Crimes That Shook the World

Common Sense Media says

Detailed look at infamous crimes isn't for kids.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

As the name suggests, this show is all about crime and is very clear that the perpetrators' horrific acts are very, very wrong. That said, even though the bad guys are captured by the final act, spending an entire hour highlighting their actions could seem to glorify their crimes.


No big battles, gunfights, or brawls. But the show features in-depth discussion and reenactments of some pretty heinous, disturbing crimes, which tend to be far more intimate encounters between criminal and victim.


Though there's no onscreen sex or nudity, this documentary series on actual crimes often features very frank discussions of sex crimes, which might be disturbing to both children and adults.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary series pulls few punches in discussing some very terrible crimes. Though there's little actual onscreen violence, scenes show the aftermath of carnage, and plenty of people describe, often in graphic terms, exactly who did what to whom. The overall effect can be hard to stomach.

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What's the story?

Each episode of the docu-drama series CRIMES THAT SHOOK THE WORLD takes an in-depth look at some of history's most infamous villains and the acts that made them famous, feared, and often reviled. The series blends old film footage and news clippings with interviews with survivors and investigators and dramatized reenactments of important incidents. Besides describing the crimes and the efforts to track down and prosecute the bad guys, Crimes That Shook the World also explains how the events often created a palpable feeling of terror in the local communities. Many episodes center on well-known serial killers, such as the BTK killer in Kansas or Washington state's Green River Killer.

Is it any good?


Crimes That Shook the World is well made, but its effective re-creation of unpleasant events could certainly provide plenty of fodder for bad dreams -- or even dredge up some unpleasant memories for people who remember when these crimes were on the front pages instead of on historical TV shows. Though these notorious criminals have a certain irresistible appeal to many viewers, the detailed, matter-of-fact description of their deeds can be chilling and unpleasant to watch. Either way, it's definitely not for kids.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about crime and punishment. This show delves into the actions of some of history's worst criminals, and though it focuses mostly on what they did, it also tries to explain why. Why do some people become criminals? Are they motivated by greed, revenge, or something else? Or are they fundamentally flawed in some way? How do the criminals attempt to justify their actions? Do they actually think they'll get away with it?

TV details

Cast:Frank Violi, Henry Hereford
Network:Discovery Channel
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-14

This review of Crimes That Shook the World was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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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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