How to watch Black Mirror in chronological order
The complete timeline of Netflix's Black Mirror is packed with Easter eggs linking episodes.
**WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1-6 OF NETFLIX'S BLACK MIRROR**
With the sixth season of Black Mirror now available - meaning there's a grand total of 28 episodes to dive into - we've one again gone back to the drawing board to ask: what's the best order in which to watch Black Mirror?
Of course, there's a very good argument to be made that the episodes should be watched in release order, or that it doesn't matter at all. This is true - all six seasons Charlie Brooker’s dystopian sci-fi show have been made up of individual stories in an anthology format.
However, despite this diverse range of stories, there is reason to believe that all of the episodes exist in the same universe. This is because there are an absolute mass of Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the show, references that weave a spider’s web of connections between the eclectic instalments.
But is it possible to untangle this web into a coherent Black Mirror timeline? Answer: absolutely. It’s not pretty – and it relies on a fair bit of reasonable guesswork – but it is possible to watch the Netflix series in chronological order.
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Read on for how you can watch Black Mirror in chronological order, including season 6.
How to watch Black Mirror in chronological order
Beyond the Sea (Season 6, episode 3)
While this episode takes place in a definitively alternate version of history, the date is very much made clear - the episode is set in 1969, making it the earliest to have featured in the Black Mirror timeline.
Demon 79 (Season 6, episode 5)
Another episode where the date is made abundantly clear, this one takes place a decade after Beyond the Sea - in 1979. If you're looking for Easter eggs, keep your eyes peeled for the White Bear symbol on the talisman, and a glimpse of the Metalhead dogs in Nida's vision of the future.
Bandersnatch (interactive special, released 2018)
Another one of the few Black Mirror episodes to give a definitive date, it’s clear Netflix’s choose-your-own-adventure is primarily set in July 1984.
San Junipero (Season 3, episode 4)
Controversial, perhaps, but we’re putting it second. Although seemingly set in 1987 and 2002, viewers learn that the episode’s characters are alive in a version of our future and living through the past with help from some VR. However, as most of the episode takes place decades ago (be it artificially), it still goes first in the timeline.
Mazey Day (Season 6, episode 4)
Another of Black Mirror season 6 to be set in the past, this one takes place in the mid-2000s. Look out for two San Junipero references (to the Quagmire and Yorkie) and to fictional show Sea of Tranquility, which is mentioned across the series and we can only assume is very long running.
The National Anthem (Season 1, episode 1)
Cut forward now to a version of the modern-day (at least, the modern-day when the episode was released in 2011). Although it’s unclear exactly when the events of the episode take place, other instalments refer to Prime Minister Michael Callow (Rory Kinnear) after he has sex with a pig. A sentence that only makes sense in the very strange world of Black Mirror.
Smithereens (Season 5, episode 2)
Not only does this Andrew Scott episode seem to be set in the modern-day à la The National Anthem, but a headline visible in the episode points to the launch of the 'cookie' – a technology central to Be Right Back (soon on the list).
It’s also clear Michael Callow, the prime minister in The National Anthem, is still head of the UK in Smithereens (and apparently dealing with Brexit-style EU negotiations).
Fifteen Million Merits (Season 1, episode 2)
We know. This makes little sense given the vastly sophisticated technological landscape presented in the episode. However, in The Waldo Moment – spoiler: it’s the next episode on this list – a poster of game show Fifteen Million Merits, featuring the face of central character Abi (Jessica Brown Findlay), is visible.
The Waldo Moment (Season 2, episode 3)
We know this takes place a year after the events of The National Anthem. That’s because in the final ‘one year later’ scene in Black Mirror's debut episode, a news ticker refers to the ‘Tillsdale fire inquiry’, something that appears in an identical news alert in The Waldo Moment.
Be Right Back (Season 2, episode 1)
A news ticker in the episode states “Geraint Fitch cleared of wrongdoing following paparazzi scuffle”. That’s exactly the same headline seen on TV during the National Anthem’s 'one year later' closing moments.
Shut Up and Dance (Season 3, episode 3)
There’s nothing definitive that reveals the date here, but the technology used within the episode indicates it’s set close to the modern-day. However, a Waldo moment sticker appearing on a laptop owned by Kenny (Alex Lawther) indicates the story takes place after the events of The Waldo Moment.
White Bear (Season 2, episode 2)
In Shut Up and Dance, viewers can catch a news article titled ‘Victoria Skillane trial latest'. This indicates that episode is set before White Bear, which follows a convicted Skillane after trial.
Playtest (Season 3, episode 2)
The next episode in the list, Hated in the Nation features the news ticker announcement “Shau Saito announces immersive new gaming system”. That’s the secret system that was first trialled in Playtest before being made public.
Hated in the Nation (Season 3, episode 6)
Likely to take place after White Bear: as well as mentions of Prime minister Michael Callow, several tweets in the episode wish death on to Victoria Skillane. As reasoned above, it's also probable this episode is set after Playtest.
Loch Henry (Season 6, episode 2)
Loch Henry appears to be set relatively close to the present day due to the lack of any futuristic tech and the use of video tapes. However, there is a poster in the offices of a production company Davis and Pia go to a meeting with, for a documentary called The Callow Years. One would assume this would be released after he had left office, and as he was still being called Prime Minister in Hated in the Nation, this must come after it.
Joan is Awful (Season 6, episode 2)
Joan is Awful is another episode which seems to be set fairly close to the present day, but its place in the timeline is set by what appears on Joan's Streamberry account - not only are there shows called Finding Ritman (a reference to Bandersnatch), The Callow Years and Sea of Tranquility, but the Loch Henry documentary is also present, meaning this has to be set after that episode.
Crocodile (Season 4, episode 3)
Again, there’s no definitive year given. But the technology in the snowy episode – including the memory-reading machine – appears very rudimental. All other tech indicates the episode is set close to the present day.
Nosedive (Season 3, episode 1)
Yes, despite the futuristic cars, looks like this Bryce Dallas Howard adventure happens relatively close to Hated in the Nation. A news ticker in that episode announces “Reputelligent shares nosedive” – that’s a reference to this season three opener.
Men Against Fire (Season 3, episode 5)
Although it appears like the soldiers in the episode are fighting some futuristic war, the augmented reality technology prominent in the story is seen more in more advanced forms in later episodes.
ArkAngel (Season 4, episode 2)
The episode’s widely used parental filters are very similar to the eye tech used in Men Against Fire and The Entire History of You. And since it’s available to parents, not just the military, we can guess ArkAngel is set after Men Against Fire.
The Entire History of You (Season 1, episode 3)
There’s no date in sight during this season one episode, but it's clear the eye implant technology has become incredibly popular and is used by most – but not all – people.
White Christmas (Season 2, episode 4)
Now, we know for sure this instalment takes place after The Waldo Moment (a gamer carried the tag I_AM_WALDO in the episode). But we can also guess that White Christmas takes place after ArkAngel, Men Against Fire and The Entire History of You as it appears everyone now wears high-tech lens technology, not only soldiers and kids of protective parents.
Hang the DJ (Season 4, episode 4)
Nothing to indicate this episode follows on from White Christmas – however the dating app central to the episode is seen in the episode USS Callister.
USS Callister (Season 4, episode 1)
We can guess this episode is set a fair bit after the events of Playtest. Although the virtual reality video game tech featured is fairly similar, it’s clear such systems are widely available in the world of USS Callister. Logical leap: Callister is set after Playtest.
Striking Vipers (Season 5, episode 1)
While we can’t be sure when Vipers takes place, the story clearly is set close to the events of USS Callister with similar VR gaming devices seen in both episodes.
Black Museum (Season 4, episode 6)
A gold mine of Easter Eggs, the episode references almost all episodes above. Intriguingly, it features the DNA scanner used by Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons) in USS Callister. This indicates Black Museum is set several years after USS Callister.
Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too (Season 5, episode 3)
We can say with a fair bit of certainly the story helmed by Miley Cyrus takes place after Black Museum: a news ticker in the episode states: “Museum Owner’s Body Found in Smoking Ruins”. This refers to the ill-fated Rolo Haynes (Douglas Hodge), curator of the Black Museum.
Metalhead (Season 4, episode 5)
In Black Museum, a news ticker states “autonomous military dog robot unveiled”. These look like the same terrifying robo-killers in Metalhead, apparently set in a post-apocalyptic world – one that’s at the end of the timeline. Which, let’s face it, sounds very Black Mirror.
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