Van Helsing

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Van Helsing TV Poster Image
Grim bloody vampire apocalypse show is not fun enough.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

We're told who the "good guys" and the "bad guys" are, but everyone uses violence and intimidation to gain their ends. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The cast boasts some diversity with people of color onscreen; however, they are relegated to secondary roles while main characters are white (and generally male). Vanessa Van Helsing is brave and values her family above all else, but she's willing to hurt others to get what she wants. 


Vampires leer and hiss at the camera, bite necks and suck blood with liquid sounds, leaving bloody wounds in necks; vampires vomit blood on their victims and are stabbed with loud noises on the soundtrack; military personnel use machine guns to shoot vampires and humans point blank with blood and gore; vampires are bludgeoned to death; men threaten and beat each other; vampires attack suddenly and kill characters abruptly onscreen; one woman beats another to death by bashing her in the head with a fire extinguisher. 


Female characters are presented in costumes that are tighter/shorter/more revealing than male characters; a woman fights off a pack of vampires in her underwear; men and women shower together non-sexually to conserve water, no private parts are seen. 


Frequent unbleeped cursing: "s--t," "goddamn," "hell," "a--shole." Vulgar language: "Someone's dicking around."


A character mentions he misses going to Subway for lunch and eating Kit Kats. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A heroic character smokes cigarettes. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Van Helsing is a dark, grim show about an apocalypse caused by vampires. Violence is frequent and intense; here's a sampling. Men and women fight each other with knives and guns. They're stabbed and punched and shot, bludgeoned in the face, and a woman's hand is impaled deeply on a knife. Vampires suddenly kill characters; bite and leave gory wounds. Female characters' costumes are often tighter and more revealing than male characters'; a main female character fights vampires in her underwear. Cursing: frequent and unbleeped "s--t," "a--hole," "goddamn" "hell." 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byMichelle M. May 13, 2018

Violence and Sexual Situations

I'm enjoying this series since it falls between a zombie style and vampire show. As for the plot, it runs slow but it progresses enough to keep your intere... Continue reading
Adult Written byScott R. November 18, 2016

Heroes for the Modern World

This show does promote positive values: the main female character primarily cares about her daughter, and her Marine defender acts out of a sense of loyalty, d... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCat_ December 16, 2018

Good for Kids that like gore and is used to voilent Movies/Tv Shows

I love this show, The blood effects and such are not too bad as it is digitally added most of the time and very easy to see that it is fake.
I love the plot an... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byThe watermelon January 25, 2020

Great show! Some violence (spoilers ahead)

Overall this is a great show however it can get pretty violent. This includes scenes of jaws being ripped off, sculls crushed, and people quite literally being... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on a graphic novel series, VAN HELSING centers on Vanessa Helsing (Kelly Overton), the daughter of famous vampire hunter and Dracula's enemy Abraham Van Helsing. Turns out that the Van Helsing blood can actually cure vampires, transforming them from blood-sucker back to human. So Vanessa's been kept safe as an apocalypse has overtaken the earth, hidden away in a secret military fortress while the rest of the world was left to fight (and eventually die), watched over by fiery Marine Axel (Jonathan Scarfe) as she slept in an unearthly coma. But now she's awake, and the reluctant savior of the human race is a lot more interested in finding her missing daughter than in helping the ragtag group of survivors around her. What will Vanessa find when she leaves the safety of the compound? And is there any hope humans will survive? 

Is it any good?

Created and produced by controversial playwright Neil LaBute, this post-apocalyptic entry is a slight cut above average sci-fi thrillers writing-wise, but it's just not a lot of fun. Clearly SyFy is hoping for a The Walking Dead-type fandom -- one can imagine the "It's like Walking Dead but with vampires!" elevator pitch -- and for some Buffy the Vampire Slayer-type excitement with main vamp-kicker Vanessa. But Overton doesn't have Buffy's charm and personality, nor does the show have a sense of humor. Not that a "vampires end the world" premise is supposed to be fun; it's just that everything seems so grim, yet not scary enough to jolt viewers pleasurably. 

It's hard to escape the feeling that you've seen this show before, and though the dialogue is a tad sharper and fresher than usual, perhaps courtesy of LaBute's stage roots, the characters and plot points seem recycled. Vampire fans, or worshippers of Walking Dead-esque shows may find they like Van Helsing, but most viewers will find it a bit of a slog. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about vampires, and the real-life fears that fuel Van Helsing's 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?

  • Families can talk about which parts of Van Helsing's plot are actually plausible. In terms of violence, who proves to be the bigger threat to the people on this show: vampires or human beings? Why do we like to think about the supernatural?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scary stuff

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