Past Life TV Poster Image

Past Life

Sometimes-iffy crime show reincarnates familiar formula.
  • Network: Fox
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2010

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show requires a fair bit of belief in the paranormal -- including the idea that death is not the final end -- though it also features numerous skeptical characters who stand in for viewers who may have trouble buying the premise.

Positive role models

One character is a firm believer in reincarnation and must constantly defend her ideas from skeptics like her partner, whose slow acceptance of the unbelievable demonstrates an open mind.


Each episode focuses on investigating the circumstances of a mysterious death, often murder, and features brief flashes of the incident. Some scenes include or imply a violent demise, though more is hidden than shown. Hints of sexual violence. Heavily armed police officers burst into a building, automatic rifles at the ready. Some characters argue.


No sex or nudity, though the two lead characters flirt with each other sometimes.


“Crap,” “butt,” and “damn” are about as rough as it gets.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking, and a few scenes show people drinking in bars. One of the main characters drops hints that he’s had a drinking problem, but it doesn’t keep him from occasionally knocking one back. No drugs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this police procedural is heavy on the paranormal and includes in-depth discussion of reincarnation, past lives, and how these concepts intersect with mysterious deaths. The investigations sometimes uncover vicious crimes -- which occasionally include sexual violence -- though not too much graphic stuff is shown on screen. The characters occasionally drink and go to bars.

Kids say

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What's the story?

After a personal tragedy forces him to leave the force, NYPD detective Price Whatley (Nicholas Bishop) takes a job helping Dr. Kate McGinn (Kelli Giddish) investigate mysterious deaths. The catch? McGinn is an expert in reincarnation, and their only clues come from her clients -- ordinary people who are beset with strange visions that seem to come from a PAST LIFE and often include details about how someone died. Whatley's skepticism is tested by situations that seem to have paranormal explanations.

Is it any good?


Past Life plays much like other police procedurals. There’s a case, usually involving death, and just a few tiny clues. Whatley and McGinn are forced to trust their instincts, even when others think they’re following outlandish hunches. Whatley, always a pragmatic cop, is reluctant to believe in McGinn’s theories about reincarnation, but he’s slowly won over after clients continue to uncover long-hidden crimes using knowledge that could only come from the victim.

But without the twist that the tiny scraps of information may come from beyond the grave, this show doesn’t really stand out from the procedural pack. Watching Past Life could give viewers the sense that sometime, somewhere, they’ve already seen this show.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the violence in this show compares to other crime procedurals. What is shown and what is just implied?

  • What do you think about reincarnation? Do you believe people are reborn after death? What do you think happens to the spirit after death? Do the past-life memories presented on this show seem realistic?

  • Does detective Price Whatley believe in reincarnation? How do his investigations affect his views? How does his pragmatic mind reconcile his doubts with his experiences? Have you ever had an experience that seemed to have an otherworldly explanation?

TV details

Premiere date:February 9, 2010
Cast:Kelli Giddish, Richard Schiff
TV rating:TV-14

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Adult Written byZardogz June 3, 2010
I like the show's premise. The directing, cinematography and acting are well done, while the stories have been interesting and engaging. A possible limitation might be found in the fact that (so far) the subject character's 'Past Life' is always that of a person who had died shortly before the character was borne. A story where the past life incarnation was from several hundred years in the past might give the team a wider venue.
What other families should know
Great role models