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That Game of Thrones coffee cup was the most preventable self-own in TV history

The cup may be gone, but it actually stole a scene in which showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss made a cameo.

That Game of Thrones coffee cup was the most preventable self-own in TV history
[Photos: Helen Sloan/HBO; Charles Koh/Unsplash]

By now you’ve heard that an errant coffee cup became the unintentional star of this week’s episode of Game of Thrones. We’ve talked about whether it was a Starbucks cup or not, and why either way, the coffee giant may have become the show’s most high-profile brand partner.

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But now the cup is gone. HBO announced today that it has digitally removed it, saying in a statement, “The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake. Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea.”

We can dissect why, say, the cup wasn’t digitally removed before Sunday’s episode. Or why Gendry introduced himself as Gendry Rivers, when we all know the bastard surname for King’s Landing is Waters? But let’s not quibble over such things.

Instead, take a walk with me down another path of deep nerdery, to talk about a small fact that makes the cup’s unlikely star turn even more unlikely (and yes, perhaps even funnier).

Throughout this final season, HBO has been posting comprehensive behind-the-scenes videos for each episode. The shorter “Inside the Episode” and more substantive “Game Revealed” videos pull double duty as both in-depth peeks into the production process fans have craved and a celebration of all the people behind the camera who make the magic happen.

In this week’s “Game Revealed,” we find out that showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff actually appear in Episode 4, dressed in beards and fur as Wildlings, joining Tormund Giantsbane as he toasts Jon Snow. Check it out at the 4:05 mark below.

This is, of course, the exact scene the coffee cup crashed! Weiss says, “I was concerned we were going to ruin that [scene], but I don’t think we did.”

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Oh no, you didn’t ruin it. At the 4:20 mark, the coffee cup is right there sitting on the table. So the one scene in which the real rulers of the Seven Kingdoms cameo (Benioff and Weiss), is the very same one that will go down as the funniest whoopsie in show history.

Starbucks, to paraphrase Jon Snow, owes that cup a debt that can never be repaid, and it is our duty and our honor to keep it alive in memory for those who come after us, and those who come after them, for as long as marketers draw breath.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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