Rating System Wiki


Programming rated TV-MA in the United States by the TV Parental Guidelines signifies content for mature audiences. It is equivalent to the MPAA film ratings R and NC-17. Programs with this rating are usually not suitable for minors under 17 years of age (18 in some cases). Content may contain strong coarse language, explicit (in some cases, pornographic) strong sexual content, nudity, or graphic violence.

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

It was originally called TV-M that existed only from January to July 1997. It was changed due to its suspected trademark issues from the Entertainment Software Rating Board over the similar "M for Mature" rating for video games and later it was changed to-rated TV-MA on channels.

Most shows on HBO and Showtime receive this rating. Notable shows with this rating include South Park (Comedy Central; except in syndicated broadcasts), Nip/Tuck (FX), The Sopranos (HBO), The Walking Dead (AMC), Dexter (Showtime), The Boondocks (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 case is especially depending on the network it 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 show their censored versions on the TV Broadcast.

Although the TV-MA rating is technically made for 17-year-olds, programs with this rating happen to become 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 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.

As of August 19, 2021, there are over 38,000 TV-MA titles, according to IMDb. (list)

Content description[]

  • D: N/A (not officially recognized, but used unofficially on some programs)
  • L: Crude Indecent Language
  • S: Graphic Sexual Nature/Content (including Nudity)
  • V: Graphic Violence


TV Parental Guidelines rating system
TV-Y icon.svg TV-Y7 icon.svg TV-Y7-FV icon.svg TV-G icon.svg TV-PG icon.svg TV-14 icon.svg TV-MA icon.svg