Splatoon 3 imagines an alternate world where ocean creatures, instead of mammals, took over the land. The game is set in a post-postapocalyptic world where humanity has been wiped out and sentient ocean life has taken its place. The signature character of the series, an Inkling, can take on both the form of a kid and a squid. There are a few exceptions to the game’s theme, however, including Li’l Judd, a cat who helps referee your matches. But now, a shadow of speculation has been cast on the adorable fuzzball due to new information revealed in Splatoon 3.
Although the Splatoon series is primarily known for being a competitive online shooter, the developers manage to pack in extensive lore around the day-to-day competitions. They do this by having a pretty robust single-player campaign with a story, and by giving players the chance to discover collectibles, like scrolls, that reveal more about the game’s world. Here’s where Li’l Judd comes in.
Li’l Judd is a cat character introduced in Splatoon 2. He has an ornery reputation and is known for being bitter about being second to Judd. In Splatoon 3, you can collect a Sunken Scroll that appears to show the process of Li’l Judd being cloned from Judd. Both of them look exactly the same, sporting a cute bow-tie coloration as a pattern on their fur. The only differences are that Li’l Judd’s hair is a little less clean, his eyes are a bit beadier, and he’s smaller than Judd. The two together serve as the judges for your competitive matches in Splatoon. And, well, we have reasons to believe that Li’l Judd is evil.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for the final boss of the single-player campaign of Splatoon 3.]
After beating the single-player campaign of Splatoon 3, Li’l Judd’s character model undergoes a suspicious change. After you beat the game, he starts to wear a headset. And this little detail could be the key to figuring out his potentially nefarious intentions.
In the Splatoon universe, players can partake in a game mode called Salmon Run where players take on a shady temp job for a company called Grizzco Industries to collect a valuable resource called Power Eggs. As you play, you are directed by an anonymous voice via a headset. At the end of Splatoon 3 we get to meet the boss of Grizzco, a giant grizzly bear named Mr. Grizz who wants to take revenge and repopulate the land with mammals. Turns out he’s the big baddie of this game. If you successfully complete the campaign, our intrepid hero thwarts his plans and we see Mr. Grizz explode.
All signs point to a complete annihilation of the big boss. However, Grizzco Industries is still around and kicking after you beat the solo campaign. This leads to a question: Who is running Grizzco and talking to you through the headset? Now fans think it’s Li’l Judd because he wears the headset after you beat Mr. Grizz.
It would all make sense given Li’l Judd’s overall demeanor. In the world of the game, it’s a well-known fact that Li’l Judd doesn’t like Judd. And Nintendo has even confirmed that Li’l Judd has an “in-fur-iority” complex with Judd, because he’s just a replica of the real deal. Additionally, in Splatoon 3, the opposing team is always shown to you as being the “Bad Guys,” and Li’l Judd always represents them. Also, he’s a mammal, so it makes sense that he might harbor some ill will toward sea life, as does Mr. Grizz.
There are a few kinks in the case against Li’l Judd, however. Mainly, the voice we hear in the headset is definitely Grizz’s voice. We hear him at the end of the game and it’s the same during Salmon Run, and the garbled voice in the headset doesn’t change post-solo campaign. So it’s possible that it’s just a slight inconsistency between the story and match mode. But we might just have to wait for a new Splatoon game or DLC to see if this particular plot line gets addressed any further.