Diagnosis Murder

Common Sense Media says

90s crime drama is tame by today's standards.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters often lie, cheat, steal, and kill to achieve their own selfish agendas -- but most of them get their comeuppance in the end. Assumptions of guilt can change quickly, and mild suspense exists throughout the show.


Since each episode centers on solving a murder, much of the dialogue relates to killing. The act of murder is shown (with some blood when applicable), but the show's overall mood is light, and the violence is fairly hokey.


Flirting, some kissing, and allusions to sexual activity, extramarital affairs, and illegitimate children. Occasionally women are shown in skimpy undergarments or a bath towel.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults sometimes drink and/or smoke in social settings or at home.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although murder is central to this drama series and the act of killing is often shown, the violence is pretty cheesy and not likely to upset older tweens. Other mature content (sexual references, drinking, smoking, etc.) is sparse, and the show's use of humor greatly lightens the overall mood. Still, kids may be affected by the show's violent and criminal themes or confused by the frequently changing assumptions of guilt and the discussions of murder motives.

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What's the story?

DIAGNOSIS: MURDER is a combination medical/crime drama from the 1990s that stars TV icon Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, chief of internal medicine at L.A.'s fictitious Community General Hospital.

In addition to his duties as a doctor and part-time medical consultant for the police department, Dr. Sloan assists his son, Det. Steve Sloan (played by Dick's real-life son, Barry), in solving the constant stream of murder cases that inexplicably occur in his immediate vicinity. Over the show's eight-year run, the father-son team was assisted by several of the doc's colleagues, including Dr. Amanda Bentley (Victoria Rowell) and Dr. Jack Stewart (Scott Baio), who was later replaced by Dr. Jesse Travis (Charlie Schlatter).

Is it any good?


As both medical and crime dramas go, this one ranks fairly low on upsetting content -- especially compared to today's primetime standards. While murder scenes often show blood, fatal wounds, and corpses, the violence is mitigated by the show's hokey feel and lighthearted dialogue, making it unlikely to upset tween viewers. And even though sex plays a role in some episodes, there's no nudity and little more than allusions to physical relationships between characters. Drinking and smoking are fairly minimal and reserved for adults in social settings.

That said, Diagnosis Murder may be a hard sell for tweens and teens, who will probably be turned off by its dated feel and somewhat simplistic plots. If they do tune in, remind them that in the real world, clues are rarely so easily uncovered, crime so neatly solved, or criminals (especially murderers) so easily apprehended.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this show compares to current crime dramas. Are today's shows more violent? What do you think led to that shift? Do you think using more realistic violence increases the show's credibility with viewers? Why or why not? How could increased violence in the media have a negative effect on viewers? For more about media violence, click here.

TV details

Cast:Barry Van Dyke, Dick Van Dyke, Victoria Rowell
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

This review of Diagnosis Murder 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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