How Every ‘Black Mirror’ Episode Is Connected In One Timeline
Part of the charm of Black Mirror is how it operates like a true anthology series, with standalone episodes that tell their own distinct stories. Like The Twilight Zone and Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House, you can pick up anywhere for a fascinating sci-fi tale about the horrors of technology. But that doesn’t mean creator Charlie Brooker hasn’t sprinkled clues throughout the series to loosely link them together. In Season 4, which just dropped on Netflix (read our spoiler-free review here), Brooker practically confirms one long-held fan theory: the episodes of Black Mirror exist in one connected universe.
Brooker has previously said that it’s more of a “psychological universe“ that links his technology tales, but the Easter eggs scattered across the newest season link almost all 19 episodes together. I’ve already done the detective work of finding every Easter egg I could across all four seasons, but what do those hidden clues tell us about the sequence of the episodes?
I’ve put together a timeline theorizing which order the episodes take place in. I did the same last year for Season 3, and while some of those conjectures remained the same, I’ve updated and tweaked the list to include the six new episodes of Season 4. Now, this isn’t a perfectly seamless timeline; some episodes, like “Be Right Back,” “The Entire History of You,” and “Hang the DJ” have minimal Easter eggs and few direct ties to the rest of the installments. And as much as I enjoy Black Mirror as an anthology of separate narratives, the Easter eggs are just begging fans to tie them all together. You’ve been warned – MAJOR spoilers follow for Seasons 1-4. Below is my best guess for the sequential order of all 19 episodes, from first to last.
1. “The National Anthem”
All the Easter eggs in later episodes referencing “The National Anthem” refer to Prime Minster Michael Callow (Rory Kinnear) after he has sex with a pig on TV, meaning the pilot must be the first episode in the universe’s timeline.
2. “The Waldo Moment”
We also know “The National Anthem” takes place about a year before the present-day events of “The Waldo Moment.” When the pilot jumps ahead to the one-year-later mark at the end of the episode, the news ticker includes the same news event shown on the ticker in “The Waldo Moment.” But the futuristic end of “Waldo” likely takes place much later in the timeline.
3. “Shut Up and Dance”
“Shut Up and Dance” likely takes place next. The journalist’s web page in that episode reveals the Prime Minster is getting a divorce from his wife (see below), hinting at the marital trouble shown between Michael Callow and his spouse at the end of “The National Anthem.” The episode also takes place after “The Waldo Moment” since Kenny (Alex Lawther) has a Waldo sticker on his laptop.
4. “Fifteen Million Merits”
“Fifteen Million Merits” is next since the show launched after the events of “Shut Up and Dance,” as revealed in a tweet from the latter episode. (Technically the reality show is called “Hot Shots,” but we’ll let it slide.)
5. “White Bear”
The web page in “Shut Up and Dance” revealed Victoria Skillane’s (Lenora Crichlow) trial was still underway and used the same photo shown to Victoria in “White Bear” when the hosts reveal her identity. We also know the White Bear symbol shows up on the Saitogemu gaming equipment in “Playtest,” so the episode must take place after “Shut Up and Dance” and before “Playtest.”
“Playtest” likely takes place early on in the show’s timeline since its technology isn’t as advanced as some of the more futuristic episodes and Augmented Reality games are still in the early testing phase.
A news ticker in “Hated in the Nation” read: “Reputilligent shares nosedive,” referring to the agent who helps Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard) manage her rating score in the episode. That likely means “Nosedive” takes place right before the Season 3 finale.
8. “Hated in the Nation”
There’s a handful of Easter eggs in this episode referencing Saitogemu, the gaming company from “Playtest.” Two reveal the latest sequel to their famous game Harlech Shadow has been released, suggesting this episode takes place after “Playtest.” But I spotted another possible Easter egg in a news ticker that’s blurry, but seems to hint at the death at the end of “Playtest.” It looks like it might read: “Saitogemu being investigated over tourist [or tester] disappearance.” (Click the photo below for a closer look.) That might be a stretch, but it could make sense. Later in the episode news tickers reveal Saitogemu is trending on Twitter after announcing their latest game. It’s likely the company released a new game to cover up the bad press surrounding their last test subject’s disappearance.
9. “Men Against Fire”
A news ticker in “Hated in the Nation” reveals the U.S. military has announced the MASS program used in “Men Against Fire,” meaning the latter episode must take place shortly afterward.
10. “The Entire History of You”
The contact lens technology in “Men Against Fire” is similar to the grain implants in “The Entire History of You.” My theory is the U.S. military first tested the technology on soldiers to tweak their perceptions of reality for wartime genocide. Later, the technology went public so people could record their memories. The opposite could be possible as well, meaning soldiers were moving their hands around an imaginary remote because they’d already used that technology during the time period of “The Entire History of You.” Either way, both of these episodes are loosely connected.
11. “White Christmas”
All the Easter eggs in “White Christmas” that reference other episodes (see those here) take place in the past tense when Joe (Rafe Spall) is telling Matt (Jon Hamm) his story. That must mean the present day events exist somewhat later in the future. Matt calls the contact lens technology worn in the episode “Zed-Eyes” and says they can’t be removed — you might remember a moment in “The Entire History of You” when a character talks about living “grain-free,” meaning their similar grain technology was optional. Technology has likely evolved so much by this episode that the contacts, as well as the ability to permanently block people, is a normal part of daily life.
This episode has the lowest tech out of any Black Mirror story, so it’s safe to assume it exists fairly early in the timeline. The grain-like technology installed in Sara seems like a step up from that seen in “The Entire History of You” and that of “White Christmas,” since there’s no longer contact lenses involved, just a poke of the brain. The Arkangel software also seems to be an advanced combination of the blocking tech of “White Christmas” and the MASS augmented reality implants of “Men Against Fire.” You’ll also notice the violent war footage the young Sara is blocked from seeing is from “Men Against Fire,” when the soldiers attack the man housing the roaches.
There aren’t a ton of clues in this episode, but there is some evidence it exists after “White Christmas.” If the memory device gives police access to someone’s mind, thus making it easier to extract evidence and convict someone of murder, then Matt getting a confession from Joe in “White Christmas” would be totally irrelevant. But we do know that whatever year this is, Irma Thomas’ “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is” is still a jam; Abi sang it in “Fifteen Million Merits,” Beth sang it in “White Christmas,” Raiman in “Men Against Fire,” and Shazia sings it in “Crocodile.”
14. “Hang the DJ”
This one’s tricky because, like “San Junipero,” it’s fairly separate from the rest of the series with no Easter eggs (at least that I could find). But in USS Callister, the receptionist Elena is seen using the same dating app from “Hang the DJ,” so we can assume these two exist close together in the timeline.
15. “USS Callister”
Daley’s cloning device is pretty much an advanced version of the Cookie tech first introduced in “White Christmas,” but the world of “USS Callister” is slightly more advanced — here, any computer wiz with a vendetta can build a machine to create his own Cookies with DNA, turn them into code, then plop it inside a video game for infinite cosplay torture. It’s almost like “San Junipero,” but this real world isn’t nearly as advanced as the world of that episode.
16. “San Junipero”
Last year, I had this listed as the 11th episode in the timeline, occurring before “White Christmas.” But “Black Museum” changes that a bit. In the episode Nish (Letitia Wright) mentions “uploading old people to the cloud,” a reference to TCKR’s VR afterlife, and the present-tense of her dialogue likely means crossing over to San Junipero is still available at the time of “Black Museum.”
17. “Be Right Back”
“Be Right Back”’s storyline wouldn’t really make sense if it existed before “San Junipero.” If it did, older Kelly (Denise Burse) would’ve had the option to create a life-like version of her dead husband, as Martha (Hayley Atwell) does with Ash (Domhall Gleeson) in “Be Right Back.” Instead, Kelly mourns his choice to not cross over. Plus, the very act of crossing over to San Junipero wouldn’t be as appealing if you could bring your deceased loved ones back in real life.
18. “Black Museum”
All but six episodes of Black Mirror are referenced in “Black Museum,” giving us more than enough hints that this episode takes place at the end of the timeline. The museum has the tech crime artifacts from “USS Callister” (the cloning machine), “Arkangel” (the broken tablet), “Crocodile” (the bloody bathtub), “Playtest” (the VR headset), “White Christmas” (the Cookie eggs), “Hated in the Nation” (the drone honeybees) and “White Bear” (the White Bear hunting mask).
But even more clues are buried in Rolo Haynes’ (Douglas Hodge) triptych of stories. The first newscast — you’ll notice UKN is USN here since this episode takes place in the U.S. — has three revealing headlines: one reads “Saito trial continues,” suggesting Shou Saito, the game designer from “Playtest,” has been tried for Cooper’s (Wyatt Russell) murder; another reads “Arkangel system pulled from stores,” and you’ll remember the child psychologist hinted at this to the mother (Rosemarie DeWitt) in “Arkangel”; and the last one says, “Waldo politician makes waves,” meaning “The Waldo Moment” likely took place around the same time as the surgeon’s story in “Black Museum.” (The screenshot text below is blurry, but these headlines are easier to read on an HD TV.)
There’s more. In Rolo’s second flashback, the news scroll has a tidbit about Michael Callow marrying a pig (ha!), meaning that had to have taken place after “The National Anthem” and after his divorce update from “Shut Up and Dance.” The second headline confirms “Black Museum” isn’t actually the final episode in the timeline; it’s “Metalhead.” The headline reads: “Autonomous military ‘dog’ robot unveiled.”
And that brings us to “Metalhead,” where the military robot dogs introduced during “Black Museum” have since been unleashed. If you take the episode to be real-life, it’s a post-apocalyptic survival story where humankind is quickly dying out. The peppermints — the same ones Shazia ate in “Crocodile” — are all that’s left, as the Scottish survivor says. Even the pigs are gone (RIP Michael Callow’s pig wife). The teddy bears at the end recall Jemima Sykes’ stuffed animal from “White Bear,” which served as a symbol of hope in dark times — perhaps white teddies were mass produced after “White Bear” to help lift spirits in dismal times, hence the mission to steal one to cheer up a sick boy in this episode.
But if you interpret the episode as an alternate reality, it’s something much darker: everyone in “Metalhead” is dead and trapped in their own digital hell. As our TV editor Kevin Fitzpatrick pointed out, the entire episode is black-and-white, same as the digital ghost of Clayton Leigh in “Black Museum.” This episode may be a virtual afterlife of endless torture, an evolved version of “White Bear”’s punishment program where a person’s consciousness is extracted before death, then uploaded to a sadistic survivalist game. It’s as if TCKR hired Michael from The Good Place to create the dark side of San Junipero. And won’t you look at that, a postcard from San Junipero is found inside the house, alongside mail with no names or addresses. Hm, this might be a digital hell after all.
Then again, maybe none of these exist in the same universe and Charlie Brooker is just messing with us. He did take the time to troll fans with one sneaky Easter egg hidden in “Crocodile.” Fingers crossed that Netflix orders a fifth season for another year of egg hunting.
Check out ScreenCrush’s video of all the Easter eggs from Seasons 1-4 below.
Gallery – Black Mirror Easter Eggs From Seasons 1 - 3: