How 12 Iconic NYC-Based Shows & Films Addressed 9/11 On Screen

Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock.
It's been 15 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Countless tributes will be paid to those who lost their lives, those who survived, those who bore witness, and those who rushed to respond. In the grand scheme of things, how the disaster affected the world of entertainment is, of course, of minor concern. And yet, there's no question the catastrophe had an enormous impact on popular culture, as evidenced by the ways our favorite shows reacted and how the day's tragic events have played out on the big screen. The event has not only impacted our lives and worldview; it's also shaped the things we watch.
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The biggest TV shows of the day, including Friends, Sex and the City, and Law & Order, were all set in New York City. Shots of the World Trade Center had to be cut (see: SVU, The Sopranos). Dedications were added. Scenes were rewritten. Some shows devoted more time than others to addressing the tragedy, though little reminders (Joey wearing an FDNY shirt on Friends honoring a fallen firefighter, for example) were constant.

Films also drew inspiration from the attacks and its impact on the world. Stories both real and fictional have sought to capture the drama and intensity of that day, with mixed results. That will no doubt continue to be the case for decades to come.

Here we examine how notable films and shows reacted, portrayed, and relived 9/11. Note: This is by no means an exhaustive list; for a comprehensive account of the event's impact on entertainment, click here.
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Photo: HBO/Photofest.
Sex and the City (1998-2004)
Though "I Heart NY," the first episode to air after the attacks, was written and titled well before 9/11, many consider it a love letter of sorts to New York City. The credits also feature a dedication to the city and 9/11 victims. According to New York, showrunners scrambled to remove images of the towers from their footage.

Pictured: Chris Noth and Sarah Jessica Parker
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Photo: NBC/Photofest.
Law & Order: SVU (1999-present)
The NYC-based show had its opening and ending credits edited to remove images of the World Trade Center. The first few episodes of season 3 also included this voice-over:

"On September 11, 2001, New York City was ruthlessly and criminally attacked. While no tribute can ever heal the pain of that day, the producers of Law & Order dedicate this season to the victims and their families and to the firefighters and police officers who remind us every day with their lives and courage what it truly means to be an American."

Meanwhile, executive producer Neal Baer canceled plans to work on a miniseries about bioterrorism in the city, telling TV Guide it was "too creepy" in the aftermath of the attacks.

Pictured: Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni in an episode from season 8
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Photo: NBC/Photofest.
Law & Order (1990-2010)
As with SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, the long-running drama's season 12 episodes were introduced with a special dedication. Characters were also seen wearing flag pins, and plots frequently referred to 9/11. A 2002 episode called "The Ring" focuses on the murder of a woman thought to have died in the attacks.

Pictured: Jesse L. Martin and Jerry Orbach
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Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
Third Watch (1999-2005)
This NBC drama released two episodes inspired by the events of 9/11. The first, "In Their Own Words," aired on October 15, 2001, and featured interviews with real-life NYPD and FDNY responders. The next episode was titled "September Tenth."

Pictured: Michael Culley and Eddie Cibrian in 1999
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Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
United 93 (2006)
Paul Greengrass wrote, directed, and co-produced this critically acclaimed drama recounting the final moments of the passengers of Flight 93. Part of the opening weekend's gross was donated to the families of Flight 93 victims, though some relatives objected to how their loved ones were portrayed.

Pictured: Christian Clemenson and Peter Hermann
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Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
World Trade Center (2006)
Nicolas Cage and Michael Peña play real-life Port Authority Police officers who were trapped in the rubble following the collapse of the south tower. Oliver Stone directed the disaster drama, which earned fair to positive reviews.

Pictured: Michael Peña as Officer Will Jimeno
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Photo: Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock.
25th Hour (2002)
Planning for this Spike Lee film was already underway when the attacks happened, prompting the New York-bred filmmaker to add the events to the story. Among the many references: mention of real-life firefighter Mike Moran, shots of the Tribute of Light, and the main character's railing against bin Laden.

Pictured: Edward Norton
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Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock.
Remember Me (2010)
This romantic drama starring Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin threw viewers a curveball with its tragic ending. Pattison's character is seen sitting in an office in the north tower on September 11, and is killed in the attacks.

Pictured: Robert Pattinson
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Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)
This moving adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's 2005 novel follows a young boy trying to solve a puzzle linked to his late father (Tom Hanks), who was killed on 9/11.

Pictured: Thomas Horn as Oskar
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Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
Reign Over Me (2007)
In a rare dramatic turn, Adam Sandler plays a man reeling from the death of his family in the attacks. Don Cheadle plays the old friend who helps him through his grief.

Pictured: Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler
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Photo: NBC/Photofest.
Friends (1994-2004)
The first episode to air after 9/11, "The One After I Do," featured a screen reading, "Dedicated to the People of New York City," the city the characters called home. Another episode from that season was rewritten, as it featured a scene in which Chandler jokes about bombs at the airport.

Pictured: Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, and Jennifer Aniston in "The One After I Do"
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Photo: Columbia Pictures/Photofest.
Julie & Julia (2009)
The film includes author Julie Powell's real-life stint as a worker in a call center processing claims from victims of 9/11.

Pictured: Amy Adams as Julie
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