The Fall

Common Sense Media says

Quality BBC serial killer drama is designed for adults.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series paints the world as a dangerous place where someone who appears to be a devoted father and husband is in fact a terrifying killer. On the other hand, law enforcement is dedicated and intrepid and work hard to provide justice.

Positive role models

Main character Detective Superintendent Gibson is tough, strong, smart, and successful in a field that's usually male dominated.


The Fall is about a series of killings, so expect to see dead bodies, women being stalked, and various scenarios that incite horror and dread. Nonetheless, the camera doesn't linger on body parts and blood, and the horror is more psychological than gory. Police officers carry guns, and there may be shootings and other violent altercations. Some troubling connection between sex and violence. Viewers see a naked man (no private parts are shown) and a dead body clad in underwear. At one point, a killer menaces a potential victim by putting her underwear on her bed with a sex toy.


A married couple cuddles and kisses in bed. The main character offers her hotel room number to a man she has just met.


Some four-letter words including "f--k."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Scenes take place in a bar where characters drink cocktails; officers doubt a woman's story because they believe her to be drunk. Drugs may be referred to in the context of criminal justice.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Fall is an adult-oriented gritty crime drama about a serial killer. For a serial killer drama the violence level is low, but viewers can still expect to see dead bodies, police officers brandishing guns, murders, and women being stalked. In addition, couples flirt, kiss, and make references to potential one-night stands. The serial killer stalks vulnerable women, and there is a sexual edge to his stalking, as he steals underwear and sometimes displays it to unnerve his victims. There is some cursing, including "f--k." Scenes sometimes take place in bars, with characters drinking and sometimes acting tipsy.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In the gripping crime drama THE FALL, Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) has come from England to Belfast, Ireland to review the police investigation of a politically sensitive murder. To her dismay, she not only discovers that the murder was part of a string of serial killings, she learns that simmering violence is part and parcel of Belfast living. Meanwhile, we meet Paul Spector (Once Upon a Time’s Jamie Dornan), a rumpled-handsome grief counselor, dad and husband who has some extremely alarming extracurricular activities. Will Gibson catch up with Spector before it's too late for the next victim? Or will she get caught up in political infighting within Irish crime enforcement circles?

Is it any good?


One of the most distinctive (and positively delightful) things about The Fall is how showrunners show instead of tell. They could rig up some clunky dialogue in which a couple of cops explain to the viewer that Gibson is an outsider, a rebel, and an oddball; how much better to instead show how she stands out in a room full of cops, or to show us her confidently informing an attractive man she's just met that she's at the Hilton, room 203.

Then, too, serial killer Paul Spector is a quiet guy. He listens to a bereaved couple relating their agony at losing their son, murmuring only a few calm questions. If you closed your eyes, you could imagine that this grief counselor is really trying to help. Instead, the viewer sees Spector doodling out a picture of the grieving mother topless. The contrast between his calm and supportive demeanor and what he does to the women he stalks and kills makes The Fall all the more chilling. This is binge watching at its best: Compulsively watchable, yet so smart, well-written and beautifully acted that you won't have a junk-food-TV hangover. It's not for kids, but older teens and adults may enjoy watching (and getting creeped out) together.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether The Fall is a realistic crime drama. Are real-life criminals and cops usually so good looking? So well-dressed?

  • Watch a few other crime dramas, such as The Killing or Prime Suspect. How does The Fall compare to these shows? Is it more scary or less? Funnier or less funny? More interesting and absorbing or less?

  • Why do you think The Fall focuses on a handsome male killer who stalks very attractive female victims? What about this dynamic is telegenic or interesting to watch? Would anyone make a show about an unattractive killer who stalks average-looking victims? What does it say about viewers that they'd rather watch gorgeous people be stalked and killed?

TV details

Cast:Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan
TV rating:NR
Available on:Streaming

This review of The Fall 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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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byTheRandomme13 July 28, 2013

It's an OKAY show

It shows a rapist raping women and killing them so i mean at that age in life you hear stories about it but I guess you would have to know what happens and i mean im 14 so to me it wuz nothing new so it really depends on how much you know and your maturity
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Parent of a 6, 6, 11, and 14 year old Written byopenparent November 24, 2013

Watch more than the first episode CSM

This is a very well done show, and the acting is extremely good. However, it seems as though common sense media only watched the first episode, as, almost immediately in the second episode, there is a prolonged, semi graphic sex scene. It's fully clothed but still. None the less, mature fourteen year olds, can definitely handle the show.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Adult Written byjamief2 December 9, 2014


I was shocked that no reviews mentioned the murdered woman in the very first episode being completely nude. I rely on review to give me a heads up on these things and that was completely left out. A lot of these shows are turning out like Dexter where every female murdered has to be nude. Not a fan.


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