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Mega-City One Twilight Last Gleaming

Dredd looks out on the city, by John Burns

Established in 2032, Mega-City One was conceived as an answer to the massive overcrowding plaguing the cities of North America. Originally designed to house 350 million citizens, the population of Mega-City One soon swelled to an astounding 800 million people, a number that would remain constant until the city was devastated by the effects of the Atomic Wars - the Great Atom War of 2070 and later the Apocalypse War of 2104, which reduced its population to 400 million people with living space for half that number. Due to a number of other disasters and crises that have affected the city, and immigration to Mega-City One, the population remained stable until 2134. Following the Day of Chaos, the city has been reduced to a secondary power at best.

In the early 22nd century, it stretched roughly from southern Maine down through Florida, far into Ohio and/or West Virginia to the west, and to the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor in Canada in its north west.[1] From 2104 onwards, it had been scaled back to roughly New Hampshire through North Carolina.[2]

(The Architects Journal placed it at No. 1 in their list of "comic book cities".[3])



Origins Judges

The first deployment of the Judges

A sprawling conurbation had sprung up in the 2020s, stretching from New York City to Washington and growing. Crime had skyrocketed in the overcrowded sprawl, escalating to the point where an alliance of street gangs under P Street Posse raided the White House itself and successfully intimidate juries into acquitting them. This lead to the rollout of the Judges in 2031 - a proposal backed by the citizens, who voted out the congressmen who opposed Eustace Fargo and President Guerney's plan.[4]

At first the Judges worked with the existing police forces in the conurbation, with the intention of easing them into obsolesce, and had to force their way through both police and local government. The Governor of New York attempted to oppose the Judges on constitutional grounds, quietly helping to escalate tensions to help his career - ironically he would be saved from a murderer by the Judges, who exposed his crimes and cemented their position. [5]


However, 2035 would see hundreds of anti-judge riots from dissidents, fuelled by an ongoing economic slump with inadequate welfare. Crime rates actually doubled in every place the Judges were sent in, due to anti-judge activity, which Justice Department considered a temporary surge that would settle down.[6]

The American government would soon formally name the sprawl the Boston-New York-Philadelphia Autonomous Metropolitan District: the first of the new megacities, leading to its eventual name of Mega-City One. The perceived success of MC-1 would lead to the construction of one in California and Texas. (Official and semi-official timelines have placed MC-1s construction in 2031 and the others being planned in 2039, while The Judges novellas turned this into a process from the 2030s to 2050s) By 2039, the last police academies had closed.[7] and by 2047, Judges were still outnumbered by police five to one, but the police precincts had been militarised akin to the future Sector Houses. Despite all this, crime remained high. In June of that year, to root out an anti-judicial terrorist group called the Patriots, Justice Department locked down New York for most of a fortnight; by getting away with this, their power and position was consolidated. [8]

Harlem in 2050s

Harlem in the 2050s

The population continued to grow as people moved to the city. Talks were in place about splitting the mega-cities into new political entities under the controversial Autonomy Act. In 2051, the first mega-block went up, having demolish a low-income neighbourhood with the promise of new, improved housing within; the corporation building the block reneged on this and sparked a major riot among the newly homeless. In a shape of things to come, the Judges brutally put it down and caused the deaths and injuries of multiple bystanders. The Special Judicial Squad was brought in an attempt to salvage public support. By this point, the senior Judges considered building a mega-city to be the shape of the future. [9] Augustus Umberson built a long-lasting family fortune with construction contracts at the dawn of the city, which he arranged with bribes to city officials and the murder of his rivals.[10]

When the Autonomy Act came in by 2052, Justice Department would split into three autonomous branches, with one covering Mega-City One, and each city was given sweeping powers. Now, only foreign affairs and the military were outside of the city's remit. It flexed its muscles in 2055 when it imposed harsh immigration laws on American citizens that wanted to move to the city.[11] More and more city blocks were built, causing everything below the fortieth floor in some sections to be shrouded in darkness by 2053.[12] While the propaganda was that the megacities were meant to have less crime, the fast-growing city-state and its blocks soon became known for petty crime driven by boredom and crowding.[13]

In this decade, America's top aeroball team was the Harlem Heroes, originating out of Harlem, Mega-City One. The world itself was suffering from environmental collapse, warfare, and starvation that would leave even half the population of Mega-City One on meagre rations.[14] Even as this took place, technological development advanced and America was able to send an astronaut, Major Indira Knight, on a mission out of the solar system.[15] Colonization of alien planets began in the 2050s with Hestia in 2051 and Lesser Lingo in 2055.[16] The development of AI saw robots develop in leaps and bounds, dominating various industries and getting closer to human-level intelligence. President Booth ended a lot of the regulation on the robot industry, including AI checks.[17]

Mega-City One's Justice Department would continue to develop its power, creating the Council of Five leadership structure and the world's first Psi Division in 2057, and advancing cloning technology to grow its own Judges to bolster the ranks. The first clones were created in 2064.[18]


Origins Goodman broadcast

The problems with housing, infrastructure, and crime only became worse after the Atomic Wars. Mega-City One was spared total destruction due to experimental laser defense screens but most of the rest of America was in ruins. The Judges took control of the city, citing the Declaration of Independence to turf out President Robert L. Booth to public approval.

Millions streamed into the city and it ramped up its immigration laws. Mega-City One was going it alone.

One of Justice Department's secrets was civilian financial advisors had been deputised, starting under Fargo, to help make them run cost-effectively. These advisors would go on to do the same for the city and its various financial interests, keeping it ticking over. For years, they would be above the law as payment - in 2082, this arrangement harshly ended and Goodman used their crimes to have them arrested & forced to keep working if they wanted to eat.[19]

Origins are they happy

Judges turn from protectors to oppressors in the 2070s

The 2070s saw harsh rationing and drinking water had to be checked for radiation. This meant the death game Inferno was a huge hit, the extreme decadence being a relief in times of austerity - up until 2078, when the gambling syndicates went too far in punishing John 'Giant' Clay for crossing them and made people too scared to show up.[20]

Mutants had been allowed in the city initially, though there was shame involved for families who had them. Some asylums were set up abroad where prominent families could send their mutant relatives to be 'cared' for.[21] Soon into the 2070s, mutants forced out under new genetic apartheid laws out of fears of genetic contamination[22]. The official line was mutants were irrationally violent against "norms".[23] Deported mutants who were still under eighteen were placed in camps in the Cursed Earth, officially to be looked after and given jobs until they were legally able to leave; in practice, Mega-City One ignored these and they became brutal prison camps riddled with death and mistreatment.[24]

At some point, an early Space Corps had formed to control a limited space empire and there were colonies throughout the solar system. Mega-City One partially inherited this after the fall of America. [25]

Robots became ubiquitous across the city, the Judges allowing low regulation to make use of them as a post-war workforce. While the law demanded people dispose of their droids formally, many people just dumped them as with old appliances. This left various newly-independent robots eking out a living in the corners of the city, forming small communities; the Judges licensed robo-hunters to track down specific rogue robots to try and manage the problem.[26] The first robot to rebel against human slavery was a construction droid in 2075, put down by Cadet Joseph Dredd.[27] The Trachtenberg Act of 2077 put some regulations back on AI development.[28]

In 2079, a new batch of Academy of Law cadets were granted the full eagle. This Class of '79 would include Judges Joseph and Rico Dredd.

Imperial phase[]

2083 civil war

A new American civil war

Mega-City One had more fully covered by 2080 and tried flexing its foreign policy muscles. An attempt to secure Texas City's resources led to war between MC-1 & MC-2 and their southern neighbour, ending in a truce by 2086; to improve relations, Luna City One was constructed by the "United Cities of North America" in 2088. More successful, Mega-City One installed a friendly Judge regime in war-torn Brit-Cit[29] and Bruja[30], and was able to dominate the surviving European Union and resulting Euro-City into following its lead.[31]

MC1 prog 2

City in 2099 - the Empire State Building is dwarfed and derelict

Megacity scientists were able to engineer apes (or "uplifts") to be human-level intelligent. Having achieved this, humans promptly stuffed them in the Apetown ghetto and ignored them until they began forming crime syndicates.

Chief Judge Clarence Goodman established the Special Judicial Squad to protect against corruption and excesses from within Justice Department itself. However, over time the SJS became increasingly aloof and secretive, leaving it perfect for the ambitious young Cal to turn into a base of power. He rose up through the ranks and used the SJS's abilities to blackmail corrupt Judges rather than arrest them, giving himself greater political power and influence. As Goodman got older and Cal became head of the SJS, he was able to influence the Chief.[32]

Tempest 2090s juves

City street in 2095

Robot slave labor meant that most of the city was on welfare instead of having to work. People were often desperate to have work[33] and extreme crazes sprung up to deal with boredom, starting with the laz-knife craze in 2089.[34] The Judges, however, believed that the citizens would balk at having to work more than ten hours a week.[35] The robots were already chafing at human rule in the early '80s, as were radical robophobic groups. As a sop to anti-robot sentiment after a scandal in 2082, Goodman had the Sector Four Browning Projects, a rogue robot enclave, sweeped clean and the droids recycled, as well as ending the robo-hunters to bring everything in-house. Unknown to Justice Department, an anti-robot secret society called the Knights had successfully smuggled a faulty AI template to Cybo-Comp that would cause robots to harm humans, hoping this would cause a human backlash - Cybo-Comp put it on the newly built Call-Me-Kenneth as a test.[36]

By the 2090s, decadent youth culture arose around drugs, the pinstripe sound, and illegal comics.[37] Mega-City One had grown to the height of its size and power, with 800 million inhabitants and stretching down the east coast to Miami & east to annex Canada's Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. By this point, the population was becoming unsustainable.[38]

In 2095, Chief Judge Clarence Goodman announces a policy of mass interstellar colonisation to give Mega-City One the resources it needed.[39] This would bring the city great wealth over time but also embroil it in constant wars against alien empires, indigenous alien races fighting conquest, and insurgents on the colonies. The Space Corps constantly saw action.

Judge Dredd Statue of Judgement

The Statue of Judgement

In 2099, Justice Department constructed the Statue of Judgement - officially this was to show the citizens' gratitude for their protectors and coincidentally it dwarfed over the Statue of Liberty.[40]

That year would be blighted by two major crises that required Judge Dredd to stop. The first was the mutant Monkey possessing Chief Judge Goodman and forcing him to do 'reforms' that would throw the city into chaos, including a chaotic end of the mutant segregation laws that deliberately allowed in raiders; Cal, head of the Special Judicial Service almost took over before Dredd saved the day.[41]

Graham listens to Call-Me-Kenneth

An even more destructive event, the Robot Wars, broke out when the carpenter droid Call-Me-Kenneth developed the ability to commit crimes and instigated a robot uprising against the human slaves. (Dredd had foreseen this but been overruled) Entire sectors were laid waste and the Grand Hall of Justice invaded before Dredd, assisted by robots loyal to slavery like Walter the Wobot (who would ironically be granted freedom for this), helped bring Kenneth down.

Cal orders the wall

The start of the great wall

In 2100, Judge Cal had become Deputy Chief Judge and quite insane. He assassinated Chief Judge Goodman and seized control, instigating a hundred days of terror as he carried out random executions, made his goldfish a deputy, and constructed a wall to imprison the citizenry. Only a few Judges had escaped his brainwashing program, most of them from the Academy of Law, and under Dredd, they formed a dedicated rebel force that eventually brought him and his alien Klegg mercenaries down - just in time to stop Cal executing the entire city. Chief Judge Griffin and a new Council of Five took control.

Ironically, the great wall around the city would be of huge benefit to the city: it became a key part of their security and immigration policy.

A sharp increase in the cold war with the Sov Block began under Griffin, as East Meg One began to test the city for weaknesses. Griffin's personally appointed Black Ops Division chief, Smiley, became aware of the Sov's exact plans to attack the city but chose to allow it - to his mind, the population had become too vast to sustain and a cull was needed. [42]


The brutal Apocalypse War with East Meg One was a threat they had not expected, believing mutually assured destruction would mean no invasion, and the city was ravaged by the fighting. Althought Mega-City One won the war by nuking East Meg off the face of the Earth, the city came out of it with their population reduced by half, the entire south destroyed, all but one of the Council killed, and all of the north-west and upper north lost except for a small North West Hab Zone. The city had to renumber its surviving sectors to make sense of the new setup. [43] (The isolated Hab Zone would descend into crime and corruption, and become known as "the Pit")

A few years of hardship - starvation, disease, homelessness, and the segregation of fatties - was endured before the city was able to recover. Hilda Magaret McGruder, Chief Judge by default as the only living councillor, rebuilt the city back into a functioning great power before resigning after a security failure.

(From 2104 to 2133, the city's population remained roughly at 400 million. Part of the reason for this was recurring emergencies that could kill millions of citizens: the Dark Judge takeover of "Necropolis" in 2112, the zombie invasion "Judgement Day" of 2114, the meat virus in 2115, "The Doomsday Scenario" robot war in 2121, and the nuclear bombings of Total War in 2126. Sixty million citizens died in Necropolis and the population was counted as 350 million the year after[44], but this swiftly climbed back to 400m.)

The democrats[]

Er democracy

A democracy revival movement had grown in strength in the mid-2100s, following the martyrdom of Hester Hyman: a democratic activist who carried out a hostage situation and allowed the Judges to gun her down to draw attention to the cause.

By 2109, tens of millions were peacefully demanding a return to an elected government. Chief Judge Silver called this "the greatest threat to the city since the Apocalypse War" and authorised a horde of dirty tricks to stop and discredit the movement. As far as the city was concerned, the democratic leaders had proven to be 'corrupt' or 'weak', and the two-million strong march ended in violence (thanks to Wally Squad infiltrators). Leader Blondel Dupre claimed this was not the end as she was taken away. [45]

Necropolis broadcast

Mega-City One transformed into "Necropolis"

Dredd would later have doubts about his actions here, and this would lead to him losing faith in the system and taking the Long Walk in 2112 - releasing Dupre and other senior democrats on his way out. While he was away, the city was overrun by the Dark Judges and turned into their supernatural 'Necropolis', with sixty million people killed and the Judges left shaken after many were brainwashed into becoming killers.

Democratic referendum

Faith in Justice Department was shattered and the democrats began to rise up again. A returning Judge Dredd, to the outrage of many senior Judges, proposed a referendum on whether to remain a judicial dictatorship on grounds that the people needed to give assent to being judged - many assumed the democrats would win. In the end, just as he'd suspected, a combination of apathy (barely a third of the people voted) and lack of lived experience with democratic government caused the Judges to win. [46]

This destroyed the democratic movement as a peaceful force for change and led to democrats using terrorism as their primary mean to force change. Total War was one of the earliest groups and America Java would be gunned down trying to symbolically blow up the Statue of Liberty.

McGruder to Francisco[]

The twin hits of Necropolis and the zombie apocalypse of Judgement Day in two years left the city weakened (allowing Judge Grice's revenge plot in 2115 to work). The Judges were weak for several years and its space policy shaky. It recovered and, during the early 2110s, entered a short period of glasnost with the Sov Block.

The Justice Department briefly fell into chaos as Chief Judge Hilda McGruder suffered from increased dementia, with no legal way to remove her. Under Chief Judge Hadrian Volt, new checks and balances were put in to ensure this would never happen again: the Chief Judge was no longer part of the Council of Five and senior Judges could petition to vote for a new leader. A small measure of power was also returned to the citizens, the most obvious example being the reinstatement of the elected Mayor of Mega-City One, while the PSU quietly made sure it had dirt on any and all corrupt figures in the civilian council. Dredd would expose these figures, causing the collapse of the current council due to arrests and resignations - to which the people duly elected Bing Cheesely and his L.I.A.R.'s Party who openly said they'd be corrupt.

Mega-City One Henry Flint

Mega-City One in 2126, during an evacuation, by Henry Flint

Under Volt, the city had a degree of stability - the main crisis being the Children's Crusade, where millions of children abandoned the city and Justice Department controversially fired a missile at the leaders. Volt's seemingly steady reign was undermined by the Frenz Syndicate, a powerful crime family under the control of Nero Narcos; bored and listless, he decided to conquer the city on a whim and used corrupt business fronts to take over the city's robots and compromise the Lawgiver Mk2 gun. While the Judges were briefly deposed, Narcos found the citizens themselves made controlling the city near-impossible even before Dredd restored control.

After Volt's suicide, Barbara Hershey became Chief Judge with intention to liberalise the law (and swiftly deposed the Public Surveillance Unit's corrupt Jura Edgar in favour of her ally Judge Niles). Simultaneously, she began to make use of the Black Ops Division to help expand her foreign policy.

Mega-City One Dave Taylor

Mega-City One in 2131, by Dave Taylor

2130 saw a major change when Hershey and the Council of Five repealed the anti-mutant laws. Millions of 'norm' citizens rioted, mutant hate crimes were ubiquitious, and the new mutant citizens often had to remain in segregated "mutant blocks" for their safety. The Judges were disgruntled with the change, propelling Dan Francisco to Chief Judge. Francisco set up townships in the Cursed Earth where mutants would be 'encouraged' to move to. Despite the violence and the townships being, to a large extent, nicer than the city was, many mutants remained in the city.

Martin Sinfield attempted a soft coup against Francisco on grounds of him being too 'liberal' with the mutant townships and their amenities, which led to his eventual arrest and the accidental discovery that serial killer PJ Maybe was the current mayor. The returned Francisco had to get to grips with a general recession and lack of respect for the law caused by Sinfield's run, initiating the "Big Community" buzzword for austerity cuts.

Chaos Day and aftermath[]

Day Of Chaos riot

Riots after the fall of the Statue of Judgement

In 2134, a Sov revenge plot - "Chaos Day" - saw Mega-City One finally collapse.

A combination of plague, terrorism, and anarchic uprising reduced the population to roughly 50 million people and left the city in ruins, the economy crashed, and the Judges undermanned and demoralized. (Justice Department greatly underestimated the number of people who'd succesfully fled the city but it would be many years before most would return).[47] The destruction was so vast that Judge Bachmann, head of Black Ops, considered the city and its Judges to be a failed model - her attempted coup would have run the city under a Heaven/Hell model, with MC-1 being the Hell that all perps would be condemned to.[48] By 2137, corpses were still being cleared out and would be until 2139.[49]

Wasteland meg

The Judge force had to use retrained foreign Judges and Cadets rushed into action to bolster its numbers, while a number of systems and services were privatized as Justice Department was unable to run everything solo.[50] Convicts were forced into labour gangs rather than iso-blocks, with Judges encouraged to take prisoners instead of killing (to get the extra labour). Due to the lack of Judges, there was a brief use of military forces to bolster numbers and then, in the sectors that residents had abandoned, Hershey trialled the use of Rangers for patrols - this too would fail.

Both welfare and the banking system collapsed, but a crude form of welfare was soon re-established in many sectors: children under 11 would be fed and clothed (barely), and those physically unable to work would receive rations (though Admin found creative ways to reclass disabled citizens as fit to work). Otherwise, even by 2137 the city could only afford starvation rations for the work gangs in the worst-hit sectors.[51] Emergency laws mean children from age 12 up can be required to do work. In other sectors, however, the economy partially recovered and privately-owned corporate blocks (kept for employees) were mostly unaffected by the chaos.[52]

The once-strident immigration laws were relaxed in order to grow the population again[53], while citizens of Sov descent were actually deported to Mega-City Two's "Sovsec" to protect them from reprisal attacks.

Dredd in the ruins

Even the city's space empire took a hit - shortly after the fall, the Luther-led insurrectionists spread and in 2136, the Titan penal colony was able to successfully rebel because the city lacked the military power to do anything about it.[54]. The alien Zhind launched a massive attack on human space in 2138, considering humanity a dangerous 'child race' that needed to be violently quarantined.[55] MC-1's Gateway colony was the first to fall. While Mega-City One fought off the Zhind and massacred the insurrectionists (despite them aiding the city against the aliens), the wars ravaged their military and numerous planets.[56] Unknown to Mega-City One, their final victory came from the Zhind being defeated on a planet, 43 Rega, they considered holy ground.[57]

In 2137, members of a conspiracy on the Isle of Man assured the Emerald Isle - both small, militarily weak states - that the city was weak enough that risk angering.[58] The conspiracy was soon exposed but it was Brit-Cit and Murphyville Judges that arrested the people involved, while Brit-Cit would go on to pressure Mega-City One to extradite Dredd and Fintan Joyce for killing Judges during the exposure.

By late 2137, the population had reached 72 million and was increasing due to the relaxed immigration laws and expatriate citizens (who'd sat out Chaos) returning home. The population growth was faster than the Judges could handle though: their numbers were still low and the post-Chaos Academy was still inadequate. [59] An invasion by former Titan convicts under Aimee Nixon, turned into ice creatures by something on Enceladus, almost drove the city to breaking point, with both Hershey and Dredd powerless against Nixon's forces.

MC versus TC

Mega-City Judges taking out Oswin's loyalists.

In 2138, relations between Brit-Cit and Mega-City One were breaking down; this escalated as the Grindstone Cowboys began destroying crucial Cursed Earth farms. Dredd's apparent death at the Cowboy's hands [60] led the city to beg Texas City for the loan of a thousand Judges, in exchange for accepting heavy terms.[61] Unknown to MC-1, this was part of a plot against them by Texas: the mutant gangs were a proxy designed to weaken them, forcing them to accept increasing Texan control (starting with a repeal of mutant immigration) as part of Chief Judge Oswin's plan to reunify America. By the time Hershey realised this was a takeover, thousands of Texans loyal to Oswin over her were on the streets. [62] The Texan plot was eventually stopped and Oswin killed, and in an ironic twist Hershey had Psi-Judge Lewis secretly installed as the new Texan Chief Judge, placing the city under Mega-City control.

The population was demoralised enough that in 2139 and 2140, the reactionary "Sons of Booth" - calling for a return to the President's day - was able to find sympathisers and dominate discourse across the city before Dredd took them out.

Over the six years after Chaos Day, the population greatly recovered due to immigration, gradual return of refugees, and new births; the Judges had also underestimated how many escaped the city. The population was estimated at 100 million in 2140 and then revised to 130 million two years later, and the Council of Five agreed to start building on the Chaos Bug grave sites, but the Judge numbers could not keep up. Mechanismo Mark 8s were allowed on the streets to boost numbers and became a fixture in the city.[63]

During this period, Dredd and a team of allies had fought a tit-for-tat shadow war against Judge Smiley's Black Ops Division, all without Hershey's knowledge, and finally exposed Smiley as allowing the Apocalypse War and executed him for his crimes in late 2140. Dredd and Hershey's relationship was shattered as a result. [64]

Logan's reign[]


The protest against "Machine Law"

With the city back on its feet and feeling post-Smiley that she'd been there too long, Hershey stepped down in favour of Judge Logan in 2141. The population continued to rise under him, reaching 180 million citizens by 2144.

Logan's first major act as Chief Judge was to appoint the Mechanismo Harvey to his Council, outraging the city. The previous Council of Five attempted a coup against him during an anti-robot but were thwarted; Harvey himself committed suicide in a way that faked a terror bombing, allowing Logan to save face.[65] The city later flexed its muscles once more, preventing a Euro-City crime takeover of the Mediterranean Free State and brutally overthrowing the robot regime in Guatemala. Logan would oversee long-delayed reconstruction in the North-West Hab Zone, which after eight years of decay meant demolishing and rebuilding large chunks of it into prototype blocks that would have greater amenities and education.[66]

Sector 304 relocations

The results of remaining or moving from the new Sector 304 builds

This rebuilding was disrupted by the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse manifesting in 2142, which caused a great storm to hit the city and cause structural damage (and prompt a temporary evacuation into the Undercity).[67] The Black Atlantic Wall itself had a breach, Weather Control was knocked out once more, some areas like Sector 34 had to be evacuated, and nuclear systems were damaged, while storm refugees had flooded in from the Cursed Earth - Logan ordered Accounts to craft an emergency budget to see what could be moved from other areas. Maitland instead proposed a model that would divert Street Division money to education and social services, reducing crime wholesale - one based on how juves moved from Sector 304 slums to the new buildings had become more law-abiding while those sent to regular sectors were still lawbreakers. Logan and the Council rejected her report and had her placed under SJS surveillance.[68]

With foreign states - even formerly weaker ones like Pan-Africa - leaping ahead in technological advances, Logan approved Tek-Div's Project Providence in 2143: time travellers sending back foreign tech breakthroughs into the past for MC-1 to make them. Sino-Cit exposed this, causing MC-1 to face sanctions, foreign weaponry 'accidentally' ending up with gangs, and potential suspension from the Conference of Ten.[69]

Possible futures[]


The Mutant overruns Mega-City One in 2120

Psi-Judge Feyy predicted a great cataclysm would befall the city in 2120 but mistakenly believed Owen Krysler would be their salvation. A time-travel mission by Dredd and Anderson found instead that Krysler would be the cataclysm: in his ultimate form as the Mutant, he would use his psi powers to reduce the city to tortured ruins, the people tormented by supernatural monsters and the Judges reduced to vampire minions. Before the city fell, McGruder was still Chief Judge, Anderson was head of Psi-Division, and Dredd remained a Street Judge. All three would be killed with Dredd resurrected as a zombie minion. Dredd ensured this future would never come to pass (though the zombie accidentally returned to the past with him, somehow still existing).[70]

Mega-City One (and Hondo) has been visited three times by a time-travelling mutant bounty hunter called Johnny Alpha. In his timeline, a new atomic war broke out in 2150 and greatly increased the number of mutants. When Dredd visited Alpha's 2190s, he found a dozen Cal clones running a corporation in former California.[71] During his second visit, Alpha darkly suggested that Mega-City One may have fired the first missile of the 2150 war; unknown to him, MC-1 had used Psi-Division to learn about the circumstances of the war and kept this "Alpha File" secret from Brit-Cit, who it knew would lose 70% of its population if the war occured. [72]

In a timeline averted by Judy Janus, the promising Cadet Fen Mookie would become a prominent Judge and, as the city was consumed by a crisis in 2134, had Brit-Cit's supernatural killer Fautus experimented on to create indestructible Judges. rise to become Chief Judge. In 2139, he had become Chief Judge and these new superclones were sent out into the streets. They went on to butcher and replace all mankind before evolving into the god-like "Judge Angels". They ensured their own creation by altering Faustus in the past, creating a timeloop; Janus erased the events, causing Faustus to be untransformed and Mookie to flunk out of Academy.[73] (It's a handy coincidence that John Wagner would write Day of Chaos, a city-devastating event, around the same time Millar and Morrison had Mookie say the city was falling.)

In another depiction of the future, the Zhind went to war with Earth again in the 2140s after humans on 43 Rega mistook an arrival for an attack and fired. The conflict lasted for four decades. By the 2180s, Mega-City One and the other major powers were on the verge of financial collapse with no end in sight. This future was shown to Marshal Metta Lawson and she was able to prevent it happening.[74]

Government in Mega-City One[]


Chief Judge discusses pies

Chief Judge McGruder and a citizen council delegation

When first established, Mega-City One was operated by a municipal government much like that found in real-world cities and towns, with the Autonomy Act giving them greater powers than traditional US states. The Judges soon began to take their own autonomous action, starting with immigration controls that the Mayor's office only approved after the fact.[75] The Chief Judge was answerable only to the President of the United States. However, in the political vacuum left in the wake of the sentencing of President Booth and dissolution of the US Senate in 2071, the Judges are left as the de facto government of both Mega-City One and the United States of America.

The Judges, organized into the Justice Department of Mega-City One, are responsible for seeing to the total welfare of the citizens of Mega-City One, overseeing welfare and housing programs as well as collecting taxes, governing businesses, and the necessary duties of policing and sentencing. However, for more mundane and non-essential tasks the Justice Department created and still maintains a municipal council that is lead by the Mayor of Mega-City One.

The municipal council of Mega-City One is responsible for such tasks as the daily weather vote held as the Weather Congress. After reforms under Chief Judge Volt, the Mayor and his council have also been responsible for part of the city's planning permissions and some welfare controls.[76] The Mayor is allowed to have autonomy from the Grand Hall but can still be pressured to do what the Chief Judge wants, as shown by Sinfield and Mayor Byron Ambrose.

The second most popular and well-liked Mayor Mega-City One has had was Mayor Dave the Orangutan, an orangutan who held the office of Mayor from 2104 until he was assassinated in 2107. (After that, no mayor was mentioned for ten years) The most popular, and also the most efficient, was the aforementioned Mayor Ambrose (who was actually the serial killer PJ Maybe in disguise).

The Justice Department of Mega-City One has also been faced with groups arguing for a restoration of democracy to Mega-City One, who've used tactics ranging from banned literature to nuclear terrorism. The Judges considered the matter over when a referendum was held in 2113 and the citizens of Mega-City One voted to maintain the dictatorship. The democrats, however, have become increasingly more violent and nihilistic.

Following Chaos Day, the Mayor's office is seen as a non-entity[77] and the Judges have attempted a (failed) major revamp of their structure.[78] To a large extent, the Judges still attempt to rule the same way they have before - even though it's increasingly clear their old methods aren't working in a post-plague city.[79]



Mega-City One is the founder of the Judge system and to this day has one of the harshest judicial systems: it takes fifteen to twenty years to become a Judge and cadets have to sign up when only a few years old. Many Judges are clones, 'born' into service. A retirement option is the Long Walk, where they leave the city to bring law to the Cursed Earth or Undercity.

The Judges themselves are not exempt from the law; they are expected to obey it more strictly than any other. A violation that would earn a citizen a few months in an Iso-Cube would get a Judge a twenty-year sentence, served as hard labour on the moon Titan, after surgical modification to enable the convict to survive outside there without needing an expensive space suit.[80]

Over time, all elements of Justice Department and the government have been run by Judges. The Academy of Law trains Judges to work as Accounts Judges, medics, PR men, and spies. Under Judge Bachmann, the spies of Blacks Op Division were brainwashed to worship the city as a god.

They also run an Auxilary Judge system, similar to special constables: assisting the Judges but with less powers. Civilian workers for Justice Department tend to be classed as Auxilaries.


Judge Troopers

Defence-Div Judges, as seen on cover of Extreme Edition #17

The original United States Armed Forces no longer exist. When Booth was overthrown after the Atomic Wars, the remains of the US Army were routed and finally destroyed in 2071's Battle of Armageddon. (In the immediate aftermath of the war, military discipline broke down and the Judges had to kill or arrest soldiers that were preying on the citizens.)[81]

Mega-City One's military forces are inconsistently portrayed. During crises inside the city, regular Judges or Citi-Def are almost always shown doing the fighting instead and the military is usually mentioned in outer space – "Day of Chaos" eventually explained that they're unlicensed to act against the civilian population.[82] From "The Cursed Earth" onwards, the city's armed forces have usually been presented as a branch of the Judges: "Pirates of the Black Atlantic" had the patrolling Atlantic Division force and the following "Apocalypse War" showed Judges specifically running space forces & SKUNK stations, stories by Gordon Rennie introduced a Defence-Div, 1990s spin-off Maelstrom had heavily armed STAR (Strategic Target Attack Retaliation) Judges to carry out targeted strikes, The Corps had Fireteams taken from the most antisocial cadets, and the Insurrection serials give the Special Judicial Squad its own space fleet and armed force to stamp out rebellions. In contrast, stories by John Wagner have increasingly presented the military as a separate group since the 1990s, with some members believing the Judges are too lenient.[83] Uniforms differ depending on the story.

The Citi-Defs (Citizen Defence) are a reserve force composed of citizens.[84] Each city block contains a Citi-Def force in case of crises, though usually they turn up in Dredd as rogue factions waging block wars.

Insurrection Liberty

Colony reserves

Similar to Citi-Def, colony worlds have their own reserve soldiers in case of invasion. Unlike in the city, these can include apes and robots.

The STAR Judges were given an origin as founded in 2108 by Commander Brand, with Brand and his original squad secretly left to die after committing an act of genocide in 2111 (this was covered up as a legitimate act of war and the STARs turned into martyrs, allowing Mega-City One to still claim the devastated planet).[85] The main military force mentioned is the Space Corps, composed of marines and fleets, who fight against alien races that threaten the colonies. (When originally introduced in The Corps spinoff, they were Judges but in later stories these are recruited citizens.) Another force are the Genetic Infantry: genetically engineered men, bred in a lab to be dedicated soldiers.[86] (The story Warzone had an ex-Genetic Infantry soldier who was a primitive version of the Genetic Infantry from Rogue Trooper.[87])

51st Hoverbourne coporal

A corporal of the 51st Hoverbourne

During "Day of Chaos", military forces such as the 51st Hoverbourne Division were brought in to assist the overwhelmed Judges due the extreme circumstances.[88] Following "Day of Chaos", the regular military (particularly the Space Corps) spent time helping to keep order in Mega-City One. Tensions existed between them and the Judges[89] and they were later withdrawn.

By 2136, following Chaos Day and Luther's insurrections in the colonies, Mega-City One no longer had the military power to stop a rebellion on Titan.[90] In 2140, the city was able to despatch a squad of veteran Marines to the colony world Dominion to stop the Dark Judges but it was a lengthy journey. Their commander, Rafe Sabitini, was a traitor for the Sisters of Death but the mission was still succesful. [91]

In the Mongoose RPG, the Atlantic Division was expanded to include a naval and air force: Ocean Patrol and its airborne counterpart Black Sky Patrol. Both groups are primarily Judges. Ocean Patrol's vessels go for months-long patrols, ranging from Centaur gunboats to the massive Satyr cruisers and Minotaur-class warships warmed with TAG-Assault Nukes, and have assistance from the civilian-staffed Atlantis Sea Corps force. Black Sky coordinates with Ocean Patrol for sea coverage and is staffed by hothead Judges who are given one last chance as pilots of Kestrel, Hawk Interceptor, Kingfish Bomber, and Sparrowhawk Superiority Fighters. Undersea command-and-control is provided by the mobile MONK station Poseidon. [92]

Geography of Mega-City One[]


Mega city 1 Total Administrated Area

MC-1 before 2104


Post-2104 map of MC1

The Judges have divided Mega-City One into a number of different zones, each containing a number of sectors, in order to make the city easier to manage:

  • MegCentral (Sectors 1 - 20). The Grand Hall of Justice is here.
  • MegEast (Sectors 21 - 108)
  • MegSouth (Sectors 109 - 160)
  • MegWest (Sectors 161 - 240)
  • MegNorth (Sectors 241 - 300) Seat and most populous Sector of this Zone is the former city of Boston ,Massachusetts.
  • North-West Habitat Zone (Sectors 301 - 305); A small land-mass in Southern Ontario separated from the rest of Mega-City One by "Radlands" on all sides and connected to MegNorth by an elevated Megway.

Various slum areas exist, including:

  • Apetown, known as the Jungle by the 2120s when the Judges had mostly stopped bothering with the area.
  • The Pit (Sector 301) is considered the worst sector in the city and had been used as an unofficial dumping ground for sub par Judges. Chief Judge Hadrian Volt changed this in 2118 by putting Dredd in charge of the sector. He weeded out most of the corruption and left behind a force of harder, more effective Judges.
  • Sector 13, commonly called Angeltown, is another corrupt and seedy area. 2120s Sector Chief's Daveez (The Simping Detective) was highly corrupt and replaced in the early 2130s by the even more corrupt Judge Kruger (Marauder). Under Kruger, the Street Judges worked as gangsters. (After his death, Daveez was placed back in power as an asset for Judge Bachmann)
  • The Low Life stretches across unspecified sectors

Transit systems[]

The high population density of Mega-City One requires a complex system of transport. This often serves as accommodation as well as a means of getting around the city.


  • Back street: Two-way passages, located in Old Town and City Bottom.
  • Broad-Way: A large pedestrian plaza.
  • Crossway: Any pedway intersection (AKA Crosslink).
  • Eeziglide: One-way pedestrian conveyance that functions as a human conveyor-belt.
  • Pedway: Pedestrian-only walkway found right across the City at all levels. Subpeds are enclosed pedways that run under Pedways.
  • Zipstrip: One or two-way pedestrian walkway that links blocks and smaller interchanges. Enclosed zipstrips are called Pipeways.


  • Boomway: One or two-way multi-level Mega-Way (between four to ten lanes width, two to four levels height).
  • Filter: One-way exit or entrance to and from parking areas.
  • Flyover: Skedway that passes over a city block (AKA Overzoom).
  • Inter-Block Zoom: Maglev train-system which replaced the old Sky-Rail network in the late Twenty-first Century. Provides a link between all the city blocks in any given sector.
  • Intersection: Road junction.
  • Judge's Lane: Two-way road that runs parallel to major roadways, reserved for Justice Department usage.
  • Median Strip: Protective barrier which prevents accidents in one half of a road from spreading to the other half.
  • Mega Circular: Two-way, six-lane Meg-Way which bypasses through-sector traffic to benefit long-distance drivers.
  • Meg-Way: Largest road design in Mega-City One. Two-way, between four to twenty lanes, and central reservation (AKA Megaway, Speedway, Throughway, X-Pressway).
  • Parkarama: Ground vehicle park.
  • Podport: Hover vehicle park.
  • Skedway: One-way highway, between one to five lanes. Interskeds connect one skedway to another (AKA Feedway). Underskeds are single-lane roads, often reserved for public service traffic only, that pass underneath skeds. Overskeds are the same, but pass over skeds.
  • Sky-Rail: Obsolete monorail public transit-system introduced in the early 21st century. One-third of Mega-City One still actively uses the Sky-Rail network while it awaits upgrading to the zoom-system. The largest Sky-Rail intersection in the City is Hell's Junction.
  • Slipzoom: One-way, between one to four lanes, used for larger interchanges. An Underzoom (AKA Flyunder) is a single-lane road often reserved for public service traffic only that passes under a Slipzoom.
  • Superslab: The longest Meg-Way in Mega-City One, bisecting the City from north to south. Twenty-four lanes, 1,220 kilometers in length (AKA Mega-City 500).
  • Wayby: Small zones set aside Meg-Ways and Skedways in regular intervals where drivers can pull-off and temporarily park their vehicles.
  • Zoomtube: The most recent traffic innovation in Mega-City One. An enclosed road-system where all traffic is platooned and computer-controlled for optimum speed and driver-safety.

Life in Mega-City One[]


The Americans streetview

An average day in 2131

An unfortunate side-effect of the technological advances that have been made is soaring unemployment, which has lead to extreme boredom, crime, and general disgruntlement and despair. The citizens have invented a wide variety of pastimes, both good and bad. Some of the big ones include the fatties who overeat to fill their time, which turned competitive eating into a sport; the ugly craze, where people deliberately try to look like hideous freaks; and simps, who try to look and act as bizarre as possible (no mean trick in Mega-City One).


"Crazes" also regularly and briefly sweep the city, often changing by the day. Crazes known to have swept the city in the past have included Synchronized Leaping, PowerBoarding, and Boinging. These are often disruptive and dangerous but are also necessary to distract the citizens from the boredom and horrors of Mega-City One - in the case of atrocities like Necropolis, necessary so people can bury the mental scars.[93] Transportation systems exist in Mega-City One that accommodate every way of travel, from pedestrian to public transit to hover vehicles. Baffling though these different systems may be, each is surprisingly efficient a vast majority of the time, typically becoming troubled only during large-scale emergencies.

A side effect of the intensity of megacity life is Future Shock Syndrome, or "futsie", where a stressed citizen will experience something that causes their mind to finally snap: reality seems too absurd to exist. The first case was Michael Kerrigan in 2089 after he saw a las-knife. [94]

Alzheimer block

Compulsory euthanasia in an eldster block

The advances of future medicine mean that people can live healthy lives for far longer (especially Judges, where Dredd is still going past the age of 70). Some "eldsters" have mentioned being far over a hundred. As a result, there are 'crock blocks' solely for the elderly to live in. Chaos Day killed a disproportionate number of the eldsters.

One dark secret of the city until Chaos Day 'resolved' the issue is that there were far more eldsters than the city felt it could pay for, and so the city turned to compulsory euthanasia against those considered too senile. Dredd once had to arrest a care home staffer for arranging euthanasia for healthy 'problem' residents.[95]

The average cit

Once dead, all citizens become the property of the city. It's possible to be buried but this is an expensive process: it costs a 950 credit release fee just to get the corpse back.[96] Most citizens will be sent to Resyk and turned into a variety of useful products[97] (some available from Resyk's giftshop[98]).

Mega-City citizens are often very, very stupid.


Mega-City One's laws are harsh, with many crimes not found in present-day law. Possession of sugar, for example, is illegal, as is the smoking of tobacco outside of licensed Smokatoriums, and coffee is banned as an illegal stimulant. A number of these laws are harsher than even the other megacities: tea and coffee are legal in Brit-Cit and Euro-City, for example. In some cases, Judges have arrested mugging victims for incitement.

Most ordinary citizens are sent to the Iso-Cubes, tiny cells located within huge prisons. In extreme cases even the death penalty may be imposed, although relatively sparingly compared with the present day, reserved for mass murder or endangering the security of the city.[99]

Unlike the contemporary United States (and Texas City[100]), Firearm possession is only legal with the right permits.


Ape Gang

Don Uggie Apelino, boss of the Ape Gang

Crime is endemic in Mega-City One, known as the Most Dangerous City in the World, with a serious crime occurring somewhere in Mega-City One every second of every day. Many have become desensitized to it and see it as a spectator sport. It doesn't take much for the masses to join in when they see a good riot. There are also numerous minor crimes, with even things like spitting likely to get you a visit from the Judges. Crime blitzes, where teams of Judges raid a home for any sign of lawbreaking, and the less violent crime swoops, are a major part of the Judge's arsenal - they almost always find something and get suspicious if there's nothing.[101]

Juve crime is especially rampant, with block gangs being an unstoppable law among themselves. The sheer lack of future for most juves makes it near-impossible to stop them reoffending[102] and adults can look fondly back on their violent juve days.[103]


Scrawling is endemic

Organized crime in Mega-City One is a constant war between mobs, many run by flamboyant and bizarre leaders, who have to constantly battle each other, the Judges, and the sheer madness of the world they live in. For big hits, they send in blitzers: hitmen with bombs implanted who will self-destruct if arrested so their employer can't be implicated. Some mobs have psis to give them an edge. From 2112 to 2121, the mysterious supervillain Tempest was the secret overlord of all the crime bosses - his empire crumbled when Nero Narcos declared war on the city for a whim. [104]

Sedition is a crime and many have been arrested for defaming the Judges or possessing banned material. Block-wars have been a steady problem for the Judges, often resulting in casualties in the hundreds of thousands of citizens. Block-wars are a form of riot in which two or more neighboring City Blocks (large apartment blocks capable of housing upwards of 50,000 residents each) literally go to war with each other, often initiated by bored Citi-Def units of rival blocks.


Citizens ignoring street crime for fear they're next

Some of the more common organised crimes include:

  • Body-sharking: loaning money to people willing to put a loved one into cryonic storage for collateral.
  • Chump-dumping: conning aliens into believing Earth is a paradise, taking their money, and then dumping them into space.
  • Organleggers: cutting up people to sell their parts on the black market.
  • Stookie glanding: butchering Stookies, an intelligent alien race, for the anti-aging drug they produce.
  • Vi-zines: torturing people to death and filming it for sickos
  • Drug dealing: this not only includes dangerous substances like zzizz, it includes sugar, coffee and tea, all of them banned in the city. Umpty candy is also flogged ("umpy baggers"), addictive due to its incredible taste.

After Chaos Day, organized crime has changed: new rackets have replaced the old, such as disguising people as mutants to smuggle them to the townships, dealing in black market clean water, or protection rackets that threaten to tell everyone you're shirking the work gangs. Vi-zines are a dead vice as people can just look out their window to get their jollies. [105]

Food sources[]

Mega-City One produces its own food in labs, all of it processed slop like Grot Pots. [106] Chocolate and caffeine drinks have been replaced with synthetic equivalents. Even bits of recycled corpses have been put in food.[107]

More 'normal' food comes from MC-1 controlled Cursed Earth towns and facilities, as well as farms in foreign cities.[108] This still includes mutant species like treetmeat or munce.

Attractions and Landmarks[]

MC-1 window view

View by Greg Staples: note the Statues of Judgement and Liberty and the Grand Hall

Mega-City One has developed a rich history since its establishment, and as such has a wide variety of landmarks and attractions for tourists and citizens alike to visit and enjoy. A brief list of some of these places can be found below:

  • The Jungle : Also known as Ape-town, this area was set aside for a small sub-population of genetically modified primates and was, at the time of its unveiling in 2080, a state-of-the-art City Block that was purpose-built for ape usage. Unfortunately, the residents were uninterested in civilization and retained a number of their less than human habits, turning Ape-town into one of the city's worst slums within its first year of existence. Humans are unwelcome, and the Judges leave the apes to their own so long as they stay within the borders.
  • The Maze : An abandoned City Block that was rendered uninhabitable by its own design. The interior of the F. Lloyd Mazny Housing Scheme is an ever-changing mess of hallways, pedways, and plazas that only a few people are willing to call home.
  • Academy of Law : Located in Sector 44, the Academy of Law is the place where all Cadets begin the long, grueling journey towards becoming full Judges. The largest part of the interior of the Academy is a life-size reproduction of Mega-City One known as the Street-Sim where cadets are able to practice their skills.
  • Apocalypse Monument : Located in the exact centre of Mega-City One, this monument is dedicated to the citizens of Mega-City One who lost their lives as a result of the Apocalypse War of 2104.
  • Grand Hall of Justice : Also located in Sector 44, this is the headquarters of the Justice Department. The Grand Hall has become a tourist attraction in and of itself, surrounded by a variety of memorial plazas, and boasting such attractions within its walls as the Hall of Heroes and The Black Museum.
  • Smokatorium : After smoking in public was banned by the Judges as a public health risk, the Smokatorium remains the only place residents of Mega-City One can legally consume tobacco products. The polluted air is sucked into a filter that takes out the impurities before recycling it.
  • Fergee Memorial Statue : A statue in the memory of the hulking hero Fergee who saved Mega City from Cal at the cost of his own life.
  • Statue of Judgement : A massive statue erected in the name of the Judges.
  • The White Cliffs of Dover : Moved to Mega City by a rich eccentric.
  • Devils Island : A prison that is near impossible to escape due to its location.
  • Aggro Dome : A place where aggressive and violent people could work out their feelings on inanimate objects (or each other, if consensual).
  • Alien Zoo : A zoo for unintelligent Aliens.

Judge Dredd (1995 film)[]

1995 NA

Location of Mega-City 1 in the film.

In the movie, the city is seen as consisting of New York City and adjoining parts of the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

The opening scrawl revealed that in this timeline, climate change and political upheaval "in the third millenium" reduced most of the world to the Cursed Earth and forced millions into a few megacities. Law enforcement in these cities could not handle the situation, leading to the rise of the Judges.

In a council meeting Chief Judge Eustace Fargo mentions that the current population of the city (circa 2139) is 65 million people (and growing) crammed into housing designed for 20 million.

Dredd (2012)[]

Capture image

Mega-City One boundaries in Dredd 3D.

In this movie, the violent, vast, metropolitan sprawl is more accurate to the comics than the previous film, although the sprawl extends only from Boston to Washington D.C and is only 438 miles long. However, the City is very wide, extending to the Pennsylvania/Ohio Border. Sector 13 is located near what was Trenton, New Jersey. According to the map at left. Trenton is the capital of what is now New Jersey and is located very close to New York City and also Philadelphia.

A map in the Peach Tree classroom establishes there are multiple other megacities in this version.[109]

Mega-City One was only designed to house 350 million. Judge Dredd says in a voiceover narration at the beginning that the population of the city is 800 million people. The population of Mega-City One soon swelled to an astounding 800 million people with crime rates skyrocketing so badly that people were afraid to leave their homes. The solution to this and the overcrowding was building up; "Mega-Blocks", gigantic housing project towers capable of housing entire cities' worth of populations from birth until death without anyone ever having to leave. Corruption and crime flourished in these environments, with many Judges refusing to enter. An average of 17,000 crimes are reported daily in Mega City One.

Things are only made worse when an addictive new drug called "Slo-Mo" is introduced, which slows the user's perception of time to 1% of normal. The drug is a hit with junkies, who use it to make the bleak, horrific metropolis more beautiful. The answers to the dilemmas of unchecked crime and overcrowding were few but large: unmanned patrol drones that fly over the city, observing for criminals and heightening police powers so that police (now known as Judges) have the authority of judge, jury and executioner on the spot. The basics of the city are the same as the original comic backstory, with some differences. In this film's canon, since almost all of the US is now uninhabitable due to radiation which has caused severe toxic desertification nationwide, five mega-states have been established on the ruins of the old cities, often building over major cities and connecting several states with unbroken concrete. These Mega-States are likely Meg-One, Meg-Two, Texas City, Las Vegas and Uranium City.

The only people to travel between these Mega-States are Judges. The end shot of Mega City One shows the Mega Blocks rising from the concrete like tombstones in the mist. After the Chief Judge tells Judge Dredd to throw Judge Anderson into the "deep end", Judge Dredd replies by claiming that the entire city is a deep end. The city is divided into various sections, Long Island is "The Finger", and there are others, such as "Meg-East", "Meg-South", "Meg-West" and "Meg-Central".


MC-1 Ezquerra prog 3

The first splash page of MC-1, by Carlos Ezquerra

When the series Judge Dredd was being developed in 1976–77 it was originally planned that the story would be set in New York, in the near future. However when artist Carlos Ezquerra drew his first story for the series, a skyscraper in the background of one panel looked so futuristic that editor Pat Mills instructed him to draw a full-page poster of the city. Ezquerra's vision of the city – with massive tower blocks and endless roads suspended vast distances above the ground with no visible means of support – was so futuristic that it prompted a rethink, and a whole new city was proposed. Art director Doug Church suggested that the city should extend along the entire Eastern Seaboard, and be called Mega-City One, and his idea was adopted.[110]

While the first Judge Dredd story is set in "New York 2099AD", prog 3 retconned that and said New York was just part of Mega-City One.[111] The back of prog 3 included an Esquerra "Futuregraph" poster of Mega-City One (a page from an unused Dredd story), which said the city stretched from Montreal to Georgia and had 150 million citizens; it was part of the "United States of the West" (USW).[112] Prog 4 then established that Mega-City One was surrounded by wildernesses from the Atomic Wars. The 150 million population was later revised to 100 million in strips and abruptly bumped to 800 million later on.[113] The United States of the West concept was dropped entirely; a "United Cities of North America" of three megacities was mentioned in prog 42 and then itself dropped in favour of Mega-City One being an independent polity.

In early strips, the Judges existed alongside a regular police force,[114] their reign was semi-popular with the citizens, and the people enjoyed robots doing the work, with the "Grand Judge" saying they wouldn't consent to work more than ten hours a week.[115] These elements were steadily dropped. Prog 118, written when unemployment was going up in Britain, established that citizens resented being unemployed and took up bizarre crazes to deal with the boredom.

A creator-owned Megazine strip called Armaggedon, written by Alan Grant and drawn by Carlos Ezquerra, was originally promoted as being part of Dredd's history and would lead to the development of the megacity. [116] After a single storyline in 1992, this was quietly dropped.


Bob's Law reorganisation

The (oft-ignored) layout after the Apocalypse War

The internal geography of Mega-City One has often been ignored or changed, for the needs of any given story. Bob's Law in prog 355 set out a specific numbering system for sectors: the landlocked City Central, far from New York, was sectors 1 to 20, City East was sectors 21–108 "radiating in sequence" from Central, South and West followed a similar pattern, and North would do the same "on an east-west basis". This was then consistently ignored. For example, Sector 13 was given docks in The Simping Detective [117] to better fit the noir style; Sector 1 generally seems to be in the former New York City, based on the Statue of Liberty being near the Grand Hall of Justice; and wherever a character enters the Undercity, it will almost always arrive in the ruins of Manhattan. Despite being built over other cities, "City Bottom" is level with the ground at the Cursed Earth and the sea.

Judge hierarchy

Mega-Special #2's stab at explaining how Justice Dept works

One of the more egregious clashes was in Inferno, where the Statue of Judgement is destroyed and falls through the western wall[118] – which is many miles away from the eastern coast in every other story.

Even though the city covers Canadian territory, this has never come up in the strip itself.

Meanwhile, the exact structure of the Mega-City One government and Judge system has changed from story to story. Early strips show police coexisting with Judges, it was a development over time that saw the Judges ruling the city, and the ranks and chain-of-command for Justice Department is dependent on who is writing.


  1. Prog 62: "Tweak's Story", the cover of prog 245, prog 355: "Bob's Law", and prog 100 with the Ohio River
  2. "Bob's Law"
  3. Top 10 comic book cities: #1 Mega City One, Architects Journal, July 8, 2009
  4. Prog 1511
  5. The Judges novellas: The Avalanche, Lone Wolf, Golgotha
  6. Dreadnoughts: Breaking Ground
  7. The Judges: Golgotha
  8. The Judges: The Patriots novella
  9. Prog 1515 and The Judges: Necessary Evil
  10. The Magnificent Umbersons
  11. Prog 1515
  12. Judges: What Measure Ye Mete
  13. Judges: (In)Famous novella
  14. Wear Iron novella and "Cascade"
  15. Prog 1984, "Cascade" Part 1
  16. Tenth Planet and The Judge Child
  17. Year Three: Machineries of Hate novella
  18. Judge Dredd: Origins
  19. Year Three: Fallen Angel novella
  20. Dredd Year One - Wear Iron chapter 3 by Al Ewing - grandfathering in Harlem Heroes sequel strip Inferno
  21. The Sons of Katy Didd, progs 1248-9
  22. Mutants in Mega-City One story arc
  23. prog 22
  24. Prog 1546, "The Facility"
  25. Judge Dredd Year One: City Fathers novella, Rico: The Titan Years, Year Three: Machineries of Hate
  26. Year Three: Machineries of Hate novella
  27. Prog 2183, "Cadet Dredd: Combat Ready"
  28. Machineries of Hate
  29. Armitage backstory, particularly fleshed out in Megazine 2.19 - 2.21
  30. Megazine 2.25
  31. Megazine #355: "The Cop Prologue"
  32. Mega-Special #2: "The Special Judicial Squad" and The Cal Files
  33. Prog 118
  34. Megazine #275
  35. Prog 11
  36. Machineries of Hate novella
  37. Megazine 270: Tempest: Here Comes Trouble Part 4
  38. The Small House
  39. Megazine 2.73: "Maelstrom part 1"
  40. Prog 7
  41. Monkey on my Back
  42. The Small House
  43. Prog 355, "Bob's Law"
  44. "School Bully"
  45. Revolution, progs 531-3
  46. Twilight's Last Gleaming
  47. Prog 115
  48. Trifecta
  49. Megazine 366
  50. Megazine #336
  51. Megazine 356: "The Cop Part 1"
  52. Megazine 358: "The Cop Part 1"
  53. Megazine #350, Dead Zone Part 1
  54. Titan, referencing Insurrection and Insurrection II
  55. Megazine 406
  56. Insurrection III - Dan Abnett said in the Insurrection: Liberty trade's forward that "We imagined this to be Dredd's future, though we refrained from specifying", but Titan,Megazine #373, and Brunt all establish the insurrection and a Zhind war around this time. Dark Judges: The Torture Garden put the Zhind War in "2128", a typo for 2138.
  57. Megazine 406
  58. Prog 1938
  59. Megazine #365
  60. The Grindstone Cowboys
  61. Megazine 371 and prog 1979
  62. The Lion's Den, Megazine 273
  63. Progs 2103 and 2115
  64. The Small House
  65. Machine Law
  66. Meg 418-20, "Bad Sector", prog 2201
  67. End of Days
  68. Carry The Nine, progs 2200-03
  69. Megazine 433-6
  70. City of the Damned
  71. Special 1990, Judgement Day, and Prog 2000 (2) strip "A Private Contract"
  72. Pre-Emptive Revenge audio drama and Megazine #283, "The Americans"
  73. Janus, Psi Division: Faustus
  74. "Lawless: Ashes to Ashes"
  75. Prog 1515
  76. Megazine #266: "What i Did For ChrissMas" and other Mayor "Ambrose" stories
  77. Prog 1875
  78. Prog 1803
  79. Megazine 366
  80. First depicted in "Return of Rico"
  81. Prog 2007: "Origins Part 14"
  82. Prog 1779
  83. "Reprisal", prog 1317; "Day of Chaos" in prog 1750; Judge Dredd: Mandroid trade paperback
  84. First introduced in prog 198, "Pirates of the Black Atlantic Part 2"
  85. "Maelstrom, Megazine 2.73–2.80"
  86. "Reprisal", prog 1317
  87. Megazine #238
  88. Day of Chaos: Endgame
  89. Prog 1801-2, "Payback"
  90. Prog 1862 to 1869: "Titan"
  91. Dark Judges: The Torture Garden
  92. Rookie's Guide to Atlantis and the Black Atlantic
  93. Megazine 270: Tempest: Here Comes Trouble Part 4
  94. Megazine #275: "Tales from the Black Museum: Build a Better Mousetrap"
  95. Alzheimer's Block
  96. Bury My Knee At Wounded Heart, Megazine 2.46
  97. The Fink
  98. Judge Dredd VS Aliens
  99. 2000 AD progs 261, 630, 1337, and Batman vs. Judge Dredd: Die Laughing (1998)
  100. Texas City Sting
  101. prog 128
  102. Midnight Surfer Part 2, prog 425
  103. The Americans
  104. Megazine 270: Tempest: Here Comes Trouble Part 4
  105. Megazine 356 and 357
  106. The Pit: True Grot
  107. The Fink
  108. Ciudad Barranquilla "treemeat" farm in The Monsterus Mashinashuns of P.J. Maybe
  109. Prop Store: Dreddc Classroom Map Stock # 56649
  110. Pat Mills's blog, September 22, 2012 (retrieved November 12, 2012).
  111. Progs 2 and 3: "Judge Whitey" and "The New You."
  112. Prog 3 "Futuregraph" map, reproduced at Pat Mills's blog, September 22, 2012
  113. Prog 59
  114. Progs 10–12, "Robot Wars" Parts 1–3; Prog 30, "Return of Rico"
  115. Prog 11
  116. Megazine 2.01-2.07
  117. Megazine 238: "Petty Crimes"
  118. Prog 850