In the realm of television production, where meticulous attention to detail reigns supreme, even the most epic sagas can fall prey to unexpected blunders. Such was the case during the final season of the iconic fantasy series Game of Thrones when a modern coffee cup made a jarring cameo in the medieval world of Westeros. In a moment that swiftly captured the attention of millions, the infamous Starbucks coffee cup mistake brought to light the challenges of maintaining flawless visual continuity in a sprawling production of unparalleled magnitude in an era where eagle-eyed viewers dissect every frame.
In what episode did the coffee cup appear?
The coffee cup appeared in season 8, episode 4 of Game of Thrones, titled The Last of the Starks. The scene in question occurs during a celebratory feast at Winterfell, where numerous characters are gathered following the Battle of Winterfell. At first, the camera is focused on Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), who is standing and talking about Jon Snow (Kit Harington) who happens to be sitting right next to him. After their close-up shot, the camera goes wide to reveal the coffee cup sitting on a banquet table almost in front of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). Apparently, the cup was accidentally left in the shot during filming and was not digitally removed from the episode before it aired on May 5th, 2019.
How did the fans react to the Game of Thrones Starbucks cup overlook?
The coffee cup mistake in Game of Thrones garnered a significant and immediate reaction from fans. Social media platforms like Twitter were flooded with memes, jokes, and discussions about the unexpected cameo. Many fans found humor in the mistake, sharing humorous photoshopped images and clever quips about Starbucks opening a new branch in Westeros.
— JANEX (@groundzero000) May 6, 2019
Perfectly reasonable explanation for what appears to be a Starbucks cup during the latest Game of Thrones episode. pic.twitter.com/MP6FAhKO4T
— Simon (@Tuffty88) May 6, 2019
— John Beck (@johnbeck_) May 6, 2019
However, some fans expressed disappointment, viewing it as a reflection of a decline in attention to detail during the final season. The incident also sparked debates about the intense scrutiny faced by such a high-profile production and the challenges of maintaining continuity in a complex fantasy world.
— Jenna Guillaume (@JennaGuillaume) May 6, 2019
Y’all can talk about the writing and killing black characters and blah blah blah but that Starbucks cup is the real spit in the face LMAO
— Bask (@baskgod) May 6, 2019
when you want to be ruler of the seven kingdoms but all anyone wants to talk about is the Starbucks cup you left on the table pic.twitter.com/MOOwXm08nw
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) May 6, 2019
Adding to the intrigue, perceptive viewers swiftly discovered that the show’s own creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, had discreet cameos in the very scene, further amplifying the astonishment that the rogue coffee cup had eluded their attention as well. The revelation ignited a wave of bewilderment among fans, questioning how such a conspicuous oversight could have slipped past multiple sets of eyes, including those intimately involved in the show’s production.
TFW YOU'RE SO INTO YOUR HITCHCOCK CAMEO YOU DON'T NOTICE THE STARBUCKS CUP https://t.co/ryL3fWegDf
— Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) May 6, 2019
Overall, the coffee cup mistake became a widely discussed and memorable moment in Game of Thrones’ legacy, showcasing the passionate and vocal nature of its fan base.
Was it really a Starbucks coffee cup?
Contrary to popular belief, the coffee cup that appeared in the episode in question was not actually a Starbucks cup. Because it looks like a Starbucks cup, it was initially reported as such, but later clarifications revealed that it was a plain craft services coffee cup. The presence of the Starbucks-like cup, however, still became synonymous with Starbucks due to the public’s association with disposable coffee cups.
What was in the cup? Was it a Dragon Drink?
The contents of the cup in the infamous Game of Thrones production mistake were not officially disclosed or confirmed. But the official Twitter account of the series made the following tweet right after the production gaffe went viral: “News from Winterfell. The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake. #Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea.”
And even though the out-of-place coffee cup didn’t have Starbucks branding on it, the coffee chain saw HBO’s honest mistake as a golden opportunity to promote their newest thirst quencher called the Dragon Drink at the time.
“TBH we’re surprised she didn’t order a Dragon Drink,” Starbucks wrote on their official Twitter account, referring to Daenerys, who is also known as the Mother of Dragons in the series.
Though the Dragon Drink launched just two days after the epic Battle of Winterfell episode of Game of Thrones, the summer cooler has nothing to do with the fantasy drama series. Instead, the word dragon in the drink’s name comes from dragonfruit, which is one of the ingredients of the hot pink-colored refreshment. The Dragon Drink basically combines Starbucks’ Mango Dragonfruit Refresher — introduced in the summer of 2018 — with creamy coconut milk.
Did the cup belong to Emilia Clarke?
There is no definitive evidence or confirmation that the cup in the Game of Thrones production mistake belonged to Emilia Clarke. While the cup was sitting in front of Daenerys Targaryen during the scene in question, it is unclear who the cup belonged to or how it ended up on the table.
However, back in 2019, series star Sophie Turner, who played Sansa Stark in the series, accused Kit Harington of being responsible for the production gaffe.
During Turner’s recent appearance on the TBS late-night talk show Conan, host Conan O’Brien gave her an opportunity to defend herself from fans who have been blaming her for the snafu. “The coffee cup was where Kit’s chair was. First I blamed it on Emilia, but I don’t think Emilia would do that,” said Turner.
“Kit is lazy and I think he would have done that,” continued Turner. “It was in front of Kit’s chair and then obviously he moved and this picture was taken and it looked like it was in my seat, but I wasn’t there either. It was Kit. It was a hundred percent Kit.”
In an attempt to make Turner’s alibi stronger, O’Brien mentioned that the actress didn’t actually drink a lot of liquids on the set of the series. “Yeah, [that’s because] I wore a corset,” explained Turner. “[And if I drink a lot of liquids], I either piss myself or I throw up. So I am not really taking anything in.”
According to Turner, Clarke also wore a corset. And since Harington didn’t wear a corset or any similar piece of clothing on the show, Turner is a “hundred percent” sure that the Jon Snow actor was the one responsible for the coffee cup snafu.
You can watch the interview in the video below:
Has HBO fixed the coffee cup production mistake?
After the coffee cup mistake in Game of Thrones gained widespread attention and became a viral sensation, HBO swiftly responded by digitally removing the cup from the episode. The cup was edited out in subsequent airings, both in the online streaming versions and during reruns on television. HBO acknowledged the error and took steps to rectify it, ensuring that future viewers would not see the misplaced cup in the scene. The digital removal of the coffee cup was done to maintain the visual continuity of the show and prevent further distractions from the immersive world of Westeros.