The Leftovers

Common Sense Media says

Dark, mature drama paints humanity with a devastating brush.





What parents need to know

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

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.

Not applicable
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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk 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

Cast:Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler, Amy Brenneman
Topics:Book characters
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:Streaming

This review of The Leftovers was written by

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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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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 byslasher23 August 16, 2014
some violence and graphic sex scene and some very strong language and some drug use
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism


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