In the last scene of the movie,

Leo gets into the pod and returns back to the electromagnetic field. He is pushed back in time - the display of the pod starts somewhere around 2700 and reaches somewhere around 2100. (The original time when Leo left earth was 2029) The past earth seems to be now inhabited by Apes and somehow Thade is considered a hero in this world.

How the heck did this happen? What is the meaning of this ending?

  • 4
    There's a lot about this version that made no sense whatsoever.
    – BBlake
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 4:33
  • it's actually pretty close to the ending that the original book had, except for the time travel...
    – SteveED
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 2:29
  • That the apes followed our own path so close as to have that statue at the end is one of the stupidest things I've ever seen in a movie. Horrible! Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 17:18

5 Answers 5


The time travel mechanism in the movie is poorly explained within the film itself. In the DVD box, they had a little pamphlet that explains it better. Essentially, the later you go through the electromagnetic anomaly, the earlier you arrive on the other side. So if you went through, then I went through a day later, I would arrive before you, but not necessarily a day earlier than you.

This is why the crashed Oberon looked ancient. It also explains the ending. At some point after Leo left, some apes followed, and ended up in Earth's distant past where they took over.

  • The temporal distance traveled back in time isn't scaled linearly, is that what you're saying? Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 14:15
  • @BartSilverstrim tis, just in the other direction. Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 3:42

I don't think there is a meaning, I've always believed it was just meant to be a WTF moment that harkens back to the original film(except in the original film it had been heavily foreshadowed already).

But, for the sake of argument, when Leo left there were 2 spaceships marooned on that planet, the wreck of the Oberon & Leo's own pod at the bottom of the lake. Presumably, the Apes & Humans were intelligent enough to figure out either the basic workings of the pod or to build something based on the wrecked craft. The way that the time anomaly worked in the film makes it possible that even if it took generations for the apes to develop space travel they could still have ended up in Earth's past, changing history.

In a larger sense, the ending evokes the ending of the Planet of the Apes novel, where the hero has an adventure on a planet ruled by apes, and then inexplicably finds Earth ruled by apes upon his return.


For this..... if you notice when Leo goes back in time the first time, you'll see a space ship flying off in the distance..... this I believe is Thade travelling from the planet to Leo's future (or at least a great deal before it enough to have a statue made of him). A very subtle piece I noticed on a second viewing......

As far as Thade attacking them for finding the ship..... well, an evil being trying to keep a secret from idiotic soldiers is going to kill them, right? Since he couldn't take the ship at the end, he may have taken this and flown back in time only to leave and come back in the planet's past to fill the timeline that the movie shows..... you don't know when he arrived but he was found out and figured out how to do it...... but since they basically had no technology, it would give away that the humans were there first.


If you watched the movie and saw that Thade was the only one that knew about the crashed space ship that leo entered that planet with because he killed the other 2 apes. Thade had the gun his father gave him before he died and that's a possible way he could of got out, with that gun he had power over the apes. After that he changed history

  • 1) we see him show two apes his pod/spacecraft escape right after the city. 2) the gun wouldnt help him get out, we see this clearly in the film. 3) -1 for being unclear Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 3:47

Tim Burton himself said that it wasn't supposed to make sense, really. It was a cliffhanger in case the studio was going to make a sequel. I kind of wish they made a sequel now instead of another reboot. Sure, the new films are good, but more and more they're leaving the original plot line of the original novel.

  • 3
    Where did he say this? Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 1:20

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