This is the story of Call of Duty Zombies. The Zombies Timeline can be used to view exactly when these events occurred. Please note that the story is ever-changing based on information introduced in each new map.
Eddie and Samantha Maxis, under the care of Dr. Maxis, play the game "zombies" casually. Edward argues that the zombie's eyes should be blue, and says that Samantha doesn't know how to play right. When Dr. Maxis tells them to lock the windows and go into the basement, Samantha tells Eddie that he can make the rules next time, a reference to Eddie's excitement when he becomes the Announcer, and Eddie says: "I wish the heroes in our stories were real, Sam." Then Samantha replies, "Don't worry, my father has a plan." This cutscene is revealed if the player completes Little Lost Girl in the map "Origins".
During the 1920s, prohibition-era America, mob boss Salvatore DeLuca built a large empire from gambling, prostitution, and the distribution of alcohol. Sal was eventually arrested by the police, along with fellow mobsters Billy Handsome, Michael "Finn" O'Leary and Albert "The Weasel" Arlington. They were all imprisoned on Alcatraz Island, where they were to serve hefty sentences.
Arlington, however, devised a plan to escape the island on a makeshift aircraft designed by himself. He somehow convinces Sal, Billy, and Finn to participate in the escape plan, but soon enough the joint effort between them descended into quarrels and fighting, and, after numerous complications, the three mobsters became mean towards Arlington. The plan was quickly abandoned, and the plane was never constructed, much to the frustration of the mobsters.
Still angry at Arlington for the failure of the plan, Sal, Billy and Finn constructed makeshift weapons and lured Arlington onto the roof of the prison, where they attacked him and left him to bleed to death, on the night of December 31st, 1933.
For the murder of Arlington, the three were sentenced to death by electric chair. Their execution came on the morning of January 19th, 1934.
However, after their death sentence, the group were sent back in time to the night of December 31st, 1933, in an alternate iteration of Alcatraz Prison which is inhabited entirely by zombies and a guard by the name of Brutus. With no memory of Arlington's murder or the failure of the escape plan, they set out to build Arlington's plane and attempt to escape. Their escape is failed after they crash on the Golden Gate Bridge. Eventually, the four mobsters are killed by zombies, then reappear in the prison again and start building the plane again, resulting in an endless loop and making escape impossible.
With no escape, the mobsters attempt something else. They learn that, in reality, they are all dead, and their escape plan never came to be. Remembering everything, the mobsters once again set out to kill Arlington.
If Sal, Billy and Finn kill Arlington, the "cycle continues" and the mobsters die again and come back to life, with only Weasel having any memory of what happened before.
If Arlington successfully defeats Sal, Billy and Finn, "the cycle has been broken," leaving Arlington free to escape the bridge as the only mobster left.
In the midst of World War I, the German research organization known as Group 935 are tasked with creating powerful new weaponry to ensure victory for the Central Powers.
During September of 1917 Dr. Maxis and his partner Dr. Edward Richtofen lead an archaeological excavation into the trenches of northern France after Dr. Maxis promises Group 935's leaders that this is the location of an unknown and enigmatic new element. The excavation not only discovers this new element but also uncovers a mysterious and ancient ruin beneath the battlefield. Dr. Maxis classifies the new element as number 115 on the periodic table of elements. The group plan to use Element 115 as a power source for new weaponry in the Wonder Weapon program. At the excavation site, Group 935 installs a series of conversion generators that utilize element 115 to create localized energy fields. To their surprise the energy fields act like portals and begin to materialize advanced machinery of indeterminate origin, leading Maxis to surmise that the conversion of element 115 is somehow capable of creating a crease or tear in space and time.
As the excavation continues, Group 935 discover more wonders such as an ancient box capable of delivering weapons from various time periods, further confirming Maxis' suspicion that Element 115 has time-altering properties. Dr. Richtofen takes part in the creation of at least four giant mechanical humanoids whose creation is only possible due to the use of Element 115 as a power source. Group 935 plans to deliver these to the German Army for use in battle.
It is at this time Richtofen notices Maxis start to show signs of paranoia and mental psychosis. The symptoms worsen as Maxis begins to hear the voice of a child named Samantha who claims not only to be his daughter but also that she is trapped in a realm known as Agartha and needs his help to escape. Due to Samantha's constant interference with their work, Richtofen fears for his friend Maxis' safety and grows to despise Samantha.
Meanwhile, the excavation in Northern France unearths a sealed main chamber within the ancient ruins. All attempts to open this chamber are unsuccessful until purely by chance, one of the workers sets up a gramophone for entertainment. When the gramophone begins to play music, the chamber seal opens revealing cryptic writing on the walls. Maxis studies the writing and learns of an ancient race and their ability to create powerful devices such as an 'Amplification Rod' and 'Elemental Stones'. According to the writing, the Amplification Rod is capable of harnessing energy from the Elemental Stones. The excavation group has found neither the rod nor the stones so Maxis instructs Richtofen to create four replica rods or 'Elemental Staffs' while continuing to search for the original devices.
When presenting the idea, Richtofen began to question Maxis' actions, believing the Amplification Rod to be a myth. Convinced of his insanity, he planned to report his mental instability to Group 935's leaders, while Samantha began to communicate more frequently with Maxis, now attempting to convince him of her being his future daughter. One night, as a team of soldiers were installing more generators, they reported seeing strange and ancient figures emerging from the mound and finding many of the men dead or missing by morning. As more figures emerged, now revealed to be corpses reanimated by Element 115's powers, the test site slowly became infected by the creatures, with Maxis himself slowly turning.
The reports of the creatures provoked the United States to send Tank Dempsey to the test site to investigate the group's work, and acquire Dr. Richtofen as a H.V.T. Meanwhile, civil war-torn Russia did the same, believing the Germans had been gearing up to unleash a dangerous new weapon and sent Nikolai Belinski to undertake the mission. The Emperor, wishing to seize the German weaponry for Japan, sends Takeo Masaki. As the three soldiers made their way to the site, Richtofen attempted to preserve Maxis' mind and prevent it from succumbing to the disease, and removed his brain.
Eventually, the four heroes meet and agree to put aside their country's allegiances to band together and survive the zombie attack and Group 935's mechanical robots, while being contacted by Samantha in the midst of battle begging to be released from Agartha. While Tank, Nikolai, and Takeo agreed to help, Richtofen focused on creating a makeshift quadrotor drone using Maxis' brain, allowing him to live temporarily until a human body could be provided. The four are able to open a portal to Agartha beneath the ruins, allowing Maxis to meet his future daughter and Samantha to be freed from controlling the zombies. The zombie outbreak was contained. Months later, the war would end in an Allied victory after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
21 years later, the world would once again be threatened by a second world war after Germany's chancellor and supreme dictator Adolf Hitler rose to power. Dr. Maxis, now returned to a younger and suitable human body, reunited Group 935 as an international German-led research team, and emerged as its head scientist. Rather than their previous goal, Maxis sought to use Element 115 to improve the human condition by developing advanced technologies, and enlisted Dr. Richtofen as his senior assistant rather than equal partner, much to his chagrin. However, the group's goal immediately detoured due to a lack of funding, and Maxis regretfully turned to making a contract with the Nazi Wunderwaffe Program to use 115 as a power source for deadly new weaponry to help the Axis Powers win the war. Maxis hoped that after the war, the generous funds and Germany's ultimate victory would put Group 935 in a much better position to help the world.
Using a large supply of Element 115 found in meteors, Maxis began a series of tests experimenting with 115 being used to power devices capable of teleportation, called MDTs, at the Der Riese facility in Lower Silesia. While the majority of the tests failed, Richtofen and another 935 scientist, Dr. Schuster, conducted a successful test on their own by teleporting a walnut using a small amount of Element 115. Though Edward assumed it was a sign of progress, Maxis criticized the scientists for failing to work on their assigned experiments, which led Richtofen into thinking that Maxis planned to betray the scientists and claim their work as his own. Despite Maxis' displeasure, Richtofen and Schuster continued their research with the MDT device, and after a month of tests, Richtofen agreed to be teleported himself. But rather than appearing at the test site's mainframe, he arrived within a catacomb on the moon, where a large, triangular device known as the MPD was located. After touching the device, Richtofen began hearing a series of voices in his head, unknowingly gaining schizophrenia from the pyramid before being teleported away from the strange device. Arriving in an exotic shrine in the Himalayan jungles known as Shangri-La, Richtofen remained there for three weeks and learned of a mysterious energy force known as the Vril.
Richtofen returned to the Der Riese facility with full knowledge of the MPD and the Vril, and with Schuster and other Group 935 scientists, spent two years building a top-secret moon base, Griffin Station, to study the device, which he now knew to be a dimensional gateway to the Aether. Placing Schuster and his superior, Dr. Groph, in charge of the facility, Richtofen continued his charade as Maxis' senior assistant, whom he planned to eventually kill and enter the Aether using the MPD to take control of its energy. As Groph and Schuster toiled with the device, Maxis and Richtofen began a project to create Wonder Weapons for the Nazi Party. Richtofen used the element to create the Wunderwaffe-DG2, a weapon so deadly even Maxis himself felt uneasy about its mass-production. Nonetheless, he promised Richtofen it would be produced, but his growing attraction with his secretary Sophia prevented him from doing so.
While other weapons were produced from several Group 935 facilities, such as the Quantum Entanglement Device made by Richtofen and the second generation Ray Gun created by Dr. Porter, Maxis focused his attention on the matter transference devices, hoping to manufacture them to the Wehrmacht granting German forces easy travel in the war. The initial tests failed, with test subjects either being killed or exposed to Element 115, resulting in their deceased cells being reanimated and becoming unresponsive zombies. However, the first successful test would be conducted after a dog had been sent through the device and failed to return to the mainframe. While Maxis believed the MDT experiments to be failures, the Reichstag saw the creation of the zombies as another advantage in the war, forcing Maxis to control the zombies.
During the unsuccessful attempts to control the zombies, Richtofen traveled to a Siberian Group 935 outpost to experiment with 115 on living test subjects, hoping to procure a serum capable of rendering the human mind responsive to commands from another. Using POWs from the war, two of which were his former allies during the incident at Northern France, Richtofen used Red Army sergeant Nikolai Belinski, Imperial Army captain Takeo Masaki and an unknown Mexican as subjects in these tests. Through the process, their memories were erased and the Mexican was killed, forcing Richtofen to request a replacement test subject. After an American OSS spy, Dr. Peter McCain, who was inserted into Group 935 to report all ongoing experiments to his handlers at the Nevada Base, was compromised at the 935 facility at the Wittenau Sanatorium in Pankow, Berlin, a Marine recon team was sent to evacuate him. The team, lead by Tank Dempsey, found the site infested with the undead and their extraction plan quickly failed, with Dempsey being the only survivor and Richtofen's newest test subject. Peter was parachuted into the Rising Sun facility, where he was killed upon his landing. Another recon team was sent to an airfield in attempt to rescue the site from the zombies that were populated there.
Richtofen became suspicious of other OSS operatives in the organization, with Dr. Harvey Yena being one of his suspects. Yena also present at the Siberian site developing the Scavenger sniper rifle. Nonetheless, Richtofen continued his work with 115, which yielded interesting results with each test subject- Dempsey acquired severe anger management issues; Belinski became functionless without some form of alcoholic substance; and Masaki's mind was broken with him only speaking Japanese proverbs. As this research continued, Dr. Groph and Dr. Schuster developed the Wave Gun and turned their attention to the MPD.
When both scientists returned to Der Riese, World War II was at an end, resulting in an Allied victory and the collapse of the Third Reich. With 935 no longer funded and a test site overrun, the future looked grim, though Maxis pressed on to improve the human condition. Conducting a sixth test with the MDT, hoping to mass-produce it for public use, Maxis and Richtofen used Fluffy as the test subject, and to their astonishment, successfully teleported her from the test chamber and spawned an orb of lightning in its place. As this occurred, Samantha arrived at the lab, questioning her father on Fluffy's disappearance. The dog quickly returned through the lightning, with 115 reanimating her deceased cells and turning her into a being known as a Hellhound. As Maxis and his daughter attempted to approach the monster, Richtofen proceeded with his plan by locking them in the chamber, believing it to have killed by the dog.
Unbeknownst to Richtofen, Samantha arrived at Griffin Station where the MPD awaited open and ready for a human conduit. Terrified from a lack of air, Samantha accidentally ran into the device itself, entering the Aether and gaining control of its energy. Dr. Groph immediately contacted Richtofen and warned him of Samantha and Maxis having survived, and received commands to locate Maxis and bring him to the station to finish him off. Using the MPD's ability to teleport matter, Schuster and Groph teleported Maxis to the base, where they allowed him to speak with Samantha. After promising he loved her, Maxis asked his daughter to use the Aether's powerful energy to destroy Group 935 and anyone daring to continue their dangerous work, which she promised to fulfill. Upon being shot, Maxis' soul became conjoined with the computer systems of Griffin Station while Samantha commanded the zombie hordes located at numerous 935 outposts to slaughter anyone involved with the organization.
Richtofen hastefully escaped Der Riese, now overrun with zombies, with his three test subjects, remembering their skills in combat from his previous interactions with them. Realizing that Samantha was in control of the Aether, he devised an alternative plan to gain ultimate power- use a Vril-generating device and sufficient supply of 115 to bend life force itself, allowing him to switch his soul with Samantha's and enter the Aether as an all-powerful being. After arriving at the Rising Sun facility to locate a supply of the element, Richtofen discovered the site to be populated by zombies, forcing him and his allies to fend off the hordes. Due to a possibility of being overwhelmed, the four abandoned the site and returned to Der Riese, where Richtofen hoped to use an MDT prototype to arrive at Griffin Station in the same fashion as Samantha to possibly enter the Aether in another fashion.
After attempting to teleport with a Wunderwaffe DG-2, an MDT to overload and rip through space and time, sending the group into the future to an abandoned theater in Germany. After disappearing from the Der Riese, a Russian and American standoff took place, as both forces wanted to salvage the work of Group 935 for the benefit of their own countries, followed by a massacre of the zombie population there.
Sometime prior the characters' arrival at the Soviet Cosmodrome, a Russian scientist Yuri Zavoyski was transferred from Project Mercury to work on sending monkeys into space, much to his dismay. His transfer was caused by his superior, Gersch, who he holds a grudge against after the relieving of his duty from Project Mercury. As Gersch is working on Project Mercury, his staff is working on Project Thunder. Yuri notices a teddy bear and Matryoshka Dolls and wonders how a child could be let into the station. The child, Samantha, then slowly drives Yuri insane. Yuri, in his state of insanity, finishes the Gersch Device and has Gersch activate it, letting in the zombies and trapping Gersch. Yuri presumably dies.
After the events of Kino der Toten, the main characters somehow reached the abandoned Soviet Cosmodrome. The characters then hear Gersch, who tells them that the mechanism must be repaired. He is referring to the Casimir Mechanism, which must be repaired by completing different tasks. After all of the tasks are completed and the mechanism is repaired, Gersch is freed, leaving Samantha free to be ridden of in the Aether.
At the same time, John F. Kennedy, Robert McNamara, Fidel Castro, and Richard Nixon are negotiating when zombies break into the Pentagon. They are the only four still alive in the building and discover a secret lab under the Pentagon with many of the technologies what Group 935 were attempting to develop.
As they continue fighting, Dempsey and Takeo slowly begin to regaining their memory. Takeo is the first to remember, and remarks to himself that some day when the group is finished fighting zombies, Richtofen will get what he deserves. Dempsey, on the other hand, is slowly making progress, as he remembers that he'd seen Richtofen before being captured. Takeo notes his shifting memories and believes Dempsey is finally remembering what Richtofen did to him.
George A. Romero stumbled upon Group 935's research while making a WWII film. He and the cast took a ship out to the now abandoned lab in Siberia. After he and the movie's crew were zombified by the remains of the ship's crew, only Sarah Michelle Gellar, Robert Englund, Danny Trejo, and Michael Rooker remained alive. After the Casimir Mechanism was completed in Ascension, it overloaded the teleporter and sent the original characters to a Group 935 facility in Siberia, where they were trapped behind a locked door. Richtofen then asked the celebrities to help him obtain the Golden Rod, which they did. Richtofen thanks the group by giving them the Wunderwaffe DG-2 to help them fight the zombies. It is unknown what became of the celebrities after helping the group escape to Shangri-La.
Shangri-La, a temple that was once a mining facility for Element 115, however, does not live up to its name, as its inhabitants have all been zombified before the group's arrival. Richtofen now states that this was the last step to controlling the world before he is teleported there. Prior to the group's arrival at Shangri-La, two explorers, Brock and Gary, went on an expedition to prove their theories on Agartha. Brock later figures out that the temple wasn't built by an ancient civilization, but by people in the modern era interpreting it. After investigating the temple, the pair accidentally activated the temple's time travel and died in the resulting zombie attack. The group travels back in time and helps the pair survive. When the group finally creates the Focusing Stone and places on an altar with Richtofen's name on it. The two explorers are then sent back to the moment they discovered the temple, indicating that they're stuck in a never-ending loop.
Now in possession of both the Golden Rod and the Focusing Stone, Richtofen believes he can now control the zombies. The group then travels to Area 51 so they can get to the Moon via a teleporter to Griffin Station. When the group reaches Area 51, it is already overrun. Due to the Element 115 on the Moon, astronauts and scientists sent there have been zombified before the group's arrival.
Richtofen then has the group complete the MPD. When the device is completed, it opens up to reveal Samantha Maxis, suspended in the air. As it turns out, the device acts like a prison and keeps her cryogenically frozen so she can be used to control the zombies. Richtofen goes to a terminal to power up the Golden Rod and the Focusing Stone, which he fuses together. However, he encounters Dr. Maxis inside the terminal, who tries to stop him. Richtofen switches souls with Samantha to gain control of the zombies. Richtofen finally thinks everything has gone his way, until Takeo, Dempsey, and Nikolai decide to stop him. Dr. Maxis, sensing Richtofen's betrayal, prepared a backup plan in case Richtofen got this far. The group then launches three missiles located on the Moon, one of which impacts the nuclear testing site, destroying the Earth's ozone layer in the hopes that it will sever the link between to the Aether, thereby greatly lessening the damage Richtofen could cause. Unfortunately, the calculations were made in haste, resulting in catastrophic destruction.
The missile launch leaves the Earth a post-apocalyptic crumbling wasteland, littered with undead hordes as civilization begins to collapse. As survivors begin to band together to form small human communities and shelters to protect themselves from the now global-undead threat, Maxis realizes the failure of his original plans due to hasty calculations and begins contacting survivors to help him with his "Plan B"; to activate global polarization devices and open a gateway to the Aether, where he would overpower Richtofen and use its energy to heal the Earth. To complete his plans, Maxis began using electronic devices on Earth to communicate with survivors. Unbeknownst to his followers, Maxis planned to commandeer the Aether's energy for his own use to open the gateway to Agartha, which would ultimately destroy the Earth and its people.
Richtofen, unsatisfied with his limited power to the undead, planned to activate these polarization devices as well, which would grant him further manipulation of both zombies and humans and mend "the Rift", a direct gateway to Agartha that would eternally damn the soul of Samantha Maxis. Limited to communicate with only those capable of hearing the voices of the Aether, Richtofen began his own plight and quest for unlimited power.
Meanwhile, Marlton Johnson emerges as the sole survivor of the events in the nuclear test site and meets Abigail "Misty" Briarton in an abandoned town where they find two more survivors, Russman and Samuel J. Stuhlinger, who have commandeered a robotic bus they have used for transport. There, the four survivors are contacted by Maxis, who reveals the town is a location of a polarization device required for his plans. At the same time, Richtofen contacts Samuel, who has previously eaten zombie flesh resulting in him being able to hear Richtofen, instructing him to foil Maxis' plans by activating the tower in his favor, beginning the race for power between the Germans.
The group is teleported by Richtofen to the crumbled city of Shanghai, China. Maxis regains contact, hoping to gain control of the second tower located there, while Richtofen blackmailed Samuel into helping him acquire the device's power as well, threatening to reveal to his allies his secrets.
Once the second polarization device had been activated by either of the Germans, the group manages to escape the building they were trapped in. Eventually, the group makes it out of the crumbling city of Shanghai and begins journey through the remains of Europe and Africa to reach the Rift, hoping to find answers about the unseen forces commanding them. In Southern Angola, Maxis once again contacts his allies, imploring them to activate the last tower in his favor. Meanwhile, Samuel was tasked for the same objective by Richtofen, as it was also the last tower he needed to mend the Rift and gain his unlimited power.
If the player decides to follow Maxis' Easter Eggs in all three maps and polarize the towers in his favor, a portal to the Aether will open and allow Maxis to become the controller of the zombies and the dimension's energies. He will then proceed with his plans to open Agartha (revealing himself to be just as evil as Richtofen, and announcing that in the process he will destroy the Earth and its surviving inhabitants) and reunite himself with his daughter, Samantha, after returning Richtofen to the physical world spawned as a blue-eyed zombie.
If the player decides to follow Richtofen's Easter Eggs in all three maps and polarize the towers in his favor, the Rift will be mended, eternally damning Samantha to Agartha and allowing Richtofen to retrieve full manipulation of the Aether's energies. With the Earth as his personal playground and Maxis to cease his very existence, Richtofen is now able to leave the Aether at will and uses the body of Samuel Stuhlinger as his physical host.
Unbeknownst to both Germans, Samantha had actually traveled back in time to 1918, during the discovery of Element 115, and arrived in Agartha, starting the cycle all over again, causing a never-ending loop.