Without a Trace

TV review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Without a Trace TV Poster Image
Parents recommend
Predictible crime drama for older teens only.

Parents say

age 10+
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

While the main characters are humanly flawed and deal with problems like adultery and substance abuse, they're on the side of justice. The cast is multicultural; recurring female characters are generally portrayed as strong and capable. An occasional character is disabled.


Violence varies from episode to episode. FBI agents carry and sometimes use guns and engage in tense stand-offs, but blood is minimal.


Some minor sexual activity: Characters wake up in bed together, and the main characters engaged in adultery but were remorseful. Plots sometimes revolve around sexual themes, like prostitution or pornography.


Some adult language in certain episodes, but not generally noticeable.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character was addicted to painkillers. Another recurring character may have a drug abuse problem, but drug use has serious repercussions on the show. Plots may involve drugs, but not without consequences.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this crime drama deals with sensational topics, many of which involve children and teens, such as abduction, molestation, child pornography, and infanticide. The regular characters also struggle with adult topics like adultery, divorce, addiction, and serious health problems, which may upset sensitive young viewers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJared Galczynski May 31, 2014

Without a Trace, but with a Mayra.

AY MAYRA. AY AY MAYRA. Maybe a little sex & violence, but not over the top. Without A Trace is a really good show overall.
Adult Written bydragonrich9 December 21, 2010
I like show, but I hate the police. They are all dumb and idiot. When you need them, they never there. Only when they track you when you over speed so they c... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybobbeta30 February 22, 2011


I L.O.V.E this show! I usually hate shows with scary stuff like this, but this one is usually quite tame in comparison to other shows. And another thing I love... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old December 20, 2010

nice show ^_^

i know, im only 13, but i just love this show! Some episodes are TV-PG, but most are TV-14. The role models are mostly good. Jack, Sam, and the other main chara... Continue reading

What's the story?

WITHOUT A TRACE follows the small team of FBI investigators on the Missing Persons Squad who step in when someone disappears mysteriously. Knowing that every second counts in an abduction, the crew works quickly to chart the missing person's activities during the previous 24 hours. This involves interviewing friends and family, checking into the person's financial and personal records, and searching for any clues that might reveal the circumstances of the disappearance. Storylines also explore team members' personal lives, such as division leader Jack Malone's (Anthony LaPaglia) divorce, the office romance of Samantha Spade (Poppy Montgomery) and Martin Fitzgerald (Eric Close), and the health scare of Vivian Johnson (Marianne Jean-Baptiste).

Is it any good?

This procedural drama follows a similar formula to many crime investigation shows and bears the slick, fast-paced mark of Jerry Bruckheimer, who produces this show as well as the popular shows CSI and Cold Case. Though Without a Trace's producers have clearly made attempts to deepen the show's characters, the show itself, while dark, stays pretty close to the surface. The storylines are predictably sensational, involving child abductions, accidental infanticide, and teen sex rings.

Moderate violence, sexual themes, and drug use with repercussions definitely make Without a Trace a show for older viewers. But even more distressing to young folks might be the storylines, which often involve children in disturbing situations, such as being snatched from their nanny, or dying from experimental medicine.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the rare nature of the cases that the show's team investigates. Under what circumstances do most people go missing? How safe do kids feel? Is there anything families can do to make everyone feel safer?

TV details

Our editors recommend

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