The Strain



Mature horror series is too dark and intense for kids.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series paints the world as a dangerous place with dark secrets, and the mood is generally tense and ominous.

Positive role models

Most of the main characters are morally ambiguous with complicated backstories, although some are actively working to save innocent people's lives.


Graphic scenes designed to scare include blood and violent injuries (breaking necks, crushing heads). Other characters use weapons such as guns and knives.


Brief partial nudity (buttocks, sides of breasts).


Unbleeped language includes "s--t," "p---y," "asshole," and "dick."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking, with references to a main character's past problems with alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Strain contains sudden scenes of violence fueled by graphic imagery -- from neck-snapping to head-crushing -- and unbleeped language with words such as "s--t," "dick," and "p---y." Sexual content is light, but there's some partial nudity in the form of buttocks and side views of bare breasts; there's also some smoking and drinking, including a brief reference to a main character's problems with alcohol.

What's the story?

When a commercial plane comes to a deadly quiet standstill at JFK International Airport with more than 200 people on board, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- including Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and his team (Mia Maestro and Sean Astin) -- are some of the first to arrive on the scene. But THE STRAIN that's infected the passengers is unlike anything they've ever seen before.

Is it any good?


Sprung from the mind of acclaimed film director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth), The Strain gets off to an awfully slow start -- and maybe that's by design, considering the startling twists that lie in wait as the series progresses. They're so startling you might find yourself reluctantly watching through your fingers to see just how scary it gets (and we assure you: It gets pretty scary).

Del Toro's filmmaking influence is readily apparent, and, in spite of some hammy dialogue, there's much to admire in the otherwise artful details. It's also great to see House of Cards' Stoll resurrected on the small screen. But The Strain’s creepy charms won’t appeal to everyone, and the coarse language and violent visuals push it squarely into the realm of mature content.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about infectious diseases, vampires, and the real-life fears that fuel The Strain's fantastical concept. What's the appeal behind shows designed to scare us? Why do we watch -- even when we're watching with our hands over our eyes?

  • How does The Strain compare to other dramas with supernatural story lines? In what ways does the creator/director's film background influence the show's look and feel?

  • Do you think The Strain deserves a TV-MA rating? Where's the line when it comes to content that's too scary for kids?

This review of The Strain was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bygossipbeautygirl July 28, 2014

Awesome show!

I LOVE this show. It is a bit gory and scary for younger children and I wouldn't recommend it if you are scared by scary movies or have a weak stomach. LOTS of blood and a decent amount of violence by the "vampires." There are children and adults affected by this "disease" and it will definitely be too much for young children. It's very dark.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written byMovieGuy2570 January 16, 2015

Scary Show, Ok For Teens

The strain is a pretty good TV show and is probably ok for teens over 14. The show can get pretty gory at times [because it is a horror show and all] but nothing you wouldn't find in you're average horror movie. Of course it is definitely not as violent or disturbing as something like American Horror Story but at times, the show IS kind of disturbing and violent. Vampire like creatures are decaptited in some episodes, people are shown going through the nightmarish stages of converting to those creatures and one episode shows a graphic autopsy one one of the creatures. There is literally no strong language being that the show airs on FX [the worst thing said is Sh**]. But overall, The Strain is a good Tv show and something to watch if you are looking for a good scare.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 16 years old Written byshogologo1 October 8, 2014

Fantastic horror TV show with Raimi Style story and effects (Not for young ones)

The show is fantastic! Its plot is great and straight forward but its gory and also contains some sex. Small children are not advised to watch this as within the first (90 minute) episode, someone gets his head smashed. So as you can tell young ones will find that a bit off putting! When you see i have put the option "too much violence" it simply means for me, small children are to be kept away. The show has a freaky setting and strange characters which you get to know slightly over the first 6 episodes (strange things happen.) People being eaten and torn apart can be seen, but not entirely on screen like you would see on AMC's The Walking Dead.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex


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