Judge Turpin is the main corrupt antagonist in the Broadway musical and its film adaptation.


Judge Turpin

Character Overview Edit

In Sondheim's adaptation of the Sweeney Todd myth, Judge Turpin is the character who causes Sweeney Todd to seek his deadly vengeance; he rapes Lucy Barker, Todd's wife, driving her to insanity, and unjustly exiles Todd to Australia. He then holds their daughter, Johanna, as his ward, and keeps her locked-up as a prisoner in his estate. He is aided in his corruption by his servant and constant companion, Beadle Bamford.

In Sweeney Todd Edit

Judge Turpin is first seen having Benjamin Barker arrested, due to his obvious infatuation with Barker's wife, Lucy. He exiles Barker to Australia on completely false charges. Lucy is terribly heartbroken, and becomes a recluse, never coming down from her home. Judge Turpin continuously pursues her, sending her flowers each day. He sends Beadle to summon her to his home, "[Blaming] himself for her dreadful plight." He drugs Lucy and rapes her, driving her insane.

Turpin then takes Barker's daughter, Johanna, and raises her as his ward. He keeps her locked away from the world and spies on her through a peep-hole in her wall. Turpin eventually falls in love with the beautiful Johanna and offers her his hand in marriage. She refuses, to which he seems baffled. When he spots Anthony Hope "gandering" at Johanna, he has him beaten up and threatens to kill him if he ever returns. We next see Turpin sentencing a child to death for petty crimes.

On Beadle Bamford's advice, he goes for a shave at Sweeney Todd's barber shop, in order to impress Johanna. Sweeney Todd almost cuts his throat when he is interrupted by Anthony, who reveals Johanna's plan to escape. Turpin promptly leaves, renouncing Todd's business. Judge Turpin returns home and finds Johanna gathering her things, in an attempt to run away. He sends her away until she can "appreciate" what she has. Beadle grabs Johanna and takes her in a carriage to Fogg's Asylum.

He receives a letter claiming that Johanna has repented, and only wants his love. Judge Turpin is delighted and following the direction of the letter goes to Todd's shop, where he is persuaded to have a shave. Todd soon reveals his true identity as Benjamin Barker and savagely stabs Turpin in the neck before then slitting his throat and Todd then drops Turpin down the chute. In his death throes, he grabs at Mrs. Lovett's skirt who then screams, alerting Sweeney Todd to the basement.

Judge Turpin did not appear in the original Sweeney Todd "penny dreadful" tale by Thomas Pecket Prest(?), or in the original Victorian melodrama by George Dibdin Pitt, although there was a heroic magistrate in the original tale named Sir Richard Brown, who ultimately brings Todd down, and in the play there was a sleazy minister named Dr. Lupin and a hanging judge named Sir William Brandon, both of whom no doubt inspired the character of Judge Turpin by the time the musical came along.

Performers Edit

  • Edmund Lyndeck played the original Judge Turpin.
  • The late Alan Rickman played the role in the 2007 film.