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A his-To-Ro-y of the Judoon in Doctor Who

“The Rhinoform bipeds are coming!” said no one, because Doctor Who’s rhinoceros-based monsters of choice are called the Judoon. Which is a far easier word to assimilate for the small-brained interplanetary police force.

Doctor Who fans first encountered the Judoon in Series 3 opener Smith and Jones, which also introduced companion Martha Jones. The Judoon’s rather unusual approach to policing here was to take the Royal Hope Hospital to the moon via a H₂O scoop, in the hope of tracking down a Plasmavore, and the Doctor has mostly been unhappy to see them since.

Despite their methods, which often involved stringently sticking to local laws at the expense of a successful outcome for themselves, the Judoon became the go-to ‘force for hire’ due to the embarrassment the Doctor had caused to rival life forms offering similar services such as the Ogrons. Very early on in recorded time, they were allies of Time Lord president Rassilon too.

The Fourth Doctor, Leela, and K9 met the Judoon on the planet Agratis, while the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough had a Earth-based cricket match interrupted by them, and it set the pattern of TARDIS occupants helping the Judoon achieve their goals by totally counteracting their policing methods.

The next Doctor known to face them was the Sixth, in Big Finish audio drama Judoon in Chains, which literally tells a poetic tale about… well, Judoons and poetry. Given the Judoon’s usual language consists of ‘to blo ro do kro so’ and the like, it really is a groundbreaking story. Thankfully, there’s an online translator you can use to ready yourself for your next Judoon encounter.

In Titan Comics’ Ninth Doctor tale, Slaver’s Song, the Judoon return to cater away the Doctor in their style of all-muscle and little brain.

It was the Tenth Doctor who encountered the Judoon the most, first doing so in Smith and Jones, and then repeatedly across several different mediums. His second encounter with the Judoon is also alongside Martha, and the Quick Reads novel Revenge of the Judoon (written by Terrance Dicks) includes Arthur Conan Doyle and King Edward VII.

After Series 3 was broadcast, the BBC launched an online Comic Maker, and got professional writers to provide stories using the limited characters and monsters you could choose from. The Judoon teamed up with the Cybermen to catalogue humanity in In-Flight Entertainment, and in The Baktek Illusion their intentions switch to being forces for good.

The latter tale includes Donna Noble, who also faces the Judoon in Big Finish audio One Mile Down and briefly at the Shadow Proclamation during The Stolen Earth. The relationship with the Shadow Proclamation, who hire the Judoon, is crucial to the IDW Publishing comic Fugitive, where the Doctor once again escapes arrest and goes on an incredible against-the-odds adventure with some Third Doctor monsters as his companions.

Before then, he pops to New Memphis (which looks suspiciously like The Library planet) in New Series Adventure (NSA) novel Judgement of the Judoon to solve a classic whodunnit.

Also going in heavy on Judoon encounters was the Eleventh Doctor, who alongside Amy and Rory encounters them on Spaceport One in Rory’s Adventure and Amy’s Escapade in the 2012 Annual, call for their assistance in A Good Man Goes to War, and explores their culture in NSA novel The Coming of the Terraphiles, and Decide Your Destiny book Judoon Monsoon. They’re also there to trap the Eleventh Doctor in the Pandorica as part of the Alliance, thus dooming the universe (albeit briefly). Silly space-rhinos.

The Twelfth Doctor fleetingly saw a Judoon or two in Face the Raven and Titan comic Beneath the Waves, but didn’t encounter them properly until his latest incarnation. We know they’re going to be occupying Gloucester come 2020, in Fugitive of the Judoon, and they’ve already provided drama for the Thirteenth Doctor in prose in The Rhino of Twenty-Three Strand Street.

Perhaps the greatest contribution to the Doctor Who universe by the Judoon is in spin-off show The Sarah Jane Adventures, where Captain Tybo is forced to work with the friends of Sarah Jane Smith on Bannerman Road in Prisoner of the Judoon and is comedically out of place as he tracks down the Androvax. His race also appears in online comics, Monster Hunt and Defending Bannerman Road, which are sadly now unavailable on the BBC website.

Fugitive of the Judoon will air on 26th January 2020, at 7:10pm on BBC1.

Ida Wood

A his-To-Ro-y of the Judoon in Doctor Who

by Ida Wood time to read: 3 min
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