Dexter's Laboratory

Common Sense Media says

Dexter and pals use science to set iffy examples.





What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
Positive messages

The characters' actions -- particularly their tendency to use physical and verbal violence -- send iffy messages about how to deal with problems and other people.

Positive role models

Dexter and Dee Dee set questionable examples, and their parents are completely aloof.

Violence & scariness

Frequently glamorizes weapons like knives, swords, guns, and bows and arrows.

Sexy stuff

Rare, but not undeard of. For example, one segment features a silhouette of a naked woman.


Words like "stupid" and "idiot" regularly pop up in dialogue.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Rare, but not unheard of. One episode features a chain-smoking waitress, and the customers drink beer.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that even though this series features witty writing and sharp animation, the characters may leave a bad taste in some parents' mouths because they conduct themselves so poorly. Kids are rude and disrespectful (to each other and to adults), and parents are clueless and often nowhere to be found. There's also lots of cartoon violence and regular use of words like "stupid" and "idiot."

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

DEXTER'S LABORATORY chronicles the life of Dexter (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh), a child prodigy with a secret lab that he uses to conduct experiments like building a mass-destructing robot or using advanced technology to catch up with the ice cream man. Something's guaranteed to go awry in each episode, with Dexter's sister Dee Dee (Allison Moore) often having a hand in the trouble.

Is it any good?


There's plenty of cartoon violence here. In one episode, for example, Dexter and his friends play an interactive game that features Robin Hood look-alikes and magicians who battle dragons with swords and bows. As if gruesome stabs weren't enough, at one point a dragon's arm is sliced off, and after a few seconds he turns into a piñata with candy pouring out of his body. The story twist might be clever, but the endless displays of mocking violence are almost shocking

Plus, Dexter's parents are nowhere to be seen, mimicking '50s TV moms and dads in their complete denial of their kids' problematic behavior. Most Their obliviousness sends a confusing message -- are they really clueless, or are they too lazy to invest the proper time and care necessary to raise their kids? (On a positive note, Dexter and his sister do stick by their parents when necessary.) Bottom line? When watching Dexter's Laboratory, expect shrill, piercing voices accompanied by temper tantrums, violence, name calling, and overall disrespect. Kids might enjoy this three-ring circus of a show, but a headache is the only thing a parent will walk away with. If Dexter's Laboratory was synthesized in the cartoon lab, its formula would be 1/10 funny and three parts obnoxious.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the benefits of science. How can you use science to expand your knowledge and help people?

  • Does Dexter use scientific knowledge in a positive way? Do the ends ever justify the means?

This review of Dexter's Laboratory was written by

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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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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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Teen, 17 years old Written byAmanda Please September 25, 2011

Stop tearing apart a great show.

Seriously, you people are ridiculous. All my childhood shows are being torn apart, criticized, and hated on. No offense, but you wouldn't understand the show unless you were a 90's kid. I grew up with this show, among others, and I LOVED it. Still love it, to this day. I'll go on Youtube every now and then to watch another episode. Yeah, okay, it's not educational. It's a bit violent, somewhat weird, but you can't deny that it's entertaining. I would stay up/wake up early to watch this show when I was a kid, and even the episodes that seemed a little stupid/pointless I still enjoyed watching. Honestly, it's not a bad show. My childhood was based on this show, yet I'm not in any way violent or rule-breaking--I'm just me. If your kid turns out evil because of the cartoon...well, then something's wrong with your kid. Every person I know who was a fan of the show such as myself are completely normal people; back then, us children knew that Dexter's Laboratory wasn't promoting violence...we knew it was for entertainment purposes only. Personally, I miss the show. I know it's on Boomerang, but there's no way I can stay up till 3 AM to watch it. So, if it's on, don't worry; it's totally fine for kids. Maybe not the three year olds and under but 5-7 should be okay.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written bySlipperyQ August 9, 2012

It's Actually Pretty Impressive

When I was a kid, I loved this show, but I fear I didn't totally understand it. Now that I'm older, and my parents have brought it back into my life (they adore it), I can appreciate everything that it was. You have to consider Dexter's Lab in its time. During that period of time, Cartoon Network was practically made up of ancient reruns- and all of its shows followed a pretty basic formula. Dexter's Lab didn't just refuse to conform to that commercialized mold- it completely shattered the mold. Its freaky surrealism - which was probably, in part, a result of the post-Ren-and-Stimpy "dark cartoon" era - and total originality was enough to break Cartoon Network into a totally new atmosphere. Not only did Dexter's Laboratory have a very distinct visual style, which was unique, but it also had a very distinct brand of humor and acted as a far more childlike, almost dreamlike, looking glass into an almost "magical" sense of impossibility. Its plot had no inherent conflict, which was another unique aspect of the show- it wasn't black-and-white, good and bad, like most kids' shows were. Dexter's realistically ill-tempered, stubborn, egotistic manner is plausible for a child - particularly a child who's gifted, as he was, and knows it - and was yet another radically different aspect of it. Unlike most cartoons, whose half-hour run is broken into two fifteen-minute episodes of the same story, Dexter's Lab was divided into three- two with a definite plot that usually ended in the total anihilation of characters/the lab/the earth (giving the show a total lack of continuity and ending it without resolution pretty much every time), and one shorter segment that was almost total nonsense (Dexter talking to his sister, Dexter's dad dancing around the house while no one's home, etc.), slices of every day life. In short, Dexter's Laboratory was less of a mainstream cartoon than it was fodder for imagination, which forced the viewer to dream up everything from the story's ending to the meaning of the small glimpses it gave into characters' everyday lives, and it paved the way for increasingly experimental, intelligent cartoons in the future. "Dexter's Laboratory" is a mentally challenging and radical cartoon that wound up revolutionizing the world of children's animation. Your child will find it both easy and delightful to get lost in the enchanting, creative world of Dexter's magnificent laboratory.
Kid, 11 years old August 22, 2009
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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