YMMV / Judge Dredd

The Comic:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Due to how the comic is written, the characterization of Dredd tends to vary wildly. In more serious stories he's an extremely strict but ultimately fair and dedicated law enforcer who wants to protect Mega-City 1 and its inhabitants. In the stories focused more on black comedy, as well as some of the longer fiction such as the Democracy storyline, he comes off as a deliberate Jerk Ass who goes out of his way to make the citizens life a living hell. In the early stories, Pat Mills considered him a straight up hero, whereas John Wagner went with Anti-Hero at best and Villain Protagonist at worst.
  • Awesome Music: His "unofficial" theme song, "I Am the Law" by Anthrax. It's "unofficial" in the sense that it wasn't commissioned as such by then-owner of 2000 AD Fleetway Comics, but both fans and creators recognize the song as Dredd's song, period.
  • Complete Monster: See Judge Death and the others here.
  • Creator's Pet: PJ Maybe. A psychopathic, child genius serial killer who never matured. His signature tool was SLD-88, a mind control drug that was incurable, undetectable, and used almost exclusively by him. He constantly outsmarted everyone around him in increasingly implausible ways, even becoming the mayor of Mega-City One and working closely with the Judges, undetected, while still carrying out his habitual murders. When he was finally gunned down by Dredd decades after his first appearance, parts of fandom rejoiced while other parts were trying to figure out how he'd fooled the Judges THIS time.
  • Dork Age: For the most part, Garth Ennis' run on the strip wasn't all that well received. Ennis himself feels that his own reverence for the character meant he didn't take the piss like in a lot of his other work.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Judge Death repeatedly proved to be the comic's most popular villain, to the point where fans complained that he wasn't the Big Bad in the film Dredd.
    • Public Defender 314's habit of hilariously calling his pauses for emphasis and other actions have endeared him to the fans.
  • Foe Yay: Judge Death mockingly kisses Judge Anderson after defeating her in a comatose nightmare. He's a corpse, by the way. Then there's his constant reminders of the psychic "bond" they share since he was holed up in her mind for a year.
  • Growing the Beard: "The Cursed Earth" is the story where the world really comes together, and was the first of the epic stories that lasted about half a year.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • One villain in an early story (from 1977) destroys the World Trade Center.
    • Muzak Killer: Live!, written in 1993 has a scene where an Expy of Richey Edwards, one of the infamous "27 Club" commits suicide through his own stupidity. Fast forward two years and the Real Life Edwards disappeared and was later presumed dead.
    • The comic's satire of zero tolerance policing with a future police force that shoots first, asks questions never has become a lot less absurd with the increase of militarization of police forces in the United States and police shooting controversies.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Nate Slaughterhouse. He is a Space Corps veteran who is wounded in the line of duty (Read: Loses most of his body, apart from his head and one shoulder) and is given a cybernetic body. He quits the Corps along with his wife and they take their son to the Big Meg. After some problems with local gangs, Nate's wife is kidnapped and her brain wiped and replaced with a slave module and his son is murdered. This causes him to snap and become a Vigilante Man, culminating in him attacking the local crime boss' hideout on the Canadian border in a Mini-Mecha.
    • Tweak, an alien Dredd rescues in the Cursed Earth. He's strong enough to eat rocks and diamonds and his race are more intelligent than humans, something he hides from them. His family is kidnapped and sold into slavery before they're put down by their human slavemasters. Tweak is just looking to give them a decent burial and fights alongside Dredd because Dredd stands up for him. He finally gets to go home when Dredd promises to keep the secret of his homeworld.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Chief Judge Thomas Silver ruthlessly crushed the Democracy movement, and made an appalling number of bad decisions that ended in Necropolis, a nightmare that cost the lives of 60 million people. Return of the King makes him rather pitiable when we see the sheer magnitude of the suffering he went through at the hands of Judge Death and his cohorts, who turned him into a zombie pet so they could torment and humiliate him indefinitely, constantly reminding him about what they were doing to his city.
    • Judge friggin' Fire actually managed to achieve this for a split second, who for the record is as much of a genocidal walking corpse as his brothers, who has actually burned alive hundreds of children in one day on the excuse of "noise pollution". In Dreams of Deadworld it's shown that he was in love/obsessed with a female Dark Judge who killed herself rather than submit to him. He just keeps staring at her skull for decades to relive the memory, constantly reiterating that as a Dark Judge he shouldn't have feelings anymore.
  • Memetic Badass: Judge Dredd. When the Face of Fear kills anyone who gazes into it, Dredd is the only one it can't kill. Fear is not so resistant to the Fist of Dredd. Also, he once got an entire army to back down by simply appearing on a comm screen. Even amongst those with barely a casual knowledge of the comic knows of him as the living embodiment of the law.
  • Memetic Mutation: Dredd's Catch Phrase "I am the law!", to the point that it occludes the fact to the general public that he's one of the more sensible Judges patrolling Mega-City One instead of a borderline psychotic lawman.
  • Misaimed Fandom: There are a lot of people who don't realise that the strip is a satire and think that the judge system is actually a good idea.
  • Never Live It Down: Due to the sheer memetic-ness of his dedication to THE LAW, it can be surprising to new readers to find that Dredd is actually one of the more sensible Judges. Judge Dredd is fairly unique among long-lived comic book characters in that he ages in real time and his personality gradually changes over the years as he increasingly questions his role. Despite this fans still often portray him as being obsessed with THE LAW and arresting criminals.
  • Values Dissonance: Early issues showed Dredd punishing victims of crimes for 'incitement' because they displayed wealth that tempted the criminals. That works as 1970s satire on heavy-handed law enforcement, but can rankle with today's awareness of victim-blaming.
  • Values Resonance: As stated in Harsher in Hindsight, the theme of police's relation with society became more relevant under controversy of Police Brutality and Police Shootings Controversy in US. This is more pronounced in Democracy storyline and other stories dealing with questioning on the limits of the Judge's power and the effectiveness of Judge system.
  • The Woobie:
    • Many citizens fall into this category. Bennett Beeny stands out though. He spends his life pining for America Jara. When he finds her again, she's become a terrorist and later ends up being shot by a judge and winds up brain dead. He later transfers his consciousness to her body and has a daughter. There's a good reason America is considered one of the best stories. His suffering doesn't end there either, as America's body starts to reject his brain and he agrees to voluntary euthanasia. At least his hope that their daughter could reform the Justice Department from within by enrolling her at the Academy of Law after his death still lives on.
    • Jess, the psychic little girl from Deadworld. Sees her entire family get murdered by a gang of apocalyptic zombie-cops, but develops an odd friendship with the grizzled Fairfax and has some adorable moments with their motorbike AI and a group of muties.

The 1995 Movie:

  • What An Idiot:
    • Fergie casually walking into a broken-into apartment in the middle of a block riot, mere hours after getting paroled. It's like he wanted to get arrested again. To be fair, it is supposed to be his apartment. He just figured he could ride out the block war inside.
    • Fergie repeatedly blurts out Dredd's name in circumstances where it would be smart not to call attention to him.