List of characters in the Planet of the Apes films

List of characters in the Planet of the Apes films

The Planet of the Apes franchise features many characters that appear in one or more works.



In the Planet of the Apes movie series, Aldo is the leader of the Gorilla factions (and the ape revolution, by extension) during the rise of the ape society prior to humanity's downfall, as the "lowest species" of the planet.

Aldo is first referenced in the third Apes movie, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, when the chimpanzee Cornelius describes him as the first ape to acquire the power of speech—and the first to say "No!" to his human captors. He appears in the next film, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, (portrayed by actor David Chow) as a Chimpanzee whose beating at the hands of human guards is witnessed by Armando and Caesar, the son of Cornelius and Zira, who later leads the ape revolt.

In the fifth and final film, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Aldo emerges (portrayed by actor Claude Akins) as the general of the gorilla militia, which mostly guards the outskirts of Ape City, and practices with mock weapons. He is both jealous of his human advisors and of Caesar (and his son, Cornelius, who bests him in the school that all apes must attend) and would like to take his place as leader. Humans live alongside apes in the city, but as second class citizens.

Discovering a large number of (irradiated) humans still alive underground in the bomb-destroyed city they escaped, as he is discovered during a trip to the ruins, Caesar implores the apes to prepare themselves, in case those humans emerge to attack. Aldo uses the alarm as an excuse to corral all the humans of Ape City, break into the armory to seize guns and other weapons, and declare martial law, with himself as de facto leader. Meanwhile Cornelius has been injured falling from a tree branch (purposely cut by Aldo), and Caesar doesn't want to leave his son's side, therefore Aldo can do as he pleases. Caesar only remembers his duty toward the other apes when an attack comes.

Caesar and Aldo fight together, but with the enemy driven back, Aldo ignores Caesar's order to stand down, and leads his forces to catch and massacre the retreating mutant humans. Caesar discovers Aldo's usurpation of power, his treatment of the humans, and Aldo's role in his son's death. Upon Aldo's return from the slaughter, the two battle it out, from the ground to the trees, and for ultimate control of the ape/human society. According to ape lore, an ape had never killed another; the population, aghast at Aldo's sin, mournfully chant "ape has killed ape" while Aldo and Caesar fight in the tree. Caesar avenges Cornelius, knocking Aldo from the tree to his death.


Señor Armando is a circus owner, a human friend of Cornelius and Zira, and foster-father of Caesar in the Planet of the Apes movie series. He was portrayed by actor Ricardo Montalbán.

A believer in Saint Francis of Assisi, "who loved all animals", the jovial, warm-hearted Armando readily comes to the aid of Cornelius and his pregnant wife Zira during Escape from the Planet of the Apes, when most of humanity has rejected them, and even the United States Government plans to prevent their ever having children, since they someday "may constitute a threat to the human race." While Armando does his best to help the pair, and conceal their newly born son Milo (later called Caesar), he can't prevent their murder at the hands of Dr. Otto Hasslein. He does, however, take responsibility of Caesar, raising him publicly as a circus chimpanzee, while privately teaching him human knowledge and introducing him to human habits.

In the fourth Apes movie, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Armando brings Caesar to a large city for the first time, after raising him mostly in "the provinces" and remote areas, where Caesar has been unaware of apes' adoption as pets (to replace the dogs and cats lost to a spaceborn plague), which has led gradually to their present enslavement. Armando keeps Caesar on a short leash in public, while coaching him on apelike mannerisms when nobody's looking. All the same, fate gets the better of them; when Caesar sees an ape (a chimpanzee named Aldo) mistreated, he swears his frustration – bringing himself and Armando to the attention of the police.

Slipping away, Armando and Caesar try to formulate a plan to prevent further trouble. Armando already claimed to be the one who cried out, and plans to tell the authorities that Caesar is frightened of cities, and ran away because of the public commotion. He tells Caesar to wait for him near the docks where shipments of apes arrive nightly for "conditioning" and training as servants, and to infiltrate a shipment if Armando fails to return. Caesar does so, finding himself by degrees sold to Governor Breck, and assigned to Ape Management's command post.

Armando undergoes a lengthy, tense interrogation at the hands of the state's authorities, who ultimately believe his alibi, and that Caesar is mute and not the son of "the talking apes". They insist, though, that he pass a screening by the "Authenticator" – a hypnotic device which compels its subjects to tell the complete truth – before he is released. Armando first refuses to submit on gentlemanly grounds, then when he sees no other way out, he throws himself through a window (falling to his death) rather than reveal what he knows about Caesar.

When Caesar learns of Armando's death, it becomes the last straw for him. Wanting revenge he begins to perpetrate an Ape revolt, executed over the rest of Conquest.

Governor Breck

Governor Breck is the main antagonist in the fourth Planet of the Apes film, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. He was portrayed by Academy Award-nominated actor Don Murray.

In 1991, the United States has gone from its original form of government to a system of provinces headed by governors, whose word is basically law. America has become nearly totalitarian, with many curfews and restrictions imposed, and surveillance an everyday event. Protests and demonstrations are discouraged, or given time limits.

After the death of Earth's dogs and cats (caused by a plague brought back by a space probe), apes took their place as pets – and were genetically engineered to increase their intelligence. Progressing from performing tricks to doing household chores, apes have now become humanity's slaves. The government supports this occurrence, since ape servants seem to lessen public discontent. Nobody considers the apes' feelings or best interests, though, and tension is brewing. Governor Breck isn't fond of apes, but he does enjoy bossing them around, even more than the humans in his charge.

Breck witnesses an ape auction one day, and on a whim bids on a young chimpanzee (through his assistant Mr. MacDonald). His bid wins, and he shows the chimp how to choose a name from a book. The name he chooses is "Caesar", pretending to just point randomly. While he is bright, and everyone suspects he was previously "conditioned" and not a wild ape, he makes a mistake in the chore given him (mixing a cocktail for the governor). Breck decides to assign Caesar to his command post, as a messenger.

What Breck doesn't know, but comes to suspect, is that Caesar is actually an evolved ape, whose parents Cornelius and Zira came from Earth's future, when apes are the dominant species. Caesar was brought up by Armando, a human circus owner, who taught him all about humanity, and how to be a leader.

Armando dies in police custody, to protect Caesar's secret. Angry and mournful, Caesar begins to set up an ape revolt, using his job at the command post to stay one step ahead of Breck, and his attempts to control the apes. Another assistant, Kolp, double-checks on recent ape shipments to Ape Management, and discovers that Caesar was the lone chimpanzee in a shipment from Borneo – where chimps are not native. He reports this to Breck, who now wants to know exactly what Caesar knows. He also wonders if Caesar can tell him by speaking.

Breck orders MacDonald to turn Caesar over the minute he returns from an errand, but instead MacDonald, who learns Caesar can indeed speak, gives him the chance to escape. Caesar is captured by police, taken to Ape Management, and brought to an interrogation room resembling a torture chamber. Strapped to an electroshock table, Caesar is jolted with higher and higher amounts of electricity, while Breck commands him again and again, "Talk!" In agony, Caesar gasps "Have pity!" and slumps back on the table, exhausted. MacDonald leaves, showing no stomach for what Breck is doing.

Satisfied, Breck departs, and Kolp orders Caesar to be electrocuted immediately. MacDonald finds the room's breaker box, and cuts off the electrical flow to the table. Caesar pretends to die, and everyone else leaves. Killing the handler sent to dispose of his body, Caesar decides the time has come to begin the revolt.

Caesar sets the Ape Management building on fire, then seizes the intercom system and pretends to be the governor's spokesman, ordering the guards to release all the apes in custody – even the dangerous ones. With the apes loose, panic begins to spread, and apes around the Ape Management complex begin to riot. More and more fires begin to break out, all over the city.

From his command post, Breck declares martial law, and issues one simple order concerning the rioting apes: "Shoot to kill!" His troops are overwhelmed by the hundreds of apes they find in the streets, though, and nobody can believe the apes have acquired weapons – and the skills to use them, or at least try them out. The apes smash the command post as they take control of Ape Management, seizing Breck, MacDonald and others.

Several Gorillas handle Breck as he was once handled by Breck's policemen, as Caesar asks him the final question: Why was Breck so hateful toward apes, and toward himself most of all? With nothing left to lose, Breck admits to Caesar that enslaving wild apes was a way of dealing with his own human impulses, and so with other humans. Breck is taken away, presumably to be imprisoned by the apes. In the fifth and final film, it is revealed that Breck died in the nuclear war.

Breck's underling Kolp is the new Governor (more specifically, of the underground ruins, after a nuclear war destroyed most of human civilization) in the next (and final) Apes movie, Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Mr. MacDonald also presumably died in the nuclear war or its aftermath. However, his younger brother was spared from the same fate by being rescued by Caesar, and became his human advisor in the new peaceful ape society.


  • An early draft of the film's script names him "Harvey Breck III", though in that version, the character is very different than how Breck is portrayed onscreen.
  • In the novelization of Conquest, John Jakes gives Breck his first name Jason and establishes his age to be 33 during the film, but the comic book miniseries Revolution on the Planet of the Apes, from Mr. Comics, calls him Arnold. However, neither the novelization nor the Mr. Comics miniseries can be considered canon.
  • The original ending of Conquest was altered after it was judged too gruesome by test audiences. The key difference was that in the first version, Breck was killed by the vengeful apes. In the released version with newly filmed ending, Caesar spares the life of the Governor to show the compassion that the humans lacked. The original ending was finally restored in the 2008 Blu-ray release of the movie. While it doesn't actually show Governor Breck's corpse, he is shown receiving a beating.
  • The novelization of Conquest was based on the script of the movie, and consequently saw Governor Breck killed at the end of Caesar's revolution.
  • Early scripts for Battle for the Planet of the Apes again featured Governor Breck as the main disfigured antagonist, but actor Don Murray wasn't interested in returning to the role. Instead, the part was reworked to allow Breck's security chief, Kolp, to become the new Governor of the mutant city after Breck had died off-screen (from radiation poisoning rather than at the hands of the apes).
  • Marvel Comics' adaptation of Battle for the Planet of the Apes was based on the early scripts of that movie (writer Doug Moench claimed to have not seen the later Apes movies that he adapted to comic format), and consequently featured Governor Breck as the mutant leader. At the end of that version, Breck is shot dead by Aldo after the Ape-Mutant battle. Uniquely, Marvel also published an original story set between Conquest and Battle which detailed how Breck, Mendez and Alma managed to escape from Caesar's Ape settlement after some years, and returned to the radioactive city (one year after the great mushroom cloud had destroyed it) where by the time of Marvel's Battle adaptation, they had become severely disfigured.
  • Malibu Graphics/Adventure Comics' original Planet of the Apes comics had the spirit of Governor Breck somehow revived by the surviving mutant humans of the city, through an occult ritual. On seeing the mutants who brought him back into existence, Breck slaughtered them as impure examples of humanity. He then went on a rampage through the Forbidden Zone, killing any apes and unsuitable humans he found via his magical powers. Among his victims were the Forgotten Apes, the Swamp Apes and General Ollo. Ultimately, the only thing able to stop Breck was the revived spirit of Caesar, who devoured Breck's evil presence.
  • MR Comics' Revolution on the Planet of the Apes comics details the aftermath of the events of Conquest. Here, Breck is a prisoner of the apes in the days after his capture. Kolp and his associates Mendez and Alma launch a rescue operation to free Breck but in the ensuing battle, Breck is crushed beneath a massive bomb.


John Christopher Brent is an American astronaut in the second Planet of the Apes movie, 1970's Beneath the Planet of the Apes. He was portrayed by actor James Franciscus.

Brent is the copilot of a rescue mission, sent after Colonel Taylor's ship was determined to have gone awry, in its flight to another star. Brent's ship follows the same trajectory, and runs into the same problems, crash-landing in the Forbidden Zone, only this time on land. His pilot, Colonel Maddox, is blinded, and suffers fatal injuries, dying soon after the crash.

Bewildered by events, Brent tries to make his way through the arid desert, wondering if Taylor underwent a similar fate. It turns out he's closer to meeting Taylor than he could have imagined, as he comes across a woman on horseback – Taylor's companion Nova, alone since Taylor disappeared. Discovering Nova is mute, but wearing Taylor's dog tags, he climbs onto the horse also, demanding she take him to Taylor.

Not knowing what else to do, and unable to explain Taylor's absence, Nova takes Brent to Ape City, to look for Zira. Brent overhears an anti-human speech by General Ursus, and his mind reels with mounting horror at the place he's come to: "If this place has a name, it's the Planet Nightmare!" Wounded by a gorilla soldier, Brent takes refuge with Nova at the home of Zira and Cornelius.

Cornelius and Zira (who tends to Brent's wound) help Brent and Nova get out of Ape City, but gorilla soldiers follow them into the Forbidden Zone. Hiding in a cave, they discover an old subway tunnel, and follow it deep underground to the ruins of New York City, and its mutant inhabitants. Brent is tested by the mutants, through their psychic abilities, forcing him to try to kill Nova, and to go where they want him. They interrogate him telepathically.

After Brent and Nova witness a mutant religious service (where mutants both worship an unexploded doomsday bomb, and reveal themselves to be hideously disfigured, from lingering radiation inside the zone), Brent is reunited with Taylor, who was taken prisoner. Their pleasure at meeting each other is broken by the sudden realisation of the mutants' final plans for them both; as their jailer explains: "We don't kill our enemies. We get our enemies to kill each other." Taylor and Brent are then forced by the jailer's mental powers to fight one another.

Nova, who was separated from Brent after the worship service, gets loose from her guard, and finds Taylor and Brent fighting to the death. She is so stirred by the sight that she speaks for the first time in her life, crying "Taylor!" and bringing the fight to a sudden stop. The jailer's concentration broken, Brent and Taylor act, killing him but inadvertently locking themselves in the cell with Nova.

The three break the cell's lock just as the gorilla army invades the underground city. A random shot kills Nova, demoralising Taylor, but Brent urges him to join the oncoming fight. Hurrying to the cathedral, Brent and Taylor take rifles and try to stop the apes from setting off the bomb and destroying everything. After killing General Ursus and several of his soldiers, Brent runs out of ammunition, and he is killed by the gorilla troops. A moment later the bomb detonates, triggered by Taylor as he falls in death, and Earth is destroyed.


Planet of the Apes character
First appearance Escape from the Planet of the Apes
Last appearance Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Created by Paul Dehn
Portrayed by Roddy McDowall, Andy Serkis
Species Chimpanzee
Occupation circus performer
Spouse(s) Lisa Corneila Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Children Cornelius
Relatives Zira (mother),
Cornelius (father)
Armando (foster father),
Bright Eyes (mother),
Alpha (father),
Will Rodman Rise of the Planet of the Apes (foster father),
Caroline Arhana Rise of the Planet of the Apes (foster mother), Charles Roodman Rise of the Planet of the Apes (foster grandfather)

Ivan, better known as Caesar, is a fictional character in the Planet of the Apes movie series, starting with the third film, Escape from the Planet of the Apes. He is the leader (and chief instigator) of the ape revolution in the fourth entry, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, and the ruler of Ape City in the fifth and final film, Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He was portrayed in both movies by actor Roddy McDowall, who had also played Cornelius.

He is the son of talking chimpanzees Cornelius and Zira. Originally named Milo after Dr. Milo, who travelled back in time with Cornelius and Zira to the Earth of Taylor's era, he was reared by his human foster father Armando, a traveling circus owner who gave Cornelius and Zira sanctuary when Zira went into labor in the final act of Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Before departing, Zira switched the infant Milo with a young chimpanzee recently born to Armando's primitive chimpanzee, Heloise. Heloise's baby was killed, along with Zira, by the human Dr. Otto Hasslein. After Cornelius kills Hasslein, he is shot by a Marine Corps sniper. Milo speaks his first word, "Mama", at the very end of the film. His false identity secure, Milo grew up as a mute acrobat.

Armando addresses Milo by the name Caesar in the next film, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. In the opening minutes of Conquest, he and Armando are visiting a large city for the first time, and Armando leads him around on a chain. In private, though, Caesar stands nearly erect, and he chats back and forth with Armando like a father and son. Armando critiques Caesar's "act" of behaving like a primitive chimpanzee, then gives him an idea of what to expect: In the years Caesar has been growing up in the provinces, many of the events his parents warned humanity about (before they were murdered, in an attempt to prevent their occurrence) have taken place — the most significant being the space-borne plague that killed virtually all of Earth's dogs and cats, leaving humanity without pets. Monkeys at first took their place, then gradually apes, who progressed from companions to household helpers, and eventually to a state of slavery.

Caesar tries to take what he sees (groups of apes being dispersed, chimps and orangutans being scolded or punished for honest mistakes or for exhibiting apelike behavior) in stride, but when he sees a gorilla beaten by police, then shocked with a cattle prod, he impulsively cries out "Lousy human bastards!" When the police turn their attention his way, Armando insists that he was the one who spoke, but nearby witnesses report differently. Caesar panics and runs away, leading them to suspect he understands what has occurred — and perhaps he can speak.

Armando is arrested, but is later released and rejoins Caesar momentarily. He knows now their charade (that Caesar is a mute, primitive ape) might have failed, and instructs Caesar to hide among his own and join a shipment of apes brought in by boat, if Armando cannot convince the authorities that Caesar is harmless and only ran away because of the commotion. Armando goes downtown, to try to bluff his way out of trouble. When he fails to return, Caesar infiltrates a shipment of apes.

Passing his conditioning with flying colors, Caesar is next sold to Governor Breck, supervised by his assistant Mr. MacDonald, ironically an African-American descended from slaves. When Breck decides to formally name him, he takes out a reference book, turns to a page and points to a name at random, then bids Caesar to do likewise. Caesar chooses his adopted name, pretending to do so randomly, and is so registered. Next he is assigned to the city's "command post" — the communications center for Ape Management, and its lockup for disobedient apes. (He is also selected to mate with Lisa, presumably resulting in the birth of their son Cornelius, who appears in the next movie.)

When Caesar learns that Armando died while in custody, he decides enough is enough, and he begins plotting an ape revolt, conspiring with other apes and driving them to turn on their masters. When Caesar is belatedly traced and discovered not to have been part of any ape shipment, he is captured and tortured by Breck, to see if he is indeed the talking offspring of two talking apes. MacDonald excuses himself from the scene and changes the breaker settings for the electroshock table Caesar is wired to. He cannot prevent Caesar from being shocked to the point that he finally chokes out the words "Have pity!", but he does prevent Caesar from being electrocuted to death.

Believed dead, Caesar kills the handler assigned to dispose of him, then throws the switch that opens all the cages in the ape lockup, and the revolt begins. Hours later, much of the city is in flames, the police and military have been beaten down, and the apes are in control, as Caesar predicts will follow around the world when word spreads. MacDonald tries to dissuade Caesar from further violence, while Lisa becomes the next ape to speak, telling Caesar "No!" when he condemns all humanity.

In the fifth and final movie, Battle, human and ape children gather around a statue of Caesar, now a legend who has been dead for 600 years, as the Lawgiver tells them the story of how Caesar fought another battle, 27 years after the first, that both solidified his position as ape leader and convinced him to give a joint ape-human society a chance, instead of one species dominating the other. The Lawgiver earlier in the series had laid down the command that humans were to be shunned and driven out; the sight of him regarding the children of both species alike at the end, is persuasive that the timeline had indeed changed, and Caesar had given the world a better future — assuming that the Lawgiver's teachings were not distorted in later generations. This seems likely given screenwriter Paul Dehn's statement that the tear on Caesar's statue at the end of the film was to tell the audience that Caesar's efforts ultimately failed, as mankind fell and the society seen in the first two films was born.[1]

In 2008, Production Weekly reported Scott Frank was to direct a new Planet of the Apes film tentatively entitled Caesar (later renamed Rise of the Planet of the Apes). The trade journal described the new film as being about "The origins of how the Apes took over Earth. A hyper-intelligent chimp raised by humans incites a worldwide ape revolution and causes the downfall of humankind."[2] Producer Thomas Rothman confirmed "We are very close at Fox on a new Apes script – this one a kind of prequel story before the first story, with a return to the social thematics that mark the first one, but with an entirely contemporary setting – Earth 2009."[3] Frank further explained the film would not enter active development until February 2009. He wanted to make a hard science fiction film about genetic engineering, and use computer-generated imagery to portray Caesar's evolution. In writing the script, screenwriters Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa explored whether to make Caesar a talking character.[4] In May 2010, it was confirmed Rupert Wyatt would direct with visual effects company Weta Digital handling the digital effects.[5]

In the new film, Will Rodman (James Franco) is working on a cure for Alzheimer's by performing tests on apes for a pharmaceutical company in the San Francisco bay area. One of the first test subjects is Caesar's mother, Bright Eyes, who is captured in Africa at the beginning of the film (also depicted in an online comic strip shortly before the movie's release).[6] Rodman's "cure" genetically increases Bright Eyes' intelligence, and this is passed on to Caesar in the womb. After Bright Eyes is killed trying to protect her newly-born child (an action mistaken by lab security as her having run amok), all other test apes are ordered destroyed; however the sympathetic ape handler rescues Caesar and gives him to Will, who smuggles the baby chimp out of the lab and takes him to his home. Caesar spends years living with Rodman and his father from his time as an infant, showing intelligence that far surpasses humans at his age. After an incident where he attacks a man assaulting Will's father, he is eventually taken and forced into an ape "sanctuary" where he is often tormented by the caretakers. He eventually proves smart enough to break free from his cage, steal Will's new version of the intelligence-enhancing formula and release it among the other captive apes. They escape the sanctuary and are joined by other captive apes from the zoo, rallying to escape San Francisco, violently clashing with police. Like his appearance in the fourth and fifth films, however, Caesar is shown to be compassionate, forbidding his followers from killing innocent humans and those who don't seek to harm them. This clashes with the mindset of another ape, Koba, who is shown to be somewhat maniacal in his resistance. At the film's conclusion, the apes escape to the wild outside the city, with Rodman and Caesar sharing an emotional farewell as Caesar is happy to be among his own kind. Meanwhile, due to the careless attitude of executives at the pharmaceutical company, the "cure" is shown to be deadly to humans and begins spreading among the population. In the ending credits a scene is shown with a line, representing a plane, which was being piloted by someone who caught the cure. The plane is seen travelling across the world, and as it stops, more yellow lines and dots appear, showing that the cure has spread, after a minute it shows that the yellow dots/lines form the earth's land, implying that a global pandemic has broken out, presumably wiping out most human life. The plane that the pilot was using went to New York City, the 'Forbidden Zone' in the original Planet of the Apes film.


Planet of the Apes character
Species Chimpanzee
First appearance Planet of the Apes
Created by Pierre Boulle
Portrayed by Roddy McDowall
David Watson

Dr. Cornelius the protagonist of the film is a chimpanzee archaeologist and historian, appearing in the original novel of Planet of the Apes (La Planète des singes), and also the first three installments of the classic movie series of the same name, from the 1960s and 1970s. He was portrayed mainly by actor Roddy McDowall, but also by David Watson in the second Apes movie.

In 1968's Planet of the Apes, Cornelius is introduced as the fiancé of Dr. Zira, an animal psychologist and veterinarian (who specializes in working with humans), both of whom are on the scientific staff of Dr. Zaius. While supporting the status quo, Cornelius has begun to question the infallibility of the Sacred Scrolls, which give the traditional history of the ape society, and is considering the validity of evolution (specifically, from human to ape) to explain the scientific gaps in the scrolls.

When Zira brings Taylor, an injured astronaut who is mistaken for a primitive human, home from the zoo for Cornelius to see, Taylor begins to communicate with them, first through gestures and then through writing on paper. While Cornelius dismisses Taylor's story that he flew through the stars to their world (since he has no proof), he agrees that Taylor is worthy of consideration as an intelligent being. When Taylor recovers his voice, he tries to plead his own case before a council session called to arrange his "disposition". When the ape leaders won't allow Taylor to speak, Cornelius defends him.

With Taylor marked for elimination, and at risk of their own careers, Cornelius and Zira escape with Taylor to the Forbidden Zone—the wasteland where humans are said to come from, to a site where Cornelius had been digging the year before. When Dr. Zaius pursues them, Taylor turns the tables, first capturing Dr. Zaius, then forcing him to examine Cornelius's evidence for a human society predating their own. Cornelius marvels at Taylor's explanations of the artifacts found, accepts that apes didn't evolve from humans, and that humans invented the technology that apes were rediscovering. Taylor departs from the apes (after kissing Zira goodbye, to Cornelius's consternation), who return to their city.

Between the first movie and its follow up, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Cornelius and Zira first undergo a show trial for heresy at Zaius's instigation (who then pleads for clemency on their behalf), then are married and continue their careers. Another astronaut, Brent, appears at their doorstep in the second movie. Zira tends to a gunshot wound he suffered at a gorilla's hands, and Cornelius first shows Brent a map leading to where they left Taylor, then gives him the best possible advice: Never speak if he's captured, or "they will dissect you, and they will kill you—in that order." Zaius also visits to announce that he's accompanying an expedition to the Forbidden Zone, and asks for Cornelius and Zira's promise not to cause trouble in his absence, which they give him. (In the novelisation of the movie, though, they lead a chimpanzee revolt after he departs.)

In the third movie, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Cornelius and Zira themselves become 'astronauts', escaping their world in Taylor's spacecraft, found and restored by their friend Dr. Milo, and traveling back in time to a few months after Taylor's departure. They discover a world run by humans, and deduce (correctly) that this is not only where Taylor came from, but is their own planet from the apes' prehistory. Cornelius has learned the truth about how the apes rose, from reading secret scrolls Dr. Zaius had kept under lock and key, and is able to answer questions put to him by the human leaders—and offer tantalising clues to both Taylor's fate, and the planet's.

Discovering Zira is pregnant by Cornelius, and fearing a possible ape takeover, scientist Dr. Otto Hasslein takes it upon himself to make sure the baby is never born, and the pair's arrival won't spark a human downfall—inadvertently setting that downfall in motion. Milo, the son of Cornelius and Zira, is born and taken into hiding, while the two try to escape with another ape baby as a decoy. They and the baby are murdered, but their own son (played in the next two movies, again by McDowall) grows up, given the name Caesar by his human foster-father, and leads the apes as the human society destroys itself.

Cornelius and Zira have no roles in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, except in references to Caesar's "real parents" and their prophecies of the origins of the ape takeover coming true, but appear in video stills examined by Caesar and two companions in the final film, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, as Caesar tries to learn what they knew about Earth's future. Caesar also gives his son (by wife Lisa) the name Cornelius, after his father. This Cornelius was killed by Aldo when he cut the branch Cornelius was on.

Dr. Otto Hasslein

In the Planet of the Apes movie series, Dr. Otto Hasslein is a physicist attached to the space flight project that sends astronauts Taylor, Dodge, Landon, and Brent to the world of the apes. He was portrayed as the main antagonist in the third Apes film, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, by German American actor Eric Braeden. In the novelization of the film, his first name is Victor.

Even before appearing onscreen, Hasslein's name is part of the series storyline, as the scientist who proposed the "Hasslein curve" – a form of time dilation possible with the craft used in the movies.

When he does appear in Escape, he explains to a television news presenter his theories of time, and his belief that changing the future may be possible. He analogizes time to be a highway with an infinite number of lanes, all going from the past to the future; by changing lanes, one can change destiny. The theory, known as "many-worlds interpretation," was first advanced in 1957 as "relative state formation" by Hugh Everett, and was popularised in the 1960s and 70s by Bryce Seligman DeWitt who applied its lasting name. Hasslein mentions neither real-life scientist in the film.

Hasslein learns that talking chimpanzees, Doctors Cornelius, Zira and Milo (who was killed by a primitive gorilla shortly after arriving), have actually arrived in the present day (1973 in the movie) from Earth's own future, where mankind has fallen to the level of beasts while apes rose to power and intellect. While the other members of the Presidential Commission appointed to deal with "alien visitors" are initially skeptical of the time-travel story, Hasslein sees confirmation of his theories – and becomes afraid that the pair's presence may somehow set man's downfall in motion. As the President's science advisor, he expresses his concerns, resulting in Cornelius and Zira first being taken into custody, then interrogated at length.

Provoked by Zira's drugged admissions of her experimentation on humans, and Cornelius giving details of his historical research into man's decline, the Presidential Commission concludes (in a reflection of Taylor's fate before the Ape council in the first movie, with Hasslein in the place of Dr. Zaius) that the couple's unborn fetus should be "prevented" from birth, and that Zira and Cornelius should be "humanely rendered incapable" of conceiving again, with their ultimate fate to be decided later – at Hasslein's determination, though it appears likely they will be handed over either to scientists or the military for study.

When Cornelius and Zira escape military custody (at the beginnings of Zira's labor pains), Hasslein mounts a full-scale hunt, including searches of all local circuses and zoos. Days later, a carpet bag abandoned by Zira turns up, near the derelict shipyard where they have been hiding, and the pair are spotted soon afterward, with Zira carrying a baby chimp, so Hasslein knows she has given birth.

Boarding their ship, Hasslein approaches Zira, pistol in hand, and demands she give him the baby, as the authorities approach. Before they arrive, he shoots Zira, and fires several shots into the swaddling blankets.

Cornelius had earlier asked Dr. Lewis Dixon, who had told the couple about the shipyard as a hiding place, for the means "to kill ourselves" to avoid being captured, and was given a pistol. Heretofore a pacifist, Cornelius now uses the pistol to avenge his wife, shooting at Hasslein from a crow's nest on the ship. As the authorities arrive, Hasslein and Cornelius trade gunfire. Cornelius kills Hasslein, but is himself killed by sharpshooters, falling to the deck.

Despite Hasslein's best intentions, the baby he killed was not the offspring of Zira and Cornelius – and his treatment of their arrival may have just set in motion everything Hasslein hoped to prevent.


Kolp is a government official, and later Governor of a band of mutants, in the Planet of the Apes movie series, and the main antagonist of the fifth and final film Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He was played onscreen by actor Severn Darden. An early draft script of Conquest gives Kolp the first name of Arthur, but the comic book miniseries Revolution on the Planet of the Apes, from Mr. Comics, calls him Vernon. However, the Revolution comic is not considered canon.

Kolp was a ruling secret police official on Governor Breck's staff in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, displaying himself as sadistic, but in a detached, matter-of-fact manner. Kolp supervised the interrogation of Armando, which Armando ended by throwing himself through a high window, rather than confess what he knew about Caesar under hypnosis. Later Kolp tracked down the originating shipment that had carried Caesar to Ape Management; he deduced that Caesar had sneaked himself into the shipment, to appear to have wild origins. Kolp was also present when Breck interrogated Caesar, strapped to an electroshock table, and he gave the order for Caesar to be electrocuted, once it was proven that Caesar could speak and reason.

Kolp survived the Night of the Fires, when the apes revolted and took over, and also the nuclear war mankind then unleashed, all but destroying themselves in doing so, while the apes escaped to the wilderness. Much of the city's governing staff were relatively safe in underground fallout shelters and bunkers; nonetheless, lingering background radiation began to cause physical mutations in the survivors. After Breck's death, Kolp took the few remaining reins of leadership himself.

Ten years after the end of the war (in Battle for the Planet of the Apes), Caesar, Virgil and Mr. MacDonald revisit Ape Management (now called the Forbidden City by the apes), in hopes of finding old video recordings of Caesar's parents. Kolp's agents discover their presence, and Kolp assumes they have come scouting for things to loot or reconquer. Shots are exchanged as Caesar, MacDonald and Virgil flee, and more scouts track them back to Ape City. With the city's location known, and jealous of the relative health and prosperity of the apes and the humans living with them, Kolp decides to marshal his forces and conquer Ape City. At this point, Kolp is not only mad, but also vengeful. When his second-in-command Mendez points out to him that attacking the Ape city would constitute a direct violation of years of ceasefire peace, Kolp answer is one of a deranged state-of-mind: "Yes, well things have gotten rather boring around here now, hasn't it."

Kolp supervises the attack, telling his troops to leave Ape City looking "like the city we came from," and to do their worst. When it appears Caesar is defeated, Kolp personally taunts him with a revolver, nearly breaking Caesar's spirit, until a cry from his wife Lisa restores it for good.

Beaten and dying in the ape counterattack, Kolp sends back the order for the mutants's last-resort weapon, the Alpha-Omega nuclear missile, to be fired at Ape City. His lieutenant Méndez countermands the order, deciding instead the best thing to do is retreat, and live in peaceful coexistence with the apes and aboveground humans.

Kolp is killed while retreating by Aldo and his Gorilla troops.

He is notable as being the only villain other than Dr. Zaius to appear in more than one film in the series.

The Lawgiver

The Lawgiver is an orangutan character in the science fiction movie series Planet of the Apes. While mentioned and quoted in the first two installments of the series, the Lawgiver only appears in the final Apes film, 1973's Battle for the Planet of the Apes, played by actor-director John Huston.

The Lawgiver is to the ape society in Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes a figure much like Moses, Confucius or Mao Zedong — his writings and quotes form the basis of the apes' system of laws and customs, particularly with regard to humans, whom the Lawgiver declared "the devil's pawn", to be shunned and driven out, if not destroyed outright. Statues of the Lawgiver are common around Ape City; when the gorilla army sees a vision of such a statue bleeding, they panic, showing their regard for this icon.

While the Lawgiver's works were used and quoted daily by the apes, they weren't the only ape writings; secret scrolls told the details of the apes' rise to dominance, but were kept from the masses. Dr. Zaius, the Chief Defender of the Faith in the ape world some 1200 years after the Lawgiver, kept a copy of the Lawgiver's essential decrees in his coat pocket, but kept the secret scrolls under lock and key.

Through the course of the series, the chimpanzee Caesar becomes leader of the apes, and attempts to change the timeline that led to the world abandoned by his parents, Zira and Cornelius, who travelled to Earth's past. By the time the Lawgiver appears in Battle, the children he addresses (as he tells them about Caesar) are a mix of both humans and apes; the joint society Caesar ultimately promoted appeared to have worked, and instead of condemning humans, the Lawgiver accepts them as his students.


Lisa is a chimpanzee character, and the wife of Caesar, from the later installments of the Planet of the Apes movie series. She was played by actress Natalie Trundy.[7]

In Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Lisa and Caesar meet first in a bookstore, where she is collecting a book for her owner, and then in the City's Command Center where both serve as slaves. Later, when Caesar launches an ape revolt, he makes a speech to the gathered apes (and a few captured humans, including Governor Breck and Mr. MacDonald), and condemns humanity. Lisa, heretofore mute, speaks for the first time, telling Caesar "No!" Listening to her, Caesar modifies his stand, telling the apes to leave their onetime human captors to their fate, and begin a world of their own.

In Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Caesar and Lisa are married, and have a son, named Cornelius after Caesar's own father Cornelius. Lisa is Caesar's counsel, who reminds him of his duties toward the other apes, and also of the humans now in his charge. She also discourages her son Cornelius from playing "war" with his friends.

After winning the battle when human mutants attack, Lisa supports Caesar's decision to free the humans who live with the apes, and try to live together with them as equals.

Mr. MacDonald

Mr. MacDonald is the character name of two African-American brothers who appear in later installments of the Planet of the Apes movie series, as companions of Caesar. While their first names are never given in the Apes movies, they are called Malcolm and Bruce in the Marvel Comics adaptations. Both men are of similar character. The first appears in the fourth Apes movie, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, played by actor Hari Rhodes,[8] while the second appears in the fifth and final one, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, and was played by Austin Stoker.

In Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Rhodes's MacDonald is the personal assistant to Governor Breck, and a descendant of slaves who ironically commands slave apes, including Caesar, who later leads an ape revolt. MacDonald does not believe Caesar is the descendant of talking apes Cornelius and Zira, or that Caesar is capable of speech – until Caesar admits otherwise.

First giving Caesar the chance to escape when the authorities are onto him, then sabotaging the electroshock table Caesar is placed on to force him to speak, MacDonald helps Caesar to launch his revolt – which turns into a night of fires and carnage, as apes around the city turn on their masters. He then takes Caesar on verbally at the movie's end, when Caesar wants to fully punish humanity for its treatment of apes.[citation needed]

In Battle for the Planet of the Apes (which takes place ten years after the events of Conquest), Stoker's younger-brother MacDonald is Caesar's human liaison and advisor, and speaks with his authority around Ape City, though he and the other humans otherwise have little authority over themselves, and mostly serve the apes. When Caesar wonders after his parents, and what they knew about right and wrong and the future, MacDonald suggests that old video recordings of Cornelius and Zira might have survived, under the wreckage of Central City (now called the Forbidden City, after it was destroyed in a nuclear war), with answers to some of his questions.

MacDonald and the orangutan Virgil journey with Caesar back to the Forbidden City, carrying a Geiger counter and small arms for protection. Discovering the intact (though dilapidated) archives, they scarcely have time to play back a short passage of the "Alien Visitors" (namely, Zira and Cornelius) tape before realising that they have also been discovered – by mutant human survivors of the war. The three barely escape with their lives, but Caesar now has some insight into who his parents were, and what they knew about future events.

Knowing that there are survivors under the city, who might someday want to wage war against them, Caesar prepares the apes to defend their city, but the head of the ape militia, General Aldo, doesn't allow the humans of Ape City to help, or defend themselves. When an attack does come, Aldo corrals the humans to keep them from getting involved. The mutants are beaten back, and MacDonald and the other humans are released – but they refuse to leave the corral, until their role in the city is redefined. Caesar then decrees that all apes must stop treating humans as second-class citizens, and they then work towards peaceful coexistence among the apes and the humans.

With both MacDonalds playing virtually the same role toward Caesar, how one came to be exchanged for the other is never explained. (Rhodes was unable to repeat his role due to a prior commitment which explains the change in actors).


Mandemus is an evolved orangutan character in Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the final original Apes movie, from 1973. He was portrayed by actor Lew Ayres.

Elderly and an avowed pacifist, Mandemus appears to bear no grudges toward his former human captors, and wants everyone to simply live in peace. The nuclear war that destroyed much of the planet (including the city which the apes narrowly escaped) proved the futility of weapons and fighting to Mandemus. With such an attitude, the ape leader Caesar appointed him keeper of Ape City's small armory, "and of Caesar's conscience", reasoning that Mandemus would talk him out of anything impulsive or unwise.

Besides his other duties, Mandemus also became a teacher in Ape City's first school. One of his students was the genius orangutan Virgil, who also became a teacher, and an advisor of Caesar.

While Mandemus's appearance in Battle is brief, the Marvel Comics graphic novel adaptation of the Apes storyline provided a longer backstory to the relationship between Mandemus and Caesar.

Dr. Maximus

Dr. Maximus was a character in the original Planet of the Apes film. An orangutan, the highest caste of apes portrayed in the movie, Dr. Maximus is the Commissioner for Animal Affairs ("Animal" meaning "Human" in the apes' lexicon).

Dr. Zaius brings Dr. Maximus to the laboratory where the scientists Cornelius and Zira have given safe haven to human astronaut Taylor. As Commissioner of Animal Affairs, Dr. Maximus notes that the chimpanzees are breaking the leash law and orders that Taylor be removed from the area, which is restricted to apes.

Dr. Maximus appears as part of the National Academy tribunal that presides over the hearing that accuses the two scientists of surgically enabling Taylor to speak. As Dr. Maximus explains, the purpose of the hearing is "to settle custodial and jurisdictional questions concerning this beast, and determine what's to be done with him." As the first seated judge, Dr. Maximus covers his eyes when the three orangutans mime the "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" adage in one of the film's many satirical flourishes. (According to the film's star, Charlton Heston, director Franklin Schaffner conceived the idea but was reluctant to film it, fearing it would be perceived as lowbrow and incongruous with the seriousness of the scene.) [9]

Dr. Maximus is played by Woodrow Parfrey, who also appeared in the first episode of the TV series based on the film. Appearing in the first installments of both the film and TV series is a distinction he shares with Roddy McDowall.


Méndez is the name of a successive dynasty of mutant, human leaders, in the Planet of the Apes movie universe. Actor Paul Richards played Méndez in 1970's Beneath the Planet of the Apes, while Paul Stevens played his predecessor in 1973's Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the final original Apes movie.

In the timeline of the first two Apes movies, Méndez is a figure much like a Pope or other lineal authority, with his leadership basically spiritual in nature. His people are the descendants of survivors of a nuclear war, which destroyed most of humanity and allowed the apes to rise to power. Living underground for centuries among irradiated ruins has transformed them physically; their psychic powers increased, as their appearance became disfigured through severe genetic mutation. The underground mutant people wear masks and wigs to resemble their ancestors more closely, and speak through telepathy, saving their voices for worship. They also regard their severe physical mutation as a true blessing of "the divine bomb". During their worship ceremonies, the mutants cast off their contrived masks, revealing their "inmost selves" unto their god, and much of their speech and daily rituals are stylized around terms used within the nuclear industry.

Their object of worship is an ancient "Holy Weapon of Peace"; an Alpha-Omega nuclear missile left over from the 20th century and still operational, though its original controls have long been replaced by carefully crafted jewel and crystal workings. They have installed the bomb in the former St. Paul's Cathedral before the organ pipes, in place of the crucifix. They see their life's purpose as to guard the Divine Bomb, and to keep watch on the apes; should the apes become a threat to their underground life, the Bomb will be used to destroy them. However, what is little understood is that the Alpha-Omega Device - which possesses a cobalt casing around its warhead - was designed to ignite the Earth's atmosphere, and extinguish all life on the planet, not merely the apes. Méndez wears a large gold rendering of the bomb as a pendant, much like a crucifix.

When Taylor and Brent are captured, Méndez oversees their interrogations, and decides what is to be done with them, and about the apes, who are planning to invade the underground city to seize its food sources. When the apes arrive, Méndez tries to reason with their leader General Ursus, but is shot down after arming the missile. Taylor later detonates the missile's warhead, ending the battle between human and ape once and for all by destroying the entire planet.

Set almost 2,000 years before Beneath, Méndez in Battle for the Planet of the Apes is the first of the underground humans to bear the name, and is a subordinate to Kolp, who became Governor after Governor Breck's death, following the nuclear war. When Kolp goes to battle with Ape City (made up of apes and humans who fled the Forbidden City before the war) with his mutant army, Méndez remains behind, supervising the team who safeguard their "secret weapon"; the Alpha-Omega bomb.

When Kolp loses the battle, the default order is to fire the missile at Ape City. Méndez instead rejects the order, reminding everyone that using the missile will not just destroy the apes. If they instead revere its power and preserve the missile through time, they will never lose hope or a sense of purpose. He becomes the new human leader, and his attitude toward the missile becomes the code of the underground humans, who build their society to reflect that code. His successors in turn carry his name, as a reminder of their purpose.

Dr. Milo

In the Planet of the Apes movie series, Dr. Milo is a genius chimpanzee scientist, and a renegade who spurns the intellectual and technological limits placed on the ape society. He was portrayed in Escape from the Planet of the Apes by actor Sal Mineo, in one of his last roles.

Not a character from the original novel or movie, Dr. Milo was added to the storyline developed in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, in the interstitial period between Beneath and Escape. Whether Milo was an outcast from Ape City, or self-exiled from it, is not known. Unafraid of "the beast Man" and of human technology (forbidden under Ape law) as he is of reading banned books or visiting the Forbidden Zone, he is a friend of Cornelius and Zira, who also hold liberal views.

In the Forbidden Zone, Dr. Milo is able to raise the spacecraft that carried the astronaut Taylor but crash-landed in a lake and is able to repair it well enough to relaunch. (It is never revealed how he learned of the ship – possibly in a conversation with Zira and Cornelius – or of electronics or any other technique used in space flight; his advanced intelligence would have provided some insight, possibly augmented by caches of old human books, or technological data found aboard the craft.)

While Milo never completely fathoms the technology or the purpose of Taylor's ship (and of course its crew are unavailable), he does come far enough to be able to attempt a flight. Cornelius and Zira join him, the three donning spacesuits and climbing aboard, after they become convinced the latest anti-human campaign will spell disaster. Once in space, they learn how true this becomes, as the Earth is destroyed.

Whether the Taylor's ship followed a preprogrammed flight path, was affected by shock waves from the blast that destroyed Earth, or was flown by Dr. Milo is never revealed. (From the attitudes shown in Escape, it is probable the apes knew very little about flying the ship, and simply let it follow its programming.) In any case, their trip takes the apes back in time to the year 1973, nearly two years after the Taylor's ship originally departed, and makes another water landing, this time floating off the California coast.

Startling their human finders, Dr. Milo, Zira and Cornelius are taken to the local zoo while the US Government ponders what to do with them. Finding themselves in the reverse situation of what astronauts Taylor and Brent went through coming to their world, the three chimpanzees agree to make no sounds around humans, but talk furtively in private, and try to decide how to handle what has happened. (Zira spoils this by openly declaring her dislike of bananas when the apes are fed, heightening the tension.)

As Dr. Milo paces, he draws the attention of a primitive gorilla from the next cage over, who grabs Dr. Milo at a vulnerable moment and strangles him to death. Mournful over the loss, Cornelius and Zira name their son (born toward the end of Escape) Milo, after their friend. To hide his identity, Milo's foster father Armando gives him the name Caesar. Caesar becomes the main character in the next two Apes movies, and the leader of a new ape society.


Nova is a fictional character in the novel Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle. In the first two Planet of the Apes films, she is played by Linda Harrison.

In Planet of the Apes (1968), Nova is a primitive woman who is captured by the intelligent and warlike apes during one of their round-ups of humans. American astronaut George Taylor is also captured. They are taken to Ape City where they are paired up in a cell. Taylor, having been shot through the throat by a gorilla, is unable to speak, but when his speech returns he befriends the chimpanzees Zira and Cornelius. They eventually help Taylor and Nova escape to the Forbidden Zone where Taylor learns the truth about the planet.

In the sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Nova and Taylor journey through the Forbidden Zone where Taylor mysteriously disappears. Meanwhile a second astronaut, Brent, has arrived on the planet in search of Taylor. Brent is brought by Nova to Zira and Cornelius, but they are captured and held prisoner. Escaping, they head for the Forbidden Zone where they discover that beneath the surface of the planet is a forgotten city, peopled by mutants who worship a massive nuclear bomb. Under the mutant's mind control, Brent attempts to drown Nova. Later, as Brent and Taylor stand in a cell, she watches in horror as the two men, under the mutant's control, try to kill each other. Fearing for the lives of her friend and the man she loves, she speaks for the first time, crying out Taylor's name. The sound of her voice breaks the mutant's mind control and frees Brent and Taylor. As the two men break out, a gorilla shoots and kills Nova before he can be subdued. The film ends with Taylor detonating the bomb, destroying the planet.


Planet of the Apes character
Species Human
First appearance Planet of the Apes
Last appearanace Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Created by Michael Wilson
Rod Serling
Portrayed by Charlton Heston

George Taylor, played by leading man Charlton Heston, is an American astronaut, and the leader of a space expedition, in the 1968 movie Planet of the Apes. Taylor's first name is never spoken in dialog; the sources for it are the closing credits of the film and the 1998 documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes.

Planet of the Apes

In the opening minutes of the movie, Taylor is watching his crewmates enter a state of hibernation aboard their ship (known noncanonically as the Icarus), which is accelerating to nearly the speed of light, as he records his final report before joining them. Taylor muses about the fact that hundreds of years have already passed on Earth, in the six months the ship's clock has recorded, and hopes that whoever is receiving his report on Earth belongs to a better breed than they left behind, when their ship launched in 1972. He then climbs into his bunk, passing into hibernation, as the ship continues on auto-pilot to a faraway star.

When Taylor and two of his crewmates awake (discovering that a fourth, a woman named Stewart, died from an air leak while they were hibernating), the ship has crash-landed in a lake, on what they take to be an Earth-like, but largely barren, planet orbiting a Sun-like star in the constellation Orion. The ship begins to take on water, then sinks rapidly, barely leaving the three astronauts time to break out survival kits and a life raft, and take an Earth-time reading: The year is 3978, leaving them just over two thousand years away from their starting point.

Rowing the raft to dry land, Taylor assumes command of what they now know will be a no-return mission, but it pulls him and his companions, Dodge and Landon, together and they begin a search for life on this new planet. They also discuss their motivations for joining the mission; Taylor's is his quest to find someone or something wiser than humanity. As they leave their crash site behind, the astronauts first find a flowering plant, then a row of what appear to be scarecrows or a boundary line, then finally a lush valley with a waterfall and pool, where they peel off their uniforms and go swimming.

Noticing their equipment and clothing has vanished, and finding footprints leading away from where they'd left them, Taylor and his crewmates next discover primitive, mute humans destroying everything the astronauts brought with them. Assessing their chances of taking over, if this is the brightest the planet has to offer, they learn to the sound of gunfire and traps being sprung, that this planet has another dominant species; evolved apes. All three try to run, but Dodge is killed outright, Landon suffers a head wound, and Taylor receives a bullet wound in his throat, preventing him from speaking.

Taken to Ape City and caged, Taylor and a female mute (whom he later calls Nova) share a laboratory cell, and chimpanzee psychologist Dr. Zira hopes the two will mate. When Zira discovers that Taylor has intelligence beyond any human she has ever seen, writing a message on her notepad, she takes him out of the laboratory to meet her future husband, Dr. Cornelius. Both disbelieve Taylor's assertion that he's actually a visitor from a faraway planet, but think he might be living proof of human intelligence – if not a missing link between humans and their "evolved superiors", the apes.

Learning also of Taylor's intelligence, and of his ability to speak as his throat recovers, Dr. Zaius wants Taylor first gelded, then put to death – but first he wants to know where Taylor "really comes from" in the Forbidden Zone, and information about his "tribe". Taylor of course can't tell Zaius anything he wants to know, and states that he learned how to read and write in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Taylor also blames Zaius for what happened to Landon – who is brought to Taylor in a lobotomised, animal-like state. When Zira's nephew Lucius breaks Taylor out of the laboratory, and he joins Cornelius and Zira as they flee to the Forbidden Zone (under charges of heresy brought by Zaius), Taylor deliberately takes a rifle for himself, and declares nobody else is in charge of him, from here on. He also brings Nova, despite the apes' objections.

Dr. Zaius tracks the fleeing party down, but Taylor captures him, forcing Zaius to promise both to let him and Nova escape, and to drop the charges he's made against Zira and Cornelius. Zaius agrees, but nonetheless condemns Taylor and all humans as doomed to folly. After Taylor and Nova depart, Zaius destroys the cave holding the evidence that would exonerate Cornelius and Zira, and takes them back to Ape City under escort.

Finally free of the apes, Taylor discovers that he hasn't been on a faraway planet at all, but has returned to Earth in its distant future, as he and Nova encounter the ruins of the Statue of Liberty along the shoreline. He was devastated to learn that humanity indeed had destroyed themselves, as Zaius asserted.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Heston returned as Taylor for a brief appearance in the second Apes movie, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, as he and Nova encounter strange sights and sounds in what should be an empty landscape. When Taylor discovers a wall where there was none before, he tries to tear into it – and disappears, leaving the horrified Nova alone on their horse.

Later in the movie, another astronaut named Brent, sent on a doomed mission to rescue Taylor and his companions, is fleeing with Nova from a squad of gorilla soldiers into the Forbidden Zone, when they come upon an entryway to the underground remains of New York City, and its mutant human inhabitants, whom as it turns out led them in deliberately – as they earlier had Taylor, through the illusory wall. After probing both Taylor and Brent for what they know about the apes and their intentions, they force the two men to fight to the death, but Nova's sudden reappearance breaks their jailer's control. All three nearly escape, when Nova is shot and dies as the apes attack the underground city. Taylor loses hope, but he and Brent each grab weapons and fight against the apes.

Taylor is shot trying to reach the console that controls the Alpha-Omega (ΑΩ) missile the mutants worship. Rising, he attempts to dismantle its nuclear warhead before either the mutants can trigger it, and destroy the whole planet, or the apes can set it off by their carelessness. Desperate, he calls out to Dr. Zaius for help, who flatly refuses him on the grounds that man is "capable of nothing but destruction". Taylor falls for the last time, his hand plunging the trigger mechanism with his last breath, and the Earth is destroyed.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes

Taylor appears in references during the third Apes movie, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, (where he is given the rank of Colonel which was never mentioned in the two previous films) and a few times in flashbacks, but his (and Heston's) role in the series was complete after the first two installments. Heston hadn't wanted to come back, but the studio held him to his contract; he agreed to appear if his salary were donated to charity, and if the original storyline (which had Taylor and Nova surviving, to found a new human breed) were changed to keep him from having to return for another sequel.

General Ursus

General Ursus is a gorilla character in the second Planet of the Apes film, 1970's Beneath the Planet of the Apes, serving as the main antagonist of the film. He was portrayed by veteran actor James Gregory.

General Ursus is very much the stereotyped "mad general", on top of being a brutish gorilla. He sees little past the end of his own nose, and is interested mainly in his own dreams of conquest, glory and power. At a meeting of the ape council, Ursus uses the recent crop failures, drought, and raids by wild humans as the basis for a call to invade the Forbidden Zone, where no ape has trodden (with rare exception) since the beginning of their world. Suggesting that another tribe of humans lives there (a belief based on Dr. Zaius' encounter with Taylor in the previous film), and the disappearances of gorilla scouts (save one who returned delirious) sent into the zone to investigate, Ursus stirs the apes up to invade, and claim their food source ("If they live, then they must eat!") for themselves.

Successful in persuading the apes to declare "a holy war" against the unknown, General Ursus assembles a gorilla army, and marches toward the Forbidden Zone, accompanied by Minister of Science Dr. Zaius — who has his misgivings about the whole adventure, but goes along for the sake of science, and "the faith" of the apes.

Indeed, a small group of intelligent mutant humans do dwell in the Forbidden Zone, underground among the ruins of New York City. While their physical features have been mutated by generations living in the irradiated area, they have advanced psychic powers, which are their only line of defense against "enemies", i.e. any outsiders. Learning that the gorilla army is on its way, the mutants plant terrifying visions in their minds, of crucified and tortured apes surrounded by fire, and finally the familiar statue of the Lawgiver, prophet of the apes, beginning to crack and bleed. Ursus is frightened as are his soldiers. Having gone too far with their exposition, the mutants' vision backfires by instilling rage in Dr. Zaius, and he rides into the heart of the vision, remaining unharmed. It grates Ursus that Zaius has shown him up, but he orders the army to advance, and they soon find the entrance to the mutant city.

With their mental powers useless against the "thick-skulled" apes, the mutants have only one other weapon available — their "god" or idol, a 20th century nuclear missile with a cobalt casing capable of igniting the atmosphere and extinguishing all life on Earth. While the weapon has been passed down through generations, and forms the basis of the mutant culture, left unsaid (but implied by the mutants calling it the "Divine Bomb") is whether the mutants know of its true destructive power.

Leading the gorilla army into the heart of the mutant world (the former cathedral which now houses the Divine Bomb), Ursus and the other apes are taken back momentarily when first a mutant (their leader Méndez) speaks, declaring "This is the instrument of my god!" then the bomb rises into launch position. Recovering quickly, Ursus orders his sergeant to take Méndez into custody, but the sergeant shoots Méndez instead. Ursus taunts "Your god didn't save you, did he?!" as he falls. Thinking the missile is little more than a worshiped idol, Ursus orders a block and tackle be set up, to pull it down.

Zaius pleads with General Ursus not to touch the missile, knowing only "That weapon was built by Man!" and "It'll kill us all!", but Ursus ignores him, even when the missile shell cracks open and toxic gas escapes, waylaying the nearby gorillas. Ursus is finally killed by a rifle shot, as humans Taylor and Brent vainly try to stop the gorilla army, only moments before the bomb is detonated, putting an end to the gorilla's ambitions — along with everything else on the planet.


Virgil is a genius orangutan character, from Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the final original Apes movie from 1973. He was played onscreen by actor/musician Paul Williams.

A former student of orangutan pacifist Mandemus, Virgil went on to become Ape City's resident scientist and theoretical thinker, and an advisor and friend of Caesar. Apes and humans are both among his students, and he feels sorry for the humans' second-class status in Ape City.

Caesar calls Virgil away from his teaching work, to accompany him and Mr. MacDonald on a trip back to the Forbidden City, to search for recordings of his parents Cornelius and Zira, and information about Earth's future. Carrying a Geiger counter into the Forbidden City, Virgil warns Caesar plainly about the radioactivity and accompanying dangers. (He also authorizes MacDonald to bring a pistol, in case he may "wish to shoot, cook, and eat a rabbit" during the trip; something humans were normally not allowed to do.)

Returning from the Forbidden City (after barely escaping with their lives, from mutated human survivors who stayed underground), Caesar and Virgil reluctantly prepare Ape City for a possible attack. General Aldo, called to action, sees the chance to take power instead. When Caesar's son Cornelius is gravely injured in a fall from a tree, MacDonald discovers the ends of the broken branch, determining they were cut, and he and Virgil deduce Aldo was the culprit.

Virgil fights and leads apes when the mutant humans do attack, calling Caesar out to take charge. After the battle, he is the one who must tell Caesar that Cornelius was murdered by Aldo. Later, he helps to rebuild Ape City, with its new status of apes and humans as equals.

Will Rodman

Planet of the Apes character
Will Rodman
Species Human
First appearance Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Last appearanace Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Created by
Portrayed by James Franco

Dr. Will Rodman is a fictional character in the 2011 series reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He was portrayed by actor James Franco.

Dr. Will Rodman is a young scientist working at Gen Sys Industries, in San Francisco, working on a cure for Alzheimer's disease, which his father, Charles Rodman (played by John Lithgow), a former music teacher is suffering from. An Ape from Africa is captured and taken to the company, and is given the drug codenamed ALZ-112, and it boosts enormous intellectual growth and repairs healthy tissues. He and Steven Jacobs (played by David Oyelowo), the Executive overseeing the progress appoves of the drug, but has to approve the Board. the captured Ape with the drug, Chimp 9 aka "Bright Eyes" is seen attacking the handlers and goes on a rampage which ends with her getting shot. The project is scrapped and all the other Apes with the drug, are ordered to be put down.

Will discovers a baby Ape in Bright Eye's room, which he adopts and takes the baby, named "Caesar". 3 years later, Will is witnessing the severe side effects of his father's disease, which he gives him the drug. boosts years pass, and the Ape now known as "Caesar" is displaying great intellectual prowess, and yets to explore beyond his surrounding. After an incident involving a rude neighbor and his father (whose system is fighting the 112), Caesar is taken to San Bruno primate facility for 90 days, and is kept there, when a concered Will says that "he hasn't spent any time with any apes". Heartbroken, Caesar is treated violently by the staff and other Ape inmates. Will has been working on a stronger, viral strain of the 112, after meeting with Jacobs and revealing he given his father the drug.

The new drug aka "ALZ-113" is treated on one Ape named Koba, and in the experiment accidentally knocks a mask off of the chimp-handler, Franklin. the drug works, but Will is concerned about the testing procedures with Koba's new abilies. Franklin is later approaching the Rodman house for help but sneezes blood on the neighbor. The 90 days pass and Will is trying to take Caesar but is refused by Caesar himself, believing he belongs here then with Will. After a chimp uprising at the prison, Caesar exposes the Apes to 113, (earlier revealed to be taken by Will as a last attempt to help his dying father) and leads a revolut against thir captive and head towards Gen Sys, and proceed to break out Koba and all the Apes. After fighting their way towards the Golden Gate and towards the Redwood Grove, Will calls for Caesar, but is attacked by Koba, but stopped by Caesar, as Will tryies to reason with him by trying to take him home. Caesar speaks to him, "Caesar is home", and they part as the Apes are overlooking San Francisco. In a post credits scene, the neighbor now infected with the 113 is traveling to New York, spreading the virus.


  • The name 'Rodman' is a tribute to Rodman (Rod) Serling, writer of the first Planet of the Apes screenplay.
  • An earlier version of the script indicated that 'Will' was short for 'Wilson Rodman', a reference to the other writer credited on the original movie, Michael Wilson. In the same script, Will goes to the primate facility after Caesar has taken over and, believing Caesar to have murdered Robert Franklin, decides he has to kill Caesar to prevent further bloodshed. However, Cornelia eats the poisoned cookie Will offered to Caesar and dies before the apes reach the Golden Gate Bridge. Later, after discovering that it was Koba who killed Franklin, Will goes to the redwood forest to negotiate a peaceful outcome with Caesar, but the police renege on their agreement with Will and follow him in order to shoot as many apes as possible. Will takes a bullet intended for Caesar, and dies in his arms as the apes ambush the police and slaughter them.
  • 'Will' was also the name of the main character in a failed mid-'90s Apes movie project named Return of the Apes, which producer Peter Chernin had also been involved in. Interestingly, the characters name was Will Robinson, not to be confused with the brilliant son from Lost in Space.

Dr. Zaius

Planet of the Apes character
Dr. Zaius
Species Orangutan
First appearance Planet of the Apes
Created by Pierre Boulle
Portrayed by Maurice Evans
Booth Colman
Richard Blackburn (voice)

Dr. Zaius is a fictional character in the Pierre Boulle novel Planet of the Apes, and the film series and television series based upon it. (In Boulle's novel, his honorific was "Mi", a term in the Ape language.) He is an orangutan and although given a minor role devoid of dialogue in the novel, he becomes the main antagonist of the story in the subsequent film adaptation. Zaius was portrayed in the first and second films of the series by actor Maurice Evans, in the later television series by Booth Colman, and voiced in the animated series by Richard Blackburn.

Planet of the Apes

Zaius serves a dual role in Ape society, as Minister of Science in charge of advancing ape knowledge, and also as Chief Defender of the Faith. In the latter role, he has access to ancient scrolls and other information not given to the ape masses. Zaius knows the true origins of the ape society, how mankind fell as the dominant species, and the reasons why the Forbidden Zone is so regarded, and he blames human nature for it all. Zaius seems to prefer an imperfect, ignorant ape culture that keeps humans in check, to the open, scientific, human-curious one posed by Cornelius and Zira's generation (this is due to his fear of a war of self-destruction). The idea of an intelligent human (such as Taylor) threatening the balance of things frightens him deeply. Knowing the destruction that humanity (with the aid of technology) caused in its downfall, he doesn't want even the possibility of a human resurgence. At the end of Planet of the Apes, Zaius has Cornelius's archaeological findings (human artifacts, predating the Ape society) destroyed, and Cornelius and Zira arrested on heresy charges.

Although cast as the antagonist in the film, Zaius's actions are nonetheless driven by his deep belief that he is protecting the world (at whatever cost) from the "walking pestilence" of man, even if his actions cause undue harm to his ape brethren. And despite his animosity towards Taylor, Zaius nevertheless demonstrates a grudging respect for his adversary, calling him by his proper name, and even advising Taylor near the end of the film against delving into the mystery as to how the apes evolved from humans because as he cryptically warns the marooned astronaut: "you may not like what you find." The film's final startling image can be seen as a vindication of Zaius's views as to the destructive, genocidal nature of mankind and the means by which he is compelled to employ, even against his own colleagues, from the existential threat of a resurgent human race.

Only once near the end does Zaius truly make what he knows and thinks known:

"I have always known about man. From the evidence, I believe his wisdom must walk hand and hand with his idiocy. His emotions must rule his brain. He must be a warlike creature who gives battle to everything around him, even himself....The Forbidden Zone was once a paradise. Your breed made a desert of it"

Beneath the Planet of the Apes

By the second movie Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Cornelius recalls how Zaius brought them to trial, but then acted on their behalf. When Zaius leaves on a military expedition with General Ursus to invade the Forbidden Zone, Zaius trusts them both to continue his work. (In the novelization of Beneath, they instead begin a revolt, once the gorilla army is gone.) Zaius meets Taylor once more, in a showdown between the gorillas and a mutant human race living underground in the Zone. Taylor was trying to keep the mutant humans from activating a doomsday bomb, and was shot several times in the process by gorilla troops. Wounded and dying, Taylor begs Zaius to help him stop the bomb; when Zaius refuses (declaring "Man is evil - capable of nothing but destruction!"), Taylor deliberately activates the bomb in his last moments, ironically realizing Zaius's worst fears, as the Earth is destroyed.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes

During the third movie (Escape from the Planet of the Apes) Cornelius relates how he learned the truth about humans and apes from reading secret scrolls. Cornelius presumably had access to these while working for Dr. Zaius (or after his departure), or perhaps was granted access by Zaius as a consolation for the loss of his archaeological work.


In the television series, Councillor Zaius serves as a government official, with authority over all the humans in his district. The young chimpanzee Galen becomes his new assistant, but becomes a fugitive with two human astronauts Virdon and Burke, fleeing from Zaius and his enforcer, General Urko.

In the animated series, Zaius again serves as a government official, who holds influence within the Ape Senate, and has authority over both Cornelius and Zira, and their scientific enterprises, as well as General Urko and his military.


Planet of the Apes character
Species Chimpanzee
First appearance Planet of the Apes
Created by Pierre Boulle
Portrayed by Kim Hunter

Dr. Zira is a chimpanzee psychologist and veterinarian, who specialises in the study of humans, in the novel and subsequent movie series Planet of the Apes. Zira was played in the first three Apes movies by actress Kim Hunter. Unique among the Apes characters, Zira has blue eyes.

Zira is the fiancée (later wife) of Cornelius, and both are ultimately responsible to the Minister of Science, Dr. Zaius. Zira's character and role are essentially the same in both the novel and the movies, though some story details differ. Her work in each involves both working with humans under laboratory conditions (e.g. learning and behavioural experiments), and working on them physically (lobotomy and other brain surgeries, vivisection, physical endurance and tolerance experiments, and subsequent autopsies). Zira is an outspoken liberal by nature, deploring war and militancy (and despising the gorillas, who seem to make both a way of life), and eager to seek and develop intelligence anywhere it can be found. Zira literally stands for her principles - or refuses to stand, as the case may be.

In the original novel, Zira discovers that her charge Ulysse Mérou (caged in the laboratory where she works) isn't a native-born, mute human of her planet, but a space traveller capable of speech, and she secretly teaches him the language of the apes, in hopes of eventually making a public demonstration, with Mérou's consent. Cornelius also becomes involved, helping prepare Mérou to meet ape society, and vice versa.

In the first movie, Zira meets American astronaut George Taylor, who was shot in the throat when he was captured by gorillas, and cannot speak, as the native humans of her world cannot. She tends to his throat wound, discovers Taylor has intelligence beyond any human she's seen, and pairs him with Nova, also intelligent, hoping the two will breed. When Taylor steals Zira's notepad and writes his own name on it, Zira abruptly drops the nickname "Bright Eyes" she'd given him, and takes Taylor to meet Cornelius. Both disbelieve Taylor's story that he's from another planet, but suppose that he might be a missing link, to explain the similarities between ape and human behaviour and anatomy... and the strange artifacts Cornelius found at an archaeological dig the year before. She seems to be fond of the humans that she works with and gives them nicknames, such as an old one she named "Old Timer".

In both novel and movie, Zira ultimately helps Mérou/Taylor and Nova to escape the world of the apes, coming to appreciate each as thinking creatures like herself, as well as having a plain fondness for them. In the movie, she and Taylor kiss goodbye – even though, as she tells him, "You're so damned ugly."


Beneath the Planet of the Apes shows Zira and Cornelius married and at home (after Zira makes a political spectacle of herself at an ape gathering), when another human enters their lives; the astronaut Brent, sent to rescue Taylor but now needing help himself. Zira treats a bullet wound Brent sustained, and she and Cornelius send him and Nova (who met Brent when she sought Zira, after Taylor vanished) back out of the city, to spare them from the latest human roundup. When Dr. Zaius visits, he tells Cornelius and Zira he plans to appoint them as his proxies, while he is away on a military campaign with General Ursus. (Zira left her medical gear in sight; covering part of her face, she pretends to Zaius that Cornelius hit her for upsetting the ape council.) Zaius admonishes them both to maintain the status quo, and keep their more liberal values in check. Zira and Cornelius promise to do so, and Zaius departs. In the novel adaptation of the movie, they subsequently begin a chimpanzee revolt, with Zaius and the gorilla army gone.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes has the pregnant Zira (with Cornelius and their friend Dr. Milo) making a different kind of experiment – this time space flight, in Taylor's restored craft the Icarus, when they realize their world is doomed. In a reverse of Taylor's experience, the spaceship travels back in time to a few months after his mission began, splashing down off the California coast. The movie follows Zira and Cornelius (after the accidental death of Dr. Milo) through their discovery, and eventual rejection, by and of human society. A large portion of the rejection comes from Zira's drugged confessions of the details of her human experiments, to the shock of the reactionary Presidential Commission, who declare them atrocities since they were done to humans. Zira was glad she told the truth and understands why Taylor called them savages when Taylor was treated badly. Zira's and Cornelius's account of their origins, and of humanity's coming downfall, further stigmatises the couple. Their baby is born (named Milo after their friend, but later called Caesar), but Zira and Cornelius are murdered a few days afterward. (Circus owner Armando took them in when the baby came; Zira switched her newborn baby with a circus chimp when she and Cornelius had to go into hiding, leaving Armando a clue in case they didn't return.)

Zira makes no further appearances in the Apes movies, although she is mentioned by name in the following sequels, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes and appears in video stills (while her recorded voice tells the story of their space flight, and of the Earth's destruction) the adult Caesar plays back, to learn more about his parents, in Battle for the Planet of the Apes.


  1. ^ Russo, Joe. Planet of the Apes Revisited p. 211.
  2. ^ Josh Tyler (2008-11-30). "Planet of the Apes has a director". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  3. ^ Devin Faraci (2008-11-28). "how close are we to a new Planet of the Apes". Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  4. ^ Devin Faraci (2008-12-01). "I'm not remaking Conquest of the Planet of the Apes!". Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  5. ^ Fox Makes a Date with WETA and Planet of the Apes: Rise of the Apes
  6. ^ Rise of the Planet of the Apes Webcomic
  7. ^
  8. ^ IMDB Movie Database
  9. ^ Russo, Joe (2001). Planet of the Apes Revisited: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of the Classic Science Fiction Saga. St. Martin's Griffin. pp. pp71–72. ISBN 0312252390. 

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