Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

As the last of his kind, the Doctor is a true individualist, dedicated to defeating evil. Honesty, loyalty, and integrity always win out in the end. He's often painted as the only character who understands the true nature of the episode's villain, which means he typically must subvert the well-intentioned but misguided plans of authority figures, who usually come to realize that his plan is the best plan. He keeps secrets, but for good reason, as they help keep safe the people he cares about.

Positive role models

Although he has his fair share of dark moments, the Doctor is an entertaining and complex character. He takes it upon himself to protect humanity and those he holds dear, even to the point of sacrificing himself, and makes every attempt to end conflicts without violence. The Doctor also has a childlike curiosity and can get excited about things that others would find terrifying. He and his companions demonstrate courage and teamwork.


The Doctor uses his wits, not his fists, to battle his foes, though he often employs some really cool space-age tools. Many episodes feature creepy creatures and scary scenarios, such as giant crab-like monsters who snatch and digest cars out of the fast lane on a futuristic freeway. Chase scenes often end in injuries or death, though the time-warp element always casts suspicion on whether those deaths will hold as time progresses.


Some kissing between adults, but physical contact stops there. 


Rarely "hell."


The show is part of a long-running franchise that has multiple seasons' worth of DVDs and plenty of memorabilia.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Occasionally adults consume what's implied to be mixed drinks, but as they're often on other planets with unfamiliar beverage ingredients, they bear little resemblance to what we know as alcohol. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Doctor Who often seems lighthearted, but underneath the Doctor's always-cool exterior and his jovial approach to circumstances are some decent moral messages. Selfishness, evil, and the urge to dominate others are always frowned upon, while honesty, loyalty, and integrity often tip the balance in the protagonists' favor. Expect a lot of sci-fi action with fighting, perilous predicaments, and some death, though the main character always manages to escape his own demise through a twist of fate or regeneration. You'll see some kissing and alcohol use, none of which has a big role in content that's appealing to a wide range of ages.

What's the story?

DOCTOR WHO is a long-running British sci-fi series that tells the story of an alien Time Lord known as the Doctor, who takes it upon himself to defend the peaceful residents of the galaxy against invading threats. This he does by traveling through time in a machine called the TARDIS (which looks like a blue telephone booth) to key moments of villain insurgencies. He's always flanked by an associate (collectively known throughout the series as Companions) who helps him to defeat the invaders and get the time stream back to normal. Thanks to a neat plot device that lets the Doctor go through physical changes called "regeneration" to avoid death, the show has seen numerous actors in the title role, culminating in Peter Capaldi assuming the title of the Twelfth Doctor in 2014. He's joined by Jenna Coleman as his companion, Clara Oswald, who helps bridge the story lines between Capaldi's character and that of his predecessor, Matt Smith, whom Clara also accompanied.

Is it any good?


Some incarnation of this long-running show has been a presence on and off the small screen since the early 1960s, resulting in a diverse viewer base. Each character regeneration has paved the way for a new and unique version of the good Doctor, and although longtime fans are sure to hold to their favorites in the role, the variety gives the show a certain freshness that enables its longevity. Although many of the plots hint at complicated concepts -- particularly relative to the mind-boggling inter-dimensional capabilities of the TARDIS (that's Time and Relative Dimensions in Space, if you must know) -- the basic concept remains unchanged: An unflappable adventurer goes where he's needed to prevent a rotating cast of interplanetary villains from pursuing their evil agendas.

As sort of an anti-action-hero, the Doctor uses charm and quick thinking to disarm his foes rather than guns or fists. Among other likable traits, this gives his character strong appeal and broadens the show's potential fan base. There's still a fair amount of violence and plenty of tense moments, but they're offset by a real joviality that all ages will enjoy. The interactions between the Doctor and his Companions are fun (even if the ladies often fade into the woodwork when the accolades are handed out), and the colorful cast of alien forms always promise some surprises. Though Doctor Who's low budget can show in its CG effects at times, the entertaining stories and iconic protagonist have inspired a longstanding cult following for good reason. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the basic concepts of right and wrong, especially how they play out in Doctor Who. Do the Doctor's actions ever fall into a gray area? Do the ends ever justify the means, even if the future of the entire world is at stake?

  • Talk about the concept of time travel. Should certain events in history be changed? Do you think the world would be different if something like WWI never happened? Where in the past would you choose to go if you could?

  • How does this show compare to other science fiction-based media? What does it do better? What could be improved? What makes a show a winner for you? For your tweens? 

  • How do the characters in Doctor Who demonstrate courage and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Premiere date:November 23, 1963
Cast:Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Alex Kingston
Networks:BBC America, Syfy
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Space and aliens
Character strengths:Courage, Teamwork
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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Parent of a 12 year old Written byTheOncomingStorm March 28, 2011

Good for tweens

As a Christian mother, I see Doctor Who as a complex, rich allegory without the vulgarity of other modern TV shows. Of course, some of the monsters are a bit scary for small children, but for tweens. No problem. Despite it being a sci-fi show, it is the only show I know of that shows consequences to every action and still contains superb role models. Definitely a favorite in our family.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byobnoxiousm September 6, 2010

Depth, Nuanced Themes, Bowties, and A Lot of Innuendo

Doctor Who has been around for almost my mother's entire life--and I'm an adult. That should tell you something. Since 1963 the values and appropriateness of the show has varied alot. I'll tell you that the earlier stuff is more appropriate than now for most part, and keep my commentary mostly to the new series. Doctor Who started as a family program and it still tries to be that. The story of an ancient, lonely alien who travels through time and space helping people who need it. He has trouble without someone to bounce his ideas off, and he's lonely, so he almost always has a companion, almost always a brilliant or brave young woman. If you have a teenager you needn't worry about Doctor Who. There are the odd racy comment, and a fair amount of violence, but it's nothing your teenager hasn't heard on the school bus, and is often much more elegantly phrased and genuinely funny on the show anyway. My concerns for younger, tween viewers are a few. The biggest iis its mild sexual comments. It's almost all a handful of jokes here and there, but they are subtle jokes that kids might accidentally repeat without a little clarification--and do you really want to explain the other definition of those words? They still aren't that bad, but let me tell you, being the naive kid to repeat that stuff without knowing it is not fun. The violence can be fairly intense, but is usually contained enough. Remember, this is prime time programming in the U.K. The Doctor generally avoids all but the most temporary, emergency violence, preferring to talk, scheme, or sabotage his way out of trouble. His companions do not alwayts agree and there are traditional military battles in later seasons. Creatures are occasionally killed, sometimes violently and callously, and the series features at least one suicide, on-scene but off-screen. Also, expect a lot of mild swearing. Nothing too crazy, but if you don't want your kid spouting the midlest but most religious of four letter words, talk to them before watching. On the bright side, the show features great role models like the Doctor (courageous and resourceful) and his companions (especially Martha, a brilliant and brave woman who knows when to follow along and when to stand up, and Rory, a loyal, courageous friend unafraid to speak up for his beliefs). The Doctor is a flawed role model, and his character arcs in season 2 and 5 are too complicated for younger teens without a parental explanation of deconstruction or a close watch of "The Waters of Mars" and "The End of Time." The show advocates standing up for what's right and heping others, but is also careful to remind us to be careful in our meddling and to pick our batles wisely, with the way fixed points in history cannot be changd. It is a deep, thought provoking show best saved for older teens, but fine for viewing by younger ones and a good conversation starter for tweens and parents. Plus, David Tennant rambling at fifty miles an hour and Matt Smith insisting that bowties are cool. Fun for the whole funny family!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old May 18, 2011

Bow ties are cool

Omigosh I love this show it is EPIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am obsessed with it!!!!!! It's SO FUNNY AND SCARY!!!!!!!!! By the way, bow ties are cool. So are fezs. And Stetsons.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models