Series / Black Mirror

Black Mirror is a UK science fiction-horror anthology series produced (and primarily written) by Dead Set creator Charlie Brooker. The episodes all explore techno-paranoia and general unease with the world.

The series is inspired by The Twilight Zone, the Trope Codifier for shows of its type. The series' name comes from the reflection visible in a blackened digital screen. As each episode is set in its own continuity, specific examples can be found in the appropriate series page (linked below), whilst recurring tropes can be found on this page.

The first series ended up winning the International Emmy for best TV movie or miniseries, and the second series started on 11th of Feb 2013. There has also been a Christmas Special, released in the UK on December 16th 2014. Additionally, Brooker has confirmed the series will soon return with a third series in 2015. The same year it was revealed that Netflix had picked up the show. It has since been announced that Netflix will be the worldwide distributor of the show's third season as a Netflix Original, Channel 4 having been outbid for the broadcasting rights in the UK and Ireland.

The series became a smash hit in China, leading Chinese bloggers to dub surreal tech-related events "Black Mirror Moments."

Here are the trailers for Series 1, Series 2, the Christmas Special and Series 3.

Pages for specific episode examples can be found on the series page:

The first series consists of The National Anthem, 15 Million Merits, and The Entire History of You, whilst the second contains Be Right Back, White Bear, and The Waldo Moment, and the third contains Nosedive, Playtest, Shut Up and Dance, San Junipero, Men Against Fire, and Hated in the Nation. Black Mirror: White Christmas, the Christmas special, contained three intertwining narratives.

Recurring tropes throughout the series:

  • Alphabet News Network: UKN, the fictional news channel which reports on stories throughout the series. In 'The National Anthem' it is said to exist alongside the BBC, ITV and Sky in the Black Mirror universe.
  • Anachronism Stew: In San Junipero the titular 1987 city is named after a saint that was only canonized in 2015. This is a hint at the episode's twist. Why no one can say Junipero correctly is left unexplained.
  • Author Tract: The entire point of the series, when you get down to it. Charlie Brooker was never a subtle man.
  • Asshole Victim: Occasionally played straight, but deconstructed more often than not, particularly in White Bear, Shut Up and Dance, and Hated by the Nation. The assholes often do things that make them seem unsympathetic such as being rude overall to engaging in child murder or pornography, but the events they go through are so utterly horrific that any sense of schadenfreude is drained right out. Meanwhile, their tormentors, those that have designated them assholes, are very clearly little better than those they attack and humiliate, often using pretensions of vigilante justice to engage in being assholes themselves.
  • Big Bad: Every single episode has one thing in common: technology is the main source of conflict (or, at the very least, it's involved in the conflict in one way or another).
  • Breather Episode: A few of the episodes have the endings be more bittersweet so that the viewer can't constantly assume the worst possible thing will happen every time. "San Junipero" straight up ends on an unambiguously happy note, and also features an incredibly optimistic and sweet romance with virtually no hints of malice or cynicism.
  • British Brevity: The first two seasons total three hour-length episodes per season, and a Christmas Special. The first season was only meant to be a mini-series, but it proved to be so successful that the show was commissioned for another one. This has been averted with the Netflix run, as the newest series has 6 episodes and the next season is confirmed to follow the same format.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Combined with The Stinger, the credits often show the aftermath of each story.
  • Downer Ending: Most of the endings of the episodes, with some of the endings being bittersweet.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Ooh, boy.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Another perspective is that the way humans treat each other in this show occurs simply because we've begun developing technology without first taking into account the potential ethical consequences they may cause.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The series adverts, which are a cocktail of Chekhov's Guns and Red Herrings. It's worth watching them again post-series to see what was and wasn't foreshadowed for the plots.
  • New Media Are Evil: Very frequent... but is it more the technology or the people who use it, and/or how they're choosing to use it?
  • Pastiche: Towards The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected, among others.
  • Rousseau Was Right: The series overall shows this quite often, though rendered through a heavily cynical lens; Charlie Brooker once described this in an interview:
    "I think most people are inherently good. When they throw themselves behind some ugly cause, it's usually out of fear or because they're not availed of all the facts. The show generally reflects that. It's usually just people with a weakness who end up fucking up. We don't have many mustache-twirling villains. But I am a worrier and I do think things are going to go horribly wrong by accident."
  • Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism: Falls on the side of cynicism. Boy howdy, does it ever.
    • "San Junipero" falls surprisingly far on the idealist side.
  • Take That!: Too many to list.
  • Take That, Critics!: A mild-mannered one - a journalist mocking the show's New Media Are Evil theme and its plots twittered "what if phones, but too much". Brooker read it, thought it was funny, and used it as a plotpoint to one of the episodes in the third season.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Most episodes. "The National Anthem", "The Waldo Moment" and "Shut Up and Dance" are exceptions as, due to no visible tech advancement, they are presumably set around present day. Indeed, a Freeze-Frame Bonus shows they take place at about the same time- Carlton Bloom's "agitation exhibit" is mentioned during a broadcast during the Waldo Moment.
  • Villain Protagonist: As a result of Black Mirror 's You Bastard attitude toward humanity, several episodes feature this sort of a protagonist.
  • You Bastard: As observed in numerous reviews of the series, Black Mirror's stories take many digs at the selfishness and pettiness of contemporary humans as amplified by technology.