The Pale Horse

TV review by
Marty Brown, Common Sense Media
The Pale Horse TV Poster Image
Unorthodox Christie adaptation has swearing, murder.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The Pale Horse is a murder mystery packed with lying, adultery, and, yes, murder. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Pale Horse is a bit antiquated in terms of gender roles, and the plot hinges upon a trope of small towns being cultish.


It's a murder mystery, so violence is present, but it's depicted in restrained, purposeful ways. Dead bodies are discovered, a man electrocutes someone, a fistfight occurs, etc.


Sex is discussed but not seen. A lot of the plot revolves around an affair. A few jokes with innuendo are made.


A surprising amount of profanity considering that the source material has none in it. That includes "f--k," "bitch,"  and "s--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink alcohol socially. No smoking or drugs appear.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Pale Horse is a murder mystery adapted from Agatha Christie's 1961 book of the same name. Fans of Christie might be disappointed in the format, which prioritizes mood and suspense over the nuts and bolts of solving the crime. As you might expect, the show features many dead bodies and more than a few murders, but the violence is not graphic. It also features a good amount of profanity that was not part of the original book, including "f--k," "bitch,"  and "s--t." Sex is discussed and an extramarital affair is a central part of the plot, but there are no sex scenes or nudity.

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What's the story?

In THE PALE HORSE, a dead woman is found with a list of names tucked into her shoe -- a list that includes Mark Easterbrook (Rufus Sewell), whose mistress also dies mysteriously around the same time. As Easterbrook investigates both strange occurrences, he finds they may be connected to a small village called Much Deeping, where each of the dead women has visited a trio of fortune tellers who may be witches.

Is it any good?

This series is vivid and suspenseful while still managing to conceal an archetypical whodunnit as the story unfolds. Despite being the most popular author in the world, Agatha Christie's books don't often translate well to the screen. Her mysteries often rely on some sort of literary trickery to succeed; they're meant to be read. But The Pale Horse smartly plays less like a conventional Christie adaptation, and more like a strain of folk horror along the lines of The Wicker Man, The VVitch, or Midsommar.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Pale Horse's setting. What do we know about the time period in which the show takes place? Where does it take place? How does the setting shape the story and affect characters' behavior in ways that are surprising?

  • What supernatural elements might be at play in The Pale Horse? What evidence do we have to confirm its existence? Which of the characters believe in the supernatural? Which do not? How does this impact their behavior?

  • Is The Pale Horse a murder mystery? If you think it is, who is the detective? Who are the suspects? Does it follow other conventions often seen in detective mysteries?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love book-based mysteries

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