A long-running Science Fiction 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 the titular uncompromising Knight Templar lawman, Joseph Dredd, who cleans the bloodstained streets of the grim, far-future megalopolis that is 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 authority allows him to 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 natural disasters, sky-high crime rate and world-wide nuclear 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, Dredd is firmly committed to the Justice Department's brutal, draconian and ruthless methods to enforce the Law, but it has been established that Mega-City One would collapse without him and his fellow Judges, and more than once has. Dredd himself, despite being as unmoving in his ideals as a stone plinth who embraces every word of the Law, is also impeccably honest and honorable, despises corruption and unnecessary cruelty, does not discriminate his targets, 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. Still, at the end of the day, 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.
Numerous Spin-Off comics featured in 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine, collectively known as "The Dreddverse," include:
- Anderson: Psi-Division
- Armitage - A Brit-Cit Detective Judge In the Style of "grumpy British detective" cop shows.
- Banzai Battalion
- Breathing Space
- Brit-Cit Babes
- Brit-Cit Brute
- Brit-Cit Noir
- Calhab Justice
- Chopper - The champion Oz sky surfer.
- The Corps - A one shot tale dealing with a team of judges fighting the Klegg empire detailing their disastrous False Flag Operation against a joint Klegg-Sino Cit space station.
- The Dead Man - A one-off story detailing Judge Dredd's Long Walk, having lost his memory after an encounter with monsters from the Deadworld.
- Death Watch - Brit-Cit Judge Dee is accidentally sent back to the Elizabethan era, where he founds a squad of Judges.
- Devlin Waugh - An extremely British exorcist for Vatican City.
- Dreadnaughts - A prequel set before the Atomic Wars showing the birth of the modern Justice Department and the rise of their Police State.
- The Fall of Deadworld - A prequel focusing on the rise of the Dark Judges and the decimation of their homeworld.
- The Helltrekkers - Citizens from Mega-City One trek across 2000 km of Cursed Earth in 28 rad-wagons to look for a new life in the New Territories.
- The Inspectre
- Insurrection - A series about Judges of an off-world colony leading a secession from Mega City One after its failure to aid the colony in repulsing an invasion of the alien Zhind, and its subsequent attempt to revoke the citizenship of the robots and sub-species that fought alongside humans.
- Judge Edwina's Strange Cases - A horror anthology
- Lawless - Colonial Marshal Metta Lawson brings law and order to the town of Badrock on the colony world of 43 Rega. Also a Stealth Sequel to Insurrection.
- Lenny Zero - Wally Squad judge Lenny Zero goes rogue after being betrayed by his lover.
- Maelstrom - A star judge squad led by Lela Sternhagen deals with attacks by her predecessor and his squad who have undergone voluntary mutations in order to survive their slow execution on a Death World.
- Meet Darren Dead - Illusionist George Smith attempts a David Blaine-like stunt on the day the Atomic Wars begin and is finally unearthed from his coffin fifty eight years later as a zombie who can communicate with the spirits of the dead.
- Megatropolis - Noir mystery set in a reimagining of the universe in an Art Deco style.
- Missionary Man
- Red Razors
- Shimura - Former Hondo City Judge-Inspector Shimura turns Rōnin.
- The Simping Detective (first series was called Mega-City Noir)
- Storm Warning - Lillian Storm is a Brit-Cit Psi-Judge who sees dead people.
- Tales from Mega-City One
- Tales From The Black Museum - A horror anthology centred around the objects exhibited in the Justice Department's Black Museum.
- Trifecta - Three-way Crossover between Judge Dredd, The Simping Detective and Low Life.
In other media:
- Two film adaptations, Judge Dredd in 1995 starring Sylvester Stallone and Dredd 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 Hell.
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. There are a few other continuities separate from the 2000 AD one, including ones by DC Comics, Heavy Metal, and tie-ins to the 1995 film.