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This Classic Disney Movie Had to Change Its Ending After 9/11

A climactic scene involving a commercial plane was heavily altered.

It's not surprising that the September 11 attacks had a profound effect on entertainment, from when movies were released to the scenes they included. But what is surprising is that one film that had to be changed significantly was a Disney animated movie for kids. In its original version, Lilo & Stitch included a scene that was uncomfortably evocative of the tragic events of 9/11. Because there was still time before the movie was set to be released, the scene was completely redone. Read on to see what Lilo & Stitch almost included, and to find out how the filmmakers fixed the issue prior to the movie's debut.

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Lilo & Stitch is about a little girl and an alien.

A still from "Lilo & Stitch"
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Lilo & Stitch follows a young girl, Lilo (Daveigh Chase), who lives in Hawaii and is raised by her older sister, Nani (Tia Carrere). One day, she encounters an alien named Stitch (Chris Sanders), who she believes is a dog and takes into her family, thereby drawing him away from his initial destructive mission. The movie was a hit when it was released in June 2002 and made over $270 million at the box office. It has also led to sequels and spinoff shows.

A scene was cut after 9/11.

Stitch in "Lilo & Stitch"
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Lilo & Stitch was in production in 2001, and after the 9/11 attacks, a scene had to be changed in which Stitch hijacks a commercial plane and flies it through a city in an effort to rescue Lilo. In the scene—which can be viewed on YouTube—Stitch takes over a plane from its pilots and has everyone evacuate before he and his cohorts fly the plane themselves. The plane is eventually flown through a city, and while the buildings are mostly unharmed, the landing gear crashes into one of them.

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The scene was changed significantly.

The alien spacecraft during the chase scene in "Lilo & Stitch"
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

After September 11, the plane scene in Lilo & Stitch was heavily altered. Instead of Stitch hijacking a commercial plane and needing to kick off passengers, he flies an alien spacecraft. And rather than the spacecraft flying through city buildings, it flies through a mountain range. The scenes can be watched side-by-side in a video published by Vox.

Many movies were changed after 9/11.

Lilo, Stitch, and a dog in "Lilo & Stitch"
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Lilo & Stitch is just one of many movies that were altered following 9/11. According to a list from The Wrap, the 2002 Spider-Man movie was going to feature the superhero making a web between the Twin Towers, which was taken out, and an action sequence in Men in Black II was going to show the World Trade Center, but featured the Statue of Liberty instead—just to name a couple examples.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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