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TV review by
Elka Karl, Common Sense Media
Sherlock TV Poster Image
Smart modern detective tales with dark, morbid elements.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 31 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 216 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

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 & Representations

While Holmes is a hothead and Watson is a bit of a staid bumbler, together they balance each other, creating a wonderful partnership. Watson is courageous and 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.

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.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sherlock is an excellent adaptation of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle series that's 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult 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... Continue reading
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,... Continue reading
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... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bylilypadawan February 21, 2015

Should we talk about the "thing"? (and by "thing" I mean LGBT representation)

Judging by the other reviews raving about amazing the show is, I'm not going to focus much on that. Although this show is truly incredible cinematically, l... Continue reading

What's the story?

Originally shown on the BBC, SHERLOCK 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 in Sherlock, 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.

Talk to your kids 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?

  • How do the characters in Sherlock demonstrate courage and curiosity? Why are those important character strengths?

TV details

Character Strengths

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