Secrets of the Dead

Common Sense Media says

Experts take a new look at history's mysteries.





What parents need to know

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.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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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.

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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.

Families can talk 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

TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Secrets of the Dead 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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Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

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
AGENot rated for age


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