From 'Bandersnatch' to 'Be Right Back' and 'Beyond the Sea,' We Ranked All 28 'Black Mirror' Episodes

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Black Mirror is, deservedly, often compared to the masterpiece series The Twilight Zone, adapted for an Internet and social media age. The British anthology series offers critical examinations of the potential dystopian nature technology can bring to the world, as well as its effects on the very real human beings residing within it.

Popularized stateside after its move to Netflix in 2016 (how very timely!), series creator Charlie Brooker told The Guardian that his goal for Black Mirror isn't to demonize technology, but rather to make the show a series of potential cautionary tales. He explained, "The 'black mirror' of the title is the one you'll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor a smartphone."

Featuring episodes with seriously star-studded casts and stellar reviews, here are all 28 Black Mirror episodes ranked, starting with the best. (Note: If you're reading this on a cellphone, well, you may well toss it out the window once you binge the show!)

Black Mirror Episodes, Ranked Best to Worst

1. "Be Right Back" (Season 2, Episode 1)

There are few episodes of any television show more heartbreaking and haunting than Black Mirror's "Be Right Back." Hayley Atwell stars as Martha, a woman who's devastated after her boyfriend Ash (Domhnall Gleeson) dies in a car crash. Martha interacts with an artificial intelligence that mimics her lost love based on his social media posts. Gleeson said the episode made him wary of his own cellphone use in real life.

"There’s one moment where my character’s desperately searching for his phone. He just stands in the hallway and looks around blankly. I forget what the stage direction was, but it was really good," he recalled. "That’s when I realized I had done the same thing so many times, looking for my phone and feeling lost without it. So, yeah, I’ve tried to use my phone less since then. Sometimes, I fail. But at least I’m mindful of it."

2. "Bandersnatch" (2018 film)

Going meta! Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an interactive, choose-your-own adventure that feels much like the video game within it. The episode allows viewers to make choices that impact the story and what each of the characters does. The episode is often quite funny but can end in particularly dark ways depending on the decisions of the viewer.

The episode's stars, Fionn Whitehead and Will Poulter, said Bandersnatch was one of the most difficult projects on which they'd ever worked. “The art department, and props, and everyone involved was really on the ball in making sure that the version of the scene matched up with the choices [the audience] made,” Whitehead told Vulture, explaining that he had to focus on constants. “One of the key things is that the character doesn’t change, but the situations that the character is in do. It was more reacting to the different scenarios and versions of scenes.”

Poulter lamented, “I find it hard enough managing one character arc and emotional continuity when you shoot out of sequence. But when you’re doing it across multiple timelines and various different realities, it’s really tough.”

3. "White Christmas" (2014 Special)

With strong performances from Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall, as well as Easter eggs referencing other Black Mirror episodes when Spall's character, Joe, channel surfs, "White Christmas" is a treasure trove of all of the elements that make the series great. Black Mirror's 2014 Christmas special combined the banal frustrations of the holiday season with themes of surveillance, social media, cyberstalking and issues surrounding artificial intelligence and technological dependence (especially Google Glass, released shortly before the episode began production). Hamm and Spall star as two unreliable narrators with seriously dark secrets that unravel over the 74-minute episode span...but time, like everything else in this episode, isn't what it seems.

Related: The Best Christmas Episodes of Your Favorite TV Shows

4. "Demon 79" (Season 6, Episode 5)

With elements of racism, classism and xenophobia under the shadow of a nuclear threat, there are a lot of things to be scared of in "Demon 79," with technology being the least of anyone's worries in the period.

Depending on how observant you are, the twist in "Demon 79" may not even be a twist at all because it's a bit obvious to some viewers. That said, there is something so deliciously brilliant about Bobby Farrell of Boney M as a demon in training's visage that it's more than worth watching all the way through.

<em>Paapa Essiedu as Gaap, a demon in training, in "Black Mirror" Season 6 episode "Demon 79"</em><p>Nick Wall/Netflix</p>
Paapa Essiedu as Gaap, a demon in training, in "Black Mirror" Season 6 episode "Demon 79"

Nick Wall/Netflix

5. "USS Callister" (Season 4, Episode 1)

With a star-studded cast of Cristin Milioti, Michaela Coel, Jimmi Simpson and Jesse Plemons (plus a fun cameo from Aaron Paul), "USS Callister" is a Black Mirror fan-favorite episode. The episode openly satirizes Star Trek as well as toxic workplaces, toxic gaming culture and sexual harassment. Despite employing many of Black Mirror's technologically dystopian elements, it has a lighter ending than most other episodes in the series.

6. "San Junipero" (Season 3, Episode 4)

The uplifting "San Junipero" stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis as lovers in a beach town in California. Without spoiling too much for you, it examines nostalgia therapy and reliving the best days of your life in very literal ways.

Brooker told The Hollywood Reporter of the episode, "Certainly, I would say that because it was a departure in tone—the fact that it had an upbeat ending was a way of me resetting what I thought the scripts were—and the fact that that worked definitely had some bearing on where my head is at, script-wise. Looking at the world, it’s hard to know quite how to react because the situation keeps changing every 15 minutes and you don’t know what mindset people are going to be in when we release the season. So it’s had some bearing. We decide the order of episodes after we finish shooting."

In terms of fans clamoring for a sequel to "San Junipero," well, don't hold your breath. "When something like that lands really well—and people love or hate all the episodes—but since that one resonated so much, you don’t want to hit the same bell again, even though it’s tempting," Brooker said. "We have to be unpredictable with the show. We’re kind of back to doing more different things again."

7. "Hated in the Nation" (Season 3, Episode 6)

A stark examination of Internet pile-on culture, technological dependency, government surveillance and media framing, "Hated in the Nation" looks at the darkest impacts of what social media can do to society. If you've ever wondered what the effects of a hive mind are, well, you're in for a treat here.

8. "The Entire History of You" (Season 1, Episode 3)

Similar thematically to "Be Right Back," "The Entire History of You" examines the importance of letting go of the past, as well as how relationships may not always be like what they seem on the outside, even to those parties within them. Using "grains" to hang on to memories, a couple (including Dr. Who star Jodie Whittaker) learn dark secrets about one another with their ability to replay events.

This was the first Black Mirror episode not written by Brooker, and the episode takes place in the year 2050.

9. "The National Anthem" (Season 1, Episode 1)

The very first episode of Black Mirror, "The National Anthem" examines what would happen if a British royal were held hostage and the only way to free them would be if the British prime minister had sexual relations with a pig. Seriously.

Brooker was inspired by 24 and the reality series I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!. Brooker told The Guardian that several animals were considered for the story, as well as a "giant wheel of cheese," but that a pig won out for straddling the line between horrifying and darkly hilarious.

10. "Crocodile" (Season 4, Episode 3)

"Crocodile" is not for the faint of heart. The episode serves as a testament to how much a single decision and the memories of it can haunt you for the rest of your life. Thematically similar to "The Entire History of You," but with added commentary on living in a surveillance state (and the importance of reading opt-in and opt-out agreements), "Crocodile" takes much darker and more violent turns, especially in its final act.

11. "Playtest" (Season 3, Episode 2)

Wyatt Russell stars in a terrifying take on memory loss, virtual reality, video games and, of course, overuse of cellphones. Resident Evil and Bioshock fans will appreciate the references to the games, and the gallows humor of the ending is Black Mirror in a nutshell.

12. "Black Museum" (Season 4, Episode 6)

Letitia Wright owns the screen in "Black Museum," which examines a museum of artifacts with extremely dark origins. Wright earned an Emmy nomination for her role of Nish in an episode that has three stories in one, one of which was based on "The Pain Addict" by Penn Jillette. "Black Museum" honors traditional horror elements more than other episodes of Black Mirror, while examining similar themes of technological dystopia as well as racism and righteous vengeance.

13. "Mazey Day" (Season 6, Episode 4)

"Mazey Day" was polarizing for Black Mirror fans, but if you loved it, you really loved it. The episode is a condemnation of paparazzi and tabloid culture's dehumanization of starlets in the late '90s and early 2000s (though, let's be real, we're not that much more enlightened today). Without giving away the twist, there is also an examination of the harm celebrities themselves can cause to others and even a supernatural element, which is relatively new for the series.



14. "Hang the DJ" (Season 4, Episode 4)

The closest Black Mirror has ever come to full-on rom-com status, "Hang the DJ" examines dating via algorithm, which, in an age of Tinder and Bumble, is closer to reality than most of us want to admit. Like the romantic "San Junipero" with an added splash of When Harry Met Sally, "Hang the DJ" is a more upbeat and uplifting take on the usual dour world of Black Mirror while still conveying the series' technologically wary themes. "Hang the DJ" also features two original instrumental songs from Sigur Rós and prominent use of "Panic" by The Smiths.

15. "Beyond the Sea" (Season 6, Episode 3)

A stellar cast including Josh Hartnett, Aaron Paul, Kate Mara and Rory Culkin deliver a seriously twisted story in "Beyond the Sea." Taking place in 1969, Hartnett and Paul are astronauts on a mission in space with robot replicas on Earth to which they can transfer their consciousness while they're away.

The episode features elements that parallel the space race and the Charles Manson murders, but the true villain here is toxic masculinity and the danger it poses to us all.



16. "Metalhead" (Season 4, Episode 5)

Having a bad day? You may not want to tune into "Metalhead." The shortest episode of Black Mirror is also one of the bleakest: After an unspecified apocalypse, robot "dogs" are tracking, hunting and killing human survivors. There are comparisons to The Terminator as well as to drone warfare in real life, and the black and white palette only drives home the feeling of hopelessness.

17. "Loch Henry" (Season 6, Episode 2)

"Loch Henry" takes everyone's obsession with true crime and turns it on its head in a huge way. We won't give away the entire twist, save to say it takes a little too long to get there, and your eyes may glaze over by the time it does. Try to stick this one out if you can!



18. "Striking Vipers" (Season 5, Episode 1)

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Anthony Mackie star in "Striking Vipers," playing men with a complicated friendship and relationship that's only further complicated by their interactions in a virtual reality video game akin to a sexier Street Fighter: Not everyone is able to separate reality from fiction, and the ramifications of it are quite serious when their screens and consoles are turned off. Themes of pornography, toxic masculinity and escapism are rife, and writers actually referred to the episode as "Man Junipero" during its creation.

Related: Shows Like Black Mirror

19. "Joan Is Awful" (Season 6, Episode 1)

Salma Hayek as herself in "Black Mirror" episode "Joan Is Awful"<p>Netflix</p>
Salma Hayek as herself in "Black Mirror" episode "Joan Is Awful"


Annie Murphy of Schitt's Creek stars as the titular Joan, who never bothered to read all of the privacy policy before using AI and devices, leading to her entire life—the good, the bad and ugly—being reenacted by a hilarious Salma Hayek in a streaming series. Its take on AI is an interesting one, but in light of the WGA writers' strike that went on when Season 6 dropped, having the streamer's mega-computer take the brunt of the blame for havoc wreaked on the lives it impacted feels like a misfire.

20. "Smithereens" (Season 5, Episode 2)

"Smithereens" delves into issues of privacy, suicide, gun violence and the unduly worship of tech CEOs. The episode is extremely dark and violent and may be triggering for some viewers. Topher Grace plays a tech CEO-turned-guru, and explained he was drawn to episodes of Black Mirror that are more than or as focused on emotion as they are on technology and its effects on the world.

21. "Arkangel" (Season 4, Episode 2)

A mother is desperate to keep tabs on her daughter in "Arkangel," and the effects are devastating: She uses a program called Arkangel to not just monitor her daughter's whereabouts and activities, but also to censor anything that may trigger or negatively affect the little girl. This, of course, has seriously dire consequences as the girl grows up. Jodie Foster directed the episode, which executive producer Annabel Jones said was inspired by the idea of children having microchips similar to pets.

22. "Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too" (Season 5, Episode 3)

Miley Cyrus stars as a pop singer named Ashley O who's caught up in the quite literal trappings of fame in "Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too." Being held captive by her managers and professional team in a drug-induced coma, Ashley O befriends two sisters through her robot version, "Ashley Too," and they plan the singer's escape. Cyrus' performance as the trapped Ashley O is easily the best acting of her career, but that really isn't saying much. A saving grace? Ashley O's songs are reworked versions of Nine Inch Nails classics (her hit "I'm On a Roll" is built off "Head Like a Hole," "Right Where It Belongs" became "Right Where I Belong").

Though there were obvious comparisons to Britney Spears (especially in rewatching after learning about the alleged horrors of her conservatorship), Brooker said the Black Mirror episode was partly inspired by the growing use of holograms of stars who often died tragically, like PrinceWhitney Houston and Amy Winehouse. "They’ve been chewed up by the fame industry and now they’re being resurrected. It’s extremely ghoulish," Brooker explained. "And we were thinking of A.I. too—what if you could program something that could write like John Lennon? And Alexa, all those virtual assistants, and how they provide companionship of a kind. That led to a conversation of, what if you had a virtual assistant based on a celebrity’s personality, and then I started jumping up and down, and thought, 'Oh that connects to the hologram performer idea!' and it sort of spun out from there."

23. "The Waldo Moment" (Season 2, Episode 3)

Dark, political and particularly bleak, "The Waldo Moment" examines what would happen if a struggling comedian and kids' character ran for office. The heavy-handedness of the cynical and distrusting messaging, combined with the seemingly rushed ending, make this a Black Mirror episode that even Brooker admits isn't the best.

24. "Men Against Fire" (Season 3, Episode 5)

Black Mirror's "Men Against Fire" may be triggering to some, as it depicts, using the thinnest of veils, the rise of racism, xenophobia and government-sanctioned genocide against dehumanized enemies. The episode's saving graces are its performances from Malachi KirbyMichael Kelly (Doug Stamper from House of Cards) and Madeline Brewer. Its inspiration from Starship Troopers could not be more apparent, so if that film wasn't your cup of tea, you may want to skip this one: It has similar themes, but lacks the original's satirical punch that made it work so well.

Related: The Best British Shows to Stream Now

25. "Shut Up and Dance" (Season 3, Episode 3)

While the cast's performances in "Shut Up and Dance" are stellar, the episode itself is one of Black Mirror's weaker ones: A teenage boy named Kenny commits a series of heinous acts as he's blackmailed with a video of himself masturbating. While the themes of revenge porn, Internet shaming, sexual abuse and its aftermath could be quite compelling, the twist ending (we won't spoil it here) polarized viewers.

Alex Lawther, who stars as Kenny, told GQ that the episode bore haunting parallels to a true event that was reported while they were filming.

"When we were shooting, there was a news story in the real world about something very similar, and that is a very surreal thing," he said. "The 'fiction' you're carrying is actually taking place in the real world." That makes it even more terrifying than some of the other more sci-fi-themed shows in the series, and potentially extremely triggering.

26. "White Bear" (Season 2, Episode 2)

A commentary on criminal justice, trauma and exploitation flicks, "White Bear" has an incredible twist that few will predict. However, it can also at times feel like a fever dream, which is what Brooker said writing the episode felt like. Without giving too much away, fans of true crime may notice parallels between the episode and the horrific events in the Moors murders, while fans of The Twilight Zone may enjoy "White Bear" for its use of plot devices similar to those in the Rod Serling series' finest episodes. That said, this episode may be extremely triggering, so more sensitive viewers may want to pass over this one.

27. "Nosedive" (Season 3, Episode 1)

Nepo baby Bryce Dallas Howard was nominated for a Primetime Emmy and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her work in "Nosedive," a look at the desperate need for outside validation, social media dependency and "likes" as currency, as well as a commentary on China's Social Credit System. Co-written by fellow nepo baby Rashida Jones and The Office producer Michael Schur, the metaphors are heavy-handed, and the episode pacing drags a bit.

The episode is more comedic than any other Black Mirror presentation before it, but there is no one to root for in "Nosedive." While that might be the point (maybe), slogging through an entire episode of people you can't stand gets as exhausting as doom-scrolling and stalking your ex's new girlfriend. If you're into these themes but want something with more laughs and better pacing, tune into Ingrid Goes West instead.

28. "Fifteen Million Merits" (Season 1, Episode 2)

"Fifteen Million Merits" has a similar theme to "Nosedive," but a darker take and an even more tedious sense of pace. With great performances from Daniel Kaluuya and Jessica Brown Findlay, "Fifteen Million Merits" is Black Mirror's most obvious take on 1984 (with an added dose of America's Got Talent). The episode conveys the participants of the series eventually falling in love (or at least in line) with Big Brother, but you may doze off before you get to the end.

Next, Everything to Know About Password Sharing on Netflix