Brow Beat

This Week’s Game of Thrones Episode Featured a Disposable Coffee Cup, and the Internet Is Not Having It

A shot from Game of Thrones in which a disposable coffee cup is on the table at an old-timey banquet.
Can you spot it? HBO

It’s almost impossible to make a movie or television show without a continuity error or two, and that goes triple for period pieces: Every shot is an opportunity to accidentally photograph a contrail or a passing car in the background and bring the audience’s suspension of disbelief crashing down. But when you name a character something as fancy as “Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains,” you have a special responsibility to make sure that character does not appear to be addicted to Dunkaccinos. Unfortunately, this week’s Game of Thrones didn’t quite meet that standard: In one shot, Daenerys sits at a large banquet table celebrating her victory over the Night King. She’s holding one of the show’s trademark giant goblets of wine, but right before her on the table sits a disposable coffee cup with one of those cardboard sleeves that keep you from burning your hands. We’ve altered the shot slightly to draw your attention to the cup, but you can find this at 17:39 in the HBO Now version of the episode:

The same still from Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 4, with red arrows pointing out the disposable coffee cup.
Now can you spot it? HBO

Naturally, the internet noticed immediately. “Didn’t know they had a Starbucks in Winterfell,” Reddit user ttek15 posted, and social media was off to the races. For some viewers, the misplaced coffee cup was an emblem of the show’s decline in its last few seasons:

For others, it was proof that Game of Thrones was even more intricate and carefully crafted than they’d previously realized:

And for some Game of Thrones fans, it was just another piece of evidence in the ongoing case against capitalism, at least after they’d retconned the production screwup into Game of Thrones canon. This user is lambasting Starbucks for rushing to open a franchise in Winterfell just hours after the Night King’s fall:

Mostly, though, Daenerys’ mysterious coffee cup has raised practical questions about the Game of Thrones universe. It’s being described as a “Starbucks cup,” but although the logo on the sleeve is blurry, it doesn’t much resemble Howard Schultz’s green siren.* Is it from the craft services table? A Westeros-only chain? When Daenerys orders coffee, does she insist the baristas write her full name and title on the cup? What happens to them if they misspell it? And why would a woman who spent an entire night engulfed in flames before emerging without so much as a blister need a cardboard sleeve to protect her from a cappuccino? What is she hiding?

The Game of Thrones showrunners have written themselves into corners and somehow written their way out before, but it’s going to take a lot of all-night brainstorming sessions to explain Daenerys’ coffee habit away. If only there were some beverage that could help them stay focused.

Correction, May 6, 2019: This post originally misspelled Howard Schultz’s last name.