9/11 references in popular culture?

I remember shortly after 9/11 wondering how soon it would be until we saw references to that tragedy in popular art, more specifically television and movies.

Television? Well, certainly news programs contained references in real time, so I’m not talking about those. Late night talk shows? Pretty much the same thing.

Otherwise, the first references I heard were on those “reality” judge shows. On Judge Mathis a defendant complained that he couldn’t fulfill his end of a contract because he couldn’t deliver a product to the plaintiff in NYC. The scheduled delivery date was 9/11, and no traffic was going in or out of the city. (Amazingly, Mathis didn’t buy this “excuse.”)

That was around Jan. or Feb. 2002. Over the next several months, a few other references trickled in, but only to judge shows (and I sort of remember a reference on a game show).

But not in sitcoms, TV dramas, or movies.

Until recently. An episode of L&O:CI had a plot about Islamic suicide bombers – but nothing specifically about 9/11.

I just saw Spike Lee’s 25th Hour. In the opening shots of that movie were very specific visual references to the event. So I consider that to be the first real occasion of such a reference.

What other popular entertainment has there been? (Spoiler alerts apply, please.)

Not directly to your point(s) but it’s interesting to hear how people “pronounce” that date. Some say “nine eleven” and others say “September 11 or 11th” but at least Bill Maher says “nine one one.” Of all people I’d think he’d know the difference between the date and the emergency phone number.

To your point(s) I’d add the lack of the WTC in skyline shots of the city. The Sopranos removed their picture in the opening montage. I think Sex And The City did, too. It’s sad to see recent movies that were filmed before, but released after, 9/11 with the towers still in evidence. Can’t cite any offhand, but I’ve seen several.

It’s probably going to be a while, either out of respect for the dead, or out of fear of being lynched by the audience(for jokes and such). A lot of people still have a sore spot about it.

There was also that incident where Bill Maher was on his show Politically Incorrect a week after the event and said that it was the US, not the sucidie bombers on the planes who were the cowardly ones in that situation because cowards wouldn’t stick with the plane.

He lost his job very quickly.

Law and Order had a couple of episodes where they referenced the attacks. At one point, Brisco points angrily behind him and says, “There used to be two towers there!” while they were tracking down a suspect.

I haven’t been following that show. Do you remember when those aired?

NYPD Blue has made references. I’d bet that Thrid Watch has too.

NYPD Blue referenced the events as well shortly afterwards.

Zev Steinhardt

I think it was the final episode of the 2001-2002 season. They were tracking down a vigilante who had killed what was a very likely terrorist after his tips to the FBI went unnoticed.

I’ve been watching the Homicide box set and I was amused that Munch was wearing one of those American flag pins a good, what, 8 years before everyone and their brother busted them out?

The 4th season of The Sopranos made direct 9/11 references in at least 2 episodes, including the premiere episode. (Bobby Baccala: “You know, Quasimodo predicted all this shit…”) It was also the season when they removed the WTC from the opening montage.

The Simpsons made a couple references to “America’s Firefighters” or FDNY, which is an indirect 9/11 reference, I suppose.

Other than that, I can’t think of any others. Never watched NYPD Blue, but I did watch the whole 2nd season of “24”, and I can’t recall any 9/11 references in that show, either!

I remember seeing a show, cant remember which it was although I think it may have been Third Watch, or some show like that anyway, who done whole episodes on it, as if there men had been down at the towers.

There was also a special episode of West Wing put together that kind of exists outside the framework of the show. It didn’t specifically reference Sept 11, but showed the white house being locked down after an unspecified terrorist attack and people’s discussion of Islamic terrorism. It aired very shortly after normal TV programming started again.

ASCII comics also make references to the events of September 11th.

Previousthreads on the subject.

Spider-man, for one. The WTC can be seen in lots of background shots throughout the movie and was even featured in some early promo material. After 9/11 the filmakers considered digitally removing them to avoid offending anyone, but decided in the end to leave them in. I found it unexpectedly sad to be watching Peter Parker web-slinging through New York City and see the WTC standing tall in the background.


On a Frasier episode about a year ago, Niles dropped Daphne off at the airport, and apologized for not being able to walk her to the gate, “…with the extra security and all.”

There was an episode of the short lived HBO series “The Wire” in which they were working on a drug bust of some sort with the FBI. Anyways, in a scene one of the main characters is talking with a Federal Agent, when the character asked why there was such a shortage of Agent’s in the FBI’s Narcotics department the Fed’s response was:

“Well, ever since those towers came down everybody has been moved over to Homeland Security and our Terrorism Bureau’s”

It took me by suprise, and even though I can’t remember anyones name from the show or even what city it took place in that specific moment always stands out.

I totally forgot that there was a made-for-FX movie where James Woods played Rudi Giuliani. That aired sometime around February-ish.

In Mary and Carol Higgins Clark’s book "He Sees You While You’re Sleeping: As the hero goes to heaven, he notices a large group of people and is told that "They all came in together. Their lives ended tragically, but they have found peace. Their only worry is the people they left behind. .

The book is dedicated to “The victims of the September 11th tragedies, the friends and family who loved them, and the recuse workers who tried to help them.”

I hope Kinky Friedman and Andrew Vachss mention it in their NYC mystery novels.

The Shield also had some brief reference to “maniacs flying planes into buildings” or something like that.