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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 Two Thousand 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 an unapologetic fascist, firmly committed to his organization's brutal and ruthless methods of law enforcement, but it's firmly established that the society of Mega-City-One would collapse without him and his fellow Judges, and more than once has. Though Dredd is impeccably honest and honorable, has had some Pet the Dog moments throughout the years, and has been given cause to question his purpose more than once, democracy within his society is depicted as simply unworkable.

For those that like their classical philosophy texts, Dredd's world has a distinct air of Plato's Republic about it ...

As well being the hero of the longest-running strip in 2000 AD, having appeared since the second issue, Dredd has appeared in his own series of comics and audio plays from Big Finish.

Judge Dredd was also adapted into a movie starring Sylvester Stallone. A second movie, starring Karl Urban, is now being made. And yes, he's keeping his helmet on this time.


Tropes specific to The Original Comic

  • Abnormal Ammo: In addition to firing standard rounds, a Judge's Lawgiver handgun (See Also, Impossibly Cool Weapon) can fire armor piercing, heat-seeking, ricochet (for Human Shield situations), incendiary, and explosive rounds. Each of these can be combined with the full auto setting. There is also a guided round, which is a one-shot deal - the actual guided projectile is placed over the muzzle and the bullet fired through the barrel is incorporated and provides the motive power.
    • Newer issued Lawgivers come with a stun setting. However, to many judges it's something of a Scrappy Weapon, as its effectiveness is unpredictable and somewhat unreliable.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Several examples including ones that are mounted on vehicles, robots, etc etc.
  • Action Girl: Female Judges and many other female characters.
  • Affably Evil: Sabbat The Necromagus, he even teaches his zombie minions how to sing original song compositions praising him while they slaughter Sabbat's opponents.

  Sabbat: You should see 'em tapdance! I always think that mindless slaughter is improved by a touch of humour, don't you? Laugh and the world laughs with you!

  • All Crimes Are Equal: Most antagonists who take Justice Dept.'s practices to extremes do this a lot, including Judge Cal, the Dark Judges, and others.
  • Alternate Universe: The entire basis for the "Helter Skelter" story arc which featured an alternate depiction of each of Dredd's biggest enemies, all of which have killed the counterpart to the original Dredd from their respective home dimensions, teaming up to defeat Judge Dredd prime. More recently, there was a story arc dealing with the discovery of a Mirror Universe called "Macro Zone Alpha" in which the city was an exceptionally polite place, and the brutal Judges were replaced by soft-spoken rehabilitation officers. And, of course, Judge Death and his Dark Judges originate from their own universe nicknamed "Deadworld."
  • And I Must Scream: The fate of Judge Cal's closest aide, Judge Slocum. Completely paralyzed but entirely conscious, Slocum is dropped into a sealed vat of vinegar for preservation... with a smile fixed to his face.
  • Anti-Hero: while Dredd is a brutal cop in a fascist police state he is the good guy, and more liberal than pretty much everyone else.
    • Not in his first series of comics, at least.
    • One story featured Dredd coming into conflict with a Satanic cult. They orchestrated events so that he would come to them so that they may sacrifice his "pure" soul. Dredd was quick to point out that he's pretty much an asshole, to which the cult leader replied that he's the purest being in their craptastic future.
      • It's not so much that Dredd is "pure", as it is that he is utterly incorruptible, and the living embodiment of all that the Satanists oppose - Law, Order, Discipline, Duty...
  • Anti-Villain: Quite a few criminals are portrayed rather more sympathetically than the Judges. Notably, both Spikes Harvey Rotten and Chopper turned to crime simply to be something more than a faceless mass.
  • The Apunkalypse: After the End, life in the Mega City becomes a crime-ridden mess of gangs and general lawlessness. The Judges are the only ones available to try to rein in the social chaos of The Apunkalypse.
    • In outfit terms, people generally wear futuristic punk clothing. Max Normal was part of a subculture that rejected societal norms by being impeccably dressed, and he wore a three-piece suit. Dredd even asks him why he can't just get some freak clothes like everyone else.
  • Arch Nemesis: Initially filled by Judge Death, though PJ Maybe seems to have taken on this role in recent years.
  • Armor Is Useless: If you're hit with Hi-Ex, Armor Piercing, or Incendiary rounds armor won't do much for you. Several mutants and robots have weapons that make armor useless.
    • Averted by the Soviet team in the wargame story, whose armour stands up to anything the Luna City team can throw at them. The Sovs also have guns that can fire through cover, walls, and armour to detonate on the other side. Two problems with one solution.
  • Arrested for Heroism: Justice Department will stop at nothing to ensure that citizens don't take the Law into their own hands. Vigilante justice is illegal, and anyone who tries to be a superhero will always wind up pursued by the Judges. Even saving a Judge from certain death at the hands of a criminal is illegal, as Dredd once arrested Walter The Wobot for throwing a cweam pie in the face of a criminal who had a clear chance to kill Dredd.
    • That was actually because Walter attacked a human.
  • Ass Shove: A short story introduces The Great Arsoli, whose act involves pulling ever larger things from his nether regions, finishing with his lovely, smiling assistant. Dredd arrests him for not declaring those items through customs.
  • Attack Animal: Several mutants and other creations made by various groups and companies.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: If the story isn't about Dredd stopping some fantastic new breed of crime some other bizarre, futuristic trend among the citizens, the city is most likely being plagued by any number of monsters from Freak Lab Accidents, from nuclear radiation, from outer space in just about every form listed on the Alien Tropes page, or something equally unnatural and menacing for the Judges to stop. There was even once an attack by a 50 foot woman in Mega-City One.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Judge Joe Dredd. Averted by Call-Me-Kenneth and Elvis.
  • Ax Crazy: Quite a few villains, but the Junior Angel in particular is a standout.

  Junior Angel: "You got this comin', loudmouth! An' even if yo' didn't, yo'd still get it! 'Cause I'm just plumb fond of killin'!"

    • Occasional reference is made to criminals "going for the record," as in, "Record for Most People Individually Killed in a Single Night By One Person."
  • Badass: Dredd. To be renowned as the toughest of all the judges (see Training From Hell) he'd have to be.
  • Badass Biker: Dredd spends a lot of time on his Lawmaster.
  • Badass Grandpa: Dredd is becoming one of these the hard way.
  • Berserk Button: Mean Machine quite literally has one of these (A dial with settings 1, surly to 4, brutal).
    • For Judge Anderson, harming children or infants is a big one for her. This weakness was exploited by Judge Death as he deliberately kills children to lure Anderson into a trap.
  • Big Fat Future: "The League of Fatties"
  • Black Comedy: A core element of the comic. For example the first place to get hit by a nuke in the apocalypse war is the reclamation project for the city block that was nuked out by a mad pirate in a hijacked nuke station 6 months earlier. We even get to see one of the workers noticing the incoming missile...
    • The same block is also named after Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director of the Manhattan Project.
  • Bond One-Liner: Judge Dredd and few other characters occasionally fire one off.
  • Bunny Ears Judge: Psi division is portrayed as this, the idea being a more relaxed attitude is a tradeoff for psionic powers. Anderson in particular is shown to be rather flippant with her superiors. However, in recent years, Psi division is increasingly portrayed as a laughing stock within the department.
    • The "Wally Squad" (the undercover division) is also tolerated for being a bit weird, as the nature of their work means they have to fit in with strange people.
  • By-The-Book Cop: Dredd will follow Justice Dept.'s codes and regulations to the letter. Even in the rare event that Dredd lets a personal matter affect his decisions (big no-no for Mega-City Judges), he'll always be the first (and, usually, the only) Judge to call for his own removal from the force... though he's always talked out of it by his superiors, especially the Chief Judge.
  • The Caligula: Judge Cal, who took over Mega-City One and ruled it... insanely.
  • Caligula's Horse: Cal appointed his pet goldfish as Deputy Chief Judge.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Dredd and most other judges, to the point many readers assume the pistols and motorcycles are voice activated weapons (they're not, except in movie). Even if they were, it wouldn't explain "Boot knife!"
  • Carpet of Virility
  • Catch Phrase: "I am the Law", which has become iconic of the series. Also, the Dark Judges' "The crime is life. The sentence is death", and Anderson's "Grud on a greenie!"
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Many characters are based upon real people. One gang even uses face change technology to commit crimes as various comedic personalities, including Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and The Marx Brothers.
  • Celibate Hero: Dredd, as Judges in Mega-City 1 are not allow to have romantic relationships.
  • City of Adventure
  • City of Weirdos
  • Cloning Blues: Generally averted in Dredd's case. He's a clone of Chief Judge Fargo, as was his corrupt brother Rico, the insane Kraken, the second Rico, and at least 7 others, but it only rarely bothers him. Played straight with Kraken, though.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Chief Judge Mac Gruder in her second stint as Chief Judge. Having taken the long walk, Dredd meets up with her during the Necropolis arc. Several years in the cursed earth has taken its toll on both her body and her sanity.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Just about everyone.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Several Creeps have this as a theme.
  • Combat Stilettos: Female Judges may have them, Depending on the Artist (especially if that artist is Brian Bolland).
  • Combat Tentacles: usually found among the mutant populations and some robots have been seen to have them.
  • Comic Book Time: Averted; Dredd canonically ages in line with the strip itself.
  • Consulting a Convicted Killer: One brief Story Arc followed Dredd aiming to catch a spree-killer in Mega-City One who disintegrates his victims' bodies, only leaving their right hands. Noting similarities to a past case involving a spree-killer who had a similar motive with left hands, which Dredd had solved, Dredd consults with the perpetrator of the original crimes, now in an iso-cube. The prisoner requests that he get "a cube with a view" for his assistance, but Dredd convinces him to provide insight unconditionally after threatening him. The prisoner then divulges what he could assume about his Copycat Killer, the most important part being that the suspect must come from Brit-Cit because that's the only place the prisoner's original crimes are given any recognition.
  • Continuity Nod: There's a Running Gag about how Dredd is always wearing the wrong sized boots. This dates back to early in the long-running "Democracy" story arc when Dredd first started having doubts about his duty as a Judge; his mentor, Judge Morphy, recommended to Dredd that he wear boots two sizes too small, remarking, "You'll be so busy cussin' those damned boots you won't have time to worry about anything else."
  • Counter-Earth: Hestia is a planet which orbits the Sun at nearly the same distance as the Earth but at such an angle to the ecliptic plane that it was not discovered until 2009. It is inhabited by a small colony of humans and an intelligent indigenous population who keep their distance from the colonists. The planet is also home of the lethal Dune Sharks (flying shark-like predators which can burrow beneath the ground).
  • Crapsack World: Mega-City One has 97% unemployment, a massive suicide rate, and so many laws on the books that when the judges find someone who appears to have not broken any of them, they arrest him on the grounds that he must be hiding something.
  • Crazy Prepared: One story has Dredd trying to deal with a slightly-jerky Superman Expy, who happily admits that the only thing he's vulnerable to is the radioactive debris of his exploded home planet. Unfortunately for the Expy, the judges keep the radioactive debris of a large number of exploded planets on hand just in case of something like this.
  • Creator Cameo: Judges are sometimes named after writers and artists on the series. For instance, the list of Judges who graduated in Dredd's year includes Wagner and Gibson, obvious references to writer John Wagner and artist Ian Gibson. Interestingly, Judge Gibson turns up in a later story as a corrupt cop in the first arcs dealing with corrupt Judges.
    • Gibson's appearance appears to be a continuity patch following the reference - after the gag, Dredd's clone-brother Rico turned up. He hadn't been listed with the others, so the story with Judge Gibson being investigated and struck off the list was added to explain his absence.
    • There was also a Judge Findlay.
    • Cam Kennedy appeared as Kenny Who?
    • John Wagner appeared as a villain in Old Pals Act.
  • Crossover: With several of its Two Thousand AD stablemates.
  • Da Chief: Dredd himself is forced to become this for a time during The Pit arc.
  • Darker and Edgier: Early Judge Dredd stories were typical sci-fi fare for the time, and Judge Dredd was tough, but fair, and Mega City One was democratic. As time went on and the nineties hit, well, there comes the Judge Dredd we all know and love today. Strangely enough, the first test strip that was used to pitch had Dredd acting much closer to his modern incarnation, with him executing a civilian for attempting to bribe him and for vigilante action.
  • Deadly Training Area: To best simulate the real street and combat situations all Mega-City One Judges face, only live ammunition and explosives are used on training courses at the Academy of Law. If a cadet survives making even the slightest mistake on the courses, they are immediately expelled from the Academy.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dredd and Anderson.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: The Dark Judges are Defeated on multiple occasions.
  • Democracy Is Bad: Because Humans Are Morons.
  • The Determinator: Dredd will stop at nothing to achieve his tasks, best exemplefied in the "City of the Damned" story arc in which Dredd loses his eyes and is forced to run a gauntlet of terrifying creatures in an inferno (made all the more worse by Dredd's blindness). When he can no longer walk, he crawls, but he never stops for he is a Judge. And it is his duty.
  • Divided States of America: Following the Atomic War of 2070, all that survived of the USA were its three Mega-Cities (Mega-City One covering much of the East Cost and Ohio, Mega-City Two covering much of the West, and Mega-City Three covering much of Texas and parts of the Mid-West). Mega-City Three gained independence from the other two cities shortly after the war, rechristening itself "Texas City," and by the time the comic's main story begins in 2099 Mega-Cities One and Two are both very much independent from each other as well. The rest of the US lays as barren nuclear wasteland dubbed "The Cursed Earth" with a handful of scattered settlements all around; Las Vegas, however, managed to hold up well enough, compared to the rest of the Cursed Earth at least, for a while... until it was destroyed by Judge Death. Furthermore, Mega-City Two is later overrun a global zombie invasion during "Judgement Day" and is subsequently wiped off the map in a coordinated nuclear strike by the world's surviving mega cities.
  • Don't Look Back: During the "Apocalypse War" Story Arc, Mega-City One is ravaged by the Soviet city-state East-Meg One to the point where a massive throng of civilians (in the comic, said to be "an estimated 27 million people") are at one point seen making an exodus. One child being carried by his father looks back and says, "Bye-bye city," while his father responds, "Don't look back, boy! You might catch something!"
  • The Dreaded: Well, it is sorta in the name...
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The ultimate fate of Walter The Wobot after stories started to take a bit more serious tone. Also the fate of Judge Giant, Sr. in the prelude to the Apocalypse War as well as multiple supporting characters introduced over the years during Judgment Day and many other instances.
    • To be fair, this is intentional in order to create the realistic aura of Anyone Can Die (and stay dead) that is one of the strip's hallmarks, as most people (especially cops) don't get Hollywood death scenes in real life. Judge Giant, Sr. getting a pointless and unexpected death was what made it so powerful, and many fans will feel betrayed if Dredd goes out any other way himself.
  • Dumb Muscle: Fergie gonna get heavy with you guys!
  • Dystopia: "Justice has a price. The price is freedom."
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first strip is stated to take place in New York City instead of Mega City One, and Judges are described as being "elected by the people" to enforce the law. This idea was quickly changed in favour of the current system.
    • Regular police appear in The Robot Wars.
    • Pre-90s stories were light, compared to the newer Judge Dredd stuff.
    • Early stories present Dredd as much more of a Jerkass. That's not to say he's not one still, but his early dialogue has him berate people for little to no real reason.
  • Electronic Eyes: How Dredd sees after losing his real ones in "City of the Damned."
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: Walter the Wobot caught his lisp out of fear when he was kidnapped by Call-Me-Kenneth. It never wore off.
    • Public Defender 314, a robot tasked with representing perps who cannot afford human attorneys in the Justice Dept.'s Court of Appeals, has an impediment that causes him to speak his dramatic actions out loud (e.g. "If the evidence does not support the accusations levied against my client ...pause for emphasis... we must find him innocent.")
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Walter the Wobot.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: There used to be an entire enclave of super-intelligent monkeys living in the city before the Apocalypse War; chimpanzee mobster Don Uggie and his cronies were occasional adversaries to Dredd during this time. The Big Meg also once elected an orangutan named Dave to be mayor. He was later assassinated.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Dark Judges (Death, Fire, Fear and Mortis), who come from an alternate timeline in which it was reasoned that since crimes were only committed by the living, life itself should be declared a crime. They get their own Catch Phrase too: "The crime isss Life, the sssentence isss Death!"
  • Evil Genius: PJ Maybe. Interestingly enough, usually any perps in Mega-City One who are described as having a genius or otherwise extraordinary intellect are children, although PJ Maybe unquestionably outdoes them all by continually evading capture (he's also the only one we ever get to see grow up).
  • Evil Is Hammy: GAAAAAAAAAZZEEEE INTO THE FACE OF FEEEEAAARRR!!!
  • Evil Twin: Rico, presumably (see The Faceless below).
  • Exty Years From Now: All stories are supposed to be taking place exactly 122 years after they are published.
  • Face Heel Turn: Walter the Wobot after he comes Back From the Dead and starts a second Robot Rebellion under the name Call-Me-Walter.
  • The Faceless: Dredd, who almost never removes his iconic helmet. When he does, his head is swathed in bandages or otherwise hidden. It's implied that his face is hideously scarred underneath.
    • Averted BIG TIME when in the separately titled 2000 AD strip "The Dead Man" the titular (and horribly disfigured) "Dead Man" turns out to be Dredd all along and a huge set-up for the Necropolis story arc.
    • Hotshot artist Simon Bisley drew Dredd's face for the Batman crossover, but the image never appeared in the final comic.
    • Gaze into the face of Dredd.
    • The same thing happened very early on in a strip. Dredd takes off his helmet and you get a huge CENSORED bar. His face is so horrifying, it causes the criminals to drop their weapons. They originally drew up his scarred face, but they decided it looked too stupid and covered it up.
    • Averted in the movie. Because, y'know, it starred Sylvester Stallone and all, though it takes an odd turn with the comic adaptation of the movie, where the top half of Dredd's face looks like Sly, and the lower half looks like the comic's jaw, complete with iconic perma-frown.
  • Fair Cop: Psi-Judge Anderson. Also Psi-Judge Karyn (before her transformation), Chief Judge Hershey (Depending on the Artist) and Ex-Judge Demarco (described by Jack Point as "hotter than lesbian lava").
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The long-running "Democracy" storyline ended with such.
  • The Family That Slays Together: The Angel Gang. Following the events of "The Judge Child Quest", Fink and Mean Machine continued on as Siblings in Crime.
  • Fake Nationality: Dredd's landlady/maid (it varies sometimes) Maria has always talked with a heavy Italian accent, but years later when it was revealed that she had died and left a large inheritance to Dredd, it also turned out that she never really was Italian and was faking her accent "for some reason" the entire time.
  • Fantastic Drug: Quite a few of these have popped up in Mega-City One. The two that stand out the most in Dredd's stories are umpty (a sweet-tasting candy that creates an immediate psychological addiction once a person tries it) and Stookie glands (glands from a sentient alien race called Stookies which can make human users appear much younger than they actually are).
  • Fictional Political Party: The only democratic freedom allowed to the citizens of Mega-City One is the election of the city's Mayor, a very minor role that serves as a liaison between citizens and Justice Department. When the election campaign for Dave the Orangutan was covered in the story arc, "Portrait of a Politician," just about every social clique was shown to have formed its own political party and running its own candidate, many of which would kill each other in mob riots leading up to the election. Named parties include the Apathetic Fringe, the Young Norms (presumably an anti-mutant lobby), the Lib-Lab Flab Party (presumably a Liberal-Labor Party amongst the Big Meg's morbidly obese population), the Uglies (just ugly people), and the All-Out-War Party (basically a group of Bomb-Throwing Anarchists). When the All-Out-War Party starts stirring up trouble, Dredd gives them exactly what they want.
  • Flying Seafood Special: Dune sharks, giant floating sharks with More Teeth Than the Osmond Family and move through sand slightly slower than through air.
  • Follow the Leader: Garth Ennis and Mark Millar's runs in the 90s upped the violence considerably, consistent with what was going on in American comics at the time.
  • Forgot to Pay the Bill: One issue taking place on the moon has a band of robbers who suffocate because they didn't pay the oxygen bill for their hideout.
  • Four Is Death: The Dark Judges: Death, Fear, Fire, and Mortis--judges from another dimension where the four of them rationalized that since all crime is committed by the living, life itself should be deemed a crime punishable by death. However, later stories, such as "Necropolis" and Judge Death's Origins Issue, "Young Death, Boyhood of a Superfiend," introduced the Sisters of Death, Phobia and Nausea, who would be included in their ranks, and one crossover tale with Batman saw The Joker become a fifth Dark Judge.
  • For the Evulz: PJ Maybe returns to Mega City One to assassinate six people all because they got him kicked off the school play when he was younger.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: The stock shoutouts to Soylent Green are there.
  • Future Slang: Future cursing, future cop-speak, future street-slang... You name it.
  • Futuristic Superhighway: Mega-City One includes a great number of different highway transit systems with average speed limits typically being over 200 MPH. The longest and widest of of these, the Superslab, is suggested as spanning the entire length of the city from north to south with a dozen traffic lanes in each direction. The very first strip in 2000 AD featured Dredd sentencing a criminal to Devil's Island--a prison set up on a large traffic island in the middle of the Big Meg's inter-city highway complex with no need for walls because busy traffic is constantly moving at speeds of up to 250 MPH all day and all night, guaranteeing instant death for anyone who tries to escape.
  • Gag Nose: Citizen Snork
  • Gaia's Lament: Earth in the future. If you aren't living in the city, there's the Cursed Earth... which is a polluted wasteland.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Being a Judge does not always translate to doing chivalrous acts towards the populace. Cue Police Brutality.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: The Soviet Union is depicted as surviving into the 22nd century, having been rechristened as the 'Sov Blok'. Judge Dredd is a Long Runner, first published in 1977 when the Soviet Union and Cold War were facts of life. However the only real difference between Mega City One and Two and East Meg One and Two is that the East Meg system has the death penalty and a ruling council of three, not five.
  • The Grotesque: Otto Sump; his first appearance in the strip, no less, even satirizes how these types of characters can be used as The Woobie
  • Hand Cannon: Subverted with the Lawgiver. Depending on the Artist, it's not necessarily a large pistol (as judges holster it on their boots), but it has quite a bit of stopping power. And that's without using armor piercing or Hi-Ex. One annual reveals that the projectile is in effect a small rocket (a la the 1960s Gyrojet pistol) and its velocity is pretty mediocre (550 feet per second)... but unlike your standard everyday pistol, that velocity is maintained after it leaves the barrel.
  • Hanging Judge: Well, more like blowing-your-head-off judge but you get the idea...
    • Ironically, although a staggering number of people get killed resisting arrest, very few crimes in Mega City 1 actually carry the death penalty.
    • Judge Death's origins story Boyhood of a Superfiend shows Death executing each case that comes before him in court, including a couple wishing to divorce. Having reconciled their differences, Death executes them for wasting the court's time.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Walter, who gave up his freedom to remain in Dredd's employ.
  • Hate Plague: Block Mania, a bioengineered plague that caused Patriotic Fervor towards one's own relatively small community and paranoia/xenophobia towards all outsiders.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted; Dredd is almost never seen without wearing his helmet. However, this trope is played straight with Judges Hershey (while she was still a Street Judge, anyway) and Anderson who are never seen wearing their helmets when they are on active duty (although they are sometimes drawn carrying a helmet as if to imply they just took it off...only for the helmet to disappear entirely after one or two panels).
    • Very few active Street Judges are ever seen without wearing their helmets; Judge Giant, for instance, is only seen without one at his graduation ceremony from the Academy of Law where he is actually issued his helmet.
    • It's been commented occasionally that helmets are a distraction for Psi Judges using their powers.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: To an extent, the risk most Judges working undercover units (aka The Wally Squad) face.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Occurs more often then you would think with Ol' Stony Face... even if it takes him awhile to get around to them.
    • Despite Judge Dredd loudly and vehemently insisting he hates robots a LOT, in his early days, he eventually grew accustomed to Walter the Wobot.
    • Hence not only celebrating Christmas (for a half an hour only of course) with Walter, but his reaction to finding a group of robot thieves preparing to reprogram his 'Wobot'.

  Dredd : Pop one rivet and you're dead Creep!

  • Hive Mind: President Booth's robot guardians Snap, Crackle, and Pop.
  • Hobbes Was Right
  • Homage: The Cursed Earth story arc is an homage to Damnation Alley.
  • How Much More Can He Take?: Dredd takes a pounding in some story lines but keeps at it.
  • Human Resources: The recently deceased tend to end up at Resyk where their bodies are recycled so that their resources and nutrients can be put to use elsewhere.
    • One of several zombie outbreaks, of the pseudo-magical reanimation sort, resulted in the issuing of shotguns to the workers here while the last of the effect died out.
  • Humans Are Morons: Very few people who aren't Judges are ever seen making commendable decisions.
    • Humans were never portrayed being much dumber than as they appeared in "Portrait Of A Politician" though. In it, and orangutan named Dave was able to do a better job at predicting the winners of sporting matches than human sports analysts. Later, his fans later rally to get him elected as Mayor of Mega-City One, believing that he can do a better job than an actual person (even Dredd thinks that electing an orangutan could do some good for the city). Dave the Orangutan won the election and was later assassinated.
  • Humans Are Psychic in the Future: In addition to Justice Dept. having an entire Psychic (Psi) Division, several perps in Mega City-One, as well as a few major antagonists for Dredd, possess psychic abilities.
  • Humongous Mecha: Construction machines piloted by robots.
  • Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball: The miracle plastic Boing fits this purpose if used outside the Palais de Boing or other sanctioned areas (if any).
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Occasionally, there are stories about illegal traffickers smuggling/selling a dangerous "white powder" in the city. In the end, the substance always turns out to be sugar.
    • On another note, an early strip features Dredd cracking down on a black market comics ring; Dredd's entire monologue about why comics are dangerous and need to be illegal sounds similar to anti-drug messages.

 Judge Dredd: Old comics are worth a fortune. Selling them to kids is one of the lowest forms of crime. After one or two, kids get so they can't give up. Then the price goes up and up...

  • I Did What I Had to Do: "Apocalypse War" -- Dredd takes the responsibility for the deaths involved in nuking East-Meg One, after half of Mega-City One was killed by the Sov's nuclear strike. This was after he'd assassinated the brainwashed, propagandising Chief Judge.
    • He does it several other times too, including pushing for the nuclear destruction of zombie-infested megacities in "Judgement Day" and going against the entire city to try & bring back mutant rights.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Many criminals Dredd faces take a shot at him at point blank range and usually miss. Dredd responds by returning fire.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: The Judges' standard issue Lawgiver handgun can fire six different types of ammunition (see Abnormal Ammo above) on either standard or rapid fire settings, both ammo and fire settings can be switched via voice command, and every individual gun is programmed to only fire when the Judge the gun was issued to is using it; attempts by perps to hoist a Judge by his own petard are always met with very explosive results.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Dredd. To be fair, he has had a lot of practice.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Judge Dredd drops these at the end of the shorter strips. Also, his name is rather a lame pun.
  • Indecisive Parody: Is Judge Dredd a satire depicting an authoritarian police state of the future, or straightforward police story about cops who do the best they can to prevent their dystopian society from falling into chaos? Depends on the story.
  • Internal Affairs: The SJS, who have a skull motif to their uniforms for some reason.
  • In-Series Nickname: Dredd is often referred to by other characters as "Old Stonyface".
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Dredd has had several run-ins with Batman, and has even taken on Aliens and the Predator.
  • Irony: Mega-City One's city wall was originally ordered to be built by Chief Judge Cal in order to keep the citizens from leaving the city when he pretty much wanted to kill all of them, but on several occasions after his story finished, the city wall has been used as a crucial part of the city's defense from foreign threats and invaders.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: A large portion of the humor is derived from very minor offenses carrying hefty consequences, such as a 6 month - 2 year sentence for littering.
  • Joker Jury: In the Doomsday arc, Dredd is put on trial for war crimes during the Apocalypse war by the government in exile of the city he wiped out. He gets off.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Every Judge's job description.
  • Kill It with Fire: Standard procedure for dealing with Judge Death, but it only destroys their host body instead of really killing them.
  • Knight Templar: Every single one of the Judges and the entire point of the system, with Anderson as perhaps the only exception.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: And it's even the only part of his face visible.
  • Legacy Character: Judge Giant, Jr; the second Rico, a clone of Dredd; and Judge Beeny, daughter of the lead from "America".
  • Like Is, Like, a Comma: This is the way Judge Janus speaks.
  • Long Runner: Since 1977.
  • Love Is a Weakness: It's Justice Dept.'s view that love corrupts a Judge's better sense of judgment and decision making. As such, "extrajudicial liaisons" are illegal and Mega-City One Judges are not allowed to marry or raise a family.
  • Married to the Job: Dredd has no life whatsoever outside of his responsibilities and duties as a Judge. Even when other Judges may recognize a perp or victim as a celebrity personality from a vidshow, Dredd will not, nor would he care. Dredd is celibate and doesn't even celebrate his own birthday--not even when the Chief Judge and closest associates at Justice Dept. get him a cake and gifts. The closest thing Dredd has to a leisure activity is reading the Book of Law.
  • Master Poisoner: Fink Angel from the Angel Gang.
  • Meaningful Name: This can apply to both characters (Judge Dredd, President Booth, Deputy Chief Justice Fodder, and many more) and city blocks in the Big Meg (large apartment complexes that basically function as indoor towns and can house about a hundred thousand to a million citizens Depending on the Writer). For instance, Judge Dredd used to reside at the Rowdy Yates Block, which is named after Clint Eastwood's character from the TV show Rawhide; Clint Eastwood's portrayal of Dirty Harry was a key inspiration for Judge Dredd.
    • Things tend to happen in appropriately-named places, too, If a devolution virus turns the locals into apes, it'll happen in the Charles Darwin Block.
  • Mega City
  • Morality Dial: Most robots have it, and rampages are due to a malfunctioning of this.
  • The Most Dangerous Game Show: Has appeared, at least, three times.
    • One early story featured an underground game show entitled 'You Bet Your Life' where stupid, greedy saps wagered the lives of their closest loved ones (and their own) on trivia questions.
    • Another was about a failed game show host who put his old rivals through a crazy contest with endless fatal results (i.e. "Congratulations! You win a golden bullet!" BAM!).
    • A third story involved a quiz show where a contestant's correct answers would allow him to pick a number between 1 and 10 which would spring a booby trap in his rival contestant's own city block, causing major property damage therein. One of the numbers triggers a flesh disintegrator planted beneath the contestant's own seat. The show's host didn't particularly care if correct answers were actually given, however, and would let contestants pick a number, anyway, no matter what.
  • The Movie: Both the one that never happened and a new one that has been given the green light.
  • Murder.Com
  • Mutants: Generally people whose genetic makeup was affected by nuclear radiation as a result of several atomic wars. Unlike in American comics, namely Marvel, mutants in Dredd's world just suffer from physical deformities and other freakish abnormalities. Superpowers developing from mutations are very rare.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Dredd's genetic engineers gave him his surname believing it could instill fear in the populace.
  • Narrative Poem: Quite a handful of stories are told through rhyme and verse.
  • Never Bareheaded: Dredd doesn't like to take his helmet off.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Chief Judge McGruder is clearly based on Margaret Thatcher, and Francisco rather resembles Barack Obama. An eccentric pop music star from the 20th Century named Jaxon Prince who was cryogenically frozen into the 22nd Century was very obvious stand-in for Michael Jackson.
  • The Not-So-Harmless Punishment: After Dredd assassinates a brainwashed Chief Judge Griffin on live television and escapes during the "Apocalypse War" Story Arc, all East-Meg Judges present throughout the incident have been rounded up and are about to be issued winter clothing before being sent off to a penal colony in Siberia, which is War Marshall Kazan's typical punishment for failure.

 Kazan: Cancel that order!

East-Meg Judge: You mean you're not sending them to Siberia?

Kazan: No, I mean they're not getting any winter clothing!

  • The Obi-Wan: Chief Justice Fargo takes this role to a certain extent in Judge Dredd: Origins.
    • More closely, the senior judge who supervised Dredd's final assessment to become a full judge, Judge Morphy, mentored Dredd throughout much of his career on the force and, in some ways, is the closest thing Dredd has had to a father figure. One piece of advice Morphy gave to Dredd has since become something of a Running Gag (See: Continuity Nod).
  • Offered the Crown: Dredd has been asked to be Chief Judge on several separate occasions after saving the city from one catastrophe or another; however, he turns the offer down every time because he prefers life as a Street Judge.
    • That said, he has recently accepted a place on the Council of Five with the condition that he be allowed to remain on the streets. He also has twice ran for the position of Chief Judge, the second being his reasoning that he figured Martin Sinfield as Chief is a lot worse than being put behind a desk.
      • Prior to this, Dredd has sat on the Council a single day to make quorum during the trial of another member of the Council. Also, the first time Dredd ran for the position of Chief Judge, he didn't even vote for himself.
  • Offscreen Rebuilding: This is usually subverted wherein major story arcs that see much of the city destroyed are followed immediately by steps to rebuild and reclaim order (i.e. "Apocalypse War," "Necropolis"), but outside of those few examples, this is played straight.
  • Oireland: This trope is combined with The Theme Park Version in Dredd's world where Ireland has been transformed into a giant amusement park based entirely on Irish stereotypes.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Judge Death and his followers declared life itself to be illegal in their world.
  • One Steve Limit: Two separate characters have appeared with the name "Spikes 'Harvey' Rotten." In addition to sharing the same name, both were reputed to be ruthless bikers and part of a biker gang called "The Muties." The only thing that really sets them apart is their physical appearance. The first Spikes "Harvey" Rotten was a minor character who died in an illegal street race through Mega-City One; the second accompanied Dredd on his trek to Mega-City Two during the "Cursed Earth" arc.
  • Origins Issue: Judge Death: Boyhood of a Superfiend and Origins.
  • Penal Colony: Judges are expected to follow the Law to a far greater extent than anyone else, and any serious transgression made by a Judge is usually punishable by 20 years of forced labor on Saturn's moon Titan; prisoners' bodies are even surgically modified so that they can survive the atmosphere without ever needing a space suit.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Dredd, and to a lesser extent most other Judges.
  • Police Brutality: Goes without saying.
  • Police State: The Judges are the police, the judiciary and the government.
  • Post-Mortem Conversion: At the end of Judge Dredd: Origins, with his last breath, Fargo despairs at what has become of America and urges Dredd to restore freedom and democracy. In order to maintain order, Dredd tells the few others who know of Fargo's true fate that the old man was pleased that the Judges now ran America.
  • Powered Armor: Exosuit Class armor.
  • President Evil: President Robert L. Booth was pretty much a cookie-cutter example of the trope.
    • PJ Maybe. He's a very good mayor, he just likes to murder people for lulz once in a while.
  • Put on a Bus: Both Max Normal's and Maria's departure were explained as no longer willing to have anything to do with Dredd after having their lives put in danger one too many times. They just left; although later stories do tell of what happened to Maria after this time.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: This is essentially what Sector 301 was before Dredd was temporarily assigned as Sector Chief. All the screw up judges were sent there out of the way and anybody competent sent there was either overzealous or had seriously pissed someone off.
    • Judge Hershey's aforementioned colony reassignment.
    • The one-shot spinoff, Judge Wynter is a literal example with the titular Wynter patrolling the wastes of Antarctica.
  • Retirony: Judge Morphy gets killed on the streets six months before he is due to take an academy posting. Dredd does not take it well.
  • Ridiculympics: One early strip takes place during the first Lunar Olympics. Athletes are allowed to compete with bionic implants, provided that no less than 80% of their bodies is made of human tissue. Because of the moon's lower gravity, Earth records in events like the pole vault and the shot put are broken like crazy. There are also a few "Moon Sports" introduced, notably one best described as "snowboarding tricks meets the ski jump"; overshooting ones run and missing the safety net leads to some very bloody, deadly results.
    • Human Taxidermy has also become a competitive event in the Olympics. Jacob Sardini ("The Taxidermist") is said to have won a bronze medal for a work he had made in the 2082 games.
    • Sex and competitive staring are also events. Dredd once won the gold after a two and a half day match by simply waiting for the other guy to blink.
  • Robot Buddy: Walter the Wobot, noted for his speech impediment. He served as Dredd's personal servant for years, despite the Judge's discomfort with the situation.
  • Robot War: The strip's first multiple-chapter arc was exactly this.
  • Serial Escalation: The escalation of the destruction witnessed in the Apocalypse War with East-Meg One. What starts with a Hate Plague that turns Mega-City One into a gigantic citizen riot gives way to dropping nuclear warheads on top of it which gives way to detonating nukes in the Atlantic Ocean so as to hit the Big Meg with a Giant Wall of Watery Doom over two kilometers high (and 1,500 long). When Mega-City One finally retaliates, they launch 25 nuclear warheads, each one powerful enough to wipe out all of East-Meg One twice over, that inadvertently get warped to an Alternate Universe where they cause an Earthshattering Kaboom on an Earth where everyone is a hippie and world peace has been declared for 200 years.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Shoulders of Dredd is more like it.
  • Shout-Out: The phrase "Who judges the Judges?" is commonly scrawled on walls and such in the Big Meg, notably during the Democracy story arc (specifically, in the story "America"). This is, of course, a reference to the graffiti from Watchmen.
    • Funny thing is the Judges, in fact, have their own department in place specifically to do just that, the SJS (Special Judicial Squad) who are always referred to as "the Judges who judge the Judges" whenever they are mentioned.
  • Skull for a Head: Judge Mortis
  • Skyscraper City: Mega-City One. An establishing shot in an early issue showed the Empire State Building, now an abandoned historical relic, dwarfed by the buildings around it.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Later issues of of the strip, especially with Garth Ennis's run, are heavily cynical. Early stories aren't idealistic OR cynical, exception of the story where Dredd chews out a fellow Judge who had gone off the Slippery Slope and executes him.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: All over the place on this one. One shot strips tend to be sillier, focusing on the weirdness of some citizens. The mega epics tend to be more serious, but with humour thrown in for good measure. Early strips often had some breathers, courtesy of Walter the Wobot.
  • Slow Clap: "Chopper! Chopper! Chopper! CHOPPER! CHOPPER! CHOPPER! CHOPPER! CHOPPER!"
  • Space Clothes: Knee pads are a very popular and fashionable item in the future; they're even a part of the standard Judge uniform.
  • Space Opera: The Judge Child Quest.
  • Space Western: Stories taking place in the Cursed Earth or on Luna City are clear examples of this as well as a few in Mega-City One, notably the shootout between Dredd and his brother Rico.
  • Spin-Off: Several. Far too many to name and many of which were too short-lived to be deemed memorable in the first place. Among those that do stand out however are Psi-Judge Anderson and The Simping Detective.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: One strip centered around a person who compulsively always had to one-up anyone around him who got more attention than him. One such person who got more attention than him was someone who spontaneously burst into flames at a dinner party, "and everyone figured that was about the coolest thing ever." The jealous main character of the piece did eventually do one better and went out with a nuclear bang... but he had to expose himself to radiation and get struck by lightning to do it after vain attempts to will himself to explode were complete failures.
  • Sssssnaketalk: a notable trait of Judge Death.
  • Status Quo Is God: No matter how many times the criticism of the Justice Dept. or one of their laws/policies becomes a major plot point (i.e. the long-running "Democracy" story arc, "Mutants in Mega-City One," et. al.), in the end, everything remains the same.
  • The Stoic: Judge Dredd, who has mastered his emotions so well as to be functionally immune to fear, even when it's induced by Applied Phlebotinum.
  • Stupid Crooks: This should be a source for a number of examples, but the only one that's coming to mind right now is "The Forever Crimes," wherein a crook tries to escape from Dredd by making his way down a laundry chute, but it's actually a garbage disposal.
    • One group of criminals once tried to break into a room at Rowdy Yates Block that was marked off as a RESTRICTED AREA, reasoning that something really important and valuable had to be inside. The reason why it's a restricted area: It's Judge Dredd's apartment.
  • Swallow the Key: Judge Dredd does this in the comic where he fights the devil.
  • Swiss Army Gun: The Lawgiver pistol.
  • Talk to the Fist: "Gaze into the fist of Dredd!"
    • Also one of Dredd's favorite responses to lippy creeps.
  • Tautological Templar: Multiple Judges, including Dredd Depending on the Writer.
  • Ten-Minute Retirement: Dredd takes "The Long Walk" shortly before the start of "Necropolis", during which time Dredd is replaced by fellow Fargo clone Judge Kraken pretending to be Dredd.
  • Terrible Ticking: In a strip paying Homage to The Tell-Tale Heart, a jealous man who murders and, literally, steals the heart from the lover of a woman whom he adores from afar is driven insane by the sound of his victim's still-beating heart, which he then decides to get rid of by returning the body part to the woman in person (and, consequently, completely freaking her out).
  • There Should Be a Law: The phrase is used on various occasions in stories in varying contexts, almost always with a Judge around to respond, "There is," every time.
  • Tradesnark: The strips that introduce Boing® refer to the name of the product exactly like that.
  • Training From Hell: Exactly what training at the Academy of Law is like. A fifteen year program beginning at the age of five, cadets are expected to learn the basics of the Law very quickly, and to best replicate city street conditions in training courses, only live ammunition and explosives are used. Assuming a cadet even survives making the smallest mistake in training results in his/her expulsion - no matter how long you've been in training. Only two out of every seven cadets ever graduate from the Academy, and that's before their final assessment (frequently nicknamed, "the hotdog run") in which the graduated cadet has to earn the satisfaction of a serving Judge (this may or may not involve a Secret Test of Character). Only after the serving Judge is happy with a cadet (IF they're happy with a cadet) can he/she finally earn a full badge and begin active duty.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Dredd's first ever multi-part story arc featured the Robot Rebellion led by Call-Me-Kenneth; defective robots who disobey orders and go on murderous rampages has been an occasional theme ever since.
  • TV Head Robot: Walter the Wobot.
  • Uncoffee: Synthi-Caff is the Big Meg's alternative to coffee after both caffeine and sugar are outlawed. Synthi-Caff itself even ends up becoming illegal at one point, requiring a synthetic version of that to be produced.
  • Used Future: In Dredd's world, anything that hasn't already been destroyed in nuclear war is pretty much this.
  • Use Your Head: Mean Machine Angel... all the damn time.
  • The Verse: In addition to the main Judge Dredd strip, the "Dreddverse" consists of countless spin-offs, including Psi-Judge Anderson, Judge Hershey, The Simping Detective, and Lowlife, as well as otherwise stand-alone strips such as Devlin Waugh, Robo-Hunter, and Armitage and many, many more.
  • Veteran Instructor: Street Judges who have been injured/wounded in ways that leave them no longer useful to serve on active duty are often given teaching posts at the Academy of Law to train young cadets to be future Judges. Older Judges with good performance records who stay on the force past their prime may sometimes be given the option to teach at the Academy as an alternative to The Long Walk.
  • Vice City: Mega City One.
  • Video Phone: Commonplace in Dredd's world, including Spin-Off stories, where they're frequently called VidPhones. Models vary, sometimes having mic stands, ordinary phone receivers, or no visible microphones or speakers at all.
  • Villain Protagonist: Many people, including some of the writers and artists who have made him so popular, would argue that Dredd is one of these. To everyone else, he's just a particularly cynical antihero... or an asshole.
  • Wacky Racing: The Supersurf contest is a dangerous and deadly obstacle course held annually for professional sky surfers.
  • Walking the Earth: When a Judge retires from active duty on the streets of Mega-City-One, the Judge must leave the city and take "The Long Walk" into either the Cursed Earth or the Undercity where their duty is to bring law to the lawless for as long as they keep living.
  • War Is Hell: Dredd shoves a smarmy reporter's mike in his mouth to deliver the message.
  • Weather Control Machine: Justice Dept. has a Weather Control division.
  • We Help the Helpless: Dredd once went to a Mutant Town that was going to be hit by a massive spawn of Spiders, simply because they asked for help, ignoring the skepticism of a pair of fellow Judges, actually admonishing them for it.
    • Moreover, his initial decision to aid Tweak in the "Cursed Earth" arc.

 Dredd: When someone calls on the Law for help...be he mutie...alien...cyborg...or human...the Law cannot turn a blind eye! AND I AM THE LAW!

  • We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: Inverted; the wealthiest of Mega-City One actually stave off death by paying for a suspended animation chamber once their health deteriorates to a terminal level.
    • Though euthanasia is an option, too.
  • We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: While there are diseases in the world of Judge Dredd (some very nasty), the common cold has been eliminated to the point that it is almost used as a biological weapon.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future: Mega-City One's currency, of course, usually referred to as "creds."
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Averted (in Mega-City One, at least); virtually all labor in Dredd's city is performed by androids and robots. The few humans who do hold jobs are lucky to get a 10-hour work week. Unsurprisingly, the city boasts an extremely high unemployment level which accounts for a large portion of criminal activity in the city as well as the numerous bizarre fashions, hobbies, and trends that average citizens partake while coping with boredom. However, indentured servitude is common in other places in Dredd's world, especially in the Cursed Earth.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?
    • Dredd himself is not a fan of this trope.
      • He's since done a 180 on mutants.
        • Well mosty because of Judge Beeny.
        • Not to mention that he befriended certain descendants of Judge Fargo, thus Dredd's own blood relatives, in the Cursed Earth during events in Origins. Dredd personally invited them to visit Mega-City-One at any time, and when they finally did show up to pay a visit, they were forbidden from entering the city for being mutants. For Dredd, this issue is personal on so many different levels.
  • Who's On First: Comic artist Kenny Who? (The question mark is actually part of his last name).

 Editor: All with way from Cal Hab, Mr. Er...?

Kenny: Who?

Editor: What?

Kenny: Who?

Editor: That's what I'm asking you.

Kenny: Who? is my name.

Editor: No--You should say, "What is my name?"

  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: Most notably in the "America" arc. (See Also: Shout-Out)
  • You Do Not Have to Say Anything: Subverted. Whenever a perp or suspect refuses to talk and/or reveal pertinent information to Justice Dept., this stock phrase isn't so much a recognition of the perp's rights as much as it's a statement that Justice Dept. has other means of finding out what they want to know (usually involves someone from Psi Division reading the person's thoughts).
  • Zeerust: Read some of the earlier strips. Computers using massive tape reels abound. One witness takes a picture with what is clearly a 1970s camera.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The premise of the "Judgement Day" Story Arc.
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