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TV review by
Edie Nugent, Common Sense Media
Shadowhunters TV Poster Image
A paranornal romance heavy on style, light on substance.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 24 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 76 reviews

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

Complicated family ties are the center of the series. Clary's mother deceives her by hiding their demon-hunting family legacy, and this places them both in great danger. The show revolves around Clary's quest to rescue her mother; it's the engine that drives her to navigate an unfamiliar, and dangerous, supernatural world. Clary's best friend Simon proves loyal and protective of her, helping to keep her grounded. But compassion, curiosity, and courage are major themes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Clary is determined and motivated but often doesn't trust herself. Simon is a devoted friend, but his motivations are colored by his unrequited love of Clary. All the Shadowhunters are self-possessed and confident, though they are also often self-absorbed and superficial. This is saved somewhat by their devotion to protecting humankind from a demon menace.


Lots of supernatural battles involve stabbings and fisticuffs. Little blood is shown, but the fighting can be a bit intense, though it's always framed as a battle of good vs. evil. The body count is high. Scenes involving demons that suddenly shape-shift from human forms can be intense.


Passionate kissing and longing romantic gazing, plus some rather skimpy outfits on the main characters (both men and women). 


"Hell," the term "champagne enema" (a band name intended lightheartedly).


The main cast are all very stylish, wearing expensive-looking clothes and living and working in luxurious, wealthy settings. The series is based on a bestselling, six-book series and was made into a film.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shadowhunters is a fantasy series adapted from the bestselling series of books by Cassandra Clare. In this paranormal romance, werewolves, vampires, warlocks, demons, and fairies are real and can be both friends or foes. The series' protagonists are in their teens, and they engage in risky behavior, sometimes to save the world, and sometimes just because they're adolescents. As they try to navigate a world of violence and danger (where supernatural surprises lurk around every corner), the main characters adopt some devil-may-care posturing and attitudes -- again, standard teen behavior. Sexuality is mentioned but limited to some steamy kisses. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byEarthmother1999 February 13, 2016

Mediocre taken alone. A terrible adaptation!

Probably ok for teens who haven't read the books, but as an adult fan of the books, this show makes me cringe. They completely threw out the character desc... Continue reading
Adult Written byrebma97 April 20, 2016

Different From The Books

This show is different from the books but still enjoyable. The characters are a bit flat, but there are layers underneath occasionally, and they sometimes discu... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byKrokodilelovespie February 16, 2016

Sickening mock of the book!

Took the trailer to know this would be a catastrophe. Took one and a quarter of an episode to know who to never employ in the tv industry if I ever make it to b... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byKenzi333 February 2, 2016


Honestly, I have mixed feelings about the newest adaptation of Cassandra Clare's beautiful books. I've been following it's creation and filming f... Continue reading

What's the story?

When Clary Fray turns 18, she's plunged into a terrifying world that's been hidden from her since childhood by her mother: the world of vampires, werewolves, warlocks, and demons (to name a few). Clary's mother Jocelyn barely has time to admit she's been keeping their family history as SHADOWHUNTERS a secret before she's kidnapped by the very demons that give the mystically powered hunters their name. They're looking for something called the Mortal Cup. Luckily Clary's human friend Simon and newer Shadowhunter friend Jace both have her back as she begins a quest to understand her secret history and her place in this secretive and dangerous new world. She'll need them both to stay alive and save her mother. 

Is it any good?

This often melodramatic show exists in a very intricate world that includes several castes of supernatural beings. While the rules and history of this universe do have some depth, it's unfortunately not shared by Shadowhunters' characters. Too often they're boilerplate teen archetypes: the nerdy friend with a crush on the main character, the loner bad boy with a secret heart of gold, and even a sexy and outgoing queen bee. Though this was also true of the books the series is adapting, it could have easily improved on its source material by fleshing out these characters.

The two-dimensional quality of the characters renders it a mildly engaging romantic mystery at best, one that happens to include lots of stylish outfits and fight choreography. There are better role models than Clary and more interesting fantasy worlds out there, but the wildly popular source material lends the series appeal to its teen target audience. It's not the worst they could do, but parents should check out an episode or two with younger teens to ensure they approve of the more violent content.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • How would the story of Shadowhunters be different if Clary's mother had been honest with her from the beginning? Were there other ways she could have protected her daughter that would have left her more prepared for her family legacy?

  • How do Clary's friendships, both with her "mundane" friends as well as her fellow Shadowhunters, inform her decision-making? Why might it be important to have friends that know us from different parts of our lives?

  • If a friend texted you from a situation that seemed suspicious, as when Clary texts Simon to meet her at the abandoned church in the pilot, how would you respond? Are there steps to take when a friend is in crisis that will help keep you both safer?

  • How do the characters in Shadowhunters  demonstrate compassion, curiosity, and courage? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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