Planet of the Apes Wiki

"In the beginning, God created beast and man, so that both might live in friendship and share dominion over a world at peace. But in the fullness of time, evil men betrayed God's trust and, in disobedience to His holy word, waged bloody wars...not only against their own kind, but against the apes, whom they reduced to slavery. Then God, in His wrath, sent the world a savior, miraculously born of two apes who had descended on Earth from Earth's own future. And man was afraid, for both parent apes possessed the power of speech. So both were brutally murdered. But the child ape survived and grew up to set his fellow creatures free from the yoke of human slavery. Yet, in the aftermath of his victory, the surface of the world was ravaged by the vilest war in human history. The great cities of the world split asunder and were flattened. And out of one such city, our savior led a remnant of those who survived in search of greener pastures, where ape and human might forever live in friendship, according to divine will. His name was Caesar, and this is his story in those far off days. … We still wait, my children. But as I look at apes and humans living in friendship, in harmony and at peace, now some 600 years after Caesar's death, at least we wait with hope for the future."
―The Lawgiver

The Lawgiver is a central orangutan prophet deity in the Planet of the Apes franchise. He was mentioned and quoted in the first two Apes movies of the series, but only appeared in the final Apes film, 1973's Battle for the Planet of the Apes, played by actor-director John Huston.


In Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the Lawgiver's writings and quotes formed the basis of the apes' system of laws and customs, particularly with regard to humans, whom the Lawgiver had declared "the devil's pawn", to be shunned and driven out, if not destroyed outright. Statues of the Lawgiver were common around Ape City as well as a shrine dedicated to the Lawgiver. When the gorilla army saw a vision of such a statue bleeding, they panicked, showing their regard for this icon. (APJ: Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes)

By the time that the Lawgiver appeared at the beginning and end of Battle in a flash-forward to the year 2670, the children whom he addressed (as he narrated the story of Caesar) were a mix of both humans and apes; the joint society Caesar ultimately promoted appeared to have succeeded, and instead of condemning humans, the Lawgiver had accepted them as his students. When asked by a human child who would know about the future, the Lawgiver quotes that the dead would know. The tear shed by the statue of Caesar at the end of the film is an indication that his efforts would ultimately fail. Since The Lawgiver spoke of "evil men who betrayed God's trust", it is possible that zealots perverted his peaceful teachings over the centuries following Battle. (APJ: Battle for the Planet of the Apes)

In the comics


Dr. Zaius with a statue of the Lawgiver

  • Writing the story outline for Battle.. (then named Epic of the Planet of the Apes), John William Corrington & Joyce Hooper Corrington were more explicit in their view on the altered timeline than in anything that appeared on-screen: the prologue and epilogue of the movie are set in 2670 A.D.; the Lawgiver is now benevolent towards humans (as opposed to the anti-human fanatic suggested in Planet.. and Beneath..) - "this difference is due to alterations of that historical track which we have seen worked out in previous films...these changes in ape history are due primarily to the influence of Caesar on apes and humans". However, the Corringtons most likely misinterpreted the clear intent of Paul Dehn, who wrote Beneath, Escape and Conquest, as well as the final revision of Battle. He stated in an early '70's interview, "The whole thing has become a very logical development in the form of a circle. I have a complete chronology of the time circle mapped out".[3]
  • The early scripts for Battle suggested that The Lawgiver should resemble Virgil, perhaps to indicate his ancestry.
  • The Lawgiver is speaking in the year 2670. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), the opening scene of the first movie began in 2673 with Taylor musing on what has happened back on Earth in his absence.
  • In the 2018 novel Death of the Planet of the Apes, it is discovered that the 'Sacred Scrolls' were not, in fact, written by a single Lawgiver, but rather by a number of authors, including Haristas, Zeno and Jacob.


  • The character of the Lawgiver, as originally depicted in the first and second movies, was created by script-writer Michael Wilson.[4] It was based on Haristas from the original novel - a revered ape from "thousands of years ago" whose dogma is challenged by some of the chimpanzee characters.
A Lawgiver statue from 'Planet of the Apes'
Zira and Rod Serling with the Lawgiver bust, June 1967
Remnant of the 'bleeding' Lawgiver statue
  • There is a strong possibility that Joe Wong's image from early costume tests for Planet of the Apes was used as the model for the Lawgiver statues featured in that movie, which would have been designed around that time.
  • There were two eight-foot Lawgiver statues made. One of them - featured in many publicity photos with Dr. Zaius and with Taylor, and the only full-sized Lawgiver used on screen - ended up in Arthur P. Jacobs' backyard and was sold by his widow Natalie Trundy around 1998. Ed Gogin, a Planet of the Apes collector from Irvine, California, outbid 20th Century Fox, who wanted the statue for their archive, and it remains in his possession.[5] The other statue was given to Jacobs' friend Sammy Davis Jr., and is currently owned by an actor friend of Roddy McDowall's[6] (although McDowall mistakenly stated that Davis' statue was based John Huston's characterisation from Battle).[7] The latter statue was featured in the Behind the Planet of the Apes documentary hosted by Roddy McDowall in 1998.[4]
  • In the original 1968 PotA, there was a Lawgiver bust featured in the courtroom scene which has been in a private collectors' possession in the Eastern U.S. since its purchase in 1971 from a 20th Century Fox Auction and is in mint condition. There is also rumoured to be a Lawgiver bust which is fragmented, the remains held in a private collection in Florida for many decades and now residing in England.
  • A painted fibreglass statue was constructed for the scene in Beneath the Planet of the Apes where the mutants project an illusion of the Lawgiver weeping blood, with internal tubing attached to the eyes for the bleeding effect. The statue falls and shatters during the scene, but the head survived intact as a bust measuring 28" x 13" x 14" and weighing 17 lbs. It was reportedly used by John Chambers as a doorstop before being given to a friend's private collection in Florida for several years,[8] and was auctioned in December 2010 for $29,500.

    The ‪‎NECA Lawgiver‬ statue stands in perfect scale with the current ‪NECA Classic Planet of the Apes action figures.

    NECA Limited edition Lawgiver statue.

  • An earlier draft script for Battle written by Paul Dehn included details of Zeno, an orangutan member of the ape council who holds the balance of power between the chimp faction led by Pan, and the gorilla faction led by Aldo. A conspiracy between Zeno and Aldo ultimately leads to them killing Caesar and becoming joint rulers, Zeno becoming the Lawgiver depicted in Planet and Beneath.
  • The scenes with the Lawgiver in Battle were originally written (by Dehn) for the final scene of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, where a group of children are being taught about how the armies of gorillas and mutants were all killed and how Taylor brought peace and harmony to all the survivors in the 47 years before his death. The teacher is a chimpanzee and the children are human. One very inquisitive boy is called 'Taylor', after their society's founder. It seems fair to assume that this is where the proposed Hybrid Child character would have appeared - the final evidence of the harmony that has been established. This ending was removed when Charlton Heston and Richard D. Zanuck decided to kill the characters of Taylor, Brent and Nova and have the entire planet destroyed.
  • Sam Jaffe was originally signed as the Lawgiver, but turned down the role when he discovered he would have to shave off his eight-year-old beard in order to accommodate the ape facial appliances.[9]Jaffe was mistakenly listed as playing the Lawgiver in a magazine article published shortly after the completion of filming.[10]
  • The final shot of the statue of Caesar shedding a tear was deliberately vague - the first Corrington outline seemed to suggest it was because of ape and human children fighting, and Dehn, writer of the earlier treatments and of the previous three movies stated that the tear on the statue of Caesar at the end of the film was to tell the audience that Caesar's efforts would ultimately fail.[11] The released version of the movie, though, could also interpret Caesar's tear as a tear of joy at the human/ape integration that he achieved.


First tease of National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) (Limited edition) Lawgiver statue. The ‪‎Lawgiver‬ statue measures almost 12″ tall, and stands in perfect scale with the current ‪NECA Classic Planet of the Apes action figures. Made from cold cast, hand-painted resin.


The Lawgiver in Power Records' 'Battle for the Planet of the Apes'; illustration by Arvid Knudsen and Associates The Lawgiver in Marvel's 'Battle for the Planet of the Apes'; illustration by Vicente Alcazar & Sonny Trinidad The Lawgiver in BOOM! Studios' 'Planet of the Apes: The Long War'; illustration by Carlos Magno & Juan Manuel Tumburus

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 POTA Yahoo Group Transcript: Online Chat With Daryl Gregory - Hasslein Books (March 31, 2011)
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Planet of the Apes Returns To Comics - Daryl Gregory Tells All!, by Charles Webb - MTV Geek (March 29, 2011)
  3. Planet of the Apes Revisited, by Joe Russo
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Making of Planet of the Apes, by J.W. Rinzler (2018)
  5. Hollywood Treasures - Syfy Channel, 2010
  6. Planet of the Apes Trivia at IMDb
  7. Planet of the Apes Week promos - Sci Fi Channel, mid-1990s
  8. Planet of the Apes ReVisited, by Les Hemstock - 'Simian Scrolls' #11 (Summer 2005)
  9. 'Battle for the Planet of the Apes' promotional material
  10. Caesar's Last Stand!, by R. Allen Leider - 'The Monster Times' #24 (July 1973)
  11. Planet of the Apes Revisited by Joe Russo and Larry Landsman (Page 211)
Planet of the Apes - The Original Pentalogy Series
Planet of the Apes (APJ) Movies
Planet of the Apes | Beneath the Planet of the Apes | Escape from the Planet of the Apes | Conquest of the Planet of the Apes | Battle for the Planet of the Apes
Main Ape Characters
Zira | Cornelius | Zaius | Ursus | Milo | Caesar | Lisa | Virgil | Aldo | Cornelius II | Lawgiver
Supporting Ape Characters
Hunt Leader | Julius | Marcus | Galen | Honorius | Maximus | President of the Assembly | Lucius | Minister | Minister | Frank | Mandemus
Main Human Characters
George Taylor | Nova | John Landon | Dodge | John Brent | Mendez XXVI | Caspay | Ongaro | Albina | Fat Man | Lewis Dixon | Stephanie Branton | Otto Hasslein | Armando | Breck | MacDonald (Conquest) | MacDonald (Battle) | Kolp | Mendez I
Supporting Human Characters
Stewart | Maddox | Verger | General Winthrop | General Faulkner | The President | Chairman of the President's Committee of Inquiry | E-1 | E-2 | Inspector Hoskyns | TV Newscaster | Mrs Riley | Mutant Captain | Jake | Jake's friend
Horse | Gorilla in Zoo
Items / Weapons
Sacred Scrolls | Human Doll | Alpha-Omega Bomb | Grape Juice Plus
Important Events / Battles
Ape Rebellion
Bellatrix | Orion | Earth's Moon | Ape City | Forbidden Zone | Statue of Liberty | Queensboro Plaza | Radio City Music Hall | Grand Central Terminal | New York Stock Exchange | St. Patrick's Cathedral' | New York City | Jefferson Public School | Los Angeles | Los Angeles Zoo | Forbidden City | Ape City (Caesar's City) | Council
Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes | Exile on the Planet of the Apes | Planet of the Apes: Ursus| Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern | Kong on the Planet of the Apes | Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes
Soundtrack Music
Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | Beneath the Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | Escape from the Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | Battle for the Planet of the Apes (Soundtrack Album) | Music Of The Planet Of The Apes