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Headscratchers: Judge Dredd

Specific to the Comics

  • For a society that is suppose to be all about following the letter of the law, the Judges (including Dredd) seems to have no problem with breaking the rules if it serves them. For example, it has been repeatedly stated that Mega-City One doesn't have the death penalty, but in the 'Judge Dredd in America' story, Dredd ordered the Judges to open fire on the Total War terrorist even though they have clearly surrendered and should have been arrested instead. Also, in the Judge Anderson story 'Satan', the Judges secretly killed a Christian minister for challenging the Judges system, even though they themselves admit that he he didn't break any laws in giving public speeches, he didn't even resist when Anderson arrested him. And even if he did somehow break the law, they cannot legally kill him, and can only at most give him life in prison. Sometimes it feel like that instead of Lawful Neutral taken to the extreme, the Judges feels more like your average Neutral Evil dictatorship that will break its own laws just to stay in power.
    • The death penalty seems to exist depending on the writer. Generally, though, killing a judge will likely earn it. Also, it seems that there's plenty of Hypocritical Humor afoot. The judges took power, as democracy proved to be not ideal. The judge system itself, relies on judges being completely by the book. Dredd is probably the only one who is ever consistent in this (and even he slips up at times). In fact, there are plenty of corrupt judges (One Simping Detective story states that Jack Point is the only honest judge in Sector 13. This being the chain-smoking alcoholic womaniser who literally dresses like a clown). One story even uses the phrase "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely", lending credence to the theory that the judges are nowhere near as ideal as they'd like. There's a good reason for the SJS.
    • Of course the Judges break their own laws to stay in power. That's one of the themes.
    • Pretty much confirmed at the end of Origins, when Chief Judge Fargo is revived for the last time. He is horrified at what the Justice Department has become and says so to Dredd: "We created a monster... we're the monster!" He tells Dredd that the Judges had gone too far and had destroyed America, and urged Dredd to do everything he could to undo it.
    • In a source book about judge Dredd it mentions that there is the death penalty, but it is only for crimes that endanger the whole city to an massive degree or for working with an enemy state during a time of war. Even in these cases though the judge has to have a very solid case, and be prepared for a large investigation. Of course, thats not to say that some judges won't kill anyway. The point is that for all their presentation as infallible and the living embodiment of the law, they are just normal men and women, who can succumb to weakness. Without it what would be the need for titan?
  • How does the economy of Mega-City One functions? If most of the city's population is unemployed as result of jobs being replaced by robots, then there should be not enough consumers to support the economy since large parts of the population isn't getting paid for work.
    • Must be like in Star Trek, but much, much worse.
    • The black market in Mega-City One is many, many times the size of the legitimate economy. It's not difficult to get a job pushing sugar or trafficking weapons if you need a few creds.
    • The companies that use all those robots pay high taxes, when then goes to support the city and pay out welfare checks to the unemployed citizens, and has enough of a trade surplus to avoid diminishing returns.
    • (The OP) If the second idea about the black market is correct, then this is perhaps a really well done example of Fridge Brilliance. A society that is based on the idea of having zero tolerance towards crime is in fact totally dependent on crime in order for it to have a functional economy. It is kind of like 1984, in which the society is forced to fight a never ending war against in that the act of crime itself has become the glue that is keeping society from falling apart.
      • Except that is Artistic License - Economics. Crime is inherently disruptive to an capitalist economy. A black market has no regulation to ensure stability and is far too chaotic to support an economy, not to mention the constant risk of doing business. And since all transactions occur without transparency or oversight, the currency is harmed by all trade. Taxing automated businesses to pay for welfare makes at least a little sense since customers need money to buy products and support a market.
    • A good chunk of MC-1's economy is controlled directly by Justice Department. People get their welfare cheques from the Judges, and spend it on rent and food, returning the money to Justice Department's coffers.
    • And, with the destruction of a good part of Mega-City One and the death of 87% of its population due to the Chaos Bug, the welfare has been striken down, so now it remains to be seen how economy can work now.
  • The Mega-Cities are giant conurbations of billions of people, the land beyond is nuclear/ice/sand deserts, the sea is polluted (it's presumably not called the "Black Atlantic" for nothing.) Food is seen being imported into Mega-City One, but where's it coming from?
    • It's stated that a sort of stinky jelly is produced and processed for the food industry. But if you ask what is used to produce the jelly, my guess is "people". Come on, the mortality rate is so high, that you can easily feed corpse to the living.
    • Tofu. LOTS of Tofu.
    • Also, Spam.
      • This has been gone into quite a bit over the years. Synthetic chemicals, fungus, artificial protein, very large farms of genetically engineered crops in the less polluted areas of Cursed Earth, nutrients reclaimed for waste and, yes, bodies (the recyc plats are very prominent in the comic), block top gardens and (for a while, poor Otto Slump) all manner of insects and such have all been used.
      • In one comic the Judges start to farm a strain of giant mutant rat because it is leaner and more nutricious than the rats they farm allready. In another, a mutant tapeworm that winds up addicted to growth hormones gets loose and Dredd has to take it down. When he's killed it, he tells control to send down people to cut it up and use as meat.
    • The cursed Earth isn't as bad as people think, there's still a lot of land that can be used for farmer and a number of Mutent towns Import food to Mega-City one for Protection.
    • Don't forget those "Munce" plants that can apparently grow anywhere, but look like human heads.
    • Also, the Mega-Cities have interplanetary colonies.
    • Treemeat plantations have been shown. That is, meat that grows on trees.
  • Can't there be a happy Dredd story? Dredd saves the day and all the innocent civillains come out alive and not shot to death. Of course, being Dredd, he'd probably have half the civillains sent to the cube...
    • That's kind of the point. Hard to have a dystopian future with a happy ending.
      • It's possible. Dredd saves the day, the civillains in danger go back to their crapsack lives. The madcap death and mayhem inherent in many Dredd stories I've read verges on Violence Porn.
      • There can be and there are "Happy Dredd" stories - they tend to be the short episodes rather than the great dramatic mega-epics (for obvious reasons - it's hard to spin out The Case Of The Missing Shoe for thirty chapters), but there are plenty of tales with nary a fatality in them. Try "Everything In The Garden", "Block Court", and "Fat Fathers" for a quick sampling.
      • They could do that, except it would undermine the point of Dredd as a satire of how "Zero Tolerance" policing would work - which is to say, it wouldn't and would be very damaging to society.
    • They used to do that a lot: the entire world is threatened, and Dredd defeats the Big Bad and saves the day. Stories like Necropolis and Judgement Day. They stopped doing it so much when readers began pointing out they all had exactly the same plot.
  • Dredd versus aliens stories. Just never sits right. Mega City One has contact with untold life forms and their society is still so crapsack?
    • What, aliens are going to travel untold lightyears just to fix our problems? Chances are they're exploring to escape their own crapsack planets and have more then enough to worry about...
    • Yeah, most alien species seem to be even worse off than humans...
      • Really just read the Judge Child which is all about how crappy the other planets are.
      • Or the Judge Anderson story Childhood's End which is about how the aliens are assholes anyway.
      • Not really, in the Judge Anderson story "Contact", it was shown that there are some nice and peaceful aliens out there.
      • The Cursed Earth had Tweak, who used Obfuscating Stupidity to keep the riches of his world hidden from humans. Given how Humans Are Bastards in this context, he can hardly be blamed.
      • It's a Crapsack Universe. Yes, aliens exist... as they're generally just as dickish as most humans. One story actually does have seemingly benign aliens setting up missions in the poorest parts of Mega City One, ostensibly out of altruism. It turns out they're actually turning the souls of the dead into drugs.
  • Why does Judge Fear wear a mask? If he truly wants to kill all the living, you'd think he would walk around with his face in full view so as to kill anybody who happens to glance his way.
    • Maybe he saves the whole "Gaze into the face of fear" thing for those people he really wants to kill, or it only works on one person at the same time (think Boggart), so if he tried to use it on more than one person it would just not work.
    • And Judge Fear's attack doesn't always work. Dredd, for one, managed to not only over come his fears, but punched Judge Fear in the face.
    • The mask, the whole process of opening it up to terrify people and saying "Gaze into the face of Fear!" while he does it adds a wee bit more Nightmare Fuel to the process because there's so much tension.

  • I know aliens have been a part of Dredd continuity since the beginning. But the stories where they don't show up are always so much more -fun-. And then the next issue bam, it's Star Trek with lots more head explodings. Granted, fun in itself but nowhere near the 'level' of human-only Dredd stories.
    • I think it is because that Judge Dredd is in many ways a story about human nature and flaws in political systems. The occasional aliens or monster stories are just to give us a reason why thinks are bad in the world despite how technologically advance it is.

  • The existence of the incendiary round on the Lawgiver, even prior to the Dark Judges. It's difficult to see how even a law enforcement agency such as the Judges would come across situations that require things to be set on fire a lot. In fact, in the Apocalypse War arc, Dredd nearly gets himself killed trying to escape from East Meg judges due to only having incendiaries left.
    • The Judges have to fight mutants as well. And from the "Judge Dredd verse Aliens" comics, it seems that it is standard procedure to burn mutated pest.
    • It basically doubles as a hi-ex round when fired near flammable sources (gas tanks, for instance).
    • Seems a tad cruel. The Dredd Vs Death FPS would set the SJS on you for using the incendiary round on criminals.

  • Calling Your Attacks. Now, I can understand the lawgiver. Even if it isn't voice activated, there's some justification for giving a warning as to what type of round you're going to fire (Warning citizens that you're about to fire off a Hi-Ex is generally for the best), but there's no need to shout "Boot knife!"

  • How do the palm-print scanners on Lawgivers work when Judges wear thick gloves on the line of duty?
    • Presumably, it can scan through gloves. In a world where such technologies as time travel, dimension jumping and indestructible plastic exist, this isn't too far out of the realm of possibility.

  • Shouldn't it be "Waltew the Wobot"?

Specific to the Movie

  • In the early part, before Dredd is framed, he comes to intervene in block wars to find the other Judges huddled for cover from the automatic gunfire above. He then strides down the middle of the street and declares that they are beyond the effective range of the rifles. Can weapons have an effect range when being fired straight down?
    • One of the many reasons I suppress the memory of the film.
    • "They're firing caseless Fletcher rounds...", as Dredd states, suggests to me that the perps are using some sort of shotgun. The sound and look of their guns backs this up to some extent. Over a large distance, caseless shotgun rounds will disperse to the point where they're not going to be a problem for an armoured Judge, despite the speed at which the shrapnel is flying.
      • Possibly Flechette rounds? In most fiction I've read, flechette rounds are highly effective in short ranges or against unarmored targets at medium range, essentially firing several razor sharp darts, however drag on the darts causes them to lose power quickly when compared to standard rounds. Real life mileage varies, with such weapons used as antipersonel weapons when dropped from planes in World War I.
    • It's certainly possible to have a maximum range. Either due to excessive spread and the like, which would make hitting the judges highly difficult, or simple air friction reducing the bullet's speed to terminal velocity, although I doubt you'd have it slow down that much any time soon.
  • Rico replaces the DNA sample being used to clone new Judges with his own, declaring with scenery-chewing glee that the resulting army will be just as crazy as him. What he doesn't seem to realize is that he was cloned from the exact same DNA that was already there. He and Dredd are both clones from an earlier phase of the project, and they both have the same DNA, an important plot point that explains how Rico is able to frame Dredd for murder earlier. Rico just replaced the existing DNA with an exact copy. Given the quality of the movie as a whole, the writers might have realized this and just not bothered to change it.
    • Also, when Chief Judge Fargo finds Dredd in the Cursed Earth, he explains how Dredd was cloned from his DNA. In that case, shouldn't the DNA sample at Dredd's trial have been identified by the computer as Fargo DNA, rather than Dredd's? Even if the DNA was modified for the cloning experiments, the findings should only suggest that the person who fired the gun belongs to one of the clones, for which Dredd would not be the only individual on record. Of course, it's arguable that the council could have tampered with the findings to gain a conviction against Dredd, but nothing is done to explicitly suggest this.
      • The system may only have current judges on file, either because it's new or because it looks through the recent records first and doesn't check for multiple matches (the cloning being a secret here).
      • Chief Justice Fargo would have been a "current judge" at the time of the hearing. He was presiding over the Council at the hearing.
      • The Dredd/ Rico genetic sample was an amalgamation of available genetic material at the time, not just Fargo's as in the comic. It explains why Fargo didn't get pinged, but not why non-identical twins have the same DNA.
      • Plus, Fargo states that Rico mutated at some point.
      • But if Rico's DNA is mutated, how could it have been pinged for Dredd's non-mutated DNA without deliberately tampering with evidence (which, again, is never suggested to have been done here)?
      • Maybe the Lawgiver only checks a certain part of the DNA or within a certain margin of error.
    • Rico's crazy and does something that doesn't make sense. Seems plausible to me?

  • The evidence at Dredd's trial was a security video from the victim's apartment and a DNA sample from the gun that was used. Several problems with this:
    • First, why would a Judge's pistol have a feature that recorded the DNA of the user on the bullets fired? Lawgivers are DNA-locked, so only the authorized user can fire them in the first place. Recording that on the bullets would be redundant.
      • It wouldn't. Your version would allow a Judge to kill someone and then get rid of his Lawgiver to avoid a concrete link to such murders altogether. Tagging the bullets is better because getting rid of bullets you've used to kill people is not something you can do on the fly.
      • But that doesn't explain why rounds necessarily need to be tagged with DNA; why couldn't they just tag a registration number for the issued lawgiver from which the rounds are fired from? That seems simpler, more practical, and less convoluted than somehow extracting DNA from the correct user's coded palm print.
      • the lawgiver is coded to all active judges so the dna tag prevents a corrupt judge from stealing anothers firearm to commit a crime
      • Individual lawgivers are coded to ONE active Judge so that NOBODY but the person who was issued it can fire it. There's no further need to DNA code the bullets; a Judge can only fire them from one gun, and it shouldn't be impossible to tell if Dredd's OWN issued lawgiver was indeed the one used in a crime or if it was a different gun.
      • There is nothing in the movie that says Lawgivers are coded to individual judges. While they may be in the comics, that doesn't necessarily carry over to the movie. In the scene in the pawn shop, the broker exclaims not to touch the Lawgiver because it'll take your hand off if you're not a Judge. Rico responds by picking it up and saying "How about that? I must be a Judge." That's plenty to imply that Lawgivers work for anyone who's in the Judge database. Presumably in the event of a block war where Judges might have to pick up the weapons of their own fallen.
      • In the comics, there is a way to use a fallen judge's Lawgiver, though it's knowledge only available to Senior Judges. A central database of registered judges seems somewhat impractical, especially if the judge goes on an out of city job.
    • Second, why would that feature be kept a secret? Wouldn't Judges know all the capabilities of their weapons and equipment?
      • It's a feature to expose corrupt judges who commit crimes. If you tell them about it, the corrupt judges will find themselves a loophole.
      • If judges knew about it, they'd be aware of the extreme degree to which their own actions are being monitored (they'd be accountable for every single bullet they fire, which are being recorded and logged) and any judge thinking about "betraying the law" would be discouraged from doing so if they knew it meant their actions would consequently require much more effort to cover up.
      • It's probably safe to say a similar debate was had in the Halls of Justice when the feature was proposed. Megacity One's culture is much more focused around catching and punishing criminals rather than preventing crime, however, so it's not exactly surprising they decided on the "surprise and apprehend the corrupt judge" approach.
      • Actually, it is surprising, because even Hershey still insists that an accused Judge (and his defense) is supposed to be entitled to knowledge of this is evidence and/or that could be used as evidence.
      • No, Hershey tries to claim that it's evidence she wasn't made aware of and that she should have been allowed knowledge of it so a defense could be prepared. She claims. That's not the same thing as Hershey being correct in the setting.
    • Third, in a city as heavily monitored as Mega-City One, why was there no record of the real Dredd's location at the time of the murder? Shouldn't there be some record of where Dredd actually was? An alibi? Cameras near his home? Something?
      • Personally I rationalised that the Chief Justices were actually becoming either far too old-fashioned, or mildly corrupt. If it wasn't Dredd, then it was Rico, and they'll have to reveal the Janus project. And Dredd will find out he's a clone and people will start saying, "The Chief Justices are a bunch of assholes. Let's get new ones." Of course, none of them were as corrupt or crazy as Griffin but nobody wanted to find out what would happen if a cloning project came to light.
      • Dredd may have been somewhere tracking a criminal or following a lead, away from his Lawmaster for a good portion of time, effectively depriving him of an alibi.
      • And Justice Dept. and Mega City One have no other way of monitoring people and their Judges without Lawmasters. Judges send regular reports on their patrols and activities to Control very frequently and can do this while away from their Lawmaster bikes.
      • Well, you apparently know everything about the movie's setting, you tell us why, then.
  • That guy at the end who said "That won't be necessary." Who was he, and more importantly, why wasn't HE chosen to play Dredd? Just from that one line of dialogue he was CLEARLY more suited to the role than Sly Stallone.
    • ... Based on what, having a deep voice?
    • Based on him being Never Bareheaded for a start. Also for being not so hammy.
      • Those seem like reasons even sillier than Dredd having a scrappy sidekick.
      • The point being, that he was closer to the source material than Stallone ever could be, Lantern Jaw of Justice aside.
      • If your standards for a good Dredd are nothing more than "has a deep voice" and "doesn't take his helmet off", I really don't think you're qualified to complain about anyone else's standards. "Well, Dredd just drop-kicked a baby and raped three people, but at least he kept his helmet on when he was doing it, and his voice was nice and gravelly while he mocked his victims..."
      • The point wasn't necessarily the best man to play Dredd, just a better choice than Sly.
  • How did Ricco get a giant war robot through the streets and into a high judge's office with no one noticing?
    • He has full Judge attire, probably let him get away with a lot. Nothing to say no one noticed, but he may have just been able to bluff and bullshit his way by anyone who did see them.
      • Could have just told people that he'd confiscated this robot which, as they can clearly see, is active and therefore illegal.
    • Refuge in Audacity.
  • How exactly does the Double Whammy round work? Especially since it spreads from the same barrel in the right direction (Who's to say with barrel rifling that the rounds won't fly vertically or diagonally?) at the correct distance to conveniently kill two guys at once.
    • Smart bullets.
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