The following is a list of events affecting American television during 2001. Events listed include television series debuts, finales, cancellations, and channel initiations, closures and re-brandings, as well as information about controversies and disputes.
Kevin Olmstead wins a $2.18 million jackpot on the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, making him the biggest winner in American game show history until Ken Jennings' Jeopardy! run three years later.
Viewers around the world witness a terrorist attack on the United States, and the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York City, live on television. Additionally, the ABC and NBC affiliates' broadcast towers are ruined by the attacks, but New Yorkers can still view them by cable and satellite. Most broadcasters abandon regular programming – American networks for more than a week – and numerous major daily talk shows are cancelled for several weeks until their hosts feel comfortable resuming programming.
Although they were first seen during 1952 and used by some television news programs ever since, continually scrolling news headlines along the bottom of the screen become commonplace after the Fox News Channel used it to allow viewers to keep track of the latest developments during the September 11 attacks.
Card Sharks is revived with host Pat Bullard, but due to its dramatically different gameplay, it is cancelled after just 13 weeks.
Dr. Will Kirby is the winner of Big Brother 2, which was delayed by the attacks of September 11, 2001. Runner-Up Nicole Nilson-Schafrich wins $50,000.
Alex Trebek, the longtime host of Jeopardy!, appears for the first time without his trademark mustache.
The start of the 2001–2002 autumn season in the US is delayed as a result of the attacks, with some series such as The West Wing substituting special episodes dealing with the event in lieu of their originally scheduled season premieres. Some series, such as the military-themed series JAG and New York-based Third Watch have to be reformatted in consideration of the attacks.