World Trade Center in popular culture

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The Twin Towers from Battery Park City

The original World Trade Center was a landmark building complex in Lower Manhattan, New York. The famous Twin Towers (1 WTC and 2 WTC) were completed by 1973 and were among the tallest buildings in the world until their destruction on September 11, 2001. An iconic feature of the New York City skyline for nearly three decades, the World Trade Center has been featured in cartoons, comic books, computer games, films, photographs, and artwork.



  • The World Trade Center can be seen in the cover of Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben's children's book Lisa in New York (The Misadventures of Gaspard and Lisa), which was published in 2002, a year after the building complex was destroyed.[1]
  • In Richard Martin Stern's novel The Tower (1973), a breeches buoy line shot from a helicopter is used to link the World Trade Center North Tower and the fictional World Tower Building. Several people are rescued from an inferno in the World Tower Building by this method.

Comic books and graphic novels[edit]

(Alphabetical by series) Most of the Marvel Comics' heroes reside in New York City, so views of the towers were not uncommon. The World Trade Center complex was featured in numerous other comics, as well.

  • Adventures of Superman #596 was coincidentally released one day after the September 11, 2001 attacks. It depicted, in passing, the Twin Towers as having been damaged but not destroyed, by an alien attack (along with other world landmarks such as the White House, the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House, the Great Wall of China, Big Ben, and the in-universe LexCorp Building).[2] The artist, Mike Wieringo remarked, "The book was completed months ago. The ironic thing is that the damage done by the terrorists is far greater than I could ever portray visually."[3] The book's writer, Joe Casey, could not have intentionally referenced the attacks on the World Trade Center, but DC acknowledged that it mirrored the devastation so vividly that they made the books returnable without penalty to retailers. Many retailers took DC up on this offer, causing the issue to become sought after on the secondary market due to its rarity and general curiosity towards the real-life synchronicity with the 9-11 attacks.
  • Captain America vol. 4 #1 had Steve Rogers arguing with Nick Fury when the former decided to stay and find survivors before heading to Afghanistan.
    • Marvel Comics' Marvel Graphic Novel #17 depicts the Living Monolith standing almost as tall as the World Trade Center and thrusting his giant fist through one of the towers.
  • In the 1989 Damage Control, the Twin Towers were damaged when a giant robot fell on them. Damage Control, a construction company that specialized in repairing superhero-related damage, had the towers repaired (although visibly crooked) by the end of the issue.
  • In the 1992 Mort & Phil comic El 35 aniversario (The 35th Anniversary) appears an image of a plane that crashes into the WTC.[4]
  • The 2004 comic Ex Machina detailed the life of Mitchell Hundred, formerly the world's first and only superhero, who was elected mayor of New York City in the wake of his saving hundreds of lives during the collapse of the North Tower, and in preventing the collapse of the South Tower.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #36 showed the aftermath of the Tower's collapse through the eyes of the heroes, more specifically, Spider-Man's.
  • In 1985 The Uncanny X-Men #189 continued the alternate vision of the future first seen in the Days of Future Past storyline. Rachel Summers (who came from the future), while describing the dire future of the early 21st century, says "The Twin Towers of World Trade Center lie in ruins. Thousands are dead, many more injured". The accompanying image is of a somewhat futuristic Twin Towers smouldering after having been hit by an unknown attack.
  • The 1986 graphic novel Rebel, by Pepe Moreno, depicted the two towers being destroyed in a post-apocalyptic 2002 setting.



Cartoons and anime[edit]

(Alphabetical by series)

  • In the anime Eden of the East, the Freedom Tower can be seen in the background. When mentioning the subject of the destroyed Twin Towers, Takizawa takes a picture of himself and Saki in a background that is reminiscent of 9/11. The series is set in the year 2010–11.
  • In the animated sitcom Family Guy:
    • In the episode "Baby Not on Board", Peter and the family visit Ground Zero.
    • In the 2002 episode "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows", Brian performs a musical number to Pearl about how America has changed since the 1950s. Many cut scenes show places around the United States, including a shot of the Twin Towers. When the episode aired in 2002 on Fox, the two towers were digitally altered to look like generic buildings. Other airings of this episode (including the DVD release of Family Guy's third season) have shown the Twin Towers intact.
    • In the episode "Hannah Banana", the September 11 attacks are seen as an Islamic man crashing a bicycle into one of the Twin Towers.
    • In the episode "Back to the Pilot", Brian informs his past self from 1999 of the attacks on the WTC, allowing his past self to prevent them and, consequently, prevent George W. Bush from winning the 2004 U.S. Presidential election. The latter then reformed the confederacy while based in Texas; as a result, eight southern states joined and initiated a Second American Civil War.

Live action television[edit]

(Alphabetical by series)

  • The 2003 HBO miniseries Angels in America (which takes place in the late 1980s) is noteworthy as being the first major post-9/11 production to digitally insert the towers in the New York City skyline.
  • From 2007–2009, 7 World Trade Center's facade is used as the preface to scenes in ABC's Dirty Sexy Money for the office of Patrick "Tripp" Darling III.
  • On Fringe:
    • During the final scene of the season one finale of Fringe, the World Trade Center is seen intact in a parallel universe of New York City. The main character, Olivia Dunham, is revealed to be in an office in the South Tower in an alternate reality of 2009, in which the World Trade Center was not destroyed on September 11, 2001. A newspaper headline reading "OBAMAS SET TO MOVE INTO NEW WHITE HOUSE" suggests that the White House was destroyed on September 11 in this alternate timeline instead of the Towers, and has just recently been rebuilt.[5]
      • The pan shot uses both real footage and CGI. As the shot pans out, it is visually clear that the Twin Towers are CGI, as the darker "bands" (the Skylobbies) are not visible. After sun flashes onto the screen, the Towers are less dark and have darker "bands."
    • Following that episode, the show uses the Twin Towers as a frequent point of reference to indicate when a certain scene takes place in the parallel universe.
    • 2011 – Peter Bishop appears 15 years into the future in Season 3, standing outside of One World Trade Center.
    • From 2008–present, Fringe depicts the rebuilt 7 World Trade Center as the headquarters of commercial conglomerate Massive Dynamic, and the Twin Towers still standing as of 2011 (Season 4) in a parallel universe. Massive Dynamic was also headquartered in the World Trade Center's South Tower in the episode "Brown Betty".
  • In a first season episode of Journeyman the Twin Towers are seen in picture on the front page of a San Francisco newspaper when the main character goes back in time before the terrorist attacks.
  • In a 2005 episode of Lost the Twin Towers are seen out of the window of a New York solicitor's office. They were digitally inserted to show the time frame of the episode.
  • McCloud: in several episodes throughout the series, the World Trade Center can be seen in various stages of construction. The opening credits of Seasons 1 and 2 show both towers still under construction. During a scene on a ferry in the season three episode titled "A Little Plot At Tranquil Valley", a completed North Tower and a partially constructed South Tower can be seen in the background. The towers also appeared in the opening credits of later seasons when McCloud was carried by a helicopter across Manhattan.
  • The TV series Medium's seventh season episode "Where Were You When...?" features a quick shot of the burning towers.
  • In the first and second intro of Power Rangers: Time Force (2001), the Time Shadow was seen standing on the Twin Towers, just before the title of the show appears. After the events of 9/11, Fox Kids chose to remove the towers from the intro.
  • In the first season of Rescue Me (2004–2011), the main character of Tommy Gavin has several flashbacks to 9/11, both before and after the towers fall. 9/11 is mentioned through the entire season featuring four firefighters who were lost on that day. One of them appears in almost every episode as a vision to Tommy. Rescue Me was the first TV show to show a dramatized depiction of the events of 9/11.
  • In Star Trek: Enterprise (2001–2005), an image of the Twin Towers burning was visible in a panorama of historical images present in the timestream, when Daniels informed Jonathan Archer that time had been altered and set back on course. The episode is a two-parter called "Storm Front."
  • The 2005–2006 Portuguese soap opera Tempo de Viver devoted its entire first episode to a diamond heist in a South Tower corporate office. A subsequent confrontation as the would-be thief is caught is violently interrupted by Flight 11 crashing into the North Tower. The characters involved then scramble to leave the South Tower after it is also struck. Fictional footage of the attack as seen from the interior of the office was digitally created, but stock footage was also used for other scenes and later flashbacks.
  • As construction of the World Trade Center progressed, it began appearing in later seasons of the Marlo Thomas series That Girl.
  • The pilot of the TV series The Lone Gunmen, first aired March 4, 2001, had the gunmen thwarting a plot to fly a jet into the World Trade Center. In the episode, a faction of the U.S. government is behind the plot; they hope to blame the attack on another country's dictator and use it as an excuse to start a war with him.[6]
  • The third season of NBC's The West Wing was postponed; instead; a special episode called Isaac and Ishmael was run. The episode started with the main characters paying tribute to the victims of 9/11, and dealt mainly with terrorism.
  • The TV series Third Watch (1999–2005), set in New York, featured many shots of the Towers during the show's first 2 seasons. One final shot appeared in the episode September 10, set the day before the attacks.
  • These buildings were seen in the music video Just Crusin' which was created by Will Smith in 1997.

Televised advertisements[edit]

  • An Anheuser-Busch advertisement for Budweiser beer features the company's signature Clydesdale horses appearing to pay their respects to the tower-less New York skyline. It was aired during Fox Sports's TV broadcast of Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, as well as on the tenth anniversary of the attacks, during that day's National Football League (NFL) games.[7]
  • The Twin Towers had appeared on the cityscape graphic that appeared on cans of Chock full o'Nuts coffee. The graphic was later revamped with the towers removed after 9/11.
  • In Eurosport`s Olympic Magazine commercial, a few seconds of the beginning of the North Tower collapse are shown.

Video games[edit]

  • In Aero Fighters 2 (1994) for the Neo-Geo, the first half of the U.S. level takes place in New York City, featuring the World Trade Center in the background. The player is able to destroy the buildings, along with all others in New York City.
  • The 1990 arcade game The Combatribes features the World Trade Center Towers on the title screen as the game's action takes place across New York. The 1992 Super NES version of the game shows the characters heading back towards the Twin Towers in the ending cutscene.
  • Shortly after the attacks, the now defunct Westwood Studios pulled all remaining copies of the 2000 real-time strategy game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, whose box contained artwork of New York City under attack by invading Soviet forces; notable landmarks depicted under attack included the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. The single player campaign of the game also contains a pair of missions in which the player was instructed to destroy The Pentagon and capture the World Trade Center as well as being able to destroy it. Westwood retooled the box art before re-releasing the game.[8]
  • The first level of the 2000 game Deus Ex, set in 2052, encompasses Liberty Island and a bombed Statue of Liberty. The section of the New York City skyline containing the Twin Towers is absent, to reduce memory requirements for the map. The reason that the developers gave, if anyone asked, was that they had been destroyed by terrorists: "We just said that the Towers had been destroyed too, and this was way before 9/11… years. That's kind of freaky."[9]
  • Driver (1999) features 1 and 2 World Trade Center, and The Sphere, in its depiction of New York – the final city unlocked. On "Take a Ride" mode, the player starts on a road just south of (and facing) the South Tower. On original issues of the game, the box art showed the twin towers. In later issues of the game released after 9/11, the twin towers were removed from the box art.
  • Driver: Parallel Lines (2006) features a slightly modified World Trade Center complex in the game's depiction of New York City in 1978, lacking the Marriott World Trade Center hotel and 7 World Trade Center (since both were completed in the 1980s). The complex also features The Sphere sculpture, though unlike the real World Trade Center, a road divides the complex in two. In the latter half of the game, set in 2006, the entire area is replaced by a fenced-off building site.
  • In Grand Theft Auto III (2001), it is believed the World Trade Center was to make an appearance. Due to the city, Liberty City, in which the game takes place in being based on New York, and was intended to have released Fall 2001, the game at one time may have contained the World Trade Center. It was reported that the World Trade Center was entirely deleted, flight paths in game for the scripted plane AI were altered to fly farther away from the downtown area, and a mission ark and character involving terrorism was removed. Users on a GTA forum online were able to conclude that the World Trade Center was once occupying the "Love Media Building"`s site, but that it was replaced with a new unrelated tower.
  • Parasite Eve (1998), set within Manhattan and making direct remarks to areas such as Central Park, features 1 and 2 World Trade Center in its opening FMV shot, as the camera slowly pulls out of a close-up of the Statue of Liberty.[10]
  • In Hybrid Heaven (1999), for the Nintendo 64, in the main title screen, it shows the World Trade Center at New York City at night time.
  • The 1988 arcade game Vigilante features a panoramic shot of New York City on the title screen. Included is the World Trade Center. This same title screen was included in the TurboGrafx-16 version. In the background during gameplay is the New York skyline, including the World Trade Center's twin towers.
  • Max Payne (2001) features the World Trade Center in several billboards for the fictional company "Aesir" and during the graphic novel cutscenes. They are also visible in the background in the beginning of the mission "The American Dream". The buildings were visible in the PC version of the game, however they were removed from the PlayStation 2 and Xbox ports of the game, which were released three months after the September 11 attacks.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001) featured a major plot on a ship going down the Hudson River in New York, with the World Trade Center included. The building was cut from the game, delaying both games' releases.[8]
  • In response to the events of September 11, Microsoft announced that future versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator would not include the Twin Towers in the game's New York City skyline. A patch was also made available to remove the World Trade Center buildings from the existing versions of the simulator.[8]
  • Midnight Club: Street Racing (2000) features the entire complex, where players can drive into the Austin Tobin Plaza in between the Twin Towers. They can also gain access to the underground parking garage beneath the World Trade Center – the site of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
  • In the 1998 Nintendo 64 game Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA, the entire World Trade Center complex is featured on the 'New York: Downtown' track. Buildings 1–6, and the western pedestrian bridge are all accessible to drive around. The stairways on both sides of the complex double as jumps for the racers.
  • The 1999 PC game Sim City 3000 features the North and South Towers as buildable landmarks.
  • The 2004 video game Spider-Man 2, the game adaptation of the film, features a virtual Manhattan which included a large plaza, bearing resemblance to the Tribute in Light memorial, on the World Trade Center site.
  • Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro (2001), featured the roofs of 1 and 2 World Trade Center in the final stage. The level involved battling Hyper-Electro and the antenna atop the North Tower was crucial in defeating the villain. The game was originally released in North America on August 26, 2001, though the game was pulled after the September 11 attacks and re-released on October 17, 2001, with a modified final stage so that the buildings less resemble the Twin Towers.[8] The PAL version of the game was never released prior to the attacks.
  • Streets of Rage, a game released in 1991 on the Sega Genesis, features the Twin Towers in the background of the final boss battle, which occurs in the Marriott World Trade Center hotel.
  • Streets of Rage 2 (1992), sequel to Streets of Rage, features the World Trade Center in the opening scene of the game. They are also visible in the background of the second level.
  • The 1994 action game Urban Strike, the third in the Strike series, features a scene where a giant laser deflects from a satellite, hitting the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. Further missions take place involving the effects of this, at the World Trade Center. Ironically, the game takes place in a fictional/alternate 2001 timeline.
  • The 2005 video game True Crime: New York City features a fenced-off "Ground Zero".
  • In Tycoon City: New York (2006), the World Trade Center is paid tribute to in the form of two very tall trees standing side by side, representing the Towers. Further into the park, there is a Pentagon-shaped base, with an American Flag at half mast. An inscription on the side reads We Will Never Forget.
  • In World in Conflict (2007), the NYC teaser trailer for the game prominently features the World Trade Center in the NYC skyline during a U.S. Ranger assault on Governor's Island, which has been occupied by the Soviets in an alternate timeline in which the Cold War culminates into World War III between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The game is set in an alternate 1989, twelve years before the events of 9/11. In the tenth level, "Liberty Lost", the World Trade Center is featured prominently in the background during the player's efforts to recapture Governor's, Ellis, and Liberty Islands.
  • The laser disc arcade game Cobra Command (1984) features the Twin Towers prominently in the New York City level. It is possible for the player to crash a helicopter into one of the towers.
  • Tekken 2 (1995) for the arcade and the PlayStation features the World Trade Center in Paul Phoenix's stage.
  • Manhunter: New York (1988) features establishing shots of the city, including the Twin Towers, still standing in an alternate future where the world is taken over by the Orbs.
  • Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (arcade game) (1993) The game begins with a panoramic view of New York in the year 2393 about where you can see the World Trade Center in the background.
  • Crude Buster (1991) was a beat 'em up set in NYC in the year '2010 AD'. The Twin Towers are depicted in the intro about a post-apocalyptic New York in control by a criminal gang with bio hazard weapons plus are a focal point in the start screen.
  • Propeller Arena was a cancelled Dreamcast aerial dogfight game, since leaked on the internet, that features a Twin Towers style building.
  • King of Monsters 2 for the Neo-Geo has the Twin Towers in the first level, there is a bonus for destroying them.
  • In the video game EmergeNyc, the twin towers replaced the One World Trade Center as of version 0.3.5.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gutman, Anne Gutman & HallenslebenGeorg (2002). Lisa in New York (The Misadventures of Gaspard and Lisa). Knopf Brothers for Young Readers. ISBN 9780375811197. 
  2. ^ Yezpitelok, Maxwell (2010-11-08). "6 Eerily Specific World Events Predicted by Comics". Weird World. Retrieved 2012-07-19. 
  3. ^ Watson, Donna (September 14, 2001). "Superman Comic Showed Attack". Scottish Daily Record. 
  4. ^ September 11 Premonitions, Dark Roasted Blend (blog), September 10, 2007.
  5. ^ McNutt, Myles (May 12, 2009). "Season Finale: Fringe – There’s More Than One of Everything". Cultural Learnings. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  6. ^ Transcript of pilot episode
  7. ^ Archived from the original on December 4, 2007. Retrieved August 5, 2006.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ a b c d "Game makers blot out signs of WTC tragedy". The Hollywood Reporter. September 19, 2001. 
  9. ^ IGN: DX: Visible Interview
  10. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Dixon, Wheeler Winston (2004). Film and Television After 9/11. Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 0-8093-2556-X. 
  • Sanders, James (2001). Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-57062-6. 

External links[edit]