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The Story So Far: The Giant Explained


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Hello folks, my name is Shooter. Some of you may remember me, as I've been a member of CoDz for over 4 years now. Anyone that knows me, knows my thing is the storyline behind zombies. I've always been fascinated by the mystery behind it, and throughout the years I've researched alot of cool and interesting things. So today I'm going to recap what has happened to the storyline over the course of Zombies up until the present day. 

This thread is actually a continuation of a theory I posted on the forums nearly a year and a half ago following the release of Origins. After viewing The Giant trailer and seeing the confusion by many, I decided to make this thread. Here is a link to the old thread: 

Let's start with the timeline.

Note: Keep in mind dates and events are subjective and the timeline is constantly being adjusted.


  • Tunguska meteor strikes Siberia. 115 first discovered at the impact site. Germany, among other countries, begin to study the new element under a new organization called Group 935.


  • 115 study continues. Maxis updates the periodic table with the new element with the atomic weight of 115, and names it Divinium. 


  • Origin occurs. Maxis' body begins to be affected by the 115 radiation and he starts to hear voices of a little girl . Richtofen notices and eventually does brain surgery and removes and preserves Maxis' brain.
  • O3 do not reach Richtofen in time and he escapes with Maxis' brain before Site 64 is captured. Another surgery is performed and Maxis takes control of a new body. 
  • Samantha born.
  • The full extent of what really happened the first time, and what was changed during Origins is unclear.



  • Der Riese opens, tests begin again with 115 by Group 935.


  • Niko, Takeo, and Tank captured by Group 935 and sent to Richtofen.
  • Richtofen sends Sam and Maxis through teleporter.
  • Sam goes to Moon and enters MPD. Takes control of zombies.
  • Maxis goes to Shangri La or another unknown location.
  • DR, SNN, Kino


  • Ascension

2012 - ????

  • CotD. Richtofen obtains Vril Generator.
  • Shangri La. Richtofen obtains Focusing Stone.
  • Richtofen has what he needs to get Samantha out of the pyramid.
  • Moon
  • Richtofen swaps spots with Sam, takes control of zombies.
  • Tank, Takeo,and Nikolai die on Moon, sent to Aether.
  • Sam dies on Moon in Richtofen's body. Sent to Agartha after death.
  • Earth is bombed and nearly destroyed as last measure by Maxis.
  • Richtofen loses connection with Earth.

2012 - ????

  • Survivors begin to emerge. 
  • Maxis contacts survivors through electrical devices.
  • Survivors who begin to eat dead meat infected w/ 115 begin to hear Richtofen.
  • Samuel, Russ, Misty, and Marlton meet each other at Green Run. N4 help build towers for Richtofen or Maxis.
  • If Richtofen is helped, he receives more ethereal energy that will eventually allow him to enter human bodies on Earth as he pleases.
  • If Maxis is helped, he begins to build a global polarization device that will allow him to harness the ethereal energy on Earth instead of Richtofen.

2012 - ????

  • Great Leap Forward
  • N4 help build Richtofen/Maxis towers, each giving Maxis or Richtofen more power.

2012 - ????

  • Buried
  • N4 finish building polarization device for Maxis/Power Tower for Richtofen
  • If Richtofen is completed: Richtofen gains complete control, uses Earth as he pleases, takes Samuel's body. Maxis is stuck in Aether for enternity. Earth is screwed.
  • If Maxis is completed: Maxis kicks Richtofen out of the controller seat, uses power of Aether to go back in time to 1918 to change history and find gateway to Agartha at Site 64. Richtofen's soul removed from Aether and placed in zombie.
  • N4 die.

1918 - Purgatory (Aether)

  • Origins
  • Maxis goes back in time within Aether and influences the past. With Maxis now in charge of the Aether, 115 experiments are a success on the battlefield and the gateway to Agartha is discovered.
  • O4 enter their old bodies
  • This time the O3 meet in 1918 and try to find Richtofen. Samantha contacts the O3 and Richtofen through the gateway and help them open it.
  • Origins 4 reach the "Crazy Place" and open the gateway to Agartha and free Samantha. Maxis is reunited with his daughter in Aether.
  • As a new history is created by breaking the cycle of events, a paradox arises. If history is rewritten in order to stop Richtofen from doing the same thing, Samantha would not be born. He creates a plan to ensure that the same events still occur so Samantha can be born, but that Richtofen is ultimately stopped.

New 1945 - Der Riese

  • The Giant
  • New O3 arrive at Der Riese and attempt to stop New Richtofen from going on with his plans.
  • As they are getting ready to capture their target, the MTD at Der Riese begins to light up. New Richtofen lets unknown matter through. Origins Richtofen appears from Aether and kills New Richtofen.

The Cycle

If you want to understand The Giant and the timeline in Zombies, you must understand the cycle that occurs in the game. There was an original series of events in reality (SNN - Moon), and when the O3 died, they begin to repeat a cycle. While the O3 are in Aether repeating this cycle, Richtofen and Maxis fight for power in reality with help from the N4. Maxis is attempting to free his daughter and break the cycle and change history, while Richtofen is fighting to keep history the same and use the Earth as he pleases. If Maxis is helped, we go back to the point to 1918 and break the cycle of original events.

Let's take a look back at Mob of the Dead, where this idea of a cycle in Zombies is really thrown in our faces.

When we first start the map, the four mobsters are in their cells while Ferguson is patrolling the cell block. The Weasel tricks Ferguson into entering his cell, and after he does Al kills Ferguson. Then the prison is altered to a Hellish new form, zombies start storming the prison, and the four must fight for their lives and build a plane to escape the island. However, while progressing through the Easter Egg on MotD, we learn from Ferguson that what we see in the beginning cut scene did not actually happen. We learn that the plane was never built, Al was murdered that night on New Years Eve 1934, and Ferguson lived a long life and worked at the prison until 1942. So which one was reality?

The story told by Ferguson during the Easter Egg is reality. The plane was never built and Al died on the roof. The map we play in is us repeating the cycle of events that night in a state of "Purgatory" (aka Aether), ultimately dying in the end and continuously repeating the cycle. So what is the point of doing the Easter Egg if they're just going to end up dead in reality? It is because we are CHANGING the reality of what happened that night when we break the cycle. Through the events of the Easter Egg, we repeat what happened that night to actually rewrite history. We went back to the night of Al's death, and instead changed what happens so that history itself plays out differently. Instead of Al dying on the roof and Ferguson living, Al lives and Ferguson dies that night. The original reality has now been rewritten, and time will continue as is. 

MotD was a smaller version of what's happened with the Zombies timeline as a whole.

Rewriting history or a new timeline?

Whether alternate/parallel timelines exist in the Zombies story, or we're rewriting history, is just dependent on how you view the state of "Purgatory" that the O4 and MotD crew were stuck in. It's a science fiction story we're talking about here, so Treyarch can go any way they want with it.

MotD and Origins are the only two maps (aside from Shangri La) where we travel back in time to a previous event, and redo the event to cause a new outcome (breaking the cycle of old events). Were we in another dimension (Aether)? Were we rewriting history when we changed these events? Did we create a parallel universe when the cycle was broken? Who knows for sure.

Alternate universes are totally plausible, but it doesn't appear to be going on here, in my opinion. If you think back to the Giant trailer, we hear Dempsey say "only a fool would dare to change history", which suggests that one and only one history exists and to try to drastically change history could have serious consequences.

I don't believe we have multiple universes but are instead working with a dynamic timeline, where anything done in the past will rewrite history and have repercussions on the future. This is the same type of timeline seen in the movie Back to the Future, which we all know is referenced many times throughout Zombies.

The problem with a dynamic timeline like the one we're dealing with, is that it creates a paradox and an infinite loop of events. The paradox here is that if we change the events of the original 1918, all events after that could be changed, which means no teleportation, no Samantha and Maxis getting stuck in the MPD, and no need to go back in time to begin with.

Still don't think we can rewrite history in Zombies? 

"Throughout Zombies, we have only received quotes from Richtofen about traveling forward in time. Kino, Call of the Dead, Die Rise it's always forward time travel.There is actually one map we do go back in time besides the last two I mentioned, and that's Shangri La. During the events of the Easter Egg, we help Brock and Gary by going back in time and freeing them from the temple. The events we do in the past actual CHANGE our history, helping Brock and Gary escape and allowing Richtofen to then access the Focusing Stone when we return to present day at the end of the eclipse. So I'm not entirely sold that we can't go back to a point on our timeline in the past, make changes, and change history as we know it.

There are other hints that we have changed history itself throughout Zombies, like Buried's achievement Revisionist Historian (In Buried, rewrite history). When you throw a Time Bomb down and after a few rounds detonate it, you are brought back to the past to rewrite the history of the last few rounds"



The Paradox

"The paradox must be resolved!" - Said by Maxis after Samantha is released from Agartha.

One of the best arguments against the parallel universe theory is the presence of a paradox at the end of Origins. Paradoxes like this do not exist with parallel universes. If you are born on one timeline, you do not have to be born on the next because you already exist.

The same applies to Samantha. If a new timeline is created in a parallel universe after Origins, Samantha would not have to be born in this new universe because she was already born in the first universe. A paradox would not exist, but it does in our story.

So why two Richtofens?

This is where things get complicated. The biggest contradiction to the dynamic timeline theory is the presence of two Richtofens in the Giant trailer. The logical explanation for two Richtofens is parallel universes. It just makes the most sense. The Richtofen from the new universe opens the MTD and lets Richtofen from the first universe in. 

Yet previous evidence supports the dynamic timeline theory, and not the parallel universe theory. Unless they have something very unexpected up their sleeves, Treyarch is going to be contradicting themselves as far as the timeline goes.

What extent of Origins occurred the first time, and what was affected by Maxis presence the second time around?

This is the big question. Some people seem to be under the impression that Origins never actually happened the first time, but I strongly disagree.

If you recall the data servant from Der Riese, there was an entry that listed the locations where Element 115 was found. The first location listed is Tunguska, a meteor that struck the Earth in 1908, ten years before the events of Origins. We also have no clear indicator of when Group 935 was officially formed or when 115 was first researched. It wouldn't be foolish to assume that Group 935 was formed shortly after Tunguska in order to study the element.

Also on that Data Servant entry, we learned that the Americans had located a source of 115 in the Nevada Desert at Area 51. What we didn't know was how they were able to retrieve the element; Until Origins. In the starting room of Origins, a picture can be seen on the wall.


The 115 Extraction Drill was originally designed by the Germans, but the blueprints were stolen by the Americans and used to extract the 115 from Nevada. We can see this machine in the Nuketown Zombies loading screen.

I also believe the radios from Origins indicate that these events originally occurred in 1918. Most specifically, the following radio:

Ludvig Maxis: The child's voice calls to me more frequently than ever. At first she spoke only of her imprisonment in a mythical realm known as "Agartha". Now she claims to be my daughter, even though I know no such child exists! (sigh) I fear my sanity may be slipping away from me.

According to Maxis, when they were originally at Site 64 he began to hear the voices of a girl who claims to be his daughter, yet she hasn't been born yet.  It's safe to assume that if this radio was from the original 1918, then the other radios would be to.

Notable Observations from the Giant Trailer

• Richtofen may not know Takeo, Tank, and Nikolai.

"Do you know who I am?" - Richtofen, after being confronted by the O3.

That one line from the trailer gives us quite a bit of information. The line suggests that Richtofen does not know the O3, as he assumes the O3 does not know who he is as well.

We know that at this point in the original timeline, Richtofen had already been experimenting on Niko, Tak, and Tank (based on radios from CotD). It's possible that Richtofen could have found new test subjects to conduct the experiments on, and it would not have significantly changed history.

But it's also possible that the brainwashing from the 115 experiments being conducted at the time explains this line, but something interesting to think about nonetheless.

• The MTD is not activated by Richtofen at Der Riese

In the Giant trailer we see Richtofen send Maxis and Sam through the MDT, and the O3 appear. As Zombies start to approach, the MTD begins to power again as Takeo and Richtofen look on in disbelief. The MTD seems to be activated on it's own.

Richtofen then sneaks over to the control panel while the O3 are distracted with the zombies, and lets the unknown subject through.



So what is the Giant?

To summarize, "The Giant" map is the first step after breaking the cycle of original events in Origins, as we begin to rewrite history. In order to avoid the Samantha Agartha paradox, up until the point where Sam and Maxis are betrayed by Richtofen. Everything goes as planned until the Richtofen at Der Riese opens the MTD.

Edited by Shooter
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Great work! I need to eventually read this whole. I scanned over it and just wanted to point out two little discrepancies, namely, that Der Riese/935 was established in 1939, and that 935 was, previous to WWII (though perhaps not in WWI) an international scientific research organization based in Lower Silesia, etc. 

Brains for the thorough discourse!

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Nice post.

One thing that makes me very curious about The Giant trailer is that it seems to be a prequel to Der Riese. We see the clock stops exactly at 1:15 where Der Riese's clock was stuck around 1:15:40. Which made me think about if we ever got any info on Richtofen between him teleporting Maxis and Sam and him showing up with the other 3 to fight zombies. 

As you say, I think the timelines will probably be linear. That somehow, Treyarch will make sense of all this and avoid Paradox's, multi universes, or other lazy story telling elements. So perhaps this map sets up something that makes it possible for all this to happen and then have Richtofen fighting with the old crew after it. A quick idea would be something like Origins Richtofen never really was Richtofen. Perhaps after The Giant, the Orgins Richtofen will be tranported back even further in time. Maybe somehow because of this, his name ends up on the pyramid in Shangri La. Then after a few more years of aging, this new Richtofen frees the O3 at Shi No Numa and arrives at Der Riese 40 seconds after The Giant happens. 40 seconds after he had killed the real Richtofen. Thats just a quick idea that I'm sure has many holes in it, but perhaps Treyarch has something like that in mind. Something that keeps the timeline nice and clean. 

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Just a lil mistake: atomic weight refers to the average sum of the weight of the protons and neutrons, factoring in isotopes for that given atom. So for 115 it would be closer to 230 although we wouldn't know exactly. 115 would be the atomic number, which just refers to the number of protons, which is not a variable number like neutrons. 


(If it was just a typo I'm sorry for the mini lesson.) 

Still, great read! Buried was such a cliffhanger (well, two) and I'd like to see that world at least END with a bang. Hopefully this re-writing doesn't magically "tie up loose ends" because that's a loose end we really ought to tie up ourselves.

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Just a lil mistake: atomic weight refers to the average sum of the weight of the protons and neutrons, factoring in isotopes for that given atom. So for 115 it would be closer to 230 although we wouldn't know exactly. 115 would be the atomic number, which just refers to the number of protons, which is not a variable number like neutrons. 


(If it was just a typo I'm sorry for the mini lesson.) 

Still, great read! Buried was such a cliffhanger (well, two) and I'd like to see that world at least END with a bang. Hopefully this re-writing doesn't magically "tie up loose ends" because that's a loose end we really ought to tie up ourselves.

Agreed, a cutscene confirming what Maxis meant by 'the earth and its inhabitants will not survive' meat would be fantastic. 

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