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Tear Jerker / Judge Dredd

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The city — his beloved city — is dying before his eyes.
  • A Child's Tale. While pursuing two criminals, Dredd made a judgment call to take his bike through a busy district, but accidentally runs over a deaf woman as she's walking out of a building with her son. This switches to a child-like drawing style shown from the perspective of the son as he describes how angry he is at Dredd and sad about losing his mother. Dredd visits the boy several months later and sees the drawings, and wonders if anyone in his city gets a happy ending.
  • America. Poor Benny Beeny. America Jara, the love of his life, couldn't live with the totalitarian rule of the Judges and became a democratic outlaw. When they finally meet again, he can't convince her to leave her mission behind and be with him. She's subsequently killed when Dredd decided to make an example out of America's associates, only for another Judge to shoot her as well. Beeny finally transplants his brain into America's body and has it impregnated so she can continue to live through him and their child. In the second part of his story, America's body starts rejecting the transplant, meaning that Benny will die. He takes the euthanasia option and enrols his daughter, America in the Academy of Law, hoping that she'll become an Internal Reformist.
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  • Dredd allows the referendum that could put the Judges out of power to go on, thinking the people of Mega-City One will be content with their situation. He's right: not only do a fraction of the residents vote, those who could even get vote properly massively voted for the Judges to stay.
  • Judge Dredd's confrontation with the no longer mind-controlled Judge Kraken at the end of Necropolis, who doesn't resist surrender and tells Dredd how the Dark Judges made him their puppet, only being able to weep as he murdered millions. They part on friendly terms as Dredd admits that he could have easily been standing in his place if he hadn't been away in the Cursed Earth before shooting his clone at his request.
  • Judge Morphy's death six months before he was due to take an academy posting in Tale of the Dead Man. This guy was Dredd's final assessing judge and had constantly given him advice whenever he had doubts about the job. Dredd even notes that he'd been like a real father to him and threatens to decapitate one of the perps responsible with a train. While he pulls him back in time, Morph's death was the final straw for Dredd and his doubts about the judge system and he quits, taking off into the Cursed Earth.
  • At the end of Origins, Dredd gets to see his clone father Fargo on his death bed one last time. Fargo asks where Joseph's brother Rico is, and Dredd says he couldn't make it. The Father of Justice reveals his despair at seeing the totalitarian society that America has become (and his role in unwittingly ushering it forth), and with his dying breath begs his kin to save the city. Dredd keeps the truth to himself.
    Fargo: It was never meant to be forever, Joe. We created a monster. We, us, we're the monster! We got greedy - wanted everything - so we killed the dream, Joe! We killed America! I'm asking you... begging you - my flesh, my blood... It's not too late! Fix it, Joe! You - you and Rico - You can do it...
    • The worst part is that Dredd's silence on it is likely because Judge Dredd had already tried that, having called for a referendum years earlier which saw the people of Mega City One (those who bothered to vote anyhow) choosing to keep the Judges, as they had either become too used to it or didn't want to risk instability with any other alternative. Unfortunately for Fargo, it looks like the American Dream will remain dead and the Judges' totalitarian system is here to stay.
  • Day of Chaos has the biggest Downer Ending of any of the Mega Epics. Every attempt to avert the upcoming disaster fails due to bad decisions and bad luck striking all at once. In the end the majority of the population becomes infected with a deadly virus, the city is reduced to barely fifty million people, and Dredd can do nothing but hope to pick up the pieces.
  • Dekker's death during "Judgement Day". After her grenade goes off, the next panel is a forlorn image of Dredd from behind, hanging his head. He notes that his best ever rookie has just passed on.
  • There is a story where Dredd travels into the past to prevent a virus from existing in his own time. One of the stops is "our" present, where he briefly talks to an old man who is the grandfather of one of the infectees. The old man is exhausted with the state of the world and his inability to stop his own grandson from participating in pointless rioting and looting.
  • The sad fate of Judge DeMarco, who was in love with Dredd. She eventually chose to leave the Justice Department and become a P.I, unable to abandon the human part of herself that craved companionship and love. Even worse, it's implied that Dredd really did return the attraction, but it didn't matter. The Law explicitly states that no Judge may have personal relationships, and that's that. Whatever Dredd may feel is inconsequential.
  • Helltrekkers is made of a combination of this and Nightmare Fuel. It focuses on a band of Mega-City One migrants who, for various reasons, have chosen to permanently leave the Mega-City and start a new life in "the new territories", beyond the reach of the Judge System. To get there, they have to make a trek through 2000 miles of The Cursed Earth. Along the way, they are whittled down by disaster after disaster; dinosaur attacks, outbreaks of super-plagues, attacks by mutant marauders... by the time they reach the halfway signpost, their party of 111 has been whittled down by 49 casualties. And as the other tallies on the signpost note, they got off easy. By the time they finally reach the new territories, only 16 of them are left alive.
    • The fate of poor Rollo Peterson; a Helltrekker aspirant who couldn't afford a radwagon like the rest of the convoy and instead tries to make it in his mopad. He survives the acid storm by the skin of his teeth, and then just manages to make it through the heavily irradiated Slough of Saint Louis... at which point he dies of radiation sickness on the 6th day of the trek, with his now-radioactive mopad left to rust as his tomb on Heartbreak Ridge.
    Lucas Rudd: Poor Rollo. He wanted so bad to get that moped to the New Territories. Now he's just a glowing monument on Heartbreak Ridge, with a half-life of 50,000 years.
    • Black Scab (the above-mentioned superplague) hits the travellers shortly before they cross the Slough. It's noted that one family, the Kelseys, were forced to watch their children succumb to the disease, one by one, with the two parents completely unable to do anything to save them.
    • The poor Ruben family dies when the cables hoisting their radwagon up onto higher ground in the Nebraska Ridge give way, crushing them under their own vehicle.
    • Emphasizing the mixture of Tearjerker and Nightmare Fuel, at the 300 kilometer mark, five of the radwagons refuse to follow the map led by their dead guide and instead charge straight across the plains. Just outside of the gates to the New Territories, those five radwagons roll up... with every last soul inside seemingly dead of fright. A tragedy they could have averted if they'd just been willing to be patient, and they came so close.
    • The story can't even end without one last twist of the knife; part of the convoy are the Glemp family, who left Mega-City One so they wouldn't have to abandon their mutant daughter, Crustacia, a strange crab-like creature. The whole family makes it to the New Territories, alive and well... and then, whilst they are letting Crustacia play in a clean mountain stream, the baby mutant just turns and scuttles away into the water, vanishing forever. The last panels talk about how her "haunted" father has spent every day since then wandering the shores of the New Territories, trying to find his daughter.
  • Logan announcing to Dredd that Hershey has been Secretly Dying for years due to a microbial infection she picked up off world and has only a few months to live. She'd kept it so well hidden that Logan only made the discovery upon becoming Chief Judge. It also adds more weight to her goodbye to Dredd. Dredd notes that he'll have to see her again before she dies.
    • Prog 2150 portrayed her eventual death by euthanasia. Hershey refuses painkillers to be aware of what's going on in spite of the obvious pain she's in. Dredd holds her hand as she slips away, showing that despite their disagreements over the years, they are truly still friends.
      Hershey: Goodbye, Joe.
      Dredd: Goodbye, old friend.
  • One strip follows a Sov-Block robot during the Apocalypse War. After saving a Mega-City One citizen from a robbery, it asks him to sing to it - like its grandfather used to. As he does so, it's revealed the robot is actually a cyborg - a young Sov girl, taken from her family, her brain forcibly transplanted into a robotic chassis and hard-wired to kill anything the Sovs deem an enemy, all while being just aware enough to understand what she's forced to do and feel emotions. Makes you wonder how many of the Mecha-Mooks Dredd and company mowed down during the war were similar...

1995 movie:

  • Rico confronting his clone brother Dredd.
    Rico: I was your brother, your blood, your friend! Who betrayed who?! When are you going to stop being a god damn slave and grow up?! That's your birthright! That's (the clones) your family! I'm your family! (voice cracks) I'm the only family you ever had! Now choose!
    Dredd: (calmly) The best thing you can do is kill me.
    Rico:(shocked) Why?
    Dredd: Because it's your only chance brother.