Character Archetypes – J for Judge [Redo]

The original post, published on 6th May for the Judge archetype went missing. I have no record of it, so this post simply summarises what I believe I may have written in the original. Published 30th May, I will backdate this back to the 6th to help searchers.

Appearing quite simple, the Judge archetype has quite a bit of power behind it, and can play character roles in your story which can be extremely positive, extremely negative, or extremely conflictive.

The Judge

“I decide” ~ Judge’s Motto

archetypes judge

The judge is an interesting archetype. Upholding society’s laws, the judge is expected to be wise, compassionate, but balanced. However, this opens up the writer for many shadow types of judge – the corrupt judge, the bad judge, the punisher or judge who also provides the punishment to anyone he believes does not meet his expectations. 

There are natural mediators in the world also, who will step in or be asked to arbitrate over personal arguments. So, judges don’t necessarily have to be appointed, or of an age where they are accepted as having the experience and authority to “make judgement.”

To be a good judge, a character must have wisdom. Wisdom doesn’t come without a life share of failures and setbacks. There are several other archetypes which may mature into a judge also – look at characters who are moving through from the advocate, avenger, liberator or rebel archetypes, to becoming an elder judge. As such these will be judges who act to ensure social justice, but also to use their skills and talents in a more positive way rather than angrily or on personal agendas.

Recognising the Judge or Arbitrator

  • Rational, authorative, and this normally means the judge is an older character, with experience.
  • Works with facts – from both sides, methological
  • Good listener
  • There is a slight difference between a pure judge, and an arbitrator/mediator –
    • The Judge: Prefers proven models, systems and laws (will rarely have visions or ideas for changing such laws). The Judge is a dogma for the laws he upholds, and stands between society and punishment. He works within a justice system or principles of law.
    • The Mediator: May be more involved in misunderstandings and more capable of supporting ideas towards bettering society which may involve changing unfair laws and areas of injustice. He works in personal and professional lives and with common morals and understandings.
  • Mediates and arbitrates matters between two characters, or nations. Must remain neutral.
  • Compassionate and balanced
  • The judge is a thinker, and requires time to make his decisions. He may retire away from society for a time to deliberate.
  • Role is to ensure everyone has a fair and balanced system, regardless of wealth, status or health. Boundaries are upheld, and those who break societies laws are punished.
  • The judge upholds high standards, normally dresses to uniform to show their authority
  • Has problems with relaxing or being more casual. May appear bossy, reserved or overly critical to others. May be too regimented and methological in their ways, delaying decisions.

Example Archetypes

In religion and myth there are plenty of judges (of both the living and dead) –  Yama (Hindu and Buddhist god of death, judge of the dead, and ruler of death’s kingdom or the hell realms); Pluto/Hades (Roman/Greek god of the underworld and judge of the dead); Thoth (primarily the Egyptian patron deity of scribes, also known as a mediator among the gods); San-guan (“Three Rulers,” collective name for three Taoist deities who keep a register of the good and evil deeds of people).

King Solomon is the model judge of history, being balanced, wise and compassionate yet fair.

Hermoine Granger, among other archetypes, provided mediation between Harry Potter and Ron Weasley’s many arguments. Of course, it took some time before Hermoine’s wisdom was accepted by the boys, and many times her criticisms were put down as bossiness.

In real life (?) we have celebrity reality stars like Judge Judy.

Other Names, Associates and Origins

  • Other names: critic, examiner, mediator, arbitrator
  • Associations: Justice workers, lawmen, policemen, attorneys, sheriffs, wise old man, wise old woman; and maturing rebels, avengers, lobbyists, defenders, legislators or advocates.
  • Shadows:
    • Corrupt Judge – makes judgement with a hidden agenda (may be paid off or in somebody’s pocket);
    • The Harsh Vritic who provides destructive criticism;
    • The Punisher – a character who appoints themselves both judge and jury;
    • The judge who believes their work has more purpose than that of others;
    • The Tyrant – the Powerful Leader or King who uses his power to judge to manipulate his own world order.

Some Additional Associations

Justice tarot cardTarot

The Justice Card  is number 8 of the Major Arcana in Tarot.  Pictured as a stern-looking woman, Justice is reminiscent of the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena or

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down


We all know the judgement indication (taken into our social media with Facebook Likes) of the thumbs up/thumbs down. Many of us attribute this to the Roman gladiator games, but it’s misinterpretted. Historically when the crowds put their thumbs down as a vote for a wounded gladiator it did not mean death, it meant put the swords down, and let the poor fighter live. Thumbs up meant death.

But anyway, nowadays the reverse is understood.

Ancient Gods, Greek and Roman Gods, and Lady Justice

Themis_thumb.jpgIn Ancient Greece, Dike was the goddess of justice and the spirit of moral order and fair judgement. Dike was the daughter of Zeus and Themis, the Goddess of Divine Law and order. The equivalent of Themis in Ancient Rome was Lustitia or Justitia, or Lady Justice. This figure, blindfolded to ensure her objectivity, and holding a set of scales, of course became the symbol for Justice sitting outside many courts of law.

These implements of justice go back further than the Ancient Greeks. The scales, symbolising balance, can be seen in Egypt’s Goddesses Maat and later Isis.


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