The Walking Dead

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Walking Dead TV Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Grim zombie drama is artful -- but awfully bloody.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 112 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 394 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The world is a bleak and dangerous place, and there's an overarching sense of dread and foreboding. Some of the remaining humans are quick to band together to work toward a common goal: survival. Others exploit and even kill other humans to remain alive. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most human characters display kindness, mercy, and tenacity. When they kill the "walkers," they're actually protecting themselves and their fellow survivors. Some characters are evil, even monstrous, and kill other survivors for food or for fun. 


Characters experience frequent, intense acts of violence involving blood (pooled, splattered, dripping, etc.), shootings, and decomposing, half-eaten bodies. Beloved characters die, and children are threatened, injured, shot, killed. Many tense scenes draw out suspense and fear. Survivors are injured in terrible ways that are shown at length onscreen. Characters are suddenly dispatched onscreen. One season's main villains are cannibals, and body parts are shown, as is a group of people who are kept for food like cattle. 


Most episodes contain no sexual content, though there is some flirting, embracing, and caressing between couples. In a handful of episodes couples have sex -- in one episode you can see a man behind a woman in an obviously sexual position and in another episode a woman puts her hand on a man's crotch and they embrace and offscreen sex is implied. In later seasons, male villains rape female captives (offscreen). A few episodes refer to sex, pregnancy, affairs, birth control, etc. Patients at a hospital are forced to submit to sex with officials in order to receive treatment. 


Some unbleeped swearing, including "s--t." Other audible words like "pissed," "damn," "bitch," etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Rare drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Walking Dead is a horror-drama hybrid that contains vividly violent action sequences involving blood, guns, and half-eaten corpses, among other stomach-turning visuals. There's also some unbleeped swearing ("s--t"), but those words are rare. A handful of episodes include sexual content, including visual references to (offscreen) rapes and consensual sex; there are references to affairs, pregnancy, birth control, coerced sex. In earlier seasons the "walkers" (zombies) are the main source of violence in conflict; in later seasons, non-heroic humans exploit and kill other humans. Characters, including children, may be suddenly bludgeoned, shot, stabbed, thrown off buildings, imprisoned and starved, and meet other terrible ends. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHalfBloodPrincess March 13, 2013

Very gory. Some viewers may not be able to handle it, regardless of age.

The Walking Dead is the kind of show you can't really set a specific age-limit for. Characters swear sometimes, including occasional racial slurs such as n... Continue reading
Adult Written bymeganjohnson June 12, 2016

Amazing Show

This show is truly the best. It may contain slight violence but it isn't enough to be worried about your child, I mean the show is about zombies. My thirte... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old August 16, 2014

Depends when you think you or your child is mature enough.

I have watched every single episode of every season. It is a great show which is successful at conveying emotion. I am 12 but to be honest it's not scary,... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bycake is good September 17, 2013

A Kid That Knows What He's Talking About

First of all, I've never really agreed with Common Sense. They seem to be uptight about everything. By age 15, a teen should be able to watch what they wan... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the wake of a global pandemic, a small band of survivors makes its way across the country to find a safe, new home -- away from the dangers of THE WALKING DEAD. The group includes an injured sheriff's deputy (Andrew Lincoln) who wakes up in an abandoned hospital, only to find the facility crawling with flesh-eating "walkers" (that's slang for zombies) and half-eaten corpses. But in time, he joins forces with a single father (Lennie James) and his young son (Adrian Kali Turner), and sets out to find his own missing wife (Sarah Wayne Callies) and boy (Chandler Riggs), and then, to find other humans and rebuild a shaky civilization -- which turns out to be its own struggle, walkers aside. The show is based on a comic book series of the same name created by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore.

Is it any good?

No pun intended, but, for most viewers, this AMC drama about flesh-eating zombies will be an acquired taste. Because even if you don't mind watching a swarm of the undead descend upon a mounted horse, knock it and its rider to the ground, and feast upon the writhing animal's entrails, you're asked to endure a surprising amount of drawn-out silences in between the series' admittedly grim action sequences.

That's not to say The Walking Dead is too gross to watch, or unworthy of praise for its acting and art direction. British actor Lincoln, in particular -- perhaps best known to Americans for his small role as a pining Romeo in Love Actually -- is impressive as the Southern-drawling hero, and Lincoln's sometimes-ally-sometimes-antagonist Daryl (Norman Reedus) as well as fierce warrior Michonne (Danai Gurira) have also emerged as fan favorites.  And as the series progresses, viewers will be drawn into characters' personal stories and their continuing efforts to survive and wrestle with complex moral questions -- which only grow thornier in later seasons. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the recent rise of zombies in popular culture (for example, with horror-comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland). What's the appeal? Do you think a serious drama like this one -- which purposefully lacks laughs -- will attract the same type of audience?

  • When it comes to violent content on television, does the show cross the line? Would the show still be gripping if it were any less gory?

  • Zombies aside, how realistic is the series' depiction of human nature? If the world were to suffer a true global pandemic, would the survivors band together in an attempt to preserve humanity, or would they continue to battle each other for control of what's left?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love zombie and horror

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