Black Mirror is one of those shows that are hit-or-miss with people—but when it hits, fans’ emotions go all-in with the story.
This dystopian science-fiction series looks at how powerful a role technology can have in society. Many Black Mirror episodes unveil the terrifying potential of advanced machines, but some light-hearted episodes do offer a hopeful technological evolution.
Either way, the Black Mirror franchise offers episodes for just about anyone’s interests.
Though there hasn’t been any official word for season 6, the series thus far has been (for the most part) jaw-dropping and thought-provoking. While each of the 22 episodes has its own story, theme, and mood, the standouts rise to the top. Here are all the Black Mirror episodes, ranked from worst to best.
22. The Waldo Moment
Season 2, Episode 3
A failing comedian rises to stardom when he begins controlling Waldo, a blue cartoon bear.
The vulgar character gains traction after tricking political figures into interviews, where they unknowingly trap themselves into answering exposing questions. Intending to promote Waldo and his antics, the producers enter the animated bear into the election.
Having received just 6.6 stars on IMDB, “The Waldo Moment” is hardly anyone’s favorite episode. The usual Black Mirror twists feel weak, and any thought-provoking messages fall flat by the end.
21. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too
Season 5, Episode 3
Once again exploring artificial intelligence, “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” features Miley Cyrus as Ashley O, a pop star in the season five finale of Black Mirror.
Ashley Too, the robot doll designed after Ashley O, talks and acts just like her. The doll is helpful, encouraging, and can even bust some sick dance moves.
Unlike many other similar Black Mirror stories, this episode shows how robots can actually be helpful—not just a tool that will evolve into a society-ending horror story.
Season 5, Episode 2
In a group therapy session, a taxi driver named Chris meets a woman whose daughter committed suicide.
Since her death, the woman neurotically attempts logging into her daughter’s Smithereens account every day until it inevitably locks her out. When Chris picks up a Smithereens employee, he holds his customer hostage until gets what he wants.
Why is Chris so motivated to help out a woman he just met in therapy? Is it moral for the woman to be trying so hard to log into her late daughter’s account?
“Smithereens” may give you an answer to those questions…but it might leave you with even more.
Season 4, Episode 3
Unsolved crimes would be less common if a device exsted that could read memories. If such a tool were real, would it be ethical to use? Would only people who have committed crimes need to worry?
In “Crocodile,” Mia and her boyfriend accidentally kill a bicyclist. Attempting to avoid trouble, the two decide to dispose of the body and never speak of the matter. As time passes, the guilt remains. Will Mia’s past catch up to her?
Season 4, Episode 5
In a post-apocalyptic setting, robot guard-dogs have overpowered humans and now run the world. With few human survivors remaining, the many attempts to fight against the robots proved to be futile.
When a slowly dwindling group of friends go on a supply run, audiences see just how terrifyingly powerful the robot dogs are.
This black-and-white cinematic episode has a simple plot with little dialogue. “Metalhead” is filled with great imagery, and it’s meant to be very thought-provoking. Though the plot at its core is “robots vs. humanity,” the episode is much more complex.
17. Men Against Fire
Season 3, Episode 5
After an unnamed war, remnants from a powerful biological weapon remains. Soldiers are targeting “roaches,” mutated humans as a result of the war.
These soldiers’ heads have an implanted neural device called MASS. This tool amplifies their senses by altering reality. Is everything really as it seems?
When the implant begins to malfunction in a soldier, his world turns upside down. Black Mirror exposes the dangers of propaganda and prejudice in this thrilling episode.
16. Striking Vipers
Season 5, Episode 1
After 11 years apart, two friends reunite as they play Striking Vipers X, a new virtual reality game. They can feel everything in this virtual universe. The experiences soon become addictive, threatening one friend’s marriage.
With virtual reality gaming becoming more widespread, it’s no wonder that Black Mirror has an episode dedicated to this topic—and the dangers of a virtual world holding more appeal than the real one.
Season 3, Episode 2
When Cooper, an American traveler, is looking to make some quick cash, he signs up to test out an augmented reality gaming system.
After the device reads his brain, the powerful gaming system brings some of his biggest fears to life. The thin line between true reality and augmented reality becomes incredibly blurred.
As technology becomes more advanced, the question is no longer “can it be done,” but rather, “should it be done?” In “Playtest,” Black Mirror continues to push this ethical dilemma.
14. Hated in the Nation
Season 3, Episode 6
After designing artificially intelligent robotic bees, the rapidly decreasing bee population in the United Kingdom is no longer an issue. However, a new problem arises when hackers are able to redirect the bees to brutally murder people.
Technology can be used for good, but the fact that it may not be fully protected is its fatal flaw. Black Mirror emphasizes this point, and also dives into the psychology of society, as the story unfolds.
13. The National Anthem
Season 1, Episode 1
Black Mirror’s series premiere is a bold one. After a member of the royal family is kidnapped, she’s held at ransom…but not for money.
In exchange for the Princess, the Prime Minister must have sexual intercourse with a live pig on national television.
Though a strange introduction to the series, “The National Anthem” sets the stage for the entire series. In this episode and so many others, Black Mirror satirizes society and the media through extreme scenarios.
Season 4, Episode 2
When mother Marie loses her three-year-old daughter Sara for just a moment, she goes into full neuroticism mode.
She decides to implant Sara with Arkangel, a system designed for overprotective parents. The machine can locate a child, watch their health and emotional state, and even censor provocative sights.
Such a device brings into question the ethics involved in protecting children. How far can it go before it becomes invasive in their growth? Is it justified if it means the child goes unharmed?
11. Black Museum
Season 4, Episode 6
When Nish stops to charge her car, she decides to enter the Black Museum. The artifacts on display are eerily familiar to the viewer: they’re all pieces of technology from previous episodes.
The curator of the museum describes some tales to Nish as she looks around until, finally, he shows her the star exhibit of the museum.
While circling back to previous themes explored in prior episodes, “Black Museum” hits the nail on the head when it comes to questioning the ethics of retribution.
10. White Bear
Season 2, Episode 2
“White Bear” gives the viewer some insight into fight or flight. Vigilantes are hunting the main character, and she has no idea why. She woke up one morning with complete amnesia and now nothing makes sense.
On top of being hunted, many passersby record her on their phones. What’s going on here?
This is one of those Black Mirror episodes that wows viewers without fail. Don’t forget to pick your jaw up from the floor.
9. Fifteen Million Merits
Season 1, Episode 2
To be a functioning member of society, people must ride stationary bikes to power their world. In exchange for their efforts, they can redeem their “merits” for necessities and luxuries. Everyone lives a very drab lifestyle.
To escape their mute and routine lives, some people can choose to redeem an incredible fifteen million merits to enter a talent show for a chance at fame.
Some people would give everything for their fifteen minutes of fame—and Black Mirror dramatizes that idea in this episode. They crave fame and require attention, but is it worth it?
8. Be Right Back
Season 2, Episode 1
Nearly everyone uses social media nowadays, and some have very large digital footprints. In just a couple of clicks, you can learn just about everything there is to know about a person. If so much of your data is online, is it possible to build a replica “you?”
In “Be Right Back,” Black Mirror explores this idea of social media and privacy. When a pregnant woman’s husband dies unexpectedly, she feels lost and lonely.
Using her late husband’s social media information, she orders a robot replica that looks, talks, and acts almost identically to him…but something’s not right.
7. USS Callister
Season 4, Episode 1
Virtual reality is taken to a whole new level in “USS Callister.” When an introverted genius programmer loses interest in reality, he decides to make his own.
The unappreciated Robert Daly’s creation is a Star Trek-themed universe that features his coworkers. His coworkers, however, are digital clones that make up his crew, while Daly is the tyrannical leader of the starship.
In making a world from scratch, you’re essentially God: all-knowing, incredibly powerful, and fully autonomous…or so you think. When artificial intelligence becomes too intelligent, could you lose all power and control of your very own universe?
6. The Entire History of You
Season 1, Episode 3
This gem from the debut season is the first of many Black Mirror episodes that explore technology built into people.
Implanted behind the ear is a little “grain” that lets a person record literally everything they see and hear. The device also conveniently allows the host to playback their memories through their eyes or to a monitor for anyone else to see.
This scarily futuristic episode looks into several themes such as surveillance, marital conflicts, and trust issues.
Season 3 Episode 1
Every business wants a 5-star rating. That coveted perfect score can bring a plentiful amount of success. On the other hand, a low rating will scare potential customers and slowly drive the business into the ground.
In Black Mirror’s “Nosedive,” people are rated on this 5-point scale, not businesses.
Every interaction is rated, both online and in-person. Because ratings are directly correlated to socioeconomic status, people are desperate to raise their score, even if it means hiding their true personality.
Lacie, the focus of this episode, wants to raise her score from 4.2 to 4.5 so she can apply to live in a luxurious housing complex. How will she do it?
4. Hang the DJ
Season 4, Episode 4
Since the rise of the Internet, finding love has never been easier. Though some platforms revolve around hookup culture, many others hope for users to fall in love.
Definitely one of the top Black Mirror episodes, “Hang the DJ” starts out a little unassumingly. A high-tech dating system matches soulmates at a 99.8% success rate.
Compatibility is put to the test when Coach, the handheld AI facilitator of the dating experience, assigns couples a certain amount of time to spend with each other (whether it be for an hour or several years).
After several matchups, Coach will eventually form a permanent pairing: the perfect match.
With the System boasting so many success stories, most participants have full faith in the process. But what if you met your soulmate on the first date? What if the many matchups that follow are horribly unsuccessful?
And, most importantly…what if you’re not included in that 99.8%?
3. Shut Up and Dance
Season 3, Episode 3
It’s everyone’s worst cybersecurity nightmare: having someone record you through your laptop’s camera.
When Kenny installs a sketchy program onto his computer, hackers on the other end can see his every move.
After recording a private act, the hackers threaten to blackmail Kenny by leaking the video to everyone he knows. Kenny must follow all orders given to him…or else.
“Shut Up and Dance” puts viewers in an interesting ethical dilemma. With their reputation on the line, we see just how far people will go to protect their social image. Do the ends justify the means?
2. White Christmas
This Black Mirror Christmas special is not your typically cheerful holiday film. Two men have been in an isolated cabin for several years, but are just now having their first full conversation. On a snowy Christmas day, they reveal their dark and painful pasts.
Satirically looking into ideas such as “blocking” on social media and artificially intelligent digital assistants, this episode shows just how terrifying advanced technology can be.
1. San Junipero
Season 3, Episode 4
Unusually bright and peppy, this episode explores finding romance in a digitally advanced world. This seemingly typical love story where “shy girl” meets “outgoing girl” is anything but ordinary, especially when it takes place in the Black Mirror universe.
First taking place in the ‘80s, viewers become invested in the main characters, Yorkie and Kelly, as they slowly fall in love with one another while they overcome personal obstacles.
Having received many recognitions and two Primetime Emmy Awards, “San Junipero” is clearly a favorite among Black Mirror fans. The beautifully written episode features an amazingly colorful setting, with a complex plot that hosts many twists and turns as the story unfolds. “San Junipero” will leave you in awe every step of the way.
While a few episodes fall flat, many are instant fan favorites, and almost all leave the viewer with a deep, unsettling sense of dread over the increasingly thin line our society walks when it comes to technology.
The best Black Mirror episodes excel at turning seemingly absurd plots into chillingly realistic stories, which is precisely the show’s point: as technology advances, the impossible not only becomes possible, but—in many cases—likely, if not inevitable.