(This post contains minor spoilers for Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Last of the Starks.”)
Game of Thrones is set in a fictional, fantastical realm in which it’s a given that modern amenities are not available to the characters.
So why was there a Starbucks cup in Sunday’s episode?
A few social media users noticed that during the episode, a Starbucks cup can clearly be seen on the table in front of Daenerys Targaryen in a couple of shots, during the scene early in the episode in which the characters are having a feast to celebrate their battlefield victory in the previous episode.
Per Mediaite, the gaffe was noticed by several Twitter users, including Nehal Mahran. A look at HBO Go finds that the cup is indeed there, at about the 17:38 mark of the episode, as Daenerys is sitting alone and upset while Tormund Giantsbane gives a speech about the virtues of Jon Snow.
There is, needless to say, no Starbucks in Winterfell. However, Belfast, Northern Ireland, which is used for the locations of Winterfell scenes, does indeed have many Starbucks locations, per the company’s location list.
The mistake led many viewers to question why a series as detail-obsessed as Game of Thrones, which filmed this season over two years and at considerable expense, could somehow fail to notice an incongruous Starbucks cup on the table of what’s supposed to be a medieval castle. It was also ironic that after a week of complaints that the battle scenes of the season’s third episode were too difficult to follow, the subsequent episode clearly showed something that wasn’t supposed to be seen but was anyway.
This led to speculation that it wasn’t a mistake at all, and the cup was included in the scene for the purposes of paid product placement. And while Game of Thrones, per Mashable, has indeed launched tie-ins with many real-world brands, from jewelers to makeup companies to Oreo to Mountain Dew to, of course, Bud Light, there have been no reports of such a deal with Starbucks.
There were many other jokes, however. Many social media users photoshopped Dany into Starbucks locations while others tried to guess at her drink order. Pop culture writer Ira Madison III referred to the character on Twitter 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, and Drinker of Pumpkin Spice.”