Sherlock TV Poster Image




Smart modern detective tales with dark, morbid elements.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Network: PBS
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2010

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series is a bit brutal in its storylines: innocent people are murdered and killers are adept at reaching their victims. Holmes is presented as an anti-hero whose inability to make friends and interact with greater society — or the police force — in a normal manner are admirable qualities. Holmes is incredibly intelligent, yet his intelligence only serves to ostracize from the rest of society.

Positive role models

While Holmes is a hothead and Watson is a bit of a staid bumbler, together they balance each other, creating a wonderful partnership. Watson helps to teach Holmes the value of steadiness and friendship, while Holmes's intellectual curiosity and powers of deduction are fascinating and inspiring. However, Holmes is an unbalanced, flawed man; he describes himself thusly:  "I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath."


The majority of the violence in the series occurs offscreen. Bodies are presented after the murders and scenes from war or battle are presented in flashbacks. There are a few disturing scenes, such as Sherlock whipping a body with a riding crop to determine bruise patterns for a case, or stepping on a serial murderer's gun wound to extract information.


Sexual innuendo and references to sexual activity, including infidelity, but no visible sexual acts.


Mild language, such as "piss off" and similar British slang.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Minor drinking. Holmes wears multiple nicotine patches, but no longer smokes. References to Holmes's former use of heroin, keeping with the original character's drug addiction.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this excellent adaptation of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle series is littered with dead bodies, but little actual onscreen violence. Storylines include terrorism, serial murderers, drug trafficking, and smuggling, and there are plenty of scary scenes and suspense throughout each episode. Expect some social drinking and references to nicotine patches and past drug addiction.

What's the story?

Originally shown on the BBC, this 2010 series adapts the classic story of Sherlock Holmes to fit into the world of modern-day London. Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) team up to solve cases involving serial killers, espionage, and bombings. Watson is much more of an active particpant in this version, while Holmes maintains many of the same qualities that have made him a popular character for over 100 years.

Is it any good?


Arthur Conan Doyle's classic series has been retold countless times, so it's impressive that this latest version actually feels fresh. Lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch does an excellent job portraying Holmes's eccentricities and intelligence, and Martin Freeman is even more convincing as the Afghan War veteran/doctor John Watson. The series is well served by its 21st century setting: Holmes uses technology to solve his crimes, including GPS, text messages, and emails. The writing is smart and there's plenty of witty repartee between the characters with laugh out loud moments in each episode. One fun update is the series' use of text words  floated across the screen to illuminate Holmes's thought process.

There's plenty of suspense and mystery to be found here, but little actual on-screen violence. Still, the concepts presented within the series are menacing enough to scare younger viewers. But for families with teens -- especially those who enjoy solving mysteries -- this is an enjoyable and engaging series. Teens might even be inspired to read some of the original mysteries.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Sherlock Holmes uses his intelligence and powers of observation to solve difficult cases. What details does he notice that others overlook? What knowledge of history and culture does he use in his work?

  • Talk about the character of Sherlock Holmes. Is he a hero or a role model? Why doesn't Holmes have any friends? How is he different or similar to lead characters in other dramas?

TV details

Premiere date:October 24, 2010
Cast:Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves
Character strengths:Courage, Curiosity
TV rating:NR
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written byAmyBeth44 June 18, 2012

Sherlock's Sexcapades

The first episode of the second Series, "A Scandal in Belgravia," centers on a dominatrix (the BBC's version of Irene Adler) and her relationship with Sherlock Holmes. There are web images of the dominatrix in licentious poses and costumes, she is shown fully-naked trying to seduce Holmes, and she is shown beating him with one of her dominatrix tools. Some parents may feel comfortable exposing their young teens to violent prostitution as just another job opportunity, a choice made by consenting adults. Personally, I believe that childhood should be cherished and protected, as much as that is possible in our high-speed world of more information is always better. I wouldn't recommend this for anyone younger than 17.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byWayward Girl December 4, 2012

I LOVE SHERLOCK!!! Best Detective Show EVER!!

Sherlock... there is no way to describe how intoxicating, intriguing, hilarious, incredible, and addicting this show is!! AHH I love it so much!! It's such a clever re-imagining of the idea of Sherlock Holmes! If you love mysteries, crime, etc you will love this show!! While this show is AMAZING and everything, there are a few concerns. It is better suited for mature audiences, teenagers and up. I do let my 12 year old brother watch it, but not without my guidance. There isn't a lot of sexual content, but the entire episode of Season 2, ep 1, surrounds a prostitute dominatrix. Uhhhh yeaahhh. That's not something I want my brother to even know the definition of. In that episode particularly, there was a nudity scene that was so cleverly filmed that no actual body parts were shown. Just a lot of bare skin, even full frontal shots. Yeah. Nothing was shown, but still. I skipped that part for my bro. The only other concern I have regarding smexy stuff in this show is the relationship between Sherlock and Watson. I love their friendship, It's a complete bromance, absolutely NO homosexual feelings whatsoever, but I just HATE how all the other characters in the show keep joking that they are. Other than that, there's nothing else. No drugs whatsoever, and of course, since it's a crime show, there is a little bit of violence. There is a "scary" Hound of Baskervilles in one episode. But that's all the concerns I have. This show is practically perfect in my opinion. The chemistry between characters is amazing, the dialogue is ingenious, and the storyline and character development is so intense and creative... it's overwhelming. I love this show so much, and I cannot wait for season 3!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Adult Written byrivkie613 November 30, 2010

Amazing update of the classic (but not for little kids)

This is a great tv show. Benedict Cummerbatch does an amazing job playing Sherlock, the dialogue is great and funny, and the plotlines are also great. However, it does have some disturbing elements -- murder, suicide, just plain cruelty, etc. Not for the little kids, but awesome fun for everyone else.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models


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