3rd Rock from the Sun TV Poster Image

3rd Rock from the Sun



Slapstick classic offers unique social commentary.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Although the series' primary intent is to amuse, it also explores various social issues by looking at them through the aliens' eyes. The Solomons pose as an extended family unit. The cast is primarily Caucasian; a regular supporting character is African American, and some of Dick's students are from various racial/ethnic backgrounds. One secondary character is believed to be a lesbian.


Luckily, the aliens aren't allowed to liquidize humans, but they occasionally slap and hit each other (in one episode a team member is hit with a frying pan on the head several times). It's all played for physical-comedy laughs and is meant to be funny rather than violent.


Occasional kissing and hugging, plus some sexual innuendo, including references to nudity and sexual intercourse that will likely go over the head of young viewers. The aliens sometimes find themselves in romantic relationships. Later episodes show men and women lying in bed together after being intimate. Sally sometimes discusses being impregnated to further the human race. In one episode, Dick poses nude for an art class (but no nudity is shown). Some restrained references to homosexuality.


Words like "damn" and "hell" are occasionally heard.


Occasional references to brands and store names like Walmart, usually when the aliens try to figure out what they mean. Sally gets to know designer labels (like Ferragamo).

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Occasional visible beer and wine consumption.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this '90s sitcom looks at life on earth from a unique point of view. There's a bit of racy content -- expect some sexual innuendo (most of which will go over the head of younger viewers), some hugging and kissing, and, in later episodes, images of men and women in bed together -- but overall it's on the tamer side. The show's slapstick brand of humor incorporates some slapping and hitting (like repeatedly banging someone's head with a frying pan for laughs), and there's some mild language ("damn," "hell") and drinking.

What's the story?

3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN, which originally aired from 1996-2001, is an award-winning slapstick comedy about a group of aliens exploring life on Earth. John Lithgow stars as the mission's high commander, who lives among humans as physics professor Dr. Dick Solomon. Posing as his sister, Sally, Kristen Johnston plays his first officer in charge of security, while his intelligence officer pretends to be his teenage son, Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). The team's quirky communications officer poses as Harry (French Stewart), Dick and Sally's rather dimwitted brother. Although mystified by things ranging from gender differences to leaving tips at restaurants, the Solomons must find a way to blend in among humans. But their rather quirky behavior consistently raises the eyebrows of folks like landlady Mrs. Dubcek (Elmarie Wendel) and makes some of Dick's university colleagues -- including anthropologist Mary Albright (Jane Curtin) and administrative assistant Nina Campbell (Simbi Khali) -- absolutely crazy.

Is it any good?


Intelligently written and well acted, 3rd Rock generates lots of laughs as viewers look at humanity through the aliens' unique point of view. Much of the humor comes from each character's specific (mis)understandings of how people see themselves and build relationships with one another. But while the space invaders' interpretation of human logic is often flawed, their way of thinking tends to highlight many of today's social ironies.

The show has plenty of silly moments, but it really isn't intended for younger kids, given all of the sophisticated social commentary that lies behind the slapstick. Younger viewers may not get it, but teens and adults will find things to both laugh and think about for years to come.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the different ways that TV shows can offer social commentary. Do all sitcoms offer some sort of social insights? Which ones are particularly known for offering that kind of message? Are the messages as obvious when they're mixed in with broad humor? Families can also discuss what it would be like for aliens to adjust to life on Earth. How do you think they would view the things you do every day? What do we take for granted that might confuse beings from other planets (or even other cultures)?

TV details

Premiere date:January 9, 1996
Cast:French Stewart, Jane Curtin, John Lithgow
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

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Parent of a 11 year old Written byJesseboo July 24, 2013

Amazingly funny - even for moms!

This show is very, very funny. Dialogue is fantastic. My 11-year-old absolutely loves it, but the content of each episode varies and not all are appropriate for him. We screen them before letting him watch, because a lot of the later episodes have sexual content that he's just not mature enough to get (would be too confusing for him). Most of the 1st season seems pretty safe for 10 and up.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Teen, 14 years old Written bycnp77 December 10, 2011

Super funny show

Hilarious show and completly addicting. I watch it with my whole family and I started watching it when I was 13.
Teen, 13 years old Written bykellipetrelli October 30, 2010


I love this show. My dad and i watch it every day. Good laughs. It's the one sshow EVERYONE in my family likes. I grew up on this show, and i think everyone should share the joy and laughs my daddy and i had growing up.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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