The Shannara Chronicles

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Shannara Chronicles TV Poster Image
MTV's first fantasy series is violent but surprisingly fun.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 10 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Women are shown in positions of power and acting bravely. Major themes include courage, integrity, perseverance, and compassion. However, violence is excused as a means to an end. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Three main characters -- Eretria, Amberle, and Will -- are heroic but conflicted. They make grave mistakes while pursuing a noble end. 

Violence

Characters are pummeled, kicked, and tripped and fall to the ground during a physical competition. Apocalyptic visions with dead bodies including a blood-covered child, bloody piles of skulls, and a character dying in a puddle of gore. A scary shape-shifting demon is shown frequently. Stranglings, stabbings, bludgeonings with blood and some briefly shown gore. 

Sex

Young and gorgeous characters flirt and have implied sex; no private parts shown. A nude woman with body paint obscuring her private parts walks slowly up to the camera. References to unintended pregnancy ("knocked up"). 

Language
Consumerism

The show is based on a book series viewers may want to read after watching. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink wine to celebrate victories. One character drugs another's wine to rob him. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Shannara Chronicles is a fantasy series based on a magical future Earth. Frequent violence includes hand-to-hand combat with stabbing, bludgeoning, and slashing and blood and gore shown at length, plus scenes of large-scale environmental destruction and a shape-shifting demon. One character has visions of an apocalyptic past with body parts, bloody bones, and dead bodies, including one of a child who reaches out and pleads for help. Of-age characters drink wine at celebrations; one character drugs another's wine to rob him. Expect kissing, flirting, and implied sex (offscreen), with no private parts shown. Characters are expected to fight and kill rivals in the name of a quest we are told is noble.

User Reviews

Parent Written byChrisC62 January 7, 2016

Interesting storyline but very gory violence

Watched through the first 4 episodes on the opening night. Enjoyed the story line and characters. Had to quit part way into the 4th episode because the viole... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 and 14 year old Written bymelodypond42 January 11, 2016

Fun Fantasy!

Our family watched the first three epiodes together and we all really enjoyed it! The scenes are beautiful and the story is very good, though three of us have r... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byJflores14 January 6, 2016

Epic fantasy series has some sex and violence

This lord of the rings / game of thrones type tv series is very entertaining and fun. I really enjoyed the show, but some of the content was too much for young... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySlyScarletWard January 17, 2016

Great if you can handle violence

This show is pretty good, with a great idea behind it. I would not recommend this for anyone who has a hard time with violence. I recommend 13-15 only if your... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on the Sword of Shannara Trilogy books by Terry Brooks, THE SHANNARA CHRONICLES takes place on Earth, centuries into the future, after a devastating nuclear war destroyed life as we know it. Humans have evolved into numerous races (gnomes, trolls, and dwarves, with some full humans still remaining), and elves, who were living in secret on Earth all along, came out of hiding after the Great War to become the most powerful race of all. Now the creatures who remain live in the Four Lands -- trolls in the Northland, dwarves and gnomes in the Eastland, humans in the Southland, and elves in the Westland -- largely in peace. That is, until the magic that was lost along with the fall of human society returned in the form of an ancient demon and his evil horde. Now only three heroes can stop its spread: brave elf princess Amberle Elessedil (Poppy Drayton), human outlaw Eretria (Ivana Baquero) and hapless half-elf Wil (Austin Butler). 

Is it any good?

First things first: Fans of Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and even Xena: Warrior Princess will feel they've seen this drama's plot twists and characters before -- but in a good way. Fantasy quests are generally as trope-y as they come, with noble warriors, chosen ones, epic violence, terrifying supernatural villains, and fair maidens, all of which The Shannara Chronicles has in spades. But this drama succeeds by adding a freshness to the same-old, same-old. Our Hero turns out to be a trio -- two powerful, brave young women who recruit a somewhat-less-so man to join them on their world-saving odyssey in a feminist twist that oft-ignored female fantasy fans will greatly appreciate. The heroes are also as foxy as they come, which is perhaps not realistic given the intrinsic sweatiness of a quest, but nonetheless will be appreciated by the teen and 20-something audience MTV is trying to reach.

Finally, Shannara changes things up with dialogue that's both modern -- at one point, a character refers to "sloppy seconds" -- and that pokes gentle fun at fantasy clichés. "Why don't you just call it a book of magic?" a character asks of the mystical Codex of Paranor. "Is it a Druid requirement that everything has to sound so mysterious?" Ha! Shannara is great fun and good whole-family watching for teens who like a fantasy bent. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why this adaptation of books published in the 1970s and 1980s was made now. Which popular show(s) does The Shannara Chronicles remind you of? Is MTV taking inspiration from the success of similar dramas? Which ones?

  • Most of the characters on The Shannara Chronicles are young -- in their 20s -- and attractive. Why? How would this narrative change if characters were older? 

  • Does it surprise you that the author of the books this series is based on took much of his inspiration from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series? How is this show like or different from that series? 

  • How do the characters in The Shannara Chronicles demonstrate courage and perseverance? What about compassion and integrity? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

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