The Leftovers

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Leftovers TV Poster Image
Dark, mature drama paints humanity with a devastating brush.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
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 overall mood is dismal, dark, and depressing. What's left of humanity is generally angry and violent, and the outlook is anything but hopeful.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most characters are grappling with some level of personal anguish, but they process their grief in a variety of ways -- most of which are deeply negative. Teen characters make for particularly troubling role models.


Visuals include shootings, fistfights, and disturbing acts of violence, such as self-inflicted burns and consensual choking. Some blood is shown, but it isn't excessive.


Simulated sex and masturbation can be graphic but only includes partial nudity (bare buttocks).


Unbleeped language includes "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," "dick," and the like.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teen characters use marijuana and other illegal drugs to get high, and a core group of adult characters are heavy smokers. Social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Leftovers explores the psychological and emotional fallout that plagues a small town in the wake of an unexplained global event. The overall tone is quite dark, with violent imagery that runs the gamut from shootings and beatings to self-inflicted punishments such as burning and choking. There's also simulated sex of all sorts with partial nudity (bare buttocks, for example) and unbleeped usage of words including "f--k," "s--t," and "c--t." Social drinking and drug use is fairly common -- among teens, too -- and a key group of characters smoke cigarettes heavily.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjennycake April 22, 2021

The Beauty of Ambiguity

Young adults will relate to this remarkable series' focus on people trying to make sense of extraordinary and inexplicable circumstances. Nudity, violence,... Continue reading
Adult Written byJoey P. December 6, 2020
Teen, 13 years old Written byMax.Morfoot October 3, 2016

The Leftovers Review

This show is the best show out right now. It has a great cast, it is very well written, and has a stunning soundtrack. This show might not have many watchers (w... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byAerodynamics May 27, 2018

Too Much Violence For Some People

But The Show Is Good Under Age 15

What's the story?

Three years after a strange phenomenon saw 2 percent of the world's population essentially vanish into thin air, THE LEFTOVERS are sifting through what remains of humanity and trying to make sense of what happened. Among them are small-town chief of police and father Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), whose wife (Amy Brenneman) joined a mysterious cult and left him to raise their teenage daughter (Margaret Qualley); a soon-to-be married woman (Liv Tyler) who's being courted by cult leaders; and a charismatic guru (Paterson Joseph) who claims he can hug people's pain away.

Is it any good?

Based on Tom Perrotta's bestselling novel of the same name, The Leftovers puts a sobering spin on the popular post-apocalyptic genre, eschewing action to explore the remnants of a shattered society riddled with pain. But that pain is so effectively communicated through disturbing visuals -- from a pack of roving dogs mauling a defenseless deer to partying teens pressing red-hot forks into their skin -- that the series is a total downer, and some won't be able to stomach the despair.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Leftovers and its generally dark take on humanity. Do you think it's accurate or deeply exaggerated? How do you think the world would react in the wake of a similar event?

  • How does The Leftovers compare to the Tom Perrotta novel upon which it's based? What changes, if any, were made to the plot to adapt it for television? What are the benefits -- and potential drawbacks -- of having the author involved in the writing process?

  • How accurately does The Leftovers portray teen culture? Can teens handle the content, or is it better suited for adult viewers?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love post-apocalyptic stories

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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