Mega-City One is a huge fictional city-state covering much of what is now the Eastern United States in the Judge Dredd comic book series and its spinoff series. The exact geography of the city depends on which writer and artist has done which story, but from its first appearance it has been associated with New York City's urban sprawl; originally it was presented as a future New York, which was retconned as the centre of a "Mega-City One" in the very next story.
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.
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. 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). 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 earlier strips and abruptly bumped to 800 million later on. 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, were 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. Over time, the strip would have the Judges as a feared police-state force with sole power; 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, and this remained part of the strip from then on.
Mega-City One evolved out of a growing urban conurbation stretching from Boston to Washington DC, which took form in the 21st century to cope with the escalating population crisis in America and – as a solution chosen to deal with the high crime rate – led to the introduction of the Judge system.
Mega-City One was one of three major areas to survive the nuclear war in 2070, due to an experimental laser missile-defense system built not long before. Apart from those megacities, the United States has been reduced to the Cursed Earth.
Eventually, Mega-City One extended to Miami, Florida, which became a holiday resort, and spread west into Ohio and/or West Virginia. The megacity was built over the top of the old cities and the polluted Ohio River, creating the lawless Undercity, though a few buildings like the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty were moved to Mega-City One for the tourists. Maps of the city show that in the early 22nd century, it stretched roughly from southern Maine down through Florida and to the north-east has absorbed the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor in Canada. 800 million citizens lived in the city at this point.
The population and city sprawl were halved by nuclear attack and Soviet invasion in 2104 (in the 1982 story The Apocalypse War), with the loss of the entire south in a saturation nuclear strike. The north-west and upper north were also lost, leaving the city stretching from roughly New Hampshire through North Carolina and losing the Canadian territory. A small part of the north west survived: the North West Hab Zone, separated from the rest of the city by a stretch of radioactive wasteland called Nuke Alley and linked to the main city by a bridge. The population remained at around 400 million from 2104 until 2134.
Mega-City One has a far greater population density than any city in the present-day world. Most city dwellers (citizens) live in huge apartment blocks (50,000+), though many citizens live a perpetually nomadic existence in vehicular mo-pads (mobile homes) due to inadequate housing provisions. These citizens travel the city via the many public transport routes available, rarely stopping. Some mo-pads are quite luxurious, complete with swimming pools.
For administrative purposes the city is divided into 305 sectors, most of them renamed to fit the new size of the city after the Apocalypse War, and clumped into Central, North, South, East, and West. Sectors 1 (the centre) to 300 constitute the main city. The North-West Hab Zone encompasses sectors 301-5. The Hab Zone was mostly ignored by the city and Sector 301 became disparagingly nicknamed "The Pit" due to its high crime rate, until Chief Judge Volt had it cleaned up in 2118. Other slum areas have been called "Angeltown" (Sector 13's slums) and "the Low Life".
Following the events of the 2011–12-story Day of Chaos (set in 2134), Mega-City One was left in ruins and almost 90% of its population was killed. After decades of being the main megacity and superpower on Earth, the city is now bankrupt and in severe decline with many judges considering the situation unsustainable.
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 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. One of the more egregious clashes was in Inferno, where the Statue of Judgement is destroyed and falls through the western wall – which is many miles away from the eastern coast in every other story.
Mega-City One has protectorates and colonies outside of the city walls:
Various colonies on other planets, used as both settings and background detail in Dredd and its spin-off strips. Law and the city's central government are enforced by Colonial-Marshal Judges; indigenous aliens and MC-1 colonialists are often oppressed and some cause insurgencies. Military forces are often mentioned as being space based (see Military). The spin-off strip Insurrection showed that the Special Judicial Service have an outer-space army to deal with any colonies where the judicial staff declare independence. The main push into space began roughly in 2095, under Chief Judge Goodman, as a way of supplying the city with resources that a post-war Earth could no longer provide. The most famous colony is the penal colony on Titan, where corrupt Judges are sent.
Various farms, prisons, and protectorate townships in the Cursed Earth. The Cursed Earth Auxiliaries patrol the area for Justice Department. The city used to have mutant camps, where mutants born in the city were deported, but these were ended after the repeal of the mutant apartheid laws.
Townships One through Four: since 2130, the bulk of mutant citizens live in large towns outside of the city. Law enforcement is mostly done by mutant deputies, and unlike the city they still use the jury trial system (unless a judge demands otherwise).
Blocks are huge and can be considered to be a small town in themselves. Each one will typically possess a hospital, gymnasium, school, and shopping district. A citizen can quite literally live their whole lives without leaving their block. Due to the high unemployment rate, boredom is rife among citizens – this, coupled with the high loyalty citizens develop to their blocks, along with a city-defence militia for most city blocks, leads to many "Block Wars", riots (more like small wars) between two or more blocks.
Blocks are named after famous or historical figures, often with current events in mind. A typical example – shortly after the Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise separation there was an episode with block war breaking out between the "Kidman" and "Cruise" Blocks.[volume & issue needed] A proposed crackdown on civil rights in Britain led to a block being named David Blunkett Block in one story.[volume & issue needed]
Since the abolition of democratic government in America in 2070, Mega-City One has been a dictatorship run by the Justice Department. It subsequently became an independent city-state following the break-up of the United States and had already been granted autonomy within the Union in 2052. Its ruler is the Chief Judge, in current stories (as of March 2014) Chief Judge Barbara Hershey. She is accountable to a council of five senior judges. The citizens are permitted to have an elected city council and mayor, but with no significant power: the idea is that a facade of democracy will placate most people.
In 2113 a referendum was held in which the people were allowed to decide whether to restore democratic government, but by this time the memory of democracy had become so distant that the majority of citizens did not bother to vote, and most of those who did opted to retain the status quo.
In the early years of Judge Dredd, Mega-City One had not been established as a dictatorship – "The Purple People Breeder" (2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1978) mentioned "presidential candidate Howard Surb", while "Ryan's Revenge" (Dan Dare Annual 1979) had the Mayor giving orders to Justice Department. The Luna-One story arc briefly mentioned the governing body "the Grand Council of Judges" and "the Triumverate", part of a unified state called the United Cities of North America, but this was dropped by prog 61.
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. The laws are enforced by the Judges, who are a combination of judge and police officer. Ordinary laws are enforced more harshly than the present day, as a political choice to deal with the high crime rate. Most ordinary citizens are sent to the Iso-Cubes, tiny cells located within huge prisons. For example, one strip saw a citizen sentenced to a month in the iso-cubes for littering. Judges impose immediate sentences on the spot, usually lengthy sentences of imprisonment (or "encubement"). 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. Nevertheless, many criminals are shot to death while resisting arrest, and resisters who survive Judge assault often receive a whole-life cube term.
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 labor on Jupiter's moon, Titan, after surgical modification to enable the convict to survive outside there without needing an expensive space suit. (Titan is a moon of Saturn in reality, but was located over Jupiter in an early Dredd strip.)
Firearm possession is only legal with the right firearms permit, which is very hard to obtain. The only real exception is for Citidef units which may use heavy weapons. (Since Block Mania the security on these is extreme and they are only issued during wartime.) In spite of this many firearms are in circulation; some are sold on the black market while others are left over from the various invasions that have occurred over the past thirty years. Some families still possess twentieth-century handguns that have been handed down through the years. These are sometimes found by crime blitzes and will usually earn culprits the same penalty as a "modern" day lasblaster.
The original United States Armed Forces no longer exists: the explanation in "Origins" was that Chief Judge Goodman had built up the Judges until they were a match for the United States Army, as a precaution against President Booth. 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.)
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. From "The Cursed Earth" onwards, the city's armed forces have usually been presented as a branch of the Judges ("Judge-Troopers"): 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, and the Insurrection serials give the Special Judicial Service its own space fleet and armed force to stamp out rebellions. In contrast, stories by John Wagner have presented the military as a separate group, with some members believing the Judges are too lenient. Uniforms differ depending on the story. 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).
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 from the Academy of Law 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. (The story Warzone had an ex-Genetic Infantry soldier who was a primitive version of the Genetic Infantry from Rogue Trooper.) The Citi-Defs (Citizen Defence) are a reserve force composed of citizens. 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.
Mega-City One also runs spy networks and a Black Ops Division of Judges. Under Judge Bachmann, their agents were brainwashed to worship the city as a god.
Following "Day of Chaos", the regular military (particularly the Space Corps) have been helping to keep order in Mega-City One. Tensions exists between them and the Judges. By 2136, following Chaos Day and a dual war with the Xhind/colonial insurgency, Mega-City One no longer had the military power to stop a rebellion on Titan.
Most work in Mega-City One is carried out by robots; this has led to problems with boredom and unemployment. Boredom has fostered many problems in the city, with citizens spending their leisure time rioting over jobs, experimenting on their neighbors, and running amok in the streets. Weird fads include Block Wars (wars between neighboring apartment blocks, waged by each block's defense militia), "ugliness clinics", and odd fashions.
Leisure in Mega-City One consists of a number of weird and wonderful futuristic hobbies and attractions, including:
The Aggro Dome was conceived as a way for frustrated citizens to let off steam without endangering their fellow Meggers. Within the domes, citizens can vent their anger on robots, mock storefronts, and parked vehicles. Aggro Limited, the owners of the Aggro Dome franchise, petitioned for Judge replicoids to be added to a number of their buildings as a target for client retaliation. The request was promptly refused. After problems on opening day Dredd did his best to close the place for good but failed[volume & issue needed]. Eventually the dome closed in the mid 2120s after visitor numbers fell too low to turn a profit.[volume & issue needed]
The Alien Zoos are ever-popular attractions, featuring the most bizarre creatures from the Milky Way galaxy and beyond.
The Central Mega-City Library is open free of charge to the public and is the storehouse of information on Mega-City One and beyond, past and present. Late fees are very high.
The Dream Palace is a popular leisure activity – for some, a growing necessity – and the ultimate in escapism. Customers are plugged into dream machines where their dreams are made real. Morpheus, Inc. own the original chain of dream palaces, but were unsuccessful in blocking the expansion of rival Dream Parlours, back street services utilizing reconditioned dream machines. Some parlours offer other "diversions" to supplement their income.
The Mega-City Chamber of Horrors features robot replicas of history's most infamous villains.
The Mega-City Museum is one of the tallest buildings in Mega-City One. It specializes in the history of Mega-City One, and is home to the most complete records of pre-atomic American civilization in North America. A transceiverbeacon is sited atop the museum's roof, for use by the Justice Department.
The Museum of Death focuses on murderers, warfare that resulted in mass death, and historical instruments of torture.
The Palais-De-Boing is a chain of purpose-built structures designed for Boingers. Boinging is illegal outside of the Palais-De-Boing.
The Smokatoriums are giant, stinking domes – the only locations within Mega-City One limits where it is legal to smoke tobacco and nicotine-related products.
The White Cliffs of Dover were imported from a cash-starved Brit-Cit in the aftermath of the Atomic War. It remains a popular attraction even though it is nothing more than a crumbling pile of rock, chalk, and sand.
Stookie is an illegal drug made from the glands of an intelligent alien species that stops its users' aging. Withdrawal from Stookie causes users to rapidly reach their 'real' ages. In one of the Judge Dredd novels, it is explained that an injection of "pure, undiluted" Stookie causes the user to actually age backwards, reverting to a younger age. Of course, this may be non-canon.
Sky surfing where citizens use powered, floating surfboards to race and perform stunts.
Batgliding, in which citizens don winged bat suits to fly on the thermals above Mega City One.
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).
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.
As Judge Dredd stories are set 122 years into the future and progress forward in 'real time' (stories from 1977 are set in 2099, and stories from 2014 are set in 2136), they have an extensive fictional chronology.
Stories in earlier issues would link Dredd to the chronology of the Invasion!, Ro-Busters, and Harlem Heroes strips: Mega-City One's construction is mentioned in Ro-Busters once it had moved to 2000 AD, and in a story that follows from Invasion!, while Mega-City One appears in Harlem Heroes and its lead character Giant is the father of Judge Giant. The former two strips have since been retconned out of Dredd history.
Before 2027:Commercial spaceflight begins in 2001 with the PanAstra shuttle, flying to Mars orbit; the first flight discovers an alien corpse, proving the existence of alien life. The International Aeronautics and Space Administration offers a ten million cred prize to anyone who finds life on the moon; explorer C.W. Moonie discovers a microscopic virus, infecting himself in the process. By the late 2020s America's population is rapidly approaching one billion, and an urban conurbation now stretches from New York to Washington DC in an attempt to contain the populace of the East Coast states. This will eventually become the first Mega-City, a new kind of urban development to house greater numbers of people. The development causes huge amounts of civil unrest and gang-related crimes.
2027: An alliance of street gangs, led by the P Street Posse, storm the White House itself. Due to intimidation of the jury, no convictions occur. This incident will lead to the creation of the Judge System to police the country. Eustace Fargo appointed Special Prosecutor for Street Crime by President Thomas Gurney.
2028: President Gurney re-elected due to his support for instant street justice.
2031: First deployment of the Judges in the United States, led by Chief Judge Fargo. Special centres train the new recruits, often hand-picked from the regular police, and old style judges have to undergo the new judge training program with the power to convict and sentence criminals on the spot.
2039: The success of Mega-City One inspires the creation of more Mega-Cities – Mega-City Two is planned to cover the Western seaboard and Texas City will cover Texas and other southern states. Other nations will follow.[volume & issue needed]
2050: Earth is a mess of pollution, starvation, and wars. On June 3rd, Major Indira Knight, who developed America's orbital laser weapons, is the first human to leave the solar system.
2051: Fargo resigns and attempts suicide, but survives with serious injuries. He is secretly placed in suspended animation and his death is faked. Deputy Chief Judge Solomon becomes chief judge.
2052: Congress passes the Autonomy Act, giving extensive powers of self-government to the three American mega-cities. Each mega-city has its own chief judge: Solomon continues to serve as chief judge of Mega-City One.
2064: A new process of accelerated cloning, with DNA taken from senior Judges, is created by Morton Judd to quickly bolster Justice Department's ranks. Joe and Rico Dredd are two of the first clones from this process, growing to physiological age 5 in a matter of months.
2068: Vice President Robert L. Booth is elected president, gaining support under the line that the rest of the world was living off America's backs. (It later emerges that he rigged the election.)
2069: International relations are soured when Booth sends troops to seize control of foreign oil reserves in the Middle East. This will later be consider part of World War Three between "Western Capitalist Nations" and Arab states but Brit-Cit is the only European state not to condemn it.
2070: President Booth starts the Atomic Wars on June 12, 2070 to mass public support; this comes as the senior judges are discussing whether to confront him. Despite Booth's promises, America's nuclear screens fail to keep out many of the retaliatory strikes. Most of the planet is devastated in a nuclear holocaust, and the world's Mega-Cities are among the few to survive relatively unscathed due to experimental laser defences. All Judges and the military are deployed to maintain order in the decaying society, with the Judges forced to constantly fight against soldiers for committing criminal acts. It is discovered Booth rigged the election and killed a witness to conceal the crime. Shocked and betrayed, the citizens of America rise up against the government and call for the Judges to take over the country. Fargo, secretly reawoken from suspended animation, advises Goodman to take over as ruler of the United States in a coup. Booth is sentenced to 100 years in suspended animation, but has enough loyal followers and robotic Mek-troops to fight a civil war against the Judges until 2071.
2071: The Battle of Armaggedon. At the heart of the Cursed Earth, near Mega-City Two, Booth's army is finally defeated at the cost of the lives of one hundred thousand judges and troopers. The Hiroshima Accord is settled by the various global Mega-Cities.
2070+: Massive inflow on homeless refugees from the Cursed Earth pour into the Mega-Cities, causing a massive amount of block construction. Space is becoming even tighter. Genetic apartheid laws are soon brought in to keep mutants out of Mega-City One: officially this is because the mutants are irrationally violent against "norms", and to protect the gene pool from contamination.
2083–86: Civil war breaks out between Mega-City One and Texas City, the latter feeling it is being dominated by the other Mega-Cities while MC-One and Two oppose its secession in the interests of unity and the highly valuable resources Texas owns. The war leads to years of stalemate, and Mega-City One decides the conflict is pointless and allows Texas to secede. Note: this event possibly retconned by story "Origins."
2088: Establishment of Luna-1, a moon-based Mega-City, by all three American Mega-Cities to renew and cement relations between them. Government of the colony is divided initially between all three cities, with a senior judge being sent every six months to take over as Judge-Marshal.
2095: Chief Judge Goodman announces a policy of mass interstellar colonisation, as post-war Earth is low on resources.
2099: Population is now over 800 million. Chief Judge Goodman, possessed by a malevolent psychic mutant called the Monkey, is forced to undermine the stability of the city to have it descend into anarchy; Judge Dredd takes the Monkey out. The Statue of Judgement is erected in honour of the Judges. Renegade droid Call-Me-Kenneth starts the highly destructive First Robot War, devastating large areas of the city. Judge Dredd becomes the last Judge-Marshal of Luna-1 to serve a six-month tour of duty: Judge Tex succeeds him as permanent Marshal of Luna-1.
2101: Deputy Chief Judge Cal, head of the Special Judicial Squad, has Goodman assassinated and assumes control. He brainwashes most of the Judges into obeying him, brings in alien Kleggs as mercenaries, and implements increasingly insane and dictatorial rules – twice sentencing the entire city to death! Judge Dredd leads a rebellion against him and eventually succeeds, with resistance member Judge Griffin taking over as chief judge. Under Cal, a vast wall has been built around Mega-City One. The powerful mutant Father Earth leads a massed attack on Mega-City One, destroying Power Tower (a controlled volcano) and unleashing a flood of lava, before being stopped. A few months later, an invasion of mutant spiders leads to the burning of entire sectors.
2102:Judge Death arrives in Mega-City One and kills dozens before he is captured. The dying Psi-Judge Feyy predicts an apocalypse will occur in 2120 that can only be averted if a figure known as the Judge Child, who will become Chief Judge, can be found; Judge Dredd leads a mission to retrieve the Child, only to determine him as evil and leave him stranded on an alien world.
2103: The Soviet block of East-Meg One, using robotic pirate Captain Skank as a proxy, secretly seize control of Mega-City One nuclear weapons and launch an attack on the city, destroying several sectors; after being caught, they nuke one of their own sectors as compensation. Judge Death is freed by the other Dark Judges; they go on a killing spree in Billy Carter Block before their physical forms are destroyed.
2104:Orlok the Assassin drugs the city water supply, increasing the aggression of the population and leading to block wars springing up across the entire city – which turns out to have just been a diversion. With the Judges tied up with the Block Mania, the Sov Judges of East-Meg One launch the Apocalypse War. A coordinated attack shatters Mega-City One's defences, leaves multiple blocks destroyed by nuclear weaponry (the south of the city faces "total nuke out!" killing 150 million), and leads to a massed invasion by Sov forces. A bitter resistance is put up by Judges and Citizen-Defence units, despite heavy losses and the death (after being brainwashed into a Sov agent) of Chief Judge Griffin. Victory is achieved when a team led by Dredd causes the nuclear devastation of the entire East-Meg One. Judge McGruder becomes the new chief judge and oversees the rebuilding of the devastated city.
2107: A time travel mission is deployed to 2120 to determine the truth of Feyy's death-bed prediction. The Mega-City One of the future is discovered to be devastated and ruled by demonic creatures (including a zombie Judge Dredd) under a mutated form of the Judge Child – now revealed to be responsible for the great disaster. The Judges take action to ensure this future is averted. Later the Dark Judges gain physical form again and, using personal teleporters, and cause massacres across the city – even in the Grand Hall of Justice – without being stopped. They are eventually defeated and trapped in dimensional limbo.[volume & issue needed]
2109: Under Silver's orders, Dredd leads the Judges in a dirty-tricks operation to undermine the upcoming Democratic March – including having Wally Squad (undercover) Judges in the crowd provoke a riot, so the Judges have an excuse to go in and use violence while seemingly having the moral high ground.[volume & issue needed]
2110: Morton Judd and his Judge-clones – the Judda – launch an attack on the Hall of Justice. They are defeated and their base in the Oz Radback is destroyed. The Dredd-clone Kraken survives and is eventually turned into a Mega-City Judge.[volume & issue needed]
2112:Fortean manifestations occur in the city and across the globe, as the subterranean Deros attempt to invade; an East Meg 2/MC1 Psi team stops them. Dredd resigns and takes the Long Walk, following doubts about the Judge System caused both by Kraken and his role in breaking up the Democratic March. Silver covers up Dredd's retirement and Kraken assumes Dredd's place. While in the Cursed Earth, Dredd is injured and rendered amnesiac by the Sisters of Death. Meanwhile the Sisters of Death are able to psychically influence Kraken into helping them cross over into Mega-City One and to free the Dark Judges from limbo. The city is turned into a Necropolis – the Judges are under psychic control, with Silver abandoning his post and being turned into a zombie for Death's amusement; decay, disease, starvation and suicide are rampant; and the Dark Judges hold daily cullings. A handful of judges who escaped brainwashing, including Dredd and McGruder returned from their Long Walks, are able to banish the Sisters, execute Kraken and capture the Dark Judges (except Death and the Sisters), but not before 60 million citizens have been killed. McGruder assumes the post of Chief Judge again, but without a Council of Five. The Hunters Club organises the sponsored charity massacre "Death Aid" for Necropolis orphans. The anonymous figure later known as Tempest takes covert control of Mega-City One's criminal underworld.[volume & issue needed]
2113: Under Dredd's urging, a referendum is held where the citizens will vote whether or not, following the failure of the Judges to stop Necropolis, to bring back democracy. Judge Grice and others attempt to assassinate Dredd to stop this, and are arrested. The citizens, as Dredd anticipated, vote to keep the Judges – those few that can be bothered to vote. The undead Silver tries to reassume command but is executed for dereliction of duty.[volume & issue needed]
2114:Judgement Day – the time-travelling Sabbat the Necromagus unleashes zombies upon every Mega-City on Earth. An international coalition of Judges is sent to take him out, but not before five entire Mega-Cities have been nuked when it appears they're lost to the zombies. The final death toll is three billion. Following the loss of many Judges to the zombies, McGruder instigates the Mechanismo project – robot Judges – to the outrage of many Senior Judges, as it becomes clear she is increasingly senile and unstable.[volume & issue needed]
2115: Grice breaks out of the Titan penal colony and takes over the city by infecting the population with the deadly Meat Virus, incapacitating many Judges. After much random death and destruction, including the destruction of the Statue of Judgement, Grice is defeated. Dredd deliberately sabotages the Mechanismo project.[volume & issue needed]
2116: A gathering of Senior Judges attempt to make McGruder step down but to no avail. After her pet Mechanismo project goes wrong and a rogue Mechanismo robot tries to kill her, she finally steps down from office. An election is held among the Judges and Judge Volt becomes the new chief judge.
2117: Satan emerges from the fallen Icarus asteroid, shrugs off every Justice Department attack and threatens to destroy the city; Psi-Judge Anderson barely defeats him.
2118: Judicial crackdown on the Frendz crime syndicate in Sector 301 leads to major retaliation, with heavy rioting and gang violence that puts the Sector's judges in a retreat. After a siege at Traffic Station Alamo, the battle is won by the Judges. McGruder dies in battle in the Cursed Earth (rather than compulsory euthanasia). Mega-City One briefly attacked by dune sharks.[volume & issue needed]
2121: Fifteen million children depart the city for an underground haven in the Cursed Earth. Crime lord Nero Narcos triggers the Mark II Lawgivers to self-destruct and then starts the Second Robot War. The Judges are briefly overthrown before Dredd, with help from Brit-Cit, reprograms Narcos' robot reinforcements to turn on their comrades and the Judges are able to retake control. Judge Volt commits suicide over the event, which is hushed up; Judge Hershey becomes the new chief judge.[volume & issue needed]
2123: An army composed of perps from parallel universes, led by an alter-dimensional Judge Cal, invade Mega-City One.[volume & issue needed] Mega-City One, Brit-Cit, and Hondo ally to prevent a partnership between East-Meg Two and the alien Lawlords, an obvious first step in a Lawlord conquest of Earth.
2124: Orlok captured, but not before releasing a virus that kills tens of thousands of citizens. Judge Death escapes confinement.[volume & issue needed]
2127: Hundreds of thousands of citizens have been left homeless by the bombings, and live in overcrowded, crime-ridden emergency camps. The Half-Life plague, spread by a traitor in Psi Division, spreads a wave of murderous violence that eventually kills one million people. The Sisters of Death launch another attack, with entire blocks being wiped out by plagues and poltergeist activity.[volume & issue needed]
2128: Mega-City One leads a peacekeeping mission to Ciudad Barranquilla during a civil war; this turns out to be a pretense for regime change, putting in a new Supreme Judge that they can control.[volume & issue needed]
2129: Death of Judge Fargo. A portal opens to the dark-matter composed fifth dimension Kaluza; demonic creatures invade the city, slaughtering whole sectors and causing crime-increasing psychic backlash until the Judges invaded Kaluza and shut the portal down. Thirty city-blocks designed by Findhorn Gask turn out to secretly be giant robots, which come to life and rampage through the city, before being convinced to stop and turned into a satellite city.Council of Five discusses and rejects a proposal by Dredd to end the mutant ban; rejection followed by a massive crackdown by Dredd on the city's Mutant Farm facilities. Attempted coup by Space Corps veterans under General Vincent. Serial killer PJ Maybe, under a false identity, becomes Mayor of Mega-City One.[volume & issue needed]
2130: The anti-mutant laws are discussed again due to pressure from Dredd and repealed out of fear he will resign otherwise; there is widespread rioting by citizens as a result, followed by frequent hate crimes against mutant migrants.[volume & issue needed]
2131: Events and disasters from the Bible devastate the Low Life. Senior judges, against the mutant rights laws, force a vote on replacing Hershey as chief judge in the hope of undoing the changes. Judge Francisco becomes chief judge, and the entire Council of Five is replaced. The decision is made to build townships for mutants, and Dredd is exiled to them. The townships will use mutants as Deputies and allow trial-by-jury. Subtle conflict exists between Francisco and his Council.
2132:Deputy Chief Judge Sinfield usurps Francisco using brainwashing drugs and becomes acting chief judge. Laws become even harsher for mutants. PJ Maybe attempts to assassinate Sinfield, hospitalising him, and his identity is discovered by the Judges. Sinfield is arrested and Francisco returns to office. MC-1 covertly deploys psychic weapons in Sino-Cit territory, testing how they can handle psi-warfare. After a vicious war with corrupt Judges, the Hondo yakuza take over the Low Life's criminal underworld.
2133: Francisco attempts to balance the budget with various cost-cutting measures, with the buzzword "the Big Community". A nuclear bomb is detonated in Sector 17, killing half a million people. The Low Life's Judges, particularly the Wally Squad, are purged due to criminal infiltration. The Black Ops Division under Judge Bachmann quietly assassinates the Township Chief Judge of mutant Township Three and his deputies, in order to put a less liberal Judge in charge. New elections for Mayor are held, with several candidates killed by an escaped Maybe; East-Meg agents capture a prominent biologist and prepare to unleash the "Chaos Bug" bio-weapon on the city.
2134: The Chaos Bug is released, in conjunction with multiple terrorist assaults and Sov sabotage – foreign allies only send robots due to fear of infection. Most of the Academy of Law and Public Surveillance are killed (and the Statue of Judgement destroyed); the Dark Judges temporarily escape. A (rejected) proposal to simply murder the infected is made public, sparking a vast uprising that devastates the city and allows the Bug to spread; an overwhelmed Justice Department is forced to genuinely murder the infected and only wins against the uprising because the smoke from burning blocks drives insurgents off the streets. By the time the virus dies out, 350 million citizens and 60% of the judges are dead; Justice Department is near collapse, bolstered by a 40,000 strong mutant army from the Cursed Earth townships. Francisco resigns and Hershey forms an interim government. The economy has collapsed and welfare ends;Space Corps Marines are recalled to the city to help restore order but are soon at odds with both Judges and citizens after trying to airstrike a rebellious block. Judge Bachmann attempts a coup, in which many judges and citizens are killed; it is prevented in part by a returning Judge Smiley, founder of Black Ops.
2135: After a trial attack on Gateway colony, the alien Xhind launch an invasion of human space; the war lasts sixteen weeks. The Battle of 43 Rega is Mega-City One's one change to stop the Xhind reaching the Inner Colonies and relies on a peace deal with Luther's rebel forces; immediately after victory, MC-1 forces massacre the rebels.
2136: Under ex-Judge Aimee Nixon, the Titan convicts revolt and leave to form an independent colony on Enceladus; the weaker MC-1 is forced to accept this. Justice Department is exposed as having 24/7 surveillance in all of the newly built city blocks and suspend the program after widespread riots (the journalist who broke the story is later 'murdered'). The alien Lawlords (working with Indira Knight and celebrity Gideon Dallas) gain control of the 2050s orbital lasers and declare rule over Mega-City One.
Other cities mentioned in Judge Dredd
The first mention of other megacities came in Luna 1, when Dredd was appointed Judge-Marshall of the Luna-1 colony; the narration states that the colony is run by "the 3 great cities of North America". The next issue would mention Texas City, and The First Luna Olympics would introduce "the Sov-Cities". Since then, the exact number, location, nature, and even name of megacities fluctuates depending on the writer and strip.
Mega-City One is the setting of the 2012 film Dredd, though it occupies a smaller area than described in the comics. According to Judge Dredd (Karl Urban), the boundaries of Mega-City One reach "from Boston to Washington D.C." (similar to the real-life concept of the Northeast megalopolis) and contains a population of 800 million. The city blocks are large, brutalist structures that tend to be slum areas; each block can seal itself off with blast shields and communications blackouts in case of war. Technology is a lot less advanced (outside of Justice Department equipment) and all non-Judge vehicles resemble early 21st century models.