Planet of the Apes

Planet Of The Apes: Who Was Patient Zero?

patient zero

Caesar’s journey started by chance when he ended up being adopted and raised by humans. As he grew, so did his intelligence, given to him by an experimental drug before a pandemic put him and his fellow Simians on top. However, one question still remains; who exactly was Patient Zero?

The story of Caesar’s rise and fall during the reboot Planet of the Apes films is one that shows the cruelty of humanity when it becomes selfish and desperate, despite good intentions. Actually, that’s the reason we’re here today. To talk about the humans of the story but to be specific, those from Rise of the Planet of the Apes and how one of them is Patient Zero.

Now before we begin, we need to explain exactly what a Patient Zero is and how it factors in to a pandemic. Also, we’re not going to be talking about COVID-19 so don’t worry. However, if you fear this post will be a little triggering, please do not continue reading.

Who Or What Is Patient Zero?

According to Merriam-Webster, ‘Patient Zero’ is someone who identifies as the first person diagnosed with any type of illness or disease.

In regards to who was Patient Zero in the regards to the outbreak of the Simian Flu, it’s a little difficult to pin point. The reason for this is because there were multiple people exposed around the same time.


So, we cannot look into Patient Zero without examining possible suspects. Now, not all of these will fit with the narrative of what we are told in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Let’s begin with Caesar’s adoptive human family, the Rodmans.

Will Rodman

patient zero
[Credit: TJ Brearton]

The first suspect for ‘Patient Zero’ is Caesar’s adoptive father, Will. He is the reason why the Simian Flu started to begin with. While his intentions were noble, Rodman is the perfect example of when humans become desperate.

As a scientist, Will had been working at GenSys to manufacture a drug to cure Alzheimer’s Disease which was affecting his aging father, Charles. After the drug trials are shut down after a chimpanzee named Bright Eyes goes on a rampage, Rodman smuggles vials home to give to his dad.

However, things take a dive when Caesar, the chimp the father-son duo adopt as a baby, starts to notice Charles’ mental state and condition decline after eight years. Will returns to the lab and makes the mistake of alerting his money-hungry boss Steven Jacobs of what he’s been doing with the drug.

Unfortunately, after Caesar is sent by court order to a Primate Facility in San Bruno, Charles’ mental state declines rapidly, much to the shock of his on. Eventually, he dies in his sleep with Will at his side.

Given that Will was the person to create the ALZ-112 and later the improved or lethal ALZ-113, there’s a chance he was Patient Zero. There’s also proof of this. 10 years after the Simian Flu started, nurse Ellie, her husband Malcolm and stepson Alexander are told by a severely injured Caesar after he is almost assassinated by Koba to take him to his old childhood home.

When the human family get Caesar to the house, it is seen to have marked that there were infected people inside indicating that Will and girlfriend Caroline had the virus and presumedly died there.

Charles Rodman

[Credit: Fusion Movies]

Moving onto our second suspect for ‘Patient Zero’. Charles Rodman was the father of scientist Will Rodman and the adoptive grandfather of Caesar. At an unknown time, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Unlike the other subjects on this list, he was knowingly subjected to the ALZ-112 drug as it was given to him by his son who essentially used him as a human test subject.

Now, given that Charles is a test subject, we’re going to rule him out as the potential Patient Zero. It should noted also that it was the ALZ-113 that was likely the reason the cause of the Simian Flu outbreak. He’d died before Caesar unleashed the new version of the drug on the apes.

Caroline Aranha

patient zero
[Credit: Planet of the Apes Fandom]

The third and final member of the Rodman family is Caroline, the girlfriend of Will and the adoptive mother of Caesar.

Caroline was incredibly taken by Caesar and was more than happy to go on a date with Will. They hit it off and became a family of four with Charles. For the longest time, she had no idea of how her adoptive son had ended up with the Rodmans to begin with.

This ultimately changes when Caesar begins to question who and what he is. Will takes him and Caroline to GenSys where he explains how he’d snuck the then-infant out of the lab in order to save his life. Once they’re at home, the vet is dismayed at how her boyfriend had been using their son as a lab experiment and tells him there are things that can’t be controlled.

After Caesar is sent to San Bruno, Caroline and Will visit him on a regular basis. She is left disgusted at how he’s being treated. It’s possible she was infected after the apes escape the facility. Caesar had unleashed the ALZ-113 a day or two before.

Finally, Caroline was likely inside the Rodman house with Will when it was marked with infected people being inside. It’s possible she was asymptomatic or she could’ve contracted it while waiting for her boyfriend to come back after he went to find Caesar. It has also been stated that the Rodman home was Ground Zero.

Robert Franklin

patient zero
[Credit: Fusion Movies]

Now, according the Robert Franklin page on the Planet of the Apes Fandom, the character is known as Patient Zero. While we agree with this whole heartedly, there’s a lot more to this. He is the first person to show signs and to die, what if there were other people infected before him? There were other scientists exposed to the 113 at the same time he and Will would’ve been. It would’ve depended on how they were exposed to it.

Franklin is the whole reason Caesar ends up with the Rodmans to begin with. If his brother-in-law hadn’t worked in security, he would’ve taken him. The world would not have been in the situation it ended up in. However, Will would’ve still looked for a way to help his father.

Steven Jacobs

patient zero
[Credit: Movie Villain Deaths – Tumblr]

Now, Steven Jacobs is a tough case to determine whether he would’ve been patient zero. We don’t think he would’ve been as he didn’t have much interaction with the apes. However, he did have that final confrontation with Koba before the helicopter was pushed off the bridge. Though, there were no other humans involved as the pilot was dead.

Douglas Hunsiker

patient zero
[Credit: Planet of the Apes Fandom]

Finally, we come to our final subject, Douglas Hunsiker. He was the neighbour of the Rodmans who had his finger bitten by Caesar. This happens when the chimp jumped in to defend Charles. He suffers from a memory lapse due to his returning Alzheimer’s.

Now, his finger being bitten comes before Caesar exposes the apes to the ALZ-113 which is fatal to humans. He is accidentally sneezed on by Robert Franklin who had shown up at the Rodman house to warn Will. This is likely his exposure to it.

Given that Hunsiker was a pilot, it’s possible that he is the one that spread the ALZ-113 around the world. The reason we believe this is the end credits of Rise of the Planet of the Apes shows planes flying.

Who We Think Patient Zero Was

Finally, we come to our opinion. Who do we think Patient Zero was. Well, if we’re honest, it would’ve been either Franklin or Will and Caroline. They interacted with people the most. Not to mention, it would’ve been discovered that the drug that was exposed to the apes had come from GenSys. After all, Caesar had left the canisters at the Primate Facility.

Would Will have been prosecuted? Maybe. Perhaps he was tested and was found to have been exposed. This would mean that he have infected Caroline too since they lived in the same house.

About Author

C.J. Hawkings has written for the now-defunct Entertainment website, Movie Pilot and the still functioning WhatCulture and ScreenRant. She now writes for FanSided and is loving it!

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