Samurai Jack

TV review by
Scout Davidson, Common Sense Media
Samurai Jack TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Japanese warrior fights evil in violence-heavy cartoon.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 38 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

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

Jack's motivation is getting home, and he'll do anything to make it happen. He doesn't enjoy fighting or seek out conflict, but when it finds him, he does what he has to protect himself and the innocents around him. While he's a force of justice, his adversary revels in killing and controlling those who work for him.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jack's not violent by nature even though that's how he's forced to solve problems. He does what he does by necessity, whereas Aku is cruel by choice. Instead Jack fights for peace and justice.


Jack is a sword-wielding samurai, but he mostly battles robots and other machines, so what looks like blood is actually gushing oil and other fluids. Some scenes show more human suffering, as when Jack imagines seeing his father burning alive on a cross. Much cartoon violence and weapons like knives and handguns. Stabbings, hand-to-hand combat. Kids are trained to fight for a villain.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Samurai Jack has a lot of animated violence – especially in newer episodes that air during Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming – but it's a stylish cartoon that has a big following among teens and adults. As a hero, Jack does ultimately wield his sword to fight evil, but he's forced to do what he does to protect innocent figures. Most of the violence involves robots of various sizes and shapes, so there's no blood but plenty of oily fluids made to look like it. Expect to see gun use, stabbing, punching, and sword fights, as well as some slicing and dicing of bodies, mostly without gore.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBig-Brother February 7, 2017

The 5th Season will be rated TV-14 for violence.

Parents should know Samurai Jack season 5 is going to contain strong bloody violence, including torture.
Parent of a 8-year-old Written byThe Professor September 14, 2019

Excellent intro to Bushido and martial virtues

This show has brought about such great joy and discussions in our family.

If you think your child would benefit from the discipline of a martial arts school,... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byTeenFilmScholar March 23, 2017

First four seasons are okay for 9+, but fifth season is very brutal.

Samurai Jack is a gorgeously drawn show, has a tightly written script that wastes no time, but is never too fast, and most of all, heart that is shown through l... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBlurr March 22, 2017

Okay to watch with parents

Samurai Jack is an extremely amazing cartoon that has been aimed for people of all ages. The art is beautiful and the voices and story is just absolutely specta... Continue reading

What's the story?

In feudal Japan, a young prince's father is killed by a demon named Aku (voiced by Greg Baldwin) in SAMURAI JACK. The prince escapes and spends his life training as a samurai, eventually challenging the demon. Before he can deal the killing blow, however, the demon opens a time portal and flings his opponent into it. The prince arrives in a frightening dystopian future Earth ruled by Aku and his robot servants and assumes the task of attempting to find a way back to his time to prevent the future he's seen, but he's also occupied by Aku's underlings who seek him out to destroy him. Haunted by memories of his family and the knowledge that they need him, Jack (Phil LaMarr) survives decades of Aku's assaults without giving up hope of returning home.

Is it any good?

This beautifully drawn, animated, and edited cartoon is a cut above most, but the brooding hero and mature themes – especially evident in newer episodes – mean it's not for most kids. Older episodes involve some absurdity and lightheated content, but season five is decidedly more intense and violent, casting Jack as an increasingly tortured soul haunted by his extended inability to get back to his family. As such, the show is better suited to older teens and adults than it is to kids.

Violence is the biggest concern in Samurai Jack's content mostly because of how the show's minimal dialogue accentuates these exchanges. Even though most involve Jack facing off against robots, it's evident the experiences weigh on him; in those moments when his adversary is human, he's bothered long after the deed of self-preservation is done. This translates to a highly sympathetic, understated hero who maintains his own humanity despite forces that seek to undo it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how shows like Samurai Jack portray violence. Are there circumstances under which the use of violence is necessary? Who decides when it's justified and when it's not?

  • Is Samurai Jack a viable hero? Does he act like one? Are heroes always easy to spot in real life? What accounts for his ability to persevere through so many years of mental anguish?

  • How does this series reflect aspects of Japanese history and culture? Is it respectful in its representation? How fine is the line between stereotypes and honest representation?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love martial arts and cartoons

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

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.

Learn how we rate