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- “It's a legend. Way before my time. Of a demon brought forth to rid the earth of the plague of humanity. To separate the righteous from the wicked... And burn the righteous down. They called him the Judge.”
The Judge was an ancient and powerful demon sent to wipe out the human race with his unique power of "burning the humanity out" of his victims. After being dismembered 600 years prior, Drusilla and Spike assembled him and brought him to life.
The Judge was an ancient and legendary demon brought forth to this dimension in the 14th Century to rid Earth of the plague of humanity. He was aptly named The Judge for he had come to separate the righteous from the wicked, and burn the righteous down. An army was sent against the Judge, and though most of the warriors died, the army was finally able to dismember the Judge, but not to kill him. The pieces were placed in iron boxes and scattered to be buried "in every corner of the Earth". For six hundred years he remained aware of his status.
- “He's perfect, my darling... Just what I wanted.”
To celebrate Drusilla's return to health in 1998, Spike had all the pieces of the Judge brought to Sunnydale as a present for his sire. Drusilla planned to reassemble the Judge and unleash Armageddon. Spike's minions succeed in reuniting all the pieces and taking them to Spike and Dru's lair, except for one of the arms, which Dalton lost to Buffy Summers. At the Bronze, Buffy opened the box and the Judge's arm immediately attacked her.
Fearing that the Judge would be too dangerous to fight, Angel decided to take a ship to hide the arm in Nepal, thus leaving the Judge incomplete, which would have ended Dru's plot to reawaken the demon. However, Dalton and Spike's minions managed to steal the arm back from Buffy and Angel.
With the pieces complete, the Judge was reassembled before an ecstatic Drusilla. The Judge showed contempt for her and Spike as the two shared affection, a quality considered by the Judge to be human. The Judge wanted to kill them until Spike reminded him that he and Dru had brought him back. Deeming them "helpful" for his purposes the Judge agreed to leave the two unharmed. Seconds later, the Judge turned on Dalton, whom the Judge also deemed "full of feeling" due to Dalton's love for knowledge. As he had just been awakened, the Judge wasn't at his full power and needed to touch his victims to incinerate them, as he demonstrated on Dalton, much to Drusilla's delight.
Buffy and Angel found themselves in mortal danger when they went to the factory, only to find the Judge already assembled and Spike and Dru ready for their visit thanks to Drusilla's premonitions. Buffy and Angel barely escaped, Buffy having already felt the Judge's deadly power when she kicked the demon. The two hid in Angel's apartment, where they shared an intimate encounter, which caused Angel to lose his soul. Meanwhile, the Judge rested, waiting for his powers to return to full strength.
The now unsouled Angel returned to the factory. The Judge attacked him but was unable to incinerate him, as Angelus was "clean of humanity", according to the Judge. While it had been established that all vampires had some humanity in them, the Judge's powers did not work on Angelus, despite the fact that he was a vampire, as he was incapable of feeling love or affection (unlike Spike and Dru or Dalton) and was a true creature of evil, meaning that he was capable of surviving the touch of the Judge.
- “What's that do?”
- ―The Judge's last words, when seeing Buffy's rocket launcher[src]
With his powers restored, the Judge was escorted by Angelus and Dru to start a massacre at a local mall. With a mere gesture, the Judge incinerated a man and then attacked a large number of people. The Judge's power bounced from one human to the next, creating a web of victims. Before the victims could die, Buffy struck the Judge with a crossbow bolt. The Judge reminded Buffy that no weapon forged could hurt him, prompting Buffy to equip a rocket launcher and fire it at him. Unfamiliar with modern weaponry, the Judge merely stood as the rocket flew towards him. Angel and Dru escaped, while the Judge was blown apart. The pieces of the Judge were then picked up by the Scoobies, who proceed to dispose of them, taking great care to keep them separate.
- “Not the prettiest man in town.”
- ―Buffy Summers[src]
The Judge was a tall, muscular and lumbering humanoid demon with blue skin and solid black eyes. His body was covered by a metallic armor and the back of his head bore three bone crests. Angel sarcastically called his appearance "spiffy".
Personality and traits
The Judge bore a disgust for humanity and feelings, outright telling Spike and Drusilla that they "stink" of it, and later letting out a disgusted groan after seeing them kiss.
Powers and abilities
- “His touch can literally burn the humanity out of you. A true creature of evil can survive the process. No human ever has.”
- ―Rupert Giles[src]
The Judge's main power was to "burn the humanity" out of a person. The "humanity" in question wasn't the presence of a soul in the victim, but the emotional capacity of the Judge's target. While Spike and Drusilla were vulnerable because they shared affection for each other, Angelus wasn't, as he was truly wicked, incapable of love, "clean" before the Judge's eyes.
After being reassembled, the Judge has not yet reached his full potential. He was limited by physical contact in order to incinerate his victims. Despite this, he was still strong and his power proved to be dangerous even to the Slayer Buffy, who remarked that just kicking him felt like a "sudden fever" and was glad the Judge didn't actually touch her with his hands.
The Judge mentioned that the act of killing allowed him to be stronger, although he did not necessarily need it, as he would naturally grow stronger over time. This proved to be true as after a day, the Judge grew powerful enough to kill with a single gesture, and was even capable of making his power bounce from one victim to the next, allowing the Judge to eliminate several beings simultaneously. However, for this to work, he had to concentrate as shown when his attack failed when his concentration was broken by a crossbow bolt fired by Buffy. According to Giles, he would eventually grow powerful enough to incinerate humans by simply looking at them, though Buffy managed to destroy him before he reached that point.
The Judge was also capable of sensing the emotions and feelings of others, as proven by the fact that he instantly sensed that Spike and Dru were lovers and that Dalton had a love for reading and knowledge. He could also sense that Angel and Buffy were hiding in the same room before alerting everyone to their presence.
Finally, the Judge was impervious to wounds caused by forged weapons, though an explosion caused by a rocket launcher (a weapon that did not exist in The Judge's original time period) managed to blast him to pieces. Buffy and the Scooby Gang were unclear if this truly killed him, though, with Buffy remarking that they "can't be sure" that he was dead.
Behind the Scenes
- He was portrayed by Brian Thompson who portrayed Luke in the beginning of the series.
- The Judge holds many similarities with the Angel villain The Beast.
- Both are known only by title, rather than name.
- Both are connected to the return of Angelus.
- Both are initially considered to be utterly unstoppable.
- Both very nearly destroy the protagonists in their first appearance.
- Both are presented in such a way that they appear to be their season's Big Bad, only for it to be discovered that they were not.
- It can be argued that both are defeated by their own arrogance (The Judge assumed that no weapon could possibly defeat him, and The Beast never considered that anyone would dare use his own weapon against him, or perhaps believed the dagger forged of his bone could not penetrate his flesh).