No. 19: 'The Waldo Moment' (Season 2)
The closest Black Mirror has to an agreed-upon misfire, this political spoof doesn’t quite connect as it follows the rise of a Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog-like figure (Daniel Rigby).
No. 18: 'Shut Up and Dance' (Season 3)
The second-closest. A tense and plausible nightmare about a young man (Alex Lawther) blackmailed by hackers that leaves you feeling pretty awful about every character involved.
No. 17: 'Black Museum' (Season 4)
We liked the Creepshow vibe of this trio of horror tales, though each felt like runner-up ideas for full episodes. And playing as the season 4 finale, at this point in the show's run the 'people trapped in a digital world' trope was wearing a bit thin. Still, we'll never forget "monkey needs a hug!"
No. 16: 'Arkangel' (Season 4)
A cautionary tale of helicopter parenting about a mother (Rosemarie DeWitt) who monitors her daughter (Brenna Harding) with intrusive technology has some fine moments, then takes a seemingly undeserved violent turn in the final act.
No. 15: 'Men Against Fire' (Season 3)
A grim tale with an underdeveloped protagonist (Malachi Kirby) makes some compelling points about modern warfare, yet lacks the depth and impact of others on this list.
No. 14: 'Crocodile' (Season 4)
An executive (Andrea Riseborough) spirals deeper and deeper into a murderous pit while trying to cover up a secret from her past, while an insurance investigator (Kiran Sonia Sawar) uses a tech innovation to solve crimes that Alfred Hitchcock would love. So well done, yet one of the show's most agonizing episodes to watch.
No. 13: 'Fifteen Million Merits' (Season 1)
One of the show’s most unique and most underrated episodes explores a romance between two people (Daniel Kaluuya and Jessica Brown Findlay) living in a dystopian reality TV future.
No. 12: 'Playtest' (Season 3)
“Playtest” is the Black Mirror version of a haunted house story about an affable tourist (Wyatt Russell) who tries out an immersive new game. This one stays one step ahead of the viewer at every moment with unsettling direction by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane). There’s no moral here, and there doesn’t need to be.
No. 11: 'Hated in the Nation' (Season 3)
Scandi-noir meets The X-Files in this feature-length procedural drama tackling online mob outrage, but what you’ll remember most is its frighteningly unstoppable murder weapon.
No. 10: 'White Bear' (Season 2)
A fan-favorite about a woman (Lenora Critchlow) being relentlessly pursued with a twist you won’t see coming. “White Bear” could have easily been a classic episode of The Twilight Zone.
No. 9: 'Nosedive' (Season 3)
A successful shift into comedy anchored by star Bryce Dallas Howard and written by Parks and Recreation veterans Mike Schur and Rashida Jones along with Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker; this social media spoof that takes online reviews to their ultimate desperate extreme. We give “Nosedive” four stars!
No. 8: 'White Christmas' (Special)
Now ranking these gets really tough. Despite a 70-minute length a trio of storylines, the script by Charlie Brooker about two men (a terrific Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall) stuck in a snowbound cabin is a marvelously tight construction that weaves together its seemingly disparate tales in an unexpected way that makes surprising sense. The tech nightmares presented here (blocking, the egg) are among the most haunting the show has devise.
No. 7: 'The National Anthem' (Season 1)
The mad-brilliant series opener; a political satire with a premise that left viewers with their jaws dropped -- a kidnapper demands the Prime Minister (Rory Kenner) has sex with a pig on television or he’ll kill a beloved royal family princess. Proves Black Mirror episodes don’t need sci-fi elements or twists to feel original and surprising.
No. 6 'Metalhead' (Season 4)
The show's most simple tale: A woman (Maxine Peake) is chased by a robotic "dog." "Metalhead" is a black-and-white post-apocalyptic blast from start to finish, full of dark humor and a scarily plausible robotic villain that's like BB-8 crossed with a xenomorph. Note to Netflix: "The Walking Dead with robots" isn't a bad idea series idea either.
No. 5 'Hang the DJ' (Season 4)
Many will disagree with this placement. Black Mirror's take on dating apps has been slammed as too cute, and its twist too familiar. But we swooned for this unabashedly romantic look at modern dating, expertly directed by Sopranos vet Tim Van Patten and starring Georgina Campbell (in a breakout performance) and Joe Cole as a couple navigating a rather bossy version of Tinder.
No. 4: 'Be Right Back' (Season 2)
Deciding the order of these final four episodes was insanely difficult — all took turns at No. 1 during deliberations. “Be Right Back” is a high-tech version of “The Monkey’s Paw,” about a woman (Hayley Atwell) who tries out a cutting edge service that synthetically recreates her dead boyfriend (Domhnall Gleeson). This is a moving exploration of grief and the drama’s most emotional hour.
No. 3: 'USS Callister' (Season 4)
"The Star Trek episode" is stuffed with more clever allegory than you can shake a tricorder at, throwing jabs at everything from sci-fi tropes to workplace sexual harassment. Jesse Plemons stars in a monstrous tech company's CTO who has digital clones of his coworkers trapped in his favorite yesteryear TV show. Sure the ending is solved by a convenient bit of technobabble, but even that could be seen as spoofying Trek parody.
No. 2: 'San Junipero' (Season 3)
A story of two visitors (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis) to a California beach town in 1987. Seldom has an episode of TV been more elevated by its final moments; the ending of “San Junipero” marries humanity, technology, and nostalgia with a stunning two-minute perfectly edited sequence that elevates everything we’ve seen before it. Many Black Mirror episodes leave you feeling like you’ve survived a nightmare; this is a vision of the future — and the past — that you’ll long to relive.
No. 1: 'The Entire History of You' (Season 1)
Yup, still at No. 1, but just barely. From writer Jesse Armstrong, this is Black Mirror’s most archetypal example of its premise. “The Entire History of You” (itself an amazing title) takes a wholly plausible near-future tech innovation (the ability to record and replay whatever you see), then expertly squeezes it for every last ounce of its dark dramatic implication. While there are Black Mirror episodes you might enjoy more, and ones with finer performances, this hour’s execution by director Brian Welsh is sophisticated and flawless.