Calm Down About the Coffee Cup in Game of Thrones

A coffee cup in Game of Thrones Season 8, episode 4, sits on the table near Daenerys Targaryen and the internet won’t calm down about it so we decided to figure out what actually happened.

By now you’ve heard the endless noise about the ‘Starbucks coffee cup in Game of Thrones’ that was blown entirely out of proportion.

In a scene of celebration in Season 8, episode 4 of Game of Thrones, a modern coffee cup sits on the table near Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clark, but in front of the empty seat beside her which left many to question if it was Emilia’s.

While I think it was worth a mention within the film and television community, it has become the main talking point of an otherwise fantastic episode that hundreds of people dedicated their careers to creating. I think a lot of the commotion was overblown since many of the voices broadcasting the ‘Starbucks coffee cup in Game of Thrones’ were people who don’t understand how film and television is made. So below, I’ve outlined why I feel these people should calm down and get their facts straight.

Game of Thrones celebration season 8, episode 4 / Tormand Jon Snow Daenarys

Four Reasons You Might Want to Calm Down About the ‘Starbucks Coffee Cup’ in Game of Thrones

1) First of all, it wasn’t a Starbucks cup nor was it coffee. It was a basic coffee cup from craft services and looks to be tea as there is a string hanging out the side. Starbucks did try to milk it a little bit on Twitter because, well… capitalism but it is clearly not Starbucks and they know it. You can see it is a beige disposable coffee cup that has a clipart image on the front of a coffee mug with smoke coming out the top. This is the most common logo mark on disposable coffee cups that you will find on any and every set similar to the photo below. These disposable coffee cups bond crew members to each other from across the globe.

Disposable coffee cup / Coffee Cup in Game of Thrones

Disposable coffee cups of film crews everywhere

2) Second, this small insignificant gaffe says nothing about the quality of the show. I have seen so many shows where this has happened. It just happens to be more noticeable in a fantasy or period piece. Remember those Downton Abbey stills? I’ve seen it in a Marvel movie and countless other films and shows. It happens all the time.

People who make film and television know how hard it is and we are LUCKY to have a show like Game of Thrones. It is a small miracle that a show like Game of Thrones exists. So many big and small things have to go right at the perfect time in order to get a Game of Thrones, or Breaking Bad, or Sopranos-level show. If a Starbucks coffee cup in Game of Thrones is all you have to complain about with a show that complicated than does the show really warrant the bad press?

Starbucks coffee cup in game of Thrones removed by HBO

It’s magic! The cup is gone and we can all move on

3) Third, HBO has already removed the coffee cup now that they know about it and realise the audience cares.

4) Fourth, have you ever made a mistake at work? Are you aware what happened?

Emilia Clarke has confessed to her mistake, leaving her tea on the table. I have a feeling she’ll never do it again but if Jason Momoa surprised you on set I think you’d forget your drink too.

In this case the script supervisor has stated that all checks were done prior to the take in question. When it miraculously appeared in the frame just before the roll via Emilia, it was caught on two cameras during the take and was subsequently removed and noted by the script supervisor to be digitally erased in post-production.

While I don’t know why post-production didn’t remove it- it was not the fault of the crew on the floor so stop assuming their crew didn’t care or that they were incompetent. That simply isn’t fair. The post crew had A LOT of VFX to take care of so it also doesn’t shock me this small detail fell through the cracks.

Lastly, I’ll ask this:

Have you ever been an on-set dresser or on-set props or standby art director trying to go in and remove a coffee cup or water bottle before they start the take with their very expensive all-star cast on the clock while you’re losing light and your child actor turns into a pumpkin in 15 minutes?

Have you tried to tell a tired, hungry, and thirsty crew to stop bringing their food and drink on the dressed set when they growl back at you?

Have you had the actor or actress tell you their throat hurts and they’re losing their voice and they desperately need to hold onto their drink? They always promise to hide it before the take but then someone calls them away or the blocking changes and the actor forgets it because maybe they’re tired, sick, or possibly stressed out about the scene.

Have you worked over night 5 days a week for over 8 weeks straight as a script supervisor or standby or on-set dresser and been so exhausted you just didn’t notice? Or have you been told when you did notice, “they’ll never see it”, “we’ll fix it in post”, “if they notice it then we’re not doing our job”, and on and on by the people in charge when you tried to protect the frame because they too were tired from the 12-16 hour days on set and it was dark and they were low on time?

Have you ever noticed a stray cup or something on set during the first take since they decided at the last minute to shoot the rehearsal and you successfully removed the stray item before the second take only for the first take to be used in the edit because the actor gave a cuter smile in the first one and the higher ups figured no one would care about the background because that smile was blinding?

If the answer to all those questions is NO than you need to simmer down and stop judging. There are so many reasons for these mistakes and until you are in those shoes you have no idea how hard it is. It is never as easy as ‘the internet’ thinks it is.

If the answer is YES to the questions above, then let’s keep talking within our industry since we’re in a position to try and curb these accidents from happening and stealing the thunder from a future phenomenal show.

While cast and crew should never have their drinks on a dressed set at all, it unfortunately happens all the time. Hopefully everyone will now take note. The jokes on set are already flying.

Let’s schedule better and always allow time for last looks before the camera rolls for a start since this has certainly created a lot of conversation around the subject.

People do care about the background so we should always do our best to protect the frame. Next time production gives you a hard time about fixing something quickly or not bringing their drinks on set, you can now mention the coffee cup in Game of Thrones. Post-production can now also make a better case for removal of stray items. If those in charge don’t listen, at least you know you tried. Silver linings.

Gladiator film meme / Are you not entertained! / Russell Crowe as gladiator in Coliseum stadium

So we can all calm down now and create new predictions on the last two episodes of Game of Thrones instead.

Posted by Rose Lagacé

Rose Lagacé is a production designer for film & television by day and an emerging filmmaker by night. Rose is also the creator and editor of Art Departmental where she celebrates the art and craft of production design.

  1. Amen Rose! Thank you for saying what you did…enough already about this…and here here, about scheduling and doing our best work!


  2. Jon Snow for the iron throne!


    1. If only it had been that way…


  3. Having spent 40 years working on location and sound stage sets, I agree with most of what you say here — we’re all human, which means shit will happen from time to time. That said, it’s hard for me to understand how someone on the post production crew didn’t catch this one. Yes, they work long hours staring at glowing screens in dark rooms, but today’s technology can easily erase such a mistake — all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes. It just seems like somebody should have caught it somewhere along the line, but they didn’t… unless it did, of course, and the GOT producers decided to leave it in to give the internet something to go nuts over. You know what they say about there being no such thing as bad publicity…


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