Burn Notice TV Poster Image

Burn Notice

Snide spy cracks jokes and shoots kneecaps.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The overall tone is positive, in that the good guys tend to beat the bad guys. (That said, there's regular violence involved.) The show also subtly reinforces the importance of teamwork when it comes to solving problems.

Positive role models

The main character is a good guy who fights for the right side, but he's at ease killing and injuring bad guys. Other characters are likable but flawed (ie., a self-professed drunk).


Some strong violence in short bursts, with bad guys frequently getting shot or injured. Occasional offscreen murder.


Sexual tension between characters. Some making out and mild groping. Lots of shots of women's bikini-clad breasts and butts.


Frequent mid-level profanity, like "bulls--t," "ass," "bitchy."


Some flashy goods (it's Miami!). Mention of Mercedes.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character is an admitted "drunk." Dysfunctional mother character smokes cigarettes. References to "E" and drug dealers.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while this spy drama includes plenty of adult material, its tone is positive overall, and the good guys tend to beat the bad guys. Guns are plentiful and used frequently, and although violence isn't constant, it can be strong -- the main character shoots a drug dealer in the knee (with bloody results), a car is crashed intentionally, a group of guys beat up the main character and break his ribs, a boy punches and kicks bullies, and so on. There's some sexual tension between central characters, but it doesn't go much further than making out and some sexually tinged discussions. One semi-likeable character is a self-professed drunk, and another smokes cigarettes. Mid-level cursing ("bulls--t," "ass") is frequent.

What's the story?

When spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) is inexplicably fired, he decides to find out why. But first he has to use his tactical training to raise enough money to fund his investigation. BURN NOTICE (the term for "pink slip" in spy language) follows Michael through the bikini-speckled world of Miami as he takes on odd spying jobs, collaborates with friends and an ex-girlfriend (Gabrielle Anwar) -- all of whom may not be reliable -- and avoids his hypochondriac mother (Sharon Gless).

Is it any good?


Burn Notice is a lighthearted spy drama that combines thrills with laughs -- Michael's snide sense of humor takes the edge off the occasional bullet to the knee. Part nerd, part soldier, Michael definitely has a soft side, and despite his skill at breaking elbows, he prefers cleverness to brute strength ("Guns are stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart."). That softer side plays a key part in how Michael approaches the cases he takes on. For example, in one episode he reluctantly takes a low-paying gig because he's desperate for the cash, but once he solves the case -- a rich bad guy is framing a working single dad -- he gives the job all he's got, even teaching the man's 8-year-old son how to battle the bullies harassing him at school.

Overall, Burn Notice is a lot of fun. It's got action, a unique lead character, and fun, MacGyver-esque techno-tricks. Despite some of the adult elements, teens should be able to handle most of the material. And even though Westen is capable of doing violent things, his heart is in the right place.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the media's portrayal of spies and private investigators. What kinds of laws do these characters break in TV shows and movies? Do you think it's OK to break the law if you're fighting for the good guys? Who determines who the "good guys" are, anyway? How can you usually tell who's good and who's bad in shows and movies? Is that very realistic?

TV details

Premiere date:June 28, 2007
Cast:Bruce Campbell, Gabrielle Anwar, Jeffrey Donovan
Networks:Syndicated, USA
TV rating:NR
Available on:DVD

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Adult Written byKrbbup August 5, 2010

Awesome Show, but Not for Young Teens

My family started watching this show since the first episode and we were hooked instantly!! It is the best out there as far as action/drama is concerned. Michael Weston is a burned spy who has been taken to Miami, Florida where he can be watched. While he tries to figure out who burned him, he takes on small jobs for the locals who find themselves in situations that are over their heads. Michael is also joined by his two friends, mom, brother, and whoever decides to join the gang. The humor is so much fun and the stories are interesting and actioned packed. The only bad things are the fact that Michael's bomb-happy girlfriend is one of his friends and well....that says it all. There are some inappropriate scenes and language. No F words, but there are others as well as blasphemy. There is violence and blood, but Michael tries not to kill anyone. I would recommend this to anyone who is 17 and older. GOD bless<><
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bydagodevil December 30, 2009
Great show Lorts of action and good spy stuff. Weston helps people who need help like Robin Hood
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Great role models
Written byAnonymous February 2, 2011
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages