Judge Dredd (2000AD Comics) by Cliff Robinson

Judge Dredd


Judge Dredd is a major, major character in British comics. He appeared in 1977, in the second issue of the core institution of UK sci-fi comics – the 2000AD magazine. Dredd has stuck around ever since with innumerable stories, two movies, three RPGs, video games, etc..

Dredd was originally seen as the logical, if exaggerated, conclusion of tough killer cop characters. The Thatcher years (which shaped many of the 2000AD stories) , then the rise of the militarised police and various other sociological trends have since caught up with the caricature.



  • Real Name: Joe Dredd.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Rico Dredd (brother, deceased). Vienna Dredd (niece), Judge Fargo (was the template for Dredd’s DNA).
  • Group Affiliation: Mega-City One Justice Department.
  • Base Of Operations: Mega-City One, North Atlantic Seaboard, 21st Century.
  • Height: 6’2”? Weight: 200lbs ?
  • Eyes: Unrevealed Hair: Black

Mega-City one

Dredd has appeared in almost 1200 weekly “progs” of 2000 AD, plus about 60 issues of his own Megazine. Suffice to say that Dredd has been enforcing the Law on the streets of Mega-City One for over 40 years, and is still the hardest Judge on the force. Mega-City One, like Batman’s Gotham, is practically a character in its own right.

A fascist dystopia, alternately terrifying and hilarious, MC-1 is an enormous sprawl of semi-autonomous city-blocks, lying between the radioactive Cursed Earth and the equally toxic Black Atlantic. On a normal day, MC-1 can be pretty hostile. The pressures of life in the future drive many citizens violently insane, and common-or-garden violent crime is an everyday hazard.

From time to time, however, things get really bad. In the last 20 years, MC-1 has witnessed civil wars, robot insurrections, dinosaur rampages, block mania (an infectious disease characterized by rampant xenophobia, pack instinct and violent outbursts), full-scale nuclear war, and invasions by extra-dimensional “Dark Judges” determined to kill the entire citizenry.


Powers and Abilities

Dredd is a superbly fit, fanatically devoted member of the most highly-trained law-enforcement agency in history. He is tough, brave, intelligent and resourceful. He personifies the power of a highly powerful police state, with stone cold authority and nerves of steel.

Judge Dredd emoting and scowling

As a fanatic, Dredd is highly confident in his abilities. This is justifiable as he single-handedly won World War IV and repelled alien invasions.

Dredd is a hard man to take by surprise. After decades on the streets, and literally thousands of attempts on his life, his senses have been honed to almost animal levels of keenness. In DC Heroes RPG terms this is reflected by the Danger Recognition subskill of Military Science. Note that Dredd’s entire life is equivalent to a battlefield for the purposes of this skill.


Cloned from the DNA of the legendary Chief Judge Fargo, both Joe and Rico Dredd excelled at the Academy of Law. They graduated with honour to become full Judges in 2079. Joe had always been the model Cadet, scoring superbly in every test. He stuck so rigidly to the rules laid down by his Judge-Tutors that he earned the lifelong nickname “Old Stoney face”.

Only Rico could beat him and invariably did. But his extra flair came with a fatal flaw in his personality. Joe had to arrest his own clone brother shortly after they hit the street. Rico had started a protection racket. It was only then that the Justice Department realized what a special Judge they had in Joe.

Judge Dredd riding a Lawmaster

Morphy, the Judge who passed him on his final street assessment, had recognized Joe Dredd’s potential right away. They became firm friends over the years. In fact, Judge Morphy was almost like a father to Dredd an he was always there for him if he needed any advice.

Judge Dredd spent the next 20 years on the streets of Mega City One, gaining the experience and the reputation that made him the city’s top lawman.

So many catastrophes, part 1

The Judge’s fears were realized when Call-me-Kenneth started the Robots Wars. Thousands of citizens and Judges lost their lives before the robots were defeated. Dredd had been helped by Walter the Wobot during that conflict. As a result the vending droid soon moved into his apartments at Rowday Yates Conapts, determined to serve the Judge – whether Dredd liked it or not !

Shortly afterward Rico returned, having served his full term on Titan for his crimes. He came to seek vengeance on his brother. This time, Joe was forced to kill him. This saddened Dredd greatly, even after two decades of being toughened up on the streets – a rare example of emotion in the nearly inhuman judge.

Judge Dredd emoting and yelling

A formidably hectic period followed for Judge Dredd. First he was appointed Judge-Marshal on Luna-1 for a six months term. Judges were not well respected there. But by the time he left Dredd had reorganized the local Justice Dept and the people there had learned to obey the Law.

Next, Judge Dredd was asked to lead an incredibly dangerous mission to carry vaccine across the Cursed Earth to the stricken Mega City Two. When the Judge returned to Mega-City One, the insane Judge Cal became Chief Judge and Dredd had to marshal a ragged resistance force to overthrow the tyrant.

So many catastrophes, part 2

Then Psi-Division’s top precog, Judge Feyy, warned of an impeding catastrophe unless a mysterious boy, known as the Judge Child, was installed as Chief Judge. Dredd pursued the boy halfway through the galaxy, but realized he was evil and left him on the planet Xanadu.

This decision was a controversial one. But his judgement was vindicated when a visit to the future revealed that a clone of the Judge Child called the Mutant was going to cause the catastrophe rather than prevent it.

Judge Dredd punches Judge Fear in the face

During this trip to 2120, Dredd’s eyes were gouged out by the Mutant. He had bionic replacements fitted before he and Psi-Judge Anderson eliminated the future threat by killing the infant clone in 2107.

Before this, though, disaster had already overtaken Mega-City One in 2104. East-Meg One launched a massive nuclear strike against them. Dredd was the American Judges’ natural leader during the Apocalypse War. He was finally forced to take an elite squad of Judges on a counter attack mission to destroy East-Meg One.

Their success ended the war and the rebuilding of the nuclear scarred Mega-City One began in earnest.

Judge Kraken

In the years which followed, life became ever tougher in Mega-City One. For the first time, Dredd began to have doubts about his role as a Judge. When he was asked to break up the Democratic Charter March in 2109, Dredd fulfilled Chief Judge’s Silver order to the letter. But he wasn’t convinced that his actions were justified.

Some time after, Mega-City one came under attack from the Judda. These were warrior clones based on the best material in Mega-City One’s Genetic Control laboratories and led by a renegade Judge, Morton Judd. Chief Judge Silver, who was aware of Dredd’s slowly growing reticence, authorized the rehabilitation of Kraken, a clone based on the same genetic stock as Dredd.

Dredd’s doubts came to a head after he discovered he couldn’t answer a boy’s questions about Judges to his satisfaction. As a result, he retired. His final act was to veto Kraken’s deployment as a Judge.

Map to the world of Judge Dredd

However, as Dredd left for his Long Walk to the Cursed Earth, Kraken was confirmed a full Judge and given Dredd’s badge. For the general public, Dredd had never retired.

After a hundred day Dredd was attacked and almost killed in the Cursed Earth. He became an amnesiac known as the “Dead man”. Recovering his memory he allied with retired Chief Judge McGrudder, also on her Long Walk. They returned to Mega-City One.

There, “Dredd” (actually Kraken) had betrayed the city and allowed the extradimensional nihilist Judge Death to take power. Dredd slew Kraken and led the remaining Judges against Death. The Judges’ authority was in severe question, and Dredd forced a referendum on the matter. The gamble paid out as the citizens decided they’d rather be governed by Judges.

More catastrophes

Dredd next saw off the threat of Sabbat the Necromagus, with the help of Hondo City’s Judge Inspector Sadu and the famed mutant bounty hunter Johnny Alpha, Strontium Dog.

Then he had to protect the city from Judge Grice. The renegade had escaped from Titan and sought revenge on Mega-City one Judges. Grice unleashed the Meat Virus, a deadly alien plague, but a weakened Dredd finally killed him. Once the antidote was distributed the city was safe once more. But recent crises meant there was a chronic shortage of Judges.

Chief Judge McGrudder attempted to remedy this with the Mechanismo Project – robot Judges. Dredd opposed her bitterly and even falsified evidence to support his claims. This was discovered and he was sentenced to Titan for the second time in his career. However, it turned out the robots were unreliable and one attempted to kill McGrudder. She chose to pardon Dredd and resign.

At this point Dredd offered his name for the position – to general surprise, since he had already turned down the honor several times to remain on the street. It was but a ploy to unmask somebody who was tampering with the designation process, however.


Judge Joe Dredd is the Law. He’s a big man, although his bulk appears to be variable, depending on the artist. He has a large, pugnacious jaw, and a habitual scowl, which is the source of his nick-name among the younger judges: “Old Stony Face”.

Judge Dredd by Simon Bisley

Art by Simon Bisley.

He is never seen out of uniform, nor even without his helmet. The uniform is based on a black skin-tight body-suit, of a leather-like synthetic material. Boots, knee-pads and gloves are olive green, and thickly reinforced. At the left shoulder is a large pad, balanced on the right by a stylized eagle. A badge on the left breast bears his name, “Dredd”.

A chain hangs in a loop from the badge. A belt, with eagle buckle, carries ammunition, hand-cuffs, etc.

Shoulder-pad, eagle, badge, chain and belt are all coloured gold, as are his elbow-pads. The helmet is black, with red trim and a darkened visor.


None, really. Dredd is pretty much a cipher, a tool in the brutal machine that is the Law in Mega-City One. He doesn’t have many friends, or a love life, or any other kind of a life really. From the moment of his artificial conception, his life has been dedicated to the Law. He has shown occasional signs of human sentiment, but they never seem to last for very long.


“Good evening, citizen. Crime blitz.”

Judge Fear : “Gaze into the face of Fear”
Judge Dredd : “Gaze into the fist of Dredd” (punches through Fear’s head)

“Next time, we get our retaliation in before they attack.”

Concerned citizen : “I’ve got him ! I’ve put him under citizen’s arrest, Judge !”
Dredd : “Citizen’s arrest are *illegal*. You’re under arrest.”

“I AM the LAW”

DC Universe History

Probably not. Batman, of course has met him a few times. In terms of Dimensional Travel, MC-1 is pretty close to the DCU, and is virtually next-door to the world of Hex. Travel Distance is 1 or 2.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Judge Dredd

Dex: 08 Str: 05 Bod: 06 Motivation: Upholding The Law
Int: 08 Wil: 12 Min: 11 Occupation: Mega-City Judge
Inf: 10 Aur: 07 Spi: 13 Resources {or Wealth}: N.A.
Init: 030 HP: 150

Animal Handling (Riding): 05, Charisma (Interrogation, Intimidation): 12, Detective: 09, Martial Artist: 09, Medicine (First Aid): 06, Military Science: 08, Thief: 06, Vehicles: 10, Weaponry: 10

Area Knowledge (Mega-City One), Clearance (Justice Dept, High), Expansive Headquarters (Hall of Justice), Iron Nerves, Leadership, Lightning Reflexes, Reputation (see below), Scholar (The Law), Sharp Eye, Schtick (Armor optimization).

Justice Department (High), Street Informers (Low – formerly included Max Normal), Psi-Judge Anderson (Low), ex-Judge Galen DeMarco (High).

CIA (Enforcing the Law), Public Identity.


  • JUDGE UNIFORM [/BODY/ 07, Radio coms (scrambled): 06, Sealed systems: 12, Shade: 04, Limitations : /BODY/ does not apply against most ranged attacks unless the wearer pays a 10HPs fee (-2) ; Sealed systems only apply for respiratory needs (-2) ; Shade and Sealed Systems have to be deployed to be effective (which takes an Automatic Action). This uniform incorporates plasti-steel reinforced padding, respirator, anti-glare visor and radio microphone].
  • Lawgiver pistol [BODY 06, Projectile weapon: 05, Range: 06, Bomb: 07, Limitations: Projectile Weapon has no Range and uses the listed Range instead ; Bomb only work if the gun is grabbed by somebody else than its user, and destroys the gun]. The Lawgiver may also use the following special ammunition:
    • High explosive [Bomb: 06, Range: 04].
    • Armor piercing [Projectile weapon: 05, Sharpness (Projectile weapon): 02].
    • Incendiary [Flame project: 05].
    • Grenade [Projectile weapon (Diminishing): 05, Scattershot].
    • Rubber Richochet [Projectile weapon (Indirect): 04].
    • Heatseeker attachment [AV 07, Projectile weapon: 05, Thermal vision: 09, R#2, Ammo: 03. A tiny, heat-seeking missile, it is designed to home in on the human-normal heat-signature. It has no inherent means of propulsion, and needs to be attached to the muzzle of the Lawgiver pistol, so that it can be propelled by a standard execution round].
    • Hypos attachment [exactly the same as a Heatseeker but with a bashing Poison Touch: 05 instead of an EV, as it delivers a KO drug].
  • LAWMASTER BIKE [STR 07 BODY 09 INT 02, Area Knowledge (MC1), Cold immunity: 03, Flame immunity: 03, Flash: 04, Heat vision: 12, Projectile Weapons: 10, Radio coms (scrambled): 11, Running: 07, Vehicles (itself): 07, Weaponry (itself): 05 ; Note: when the Lawmaster is running on automatic, remote or voice control it Initiative is 009 ; Limitations : Heat vision is a Cyclops Phylon TX Laser which can only fire once every 8 Phases]. Note that the Lawmaster carries lots of spares and ammo for pretty much all of the equipment Dredd uses.
  • Scatter gun [BODY 05, Shotgun blast (Range: 05): 06, Ammo: 12, R#2, Bonus: Can use its Range to launch Stumm grenades].
  • Boot knife [BODY 10, EV 03 (06 w/STR, 10 w/Martial Artist)].
  • UTILITY BELT [BODY 08, Detect (lies, pollution/radiations) : [user’s INT], Detect (bleepers): 15, Radio coms (scrambled): 10] and 5 Bleepers (bugs). This describes the Birdie lie detector, bleepers, hand radio and pollution meter]. Also:
    • Infra-red Lawgiver sight [BODY 02, Thermal vision: 05, R#2].
    • Lawgiver Silencer [BODY 03, Thief (stealth, only to muffle the shots): 02, R#2].
    • Medi-pack [BODY 02, useful with Medicine (first aid)].
    • Handcuffs (x2) [BODY 12].
    • Daystick [BODY 08, EV 03 (05 w/STR, 09 w/Martial Artist)].
    • Stumm grenades (x3) [BODY 01, Chemical attack: 08, Fog: 05, Bonus : Chemical Attack is Combined with and active thoughout the Fog (+1), Grenade drawback]

No retirement for Judges

Those stats are for Dredd in his prime, which is the most likely state he’s likely to appear in most campaigns.

In the actual continuity, at the time of this writeup, Dredd is 55. His DEX has been lowered to a 06, and he has been brutally blinded. However his eyes were replaced with vat-grown biologically enhanced models with Thermal vision: 03.

By Phil Dixon and Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: 2000 AD.

Helper(s): Peter Piispanen, Bil, Nick Yankovec. History based on Mike Buther’s The A-Z of Judge Dredd.. The scans of How to draw Judge Dredd by Cliff Robinson used as illustrations were done at Plot holes in my lawn .