Cold Case Files

Docuseries brings closure to long-unsolved crimes.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Old homicide cases are reopened and reinvestigated using modern-day forensic medicine. Cold case investigators demonstrate a commitment to bringing resolution to the victim's families. The criminals, victims, and investigators are all of diverse ages as well as racial, social, and economic backgrounds. Most investigators interviewed are Caucasian males.


Frequent discussions of violent behavior, including abuse, torture, and murder. Graphic police photos of murder victims often clearly show wounds and the instruments that caused them. Pictures of letters and other police evidence containing descriptions of violent crime are shown. Many references to rape and other sexual abuse as they pertain to the crime being investigated.


Occasional discussions about sexual activity, including prostitution.


Mostly on the mild side: "bastard," "damn," "hell," etc. Occasional stronger words, often recorded or quoted from the alleged criminals, are muted and/or blurred out.


This show is often used for law-enforcement training purposes.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Occasional discussion of alcohol abuse, drug use, and drug trafficking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this series chronicles how modern investigative techniques and forensic medicine are used to solve old homicide cases. One of the show's main goals is to find some resolution for the victims' families. Graphic police photos are often shown, and violent crimes are discussed in some detail. While there's an informative context for these discussions, they're not meant for young viewers.

What's the story?

Documentary series COLD CASE FILES explores how investigators use contemporary crime-solving techniques to re-examine long-unsolved homicides, known as "cold cases." Long after the initial leads have dried out, cold case detectives revisit these incidents in an effort to find new clues. With the help of modern forensic medicine and good investigation work, many can now be solved. The series covers high-profile cases (like the still-unresolved Zodiac Killer murders) as well as those that have been forgotten by the public. The main objective is to look at how advances in forensic medicine -- including DNA testing -- are helping law enforcement finally bring some resolution to the victims' families, while providing an informative, scientific look the investigative process.

Is it any good?


While some of the content is strong -- including crime scene photos showing close ups of victims' fatal wounds -- most of these images are shown in context as part of the detailed account of the investigation. The series is unique in that, without exploiting them, it places great importance on supporting people who have to cope with their loved ones' violent deaths. As a result, Cold Case Files offers mature viewers an opportunity to learn both about the science behind solving crimes and the emotional importance of solving them.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about forensic medicine. How do you become a forensic scientist? Do shows like this one (as well as crime dramas like CSI) make forensic medicine more appealing as a career? Do you think the media offers a realistic view of what that kind of job is like? Families can also talk about how families cope when violent crime has touched their lives. How can friends, neighbors, and society help people who've lost a loved one to violence?

TV details

Cast:Bill Kurtis
Networks:A&E, Syndicated
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

This review of Cold Case Files was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bybabyboomer1001 June 15, 2012
age 11+

One of the Best Shows on the Air & the Host Bill Kurtis is the Best

I've been watching Cold Case Files so long that I now watch the same episodes three or more times over, while working in my computer. The show is great. The crime drama is about real life cases being re-investigated in order to catch the culprits, sometimes by DNA now available and, sometimes, by a better and a more thorough investigation. Sometimes, the coroner just didn't do his job. I like to see how the investigators go about catching these horrible abusing criminals and when the guilty person(s) is finally caught, it provides some satisfaction. The cases are very sad but, I like the real-life cases and there is a lot to be learned. Always be aware of things around you - on the look out, never take things for granted, don't assume and trust automatically, keep your windows and doors locked.... However, sometimes, a person is targeted and hasn't got a chance against these criminals. Get a dog, better, a large dog (although that's my advice-nothing to do with the show). The host, Bill Kurtis - is super. I cannot imagine anyone MCing this show any better or even close to as well. He is educated, articulate and does a superb job, with inflections in just the right place. He must have been the obvious and only choice to host the show.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Kid, 11 years old December 20, 2009
age 11+
I like watching crime shows like this because I want to do something in forensics when I'm older. So this show teaches me a lot about forensic activities and similar things. It can get a little disturbing sometimes, but I, as an 11 year old am not bothered by it. Then again, it depends on the maturity of your child. I'm pretty mature for my age so I'm allowed to watch these kinds of shows on TV. I say iffy ages 11+. Okay for 14+.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byPoison Ivey November 12, 2009
age 13+

I dont care about your personal feelings for this show, I love any crime drama.

I watch this and other crime documentaries any time I can cause I want to be a detective when I grow up (I dont know any other way to put it!) So yeah it's good watch it. I've learned a lot, so it's not like I'm a rotting potato all day when I'm sick and no I have nothing better to do.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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