Harvey And Donna’s Secret Can Opener Ritual In Suits Explained
13 mins read

Harvey And Donna’s Secret Can Opener Ritual In Suits Explained


  • The
    can opener and thumbtacks ritual was a running gag in earlier seasons but was abandoned as the show became more serious and serialized.
  • The origin of Harvey and Donna’s can opener ritual was revealed in season 3, episode 6, where Harvey randomly suggests using a can opener as a new ritual after their previous whipped cream ritual was ruined.
  • The creators of
    intentionally never explained the can opener ritual, believing that the mystery added to the show’s appeal and allowed viewers to come up with their own interpretations.



Suits wrapped in 2019 but never explained its biggest mystery: the Suits can opener ritual. Harvey (Gabriel Macht) and Donna’s (Sarah Rafferty) pre-trial ritual was a favorite topic of conversation among viewers. By the ending of Suits season 9, the series was still notably silent on the Suits can-opener ritual, leaving the cryptic Harvey and Donna detail unresolved. However, with Suits gaining a new lease of life in the age of streaming, there are more viewers than ever wanting to know why Harvey and Donna carry out their secretive can opener ritual before every case.

During the earlier episodes of Suits, Harvey and Donna’s ritual was a regular running gag, and also helped establish the nature of Macht and Rafferty’s romantically-tense friendship. The Suits can opener and thumbtacks ritual went dormant in later seasons. Considering that Harvey and Donna’s previous whipped-cream ritual was scrapped after spending their first night together, many assumed the can opener was also tied to a sexual deed. However, the Suits Donna and Harvey can opener gag turned out to have a much simpler explanation — and one that didn’t actually do much to satisfy the mystery.


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What Is Harvey And Donna’s Can Opener Ritual?

Suits Never Showed What Harvey And Donna Do With The Thumb Tacks And Can Opener

Harvey and Donna looking at each other in Suits

Harvey and Donna initially used whipped cream for their ritual, but it was ruined for them after they spent one night together using it

The Suits can opener ritual came about very early in the show. Introduced in the first season of Suits, the esoteric running gag between Harvey and Donna involved a can opener and a handful of thumbtacks. It was never outright explained what exactly Suits’ Harvey and Donna do with such a weird combination of paraphernalia, only that they’d been doing it since long before they moved to the corporate law world.

As far as audiences knew, Donna and Harvey started working at the District Attorney’s office, where Harvey was gaining court experience before joining Jessica’s (Gina Torres) firm. Harvey and Donna initially used whipped cream for their ritual, but it was ruined for them after they spent one night together using it — hence having to make up the bizarre can-opener routine.


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Suits’ Can Opener Ritual Explained

Harvey Decided On A Can Opener For Their New Ritual Almost At Random

There is no deeper meaning behind why the Donna and Harvey
ritual involved a can opener instead of literally any other object.

It’s revealed in Suits season 3, episode 6 that the Harvey and Donna Suits can opener pre-trial ritual stemmed from nothing more than a random choice in a diner. After deciding that they can’t use whipped cream after its playful innocence was tainted by an incredibly adult night together, Suits‘ Harvey and Donna agree that they need a new ritual. This prompts Harvey to grab a can opener from a waitress nearby and says

Maybe something to do with a can opener

To which Donna replies,

Harvey, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard

As explanations go, this one is pretty basic, and there is no deeper meaning behind why the Donna and Harvey Suits ritual involved a can opener instead of literally any other object. Even more frustratingly, this moment still doesn’t address what the can opener ritual is — just that Harvey came up with it on the fly. There are plenty of theories online about what the can opener is actually for, though.

One of the most compelling (via Quora) is that the can opener was a willing audience on whom to practice opening statements. In Suits season 9 episode 9, “Thunder Away”, Donna tells Harvey to practice his statement on her rather than the can opener, so this theory could very well be correct.


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Why The Suits Creators Never Revealed The Can Opener Ritual

The Specifics Of The Ritual Were Kept Deliberately Ambiguous

Despite the running gag being synonymous with Suits for long-term viewers, Harvey and Donna’s can opener ritual is never actually shown on screen. This is one of the key reasons it’s generated so much intrigue. Can openers and thumbtacks are very specific items, so exactly what Harvey and Donna do with them before each trial is about as far from obvious as it’s possible to be. This was deliberate on the part of the Suits creators — a decision that may be frustrating to some, but one that Suits creator Aaron Korsh stands by.

With Suits surging in popularity on Netflix in the 2020s, many new viewers took to social platforms like Twitter to discuss the can opener ritual and question those involved in the production of the show, such as Aaron Korsh. Korsh created Suits, and seems to take full responsibility for what Harvey and Donna get up to with the can opener and thumbtacks never being explained. When asked on Twitter why a viewer had made it all the way to season 7 and still didn’t know, Korsh replied

Because I’d rather you want to know than know. That’s why”.

A succinct answer to be sure, but one that explains the decision from a creative perspective. Aaron Korsh and the other creative minds that worked on Suits knew that the mystery of the can opener ritual was much more satisfying unsolved. It’s one of the many unique selling points of Suits as a show, and it was always the intent of Korsh to keep it that way.

The mystery of the can opener ritual adds much more to the viewing experience of Suits than any explanation would, and since Suits legacy — and that of Harvey and Donna’s can opener ritual — grows over time, it’s clear that Korsh made the right move by never fully explaining it.


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Why It’s Good The Suits Can Opener Mystery Was Never Fully Explained

If Suits Had Explained Donna And Harvey’s Ritual It Would Have Lost Some Of Its Magic

Harvey and Donna walking down the aisle in Suits.

Ultimately, Suits never truly revealed what exactly Harvey and Donna use the Suits can opener for, and this is for the best. By leaving the ritual unexplained, the show allows viewers to come up with their own theories, no matter how outlandish or mundane. In a way, this is even more engaging than having a neatly explained or illustrated explanation.

In fact, what little backstory Suits did give about the can opener may have already been too much, as the diner scene takes away some of the magic by showing that the can opener was a random choice rather than a meaningful one. Harvey and Donna’s relationship dynamic was one of the best elements of Suits for all 9 seasons, and as a symbol of their partnership (romantic and professional), the can opener is a memorable and enriching quirk.


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Why Suits Shouldn’t Have Revealed The Can Opener Ritual’s Origins

What Little Suits Did Reveal About The Ritual Was Already Too Much

Donna kisses Harvey in Suits

Having it revealed that Harvey and Donna chose a can opener because they’d ruined whipped cream for themselves was too much exposition.

While there are some contingents in the Suits viewership who were happy that Harvey and Donna’s can opener ritual got an origin story — albeit a shallow one — there were others who didn’t take well to the development. For some long-time fans of Suits, the charm of the can opener ritual lay in the fact it wasn’t ever explained. For them, the mystery was part of the charm, and having it revealed that Harvey and Donna chose a can opener because they’d ruined whipped cream for themselves was too much exposition.

The Harvey and Donna can opener was a divisive element in Suits as the show wore on. However, the show was far from universally praised, even to the point that some critics and even fans believed Suits should have ended with season 7. The can opener ritual was a running gag that worked because it was never explained. The tone of Suits may have moved away from heavy-handed humor toward the end, but that didn’t mean the viewers who stuck with it had lost appreciation for Donna and Harvey’s unexplained pre-trial warm-up.

For many of those viewers, explaining the origins of the can opener ritual made it feel considerably less charming and quirky — and the absence of these qualities notably impacted the sum total viewing experience of Suits overall. Ultimately, what the can opener ritual is will never be revealed since Suits has long since concluded. Given the mixed response to the explanation of where it came from, it’s perhaps best that what Harvey and Donna actually did with the can opener and thumb tacks was always left to the imagination.


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How Gabriel Macht And Sarah Rafferty Explain Suits’ Can Opener Ritual

Suits' Donna and Harvey

With so much mystery surrounding the Suits can opener ritual and what Harvey and Donna do with the utensil, it’s a wonder that no one from the production team has spoken out about it yet. Well, prior to the flashback episode, Gabriel Macht (Harvey) and Sarah Rafferty (Donna) talked about the ritual in an interview with BuddyTV, promising that the episode would shed a little more light on the subject.

Mainly, Rafferty and Macht discussed how different the relationship was between Donna and Harvey when the ritual was formed, which does glean further insight into its quirkiness. Rafferty explained:

“Their given circumstances are not at all like their given circumstances are in the present, so they have a looser kind of banter, and they’re having more fun, and they’re really comfortable with each other.”

While this is probably a simpler explanation than many fans were hoping for, it makes sense given Harvey and Donna’s personalities. Donna and Harvey’s unburdened relationship is certainly part of the formula behind the making of the Suits can opener ritual, as something so silly can only come from such a place. Later in the interview, Macht assured that audiences would learn a lot more about the origins of the Suits can opener ritual, which was somewhat true.

Suits TV Show Poster


Suits follows Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), who, despite never attending law school, is able to use his photographic memory to become a lawyer. The legal drama ran from 2011 to 2019 for a total of nine seasons and also starred Gabriel Macht, Meghan Markle, Sarah Rafferty, and Rick Hoffman.

Patrick J. Adams , Sarah Rafferty , Gabriel Macht , Meghan Markle , Rick Hoffman , Gina Torres , Amanda Schull , Dule Hill , Katherine Heigl

Release Date
June 23, 2011



Aaron Korsh

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