The two towers in the Special Victims Unit opening credits.

The World Trade Center in New York City, United States (sometimes informally referred to as the WTC or the Twin Towers) was a complex of seven buildings in Lower Manhattan. Both towers were completely destroyed in the September 11 attacks by al-Qaeda, eight years after a truck bombing failed to destroy it back in 1993.


Completed in 1970, the World Trade Center was the tallest building in the world from 1971 to 1973.

On February 26, 1993, a massive truck bomb detonated in the garage of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, killing 6 people and an unborn child and injuring more than one thousand people. The main bomber responsible was Ramzi Yousef, who was captured in 1995 and is now incarcerated for life in federal prison. Yousef had hoped that the truck bomb would knock the North Tower into the South Tower and kill 250,000 people. He and his conspirators' motive for the bombing was because of the United States' political, economic and military support of Israel.

In 1998, a Mafia mobster-turned-FBI informant and a friend committed a robbery at the Trade Center's Bank of America.

The World Trade Center was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, when 10 of 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 and deliberately crashed them into the Towers. Both towers collapsed an hour after Flight 11 struck, completely destroying both buildings and reducing them to rubble. Along with the attack on the Pentagon and the airliner crash in Pennsylvania, the attacks killed 2,996 people. The man mostly responsible for the attack, Osama bin Ladin, was killed on May 1, 2011 in Pakistan by the U.S. Navy SEALS.

Because all the television shows from the Law & Order franchise are filmed and based in New York City a lot of references have been made to the WTC as well as the building being seen in several episodes.

Prior to the attacks, the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit opening sequence featured two separate shots of the World Trade Center. After September 11, 2001, the show's opening sequence changed, with generic city shots replacing the World Trade Center, starting from Season 3. The original shots can be seen in syndicated episodes and the DVD collections of the first two seasons.

A planned miniseries which would have featured Detective Robert Goren and united the casts of Criminal Intent, Special Victims Unit, and the original Law & Order was cancelled because of the events of 9/11. The plotline centered on a terrorist attack using biological weapons. The cancellation was likely done out of respect and to avoid controversy.

One of the World Trade Center towers has been rebuilt, called One World Trade Center. The construction of 2 World Trade Center has proceeded slowly due to an inability to find tenants.

Post 9/11 References

Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Episode: "World's Fair"

  • Wheeler wondered whether the message 4911 next to Meena Hasni's body was a reference to 9/11. According to the Detective on scene, Petey, it would have been the third attack on a Muslim that month. The hate towards Muslims is very clear in this episode.

Episode: "Undaunted Mettle"

  • Noah Preston was an architect working on a design to replace the WTC which he planned to enter in the selection competition. After Preston's murder, Ben Laurette was seen as the favorite to win the commission.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Episode: "Surveillance"

  • This episode, first aired on 8 March 2002, is believed to be the very first reference to 9/11 in the Law & Order franchise following the actual attacks. At 20:07, a NuTech Security Supervisor told Detective Stabler: "Ever since 9/11, it's been boom time in the security business."

Episode: "Sanctuary"

  • In the episode, a man raped and physically assaulted a Muslim family, claiming it was because his cousin-in-law died in 9/11, resulting in him hating Muslims ever since.
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