For people who are new to the Black Mirror craze, you may be wondering why everyone’s talking about this series. Is it really that good? (Yes.) Is it really that dark? (Yes.) If you do watch it, do you have to watch Black Mirror in order? And the answer to that question, no matter what season you’re watching or where you’re beginning, is no. No, you do not have to watch Black Mirror episodes in order. However, you will get the most out of Black Museum, the last episode of Season 4, if you watch it last.
When Black Mirror was first started, creator Charlie Brooker didn’t intend for the episodes to be in the same universe at all. He wanted them to be thematically related, and he would sometimes use some of the same names because they had already been vetted. But he always intended for them to be standalone episodes. The first two seasons of Black Mirror were made for Channel 4 before the show moved to Netflix. Over time, Brooker moved more and more into the camp that the episodes actually were in the same universe, which he finally announced officially when Season 4 began. But he still strongly intends for each episode to be standalone and that you can watch the episodes from all the seasons in any order you want.
In an interview before Season 4 released, Charlie Brooker confirmed with Digital Spy that yes, Season 4 was finally going to provide compelling evidence that all the episodes are connected. Brooker said: “It used to be that we would refer to other things partly because it was convenient… As time goes on we’ve put more and more of these nods to other stories in, and certainly this season for the first time … the first very explicitly, one of our episodes, Black Museum, has got very specific references to previous stories we’ve done, and it is sort of filling in a bit of backstory there. You don’t need to have seen those to watch the show… But it does actually sort of now seem to imply that is actually all a shared universe, which was the opposite of the answer I used to give to this question.”
So this means that you can watch the episodes in any order you want. But should you? Actually, yes. Most Black Mirror fans agree that you should not watch the premiere episode of Season 1 (The National Anthem) first. Season 1 Episode 1 is actually one of the weaker episodes in the series, and many people are put off when they watch it first and wonder what all the hype is about. You’d probably be best saving that episode for the second or third episode you watch, if you’re starting with Season 1.
Although some episodes have Easter eggs for other episodes, you don’t need to watch them in any order to fully appreciate and understand each episode on its own. This holds for the different seasons too. You could start out watching a random episode in Season 3 before you’ve seen Season 1 or Season 2 and be just fine. My only suggestion is saving Black Museum, episode 6 of Season 4, for the very last. It’s a great episode, and it can definitely be watched by itself too. But there are a lot of nuances to the episode that you’ll miss if you don’t watch it last. And it should definitely not be watched until after you’ve seen San Junipero from Season 3.
A lot of people argue about which Black Mirror episodes are the best and how they should be ranked. But if you’re wanting to start with some of the top ones first, consider San Junipero (Season 3), White Christmas (Season 2), USS Callister (Season 4), Hated in the Nation (Season 3), Hang the DJ (Season 4,) and Fifteen Million Merits (Season 1) and Be Right Back (Season 2.) But honestly, I kind of hate providing a list because all the episodes in the series are stellar, and it’s tough to rank them against one another. Which do you think a new viewer should watch first? Let us know in the comments below.