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Judge, Jury, and Executioner

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♫ Justice is swift in the Court of Miracles
I am the lawyers and judge all in one!
We like to get the trial over with quickly
Because it's the sentence that's really the fun! ♫
Walker: Name's Walker, son. Know it. Fear it. Obey it. I am your judge, executioner, jury, executioner, jailer, and, if necessary, your executioner.
Danny: Uhh... you said "executioner" three times.
Walker: I like that part of the job.
Danny Phantom, “Prisoners of Love”

In modern legal systems, the power to render judgement is almost always spread among many people: a judge decides questions of law, a jury decides questions of fact, and someone else carries out the judge and jury's verdict—in the case of capital punishment, an executioner. It takes time and careful consideration, but the proper legal procedure can be such a drag sometimes, can't it? You have to arrest and house the perp, go through the expense of a trial... plus it means you have to get lawyers involved.

Perhaps this is why so many societies in fiction, particularly those with dystopian or evil leanings, go for the alternative: empowering a group of official agents with near-limitless (or even truly limitless) authority to detain, sentence, punish and/or kill offenders by any means they see fit in immediate real time.

Of course, there is a very good reason that we do not have this type of law enforcement in Real Life; If the Judges see themselves as noble and pure then they will most likely be Knights Templar, if they are insane they would often see all crimes are punishable by death, if they become corrupt then not only would they become Dirty Cops but would in turn become a Joker Jury and a Hanging Judge all in one go, and that's all assuming they do not have a grudge against you. Needless to say, you are very likely not getting a fair trial, if they deign to even give you one at all before carrying out their sentence.

In short, would any society really be better off if the law were enforced by people with no accountability who can detain, manipulate, torture and/or kill anyone they want regardless of reason?

When a private citizen acts as Judge, Jury, and Executioner without official sanction, he's a Vigilante Man. When it's an actual judge who's also jury and executioner, they're usually some variety of Hanging Judge.

Not to be confused with Judge Judy and Executioner.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Light from Death Note takes on this role once he receives his Death Note. Because he's going mad with power and developing a godlike attitude, he believes that he can sentence every and any evil person to death and make the world a better place. Then he jumps off the slippery slope and goes into Villain Protagonist territory.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00:
    • The Trial System, outfitted in the mecha used by Tieria Erde in the first and second season. It's purpose is to interfere with a supercomputer's remote assisted piloting. Tieria can turn off a Gundam's remote assistance, necessary to use it at full strength. Until the implementation of a Veda-free OS, this would shut down any Gundam that Tieria wanted... letting him kill them at his leisure. Considering that the Gundams in question belonged to his teammates, it's intentional that the pilot given that ability was an obsessively loyal artificial human.
    • Gundam Exia is designed with solid-edge GN Blades, as opposed to the common Beam Saber used in most series. (Though, he has those, too.) GN Blades, covered in a layer of GN Particles, can cut through "GN Field" energy shields... which are supposedly only usable by Gundams. Ultimately, Exia was designed to be particularly good at destroying enemies built with stolen Celestial Being designs... or traitorous teammates. Obviously, this is very useful fighting a traitor to Celestial Being who's slapped enough CB tech together to make a small battleship with equivalently powerful shields and cannons. It also makes a lot more sense why Setsuna, the loose cannon of the team, would be given these weapons, when it was originally intended to use an Innovade - an obsessively loyal artificial human, like Tieria - who was too self-centered to put himself on the front lines when he could use a far more obsessively loyal stunt double.
  • Nightschool has the Sohrem, the sentient and mysterious power that has implanted itself into Alex, Marina, and Ronee, is this. It believes it is bringing justice to the world, punishing it for not helping those with bad lives. Case in point, all of the hosts it takes, both before its sealing AND after, were children who had suffered through terrible things, but remained unbroken.
  • This exists in three different forms in One Piece. All of CP9 have the unique authority to execute any civilian or pirate on the spot without trial at any time they want, unless told otherwise by the higher ups. And seeing as how all of them are, they use this frequently with impunity. Secondly, though seemingly not legal, the higher-ranking Marines (mainly the admirals) also do this with minimal consequences; Akainu even murders his own men on the spot for deserting and nobody blinks twice (because, after all, who wants to get in the way of a guy who shoots lava from his fists?). Lastly, all Marines present at a Buster Call (a military order to bombard an entire island with cannon fire until nothing remains) have permission to kill anyone deemed a target of the Call or anyone who stands in the way of executing the Call without warning.
  • In Psycho-Pass, the Dominators are effectively this. They measure a person's Psycho-Pass, determine whether they're in need of therapy or unsalvageable, and enter the appropriate mode. Their wielders, however, who are the ones deciding when to pull the trigger, are not.
  • In Strider, Kazakh Secret Police kill off captured rebels just to save off court fees.
  • In Zoids: New Century, the Judge robots have complete authority over zoid battles... up to and including firing a Kill Sat at persistent offenders. Harsh.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman (Grant Morrison), Red Hood's run as an Anti-Villain is this, with him killing criminals left and right without any remorse. Unnervingly, half of Gotham citizens support his view, considering that their city is a Wretched Hive filled with the criminally insane. Thanks to this, the cartel sent the Flamingo to deal with him.
  • Brat Pack features Judge Jury, who is basically The Punisher but as a Klansman.
  • The Law Machines in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, they've been known to arrest entire governments that broke the laws the population voted for.
  • In Hawkman comics, the Wingmen often act as this. Especially the Elite Hawkman Force.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • The comic is mainly a satire of zero-tolerance policing, exemplified by the main character's catchphrase: "I am The Law!". Judge Dredd and his colleagues are licensed to execute criminals on the spot, though he prefers jailing them as long as they don't resist arrest. Their power of judgment is NOT absolute, since they are still bound by legal standards such as "beyond reasonable doubt" (that is, they can't simply shoot someone whom they suspect of having committed a crime, even one as serious as murder; they still have to provide evidence)note  and the Special Judicial Squad is supposed to rein in particularly abusive authority within the Justice Department.
    • The origins of the Justice system that Dredd operates in are explored in, appropriately, Origins. Eustace Fargo, the first Chief Judge and Dredd's clone father, pioneered a radical approach of 'instant justice' when crime and urban decay in the United States became intolerable by the mid-21st century. After World War III, they deposed the President Evil who started the war, establishing a literal Police State in what remained of the country.
    • Other areas of the world are shown to have established similarly brutal systems of policing and government. And their worse counterparts on Deadworld skip the judge and jury parts of the shtick entirely.
  • Marshal Law is similar to Dredd. In the purview of people with superpowers, he has unlimited jurisdiction and is licensed to kill in any situation he feels necessary. And he feels it's necessary a lot.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Living Tribunal, who can destroy planets or whole realities to maintain the greater Marvel multiverse. Given his Story-Breaker Power, he spends most of his time declaring that the current issue is not his concern and the heroes can go fix it themselves. Marvel Comics also has The Punisher, an anti-hero and Vigilante Man who is occasionally labeled as the judge, jury, and executioner.
    • Also Ronan The Accuser of the Kree empire. As he puts it, "Accusation is punishment!". Note that, although Ronan is the most known one, the Kree have a whole army of Accusers.
    • In Fatal Attractions, Rachel Summers mocks Cable's "I'm judge, jury and executioner" mindset.
  • In the Predator comic books produced by Dark Horse Comics (specifically the comic Bad Blood), the Arbitrators of the Predator nation are essentially the assigned Predator cops plus this. If you are a Predator and you are bad, they will come for you. And they will get to kill you. No questions.
  • In Superman stories:
    • During the course of events in Kingdom Come Superman is essentially trying to cure this very mentality, which was endemic in The Dark Age of Comic Books.
    • Superman once did this in The Supergirl Saga when dealing with three Kryptonian criminals who had already killed every other person on the planet. There was no way to turn them into the authorities since they had already killed the authorities (and everyone else). This eventually caused Supes to have a mental breakdown.
    • In Man of Steel (2018), Supergirl throws Rogol Zaar into the Phantom Zone. When Superman argues they can't dump every trouble into the Zone, Supergirl argues back she was completely justified to punish that monster by Zone-banishment according to Kryptonian laws.
    • In Red Daughter of Krypton, Kara kills Worldkiller-1 by throwing it into the Sun, reasoning that destroying that body-snatching, parasitic, sentient weapon of massive destruction "is not murder. It's the end of a terrible mistake."
    • In Superman Family #183, Supergirl sends Shyla Kor-Onn, a Phantom Zoner escapee into the Zone. It was self-defence, but her act gets Kara in hot water with the Kryptonian law in Strangers at the Heart's Core because she doesn't have the legal authority to punish someone who had served her prison sentence in full.
    • In Adventure Comics #394: Heartbreak Prison", Supergirl is captured by an alien tyrant called Tyrox, who acts in the role of plaintiff, prosecutor, jury and then judge, one after the other, to sentence her to life prison. Kara lampshaded Tyrox has made sure he'll never lose a case.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Ever since his Sufficiently Advanced Alien people kicked him out for being nuts the Adjudicator has been traveling the multiverse "judging" the worthiness of planets, then wiping out every single version of said planet across the multiverse in one go when it inevitably fails. The efforts of the heroes of four Earths to save their worlds from him in Judgment In Infinity managed to get the attention of the rest of his people who decided he'd gone too far.

    Fan Works 
  • Dragon Blade: Some of the police, UA students and faculty see Toushiro's actions against the Hollows, Nomu, and Arrancar as this. In a way they are right since Toushiro's status as a Captain of the Gotei 13 allows him to execute traitors and threats against humanity without a trial. For the crime of corrupting souls and working with those that threaten humanity, Toushiro kills All For One on the spot.
  • Four Deadly Secrets: Part of Huntsman/Huntress culture is that they police themselves, including students in training, as regular channels (e.g. the police) are unable to handle such incidents. The only time they ever get a higher authority (e.g. the faculty) involved is if it goes beyond their ability to handle.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl ends up killing Satan Girl in self-defence but without trial after every attempt to lock her up or contain her fails.
  • Judge Minty: The Judge Dredd version receives an examination. Minty has grown disillusioned by the brutality inherent in his role and the way the system works, but his first attempt at showing mercy gets him shot and removed from active duty for his lapse in judgement. Put simply, mercy is a nice idea, but Mega-City One is too much of a Crapsack World for it to be of any use.
  • The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World: Early on, the four unhappily experience the first two elements of this trope firsthand with the Pyar city guards.
  • Discussed in Rise of the Demonic Hero. After learning that Katsuki killed Izuku during their first training exercise together, Kirishima is ready to charge in and give him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. But All Might blocks him off, having tamped down his own horror and outrage and channeled it into a Tranquil Fury:
    Toshinori: I understand your anger. I do. What Bakugou did is unforgivable, and he deserves punishment. However, as heroes and hero hopefuls, we are not judge, jury, and executioner. We do not mete out justice, merely arrest those that deserve it so that they can be held accountable. That is what it means to be a hero. Putting aside our own anger so that we may do what is right, not just what we want to.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Parodied in the character of Clopin. When Phoebus and Quasimodo find their way into the Court of Miracles, an energetic Clopin does a quick, jolly, and almost frightening song involving three changes of costume:
    Justice is swift in the Court of Miracles!
    I am the lawyers and judge all in one!
    We like to get the trial over with quickly,
    Because it's the sentence that's really the fun!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dredd: Basically, the whole film can be summed up as Dredd executing hundreds of criminals who are resisting arrest during a drug bust. Although problems don't really start until he captures one of the gang's chief members alive during a raid early on and the boss can't afford to have him talk, thus deciding to trap Dredd and Anderson inside the building.
    "Negotiation's over. The sentence is death."
  • The Grammaton Clerics from Equilibrium have full authority from the government of Libria to hunt down and exterminate "sense offenders" and destroy anything conducive to breaking the society's Dystopian Edict about emotion. They also wear Badass Longcoats and are the Trope Maker for Gun Kata.
  • In A Fistful of Dynamite, John Mallory acts as this to Sean Nolan, his friend, deciding his fate on the spot when as an informant he attempts to have him arrested by British forces. Serving him his sentence via shotgun. John later expresses guilt over having judged him so coldly.
  • Lampshaded in Hot Fuzz. Nicholas tells Danny that their boss (and Danny's father), Frank, has declared himself this. Danny, clearly in denial, retorts that his father is not Judge Judy and Executioner.
  • Just as in the comic book, Judges in Judge Dredd are allowed to try, convict and sentence criminals on the spot-including to death, which they of course carry out personally. Dredd is, however, questioned by Chief Justice Fargo after the opening fight if it was absolutely necessary to carry out so many summary executions to pacify the riot. Then again, many of them would easily classify as "self-defense". Besides, Fargo relents after Dredd tells him that the executions were unavoidable, knowing that Dredd would never execute someone whose crimes did not merit capital punishment.
  • In the Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard, the Warden threatens to frame Crewe for being an accomplice to Caretaker's murder if he doesn't throw his football game against the guards. When Crewe protests that his accusations wouldn't hold up in court, the Warden informs him that in Allenville Prison, he's the judge, jury, and in Crewe's particular case, executioner.
  • In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Alan Hunley from CIA tells the Prime Minister that Ethan, who he thinks has gone rogue, has declared himself this.
  • In The Proposition, Cpt. Stanley appoints himself judge and jury, but not executioner, using the titular proposition as a rather creative way of fighting crime. Unfortunately, the governor thinks that he should be judge and jury, but not executioner.
  • The Operative from Serenity. Near as an attentive viewer can determine, Operatives are given functional carte blanche in the service of the Alliance.
  • Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit: "I'll catch the rabbit, Mr. Valiant, and I'll try him, convict him, and execute him." Although when he does find Roger, he skips straight to the "execute" step, because he seems to like that step. Even when he delivers that speech, he painfully murders a cute cartoon shoe by lowering it into a barrel of acid-like Dip.

  • Referenced in Alice in Wonderland. Alice asks a mouse why the mouse dislikes dogs, and is treated to a poem on how a terrier acts as both prosecutor, judge and jury to a mouse it has encountered. Presumably the dog would have been executioner too, but since Alice got distracted and stopped listening, we will never know the end of the poem.
    Said the Mouse to the cur,
    "Such a trial, dear sir,
    With no jury or judge, would be wasting our breath."
    "I'll be judge, I'll be jury,"
    Said cunning old Fury,
    "I'll try the whole cause and condemn you to death."
  • The Alvin Fogg novels of J.T. Edson feature Company Z of the Texas Rangers, charged with dealing justice to those whose crimes cannot be punished by conventional law. This usually involves a summary execution by the members of Company Z.
  • Justified in Backstabbed in a Backwater Dungeon. The protagonist Light is frequently either at the scene or attacked by a non-human race supremacist group engaged in hate crimes against human "inferiors" just for laughs, since the vast, vast majority of humans can't fight back, at least not effectively. Even if Light could somehow capture them and deliver them to a human court, the human prisons can't hold them, and the humans can't get justice under their own power. The native races the criminals come from also make it public policy that the hate crimes are not seen as crimes at all. As such, Light has no choice but to judge them himself, and the consequences are always brutal and graphic.
  • Cradle Series: Ozriel the Reaper, Eighth Judge of the Abidan Court, is the Judge in charge of destroying corrupted worlds. He is the only one who can destroy a world so utterly that it leaves behind no Chaos fragments to pollute the rest of the universe, making him invaluable. Unfortunately, this still involves murdering millions of people for every world—people who, he insists, they could have saved if they had intervened earlier. Ozriel argued with the other Judges for centuries on this point, until he eventually reached a point where he simply couldn't kill worlds any more. The series starts with his peer Suriel looking for him, as he has disappeared without a trace.
  • The Gunslingers in The Dark Tower.
  • Neal Stephenson's postcyberpunk novel The Diamond Age has the neo-Confucian Judge Fang, who has the powers of a judge from when China was an empire (or rather, Neal Stephenson's dubiously researched conception of such.) He himself says that he combines the roles of detective, judge, jury and executioner. The accused is not allowed to speak in his own defense.
  • Discworld:
    • 71-Hour Ahmed from Jingo. While Vimes criticizes his methods (he earned his nickname violating Sacred Hospitality in pursuit of a mass murderer and kidnapped a member of the Watch to draw Vimes' attention to the true perpetrators of the case at hand), Ahmed mentions to Vimes that their situations are different. His beat is a city that you can walk in half an hour; Ahmed's beat contains two million square miles of desert and mountain where he is alone against bandits and murderers and thus must inspire dread by striking fast once since he won't get a second chance. Vimes eventually relents that the two of them simply has different views on how justice should be served.
    • Death often refers to something in this direction, although he strictly upholds the "law" of only "taking lives" and not ending them, thus being an aversion. He has also, over the course of his books, become quite compassionate.
  • Dolores Umbridge enjoys this role in her Harry Potter appearances. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she accuses Muggle-born witches and wizards of "stealing" magic from true mages (which is a load of crap, as anyone who knows the rules of magic can attest) and then feeds them to Dementors.
  • The White Council's Wardens in The Dresden Files. If you break any of the Laws of Magic, they're free to kill you where you stand. Only another wizard can ask for something resembling a trial, and they put their own life on the line in doing so.
  • The Executioner series of action novels by Don Pendleton. Vigilante Man and One-Man Army Mack Bolan is offered a 'license' for his Mafia-busting activities by Justice Department boss Hal Brognola. He turns it down as he "doesn't want to drag the country into hell with him". Later on however he becomes a government anti-terrorist operative under the Stony Man program.
  • Thomas Theisman, from Honor Harrington, took this role when showing State Sec head Saint-Just an abbreviated legal procedure. Part of that is because of his distaste for State Sec's typical Kangaroo Court proceedings.
  • A particularly silly example is detailed in Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, where the Barrister dreams of a courtroom where the Snark is at first defending a pig for deserting its sty, but ends up having to also take on the roles of the judge, jury, and prosecutor at the same time. It eventually finds the pig guilty and sentences it to "transportation for life, and then to be fined forty pounds" only to discover that "the pig had been dead for some years."
  • In The Kingkiller Chronicle: The Wise Man's Fear, we learn about the Ciridae, a sect of the Church Militant Amyr whose actions are "above reproach", to the point that if they walk up to someone on the street and kill them, no one would question their decision.
  • The Lensmen (especially the Gray Lensmen) from E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series. They duly justify this by noting that only the most disciplined, principled, morally-grounded men are qualified to wear a Lens. To help with this, the final arbiters are existing Lensmen who can use their abilities to judge the fitness of candidates. Gray Lensmen go far beyond that, qualifying by possessing unique qualities of mind to independently know what is right, to know what it takes to get it done, and to keep going until it's done.
  • Lonesome Dove: Call, Gus, and associates will summarily execute bandits, horse thieves and other scofflaws they run across. Overlaps some with Vigilante Man since they continue to do so after they've retired from the Texas Rangers and have no official legal standing to dispense justice. At one point Gus is bemused by an outlaw who believes Gus is simply going to arrest him.
    Gus: (to Dan Suggs) I don't know what makes you think we'd tote you all the way to a jail.
  • The Machineries of Empire: In the totalitarian Hexarchate Galactic Superpower, the Vidona State Sec faction can pronounce a summary judgement of heresy and carry it out on the spot with their Touch of Death. They're not above prosecution themselves, and can be executed for abusing their powers, but the broad and ever-expanding definition of "heresy" gives them huge leeway.
  • "The Moral Virologist": John Shawcross has such extreme hatred for those who have committed even minor sins against his religion that he engineers a virus with the express intent to kill off anyone who has sinned even once. This is despite The Bible including such passages as "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord" and "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Shawcross also doesn't seem to make any distinction between those who are currently actively sinning and those who repented and found Jesus. At the very least, there is no mention of any way that his synthetic virus could tell whether the genetic markers it detects came from a years-old liaison or last week. He somehow becomes an even more extreme case of this trope when he lets children die—whom he admits are innocent before God—in order to prevent anyone from finding out a cure for the disease and potentially letting life go back to normal.
  • Nagabumi: The police were this. Plus, many lawful and neutral sects were allowed to do as they please by the government because they 'cleanse the streets from evil'.
  • Slyly parodied in The Phantom Tollbooth: Officer Shrift (who is very short) arrests Milo, then prepares to try him. When Milo protests that 'only a judge can sentence you', Shrift agrees and slips into judicial robes on the spot. As he's leading Milo away to serve his six million year sentence, Milo informs him that 'only a jailer can put you in prison'. Again, the officer agrees, pulls out a bunch of keys, and leads Milo triumphantly away. Fortunately, it soon turns out he doesn't care about keeping people in prison.
  • Redwall's Warden of Marshwood Hill. "These are my marshes and I alone am the laaaaaaaaaaaaaw!"
  • The Rise of Kyoshi: It was implied in the original series, but it's given more detail here. Kyoshi was one of the harshest Avatars, an unrelenting judge who brought swift justice across the land. However, in the book she is still young (the duology ends before she's eighteen), and so she spends a lot of time trying to find other solutions, trying to be a diplomat or a friend like her predecessors. By the end of The Shadow of Kyoshi, she's realized that she's a blunt object, and not to try to be anything else.
    Lao Ge: You don't understand. She told me to tell you she realizes her entire mistake was trying to dabble in politics with you. My friend is not a diplomat. She is the failure of diplomacy. She is the breakdown of negotiations. There is no escalation of hostilities beyond her.
  • Walter Scott's Rob Roy: As described by Bailie Jarvie, in the eighteenth century Scottish Highlands, taking the law into one's own hands is commonplace. And the chieftain's will is the only law.
    Bailie Nicol Jarvie: Ah, but ye judge Rob hardly, ye judge him hardly, puir chield; and the truth is, that ye ken naething about our hill country, or Hielands, as we ca' them. They are clean anither set frae the like o' huz;—there's nae bailie-courts amang them—nae magistrates that dinna bear the sword in vain, like the worthy deacon that's awa', and, I may say't, like mysell and other present magistrates in this city—But it's just the laird's command, and the loon maun loup; and the never another law hae they but the length o' their dirks—the broadsword's pursuer, or plaintiff, as you Englishers ca' it, and the target is defender; the stoutest head bears langest out;—and there's a Hieland plea for ye.
  • Sherlock Holmes: Jefferson Hope in A Study in Scarlet actually describes himself using these words.
    Jefferson: It's enough that they were responsible for the deaths of two human beings...I determined that I should be their judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, it was the custom of the First Men that "the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword". This tradition is carried on by Northmen in general, and by House Stark in particular.
    • Fire & Blood shows this off with Cregan Stark, when he's appointed Hand of young Aegon III, following the sudden poisoning of Aegon II by his own men. Cregan marches into King's Landing, terrifies everyone into submission, gets appointed Hand and starts putting the conspirators on trial. The guilty are scheduled for execution. One claimant's plea that he'd already been found innocent is met with the response "not by me". Fortunately, Cregan being from the North also offers some clemency if they join the Night's Watch.
  • In The Sword of Truth, the Seeker is described as being "...a person who answers to no one but himself; he is law unto himself. The Sword of Truth is his to wield as he wishes, and within his own strength, he can hold anyone to answer for anything."
  • Villains' Code: Kristoph is a "villain" with the supernatural ability to identify people who harm children. It's explicitly stated that he would be on the hero team if not for two problems: His ability is not admissible in court, and he doesn't bother with court anyway—when he finds child-abusers, he just immediately kills them. Ivan says that the heroes might have been able to let those problems slide, except for the fact that Kristoph's killings are incredibly brutal. Ivan mentions a time he killed a man by animating his skeleton and making it crawl out of him, while the man was alive the entire time. This was apparently his least brutal killing. In the end, Kristoph hangs around the Villain's Guild, and everyone is careful to introduce new villains to him as soon as possible to just get that problem out of the way.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Ghost Rider, as is traditional for the character, identifies the guilty and kills them.
    Daisy: You don't get to decide who deserves to die.
    Robbie: I'm not the one who decides.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Monster of Peladon", Azaxyr describes himself with these exact words when he declares martial law over Peladon in the name of the Galactic Federation. He makes good on his promise when he sics the other Ice Warriors on a group of attacking miners, killing them all on the spot. Given that the serial that this one is a sequel to depicted the Ice Warriors as having given up needless cruelty, only attacking to defend themselves and/or their allies, Azaxyr's statement acts as the first hint that his intentions aren't as noble as he claims.
    • "The Stones of Blood" has the Megara, Justice Machines which had found their civilization guilty of a crime and executed everyone.
    • The Happiness Patrol in the serial of the same name.
    • The Judoon are a mercenary Space Police with this attitude. In their first appearance, they transport a hospital from London to the Moon so they can go after the alien hiding within, and make no attempt to explain their actions to the humans they examine. When a terrified civilian tries hitting one of them with a vase, it has absolutely no effect, but they still vaporise him on the spot.
  • The ITV series The Fixer has a ex-special forces soldier turned Vigilante Man being released from prison on condition he serve as an assassin for an unnamed government unit tasked with killing those the law cannot reach. However the choice of target appears to be based not on any sense of morality, but on a need to keep British society stable.
  • Game of Thrones: The Starks maintain the belief of the First Men that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword as a safeguard against tyrants ordering executions arbitrarily. For Jorah Mormont, its more literal, since Ned Stark outright wanted to execute him for selling poachers into slavery, forcing to him flee to Essos.
  • Nathaniel Barnes on Gotham believes himself to be this after getting infected with the Alice Tetch virus. He's none of those things legally, just a police captain gone off his rocker, but carries enough air of authority to convince a bunch of people.
  • Arthur Spooner of The King of Queens declares in one episode he has been called upon to serve as Judge, Jury, and Executioner. Well, okay, not so much the first and last ones.
  • Kamen Rider Outsiders: This crossover anthology has Kamen Rider Zein, an omniscient and omnipotent Rider based on the eponymous artificial intelligence that seeks to bring order to the world. Befitting Zein's zero-tolerance for malice, it believes that it has a position to judge those individuals that it perceives as "evil" without second thoughts, even if the villains in question are morally grey at best. The AI enlisted Yuto Sakurai, formerly Kamen Rider Zeronos, to don the suit and armor to carry out executing villainous Riders with extreme prejudice; something that Tenjuro Banno, one of the known vilest Kamen Rider villain in recent history, painfully learned the hard way. For added bonus, Zein's Finishing Moves are called Justice Order, further enforcing its twisted idea of order.
  • Lost: in the episode "Stranger in a Strange Land", we meet the Others' "Sheriff", Isabel. She conducts the inquiry into Juliet's killing of Danny, and appears to be the sole authority in the matter — until Ben intervenes with a pardon.
  • The Professionals. CI5 use just the kind of tactics condemned by numerous Royal Commissions into police conduct, but it's OK because they only use them against bad guys. They draw the line with assassination and planting evidence (except in minor cases to pressure a criminal) presumably because such tactics would make the audience a bit nervous. Their limits are probably best lampshaded in an episode where Bodie and Doyle investigate a town where the police have been using extralegal means, such as planting evidence and beating up members of a gay rights group. Bodie and Doyle eventually gain evidence of the latter, and when the main culprit decides to murder them to avoid prison, another officer steps in and stops him, as murder is going too far.
  • The Inquisitor in Red Dwarf is a unique version of this; a rogue android that has taken upon itself to travel through the universe judging every single living thing to determine whether it has led a worthwhile life. However, as it acknowledges that it wouldn't be fair if it judged everyone, as there would be no guarantee of a fair hearing, it assumes the personality of the person it is judging whilst they are being judged; in essence, everyone acts as their own judge, jury and executioner.
    • Which results in decent people with high standards for themselves such as Kryten and Lister are slated for death while completely selfish people with low standards for themselves such as The Cat and Rimmer are allowed to live.
      • YMMV on this aspect, as the criteria is left ambiguous, save that the judge of the trial is the defendant's own conscience. While Rimmer and Cat are acquitted, Rimmer is acquitted because he successfully argues that, given his Hilariously Abusive Childhood, he'd consider just living his life a triumph of will; and the Cat is acquitted because, shallow as he is, compared to his people's values he may well be a cultural paragon. On the other hand, Lister adamantly refused to make any arguments in his favor and Kryten actively argued against his acquittal in order to probe the Inquisitor's motives.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Dr. Bashir uses this analogy to describe Section 31. Sloan doesn't exactly dispute it.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Q in "Encounter at Farpoint", and by extension, the judges in the 21st century of the Trekverse. He reprises this role in the series finale "All Good Things...".
    Q: The trial never ends...
    • In the episode "Justice", Wesley Crusher accidentally enters a forbidden area on a peaceful planet. It turns out the punishment for all crimes is death on this world, and ignorance is no excuse. The peacekeepers are about to inject Wesley with some poison when the rest of the away team interferes. They actually chastise the away team for causing psychological harm to Wesley by letting him know he was about to be killed.
    • A close examination of Q's dialogue in All Good Things implies that the Q Continuum as a whole partly serves the judge/jury role (and the executioner role is done by manipulating Picard and allowing him to take actions that would kill humanity rather than the Q killing humanity themselves), while the Q we know and love placed himself in a fourth role: defence advocate.
  • Super Sentai/Power Rangers:
    • The Power Rangers in Power Rangers S.P.D. use their Delta Morphers to judge a criminal on the spot then miniaturize them into an prison cell within an small card (implied to be filed away). Considering the sentence, Death seems like a more humane option.
    • In the original Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, the sentence is death, or rather "Deletion", but the trope is averted by the slimmest of technicalities. The SP License sends all available information on the case to a judge elsewhere, and returns the verdict in a few seconds.
    • Mirai Sentai Timeranger and Power Rangers Time Force do something similar, except that instead of placing them in cards, they get "freeze-compressed" into tiny figurines. Indeed, both series were kicked off by a jailbreak from a freeze-compression prison. Thus, there's no need for judgment, as they're all escaped convicts.
  • Actually used as a plot point in Xena: Warrior Princess, despite feeling guilt for being responsible for Callisto's insanity Xena allows her to die when they fall into quicksand. The follow-up episode has Ares calling her out on this with this trope specifically, Xena admits guilt allowing Ares to switch Xena and (at the time) dead Callisto's bodies. Xena is later able to wash her hands of it, accepting her fault for what she did to Callisto's village, but not for all the people Callisto harms.

  • "I Am the Law", by Anthrax, is an obvious example, given that it's a tribute to Judge Dredd. The trope's name is cited in the lyrics:
    The book of law is the Bible to him
    Any crime committed is a sin
    He keeps the peace with his lawgiver
    Judge, jury, and executioner
  • The Never forgive never forget by the American metal band Biohazard include these lyrics:
    I am justice and I am the law
    Executioner, judge and jury
    You preyed on human tragic flaw
    But now you face my fury
  • Double Experience's song "New Me" is written about The Punisher. The chorus ends on these lyrics:
    I am judge, jury, and Punisher.
  • Little Big Town's "Welcome to the Family" features the line "Grandpa's the local sheriff, yeah, he's the judge and the jury too." No mention of executioner, but the next line is "Uncle Bill's the undertaker"...
  • The song "Dirty Window" by Metallica has the trope said word by word in one of the chorus lines, as a metaphor for figurative judgment.
    I'm judge, and I'm jury, and I'm executioner too...

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Inevitables, extraplanar constructs that enforce the laws of the cosmos, pass judgement on transgressors, determine appropriate punishment — often death — and carry it out themselves. The primary exception are the zelekhuts — because they exists to help enforce mortal laws, they typically just drag captured transgressors back for judgement or imprisonment unless they were already sentenced to a penalty like death or corporal punishment, in which case the zelekhut carries it out itself.
  • Hc Svnt Dracones: The IRPF has Inquisitors who are empowered to hand out summary judgements in order to relieve the workload on their courts, though they're rarely allowed to give out sentences more severe than a year in prison. Which isn't to say that it doesn't happen sometimes.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Referenced Harvester of Souls, who is is "judge, jury, and executioner because he killed them all".
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse:
    • Iron Legacy was once a respected super hero. After the death of his daughter in the alternate timeline, he fell, tuned into a Knight Templar, and became the Judge, Jury, and Executioner.
    • The Celestial Tribunal is a sapient spaceborne AI that travels through space to judge planets. It then executes those planets because it always judges them as unjust.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Imperium, perhaps unsurprisingly, includes several organizations and individuals with this power. The Adeptus Arbites (who rather resemble the Judges of Mega City) who govern the populace, the Commissars of the Imperial Guard, the Ecclesiarchy (who tend to favor some of the more unusual punishments) and the Inquisition. The Inquisition has executed billions of people, be they guilty or not of whatever crime they were accused of. And they also have an extreme measure that they will use to purge a planet of taint when it is considered "irredeemable." (And the philosophy behind it specifically states that the billions of innocent casualties that are often included is acceptable collateral damage; after all, the Imperium will never run out of people.)

  • Ko-Ko of The Mikado is Lord High Executioner, as well as, presumably, judge and jury. Pish-Tush is... noble something-or-other. Pooh-Bah is Lord High Everything Else. Subverted, as Ko-Ko is a bit squeamish about executing people, leading him to sentence people less often (as opposed to most of the other trigger-happy juries on the rest of the page). And also because Ko-Ko is himself under a sentence of death for... flirting.

    Video Games 
  • The Enforcers of APB are these in the city limits of San Paro, thanks to a law enacted by the mayor.
  • Aviary Attorney: It can be pointed out with concern that judges in The Bible are like this. Later Leonie Beaumort takes the prosecutor, jury, executioner role with a suspected murderer, though a persuasive and quick-thinking Jayjay Falcon, playing the defense, can get her to consider carefully. The Second Republic she wants to build should be a just place, after all.
  • Dragon Age:
    • When it comes to Darkspawn and especially Blights (where Darkspawn come out in force led by an Archdemon), Grey Wardens are called to do whatever it takes to end the Darkspawn threat. Mage wardens are beyond the authority of the Chantry, and they can even conscript kings (though warden-commanders are wise not to overstep their de-facto bounds, no matter what the law says). Darkspawn are that dire a threat. Even the Dalish Elves, who normally shun the thought of bending knee to human lords, will answer the call of the Wardens.
    • In Dragon Age II, the Kirkwall Templars turn into this under the leadership of Knight-Commander Meredith. They're already breaking their own rules at the start of the game - by the end, Meredith is sending hit squads into the slums to summarily execute mage sympathizers. She comes this close to the trope name at one point:
      Meredith: We must be judges, jailers, and even executioners.
    • The Player Character frequently becomes this in Dragon Age: Inquisition. They have final say on the fate of any prisoners - and if you pick "death", it's usually them swinging the sword. There are more merciful options (and some seemingly merciful options), but either way it's exclusively the Inquisitor's decision.
  • Final Fantasy XII: The Judges are sort of like a whole squadron of Darth Vaders. Their official position are the vanguards of House Solidor, the Imperial family, charged with keeping order in the Archadian Empire. In practice however they're generals of the army and personal envoys of the Empire, and have the power and training to be worthy of the positions. Their status as this trope is lampshaded by Balthier, who notes "They're more like Executioners than Judges", and in Dissidia Final Fantasy, Gabranth's title is "The EXecutioner". And though you only meet six Judge Magisters in the game, there are apparently six more, as a woman in Bhujerba will say there are only a dozen Judge Magisters in the Empire! Yeesh, maybe they didn't show up because they're just too powerful. They're also present in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. They're not quite as bad in this version, though. While the "laws" they enforce are ludicrously arbitrary, at least they never kill anybody. Directly.
  • Granblue Fantasy: While the Primal Beast, Vohu Manah, was originally intended to just be the first one, giving just verdicts to all, the War caused the Primals to convert it into all three for all mankind.
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV, NOOSE officers sometime declare themselves to be "the judge and the jury, MUTHAFUCKA", although any law enforcement officer in the Grand Theft Auto series qualifies.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us is an alternate version of the DC Comics where Superman goes rogue and sets up a planet-wide dictatorship after killing The Joker. Instead of following truth, justice, and the American Way, Superman now believes in lies, injustice, and the authoritarian way via his hardline stance on crime. It is even lampshaded by Atlantis' archivist (a Martian Manhunter in disguise), who describes him as this when explaining the backstory on Superman's rise to power to an alternate version of Aquaman who didn't go rogue.
  • The Death Squads from Liberal Crime Squad. Only appearing when Death Penalty and Police Regulation laws are Arch-Conservative, they execute any criminal they catch on the spot.
  • In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, if She-Hulk and Magneto are on opposite teams, she says the trope name in her introduction.
    She-Hulk: Today I'm judge, jury and executioner.
    Magneto: The time of Homo Superior has come!
  • Mass Effect: The Spectres. The asari justicars too, at least in asari space, though they are also bound by an immense code which is used to dictate all of their actions. Spectres however have no "code of conduct", only a mandate to "protect galactic security" at any cost. There has been at least one instance of a Spectre and Justicar clashing over this as well.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 4: Red Sun and Blue Moon has Duo, a sort of super-Navi created by an ancient civilization and written onto a satellite computer to go around erasing planets as he sees fit. Too bad he happens to fly by Earth during The Syndicate's main operation: spreading Psycho Serum and creating a sudden influx of EVIL all over the world. Good thing we've got Lan and MegaMan to kick his ass and make him spare us! Along with the world at once yelling at him to stop.
  • Mega Man Zero 3 gives us the Eight Gentle Judges, who rule Neo Arcadia alongside X (both the real one and his Evil Knockoff Copy X). They were as much Knights Templar as the rest of the series' antagonists, until they were turned Brainwashed and Crazy by Dr. Weil to become his Quirky Miniboss Squad. note  Glacier le Cactank, in particular, provides us with this quote:
    Glacier: Has the legendary hero stooped to thievery? How deplorable. As king of the Snow Plains, I do hereby judge your crime.
    (cue One-Winged Angel)
    Glacier: I, Glacier Le Cactank, of Weil's Numbers, have reached a verdict. The punishment for thievery is death!
    • The Maverick Hunters of the previous series were forced into this trope more often than not due to both extreme circumstances and the complete unwillingness of their targets to cooperate. Needless to say, X was very unhappy about this fact.
  • Marta from Outlast II has such a strong faith that she is hesitant about killing those who oppose Temple Gate. Knoth tells her that she is trusted to perform the sacred duty of being witness, judge, and executioner to have her go through.
  • Pathologic features an Inquisitor who is the very embodiment of this trope.
  • From Sam & Max: Freelance Police Season 2 episode 1.
    Max: When we find Santa, leave the talking to me. And the hasty trial, the harsh sentancing and the immediate execution!
    Sam: Hold on. You can't be Santa's judge, jury and executioner. Don't I get to do anything?
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, within the ranks of the Mantra Army Court Thor fills this role.
  • In Tyranny, the player character, as a Fatebinder in the armies of Kyros the Overlord, is supposed to take this role with regards the conquered population. It's up to players how to use it — although the job isn't completely oversight-free, being under the "watchful eye" of Kyros's Archon of Justice. The character has even been described as similar to Judge Dredd in a Dark Fantasy setting.

  • Errant Story: the less extreme members of the elven Peregin force (which is to say, Sarine) are this way toward half elves. Most Peregins, however, don't bother with nuances of guilt or innocence as far as half elves are concerned.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • The legal system of Mahuitalotu (a planet where their entire economy revolves around tourism) is said to involve a "Prosexecuting Attornicator". It's blatantly obvious that their police force is mostly worried about cleaning up the problem as fast as possible to keep from potentially bothering the tourists.
    • Much later, the company hires another mercenary company that specializes in policing to enforce the law in a boom city. The new police note that they won't be providing lawyers or judges; the rights of the citizens are much more likely to be protected when the entire legal system isn't all being paid by the same people.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Oasis was "protector" of a small town that used to be a haven for organized crime. The locals were absolutely terrified of her as she killed every criminal she came across.

    Web Original 
  • Judge Dead from the Noob franchise is naturally this, being the head Game Master for the MMORPG in which the story is set. The name is likely intentional as he has said "I am the law" a couple of times in the webseries. A couple of other Game Masters have been seen in the comic version, one of them giving his name as "Judge Love".

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dragon: Jake Long first season episode "The Hunted", dragons are said to be this to other magical creatures.
    • And the Dragon Council appears to be this for all dragons.
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Avatar Day" features a town where the justice system is called "justice" because it involves "just us": The prosecutor, judge, and jury is the same man while the defendant is only allowed to present their own testimony as evidence. Punishment is decided by the Wheel of Punishment, however, which ranges from "boiled in oil" to "community service."
    Katara: Community service! Please stop on community service!
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • Two-Face becomes one of these under the guise of the Judge, in Batman: The Animated Series. He tries to execute several super-villains including himself, as a result of a third personality developing because of Harvey's former sense of justice, despising that he had become Two-Face. It ends with Two-Face sitting in a cell, and his third voice demanding what he pleads. "Guilty... Guilty... Guilty..."
    • Batman himself comes right to the edge in an early episode of the series. After chasing down a man who keeps children underground and uses them to steal things for him, he tells him that, while he'll never betray his values of Thou Shalt Not Kill and that he'll still turn him over to the courts for judgment, he was very tempted.
  • On Captain N: The Game Master: MotherBrain takes over in one episode and declares herself Judge, Jury, and Executioner of Videoland as she puts the heroes on trial.
  • Walker the ghost warden in Danny Phantom is judge, jury, and executioner -and really likes the executioner part.
  • DuckTales (1987): The crooked General Chiquita, president of the aptly named "Banana Republic", arrests and sentences Scrooge and Fenton to death by "cannon squad". The General also presides over their (attempted) execution.
  • In an episode of Garfield and Friends, Jon is stopped by a corrupt hick for driving faster than the posted limit of 8 mph (incidentally obscured by overgrowth.) The selfsame sheriff that arrests him proceeds to prosecute him, defend him, judge him, and act as several different members of the jury.
  • Looney Tunes: Daffy Duck uses this as a humorous charade on Porky Pig in the classic short "Boobs In The Woods."
  • Monkey Dust: The Paedofinder General's entire career is spent accusing people of being pedophiles. His evidence is always based on completely spurious coincidences or otherwise innocuous irrelevancies. He then pronounces the sentence which is always death. The fact that he is a parody of actual UK paedo witch-hunt logic is somewhat worrying.
  • It pops up in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic on the rare times they're able to simply incapacitate a villain rather than taking them down with the Elements of Harmony or other such magic attacks. They'll decide on the spot what to do with the villain, with Twilight Sparkle typically leaning towards trying to talk them into giving friendship a chance and giving them a shot at reformation like she did with Starlight Glimmer, while Princess Celestia and Princess Luna prefer to be much harsher and dump their foes in Tartarus or seal them in stone indefinitely like they did with Cozy Glow, Queen Chrysalis, and Lord Tirek.
  • In an episode of Super Friends, Mxyzptlk puts Superman and Batman on trial, and immediately says, "As Judge, Jury, and Executioner, I pronounce you: Guilty, Guilty, GUILTY!"
  • The five-faced Quintesson Judge in Transformers: The Movie. Whether the defendant is guilty or innocent, they get thrown into the Shark Pool.

    Real Life 
  • Medieval knights and feudal Samurai had absolute power over those living in their lands (technically you could complain to the person above them, but in practice even getting a word to that person could be impossible), and in the case of Samurai were legally entitled to kill most commoners for any reason, such as showing disrespect.
  • In medieval and early modern England, a bill of attainder was a type of law passed by Parliament that declared a particular person to be guilty of a crime and ordered them to be punished accordingly, with no way for the target to appeal or otherwise defend themselves. It served as a convenient way for the king to get rid of his enemies without having to bother with a trial, though its use did depend on Parliament's cooperation. It eventually fell out of favour due to the potential for abuse and as Parliament became increasingly uncooperative with the wishes of the monarchy, but was never officially abolished.
  • In contrast, attainder laws are explicitly banned in the United States for two reasons: they violate a person's due process by punishing them without a trial and turn Congress into a Kangaroo Court. They are also banned at the state level as well.
  • The Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE) elite police unit in Rio De Janeiro is known for such a reputation, according to the book (and later a film) Tropa de Elite. The fact that they use a skull for an emblem doesn't help.
  • This is kind of what the US Marshals did during the Old West period. Usually, they are the law enforcers of the towns, but in the lawless frontier where there is no government (and thus, no court), the marshals also assume the role of the judge. They also carried out public hangings of death-sentenced convicts.
    • In remote areas of Canada before courts were formally established, Mounties also served as judges in the same fashion.
  • In Qing and Republic-era China, soldiers would often be assigned to this task. "Individuals who were caught stealing or causing disorder in the market place would be apprehended, bound and usually beheaded in the middle of the street after a very brief 'trial.'."
  • After Germany invaded the USSR in WWII, Hitler issued an order that court-martials would not be used in Russia - instead, any Russian who might have done something wrong was to be brought before the nearest officer, who would decide whether to kill the person or not.


Video Example(s):



Rogercop uses his laser cuffs to arrest people, then compel them to carry out whatever "sentence" he passes with a blow of his whistle.

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Main / JudgeJuryAndExecutioner

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