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 innumerable films, television shows, cartoons, computer games and comic books.
At the end of the opening credits of Taxi (1978–1982), the Twin Towers can be seen in the distance as the camera pans away from the front of the taxicab driving over the Queensboro Bridge. In addition the towers are frequently seen in the background of establishing shots of the taxi garage, which was located in the West Village of Manhattan, a short distance from the WTC.
Kojak (1973–1978); as Kojak was set primarily in Lower Manhattan, the towers make numerous appearances throughout the show's run. During early episodes of Season 1, many shots show the South Tower still with a construction crane on its roof, and with the aluminum cladding missing from its topmost floors.
The towers are used extensively in The Simpsons episode The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson in 1997. Because of the World Trade Center's central role, the episode was initially taken off syndication in many areas following the September 11, 2001 attacks, but has come back into syndication in recent years.
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.
Beginning with the second season of the sitcom Barney Miller, the opening credits include a shot of the New York City skyline, with the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center prominently featured. Coincidentally the first episode of the season aired on September 11, 1975 and is entitled “Doomsday” and the plot centers on a suicide bomber who wants to destroy the 12th Precinct if his issues with New York State & City government are not addressed.
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.
The Twin Towers made a brief appearance in the Family Matters (1989–1998) episode "Fa La La La Laagghh!" After Carl turned on the Christmas light decorations on the Winslow's house, a malfunction (thanks to Steve?) results in a power outage. First, the Winslow's home goes out, then a row of family homes, then Lower Manhattan, and finally, the entire world. Steve then says "Look what you did."
Several shots of the Twin Towers appear in the introduction and several establishing shots of New York City, some episodes, all including the Twin Towers, for Friends (1994–2004) over the first seven seasons (1994–2001). Pictures of the Manhattan Skyline featuring the World Trade Center also feature on many DVD cases, and DVD box set cases. Every season had a slightly different opening sequence. A new shot of the skyline was shown with the title card; some seasons showed the Twin Towers, others the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building. Later seasons after 9/11 still briefly showed the Towers. The original and main title card used for later seasons has a portion of both towers visible, yet they are not very obvious. The last episode (2004) even included one of the most commonly seen pieces of stock footage, a shot of Lower Manhattan in the late afternoon under the Brooklyn Bridge, panning as far as the South Tower. As of 2007 the Twin Towers are still being shown in establishing shots throughout earlier seasons in reruns, and have not been edited out.
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.
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.
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 an episode of the sitcom Full House, (1987–1995) Stephanie is at home waiting for her date for a school dance to pick her up. She suddenly starts playing with some building blocks and eventually makes the Manhattan skyline. When Danny (Bob Saget) enters and sees what she's made, he comments' "The New York skyline. Wow, the World Trade Center looks as tall as ever."
In Futurama, there is a future WTC in New York, with its appearance very similar to the old one, except with skybridges. In the art for the Volume 1 DVD collection, they are shown as similar to the Petronas Towers.
In the animated series Hey Arnold!, the Twin Towers are prominently seen during the character Helga's dream sequence in the fifth-season episode "Married". The episode first aired March 2002, but the scene was not cut out until later airings. Though the show's setting is never revealed outright, the city's skyline is depicted in several other episodes as containing both the Twin Towers, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Empire State Building.
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.
The Twin Towers appear in the opening title for early episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–present). The sequence is replaced after 9/11 with generic shots of the city.
In 2008, early in the pilot episode of ABC's drama Life on Mars, the World Trade Center buildings are shown as the series is set in 1973. The premise of the show is that the main character is a detective from 2008 who has been transported in time back to 1973.
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.
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.
On Night Court, the World Trade Center towers are shown twice in the opening sequence at the beginning and end.
In the Northern Exposure episode "The Quest", Dr Joel Fleischman returns to New York. He's standing at the rail of the Staten Island Ferry which is covered in fog. As the fog clears, the Twin Towers become visible in the distance. Cable channel A&E aired this episode (the second-to-last NX episode A&E aired) on Thursday, September 13, 2001.
NYPD Blue, a police drama from the mid-1990s, featured the World Trade Center in many of the introductions to the show.
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.
The opening credits of the first three seasons of the HBO mob drama The Sopranos (1999–2007) featured a shot of the World Trade Center as seen from the rear view mirror of Tony Soprano's SUV, as he enters the New Jersey Turnpike. In later seasons, after 9/11, the sequence was replaced with a new view of the Manhattan skyline in which the World Trade Center is absent. Among the things Tony later discloses to his psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi as contributing to his depression is "this whole 9/11 thing."
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."
In the Stick Stickly special, titled Oh Brother, Stick Stickly goes to the Twin Towers to try to find his twin brother.
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.
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.
During the last two seasons of the sitcom The Wayans Bros., shots of each cast member are shown with images of various New York landmarks in the background during the opening sequence, including the WTC, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty (with Shawn's face imposed on the statue). In one episode of the first season, "Afro Cab", an Arabic looking man gets in a cab driven by a Wayans Brother and demands, "Take me to the World Trade Center!" (alluding to the WTC bombing of 1993).
The ABC series Sports Night (1998–2000) often used an establishing shot of the New York skyline in which the Twin Towers were the focal point, though the show was not set in the World Trade Center, as established in the season one episode "The Quality of Mercy at 29K," in which Isaac Jaffe says that he comes to work every day in a "54-story, glass high-rise." (The Towers were each 110 stories).
As construction of the World Trade Center progressed, it began appearing in later seasons of the Marlo Thomas series That Girl.
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 Medium's seventh season episode "Where Were You When...?" features a quick shot of the burning towers.
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 episode titled "A Picture Is Worth a 1,000 Bucks", Peter does a musical number with Meg across NYC, which had the Twin Towers. During the musical, Peter jumps off one of the towers and goes into match cut.
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.
The Twin Towers were depicted in the pilot episode of the animated TV show The Critic.
In the 1994 animated series Gargoyles the Twin Towers are seen in a few episodes (such as the 5 part pilot) as well as the 3rd Season opening of The Goliath Chronicles. The second season episode "The Mirror" has an antagonist gargoyle, Demona, use a magical mirror with help from Puck atop the South Tower at night in order to amplify and broadcast an evil magic spell to all of New York City's human population. Ironically, this episode first aired on September 11, 1995.
In the 1998 animated series Godzilla: The Series The Twin Towers are seen in the intro of the series, and in a few episodes mostly on the Season 2 episode Future Shock, where the Twin Towers are seen lying the Hudson River destroyed in 2022, and character Randy Hernandez quotes "who was playing dominoes with the World Trade Center".
In the 1985 cartoon M.A.S.K., an episode titled "Attack on Liberty" leads Matt Trakker to Miles Mayhem's current hideout – three quarters of the way up the side of the North Tower. Hovering the Thunderhawk outside the window, Matt leaps through the window and confronts Miles, who later escapes and is pursued by Matt around the Statue of Liberty. Mayhem's plot circulated around destroying the Statue and creating a 9/11—style incident.
In the 1994 cartoon The Tick (TV series) an episode titled "The Tick vs. The Proto-Clown" featured twin towers similar to the 2 World Trade Center towers getting destroyed and demolished by an evil mutated clown.
In the 1994 cartoon Fantastic Four an episode titled "Incursion of the Skrull" featured New York City with the 2 World Trade Centers getting destroyed and crumbled by the laser blasters by one of the Alien Skrulls jet planes during the invasion of New York where people in New York are panicking which later turned out to be a handheld video game played by a superhero named "The Thing." This episode happened 7 years before the real world 9/11, 2001 attacks happened.
In the 1994 cartoon Iron Man (TV series) an episode titled "The Grim Reaper Wears a Teflon Coat" shows a simulated video by Tony Stark of what would happen if the "Grim Reaper" fighter jet fell in the wrong hands, it shows New York under attack by exploding missiles which hit both of the World Trade Center Towers. Later Mandarin discusses to MODOK his evil plan to crash the "Grim Reaper" into the U.S. Pentagon. This episode happened 7 years before the real world 9/11, 2001 attacks happened.
In an episode of the 1999 cartoon Mike, Lu, and Og Mike makes a sand sculpture of Manhattan, and she mentions the Twin Towers when showing it to Lu.
In the first episode of the 2001 fantasy animeOVARead or Die, an aerial battle in Lower Manhattan which climaxes around the Statue of Liberty begins with a helicopter crash on the roof of one of the towers.
In the 1997 episode of The Simpsons (season 9) titled "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson", Homer is forced to deal with a mountain of parking tickets issued while his car sat illegally for months in the plaza of the World Trade Center (an unrealistic event after the 1993 bombing, due to a bomb being placed inside a rental truck and parked in garage in the basement). Homer, desperately needing to use the restroom, pushes people out of his way to get a ticket to the elevator into the towers. After pushing other people out of the elevator line to get to the top of the South Tower, Homer discovers the only working bathroom is in the North Tower. Also in the episode, two men in opposite towers begin arguing with each other, and one proclaims "Sorry, they put all the jerks in Tower One", a line which the show's creators expressed deep regret at during the post 9/11 episode commentary on the season 9 box set. This episode has been banned in many countries (including some American affiliates around the time of the 9/11 attacks, though others have aired the episode with many edits to remove the scenes and verbal references to The World Trade Center), but is included in the season 9 box set. Some Fox affiliates continue to show the episode in syndication, including New York City's own WNYW Fox 5, airing the unaltered episode less than two weeks after the towers collapsed.
In the episode New Kids on the Blecch the towers can be seen as L.T Smash sears a battleship into New York Harbor intending to blow up MAD Magazine. This episode was also taken off the air due to a scene where missiles are seen crashing into the MAD Magazine tower causing the building to collapse, providing a character to ask if everyone is okay; another replies "Yeah I feel great...didn't even hurt a bit."
In the 2000 MTV animated series Spy Groove, in the episode entitled "Manhattan Glam Chowder", the villain Mr. Fish is on top of the South Tower of the World Trade Center about to lure Agent #2 into a trap. Later Agent #1 appears on the North Tower and uses a laser to slice the antenna to make a bridge over to the South Tower. This episode did not air in the United States, because the show was cancelled after six episodes. The episode is found in Europe and Canada.
During the season three finale ("The Big Blow Out"), as the Technodrome rampages through New York, Krang uses the Trade Center Towers as the basis of a conduit that will transmit enough energy to propel the earth into Dimension X, where Krang's spacefleet is waiting to destroy New York City.
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 Super Nintendo port of this arcade 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.
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."
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.
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". 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.
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.
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. The PAL version of the game was never released prior to the attacks.
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.
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.
In The Tower (1973) by Richard Martin Stern, 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.
The World Trade Center can be seen in the cover of Lisa in New York, which was published in 2002, a year after the building complex was destroyed.
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-universeLexCorp Building). 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." 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.
In the Aliens: Outbreak graphic novel, Hicks and Newt escape from a mental hospital using "Jet Rescue technology". It was "developed after the World Trade Center Smoked in '24".
The cover of Archie Annual Digest Magazine #65 (September 1994) has a picture of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. It shows a snapshot of Veronica Lodge standing in front of them.
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.
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 1986 graphic novelRebel, by Pepe Moreno, depicted the two towers being destroyed in a post-apocalyptic 2002 setting.
In 1982 Fantastic Four #242–243, the Fantastic Four fight Terrax in a battle atop the World Trade Center.
The comic continuation of the Gargoyles animated series still have the World Trade Center in its backdrop. Creator Greg Weisman went on record to state than in this universe, the towers were never attacked.
Most of the Marvel Comics heroes reside in New York City, so views of the towers were not uncommon.
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.
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.
In the 1992 Mort & Phil comic El 35 aniversario (The 35th Anniversary) appears an image of a plane that crashes into the WTC.
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.
Issue #1 of Valiant Comics's Game Boy comic series had two teenagers going through Manhattan Island, aiding Mario in rescuing Princess Daisy from the villainous Tatanga, the story concluding at the Windows of the World restaurant.