Black Mirror

10 Black Mirror episodes that changed dramatically from script to screen

Contributed by
Oct 29, 2018

While an upcoming book about Black Mirror reveals that Season 5 is going to feature a choose-your-own-adventure episode for audiences to take control, every episode of Black Mirror has been a choose-your-own-adventure for co-creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones.

Inside Black Mirror, which hits stores on November 20, is an oral history of each Black Mirror episode that has aired so far. The show is known for taking today's technology and extending its potential far into the future, to test exactly what humanity can stand in the pursuit of extended life, truth, and love.

Sometimes those ideas need editing. As Annabel Jones says of Season 1’s "Fifteen Million Merits": "Our job is to over-worry. Our job is to question and challenge everything."

So here are the ten times that Black Mirror's creators chose their own adventures when making the show we know and love and hate and fear, taken straight from the pages of Inside Black Mirror.

15 million merits

Bing and Abi ended up together in an early draft of 'Fifteen Million Merits'

"In one discarded draft, Bing and Abi were living together in the end, but they were both really unhappy. Abi had been given loads of plastic surgery, and she was addicted to this compliance drink, so it was awful." – Charlie Brooker

"I recall another ending where it pulls back to reveal that the bikes aren't connected to anything. But you sort of think that anyway, as a viewer." – Annabel Jones

entire history of you

'The Entire History of You' was scaled down from the global to the intimate

"We spent a lot of time working out the story and tone, but as soon as we tried to go bigger than the world of one couple's life, we were in trouble. You either have to go full Blade Runner and the logical ramifications go through the roof, or you keep it very contained within a domestic bubble. [That] made everything feel much more intimate and invasive and eerie… it made a scene that might’ve been amusing and a bit sad into something downright haunting." – Charlie Brooker

be right black

We could've been forced to watch Domhnall Gleeson's character die in 'Be Right Back'

"The accident wasn't in the script. I think Owen [Harris, director] had the idea for quite a startling image, of a van spinning through the frame in slow motion. But we just felt we didn't need that. It's more powerful that Ash just goes off and you don't know what's become of him. And so, when it's confirmed to Martha that something has happened, it's confirmed to us as well." – Charlie Brooker

White Christmas Black Mirror

'White Christmas' would've had a cheeky cockney lad instead of Jon Hamm

"In the first draft, before Jon came along, Matt Trent was a cheeky cockney. He was more of a Jack-the-Lad, a chirpy bloke to contrast with [Rafe Spall's character] Joe Potter." – Charlie Brooker

nosedive

'Nosedive' was nearly the very Mike Schur-esque story of a work meltdown gone viral

"In Charlie's original outline, Lacie's big blow-up at her work presentation went viral and she accidentally achieved the status and fame she'd been craving. When I brought up that it reminded me of 'Fifteen Million Merits,' Charlie laughed and agreed." – Mike Schur (executive producer on The Office; creator of Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Good Place; co-writer on "Nosedive")

shut up and dance

Like a few Season 4 episodes, 'Shut Up and Dance' was at first set in America

"For quite a while it was set in America, partly because we were hung up on the fact it's easier for Kenny to have a gun if it's in America - but, actually, it makes the gun more frightening and unusual when it's in Britain." — Charlie Brooker

san junipero

The original version of 'San Junipero' left out a lot of the romance

"This was supposed to be the big emotional end: [elder] Kelly going in [to Yorkie's hospital room], kissing Yorkie and saying, 'Hello stupid, it's good to see you.' I thought that was a sweet, tear-jerking ending: two dying old ladies who'd found love.

"But I was enjoying the writing, so I thought I'd just keep going. And while working out what should happen next, I thought, 'Wait… what if, rather than dying, Yorkie's going to be euthanized and live on in San Junipero?' It added a whole extra, deeper level. So that gave Yorkie more of a purpose." – Charlie Brooker

Hated in the Nation

'Hated in the Nation' has a happier ending that you never saw

"I'm generally not a fan of completely ambiguous endings, but this one was ambiguous enough." – Charlie Brooker

"If we had shown exactly what happens after our final shot, it all might have seemed to neatly wrapped up." – Annabel Jones

"I can't remember if we filmed this, but originally there was a shot of Blue putting a knife in her bag as she goes after him. That was certainly in the script at one point… you do kind of know that Blue's going to sort him the f*** out." – Charlie Brooker

crocodile

On an actor’s suggestion, 'Crocodile''s leading man became a woman

"We'd sent the script to Andrea [Riseborough] for the insurance investigator's role. She said, 'I enjoyed the script, but actually I think the protagonist should be a woman.'" – Annabel Jones

"This change made it more refreshing, because the panicking male murderer is practically a trope." – Charlie Brooker

Black Mirror Black Museum

Magician Penn Jillette was keen to take on Douglas Hodge's role in 'Black Museum'

"The final credit very kindly says, 'Story by Penn Jillette,' but Charlie changed the original story so much that it really should be a co-credit. He made it different from my idea, and 1000 times better for Black Mirror.

“I desperately wanted to play the lead character Rolo, even though it would have cost an extraordinary amount of money for me and Teller to cancel our Las Vegas shows during the 'Black Museum' shoot. My carnival background is that guy — I’m a fire-eater, a talker, I'm all of that stuff.

"I do fancy, though, that Charlie took a few of my rhythms and style in the way that he wrote Rolo." – Penn Jillette

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