The Story Behind Luke Cage's Swear Jar, According To The Creator

luke cage swear jar

Spoilers below for the first couple of episodes in Luke Cage Season 1.

Luke Cage made a Netflix-crashing splash this past weekend, and viewers were no doubt hollering at their TVs during some of the bigger twists. And there's a good chance those hollers had a few curse words sprinkled throughout, meaning quite a few people would be expected to drop money into Pop's Swear Jar at his barber shop. While that little prop might have seemed like an incidental addition, creator Cheo Hodari Coker revealed a much more inspired explanation for the jar.

See more

Fantastic. I mean, it's also kind of depressing, but that adds so much meaning to this talisman of sorts that Luke Cage held onto following the deadly incident at Pop's. A Cafe Bustello coffee canister at its core, the Swear Jar was a simple way to explain Pop's place as the moral center and neutral zone of Harlem's crime-filled streets. And it's awesome to learn that its existence is tied to Cheo Hodari Coker's attempts to lure the legendary Prince to the show. Somebody turn on the What If machine, because I need to know what this would have looked like.

For those unaware, Prince was a devout Jehovah's Witness, and he indeed kept a swear jar inside his Paisley Park compound, although reports have it that he charged quite a bit more for expletives than Pop did. (Twenty bucks a pop, apparently.) And it was that memorable aspect of Prince's life that Cheo Hodari Coker decided to introduce into Luke Cage as a form of homage-bait to attract the musician to appear for the season finale. Sadly, Prince died before anything happened with it, but the wordless power of Pop's Swear Jar was strong enough to be effective anyway.

While Coker doesn't share in his Twitter post what he wanted Prince to do in the episode, it seems likely that he would have made something happen within Harlem's Paradise, where the stage was always ready for bounce-worthy performances. Imagine if Prince had been so invested in the drama that he'd have written original music for Luke Cage. That's the kind of sh...stuff that would keep me up at night if I was Cheo Hodari Coker.

This is just as bad as finding out that David Bowie was meant to return to the Twin Peaks universe before he died, and making it even harder to accept the doomed possibility of a Prince cameo on Luke Cage is the fact that the icon did such a fantastic job when he hit up New Girl. The guy had charisma that was impossible to contain within the four sides of a TV. But now that we know this awesome little factoid, if somebody could just explain to me where that Back to the Future reference came from.

No bullshit - drops money in the jar - you can watch all 13 episodes of Luke Cage's first season right now on Netflix. To see what else you can soon give your undivided attention, check out our fall TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.