Untold Stories of the ER

Common Sense Media says

Medical reality show's reenactments can be very bloody.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series shows how emergency room staffs do their best to help patients, but these real-life stories are sensationalized for entertainment purposes aren't intended to be educational.

Positive role models

The emergency room doctors and other staff members are committed to saving lives, no matter how strange their patients or their symptoms are. Some of the doctors seem a little insensitive, while others seem a little too emotional.


The dramatizations feature patients yelling, screaming, and/or trying to attack emergency room staff. Burns and bloody injuries (cuts, bullet wounds, etc.) are clearly visible; some patients have knives and other objects penetrating their heads, necks, chests, and other areas of the body. Bloody surgeries featuring blood shooting out of veins, organs hanging out of the body, and other traumas are also reenacted. Some patients die.


The breasts and genitals of patients who are in various stages of undress are completely blurred. Occasional births, as well as discussion of pregnancy and birth control.


Reenactments contain scenes in which patients use inappropriate language, but words are bleeped, and it's difficult to make out what they're saying. 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Frequent references to alcohol-related accidents, drug addiction, and potential drug overdoses. Patients in pain are often given morphine; over-excited patients are often given Ativan. The importance of quitting smoking is discussed.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this series -- which features sensational reenactments of interesting and/or strange events that have occurred in hospital ERs across the country -- has lots of images of bloody injuries (knives embedded in chests, acid burns, bullet wounds, and more) and graphic surgical procedures. Dramatizations sometimes feature some bleeped language; nudity is blurred. Alcohol and drug-related injuries are discussed frequently. Overall, the series isn't intended for young children, and sensitive viewers of all ages may also find some of the scenes difficult to watch.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

UNTOLD STORIES OF THE ER showcases some of the most interesting, bizarre, and/or frightening stories from hospital emergency rooms around the country. To tell each tale, the show combines narrations by A.V. Kennedy with both first-hand accounts from doctors and re-enactments of key moments. Brief interviews with patients, various hospital staffers, and other witnesses are also included.

Is it any good?


Although each story is based on actual events, Untold Stories of the ER borders on the sensational by featuring actual staff members, patients, and family members re-enacting their experiences in the emergency room. As a result, the performances range from being extremely realistic to badly over acted. Some of the real doctors’ reactions to the incidents they're describing in their interviews seem a little extreme, too.

Younger and/or more sensitive viewers may have a tough time watching the dramatic scenes of bloody wounds and emergency surgeries featured on the show, while others may have a hard time with the stories about patients who die while in treatment. Bottom line? Some folks may find this sort of thing entertaining, but it’s definitely not for the squeamish.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about dramatizations and reality shows. Do you think

  • that a show that mostly features reenactments is presenting

  • "reality"? What makes it different from a drama?

  • Why would doctors, patients, and other people be willing to share their stories on television? Do you think that a doctor who tells a story about a patient is violating a patient’s privacy? What are the benefits of sharing stories like these? Disadvantages?

TV details

Cast:A.V. Kennedy
Networks:Discovery Health Channel, TLC
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-14

This review of Untold Stories of the ER was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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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, okay 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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Teen, 16 years old Written bybieber_fever55 August 22, 2010

13+ ONLY!

This show is one of my newer obsessions. Me loving the ER and wanting to be a doctor, it's natural for me to see this kind of thing. However I definitely think anyone younger than 13 or so would get sick at the gore. I've seen everything from a 2 foot tree branch stuck in a guy's neck to a man who stabbed himself. So those not into blood might be offended. Also some bad role models... most of the patients don't end up dying despite the fact they've made bad decisions such as smoking during pregnancy or taking drugs. (Which are also discusses frequently.) Only recomennded for mature viewers 13+.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 11 years old December 8, 2010

Mature 9+

Depends on the Kid. My Brother who is 9 can handle blood. So, 9+ who can handle alot of blood.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byoceangirl122 May 2, 2010

good, educational show, might not be for younger kids.

I have to say that I have watched this show a hundred times and it is not sensationalized for entertainment purposes. There is not overacting or anything like that. It is extremely realistic and actually, the role models are good, the educational value is good for any aspiring doctors, ect. Sure, it can be bloody and gory, but that's what you see in an ER everyday. Younger kids can't see it, but older teens might be able to see it. You know, every child is different. It's different on how each child will handle seeing something like this. It just depends on how your child will react.
What other families should know
Great role models


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