The Last Ship

Common Sense Media says

Tense post-apocalyptic thriller is violent and scary.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The overall tone is dark and scary. Military officers are dedicated and brave in this show, sending a powerful message of reverence for the armed forces.

Positive role models

Many of the characters are complicated, with ambiguous motives. Main characters Rachel Scott and Tom Chandler are hard-working professionals hoping to protect humanity. Military officers are brave and dedicated.


Many shots of dead bodies, including creepy imagery of plastic-wrapped bodies piled up in a freezer, a hospital ward full of bloody and decayed dead people, and sick and dying children. Characters die suddenly on-screen, including an on-screen suicide by gun. Characters are generally in mortal danger. There are shots of animals being injected with long needles. Guns are fired, and there are many admiring shots of high-tech military weaponry.

Not applicable

Rare cursing, often used in a jocular manner: "That was badass."


The Last Ship was filmed with extensive cooperation from the U.S. Navy, and as such pictures a lot of real military tech, making it look cool.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Last Ship is a tense drama about a post-apocalyptic scenario involving a pandemic and military personnel attempting to find a cure. The show contains no sex, drinking, or drugs and only the mildest of foul language, such as when one Navy officer calls another "badass." However, the premise of the show is quite scary, and both plot points and imagery are far too frightening for young viewers. The camera shows us dozens of dead bodies, including hospital wards stuffed full of the bloody, groaning dead and dying. Young children are affected by the pandemic and shown dying in bed. Family members are killed or in danger; characters are suddenly killed or commit suicide on-screen. There are countless shots of high-tech military weaponry that make it look glamorous; guns and bombs are shown and fired/detonated.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

A virus has decimated the world's population, and now Navy destroyer U.S.S. Nathan James is THE LAST SHIP with any hope at all left. Under the fearless command of Captain Tom Chandler (Eric Dane), Nathan James was out at sea when the virus took hold of the global population, on a mission to carry researcher Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) to the site of the first deadly contagion. With blood samples from those first victims and a pristine copy of the virus scavenged from bird droppings in the polar ice caps, Scott hopes she can fashion a vaccine. But all is not well, neither in the virus-ravaged country that Nathan James' crew hopes to return to, nor onboard, where duplicitous researcher Quincy Tophet (Sam Spruell) is secretly reporting to the leaders of rival countries. With so much stacked against them, it's not likely that those aboard the Nathan James will either survive or help others to. But they have to try.

Is it any good?


Spanish flu and the Black Plague had no trouble killing off enormous percentages of the world's population even before casual international travel was a thing, so a pandemic that snuffs out half the global population in a matter of months doesn't read as sci-fi; it reads as an all-too-possible scenario. That adds a creepily realistic little chill to The Last Ship that's not present in dramas built on less grounded scenarios. We can all imagine being in the shoes of the U.S.S. Nathan's crew: stuck somewhere remote, safe for now, but wondering grimly what's waiting for us back home.

Things move along briskly on The Last Ship, so much so that there's not much time for characterization. And, thus, the characters on the show read a bit as ciphers or plot devices, making it more difficult for the viewer to relate to them or care what happens to each in particular. But there's certainly enough gee-whiz exotic imagery of global locations, as well as loving shots of military gear, to satisfy action lovers or armchair soldiers. The Last Ship isn't a show viewers need to think deeply about; it's enough to be swept away by the dramatic plot.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how realistic the scenario for The Last Ship is. What is a pandemic? What pandemics have there been in human history? How did they spread? How would a modern pandemic spread, given that humans are more mobile and countries have much more contact with each other?

  • Is The Last Ship scary? Why? Is it supposed to be? How is the show attempting to make viewers feel?

  • The Last Ship's creators were able to partner with the United States military to film real equipment. Does this partnership improve the show? Make it more interesting? More realistic? Or does the focus on gear harm the show's dramatic potential?

TV details

Cast:Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra, Adam Baldwin
TV rating:NR

This review of The Last Ship 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; OK 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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Adult Written bygossipbeautygirl July 28, 2014

Not for younger kids.

I'm 15 and I find this show a bit much sometimes. The idea gives me chills, that the world is in danger, families dying, etc. I have two younger siblings and I would not allow them to watch this... I am a bit mature for my age and watch many shows and movies so I can handle this show. I like that this show has the military in it and I find the story extremely interesting. The thing is, children wouldn't understand what's going on- between the military, the fighting, the disease, the commands that are given (military talk), the al qaeda, and just the story is hard to process for that age. I would recommend it for mature 15 year olds and up. Also, each episode has violence with guns and other war items. Don't get me wrong, though, it's one of my favorite shows... Super interesting!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 11 years old August 18, 2014

This has to be my favorite TV show!

(This review only covers the first full season of The Last Ship.) There isn't too much violence but violence includes shootings, stabbings, and naval combat. There are also visual corpses. Language is mild (a few uses of "ass" mainly). There is some kissing. And the story can be sensitive for younger and older viewers including the fact that 80% of the worlds population has been infected by a virus. Shipmates have families that have died, been exposed to the virus, or that must survive on their own, but can't do anything to help them. I give The Last Ship, 5 out of 5 stars and say it's okay for kids 12 and up.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence


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