Cold Case

TV review by
Brenda Kienan, Common Sense Media
Cold Case TV Poster Image
Mature crime drama lacks grit and pizzazz.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Police staffers offer positive role models and work together as a team. But some characters and plot twists rely on questionable choices (in one episode, for example, a mother lets herself be lobotomized so she can be with her son). Villains, witnesses, and some female characters are one-dimensional and stereotyped.


Shootings, stabbings, robberies, and more. Some blood.


Much innuendo, plus occasional mild sex scenes between characters who are sometimes partially clothed.


Fairly tame ("ass," "bitch," "bastard").

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters drink and use drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this crime drama suggests more violence than it shows but does depict bloody bodies and murder scenarios, including some involving children. Villains and witnesses are frequently one-dimensional and stereotyped. Although a woman is the central character, she show's female characters are also often somewhat stereotyped.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7-year-old Written bykansas555 September 2, 2010
This is a great show for adults that like crime shows. I make sure to pause the DVR whenever my seven year old is in the room because way too much about this sh... Continue reading
Adult Written bychristo26 May 17, 2010

Distorted portrayal of Philadelphia...

I've lived in Rittenhouse Square, West Philly, Fishtown, Society Hill -- and this shows portrayal of residents education and emotional IQ is pathetic. The... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old April 24, 2015

I love it

hey call me crazy i love cold case i'm 10 i think it is ok for me so iffiy for some 10 year olds but trustable
Teen, 15 years old Written byJennahJacobs March 8, 2014

Know Your Kid

This was my favourite tv show when I was 5, but my 12 year old brother does not like it because of the death.

What's the story?

COLD CASE pits a hard-working Philadelphia detective, Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris), against previously unsolved crimes. Lilly is now armed with modern forensics, although she has to deal with witnesses and suspects whose circumstances have changed with time. The only woman in her department, Lilly is surrounded by a crew of standard-issue cops: mentor Lt. John Stillman (her boss, played by John Finn), trusty partner Scotty Valens (Danny Pino), tough guy Nick Vera (Jeremy Ratchford), and crusty old Will Jeffries (Thom Barry), who improbably remembers many of the crimes in Lilly's dusty files. In each episode, the team solves one old case. Aspects of the crime are shown in short, repeated flashbacks that illustrate what happened years earlier (when the case was fresh) and what's happening among characters now.

Is it any good?

The theme of this series -- that opening old wounds can involve many emotions but often leads to closure -- could be emotionally complex and gripping. But the show takes the easy way out, creating "complexity" by juggling lots of characters and generating "excitement" through hackneyed dialogue and unrealistic plot points. Highly predictable, the plots are populated with two-dimensional characters whose motivations are explained rather than revealed. Not much thinking goes into solving the cold-case crimes on this show -- after witnesses quickly spout key points, the suspects often simply spill the beans. Each case is neatly and completely solved by the end of the episode, leaving the series stars to tuck those dusty files right back into the archives.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the nature of closure -- do these characters find comfort when the crime is solved? What other emotions do the characters have during the story or at its conclusion? How does what happened in the past seem to have affected these people's lives since then? Should people who committed crimes long ago and have since reformed still be held accountable for their actions? Also, are these characters behaving in realistic ways? Would suspects reveal their roles in a crime just because they were asked? What makes dialogue believable?

TV details

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