Moody conspiracy drama is creepy, complex, and masterful.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Loyalty is a tricky thing in this show. Most of the characters are trying to expose a vast conspiracy that stretches to another world and threatens everything in this one. But some characters have questionable motives and even serve as double agents. There's lots of suspicion and fear here.

Positive role models

Olivia is a strong, independent woman with a complicated past and some extraordinary abilities. She and all of the other characters have plenty of flaws, though most of them are usually trying to do the right thing. Walter makes no secret of the fact that he has enjoyed doing drugs for much of his life; his methods and behavior in general are quite unusual. Some characters turn out to be double agents and/or working for a separate agenda.


Plenty of action, including gunfights, car chases, explosions, and some pretty gruesome medical experiments that lead to even more gruesome deaths (with badly decomposed/disfigured bodies shown in detail).


There are some romantic encounters, some of which show women in their underwear. Sexual relationships are implied.


Language includes words like "damn," "hell," "bitch," and "ass."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking. Dr. Bishop sometimes experiments with LSD and other substances (including marijuana).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, like The X-Files, this sci-fi/action show combines conspiracy theories and sometimes-violent thrills. There are plenty of explosions, gunfights, and dead bodies (some of which are pretty gruesome to look at), as well as a bit of suggestive content (some scenes show the female lead wearing very little) and drug experimentation. The show promotes some unusual scientific theories, including interdimensional plots, dangerous biological weapons, advanced cybernetics, and much more. Most of these are clearly impossible, a few seem quite plausible, and some fall somewhere in between, which could have teens wondering where to draw the line between hard science and make-believe.

What's the story?

FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and the FRINGE team started off investigating a dark, international conspiracy that featured an enormously powerful technology corporation, a long-running dispute over secret paranormal research, and an honest-to-goodness mad scientist, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble). As they dug deeper, Bishop's craziest ideas turned out be true, revealing that the plot stretched all the way into a parallel universe. The resolution of that plot has long-lasting impact on all of the characters. Also along for the ride is Dr. Bishop's son, Peter (Joshua Jackson), who's equal parts genius and rogue and has some major secrets of his own.

Is it any good?


J.J. Abrams excels at delivering this kind of taut, complex drama, filled with conspiracies, secret projects, and hard-to-believe scientific discoveries. The man behind Alias and Lost manages to please fans of smart sci-fi shows with Fringe, another engrossing, thrilling drama. Mad scientist Walter is an especially appealing character, the likes of which haven't been seen on television before -- he's happy to combine LSD visions, playful banter about dinosaurs, and impossibly complex theories about parallel universes.

The series' one notable flaw is really the same issue with Abrams' past hits. Fans are happy to ride along to see where he's going, but as the story has evolved, it's also become increasingly difficult to for new fans to jump aboard. Fringe is a complex and entertaining series, but there's a lot that won't make sense to people who haven't done their homework.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of shows like this one. Are theories like the ones explored here realistic? Does that matter? Is it fun to watch a show like this one precisely because it's unrealistic? Why do you think so many movies and TV shows focus on massive conspiracy theories?

  • Talk about the drug use in this show. Is it presented in a positive or negative light? Teens: What's your reaction to the use of drugs in the show? Do you feel any differently about drug use after watching?

TV details

Cast:Anna Torv, John Noble, Jonathan Jackson
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Fringe was written by

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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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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 5, 9, 11, and 14 year old Written byJamesRobertson January 4, 2009
Teen, 13 years old Written byArtpig August 1, 2011


This is a fantastic series
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of an infant, infant, 3, and 5 year old Written byMississippiQueen January 7, 2009


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