There has long been speculation that all Black Mirror episodes are actually taking place in the same universe. Sometimes it’s a little tough to make the connections since the technology seems different, but if you account for the idea that episodes may be taking place in different countries and different time periods too, then the clues start to fall together. Well, thanks to Season 4, we now know this is true. Yes, Black Mirror episodes are all taking place in the same universe. WARNING: This post will have MAJOR spoilers for Season 4 and previous seasons, especially for Crocodile, USS Callister, and Black Museum. This is a good story to read after you’ve finished all the episodes.
In an interview before Season 4 released, Charlie Brooker confirmed with Digital Spy that yes, Season 4 was going to provide compelling evidence that all the episodes are connected. This wasn’t the original intention, but the idea evolved as the series continued. 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.”
Here’s a look at all the Easter eggs and overlapping storylines on Black Mirror from Seasons 1 through 4.
The growth of cookie technology opens up a lot of interesting comparisons in the show and examples of how the episodes are stacking up within the same universe. For example, in USS Callister, we learn that Daley is able to take a genetic sample from someone and upload a digital copy of the person onto his game. The copy is an exact replicant, down to emotions, and thinks they are that person. This is very similar to the digital cookies we saw in White Christmas. But in White Christmas from Season 2, it took a lot more work and time to create those digital copies, requiring an implant in the brain. So either the CTO of Callister came up with breakthrough technology, or USS Callister takes place sometime in the future beyond White Christmas.
Of course, there are other hints to back this up. In San Junipero, references were made to blocking annoying people so they couldn’t communicate, which is exactly what happened in White Christmas. By the way, we can also bet that Shut Up and Dance takes place before White Christmas or right around the same time, since a screenshot from the episode references “the kitchen tech of tomorrow!”
But nothing gets quite as “in your face” as when we hit the Black Museum episode. Here, we learn all about the history of cookies. We learn that San Junipero got its name from Saint Juniper’s, where TCKR did its original human experiments (and breached ethics many times.) We learn that San Junipero tech started as a “sympathizer” of sorts that let one person feel another person’s physical feelings. This went wrong and was banned, but it eventually led to the ability to transfer consciousness from one brain into another, and from a brain into an inanimate object. This eventually led to the San Junipero tech we that’s currently active in the timeline of Black Mirror. And in this timeline, cookies and clones all have rights, so anything that took those rights away is now viewed as criminal.
Overlapping & Conflicting Technology
Sometimes, the shared universe idea can get a little confusing when you’re comparing technology. For example, consider The Entire History of You versus Crocodile. In the former, technology exists that can record everything a person sees and hears. In Crocodile, meanwhile, there’s technology that can read a person’s memories, but because memories aren’t always accurate, what you see can’t necessarily be trusted. So does that mean The Entire History of You takes place in the future, beyond Crocodile? Or is the tech from Crocodile just something insurance companies use for people who aren’t using the tech in Entire History?
Also, why is some tech never mentioned again? We certainly don’t hear about ratings being an integral part of what one can do in society, a la Nosedive, in any other episode. And we never hear about people being able to “duplicate” their loved ones again, like we do in Be Right Back. One possibility is that at least some of the tech was available on a trial basis and never widely available to the public. (Like we learned on Arkangel.) Even with that idea, Nosedive is still tough to reconcile, unless it takes place far in the future or the tech became supremely popular and then was made illegal because of all the trouble it caused. And even Metalhead is tough to relate to the rest of the series, unless that’s really the future they’re heading for.
More than likely, the producers may ultimately decide that only some of the Black Mirror episodes overlap and take place in the same universe. Maybe some of the others, like Nosedive, are from a parallel dimension. Only time will tell on this theory, however. Here are some more overlaps and Easter Eggs that gave us hints in previous seasons that Black Mirror episodes might just be sharing the same universe.
Prime Minister Callow
In Shut Up and Dance from Season 3, we learn that Prime Minister Callow is divorcing, so Shut Up definitely takes place after National Anthem. (But we can already safely assume that National Anthem is the first in the entire timeline.)
Callow’s future troubles were mentioned again in Nosedive, when it’s shown on a screen that he was thrown out of a zoo again. (See the photo above.)
An in-universe show called “Sea of Tranquility” is mentioned in Nosedive and The National Anthem.
Granular’s Bee Creation
Granular is the company that built the robotic bees on Hated in the Nation. Granular is also mentioned on Playtest, featured on a magazine cover for Edge.
The company TCKR, which created the worlds on San Junipero, is also featured on Playtest’s Edge magazine cover, referencing the company as “turning nostalgia into a game.” It’s tough to know if this places the two episodes as happening in roughly the same timeline, or if it places San Junipero as happening later. But since San Junipero seems so widespread, we’ll estimate that Playtest happens first.
TCKR is also mentioned in Black Museum quite a bit, placing present-day Black Museum squarely after San Junipero and White Christmas.
Shou Saito, Creator of Playtest’s Game
Shou Saito — who created the Playtest game — was mentioned as launching an immersive game when a newsticker appears on a broadcast in Hated in the Nation. This might place those episodes as happening at roughly the same time. His company’s name is Saitu Gamu.
MASS Military Tech
We can also surmise that Hated in the Nation takes place before Men Against Fire. A news ticker that runs during Hated announced that the military is just about to put the MAF tech into operation. Those implants are completely functional by the time Men Against Fire airs, and it allows soldiers to kill in cold blood. But the project was just approved by the time Hated aired. In fact, at one point, #MASS is trending during the Hated episode, along with #SaituGamu, the company that created the Playtest game.
White Bear & Victoria Skillane Easter Eggs
The main character of White Bear, Victoria Skillane, was seen in White Christmas when fictional news network UKN noted in a newflash that the child murderer’s appeal had been rejected. This indicates White Christmas may happen before White Bear, since we’d assume her big punishment wouldn’t happen until her appeal was rejected.
Skillane’s trial is also referenced in Shut Up and Dance, with just a brief story that reads: “Victoria Skillane trial latest.” That by itself doesn’t really tell us where Shut Up falls in conjunction with White Bear.
Hated in the Nation referenced Skillane’s appeal being thrown out in court and featured the hashtag #DeathToVictoriaSkillane. It also had a newsticker that mentioned Skillane trying to commit suicide. In fact, one of the cops in Hated mentioned previously working on Skillane’s case. Hated also shows a screen with a hashtag that reads #FreeTheWhiteBearOne. This indicates that White Bear punishments are quite frequent by the time Hated happens. We later see a photo of Skillane in Black Museum too.
The White Bear symbol also appears in Joe’s prison cell in White Christmas (see above) and on game equipment in Playtest (see below.) So is this the symbol for a company that makes all those related technologies?
Hot Shots Reality Contest & Fifteen Million Merits
Hot Shots is the reality contest from Fifteen Million Merits. We see Abi Khan on a billboard in a flashforward from The Waldo Moment. (Viewers have also caught glimpses of Waldo on Shut Up and Dance and White Christmas.) During White Christmas, viewers also caught a glimpse of Hot Shots when Spall’s character flicked past a Hot Shots advertisement.
Abi’s song appears in Men Against Fire, Crocodile, and White Christmas. This likely means that all three of these episodes happen after Fifteen Million Merits.
However, Shut Up and Dance definitely happens before Fifteen Million Merits. Here on a screen seen during the episode, we see the headline: “Talent Show 15 Million Merits launches next week.” I wonder if that show was later renamed Hot Shots?
Black Museum Easter Eggs
Black Museum is full of Easter eggs, and we’ll probably be adding even more as we rewatch the episode. Of course, there are the TCKR mentions from above, but there’s a lot more than that. Black Museum takes place after San Junipero, as the characters talk extensively about tech that uploads old people to the cloud and all the steps that went into bringing that technology about. Some of the Easter eggs include a photo of Victoria Skillane in Black Museum:
We also see the mask, with the White Bear logo on it, worn by Michael Smiley:
In this next photo, courtesy of Netflix, we can see a closeup of the bees that were at the center of the episode Hated in the Nation. This photo has my watermark on it because it’s from an early-release version from the media. If this really is from Hated in the Nation, then we can guess that this experiment was shut down too.
We also see an Easter egg from USS Callister. Interestingly, the lollipop from USS Callister, which Capt. Daley used to clone the Walton’s six-year-old son, is also featured. The device it’s featured with is interesting and may point to the type of technology that Daley used to clone cookies so easily — a process that took a lot longer in White Christmas.
This scene even features the words “Cloning Without Consent,” which is a big theme in USS Callister. But the sign could also be referencing White Christmas or even Be Right Back. Now that cookies have human rights, any of those scenarios might be against the law.
The Tablet from Arkangel is also featured. In the photo below, we see the tablet on display. This gives us an idea of when that episode took place in the timeline. The tech was later banned, so it’s understandable that it would appear in this episode.
Do you see the guy hanging in the background in the picture below? Could this be a reference to the man who kidnapped the princess and then later hung himself in the very first episode, The National Anthem?
There are so many San Junipero references, I had to make a separate article about TCKR.
Does the “Double Suicide” sign above give us a hint to San Junipero? This is all about crimes. Is it possible that they really weren’t transferring their consciousnesses? So they committed suicide under false pretenses? I really hope that’s not what’s being hinted at here.
Finally, could any of these interrogation scenes below possibly be related to Cooper’s interrogation on Playtest? Considering how he died, that would definitely be classified as a crime and it’s possible that particular immersive tech was outlawed.
Do you see any more Easter eggs from Seasons 1 through 4? If so, let us know in the comments below. To find out where everything potentially hits in the timeline, see Heavy’s story here.