Mystery Diagnosis

Common Sense Media says

Patients search for answers to vexing questions.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Doctors and patients search for answers to medical questions.


Threats to health from unknown causes. Close-up shots of blood being drawn.


Depends on the episode, but some deal with fertility-related issues/topics.


One episode contained a bleeped use of "s--t." Language is generally very tame.


Doctors' affiliations are listed -- Kaiser, for example.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Discussion of medications, images of pills.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this series deals with real people who have faced serious illnesses. Patients and family members tell their stories directly to the camera, which makes their emotional tales quite affecting. Photos and video footage of affected children and other family members can also easily bring on tears. Some stories might create an unrealistic fear of harmless symptoms. Topics include infants who fail to grow, women who have trouble conceiving, elderly men who suddenly go blind, and many more.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Documentary-style series MYSTERY DIAGNOSIS tells the stories of families' struggles with undiagnosed illnesses. Through one-on-one interviews with patients, family members, and health professionals -- as well as home video, photos, and brief re-enactments -- tales of painful, vexing, and emotionally draining medical problems emerge. For example, one episode told the story of adopted twin Joey, who ate more vigorously than his brother, often vomited, cried and woke constantly, and eventually stopped growing. Despite many pediatrician visits, the boys' parents never received any helpful explanations for their son's mysterious symptoms. But finally, after seeing yet another pediatrician and consulting specialists, the family learns that Joey has a rare kidney problem that's affecting his body's ability to retain nutrients and also causing his excess thirst, urination, cravings for salt, and light sensitivity.

Is it any good?


With each story told as an unfolding mystery and accompanied by emotionally charged issues of life and death, Mystery Diagnosis is compelling -- if not original -- television. While it's rated TV-G, sensitive kids may find the threat of painful illness and/or eventual death too much to bear. (One featured patient stokes potential anxiety by asking: How many people are walking around out there with an undiagnosed illness?)

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about doctors. How are doctors typically portrayed on TV and in other media? Does that match how they're shown on this show? In general, what do you think of doctors and the health care system? What kind of expectations do you have for them? Other than doctors, who or what helps you stay healthy? What can you do to feel in control of their health?

TV details

This review of Mystery Diagnosis was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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, okay 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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Kid, 9 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Kid, 8 years old December 20, 2010


I LOVE THIS SHOW, but I don,t like how sometimes they show what there operating on!
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written byParamoreFan09 March 28, 2010

ew ew ew!!! this is gross i cant watch it...

ewww this show grosses me out and WHY in good messages does common sense media say "Most of the featured people are Caucasian"???!!!??? does that mean what i think it means? cause if it does, that's SUPER mean...
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models


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