Black Mirror 🔮 Episodes Ranked

Written by Thelonia & Tia

Black Mirror will be back for its fourth season before the end of this year (there is no specific release date out as of right now), so we thought that—while we wait—we might as well release our definitive ranking of all the Black Mirror episodes so far (seasons 1-3).

We'll be going in reverse order, starting with the episode we thought was the worst, and moving toward our number one pick. Let's do it!

13. The National Anthem (101)

Thelonia: It is impossible to think of this one as anything but the pig-fucking episode. I don't hate it but it's definitely not great. Made a hell of splash though, so I guess it's got that going for it. That said, I also would like to go the rest of my life never seeing anything about this episode ever again.

Tia: I was told to skip this episode if starting the show, but because I have no self-control, I am unable to watch anything in any order except the order it comes in. I didn't love this episode because 1) I thought it was gross and 2) it made me hope desperately the next episode would be different. Plus, I thought the ending was so cheesy (in a gruesome way!). That said, I did think it set up the series as a whole pretty well in that it could only get better from there (and it served as an exemplary content warning for the kind of stuff the show would continue to tackle—AKA sex, violence, and near-future bizarreness).

Thelonia: Yeah, this episode definitely works as a litmus test to see if you'll be able to take the other episodes, but still, it just sticks out in its grossness. Did provide some excellent humor when it turned out the British Prime Minister had stuck his dick in a dead pig's mouth once at Oxford, though. Of all the things that Black Mirror predicted, this one might have been the most surprising.

Tia: I did not know that and now I am starting a campaign called "keep your dick to yourself," with special attention to pies, pigs, and people. Yikes!

12. The Waldo Moment (203)

Thelonia: Bleh. I know people are up and on about how this episode "has so much more meaning now" considering whom we elected president, but I think idiots in politics is pretty general so I'm not so sure about its prophesying power.

Tia: I wasn't big into this episode either. Even though you can argue the realism in how (MILD SPOILERS) this comedic/cruel sort of character took over the world in the same way reality TV Trump became President of the United States (SPOILERS OVER), I still didn't really find it all that realistic? In a way, I think this episode in particular might highlight Black Mirror's bigger issue, which is that it doesn't always spend much time convincing you to believe its premise (it doesn't have the time), so sometimes it comes off as a bit ridiculous. This episode for me just seemed to have more unbelievable scenes than some of the others.

Thelonia: I think the biggest sin for this one is that it just had one kind of weak idea and it ran it into the ground very quickly. Some of the other episodes here at the bottom are similar in that they seem like they were written off of a one-sentence generator, but "The Waldo Moment" really felt like it had nothing to say apart from a very upfront "haha politics" statement. Also it made me look at a cartoon bear's turquoise penis and I will never forgive it for that.

Tia: I must have blocked that out (phew!). I also thought the side story about romance just sort of muddled the whole thing for me. I just wasn't super into what they were putting down with this episode.

11. Shut Up and Dance (303)

Thelonia: Liked it up until the last five minutes had a climax that involved me having to look at the trollface meme.

Tia: I straight up don't even remember that! This episode involves the main character racing to satisfy the demands of his blackmailer, who has him do unthinkable things, and while it's a thrilling ride at first, and has an interesting overall theme (that only is revealed in the twist ending, of course), it sort of gets lost in its own hustle and bustle to the point that you find yourself thinking, Okay, just get to that inevitable Black Mirror twist already.

Thelonia: I wish I could forget about it. The twist is fine and all but please, if we must bring memes into it, use good ones, goddamn.

Tia: Arthur fist only, pls.

10. Hated in the Nation (306)

Thelonia: Pretty standard if you watch any sort of British mystery show, this episode follows a series of deaths that all involved people tweeting #DeathTo random people. It's a solid episode and it has some salient points about the consequences of your actions, but it's not one that'll really haunt you (unless, I suppose, you spend all your time wishing death to people over Twitter already, in which case... you have other things going on I'd imagine).

Tia: You didn't even mention the part of this episode that turned me off to it! Which I realize now may be because it's a spoiler. Let's just say the weapon that kills the people feels like it's trying too hard to be relevant when it's actually dumb. I rolled my eyes so hard in this episode I almost joined the #DeathTo victims.

Thelonia: Oh yeah, well, without spoiling all too much I think that the weapon hit some personal fears if only in that it is something that could become very common in the future, and also just seems like a real bad way to go. It is pretty silly though.

Tia: Yeah! I do think this episode had some great moments (I loved the twist, for example), but there was so much else that was just silly, like the weirdly extended ending that felt totally unnecessary.

9. The Entire History of You (103)

Thelonia: Saved by the excellent acting by future Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker, and the worst Fantastic Four movie's Doctor Doom, Toby Kebbell, this episode is basically an encapsulation on how technology can work hand in hand with doubt, facilitating debilitating obsessions over small details that can be pored over as easily as anything else. As someone with social anxiety, the possibility of being able to relive all social interactions seems like a living hell. I don't want to do it once, thanks.

Tia: Agreed. This was an intense episode, and I think pretty good overall, but man if it wasn't anxiety-inducing! Plus, you spend the whole time yelling at the screen, "STOP OVERREACTING!" Or at least, I did.

Thelonia: Yeah surprisingly that was the one reaction I didn't have because I did feel like there was something to be found in his obsession (this might be why I get too interested in conspiracy theories), and (SPOILERS), there clearly was. Maybe had they had him obsess over smaller stuff to begin with, but it did look like pretty early on he hit something that his wife was hiding. Or I'm in too deep with conspiracy theories and I need to relax. I'll get back to you on that one.

Tia: OH, well, I mean to clarify the part I considered overreacting was not (SPOILERS) the suspicions of cheating, but rather the violence he turns to when he discovers the truth, which felt far from necessary and also made the ending much more dire than I think it needed to be (SPOILERS OVER)!

8. Playtest (302)

Thelonia: Almost a straight up horror movie, this episode involves Virtual Reality video games and the crushing reality of not contacting your loved ones. Call your mom back and tell her you love her, kids.

Tia: I didn't really care for this episode. I liked the concept a lot but I felt the B story was so disconnected from everything, and it all just became a confusing lump in the process. There were a couple mind-fuck moments that I typically enjoy in the horror genre, but the characters felt really weak to me—unlike in "The Entire History of You," for example, even though that one is lower on our list. It's a really fun and cool concept that I think a lot of storytellers are trying to tell right now (cough, Ready Player One is a relevant example), but I don't think any of them have really nailed it quite yet.

Thelonia: All that said though, I'd still play that game. Come at me VR spiders!

Tia: Oh, god. The only VR I'm playing anytime soon is Animal Crossing: Real World. (Um, please fund this Nintendo, but also, TM TM TM.)

7. Men Against Fire (305)

Thelonia: Alright, a bit on the nose in the metaphorical department, but still effective and the fact that you know this could happen once the technology becomes available is pretty bad. People are kind of terrible, everybody, and the military-industrial complex is real.

Tia: I enjoyed this episode weirdly kind of a lot even though it's a sort of obvious concept (at least compared to some of the more strangely specific and weird Black Mirror episodes), and I think a big part of it had to do with the ending, where the charming and wonderful lead actor does a lot of heart wrenching acting. That said, it's not a terribly special episode overall, and fits well at number seven on our list.

Thelonia: No spoilers here, but were you also really sad about the ending? Not as tragic as some of the others on this list (looking at you #5), but damn, it hit me hard.

Tia: Hell yeah! That's what I mean by heart wrenching acting. This heart was wrenched.

6. Nosedive (301)

Thelonia: Someone help Bryce Dallas Howard, she must be tired after carrying this entire episode on her shoulders.

Tia: Seriously! It's got a cutely horrifying "Yelp review everyone you know to their face" concept, and takes place in a cutely horrifying perfect little futuristic '50s world. This is all great. The pointless brother and somewhat abrupt ending make it less than fabulous. Unrelated, it reminded me a little of Ingrid Goes West. Anyone agree? Anyone?

Thelonia: Which actually reminds me that the guy from "Playtest" was the husband in Ingrid Goes West, and is in one of the few episodes here that doesn't comment on social media! Funny how life works. And now I just want to see a version of Ingrid Goes West where they're put in this game and have to fight VR spiders.

Tia: Your hypothetical VR spiders are giving me nightmares.

Thelonia: Embrace the spiders.

5. Fifteen Million Merits (102)

Thelonia: I'm torn because this is such a good episode, but it is also such a bummer. Also I watched this while sick and that was a bad idea, don't do it.

Tia: Easily the most dystopian episode ever (everyone lives in BOXES filled with SCREENS), I mainly enjoyed this episode because 1) Daniel Kaluuya and Jessica Brown Findlay are perfect human beings, 2) I love semi-cliché dystopian stories, and 3) there was lots of lovely singing. The twist endings hit you like one hard amazing punch, and one kind of crappy punch, like maybe from the left fist of a right-handed person. They'll also make you cringe hard at The Voice and The X Factor from now on until forever.

Thelonia: God they're so beautiful and so tragic. Also shout out to this episode for introducing the song "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)," which has been making seasonal returns in "White Christmas" and "Men Against Fire."

Tia: Oh, yeah! I love that song and how they keep bringing it back. It does often seem to be thematically relevant in the show. Perhaps this has to do with the idea that technology is distancing, and love and compassion often seem to be the forces at war with the nightmares that Black Mirror dreams up.

4. White Christmas (204)

Thelonia: This was my #2 pick sort of out of nowhere. Composed of three different stories that converge into Jon Hamm's charming face, "White Christmas" really taxes Charlie Brooker's world-building skills (perhaps over-taxing them a bit). This was the first episode that really "got me" in that classic Twilight Zone sense.

Tia: Jon Hamm is amazing and this episode would have been much higher for me, but the story felt all over the place (is it about virtual reality? AI home assistants? Jon Hamm's dark home life?? Who knows!). By the ending I was left sort of wondering, "As cool as it was, what was the point of all that other stuff?" Ends up it was deliberately meant to encompass three separate stories, which makes a ton more sense in retrospect (also: Christmas). So really, this episode for me was a bit like the sandwich you make when you're hungover—the combination of ingredients is sort of weird and sloppy, but god damn, if it ain't delicious.

Thelonia: Does anyone else also really crave potatoes? Goddamn.

Tia: God, I read that as "carve potatoes" and I was like, I'm pretty sure not many people do that.

3. Be Right Back (201)

Thelonia: Oh man, I am so gay for Hayley Atwell. I am also sorry that that was 90% of my thought process for this episode, it's excellent and emotional and everything but I am a weak woman and look at her! Also it did kind of feel like they wrote a really solid episode and then had no idea where to go and just added that last scene because they needed some conclusion.

Tia: Oh my god, yeah, that last scene was trying way too hard to play us out on a creepy (but largely irrelevant) epilogue to what was otherwise a solid episode. From the very beginning of this episode, which also features the wonderful Domhnall Gleeson, I found myself emotionally invested and easily heartbroken alongside Hayley Atwell, who goes through many hard and bizarre personal trials. I think part of the reason it works so well (and strikes me as one of the more iconic episodes of the series) is that it doesn't use much or any CGI, and simply relies on characters and actors to carry the story. It feels natural, real, and more accessible than some of the other episodes. I mean it still gets weird and ridiculous at times, but it's less weird and ridiculous and more "this could totally happen someday maybe."

Thelonia: I do like how vaguely shitty the tech is, for as futuristic as it is; there's nothing more real than releasing products even though there's clear problems both engineering-wise and ethically.

Tia: The creators of the technology in this episode were probably thinking, "What a great idea it'll be to test run our products with people traumatized by grief! What could go wrong?"

2. White Bear (202)

Thelonia: This is one I feel like you need to watch at least twice, getting completely different emotional reactions each time. I almost don't want to spoil it because it's such a solid plot and well-executed suspense, but let it be known this one's a real gut-punch.

Tia: I think it would be a spoiler to compare it to one of the other episodes on this list, but... well... they're very similar in theme. This one, however, I feel does much better because it plays out like an actual nightmare. This was a truly bizarre and terrifying episode, and I enjoyed its appropriate creepiness.

Thelonia: Also, this episode made me realize that the Icelandic girl from Sense8 isn't Icelandic at all! She's British! Today has been a day of discoveries my friends.

Tia: Learn something new every day!

1. San Junipero (304)


Tia: They referenced San Junipero in Riverdale and I almost cried. I love the gay80s.

Thelonia: Let it be known I would die for both Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis (most recently seen in Blade Runner 2049!) with little to no hesitation.

Tia: Agree. I've already died for them. (SPOILERS) This is my ghost typing, living it up in San Junipero. Sigh. This Emmy-award winning episode is so worth watching, with its stylish blend of '80s glam and the adorableness of old people in love (SPOILERS OVER). It'll make your heart sing, and is probably the most optimistic of all the Black Mirror episodes. Rather than leaving you consumed by your own paranoia and fear, "San Junipero" will send you off with a bittersweet kiss. It's a pleasant surprise, and honestly just a well-written episode.

What do you think of our order? Let us know in the comments below!

We'd love to hear your thoughts and arguments. Feel free to tweet us here if you are feeling extra spicy. We love that!

The first three seasons of Black Mirror can be streamed on Netflix.

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