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Day The Law Died

Judge Cal was the former head of the Special Judicial Squad and former Deputy Chief Judge who, for a brief few months, served as Chief Judge of Mega-City One. It's unknown if he was always completely insane or gradually deteriorated, but by the time he was Chief Judge he was completely deranged: murdering people at the slightest whim, being randomly cruel, appointing a goldfish as his deputy, and finally trying to execute the whole city.

His most famous appearance is "The Day the Law Died" and although he died at the end of the storyline, he has appeared many times since in flashback. A parallel universe of him ravaged the city in the Helter Skelter crisis.



Cal while being level headed at first was still devious and villainous, being responsible for the killing of Chief Judge Goodman. After he rose to power his insanity quickly followed with him becoming a tyrant who obsessed over the smallest things and took gleeful pleasure in killing people in alphabetical order. He thought incredibly highly of himself as well as the sheer brutality of the Kleggs.


Judge Cal is loosely based on the Roman emperor Caligula in both looks and mannerisms. Prior to his role as the Chief Judge, Cal was the head of the Special Judicial Squad, the feared unit of judges responsible for weeding out corruption in the Justice Department of Mega-City One. His service led to him becoming Deputy Chief Judge of Mega-City One in 2100.

Cal's office

Judge Cal was head of the Special Judicial Squad (SJS), the feared Internal Affairs unit of judges responsible for weeding out corruption in the Mega-City One Justice Department. However he exploited this position to blackmail errant judges into working for him as assassins, instead of arresting them, as he built up his powerbase and prepared to seize control of the city.[1]

He was known to be ambitious and hoping for the chief judge's office by 2099. When Chief Judge Goodman appeared to be losing it (actually possessed by a malevolent mutant called the Monkey), Judges Chambers and Dredd noted that only Cal, as SJS head, could force Goodman's resignation and he'd not do it until it was politically best for him. When the Monkey forced Goodman to allow mutants into the city en masse, Cal guarded him while musing with Judge Slocum that now was the time to seize command, only for Dredd to reveal the Monkey's presence and resolve the situation before Cal could launch his coup.[2]

Cal mirror

He became deputy chief judge of Mega-City One in the year 2100, after the death of the previous deputy Fodder. Chief Judge Goodman was unaware of Cal's corruption but still did not like his deputy: initially he felt Cal took himself too seriously and then later, when Cal said he wouldn't have bothered with a trial if he was chief, told him "then thank drokk you're not Chief Judge".

Soon afterwards he was ready to make his move. First he framed Dredd on his return from the Cursed Earth with the murders of a news vid editor and a photographer. Dredd was sentenced to twenty years on Titan; however he was able to escape and prove his innocence. A robot double had been used to frame Dredd, programmed with information only available to those within Justice Department.

The search was on for the traitor within the department.


Cal had already had a taste of power in Dredd's absence, Goodman not being in a fit state to govern because of his grief over Dredd's sentence. Unwilling to wait any longer, Cal ordered his assassins to stab Goodman to death in the street, whereupon he automatically succeeded to the city's highest office. He had Judge Dredd shot and the mayor arrested, and immediately began a despotic reign of terror. By this time the power had gone to his head and he became openly insane. He appointed his own pet goldfish to the vacant position of deputy chief judge, and made criticising the chief judge a capital offence. He was able to get away with this because he had brainwashed the majority of the judges into obeying his every order. Judge Dredd had survived however, and with the help of a handful of colleagues who had escaped being brainwashed such as Judge Giant, he led a revolt by the citizens against Cal's insane tyranny.

Executing the city

But Cal had anticipated this and recruited an army of alien mercenaries, the Kleggs, a reptilian race of soldiers-for-hire. The revolt was quickly quashed with widespread loss of life. Dredd and the small number of survivors went into hiding and began a guerrilla campaign of resistance. However Cal decided to punish Mega City One by sentencing the entire population to death; he did this in alphabetical order beginning with the unfortunate Aaron A. Aardvark, likely inspired by the “The Day Perry Masonment Lost a Case” in Mad Magazine circa 1969 where the first of 45,000 witnesses to be called is "Aaron A. Aardvark". Execution chambers were set up all over the city. Dredd managed to stop the executions by having Deputy Chief Judge Fish assassinated, which the superstitious Cal took to be an omen that the executions would lead to the death of the judges as well. However when no citizens turned up for his pet's funeral he decided to punish the citizens by passing even more draconian laws. He appointed Grampus, the Klegg leader, as his new deputy and encouraged children to snoop on their parents if they said anything against his leadership. These and a wave of other measures made life intolerable for the beleaguered citizens.

Pickling Slocum

Exeunt Slocum

When the oppressed population tried to flee into the Cursed Earth, Cal built a wall one mile high around the entire city to keep them in, enslaving millions of people to perform this task. The wall was covered in gun emplacements to shoot anyone who tried to escape. However he was not able to crush the people's spirit entirely, even when he thought he had destroyed Dredd forever by causing his transport to crash through the City Bottom into the Undercity. When the citizens again failed to join in his celebrations he launched a crackdown on all items that could possibly cause happiness, ordering all luxury items to be burned in the street.

All the while his madness intensified and his visions of the previous chief judges became more violent. He imagined them tormenting him, suggesting that the only way for his 'perfect city' to go was down. So in order to preserve its perfection forever he would execute his entire population of 800 million people, this time by releasing toxic gas over the whole city to kill everybody at once. When even his own SJS judges turned against him he began killing them too. Eventually Dredd managed to sabotage the brainwashing machines which Cal had been using to control the judges, and he led the loyal judges against Cal's Kleggs and SJS in a final battle to save the city. When Grampus and his Kleggs tried to surrender (having been allowed to leave before the gas was to be released) they were mercilessly shot down. Even then Cal almost regained the upper hand at the last moment, when Dredd and his fellow judges were captured. It fell to Fergee, a common criminal and outcast from the city, to save the day by killing Cal just before he could press the doomsday button. For his leadership of the resistance movement Dredd was acclaimed as a hero and was offered the office of chief judge, but he declined, preferring to return to his chosen career in law enforcement. Instead he nominated his former mentor and tutor, Judge Griffin, who had fought with him against Cal from the beginning. Chief Judge Griffin never forgot the debt he owed Dredd and personally intervened on his behalf in a future crisis when the future of Dredd's own career was in the balance.


To prevent a new Chief Judge Cal, Griffin set up Black Ops Division to keep an eye on Justice Department itself.[3] Fear of another corrupt leader caused Dredd to abandon the "Judge Child" Owen Krysler on the planet Xanadu, rather than take the chance that he could be redeemed.

Although dead, Cal continued to harass Mega-City One from beyond the grave. Over twenty years after his demise, a disc with his computer files on it—long thought lost—resurfaced, containing the evidence Cal had used to subvert and blackmail corrupt judges when he was head of SJS. Several of these judges had risen to very senior positions in the Justice Department over the years, believing their dark secrets to be safe. By this time the SJS had been cleaned up and a wave of arrests followed, resulting in significant political fallout. (See also Judge Edgar.)   It is also ironic that the very wall that Cal built to effectively imprison the population of Mega City One helped in the city's defence on a number of occasions, including attacks from Sabbat's zombies. However its most prominent role was when the wall's weaponry functioned as an anti-missile defence system against Sov-block missiles during the Apocalypse War.

A revisionist opera about Cal's life was brought out in 2125 by Jean-Paul Pierre Salinger: Cal: Tragedy of a Tyrant, presenting jim as a misunderstand figure. The fattie Dario Mario played the role of Cal and brought the house down with the solo aria, "Requiem For Judge Fish", but on the opening night he was turned into a walking bomb by the Eurotrash Extermination Corps and the opera was cancelled.[4]

Alternate Versions[]

Helter Skelter

In a timeline where Dredd had killed Rico in 2079 and turned into a psychotic dictator named Dread, Cal was allowed to take power in 2101 so that Dread could 'save' the city - this version of Cal went even further into madness as he decided he was a reincarnation of Emperor Caligula. Judge Caligula was then tricked into 'escaping' to the Sov Block to give Dread a pretext to start an Apocalypse War. After conquering the world, Dread allowed Judge Caligula to become his European governor as he wanted a court fool. The madman demolished Euro-City and Brit-Cit so he could rebuild it into a 20th century Hollywood version of the Roman Empire, expelled the Italians for not being 'good enough' to be Roman descendants, fought an endless war against the sea (believing Neptune was after him), and created three female clones to be his sister-wives. [5]

in 2123, Mega-City One was attacked by another incarnation of Cal, from a parallel universe in which he had not been insane but had actually killed Dredd and ruled the city ever since. He was contacted by another earth's Murd the Oppressor with the knowledge that on another earth Dredd had won. Ordering the science to rush through developement of D-Jump technology he assembled a team of Dredd villains from alternate earth's where they won. Coordinating with War Mashal Kazan to conqure Mega City-One. This alternative-history Cal took over the Grand Hall of Justice using the old subliminal control system he had originally used to take control of the judges that served thirty years ago to kill hundreds of judges and crucified all his prisoners in the street. It was then revealed that his plan for revenge was to use the team he had built to kill Dredd and us Darien Kenzie's knowledge of D-Jump tech to bring his entire judge force and take control of the city. Dredd tried to shot him but was blocked by his servant Judge Lackey, an injured Cal feel into the D-Jump machine. Dredd destroyed the equipment before he could return to his native reality causing him to materialise in Tech Lab 21. Before he could activate the equipment to send him home Kenzie destroyed the building using the Thermax Dredd had rigged the building with earlier.

It was later recorded through visions and dreams by Psi-Division and other Psychics that Cal was trapped in the void between worlds. Howling with insanity. Tearing at his eyes in torment.

Parallels with Caligula[]

Cal in shower

The primary inspiration for the character is obviously the Emperor Caligula, and most specifically John Hurt's portrayal of Caligula in the 1976 BBC TV serial I, Claudius (he even looks vaguely like him in some frames). The parallel was made explicit when the story was collected together by Titan Books in 1982 under the title "Judge Caligula"; because of that collection, the 'next prog' captioned in "The Cursed Earth Part 25" now warns Dredd will "discover JUDGE CALIGULA!" in most reprints (originally saying "in the first great issue of 2000AD and Starlord"). The name/term 'Judge Caligula' would stick around for years after.

Suetonius' story that the Emperor Caligula suggested his horse be appointed a consul is parodied with Cal making his goldfish deputy chief judge. There are many other parallels too, for example forcing people who had pledged their lives to him to commit suicide (see below) and gigantic and impossible building projects. At one point Cal orders a one mile wall to be built around the city within three weeks:

This neatly ties in with this quote from Suetonius:

"Caligula seemed interested only in doing the apparently impossible-which led him to construct moles in rough deep water far out to sea, drive tunnels through exceptionally hard rocks, raise flat ground to the height of mountains, and reduce mountains to the level of plains; and all at immense speed, because he punished delay with death."[6]

Another point of comparison is the Kleggs, the alien merceneraries who bolster Cal's rule and who are the equivalent of Caligula's German body-guard.

There are many other bizarre kinds of behaviour that could be parallels, such as sentencing people to death in the bath, holding conversations with the dead chief judges, and pickling people in giant vats of vinegar. There are also some things that one would expect more from a parody of Nero, such as reading bad poetry to his judges and planning a feature film with Dredd played by a midget. John Wagner seems to take great delight in making Cal even madder than his progenitors.

Worlds of 2000AD RPG[]

The Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000AD RPG brought out a The Day The Law Died module, where players could set games during Cal's reign of terror. It also invented details: that Cal used the SJS to 'fill in' as regular Judges when Dredd was in the Cursed Earth, boosting their prominence; and he had a fanatical cult of personality within the squad.

A section at the start of the book warns that Cal's mania is 'fantasy insanity' and not real mental illness, but gamesmasters' should be careful none of the language about Cal makes real-world players uncomfortable.


  • Judge Cal first appeared in 2000 AD prog 86 and died in prog 108.
  • His other incarnation first appeared in prog 1252 and died in prog 1261.
  • "The Day the Law Died" was adapted into an audio drama by the BBC in 1995, William Dufris played Judge Cal and Gary Martin played Judge Dredd.
  • Several posters promoting Cal seen around the city with the headline "Cal is Watching You" splayed across it, an obvious referance to Big Brother.
  • An adapted version of "The Day The Law Died" was used for the Judge Dredd movie in 1995; however Cal was replaced by Rico Dredd.


  1. The Cal Files
  2. Monkey on my Back
  3. Trifecta
  4. A Night at the Opera, prog 1338
  5. Dread Dominion novel by Stephen Marley
  6. Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, translated by Robert Graves, Caligula para. 37

Judge Dredd
Main Characters Judge Dredd - Judge Hershey - Judge Anderson - Judge Beeny - Judge Buell - Galen DeMarco - Dirty Frank - Judge Edgar - Chief Judge Fargo - Judge Francisco - Judge Giant - Judge Goodman - Judge Griffin - Judge Guthrie - Judge Janus - Judge Karyn - Judge McGruder - Judge Niles - Judge Rico - Judge Shenker - Judge Silver - Judge Solomon - Judge Volt - Detective-Judge Armitage - Inspector Shimura - Devlin Waugh - Johnny Woo - Judge Larter - Judge Jack - Judge Agee - Judge Bennett - Judge Castillo - Judge Dekker - Judge Goon - Deputy Cheif Judge Herriman - Judge Kruger - Judge Munn - Judge Perrier - Judge Prager - Judge Minty - Detective-Judge Steel - Detective Judge Trant - Judge Kazan - Chief Judge Ohno - Judge-Inspector Akio Anaba - Judge Marshall Lawson
Recurring Villains Angel Gang - Mean Machine Angel - Elmer Angel - Junior Angel - Link Angel - Judge Bachmann - Oola Blint - President Booth - Judge Cal - Dark Judges - Rico Dredd - Armon Gill - Judge Grice - Morton Judd - Kleggs - Judge Kraken - Mechanismo - Stan Lee - Marty Zpok - PJ Maybe - Nero Narcos - Orlock - Shojun the Warlord - Judge Sinfield - Call-Me-Kenneth - Mr. Moonie - Murd the Oppresor - Owen Krysler - Don Uggie Apelino - Captain Skank - Father Earth - Kazan - Bulgarin - General Blood'n'Guts - Satanus - Satan - Fink Angel - Ratty - Rhode Island Red - Phobia - Nausia - America Jara - Cesare - Judge Mortis - Judge Fear - Judge Death - Judge Fire - Manners - Ramses - Trapper Hag - Sabbat - Wu Yang - Yin Mie - Randolph Whitely - Judge Choke - Judge Sleep - Judge Sludge - Judge Burroghs - Judge Fistula - Judge Skinner - Judge Stigmata - The Seven Samurai - Rex Peters - Slocum - Kenny Who? - Nosferatu - Grampus - Heavy Metal Kid - Ratty - Elvis - The Warlords - DeGaulle - The Joker - The Scarecrow - The Riddler - Arnold Wesker - Lobo - Judge Kurten - Pink Eyes - Aimee Nixon - Mr. Bones - Effil Drago San - Bella Bagley - Dune Sharks - Xenomorphs - Ueno Hama - Raptaurs - The Explosive Man - Judge Sherman - Ankhhor - President Clinton Box - Pamelina Oswin
Other Characters Chopper - Vienna Dredd - Fergee - Yassa Povey - Jacob Sardini - Walter the Wobot - Henry Ford - Spikes Harvey Rotten - Tweak - Tony Tubbs - Otto Sump - Mrs. Gunderson - Sensitive Klegg - Jack Point - Maria - Benneet Beeny - Grunwalder - Old Joe Blind - Max Normal - Toots Milloy - Mr. Harke - Mr. Burr - Jim Grubb - Dave the Orangutan - Nimrod - The Creep - Johnny Alpha - Wulf Sternhammer - The Fargo Clan - Randy Fargo - Jubal Fargo - Hocus Ritter - Batman - Harry Henson
Storylines America - The Apocalypse War - Block Mania - City of the Damned - The Cursed Earth - Day of Chaos - Democracy - The Doomsday Scenario - The Hunting Party - The Judge Child - Judgement Day - Mechanismo - Mutants - Necropolis - Origins - Oz - The Pit - The Robot Wars - Tour of Duty Trifecta - Wilderlands
Crossovers Judge Dredd vs. Aliens - Judgement on Gotham - Predator vs. Judge Dredd - Mars Attacks Judge Dredd