The Killing

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Killing TV Poster Image
Gripping crime drama takes place in grimly realistic world.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 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 messages are grim, but realistic: Bad things can happen to good people; those in power aren't always trustworthy; and justice can take a long time -- if it happens at all.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most characters are hiding secrets of some kind. And while law enforcement officials are generally loyal to their jobs and dedicated to the case, one uses unorthodox methods -- giving marijuana to teenagers -- to glean critical information.


Ominous crime scenes yield disturbing moments, blood, and dead bodies, although visuals aren't excessively gory. Some crimes are of a sexual nature.


Passionate kissing, sexual innuendo, and implied sexual activity via bared skin, although no sensitive body parts are shown. Rare episodes show thrusting. Prostitution is a theme.


Unbleeped language includes "s--t" (but not "f--k"), plus iffy hand gestures, and audible terms like "damn," "ass," and "prick."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mostly background social drinking and cigarette smoking. But in one scene, a cop offers marijuana to teenage girls and makes sure they inhale to get them to offer up information about the case.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the mood of this crime drama is pretty grim, but that's due largely to an overarching sense of foreboding rather than grizzly violent scenes and blood (though there is some of that, too). In fact, sometimes what you aren't seeing is more disturbing than something intentionally graphic. There's unbleeped swearing, too (in the form of "s--t" but not "f--k"), along with audible language like "ass" and "prick," and some sexual content that's more implied than overt.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written July 4, 2020
Adult Written byknienaber July 9, 2016

updated info

Season 1 and 2 are excellent and not gratuitous, just dark. Season 3 ups the expletives a bit and the crime is not as mysterious, also very dark. Season 4 ups e... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byts.023 February 25, 2017

Seasons get more inappropriate as show goes on

The season get worse as they go on, so I'll separately describe them. Seasons 1-2 are really well done and are not too inappropriate. There are several tim... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old March 9, 2014


This is my favorite TV show. It can get violent, and the sexual situations can be a bit much at times, but if you can handle it, it's entertaining enough t... Continue reading

What's the story?

A remake of the Danish television series Forbrydelsen, THE KILLING examines a murder investigation from three different angles, splitting the perspectives of the killer, the detectives, and the victim’s grieving family. In the series premiere, Seattle teenager Rosie Larsen goes missing on homicide detective Sarah Linden’s (Mireille Enos) last day on the job before a planned move to a new life in California. But while Sarah works with her restless replacement (Joel Kinnaman) to find the girl, they uncover a body -- and a suspicious connection to a local politician (Billy Campbell).

Is it any good?

The fact that The Killing is nothing like other crime dramas on American television is a welcome relief. After all, between multi-city franchises (sorry, CSI and Law & Order) and tired formulas (that's aimed at you, Criminal Minds), they are beginning to blend woefully together. So while The Killing is hardly a novel concept to the Danish people, at least, it feels like a revelation to us.

Imagine a really good movie that never ends, a riveting crime drama with good writing and seamless casting that (yes, oddly) lasts for months. By following a single murder case over the course of a season, that's kind of what The Killing becomes. Noticeably absent though are the manipulative "gotcha" moments and lingering shots of crime scenes and corpses we've come to expect from the genre...which doesn't mean you'll really be missing them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence and the way this show portrays the world around us. Are shock-value scenes necessary to make fictionalized crimes seem real? Is it more upsetting to contemplate the violence that you aren't seeing?

  • How does this show compare to other TV crime dramas? Does it do anything differently in terms of structure or storytelling that sets it apart?

  • Does the series reflect reality in terms of the nature of crimes committed in the United States? Does it take a position when it comes to good vs. evil? Is the outlook generally positive or negative?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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