The eponymous hero of Judge Dredd, the most famous of 2000 AD's strips (and also a strip in the Judge Dredd Megazine), was 'born' in Mega-City One in 2066 AD. Joseph Dredd was the clone of Chief Judge Fargo, the founder of the Judge system. Like his clone brother Rico, he was created in a laboratory, grown in a tank, effectively 'born' aged five years old (thanks to accelerated ageing techniques) and immediately inducted into the Academy of Law. Joe and Rico were inseparable during their childhood and youth, the connection caused by their identical DNA being so strong that Joe could sometimes feel what his brother was feeling. (He didn't realise that that was what had been happening until much later, but it raises the intriguing possibility that 'Ol' Stoney-Face' has during his life experienced lust or love vicariously, through the genes he shares with the Fargo clones Rico, Rico Dredd and Dolman.)
The brothers helped maintain order during President Robert L. Booth's atomic war while still cadets, and also met their 'father' Fargo during this period. They graduated the Academy in 2079 (Joe graduated second in his class; Rico was first), but Joe was forced to arrest his brother for murder and corruption shortly afterwards. Rico was sentenced to the Judges' penal colony on Titan, while Joe Dredd became known as the most respected and feared of the street Judges, his name synonymous with the law in Mega-City One. Rico later returned for revenge, and Dredd was forced to kill him. Dredd nevertheless maintains a frigid but quasi-paternal attachment to Rico's daughter, Vienna. His attitude towards family relations has softened over the years, partly because of his realisation that he should have taken more of an interest in another of his clone brothers, the mentally impaired Nimrod.
Dredd has been instrumental in saving the city many times over the decades, facing foes such as the extradimensional superfiend Judge Death, the Fink, the Mean Machine and the rest of the notorious Angel Gang, and the serial killer PJ Maybe, and meeting bizarre characters like Otto Sump, Max Normal, Chopper, Toots Milloy and Dave the Orangutan among many others. He led the rebellion against the insane Chief Judge Cal, defeated the robot revolutionary Call-Me-Kenneth and deposed the corrupt Chief Judge Sinfield. He also embarked upon the Cursed Earth saga, stopped The Apocalypse War (by killing the 500 million citizens of East-Meg One with nukes), undertook The Judge Child Quest, helped to save the world from zombies during Judgement Day and was one of the leading characters in Trifecta.
Dredd has now been active as a Judge for over fifty years and was once elevated to a position on the City's ruling Council of Five, although he does not currently sit there. He has repeatedly turned down attempts to appoint him Chief Judge as he believes he belongs on the streets, dispensing justice. One of his finest moments was when he threatened to resign if Chief Judge Hershey didn't push through a law giving mutants equal rights. Unfortunately this ended with Hershey losing an election to the anti-mutant Chief Judge Dan Francisco, who was then succeeded by corrupt Acting Chief Judge Martin Sinfield. Dredd eventually uncovered Sinfield's crimes, allowing Francisco to take office once more. It is arguable that although Dredd had the right idea in wanting equal rights for mutants, he implemented it in a catastrophically inept way that made the entire situation a lot worse.
Hershey replaced Francisco after Chaos Day, a devastating attack on Mega-City One by the Sovs in 2134 AD which killed 350 million of the city's then 400 million citizens. The attack was intended as a reprisal for Dredd's killing of half a billion Sovs during the Apocalypse War.
In 2138 AD, following an incident when he nearly died in the Cursed Earth because of the machinations of Judges from Brit-Cit and Texas City, Dredd underwent rejuvenation treatment. According to a Med Judge, the clinic he attended "completely restructured your entire epidermis, vascular system and muscular tissue at a cellular level." Dredd refused to have his bones and organs rejuvenated as well, either because it would have taken longer or for some other reason.
Powers and abilities
PowersDredd is double zero rated for psychic sensitivity. This negative power gives him enhanced resistance to some types of psychic attack (see his encounter with Judge Fear).
AbilitiesMega-City One's best Judge; bionic eyes give him enhanced clarity over distance and 20-20 night vision; is phenomenally resilient; can legally unite two or more other people in wedlock.
Strength levelPeak elderly human male. He's strong enough to render a Klegg unconscious with a single punch.
Dredd's eyes are bionic implants which can be rendered useless by an electromagnetic pulse. He lost his natural eyes some years ago fighting "some lizard monstrosity in a future that will never happen" (Rob Williams).
EquipmentAccessory pouch containing three heatseeker shells; helmet containing internal visor display (including infra-red) and respirator; uniform made from plasti-steel reinforced material; stumm gas.
TransportationLawmaster bike. Has also been known to ride the horse Henry Ford, another black horse (this one with no name) and an elk.
Lawgiver handgun which can fire six types of shell: heatseeker, rubber ricochet, incendiary, armour-piercing, high explosive and standard execution. Also daystick and bootknife. Occasionally electro-knux.
- Dredd once kept an apartment in Rowdy Yates Block and employed an Italian cleaning lady called Maria, though he has since dispensed with any such trappings of a normal civilian life. He does, however, maintain a familial attachment of sorts to his niece Vienna Dredd, the illegitimate daughter of his late brother Rico, and also to his own clones, Judge Rico and Dolman.
- Dredd is the author of The Comportment of a Judge, a set text at the Academy of Law. It is one of the texts with which Judges are indoctrinated via subliminal reinforcement when they are in their sleep machines.
- In a rare moment of relaxation, in 2000 AD prog 33 Dredd was seen reading Crime and Punishment, presumably the famous novel by Dostoyevsky.
- In 2000 AD prog 221 Dredd busted an illegal stookie farm. The grateful stookies responded by making Dredd an honorary stookie.
- Dredd was a rookie under Judge Morphy, who promoted him to full Judge status.
- In 2000 AD prog 389 Dredd told a reader that "Judges are authorised to use a selection of oaths in the event of an upsurge in their adrenalin factor. 'Stomm', 'Drokk' and 'Grud' are legal expletives."
- The class of '79 (Dredd's cohort at the Academy of Law) seems to have contained an unusually high number of bent Judges. Judges Rico Dredd, Gibson, and Raider all went off the rails and had to be executed by Dredd. Judge Nestor was sent to run a prison in the Cursed Earth after found in possession of indecent images, and committed suicide after it was discovered that he was letting the prisoners run the compound. Judge Kimble was arrested by Dredd after he found out he was using money impounded from criminals to pay for the upkeep of a prisoner's wife and several street orphans. Dredd's own conduct has been completely legal, but he did kill 500 million Sov citizens during the Apocalypse War, which surely makes him responsible for more deaths than any other Judge.
- In 2134 AD, Dredd and Armitage had to hunt down a rogue clone of Dredd that had been modified by alien biotech and was on the loose in Brit-Cit. This clone is referred to in Dredd's infobox as 'DRƎDD' because that was what he had written on his improvised badge, and it seems a bit harsh for him not to have a name. He was eventually apprehended by Treasure Steel, and later died. His cause of death is unknown.
- In 2122 AD, Dredd learnt that there were seven clones made using his/Fargo's DNA ("amounts to the same thing") in production. Discounting Dolman, Nimrod and DRƎDD, that leaves four Dredd/Fargo clones unaccounted for. Either Justice Department didn't disclose their eventual whereabouts to Dredd, because he had already killed two of his clones (Nimrod and Rico), or they perished when most of the city died during Chaos Day.
- Dredd's adult, undamaged face is never shown, as he represents faceless authority. It was originally intended that he might be non-white (a rarity for British comics heroes back in 1977), so artist Mick McMahon drew him as a black man for some months but, since other artists were not following suit and the strip was in black and white at the time anyway, the idea was soon dropped.
- Dredd removed his helmet in 2000 AD prog 7, but the image was censored (see gallery). The accompanying dialogue suggested that his face was hideously deformed.
- Dredd also removed his helmet in 2000 AD progs 52 and 211, in order to infiltrate criminal gangs with the aid of a face-changing machine (see gallery). Therefore, the faces that the readers saw were not in fact Dredd's own.
- Dredd's helmet fell off in prog 328 and his face was revealed, but he was a werewolf at the time (see gallery).
- Dredd removed his helmet in 2000 AD prog 515 to create a decoy wearing his uniform. His face was cloaked in shadow and therefore unrevealed (see gallery).
- When Dredd was surprised in bed in Rowdy Yates conapt at 0300 hours (when he still lived there) it was revealed that he apparently sleeps with his helmet on.
- In 2000 AD prog 626 Dredd was shown in the bath, but his face was out of shot (see gallery).
- Dredd's face was shown in the strip The Dead Man, but (a) for most of the strip the readers didn't know that the eponymous protagonist was him, and (b) his face was so scarred by acid that it almost didn't look like a face at all (see gallery).
- Dredd's face was shown in a flashback to his childhood in 2000 AD prog 1187 (see gallery).
- Dredd's uncovered head and neck were shown in the Judge Dredd Megazine when he was disturbed halfway through the rejuvenation treatment mentioned above. In fact, they were so uncovered that they were missing the skin and subcutaneous fat (see gallery).
- Spin-off publications starring Dredd include the Judge Dredd Megazine, Judge Dredd: The Poster Prog, the Judge Dredd Annual, Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection and, for younger readers, Judge Dredd, Lawman of the Future, which featured its own distinct version of Dredd (see also Judge Dredd (Dredd 2012 Movieverse)). Several licensed versions of Dredd have been published in America (see Judge Dredd (DC Comics)).
- The 1995 movie was considered so inept by fans that John Wagner wrote a parody of it into the original Judge Dredd strip. In prog 1536, a director is tasked with making a movie about Dredd's life to celebrate him spending fifty years on the streets. Despite being told repeatedly to look at Justice Department archive footage, as everything relevant about Dredd's life is in there, the creative team produce a hilariously inaccurate movie featuring (among other things) Dredd and Rico sharing a single cloning tank with a third unborn baby, whom they strangle; Dredd making love to a whore in one of Rico's brothels; Dredd killing Rico rather than sending him to Titan and then shooting his own toe off in penance; a dancing tyrannosaur; and Judge Death singing a Bollywood number ("When will this sssinful ccity learn? HAI! Messss withh me you gonna burn! HAI!"). This is a reference to how the 1995 movie featured Dredd doing things he never would in the strip (such as taking his helmet off, and kissing Judge Hershey) and was stuffed full of different people from Dredd's world doing similarly uncharacteristic things, even though all the team behind the movie had to do was to read the original progs (i.e. "archive footage") to see what Dredd and his world were really like.
- Dredd also starred in a long running newspaper strip in the Daily Star.
- In 2000 AD prog 1064 Dredd became the McBean (chief) of a mutant Cal-Hab tribe called the Headbangers.
- Two Judge Dredd movies have so far been produced, Judge Dredd (1995) starring Sylvester Stallone, and Dredd (2012) starring Karl Urban. The character has also starred in novels and in audio dramas produced by Big Finish productions (voiced by Toby Longworth).
- As well as having his own story in the 2000 AD 40th Anniversary Special, Dredd also had a cameo in the Nikolai Dante story (art by Simon Fraser, colours by Gary Caldwell). He was shown stalking grimly through a party (see quotes page).
- In prog 1677 Dredd donated a pair of his spare bionic eyes to a resident of the Cursed Earth who had had his own removed and eaten by a mutant criminal.
- British artist Mike Perkins said that Judge Dredd was one of his favourite characters to draw.
- Appearances of Judge Joseph Dredd
- Character Gallery: Judge Joseph Dredd
- Images that feature Judge Joseph Dredd
- Fan-Art Gallery: Judge Joseph Dredd
- Judge Joseph Dredd quotations
- Judge Joseph Dredd at Wikipedia.org
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