Parents' Guide to

The Leftovers

By Kari Croop, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Dark, mature drama paints humanity with a devastating brush.

TV HBO Drama 2014
The Leftovers Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 16+
Season 1 Episode 1: Three uses of "c**t" and many of "f**k"; moderate close-quarters violence with some bloody injury and undetailed scenes where animals are shot or found dead; three sex scenes, two of which are brief but one is slightly longer and contains light choking; momentary sight of cocaine being snorted off someone's body; a brief and bloodless suicide scene and a self-inflicted burn during a party game; frequent scenes of distress. (14+ - Contains moderate sex, violence, brief drug use and infrequent very strong language) Season 1 Episode 2: One aggressive use of "c**t", many uses of "f**k"; scene of mass shooting at cult compound includes bloody bullet impacts and ends in one gunman being shot in the neck then struggling to breathe as blood pours out; a brief gory image of a corpse's wound; undetailed matter-of-fact references to statutory rape; moderate threat. (14+ - Contains strong language, once very strong, and infrequent bloody violence) Season 1 Episode 3: Six uses of "f**k"; scenes of moderate violence with minimal injury detail such as a priest being beaten to the ground in a church and a page being put into his mouth, the same priest fighting with a man who tries to rob him and hitting his head against the ground below frame several times, and a rock hitting a man's head; moderate sex scene in dream sequence with thrusting but no nudity; undetailed bloody images of a man bleeding from the head after being hit by a rock off-screen and victims of a car accident; a reference to a rape; distressing scenes. (12+ - Contains moderate violence, sex, bloody images, and occasional strong language) Season 1 Episode 4 - Frequent (50+) uses of "f**k"; male frontal nudity briefly seen in non-sexual context; scene of moderate violence where a woman is strangled by an attacker who is quickly subdued; scene of marijuana use; some scenes involving teenagers crudely playing with a baby Jesus doll ("baptising" it with beer, miming it smoking marijuana, etc) that may offend religious viewers. (13+ - Contains frequent strong language) Season 1 Episode 5 - Contains by far the strongest content in the show in the opening five minutes, a scene of very strong bloody violence where a woman is brutally stoned to death with clear sight of most of the stones hitting her face with gruesome sound design and causing bloody impacts (she pleads for her life but to no avail); bloody crime scene images of her corpse; many "f**k" uses and one aggressive "c**t" use. (17+ - Contains one scene of very strong bloody violence) Season 1 Episode 6 - Usual language for the series; a scene where a woman takes an unidentified pill at a party and reacts euphorically; an intense scene where a woman hires a sex worker to shoot her in the chest while she wears a bulletproof vest, which she survives despite momentary tension; intense themes of grief. (14+ - Contains strong language and moderate sexualised threat) Season 1 Episode 7 - Usual language for the series; a somewhat prolonged but loving sex scene which features passing breast and buttock nudity; moderate threat in an intense dream sequence and a scene in which a teenage girl nearly suffocates in an enclosed space but is set free; a scene of drug use where a man snorts lines of cocaine; infrequent moderate violence with minor bloodletting such as a man being punched in the face and another being shot in the hand; themes of mental illness. (14+ - Contains strong language, sex, moderate threat and drug use) Season 1 Episode 8 - Strong bloody suicide scene where woman stabs herself in the throat with a piece of glass causing a large amount of blood to spray from the wound as she dies; scene of strong threat where a woman is shown struggling with a bag over her head until she is freed along with moderate threat throughout; 70+ uses of "f**k" which is the highest count in the series and one use of "c**t"; references to an adult man having sex with a teenage girl. (16+ - Contains strong bloody suicide and threat) Season 1 Episode 9 - Usual language for the series; man and woman strip for offscreen sex with brief sight of breast and buttock nudity; moderate bloody images involving a deer being injured then killed; distressing sequence where characters' family members disappear; scene of mild violence. (12+ - Contains strong language, moderate nudity and bloody images) Season 1 Episode 10 - Usual language for the series; frequent images of bloodshed from characters' injuries, mostly involving the bloody corpse of the woman who killed herself two episodes ago, but also a man bleeding out after having been shot offscreen in the abdomen and several injuries during a riot; scenes of intense threat and distress, an example being a man running into a burning house to free his unconscious daughter. (14+ - Contains strong language and frequent moderate bloody images.)
age 16+

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, and the f-bomb abound, however, they serve to advance a remarkable and prescient plot. It is a sci-fi thriller parents might want to watch with their kids; "The Leftovers" provides ample material for great and meaningful discussions. This series is a saga and a masterpiece. A unicorn in a world of dumbed-down, cookie cutter entertainment. It elevated my mind and heart, and helped me make sense (or not) of recent extreme global and personal losses (i.e. the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, devastating fires in California and Australia, and my father's death).

This title has:

Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5):
Kids say (4):

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.

TV Details

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