The Fall

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Fall TV Poster Image
Serial-killer drama targets adults with sex and violence.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series is set in a dangerous world, where a terrifying killer can lead a double life as a seemingly devoted father and continue to claim victim after victim. On the other hand, law enforcement is dedicated and determined to solve the crime. Sexual power -- and politics -- is another major theme.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is tough, intelligent, and successful in a typically male-dominated field and makes for a strong female lead -- though she’s far from perfect.


Serial killings involve repeated sexual violence against women; dead bodies with some blood, although most violence is psychological rather than gory; some characters carry weapons.


Prolonged scenes of steamy, simulated sex with minimal nudity; brief views of bare buttocks and breasts; implied rape and sexual violence.


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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink socially; secondary characters use illegal drugs such as cocaine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Fall is a gritty crime drama about the pursuit of a serial killer who's targeting women with sexual violence. Viewers can expect to see unsettling scenarios, including murder, with some blood, in addition to shootings and physical violence. The killer is sexually aroused by violence, and sex is simulated but suggestive, with brief shots of breasts and buttocks. You’ll also hear strong language such as "f--k" and see characters drink socially and use illegal drugs such as cocaine.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byd.fotheringham September 18, 2020

Very disturbing but a great show.

Not something for kids to watch at all. The whole show focuses on a serial killer in Belfast so clearly a lot of ideas are very disturbing and quite scary (espe... Continue reading
Adult Written byAwarrior August 24, 2020

Disturbing show

DO NOT let your kids OR teens watch this show. The Common sense media review does not reflect the violent and abhorrent nature of the show. Sure it is well prod... Continue reading
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 me... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byAnthropology12 October 23, 2019


I, personally found this show to be very interesting. It did include sex, nudity, some language, violence, and some (probably) trigger warning worthy things. I... Continue reading

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 but also learns that simmering violence is part and parcel of Belfast living. Meanwhile, we meet Paul Spector (Fifty Shades of Grey'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 he claims his next victim? Or will she get caught up in political infighting?

Is it any good?

Paul Spector is quiet as he listens to a bereaved couple relating their agony at losing their son, murmuring only a few calm questions as they talk. If you closed your eyes, you could imagine he’s really trying to help. But as the camera shifts, the viewer sees he’s doodling out a picture of the grieving mother topless -- a prime example of how The Fall shows instead of tells, with chilling results.

This show is binge watching at its best; it's at once compulsively watchable and intelligent, well-written and beautifully acted with compelling performances to boot. But make no mistake: It's not for kids, thanks to the disturbing nature of Spector's crimes and the show's frank portrayal of sexual acts. Even parents with older teens might want to think twice before giving them carte blanche to watch, much less binge-watch, with reckless abandon.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Fall explores the power dynamic between men and women, both in terms of how the male killer relates to his exclusively female victims and how the female cop heading the case functions in a predominately male work environment. 

  • What makes The Fall compelling viewing in spite of its disturbing subject matter? How does it rate as a realistic crime drama -- and does it matter? How do the show's characters compare to real-life cops and criminals?

  • How does The Fall play against other crimes dramas such as The Killing or Prime Suspect in terms of characters, tone, and intensity? Does the fact that it streams exclusively on Netflix allow it to do things other series can’t?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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