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This is a holy war. All of human history has led to this moment. If we lose, we will be the last of our kind. It will be a planet of apes, and we will become your cattle.
Colonel McCullough[src]

J. Wesley McCullough was a former U.S Special Forces Colonel and the commander of Alpha-Omega. Because of his ruthless nature and the drastic actions he took to preserve human supremacy, he was feared by the remaining Army leadership. During the course of the Human-Ape War, he was not only at war with the San Francisco Ape Colony led by Caesar, but also against the remaining U.S. Army.

Biography

Early Life

McCullough descended from a long line of warriors, a line that he could trace back to the Norman Conquest. His great-great-great-great grandfather John Bishop McCullough fought in the War of 1812. His grandfather took part in the Battle of Hürtgen Forest, keeping Panzer tanks from crossing the Maas river and was awarded two Silver Stars.

He lived in Seattle and eventually enlisted in the U.S. Army at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as part of the First Special Forces Group, eventually earning the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and Legion of Merit. He also married a woman named Maggie and they had one son named John.

During the Simian Flu Pandemic, McCullough was assigned to a federal troop deployment to fight rising militia groups, such as the Apostles. One was in Seattle where he fatally shot a juvenile member, the memory haunting him over the next decade. He continued to fight various extremist militias for the next ten years and was promoted to Colonel, although some of his combat methods came into question and at one point he was almost court-martialed. However, the Northern Army leadership kept him around because he consistently got favorable results from this. Eventually his wife died from the Simian Flu, although John shared his genetic immunity. By the year 2024, John had joined his father at JBLM.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

At the end of the Battle of San Francisco, after receiving a distress signal from survivors in San Francisco after they were attacked by the San Francisco Ape Colony under the manipulations of Koba, McCullough and his unit were dispatched from Joint Base Lewis-McChord to hunt down and annihilate Caesar and his ape clan.

War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations

After being woken up from yet another nightmare about the young boy he killed in Seattle, one of his lieutenants Forest informs him that they left Puget Sound hours before and it was time for his scheduled briefing with Captain Hayes. Closer to dawn, McCullough finds John looking out over the water and they talk about the events of the past decade. John is skeptical about whether it was really apes that attacked San Francisco and McCullough recalls the story of Beowulf fighting the monster Grendel. His son then realized that he hoped to be fighting monsters this time around rather than people as he had been doing for much of his life.

As the arches of the Golden Gate Bridge came out of the fog McCullough made his way to the bridge of the Daedalus where he talks to Hayes once again. What first appears to be another militia appears to indeed be apes and both the Colonel and Captain think this an easy victory. The bofors of the Daedalus fire upon them but flaming barrels rain down from above. The apes nearly claim victory over the soldiers if not for interference from the remaining human colonists. Realizing that they are still at a strategic disadvantage, McCullough orders the ship to head southwards and make dock away from the main city. What remained of the colony leadership are brought aboard the ship and Weil explains the Battle of San Francisco, McCullough learns from Weil that Caesar is the name of the Ape who had shown such clever tactics. They land on a beach near the old San Francisco Zoo, with ocean from one approach and two lakes on the opposite, an abandoned highway leading into downtown. Later that day, a detachment of soldiers makes their way into the city but are attacked by the apes. McCullough remotely observes as the battle breaks out at the Market and Eighth junction. John and Forest are sprayed with rounds of bullets from the apes and then the mounted camera on the M60 was ripped apart by an ape. Then McCullough is called by his superior back in Seattle, General Prescott. His CO has a hard time believing that apes are actually competent fighters. He is also pressed about his son being a distraction to his focus on the mission as well as accusing him of a personal agenda in how important he seemed to be thinking the extermination of these apes were. McCullough then gets a radio transmission from Hayes back on the Daedalus. His Captain struggles to find words to describe what he is seeing as a group of apes riding on horseback attack the beach. Later after Forest had brought John back to their HQ, McCullough kisses his son’s forehead before he wakes up. Relived to see that his body armor had absorbed the worst of the spray, McCullough tells John that he is proud of him.

War for the Planet of the Apes

Over a year into the Human-Ape War, McCullough sent several recon groups in search of the ape clan's haven. However, during this time, one of the soldiers, McCullough's son, suddenly lost the ability to talk. McCullough was contacted by the NCOs and they believed that McCullough's son had lost his mind due to the war, until the person watching McCullough's son also stopped talking. McCullough eventually learned that their medic came up with shocking discovery before he as well stopped talking: the Simian Flu has mutated into a more devastating virus that affects the human brain directly, causing those who carry it to lose their speech capabilities and forcing them to devolve.

Going Rogue

As a result, McCullough killed his own son, by holding a gun to his head and looking at him in the eyes, an act of empathy, before pulling the trigger. After this, he orders his followers to kill any other carriers, even their own comrades, and burn their belongings in an attempt to prevent the new strain from spreading. When some of the soldiers refused to do so and questioned McCullough's black-and-white sentiments, McCullough ordered them to be killed as well, although some of the soldiers were able to flee, with one of them informing McCullough's superiors. Although McCullough's superiors tried to convince him that the mutated flu can be medically dealt with, he accused them of not learning from anything over the past twelve years since the apes escaped from the city and decapitated their heads, but spared one to leave a message: "If they wanted to relieve me of my command, they would have to meet me here and do it themselves", prompting the Northern Army to prepare for war against Alpha-Omega and end McCullough's campaign. Afterwards, McCullough and his remaining soldiers deserted from the Army and waged a holy war against the apes.

Assassination Attempt on Caesar

McCullough was first heard after his soldier, Preacher, told him that his platoon was unable to infiltrate one of the apes' trench after an attack went awry. McCullough, knowing the exact location of the ape village from Red's deal with Winter, infiltrated the waterfall with two soldiers.

While his fellow soldiers were killed, McCullough succeeded in killing Cornelia and Blue-Eyes, thinking Blue-Eyes was Caesar. McCullough then broadcast a message to his fellow soldiers that he (supposedly) killed Caesar. He was unaware of Caesar overhearing the message and realized what happened. He returned to the waterfall opening, only to see McCullough preparing to leave. As he prepared to jump, he turned and locked eyes with the real Caesar, confused as he turned to the bodies of Blue Eyes and Cornelia, which Caesar directed his gaze and became horrified and enraged at the death of his wife and eldest son. Realizing his mistake, McCullough opened fire at Caesar, but disengaged after spotting more apes emerging from the tunnels and jumped out through the waterfall. Caesar pursued, grabbing onto the cable and climbed, but McCullough cut the cable after Caesar knocked the M4A1 Assault Rifle out of his hand, sending the ape falling down into the water, while he escaped.

Capturing Caesar

McCullough's forces regrouped near the beach at a military refuge but left early with a handful of soldiers to an abandoned weapons depot at the Border, preparing for the arrival of the U.S. Army. He and his forces came across the Ape Colony and instead of slaughtering them, took them as slave labor in order to build up their defenses at the Border.

Later, Caesar came across a scene of dead apes from his tribe, tied to large "X" shaped posts in the mountains, near the abandoned weapons depot. To his shock, he found his entire tribe captured. Caesar was captured and brought to the depot, where McCullough talked to him, learning Caesar came for him. Confused, he questioned him on who the pair of apes that he killed were and is told they were Caesar's wife and son. This causes him to understand why Caesar was after him, as he sarcastically apologizes since he meant to kill Caesar before he was amazed at how human-like Caesar looked. He then walked with Preacher and Red, one of their Donkeys, who kept Caesar in chains, to the pins where the apes were, and had him tossed in the pin with the adult apes, forcing him to help build a large wall, like the adult apes.

In the morning after delivering their national anthem, McCullough watched the apes work, and watched one of his men ordering Red, to whip an orangutan, who fumbled and caused a levee system to break. McCullough watched as Red savagely whipped the orangutan, and continued to watch as Caesar yelled at Red to stop, which caused the apes to halt their work in defiance. Realizing he gives strength to the apes, McCullough ordered Caesar and the orangutan to be brought to him. He told Caesar to make the apes resume their work, but Caesar demanded for food and water for the apes, which forced the colonel to kill the orangutan, then aimed his gun at Caesar. He prepared to pull the trigger, but stopped as he saw a female ape resuming the work, followed by the other apes. He then ordered Red to tie Caesar an "X" shaped post in the middle of the depot, for all to see.

Torturing Caesar

Later that night, Red cut Caesar down, claiming that McCullough wanted to see him. In Admin, McCullough told Caesar that the apes would not receive food or water until their work was finished, while Caesar stated that they won't be able to finish without food and water. As Preacher told him to move out, Caesar stated he is aware the soldiers from the north weren't coming as reinforcements, which forced McCullough to remark on his intellect and reveal the wall's true purpose: to help defend the Alpha-Omega facility from the U.S. Army. Caesar then taunted him for having no mercy and killing his own men. Enraged, McCullough stated Caesar's mercy is the cause of the Simian Flu and what brought humanity on the brink of extinction.

He then told Caesar how he killed his own son. McCullough also stated his superiors tried to convince him that the mutated flu can be medically dealt with, but he accused them of not learning from anything from when ALZ-113 was first created, and Preacher stated that the Colonel decapitated his superiors' heads. Horrified by McCullough, Caesar asked how many men will be coming from the North, and the Colonel believed to be a large number to probably all of them and they would likely kill the apes as well. He finally told Caesar that he didn't mean to kill Blue-Eyes, but claimed it to be a happy coincidence if his fate was to inherit the Ape kingdom. This sent Caesar into a fury, lashing out at him before he was subdued by Preacher and Red. The Colonel then berated Caesar and sympathizes with his pain, claiming he's conflicted and unable to think. Looking Caesar in the eye, he asked him what would've happen to the apes if Caesar killed him, or if killing him was all he cared about before sending him back to his post.

In the morning, the Donkeys gave food and water to the apes, however when it was Caesar's turn, Red poured cold water all over him, a sign of the Colonel wanting Caesar to starve. Caesar was left on the post for the rest of the day up to night, starving and shivering from the dropping climate, before being cut down by Red. McCullough told Red and Preacher that in the morning Caesar would be put to work if he survives the night. During the night, one of his men spotted weird activity with the apes and took Red, a Donkey and a few men to investigate, unaware that Nova, a carrier of the mutated Simian Flu, had infiltrated the depot to give Caesar water and food, and with her and the other apes, restored Caesar's resolve. Rocket revealed himself and got into a scuffle with Red to let Nova escape. McCullough questioned Rocket on who else was there but was given no answer and seeing he was a friend of Caesar, he had Rocket sent into the pin with the other apes while the soldiers swept the perimeter.

Infected with the Simian Flu

The next day, McCullough, Preacher and Red approached Caesar's cage, surprised to see him still alive. As McCullough told Red to put Caesar to work alone on the upper rocks, McCullough spotted Nova's doll, which she left with Caesar, buried underneath the hay and demanded to know where it came from. With Caesar not answering, McCullough directed Red to put Caesar on the rocks as he investigated the doll, unaware that he had unknowingly infected himself with the mutated virus.

Death

That night as he marveled his late son's photo at dinner, McCullough's infection spread as blood began to pour from his nose, robbing him of his speech and sent him into a primal state, almost downed a bottle of whisky, ransacked his office and barricaded the door. Unaware that all the apes had escaped the depot, McCullough went to his bed and continued to drink in his primal state, not paying attention to the Northern Army's arrival at dawn and began a fire-fight with McCullough's forces.

McCullough, still retaining a little intelligence while being hazed and animalistic, reaching for his spilled whiskey bottle until he felt something brush against his head. McCullough looked up to see a freed Caesar, who was still set on his vengeance, holding the gun McCullough had resting on a crate close to the bed, revealing the dried blood on his nose and around his mouth, and made hissing noises as he tried to tell Caesar to kill him. Caesar became shocked and turned his gaze to the ground, spotting Nova's doll and surmising the Colonel was infected with the virus. Using what little intellect he had left, McCullough grabbed the gun, pulling back the hammer and placed the barrel against his head, signifying that he wanted Caesar to pull the trigger out of empathy, as McCullough did with his own son. McCullough closed his eyes as he waited for Caesar to grant him a mercy death. To McCullough's shock, however, he opened his eyes to see Caesar withdrawing the gun from his head and placed it back on the crate. He looked at McCullough and saw him for what he really was: a twisted coward. McCullough became even more shocked as he saw Caesar rise and walk back a few steps, realizing he wasn't going to kill him but left McCullough with a choice: kill himself or live like an animal. Realizing he's the architect of his own end, a sorrowful McCullough grabbed his gun and placed it on his cheek, pulling the trigger and ending his life.

Personality

War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations

A decade before his first encounter with the Apes, McCullough was an efficient and highly adaptable field commander in a time of great crises. After losing one of his men, Jefferson, so suddenly to a sniper’s bullet during an early day of the Simian Flu in Seattle he wasted no time in devising a counter-strategy against the militia. He showed a hard exterior to both his allies and enemies but deep down he cared greatly for the soldiers under his command. When his wife died during the pandemic he seemingly looked back on it as simply a result of natural selection, much to his son’s chagrin. By the time he was dispatched to deal with the Apes in San Francisco, he had been hardened by years of dealing with radical militias. Always ready to put up a fight at a moment’s notice and always wary of the political power-agendas that some human colonies carried within their ranks.

War for the Planet of the Apes

At first glance, McCullough was ruthless, merciless, highly intelligent, and extremely resourceful. Every action he took was driven by his desire to keep the human race alive, which he took to an unsettling and murderous extent. Once the Simian Flu began causing the devolution of humans to a more primitive state of being, McCullough decided to kill any humans infected by the mutated strain, including his own son, showing that he would go to horrific lengths to survive and (in his mind) ensure the survival of the human race. When infected with the virus himself, he elected to take his own life rather than live as a primitive being.

McCullough's hostility put him in a confrontation with the Northern Army, who believed the virus could still be dealt with medically, he frequently exhibited his power through fear and intimidation, killing without hesitation and torturing Caesar as a public example to his enslaved apes, however, McCullough was able to recognize strengths in his own enemies, marveling at Caesar's intelligence, willpower and leadership but at the same time challenged what Caesar's revenge would achieve for either of their races. McCullough, in spite of his ruthlessness and cruelty, was a very reserved man, rarely losing his temper and maintaining his public image as a great leader for his men.

Despite the men in McCullough's unit being generally loyal to him, who they saw as a great leader, Caesar and the Northern Army (correctly) saw McCullough as nothing more than a delusional-psychopath, as evidenced by his lack of remorse for his actions, as well as the fact that he believed that all of his actions were justified. McCullough was capable of dishonorable tactics, after he learned of the location of the apes' outpost, he infiltrated it in the dead of night, in an attempt to assassinate Caesar, only to kill Blue Eyes (who he mistakenly believe to be the ape king) claiming the killing to be an act of war.

McCullough was unreasonable in his beliefs, this is evidenced by the fact that when Caesar showed mercy to his men, following the Battle of the Muir Woods Park, as a message that the apes do not desire war with the humans and that they only want peace between their respected races, he responded by attempting kill the ape king, which resulted in the death of Caesar's wife and eldest son. When Caesar brought this up to him, McCullough was somewhat conflicted but soon justified his action by declaring that'd it only be a matter of time before the apes enslave humanity. He even remarked if Blue Eyes was fated to rule the ape kingdom, he was glad to kill him since he might end up like Caesar.

After becoming infected with the evolved Simian Flu, robbed of his speech and devolving, McCullough's true personality surfaced for the first time before his suicide; as he was a man twisted by fear of devolving to an animal, which forced him to go to the extreme to kill any human showing signs of devolving from the Simian Flu and to kill all apes. Knowing his fear will put him in a confrontation with his men, McCullough put up his facade as a ruthless man, but deep down he knew there was no hope and chose to fortify himself with any resources he obtained along the way.

Abilities

  • Expert Tactician: McCullough was a highly skilled tactician, as he and the men under his command, manage to avoid being captured by Caesar and the ape army for the last two years, however, despite this; McCullough's arrogant and delusional traits proved to be his downfall, as McCullough had the apes build a wall to protect him and his men from the Alpha-Omega faction from the north, who were going to execute them for their crimes of murdering innocent humans and who had been infected by the mutated Simian Flu and others who opposed their campaign. Unlike Caesar, McCullough failed to realize that the wall they were building, would not protect him or his men as seen when it was bombarded by projectiles from helicopters.
  • Skilled Marksman: McCullough was a highly skilled marksman, while in the shadows, he was able to shoot and kill Blue Eyes and Cornelia without either seeing him.
  • Expert Leader: McCullough had proven to be a capable leader as he encourages his men to fight for humanity and to destroy the Ape Colony, even motivating them in their fearful moments, McCullough is hinted to have had previous military experience and used them to his advantage in his many battles. He also gained respect from the Donkeys by letting them have a position in the army and fight along the human soldiers.

Relationships

Notes

  • McCullough was the secondary antagonist of the Revelations novel and the main antagonist of both the War comic books and War for the Planet of the Apes.
  • Colonel J. Wesley McCullough's full name is revealed in the War for the Planet of the Apes screenplay.[1]
  • McCullough's role in the CE series ultimately corresponds with that of Otto Hasslein in the APJ Pentalogy: Both men become aware of the possible end of humanity, and undertake a self-appointed crusade to prevent humanity's end, by any means necessary.

Trivia

More to come...

Gallery

Appearances

References

Planet of the Apes - 20th Century Reboot Series
Planet of the Apes (CE) Movies
Rise of the Planet of the Apes | Dawn of the Planet of the Apes | War for the Planet of the Apes | Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
Main Evolved Ape Characters
Caesar | Bright Eyes | Koba | Maurice | Rocket | Buck | Cornelia | Blue Eyes | Luca | Ash | Cornelius | Winter | Lake | Bad Ape | Red | Noa | Soona | Anaya | Raka | Koro | Dar | Proximus Caesar | Sylva | Lightning
Supporting Ape Characters
Alpha | Burke | Verdon | Tinker | Grey | Stone | Andy | Wolfie | Jeanpierre | Lucky | Koba's Mother | Sparrow | Pope | Fifer | Cora | Rex | Bon | Dallas | Milo | Herman | Spear | Ajax | Oak | Fox | Aghoo | Ursus | Percy | Beardface | Armando | Luna | Oda | Rust
Main Human Characters
Will Rodman | Charles Rodman | Caroline Aranha | Robert Franklin | Steven Jacobs | Dodge Landon | John Landon | Douglas Hunsiker | Malcolm | Ellie | Alexander | Dreyfus | Carver | Foster | Colonel McCullough | Nova | Mae | Trevathan
Supporting Human Characters
Rodney | John Hamil | Rita | Sarah | Maddy | John | Edward | Roger Mason | Werner | Kemp | Clancy Stoppard | Corbin | Daniel Nygun | David Flynn | Finney | Kuo | Malakai Youmans | Max (Firestorm) | McVeigh | Terry | Roger | Rod Wilson | Preacher | Boyle | Lang | Travis | Korina
Families
Rodman Family | Caesar's Family | Malcolm's Family | Rocket's Family | Dreyfus' Family
Animals
Horse | Elk | Grizzly Bear | Eagle | Zebra
Items / Weapons
Simian Flu
Important Events / Battles
Ape Rebellion | Human-Ape War | Simian Flu Pandemic | Battle on the Golden Gate Bridge | Battle in San Francisco | Battle of Muir Woods Park | Attack on Ape Waterfall | Battle of the Border
Organizations / Colonies / Companies
San Francisco Ape Colony | Caesar's Council of Apes | Caesar's Ape Army | Gen-Sys Board | San Francisco's Human Colony | Dreyfus' Human Army | Malcolm's Group | Alpha-Omega | Donkeys | Florida Ape Colony | Rocky Mountains Ape Colony | Eagle Clan | Coastal Ape Colony | Order of Caesar | Satellite Human Colony
Locations
West African Jungle | San Francisco | San Francisco Zoo | Gen-Sys Laboratories | Rodman House | San Bruno Primate Shelter | Golden Gate Bridge | Muir Woods Park | Ape Mountain | Ape Gate | Ape Village | Caesar's Home | Warehouse | Ape Waterfall | The Border | Oasis
Comics
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (webcomic) | Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Contagion | Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (BOOM! Studios) | Before the Dawn | War for the Planet of the Apes (BOOM! Studios) | Planet of the Apes: The Time of Man | Planet of the Apes: The Simian Age | Planet of the Apes: Devolution
Novels
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm | Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Official Movie Novelization | War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations | War for the Planet of the Apes - Official Movie Novelization | Caesar’s Story
Other Books
Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films
Soundtracks
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | War for the Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album)
Video Games
Plague Inc: Simian Flu | Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier | Crisis on the Planet of the Apes VR
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