Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

Northern Rescue

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Northern Rescue TV Poster Image
Heartfelt, emotional drama tackles tough issues head on.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

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

This show follows a family's journey through grief after loss. It presents raw emotions including anger, sadness, and uncertainty in adults and teens as the characters cope with their grief in different ways. A main character keeps a secret about her mom from her family, knowing it would devastate them to know the truth. Some rebellious teen behavior, including smoking onscreen and references to getting high and drunk. Prominent themes of perseverance and overcoming adversity.


Positive Role Models & Representations

All of the characters deal with their feelings in different ways, not all of which are entirely healthy. Maddie and Scout both have moments of aggression that they take out on other people. John turns his grief into determination to keep his family together and be successful in his job. As the story evolves, they come to terms with their loss and find better ways to relate to each other. Sarah is cast as the perfect wife and mother, but Maddie hints at knowing that she had her flaws, too.



Some rescue scenes show graphic injuries like compound fractures and perilous scenarios that could be fatal for the victims. Other incidents happen off screen, but the effects are shown afterward, as when Maddie punches a classmate and leaves her with a bloody lip and bruises.



Kissing between married couples and teen couples. References to STDs.



Rarely "damn," "bitch," "hell," and "sucks." 


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some scenes of teens smoking cigarettes and marijuana. Maddie comes home drunk and high in an act of rebellion.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Northern Rescue is a Canadian drama series about a family trying to cope with and move past the loss of their wife and mother. Their emotional journey involves at different times intense grief, sadness, anger, and fear. Teens rebel in potentially harmful ways like drinking and getting high (it's not shown, but she comes home under the influence) and beating up a classmate (it happens off screen, but her injuries are visible). Expect occasional language like "bitch," "damn," and "sucks." Teen and adult couples kiss, and there's potential danger in a main character's work in search and rescue. This compelling series has strong themes of perseverance and overcoming adversity.


User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11, 13, and 15 year old Written bychrista.fisher March 15, 2019
Teen, 13 years old Written byBarrett_Keck March 22, 2019


I'm 13 and me and my mom watched this show last night very good , . should be rated PG . and my mom is super over protective!

What's the story?

In NORTHERN RESCUE, life changes in an instant for the West family when Sarah (Michelle Nolden) dies unexpectedly and leaves her husband, John (William Baldwin), a widower with three kids. Reeling from the loss and desperate for a fresh start, John moves them from Boston to his tiny hometown of Turtle Island Bay. Nursing a hidden grief of her own, Sarah's younger sister, Charlie (Kathleen Robertson), pitches in to help care for Maddie (Amalia Williamson), Scout (Spencer Macpherson), and Taylor (Taylor Thorne) so John can focus on his new post as head of the town's Search and Rescue team.

Is it any good?

That this moving drama series doesn't shy away from telling a story about how bad life can be sometimes may not sound like a selling point, but it is. The show is a little slow to gain traction and isn't compelling right from the start, but when the characters' individual personalities evolve, you're drawn into their lengthy and turbulent healing and restarting process. John tries to balance being strong with being emotionally available for his kids and they wrestle with their loss in different ways and with different measures of success.

As family dramas go, Northern Rescue makes a strong case for a place near the top of watch-together TV for parents and teens. It deals thoughtfully with emotion, teen rebellion, family discord, and life-altering loss, raising several potential discussion points for families. At the same time, the story presents characters who overcome challenges by leaning on each other and being open to change.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the characters in Northern Rescue grieve and recover in different ways. How do their individual responses reflect their personalities? How do they cope with setbacks? Are there "right" and "wrong" ways do handle difficult life events?

  • How do the characters demonstrate perseverance and courage? How do these character strengths look different in different people? Why are these kinds of traits important?

  • How do you keep the lines of communication open in your family? What role does a strong support system play in your ability to overcome challenges?

TV details

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love family 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

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 and learning potential.

Learn how we rate