It is easy to say that the world has changed since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Some 2,977 lives were lost in those attacks, which took place at New York City’s World Trade Center, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and on United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. Even more died from 9/11-related illnesses that followed.
But that day that so many remember also changed the way Americans wanted their stories. A few films were changed to edit out references to terrorist attacks or even airplanes.
According to What Culture, a Jackie Chan film was canceled because he was supposed to film much of it at New York’s World Trade Center. Disney’s 2002 animated movie “Lilo and Stitch” had a scene cut. It featured the alien hijacking an airplane in a busy city. Some even think that the entire “The Dark Knight” franchise was an allegory for 9/11.
Many other films, shows and performances were altered after 9/11. Still, arguably, no franchise was affected more by the attacks than “Star Trek.”
Fan Theory — ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Was About 9/11
This is summarized very well by a Trek fan on Reddit, who wrote that since 9/11, “Star Trek has constantly been about terrorism in some way.” The writer lays out a compelling argument, which details how “Star Trek: Enterprise” featured a terrorist attack by the Terran Prime group; the story of “Star Trek Into Darkness” was basically about Khan, an exiled extremist; and “Star Trek: Discovery” started with religious attacks from the Klingon Empire against the Federation.
Thanks to a 2014 article by Entertainment Weekly, fans can look back to Robert Orci’s comments on both Trek and 9/11. Orci served as one of the creative minds on “Into Darkness” even argued with fans on a Trek website, saying that “[Star Trek Into Darkness] has infinetly more social commentary than Raiders [of the Lost Ark] in every Universe, and I say that with Harrison Ford being a friend.”
Orci apologized for those comments on Twitter but deleted his account soon after. According to Entertainment Weekly, Orci made statements that “many interpreted as supportive of the 9/11 Truther movement.”
”This only really matters to the extent that ‘Star Trek Into Darkness‘ is now widely interpreted as a 9/11 Truther Allegory,” wrote Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich.
‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ Changed Due to 9/11
In last year’s Star Trek Day showcase, much of the main cast from “Enterprise” gathered for a roundtable discussion about their show. The group included Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer), Linda Park (Hoshi Sato), John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox), Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed), Anthony Montgomery (Travis Mayweather), and Connor Trinneer (Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker III).
“The joy of ‘Star Trek’ is that it deals with things in the future that are going on on the planet,” said Bakula. “It took us a year and a half, to be honest, to circle back and get into what happened on 9/11. But I can remember Rick [Berman] and Brannon [Braga] calling me into the office and [saying] that we wanted to make a change in the direction of the show.”
“Μy take on our series was that we really started kicking ass about halfway through the second season,” Bakula recalled on the roundtable. “And then we were just… wildly… in my opinion… successful as a series in relating our world to what was happening to today — on the planet — from then on.”
Bakula credited this success to the writers on the show, who he felt used what they were feeling to inform the show’s storylines.
“It grounded our series,” said Bakula. “It made us different, and it gave us a sense of purpose that I didn’t feel — to be honest — that we had out of the gate. All of a sudden, we had somewhere to go.”
9/11 Footage on ‘Enterprise’
Producers of “Enterprise” used some actual footage from 9/11 in the episode, “Storm Front, Part II.” Captain Archer (Bakula) was talking to the character Crewman Daniels (Matt Winston) in a temporal stream. Scenes from Earth’s history passed by, and an image of the World Trade Center can be seen.