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Doctor Who Enemies: Judoon

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No bo ho sho ko ro to so. Bo-ko-do-zo-go-bo-fo-po jo.
- The Doctor speaking Judoon, 'The Stolen Earth'
Judoon on the Moon

Warning: this entry contains spoilers.

The Judoon are an alien race found in the long-running science-fiction series Doctor Who. They were introduced in the 21st Century revival series. Unusually they have no plans for world domination, enslavement or extermination, but instead represent the rigid force of law. Essentially they are an alien space-rhino mercenary police force who charge blindly into any situation where they feel that the law has been disobeyed, without caring who or what is between them and their target and not realising the consequences of their bullish behaviour. As the Doctor's approach to problem-solving is always to do what is right rather than what is necessarily legal, the Judoon often find themselves in opposition to the Doctor, though on other occasions they have been the Doctor's allies.

Bipedal with stocky, muscular bodies, the Judoon's faces closely resemble those of a rhinoceros, complete with two horns, one located behind the other. Their weapons, tools and ships are cylindrical in shape, probably inspired by their horns. They usually wear body armour, leather kilt and trousers and boots. Very big helmets are also almost always worn. They often use a handheld scanner which, when pointed at someone, identifies their species and can even assimilate language. After recording a voice sample and plugging the scanner into an attachment on their uniform, the language being spoken, such as English, is identified and they become able to speak it freely. Their normal language, which entirely consists of short words ending in 'O', is unable to be translated by the TARDIS but is described by the Doctor as the universal language of law. This presumably also explains why British policemen traditionally say 'Ello 'ello 'ello.

As well as apprehending criminals, the Judoon's remit extends to being prison wardens. They are involved in both patrolling prisons and prisoner transportation. Judoon acting as prison officers or gaolers wear identical uniforms and carry the same equipment as those acting as police constables. They carry pens or a stamp to write the letter X on people's hands, so that X can mark those who have already been scanned. If hunted by a Judoon the best way to evade them is possibly just to write an X on your hand and claim to have already been scanned.

Their weaponry vaporises its victims and they don't hesitate to kill anyone getting between them and their target, but otherwise have a fanatical devotion to rules and regulations. When the fate of the world is threatened by alien criminal Androvax, with time of the essence, a Judoon nevertheless insists on obeying a 'Pay and Display' sign and will not open a door labelled 'No unauthorised personnel'.

On the plus side, Judoon are equal-opportunities aggressive thugs, with both male and female Judoon able to attain Captain status. Breaking a Judoon's horn is considered the ultimate dishonour for a Judoon, though what the consequences of this are is never specified. Judoon are susceptible to psychic paper1. They also have have transmat2 technology allowing them to 'beam' individuals to a planet's surface from orbit. They can lift entire buildings into space by using their H2O scoop, a side effect of which is the phenomenon of upwards rain. They can also erect city-sized invisible forcefields, which disintegrate anyone who runs into one. Their heavy weaponry includes a temporal isolator, a weapon designed to freeze time, which is otherwise banned across the galaxy as it causes deadly radiation leakage and risks high collateral damage to anyone nearby.

Juddering: Judoon

A Judoon head was one of Doctor Who's most impressive animatronic creature designs, designed and built by effects company Millennium FX. As only one head was made, usually only one Judoon removes their helmet and all others stomp and march about with their heads completely covered. As one of the best alien designs, and to make the most of the budget spent on it, the Judoon often appears in scenes requiring a variety of aliens and so there are a large number of otherwise background appearances or even insignificant cameos. Paul Kasey plays the lead Judoon with the voices by Nicholas Briggs.

Story Guide

The stories predominantly featuring Judoon are listed below:

'Smith and Jones' (2007)

  • Broadcast: 31 March, 2007 (New Who series three episode one)
  • Writer: Russell T Davies
  • Cast: The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman)
  • Director: Charles Palmer

The Doctor and doctor-in-training Martha Jones (in her debut episode) are in London's (fictional) Royal Hope Hospital - which is located opposite the Houses of Parliament in the sort of geography found in cheesy American films - when it starts raining upwards. Moments later the hospital building is on the moon, having been transported there by the Judoon using a H2O scoop. The Judoon are hunting for a vampire-like Plasmavore that had murdered an alien princess. They have taken the hospital to the moon as it is neutral territory outside the Earth's jurisdiction where they can search for the Plasmavore. If the alien (played by Anne Reid) is not found then they are likely to execute everyone inside the hospital for 'harbouring a fugitive'.

The Sarah Jane Adventures: 'Prisoner of the Judoon' (2009)

  • Broadcast: 15-16 October, 2009 (The first two-part serial of the third series of Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures.)
  • Writer: Phil Ford
  • Cast: Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), Luke Smith (Tommy Knight), Clyde Langer (Daniel Anthony3), Rani Chandra4 (Anjli Mohindra), Mr Smith (voice: Alexander Armstrong)
  • Director: Joss Agnew

Sarah Jane and friends witness a Judoon prison-ship crash nearby and rush to the scene to investigate. They find the Judoon's prisoner, Androvax, a Veil who can possess the bodies of others and is wanted for having caused 12 global extinctions. He takes control of Sarah Jane's body in a bid to escape. Meanwhile, more Judoon arrive in the solar system as Androvax plans to destroy Earth to cover his escape. Can the children save the planet and stop the Judoon from killing Sarah Jane in order to get to Androvax?

'Fugitive of the Judoon' (2020)

  • Broadcast: 26 January, 2020 (New Who series 12 episode five)
  • Writers: Vinay Patel & Chris Chibnall
  • Cast: The Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham O'Brien (Bradley Walsh), Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Jo Clayton/The Fugitive Doctor (Jo Martin)
  • Director: Nida Manzoor

The Doctor intercepts a Judoon platoon invading Gloucester and learns they are searching for a fugitive. They seem to be hunting Jo and Lee Clayton (Neil Stuke), threatening to use a banned, unstable weapon that will cause collateral casualties unless they are apprehended. Can the Doctor arbitrate a peaceful solution, who is really the fugitive of the Judoon, what is Jo's secret that she herself does not know, and what warning does a friend from the Doctor's past bring?

Judoon Jumble

The Judoon also make brief appearances in the following stories:

  • 'The Stolen Earth' (2008)
  • 'The End of Time' (2010)
  • 'The Pandorica Opens' (2010)
  • 'A Good Man Goes to War' (2011)
  • 'The Magician's Apprentice' (2015)
  • 'Face the Raven' (2015)
  • 'The Timeless Children' (2020)

1A blank piece of paper that shows the viewer anything that the user, such as the Doctor, wants them to see, usually some form of identification.2Matter transporters, the Doctor Who equivalent of Star Trek's transporters.3Not to be confused with C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels.4Not to be confused with the Rani.

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