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Comicbook: Judge Dredd
The Law: He is It.

I am the Law!
Judge Dredd

A long-running Sci-Fi comic created by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra and Pat Mills, and starring the iconic character from the British Anthology Comic Two Thousand 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 Dystopian Sci-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 The 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. They include Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death and Judge Dredd Vs Zombies.


Tropes specific to The Original Comic:

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    A-G 
  • Abnormal Ammo:
    • In addition to firing standard rounds, a Judge's Lawgiver handgun (See Also, Impossibly Cool Weapon) can fire armor piercing, heat-seeking, ricochet (for Human Shield situations), incendiary, and explosive rounds. Each of these can be combined with the full auto setting. There is also a guided round, which is a one-shot deal - the actual guided projectile is placed over the muzzle and the bullet fired through the barrel is incorporated and provides the motive power.
    • 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.
  • Aerith and Bob: Some citizens have unusual or Punny Names, with many choosing to change by deedpoll, such as Aaron A. Aadvark, who does so to be the first name in the phone book (and first to be executed when Cal sentences the entire city to death). Judges, on the other hand, tend to have fairly normal names.
  • 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 Atomic Wars that originally destroyed most of the planet and turned large sections of it into irradiated wastelands, later the Apocalypse War between Mega City-1 and East-Meg, and then the Zombie Apocalypse caused by Sabbat The Necromagus. 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: Aside from the 1995 and 2012 movies, there are several of these:
    • 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.
    • 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 1995 movie.
    • There is also the new series from IDW Publishing and the Recursive Adaptation of Dredd.
    • The Alternity special had elements of the Dreddverse transplanted to different historical eras, such as Dredd leading The Untouchables, Shimura as a Samurai Cowboy facing off against the Angel gang, Mean Machine Angel as a Private Investigator with a hint of Unreliable Narrator and Harmony as Anne Bonney.
    • Adi Shankar produced a six part series of animated shorts called Judge Dredd: Superfiend, which combines elements of various Dredd stories, mostly focused on Judge Death.
  • Alternate Universe:
  • And I Must Scream:
    • 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.
    • Kraken has this done to him by Judge Death. Death makes him a Dark Judge and has him kill citizens, but leaves enough of his mind intact so that he's aware of the atrocities that he's committing. As he kills, he weeps. When the Dark Judges are defeated, he asks Dredd to kill him, as he can't live with himself anymore.
    • The Dark Judges themselves get this fate in their third appearance, and it couldn't have happened to a worse lot. Psi Judge Anderson figures out a way to seal them inside the void between dimensions, where they will float around in a shapeless mass for eternity, since they're immortal.
  • 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, usually referencing the locale. For example, Brit Cit has a lion motif to its judge uniforms, and the judges in Africa has a Lion and a Gazelle. East Meg judges noticeably lack them, but all but one of the Dark Judges (Fear, although Fire's isn't as obvious because he's a flaming skeleton) have extinct pterodactyls on their right shoulders as a hint to what their job is.
  • 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.
  • Ass Shove:
    • 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.
    • Cadet Beeny takes out a criminal trying to kill her by using her boot knife to this region.
  • Attack Animal: Several mutants and other creations made by various groups and companies.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: If the story isn't about Dredd stopping some fantastic new breed of crime some other bizarre, futuristic trend among the citizens, the city is most likely being plagued by any number of monsters from Freak Lab Accidents, from nuclear radiation, from outer space in every form listed on the Alien Tropes page, or something equally unnatural and menacing for the Judges to stop. There was even once an attack by a 50 foot woman in Mega-City One.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The Stub Gun is described as the most devastating hand-held weapon ever developed. It's a laser rifle that is capable of cutting almost anything in two. However, it is prone to overheating, which can cause it to explode if overused, making it useless in sustained firefights. During the Apocalypse War, Dredd reasons that the benefits of the Stub Gun outweigh its obvious flaws and several judges make very effective use of Stub Guns against Sov armour, though several judges die from overheating Stub Guns.
  • Awesome McCoolname:
    • Judge Joe Dredd.
    • Averted by Call-Me-Kenneth and Elvis.
    • The protagonist of the Mandroid arc is a former Space Corps veteran by the name of Nathaniel Slaughterhouse.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Quite a few villains, but Junior Angel, in particular, is a standout.
    Junior Angel: "You got this comin', loudmouth! An' even if yo' didn't, yo'd still get it! 'Cause I'm just plumb fond of killin'!"
    • Occasional reference is made to criminals "going for the record," as in, "Record for Most People Individually Killed in a Single Night By One Person."
    • The Chaos Bug in recent "Day of Chaos" turns people into Ax-Crazy, this state lasting four days, after which they die.
  • Badass: Dredd. To be renowned as the toughest of all the judges (see Training from Hell) he'd have to be.
  • Badass Biker:
  • Badass Grandpa: Dredd is becoming one of these the hard way.
  • Badass Moustache: Judge Guthrie sports one. His moustache is so badass that when he loses his limbs and part of his head in an explosion, it's the only part of him that manages to survive unscathed.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Cal routinely berates judges for minor infractions. For example, one judge loses a button from his uniform and is ordered to perform all his duties in his underwear for the remainder of the story arc.
    • War Marshal Kazan is this as well. When his subordinates screw up or even tell of progress, he sends them to Siberia. With no winter clothing. Later, he gets more creative by ordering the Judge who let Dredd escape, inadvertently causing the destruction of East Meg One, to play a daily game of Russian Roulette.
    • Back on Deadworld, the Dark Judges unsurprisingly behaved like this to their (still-living) subordinates during the genocidal purges they instigated on the planet. Any failure in executing the living was rewarded with immediate death, and once they were done, the evil street Judges were in turn "judged" by the four undead ones.
  • Bandaged Face: The main character in "The Dead Man" has his face bandaged after being burnt to a crisp. In a shocking turn of events, he turns out to be Dredd himself.
  • Bandit Clan:the Angel family, a clan of disfigured misfits who live in the Cursed Earth, preying on the occasional traveler. Also a Cannibal Clan.
  • Bear Trap: Judge Fear slings around chains with bear traps on the ends.
  • 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.
  • Big Fat Future: "The League of Fatties"
  • 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.
  • Bit Part Bad Guys: Generally any of the petty criminals Dredd deals with on a daily basis are this, particularly in one shot strips. Even in some of the Mega Epics, Dredd can be seen cracking skulls or getting into firefights with minor criminals while musing over the greater storyline.
  • Black and Gray Morality: A very large portion of the stories fall into this. Dredd is a straight-up fascist protagonist, after all. His enemies have included a genius Serial Killer, an apocalyptic President Evil, a warmongering Soviet military junta, a deranged head judge who wanted to execute the whole city, and an undead Omnicidal Maniac.
  • 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.
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: Deconstructed in an early story during Dredd's tour as marshall of Luna-1. Dredd shoots a Sov judge's gun out of his hand when two of them attempt to execute a murderer outside their jurisdiction. Dredd succeeds in disarming the Sov judge in this manner, but the shot richochets off the gun and kills the other Sov judge, leading to war between Luna-1 and East Meg 1. At this point in the strip, war is reduced to a sport fought between two teams of soldiers, so it's not as bad as full scale war.
  • Blind Mistake: The elderly Mrs. Gunderson, who's both near-blind and practically deaf, does this all the time, such as walking into a wall when she's looking for the door or pouring a drink on somebody's plate. She never even suspected that her former tenant 'Jay De'ath' was an alien superfiend in hiding.
  • Blood Bath: A 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.
    • Failed cadets tend to become department auxiliaries, Rangers or Space Corps Marines on account of how their training has conditioned them.
  • Bond One-Liner: Judge Dredd and few other characters occasionally fire one off.
  • Brain Transplant: At the end of "America", the narrator Bennet Beeny witnesses his soulmate America Jara be gunned down by the Judges in a failed terrorist attack on the Statue of Liberty. After America is declared braindead, Beeny has his brain placed in America's body so they can still be together. In a later story, Beeny's new body begins to shut down because it's rejecting the implant.
  • 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.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • 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.
  • The Bus Came Back: Characters have been known to reappear decades after they were Put on a Bus.
  • 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.
  • Caligula's Horse: Cal appointed his pet goldfish as Deputy Chief Judge.
  • 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.
  • Carpet of Virility
  • Catch Phrase: "I am the Law", which has become iconic of the series. Also, the Dark Judges' "The crime is life. The sentence is death", and Anderson's "Grud on a greenie!"
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Many characters are based upon real people. One gang even uses face change technology to commit crimes as various comedic personalities, including Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and the Marx Brothers.
  • Celibate Hero:
    • Dredd, as Judges in Mega-City 1 are not allow to have romantic relationships.
    • Subverted by Judge Fargo, the founder of the Judges. He instituted the laws against fraternization himself, but without having been trained by the Academy he couldn't shut out his own desires for romance. When this was discovered, he tried to shoot himself for failing his own laws.
    • 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.
    • Averted by a number of Long Walk judges, since it's outside the department's jurisdiction.
  • 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 U.S. President "Bad" Bob Booth.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • PJ Maybe, who commits his murders in a very complicated and ostentatious fashion.
    • Anatoli Kazan is a literal example, as he's always seen sitting at a chessboard.
    • Judge Smiley, the original head of Black Ops division is this also, having orchestrated The Cold Deck.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: The story of America Jara and Bennett Beeny in "America". They both grew up in the same city block, but America always had a rebellious spirit while Beeny always considered himself a coward. They moved apart as America joined the democratic movement to end the Judges' totalitarian rule and ended up destitute, while Beeny tried to play it save and ended up a succesful but ultimately unhappy musician. They find each other years later and have a one-night-stand, but America is soon killed during an arrest. Beeny transfers his brain to America's comatose body so they can still be together.
  • Citadel City: Megacities have massive defenses against infiltration from the Cursed Earth, strategic and tactical air defense, and armed forces such as the Judges.
  • City of Weirdos: Many citizens have strange hobbies in order to combat the mass boredom that the citywide level of unemployment of 87% brings.
  • 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. This is taken Up to Eleven by The Judda, a fringe faction of the Judges lead by a man named Morton Judd, who intended to replace the citizens of Mega-City One with clones who had been bred to be more complacent. When this failed, he and his followers escaped into the Australian outback with a batch of cloning material, and spent decades cloning an army, with the intent of taking over Mega City One in a coup.
  • 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, and she only gets worse, until she has to be ousted from power.
    • There are so many citizens that fall under this trope in Mega City One that they can apply for a Mental Card which gives them an extra 12.70 Credits per week in their welfare payments.
    • Mrs. Gunderson, on account of being near blind and hard of hearing. However, this has been shown to be to her benefit. She's one of the few people to have survived an encounter with Judge Death, on account of her being his landlady when he went into hiding after Necropolis. Dredd has Walter the Wobot move in with her to serve her.
  • 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.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Several Creeps have this as a theme.
  • Combat Stilettos: Female Judges may have them, Depending on the Artist (especially if that artist is Brian Bolland).
  • Combat Tentacles: usually found among the mutant populations and some robots have been seen to have them.
  • Comicbook Fantasy Casting: During his tour of duty in Luna-1, Dredd ran into a lawyer who looked exactly like Rondo Hatton.
  • Comicbook Time: Averted; Dredd canonically ages in line with the strip itself (one year's worth of published stories equals one year passed within the comics). However, due to the enchanced biology the clone Judges have, Dredd ages much slower than a normal human.
  • Consummate Professional: Dredd upholds the law like NO ONE in any other medium does. He was named God Of The Law in this very wiki for a reason.
  • 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 cube with 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.
  • Cop Killer: The Judges of the Mega Cities, considering they have Judge, Jury, and Executioner built into their job, already have the authority to pass out sentences as they wish. However, (attempted) murder of a Judge is considered among the most serious offenses and always carries an instant death penalty.
  • 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.
  • Crazy-Prepared: One story has Dredd trying to deal with a slightly-jerky Superman Expy, who happily admits that the only thing he's vulnerable to is the radioactive debris of his exploded home planet. Unfortunately for the Expy, the judges keep the radioactive debris of a large number of exploded planets on hand just in case of something like this.
  • 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.
  • Crossover: With several of its Two Thousand AD stablemates.
  • 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.''
  • Dancing Pants: Dredd was issued a new uniform for on-street evaluation that came with an onboard AI that could detect criminals more easily and act as a sort of Powered Armor. However, the fashion designer who created the uniform gave it a personality similar to his own and began executing perps for "crimes against fashion." When Dredd disagreed with this, the uniform removed itself from Dredd's body and went on a rampage until Dredd was able to bring it down.
  • 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.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Dark Judges are undead lawmen from an Alternate Dimension who are obsessed with destroying all life. When they took over Mega City One during the "Necropolis" arc, their allies the Sisters of Death notably blacked out all sunlight in the city to make it as cold and dark as their black hearts.
  • Deadline News: In Half-Life, Sidney De'ath (the later Judge Death) executes a talk show host on live television for mocking the Justice Department by making a pass at him and warns the audience that they better respect the law or face the consequences.
  • Deadly Game:
    • 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.
    • Actual wars between cities in Dredd are sometimes conducted as a Deadly Game between small teams of Judges representing each city, as a less-destructive alternative to nuking still more of the planet. Such wars are always televised, complete with running sportscaster-style commentary.
  • 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dredd and Anderson.
  • Death World:
    • The Cursed Earth, the nuke-blasted wastelands outside of the few surviving Mega-Cities, inhabited only by mutants, criminals and exiled lawmen.
    • Even worse is Deadworld, the home dimension of Judge Death. All life is illegal. After Death destroyed it, it's nothing but a ruinous wasteland filled with piles of bones and deserted buildings. Venture there, and the undead custodians will persecute you to the full extent that their law allows.
  • Deface of the Moon: The face of the moon is used for advertising, albeit with a projected image rather than physically altering the landscape (moonscape?).
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: The Dark Judges are Defeated on multiple occasions.
  • Democracy Is Bad: Because Humans Are Morons. When the reinstitution of democracy was up for a vote, the majority chose to have the Judges remain in power, partially due to the terrorist actions committed by the pro-democracy movement, and partially because no one except a handful of Judges even remembered what democracy was even like anymore.
  • Dented Iron: Being one of the oldest active Judges, Dredd's body has taken a lot of beatings over the years, to where it's fully covered in scars and makes him unrecognizable when he briefly resigns and takes the Long Walk.
  • Depending on the Artist:
    • In Carlos Ezquerra's original strips, Dredd had a rather sleeker, more police-like uniform; the modern, chunkier, big-booted look was created by Mike McMahon. Throughout the comic, his chin varies between prominent and ridiculous. In recent strips, as he's been getting older, his wrinkles have also been subject to artistic interpretation; while Colin MacNeil draws him with fairly smooth but weathered skin, Leigh Gallaher makes him look like a truly old man.
    • Since the Judges updated their iconic Lawgivers to the Mark II version, the depiction of that gun has gone through a strange amount of variance. General shifts in the gun's bulkiness is one thing, but some artist change what it arguably the gun's most recognizable feature, the half-circle ammo indicator, to a flat row of lights. Some artists occasionally still draw it as a Mark I.
  • Depending on the Writer: In some of the early stories, Pat Mills wrote Dredd as a straight up hero, as opposed to John Wagner's depiction as an Anti-Hero.
  • 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?
  • Descriptiveville: Hondo City covers most of Japan. And of course, Mega City One, but that was properly intentional.
  • 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.
    • During "The Dead Man", Yassa notes that Dredd just refuses to die, hence why he survives with such horrific injuries.
  • Dirty Cop: Ciudad Baranquilla, the primary Mega City in South America, is completely run by a corrupt Justice system which operates more like a mob by killing anyone they want, letting criminals run free, and extorting the poor majority living in the projects.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Played with in a story where a "serial killer" known as the Sex-Mek Slasher was going around carving up robotic prostitutes. Of course, this goes wrong when he mistakes a real hooker with a credit card slot implanted in her back so she can pass as a droid for a sex mek. She survives the encounter and bemoans the fact that, as a real woman, she has to pass herself off as a droid in order to get work.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: 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.
  • 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.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • 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!"
  • Dragged Off to Hell: At the end of "The Wilderness Days", arch-villain Judge Death is thrown into Hell by an ascended man who pursued him for weeks to get justice for his dead family. The angel opens a portal to Hell and Death is dragged off by the souls of the billions of people he had murdered.
  • The Dreaded: Well, it is sorta in the name...
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: 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.

    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. Dekker goes out in Judgement Day through a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Duels Decide Everything: One comic included a heavily satirical televised battle between the Soviet and American cities. Each battle is five-on-five, no holds barred, and the winner is awarded a piece of territory. This form of warfare works for a while, but does not prevent a nuclear war later on.
  • Dumb Muscle: Fergie gonna get heavy with you guys!
  • 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, which is technically true since Mega-City One covers the area where New York once was, 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.
  • Egopolis: Variant. out in the Cursed Earth, there's a town named Fargoville after the first Chief Judge, Eustace Fargo, and whose inhabitants worship him as a deity.
  • Electronic Eyes: How Dredd sees after losing his real ones in "City of the Damned."
  • Electronic Speech Impediment:
    • 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.")
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Walter the Wobot.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: PJ Maybe's full name is Philip Janet.
  • Enemy Mine: In The Three Amigos, Dredd is forced to team up with Mean Machine Angel and Judge Death. The creators themselves considered this Villain Decay for Judge Death in particular (who's known mainly for killing everything in sight).
  • 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 Brit: The miniseries Young Death, which reveals the origin of Judge Death, strongly implies that he and the Dark Judges are British, or his world's equivalent of British. Although the comics are made in the United Kingdom, Judge Dredd himself is a post-Apocalyptic American.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Dark Judges (Death, Fire, Fear and Mortis), who come from an alternate timeline in which it was reasoned that since crimes were only committed by the living, life itself should be declared a crime. They get their own Catch Phrase too: "The crime isss Life, the sssentence isss Death!" This is taken literally in the Lawman Of The Future continuity where Death is an alternate universe Dredd who died and came Back from the Dead due to his unflinching sense of duty.
  • 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 Is Hammy: GAAAAAAAAAZZEEEE INTO THE FACE OF FEEEEAAARRR!!!
  • 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.
  • The Evils of Free Will: The Dark Judges present a particularly dark form of this trope - since all crime is committed by the living, life itself was outlawed in their universe, and now they seek to accomplish the same goal in Dredd's.
  • Evil Twin: Rico, presumably (see The Faceless below).
  • Exact Words: One perp, knowing he will get a 40 year sentence, asks for a reduction in exchange for selling out his boss. Dredd complies, sentencing the perp to 39 years and 364 days.
  • Exty Years from Now: All stories are supposed to be taking place exactly 122 years after they are published.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Chief Judge Griffin.
  • Eyes Never Lie: By the conclusion of "The Judge Child Quest", Dredd has reason to believe that The Judge Child is not all he appears to be, so Dredd looks into his eyes to see if he finds someone who is misguided or a creature of malice. He only sees evil.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Walter the Wobot after he comes Back from the Dead and starts a second Robot Rebellion under the name Call-Me-Walter.
  • The Faceless:
    • 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.
    • Gaze into the face of Dredd.
    • 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.
    • Judge Death's eyes are concealed, and it's unclear if the glimpses of Judge Fear's "face" we've seen are his actual appearance or a vision of horror derived from his victims' unleashed terrors.
  • 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.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The long-running "Democracy" storyline ended with such.
  • The Family That Slays Together: The Angel Gang. Following the events of "The Judge Child Quest", Fink and Mean Machine continued on as Siblings in Crime.
  • 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.
  • Fan Film: Judge Minty is a 2013 fan film based on Dredd which follows the tale of a secondary character from the comics, Judge Minty. After several decades as an active street judge, Minty is pulled off active duty. He then decides to head out into the irradiated wasteland beyond the Mega City to bring law to the lawless.
  • Fanservice Extra: In the storyline "Day of Chaos: Nadia", there is a scene in the girls' dorm at the Academy of Justice. One of the cadets apparently sleeps wearing nothing but a pair of panties.
  • 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 Racism: Skin color and religion has long since been abandoned as targets for racism, and humanity now aims most of their racial hatred towards non-human or inhuman beings, such as robots, mutants and aliens. Aliens are semi-justified since very few aliens every come to Earth with any pleasant intents, but its been shown that many aliens are actually held captive in the Cursed Earth and used for slave labor. This is technically illegal, but the farms in the Cursed Earth has very little Judge oversight.
  • 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.
  • Fan of the Past:
    • Marty Zpok, the Muzak Killer, believes that the Turn of the Millennium is where the world started to go wrong and purposely only listens to twentieth century music, wears twentieth century fashions and even opts for twentieth century weapons.
    • One of Dredd's contacts wears late 19th century business man outfits, complete with pocket watch and walking cane.
  • Fate Worse Than Death:
    • After Judge Dredd succeeds with his counterstrike against East Meg One during the Apocalypse War, the livid War Marshal Kazan captures them and makes sure that they will be kept alive for the rest of their natural lives so they can be tortured continuously. This ends up biting him when Dredd is released.
    • When the Dark Judges took over the city during Necropolis, Chief Judge Silver was turned into a zombie so that his new undead masters could torment him endlessly.
    • In "Judgement Day", the zombie-controlling villain Sabbat was rendered immortal (even to the point of being able to survive a bullet in the head) by a large magical crystal. Dredd punished him for causing the deaths of millions of people by decapitating him and sticking his head on top of the crystal, remarking that the sentence was "life - no remission."
  • 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.
  • Fauxreigner: 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.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Done in a couple of ways. There have been all manner of criminals across a whole spectrum of sympatheticness, but only four major villains have been women. Of these, only the Sisters of Death, creators of the Dark Judges, were outright evil; the others were Judge Edgar, who was a knight templar, as was Bachmann, and America Jara, a hero antagonist. Within Justice Department, there is a tendency for women to be more sympathetic and kind as foils to Dredd himself, most notably Anderson, Hershey, and more recently America Beeny.
  • Field Promotion: In The Pit, Dredd promotes a cadet to full judge.
  • 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.
  • The Film of the Book: Both the one with Sylvester Stallone and the one with Karl Urban.
  • 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.
  • Flaming Skulls: Judge Fire is a permanently immolated skeleton so he can burn the "sins" out of the living, with his head being a blank skull.
  • Flat Scare: The Scarecrow pulls this on Judge Death in "Judgement on Gotham", a Batman crossover comic. Death was not amused...
  • Flying Seafood Special: Dune sharks, giant floating sharks with More Teeth than the Osmond Family and move through sand slightly slower than through air.
  • Follow the Leader: Garth Ennis and Mark Millar's runs in the 90s upped the violence considerably, consistent with what was going on in American comics at the time.
  • 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.
  • Fountain of Youth:
    • Dredd, a rare example of a comic book character who ages in real time, had a couple of decades taken off in the 1990s after being exiled from the city and getting his face burnt off.
    • Within the comic, there's stookie capsules, which dramatically slow the ageing process in humans. Since producing them requires the slaughter of a peaceful and harmless alien species, they are highly illegal.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Dredd of all people does this. He knows the Mechanismo project is incredibly risky and has seen first hand the danger of robot judges to the city. When tracking a rogue Mark I robojudge, Dredd is beaten to it by one of the new Mark II models. After the Mark II ignores Dredd's order to hold its fire, Dredd destroys the Mark II and persuades the only witness to say that the Mark I destroyed the Mark II and that Dredd destroyed the Mark I. It was noted as a rare Out-of-Character Moment for Dredd, though his fears were later justified.
  • 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 Imperfect:
    • When Dredd travels cross-country to deliver a cure to Mega-City Two in The Cursed Earth arc, Dredd comes across two eternal gangs/dynasties/tribes who assumed McDonald's and Burger King were actual figures and mighty Gods.
    • Later in the same arc, he's forced to fight an insane scientist who attempted to create life in the barren wasteland, based on old records and magazines - he wound up recreating corporate mascots (The Jolly Green Giant, the Michelin Man, Alka-Seltzer boys, etc.)
  • 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.
  • Gag Nose: Citizen Snork.
  • Gaia's Lament: Earth in the future. If you aren't living in the city, there's the Cursed Earth... which is a polluted wasteland.
  • Gender Is No Object: Dredd aside, some of the more competent judges are female (Anderson, Beeny, Dekker, Hershey).
  • Genre-Busting: The strip is a sci-fi Police Procedural with political satire, Black Comedy, Space Western elements, supernatural occurances, anti war themes and set After the End.
  • Going Postal: A lot of people suffer from this. It is known as Future Shock or Going Futsie. Interesting in that it is treated as a medical condition, rather than a crime.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Being a Judge does not necessarily translate to doing chivalrous acts towards the populace. Cue Police Brutality.
  • 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.
  • Grenade Launcher: The Judges' Lawgiver has the Hi-Ex setting, essentially making it a grenade launcher pistol when required.
  • 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
  • Grows on Trees: There are treemeat plantations, from which farmers harvest meat that grows on mutant trees.

    H-M 
  • Hammer and Sickle Removed for Your Protection: Inverted; since the comics started in 1977 and featured Stalinist successor states to the USSR using the hammer and sickle in the early 22nd century, modern stories involving the Russian Mega Cities still show them using the hammer and sickle, and occasionally reference being Communist.
  • Hand Cannon: Depending on the Artist, the Lawgiver (and depending on which model) is 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.
  • Hanging Judge:
    • Well, Dredd's more like a 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.
  • Healing Vat: The speedheal machines, which allow the human regenerative system to speed up.
  • 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".
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic:
    • 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's Back: Dredd went through this kind of character arc throughout the events leading up to "Necropolis" and the aftermath of those events.
  • He Who Fights Monsters:
    • To an extent, the risk most Judges working undercover units (aka The Wally Squad) face.
    • In "Origins", it's revealed that Judge Fargo, the creator of the Judges system, has himself come to realize that after the Judges took power in the aftermath of the Atomic War, they've established security at the cost of liberty.
  • 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.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold:
    • Occurs more often then you would think with Ol' Stony Face... even if it takes him a good 20+ years to get around to some of them.
    • Despite Judge Dredd loudly and vehemently insisting he hates robots a LOT, in his early days, he eventually grew accustomed to Walter the Wobot.
    • Hence not only celebrating Christmas (for a half an hour only) with Walter, but his reaction to finding a group of robot thieves preparing to reprogram his 'Wobot'.
      Dredd : Pop one rivet and you're dead Creep!
    • He'll generally find an hour or so on Christmas day to spend with his nice, Vienna. He's very protective of her, in spite of the fact that her father, Rico, was a Dirty Judge.
  • Hive Mind: President Booth's robot guardians Snap, Crackle, and Pop.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Enforced and justified.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: To turn the tide of the Apocalypse War, Dredd assembles a strike team to infilitrate an East Meg nuclear silo so it can be turned against its own city.
  • Homage: The Cursed Earth story arc is an homage to Damnation Alley.
  • Homosexual Reproduction: There have been more than a few one-shot characters demonstrating that it's possible for men to get pregnant in Mega-City One, usually by another man.
  • How Much More Can He Take: Dredd takes a pounding in some story lines but keeps at it. See Also: Determinator.
  • 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.
  • Human Shield: The Judges' standard sidearm has a special ammunition for this situation, Ricochet, which is specifically designed to do special trick shots to hit a hostage taker by bouncing the rounds off a back wall to hit the assailant. Depending on the writer, they might not even care. Taking down a perp is more important than not hurting a bystander (most judges consider non-judge citizens "potential perps" anyway). And, of course, its usefulness depends on the judge. While Dredd is able to get this trick to work every time he tries it, to a point where it's considered a trademark shot of his in the department, other judges are not guaranteed to pull this off. Judge Heller, for example, totally messes this up and hits a seemingly random bystander, who turns out to be the perp's accomplice by sheer luck. Judge Anderson is so concerned about protecting innocents that she didn't dare it when Judge Death (who requires some extraordinary firepower to take down to begin with, being undead) used a mother and her baby as a meat shield, which ended quite badly.
  • Humongous Mecha: Construction machines piloted by robots.
  • Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball: The miracle plastic Boing fits this purpose if used outside the Palais de Boing or other sanctioned areas (if any).
  • I Am the Noun: Once again, "I AM the law!"
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin:
    • Occasionally there are stories about illegal traffickers smuggling/selling a dangerous "white powder" in the city. In the end, the substance always turns out to be sugar.
    • An early strip features Dredd cracking down on a black market comics ring; Dredd's entire monologue about why comics are dangerous and need to be illegal sounds similar to anti-drug messages.
    Judge Dredd: Old comics are worth a fortune. Selling them to kids is one of the lowest forms of crime. After one or two, kids get so they can't give up. Then the price goes up and up...
  • Iconic Outfit: Dredd's helmet, badge and shoulder pads are so iconic of the character, particularly the helmet, that he's never seen without the helmet.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • "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.
  • I Die Free: Said by an Alka-Selzter mascot (seriously) who saves Dredd from the mascot's slavedriver and creator, a Colonel Sanders-lookalike (seriously) by throwing himself against the gun, causing it to explode.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Deadworld, but only after the omnicidal Dark Judges who destroyed it renamed it in their own image—before that it was just an Alternate Dimension of Earth. Filled with mountains of corpses of their victims, the only inhabitants left on the planet are the four undead Judges and the tormented souls of the dead.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Dredd accompanies academy trainee Cadet Giant on a mission to catch his mother's killer, a member of a group of VI-Zine dealers. He convinces the boy to arrest the perp instead of executing him by arguing that it would mean Giant's expulsion and lower him to the criminal's level.
  • 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.
  • I Lied: In the story arc that revives Judge Death, the other three Dark Judges tell this to the poor fool they coerced into freeing Judge Death on the promise that they'd let his wife go: "WE LIED!"
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Many criminals Dredd faces take a shot at him at point blank range and usually miss. Dredd responds by returning fire.
  • 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.
  • Impossible Insurance: Pop sensation Pug Ugly is murdered on stage, and the perp is killed while resisting capture. It turns out the guy had taken out dozens of life insurances on himself, planning to get killed to make his mother rich. Unfortunately, Mega-City insurance companies always include the standard "claim void if killed by a Judge on duty".
  • 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.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: Umpty Candy is like this. It's so delicious that Justice Department had to ban it an exile the creator from Earth to maintain order, and in the modern series, there are major criminal operations devoted to smuggling and dealing it.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Dredd. To be fair, he has had a lot of practice.
  • 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.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: Judge Death in his Origins Issue reveals that during an investigation when he was still a human Judge, he met the Sisters of Death, two occultists who worshipped death and practiced The Dark Arts. He let them live because he was quite intrigued by their carnal activities, already being quite the murderous creep himself. He participated in their rituals, where it's implied that they regularly tortured, murdered and ate people and held orgies. They later used their magic to turn him into an undead spirit so he could truly be in a position to judge everyone for committing the "crime" of living.
  • 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."
  • The Insomniac: Dredd prefers 10 minutes on a sleep machine to actually sleeping in a bed — less time for criminals to get away with the lawlessness!
  • Inspector Javert: Dredd plays this role quite often.
  • Insult Backfire: One of Judge Death's victims defiantly calls him a "murderous swine". Death, unabashedly evil, retorts that flattery won't save his life.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Dredd has had several run-ins with Batman, and has even taken on Aliens and the Predator.
  • Internal Affairs: The SJS (Special Judicial Squad, AKA "The Judges who judge the Judges"), who have a skull motif to their uniforms for some reason.
  • Internal Reformist: America Beeny was sent to the Academy of Justice by the wishes of her dead father at the conclusion to the second America series. By the time of her final assessment, she has become this.
    "And I believe, I truly believe, that one good Judge is worth a thousand protest marches."
  • International Showdown by Proxy: In an early story, a war between Mega-City One and a Sov-controlled East-Meg One is fought by fielding small four-man teams from each Mega-City against one another in an Olympics-style competition...to the death.
  • In the Back: A controversial moment among fans was the death of the original Judge Giant. Attempting to arrest an agent of East Meg One, he is distracted by said agent's Robot Buddy. The agent rather calmly shoots Giant in the back.
  • I Regret Nothing: At the end of the "Apocalypse War" story arc, the last words of the defeated war marshal Kazan are: "I... regret nothing! I apologise for... nothing!"
  • Iron Lady:
    • Chief Judge McGruder; since she was based on Margaret Thatcher, this is appropriate.
    • Hershey also showed elements of this during her tenure as chief judge.
  • 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. This got toned down in later progs, generally being regarded as starting when Walter gets abruptly booted out of Dredd's service.
  • Jive Turkey: The original Judge Giant's speech is peppered with this. He often refers to Dredd as "JD Baby".
  • Job-Stealing Robot: A common theme is citizens struggling to cope with mass unemployment caused by nearly all jobs being performed by robots. "The Sex Mek Slasher" shows that this has even happened to The Oldest Profession.
  • 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.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Every Judge's job description. Even with sympathetic characters such as Anderson, who can go from spouting off one-liners and looking gorgeous to executing someone without blinking an eye.
  • Justice by Other Legal Means: At the end of "The Pit", Dredd has no evidence to convict Fonzo Bongo on being the head of his sector's branch of the Frendz crime syndicate. What Dredd does have, thanks to an observant rookie, is several hundred unpaid parking tickets in Bongo's name, earning him a sentence of twenty five years.
  • Just The Introduction To The Opposites: There's a story which centred around an athlete who garnered massive controversy and criticism by doing well despite no pharmaceutical or bionic enhancements.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Black Ops judges carry them for some reason. Hondo City judges used to carry them, until they upgraded to Laser Blades.
  • 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.
  • Kill All Humans: The Dark Judges seek to annihilate the living because life is illegal on their world (and they don't acknowledge jurisdictional boundaries). Judge Death (real name Sidney) was a born sadist and psychopath, whose antics as a child include killing his dog, shooting birds with a rifle, and trying to murder his sister. Sidney's father, a disturbed Serial Killer and Depraved Dentist, felt a bond with the boy and taught him that people are inherently sinful and better off dead. He reported his father to get a career in his world's equivalent of the Judges, where his diseased brain came to the conclusion that, as only living people commit crimes, life itself should be made illegal and punished by 'cleansing'. With the aid of two cannibal demon-witches and three almost as deranged followers, he transforms into an undead abomination and sets out to exterminate all life in existence. Or, in simpler terms, the Dark Judges occupy a twisted border between Knight Templar and Omnicidal Maniac.
  • Killer Cop: Wilson Priest, one of the judges featured in The Pit arc is this. He murders a suspect after he repeatedly gets Off on a Technicality and begins to do it more often. Given the legal structure in the Dredd universe, this overlaps with Hanging Judge.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • 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.
    • Averted with Judge Fire. Should be obvious why.
    • During ''The Apocalypse War',' Dredd uses thermal charges along city bottom to melt Sov radsweepers.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Zig-zagged. Standard judge armament is the lawgiver pistol, which fires six different types of ammo, daystick and bootknife. Supplemental weaponry comes in both kinetic and energy form: The Lawrod rifle was a standard weapon for years before being replaced with the Widowmaker. The Stub Gun, on the other hand, is a laser rifle that is under development during the Apocalypse War that can cut through just about anything. However, its major drawback is that with prolonged use, it has a tendency to explode, thus its absence in more recent strips. When it comes to civilian armament, kinetic and energy weapons are about as effective as each other with perps generally taking whatever they can get their hands on.
  • The Klan: The Neon Knights, an anti-robot hate group, are referred to as a "klan" and wear pointy white hoods.
  • Knight Templar:
    • Every single one of the Judges and the entire point of the system, with Anderson as perhaps the only exception.
    • The Dark Judges, Judge Death in particular, are the exaggerated version. They try to solve crime by cleansing their world, and later the multiverse, of every living thing.
  • 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 new Rico 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:
    • Dredd. 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 Blade: Hondo City (what was Japan) Judges in more recent years are issued with laser blades, replacing the traditional katanas from earlier stories.
  • 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.
  • Last Request: In "Origins", Judge Fargo begs his clone son Dredd on his death bed to reform the Judges, who have turned from custodians against the excesses of the jingoistic former central government and rampant street criminals into a tool of fear against the people themselves.
  • Lawful Stupid: Despite being a satire of zero-tolerance policy, the whole premise runs on this. However, while initially Dredd was certainly like this, with incidents such as victims often being arrested for minor acts committed while being the victims of greater crimes, as time progressed Dredd grew more of a conscience and has been known to bend, oppose and, on occasion, flout the law if the situation appeared to warrant it. The later overturning of Mega-City One's mutant laws are a good example of this.
  • 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).
  • Les Collaborateurs:
    • When the East Meggers invaded Mega City One during the Apocalypse War, some citizens rallied to their side. Dredd at one point executes a batch to make an example out of them.
    • During Necropolis, almost the entire Justice Department helped the Dark Judges and the Sisters of Death with the genocide they carried out in Mega City One.
  • Let Them Die Happy: In the "Cursed Earth" epic storyline, the alien Tweak gives punk biker Spikes Harvey Rotten the mineral rights to his home planet (as Tweak was its leader) just before the final battle. Spikes went into combat happy, knowing that he was (in theory) immensely rich. Tweak then admitted to Dredd that his precognitive powers had assured him that Spike would not live to claim his prize.
  • Lie Detector: Lie detectors function on the basis of red and green lights, though they can apparently still be fooled.
  • Like Is, Like, a Comma: This is the way Judge Janus speaks.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: Dredd frequently turns down the Chief Judge's job, as it means taking him off the streets and leaving him with a lot of paperwork.
  • Listing The Forms Of Degenerates: "Give me your perps, your muties, your psychos..."
  • 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.
  • Living Dream: In one album, the villain seemed to be Judge Death, but at the end turned out to not be him after all: "He" was actually the living dream of a female psionic who (probably subconsciously) used him as an assassin to get rid of her enemies.
  • 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.
  • Long Runner: Since 1977.
  • 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.
  • Master Poisoner: Fink Angel from the Angel Gang.
  • 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.
  • Megaton Punch: Dredd's legendary punch to Judge Fear. Dredd doesn't just punch him in the face, he punches through his face.
  • 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 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.
  • Mirror Universe: Deadworld, homeworld of Judge Death and Dark Judges, where Judges realized that all crimes are made by living, so life itself was outlawed.
  • Mr. Seahorse: Pregnant men are a fairly common occurance in Mega City One.
  • The Mole: In Half-Life, there's a resistance movement against Judge Sidney De'ath to stop him from murdering his whole world. It includes a man named Fuego, who lures them into an ambush before revealing himself to be an undercover Judge working for De'ath. It turns out that this is the human who became Judge Fire.
  • Monster Fangirl: Countdown to Necropolis had a rather tragic justified example. After a woman barely survives an encounter with Judge Death, it creates a psychic link between the two. She basically becomes a smitten fangirl of Death and dreams about becoming his bride. She then helps his allies Phobia and Nausea to cross the dimensional span into Mega City One by sacrificing her husband, for which Death rewards her by ripping out her heart.
  • Morality Dial:
    • The cyborg "Mean Machine" Angel has a dial on his head that controls his personality. The lowest setting is "Surly". Unfortunately for him and everyone around him, the dial is completely mechanical and thus is highly vulnerable to getting stuck, resulting in Unstoppable Rage. It was later removed, returning Mean to his original kind and sensitive personality, and released him to be looked after by his equally gentle son.
    • Mean's son also has a dial, but it goes from "Kind" to "Messiah".
    • Most robots have it, and rampages are due to a malfunctioning of this.
  • Murder.com: A story set during the "Democracy" arc had a perp kidnap a neighbor and broadcast himself to all of Mega-City One, inviting the viewers to phone in and decide which of two increasingly painful and gory torture methods should be applied, culminating in the viewers choosing how the guy should die. There was always the option to vote to free him, but naturally, nobody ever chose that option.
  • 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.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: When it's apparent that the Apocalypse War is lost, War Marshal 'Mad Dog' Kazan refuses to admit defeat and executes one of his generals for so much as bringing it up. His subordinates realize that they need Dredd to kill Kazan for them, because they still have an oath of loyalty to their War Marshal.
  • Myth Arc: One has been developing over whether the Judges' rule is legitimate. Judge Fargo thought that in hindsight, it wasn't, or at least wasn't meant to be forever.

    N-S 
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Parodied when all of the actors who played John Blaze are lured to their deaths with the Sean Connery standin as the Sole Survivor. When interviewed afterwards, he says of his next film project "The namesh Dredd. Judge Dredd."
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast:
    • Dredd's genetic engineers gave him his clone brothers the surname "Dredd", believing it could instill fear in the populace.
    • SATANUS, THE UNCHAINED, a gigantic, evil, and very angry Tyrannosaurus Rex from the Cursed Earth arc.
    • Judge Death, who's an Omnicidal Maniac.
    • Mean Machine Angel, the most violent member of the Angel outlaw family. And yes, "Mean" is his actual given name.
  • 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 after it's conquered by two ghosts and four walking corpses from another dimension. 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.
    • The Dark Judges' home dimension Deadworld also qualifies itself, given that it's a giant graveyard ruled by Judge Death and his lieutenants and haunted by the souls of their victims.
  • Never Bareheaded: Dredd doesn't like to take his helmet off.
  • New Old West: The Cursed Earth is essentially an After the End version of the Old West, with Dredd and his fellow Judges often taking the role of The Sheriff.
  • 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 [1]
  • The Night That Never Ends: During the "Necropolis" arc, the Sisters of Death blacked out all light in Mega City One while the Dark Judges began to murder the whole population. The temperature soon dropped to 10 below freezing and the supply system quickly collapsed. Only several months later did Dredd succeed in banishing the sisters and restoring daylight.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Chief Judge McGruder is clearly based on Margaret Thatcher, and Francisco rather resembles Barack Obama. An eccentric pop music star from the 20th Century named Jaxon Prince who was cryogenically frozen into the 22nd Century was very obvious stand-in for Michael Jackson.
    • The Muzak Killer arc was full of these. Standins for Kylie Minogue (and Dannii in a later sequel), Bros, New Kids On The Block, Sinead O Connor, Jason Donovan and Richey Edwards amongst others are all killed during Marty Zpok's rampage (though, in a Harsher in Hindsight moment, the Edwards Expy ends up killing himself by carving "4RALE" into his forehead). Garth Ennis must really hate pop music.
    • 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 Simon Cowell.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: Most of the regular citizens wear either Space Clothes or weird punk-inspired getup; indeed, Max Normal is seen as odd because he wears an 80s business suit. However, the gangsters in the first few years tended to wear stereotypical 80s gangster gear - pinstripe or corduroy suits, and trilbies.
  • Not So Different: Judge Dredd's Evil Counterpart Judge Death has tried this approach towards Dredd several times, noting that they're both zealous enforcers of the law, and even offered Dredd to be his new host on one occasion. Dredd counters that despite their mutual dedication to their principles, only Death enjoys murder for its own sake.
  • 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.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • In his earliest stories, Evil Genius PJ Maybe evaded suspicion for his activities by spelling badly and acting dense.
    • In "The Cursed Earth" arc, alien Tweak intentionally acted like an unintelligent being to prevent humans from having an interest in his species and his home planet.
  • The Obi-Wan:
    • 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).
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Mega-City One has the Bureau of Creative Bureaucracy. Its motto is "Saving Money For The City By Making Things Difficult For You!"
  • Oddly Small Organization: The Judges of Mega City One are huge compared to modern police forces, but they have to patrol a city that literally covers the entire East coast of the USA. The exact numbers vary over the course of the series but there are thouands of citizens for each judge at any given time. It isn't helped by the fact that nine out of every ten recruits fail the Training from Hell and the casualty rate exceeds that of the average war. It is a running theme in the series just how outnumbered and outgunned the Judges are.
  • 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 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.
  • Offhand Backhand: Dredd's instinctive reaction to anyone trying to sneak up on him is to do this. He accidentally knocks out an innocent juve in one story, who merely tapped him on the shoulder. He advises the poor kid to never sneak up on a judge.
  • Official Cosplay Gear: Dredd's helmet has been available for some time; his badge is a more recent addition.
  • 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.
  • Oh My Gods!:
    • Characters swear by "Grudd", including the variant "Maureen, mother of Grudd!" It appears that the term is meant as a neologism for the christian God — clergymen from the Vatican megacity use the term as well. There's a storyline that involves an actual Christian movement. It turns out that Christianity is outlawed, and the whole Church of Grudd and Jovus thing is a way for the Judges to control people through religion. The Judges decide that the leader of the Christian 'cult' is too powerful, fake a terrorist attack, force him to confess for it, and have him killed to destroy the Christian movement and lead them back to Judge-approved religions.
    • Amusingly, the Judges of East Meg One (former Soviet Union) seem to have taken the traditional Soviet state religion to the point where "God" has been replaced by the names of the ruling Diktatorat's members in the vernacular, like "in Bulgarin's name" or "Vlad knows".
  • 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 Riot, One Ranger:
    • In one comic after the "Judge Cal" arc, the Judges are trying to figure out how to clean up a district that had become totally lawless. The council wants to send in a small army of Judges. Dredd decides that they need to send a different message and convinces them to just send one. Dredd went into the district with nothing but his gun and a dump truck. He left, totally unharmed, with a dump truck full of criminals.
    • In fact, the very first Dredd strip portrayed Dredd going against a gang of criminals on his own for the same reasons.
  • 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.
  • Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap: The vast majority, if not all, of food falls into one of three categories: Animals that we would not normally consider food like rat, as most domestic animals seem to be extinct, extremely mutated plants (this is the source of most meat) that can grow in the toxic environment of cursed earth or made entirely of chemicals.
  • Operator Incompatibility: The Judges' DNA-encoded Lawgiver cannot be used by anyone else. Unlike the 1995 movie however, they explode and can tell if a clone sibling is using it, since in the comics clone Judges are common.
  • Origins Episode: There have been two very well-received ones:
    • First was Judge Death: Boyhood of a Superfiend, commissioned for the launch of the Judge Dredd Megazine. In it Judge Death employs a journalist to interview him and spread his message, to explain to the people of the world why they are better off dead. Death was a creepy little boy.
    • Later there was Origins to mark the 30th anniversary of Judge Dredd where Dredd explains the secrets and history of the Dredd universe (straightening up the continuity along the way) whilst on a mission to recover something that might unravel those secrets.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: In one of the stories, Dredd's arch-enemy Judge Death escapes from confinement and goes back to Deadworld to restrategize, but a mistake by the dimension-travel scientist sends both Death and the scientist back in time as well. When the two Judge Deaths run into each other, the past one initially runs his claw through the future one's chest. He's ultimately glad after Dredd takes his alternate self back to the future, because he really didn't want to deal with another him.
  • Our Founder: At the entrance of Deadworld's Hall of (In)Justice stands a statue of Judge Death to mark the spot where he killed the last living human, a founding monument for the new kingdom of the dead.
  • Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future: Initially averted. The original lawgiver looks like a typically Zeerusty 1970s sci-fi pistol. The Mark II variant and the Widowmaker shotgun amongst other weapons play it straight.
  • Papa Wolf: In spite of his exterior, Dredd loves his niece, Vienna, very much. Grud help anyone who tries to harm her.
  • Painting the Medium: One of the stories in prog 2010 is told in two parts, with the second part set in 2131 and the first in 2098. The first part is done in the style of an 80s story — black and white artwork, a more cartoony art style, campier storytelling, an old-fashioned Lawgiver, and even 80s-style credits. The second part was similar to the contemporary strips.
  • Pardon My Klingon: There’s "Drokk" (the f-word), "Grud" (God) and "Stomm" (shit). Note that these are legally sanctioned expletives which suggests the originals are illegal, hence why Judges don't use them and neither do civilians, not wanting to run foul of the harsh laws in Mega City One. A Precision F-Strike is an executable offence.
  • 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.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Dredd, and to a lesser extent most other Judges.
  • 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.
  • Phlebotinum Induced Stupidity: There was an experimental weapon named "the Stupid Gun." It fell into the wrong hands—Hilarity Ensues.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: Features in a story where a criminal kidnaps a woman for ransom after she frees him in the mistaken belief that Society Is to Blame. Of course, she's so saccharinely annoying that he's soon begging to be taken to prison just to get away from her.
  • Planet of Steves: Everyone in Fargoville, the hometown of Eustace Fargo in the Cursed Earth, is named Eustace in honour of the first Chief Judge.
  • Plot-Powered Stamina: Dredd is usually able to go for days without sleep. Of course, sleep machines allow for a full night's sleep in five minutes. It's implied that this can be detrimental to a judge's health and judges must stand down every two weeks and get a full night of natural sleep.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted; the Judges are the only ones capable of reigning in the anarchy of the future because of their extensive training and military hardware, and they're so heavily armed that they even have tactical nukes at their disposal in case of an invasion. Taking on a Megacity with anything less than an decked-out army of millions is suicide.
  • 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.
  • Powered Armor: Exosuit Class armor.
  • Pragmatic Hero: Dredd will do whatever it takes to enforce the letter of the law and protect his city. If that means nuking the other side, so be it.
  • President Evil:
    • President Robert L. Booth was a cookie-cutter example of the trope. He stole the presidency through fraud, murdered the members of his White House staff who discovered this, and engaged in imperialistic wars that ended in nuclear genocide. Years after his release from cryo-prison, he's still trying to lead a mutant army in the Cursed Earth to take back the Presidency after the Judges deposed him as a tyrant.
    • PJ Maybe. He's a very good mayor, he just likes to murder people For the Lulz once in a while.
  • Principles Zealot: Dredd himself is both a parody and an exaggerated version. He will stop at nothing to flaunt the law even if it's going to kill him and/or at the expense of others because it is his duty as a Knight Templar, By-the-Book Cop, Judge, Jury, and Executioner. Meanwhile, Judge Death is a parody of the parody and takes this trope to its logical extreme; he will blindly follow his goal of wiping out life without any abandon since he declares that only the living commit crimes and the non-living do not. This makes both counterparts literally no different from each other concerning their attitudes of what they define law.
  • Pseudolympics:
    • 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.
  • Psychic Block Defense: Dredd resists psychic probing by Bachmann's psi-judge by concentrating hard enough, so as not to give away Smiley's plan. His mind is compared to a clenched fist.
  • Psychic Powers: The Judges have a Psi-Division just for people with "special talents".
  • Psycho for Hire: Judge Death was originally one of these when he signed up for his Alternate Universe's equivalent of the Judges so he could make a living out of killing people (and for the luncheon vouchers!). This is eventually subverted when he made himself Chief Judge by killing his predecessor, as he considers life in general to be a crime and is thus obsessive in exterminating all of it.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: During the "Necropolis" arc, the undead Judge Mortis has his sheep's skull blown off by a group of Academy students he was trying to kill. Within a few seconds the body has reattached the head and continues its pursuit.
  • Punctuation Shaker: The real name of Dredd's arch-enemy, Judge Death, is apparently Sidney D'Eath.note 
  • Pure Is Not Good: When some satanic cultists need to sacrifice a "pure" soul, they choose fascist Anti-Hero Judge Dredd as he's the closest thing to pure in their Crapsack World. Dredd is certainly not ''just'', but he is utterly incorruptible and the living embodiment of law, order, discipline, duty and sacrifice.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • 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.
    • Hershey was reassigned to a colony posting after losing the Chief Judge's election. Though, after Chaos Day, The Bus Came Back.
  • Putting on the Reich: Carlos Ezquerra says he made an eagle a prominent symbol of the Judges because it was strongly associated with the Nazis and Spanish fascists, the latter of whom he lived under for many years.
  • Pyromaniac: Judge Fire is a skeletal Hanging Judge wreathed in flames. He gained his powers because he preferred burning people alive as the means of execution, starting with a primary school that he burned to the ground for "noise violations".
  • Quick Draw: As a nod to the strip's Space Western motif, Dredd has done this on occasion, most notably against his brother, Rico. More impressively, Dredd holsters his lawgiver in his boot, yet can still outdraw other characters with ease.
  • 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 much worse.
  • Rage Within The Machine: Happens at at some point to every judge when they recognize the faults in the plainly dictatorial system. Dredd himself notably lost faith and resigned from his post just before the events of "Necropolis".
  • Ranger: The Cursed Earth Auxiliary, who patrol the Cursed Earth in the vicinity of Mega City One, are commonly known as the Rangers. The Texas Rangers still exist too, though they're more of a Bounty Hunter with a uniform.
  • 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.
    • Judge Hershey's aforementioned colony reassignment.
    • 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.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: In "The Cursed Earth", Dredd needs to recruit a second biker to deliver a pack of vaccines to Mega-City Two. Though plenty of Judges are willing, Dredd recruits convicted criminal and mutant Spikes Harvey Rotten, who is the best biker in the Big Meg and knows the Cursed Earth very well.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Judges' uniforms in the alternate universe that became Deadworld were solid black leather with red shoulder pads, whereas the Judges' uniforms from Judge Dredd's universe are dark blue leather with gold shoulder pads. Unsurprisingly, they were much more brutal and prone to wanton executions than their counterpart even before the Dark Judges took over.
  • Red Scare: The Russian Mega-Cities, East-Meg 1 and 2 were frequently treated like this in the 70s and 80s. In one story, East Meg 1 invades and actually manages to conquer Mega-City 1, forcing the Judges into guerrilla warfare.
  • 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.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: The availability of superscience to the public varies from storyline to storyline. In some issues, organ theft/traficking are major crime operations. In other issues, hospitals regularly provide cloned organ transplantations to patients (thus making organ theft/traficking redundant). Human brains can be transplanted into humanoid robots in Mega-City One. However, the cheapest model is $120,000 and over 90% of Mega-City One's residents are on permanent welfare.
  • The Reptilians: The Kleggs, who are thuggish and dim crocodile-like mercenaries who accept payment in meat.
  • Retirony: Judge Morphy gets killed on the streets six months before he is due to take an academy posting. Dredd does not take it well.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What does Judge Dredd look like? It's an enduring tradition of the comic not to reveal the face behind the helmet.
  • 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 Republic: A couple popped up in the early years, notably Grunwald on the planet Xanadu.
  • Robot War: The strip's first multiple-chapter arc was exactly this.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Any storylines featuring PJ Maybe contain intentional spelling errors for PJ's narration.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Averted and inverted. See Democracy Is Bad, Hobbes Was Right, and Humans Are Morons above.
  • Russian Roulette: War Marshal Kazan decides to punish one of his subordinates who cost him victory in the Apocalypse War by forcing him to play a daily game of Russian Roulette until he dies.
  • Save the Villain: Averted in at least the early arcs. Dredd has no problem with killing when the situation calls for it, and deliberately lets members of the Angel Gang die when he could have saved them.
  • Sci-Fi Bob Haircut: In a story taking place in a megalopolis in the late 21st and early 22nd century, this is Judge Hershey's most noticeable physical trait whenever she takes off her helmet.
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly: In Half Life, Judge Anderson, stuck in a coma after Judge Death tried to kill her in My Name is Death, finds herself living out the life of a girl named Sandra on what later became Deadworld before Death destroyed it. At one point she starts to wonder whether she's really Cassandra Anderson imagining that she's a teenage girl in another life, or Sandra imagining that she's a Psi-Judge from another dimension.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!:
    • Averted by Judge Dredd, despite his catchphrase of "I am the law", which would usually be a dead give away. He is ruthlessly strict about adhering to the laws of Megacity One, and the conflicts this sometimes cause with his sense of justice have provided some of the series' richest Character Development. In Dredd's case, this catchphrase refers to his absolute authority to punish violations of the law as he sees fit, not to making his own laws. On the contrary, in one storyline where he is authorized to make law on the spot to achieve the government's goals, he's very uncomfortable about it. The idea of the law being consistent and not playing favorites is very important to him, after all.
    • Chief Judges have been known to play it straight, particularly Cal (by far the most deranged man to have ever filled the post), MacGruder, Silver and Sinfield. Though even then, there are still some laws even they can't arbitrarily change. The Law of Gravity, for example.
  • Screw the Rules, It's the Apocalypse!:
    • In Origins, during the Atomic War of 2070, the young Judge trainees Dredd and Rico, along with their field supervisor, came across a group of U.S. soldiers who were gang raping a civilian in the middle of the ensuing chaos in the nuclear exchange. When the soldiers sneer that rules don't matter as they're going to die anyway, the Judges oblige them.
    • Towards the end of the Total War arc, Vienna is caught up in a sector affected by a nuclear blast. One man attempts to rape her, telling her that it hardly mattered now as the city was being nuked. Luckily, Nimrod comes to her rescue.
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: In Judge Death's first appearance, Dredd seals Death in Anderson's body by encasing her in Boing.
  • Second Law of Metafictional Thermodynamics: Judge Dredd also followed this trend; from the early comics, where a Judge would risk his life to save a single child, to later when it was acceptable behavior to gun down one innocent if it meant hitting the two perps next to them, to some storylines where wholesale carnage was status quo. Graveyard Shift was about the riots and carnage in Mega-City that cost thousands of lives and was assumed to happen nightly.
  • See You in Hell: A member of the "Holocaust Squad" uses this as a reply to be wished good luck by a team mate when they are both jumping into molten lava to try and avert a volcanic catastrophe in Mega-City One.
  • Self-Made Man: Martin Sinfield is proud of the fact that he wasn't cloned or fast-tracked to the top, but instead worked his way up from the bottom. The fraud, bribery, and criminality were completely for the good of the city. Absolutely.
  • 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.
  • Serial Escalation: The escalation of the destruction witnessed in the Apocalypse War with East-Meg One. What starts with a Hate Plague that turns Mega-City One into a gigantic citizen riot gives way to dropping nuclear warheads on top of it which gives way to detonating nukes in the Atlantic Ocean so as to hit the Big Meg with a Giant Wall of Watery Doom over two kilometers high (and 1,500 long). When Mega-City One finally retaliates, they launch 25 nuclear warheads, each one powerful enough to wipe out all of East-Meg One twice over, that inadvertently get warped to an Alternate Universe where they cause an Earth-Shattering Kaboom on an Earth where everyone is a hippie and world peace has been declared for 200 years.
  • Shaped Like What It Sells: One story started with an Establishing Shot of Mega-City One that included a fly-thru munceburger joint shaped like a giant burger.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Shoulders of Dredd is more like it.
  • 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.
    • From the Judge Dredd Megazine issue #332: "The City was in rough shape, but there were small signs of recovery — Cits going about regular business, Lauren Faust block lit up pink for the Thursday night Ponydrome, up against the Kij Johnson Cutters."
    • During the Mechanismo arc, one of the Mark I Robo-judges escapes and goes berserk. It turns out to be Number 5.
  • Siblings in Crime: Dredd has frequently contended with the surviving sibling members of the Angel Gang, a clan of murderers from the radioactive wastelands beyond Mega-City One. In their first appearances, they were The Family That Slays Together.
  • Sighted Guns Are Low Tech: The Lawgiver at first glance appears to have no sights. Turns out that the lens on the rear is a sight down the line of the barrel.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • Sky Surfing: There have been several storylines based around sky-surfing, mostly centered around the (highly illegal) Supersurf tournaments.
  • 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.
  • Slow Clap: "Chopper! Chopper! Chopper! CHOPPER! CHOPPER! CHOPPER! CHOPPER! CHOPPER!"
  • 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.
  • Smith of the Yard: Dredd is easily the most famous judge in not only Mega City One, but the entire world. His exploits, such as nuking a rival city off the map to end a war, defeating the Dark Judges on numerous occasions, ending a Zombie Apocalypse and arresting the devil have not gone unnoticed by the entire world.
  • Smug Super: A couple have turned up in several short stories, notably Fairly Hyperman, a transparent Superman clone who announced he was going to take over fighting crime in Mega-City One, with the judges reduced to traffic duty and street cleaning.
  • Sniper Rifle: Justice Department snipers have featured in a couple of stories, usually with fibre-optic cables leading from the scope directly to their helmets.
  • Snuff Film: Some gangs in Mega City One kidnap people off the streets so they can record how they torture them to death and then sell the stuff as holographic "VI-Zines".
  • Society Is to Blame: One story plays with this by introducing a group of concerned citizens determined to demonstrate that Rousseau Was Right and get criminals to reform by showing them kindness. Of course, the criminal they try this on turns out to be incorrigible and kidnaps his "rescuer". It's then Played for Laughs by having her be so obnoxious that he begs to go to prison just to get away from her.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: A very rare Gender-Inverted Trope. America Jara, a democratic protester, is accidentally killed during an arrest to stop a terrorist attack. Her childhood friend and recent lover Bennet Beeny transfers his brain to her comatose body so they can always be together, but not before impregnating the body. He names their daughter "America" in her honor.
  • Something Blues: The story "Hell Street Blues".
  • 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 Brasilia: Initially averted. The very first story had a criminal holed up in the Empire State Building, which is now dwarfed by city blocks, the World Trade Centre is destroyed in a later story and the Statue of Liberty was still standing, but was later destroyed. Gets played a bit more straight after The Apocalypse War, where half the city gets nuked, presumably destroying most of the older buildings.
  • 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 Opera: The Judge Child Quest.
  • 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.
  • The Spartan Way: Judges' training at the Academy of Law, with the severity of the training varying by jurisdiction. In Mega-City One, training begins at the age of 5, and the cadets face live-fire exercises at 14.
  • 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.
  • Splash Panel: In the 70s and early 80s, after the comics got the colour pages, they would always open with a two-page full-colour spread that gave a preview of the main story, which was told in the next four, black and white pages. This practise faded when colour became more common.
  • 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.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title Judge Dredd Megazine has gone back and forth on this over it's run. While Dredd is certainly the headline act, the comic contains many other strips, some from the Dredd Universe, some from other 2000AD regulars and some completely original. The logo on the front has changed a few times to reflect this: when the 1995 movie came out, "Judge Dredd" was much more prominent, around the millennium the name was shrunk drastically to give more emphasis to "Megazine" and then a few years ago this was reversed back to having Judge Dredd take up a whole third of the front page, and the rest of the logo frequently obscured by the cover art.
  • Sssssnaketalk: a notable trait of Judge Death.
  • The Starscream: War Marshal Kazan arranges "a suicide" for the Diktatorat of East Meg One after he has taken over Mega City One.
  • Start of Darkness: The supervillain Judge Death has his origin given in "Young Death — Boyhood of a Superfiend". This shows (with some incredibly black humour) how a nasty and psychopathic child develops into a monster that wipes out his whole world. (Although, to be fair, the reoffending rate is to all intents and purposes negligible.) Darkness hardly begins to describe it....
  • 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.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Judge Joseph Dredd has a rather appropriate surname for the foremost enforcer of a dystopian police-state. Given that the character originated as a cynical inversion of the typical strong-jawed crime-fighter, the lack of subtlety in this example can be assumed as entirely deliberate.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: In Judgement Day, when the various megacities around the world are being overrun with zombies, the British judges report in as "surrounded but defiant." The Irish chief judge, upon hearing this states, "Typical Brit. They're having the Bejaysus knocked out of them like the rest of us."
  • 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."
  • Strange Cop In A Strange Land: Happens whenever Dredd leaves Mega-City One to pursue criminals in foreign jurisdictions. He'll note that local judges are too lax or corrupt, but is forced to abide by their laws.
  • Stupid Crooks:
    • "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.
    • In yet another Dredd story, a criminal has plastic surgery to conceal his identity. Riding high in the knowledge that no-one could possibly catch him now, he says hello to Judge Dredd himself. Naturally, the Judges have voiceprint indentification on all known criminals.
  • Subverted Kids Show: There's a comic in which a kid's show host finds out that his wife (who played another onscreen character) is cheating with one of his assistants. He proceeds to teach the kids how to throttle someone to death, before Dredd bursts in and breaks it up.
  • Suicide by Cop: One citizen, having converted to the Cat'lic religion and given an implant designed to manipulate his behaviour to that of a fundamentalist for his wife, finds that after she dies, he has no reason to live due to having disowned all his friends at the wedding. Since suicide is a sin, he begins training himself to go up against the one man guaranteed to kill him, Judge Dredd. It's subverted, though, as Dredd manages to arrest him and arrange to have the implant removed so that the man can serve his cube sentence, for which he is grateful.
  • Swallow the Key: Judge Dredd does this in the comic where he fights the devil.
  • Swiss Army Gun: The Lawgiver pistol.

    T-Z 
  • Tailor-Made Prison: After the Necropolis disaster and with no way to permanently destroy the non-living Dark Judges, they were held in a specially built, high-security containment unit by Justice Department. The spirits themselves were placed in nigh-indestructible, glasseen crystal tubes buried deep underground, which were secured in turn by multiple quarantine layers, and manned by robotic guards in the innermost layer to deny them living hosts. It's said that a nuke could have directly hit the facility and kept the foursome imprisoned. The only times they have escaped since is due to help on the inside.
  • 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 Avengers Expys) and tells them that they don't need powers, capes, or code names. They just need to grow up.
  • Talk to the Fist: "Gaze into the fist of Dredd!" This is also one of Dredd's favorite responses to lippy creeps.
  • Tautological Templar: Multiple Judges, including Dredd Depending on the Writer.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: Human taxidermy is perfectly legal in Mega-City One and is considered a valid alternative to cremation or burial. (Obviously, murdering people before you stuff them is still considered murder and thus illegal.) Some people find it disturbing nonetheless.
  • 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).
  • The Theme Park Version: The comic has been criticised for using national stereotypes for all countries other than the United States (including Britain, interestingly). A couple, particularly Britain and Japan, have since been fleshed out somewhat due to a number of spinoffs taking place in them. Ireland takes the trope to its logical extreme, by being literally one big theme park.
  • 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.
  • Three-Laws Compliant: It's a fundamental law of the setting that, except for extremely rare programmed exceptions that almost never appear legally anymore, robots can't harm humans — the first multi-prog story arc involved a damaged carpenter droid who was able to break this law, and began corrupting other robots to engage in a Robot War. In Mechanismo, a group of criminals holding people hostage start panicking when a Robo-Judge approaches them only for one to point out that "Robots ain't allowed to hurt people".
    Robot Judge: In that case, what's about to happen will come as something of a shock to you. (Blasts said kidnapper in the face with a rocket launcher)
  • Title Drop: "Death Lives" has the title spoken aloud by Death's three killer cousins after they restore his body.
  • Together in Death: After the Apocalypse War wiped out half of the Big Meg, a comatose patient remained alive for 8 years because his life support system continued to run as an independent unit after the hospital was destroyed. His wife's body was still sitting at his bedside when she died in the blast, but her ghost remained trapped in the ruins. When Dredd and Anderson find the patient on a routine check through the area and conclude that they can't take him back due to the years of radiation exposure, they turn off the unit. The man and wife are then reunited in the afterlife.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Although it's partly due to Never Live It Down, Judge Dredd is actually a lot more compassionate and idealistic in the early progs than he eventually becomes. This is justified In-Universe by the fact Dredd has, since those early days, seen far-reaching corruption amongst the Judges and been through multiple terrible events, such as the reign of Judge Cal, the successive invasions by both East Meg and the Dark Judges, and a zombie plague.
  • Toppled Statue: In "Day of Chaos", the colossal Statue of Judgement (which symbolically dwarfs the Statue of Liberty in the series) is toppled by the forces attacking Mega-City One. It's not just symbolic in this case—the statue was the headquarters of the Judges' surveillance and electronic tracking activities and its destruction creates many blind spots in the city.
  • 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.
  • Transformation Of The Possessed: The Dark Judges tend to possess people solely to asssist them in finding new corpses for their spirits to occupy after the destruction of the previous one, but Judge Mortis once possessed the Chief Judge and directly decayed his body into the cow-skulled monster that he is.
  • Trend Aesop: Dredd has inspired tons of these in its approximately 30 years of existence, as the comic takes place in a future dystopia where most humans are practically permanently unemployed and take up unusual hobbies, trends, and activities to pass the time. A lot of them end up being banned or heavily regulated by Justice Dept. after a problem arises because of it; notable examples include:
    • Boinging. The miracle plastic spray Boing was a substance that would expand itself over whatever it was sprayed on, engulfing it in a giant, bouncing ball and allowing people chances to engage in various fun activities like shooting down crazy tube slides and playing pinball games as the ball. People would also start using it outdoors, bouncing like crazy across building structures and roads, creating a lot of property damage in the process. Justice Dept. had to issue a law to restrict the Boing's usage.
    • Otto Sump tried to start a beauty clinic but ended up making his patrons hideously ugly. Customer's unsatisfied, he rebranded his business as an ugly clinic and, with the help of a beautiful celebrity who wanted to look as horrible as Sump, helped turn ugliness into a fashion all its own and became extremely popular, until Dredd decided to crack down on Sump's business for using Dredd's image for publicity and believing that his products are a danger to the health of citizens, ruling to heavily tax them after mass demonstrations of people demand they have a right to be ugly. As a result, this only remains a trendy fashion amongst the extremely rich.
    • The same plot was recycled when Otto Sump came out with his new line of delicious food products, Gunge. Yes, it tastes as good as it sounds with food names like "Mold Jam", "Slime Sauce", "Bacteria Soup", "Maggot Steak", etc. His logic was that following the food shortages as a result of the Apocalypse War, people can look to his trash slop as a healthy source for nutrition. Justice Dept. effectively bans Gunge... and then rebrands the exact same trash as Foodstuff A, B, C, etc. for the people to eat to combat the food shortages.
    • Blob was a fashion trend created by a Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club as a way to make their activities easier. The idea was to create the perfect, unidentifiable criminal by erasing every physical feature from a person's face with the aid of face-changing machine, replacing his voice with an electronic scrambler, and dressing him in a single, identifiable outfit... then they present it as the next big thing so that large quantities of people in Mega-City One look like the same featureless blob that no one can tell apart from another, thus allowing their own criminals (also unrecognizable blobs) to commit crimes while not being able to be identified. Massive confusion ensues as no one is sure who people around them are, forcing the Judges step in and decide that anyone partaking in the blob fashion trend has to have an ID number printed on their foreheads so it's easy to tell who is who... and let Judges figure out which blobs are committing crimes.
    • And last, but not least, Simping. The entire purpose of the fashion is to dress as ridiculously and absurdly as possible and get noticed for it. The simp in that picture is dressing like that to his wedding. Things do not go very well for him.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The judicial system of Hong Tong (the future Hong Kong) has been largely infiltrated and taken over by Triads, much as the Hondo-Cit (Japan) Judges were overtaken by the Yakuza.
  • Trick Bullet:
    • During The Apocalypse War, Judge Dredd gets an armourer to reduce the charge of a standard execution round to penetrate his badge and an inch of flesh only so he can fake his suicide. It works, but the charge is still stronger than intended and ends up pressing on his heart, weakening him and making escape from the Grand Hall of Justice more difficult.
    • The Lawgiver's Abnormal Ammo. While canonically, the six rounds are Standard, Armour Piercing, Incendiary, Ricochet, Heat Seeker and Hi-Ex, some writers add different types such as marker shells, stumm gas rounds and electronic tagging rounds.
  • Truly Single Parent: Dredd and his brother Rico were both cloned from Chief Judge Fargo. Dredd himself has been cloned to varying degrees of success.
  • 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.
  • TV Head Robot: Walter the Wobot.
  • 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.
  • The Un-Reveal: Dredd's face is obscured from the readers in a similar fashion in the original comics, using bandages, panel borders, darkness and the like. As an additional kicker, criminals that do see his face invariably die soon afterwards, keeping his looks a secret even within the story.
  • 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.
  • Use Your Head:
    • Mean Machine Angel... all the damn time.
    • 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.
  • Vice City: Mega City One.
  • 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:
    • Judge Death slowly became a Black Comedy figure after "Necropolis", until "My Name Is Death" re-established him as a threat by having him slaughter children and killing Anderson.
    • 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.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: At the end of "Necropolis", the Dark Judges are recaptured by Justice department and placed in high security containment. With the exception of Judge Death, who takes a dive into city bottom after getting cornered and disappears. It's later revealed that he hid himself among the buried corpses for several months to rest and plan for his next assault on the Big Meg.
  • Villain Protagonist:
    • 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.
    • Not just Judge Death. Various one shot villains (or Anti Villains depending on the story) are the focus of the story with Dredd as a Hero Antagonist. Notable examples are Bennett Beeny, Nate Slaughterhouse and Marlon "Chopper" Shakespeare.
  • Void Between the Worlds: For every functioning alternate dimension, there are a thousand others which are nothing but endless nothingness, so finding the right one without the proper set of a coordinates is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Judge Anderson makes good use of this by trapping the Dark Judges there after their latest rampage in the Mega City.
  • 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.
  • War Is Hell: Dredd shoves a smarmy reporter's mike in his mouth to deliver the message.
  • Was Once a Man:
    • The Mutant, a hideous multi-limbed...thing from an alternate future timeline where he tortured and killed Judge Dredd and Judge Anderson, as well as destroyed Mega City One, ruling over the ruins along with the now corrupted and mutated judges. He is actually Owen Crysler from The Judge Child storyline
    • Another comic revolves around a man who is secretly given a serum based on dinosaur DNA by his upstairs neighbor, a Mad Scientist who slips it into his food. He ends up slowly devolving into a hideous reptile man, and eats and kills his wife and the scientist before Dredd is forced to kill him.
    • Judge Death started out as human before he met the Sisters of Death, who transformed him into the undead monster we know him as now. When his fellow Dark Judges see the results, they ask for the same to be done to them. The Sisters themselves used their magic to cast off their mortal bodies as they entered the astral plane, then return to the world of the living as banshee-like ghosts.
    • There's a rare genetic mutation which will slowly turn the afflicted person into a human-sized spider. Played for Drama in one comic when a woman with the condition is abandoned by her husband, Played for Laughs in another one when the test results of two patients are accidentally mixed.
  • Weather Control Machine: Justice Dept. has a Weather Control division. They went on the fritz after suffering damage during the Apocalypse War, making the climate shift rapidly between snow storms and heat waves. The low visibility in particular worked to the advantage of the hit-and-run tactics carried out by Judge Dredd's guerilla forces against the invading East Meggers.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Medical and cybernetic technology has advanced sufficiently that critically wounded judges and soldiers can be rebuilt as cyborgs. Notably, Nate Slaughterhouse is left as little more than a head and one shoulder before he is rebuilt as a mandroid.
  • 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!
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The judge system itself. Fargo set it up so as to bypass the issues of juries being intimidated by gangs. Goodman lead the department to take over from Bad Bob Booth in order to end a nuclear war. However, America has lost many of its freedoms in order to have law and order. Justice has a price. The price is freedom.
  • 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 Spend Credits in the Future: Mega-City One's currency, usually referred to as "creds."
  • 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. Damn near every other human character except possibly Judge Anderson is prejudiced against non-humans or mutants though.
  • Who's on First?: Comic artist Kenny Who? (The question mark is actually part of his last name).
    Editor: All with way from Cal Hab, Mr. Er...?
    Kenny: Who?
    Editor: What?
    Kenny: Who?
    Editor: That's what I'm asking you.
    Kenny: Who? is my name.
    Editor: No—You should say, "What is my name?"
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: Most notably in the "America" arc. (See Also: Shout-Out)
  • 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: ALL the Dark Judges are willing to murder children, given their whole "life is a crime" philosophy. Notably, Judge Fire burning down a primary school with everyone inside (earning him the nickname) when he was still human, Judge Mortis pursuing a group of juvie Judges like some undead Implacable Man during Necropolis, and Judge Death going on a killing spree in an orphan shelter to draw out Judge Anderson.
  • Wretched Hive: Mega-City One is permanently suffering from criminals with military-grade weaponry. One might be able to go so far as to say EVERY Mega-City is one of these.
  • 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 Are What You Hate: When Dredd busts the Neon Knights, an anti-robot hate group, their leader is unmasked — and then unmasked again, with Dredd removing the leader's apparent face to reveal that he's a cyborg driven by insecurity about whether he's still human.
  • 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.
    • In some issues, the USSR is still alive and well.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The premise of the "Judgement Day" Story Arc.

D.R. & QuinchComicBook/ 2000 ADLobster Random
JommekePrint Long-RunnersJudge Parker
HookBeat 'em UpKamen Rider
D.R. & QuinchScience Fiction Comic BooksThe Simping Detective
2000 ADThe SeventiesSavage
Godzilla CataclysmCreator/IDW PublishingKISS
De KiekeboesThe EightiesDouwe Dabbert
Jack StaffBritish ComicsThe Simping Detective
Not Even HumanImageSource/Comic BooksJudge, Jury, and Executioner

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