- "You mean that...that thing out there, an atomic bomb? Your...God?!"
- ―John Brent [src]
The Alpha-Omega Bomb was a large atomic missile manufactured some time in the late 20th century. 2,000 years later, George Taylor recognized it from the symbols ('ΑΩ') on the fins, and knew it to be the Doomsday Bomb which was being developed before he launched in 1972. The missile was constructed with a cobalt casing with enough explosive potential that it could literally cause the Earth’s atmosphere to ignite. It was designed not so much for actual use, but as a deterrent against opposing nations. Ideally, the bomb’s very existence functioned as an instrument of fear.
By the 40th century, the bomb had been relocated and placed at the altar of what used to be St. Patrick's Cathedral in the irradiated ruins of New York City. There, it was venerated by a subspecies of psychic mutant-humans who safeguarded the missile as well as its operational launch systems. The mutants believed they owed their very existence to weapons such as this, and as such, worshipped the missile as a deity – often referring to it as the Divine Bomb. In casual life, the mutants wore specially designed latex masks to assume a more characteristically human appearance, but during liturgical services, they would remove the masks to "reveal their inmost selves unto their God". The leader of this mutant caste was Mendez XXVI, the latest in a dynasty stretching back to a military leader at the end of the 20th century. By this point in time, the followers of Mendez led a reclusive lifestyle in a region that was known as the Forbidden Zone. Like their predecessors, the mutants maintained the Alpha-Omega Bomb as a deterrent to external threats to their existence. Mendez XXVI was the only known member of the mutants who could operate the weapon's firing mechanisms. This was done with a series of color-coordinated crystal keys that could be inserted into the central ignition device.
A time-lost human astronaut named John Brent found his way into the mutant cathedral and discovered the bomb’s existence. After being taken prisoner, he was soon reunited with another human from his time era, ANSA astronaut George Taylor. Brent described the missile's design to him, and Taylor recognized it and knew that if the bomb was still operational, it would spell the end of the planet.
During this time, a gorilla commander named General Ursus led a squadron of soldiers on an invasion of the mutant society in the Forbidden Zone. Accompanied by elder statesman Doctor Zaius, Ursus and his troops raided the cathedral. The apes were aghast when they saw the bomb, but had little idea as to its true purpose. Zaius recognized it as an invention of man, and thus naturally guessed that it was a force of destruction. Mendez XXVI initiated the launch sequence, but Ursus gunned him down with his carbine before he could complete the process. Unable to destroy the bomb with gunfire, Ursus ordered his soldiers to physically yank it down from its moorings. The weapon toppled to the floor of the cavern, its cobalt casing cracking open. Deadly radioactive gases poured from the shell sending gorilla guards fleeing in panic.
As things erupted into chaos, Taylor and Brent managed to free themselves from captivity and raced to the cathedral in an effort to prevent further destruction. Both men suffered mortal wounds from enemy gunfire however. With his dying breath, Taylor spat the words "It's Doomsday". His body fell forward, his hand slamming upon the missile launch controls. The final crystal slid into place and the bomb detonated. As predicted, the missile proved to be a true "Doomsday Weapon", destroying the entire planet Earth. Only three beings survived the catastrophe - chimpanzee scientists Dr. Milo, Dr. Zira and Dr. Cornelius, who had repaired Taylor's ship and been sent into orbit. From there, they saw "the rim of the Earth melting", and when the shock wave hit their ship it was reversed through time, arriving in 1973.
Many years later, after the chimpanzee revolutionary Caesar - the son of Zira and Cornelius - had led an ape uprising and exodus to a pastoral Ape City, the relatively new Alpha-Omega Bomb was housed in an underground silo in the ruins of the Forbidden City in the early 21st century. A mutated human self-proclaimed governor named Kolp initiated a war against the nearby ape community led by Caesar. It was Kolp's intention, that should his mutant insurrection fail to kill Caesar, then the Alpha-Omega Bomb was to be launched, ultimately destroying Ape City. Even Kolp had little idea of the bomb’s true destructive potential. During the battle however, Kolp was killed and the surviving mutated humans of the Forbidden City rallied under the leadership of a man named Mendez. One of Kolp's followers, a woman named Alma, sought to fulfill the late governor’s wishes and launch the missile, but Mendez convinced her that such an act would not only destroy Ape City, but every living creature on the entire planet. Mendez became the caretaker of Earth’s last weapon of mass destruction.
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes names the device only as the "Doomsday Bomb". The Beneath the Planet of the Apes book-n-record set by Power Records refers to the missile as the "Alpha-Omega Bomb", though this was made in 1974, after Battle for the Planet of the Apes.
- In Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the scenes with the Alpha-Omega Bomb were removed from the theatrical release, most likely to leave open the possibility that events would not inevitably lead once again to the Earth's destruction. These scenes were restored to DVD and Blu-Ray releases three decades later. In the cut scenes, and in the 1973 novelization by David Gerrold, the names "Alpha-Omega Bomb" or "Alpha and Omega Bomb" are used.
- Promotional material for Battle for the Planet of the Apes also made reference to the bomb, even though it would not appear onscreen. It claimed that it takes it's name from the Bible's 'Book of Revelations', which enjoins "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."
- The earlier versions of the script for Beneath the Planet of the Apes had the bomb destroy only the mutant city, taking with it the mutant population and the invading gorilla army, but not Taylor, Brent and Nova who escape to the Ape City and start a new era of peace with the now-dominant chimpanzees. A coda would show a new race of gorilla mutants emerge from the underground caverns a generation later. The idea of the missile destroying the entire Earth was only introduced in the later stages of production, when star Charlton Heston demanded a permanent end to the film franchise.
- The short story anthology Tales from the Forbidden Zone included a story involving a book of launch codes for the bomb. In the film, Mendez is seen to read instructions from a hand-written book while preparing the missile for use.
- The 2018 novel Death of the Planet of the Apes referred to the origins of the missile in Otto Hasslein's 'Churchdoor' project. Hasslein explained to Taylor that the missile didn't have to actually exist - just be believed to exist - in order for it to act as a Cold War deterrent.
- Lowell Cunningham wrote an unpublished story titled Redemption of the Planet of the Apes, which revealed the planet to have survived the blast (presumably due to the change in the timeline caused by Caesar); however, the explosion still caused untold damage. Likewise, Ty Templeton proposed a comic which he describes as "sort of an Omega Man with apes (to keep it all in the [Charlton] Heston zone)". Roland Mann also proposed a 4-issue mini-series (titled either Sky Gods or Second Coming), in which the nuclear decimation mutated tigers into sentient beings (much like the apes) and apparently rendered humans extinct (at least on the area that was once Texas).
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes (DVD/Blu-Ray releases only)
- Revolution on the Planet of the Apes
- Death of the Planet of the Apes