I've been scouring for little story details and oddities from past maps that have been been abandoned/not addressed yet, and decided to make a thread compiling some of them, with my best guess at the answers.
World at War
Nacht der Untoten
- The Second Outbreak: In 2009 through the Treyarch website a mysterious radio transmission could be found that stated, "Ever since the second outbreak at Nacht der Untoten, troops have been noticing strange radio transmissions and broadcasts taking place in the dead of the night” Apart from the fact that the area is referred to as "Nacht der Untoten" (Night of the Undead) in-universe, the biggest thing to take away from this is that there were multiple outbreaks at the airfield. @anonymous actually had a thread discussing it here.
Possible Answers: This could be referring to the Black Ops version with Ultimis as canon, or it could simply be referring to the incident of the WaW version being the second outbreak, and the first being the reason it appears abandoned in the first place.
- The Writing on the Wall: This is a question I've had in every map in the early days with chalk writing on the wall. Who is the one writing "Ascend from Darkness" on the walls? I can understand "Help" as someone was probably hiding out in that room from the outbreak. But the chalk drawings throughout the maps have served as cryptic directions for the player to traverse the map. "Beware the Six!", "Ascend from Darkness", "Look Up To See The Light" to name a few.
Possible Answers: Knowing now that Monty has been the one meddling with the past to help us for as of yet unknown reasons puts many things such as this into perspective. He has confirmed himself as the reason for Perk-a-Cola creation, power-ups, and gobblegum machines. I think it is very possible that he is the reason for not only the chalk writing in the maps that guide the characters, but also the chalk weapon drawings. It would make sense as everything else he does subtly lends a hand to the characters without directly intervening. Rather, the chalk drawings, the powerups, the perks, all would allow Monty to place tools for Ultimis and the marines to use if they choose.
- The Black Ops Loading Screen:
This image has perplexed us for a long time, and frankly I'm still unsure of its meaning.
Possible Answers: I'm unsure who the mysterious man travelling through time is meant to be. If not for the time travel element with the years, the image could easily fit in with the campaign of Black Ops, which centered around the Cold War and mind control.
- The Ultimis Dolls: In the Zombies Chronicles version, near a radiator on an upper floor, there is a light casting the shadow of a Richtofen doll, and on top of the radiator one can see dolls of Dempsey and Nikolai. These are the same dolls we see in Samantha's Room in Kino.
Possible Answers: I struggle to find a logical reason these dolls would be here. A possible answer could be simply temporal displacement, while another could be that Samantha put them there. It is likely insignificant, but a little strange.
Shi No Numa
- HAARP Connection: In the Doctor's Quarters there is a note that reads, "It could be used to power HAARP...". HAARP is an American research program established in 1993 often associated in theories with Green Run. First of all, what is it doing in Japan? And how can it be here if in 1945 if it was not established until 1993?
Possible Answers: This is an interesting one. I think it is possible in canon that HAARP was possibly established earlier, or was not publicly established until 1993, working in secret before that. As for it being in Japan, it being in the Doctor's Quarters, where Richtofen's supposed diary is found, I believe it may have been written by Richtofen around the time he made the deal with the Americans that we know of from Classified, as a sort of selling point for sharing research and 115 with them. Of course, Treyarch had no plans for Classified this early on, so I am not sure of their original intentions.
- Question Marks on the Loading Screen:
For many years people have wondered what the question marks on the loading screen signify on the actual map, and why the layout is so different from the actual map. Some of the question marks are areas where paper scraps are located, others are not.
Possible Answers: I think the answer is simple: This art is based on an early version of the map with a slightly different layout and playable area, and the question marks lead to where easter eggs such as paper scraps were going to be located. Another theory I have is these were perk locations, as there are five and early on there was a perk meant for Der Riese called Ammo-Matic. The art was already done when they changed the layout and they decided it was close enough to ship.
- Creation of 115?: A note can be found reading roughly: "...is produced by bombarding an Americium-243 nucleus with a Calcium 48 nucleus. It then decays (writing is blurred)... after further decay a metastable isotope is formed. This leads us to believe that transference of matter is indeed possible, and even the re-animation of b... (faded, but it is presumed to be bodies)"
Possible Answers: Though we have known since Shi No Numa about 115 originating from space in the form of meteors, this note seems to suggest that the element must go through this process of metastasis to have the effects we know of. That, or the note is referring to an artificial recreation of the element as supply was running short. I think this is more likely, as Americium was not produced until 1944, and info about it was not released to the public until November 1945, and 115 was being used to create zombies and teleport well before that.
- Bees? Beads?: A torn note in German translates to, "The bees disappeared from Ludwigsdorf." Ludwigsdorf is a small village in Germany.
Possible Answers: As far as I know, bees have not been a part of the storyline at any point. This leads me to believe that bees is either a translation of a mistranslation on Treyarch's part, or bees is meant to be code for zombies, which disappeared from this small town. Not much else to say about this.
- Other Hidden Messages: A sign near the trench gun has three bullet points on a board with only one being readable: "Did not resist in Paris". A board near the C Teleporter reads "die glocke ist jetzt Mobile" (translated to "the bell is now mobile") pinned on the upper left, and "folgen Sie dem Gesamtplan" (translated to "follow the entire plan") pinned on the bottom right. There are four codes written using Illuminati symbols. Reading "Living Dead", "Edward is Alive", "Treyarch", and "To community, the fans, and our families. Thank You. We Shall Return." In Animal Testing on a board, "H. Yena, Edward I know it was you".
Possible Answers: I have a good feeling these relate to story threads that were simply never explored and dropped. The Paris one as well as the image of the Eiffel Tower refer to the Paris map we did not get that was meant to be in Moon's place. The H. Yena one is interesting and could be referring to any number of things. We know now that Harvey Yena was a 935 scientist who went on to establish the Ascension Group in the Soviet Union after Group 935 disbanded. We also know that along with Peter McCain, Richtofen believed Harvey was a spy. The two may have had a rivalry, and this writing was about something petty. It's also possible this writing is Yena taunting Richtofen about something he knows that is far more serious, such as his dealings with the Americans.
- Faithful Servant: A note reads, " To faithful servant, the seed has been planted, observe and report, Maxis must not know."
Possible Answers: I have very little in the ways of answers for this one, and I feel it may be the most significant note, or it may have been back in the day before the story was developed. I don't know of many characters who could be referred to as "servants" besides Takeo to the Emperor, and Arthur to the Wolf King which have nothing to do with Der Riese. It's possible Richtofen has a servant who he was plotting with against Maxis, or maybe even more interesting Richtofen was a servant to someone, maybe even the Shadowman, and this message is to Richtofen.
Kino der Toten
- The Utterly Confusing Loading Screen Audio: In the loading screen for the map, Richtofen is heard making an audio log: "Entry 741021! Perhaps the station will hold the key to the real goals of Group 935. I still do not trust my unconventional allies, but they are of great use to me. But, I digress. Who would have thought the MDT was capable of time travel? How many stations does this group have? Where did that little girl disappear to? Only time will tell what new questions awaits us in this... THEATER OF THE DAMNED! (static)" There is a lot very wrong here knowing what we know about the story. Firstly, he speaks of the theater as if he did not know it was a Group 935 station and he speaks as if he does not know what Group 935's goals were despite being a member. He clearly knew about Maxis wanting an undead army as he says as much in Call of the Dead's radios. He refers to the Matter Transference Device as the MDT. He asks where Samantha disappeared to, despite knowing she is inside the MPD on the Moon since in the Moon radios he tells Schuster and Groph to get her out and then they fail.
Possible Answers: The obvious answer is this was written early on when Treyarch was not sure what direction they wanted to go with the story and was not sure how closely associated Richtofen was meant to be with Group 935. In-universe, it is possible Maxis kept this facility a secret from Richtofen, and now he is questioning what Group 935's true purpose was to Maxis and how many stations he actually established that Richtofen did not know about. MDT is likely just a typo in the script and a flub by Edward. As for Samantha, perhaps he is referring to her voice, which may have been calling to him but has not contacted him in some time.
- Great Leap Forward: In the Wii version of Kino der Toten, audio can be heard from the project screen with accompanying video: "(Singing) These villagers were portrayed and propaganda'd films as happy and highly motivated, although in fact they were soon to suffer a terrible moral and physical collapse. Tens of thousands of people died as a result of industrial accidents in the hazardous conditions they were made to work in. The Communist party came up with a crude calculation; every worker will build one meter of canal and the project will end in three months. It actually took more than 10 years to finish the canal.
During the Great Leap Forward, factory worker's hours were doubled and machines began to work non-stop. They were not even allowed to stop for maintenance and repairs, and so soon began to fall apart. Factories were ruined. At the same time, Mao announced another target for the Great Leap Forward. Steel production was to be doubled within one year. That production (static) only from heavy industry complexes, but also from small furnaces in villages. As a result of Communist ideology, Mao believed that workers power held a magical force. With that decision, tens of millions of Chinese set out to produce steel by amateur methods. Everything made of iron they could find, from door knobs to saucepans, was melted down in primitive furnaces in an effort to produce steel. Women cut off their hair and mixed it with the clay in the furnaces."
Possible Answers: This is one of the strangest oddities in zombies ever. The Great Leap Forward's only connection to zombies is in the name of Die Rise's upper map which takes place in China. But what is it doing in an abandoned theater/Group 935 facility in Germany in 1963? The Great Leap Forward ended around 1962, and as the audio states, was a horrible era in Chinese history where people were worked to death in factories due to many food shortages as a result. The audio puts an emphasis on steel production. It's possible that the tower in Die Rise is built using steel from this era, and this was meant as a sort of hint towards a future map set in a Chinese tower. But it seems strange to plan that far ahead, and to only put it in the Wii version of the map. It's also possible it was just simply meant as a way to show the map takes place after the Great Leap Forward in the 60s. I am unsure if the audio is taken from an actual public domain documentary about the Great Leap Forward, or if it was recorded by someone at Treyarch.
- Strange Writings: In the dressing room the names Samantha, Emilia, and Abigail are written surrounded by hearts. In the Pack-a-Punch room, there is writing on a bulletin board that reads "Durchhalten Männer, wir machen sie fertig" which translates to "Hold on men, we'll finish them." Underneath that a message reads "Ja, ja, sicher!" which translates to "Yes, yes, sure!" Also written, "Experiment 935 was successful", "Everything can be based off this model", "Schwarze sonne (German for "black sun")","114 Uuq","115 Uup", "Tomorrow the project will move into full production", "Why (sic) is up? Why won't it work?", "I know it was you Richtofen", "Help", "Energy Momentum"
Possible Answers: The writing seems to imply Emilia and Abigail were friends of Samantha's. The two messages on the bulletin board seem to have no importance, and maybe they were simply lines from a film or a stage production, given that this is a theater? "Experiment 935", no idea. "Schwarze sonne" The Black Sun symbol is heavily related to the occult and Neo-Nazis. Referring to elements 114 Uuq and 115 Uup doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but for my own sanity I will not totally go into it and will chock it up to some overlooking on Treyarch's part. But perhaps Element 114 was meant to appear at some point as important. "I know it was you Richtofen" is very similar to the writing in Der Riese from H. Yena. However, this is at the Kino facility, which Richtofen apparently doesn't know about according to the loading screen, so Richtofen could have never seen this writing anyway.
- Manhattan Down: In one of the upstairs rooms, letters are scrawled out on the floor stating, "Manhattan Down". This same message is in one of the intel pieces that pops up while a map is loading in Black Ops. But what does it mean?
Possible Answers: Treyarch may have wanted to have a map in Manhattan at some point, or this is meant to imply that there are outbreaks occurring all around the world at this point. In Classified, we found out that the US knows about several outbreaks that have occurred since Ultimis came together, and there were multiple outbreaks at the Pentagon. It's possible there was one at an American facility in Manhattan as well.
- Strange Pods: Around the stage area are some strange metal pods with organic beings inside.
Possible Answers: The beings in these pods have been theorized by many people to be monkeys, early versions of nova crawlers, zombies, and even aliens. With the Zombies Chronicles version, however, the beings in the pods appear more like normal zombies. I think it is possible these were meant to store them safely while being tested on.
- Gersh? When?: The poster for Ascension has always perplexed us, and Jason Blundell went on to confirm the bald man on the poster is not Richtofen, and the radio added in Zombies Chronicles implies that the man is Gersh and that Nikolai, Dempsey, and Takeo fought with Gersh at some point while Richtofen was away.
Possible Answers: This event may have taken place in an alternate timeline where Richtofen abandoned Ultimis, as there is no hint anywhere that this ever took place in the original timeline. Gersh lost his body to the void and became an orb of light in Gorod Krovi.
- Alien Skulls: On the altar near pack-a-punch, there are two skulls, one of what appears to be an early human or a monkey, and the other seems completely alien.
Possible Answers: The skull may very well be the skull of a Vril-Ya, an ancient race associated with the MPD, which is what corrupted Richtofen and sent him to Shangri-La. It's possible they are the reason for the temple's intricate water system and time travelling ability.
Black Ops 2
- Nacht: In the cornfield there is a more run-down version of Nacht der Untoten.
Possible Answers: While intended as a little easter egg, I'm curious if this building is meant to be the actual Nacht der Untoten, sent through time and space similar to the western town sent to Africa in Buried. Or is it just a simple buidling that happens to look like it?
- T.E.D.D.'s Quotes: There are many quotes that the bus driver will not say in-game that reference real life locations that the driver would take its passengers. Here is a full list.
Possible Answers: We know now that T.E.D.D. was designed as a driver for Broken Arrow scientists to move around the Green Run facility. Some of the locations now make much more sense given this context, such as Groom Lake, HAARP, Fast Flux Test Facility, and Tehacapi Range. TEDD specifically mentions gathering top secret files and putting on special suits for some of these locations. We also know from the comics that there are multiple TEDD units as one is seen in the background, and these built-in quotes indicate there were many being used by Broken Arrow around the country. Many of the quotes also refer to popular vacation areas such as the Grand Canyon, also implying TEDD units must have been used by civilians. Most interesting of all might by "Put on your hoods and disembark at Bohemian Grove" which is a campsite used by an exclusive club that holds events with major world leaders, and is often associated with the free-masons and the Illuminati.
- Wanted Poster: As pointed out by @anonymous in this thread, we still do not know a whole lot about the purpose and history behind much of anything on the map. One particular mystery is a Wanted Poster of Tian Zhou, a prominent character in the Black Ops II campaign, with Chinese text that translates to:
This is a wanted man. XXXXXXX (7 words i cant figure out, i infer that its about where the man usually appears)
He did everything evil. He carries weapon(s) of mass destruction.
He is a dangerous man carrying weapon(s) of mass destruction, and he is suspected to be a zombie.
For anyone who give us clues or help us capture this man will be rewarded 50000 Yuan.”
Possible Answers: As anonymous points out in the linked thread, the building in Die Rise appears to be an SDC-occupied building that used to be or still currently is a sweatshop with sleeping cages and sewing machines, due to all of the SDC soldier zombies present. In the actual Black Ops II campaign, it is possible to reach a scenario where you must kill Tian Zhou, and by doing so he is replaced by someone less tyrannical and the SDC helps you in fighting Cordis Die. In the zombies timeline, the rockets from Moon are launched in October of 2025, while the events of the campaign ended in June, so most likely in the zombies canon Tian Zhou and the SDC were involved in scientific research into zombies research, and he was infected and turned. The Wanted poster refers to him as if he is intelligent enough to carry weapons of mass destruction. He may have been turned in the same way George Romero was in Call of the Dead, where he can still talk and make more intelligent decisions.
Mob of the Dead
- Jumpscare: On the roof of the prison, when you look towards the fireworks with a sniper rifle, an jumpscare will appear with the face of a man with a mustache. So far, he is unidentified.
Possible Answers: Personally I am fine with the theory that he is meant to be Nero before Treyarch had chosen the celebrity cast and likenesses of the Shadows of Evil crew. Blundell states that he had thought through to the end of Black Ops 3 all the way back in Mob of the Dead, and there is a good possibility this was meant as some future reference to the mustached Nero Blackstone. Mob and Shadows are linked pretty heavily as well. Other theories include Russman, which doesn't really resemble the man that much, and also possibly the Warden but we have no idea what the Warden looked like before becoming Brutus, so no verifying. Another theory I do quite like connects with the Blood of the Dead Jumpscare, and that is that both of these are meant to be the Shadowman, with the Mob one being him in his human form before they had finalized his design.
-StG-44 in WW1?: In the opening cutscene, the German soldiers present at the dig site are using StG-44s, which were produced during World War 2.
Possible Answers: A simple explanation could be that they were simply developed earlier in Dimension 63, but unlike the MG08, they are not stylized to fit the dieselpunk aesthetic of Origins and the time period, they are simply STG-44s as they appeared in real life. It's also possible that during the excavation, Group 935 uncovered the chalk drawing of it and/or the ancient mystery box and armed their soldiers that way. This same issue appears in Zetsubou No Shima, where soldiers on the WW2 Japanese boat are equipped with KN-44s.
Black Ops 3
- The Plane: On top of the building near the power there is a plane very similar to the one used in Mob of the Dead. This same plane also appears in the sky sometimes in Shadows of Evil and Zetsubou No Shima.
Possible Answers: We may see an answer to this mystery soon as the Aether story is not quite done yet. But there are many possibilities to discuss. One is that Primis minus Richtofen have been travelling through time and space while Richtofen was acquiring the Kronorium, and we have no idea what they were doing. They've been to many places such as Brazil and the Moon. We don't get to see how they arrive at Der Riese in the opening cutscene, and its possible they acquired this plane from Mob of the Dead, and have somehow used it to travel through dimensions, landing it there to try and stop Richtofen. This brings lots of questions up about how they acquired this plane, why they don't bring it up or use it again, and just what they were using it for all this time.
This is obviously not all of the unfound secrets, just a lot of them that I could list before getting exhausted. I will continue to add more. Post any that I missed and discuss some of these in the comments!