The Shield TV Poster Image

The Shield



Thoughtful, mature cop show...with lots of blood.
Parents recommend
  • Network: FX
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2002

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Mackey is a cop who doesn't play by the rules, and much of this show centers on his efforts to hide his actions from his superiors, who are often willing to look the other way as long as he continues to bring down the bad guys.


This cop drama includes beatings, shoot-outs, violence, rapes (and other sexual assault/violence), and deaths. Both criminals and cops are guilty of violent acts. It's realistic, and not pretty.


Some fairly graphic sexual scenes, including occasional nudity.


The characters live rough, and their language reflects their lifestyle. Lots of swearing, including "s--t" and "a--hole" (both unbleeped).

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Being a cop is a tough job -- the characters on this show often unwind with a stiff drink or a smoke. Many of the villains are drug dealers, who sometimes sample their own wares.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this gritty crime drama makes little effort to sugarcoat its depiction of life on the mean inner city streets of Los Angeles. The criminals may be dangerous, but the cops are almost even more violent, and they aren't afraid to bend a few rules when it comes to extracting a confession from a suspect or forcing someone to rat out an accomplice. There are guns, drugs, sex, and plenty of swearing. It's realistic and well-done, but definitely not for kids.

What's the story?

In THE SHIELD, Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) is an inner-city Los Angeles detective trying to keep the streets safe and put drug dealers away. He's often outgunned by bad guys toting some major firepower -- and almost always hobbled by his department's expectation that he respect his suspects' Constitutional rights. This absorbing police drama centers on Mackey's twin battles with criminals and the rule book. It's not quite accurate to call him a \"bad cop,\" but his willingness to flagrantly flout the rules, even in pursuit of a noble goal, also makes it hard to call him a \"good cop.\" Let's just call him a detective who gets the job done.

Is it any good?


The Shield clearly expects viewers to sympathize with Mackey, and he's often portrayed as just a big, cuddly teddy bear with his kids. But while it's certainly hard to side with the bad guys, it may be equally troublesome for many viewers to endorse Mackey's tactics. That debate, which has no resolution, is what makes The Shield such a watchable and thought-provoking adult drama. And adult is the right word for it -- between the frequent, often-graphic violence, strong language, and mature themes, The Shield isn't one for the kids.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether the characters' efforts to get dangerous criminals off the street give them the right to break the law. These rough-and-tumble cops epitomize the "ends justify the means" debate, and one of the recurring plot lines centers on whether Mackey will be brought down by his flagrant violation of suspects' constitutional rights. Is he corrupt? How far is too far when it comes to getting information that will help crack a case?

TV details

Premiere date:March 12, 2002
Cast:Benito Martinez, CCH Pounder, Michael Chiklis
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bytvgirl April 9, 2008

SpikeTV edition

I was home sick yesterday and found this show on SpikeTV. What's different is that it is now TV-14 rated on that channel. Why? Because the station edited the show down. Words like s--t, p---y, c--k, f--k, and g--damn that the characters use so frequently out of anger are dubbed out. Also, the violence is toned down a lot along with sex and nudity. Actually, sometimes the sex and nudity are cut completely from the episode. Reviewing for the SpikeTV cut only, I give this show a TV-14 rating.
Adult Written byChris LP April 9, 2008

Awesome program with lots of HBO-level mateiral

This is probably the best cop show to ever grace the small-screen of basic cabel television. I love it. I buy the DVDs the second they come out like a child does with toys. The warning before each episode says it all. Language includes all bad words such as Goddamn, shit, f--k, bitch, son of a bitch, piss, c--k, p---y, and so much more. Violence is pretty extreme. Drugs are involved with crimes a whole lot. Sex is related to almost every story and include nudity. This is a show only ment for viewers over the age of 17.
Teen, 17 years old Written bytvlover101 July 23, 2013

Amazing show, but wait till you're a little older...

The Shield takes an honest look in to the lives of law enforcement officers who have to face some of the most violent and disgusting criminals in a highly populated city. While the majorty of the cops have a strong moral compas and intend to do what is best for their community, their tactics are often rough and they become as violent as the criminals they are catching. Furthermore, their are main characters who don't necessarily do the right things for the right reason. Four of the lead characters steal money from a money laundering scheme to retire comfortably, and try to hide their tracks all the way till the series finale - turning in on one another. There are issues of graphic rape, drug use, and murders, as well as issues with infidelity, divorce, homophobia, and parents who are not as invested in their kids lives. Sexual content is graphic enough to justify the show being on cable, and partial nudity is common. There is a lot of sensitive language as well. On a more pleasing note, the show has some of the best acting and story telling on television. Chiklis, Goggins, Martinez, and Pounder deliver some their best acting till date, and the show has cattapulted writers like Sons of Anarchy creater Kirk Sutter, and actors like Justlifed star Walt Goggins in to successful and entertaining televison. It is a much watch for adults who like hard hitting tv, but only for older teens who can handle the sensitive content.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking