ER

TV review by
Jill Murphy, Common Sense Media
ER TV Poster Image
Parents recommend
Excellent, but the ER is no place for children.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

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

Despite the show's frequently mature content -- themes include teen pregnancy, abortion, rape, incest, racism, sexism, mental illness, psychological issues, substance abuse, domestic violence, and more -- there are also messages about persistence, hard work, teamwork, and compassion. Additional themes include communication and empathy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The doctors and nurses are often heroic -- and they always try to do the right thing for their patients -- but they're also complex, flawed people. They have flings/affairs, give in to temptation, lie, defy authority, and more.

Violence

Graphic, bloody injuries. Patients are often outraged, psych patients throw temper tantrums, and doctors have been held at gunpoint and threatened -- and murdered -- in the ER.

Sex

Doctors occasionally hook up (which leads to passionate kissing and suggested sex), and/or viewers see "the morning after." No sensitive body parts are shown.

Language

Four-letter words are used infrequently -- often toward doctors from angry patients. Also words like "tits," "hell," "bitch," "a--hole," etc.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Both doctors and patients grapple with drug and alcohol addiction; smoking, social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that ER is an intense medical drama with graphic situations (lots of blood and surgeries) and mature storylines that  isn't for young audiences. Death, disease, and physical injuries are in every episode. Rape, neglect, physical abuse, spousal abuse, teen pregnancy, abortion, and incest have all been plots, sometimes involving young kids and teens; some patients have serious psychological ailments. The sexual relationships between doctors are often at the center of the drama. Parents will want to watch with their teens and be prepared for a follow-up conversation. If you allow your teens to watch, make sure they're comfortable seeing gross visuals of blood and surgeries.

Wondering if ER is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycathyn January 22, 2018

Great show

I was 8 when this showed premiered. It had a huge impact on me. Only Positive. Made me want to be a nurse. I enjoyed watching the characters juggle their job wi... Continue reading
Adult Written byCallisto A. September 4, 2017

Speaking from my own experience..

While I generally agree with the comments on here, regarding how ER is inappropriate for young teens and below, I started watching this show when it was origina... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFive0456 May 29, 2020

Great show

I love this show. It is very similar to Grey's - the sex .
Kid, 12 years old February 10, 2018

Very good

It is a good tv show. But I think kids under 12 shouldn’t watch the tv. Due to the fact there is a lot of good. And surgery scenes are disturbing if you’re not... Continue reading

What's the story?

ER is an Emmy-winning medical drama series based in the emergency room of a busy Chicago hospital. Created by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park) and John Wells (The West Wing, Third Watch), the series centers on the medical professionals in the hospital. ER has turned out stars such as George Clooney, Julianna Margulies, and Noah Wyle; guest stars have included Sally Field, who received an Emmy for her role.

Is it any good?

This series is an excellent medical drama that has remained popular for good reason, but it's not appropriate for kids. With its emotionally wrenching scenes, images of graphic and bloody injuries, focus on death and disease, and heavy plots that range from domestic violence to abortion, ER is just too intense for tweens and many younger teens.

In addition to all the death and tragedy, episodes often focus on the ER doctors' personal lives, which involve affairs, love triangles, addiction, terminal illness, and more. In fact, the doctors have nearly as many problems as their patients. For example, Dr. Green (Anthony Edwards) dealt with a brain tumor, remission, a new baby, a new marriage, and a return of his illness in a matter of two seasons. Still, the show's impeccable writing and memorable characters made it a mainstay on NBC for a decade.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether or not they think the situations presented on ER are realistic. How do the doctors cope with their highly stressful jobs, make tough decisions, and deal with life-and-death situations?

  • Are the characters intended to be role models?

  • How do the characters on ER demonstrate compassion, communication, and empathy? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

For kids who love drama

Our editors recommend

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