The Onion, September, 2001

Ten years ago today, we were arguing over whether it was appropriate to even hold professional football and baseball games, much less enjoy ourselves in any way, in the aftermath of 9/11.

No one even contemplated trying to deal with it humorously.  Heck, I am not sure I have seen many attempts even a decade later to do so.  But just days after 9/11, the Onion published an amazing issue dedicated to 9/11.  It was funny without being disrespectful of the victims, and in many ways still on point.  They should have had a Pulitzer for it.  The articles are archived here.


  1. Mick Heins:

    Yes, I remember this well. The "Hijackers Surprised to Find Selves in Hell" article in particular made me fall over laughing. I needed it after that first week, that's for sure. I still think that somber is the right mood for the first part, then angry. But humor is one of the parts of grieving, too.

    My wife was in another state on a visiting professorship. I was batching it in my home cum office. I had a colleague arriving that day to spend three days with me designing something (I forget exactly what). I was to pick him up at the Dayton airport. I don't watch TV, and don't listen to the radio. So I left at 9:00am or so for the hour drive to Dayton, and hadn't really seen any news. I got to the airport, and I remember thinking "this is strange" as I saw policemen standing in the road. They didn't stop me, just looked at me funny.

    My colleague came out of the gate as I drove up, saw me, and we got on the road immediately. We drove along for a while, then decided to stop at a restaurant. We went in, and again things seemed strange inside the restaurant. We sat down, and we both looked quizzically around us at people talking in a strange manner. The waitress came up to us, saw us looking, and immediately said, "Yoy don't know, do you? You don't know. Terrorists have knocked down the towers in New York."

    What was even more amazing was that my main office was in Reston, VA, and he had flown from Dulles airport. He must have taken off just about the same time as the plane that hit the Pentagon. The pilots didn't announce anything on the plane, obviously, so he didn't know either.

    We went home, and as the next couple of days unfolded I was glad for some companionship with my wife being gone. I think it would have been strange to be by myself (though I would have sought out friends, no doubt).

    My fellow couldn't fly home, so he stayed there for several days until eventually he could find a car to rent.

  2. Cloudesley Shovell:

    The article "God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule" in that issue is superb.

  3. Suz:

    I can OD on The Onion pretty quickly, but I do enjoy it. I loved the "God.." piece.

  4. Mike Koerner:

    America's Finest News Source

    Sad but true

  5. jared:

    The MNFTIU (My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable) web comic was also amazingly on-point in the wake of 9/11.

  6. Gil:

    Many Americans would probably be surprised if the hijackers were in Hell and they see the U.S.A. as the Great Satan too.

  7. Dan:

    I have this issue at home (in one of my Onion books). The whole issue is excellent.

  8. O.H. Krill:

    I remember the day that issue came out. It was actually about two weeks after September 11, and the timing was perfect! Not too soon so as to have been rushed and therefore not funny and not so late that people weren't still reeling from the event (and the continuing media coverage of it). Truly one of the funniest and most topical Onion issues ever.

    Those days were just surreal. And then the anthrax attacks started, which of course compounded our collective anxiety.