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Chief Judge Fargo

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Chief Judge Fargo
Chief Judge Fargo (painted by Carlos Ezquerra)
Publication information
Rebellion Developments
First appearance2000 AD #377 (4 August 1984)
Created byJohn Wagner
In-story information
Full nameEustace Fargo

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Chief Judge Eustace Fargo is a fictional character from the Judge Dredd comic strip in 2000 AD. He is Judge Dredd's clone father.[1]

Fargo was commonly known as the 'Father of Justice', as he was responsible for the founding of the Judge System and was Mega-City One's first chief judge. Consequently, there is an annual Fargo's Day Parade in his honour,[2] and his body lies in a sarcophagus in the Hall of Heroes in the Grand Hall of Justice.[3] Officially he was born in 2001 and died in 2051, though these dates are actually inaccurate. Details of his secret history were fleshed out in the story "Origins".[4]

Publication history[edit]

The character Fargo was first introduced to readers when his tomb was shown in 2000 AD #107, near the end of the story "The Day the Law Died." The inscription read:

File:Chief Judge Fargo (by Ron Smith).jpg
Fargo's face in 2000 AD #377 (by Ron Smith)

Fargo was next mentioned six years later in issue #377, in the story "Dredd Angel." In this episode it was explained that Fargo's DNA was being used to produce clones, but the writers had not yet decided that Dredd himself was one of Fargo's clones.[5] Consequently, a detailed picture of Fargo's face was allowed to appear in #377, drawn by veteran Judge Dredd artist Ron Smith. Since it was not revealed until #389 that Dredd and Fargo shared the same DNA, and therefore (presumably) the same features, the rule that Dredd's face is never shown in the comic[6] did not yet apply to Fargo. Once this was established however, Fargo's face was never shown again, and the Ron Smith picture may not be regarded as a true depiction of Dredd's face, having effectively been "retconned" away.

File:Chief Judge Fargo.jpg
Chief Judge Fargo (drawn by Brendan McCarthy)

Fargo first appeared "in person" in the story "Oz." This was in a flashback in #559, drawn by Brendan McCarthy, who drew the chief judge with his face obscured by a helmet visor. (Fargo remains the only character to appear in the Judge Dredd strip wearing a helmet while chief judge.) This flashback was set in 2070, and showed Fargo alive and ruling as chief judge. This created two discrepancies between "Oz" and "The Day the Law Died" – not only did it contradict the date on Fargo's tomb, but the earlier story had also stated that Judge Goodman had been chief judge between 2058 and 2101.[7] Another story, "The Cursed Earth," had implied that Judge Solomon had been chief judge in 2070.[8]

Writer John Wagner, who had written both "Oz" and "The Day the Law Died," eventually decided to resolve these problems by writing "Origins." In an interview in 2006 he said:

"Origins" resolved these issues, as described below. This story, which told of the history of the Judges in a sequence of flashbacks, also showed how the Judges' uniforms had evolved over time, and consequently Fargo was portrayed in a different uniform to that depicted by McCarthy. "Origins" artist Carlos Ezquerra's design (pictured above) may now be regarded as definitive.

"Origins" is the only story in which Fargo appears other than in a flashback, dream sequence or similar device.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Chief Judge Fargo
Chief Judge of the United States
In office
DeputyHollins Solomon
Clarence Goodman
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byHollins Solomon

Eustace Fargo was born on 9 January 1999.[10] Graduating from Harvard with a degree in Law, he went into politics and by 2027 he had been appointed Government Special Prosecutor for Street Crime by President Thomas Gurney, tasked with combatting the rising gang violence in the vast urban sprawl joining Washington to New York (which would eventually become Mega-City One). After armed gangs stormed the White House and were able to avoid jail sentences by intimidating juries, Fargo outlined a New Deal to scrap the principle of due process and create a combined police and judicial force who could fairly dispense instant justice – the Judges.[11] When the Judges were first deployed in April 2031, they acted mainly as an upgraded police force but soon rivaled Congress in power. Fargo served as chief judge for twenty years.

In March 2051 Fargo – despite having established a rule of celibacy for the judges – had a moment of weakness and was caught having sex with a government colleague. While the incident was hushed up and Deputy Chief Judges Solomon and Goodman were both willing to ignore it, Fargo was left feeling guilty over his failure to live up to his own standards.[12] He resigned his position and attempted suicide, though the wound only left him comatose. To cover this up and to use his martyrdom as a symbol, Solomon made up a cover story about Fargo being killed in a drive-by shooting.[13] It was not expected that he would recover but he did, though this was also covered up, and he was placed in suspended animation.[14]

The dates on Fargo's tomb read 2001–2051. The reason for the false birthdate was lost in time, though Judge Dredd speculated: "It's the date he always used. Maybe he wanted to be thought a child of the 21st century."[15]

When President Booth initiated the Third World War in June 2070,[16] the Judges were forced to take on the job of governing the Mega-Cities of America. Fargo was revived and made relatively stable, meeting his two clones Rico and Joe Dredd and being called in to help guide the Justice Department. Under his guidance, the Judges assumed command of the United States using the Declaration of Independence as a legal precedent.[17] Booth learned Fargo was alive and, thinking he could use this fact to discredit the Judges, tried to capture him and reveal his existence but failed due to the actions of Joe and Rico Dredd.[18]

Until 2071, Fargo served secretly as an advisor to the chief judge, with most people believing he had died in 2051. In his last year of life he began to deteriorate mentally, and lost faith in his Judge System. He became increasingly despondent as a result, disliking the fact that the Judges had turned America into a dictatorship.[19]

He was placed into suspended animation once more, only for his body to be stolen by renegade judges and eventually lost in the Cursed Earth.[20] His body and stasis pod became an object of worship for a mutant tribe. In 2129 persons unknown – later discovered to be the New Mutant Army led by Booth – contacted the Justice Department, demanding cash in return for Fargo's body.[21] Judge Dredd retrieved Fargo, who was revived, but the long period of being frozen had damaged his body and he soon died. His last words were to Dredd, telling him the Judges' rule was wrong and that he had to reverse it.[22]

Fargo's hometown still exists and has been renamed Fargoville in his honour. There everyone's first name is Eustace and there is a museum about his life.[23]

Clones and family[edit]

Eustace Fargo had a twin brother, Ephram Fargo, who the people of Fargoville refuse to speak of and have wiped from their historical records. Ephram's mutant descendants still inhabit the Cursed Earth, led by Randy Fargo. Eustace also had a sister, Arden Polders, who died shortly after the Apocalypse War of 2104.[24]

Although most judge cadets at the Academy of Law are recruited from the citizens at a young age, the Justice Department also runs a cloning programme, in which the DNA of Mega-City One's most successful judges is used to create new cadets.[25] Clones created from the same DNA as Fargo and Dredd include:

Rico Dredd fathered a daughter, Vienna Dredd, who genetically speaking could be Fargo's daughter. (She is Joe Dredd's niece.)[26]

In 2070 Judge Morton Judd proposed genetically engineering the citizens of Mega-City One, but Fargo believed the Judges were meant to serve the citizens rather than control them, and he vetoed the plan. After attempting to assassinate Fargo, Judd fled the city with a batch of stolen genetic material, including Fargo's, and used it to create the "Judda", a private army of clones (including Kraken).[27] Joe Dredd personally killed Kraken and another of Judd's Fargo clones (whose name was not given in the comic), and arrested another called Simeon (who was presumably later executed).[28] All of the Judda were eventually killed.[29]


Stories that have featured Fargo are:

  • "The Day the Law Died!" (written by John Wagner, with various artists; art on relevant episode (no. 19) by Ron Smith, in 2000 AD #89–108, 1978–79)
  • "Dredd Angel" (written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, with art by Ron Smith, in 2000 AD #377–383, 1984)
  • "Oz" (written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, with various artists; art on relevant episode (no. 15) by Brendan McCarthy, in 2000 AD #545–570, 1988)
  • "The Cal Files" (written by John Wagner, art by John Burns, in 2000 AD #955–959, 1995)
  • "The Connection" (written by John Wagner, with art by Kev Walker, in 2000 AD #1500–1504, 2006)
  • "Origins" (written by John Wagner, with art by Carlos Ezquerra, in 2000 AD #1505–1519 and 1529–1535, 2006–2007)

Other versions[edit]

Film version[edit]

File:Max von Sydow Fargo.JPG
Chief Justice Fargo in Judge Dredd portrayed by Max von Sydow.

In the 1995 feature film, Fargo was played by Max von Sydow. Fargo is the Chief Justice of Mega-City One and is a "legend" to other Judges, and set the standard that others aspired to when he was a street judge. He was also one of Dredd (Sylvester Stallone)'s tutors when Dredd was a student at the Academy of Law. As Chief Justice he no longer works on the streets focusing exclusively on the Academy and serving on the Council of Five. He is concerned with the high number of Dredd's summary executions, and so orders Dredd to start lecturing Ethics for two days a week at the Academy. When Dredd is accused of murder his trial is judged by the Council of Five which Fargo heads. Fargo is highly distressed when Dredd is found guilty and is able to get the sentence commuted from death to life imprisonment by retiring and taking the Long Walk out to the Cursed Earth. Dredd is captured by the Angel Gang (also in the Cursed Earth) and Fargo comes to his rescue but sacrifices his life in the process. With his dying words he explains to Dredd the Council of Five's secret cloning program (known as the Janus Project) initiated forty years previously that created Dredd and Rico (Armand Assante) from his DNA.

DC Comics version[edit]

A short-lived Judge Dredd comic published by DC Comics between 1994 and 1995 featured a very different version of Fargo, who turned out to be evil. Chronologically, his first appearance is in 1998 as a hotshot District Attorney prosecuting an environmental terrorist. When supporters of the defendant raid the courtroom in an attempt to rescue the suspect, Fargo draws a firearm and kills them, arguing to the judge that such is the result of a weak justice system. It is implied that this event allowed Fargo to rise to power and eventually instate the judges as arbiters of the law. As this version of Fargo is a grown man in 1998, a year before the 2000 AD Fargo is even born, he is much older during most of the comic series.

The name Eustace was first used in the DC comics, and later adopted by 2000 AD.


  1. 2000 AD #552
  2. 2000 AD Winter Special 1988
  3. 2000 AD #107
  4. 2000 AD #1505-1519 and 1529-1535.
  5. Judge Dredd: The Mega-History, by Colin M. Jarman and Peter Acton (Lennard Publishing, 1995). Page 108. (ISBN 1-85291-128-X Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png.)
  6. ibid. pages 74-75
  7. 2000 AD #89
  8. 2000 AD #68
  9. SFX magazine #148, October 2006. Page 48
  10. 2000 AD #1509
  11. 2000 AD #1510
  12. 2000 AD #1513
  13. 2000 AD #1514
  14. 2000 AD #1515
  15. 2000 AD #1513
  16. 2000 AD #1516
  17. 2000 AD #1518-1519
  18. 2000 AD #1519 and 1529
  19. 2000 AD #1531
  20. 2000 AD #1531
  21. 2000 AD #1505 and 1532
  22. 2000 AD #1535
  23. 2000 AD #1509
  24. 2000 AD #963
  25. 2000 AD #377
  26. 2000 AD #116
  27. 2000 AD #558-563
  28. 2000 AD #562, 558, 698
  29. 2000 AD #563


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