In this research report, the PTC examined comic book-themed prime-time programming on the major broadcast networks during November, February, and May “sweeps” periods from November 2012 through May 2019.
Programs examined were Fox’s Gotham; CW’s Arrow, Black Lightning, The Flash, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Riverdale; and ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s Agent Carter, and Marvel’s Inhumans. This resulted in a total of 293 episodes, and slightly more than 300 hours of programming analyzed (a few episodes were two-hour specials).
WARNING: This video contains graphic adult content. Please do not view when children are watching.
This study found:
- In comic book-themed programming with particular appeal to children, young viewers were exposed to over 6,000 incidents of violence, over 500 deaths, and almost 2,000 profanities.
- The most violent program was CW’s Arrow. Young viewers witnessed 1,241 acts of violence, including 310 deaths, 280 instances of gun violence, and 26 scenes of people being tortured. They also heard 492 profanities.
- Fox’s Gotham featured 35 explicit, gory scenes of beheading or dismemberment, 144 deaths, 13 scenes of torture, and over 1,100 acts of violence.
- In only eight episodes, CW’s Black Lightning featured 19 deaths, 111 profanities, and 212 acts of violence.
- The CW series DC’s Legends of Tomorrow included 77 instances of sexual content, 785 instances of violence (including 67 deaths and 11 scenes of torture), and 368 profanities.
- Violence on the Disney-owned ABC network programs Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s Agent Carter, and Marvel’s Inhumans included a combined 1,194 instances of violence and 115 deaths. Also heard were 254 profanities. Most episodes of the ABC series were rated TV-PG.
- The CW’s series Riverdale, based on Archie Comics, featured 78 instances of sexual content, 242 instances of violence, 153 profanities and scenes of casual drug use – especially disturbing, since every main character in the series (including Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica) is a teenager still in high school.