Thade is depicted as an evolved evil ape general living on an alien planet like all the rest of his species and ruling it's armies. When astronaut Leo Anderson crash lands on the planet after having fallen through an electromagnetic storm, Thade captures him and enslaves him like all the rest of the human beings on the planet. He is the general of the ape army and a respected individual until an ape female named Ari sympathizes with the humans and frees Leo and others. Upon knowing that Thade hunts after them and eventually meets with them in front of the relic of a fallen spaceship that Leo discovers, it belongs to his own crew who crashed on the planet and comes to know that he has really traveled through time by entering the electromagnetic storm.
He also discovers that one of the monkey pets on board of the ship was more intelligent and is the cause for the now evolved apes. After a fierce battle between apes and humans (as well as a few rebel apes), Leo manages to stop Thade by trapping him inside the spaceship. The other apes find out that Thade knew everything about the spaceship and humans, but kept it a secret so he could be the ruler of the planet of the apes. Thade asks for his soldier's help, but upon discovering the treacheries he has committed against his own race, they turn their backs on him and join the humans. When Leo finally manages to return to earth and his own time, he remains shocked to the site of earth now being populated by apes instead of humans, and that the Lincoln Memorial is now a memorial for Thade.
Tim Roth turned down the role of Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in favour of portraying General Thade.
Despite the mixed to negative reception of the film, Tim Roth's performance as General Thade was praised.