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 2000 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...
In other media:
- Two film adaptations, the first 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).
- A number of Audio plays from Big Finish.
- An arcade pinball machine was released in 1993 by Williams Electronics.
- Videogames, including Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death, a 16 bit adaptation of the Stallone film, a Rail Shooter and Judge Dredd Vs Zombies. There was also supposed to be an arcade beat-'em-up developed by Midway, but it got canned during location test phase. Its ROM was dumped on MAME and can be found in the Net; however, the game only has three stages ready, each interspersed with bonus rounds, and a final screen showing Judge Death that could be either a Sequel Hook or a teaser for one or more upcoming stages in the same game.
- A TV series called Judge Dredd: Mega City One is in development as of 2017.
IDW also started a comic series of their own (and not part of the main 2000 AD Dredd-verse) in the wake of the 2012 film, designed to properly introduce the character to US readers.