Secrets of the Dead

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Secrets of the Dead TV Poster Image
Experts take a new look at history's mysteries.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

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

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show takes viewers on educational tours through history, bringing it to life with video footage and re-enactments based on thorough research.


Graphic historical re-enactments (as well as actual footage, when it's available) include battles, ships sinking, disease-ridden bodies, and skeletal remains. Depending on the subject, guns and other weapons are often prevalent.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this documentary series features lots of research surrounding some of history's most famous (and mysterious) fatalities. Subjects have included an American dogfight pilot shot down during WWII, unidentified victims of the Titanic, and those who perished in the Hindenburg disaster. The show uses archive video footage (when it's available) and re-enactments, both of which are graphic in their portrayals of war, disease, and death. This show isn't for young viewers, but parents who watch with tweens and teens will get some history lessons along with them.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

Amazing and disturbing,

This is a very good documentary series. But it is also very violent and sometimes outright disturbing. It is not for kids or the squeamish.
Teen, 16 years old Written byyomisan April 9, 2008

What's the story?

The documentary series SECRETS OF THE DEAD attempts to answer questions that still surround many well-known deaths throughout history. The series takes a close look at topics like the true origin of the Shroud of Turin, the spark that ignited the Salem witch hysteria, and the cause of the great fire of Rome. Scientists and researchers from a wide range of fields take on the seemingly impossible task of gathering stone-cold evidence and using modern technology to put it back under the microscope hundreds to thousands of years later. For example, in an episode about the bubonic plague (or Black Death) that swept through Europe in the 1300s, researchers try to decipher how a lucky few people survived the highly contagious epidemic. Using DNA samples from the survivors' modern-day descendants, doctors look for a possible source of their immunity to the disease.

Is it any good?

Secrets of the Dead sheds new light on mysteries that once seemed an unsolvable part of human history. What's more, it manages to combine its extraordinary educational value with enough pace and drama to keep even skeptical viewers attentive. While the stark violence and scenes of disease and death are integral to the documentary, they also mean this one isn't for little kids' list. But the next time you're surfing for some worthwhile family TV to watch with your tweens or teens, tune into this one -- you'll be amazed at what all of you will learn.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how science allows us to look differently at past events. What scientific and research advances have changed the way we look at history? How do experts use disciplines like forensics and carbon dating to analyze age-old mysteries? How will further discoveries affect the future?

TV details

  • Premiere date: May 15, 2000
  • Network: PBS
  • Genre: Educational
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: September 20, 2019

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

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