- “I'll catch the rabbit, Mr. Valiant, and I'll try him, convict him, and execute him.”
- ―Judge Doom about Roger Rabbit
Doom is the much-feared Judge of Toontown. Despite presiding over a city of Toons, he is totally without mirth and passes capital punishment on Toons who break the law, placing them in a chemical vat of turpentine, acetone and benzene (essentially oil, paint thinner and film dissolver) which he calls "The Dip".
This concoction melts Toons, permanently killing them. He wears gloves supposedly to avoid the mess (but as it is soon revealed, it is actually to prevent himself from melting). He employs Toon henchmen (the Toon Patrol) to assist him in hunting down Roger Rabbit for the murder of Marvin Acme, whom he framed for the act that he did himself.
Doom displayed two very different personalities in the film, both of which were equally menacing to his enemies.
Doom is a calm and reserved man without mercy and brutally executes those who he perceives as guilty or stand in his way. He is also cruel to the Toon Patrol and mainly abuses them with his cane although he only hits two members. First, he hits Smarty around the head with his cane after he continued laughing and then he hits Greasy around the head after his hand was caught in a hunting trap. He has the ambition to erase Toontown in order to create a freeway due to its profit and potential benefits; buying and then dismantling the "Red Car Trolly" to avoid competition and taking money from his theft at the bank to launch the project.
He also proves to exhibit a cunning personality, as he lures Roger out of hiding with the "shave and a haircut" trick. He has a Hitler complex which he tries to deny to the extent of disguising himself as a human to try to rid the world of Toons, despite being one himself. However, when he is being run over, he acts like a Toon (screaming incomprehensible noises in fear) and does not deny it once the jig is up, but when called a Toon, he replies "not just any Toon..."
After Doom re-inflates himself with a helium tank, he reveals himself as the killer of Eddie's brother, Teddy, telling him why he should not remember his eyes, but his voice (which grows higher until it reaches a horrifyingly high pitch), and his eyes turn to daggers to show Doom's intent to kill Eddie. Though he doesn't talk again until his demise, he pursues Eddie when he tries to run away, reactivates the cannon to melt Roger and Jessica Rabbit once he was pushed to the ground, punches Eddie with an anvil, turns it into an buzz saw, slices through some hanging chains to demonstrate how lethal it was, and slowly strides towards Eddie with swirling eyes and a wide, maniacal, psychotic grin.
All these traits show that he was a deranged and sadistic psychopath who enjoys making his victims watch as their friends die and loves to kill them slowly in the most agonizing way. He does have a fear of death, as he instantly panicked as soon as the Dip hit him and screamed as he melted.
Powers and Abilities
In his flesh-and-blood guise, Doom uses his skull-headed swordstick and Acme products to fight Eddie, and overpower him with surprising strength. While in his Toon form, he has evil red eyes and a squeaky voice and is able to produce an arsenal of tools from his body which he can employ as weapons, including an anvil and buzz saw. He uses springs in his feet to jump far distances, and (like most Toons) can survive anything but his own Dip, which melts him to his death.
When the film first introduces Doom, L.A.P.D. Lt. Santino confides to Eddie that Doom bought the judicial election by spreading a bunch of cash around Toontown, neither aware then that Doom got the money after robbing the First Bank of Toontown, murdering Teddy Valiant when he and Eddie tried to pursue and arrest him. Later, at the Terminal Bar, Doom uses the "shave and a haircut" trick to lure Roger out, then prepares to execute him with the Dip, with the barflies bearing witness, some even taking off their hats in mourning as they prepared to watch Roger die after having given them a good laugh only moments earlier. After a brief scuffle inside the bar, he orders the weasels to capture Roger and Eddie. Roger realizes he's in trouble with Doom after him and begs Eddie to hide him. When Eddie learns that studio head R.K. Maroon is connected to the plot to frame Roger after witnessing a news report of Maroon selling Maroon Cartoons to Cloverleaf Industries, Eddie interrogates him, but Maroon pleads that he is "a dead man" if he confesses. Just as Maroon is about to spill everything, he is killed by an unseen gunman who nearly shoots Eddie as well, but retreats after emptying his revolver's cylinder.
Upon chasing the killer to Toontown, Eddie catches Jessica, thinking she's the murderer, but Jessica reveals that Doom was the one who killed Acme and Maroon. At the film's climax, he traps Eddie, Roger, and Jessica in the Acme Factory to explain his scheme: erase Toontown from the map using a giant, mobile vat of Dip linked to a high-pressure water cannon and then build a freeway over it. He then plans to retire from being a judge and control all the profits from the new road system. Jessica asks him if he really thinks anyone won't notice Toontown's disappearance, but Doom retorts that no one will miss some ridiculous talking mice (possibly referencing Hubie and Bertie) when she and Eddie are driving past, revealing himself as the sole stockholder of Cloverleaf Industries. Eddie tries to say that no one will drive the freeway when they can ride the "Red Car Trolley" (the Pacific Electric Railway), but Doom also reveals he bought it for the sole purpose of putting it out of commission. He then orders Roger and Jessica to be tied up and raised into the air via a skyhook to be sprayed by the Dip cannon.
Eddie distracts the Toon Patrol using hilarious antics (partly while singing The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down to the accompaniment of a music machine playing the tune) to make them literally laugh themselves to death, then attempts to rescue Roger and Jessica when he is interrupted by Doom. The two men then square off, dueling with various ACME props. During the fight, Doom is run over by a steamroller, but he does not die as expected.
As the steamroller crushes him, Doom's body is flattened into a flimsy paper-thin shape, revealing himself to be a Toon wearing an assortment of fake, but live props, such as fake eyeballs, false teeth, and a rubber mask in order to disguise his Toon body. After Doom re-inflates himself with an oxygen tank, he reveals himself, much to Eddie's horror, as the same Toon who murdered Eddie's brother Teddy Valiant, thus triggering his hatred towards Toons and explaining how Doom managed to buy the judicial election and the trolley car company. His voice grew higher until it reaches a horrifyingly high pitch, and his eyes turn to daggers, showing Doom's intent that he is now out to kill him as well to ensure no one can stop his mad scheme to destroy Toontown forever.
Being a Toon, Doom turns out to be capable of sprouting an anvil and an extendable buzzsaw from his hand, with which he attempts to kill Eddie. In the end, Eddie proves to be too clever, using his own concoction to melt him, leaving behind his human disguise. He melts away, screaming "I'm melting! Melting!" just before he dies. A crowd of various Toons then surround his burned empty suit and melted face and wonder what kind of Toon he was. It hasn't been revealed what type of Toon he was or if he was one specific type of Toon at all, but the Toons seem to agree that they don't need to know, especially considering how close Doom came to wiping them and Toontown off the face of the Earth.
The Resurrection of Doom
In the graphic novel Roger Rabbit: The Resurrection of Doom, it is explained that Doom was originally a Toon named Baron von Rotten, who took up the role of playing antagonists in movies, until an accident in which Von Rotten suffered a concussion and awakened believing that he was a real villain. Von Rotten thus begins his crime career, robbing the First National Bank of Toontown, then killing Teddy Valiant by dropping a large piano on his head and spreading the stolen money all over the town in order to buy the election for Judge of Toontown, assuming the new name of Judge Doom.
After the events of the film, Doom was later revived by another gang of weasels (brothers of the Toon Patrol) who used an old cell and a multiplane camera to bring him back to life, proving that it is possible to revive a Toon. He disguises himself as a director, forcing Roger to purposely tone down his acting in hopes of ruining his career and has other designs in mind for his revenge, but his plains are exposed, and he is once again killed with dip, this time killing him for good.
Doom appears in the seventh book, The Insider, in which the Keepers go to Disneyland. Doom's appearance is due to the Toontown area of the park, which is not present anymore in Walt Disney World. He is thought to have originated from Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, though it is also pointed out that he was originally to be part of the nearby Mickey and the Magical Map with other villains before being cut in favor of another plot. During the battle between the Keepers and the Overtakers in Toontown, Doom took Willa hostage and threatened to kill her to keep the Keepers at bay. However, Jess and Wayne worked to free her, at the cost of Wayne's own life. Amanda released a powerful telekinetic blast, which threw the Overtakers out of Toontown.
Doom returned after Tia Dalma created an earthquake. However, Amanda's attack left him with a dislocated jaw and a leg mangled so badly it was compared to the shape of the number 3. His job was to operate a crane to put the Partners statue on top of the Matterhorn to attract lightning to ignite the natural gas released by the earthquake. Fortunately, Maybeck and Charlene's teamwork resulting in lightning striking the crane. All that could be said about his fate was "Inside that sludge is the Judge - Doomed."
- Doom appears to bear some resemblance to Roland Freisler, the notorious Nazi figure who was also a ruthless judge.
- Doom's death is an allusion to the Wicked Witch of the West's death in MGM's The Wizard of Oz, as they both melt while shouting, "I'm melting! Melting!".
- In addition, both have weaknesses to liquid. The Witch's demise comes from water while Judge Doom's demise is the Dip (which, ironically, is his own creation).
- The character was originally going to have an animated pet vulture named Voltaire (after the French philosopher) that sat on his shoulder, but that idea was dropped in the interest of saving time. However, the vulture later resurfaced with Doom when a bendable action figure was produced. Doom's vulture also appears in the NES game.
- Doom originally had seven weasels accompanying him, rather like the Seven Dwarfs, but he ultimately ended up only having five. He was also to have a jury of kangaroos, as in "Kangaroo Court." These elements were all dropped because animating these extra characters would be too costly. In a deleted scene, when Doom attempts to dip Roger at the bar, the patrons protest that Roger should at least have a proper trial. The judge agrees, then pulls out a suitcase from which jumps a group of kangaroos that hold out signs reading "Y-O-U A-R-E G-U-I-L-T-Y" (a literal Kangaroo Court, in other words).
- Originally, Doom was going to dip a toon gopher instead of the cartoon shoe seen in the film.
- It is believed by a large group of spectators that Judge Doom is also the Toon who robbed the 1st National Bank of Toontown. This is never told is the film: they only say that it's a day they were searching the guilty party for a rob in this bank that Eddie and Teddy met Doom for the first time and that Doom killed Teddy. Also, they think that the money Doom gave to the Toons for being elected was the one he previously robbed in the bank.
- The ending scene was originally going to have Doom reveal his Toon mouth and red hands with long nails.
- In early drafts for the film, he was revealed to be Man, as in the early drafts Eddie mentions offhand to Roger that the person who killed Teddy was probably the one who killed Bambi's mother. However, this dialogue was cut from the film for reasons yet unknown.
- In the Bonkers series, The Collector is the reverse of Judge Doom. He is a human disguised as a Toon but shares a similar personality and glasses. However, unlike Doom, the Collector genuinely believed in his own lie that he was a Toon.
- Though Doom's real identity remains a mystery in the film, the yellow paint that remains of him following his death may hint that he was a Toon of a yellow or gold color, as evidenced from the yellow/gold-animated props (handles of his knife-like eyes, springs in his heels, anvil and buzz saw) that sprouted from his black suit during his second fight with Eddie.
- Prior to the publication of The Resurrection of Doom, many fans speculated that Doom's real Toon form was the "Pistol Packin' Possum", a Toon seen on one of the posters in R. K. Maroon's office. This is mainly because the Possum has red eyes just like the Toon that killed Teddy Valiant as well as the exact same gun that Judge Doom had in the scene where he shot Maroon. Additionally, in the first scene where Valiant talks to Maroon about taking on the snoop job, behind Maroon are posters of cartoons on a rotating wall. The one on the right is a poster of the "Pistol Packin' Possum". When Valiant and Maroon walk over to the desk to discuss more business, the rotating wall is closed and the poster (along with the gun the possum is holding) is always pointed towards Maroon with his back turned to it. Even after the release of The Resurrection of Doom, this theory could still be somewhat valid, as "Baron Von Rotten" was known as "the toon with a thousand faces" and played many disguised roles, one of which might have been Pistol Packin' Possum.
- There are many subtle clues throughout the film that give away the fact that Doom is a Toon:
- Doom's behavior when using or around Dip is rather curious. When he first uses the Dip, he wears a rubber glove to protect himself, suggesting that he wears it to avoid getting soaked when of course we later learn it's so that his Toon hand won't melt. Then, after the Dip gets kicked over by Eddie during the scuffle in Dolores' bar, Doom backs away from it. The other bar patrons back away from it as well making it less obvious. Also, when he decides to get Benny the Cab off the road so he can capture Eddie and Jessica, he kicks it and keeps a distance from it.
- If one looks closely, it is shown that Doom always has an ominous wind gently rustling at his clothes, even indoors and when the human characters' clothes stay still.
- It should be noted that whenever Doom is shown on-screen, he never blinks. This was likely an allusion to the fact that his face was actually revealed to be a mask and his eyes were fake.
- When Doom was luring Roger Rabbit in by tapping the "Shave and a Haircut" trick, Eddie wondered who was toon-ier, Roger Rabbit or Judge Doom.
- When he slips on some fake eyeballs, he doesn't fall directly but slips a few times until he suddenly falls. Normally, a human would fall directly after slipping once, as Eddie did. Also. when he gets back on his feet after falling, he hides one of his eyes, not because it is in pain, but so as to conceal his actual red Toon eyes with the fake ones he is wearing.
- Eddie states that Doom's "lamebrain freeway idea could only be cooked up by a Toon"; due to the plan being so absurdly simple for all the complicated planning underwent to make the plan a reality, the over the top in villainy due to the heinous actions leading up to it without a humane sense of guilt and lacked the foresight to the inherent flaws of the freeway system that a human with common sense would realize once thinking it over in their heads; meant that Doom was a Toon who by nature, have lack of common sense, naivety in how the world actually works and are over the top in everything they do.
- When Doom is run over by the steamroller in the Acme Factory, he's merely compressed and flattened. If he were a human, it would have been a lot messier.
- In Toontown, when Jessica shoots Doom to save Eddie, he is moments later seen running, seemingly unaffected by the gunshot.
- During a few moments prior to his reveal, his lens shined with a completely white light that obscured his eyes. It is done in a way similar to how certain bespectacled cartoon and comic book villains shine with a bright light when talking about their evil ambitions. It was slightly justified in the day during the initial investigation of Marvin Acme's murder due to the light from the windows above refracting in his glasses to give off a more natural shine and earlier when a similarly bespectacled cop glowed brightly due to the sunlight. However, when talking about his freeway plan and during his fight with Eddie, it was at night and there wasn't enough light to justify his lens' sudden white obscured refraction hiding his eyes.
- Several notable actors and celebrities were considered for the role of Judge Doom.
- Originally, Tim Curry was a big contender to play Doom, but he was seen as way too frightening in his audition and the producers were afraid that viewers would find him terrifying. However, even with Lloyd ultimately being cast as Doom instead, viewers still find him very frightening, especially considering the fact that even if he was cast as a villain, most of Christopher Lloyd's roles were often comic relief, something Doom isn't.
- John Cleese expressed interest in playing Doom, but both Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis refused thinking nobody would take a former member of Monty Python seriously as a sadistic villain. Cleese later played the antagonist in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.
- Late Christopher Lee turned down the role of Doom.
- Roddy McDowall, Robin Williams, Eddie Deezen, Sting, Jon Pertwee, John Lithgow, Willem Dafoe, John Malkovich, Gabriel Byrne, Tim Robbins, Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Richard Gere, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Ron Perlman, and Jeff Goldblum were all considered to play Judge Doom.
- If one pauses at the shot of Doom getting knocked by the spray of Dip, they will notice the dummy used for filming.
- Judge Doom was originally supposed to be said to be the hunter who shot Bambi's mother as a dark joke from Eddie, to illustrate how Eddie's brother's death had been just as traumatizing for him as Bambi's mother's had been for Bambi.
- When Christopher Lloyd read the script's instructions to never blink on camera, he correctly guessed, "He's a toon."
- On Mickey's 60th Birthday when Mickey disappeared, Donald Duck trying to shift the blame told news reporters it was the guy Who Framed Roger Rabbit, one of them pointed out to Donald that he was dead.