TV-MA (2023)

TV-MA (1)

Programming rated TV-MA in the United States by the TV Parental Guidelines signifies content for mature audiences. It corresponds to the MPA's R and NC-17 ratings for movies, and ESRB's M and AO ratings for video games. Programs with this rating are generally not suitable for people or individuals under 17 (some sources may say 18). Content is only made for mature audiences because it contains mature themes, such as gore, sexual violence, strong language, nudity, substances, smoking, and sex.

This rating is rare on free-to-air television because of the FCC's regulations on obscene programming.

It was originally called TV-M, however that name was only used from January to July 1997. It was changed due to suspected trademark issues from the Entertainment Software Rating Board over the similar "M for Mature" rating for video games. It was changed to the TV-MA rating that we know today.

Most shows on HBO and Showtime receive this rating. Notable shows with this rating include South Park (Comedy Central; except in some syndicated broadcasts), Jackass (MTV), Nip/Tuck (FX), The Sopranos (HBO), Preacher (AMC), Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon (Spike), Dexter (Showtime), Robot Chicken, The Boondocks, Mr. Pickles (Adult Swim), and Game of Thrones (HBO).

The TV-MA rating is probably the most diverse in American television. TV-PG and TV-14 programs tend to be slightly alike in content, but the intensity of a TV-MA-rated program can vary. This especially depends on the network the program airs on. For instance, an HBO series is likely to contain stronger language, nudity, and/or violence than a standard basic cable network would even allow. However, basic cable has made strides over the years thanks to networks like FX (the biggest exception thus far), which is practically known for leaping over the bounds of content limitations. However, programs with this rating may sometimes have edited or censored versions.

Although the TV-MA rating suggests a program is technically made for 17-year-olds (18 in some cases), programs with this rating can sometimes be more graphic and severe than what R-rated movies would typically allow, thanks to the existence of premium cable networks and certain online streaming services. Because of this, most online services, like HBO, Funimation, and Showtime, require persons to confirm they are at least 18 years old before watching episodes that are rated TV-MA. Therefore, parents are to take this rating very seriously online.

Prior to the introduction of parental controls on March 16, 2022, no TV-MA-rated content could be streamed on Disney+ in the United States; such content is offloaded to Hulu.

As of October 27, 2022, there are over 102,000 TV-MA titles, according to IMDb. (list)

Content descriptors

  • D: Not officially recognized, but used unofficially by some programs.
  • L: Crude Indecent Language
  • S: Explicit Sexual Activity
  • V: Graphic Violence


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Original TV-M rating


  • Blu-ray releases of Redo of Healer substitute the TV-MA classification with a different one called 18+. However, 18+ is not an official classification. From that point forward Sentai Filmworks decided to increase the age of their TV-MA shows as 18+. However 18+ has an IMDB page.
  • This rating is controversial because minors have easy access to media with a TV-MA rating. Parental controls are rarely set by default, and a pin code or password is a less reliable method of verification. By comparison: sale of R-rated movies requires the physical presence and authorization of a parent or legal guardian and NC-17/Unrated movies are only sold to adults. Sale of M-rated games requires the physical presence and authorization of a parent or legal guardian and AO games are sold exclusively in adult-only settings.
TV Parental Guidelines rating system
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