Magnum, P.I. TV Poster Image

Magnum, P.I.



1980s heartthrob solves cases in Hawaii.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Magnum genuinely wants to help people and has a close friendship with his Vietnam buddies. While Higgins and Magnum argue, it's clear that they respect each other. Some of the issues raised as part of Magnum's investigations include adultery and post traumatic stress disorder. People of Polynesian and other diverse Asian racial/ethnic backgrounds are visible; T.C. is African-American.


Frequent punching and physical fighting, often leading to black eyes and broken limbs. Guns are frequently seen and fired, but blood is rarely visible. Magnum only uses a gun as a last resort. Some deaths, but not graphic (especially compared to today's shows).


Definitely some flirting and sexual innuendo, but much will go over younger viewers' head. Magnum's wardrobe includes tight blue jeans, short shorts, and tank tops (Selleck was a big sex symbol when the show originally aired). He's sometimes seen wearing only boxer shorts. Women in bikinis are consistently visible.


Later episodes sometimes include the word "damn," but it's rare.


The show prominently features a GT 380 Ferrari and highlights some Hawaiian attractions.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults frequently drink wine, beer, and hard alcohol (Magnum is often seen with a beer bottle in hand). Visible cigarette and cigar smoking. Occasional references to drugs and drug smuggling (generally related to investigations).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this hit 1980s crime drama -- which has a healthy dose of humor, too -- is full of tropical beaches, beautiful women, and lots of sexual innuendo (not to mention Tom Selleck in short shorts). But most of the racier stuff will probably go over kids' head. There's some violence, including the use of guns, but it's mild by today's standards, and blood is rarely seen. Some episodes are heavier than others, but overall it's a lighthearted throwback that still entertains.

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What's the story?

MAGNUM P.I. stars Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum -- a Vietnam veteran/former naval intelligence who's hired as a security consultant for unseen British writer Robin Masters (voiced by Orson Welles) in exchange for room and board. Magnum builds his private investigation practice from the guesthouse on Masters' beachfront Hawaiian estate. Living in "Robin's Nest" has its benefits, including a stocked wine cellar, high-end electronics, and the unlimited use of a bright red 308 GTS Ferrari. Unfortunately, Magnum's luxurious lifestyle is cramped by the nagging presence of the estate's custodian, rather priggish ex-British Army Sergeant Major Jonathan Higgins (John Hillerman), and his two well-trained Dobermans. But with the help of his Vietnam buddies, particularly helicopter pilot T.C. Calvin (Roger E. Mosley) and slightly shady beach club manager Rick Wright (Larry Mannetti), Magnum solves just about every case, no matter how odd. (And, naturally, success often comes hand in hand with securing the affections of a former female client or victim.... )

Is it any good?


With its combination of drama, humor, action, and sex appeal, is it any wonder that MAGNUM P.I. was a mega hit in the '80s? The Hawaiian setting -- combined with Magnum's tight jeans, short shorts, and unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts -- makes for an ideal tropical fantasy that plays up the private eye's sex appeal. The splashy series also reflects the longing for economic excess that characterized the '80s.

But Magnum's biggest cultural contribution may very well have been its willingness to openly examine some of the troubling long-term issues that Vietnam veterans faced as they transitioned back into civilian life after the war.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the staying power of TV icons like Magnum. Which other characters have stood the test of time? Who are some of today's popular media icons? What do they represent? What will people say about them 20 years from now? Families can also talk about how Magnum's Vietnam veteran status affected both his character and the show.

TV details

Cast:John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley, Tom Selleck
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byploopy45 June 19, 2013

Better than most old shows, WAY more entertaining than murder she wrote!

Good show, my family loves it. Magnum is a good role model though it can be to scary sometimes for younger kids.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byfrankiedoodle August 1, 2016

This is a terrible show

WAY too much kissing and sex. Same story as every other '80's PI show. A terrible role model for kids and not even very original episodes. DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS WATCH THIS SHOW!!!!! It is highly inappropriate and disturbing.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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