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The War on Terror
Everyone starts with the best intentions. Then things start to get cramped. Then you notice your neighbour has more oil than you. Before long, war is waged, nukes are dropped, revolutions are fought and terrorists are doing your dirty work, before turning on you...
— From the Website for War on Terror: The Boardgame.

The War On Terror is the current setting for a lot of Present Day media, although how much it features in a given work of media varies considerably.

A cornerstone of the USA central-government policy from late September 2001 'till... well, now, sort of. The 'War on Terror' is not a war in the conventional sense, but is the collective name given to the USA government's attempts — with the help of various parties including NATO and the UN — to prevent small groups of private individuals from killing its citizens. The 'war' has brought out the uglier side of the USA given its willingness to use morally dubious means — chiefly the torture, indefinite imprisonment, and execution of (mostly foreign) suspects without trial — and actively kill thousands of other countries' citizens to save her own. The USA has lost several thousand soldiers in its much-criticized military expeditions to Afghanistan and Iraq, which when paired with its loss of 3,000 civilians in the attack on New York City's World Trade Centernote  on the 11th of September 2001, gives a total of nearly 10,000 US citizens dead.

On the other hand, some 300,000+ foreign civilians have died during the course of the war, though most of these were not killed by USA or NATO troops or fire-support (artillery bombardments and air-strikes) but rather in the civil disorder which resulted after the Afghan and Iraqi regimes were toppled. The USA's handling of the situation in Iraq, which under Saddam Hussein's right-wing dictatorship had been an old Cold-War Ally of the USA against Persia, was particularly poor by all accounts; the country essentially went totally ungoverned for several months, and the delicate peace that had been maintained only by the brutality of Hussein's secular police state dissolved amidst violencenote  that was not formal or organized enough to merit the term 'civil war'.

Given the nebulous nature of the 'war', it's hard to say when (if ever) it'll end. The death of Osama, son of Laden — in an illegalnote  commando raid into the USA's old Cold War Ally-turned-distant-friend Pakistan in 2011, was seen by some as a sign of the war winding down. The 'Coalition of the Willing'note  (The USA, Britain, and Australianote  withdrew its troops from Iraq several years ago, leaving behind a dysfunctional parliamentary democracy still marred by an unhealthy degree of civil violence and corruption. Most UN/NATO forces in Afghanistan will also be withdrawn in the next few years, and are set to leave the country in a similar conditionnote .

However, events took a turn for the worse again in 2014 with the sudden rise of the Islamic State, a self-styled caliphate whose effectiveness was matched by their brutality in seizing control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria (which explains their other name, ISIS - Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). With Iraq's unstable government and Syria involved in its own civil war, ISIS was able to roll in with ease, catching the West almost entirely by surprise. Countless surrendered Iraqi soldiers and civilians were killed, and others were forced to flee into the wilderness where they would either be killed or starved. While the United States has repeatedly stated it will not send combat troops into the fight, over 1000 soldiers, special operation forces, and a carrier battle group have been sent to Iraq. Humanitarian relief efforts turned into targeted airstrikes supporting Iraqi and Kurdish forces, which is turn has become a full scale air war against ISIS. At present the United States announced its intention to build a new coalition to destroy ISIS for good.

Indeed, it's hard to say when exactly it started either, for though the 2001 attacks were what caused the USA under President G.W. Bush to actively declare a 'War on Terror', attacks on the USA's citizens and public servants had actually been happening for a while by that point. In fact the 'Al Qaida' organization declared war on the USA as early as 1996, and some of the people who were later involved with that group were making unofficial attacks on the USA as early as 1993 and the (New York) World Trade Center bombing. However, very few people died in these and under Bill Clinton's Presidency they were largely ignored. Other attacks included one on the U.S.S. Cole and various US embassies dotted about the Middle East.

Compare with Defcon Five, which has more clearly defined, though ignorantly inverted readiness levels. Contrast with The Vietnam War, for the USA's last experience of 'a-symmetric warfare', with a much more impressive death-toll (at some ten-plus times greater) to boot. Contrast also the much less bloody Boer War for another good example of an asymmetric war — one that has since been called 'The British Empire's Vietnam'note . See also the unsuccessful 'war' on drugs.

If you're looking for the actual documentary called 9/11, it's here.

There are multiple levels:

Terror Alert Level Green: It's not really there

The situation isn't really mentioned at all. It's either not relevant (as in the Speculative Fiction genre), or it's pretended it's not happening. This does not bar the show from making comments via metaphor though.

Comic Books

Live-Action TV
  • The Stargate Verse. They've got bigger problems to deal with, such as the Ori and the Wraith. Occasionally an Atlantis character will flashback to being in it though.
    • John Sheppard, the only Stargate Atlantis main character who has been part of the US Armed Forces has several references in the story about his time as an Air Force pilot in Afghanistan (he hadn't been let in on The Masquerade yet, which is why he was bothering with the less important conflict in the first place.
  • The new Doctor Who. See Stargate. Maybe less so, Doctor Who being British. The public, in general, doesn't care for the War on Terror and has reached a point of indifference about it, unless a family member is involved, and would have more concern for the giant eye ready to incinerate the Earth, or a visit from the Daleks. Spinoffs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, having more limiting methods of Time Travel, mention Iraq, but never higher than Alert Level Blue. Doctor Who on the other hand, involves frequent use of time travel, on top of having had just nine out of 32 episodes substantially set on present-day Earth between 2009 and 2011 note .
  • Farscape subverts the "Green" level, even lampshades it: Crichton's father mentions to John that it's a different world than the idealistic one they believed in when he left, what with the War on Terror going on. Crichton is obviously not impressed and is almost glad that's their biggest concern, in contrast with all the atrocities he's seen and felt "out there".
  • Sesame Street had a grease fire and a trip to the firehouse in its first season premiere after 9/11.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: While it doesn't mention 9/11 directly, Enterprise was the most blatantly American (or at least Anglo) centric Trek series in existence. This was particularly noticeable because of how relatively multi-ethnic Star Trek had always been in the past. The show was more strongly militaristic in focus even than Voyager, as well. Iraq, etc. don't get mentioned because it's the future, and in an Alternate Timeline these events never even happened in the Trek Verse (as the Eugenics Wars and World War III would happen), but we do have a whole-season arc where villains from afar hit much of Florida with a Kill Sat and the Enterprise must go out to kick their butts before they finish their full-on Death Star; this is sometimes seen by fans as the setting being hit with 9/11 [IN SPACE!] and the Enterprise going out to hunt down Xindi Osama bin Laden. Hard to say if they meant it that way; a Doomed Hometown being the start of The Quest is not exactly something invented yesterday. (Interestingly, the villains of the first two seasons, the Suliban, are named after the Taliban, but the writers had just liked the sound of the word; they had no idea that early in the show's run, "Taliban" would become a household name.)

Film
  • Just about completely ignored in The Taqwacores, to the point where it gets a lampshading, because despite what certain news channels would tell you it's really completely irrelevant to the American Muslim's day-to-day life.

Western Animation
  • Arthur and his friends all deal with emotional responses to a fire at their school. The attacks are alluded to with the episode title, "April 9th". Police cars and fire trucks show up at the school.

Terror Alert Level Blue: It gets cursory mentions

The thing is there in the background, it's acknowledged it's happening, it affects the plot somewhat, but ultimately doesn't directly affect the plot on a day to day basis.

Film

Literature
  • The Jennifer Morgue mentions rather offhandedly that "Saddam's magical disappearing chemical weapons" were the result of a faulty prediction of the future by the Laundry's Predictive Branch.
    • The series also has casual mentions of Alan Barnes and his Artists' Rifles team "stomping about the hills of Afghanistan shooting insurgents" when they're not dealing with occult threats to Queen and Country. The most the series has dealt with the War on Terror was when Bob ran into something from Saddam Hussein's security team messing around with the supernatural. It's generally assumed that The Laundry has bigger things to deal with.

Live-Action TV
  • Alias is the prime example of this. While the increased world tensions are mentioned, people get threatened with the Patriot Act and there's one trip to Afghanistan, the rest of the series is chock full of non-Islamist terrorists and there is never a direct "Al-Qaeda" plot during the entire show. A notable incident is a case in Series Two, where Sydney, as part of a disguise, is wearing a heavily metal-studded shirt. Her comment: "When I last went through JFK, they literally made me take off my shirt". Guess what ends up happening...
  • Comedies like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia like to dig joke material out of it, but that's as far as it goes.
    • Community: 9/11 was pretty much the 9/11 of the falafel business.
  • CSI: New York has the main character's wife dead in 9/11, and it gets painfully reminded every other episode like it was some new (to be fair, to the irregular watchers, it is new... until they stop being irregulars) heartbreaking thing that ''didn't happen soon-to-be over 10 years ago. Milked for all it's got, but that's usually as far as it goes, except rare random terrorist involving plots.
  • The War on Terror has tangential effects in The Wire. Mainly, the local Baltimore police discover that drug trafficking has fallen off the FBI's priority list and they can't get Bureau assistance in their anti-drug cases anymore. (Although in Season 3 sympathetic Agent Fitzhugh hooks them up with an expedited wiretap by registering "Stringer" Bell as a homeland security threat named "Ahmed".)
    • They do manage to crack one case with the help of equipment granted to the Baltimore PD by a Homeland Security grant. Hilariously, none of the cops knew what it was or how to use it, so it was buried on a back shelf for years.
    • There's also one seen in the Western District squad room where a federal agent is trying to train the police officers in how to deal with terrorist threats only to have the police officers crack jokes about how Baltimore is already a war zone or how the city's drug gangs would scare off any potential terrorists.
    • There's also the fact that due to all of the FBI's resources being aimed toward terrorism, a lot of cases where the Baltimore Police would get additional help and resources from the Feds now has to be handled by the local cops alone. Considering the apathy, incompetence, and lack of resources the Baltimore cops are plagued with, this makes life a lot harder for anyone trying to do something about the big cases.
  • White Collar often mentions how traditional tactics used by crooks have had to change in a post 9/11 world.
  • Scrubs has an episode featuring an Iraq veteran with the entire hospital siding in heated debates. Another episode has J.D. becoming a makeshift US flag due to a shortage of them in wartime.
  • Dr Watson from Sherlock is, as in the original, a veteran who fought in Afghanistan. We see him having a flashback to it in the beginning of the first episode and, as in the original, Sherlock comments upon it when they first meet, but that's about it.
  • The Sopranos, like The Wire example, the Feds lose interest in The Mafia after 9/11. It comes up a few times, notably in the final season when Chris debates whether to sell guns to two Arab men and Tony tries to offer information (violating his Omerta) on terrorists.
  • David Kelley's shows mention it from time to time. Ally McBeal's therapist mentioned that after 9/11, casual sex has become more common because people just felt like they needed some connection they could turn to during that trying time and Alan Shore dealt with the ramifications of the war on terror frequently, even butting heads occasionally with the extremely conservative Denny Crane.
  • Dean and Sam in Supernatural pretend to be Homeland Security agents. In addition, Jake was fighting in Afghanistan before he woke up in Cold, Oak. Amelia was married to a man name Don Richardson, who was thought to have been killed while in service in Afghanistan.

Web Comics

Western Animation

Terror Alert Level Yellow: It turns up in a few plots

A common one for the Cop Show that otherwise has to deal with its third Serial Killer of the season. This includes attacks on veterans, possible involvement of someone in Islamist terrorism and asylum seekers.

Comic Books
  • Frank Castle in The Punisher MAX once has to deal with a situation in Afghanistan (though it's with Russians) and occasionally calls in favors to hitch a ride on a CIA flight (no questions asked, but avoid being allergic to Pakistani prisoners).
  • The Boys is an Alternate History where a superpowered attempt to prevent 9/11 ended up sending the planes into the Brooklyn Bridge. The main character is shocked to learn this, and the fact that the intended target was the World Trade Center.

Live-Action TV
  • Without a Trace is an example here. In one case, an Iraq veteran went missing, some of the team headed to Iraq[!]... then it turned out the guy was killed while doing an armed robbery and the war was nothing to do with it whatsoever. Also had a guy mistakenly shot dead because they thought he was a terrorist by virtue of the books in his library and the fact he looked like he had a gun.
  • The Bill is in this category. It's an interesting example. Despite being set in an area with a considerable number of Muslims, it has not yet done a straight Islamist terrorism story ("Moving Target" was a vendetta over Iraq artefacts).
  • Law & Order has seen a couple of episodes come and go with both attacks on veterans and a (white) Islamic extremist murdering a women's rights activist.
  • NCIS has had several plots featuring Islamist terrorists, most notably Ari's attempt to use a target drone as a cruise missile to attack a crowd at a crew homecoming. When that plot failed he killed Kate Todd. Later seasons have introduced more elements which connect to the Islamist terrorism, and the ending of season 6 very strongly suggests it will be a major part of stories in season seven.
  • The West Wing falls into this catagory due to the infrequent, but heavy-hitting episodes involving Islamic extremists and Qumar
  • In NUMB3RS, Colby is an Afghanistan veteran, and there are a few terror-related episodes, but most of the episodes are close-to-home.
  • In The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, a plane comes down and extremists are suspected.
  • Arrested Development has both major and minor references to the war on terror. At first glance, the war only seems to get a passing, satirical treatment. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that the War on Terror is a central element in this show and that it is actually behind the premise of the series.
    • Such references run the gamut from Maeby offhandedly mentioning that school let out early because an Arabic student parked too close to the gym to Michael, Gob, and Buster actually going to Iraq to clear their father's name after he supposedly built houses for the Hussein regime.
  • Blue Bloods has several mentions: Frank and Henry were WTC first responders, along with many other cops, and Danny fought in Fallujah. In Season One, the NYPD's Intelligence Division has infiltrated a splinter cell and prevents a major terrorist attack.

Tabletop Games Space 1889 It turns up in a few plots. A few plots, such as “Anarchy in the Ether” from Tales from the Ether, are about the struggle against 19th century terrorists, mostly anarchists and Fenians. Late 19th century is sometimes considered the birth of revolutionary terrorism. Some of its methods, theories and ideologies come from this time: such as Bakunin’s ideas about “propaganda of the deed”. So it is sort of a prequel to the modern war on terrorism.

Video Games

Western Animation
  • South Park, being the topical show it is, has done plenty of episodes on the war:
    • The first, "Osama Bin Laden has Farty Pants", aired less than a month after 9/11. It exaggerated post 9/11 paranoia with everyone wearing gas masks, security checkpoints every ten minutes, and people camped out in their living room, utterly catatonic from all that's going on in the news. It also shows the negative effects of the war Afghan innocents, who are also shown to have stronger morals and values than most Americans. The climax had Cartman kill Osama Bin Laden Bugs Bunny style. (actually, a soldier delivered the final shot)
    • The later episode "I'm a Little Bit Country..." sees the town divided between those who support the war and those against it. Cartman, to ease his way out of a school assignment on the Founding Fathers, tries to flashback to {{1776}}, and learns there was a divide between pro-war and anti-war sentiments then as well. Benjamin Franklin decides that the two opposing opinions both help America by giving it a Martial Pacifist appearance; those against war show that America strives for peace, while those for it show America is willing to be strong and fight if need be. (Though being the show it is, they refer to it as "saying one thing and doing another" and "having your cake and eating it too".)
    • "The Mystery of the Urinal Deuce" tackles the subject of 9/11 being a Government Conspiracy. As it turns out, 9/11 conspiracies are conspiracies in themselves, as "a bunch of pissed-off Muslims" crippling America the way it did doesn't reflect well on Ol' Dubya.

Terror Alert Level Orange: It turns up a lot

Islamist terrorists turn up a lot, but there are other people as well.

Fan Fiction
  • Marijuana Simpson. Lisa identifies 9/11 as the beginning of the Simpsons' woes, and Bart is drafted to fight in the Iraq War (a conflict which Homer eventually ends after smoking with George W. Bush).

Live-Action TV
  • Spooks (MI-5), the first example of "terror TV"- a series explicitly set post-9/11.
  • Rubicon
  • Later seasons of JAG had the War on Terror taking a central role in the story arcs. Very justified, as the show centers around career military officers. Notably, the show made a point of depicting at least a few of the Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters as being Not So Different, with Bud managing to gain vital information from a prisoner while they bonded over a common interest in Star Trek.
  • Person of Interest has the events of 9/11 as the explicit inciting incident for the creation of the Machine, which drives the plot of the series, and several major characters have backstories relating to the War on Terror as well as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. More generally, the series is a pretty good representation of the technologic, post-9/11 surveillance state.

Video Games
  • Army Of Two is mostly you vs. Al-Qaeda. However You also get to fight the Chinese military and SSC.
  • Though Alpha Protocol encompasses a far greater scope than just the War On Terror, the initial part of the game involves fighting an Al-Qaeda Expy named Al-Samaad who were supplied missiles by a US weapons contractor to touch off tensions allowing them to sell more weapons to everyone. Later on in the game, exploiting fears of terrorism is the entire point behind Conrad Marbug's plan in Rome to bomb the city.
  • Postal 2: Paradise, Arizona has an absurd number of Islamic terrorists living or at least operating in and around the town (to the point that the "Tora Bora" complex can be reached from an underground sewer complex within the city limits), but beyond them taking over the church on Tuesday and the National Guard taking out one of their training camps in the expansion, they're just another group of people for you to kill with reckless abandon.
  • WinSP:MBT, a Fan Remake of Steel Panthers II, includes a number of scenarios set in this. The majority are based on actual events in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there's a few hypothetical scenarios as well, including a campaign where Al-Quaeda tries to run operations in the Netherlands and the player has to root them out.
  • The Super Mario Bros. fan game Super Mario World Dark Horizon has a 'world' equivalent where Mario fights his way through the War On Terror singlehandedly. It's a mix of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (with both a nuclear weapons facility in the former and an area involving a fight with Osama Bin Laden in the latter), and features Mario blowing up militants left and right guns a blazing (as well as them being affiliated with Hitler and Those Wacky Nazis). a video of part of the level

Terror Alert Level Red: It's the entire point of the series

Film

Live-Action TV
  • 24 is usually cited when people use the term "terror TV" and Islamist terrorists feature in six of the eight seasons thus, while the third season has a Big Bad annoyed over US foreign policy. However, the first season was conceived pre-9/11 and has the Kosovo War as its backstory (the S3 big bad is partly motivated by the fact he was left to be captured there). Season 2's second part involving "three Middle Eastern countries" now appears to be a rather heavy-handed, slightly inaccurate, but pretty prescient metaphor on what was then the approaching Iraq War. (The Bombers on the Screen use is great, though)
  • The Grid was a Mini Series on an Islamist plot to explode a gas tanker near Chicago.
  • Homeland is about a returned POW from the Iraqi War whom a CIA agent fears has been turned by an Islamist terrorist group.

Video Games
  • Full Spectrum Warrior's universe has a fictional continuation of it taking place in Qurac after Iraq and Afghanistan. The parallels are very obvious too.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals is a three-way war involving the USA (after a SCUD missile was shot down over the Atlantic), the rebel-manipulating GLA and an expansionist China.
  • The Modern Warfare series, though it is careful enough to mask everything with fictional names, add USSRPamyat... uh, Russian ultranationalists into the equation and making things not quite what they seem in Modern Warfare 2.
  • The 2010 version of Medal of Honor basically thrusts you into it.
  • Target Terror, which has received So Bad, It's Good infamy by making a goofy terrorist shooter directly riding off of the War On Terror, at a time where almost everybody else was hesitant to make any references to it at all.

Western Animation

The full-scale conflicts

Afghanistan

Quite a few TV and film examples, including a number of Afghan ones, the only one to break out so far is 2013's Lone Survivor, which is notable for taking a highly patriotic view of war. Lions for Lambs went down badly with critics and the public alike, as well being criticised for the title being an apparent misquote of the World War One expression "lions led by donkeys". Studio 60 featured Tom's brother being kidnapped in Afghanistan in its closing five-parter, then ended in Fairy Tale style.

An Afghanistan D20 role-playing boardgame has been published, doing a fairly serious job with describing the early stages of the post-9/11 war in Afghanistan. Times have changed however, and today (this is written in Kabul in the autumn of 2008) the war looks quite different.

"The Road to Guantanamo" is a 2006 docu-drama about the detention in Guantanamo of three British men picked up in Afghanistan in 2001. It won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature, and the Silver Bear for Best Director at 2006 Berlin Film Festival. Contains archive news footage from the period, and recounts the men's experiences from their travels into Afghanistan to their capture and imprisonment.

And then there's the new Medal of Honor video game that has you as both a soldier and a Tier 1 Operator fighting in Afghanistan. It semi-accurately depicts the war, centering on a fictionalised version of Operation Anaconda, with, in true Medal of Honor fashion, everyone who isn't American (Or in this case, Afghan) conveniently excised.

Literature
  • Outlaw Platoon, a non-fiction account of a young officer's sixteen-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Iraq

Outside of Iraq itself, movies and TV (there's a few novels out there and a number of computer game mods on the conflict, the latter of which raises the moral issue of playing games involving an ongoing war) that directly deals with the conflict and is actually set in Iraq is few and far between. The first attempt at a TV series in the US, Over There, was critically acclaimed, but ultimately cancelled (some speculate it was cancelled for "political reasons"). In contrast, the 2008 HBO miniseries Generation Kill is based on the 2004 book of the same name about an embedded reporter's experience with his unit of Marines and has at least one character played by his real-life counterpart (Sgt. Rudy Reyes as himself).

All the movies are pretty obscure and have effectively flopped at the box office, with some commentators arguing that "war movie fatigue" on the part of the public was responsible. On the other hand, some have argued that "anti-war movie fatigue" is responsible.

One exception would be The Hurt Locker, which won an Oscar for Best Picture. However, it should be noted that it is also the lowest grossing film to win that award.

A good past example that may serve as a guide for the future (due to general perception, accurate or not, on the Iraq War) is The Vietnam War. It took four years after the fall of Saigon for the first widely-known (Go Tell The Spartans isn't that well known) period and area set film to come out and that, Apocalypse Now, is also Heart of Darkness in Vietnam. Full Metal Jacket wasn't until 1986. On the other hand, during previous American conflicts films were produced expressing a pro-war position (if not quite actual propaganda). During World War II Hollywood was essentially co-opted by the US war department to produce pro-war films and cartoons (although every country did the same thing, except, ironically, Germany, which mainly produced period films). During the Vietnam War films in support of the war like The Green Berets (with John Wayne) were made, and the vast majority of 80s action films were supportive of the Reagan administration's foreign policy. In contrast, The War on Terror hasn't produced many films or TV shows that expressly support it (with the possible exception of a Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie or two).

Appears as backstory quite a bit, especially in Brothers and Sisters, where Blonde Republican Sex Kitten Kitty, trying to prevent her brother going to Iraq, tries to bribe the Senator she later gets engaged to and performs on an on-camera volte-face. One can't help feel someone's going Strawman Political on this one (supporting a war until it directly affects you). Justin eventually goes of his own free will anyway and is seriously wounded there.

Film

Live-Action TV
  • In The Unit, Jonas Blaine's daughter Betsy is kidnapped while serving in Iraq.

Iran

While Iran is somewhat a separate issue — Iranians aren't Arabs but Persians, they don't speak Arabic but Farsi, and they're Shias not Sunni — they're lumped in these days because of two main reasons. One: the apparent threat, real or otherwise, of the regime in Tehran. Two: they're brown and live in the same general direction (exactly between Afghanistan and Iraq, in fact), what more do you want?

Smaller Scale Conflicts (Those that do not usually involve the US, at least not directly)

  • Philippines
  • The Mediterranean Sea
  • Somalia, the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden (a continuation of the Somali Civil War)
  • Saudi Arabia (ended around August 2008)
  • Pakistan (though it's usually included with Afghanistan)
  • Southern Thailand
  • Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories
  • Nigeria
  • Northern Caucasus (the period after the Second Caucasus War/South Ossetia War)
  • Algeria and The Maghreb (The Northern Half of the former French West Africa)
  • Yemen (had ended in 2008, but showed signs of another flare-up)
  • The Arab Spring.

The War On Terror, IN SPACE

There are a couple of shows out there that use their settings and plots to make points, usually rather anvilicious, on the War On Terror:

Fan Works
  • The second season of Children of Time has the conflict surrounding cryptnosis, a program used by the British government to sentence most criminals. Cryptnosis effectively reprograms the brain to "reform" criminals. There are many people who question the morality of this method, including the protagonists, Sherlock and Beth Holmes. In the third episode, their case involves one group of anti-cryptnosis extremists who threaten to destroy entire cities if cryptnosis is not ended. In the next episode, the Framing Device is a hearing in Parliament to discuss the issue.

Film
  • 300 sparked an enormous amount of controversy from all corners of politics on release because of its plot involving asymmetrical warfare, swarthy Mediterraneans, Freedom™, extremely stylized history, and even disagreement about its real subject matter between co-creators. Not least of its problems is that some people are still very fussy about the historical figures it portrays, and Greece and Turkey are still going at it.
  • 9th Company is a strange example: The events in the film predate the War On Terror by nearly two decades, as it focuses on the Soviet Union's war in Afghanistan. That said, it was made in 2007 and there are numerous, subtle parallels to the current war. It is almost as if the director was saying "We went through that hellhole. Now it's your turn".
  • Star Wars Episode III. "If you're not with me, you're my enemy!" Whether that was meant as a reference to George W. Bush or not is debated.
    • Though Lucas says it is unintentional. Or rather, that people are getting the wrong period: He says it was inspired by the Vietnam War (which was happening at the time the originals were envisioned), not the War on Terror.
  • The cinematic reboot of Star Trek, where the Romulans were downgraded from Romans IN SPACE to swarthy, sword-bearing savages in dusty clothing. Although many would argue otherwise, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which particular recent historical event the destruction of Vulcan might possibly be alluding to.
  • The Dark Knight Rises draws a clear parallel between the League of Shadows and organized terror cells based in the Middle East. The film sidesteps mentioning which desert country Bane and his cronies hail from, as most of them are played by Anglos.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness includes bombings in major population centers and other real world contemporary issues. And, in true, grand Trek fashion, the proper message is that we cannot give in to our fears and devote ourselves to little more than war and militarization, even in the face of "threats". It's in the face of such things that we have to be even more noble, not less.

Literature
  • In John Birmingham's Without Warning and After America the war on terror takes a bizarre turn in 2003 when an energy field of unknown origin and composition wipes out about three-quarters of the population of North America. An energized Saddam Hussein takes the offensive against a demoralized US military just before they were going to invade and drives them out then allies with Iran to declare a universal jihad against Israel. This leads Israel to nuke all its Islamic neighbors except Lebanon (too close) in what becomes called the Second Holocaust. Other ripples from this include the French Intifada and the United Kingdom deporting or interning all of its Muslims while parts of Germany, especially Cologne become functionally converted to sharia.
    • Saddam allies with Iran?!?!
  • Flipped on it's head in Matt Ruff's Mirage where the United Arab States are threatened by Christian terrorists, especially after the Bagdad Twin Towers are destroyed on 11/9, 2001.

Live-Action TV
  • The new Battlestar Galactica, which over the course of the series has dealt with themes such as military occupation, suicide bombing and whether it can be justified, an enemy that blends in with the public, the results of a nuclear holocaust, the cycle of revenge and escalation, and religious conflict (both violent and cultural).
  • The 2006 Robin Hood in the first season actually has the Sheriff use the words "war on terror" in late 12th century England and uses the Crusades as a (rather inaccurate) metaphor for the whole thing. It's toned down a lot for the second.
  • Stargate SG-1 with the Ori arc.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise's third season drew heavily on current events. Earth is savagely attacked, apparently out of nowhere, and the NX-01 (bringing along a cohort of Army Guys) heads into a treacherous region of space to find the culprits. Many fans were afraid this storyline would be untrue to Trek's philosophy, but they needn't have worried: the aliens aren't all bad, Archer's new hard-edged attitude isn't always endorsed, and there's enough ambiguity all round to keep it from being Strawman Political in either direction. Prior to that, a couple of first-season episodes — "Fortunate Son" and especially "Detained" — examined elements of the war on terror. But contrary to a common assumption, the decision to name the first season's bad guys "Suliban" happened long before 9/11. They were named after the Taliban, but only because Rick Berman thought that name had the exotic sound he wanted; no one was expecting it to become a household name.

Tabletop Games
  • War on Terror: The Boardgame is ... well, guess. It's also quite satirical. And the "Axis of Evil" is a spinner in the middle of the board.

Video Games
  • The Halo series, while debuting a few months after 9/11, has Scary Dogmatic Aliens who are religious extremists going to war with the UNSC (humanity's united military, modeled after the United States Marines). It was subtle in the first game, but was more obvious in Halo 2, where the War was on the developers' minds more. The aliens' religious motivation ceases to be an Informed Attribute. The allegory, if it was intentional, sort of falls apart when the Flood shows up.
  • The UNSC were also in a revolution by "The Insurrection," which had turned to terrorism to fight for freedom. However, in many ways this is more reminiscent of the troubles than any more recent conflict.
    • However the developers have also said that The Culture was an influence. Seeing as how that series had Scary Dogmatic Aliens in the first book it might just be coincidental.
  • Deus Ex is a rare example, since it came out before 9/11. The game deals with the issue of if terrorists are doing their actions because they are simply violent, or because they have been left with no other option. The issue of increasing security at the cost of personal freedoms comes up throughout the game, especially as the Crapsack World setting becomes more so.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War had the tagline "The future War On Terror" since it came out in 2004 when it was fresh on people's minds.
  • Again, Modern Warfare 2. The basic plot for the American portion of the game is obviously influenced by the real War on Terror: a group of terrorists (Makarov's group) launches an attack on a country's famous landmark (Russia, airport named after a major character from the previous game), said country finds a link between the group and another country (the US — the player controls an undercover CIA agent going with the attack, who is killed by Makarov specifically for his corpse to link America with the attack) and invades them on this pretext. As noted above, though, even with a few missions both at the beginning and end explicitly taking place within Afghanistan, things aren't quite what they seem to be.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons touched on this in their 2006 Halloween special, where Kang and Kodos decide to invade Earth. Incidentally, the scene originally ended with the line "This sure is a lot like Iraq will be", tossing an anvil straight through the Fourth Wall. This was wisely cut at some point down the line, but it still aired on some channels.
    • Many other recent episodes, such as "Bart-Mangled Banner", have satirized post-9/11 America.
    • The entire plot of "MyPods and Boomsticks" is about Homer's attempt to reveal that the family of Bart's newest friend are terrorists.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Tarrlok's treatment of non-benders is similar to this, especially as of the most recent episode.

Tropes from media set in this period:

Pro US Portrayals

Anti US Portrayals

See Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie for the subject of terrorism in some depth. Also see Turn of the Millennium. Not to be confused with the Australian comedy series The Chaser's War On Everything, though they've certainly touched on the matter on occasion.
The Gulf WarUsefulNotes/The United StatesAmerican Newspapers
Turn of the MillenniumHollywood HistoryThe New Tens
Twenty Minutes into the FutureSettingsThe Wild West

alternative title(s): War On Terror; Overseas Contingency Operation; Iraq War
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