Doctor Who

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
Doctor Who TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Long-running British sci-fi series still thrills fans.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 98 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 462 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

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 & Representations

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. 

What 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 their 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 appropriate... Continue reading
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 sc... Continue reading
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... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byPanda Incognito August 16, 2011

Clever, deep, and thought-provoking fantasy

I love Doctor Who! It's clever, funny, exciting, and mostly clean. However, it's a niche thing; you either hate it or love it. I'm very difficult... Continue reading

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 Jodie Whittaker assuming the title of the Thirteenth (and first female) Doctor in 2018. 

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 foes rather than guns or fists. Among other likable traits, this gives the 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. 

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate