Content Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the Netflix show Black Mirror, as well as references to suicide, CSA, and bestiality.Charlie Brooker‘s show has been surprising audiences with twist endings since its premiere in 2011 throughout five seasons. The anthology sci-fi show contains many dark endings that create a genuine sense of shock. With the new season set for release in 2023 and Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul joining the series, now is the time to reflect on some of the darkest ending the series has to offer.
From the dark revelation behind a young man’s actions in “Shut Up and Dance” to the protagonist’s fate in “Playtest,” the show is notoriously dark and keeps audiences dreading each of the best Black Mirror episodes’ conclusions.
Updated on July 20, 2023, by Hannah Saab:
Black Mirror season 6 gave fans more terrifying tales and twisted endings. It’s the perfect time to look back on some of the darkest Black Mirror episodes so far that came with the most horrifying conclusions.
15 “Be Right Back”
Season 2, Episode 1 (2013)
Black Mirror is one of the shows that can predict the future, and “Be Right Back” is just the most recent example of that. Its story is even creepier now that it’s actually possible to train AI to mimic patterns. The series is centered on the grieving Martha (Hayley Atwell), who purchases technology that can copy her boyfriend Ash Starmer’s (Domhnall Gleeson) whole personality, as he recently died in a car accident.
When it becomes too real and creepy for Martha, she orders the AI version of Ash to jump off a cliff, and it initially goes to do it, with frustrates her. The AI Ash then obliges Martha’s request to be more authentic and starts begging, frighteningly coming off as convincing as he says “I’m frightened, darling, please. Don’t make me. I don’t want to die.” The actual ending showcases some of the series’ dark humor, as it shows how Martha’s daughter visits AI Ash in the attic on the weekends.
14 “Fifteen Million Merits”
Season 1, Episode 2 (2011)
Bing (Daniel Kuluuya) lives in a society where people must ride stationary bikes for merits, which can be used to pay for essential items. He passionately rants about the artificially ruthless system in front of a crowd at a talent show and is offered a regular slot. Despite being critical, his passion is rewarded as he’s granted better living conditions.
Kuluuya sold the dramatic nature of this ending scene and paved the way for his success. While satirizing the nature of entertainment shows, the ending was dark and showed someone forgetting their morals for a more comfortable life.
13 “Loch Henry”
Season 6, Episode 2 (2023)
“Loch Henry” has quickly become a fan-favorite episode from Season 6. It depicts a young couple – Davis (Samuel Blenkin) and Pia (Myha’la Herrold) – who travel to Scotland to work on a nature documentary. Their project soon takes a dark turn when Pia suggests a different subject revolving around a serial killer who indirectly killed Davis’ dad. The duo doesn’t realize just what they will soon uncover.
The episode introduces one of Black Mirror‘s most disturbing characters, Davis’ widowed mom, Janet (Monica Dolan), who was actually involved in the murders and was in fact a ringleader alongside her husband. The ending shows Davis’ defeated demeanor in a hotel room after receiving acclaim during the BAFTA ceremony for his documentary about his parents’ involvement in the murders, as well as Pia’s unfortunate death after discovering proof of Janet’s crimes. He may be on the way to wealth and success, but what Davis does next is heartbreaking, as he reads his mother’s suicide note “For your film. Mum.”
Season 5, Episode 2 (2019)
Chris (Andrew Scott) abducts a ride-share driver, an intern at the social media app Smithereens, at gunpoint. After finally allowing his hostage to leave, Chris reveals his intention to end his own life. The episode ends as the police are ordered to shoot at the car.
While Chris’ actions were terrible, audiences began to feel for the TV character’s tragic backstory as the cause behind his hatred for the Smithereens app is revealed. Scott delivered a typically fantastic performance. It is heartbreaking to consider where his character ended up, and the episode’s perception of mobile phone usage is important.
11 “White Christmas”
After Joe (Rafe Spall) is tricked by Matt (John Hamm) into confessing to murder, it is revealed that this version of Joe is only a digital clone, with the real Joe in prison. His clone is subsequently trapped for what he perceives as millions of years, with a mind-numbing Christmas song on repeat.
To contrast the typically light nature of Christmas, this special ended in an incredibly bleak way. Nobody won. Matt was supposedly freed but became metaphorically trapped, while Joe was physically imprisoned. Joe’s digital clone got the worst fate, and it was incredibly dark, with viewers forced to ponder precisely what this never-ending torture would be like. This is not one to watch if you want to explore your Christmas spirit.
10 “Shut Up and Dance”
Season 3, Episode 3 (2016)
In one of the most shocking Black Mirror episodes, Kenny (Alex Lawther) is blackmailed into committing dangerous acts after his webcam security is compromised. After overcoming a fight to the death, it is finally revealed why he is so keen to keep his habits a secret; he is a pedophile, and his next stop is the back of a police car.
As far as dark endings go, this one was harrowing to watch. Lawther’s performance was exceptional, as well as the parting words of Kenny’s mother. It created a hopelessly depressing ending. It was also dark for the audience, as they’d been rooting for a sex offender for the whole episode. The reveal was compounded by the ending of Jerome Flynn‘s character, as he lost his family.
9 “White Bear”
Season 2, Episode 2 (2013)
Victoria Skillane (Lenora Crichlow) wakes up with amnesia and is thrown into a confusing situation. She is finally revealed to have been involved in the murder of a young child. The events of the episode are shown to have been staged, with Skillane repeatedly tortured as a public punishment for her crimes. Her memory is repeatedly wiped, so she is forced to endure the same torture daily.
This was incredibly messed up; Lenora was fantastic as her character’s world crumbled, with Michael Smiley terrific. It raised questions about the morality of humanity and explored whether two wrongs could make a right. This was darkly tragic and hard to stomach, and you couldn’t help but feel for Victoria.
Season 4, Episode 2 (2017)
After almost losing her, Marie (Rosemarie DeWitt) decides to have her daughter Sara implanted with the Arkangel system, one of the creepiest inventions from Black Mirror, which allows her to track her and filter out stressors via a tablet device. After continuing to involve herself too heavily in her daughter’s life, Marie is found out. Sara uses the tablet to beat her mother, but she cannot see the damage she’s causing due to its stress filter. After Marie reawakens, she discovers that her daughter is gone.
The ending is compounded by a sense of sadness, as audiences could potentially relate to both sides of the argument. After committing such an act, it isn’t easy to see where Sara’s future could lead. However, it was easy to sympathize with her, as she just wanted to live an independent life. The filter also tragically took away her self-awareness.
Season 4, Episode 3 (2017)
Mia (Andrea Riseborough) has a dark secret: she and her friend Rob killed someone in a drunk driving accident and covered it up. 15 years later, a now sober Rob attempts to make an anonymous confession but is killed by Mia. Fearing that an insurance investigator could discover her secret, Mia brutally murders her and her entire family. This includes a young baby. But, new technology means her efforts are in vain, and she is caught.
The murder of an infant is extremely distressing, even for a show like Black Mirror. This episode was particularly bleak from the outset, and while it ended in Mia’s comeuppance, the ending carried it through with an awfully tragic ending. Black Mirror is known for incredible plot twists, and this one certainly made a dramatic impact. On a lighter note, Black Mirror‘s conclusions aren’t always depressing.
Season 3, Episode 2 (2016)
Cooper (Wyatt Russell) offers to play test an experimental game. It ends horribly, as he begins to lose his memory as his father did. Outside the game, it is revealed that he died almost instantaneously as the game started due to electrical interference.
This ending was especially dark, with the whole episode being the series’ attempt at horror, and it exceeded. The thought of being confronted by personal fears is scary enough, but the threat of losing your memory takes it to a new level. The darkness continued with the final reveal of the company’s unsympathetic nature, as there was a clear lack of remorse over Cooper’s demise. He wasn’t the first, and he wasn’t going to be the last.
5 “Men Against Fire”
Season 3, Episode 5 (2016)
In one of Black Mirror‘s best episodes, the show combines commentary on the military, racism, and the dangers of technology. “Men Against Fire” follows the soldier Stripe (Malachi Kirby), just one of many hunting for scary creatures called roaches. When his neural implant (called MASS) starts to glitch, Stripe realizes that they have been killing people under the illusion that they were mutated humanoid beings.
A powerful critique of how war dehumanizes the enemy, the episode ends on a note that will leave a sinking feeling in viewers’ stomachs. Stripe – no longer wanting the images of him killing countless people thinking they were monsters – decides to get his MASS fixed. A flash forward shows a tear streaming down his face as he returns home as a decorated soldier, when the reality is that he’s staring at a broken-down house in a chaotic neighborhood – the prize for years of service.
4 “Mazey Day”
Season 6, Episode 4 (2023)
Easily among Black Mirror‘s darkest episodes is one of its most divisive ones, with “Mazey Day” quickly becoming a hot topic for its bizarre story that highlights the latest season’s different approach. The episode follows Bo’s (Zazie Beetz) experiences as a paparazzi tracking down a missing actress, Mazey Day (Clara Rugaar), who is actually in hiding after a hit-and-run. Things take a strange turn when Bo, alongside other photographers, tracks down the actress in an isolated camp, strapped to a bed.
Mazey soon transforms into a werewolf and violently kills everyone, chasing Bo to a diner where she manages to shoot her. As Mazey lies there begging Bo to shoot her, the photographer hands her a gun and raises her camera to capture the moment. It’s a bleak commentary on people’s obsession with the macabre, which also makes it a meta episode that calls the audience out for watching the violence and gore unfold.
3 “Hated in the Nation”
Season 3, Episode 6 (2016)
Granular has developed robotic bees, known as Autonomous Drone Insects, in a bid to counteract the near-extinction of bees. However, they begin to murder people. A group unsuccessfully attempts to deactivate the Insects, leading to the bees killing up to 400,000 people. It’s a line audiences wouldn’t think a show would cross, but Black Mirror does.
The darkness was compounded here by the episode’s extended runtime, with the storyline expanded enough to make audiences fearful of how it would end. It concluded in an extremely dark place, with the deaths of so many people. What made it so tragic is that children were likely to have shared the hashtag.
2 “The National Anthem”
Season 1, Episode 1 (2011)
Due to a royal kidnapping, prime minister Michael Callow (Rory Kinnear) is blackmailed into having sexual intercourse with a pig on live television. However, his efforts are ultimately in vain.
Could there have been a better opening episode to epitomize just how messed up and original Black Mirror would be? Black Mirror episode 1’s ending is dark in many ways; it is dark in the sense of showing Michael’s desperate attempts to get out of the deal and finally go through with it. It also reflected the darkness of humanity, with everyone disgusted but still tuning in. Finally, the episode highlighted the dangers of social media. The ending twist that his act was all for nothing was another sucker punch after a whole series of them.
1 “Beyond the Sea”
Season 6, Episode 3 (2023)
One of the saddest Black Mirror episodes takes place in an alternative 1969, where two men – astronauts Cliff (Aaron Paul) and David (Josh Hartnett) – are shown being six years into a deep space mission. As a reprieve from their isolation, tech allows them to transfer their consciousness to replicas on Earth. When David’s replica is destroyed by a group that kills his family, too, Cliff lets him use his own, which leads to some confusion with his wife.
The ending of the acclaimed episode reveals that David staged a fake emergency to go down to Cliff’s family and use his replica to murder his wife and son. David wanted Cliff to understand the pain and loneliness he still feels, which both of them will have to carry for the rest of their mission. It’s a brutal, heartbreaking, and dark ending for one of the best episodes of Season 6.
NEXT: The Best ‘Black Mirror’ Episodes, Ranked According to IMDb