All the Black Mirror episodes you had no idea were inspired by true events

One episode was inspired by I’m A Celeb

Black Mirror is hardly a TV show you watch hoping and wishing was reality, due to the fact most of the episodes are some of the bleakest viewing you could ever hope to have. Nonetheless, several episodes have been directly influenced by real life events that you may have had no clue about. Some are rogue, and some make a lot of sense – here’s a rundown of all the Black Mirror episodes inspired by a true story or true events.

The National Anthem

The David Cameron piggate saga hadn’t gone down by the time The National Anthem launched Black Mirror into the stratosphere, and the actual inspiration for the episode is far more mundane. The episode was inspired by a Bushtucker Trial from I’m A Celeb, where contestants had to eat disgusting animal bits. Producer Annabel Jones said the episode is about “humiliation, and the public’s appetite for humiliation.”

White Bear

It’s easy to see the inspirations behind Victoria’s crimes in White Bear after the twist, directly inspired by the crimes of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. Charlie Brooker explained that he got the inspiration for the filming parts of the episode from when he was making his Big Brother zombie apocalypse show Dead Set. During filming for Dead Set, there’s a scene where Riz Ahmed’s character is being chased by zombies and Brooker said a load of school children were taking pictures on their phones. Brooker was spooked by the image of it, saying it was “an interesting and frightening image, because they’re standing there, not intervening”.

The Waldo Moment

The Waldo Moment’s political satire is heavy handed, but Brooker has said the episode was influenced by … the band Gorillaz. He imagined a politician coming out of the Gorillaz cartoon band members and also took Waldo personality inspiration from Boris Johnson. Yikes.

Men Against Fire

Men Against Fire was directly inspired by and literally took its name from Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall’s book Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command. The book talks about how in World War II, over 70 per cent of soldiers didn’t actually fire their rifles and those that did shot above the enemies’ heads.

Hated in the Nation

Whilst the antagonist Garrett Scholes was inspired by real life terrorists, the #DeathTo online hashtag was inspired by real backlash Charlie Brooker experienced. After writing a satirical piece in 2004 for the Guardian about then president George W Bush, Brooker had quipped a line name checking assassins of presidents saying “where are you now that we need you?” Brooker got a lot of backlash and received death threats. Eventually he apologised and asked the Guardian to take the piece down.

Black Museum

The harrowing pain addict section of Black Museum is a story taken directly from a short story written by magician Penn Jillette about the exact same plot, published in 1988. Brooker contacted Jillette to ask to use the story in Black Mirror and then Penn helped him create the framing device, and wanted to star as Rolo too – but casting had already been confirmed.


The CEO of the social media platform in Smithereens is AWOL at a technology free retreat – this was inspired by then-Twitter CEO and founder Jack Dorsey doing the same thing.

Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too

Black Mirror true story

The hologram plans for Ashley Eternal in this episode were inspired by Charlie Brooker being horrified by the concept of hologram concerts for artists who’ve died, like Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse.

Beyond The Sea

Black Mirror true story

Charlie Brooker said this was an episode inspired by working from home, which is an interesting spin. Also, the murders committed by the cult in Black Mirror beyond the sea almost exactly mirror the true story actions of Charles Manson and his followers when they murdered Sharon Tate.

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