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Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) in Monday’s episode of ‘Game of Thrones’, featuring a stray Starbucks cup. Image Credit: Supplied

‘Game of Thrones’ is one of the most expensive and elaborately produced television shows ever. And yet.

During Sunday night’s episode, a disposable coffee cup could briefly be seen sitting on a table at Winterfell. The modern-day item was jarringly out of place amid candlelit chandeliers and goblets of Dornish wine.

The cup, which appeared in front of Daenerys Targaryen for only a few seconds, may have gone unnoticed by the show’s vast production team — but not by its millions of fans. Like most things in the final season of ‘Game of Thrones’, the item was quickly spotted, and its cameo was dissected, overanalysed and made into memes.


“Maybe they assumed that the lighting would be as dark as last week’s instalment and that nobody would notice,” one fan joked on Twitter, a callback to complaints about a lack of lighting in the previous week’s episode.

Naturally, we had many questions: On a show so detail-oriented that the actor who plays Bran Stark has to sit in one place during film breaks so his furs don’t move out of place from scene to scene, how did an item so clearly from the 21st century manage to sneak into the final version of the episode? Was it, in fact, a Starbucks cup, as so many online suggested? When did a Starbucks come to Winterfell, and what is the Dragon Queen’s regular order?

Starbucks seemed to have an idea, taking the opportunity to plug its Dragon Drink, a pink concoction with sweet mango and dragon fruit flavours.

After remaining silent for much of the day, HBO acknowledged many inquiries about “the craft services coffee cup” and apparently decided to join the fun with this official statement: “The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake. Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea.”

'Blown out of proportion'

And Bernadette Caulfield, the show’s executive producer, apologised during an interview with ‘Behind the Thrones’ on WNYC. “Westeros was the first place to have Starbucks, it’s a little-known fact,” she said. “If that’s the worst thing that they’re finding, we’re in good shape.”

Some were taking the matter more seriously. An art director for ‘Game of Thrones’, Hauke Richter, told Variety that the mistake had been “blown out of proportion.”

“Things can get forgotten on set,” he wrote.

And some online fans seemed to agree: “If your post has been removed today there is a 95 per cent chance it’s because you posted a screenshot of a Starbucks cup,” the r/freefolk moderators warned on Reddit. “Stop it,” the post said. “There’s memes about it. We know already.”

The incongruity came in the final season of ‘Game of Thrones’, which has involved an all-out effort from HBO. The network, which declined to discuss its budget for the show, is believed to have spent enormous amounts on the final six episodes, with each episode costing $15 million (Dh55.05 million), according to a report by Variety.