I'm talking about the MPAA rating. Is natural death PG rated? The criteria for violence, drug use or nudity is easy to find, but what about death itself, caused by time or a disease such as cancer?

For an example in a different domain, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is TV-Y rated, but depicts a funeral in an episode and a quick analysis can lead the viewer to know which background character (an old pony) is dead.

Also, would there be a different rating depending on the identity of the dying character? E.g. the grand-father of a friend of the main character = PG, but the brother of the main character = PG-13 (or more)? What about the death of the main character itself?

  • 3
    These are all impossible to answer as the MPAA does not disclose specific reasons for why each film receives the rating it does.
    – DA.
    Jan 29, 2015 at 4:16
  • 2
    Well, Bambi and The Lion King both appear to be G rated by the MPAA... and those include (spoiler alert!) an on-screen violent and tragic killing of a prominent character, witnessed by that character's child. Seems it's about context and how the death is presented Feb 4, 2018 at 7:48

2 Answers 2


This is a good question.

From the MPAA website, a PG rating may include:

...some profanity and some depictions of violence or brief nudity. But these elements are not deemed so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance...

Nowhere on the site does it explicitly mention death by natural causes.

At the risk of providing a purely speculative answer, it seems that natural death from old age or disease does not fit into the category of violence outlined in the other ratings (PG-13 etc)

Also, I wondered if the death of Carl's wife in Up had been the catalyst for that film to get the second ever PG rating for a Pixar film (after The Incredibles), but according to this site, it earned a PG for: Some Peril and Action.

So, it would appear that natural death is not considered when rating a movie, and therefore can be depicted in G-rated fare such as My Little Pony.

  • 1
    A lot of kid's cartoons/movies have a mentor die (natural death or otherwise) in order for the main character to start the hero's journey, and they get a G-rating (such as the Lion King
    – Robotnik
    Jul 15, 2013 at 7:20
  • It should be noted that Sesame Street, of all shows, once had a character die of natural causes. I think that's pretty strong precedent that a sensitive and respectful portrayal of natural death is considered suitable for all ages.
    – Kevin
    Nov 9, 2022 at 20:04

Yes, however it might garner the movie a pg for thematic content, thematic content basically means stuff that is objectionable but can't be explained in a movie rating description, take for instance macaulay Culkins sad but not overly graphic death in my girl or the first ten minutes of up

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