Department will stop at nothing to ensure that citizens don't take the Law into their own hands. Vigilante justice is illegal, and anyone who tries to be a superhero will always wind up pursued by the Judges. Even saving a Judge from certain death at the hands of a criminal is illegal, as Dredd once arrested Walter The Wobot for throwing a cweam pie in the face of a criminal who had a clear chance to kill Dredd.
A short story introduces The Great Arsoli, whose act involves pulling ever larger things from his nether regions, finishing with his lovely, smiling assistant. Dredd arrests him for not declaring those items through customs.
Mean Machine has one of these, a dial with settings from 1 (surly) to 4 (brutal).
For Judge Anderson, harming children or infants is a big one for her. This weakness was exploited by Judge Death as he deliberately kills children to lure Anderson into a trap.
Best Served Cold: Colonel Borisenko plans his revenge for the destruction of East Meg One and his own blinding over a period of thirty years. He succeeds to an extent, but doesn't quite manage to wipe out the Meg or kill Dredd, but does leave the city in ruins.
Big Eater: Competitive eating has become a professional sport in the future the comics are set in.
The Big Rotten Apple: New York City has been built over and is now known as part of the Undercity. Troggies, mutants and other creatures live down there and some are very dangerous. Some judges choose to take their long walk down there as an alternative to the Cursed Earth.
Black and Gray Morality: A very large portion of the stories fall into this. Dredd is a straight-up fascist protagonist, after all.
Black Comedy: A core element of the later comics. For example the first place to get hit by a nuke in the apocalypse war is the reclamation project for the city block that was nuked out by a mad pirate in a hijacked nuke station 6 months earlier. We even get to see one of the workers noticing the incoming missile... The same block is also named after Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director of the Manhattan Project.
Blood Bath: A Judge Dredd strip published in the "Judge Dredd Mega Special 1995" concerns a pop singer who retained his youth and good looks through, The Dark Arts, human sacrifice, and bathing in blood—the literal blood bath being implied to be the most crucial step in the singer's rejuvenation rituals. Strangely enough, 22nd Century technology has made several means of rejuvenation (including some that are legal) readily available to Mega-City One citizens, which makes it a bit odd to see somebody taking this route, instead.
Blood Knight: Dredd wants nothing more than to be on the streets. He's most at home when he's there, busting heads. He has turned down the Chief Judge's position on numerous occasions and any time he's behind a desk or his time on the council, he is deeply uncomfortable. He lampshades this on his return from Luna 1, noting that he lives in a Wretched Hive, but he loves it.
Bond One-Liner: Judge Dredd and few other characters occasionally fire one off.
Break Out the Museum Piece: Marty Zpok, aka The Muzak Killer, prefers twentieth century music and commits his murders with antique weapons (9mm rounds are considered long obsolete in the Dreddverse).
Break the Cutie: Bennett Beeny starts out as an ordinary citizen, growing up with his friend (and unrequited love), America. America becomes a democratic campaigner and, later, a member of Total War, while Benny finds success and fortune with his comedy music numbers. They reunite while Benny is looking for a slabwalker and his throat is shot out by Total War. America and Benny spend a night together before America asks for money to destroy the Statue Of Liberty in a symbolic gesture. Benny sells Total War out to Justice Department on the condition that America not be harmed. Unfortunately, one judge ignores Dredd's ceasefire order and shoots her. From there, Benny' musical output takes on a sadder tone as he transplants his own brain into America's body so that he'll always be with her.
Psi division is portrayed as this, the idea being a more relaxed attitude is a tradeoff for psionic powers. Anderson in particular is shown to be rather flippant with her superiors. However, in recent years, Psi division is increasingly portrayed as a laughing stock within the department.
The "Wally Squad" (the undercover division) is also tolerated for being a bit weird, as the nature of their work means they have to fit in with strange people.
By-the-Book Cop: Dredd will follow Justice Dept.'s codes and regulations to the letter. Even in the rare event that Dredd lets a personal matter affect his decisions (big no-no for Mega-City Judges), he'll always be the first (and, usually, the only) Judge to call for his own removal from the force... though he's always talked out of it by his superiors, especially the Chief Judge.
Cain and Abel: Dredd and his brother, Rico. Origins establishes that Eustace and Ephram Fargo were this way as well, though not as bad as Dredd and Rico were.
The Caligula: Judge Cal, who took over Mega-City One and ruled it... insanely.
Calling Your Attacks: Dredd and most other judges, thanks to voice activated lawgivers (this option can be disabled and ammo can be switched manually if the judge needs to go quiet) and radio commands for the lawmasters. Still, it gets a bit silly when judges start shouting "Boot knife!"
Canon Immigrant: Fargo's first name, Eustace, was originally used in the DC version.
The Cassandra: Subverted with Psi Judge Cassandra Anderson. As Mega-City One's most powerful psychic, her predictions are generally taken very seriously by everyone.
Celibate Hero: Dredd, as Judges in Mega-City 1 are not allow to have romantic relationships.
Averted by both the Wally Squad and the Holocaust Squad, who are given special dispensation. Wallies get this due to the undercover nature of their work. The Holocaust Squad is essentially the Mega City One's equivalent to Kamikaze pilots, responding to the worst disasters.
Also averted by some other countries Judges who are allowed to have personal relationships.
Celebrity Paradox: A story in an early issue of 2000 AD had Dredd busting an smuggling ring dealing in antique comic books. At the end of the story, he learns that the haul includes copies of a particularly valuable title: that unrivalled 20th-century classic, 2000 AD.
Cement Shoes: During the gang war between the Ape Gang and the East Side Mob, a high-ranking member of the East Side Mob gets the cement boot treatment.
Chekhov's Army: The New Mutant Army is introduced in Damned Ranger as a rebel group within the Cursed Earth, fighting against judicial control. They turn up again in Origins under the command of "Bad" Bob Booth.
Clone Army: The universe features extensive cloning by the police force to which the titular Judge Dredd belongs. Dredd is a clone himself and on occasion has to fight his "brothers" who have gone rogue.
Cloning Blues: Generally averted in Dredd's case. He's a clone of Chief Judge Fargo, as was his corrupt brother Rico, the insane Kraken, the second Rico, and at least 7 others, but it only rarely bothers him. Played straight with Kraken, though.
Cloudcuckoolander: Chief Judge MacGruder in her second stint as Chief Judge. Having taken the long walk, Dredd meets up with her during the Necropolis arc. Several years in the cursed earth has taken its toll on both her body and her sanity.
Combat Pragmatist: Everyone. Since one of the subjects at the Academy of Law is actually called Applied Violence, it's safe to say that being a Combat Pragmatist is a requirement for Judges.
Consulting a Convicted Killer: One brief Story Arc followed Dredd aiming to catch a spree-killer in Mega-City One who disintegrates his victims' bodies, only leaving their right hands. Noting similarities to a past case involving a spree-killer who had a similar motive with left hands, which Dredd had solved, Dredd consults with the perpetrator of the original crimes, now in an iso-cube. The prisoner requests that he get "a cubewith a view" for his assistance, but Dredd convinces him to provide insight unconditionally after threatening him. The prisoner then divulges what he could assume about his Copycat Killer, the most important part being that the suspect must come from Brit-Cit because that's the only place the prisoner's original crimes are given any recognition.
Continuity Nod: There's a Running Gag about how Dredd is always wearing the wrong sized boots. This dates back to early in the long-running "Democracy" story arc when Dredd first started having doubts about his duty as a Judge; his mentor, Judge Morphy, recommended to Dredd that he wear boots two sizes too small, remarking, "You'll be so busy cussin' those damned boots you won't have time to worry about anything else."
Heller's Last Stand reveals that this was advice Morphy gave to everybody. As he's dying, Heller asks Dredd one last favour: to remove his boots.
Cool Helmet: In addition to providing protection against gunshots and the like, judge helmets come with built-in respirators, night vision, thermal vision and sound amplification to assist them in their duties.
Counter-Earth: Hestia is a planet which orbits the Sun at nearly the same distance as the Earth but at such an angle to the ecliptic plane that it was not discovered until 2009. It is inhabited by a small colony of humans and an intelligent indigenous population who keep their distance from the colonists. The planet is also home of the lethal Dune Sharks (flying shark-like predators which can burrow beneath the ground).
Cranial Processing Unit: Played with during Dredd's first battle with the rogue robot Call-Me-Kenneth. Dredd shot the robot's head off, but this had no immediate effect, as Call-Me-Kenneth's "brain" was located in an armoured cavity in his chest. However, it did render Call-Me-Kenneth blind, which proved to be the deciding factor in the battle.
Crapsack World: Mega-City One has 97% unemployment, a massive suicide and crime rate, and so many harsh laws on the books that when the judges find someone who appears to have not broken any of them, they arrest him on the grounds that he must be hiding something.
Creator Cameo: Judges are sometimes named after writers and artists on the series. For instance, the list of Judges who graduated in Dredd's year includes Wagner and Gibson, obvious references to writer John Wagner and artist Ian Gibson. Interestingly, Judge Gibson turns up in a later story as a corrupt cop in the first arcs dealing with corrupt Judges.
Gibson's appearance appears to be a continuity patch following the reference - after the gag, Dredd's clone-brother Rico turned up. He hadn't been listed with the others, so the story with Judge Gibson being investigated and struck off the list was added to explain his absence.
There was also a Judge Findlay.
Cam Kennedy appeared as Kenny Who?
John Wagner appeared as a villain in Old Pals Act.
Greg Staples drew himself as a judge in Class of '79.
Cyborg: Fairly common in the 'verse. Mean Machine Angel, Nero Nercos and Judge Guthrie are notable examples.
Hell, people forget DREDD HIMSELF is a cyborg. He doesn't have any obvious or superhuman enhancements, but he does have a few cybernetic internal organs from years of abuse, and both his eyes are artificial after he was blinded in one storyline. The cybernetic eyes actually give him enhancements like night vision and targeting assistance when shooting, and he remarked after they were installed that he should have gotten them replaced years ago.
Da Chief: Dredd himself is forced to become this for a time during The Pit arc.''
Darker and Edgier: Early Judge Dredd stories were typical sci-fi fare for the time, and Judge Dredd was tough, but fair. As time went on, stories became more grim and Dredd's and Justice Dept.'s authoritarian and dictatorial undertones would be made increasingly more apparent and more horrific.
Deadly Training Area: To best simulate the real street and combat situations all Mega-City One Judges face, only live ammunition and explosives are used on training courses at the Academy of Law. If a cadet survives making even the slightest mistake on the courses, they are immediately expelled from the Academy.
Depraved Dentist: In an origin story, it is revealed that the father of the man who later became Judge Death was an extremely depraved dentist. Not only did he enjoy paralysing his patients instead of anesthesizing them, then tearing out every tooth they had, but he'd also murder them mercilessly to cure them of "brain worms". A healthy role model for the good Judge, no?
The Determinator: Dredd will stop at nothing to achieve his tasks, best exemplefied in the "City of the Damned" story arc in which Dredd loses his eyes and is forced to run a gauntlet of terrifying creatures in an inferno (made all the more worse by Dredd's blindness). When he can no longer walk, he crawls, but he never stops for he is a Judge. And it is his duty. Judge Edgar even notes that this is exactly what makes Dredd such an effective investigator. He won't give up on a case when he's determined to solve it.
Similarly the end of the epic Cursed Earth saga sees Dredd crawl in Mega-City Two out of a sandstorm, having been attacked by killer robots (and that was just the very end of the mission) in order to deliver the 2T(FRU)T vaccine.
Divided States of America: Following the Atomic War of 2070, all that survived of the USA were its three Mega-Cities (Mega-City One covering much of the East Cost and Ohio, Mega-City Two covering much of the West, and Mega-City Three covering much of Texas and parts of the Mid-West). Mega-City Three gained independence from the other two cities shortly after the war, rechristening itself "Texas City," and by the time the comic's main story begins in 2099 Mega-Cities One and Two are both very much independent from each other as well. The rest of the US lays as barren nuclear wasteland dubbed "The Cursed Earth" with a handful of scattered settlements all around; Las Vegas, however, managed to hold up well enough, compared to the rest of the Cursed Earth at least, for a while... until it was destroyed by Judge Death. Furthermore, Mega-City Two is later overrun a global zombie invasion during "Judgement Day" and is subsequently wiped off the map in a coordinated nuclear strike by the world's surviving mega cities.
Some of the stories focusing on interactions between robots and humans have parallels with the history of race relations in America.
In the first story featuring uplifted chimpanzee mobster Don Uggie, the uplifted apes are treated as a standard immigrant community, complete with their own ethnic enclave and tropes about the differences between first- and second-generation immigrants.
Don't Look Back: During the "Apocalypse War" Story Arc, Mega-City One is ravaged by the Soviet city-state East-Meg One to the point where a massive throng of civilians (in the comic, said to be "an estimated 27 million people") are at one point seen making an exodus. One child being carried by his father looks back and says, "Bye-bye city," while his father responds, "Don't look back, boy! You might catch something!"
Dropped a Bridge on Him: This happened to Walter The Wobot after stories started to take a bit more serious tone. The fate of Judge Giant, Sr. in the prelude to the Apocalypse War as well as multiple supporting characters introduced over the years during Judgment Day and many other instances. To be fair, this is intentional in order to create the realistic aura of Anyone Can Die (and stay dead) that is one of the strip's hallmarks, as most people (especially cops) don't get Hollywood death scenes in real life. Judge Giant, Sr. getting a pointless and unexpected death was what made it so powerful.
Dystopia: "Justice has a price. The price is freedom."
Early-Installment Weirdness: The first strip is stated to take place in New York City instead of Mega City One, and Judges are described as being "elected by the people" to enforce the law. This idea was quickly changed in favour of the current system.
Regular police appear in The Robot Wars.
Pre-90s stories were light, compared to the newer Judge Dredd stuff.
Early stories present Dredd as much more of a Jerkass. That's not to say he's not one still, but his early dialogue has him berate people for little to no real reason.
Inverted in the pitch strip: Judge Dredd acts very close to his 90s incarnations, shooting criminals, and then a civilian who unwittingly committed a crime (then tried to bribe him) in cold blood.
Electronic Eyes: How Dredd sees after losing his real ones in "City of the Damned."
Walter the Wobot caught his lisp out of fear when he was attacked by a lynch mob during Call-Me-Kenneth's robot rebellion. It never wore off.
Public Defender 314, a robot tasked with representing perps who cannot afford human attorneys in the Justice Dept.'s Court of Appeals, has an impediment that causes him to speak his dramatic actions out loud (e.g. "If the evidence does not support the accusations levied against my client ...pause for emphasis... we must find him innocent.")
Enemy Mine: In The Three Amigos, Dredd is forced to team up with Mean Machine Angel and Judge Death.
Eternal Prohibition: Extended to caffeine, sugar, comic books, and eventually the synthetic substitute for coffee.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: There used to be an enclave of uplifted apes living in the city before the Apocalypse War; chimpanzee mobster Don Uggie and his cronies were occasional adversaries to Dredd during this time. The Big Meg also once elected an orangutan named Dave to be mayor. He was later assassinated.
Evil Genius: PJ Maybe. Interestingly enough, usually any perps in Mega-City One who are described as having a genius or otherwise extraordinary intellect are children, although PJ Maybe unquestionably outdoes them all by continually evading capture (he's also the only one we ever get to see grow up).
Evil Makes You Monstrous: Judge Death, an Omnicidal Maniac of the worst caliber, was once a human being. After spending his whole life killing everyone he came in contact with, he allowed a pair of witches to turn him into an undead abomination to achieve immortality. Now he looks closest to the Mouth of Sauron, until eventually even his ethereal form completely resembled the nightmarish Demon Judge he is feared as. This applies equally to his three brethren.
Dredd, who almost never removes his iconic helmet. When he does, his head is swathed in bandages or otherwise hidden (Or in one case, deliberately altered to show someone else's face). It's implied that his face is hideously scarred underneath.
Averted BIG TIME when in the separately titled 2000 AD strip "The Dead Man" the titular (and horribly disfigured) "Dead Man" turns out to be Dredd all along and a huge set-up for the Necropolis story arc.
Hotshot artist Simon Bisley drew Dredd's face for the Batman crossover, but the image never appeared in the final comic.
The same thing happened very early on in a strip. Dredd takes off his helmet and you get a huge CENSORED bar. His face is so horrifying, it causes the criminals to drop their weapons. They originally drew up his scarred face, but they decided it looked too stupid and covered it up.
Generally averted with the female judges because, well, they're female judges. Anderson in particular almost never wears a helmet.
Fair Cop: Psi-Judge Anderson. Also Psi-Judge Karyn (before her transformation), Chief Judge Hershey (Depending on the Artist) and Ex-Judge Demarco (described by Jack Point as "hotter than lesbian lava"). Though Anderson considers herself to be heading firmly into Christmas Cake territory.
Fake Nationality: In universe, Dredd's landlady/maid (it varies sometimes) Maria has always talked with a heavy Italian accent, but years later when it was revealed that she had died and left a large inheritance to Dredd, it also turned out that she never really was Italian and was faking her accent "for some reason" the entire time.
Fantastic Drug: Quite a few of these have popped up in Mega-City One. The two that stand out the most in Dredd's stories are umpty (a sweet-tasting candy that creates an immediate psychological addiction once a person tries it) and Stookie glands (glands from a sentient alien race called Stookies which can make human users appear much younger than they actually are).
Fantastic Recruitment Drive: Cadets are taken not only from clone stock, but also from orphans, volunteers or children who show promise. Since the events of Day Of Chaos, in order to replace the large number of lost judges foreign judges are now allowed to apply to transfer to Mega City One as retrainees.
Fattening The Victim: One planet the judges visit in the Judge Child Quest arc has oracle spice, obtained from a giant toad named Sagbelly. An evil mutant sends creatures called Watchers to gather victims to feed Sagbelly. The townsfolk have set up a gruesome lottery that ties "nine fat men, forty days a-feeding" to posts on the town's outskirts for this purpose.
Faux Affably Evil: During Judge Death's Origins Issue, he behaves this way towards his blind landlady Mrs. Gunderson to allay suspicion and evade detection. He's also surprisingly courteous to his interviewer, only to murder him later for failing to write an "adequate" biography on him.
Fictional Political Party: The only democratic freedom allowed to the citizens of Mega-City One is the election of the city's Mayor, a very minor role that serves as a liaison between citizens and Justice Department. When the election campaign for Dave the Orangutan was covered in the story arc, "Portrait of a Politician," every social clique was shown to have formed its own political party and running its own candidate, many of which would kill each other in mob riots leading up to the election. Named parties include the Apathetic Fringe, the Young Norms (presumably an anti-mutant lobby), the Lib-Lab Flab Party (presumably a Liberal-Labor Party amongst the Big Meg's morbidly obese population), the Uglies (just ugly people), and the All-Out-War Party (a group of Bomb-Throwing Anarchists). When the All-Out-War Party starts stirring up trouble, Dredd gives them exactly what they want.
Finger in the Mail: The "Origins" story arc begins with a small box containing a ransom note and a sample of living tissue belonging to Judge Fargo, the first Chief Judge of Mega-City One and the founder of the Judge system, being delivered to the Hall of Justice.
Forgot to Pay the Bill: One issue taking place on the moon has a band of robbers who suffocate because they didn't pay the oxygen bill for their hideout.
Four Is Death: The Dark Judges: Death, Fear, Fire, and Mortis—judges from another dimension where the four of them rationalized that since all crime is committed by the living, life itself should be deemed a crime punishable by death. However, later stories, such as "Necropolis" and Judge Death's Origins Issue, "Young Death, Boyhood of a Superfiend," introduced the Sisters of Death, Phobia and Nausea, who would be included in their ranks, and one crossover tale with Batman saw The Joker become a fifth Dark Judge.
For the Evulz: PJ Maybe returns to Mega City One to assassinate six people all because they got him kicked off the school play when he was younger.
Funny Background Event: During the "Day the Law Died" story, the clearly insane Judge Cal is appointed as the Head Judge. At an early point in his reign, one of the Judges is reduced to wearing nothing but his helmet and a colorful pair of underpants (due to having one of his uniform buttons missing). He is seen performing his duties throughout the story in various places, never wearing anything else: no one comments on it.
Future Food Is Artificial: The majority of food products in Mega-City One are made from a synthetic, high-protein plant called "Munce". In another lesser example, Otto Sump released a line of food products to combat shortages after the Apocalypse War called "Gunge", consisting of delicacies like the Slime Sauce, Bacteria Soup, Maggot Steaks, Black Widow Spider Wine matured for a week in an old boot, and Mould Jam. When the initial release sparks huge protests, the Justice Department outlaws Gunge, buys the factories and re-releases the products under a different brand.
Future Slang: Future cursing, future cop-speak, future street-slang... You name it.
Futuristic Superhighway: Mega-City One includes a great number of different highway transit systems with average speed limits typically being over 200 MPH. The longest and widest of of these, the Superslab, is suggested as spanning the entire length of the city from north to south with a dozen traffic lanes in each direction. The very first strip in 2000 AD featured Dredd sentencing a criminal to Devil's Island—a prison set up on a large traffic island in the middle of the Big Meg's inter-city highway complex with no need for walls because busy traffic is constantly moving at speeds of up to 250 MPH all day and all night, guaranteeing instant death for anyone who tries to escape.
Gorn: Several instances of this occur in the later issues of the series (as it progresses into Darker and Edgier), most particularly Heavy Metal Dredd.
The Great Politics Messup: The Soviet Union is depicted as surviving into the 22nd century, having been rechristened as the 'Sov Blok'. Judge Dredd is a Long Runner, first published in 1977 when the Soviet Union and Cold War were facts of life. However the only real difference between Mega City One and Two and East Meg One and Two is that the East Meg system has the death penalty and a ruling council of three, not five.
The Grotesque: Otto Sump; his first appearance in the strip, no less, even satirizes how these types of characters can be used as The Woobie
Hand Cannon: Subverted with the Lawgiver. Depending on the Artist, it's not necessarily a large pistol (as judges holster it on their boots), but it has quite a bit of stopping power. And that's without using armor piercing or Hi-Ex. One annual reveals that the projectile is in effect a small rocket (a la the 1960s Gyrojet pistol) and its velocity is pretty mediocre (550 feet per second)... but unlike your standard everyday pistol, that velocity is maintained after it leaves the barrel.
And played straight, again Depending on the Artist, and which model of Lawgiver. And those boots are huge, so the holsters would be plenty big for a hand cannon.
Hanging Judge: Well, more like blowing-your-head-off judge but you get the idea. Ironically, although a staggering number of people get killed resisting arrest, very few crimes in Mega City 1 actually carry the death penalty. Judge Death's origins story Boyhood of a Superfiend shows Death executing each case that comes before him in court, including a couple wishing to divorce. Having reconciled their differences, Death executes them for wasting the court's time.
Happiness in Slavery: Walter, who gave up his freedom to remain in Dredd's employ, much to Dredd's complete annoyance.
Hate Plague: Block Mania, a bioengineered plague that caused Patriotic Fervor towards one's own relatively small community and paranoia/xenophobia towards all outsiders.
The Hedonist: In one of the Batman crossovers, an entire cult of hedonists decided to go into self-imposed isolation from the rest of Megacity One in a Megadome, where they could indulge themselves until the end days. Unfortunately, without protection by the Law this made them easy targets for the Joker and the Dark Judges, who lock themselves in with the cultists and proceed to slaughter them all. As Judge Mortis put it, he's a "Deadonist".
Averted; Dredd is almost never seen without wearing his helmet. However, this trope is played straight with Judges Hershey (while she was still a Street Judge, anyway) and Anderson who are never seen wearing their helmets when they are on active duty (although they are sometimes drawn carrying a helmet as if to imply they just took it off...only for the helmet to disappear entirely after one or two panels).
Very few active Street Judges are ever seen without wearing their helmets; Judge Giant, for instance, is only seen without one at his graduation ceremony from the Academy of Law where he is actually issued his helmet.
It's been commented occasionally that helmets are a distraction for Psi Judges using their powers, which is why Anderson never wears one.
Heroes Want Redheads: Inverted. Galen Demarco falls for Dredd. Whether he reciprocates her feelings is left ambiguous, but he actively spurns her advances even though he is concerned for her.
Hero of Another Story: Concurrent strips have been known to have been run. Judgement Day was the first attempt, with the story altering between Dredd and Johnny Alpha, alternating the stories between 2000 AD and the Megazine. The Doomsday Scenario did the same thing with Galen Demarco. The Cold Deck does this as well, running three storylines in 2000 AD, throwing Jack Point and Dirty Frank into the mix.
Heroic Build: Dredd's physique varies Depending on the Artist, but his original design averts this. Considering the strip predates The Ahnold archetype of Action Hero and Dredd is partly based on Clint Eastwood to begin with, this makes sense. The change is lampshaded in one strip that shows a flashback to 2080 with Dredd looking much leaner than his 2130s self. The perp he arrests in the flashback has been cryogenically frozen since then and medical science has advanced sufficiently to repair the damage done to his brain as a result of a bullet to the head that Dredd gave him. Upon seeing Dredd, the perp notes that Dredd has "filled out" over the last fifty years. From somewhere during The Eighties, artists have depicted Dredd as playing the trope a bit more straight.
He Who Fights Monsters: To an extent, the risk most Judges working undercover units (aka The Wally Squad) face.
Hidden Disdain Reveal: Dredd says to Judge Anderson (of the Psi Division) that they were never friends and that he only "tolerated" her after she resigns as a judge. He later recants when she's injured.
Human Popsicle: People are often cryogenically frozen when they suffer near fatal injuries or contract illnesses with no known cure so they can be revived when medical technology has advanced sufficiently to treat them properly. Judge Fargo was placed in suspended animation after his botched suicide attempt and revived later, though they couldn't fully repair the damage and he's put back in. He's revived once more upon recovery by Dredd's team, by which stage he's too far gone to save.
Human Resources: The recently deceased tend to end up at Resyk where their bodies are recycled so that their resources and nutrients can be put to use elsewhere.
Humans Are Bastards: A theme in a two-part segment of the "Cursed Earth" storyline, in which humans use aliens as slave labor, split up families, and remorselessly kill them if they don't work hard enough. Dredd's log at the end of the segment reads: "Sometimes the human race makes me sick!"
Humans Are Morons: Very few people who aren't Judges are ever seen making commendable decisions. Humans were never portrayed being much dumber than as they appeared in "Portrait Of A Politician" though. In it, an orangutan named Dave was able to do a better job at predicting the winners of sporting matches than human sports analysts. His fans later rally to get him elected as Mayor of Mega-City One, believing that he can do a better job than an actual person (even Dredd thinks that electing an orangutan could do some good for the city). Dave the Orangutan won the election and was later assassinated.
Humans Are Psychic in the Future: In addition to Justice Dept. having a Psychic (Psi) Division, several perps in Mega City-One, as well as a few major antagonists for Dredd, possess psychic abilities.
"Apocalypse War" — Dredd takes the responsibility for the deaths involved in nuking East-Meg One, after half of Mega-City One was killed by the Sov's nuclear strike. This was after he'd assassinated the brainwashed, propagandising Chief Judge.
He does it several other times too, including pushing for the nuclear destruction of zombie-infested megacities in "Judgement Day" and going against the entire city to try & bring back mutant rights.
Ignored Expert: In spite of Dredd's many years of experience, in many cases his advice is ignored leading to disaster (eg. The Robot War, Necropolis, Day Of Chaos etc.) costing millions of lives.
Implacable Man: Dredd is insanely hard to kill. Particularly in The Dead Man, where Dredd is burnt to a crisp and survives. The Dark Judges are this too, being undead.
Impossibly Cool Weapon: The Judges' standard issue Lawgiver handgun can fire six different types of ammunition (see Abnormal Ammo above) on either standard or rapid fire settings, both ammo and fire settings can be switched via voice command, and every individual gun is programmed to only fire when the Judge the gun was issued to is using it; attempts by perps to hoist a Judge by his own petard are always met with very explosive results.
Indecisive Parody: Is Judge Dredd a satire depicting an authoritarian police state of the future, or straightforward police story about cops who do the best they can to prevent their dystopian society from falling into chaos? Depends on the story.
Insane Troll Logic: The Dark Judges mindset is that since living beings can commit crimes, life itself is a crime, therefore all living beings are guilty and must be punished. By death.
In-Series Nickname: Dredd is often referred to by other characters as "Old Stonyface". In more recent years, he's known at "The Old Man."
Irony: Mega-City One's city wall was originally ordered to be built by Chief Judge Cal in order to keep the citizens from leaving the city when he wanted to kill all of them, but on several occasions after his story finished, the city wall has been used as a crucial part of the city's defense from foreign threats and invaders.
Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: A large portion of the humor is derived from very minor offenses carrying hefty consequences, such as a 6 month - 2 year sentence for littering.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: No, really. Very few people get to see it, but Dredd seriously cares about the people of Mega-City One. It's the reason he's such a dedicated cop. He also does care for Walter and Maria, his robotic servant and housekeeper, respectively.
Joker Immunity: The Dark Judges, unlike the comic's other villains, keep returning after their defeats since they're undead and can possess new bodies. Judge Death especially exemplifies this, not only managing to escape and act on his own when the other Dark Judges were captured, but even his most recent appearance ending with him getting Dragged Off to Hell, it's confirmed by the writers he's still not gone for good.
Joker Jury: In the Doomsday arc, Dredd is put on trial for war crimes during the Apocalypse war by the government in exile of the city he wiped out. He gets off.
Kick the Dog: Judge Death, when he was still a living human named Sidney, started his career of evil by literally killing the family dog. After he realized how much killing something pleased him, he just kept going further and further into complete depravity.
Kids Are Cruel: Several antagonists have been children, such as PJ Maybe and The Judge Child.
Standard procedure for dealing with Judge Death, but it only destroys his host body instead of really killing him ("You cannot kiiill what doesss not livvvve"). The miracle plastic Boing has been shown to be more effective at containing Judge Death than fire, which has always released his ethereal form and allow him to possess another body.
Lamarck Was Right: Zigzagged. Dredd is cloned from Fargo and is undoubtedly the greatest judge who ever patrolled the streets of Mega City One. The newRico is shaping up well, with Dredd noting that Rico's stats are reading better than his own. However, the original Rico winds up corrupt and gets arrested and later killed by Dredd. Kraken shows competence as a judge, but lacks Dredd's iron will and is manipulated by the Sisters of Death into doing their bidding. Nimrod suffers from Clone Degeneration, though this is more down to the genetic modifications he goes through. Dolman quits the academy, though he does assist Dredd after Day Of Chaos as a member of the Space Corps. Paris ends up deserting during Chaos Day and winds up pregnant, though her future remains to be seen.
Lantern Jaw of Justice: And it's even the only part of his face visible. Notably, it became more pronounced as the years went on.
Exaggerated with the Fargos, Dredd's mutant cousins.
Laser-Guided Karma: Several of Dredd's actions in earlier strips have serious repercussion over the years. Most notably, his personally nuking East Meg One during The Apocalypse War is the whole reason for Colonel Borisenko's "Fourth Faction" unleashing the Chaos Bug on Mega City One. Thirty Years Later.
Last Name Basis: Dredd's given name is Joseph, but everyone just calls him Judge, Judge Dredd, or simply Dredd.
Lean and Mean: The mass-murdering Judge Death is a very skinny fellow, mostly because he's an undead spirit inhabiting a corpse. He's quite tall but only weighs around 67 kg. He's also surprisingly strong for his size, being able to throw boulders into the air with ease and lift people up as if they were nothing.
Leeroy Jenkins: A rare case where it actually works, when at war (well, the televised sports spectacle war briefly becomes before going back to traditional nuclear warfare in The Apocalypse War) with the Sovs, Dredd and his one surviving team mate drop their guns and charge the Sov troops. The new guns the Sovs are using work on a preset range, as opposed to impact, so Dredd closes the gap faster than the Sovs can readjust the range of detonation and manages to turn their weapons against them.
Legacy Character: Judge Giant, Jr; the second Rico, a clone of Dredd; and Judge Beeny, daughter of the lead from "America". Fintan Joyce, the son of Charlie Joyce, the Irish judge introduced in Emerald Isle joins the Mega City One Justice Department as a retrainee (a judge with prior experience elsewhere who transfers in).
Literal Metaphor: In Closet, the viewpoint character, a gay man who has discovered an underground club which fetishes Dredd, recalls how his father had been disapproving of his sexual orientation and that it was "fear that killed him." The next panel shows him being killed by Judge Fear.
Long Lived: Medical technology has advanced sufficiently that people can live up to the age of 150. Dredd himself is in his seventies and still active on the streets. One perp is sent to prison in 1980 and gets out in 2130 due to supernatural powers.
Loophole Abuse: Uplifted ape Don Uggie attempts this when Dredd arrests him, pointing out he has committed no crime because Mega City One's criminal laws have not yet been updated to include non-human sapients. Dredd's response is to have him incarcerated at the Mega-City Zoo as "an animal creating danger to human life" under the Animal Nuisance Act.
Love Is a Weakness: It's Justice Dept.'s view that love corrupts a Judge's better sense of judgment and decision making. As such, "extrajudicial liaisons" are illegal and Mega-City One Judges are not allowed to marry or raise a family.
Lower Deck Episode: There are plenty of stories which focus on regular people, with Dredd sometimes barely appearing.
Made of Iron: Dredd. He's been shot more times than he can remember, has broken so many bones that they've been replaced with artificial replacements and even been burned alive and then doused in acid. None of this has been remotely near enough to stop him.
The Mafia: The traditional mafia still exists in the Big Meg, but they're a dying breed and their traditions are considered antiquated in the face of newer crime syndicates, especially seeing as their own affiliates suffer from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
Make Them Rot: Judge Mortis, one of the four dreaded Dark Judges who periodically break into the reality of Mega-City One, has the power to induce instant mortification and decay in anything he touches.
Man of the City: Mega-City One is Dredd's home. DON'T mess with it. Entire PLANETS have learned this the hard way.
Married to the Job: Dredd has no life whatsoever outside of his responsibilities and duties as a Judge (During the Day Of Chaos arc, he tells a group of prospective cadets that he works twenty three hours a day). Even when other Judges may recognize a perp or victim as a celebrity personality from a vidshow, Dredd will not, nor would he care. Dredd is celibate and doesn't even celebrate his own birthday—not even when the Chief Judge and closest associates at Justice Dept. get him a cake and gifts. The closest thing Dredd has to a leisure activity is reading the Book of Law.
Meaningful Name: This can apply to both characters (Judge Dredd, President Booth, Deputy Chief Justice Fodder, and many more) and city blocks in the Big Meg (large apartment complexes that function as indoor towns and can house about a hundred thousand to a million citizens Depending on the Writer).
Judge Dredd used to reside at the Rowdy Yates Block, which is named after Clint Eastwood's character from the TV show Rawhide; Clint Eastwood's portrayal of Dirty Harry was a key inspiration for Judge Dredd.
Things tend to happen in appropriately-named places, too, If a devolution virus turns the locals into apes, it'll happen in the Charles Darwin Block.
Mega City: Possible Trope Namer. The world of Judge Dredd is divided into a number of enormous metropoles containing hundreds of millions of people each after the nuclear wars turned most of the planet into an irradiated wasteland. The main setting of the stories is Megacity One (Judge Dredd's city), which spans most of the former United States East Coast. Different creative teams added more and more locations to it, leading John Wagner and Carlos Esquerra to whittle it down by having the Sovs nuke half of the city in The Apocalypse War.
The Mentor: Judge Morphy is this to Dredd. Having been his assessing judge in his final exam on the street, Morph was always willing to give Dredd advice, even after Dredd has already spent decades as a judge and is regarded as the best ever. Dredd saw Morphy as a father figure, noting [[spoiler: after his death and while threatening to kill the perp responsible that while Fargo might have been his clone father that Morphy was like a real father to him. Dredd himself will mentor younger judges being (very) firm but ultimately fair. Despite her lineage, Dredd sees real promise in America Beeny and she becomes a judge in almost record time.
Mercy Kill: Dredd's former academy classmate, Raider, does this to his wife when she gets fatal radiation poisoning.
One early story featured an underground game show entitled 'You Bet Your Life' where stupid, greedy saps wagered the lives of their closest loved ones (and their own) on trivia questions.
Another was about a failed game show host who put his old rivals through a crazy contest with endless fatal results (i.e. "Congratulations! You win a golden bullet!" BAM!).
A third story involved a quiz show where a contestant's correct answers would allow him to pick a number between 1 and 10 which would spring a booby trap in his rival contestant's own city block, causing major property damage therein. One of the numbers triggers a flesh disintegrator planted beneath the contestant's own seat. The show's host didn't particularly care if correct answers were actually given, however, and would let contestants pick a number, anyway, no matter what.
There was a fourth one where people would confess to crimes and be arrested by Judges. It was stopped after it caused crime rates to go up.
Mutants: Generally people whose genetic makeup was affected by nuclear radiation as a result of several atomic wars. Unlike in American comics, namely Marvel, mutants in Dredd's world just suffer from physical deformities and other freakish abnormalities. Superpowers developing from mutations are very rare, although it is suggested that the psychic powers of Psi-Division operatives are mutations in and of themselves; in story about an ex-judge-turned-Bounty Hunter who was kicked out for having a mutation that gave her a third kidney, the character posits that Psi-Division judges have greater mutations than she does.
Myth Arc: One has been developing over whether the Judges' rule is legitamate.
Narrative Poem: Quite a handful of stories are told through rhyme and verse.
National Stereotypes: Other mega cities tend to have these. For example, all the judges in Ciudad Baranquilla are corrupt, Emerald Isle is a theme park based on stereotypes of Oireland, everyone from Cal-Hab is a Violent Glaswegian and Hondo City has a Samurai culture as well as Yakuza. Stories involving these were rampant in the mid nineties (though, Emerald Isle is a parody of Irish politics created by Garth Ennis).
The Necrocracy: Mega City One becomes this during the "Necropolis" arc, turning into a complete slaughterhouse. The Sisters of Death blot out the sun to prevent all daylight and the Dark Judges take command of the Hall of Justice. They declare all life illegal, brainwash the Judges to gun down civilians constantly, and cull 10,000 citizens themselves every day, while disease, chaos, and death spreads throughout the city in general. Before they are overthrown by Judge Dredd they have reduced the population by some 60 million people.
Nigh-Invulnerability: The Dark Judges are undead monsters who are virtually impossible to destroy. Their physical forms are incredibly strong to begin with, but these are just hosts they're possessing. Destroying it will only prompt their incorporeal essence to possess another person and transform back into their standard shapes.
Nightmare Face: Judge Fear is able to kill by simply revealing his face, though the reader never sees it. Averted once by Dredd himself ◊
Ever since the 2012 Dredd movie went into production, stories have occasionally been including references to movies starring an actor named Urb Karlan, frequently mentioned in Mega-City billboards and advertisements. He even plays Dredd in an in universe adaptation of The Dead Man.
If there's a tv talent show, there's a good chance one of the judges on the panel will be heavily based on SimonCowell.
The Not So Harmless Punishment: After Dredd assassinates a brainwashed Chief Judge Griffin on live television and escapes during the "Apocalypse War" Story Arc, all East-Meg Judges present throughout the incident have been rounded up and are about to be issued winter clothing before being sent off to a penal colony in Siberia, which is War Marshall Kazan's typical punishment for failure.
Kazan: Cancel that order!
East-Meg Judge: You mean you're not sending them to Siberia?
Kazan: No, I mean they're not getting any winter clothing!
Not So Similar: In the future it will apparently be a commonly made mistake to assume that because two people share the same genetic code the will be interchangeable replacements for each other on the job.
Nuke 'em: On several occasions, characters have used nuclear weapons to achieve their aims. Most notably are The Apocalypse War, where the East Meg forces start nuking and invading Mega City One, forcing Dredd to go to one of East Meg One's nuclear silos and East Meg One into the ground, and Judgement Day, where several cities are nuked to contain a Zombie Apocalypse.
Chief Justice Fargo takes this role to a certain extent in Judge Dredd: Origins.
More closely, the senior judge who supervised Dredd's final assessment to become a full judge, Judge Morphy, mentored Dredd throughout much of his career on the force and, in some ways, is the closest thing Dredd has had to a father figure. One piece of advice Morphy gave to Dredd has since become something of a Running Gag (See: Continuity Nod).
Offered the Crown: Dredd has been asked to be Chief Judge on several separate occasions after saving the city from one catastrophe or another; however, he turns the offer down every time because he prefers life as a Street Judge.
That said, he has recently accepted a place on the Council of Five with the condition that he be allowed to remain on the streets. He also has twice ran for the position of Chief Judge, the second being his reasoning that he figured Martin Sinfield as Chief is a lot worse than being put behind a desk.
Prior to this, Dredd has sat on the Council a single day to make quorum during the trial of another member of the Council. Also, the first time Dredd ran for the position of Chief Judge, he didn't even vote for himself.
Offscreen Rebuilding: This is usually subverted wherein major story arcs that see much of the city destroyed are followed immediately by steps to rebuild and reclaim order (i.e. "Apocalypse War", "Necropolis", "Day of Chaos"), but outside of those few examples, this is played straight.
Oireland: This trope is combined with The Theme Park Version in Dredd's world where Ireland has been transformed into a giant amusement park based entirely on Irish stereotypes.
Omnicidal Maniac: Judge Death and his followers declared life itself to be illegal in their world.
Omniglot: Albert Sherman knows thirty-seven languages by the time he's six months old.
One-Man Army: Dredd has gone in alone into situations that the Hall of Justice wanted to send a squad or more of Judges to handle on multiple occasions and succeeded. The first time he did this was in the first issue.
One Steve Limit: Two separate characters have appeared with the name "Spikes 'Harvey' Rotten." In addition to sharing the same name, both were reputed to be ruthless bikers and part of a biker gang called "The Muties." The only thing that really sets them apart is their physical appearance. The first Spikes "Harvey" Rotten was a minor character who died in an illegal street race through Mega-City One; the second accompanied Dredd on his trek to Mega-City Two during the "Cursed Earth" arc.
Papa Wolf: In spite of his exterior, Dredd loves his niece, Vienna, very much. Grud help anyone who tries to harm her.
Penal Colony: Judges are expected to follow the Law to a far greater extent than anyone else, and any serious transgression made by a Judge is usually punishable by 20 years of forced labor on Saturn's moon Titan; prisoners' bodies are even surgically modified so that they can survive the atmosphere without ever needing a space suit.
Pet the Dog: Dredd on a surprising number of occasions, such as sending Tweak back without revealing his secret to protect his people from humans or the unemployed criminal he gave 'useful' Hard Labour. He will never break the Law for you, but he might be sympathetic in its use.
Police Brutality: Goes without saying. However, a Judge who gets a little too happy on the brutality part will get marked by the SJS for wantonly disregarding standard protocol and will get executed. There are lines that the Judges themselves can't cross. This, however, doesn't affect the Dark Judges, who are free to do their brutality as they see fit. And it's justified, since they're undead, and they declare that only the living commit crimes and that life itself is a crime.
Police State: The Judges are the police, the judiciary and the government.
Post Mortem Conversion: At the end of Judge Dredd: Origins, with his last breath, Fargo despairs at what has become of America and urges Dredd to restore freedom and democracy. In order to maintain order, Dredd tells the few others who know of Fargo's true fate that the old man was pleased that the Judges now ran America.
One early strip takes place during the first Lunar Olympics. Athletes are allowed to compete with bionic implants, provided that no less than 80% of their bodies is made of human tissue. Because of the moon's lower gravity, Earth records in events like the pole vault and the shot put are broken like crazy. There are also a few "Moon Sports" introduced, notably one best described as "snowboarding tricks meets the ski jump"; overshooting ones run and missing the safety net leads to some very bloody, deadly results.
Human Taxidermy has also become a competitive event in the Olympics. Jacob Sardini ("The Taxidermist") is said to have won a bronze medal for a work he had made in the 2082 games.
Sex and competitive staring are also events. Dredd once won the gold after a two and a half day match by simply waiting for the other guy to blink.
Sets up a nice inversion in a more recent strip. It's gotten to the point where every athlete competes with heavy cybernetic enhancements and steroids. Enter Aaron Johnson, an athlete who competes in the 100 metres with no cybernetics, drugs or even shoes. He doesn't actually manage to win the events he's in, but does respectably enough, considering what he's up against. Mega City One being Mega City One, there is actually public uproar because he makes the other competitors (and the Big Meg's health trends) look bad.
Both Max Normal's and Maria's departure were explained as no longer willing to have anything to do with Dredd after having their lives put in danger one too many times. They just left; although later stories do tell of what happened to Maria after this time.
The Quisling: Chief Justice Griffin is brainwashed and made a stooge for East-Meg One occupiers of MC1 during "The Apocalypse War".
Rabid Cop: Judge Manners, who frequently brutalises perps and innocents alike. Then, there's Judge Kruger, who at one point is the department's daystick champion and is eagerly overenthusiastic with it. At one point, he even plants drugs on an innocent woman to justify beating her to death.
Judge Death started out as one of these and got muchworse.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Dredd typically has immediate access to the Chief Judge of Mega-City One, who normally values Dredd's judgement and often consider him a close confidant (apart from when individuals in this position serve as an antagonist to Dredd—Chief Judges Cal and Sinfeld, for example)
Reassigned to Antarctica: This is essentially what Sector 301 was before Dredd was temporarily assigned as Sector Chief. All the screw up judges were sent there out of the way and anybody competent sent there was either overzealous or had seriously pissed someone off.
The one-shot spinoff, Judge Wynter is a literal example with the titular Wynter patrolling the wastes of Antarctica.
Judges who have been wounded in the line of duty are given a fitness test on the street by a senior judge when they have recuperated. Failing this fitness test will result in a street judge (generally regarded as the most prestigious part of the department to be in) being demoted to traffic duty, driving a catch wagon or jammed behind a desk in admin. And that's if they're lucky. Really unlucky judges wind up being on the inspection teams for the sewage outputs of city blocks.
Reminiscing About Your Victims: Boyhood of a Superfiend serves as Judge Death's Origins Issue. It's basically one long use of this trope as Death, being interviewed by a journalist, happily recalls all the people whom he gruesomely murdered during his long career of killing every living thing.
Red Shirt Army: Early stories often depicted other judges as this. Averted in more recent years, however.
Robo Romance: During Dredd's hitch as Judge-Marshal of Luna-1, Walter the Wobot struck up a romance with Rowena the Robot, the servant of a woman Dredd saved from claim-jumpers.
Robo Sexual: Sexmeks are very common in the Meg. PJ Maybe's robot, Inga, is a Per Lunquist Series 7, which is widely regarded as the best model ever made. One story had a human prostitute with cybernetically grafted credit card slot so she can compete with robots.
Robot Buddy: Walter the Wobot, noted for his speech impediment. He served as Dredd's personal servant for years, despite the Judge's discomfort with the situation.
Robot War: The strip's first multiple-chapter arc was exactly this.
Self-Made Orphan: Judge Death murdered his own family when he was still human. He first made a failed attempt to kill his sister for telling on him for torturing the family dog. He later reported his deranged father, a Depraved Dentist and Serial Killer, to the Judges to further his own career and carried out the execution himself. As a registered Judge years later, he hunted down his mother and sister after they had gone into hiding, shooting his crippled sister in the face and throwing his mother off a cliff.
Shout-Out: The phrase "Who judges the Judges?" is commonly scrawled on walls and such in the Big Meg, notably during the Democracy story arc (specifically, in the story "America"). This is a reference to the graffiti from Watchmen. Funny thing is the Judges, in fact, have their own department in place specifically to do just that, the SJS (Special Judicial Squad) who are always referred to as "the Judges who judge the Judges" whenever they are mentioned.
Simulated Urban Combat Area: Early issues depicted cadets training in giant, indoor facilities that replicate the streets outside, complete with criss-crossing highways overhead and live ammunition and explosives!
Sinister Subway: One storyline has Dredd discovering a colony of deformed social misfits lurking in the long-abandoned tunnels and stations of New York's subway system.note Dredd notes that the subway was closed down "more than a hundred years ago", i.e. some time in the 1990s. Yes.
Skull for a Head: Judge Mortis of the Dark Judges, specifically a sheep's skull.
Skyscraper City: Mega-City One. The establishing shot that opened the very first Dredd story showed the Empire State Building, now an abandoned historical relic, dwarfed by the buildings around it.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Later issues of of the strip, especially with Garth Ennis's run, are heavily cynical. Early stories aren't idealistic OR cynical, exception of the story where Dredd chews out a fellow Judge who had gone off the Slippery Slope and executes him.
Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: All over the place on this one. One shot strips tend to be sillier, focusing on the weirdness of some citizens. The mega epics tend to be more serious, but with humour thrown in for good measure. Early strips often had some breathers, courtesy of Walter the Wobot.
Smart House: Komputel, Mega City One's first fully-automated hotel. At the official opening, the founder boasts that "the inefficient human element has been eliminated" from the running of the hotel. Less than a page later, the central computer sets out to eliminate a remaining inefficient human element, namely the guests.
ASBO Blocks are installed with a computer that forces its occupants to be nice and obey the law. The residents of one disabled the ASBO computer and went on a rampage. Dredd engages the backup ASBO unit, stopping them.
Soviet Superscience: In the earlier stories, the Sov Block show off a host of new superweapons, such as impenetrable battle armour, laser beams that pass harmlessly through any material and explode at a preset range and the Apocalypse Warp, a shield that sends nuclear weapons into alternate realities.
Space Clothes: Knee pads are a very popular and fashionable item in the future; they're even a part of the standard Judge uniform.
Space Western: Stories taking place in the Cursed Earth or on Luna City are clear examples of this as well as a few in Mega-City One, notably the shootout between Dredd and his brother Rico.
The concept of lawmen being judge, jury and executioner takes some elements from westerns, too.
Spinoff: Several. Far too many to name and many of which were too short-lived to be deemed memorable in the first place. Among those that do stand out however are Psi-Judge Anderson and The Simping Detective.
Spontaneous Human Combustion: One strip centered around a person who compulsively always had to one-up anyone around him who got more attention than him. One such person who got more attention than him was someone who spontaneously burst into flames at a dinner party, "and everyone figured that was about the coolest thing ever." The jealous main character of the piece did eventually do one better and went out with a nuclear bang... but he had to expose himself to radiation and get struck by lightning to do it after vain attempts to will himself to explode were complete failures.
The Starscream: War Marshal Kazan arranges "a suicide" for the Diktatorat of East Meg One after he has taken over Mega City One.
Status Quo Is God: No matter how many times the criticism of the Justice Dept. or one of their laws/policies becomes a major plot point (i.e. the long-running "Democracy" story arc, "Mutants in Mega-City One," et. al.), in the end, everything remains the same. Justified in that voting in a non-Judge to lead a city is essentially the same as willingly giving up power to a criminal, common or otherwise, which basically gives that person his/her own political clout to turn the city into his/her own criminal stronghold. And given that all of the Mega-Cities are already an unsafe place without Judges, any city ruled by a non-Judge will quickly turn into an anarchic city-state.
The Stoic: Judge Dredd, who has mastered his emotions so well as to be functionally immune to fear, even when it's induced by Applied Phlebotinum.
Averted momentarily in the Judge Anderson storyline "The Possessed" in which Anderson, despite being a cold-blooded executioner when required by her job, sheds tears when she makes the decision to shoot a young boy dead in order to prevent an invasion from another dimension.
Judges are expected to be this. Crying during cadet training (even as a child) is a good way to get drummed out of the academy. Dredd punches out one panicking judge during the Apocalypse War, noting that he was "prone to hysteria. Someone at the academy should have spotted it."
"The Forever Crimes," wherein a crook tries to escape from Dredd by making his way down a laundry chute, but it's actually a garbage disposal.
One group of criminals once tried to break into a room at Rowdy Yates Block that was marked off as a RESTRICTED AREA, reasoning that something really important and valuable had to be inside. The reason why it's a restricted area: It's Judge Dredd's apartment.
Swallow the Key: Judge Dredd does this in the comic where he fights the devil.
Take That: The "Adjudicators" arc in the Megazine pisses all over Marvel's concept of superheroes. That is, that superheroes empower the masses by inspiring them to become greater (this is why so many of Marvel's heroes can be read as "normal person who just happens to be a superhero). Judge Dredd shouts to a mass of people who were cheering on the Adjudicators (Superhero Judges who were The AvengersExpys) and tells them that they don't need powers, capes, or code names. They just need to grow up.
10-Minute Retirement: Dredd takes "The Long Walk" shortly before the start of "Necropolis", during which time Dredd is replaced by fellow Fargo clone Judge Kraken pretending to be Dredd.
Terrible Ticking: In a strip paying Homage to The Tell-Tale Heart, a jealous man who kills and steals the heart from the lover of a woman whom he adores from afar is driven insane by the sound of his victim's still-beating heart, which he then decides to get rid of by returning the body part to the woman in person (and, consequently, completely freaking her out).
There Should Be a Law: The phrase is used on various occasions in stories in varying contexts, almost always with a Judge around to respond, "There is," every time.
Tradesnark™: The strips that introduce Boing® refer to the name of the product exactly like that.
Training from Hell: Exactly what training at the Academy of Law is like. A fifteen year program beginning at the age of five, cadets are expected to learn the basics of the Law very quickly. To best replicate city street conditions in training courses, only live ammunition and explosives are used. Assuming a cadet even survives, making the smallest mistake in training results in his/her expulsion - no matter how long they've been in training. Only two out of every seven cadets ever graduate from the Academy, and that's before their final assessment (frequently nicknamed, "the hotdog run") in which the graduated cadet has to earn the satisfaction of a serving Judge (this may or may not involve a Secret Test of Character). Only after the serving Judge is happy with a cadet (IF they're happy with a cadet) can he/she finally earn a full badge and begin active duty.
Since Day Of Chaos has left the department, and the city as a whole, depleted, standards for the Full Eagle appear to have dropped. Dredd notes this in several cases where he's assigned young partners who are clearly not up to the task. It's gotten to the point where Mega City One has begun to recruit judges from other megacities as retrainees.
Turned Against Their Masters: Dredd's first ever multi-part story arc featured the Robot Rebellion led by Call-Me-Kenneth; defective robots who disobey orders and go on murderous rampages has been an occasional theme ever since.
Tyke Bomb: Cadets are inducted into the Academy Of Law at a very young age and spend the next fifteen years (or thirteen if fast tracked) training to be a judge. The Corps spinoff states that the ones with high combat scores at the expense of discretion get taken from the academy at the ages of around eight to ten to be trained as SpaceMarines.
Typhoid Mary: The "Day of Chaos" features several of the Big Bad's agents infected with the "Chaos Bug" being sent into Mega-City One to infect as many people as possible.
Uncoffee: Synthi-Caff is the Big Meg's alternative to coffee after both caffeine and sugar are outlawed. Synthi-Caff itself even ends up becoming illegal at one point, requiring a synthetic version of that to be produced.
Unusable Enemy Equipment: The Lawgiver. If anyone apart from its registered user attempts to use it, it'll explode, taking their hand with it. This can be bypassed, however, either by disconnecting the grip sensors (information that only Senior Judges, such as Dredd, have access to) or by the simpler method of removing the owner's hand (or at least the skin from the owner's palm) and using that to operate the weapon.
Uplifted Animal: Experiments resulted in a group of apes as intelligent as humans that speak English, and who were eventually given human rights and their own ghetto in Mega-City One. Some of them went on to form a criminal gang, led by the chimpanzee Don Uggie.
Used Future: In Dredd's world, anything that hasn't already been destroyed in nuclear war is this.
Dredd's been known to do this on occasion. The helmet helps.
Utility Belt: Dredd and the other Judges wear them, and they are even addressed as such. Contents include spare ammo, handcuffs and other general police-work equipment, as well as more comic-booky gadgetry such as gas grenades and cling lines.
The Verse: In addition to the main Judge Dredd strip, the "Dreddverse" consists of countless spin-offs, including Psi-Judge Anderson, Judge Hershey, The Simping Detective, and Lowlife, as well as otherwise stand-alone strips such as Devlin Waugh, Robo-Hunter, and Armitage and many, many more. In fact, this was the original point of the Judge Dredd Megazine. While many spinoffs (most notably, Tales From The Black Museum) do still print in the Meg, it does also print original stories, making this an Artifact Title.
Veteran Instructor: Street Judges who have been injured/wounded in ways that leave them no longer useful to serve on active duty are often given teaching posts at the Academy of Law to train young cadets to be future Judges. Older Judges with good performance records who stay on the force past their prime may sometimes be given the option to teach at the Academy as an alternative to The Long Walk.
Video Phone: Commonplace in Dredd's world, including Spin-Off stories, where they're frequently called VidPhones. Models vary, sometimes having mic stands, ordinary phone receivers, or no visible microphones or speakers at all.
Vigilante Man: Nate Slaughterhouse becomes one when his son is murdered and his wife disappears. Being a military cyborg has huge advantages for him on this one, especially when he assaults a crime lord's mansion with a Humongous Mecha.
Villain Decay: Arguably Judge Death until My Name Is Death re-established him as a threat. Mean Machine Angel has this happen to him also, eventually being released from the cubes when his dial is finally surgically removed and he is left with the mind of a child. Dredd even lampshades this.
Many people, including some of the writers and artists who have made him so popular, would argue that Dredd is one of these. To everyone else, he's just a particularly cynical antihero... or an asshole.
Some stories feature Judge Death as the protagonist, as he goes around murdering everything in sight on his quest to destroy the human race.
Wacky Racing: The Supersurf contest is a dangerous and deadly obstacle course held annually for professional sky surfers.
Walking the Earth: When a Judge retires from active duty on the streets of Mega-City-One, the Judge must leave the city and take "The Long Walk" into either the Cursed Earth or the Undercity where their duty is to bring law to the lawless for as long as they keep living.
We Help the Helpless: Dredd once went to a Mutant Town that was going to be hit by a massive spawn of Spiders, simply because they asked for help, ignoring the skepticism of a pair of fellow Judges, actually admonishing them for it. Moreover, his initial decision to aid Tweak in the "Cursed Earth" arc.
Dredd: When someone calls on the Law for help...be he mutie...alien...cyborg...or human...the Law cannot turn a blind eye! AND I AM THE LAW!
We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: Inverted; the wealthiest of Mega-City One actually stave off death by paying for a suspended animation chamber once their health deteriorates to a terminal level. Though euthanasia is an option, too.
We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: While there are diseases in the world of Judge Dredd (some very nasty), the common cold has been eliminated to the point that it is almost used as a biological weapon.
We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Averted (in Mega-City One, at least); virtually all labor in Dredd's city is performed by androids and robots. The few humans who do hold jobs are lucky to get a 10-hour work week. Unsurprisingly, the city boasts an extremely high unemployment level which accounts for a large portion of criminal activity in the city as well as the numerous bizarre fashions, hobbies, and trends that average citizens partake while coping with boredom. However, indentured servitude is common in other places in Dredd's world, especially in the Cursed Earth.
Wham Episode: The Day of Chaos story arc, which leaves 350 million (out of 400 million) citizens dead, the economy (and much of the city) in ruins and many Judges out of action.
Then there's the Origins story which drops this little bombshell: Judge Fargo, the first Judge and the one who Dredd and several others were cloned from, comes to the realization that the Judge's rule was wrong and was destroying the world. His last words to Dredd are that the Judge's rule must be reversed.
The Dead Man started as a seemingly unrelated Spin-Off set in the Cursed Earth written by someone named Keef Ripley. The heavily scarred protagonist is revealed to be Dredd and the strip leads into the Necropolis arc.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Dredd himself is not a fan of this trope. He's since done a 180 on mutants. Well, mosty because of Judge Beeny. He befriended certain descendants of Judge Fargo, thus Dredd's own blood relatives, in the Cursed Earth during events in Origins. Dredd personally invited them to visit Mega-City-One at any time, and when they finally did show up to pay a visit, they were forbidden from entering the city for being mutants. For Dredd, this issue is personal on so many different levels.
Who's on First?: Comic artist Kenny Who? (The question mark is actually part of his last name).
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him??: Dredd in Destiny's Angels had Mean Machine Angel brainwashed into thinking that Dredd was his dead dad Elmer to help guide him through the Cursed Earth to retrieve a valuable cargo of cloned judge babies. When the effects of the brainwashing wore off, Mean was furious and attacked Dredd but Dredd decides to take him on hand to hand feeling a debt for having gotten as far as they did-something he could not have done without Mean's help. When Mean clearly starts owning Dredd in a fight, Dredd realizes he only has one option, and shoots Mean in the knees disabling him.
Would Hurt a Child: No crime is too low for Judge Death—he is after all an Omnicidal Maniac par excellence. At one point he purposefully sought out orphanage shelters to kill all the children he could find specifically to piss of Judge Anderson, to whom hurting children is a major Berserk Button.
Wrote the Book: Literally. Dredd has written a guide for judges known as Dredd's Comportment, which is required reading for all cadet judges.
You Do Not Have to Say Anything: Subverted. Whenever a perp or suspect refuses to talk and/or reveal pertinent information to Justice Dept., this stock phrase isn't so much a recognition of the perp's rights as much as it's a statement that Justice Dept. has other means of finding out what they want to know (usually involves someone from Psi Division reading the person's thoughts).
Your Mind Makes It Real: The Sisters Of Death have no physical form and appear using a psychic bridge. Dredd discovers this as The Dead Man.
Zeerust: Read some of the earlier strips. Computers using massive tape reels abound. One witness takes a picture with what is clearly a 1970s camera.