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Black Mirror: All the episodes ranked from worst to best

In the nine years since Black Mirror first aired, Charlie Brooker’s dystopian vision has started to seem less and less implausible. The acclaimed British anthology series, which explores society’s relationship with technology, predicted the likes of Animoji, robotic bees – even, somehow, David Cameron’s “piggate”. In 2016, in a move that eerily recalled series one episode “The Entire History of You”, Samsung patented contact lenses with a built-in camera.

But as the show has evolved from a cult favourite, only really known in the UK, into something globally famous – largely thanks to its transition from Channel 4 to Netflix – it has risked not only toppling under the weight of its own success, but becoming something of a self-parody. When journalist Daniel Mallory Ortberg famously tweeted, “Next on Black Mirror: what if phones, but too much?” there was the faint whiff of an impending backlash.

Because of the show’s unique combination of cynicism and imagination, however, Charlie Brooker has managed to keep Black Mirror on track. There have been a few missteps, of course, but like its inspiration The Twilight Zone, the possibilities for Black Mirror’s future are infinite.

These are all the episodes so far, ranked from worst to best, including season five. **Spoilers ahead**

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

Show all 23<b>Click through for our ranking of every <i>Black Mirror</i> episode to date, including season five. Spoilers ahead</b>

1/23Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

Click through for our ranking of every Black Mirror episode to date, including season five. Spoilers ahead

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« The Waldo Moment »Series two, episode three

While supremely prescient in predicting how a pop-culture figure would one day find themselves unwittingly in a place of political power, « The Waldo Moment » lacks the bite of other episodes. The pacing is cumbersome, and the bleak ending for Daniel Rigby’s failed comedian feels slightly extra.

Channel 4

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Crocodile » Series four, episode three

A new insurance company innovation allows access to people’s memories – much to the dismay of Andrea Riseborough’s Mia, who witnesses an accident but has much darker things to hide. Riseborough is typically excellent, but Mia’s behaviour is jarringly inconsistent throughout.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Arkangel »Series four, episode two

When an overly fearful mother (Rosemarie DeWitt) resorts to drastic measures in order to keep her daughter safe, things inevitably unravel. Quite how far they unravel is the greatest weakness of a lacklustre episode, despite being directed with vigour by Jodie Foster.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too »Series five, episode four

Casting a globally famous pop star, Miley Cyrus, as a globally famous pop star whose entire consciousness is copied over into sellable robot dolls should have been a fun idea. But the episode unfolds at a strangely plodding pace, failing to make good use of its concept and its stars. Thankfully, when the tone suddenly changes as a result of an accidental discovery at the hands of two teenage sisters, the episode becomes a fun, high-concept heist film.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Men Against Fire »Series three, episode five

A group of soldiers are tasked with protecting a village from mutant humans known as “roaches”, by hunting them down and exterminating them. A typically shocking twist reveals that something even more sinister is at play, and two soldiers – played by Malachi Kirby and Madeline Brewer – must face the horrific moral implications of their actions. A shocking, troubling episode.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Hated in the Nation » Series 3, episode six

The show’s longest outing, after the just-released Bandersnatch, “Hated in the Nation” is Brooker’s answer to Scandi Noir dramas such as The Killing. But its murder mystery plot, involving killer drone insects, fails to reach the heights it aspires to.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Playtest » Series three, episode four

There’s fun to be had in the augmented reality chiller “Playtest”, an episode following an American man (Wyatt Russell) who accepts a one-time, rather bizarre, job offer from a video game company. An often thrilling instalment, that ultimately fails to live up to its brilliant potential.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Nosedive » Series three, episode one

A phenomenal team came together for the first Netflix-produced episode: star Bryce Dallas Howard, director Joe Wright and The Good Place creator Michael Schur. The result is expansive, expensive-looking – and strangely soulless. The world it presents, however, is scarily plausible: people must rate each other from one to five at every single interaction in a bid to improve social standing.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Smithereens »Series five, episode one

Fleabag actor Andrew Scott plays a grieving not-Uber driver who hates how people are addicted to their phones. He decides to take someone hostage and demands to speak to their boss – the head of a world-conquering social media website (a fictional Mark Zuckerberg-type character played by Topher Grace). By Black Mirror’s standards it feels like a thin premise, and doesn’t build enough to justify a 70-minute running time. Despite a moving ending, “Smithereens” feels muted rather than subtle.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« The National Anthem » Series one, episode one

Could this be the most audacious first episode of any TV series? « The National Anthem » is a wonderfully twisted opener, a satirical comment on the terrifying power of social media via a grim story about a Prime Minister forced to have sex with a pig live on television. It set the Black Mirror blueprint perfectly.

Channel 4

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Black Museum » Series 2, episode 3

Letitia Wright leads this unique episode, which irresistibly contains references to every other Black Mirror outing to date. With it’s B-movie thrills and body horror sub-plot, this is the closest the series has come to a Hammer House of Horror film.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Shut Up and Dance » Series three, episode three

This episode follows a teenage boy (Alex Lawther) who is blackmailed into committing criminal acts by a mysterious hacker. Featuring arguably the show’s most distressing twist, “Shut Up and Dance” may not make for enjoyable television, but it’s a slickly-written marvel that gets under your skin.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

“Striking Vipers” Series five, episode three

In “Striking Vipers”, Anthony Mackie – last seen sporting mechanical wings as Falcon in the Avengers series – plays Danny, a married father trying to keep a lid on his mid-life ennui. Events take an unusual turn when he has earth-shattering, chandelier-swinging virtual sex with a college friend, Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Underpinning this futuristic story are timeless themes of fidelity, family, fantasy fulfilment and the love triangle. In a series famed for its wild visions and outré set pieces, “Striking Vipers” is distinctive by its meditative tone and everyday preoccupations.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« White Bear » Series two, episode two

This episode follows an amnesiac girl who wakes up in a post-apocalyptic wasteland pursued by weapon-wielding assailants; silent bystanders watch on, disturbingly recording events on their mobile phones. « White Bear » feels like a nightmare come to life, but it’s a gripping one, subverting your expectations every 15 minutes.

Channel 4

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Fifteen Million Merits » Series one, episode two

Every season of Black Mirror has one episode that yanks at the heartstrings, and “Fifteen Million Merits” was its first. The love story of a man (Daniel Kaluuya) and a woman (Jessica Brown Findlay) doomed to generate power on stationary bicycles for an unspecified amount of time, it presents a bleak outlook for the future of game shows. Brooker at his most Orwellian.

Channel 4

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Metalhead » Series 4, episode five

This take on the stalk-and-slash genre makes for Black Mirror’s most intense viewing experience. The camera remains right there alongside Maxine Peake’s nameless protagonist, alienated from the rest of civilisation as she’s hunted by a robotic assassin for no apparent reason. Terrifying stuff.

Jonathan Prime / Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Hang the DJ » Series 2, episode 3

With its uplifting story of two lovers fighting against the odds to be with each other, « Hang the DJ » is a season four equivalent of the uplifting “San Junipero”. Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole offer magnetic performances as Amy and Frank, who are trapped in a Centre Parcs-style holiday resort. As the ending draws near, the episode suggests that love can triumph over the most difficult circumstances.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« White Christmas » Series two, episode four

Black Mirror went full Twilight Zone for its festive episode, an anthology treat featuring several short tales linked by what could perhaps be Brooker’s most disturbing technological invention yet – a device that permits you to « block » people from your life. Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall are excellent as a storytelling duo stationed at a remote outpost in the middle of a snowy wilderness.

Channel 4

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« Be Right Back » Series two, episode one

Hayley Atwell’s performance as a grief-stricken widow in this acclaimed outing is faultless, while Domhnall Gleeson’s robotic recreation of her husband (like some hellish combination of the Scarlett Johansson’s AI from Her and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) joins the pantheon of great sci-fi robots. It came as no surprise that its director, Owen Harris, was brought back to direct the « San Junipero » episode a season later.

Channel 4

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« USS Callister » Series four, episode one

Brooker basks in his own nerdiness in this glorious Star Trek-inspired tale that’s brilliantly conceived and executed. Using the DNA of his colleagues to create virtual avatars who believe themselves to be real, Jesse Plemons’s character makes for the entire series’s creepiest villain – partly because of how sorry for him you feel at the beginning of the episode, before clocking his sadistic ways.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« San Junipero » Series three, episode four

It’s still all too rare for a queer love story on screen to have a happy ending – and rarer still for a Black Mirror episode. And yet the tender San Junipero, which sees two women fall in love in a seaside town that naturally isn’t quite what it seems, is a rare instance of optimism from Brooker’s generally fatalistic imagination, and we can’t help but love it for that. By the time Belinda Carlisle’s « Heave Is a Place on Earth » plays over the end credits, you’ll be doing something no other episode can make you do: smiling.

Netflix

Every Black Mirror episode ranked – from worst to best

« The Entire History of You » Series one, episode three

This episode often tops the list when discussing best Black Mirror episodes, and for good reason. It was the first to put Brooker’s spin on disturbed technological advancements to truly devastating effect, tracking the dissolution of a marriage (of Toby Kebbell and Jodie Whittaker) in a world where memories can be re-lived as easily as switching on a television. It’s the presence of Tom Cullen’s charismatic male that causes Kebbell’s character to frantically pore over every part of his wife’s behaviour, convincing himself she’s had an affair. Where other Black Mirror episodes introduce expansive worlds, this places the action in the most relatable of settings – the home – and is all the more disturbing for it. Essential viewing.

Channel 4

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Black Mirror is available to watch on Netflix.

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