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Comical Coffee Cup

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A classic gag where a character sips from or has a cup of coffee with a joke written on it. Usually serves as a Freeze-Frame Bonus or Funny Background Event. As it is a very simple gag, there is little to be said about this trope, but it usually takes the form of one of these jokes (though there are exceptions):

  • "World's Best X", or sometimes "#1 X", with "X" replaced by something relevant to the character. Might also say "World's worst X", which implies that the cup was a gift from a Friendly Rival.
  • "I [heart] X", with "X" being something the character might like. Often something strange.
  • Some joke pertaining to coffee, such as "Don't talk to me until I've had my coffee".
  • The joke on the cup is comically relevant to the scenario in which it appears, to the point where you'd wonder how the cup looks in any other situation.

If the writers are feeling bold, this trope also covers cups that are notable in other ways, such as being comically oversized or shaped like something else.

Compare Fun T-Shirt. Obviously, this is Truth in Television, as you can purchase cups with all sorts of funny words on it practically anywhere.


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    Comic Books 
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), the ruthless Pirate Captain Shellbreaker drinks from a flower-print "Good Morning Beautiful" coffee mug.
  • Spider-Man 2099: Miguel has a mug that says "#1 GENIUS" on it. He is a geneticist very proud of his intelligence so he at least thinks it fits him.
  • In an issue of The Invisibles, Robin is held captive by an interrogator sipping from a "World's Best Dad" mug. He drugs Robin with a substance that makes her literally see anything he writes on paper — i.e. if he writes "tree" on paper and shows it to her, she'll see a tree. Later, when Robin is freed, the interrogator himself is dosed with the substance and left sitting before that mug, calling it his father.
  • Mister Miracle (2017) shows Scott Free keeps one that reads "I am God." Being Mister Miracle and all, that's not just hyperbole.
  • Whiteout. Carrie drinks coffee out of a Dykes to Watch Out For mug.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Foxtrot strip features Roger waking to and from the kitchen with the coffee pot, with the ending panel revealing he's been filling up an enormous novelty mug. Andy notes that the kids had bought it for him as a joke, but Roger is dead serious about using it.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Dr. Stanton, who's an alcoholic, drinks from a mug that has a label saying "not yours".
  • Used as a Brick Joke in Knives Out. Harlan Thornbey drinks from a mug that has the words "My House, My Rules, My Coffee" at the beginning of the movie to show that he's the head of the family. He's the owner of a successful printing company that leaves nothing in his will to his children or grandchildren, leaving Marta, his nurse and confidant, with everything. At the very end, when the mystery of Harlan's death is resolved, the family looks at Marta, who smugly drinks from the "My house, My Rules, My Coffee" mug.
  • The Professional: When Leon storms into Stansfield's office to save Mathilde, he takes a moment to punch out a security guard at the door. The poor bastard's coffee mug spins out and shows an ironic message: "ME BOSS. YOU NOT."
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home: When Peter approaches Doctor Strange for help after the fallout of having his identity outed by Mysterio in the previous film, Strange is drinking from a mug with the words "oh for", then a drawing of a fox, then the word "sake" ("Oh for fox sake"). Fitting, considering the massive multiversal headache he's about to have to deal with...

  • Discworld:
    • Small Gods uses this to highlight the Punch-Clock Villain nature of the Quisition. Like a normal office, they have mugs labelled "World's Best Dad" and "You Don't Have to Be Pitilessly Sadistic to Work Here but It Helps!!"
    • Going Postal has a series of mismatched and batted tea mugs in the post office, one of which is a saying mug: "You Don't Have to Be Mad to Work Here, but It Helps!" By the time of Making Money, further damage and fading has changed the emphasis of the phrase: "You Don't Have to Be Mad to Work Here, but It Helps." Given that insanity doesn't just run but gallops in the post office, the mug is quite insightful.
    • Unseen Academicals has Dr. Hix' mug that says "Necromancers Do It All Night" (despite his normal insistence that he's a Post-Mortem Communicator.) In the same book, Glenda is shocked to see a "To the World's Greatest Boss" mug on Vetinari's desk; in this case while the slogan is generic, the idea of Drumknott giving it to Vetinari and Vetinari using it is both comical and oddly heartwarming.
    • In Thief of Time, Death has a World's Greatest Grandad mug from Susan Helit, the kind that you can get from a store by the hundreds. The fact that Susan Sto-Helit gave her grandfather such a "piece of gimcrackery", and the fact that Death treasures it regardless, says something about their relationship.
  • In The Cat Who Said Cheese from The Cat Who... Series, during a staff meeting of The Moose County Something newspaper, Wilfred Sugbury, secretary to the publisher, fills a coffee mug for Qwilleran (owner and columnist) which reads "First we kill all the editors." He later fills another for Junior Goodwinter, the paper's editor, which reads "First we kill all the PR people."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: While holding Spike prisoner during season four Buffy is forced to feed him blood from Giles' "Kiss the Librarian" mug. The drinking straw just adds to the indignity of it.
  • Good Girls: In the season two premiere, Beth is seen drinking from a mug which reads "I'd rather be crafting" as she gets to work scrubbing Dean's blood out of the carpet.
  • In Gotham, just in case viewers are unaware that Edward Nygma is destined to become the Riddler, he's introduced drinking from a white mug with a stylized question mark drawn on the side. He appears to have done it himself.
  • Hawkeye (2021): In episode 4, Clint drinks from a mug that says "Thanos Was Right", which apparently belongs to Kate Bishop's aunt.
  • In the Just Shoot Me! episode "Just Burned":
    Jack: I don't want a good school for Hannah. I want the best school, and I can make it happen. I am the Can Do King.
    Maya: Says who?
    Jack: This mug.
    Maya: Well, I can't argue with you there, even if I am the "World's Greatest Golfer".
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: One of John Oliver's many joke purchases is a oversized novelty coffee mug, which he specifically bought to have an even bigger mug than then-FCC chairman Ajit Pai.
  • The Office (US): Michael Scott's most iconic item in the series is his "World's Best Boss" coffee mug. When he leaves Dunder-Mifflin for good, he throws it away because he doesn't need it anymore. Creed winds up fetching it from the trash.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Quickening", Quark has programmed the ship's systems to display advertisements for his bar. The station is one thing, but he also hacked the Defiant's computers. When Worf orders prune juice from a replicator it comes in a Quark's mug that also plays a soundbyte of Quark's advertising jingle. The more subtle gag is that the mug has prominent writing that says "Free Refills" only for there to be an asterisk and fine print that says "Limit one per customer."
  • Supernatural: In Season 11, Chuck a.k.a. God has a "World's Greatest Dad" mug, which is ironic because the show has never shied away from God Is Flawed themes regarding his abandonment of all his creations and the consequences, and it doesn't start when God is actually introduced in Season 11.
  • True Detective: Rust is a nihilist who is retelling a story about a series of brutal rapes and murders linked to a child-raping cult in rural Louisiana. Throughout his interviews, though, he's drinking from a Big Hug Mug.
  • In a The Whitest Kids U' Know sketch, a kid asks the teacher who was filming Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. The teacher doesn't know, so he asks the principal. The principal doesn't know either, so he calls the mayor, who calls and asks the army general. The general sounds the alarm and calls up President Obama to tell him that a kid is asking question about who shot the moon landing, and Obama sends a bomb to the kid's entire district. Seems like a Revealing Cover Up, but when his secretary asks who shot the moon landing, he casually tells him there was a camera on the leg of the moon lander.
    Secretary: So why did you bomb that kid's school?
    Obama: That's why the call me O-bomb-a!
    [Camera cuts to Obama holding a coffee cup that says "That's why the call me O-BOMB-A!", accompanied by a laugh track]
    Secretary: This show sometimes. [Drinks out of a coffee cup that says "This Show Sometimes"]
  • In the Young Sheldon episode "Stuffed Animals and a Sweet Southern Syzygy", Coach Wilkins gives Coach Cooper a "world's greatest dad" cup, then later takes it back as he doesn't deserve it.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Bear in the Big Blue House: In "Tutter's Tiny Trip", Tutter buys a coffee mug that says "I ♥ CHEESE" from the cheese factory that Grandma Flutter takes him to to give to Bear as a souvenir.

  • LEGO Minifigures:
    • The Computer Programmer from Series 7 comes with a mug with "C:\" printed on it.
    • The Librarian from Series 10 comes with a mug with "Shhh!" printed on it.
    • The Gingerbread Man from Series 11 comes with a mug with "Dunk me!" printed on it.

    Video Games 
  • Used as a Running Gag in Club Penguin regarding Herbert. Detailed shots of his lair usually include a coffee cup with text, including "Illustrious Leader Supreme", "I [Heart] Dark Side" for the Star Wars crossover, "#1 Party Pooper", and "I am a Boss".
  • In Grim Fandango, Manny ships Bruno to the gate to the Ninth Underworld in a coffin with a mug that has "Today is the first day of the end of your life" printed on it.
  • The Stanley Parable: The Standard Office Setting is littered with random coffee mugs, all of them featuring sarcastic but generic statements and jokes about mundane life, as a way to help re-enforce the feelings of conformity and boredom.
  • A character artist for Them's Fightin' Herds once drew a sketch of Oleander with a coffee cup saying, "I like my coffee like my MAGIC."

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • In the The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, when the good doctor's mother gets cursed by a mummy, she ends up slowly decomposing into dust with Dan and Sean trying their best to put any and all dust into containers with one of them being a coffee mug that says: "YES I need THIS MUCH COFFEE you clod". The fact that it's comically large enough to carry almost all of Mitzi's ashes is impressive.
  • Awful Hospital:
  • In Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, Bruce has a cup with "World's okayest father", presumably a gift from Dick or Tim.
  • Discussed in Dinosaur Comics #1550. T-Rex mentions that he saw a coffee mug with a cute bear that said "good friends make life bearable". He didn't notice the bear at first, and thought it was a deep, introspective statement. T-Rex and Utahraptor then come up with various "realist mugs", such as "Maybe Mondays Aren't the Problem, Maybe I'm the Problem" and "I've Realized: Other Dads are Almost Certainly Better".
  • Girl Genius: Krosp, a talking cat, has a mug that reads "What Part of 'Meow' Don't You Understand?" He's shown dropping a mouse into it.
  • Grrl Power: Blink and you'll miss it, but Sciona has a "World's Greatest Blood Mage" cup in her lair. Probably leans into Overly Narrow Superlative too.
  • In Litterbox Comics, Fran is frequently shown with a coffee mug that says "#10 Mom". She also has one that says "Liquid Patience".
  • A Miracle of Science: Towards the end of the comic, two technicians running a space telescope that monitors routine space traffic have a conversation about a strange navigation warning message they got. Turns out that the Martians are doing a bit of Loophole Abuse, because they signed a treaty forbidding them to deploy military vessels beyond the orbit of Phobos without mentioning that they're perfectly capable of moving said orbit wherever they please. One of them is holding a mug that says "Astronomers do it in the dark".

    Web Original 
  • In the very first Rejected Princesses comic, emperor Aurelian can be seen brooding over a map of the empire (which is currently on fire) and sipping from a cup saying "NVM I AVGVSTVS", which the author translates as "#1 boss".
  • One image on the internet shows a coffee mug from the University of North Texas (UNT)... with a very unfortunately placed handle.

    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role has a Running Gag that Sam Riegel will have a new cup each season. In campaign 1, he has a giant tankard. In campaign 2, he drinks from a small metal flask similar to the one his alcoholic character Nott drinks from. Then a giant version of the same flask. In campaign 3, he drinks from a gasoline jug. His character for that campaign is a robot.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Gumball's sadistic and self-centered teacher Miss Simian has a coffee mug that reads "I ♥ Myself." It also has a frowny face at the bottom.
  • Arcane. Despite being a ruthless crime boss who outwardly presents himself as deathly serious, Silco's office desk is strewn with some unprofessional objects like a coffee mug with Jinx's doodles on them. It's a subtle way of showing that for all his ruthlessness, Silco's developed a genuine soft spot for his adopted daughter.
  • In an episode of the Earthworm Jim cartoon, Professor Monkey-For-A-Head sips from a mug that has a picture of Jim's crossed out face on it.
  • In Family Guy, when Brian briefly works for Stewie, he has a cup saying "Life's a beach". Stewie takes issue with it for some reason, and cites HR complaints (to which Brian responds that he's the only employee).
  • Futurama: In "The Cryonic Woman", Leela washes a mug that says "Universe's #1 Space Pilot", then sets it down next to Fry's mug, which says "Universe's #4307697 Delivery Boy".
  • Gravity Falls: In "Boss Mabel," Mabel (as the Mystery Shack's new boss) drinks from a mug reading "#2 Boss" and reminds Dipper, Soos, and Wendy that "the real #1 is you!"
  • The Looney Tunes Show:
    • In the "Chintzy" Merrie Melodies music video (part of "The Shelf"), when Daffy is unimpressed with the childhood photo of him and Porky together the latter got him for his birthday, he explains to him in song why expensive gifts are better than chintzy ones. One of the lyrics in the song is "A coffee mug that says MY BEST FRIEND will find a new home in my trash bin."
    • In another episode, Bugs' coffee addiction has gotten completely out of control and made him dangerously loony. His doctor orders him to cut coffee entirely, but Bugs is able to convince him to let him drink one cup a day. And Bugs drinks one cup a day, all right: a cup big enough to hold at least five gallons.
  • Moral Orel: Reverend Putty has a mug that says "I Hate My Boss". Of course, since he's a reverend, that would mean God is his boss.
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "Bummer Jobs", when Patrick is pretending to act like Cecil, he sits at a desk with a tie and a "Best Son Ever!" coffee cup.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Monty Can't Buy Me Love", when Mr. Burns appears on a radio show called "Jerry Rude and the Bathroom Bunch", Jerry himself is revealed to have a coffee mug in the shape of a toilet. The bowl is where the coffee goes.
    • A Running Gag in later seasons has Homer sipping from joke mugs that clearly belong to Ned Flanders.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "The Executive Treatment", while in a business office, Patrick high dives into a mug with a bored face that says "Have a Mediocre Day" on it.
  • Steven Universe: While discussing what to do with Peridot in "Catch and Release", Steven is drinking out of a mug that says "World's Best Stephen" on it.