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"Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!"
— Multiple characters in the series, including President Snow, Effie Trinket, and even Gale and Katniss
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The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, is a tetralogy (formerly a trilogy) of young adult novels that take place After the End in Panem, a nation in what used to be North America that is divided into numbered districts and a large capital city (the Capitol). In the first book, heroine Katniss Everdeen takes her sister Primrose's place when Prim is chosen to be a contestant ("Tribute") in the Hunger Games: an annual televised Deadly Game wherein 24 teenage contestants are locked in an arena to fight to the death until only one remains. Her struggle for survival ends up igniting a firestorm that quickly goes beyond her control, until she finds herself embroiled in an all-out war that almost makes the arena look like Disneyland.

The four books are:

A feature film adaptation was released in March 2012, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, and Donald Sutherland as President Snow. The film has its own page here. A film adaptation of Catching Fire was released in 2013, with a two-part adaptation of Mockingjay released in 2014 and 2015.

Now with a Character Sheet! And a Taiwanese game show named after it.


Note: The title event of this book series is a fight to the death. As such, Death Tropes and death-related spoilers are plentiful. Proceed with caution.

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Provides examples of:

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  • 13 Is Unlucky: District 13 is the odd district out, especially after it got destroyed by the Capitol prior to the events of the series. Or so Katniss and most of the country has been told. A portion of the district has been quietly surviving underground, having enough nuclear weapons to keep itself and the Capital locked into an uneasy truce out of fear of a nuclear war. Still, they're cut off from most of the world.
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Win, and not only are you rich for life, but your whole district gets monthly deliveries of food, which makes a *big* difference for a place where most people are perpetually on the brink of starvation. Lost, and you die, likely in a painful and violent way. Certainly in a public way. The games are mandatory viewing for everyone in the country, including your family and anyone who may care about you, and there's always a full recap of each death.
  • Accidental Murder: Peeta accidentally kills Foxface with poison.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In The Hunger Games: Effie after Katniss described the Gamemakers' reaction to her firing at the apple in their roast pig's mouth. While everyone else (Katniss, Haymitch, Peeta, Cinna, and Portia) is laughing outright, Effie is suppressing a smile. After that she agrees that the Gamemakers did deserve that.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: In-universe example. The longer the Games run, the more expensive it is for sponsors to send support to remaining Tributes.
  • Adult Fear: The point of the Games was for the Capitol to show it has so much control over its citizens, they can kill the children publicly and there is nothing the Districts can do about it. This has caused Katniss to swear off the idea of getting married and having kids because she knows they'd have to face the Reaping. She changes her mind, however. Fifteen years after the rebellion that brought an end to the Hunger Games.
  • Aerith and Bob: On one hand, you've got normal names like Annie and Johanna, but then on the other you've got more unusual names like Katniss, Peeta, Twill, Plutarch, and Beetee.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Gale calls Katniss "Catnip", though this is really due to her being so shy when they first met that she mumbled her name and he misheard her.
    • Occasionally used is 'little duck' from Katniss to Prim, due to the latter's habit of having her shirt tails untucked.
  • After-Action Healing Drama: When Katniss finds Peeta in the arena, he has been slashed badly by Cato, and she has to treat him. And get medicine.
  • After the End: Some combination of wars and natural disasters destroyed the entire population of the world except for Panem (North America). There are implications that Panem represents the entire human species. District 12, the smallest District (possibly excluding 13), has a population of between 8,000 and 10,000. It also explains why, for all his machinations, Snow doesn't want to risk nuclear war.
  • Airstrip One: The Districts are numbered, and segregated by industry.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Not even an Ax-Crazy Jerkass like Cato deserves to be Eaten Alive by Mutts for over twenty hours.note 
    • The way Glimmer bites it is pretty nasty, especially her cries for help.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The people in the Capitol have some strange fashion ideas, among them body dyes. At least one person mentioned has dyed her whole body pea green.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Collins has stated that we're so far in the future that racial mixing has blurred any categories that might exist today. She refuses to elaborate on what modern races the characters would be categorized as. Katniss herself has olive skin and straight black hair, in contrast to her blonde-haired and blue-eyed mother and sister. Rue and Thresh have "dark skin." In The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the District 11 tribute, Reaper, is described as having dark brown skin.
  • And Man Grew Proud: Zig-zagged. Technology in the Capitol, After the End, far exceeds what we're capable of now, but the lower Districts are like third world countries. Some Capitolites are well-educated enough to know about the history of the world Before the Dark Times, but Katniss only has a very vague idea of the Dark Days and the world before Panem.
  • Animal Motifs: Katniss repeatedly compares President Snow to a snake, showing her distrust of him, and Rue to birds, highlighting her fondness for Rue and Rue's sweet and free-spirited nature. In-universe, Katniss is associated with a specific kind of bird called a mockingjay, which is an emblem of freedom and of the Capital's fallibility. Tigris looks and acts like a tigress so much that Katniss wonders if she picked the name herself.
  • Annoying Arrows: An unusual example where the trope applies the protagonist's own attacks. The arrows Katniss shoots only do much damage if she hits a vital area.
  • Anyone Can Die: The Hunger Games is actually an interesting example. Many of the characters are guaranteed to die, due to the format of the Games; however, as with most other works, main characters are very rarely if ever killed (depending on who you'd be willing to count as a main character), and only in major events. Katniss, as the first person narrator, inevitably survives the entire series. Everyone else, however, is fair game, especially in Mockingjay, where the country goes into a full-scale rebellion with heavy losses on both sides. And that does mean everyone.
  • Apocalypse How: At least continental, probably global. In the first book, Katniss describes a massive natural disaster: "the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land." Wars erupted as factions tried to claim the limited remaining resources, and this appears to have led to the collapse of the North American nations that we currently know. Some time after that, about 75 years before the present, a massive rebellion resulted in further destruction; District 13 was seen as a particular threat since they controlled the nuclear power and potentially weapons, so the Capitol bombed them into oblivion.
  • Arc Number: Twelve. 12 districts, 12 pairs of tributes (who become eligible at age 12), training scores of up to 12, 12 arrows in the quiver in the arena, 12 houses in the Victor's Village, 24 wedding dresses designed for Katniss, then voted down to 6, lightning strikes at midnight and noon in a certain section of the Quarter Quell arena, which later becomes important to the plot, and a 12 x 12 apartment in District 13. Also, in the first book, both Prim and Rue are 12 years old, and Rue was one of 6 siblings.
  • Arc Words: "And may the odds be ever in your favor."
    • "Stay alive."
    • Catching Fire has "Remember who the real enemy is." and "Tick tock goes the clock."
  • Artificial Limbs: Peeta is outfitted with an artificial leg after the first Hunger Games. Katniss, having had her eardrum repaired after it was ruptured in the first Games, feigns being able to hear forcefields in Catching Fire during the second games.
  • Artistic License – Pharmacology: Snow used assassination by poison to rise to power. Apparently the Capitol can neither perform autopsies nor test surfaces for presence of toxins.note  In Mockingjay, Katniss describes morphling as making her feel numb and empty. For opiate addicts (who've begun to grow 'immune' to the effects) this may be the case, but morphine makes non-addicts feel relaxed, warm and happy, even through emotional depression.
  • Asian and Nerdy: The narrator of the Scholastic audio books puts on a distinct stereotypical Asian accent that is especially noticeable in Catching Fire for "Nuts" Wiress and "Volts" Beetee, the two engineers in Catching Fire, although this trope has been averted by the film casting for Catching Fire: the Caucasian Amanda Plummer has been cast as Wiress, and African-American actor Jeffrey Wright has been cast as Beetee.
  • Ax-Crazy: Some of the Careers. Clove would've given Katniss a Glasgow Smile if Thresh hadn't stepped in. And Cato explodes so violently when Katniss takes out his supplies that he snaps a nearby boy's neck. Enobaria ripped someone else's throat out in her Games. With her teeth. Titus tried to eat the hearts of the contestants he killed.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: This trope is deliberately invoked by Peeta who claims Katniss is pregnant after the two are forced back into the arena for the Quarter Quell. Apparently not even the bloodthirsty denizens of the Capitol seem to want to watch a pregnant girl be killed. Subverted in the epilogue as while Peeta and Katniss do have two children, and this is a sign of hope, the world is still far from a good place, and Peeta and Katniss both retain enduring psychological issues as a result of the events of the books. This is less 'babies make everything better' and more the fact that the world is finally 'better' enough to have a baby in the first place.
  • Back for the Finale: In a morbid example, the Muttations sent to attack the last of the tributes in the final battle of the Games are made to resemble the tributes who had already fallen.
  • Bad Dreams: Katniss and the rest of the victors seem plagued by them, although Katniss has long had recurring nightmares about her father's death.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: This occurs with regard to Rue. As Katniss would be rather unsympathetic if she was forced to kill a terrified 12 year old who saved her life, looked up to her, and reminded her of her little sister, one of the fellow competitors does it for her.
    • Indeed, in the entire trilogy, she never has to do such "dirty work" against any sympathetic character, which is why her murder of the unarmed Capitol woman in the third book is so shocking.
  • Bath of Poverty At the Capitol, there is a panel with more than a hundred options in the shower in comparison to what Katniss is used to: a bucket of water warmed up on the stove.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Played straight at the end of the first book, when Katniss undergoes a beautification procedure that removes all of her scars after she emerges victorious. Averted in subsequent books, as she has a nasty scar on her arm at the end of the second book, and by the end of the third much of her body is covered by burn scars and skin grafts. Even after this, however, her face suffers no lasting damage.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me:
    • In a variant, Thresh, who is also from District 11, spares Katniss on one occasion because she helped Rue and gave her as much dignity as she could in her death. This extends in general to District 11, leading to riots breaking out.
    • The only reason Katniss has reason to suspect that Peeta is anything other than a canny competitor is because he gave her bread when she was starving to death and preparing to die.
  • Becoming the Mask: Katniss pretends to be in love with Peeta just to keep them both alive in the arena. At the end of the first book, she has begun to question herself whether this fake romance has become real affection. By the middle of the second book, she is totally prepared to die so he can continue living.
  • Bee Afraid: Tracker Jacker wasps. Giant stinging bastards with paralytic and hallucinogenic venom that makes you see things Clive Barker couldn't think up after a bad acid trip.
  • Bee Bee Gun: Katniss uses a hive of lethal, genetically-altered wasps to kill some of her opponents as well as unintentionally injure herself.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Johanna wants to see Capitol children get slaughtered in Hunger Games, and more specifically, President Snow's 12 year old granddaughter. Peeta in a twisted way, as it's not the torture per se that makes him evil, but the way that his pain and fear were redirected towards Katniss via memory manipulation.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Even when Katniss tries to act nice, she can't help but bicker with Peeta. Also has this with Gale.
  • Betty and Veronica: Peeta is the Betty and Gale (despite being Katniss' best friend from early childhood) is the Veronica to Katniss' Archie: Peeta is nice and fairly sweet, while Gale has a revolutionary mindset and a ruthless streak.
  • Big Bad: President Coriolanus Snow for the entire series, until Alma Coin seizes control from him near the end of Mockingjay.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Katniss to Prim and most other children that remind her of Prim. Also Rue to her siblings, and Thresh to Rue. See the character page for how.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Cameras are waiting to catch every minute of Katniss and Peeta's lives once they become contestants in the Games. Life in the districts is also very closely monitored, leaving people afraid to say anything that might come off as negative about the Capitol. President Snow even knows Gale and Katniss kissed in the woods outside District 12.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the first book Thresh saves Katniss from being killed by Clove, on behalf of her relationship with Rue. In the second book, Plutarch and Haymitch evacuate Katniss from the arena before the Capitol gets it's hands on her.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: One per book. In-universe, the Katniss/Peeta shippers in the Capitol (and for that matter the rest of Panem) get such a moment when Katniss and Peeta are hiding in the cave.
  • Bilingual Bonus: 'Panem', the name of the country this story is set in, means 'bread' in Latin. This revealed to be a reference to "panem et circenses" — when a government appeases people with food and spectacle to maintain power, which is exactly what the Capitol does. The mute servants in the Capitol are called the Avox, which means 'without voice' in Greek and Latin.note  'Katniss' is the name of a family of plants, also known as 'Sagittaria' — Latin for 'archer'.
  • Birds of a Feather: Katniss and Gale, though ultimately inverted when Katniss decides that she needs Peeta to balance her own rather ruthless and cynical tenancies out.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first book ends with Katniss and Peeta both surviving the Hunger Games, as well as gaining the rewards that go with being crowned victor, but the government is very angry at them - mostly Katniss - because their refusal to try to kill each other is considered an embarrassment to the totalitarian regime that orchestrates the Games and a threat to its control. The freedom at the end of the series is paid for in a lot of blood, and the characters are burdened with deep emotional scars. However, Panem is rebuilding and there's some Babies Ever After for the two lead characters.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality:
    • The crew that works The Hunger Games. They obviously live in the Capitol and prepare the candidates to be offered as tribute, and Effie even seems to love the Games, but the genuine horror that most of them feel for Katniss and Peeta's suffering makes things a little grayer. One could even argue that by styling, mentoring, and presenting them, the teams are doing all they can from the Capitol to ensure their survival, since good PR helps a lot.
    • This gets especially obvious in Mockingjay, since the Capitol commits all sorts of war crimes, and some of the rebels are willing to stoop to their level (either for the greater good of defeating the Capitol and/or for revenge). The final straw that convinces Katniss that the Capitol and District 13 are Not So Different is when she witnesses what is probably a False Flag Operation targeting children and medics (including her little sister) using a bombing tactic that Gale had thought up, followed closely by District 13's President offering a vote to have their own Hunger Games. To make it even grayer, Katniss herself votes yes on the Capitol Hunger Games, and President Snow tells Katniss that while he's not above killing children, he would never have pulled the stunt that had just killed Prim, and they both know he's not lying.
  • Black Market Produce: Katniss makes her living poaching game and selling it on the black market. In addition, most food that isn't made from grain rations is expensive and rather rare in the Districts. The decadent Capitol, on the other hand, has tons of food of all kinds.
  • Blood from the Mouth:
    • Subverted by President Snow, since it's neither overt nor a sign of his impending death. Played straight later.
    • The first tribute Katniss sees die suddenly sprays blood onto her face while fighting with her over supplies, due to a sudden and terminal case of throwing-knife-in-back. Katniss herself narrowly avoids succumbing to the malady a few seconds later.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Mockingjay is probably the bloodiest of all the books (though none of them are gory per se), but this applies much more clearly in-universe to the Quarter Quells, which are all extremely violent and in-universe intentionally made even more brutal than the "normal" Games.
  • Blood Knight: "Careers" are kids who train all their young lives to win glory in the Games, volunteering for them if they're not selected by lottery.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: About thirty seconds into the 74th Games, the boy from District 9 coughs blood into Katniss' face after getting knifed by Clove.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity:
    • In the 74th Hunger Games, the Careers have Katniss trapped up a tree at one point and do nothing to take advantage of her unfavorable position other than sleeping under the tree. Obviously, this gives Katniss enough time to figure out an escape plan.
    • Later, when Clove manages to pin down Katniss, Clove mocks and tortures Katniss instead of killing her. It doesn't end well for Clove.
    • Played with by Snow in Catching Fire. Snow had the option - confirmed in the film version as canon and heavily speculated upon in the book - to leave Katniss alone and carry on the Games as normal. He instead forces her back into the Games, which has the totally unexpected effect of making Katniss even more tragic and popular, and giving her a built-in group of highly trained helpers in the form of other Victors.
  • Book-Ends: Buttercup is hated by Katniss in the beginning and adopted as protective pet and mutual reminder of Prim in the end. A nightmare wakes Prim in the beginning, and Katniss' child in the end. Singing to the frightened child: Prim in the beginning and Katniss' child in the end.
  • Boomerang Comeback: This is how Haymitch won his game. He made it to the edge of the arena, where he discovered there was a force field that reflected back everything that was thrown at it. The other remaining competitor caught up with him, threw an axe, Haymitch ducked, the axe bounced back, and killed the thrower.
  • Boulder Bludgeon: Thresh, after believing that Clove had killed his young district partner Rue, had gotten so enraged that he killed her by smashing her head with a large rock.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Peeta is subjected to mental conditioning that causes the mere mention of Katniss to send him into an Unstoppable Rage. He gets better. Mostly.
  • Bread and Circuses: Panem et Circenses. Discussed Trope in Mockingjay.
  • Breakfast Club:
    • People who have won the Games tend to become close friends and stick together, because only other tributes can understand what they have gone through.
    • In Mockingjay there's a vote between the Tributes about whether or not to send high-ranking Capitol officials' children into a last Hunger Game; Katniss and Haymitch vote to do it. It seems almost certain that Katniss votes that way only in order to fool Coin into thinking she's on her side, and the fact that Haymitch understood that and voted with her makes Katniss realizes how much they really understand each other.
  • Break the Cutie: To a certain extent, any character deemed cute goes through this treatment in the series. Rue is the first, as she gets shoved into the Hunger Games at 12, and is heartbreakingly resigned to the fact that she can't win. Peeta's Trauma Conga Line is significantly longer than that of most of the other characters, though for the most part he takes it all in stride. In addition, Katniss' own mental breakdown, and the reasons it comes about, is elaborated on repeatedly throughout the third book, until eventually you have to wonder when the tale of a recent victor of a brutal tournament acting as the heroic symbol of a rebellion ends and the clinical psychological study on how to utterly break a seventeen-year-old girl's mind begins.
    • Averted, however, in the case of Prim who, despite the horrors she experiences, seems to adjust pretty well. Not that it does her much good at the end.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Gale at the beginning of the first novel, inciting one of about five times where Katniss actually laughs.
  • Broken Aesop: Has its own page.
  • Broken Bird:
    • Before the storyline of the books, Katniss' father died, which caused her mother to cross the despair event horizon, entering a catatonic state where she could not care for her family anymore. This in turn drove Katniss over the despair event horizon as she nearly starved to death and had lost both parents as nurturing, reliable and relatable people and was suddenly tasked with keeping herself, her mother, and her little sister alive in a world where she's unable to even get a job. She's never able to fully trust her mother again, and watching her family starve because of her inability to bring in money and food has left her extremely closed off to others, protective of the people in her care, and utterly robbed of a childhood.
    • Johanna's and Haymitch's families were murdered. Peeta and Johanna got tortured. Annie had to listen to the screams of Peeta and Johanna and got mentally unstable from it.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Inverted, with Katniss as the brooding one and Peeta as the gentle one.
  • The Brute: Cato in the first book. Also implied to have been the case with the never-seen Titus.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Boggs. His life is a string of tribulations, from Katniss puking all over him to Gale breaking his nose to getting his legs blown off and dying horribly. The only time he makes a stand is when he gets angry at Coin for sending Peeta into his squad.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The addictive painkiller in use around Panem is called "morphling" (morphine) and the people addicted to it are called "morphlings."
  • Call-Back: Finnick offers Katniss a sugar cube again in Mockingjay, to add to her coffee.
    • Katniss notices Prim's untucked shirt just after her name is called at the Reaping, and again in Mockingjay just before her death.
  • Canon Foreigner: The characters Augustus Braun and Porter Millicent Tripp appeared on the now defunct Capitol Couture website, where they were said to be victors in past Hunger Games. note  However, there is no mention of these characters in either the books or the films. What's more, Augustus was said to be from District 1, though his name is more in keeping with District 2.
  • Cat Fight: Averted. A fight involving two females is not automatically a sexy catfight, which The Hunger Games proves especially intensely.
  • Cats Are Mean: Buttercup is to everyone who isn't Prim. Until Katniss and he finally bond after Prim's death.
  • Central Theme: Oddly enough, marketing and the power of symbols. Emphasized by the real-world marketing of the novel, preferring the love story to the social commentary in almost an exact mirror of the Capitol marketing the Games.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang:
    • The nightlock berries that Peeta accidentally kills Foxface with come up again after it's announced that the new rule that there can be two winners of the Hunger Games if they are in the same district has been revoked, Katniss and Peeta use them to threaten to kill themselves and ensure there is no winner. They come up again in Mockingjay where the rebels inspired by these events create a suicide pill they name Nightlock (whether it's made from Nightlock berries is unknown) also saying Nightlock 3 times will turn the Holo into a bomb.
    • Wiress and Beetee are known to be capable of making bombs, which helps out everyone in Catching Fire multiple times when they're able to manipulate the forcefield. Then, Beetee uses his skills in Mockingjay to kill many civilians.
    • The couple that Katniss sees on the edge of District 12 are a double between this and Chekhov's Gunman. One (Lavinia) shows up later in The Hunger Games, but the experience itself rebounds as an early clue that District 13 is still there, because they were escaping there.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Peeta explains to Katniss how each district has a distinctive recipe for bread, which later allows her to recognize that the gift she mreceives after memorializing Rue must have come from Rue's own people. It comes back in Catching Fire. See below.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Catching Fire, Katniss notes that, underneath the stench of roses, she can smell blood on President Snow's breath. It's then revealed in Mockingjay that the blood smell is a result of the damage caused by the numerous poisons he's ingested over several years in his bid for power; the roses are a deliberate effort to mask the scent.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Delly Cartwright is mentioned in The Hunger Games but doesn't appear until Mockingjay.
    • Johanna Mason is mentioned in the first book as well.
    • That random Gamemaker who tripped into the punch bowl, Plutarch Heavensbee, turns out to be pretty important as a leader of the Rebellion.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Frosting cakes turns out to come in really handy.
  • Children Forced to Kill: A person's name begins going in the jar for the Games at 12.
  • Climactic Battle Resurrection: Subverted in that defeated characters don't come back to help fight the Big Bad, they come back in another more sinister form to rip the remaining tributes limb from limb.
  • Closed Circle: Every game arena is tightly sealed off from the outside world. Tributes can receive supplies that float out of the sky on parachutes, but otherwise they're on their own.
  • Close-Knit Community: District 12
  • Comfort the Dying: Katniss spends a good chunk of the 74th games bonding with Rue, who reminds her a lot of her beloved little sister, Prim. When Rue gets fatally wounded by Marvel, Katniss stays with her until she dies and uses that time to sing her off.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: The whole point of life in the Districts, and the Games. Katniss takes a lot of horror in stride in the first book, but over the rest of the trilogy it finally becomes too much for her to deal with.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • In the first book, Katniss finally collapses from dehydration mere feet away from water.
    • If Katniss ever thinks that she doesn't want to kill a person during the games, she won't have to. Either someone/thing else kills them (Peeta, Rue, Wiress, Thresh, Mags) or they survive (Peeta, Finnick, Beetee).
    • Family members of past tributes are disproportionately likely to be selected as tributes themselves. This is an in-universe example, as Katniss figures the drawings must be rigged that way to create extra drama.
  • Costume Porn: Each tribute gets a personal stylist. Looking flashy outside of the arena serves a practical purpose, though: tributes who catch the audience's eye are more likely to receive sponsors who can help them survive the arena. Mentioned to have sometimes in the past been literal costume porn; the Capitol is not afraid to incorporate nudity or partial nudity as part of a child's costume for the cameras.
  • Covered in Mud: Peeta uses a large amount of mud with plants on top to disguise himself as part of a riverbank when he is too injured to move. This probably helps his infection along.
  • Crapsack World: Panem is North America After the End: a totalitarian nation composed of 12 actually 13 districts. Most of the districts are horrible places to live. The people are poor, starving, and oppressed while those in the Capitol live outrageously decadent lives. And that's even without mentioning the eponymous Deadly Game.
    • Then of course every year each district is forced to send two teens between 12 and 18 to fight until one survives as a constant reminder to the people how much power the government possesses over them. Oh yeah, everyone is also forced to watch the children brutally murder each other.
    • Even if you do happen to win the Hunger Games, you have some of the bleakest futures ahead of you: PTSD, madness, horrific nightmares, being prostituted out to the elite by the government, getting chosen a second time, or becoming dependent on drugs/alcohol to numb out the pain and memories especially when the Capitol kills everyone you love for making them look silly. Don't forget being forced to mentor the Tributes from your District. In Haymitch's case, that meant trying to help 46 children only to watch them die in the Games.
    • Even the rebellion is awful: food is rationed to the extent that stealing bread can result in torture and President Coin is just President Snow's other side to the same authoritarian coin.
  • Crippling Over Specialization: Katniss notes that while Careers are bred and trained for the actual combat, which is why they have a disproportionate number of victories. Their Fatal Flaw is they are completely incapable of surviving without supplies, almost always losing when the supplies at Cornucopia are destroyed. Naturally, Katniss decides to use this fact to her advantage and does the same.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Glimmer gets stung by a swarm of poisonous wasps which leave her a disfigured corpse. Cato gets mauled by wolf mutts. A morphling gets bitten by monkey mutts. One of squad 451 gets cut by barb wire. And several other of that squad get decapitated by lizard mutts.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: The Capitol is described as being full of colored glass, and the people are obsessed with fashion. Technology also seems to have advanced to the point that it can be completely hidden from view. Although no one wears a toga, Capitol residents almost all have Roman names, establishing them as a decadent and technologically advanced society.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Katniss' father dies five years before the first book, forcing her to toughen up and learn to hunt to support herself and her family. Later, Rue dies in the games, awakening her killer instinct. Then in Mockingjay, Primrose dies, driving Katniss towards deep depression and increasingly close to insanity.
  • Darker and Edgier: The whole series is pretty dark to begin with, but the series finale, Mockingjay, is much more hopeless than even the first two.
  • Deadly Game: 24 teenagers aged 12 to 18 are drafted to compete in a televised fight to the death. The titular Games started out as a government intimidation tactic by the hand of the wealthy Capitol, to repress the rebellion efforts of the outlying Districts. The Capitol spun this as a form of entertainment, and it eventually evolved into a game, complete with interviews, spotlights and publicity.
  • Debate and Switch: In the first book, Katniss’ major moral dilemma is whether she can kill equally innocent children in order to survive and come home to Prim and Gale. Yet, she never has to face this dilemma. She only ever kills Careers, who are treated as Acceptable Targets, and even then none of these kills are calculated or cold-blooded. Katniss drops the tracker-jackers on the Careers, because they are hunting her, which ends up killing Glimmer. She shoots Marvel, but as a quick reflex after Marvel kills Rue, and later kills Cato as a Mercy Kill. Katniss worries about having to kill Rue, but then Marvel kills Rue, Foxface, but then Foxface mistakenly eats the nightlock berries, and Thresh after he saves Katniss’ life but then Cato kills Thresh. The end finally subverts this when the Gamemakers renege on their offer to let two members from the same district live, and Katniss must either kill Peeta or be killed. But then Katniss Takes A Third Option by suggesting they both eat nightlock berries together. This is then doubly subverted, because the Gamemakers blink and let both Katniss and Peeta live, meaning Katniss never has to address the dilemma of killing an innocent to save her own life.
  • Defector from Decadence: Plutarch Heavensbee, his assistant, and some of the other people in District 13 have fled the Capitol. This was also the goal of Lavinia, the redheaded Avox, and the boy she was with when Katniss first saw her, but they didn't make it.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Katniss passes over it in a matter of paragraphs at the end of Catching Fire. And the rest of the series from there consists of it getting worse.
  • Dying as Yourself: Before going into the arena in the first book, Peeta mentions that his goal isn't to survive, but to retain his humanity. Katniss doesn't understand him for a bit, but after seeing some of the more heinous things close-up, she begins to feel the same way.
  • Dystopia:
    • Panem's 12 districts are not great places to live.
    • The Dystopia, in a more meta sense. The Hunger Games kicked off a much larger trend of YA Dystopian novels, borrowing from it in various ways. After this point, nearly all Dystopian novels include forced segregation based on industry or personality (see the factions of Divergent, the circles in The Jewel, and the castes of The Selection, to the extent that The Selection is in a dystopian world), and many of them circle around a teenaged girl leading a rebellion. Far fewer of them seem to address philosophy, with more of them analyzing the life of how one or two people survive, see the injustice around them, and decide to act.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Johanna Mason gets a brief mention in the first book, then appears in the flesh (um), a book later. Delly Cartwright is mentioned in the first part of the first book in passing, but doesn't appear until the middle of the third.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In-universe example. As revealed in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the first few Hunger Games did not contain many of the elements which later became standard. Rather than spending the time leading up to the Games in the lap of luxury, the tributes were treated as though they were barely human, being transported to the Capitol in cattle wagons, kept shackled and imprisoned in the stables used by the Peacekeepers' horses, though those from the Tenth Games were caged in the zoo instead. The Games themselves took place in the ruins of an arena within the Capitol, not in a specially constructed wilderness. The mentoring system was not introduced until the Tenth Games, but the earliest mentors were students at the Capitol's Academy, not past victors, possibly because at least three districts would have had yet to produce victors at that point. Also, at least in the Tenth Games, several tributes died before the Games officially began.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: More like Earn Your Bittersweet Ending. The uprising destroyed entire Districts and killed countless people, while Katniss lost many friends, Prim, and temporarily her sanity. But Panem turns out to be better under a new president, the Hunger Games is abolished, the Tributes are honored, and everyone is recovering. Katniss and Peeta have two children and live together for over 20 years.
  • Eat the Dog: "No one in the Seam would turn up their nose at a good leg of wild dog."
  • Embarrassing First Name: While the people themselves don't seem to mind, Katniss notes that a lot of District 1's denizens should be embarrassed by their names, the likes of which include Glimmer, Marvel, Cashmere, and Gloss.
    • Doubles as Hypocritical Humor, given District 12 has some bizarre name, such as Peeta the baker. Pita bread? Then there's the likes of Beetee and Wiress in District 3. Plus a tribute named Woof in Catching Fire.
  • Enemy Mine: Temporary alliances are all part of the Hunger Games.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Often used in-universe with Katniss. She's never warned about Peeta's interview strategy so that her reaction will be more genuine, and has to be dropped into the warzone to film her candid reactions for propaganda, since she can't act at all.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The first two things we learn about Katniss are that she loves her sister and that she has no problem drowning kittens.
    • Finnick: Once he actually gets inside the arena, he does land the first kill of the Games, and rather nonchalantly at that: he just tells Katniss to duck and impales a guy. However, he spends most of his time carrying an elderly woman around on his back instead of killing people. His previous scenes, where he all-but tries to seduce Katniss, cross this with Hidden Depths.
    • Gale: Telling Katniss that killing people in the Games can't be much different than hunting animals for food.
    • Haymitch: Appears to be just a drunken, washed-up has-been on Reaping Day, but after Katniss volunteers, he starts openly denouncing the Capitol for its cowardice and barbarism.
    "I like her. Lots of... spunk! More than you! MORE THAN YOU!!"
  • Even Evil Has Standards: As cruel and barbaric as the Hunger Games are, apparently even the Capitol draws the line at cannibalism, as proven when they brought a swift end to a District 6 tribute who started eating the corpses of his fellow Tributes as he tried to avoid starving to death.
  • Everyone Can See It: Between Katniss and Peeta. Also between her and Gale. At least, everyone can see that he has feelings for her. She never develops romantic feelings for him in return. In fact, she's the last one to figure it out.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Inverted. A group of deadly monkey muttations show up in the arena in Catching Fire.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The Arena for the second Quarter Quell, where everything from the water to the wildlife to the scent of the flowers was overtly lethal. The only things even safe to eat or drink were the rainwater and whatever was supplied at the Cornucopia.
  • Evil Empire: Quite literally and specifically. The Capitol (metropole/heartland) manipulates the Districts (periphery/provinces) to the benefit of the Capitol and the detriment of the Districts. Now consider the other things they engage in.
  • Evil Gloating: When Clove catches Katniss, she decides to give her something to think about. Followed, as usual, by a Thwarted Coup de Grâce.
  • Evil Plan: President Snow is concerned with the status quo. Among other things this means: only one victor, keep Districts divided, putting down riots and rebellions, etc.
  • Evil Smells Bad: President Snow smells of blood and cloying roses. It seems symbolic at first, but a reason for it is given in Mockingjay: Snow killed many rivals with poison. He uses the roses to cover up the smell of poison, and his bloody breath is from the mouth sores left by poisoned drinks he shared with his victims after taking less-than-perfect antidotes. He also uses the smell of roses to intimidate his enemies, especially Katniss. The lizard mutts in Mockingjay were specifically given this trait to screw with her head. It's very effective.
  • Excessive Mourning:
    • Katniss' mother, for what is implied to be several years, after her father's death. By the time the series starts, she has moved on, but Katniss never forgives her the whole time she essentially abandoned her and Prim.
    • Katniss herself suffers this after Prim's death. She undergoes a deep depression and never really moves on from it. Peeta has to persuade her for 15 years before she agrees to have their children. Meanwhile, her mother feels that it's too painful to even return to District 12, so she decides to move to District 4.
  • Eye Scream: When Katniss is hunting squirrels and rabbits, she always nails her target in the eye. Ouch. Justified in this case, despite the gruesomeness of it: Traders in the Seam consider this good hunting practice. Animals with weapon marks in their hides aren't worth as much, and puncturing the bowels can contaminate precious meat.
    • Discussed in another instance where the repeated references to this suggested a possible Chekov's Gun scenario where Katniss might shoot a human in the eye during the game. This doesn't appear to actually happen — except possibly with Cato. Katniss describes shooting him in the skull, but given the likelihood of an arrow deflecting off bone, the most surefire way for Katniss to nail him in the skull is … you guessed it. In Catching Fire, she mentions the possibility of shooting someone in the eye.
    • In the second book, during Haymitch's games, it is mentioned that the last remaining tribute besides him has a gaping hole where one of her eyes used to be.

    F-M 
  • Fallen States of America: The Nations of North America and possibly the rest of the world have been gone for at least 175 years. The United States and its Republic are even noted.
  • Famed in Story: Happens to Katniss and Peeta, same as with all victors.
  • Family Extermination: President Snow threatens Katniss Everdeen of murdering lots of her relatives if she doesn't really sell her pretended couple with Peta Mellark.
  • Family Eye Resemblance: Prim has her mother's eyes, Katniss has her father's. The children of Katniss and Peeta also apply to this trope.
  • Family of Choice: Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch for each other (the films also include Effie to a degree). Katniss still has her mother and sister until the third book where her sister dies and her mother moves away and Peeta's family is still around until the end of book two but all of Haymitch's loved ones were killed by the Capitol after the second Quarter Quell. The three of them become very close and at one point in the second book Katniss flat-out calls Haymitch a family member. For Haymitch, Katniss and Peeta seem to be the children he never had. By the end of the series Katniss and Peeta are married with two small children and Haymitch presumably fills the role of grandfather, since both Katniss' and Peeta's fathers are dead.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The books are ripe with this. Not surprising considering how many children have died in Panem for entertainment over the past 75 years. How about being caught in a net and speared by a trident courtesy of a fourteen year-old? Or having an axe essentially boomeranged into your head? Or having a nest of vicious, highly venomous genetically engineered wasps dropped on you while you were sleeping? This happening with the whole world watching you doesn't make it better.
  • Fantastic Drug: "Morphling," an addictive drug that is obviously a reference to morphine, and likely some sort of hybrid, given the setting.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Panem is a futuristic, sci-fi version of Rome. The country's name is an adoption of Rome's "Bread and Circuses" motto. The Capitol is an incredibly authoritarian superpower that brutally reigns over conquered territories to feed the decadent desires of its own citizens. The gladiatorial parallels with the Hunger Games are obvious, of course. Parties at the Capitol feature guests who induce vomiting so that they can consume more food, which is popularly thought to have been common at Roman banquets. The Capitol residents almost all have Roman first names. As a bit of extra bonus, the lottery slips that entitle the residents of the districts to free food (at the cost of increasing their chances of being reaped) are called Tesserae. In Ancient Rome, the Tesserae Frumentariae are tokens handed out to citizens of Rome which can be exchanged for free grain. In the districts, bread and circuses come in a single package.
  • Feed the Mole: During the first revolt of the districts, once the rebels realized the jabberjays were being used as espionage tools, they started feeding them lies to deceive the Capitol.
  • A Fête Worse Than Death: The Capitol requires the districts to treat the games as a festival. The place where the tributes obtain their weapons — and that is usually the site of the last, most vicious fights — is shaped like a cornucopia.
  • First Boy Wins: Subverted. Peeta is the first boy chronologically speaking, which should cast him as Unlucky Childhood Admirer, but he is introduced within the story after Gale.
  • First Kiss: Katniss has hers with Peeta. She notes that it probably should be a significant moment, but since it's a stunt she pulls on live television to try and save both their lives, all she feels is that his lips are very warm, because he has a fever.
  • Flames of Love: District 12 has a wedding tradition where the newly-weds build a fire and toast bread together. Peeta admits that the tradition is old-fashioned, but nobody feels married until after the toasting.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Used on a few occasions, and Katniss makes reference to having them many times before the beginning of Games about her father's death.
  • Flaw Exploitation: Katniss exploits the Capitol's need for a victor to get herself and Peeta both out of the Games.
  • Floral Theme Naming: Several characters are named after flowers, plants, or agriculture, with the sisters, Katniss and Primrose the most central ones (Katniss is a partially-edible water plant, primroses are pretty flowers). In addition, there is Gale Hawthorne, Rue, and Thresh.
  • Flower Motifs:
    • Peeta is, to Katniss, strongly associated with dandelions.
    • President Snow reeks of roses.
  • Food Porn: Early on, Katniss describes everything she eats in detail, which makes sense considering she spent a good portion of her life on the edge of starving to death, to the point that she'd boil a mint leaf in water just to stop feeling so hungry.
  • Forced to Watch: The Hunger Games are a nation-wide version of this for the districts. Each one is made to watch, on television, as two of their adolescent citizens engage in a weeks-long fight to the death with 22 other kids until only one is left alive. Katniss sums up the Capitol's message herself:
    "Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there's nothing you can do."
  • Foreshadowing: In the first book, Katniss mentions she first met the avox in the train while in the forest with Gale. She ponders where the Avox could have been headed since there’s nothing beyond the forest of District 12…
    • District Twelve's wedding ritual.
    • "The Head Peacekeeper loved wild turkey."
    • Rue first comes to Katniss and Peeta's attention in training when they're practicing throwing spears. A spear is later what kills her.
    • The first time Gale appears he's carrying a loaf of bread speared on an arrow, foreshadowing who Katniss will end up with.
    • During the Quarter Quell Katniss has a dream that foreshadows the epilogue.
  • Freudian Slip: After Rue is fatally injured by the District 1 Career, in a panic, Katniss refers to her as 'Prim' in her narration, though it's not really a secret that Rue has been a surrogate Prim in Katniss' eyes before that. And reversed in a later book Katniss sees Prim after Rue's death and calls Prim 'Rue' in the narration.
  • Gallows Humor: Katniss and some of the other Hunger Game tributes/victors learn to have a very droll outlook on their Crapsack World. Finnick takes it somewhat literally in Catching Fire by tying a noose and pretending to hang himself as a joke.
  • Gender Flip: Katniss is the Action Girl and is proficient at hunting with a bow and arrow. Peeta bakes and paints, and is more emotional of the two. They're an inversion of Manly Men Can Hunt and Feminine Women Can Cook, respectively.
  • Generation Xerox: Katniss looks like Mr. Everdeen, has inherited his hunting abilities, singing voice and, like him, will marry someone from the town. Prim looks like Mrs. Everdeen and has inherited her passion for healing. Also, Mrs. Everdeen was close friends with Katniss' friend Madge's mother as a teenager, and Peeta's father had a crush on Mrs. Everdeen when they were younger.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: More literally than usual. Genetically engineered beasties are the Capitol's favored weapon of war, or at least are coequal with troops and air power. Proper nukes are still around, though.
  • Genghis Gambit: In order to rally the people in the Capitol on her side and end things early, Coin blows up a bunch of children Snow gathered as human shields and makes it look like Snow is responsible. It works.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Just one fight left. Environment is herding the survivors towards the lake for a final brawl. SUDDENLY WOLVES! Justified, since the gamemakers can do whatever they want in the arena (including manipulate animals) and so anything that happens is likely a choice they made to spice things up and make it more dramatic.
  • Gilded Cage:
    • The Tributes' training area. Luxurious quarters, beautiful clothes, five star cuisine and of course, a top-notch training facility to prepare you for your fight to the death. Simply divine.
    • It's implied that the 'five-star' housing of the victors is also like this. Once they've won the game, they're celebrities around Panem and are live in a posh (by their standards) home in a special section of town. However, the Capitol keeps a close eye on them, and they're expected to serve as a mentor to future Tributes.
    • The wealthier districts have better living conditions but more brutal and fanatical Peacekeepers. On the other hand, District 12 is one of the poorest districts, but the authorities are far more willing to turn a blind eye to things like poaching and black market trading, or at least until they get replaced by new troops during Catching Fire.
    • We come to see as the series progresses that The Capitol is not the Utopia Katniss thought it was. Seneca Crane was executed for simply failing at his job. In Catching Fire, Effie's frightened comment – "That sort of thinking...it's forbidden, Peeta. Absolutely." – implies a Nineteen Eighty Four-esque society where their lives are physically comfortable, but people live in fear because thought, word, and deed are policed by the State, and free-thinkers are punished in terrible ways.
  • Gladiator Revolt: The series, especially the third book, could be seen as a post-apocalyptic version of this, with Katniss and other Hunger Games winners becoming major figures in the rebellion.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Peeta is kind and patient and totally kills people in the arena, including going back to finish off a wounded opponent while he was in the Career pack. Besides being three steps ahead when it comes to manipulating the on-camera narrative.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: District 13 is just as full of assholes as the Capitol. The conflict really boils down to some truly horrible people who happen to be in power and all the innocents who get caught in-between. Crapsack World indeed.
  • Gorn: How the Capitol citizens view The Hunger Games.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: Throughout The Hunger Games, Katniss quite literally counts the number of remaining contestants on her fingers and toes, and in both the first and second books rationalizes that if no one else kills them, she will have to. Although she only personally kills two or three in the end.
  • The Government: The setting's government, based in the Capitol, is authoritarian and very sinister.
  • G-Rated Sex: At the end of Mockingjay, there's a passage about Katniss and Peeta kissing and how it makes her feel, then there's an ambiguous phrasing about "after" that could mean after the kissing or after sex.
  • Great Offscreen War: One or two of them – the civilizational collapse that led to the founding of Panem (we're never sure just what it was or if a war was involved), and the more-recent uprising (~75 years before the books take place) when the Districts rose up against the Capitol and lost. Most of the fighting in the revolution is also off-screen, up until Katniss gets directly involved in District 2. Even then, the majority of the rebellion is off-screen, with the individual Districts' revolts (sans Two and Eight) and even the final capture of Snow being done away from Katniss and therefore the reader. It helps to emphasize the fact that Katniss is only a tool in the war, not a soldier and certainly not a major player.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Gale tries damned hard not to like Peeta. And also briefly takes a dislike to Finnick when he thinks he has designs on Katniss too.
  • Grouped for Your Convenience: Each person in Panem is born into 1 of 12 districts. When citizens are between the ages of 12 and 18, they are pitted against each other in the annual Hunger Games.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot:
    • In the first book: Clove uses throwing knives, Glimmer and Katniss use a bow, and Rue uses a slingshot, while Cato uses a sword, Marvel uses a spear, Thresh uses brute force, and Peeta uses a combat knife and is noted to be strong enough that he could just use brute force as well.
    • Averted with Johanna, who uses an axe, and District 13, where soldiers of all genders rely on guns.
  • Happily Married: Mr and Mrs. Everdeen. When he died, she was so grief-stricken that she couldn't look after their children for a long time.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: The Careers are trained from children to be bloodthirsty killers. But, especially in the 74th Games, it serves them very badly. Despite her training, Glimmer apparently can't make even a half-decent shot with a bow and arrow.
  • Harmful to Minors: Only minors are selected for the standard Hunger Games. The 75th Hunger Game changes the rules.
  • Hate Sink: Katniss and Peeta can't exactly attack the directors of the Games, the Capitol doesn't send its children to die in the Games, and most of the other Tributes are from Districts as oppressed as 12. However, "Career Tributes" from Districts 1, 2 and 4 are frequently volunteers, Child Soldiers have who trained to kill other children since they were able to walk. In addition to their loathsome mindset and superior skills, they always team up to eliminate the weaker Tributes, then gleefully kill each other once everyone else is dead.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: Peeta tries to invoke this in a More Hero Than Thou dispute. Katniss' internal monologue reveals she'll have none of it.
  • Heroic BSoD: Katniss has several: a minor one in Games after Rue's death, followed by a very brief one when she realizes she's killed for the first time (made more obvious in the film); another at the end of Catching Fire, and two major ones in Mockingjay, one each after she sees Prim die and then kills President Coin.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Katniss takes Prim's place in the Reaping during Games;
    • Peeta planned on protecting Katniss until the end of the Games and then allowing her to kill him so she could win.
  • Hero Secret Service: The rebel-aligned tributes work to break Katniss out of the arena in the Quarter Quell, keeping it a secret from everyone, even Katniss.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Gale, especially after setting off what is essentially a giant mine explosion in District 2 to win a battle.
  • Hidden Depths: All the sympathetic characters reveal themselves to be more than they at first appeared.
  • High-School Sweethearts: They're not actually in school when they get together but age-wise the trope fits for Katniss and Peeta.
  • Holding Hands: Most notably during the interviews for the Quarter Quell.
  • Hollywood Genetics: Katniss has the same typical Seam traits as her father - dark hair, grey eyes, olive skin. Her sister Prim, however, managed to inherit their mother's merchant look with blonde hair, blue eyes and fair skin. One might wonder how that was possible when it's strongly implied that townfolks and people in the Seam haven't interbred for generations. It's possible that their father carried those genes too but it's highly improbable.
    • This has even spawned a fan-theory that Prim is Katniss' half-sister and that she might even be half-sister to blonde, blue-eyed Peeta (whose father fancies Katniss' mother, even after she ran off to marry someone from the Seam).
  • Hollywood Healing: Due to the advanced medicine available in the Capitol, and the need to keep the tributes looking nice, most injuries sustained by the characters are healed completely. Aversions include Chaff's hand and Peeta's leg, though he gets a prosthetic leg that is rarely referred to again. In the end, Katniss and Peeta are both covered in skin grafts and burns that the District 13 doctors gave only basic treatment for.
  • Hollywood Psych:
    • Though Haymitch is an alcoholic, in the first book he very conveniently decides to stay sober only when he needs to be on the condition that Peeta and Katniss not interfere with his drinking when he feels like it. Real alcoholism isn't quite that convenient. Bit better in later books when we see him at least having difficulty sobering up.
      • Many real-life alcoholics do go through periods of sobriety in-between benders so Haymitch's sobriety in itself is not such a stretch. The fact that it happens from one day to the next, on the other hand...
    • Catching Fire describes Annie as hysterical when she's reaped for the 75th games, without going into any sort of detail. This is enough to have Katniss think she's completely insane, though Katniss has never really understood overly emotional people. Later in Mockingjay, we meet Annie and Katniss seems to think she's just a little quirky, though she occasionally covers her ears with her hands for no apparent reason. In real life, a person covering their ears that way would imply that they are hearing things that aren't there. Being that this isn't a one off (she does it "occasionally") it's a pretty big alarm bell for a psychotic disorder not otherwise specified. So apparently Katniss was right the first time, though at the point in Mockingjay when Katniss actually meets Annie, she herself has become even more psychologically damaged, either allowing her to relate better to Annie's "quirks", or deciding that she has no right to judge. This change in opinion also happens after her friendship with Finnick develops, whereas before she'd never met him. Her defense of and possible friendship towards Annie might be a result of that, seeing her more the way Finnick sees her rather than how the majority might.
    • Hijacking. The way Tracker Jacker venom works in the first book is somewhat questionable, but in Mockingjay it really doesn't make sense as a conditioning tool. For one, the brain really doesn't work that way. Conditioning is an unconscious mechanism that can't be manipulated into a deliberate response the way the book describes. This is why the CIA stopped trying to do this in the first place. For another, the part of the brain that controls fear is so separate from your memory that it's unlikely that a drug designed to affect the fear part of your brain would have any affect on memory whatsoever.
  • Hot Wings: One of the outfits Cinna designs for Katniss burns away its outer layer when she twirls, leaving a smoking mockingjay costume, a symbol of rebellion. President Snow is not amused.
  • Hufflepuff House: Most of the Districts of Panem are pretty extraneous and we learn little about them.
    • The district that stands out the most for standing out the least would have to be District 9. (No, not that District 9) Both its tributes die in the initial bloodbath at the Seventy-fourth and Seventy-fifth Hunger Games, it has only two named characters, and the only character who does anything of even minor significance is the boy who fights Katniss for the backpack in the Seventy-fourth Games and gets killed by Clove in the process. All we hear about the district itself is that they grow grain — nothing about its sympathies or role in uprisings against the Capitol. Their generic status continues in the prequel, where both of their tributes die early in the Tenth Hunger Games. It's not known how their tributes fared in the other seventy-two Games, other than that at least two of them won.
  • Human Resources: Near the end of the first book, Katniss realizes that Muttations, the genetically engineered monsters that attack the surviving tributes, were somehow created from the dead tributes. In the book, the Muttations have the same hair color and eyes as the tributes they were created from. In the movie, the correspondence is much subtler. They all look like brown dog-wolves, but their CGI facial expressions are based on the actors who played the tributes.
    • Although she later reflects that the Muttations probably didn't actually contain any parts of the dead tributes - they were just made to look like them for the additional psychological terror.
  • Human Sacrifice: Tributes are sacrificed by the Capitol to remember the betrayal of District 13.
  • Hungry Jungle: a staple for the arenas at the Hunger Games.
  • Icon of Rebellion: The mockingjay pin, and later Katniss herself in her guise as The Mockingjay.
  • Idiot Ball: Katniss and Peeta toss this back and forth in the first book: Katniss seems to be very bad at reading people. Cinna, Haymitch and Effie all tell Katniss that her high score after firing an arrow at the Gamemasters is a good thing, no one seems to notice the big ol' bullseye on her back that this stunt grants her. In Catching Fire, when Plutarch goes out of his way to show her his fancy pocket watch, and makes some rather pointed statements regarding it and time in general. It doesn't occur to her until much later that he was trying to drop her a hint about something.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: A District 6 tribute from a past Games named Titus went insane and ate the bodies of the tributes he killed.
  • Important Haircut: Katniss having her body hair waxed throughout the series. District 12 has no fashion to speak of, and the citizens have a lot more important things to concern themselves with, so Katniss — and by implication, the other women of 12 — don't shave their body hair(legs, underarms) and think nothing of it. Her stylists stripping her bare is just another example of the Capitol changing who she is — to the point where by Catching Fire, she considers her unshaven legs a sign of her freedom, and is more than a bit sore to lose them.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Snow family was a noted Capitol family and extremely rich before the Dark Days killed their patriarch and cut them off from the source of their wealth, the nuclear munitions empire they ran in District 13. In the ten years after the war, even though they managed to retain their highborn status, they're barely scraping for food and struggled to pay rent. It only ended when Coriolanus Snow accepted to be designated heir by the ultra-rich Plinth family after he ratted out their only child as a rebel sympathizer.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Katniss is repeatedly shown hitting small game directly in the eye, seemingly with ease.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Two of Katniss, The Girl On Fire's first ceremonial outfits in the Capitol fit this theme, though only one of them actually uses fire.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Haymitch, all of the time.
  • Informed Ability: Peeta is mentioned as being good with a knife and Katniss makes a point of giving him one during the Quarter Quell, yet he's more proficient at being The Load.
  • Informed Kindness: Katniss comments how Ceasar is actually good at his job and wants the best for the contestants. However, this is his job and he isn't shown having any particular response to any of the characters, which leaves it ambiguous if any of his "kindness" is remotely sincere, or just a good front for the cameras. However, justified by the fact that Katniss has watched the Games since she was a child and so may just be carrying over her enjoyment of watching him on television.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: During Katniss' breakdown after the announcement of the Quarter Quell, most notably. Even more so when she meets Buttercup in district 12 which makes Katniss realize Prim's death.
  • Inevitable Mutual Betrayal: Every alliance in the hunger games, except Katniss and Peeta. Team ups make both tributes more likely to survive, but in the end one of them must kill the other if they are the last.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: In the end Peeta appears to move in with Katniss shortly after returning to Twelve, sleeping beside her to help comfort her when she has a nightmare. This time around though it eventually leads to sex, marriage and babies.
  • In-Universe Factoid Failure: Effie Trinket insists "Well, if you put enough pressure on coal it turns to pearls." That should be diamonds.
  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: Katniss literally volunteers to be thrown into the life-or-death fight to the finish battle that is the Hunger Games. The twist is that she did so to keep her little sister out of the ring. Comes full circle when the events that her participation in the Games set in motion eventually lead to her sister's death.
  • It Gets Easier: Referenced several times in the first book, with Katniss several times rationalizing that killing people isn't much different than killing animals, to the point where before she actually does so for real she begins actively planning how to kill other tributes and, by the third book she's capable of not only planning Snow's death, but cold-bloodedly and without hesitation cuts down an unarmed Capitol citizen whose only apparent crime was opening her door at the wrong time. Peeta's reluctance to change who he is because of the games is interpreted by Katniss as being a fear of this, too.
  • It Has Been an Honor: One of Katniss' prep team.
  • It Meant Something to Me: Peeta to Katniss at the end of the first book.
  • It's Personal:
    • Between Katniss and Snow and between Katniss and Coin.
    • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes reveals that Snow's vendetta against Katniss, and District 12 in general, actually dates way back. He was a mentor to a tribute from District 12 during the 10th Hunger Games and helped her won. He even fell in love with her, and vice versa. However, a series of events caused their relationship to sour suddenly, as she discovered what person he really is and him attempting to murder her in turn. The possibility that she was Katniss' ancestor just adds to the grudge, because after they drifted apart Snow had worked all his life to forget that the girl used to be a part of his life.
  • It Was a Gift: Katniss' Mockingjay pin.
  • I "Uh" You, Too: Averted in Catching Fire when Gale tells Katniss that he loves her. Katniss, who is still confused about her feelings for Peeta, does the Han Solo thing and tells him "I know." Also averted in real life by the characters actors:
    Jennifer Lawrence: "Liam is clearly in love with me."
    Liam Hemsworth: "Very much so, we already know that."
  • I Was Quite a Looker: When watching the video of his Game, Katniss is surprised at how handsome Haymitch used to be. And while her mother is implied to still be quite attractive, Katniss is also surprised by how beautiful she was as a teenager.
    • Also implied a bit when Katniss' prep team sees her for the first time after her burn injury.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Snow's favorite tactic. The entire premise of the Games itself was a way to punish the rebels by making their children kill each other, and to remind them that the Capitol can and will do things like this if they rebel again. Snow directly threatens Gale and indirectly threatens the rest of Katniss' loved ones if she doesn't convince all of Panem (including Snow himself) that she's madly in love with Peeta. And Snow also uses the threat against loved ones to force Victors into prostitution.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Several characters fall under this. Gale can be rather harsh at times, but he has a soft spot for Katniss and her family. He even gets along with Peeta a couple times. Effie seems a shallow Capitol citizen, but she's more of a Stepford Smiler that really seems to care about Katniss and Peeta as well.
  • Just Friends: Katniss and Gale.
  • Justified Criminal: Katniss, Gale, and the few others who illegally hunt since it's one of their few methods of survival.
  • Karmic Death: Marvel got an arrow in his neck from Katniss as revenge for killing Rue.
  • Kid Hero All Grown Up: All of the former tributes qualify, but Haymitch in particular.
  • Killed Off for Real: Due to the very nature of its premise this happens to a lot of characters in the series. After all, 24 tributes enter the arena and only one can come out alive. Not that characters who aren't tributes are safe. Outside-the-arena deaths include Cinna, Primrose and Peeta's entire family.
  • Kill 'Em All: The Games are to end with one person left standing. Both the 74th and 75th end a little differently.
  • Kill the Cutie: The series loves this. Cuties killed include Rue, Cinna and eventually Prim.
  • Lap Pillow: Reversed between Katniss and Peeta, and once each between Katniss/Finnick and Katniss/Gale.
  • Last Kiss: A couple of times between Katniss and Peeta, never for real.
  • Last Request: The dying Rue asks Katniss to sing for her. Despite not singing for years, Katniss comes through.
  • Leave Him to Me: Katniss insists on being the one to kill Snow. She ultimately decides to off Coin instead.
  • Leitmotif: Rue's four note song.
  • Lewd Lust, Chaste Sex: In Catching Fire Katniss has a long make-out session with Peeta, described in great detail. When the two of them eventually have sex it's described with such little detail that it can be argued they didn't even have sex at all (and in the movie it turned into hand holding and cuddling).
  • Lighter and Softer: The arena for the 50th Hunger Games (the Second Quarter Quell): The Cornucipia sitting in the midst of a sweet-smelling green meadow, and the sky was azure blue, with fluffy, billowing white clouds. There was a snowy mountain and a forest, squirrels and butterflies and flowers and pinky birds. And even food growing. However, it was actually a Death World: carnivorous squirrels, butterflies with stings, killer birds, poisonous flowers, the mountain was a volcano.
  • The Lightfooted: Rue is described as a bird on her toes about to take flight. She's also lightweight and able to quickly jump and climb around through the treetops.
    [Rue] stands tilted up on her toes with her arms slightly extended to her sides, as if ready to take wing at the slightest sound. It's impossible not to think of a bird.
  • Losing the Team Spirit: Katniss at the end of the second book. And she completely loses it in the third one as well.
  • Lottery of Doom: The reaping, which selects tributes for the Hunger Games. The only exception is during the 25th Hunger Games (the first Quarter Quell), where tributes are selected by voting.
    • In Catching Fire it takes on a ridiculous tone as the contestants are already known in many cases, i.e. Katniss as she's the only female former victor from District 12.
  • Love at First Sight / Love at First Note: If we take Peeta's word for it, that is.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Katniss tries to convince the citizens of Panem she was so crazy with love for Peeta that she can't be held responsible for her actions. To say nothing of Peeta's actions to begin with.
  • Love Triangle: Unsurprisingly resolved at the end of Mockingjay.
  • The Ludovico Technique: Hijacking is a form of this. It involves simultaneous exposure to delirium-inducing venom and specific stimuli. In the victim's delirious mind, the stimuli come to be associated with pain and fear and from the results we see in Peeta Mellark, if the stimuli are related to a certain person then hijacking can produce a homicidal hatred of that person in the victim.
  • Madness Mantra: Wiress repeatedly says, "Tick, tock" during the Quarter Quell. No one initially understands what she's referring to.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: President Snow uses the threat of killing the victors' families and loved ones like this to keep them in line and to make them do as he says. This is what happened to Haymitch's family and girlfriend after his Games, and it's implied to have happened to everyone Johanna loved. But even Snow admits that if he did this to Katniss herself because of her "stunt with the berries", no one would buy it.
  • Makeover Fairy: The stylists and prep teams who work with the tributes are this. Cinna subverts the trope by being more understated and politically aware than the typical Makeover Fairy.
  • Maniac Monkeys: One of the many delights of the 3rd Quarter Quell.
  • Man on Fire / Wreathed in Flames: Katniss gets lit on fire five times: thrice in the name of fashion and twice in combat situations. There is a reason they call her The Girl Who Was On Fire. Peeta also gets singed at the very end, when he was presumably following Katniss.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Katniss and Peeta are sold as a couple in order to gain popularity so that one of them can survive the games. When they both survive, they're expected to marry - they get engaged for this reason but by the time they do marry it's of their own choosing.
    Katniss: Not like this. He wanted it to be real.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are often called "The Star Crossed Lovers from District 12" because of their romance while in the Hunger Games, where only one can survive. Katniss is a determined fighter and an excellent archer. Her strategy is to put on a brave face so as to not appear weak. Peeta is more expressive of his emotions as seen in his tear stained face, artistic talent, and public confession of love for Katniss.
  • Meaningful Name: All over the place.
    • "Katniss" is a real plant. Its common name? "Arrowhead". And its scientific name is Sagittaria, which is a transparent reference to the Zodiac sign Sagittarius, a fire sign whose symbol is an archer.
    • "Peeta" the baker sounds like "pita," a type of bread. His last name, Mellark, is a Greek word meaning "cake," which Peeta is adept at frosting.
    • Haymitch sounds like the Yiddish word "haymish", meaning "folksy" or "home-like". Katniss considers him "from home", as he's from not just her District, but her social strata.
    • Effie "Trinket" seems to be trivial and shallow (but Effie is short for Euphemia - well-spoken- belying her skill as a speaker).
    • Cinna was the name of various Roman figures relevant to his character, namely a doomed opponent of Sulla the dictator, one of Julius Caesar's assassins, a poet mistaken for the same and beaten to death by an angry mob, and a conspirator against Augustus Caesar.
    • One of the meanings of "Rue" is "regret." Her death haunts Katniss, who failed to protect her and those in power probably rue the day she was chosen for the arena.
    • Avox means, in an awkward and incorrect mixture of Greek and Latin, 'without a voice.'
    • "Coriolanus," as in "Coriolanus Snow" refers to a hated Roman who betrayed both sides and died loathed and friendless.
    • Tigris had plastic surgery to look like a human-tiger hybrid. Katniss wonders which came first, the name or the look.
    • Pollux and Castor, the twin cameramen from Mockingjay are named for the Gemini of Roman mythology. Like the myth, Castor dies and Pollux is allowed to live — only with some horrible mutilation.
    • Titus and Lavinia are names from Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. Like their counterparts in the Shakespeare play, Titus was known for cannibalism, and Lavinia had her tongue cut out. Peeta's comments about 'fingers and toes' are unfortunate implications, given what other things happened to Lavinia in the play.
    • Panem is a reference to the Latin phrase "panem et circenses", meaning "bread and circuses", or idiomatically, sustenance and entertainment — the two things you need to give a population to keep them happy.
    • District 1, luxury goods, gives us Marvel, Glimmer, Gloss, and Cashmere.
    • District 3, electronics, has Wiress. And Beetee, which sounds like TV, CD, PC, etc. (Or BD, as in blu-ray disc). For British readers, it invokes BT — British Telecom.
    • District 4, fishing, Finnick Odair and Annie Cresta.
    • Meaningful nickname in this case, but while the District 6 former victors are nicknamed "Morphlings" due to their addiction to morphling drugs, they were also skilled at camouflaging themselves with paint.
    • District 7, lumber, gives us the optimistically-named Blight.
    • District 8, textiles, has Twill and Woof (another word for "weft").
    • District 11, agriculture, has Rue, Thresh, Chaff, and Seeder. Chaff is a double example. Not only does it mean "the husks of grains and grasses that are separated during threshing," but it also means, "worthless matter." Chaff never becomes important to the plot. Seeder is obvious.
    • District 12, coal mining, has Peeta (Peter, meaning "stone") and of course Katniss' nickname; "The Girl Who Was On Fire."
    • The Capitol uses Roman names, in reference to their technological superiority as well as their decadent culture.
    • District 2 is noted for having the closest relationship to the Capitol, and their male tributes also have Roman names: Cato and Brutus. This makes sense considering that District 2 provides most of the Peacekeepers. Had the tributes not gone to the Hunger Games, they would likely have become Peacekeepers and served under and alongside Capitol citizens
    • In Katniss' case it's a nickname, but the drama largely boils down to "The Girl On Fire" against President Snow.
    • Volumnia Gaul. Not only does Gaul sound like "gall" (and refer to a province of the Roman Empire, where France is now) but Volumnia was the name of the historical mother of the historical Coriolanus, foreshadowing that Volumnia Gaul will become a mentor to Snow.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • After Katniss puts Cato out of his misery at the end of the 74th Hunger Games. In Catching Fire, Katniss considers doing this for Peeta and possibly Beetee as well. Gale and Katniss have an understanding in Mockingjay that they would kill each other before letting the other get captured, to avoid torture. Both fail to do it in the end.
    • Out of mercy, Peeta kills the girl that the career pack tormented in the first arena.
  • Metaphorical Marriage: Peeta describes to the citizens of the Capitol how he and Katniss have already tied the knot, opting for a simple home ceremony of 'toasting'. During the toasting, the couple make their first fire together and share a toast over it as they don't want to wait for the big Capitol wedding. He openly states it wasn't an official ceremony as there was no paperwork, but Katniss notes the ceremony's symbolic value, as "no one really feels married in District 12 until after the toasting". Peeta's lying though, because they never had any ceremony.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: As a consequence of evolution, and the Capitol's experiments on animals, many of the plants and animals in Panem are hybrids. These include grooslings (goose and grouse), mockingjays (mockingbirds and the jabberjays, themselves muttations), nightlock (nightshade and hemlock), and possibly morphling.
  • Mole in Charge: Plutarch Heavensbee is the Head Gamemaker for the 75th Hunger Games. And a key member of La Résistance.
  • Monument of Humiliation and Defeat: The Hunger Games themselves. 74 years after the complete obliteration of a District that tried to play La Résistance to the Panem government, once a year, 23 kids are horrifically slaughtered in an Involuntary Battle to the Death to show everybody who's the boss. The one kid that survives is turned into a celebrity: obviously turning him into a living example of this.
  • Morality Pet: Katniss has Prim and Rue, and Gale has his own younger siblings.
  • More Hero Than Thou: In Catching Fire, Katniss and Peeta are each determined the other will be the survivor.
  • The Mourning After: Katniss' mother went into a near-catatonic depression after the death of Katniss' father, leaving Katniss to support the family. Even when the mother becomes functional again, she never really gets over his death. In Mockingjay Katniss goes into this after Prim's death
  • Mr. Fanservice: Gale maintains a surprising harem in the fandom for someone who was a tertiary character for the first book. Also, Finnick, both in-universe, and out.
  • Mushroom Samba: A (mostly) extremely unfunny version thanks to Tracker Jacker venom.
  • Mystery Meat: Greasy Sae's stew.
    "Once it's in the soup, I call it beef."

    N-Z 
  • Naked First Impression:
    • Cinna met Katniss in this state due to her choosing not to put on her robe.
    • Johanna's first two appearances are naked. Partly because Jo knows it makes the virginal Katniss uncomfortable.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: People from the Capitol are often named after Ancient Roman historical figures: Cinna, Caesar (Flickerman), Seneca (Crane), Coriolanus (Snow), Claudius (Templesmith), etc.
  • Necessarily Evil: The war-ending plot, seen from two different perspectives. At first, it seems like the Capitol views the deaths of children by their own weaponry as a necessary evil to lure in and kill rebel medics with a second attack, but it turns out that the deaths of the rebel medics were the necessary evil for 13 to frame Snow for the attack with the enemy's equipment and ruin all faith in the Capitol.
  • Neck Snap: Cato to the boy from District 3.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Despite her skills and high score before the games, Katniss doesn't have a personality that will stand out to sponsors. Peeta does however, and Haymitch resolves the situation by marketing her as the object of his affections. This is what saves them both in the games.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Katniss' main goal through the second book is to find a way to trick Snow into believing she's in love with Peeta. Unfortunately, she does convince him (and everyone else), and therefore manages to give him the leverage to break her during Mockingjay. And you can say that the entire series is this, as Prim dies anyway, which was what the instigation of the plot of the first book was trying to prevent.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Katniss' dreams are usually a horrifying mishmash of bad memories and fear-gripped imagination, like everyone getting their tongues cut out or all her loved ones screaming in agony.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: Peeta Mellark as the noble male, Gale Hawthorne as the roguish male. Peeta is gentle, kind, chivalrous, has a way with words and advocates diplomacy over violence (even, at times, during the actual Hunger Games). Gale is hot blooded and passionate, believes that the ends justify the means, is eager to go out and fight and became his family's main provider at age thirteen when he began poaching (eventually together with Katniss).
  • Nobody Poops: Bears may shit in the woods but Tributes, apparently, do not. It wouldn't be so noticeable, except that Collins takes pains to make everything about the Hunger Games and the horrors of the arena seem dirty and uncomfortable and horrible, so in the first book at least it's a glaring omission. They do, however, urinate.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Given the nature of the beast, it's an inevitability. Even outside the arena, Cinna receives a nasty one as Katniss watches helplessly, never to see him again.
  • No Name Given: Katniss never learns the names of most of the tributes. She doesn't find out until well after the games are over that the boy from District 1 was named Marvel, even though she was the one who killed him.
    • This applies to Katniss' parents, and to Peeta's entire family. Not to mention Peeta's and Katniss' children, who go unnamed as well. Reportedly Suzanne Collins has stated that their names are Willow and Rye. The latter is also the name most fans like to call the younger of Peeta's two brothers by, though supposedly Katniss and Peeta did not name their son for his dead uncle, thereby jossing that particular theory. Although this has not been 100% confirmed, so as of yet there are no definitive names for any Mellarks other than Peeta himself, nor for Katniss' parents.
  • No Periods, Period: A possible in-universe explanation is that Katniss spends most of the trilogy either barely eating enough to survive or just past the edge of good nutrition; this could easily cause her cycling to be irregular, especially with the stress of the Games and providing for her family. A possible real-world explanation is that Collins (or her publisher) didn't want to deal with Moral Guardians howling over references to a teenage girl having her period in a Young Adult book, and simply chose to ignore it. Another entirely likely explanation could be that the Capitol may inject or otherwise provide the girls with hormones to keep them from menstruating during the games, in the same way that they kept the boys from growing any facial hair.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Slowly occurs over the course of the second book, finally setting in for good at the very last line. Taken Up to Eleven in the third book when Katniss' last routine from home, hunting with Gale, stops when their relationship deteriorates and they go their separate ways.
    • As a companion to It Gets Easier, Katniss makes reference several times to how her life has changed since she became a killer and a symbol.
  • Not So Different: Presidents Coin and Snow. Both are manipulative assholes who jealously guard their power, and neither can stomach any showing of open dissent.
    • Haymitch and Katniss: Two abrasive survivalists who withdraw into themselves to cope with the harshness of their lives. Part of the reason they never really get along is that they're too alike. Haymitch is Katniss thirty years later, after mentoring sixty-odd children to their deaths.
  • Not So Stoic: At the climax of the first book, Claudius, the announcer. Booming, "Stop! Stop!" directly to the Tributes was not supposed to be in his vocabulary.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Katniss remarks this was Johanna Mason's strategy in her Games: everyone thought she was a sniveling, useless weakling and overlooked her… until she turned out to be a ruthless killer who ended up the victor. And Haymitch counts – not only is he quite the strategist in the first Games, but he turns out to be a major figure in the underground resistance by the end of Catching Fire. Not bad for someone most people just think of as the town drunk.
  • Official Couple: Katniss and Peeta (at least, as advertised by the Capitol), and Finnick and Annie. In Mockingjay, the former couple end up together for real.
  • Official Kiss: The kiss in the cave in the first book might be considered this, as it is the first time Katniss feels real desire and the first sign that she could genuinely fall in love with the boy in question. However the clearer example is in Catching Fire, specifically Katniss' long make-out session with Peeta on the Quarter Quell beach. It goes on for a long time, they're both half naked and she experiences sexual desire for seemingly the first time. It's basically the point where the love triangle dies.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • The implied epic two-day battle between Cato and Thresh. In the rain.
    • Peeta killing Brutus, one of the most intimidating tributes in the Quarter Quell. Not bad for the guy who's usually seen as The Load.
  • One-Product Planet: The districts function as this for the Capitol, each focusing on a specific industry.
    • District 1: luxury goods.
    • District 2: masonry, weapons.
    • District 3: electronics.
    • District 4: fishing.
    • District 5: electricity.
    • District 6: transportation.
    • District 7: lumber.
    • District 8: textiles.
    • District 9: grain.
    • District 10: livestock.
    • District 11: agriculture.
    • District 12: coal mining.
    • District 13: graphite, nuclear energy.
  • The Ophelia:
    • Katniss near the end of the third book, after killing Coin.
    • Annie is also presented as unstable at the best of times. She even has the Shakespearean character's water motif: District 4 specializes in fishing and she survived her Hunger Games because she could swim the longest after the Gamemakers flooded the arena.
  • Ornamental Weapon: Subverted with Katniss' bow. After all, just because it's pretty doesn't mean it can't be deadly.
  • Orphanage of Fear: It isn't actually seen, but the District 12 community home is said to be like this.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The bloodthirsty, upright-walking muttations bought out at the end of the first book are a hybridization of wolves and the Hunger Games tributes who have already died.
    • Subverted. Later on in the third book, they decide the mutts were pure Mind Rape, and not really made from dead tributes.
  • The Outside World: The series has its fair share of Outside Worlds since Panem is made up of districts.
    • Katniss ventures out into one part of The Outside World to do some illegal hunting as District 12 is fenced off. However, the true Outside is far beyond any distance she's traveled. Once, while she and Gale were hunting, they witnessed a red-head and a boy running away, but both were taken by the Capitol before they escaped the district 12 area.
    • In Catching Fire, Katniss finally gets to really see the other districts on her tour. They are increasingly more privileged the lower the number gets.
    • In Mockingjay Katniss learns that there's even more to the world than she knew before: there is a District 13! She actually gets to go there for the first time, but finds that it is another Underground City.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Katniss' father died a few years ago and her mother was sent into catatonia for quite some time, forcing her to become the family's breadwinner.
    • Peeta suffers this at the end of Catching Fire, after his parents and brothers are killed during the District 12 bombings.
  • People of Hair Color: Most people in District 12 look like Katniss and Gale, black hair, olive skin, and gray eyes. Mrs. Everdeen is from the merchant class so she has blonde hair and blue eyes. Her daughter, Prim, takes after her. Peeta, the baker's son, and Madge, the mayor's daughter, also have blonde hair.
  • Perfect Poison: Nightlock berries. Most of the plants in the Second Quarter Quell.
  • Phobia: Johanna develops a fear of water after being tortured with drowning / electrocution, to the point that she rarely showers and hesitates to even walk outside when it's raining.
  • Planet of Hats: Each of the districts has a different primary industry, which serves as its theme. This is an Invoked Trope in the Hunger Games, since the tributes are each trope are traditionally dressed in ways that reference their theme.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: "Stay with me." "Always." Physically in Catching Fire, mentally in Mockingjay, along with "Don't let him take you from me."
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Katniss is flustered by people's nudity on several occasions. Johanna knows this and strips off in an elevator whilst chatting with Katniss and Peeta, and again during training, even oiling her body for a wrestling lesson. Peeta finds it amusing. Katniss … not so much.
  • Plot Armor: In the film, anyone that gets more than a few seconds of screentime is guaranteed to have some, only for other characters to then penetrate it and kill them, usually rather sadistically. Only Katniss and Peeta's hold up long enough.
  • Police State: Panem is one. District 13 is less cruel but even more restrictive. Justified in their case, as everyone has to do exactly what they're told for the relatively small population to keep District 13 going.
  • Portmanteau: Several. "Muttation" is a generic in-universe term for a genetically engineered creature, probably derived from "mutt" and "mutation". Lots of things count, like those wolves at the end of the first book, or Jabberjays and Tracker Jackers. Many more exotic variants are introduced in the third book when they're storming the Capitol. For some reason, Peeta and Katniss also take to using the term "mutt" to refer to the mentally damaged Peeta after his brainwashing, and the physically damaged Katniss after her burning. Poisonous berries called "nightlock" (nightshade, hemlock). Mockingjay features political ads called "Propo", as in "propaganda spots", and a "Communicuff", which is exactly what it sounds like.
    • "Mockingjay", for that matter. Just like real life examples, this one shows a combination of two different species — mockingjays are the offspring of mockingbirds and muttations called jabberjays.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The grisly games are viewed by the Capitol as bringing the country together and helping everyone come together (and acknowledge who's in charge).
  • The Power of Love: Haymitch tells Katniss to use this as her reason for why she tried to Take a Third Option by taking the berries with Peeta in order to have them both die and have no winner at all. The audiences seem to lap it up when both of them then say they couldn't bear the thought of living without the other.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The gamemakers frown on certain behaviors in The Games, but moreso because it will draw a poor reaction from the audience rather than out of moral disdain. They will not tolerate cannibalism, nor will they allow a psychopath to become a victor (unless they can be charming about it, as the Career Tributes tend to be somewhat … Ax-Crazy). The Capitol citizens will gleefully watch children fight to the death, but send a young woman who's pregnant into the arena and they'll call it barbaric. And in the third book, Snow never exercises his Nuclear Option, which would damn humanity to extinction, even when he realizes that he's doomed. He states that he would never kill someone if it gave him no advantage.
    • They also forbid tributes to use firearms, because they're seen as an unfair advantage. Guns are never even mentioned until the third book.
    • It starts to dip into Pyrrhic Villainy in the third book. Snow states that the Capitol needs the Districts to survive, and with the people of the Capitol losing faith in their government, the brutal mistreatment of the Capitol's cultural figureheads and multiple districts in open revolt or burned to the ground it becomes clear that even if the Capitol wins it's going to have a rough time. This is even pointed out in the motto of the rebels.
    "If we burn, you burn with us!"
  • Present Tense Narrative
  • Primal Fear: Suzanne Collins seems to be a fan of these … both The Hunger Games and The Underland Chronicles are full of people dying in horrible ways thanks to fire, drowning, bugs (sometimes GIANT bugs) and/or savage animals.
  • Promotion to Parent: The death of Katniss' father and her mother's subsequent depression make her the breadwinner of the family. Gale is also the primary provider for his family; his mother helps as best she can, but she's only able to bring in a pittance doing laundry.
  • Prongs of Poseidon: Since he's from the fishing district, Finnick is dangerously adept with a trident.
  • Propaganda Hero: Katniss' formidable fighting skill is entirely overshadowed by the sympathy she draws from the populace. Both sides try to exaggerate and embellish her reputation—inventing star-crossed romances and so forth—and both meet with mixed results due to her bitter, taciturn, rebellious, survivalist-but-self-sacrificing nature...which is why the people truly love her.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Tributes from Districts 1 and 2 tend to come off this way due to those Districts' practice of training children specifically in order to volunteer for the Hunger Games. As a result, these "Career" Tributes are also far more likely to win than Tributes from other Districts, although Haymitch describes their arrogance as a flaw that can lead to their defeat.
  • Public Execution: Happens to several characters, most notably President Snow... or rather, President Coin. The Hunger Games themselves can also be seen as a variant of this.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Generally the case for victors, especially non-Careers. Congratulations, you just won the Hunger Games! You're rich and will never go to a reaping again (*cough*). Oh, and 23 other kids are dead, some of which you probably watched die and/or killed yourself. Have fun being even more on the Capitol's radar and dealing with the PTSD with no treatment or therapy. Katniss says it best during the finale of her first Games:
    "Hurray for us," I get out, but there's no joy of victory in my voice.
  • Racist Grandma: Sort of. While Panem is a post-racial dystopia, Grandma'am sees District people as barbaric and inferior to Capitol culture.
  • Reality Show: The eponymous games, used as a terror tactic against the Districts but spun as a form of entertainment for the Capitol.
  • Recycled In Space: Panem is, for all intents and purposes, a futuristic version of the Roman Empire.
  • Red Herring: Chaff and Seeder initially seem like they'll be important characters: they're from the same district as Rue and Thresh, Katniss' ally and rescuer from her Games, first of all. Seeder deliberately seeks out Katniss to thank her for her treatment of them, while Chaff is repeatedly mentioned to be good friends with Haymitch. At different points, Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch all consider or advocate joining up with them, but instead, they're both killed in the Quarter Quell despite being at least somewhat aware of the rebels' plan and Katniss and Peeta end up allying with other tributes.
  • Regional Speciality: Each district's bread is very distinct. Peeta is a second-generation professional baker and he expounds on the regional breads in sufficient detail that fans have been able to make them.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Katniss forms an alliance with Rue, stays with her while she dies, and vows to win for her, because Rue reminds her of her own little sister Prim back home.
  • Rich Language, Poor Language: The citizens of the wealthy Capitol have an odd accent characterized by a high pitch, clipped words, and a tightly puckered mouth. The accents of the citizens of the twelve districts are fairly neutral by comparison.
  • Rousing Speech: In Catching Fire Katniss makes a beautiful speech in District 11, about her ally Rue. Then in Mockingjay, she has a couple; Her "If we burn, you burn with us" speech implied to be received well, but when she tries to give one in the middle of a firefight in District 2, she gets shot.
  • Rubber-Band A.I.: Frequently used by the gamemakers if the show isn't entertaining enough. Their methods range from setting off natural disasters to changing the weather or environment to force tributes together to releasing mutts and animals to hunt the tributes. Katniss is savvy enough to plan her strategies with this in mind.
  • Rule of Drama: Ties with Rule of Empathy, below. The Capitol loves best those victors who put on a great show and will give them a sort of celebrity status. Such is the case for Enobaria, who, after winning by ripping out her opponent's throat with her teeth, got her dentures specially sharpened and became very popular with the Capitol.
  • Rule of Empathy: Tributes must be able to invoke sympathy from the Capitol and District audiences. Sympathy will equal sponsors and money for necessities in the arena, and could therefore make the difference in the Games. Peeta, it turns out, is a natural at invoking the Rule of Empathy at the drop of a hat. Katniss is not, so Peeta and Haymitch keep her in the dark to evoke more genuine reactions.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Katniss, once she decides to rebel, invokes this trope, turning her every action into a symbol meant to add fuel to the rebellion.
  • Rule of Three: Suzanne Collins loves her powers of three. There are three books devoted to Katniss Everdeen. Each book is divided into three parts. Each part contains nine (3x3) chapters.
  • Save This Person, Save the World: Initially Katniss though it seems that Coin thinks they should have saved Peeta instead. Eventually the trope begins to apply to Peeta by proxy as people begin to realize that as long as Peeta is Snow's prisoner Katniss will be too worried about him to be of any use.
  • Say My Name: Especially Katniss' incident in the tree during the first games.
  • Scars Are Forever: Peeta ends up with an artificial leg after the first Hunger Game. Katniss retains several physical scars. They both also sustain some pretty hefty emotional scars. Even after 20 years, they still have nightmares.
  • Schizo Tech: Justified in that the Capitol deliberately suppresses technology in the Districts, especially weapons tech.
  • Screw The Rules We Make Them:
    • The Gamemakers repeatedly change rules to get the outcome they want. Every 25 years, a special edition of the Hunger Games is held, with different rules from the usual Games, supposedly laid out well in advance. However, when the rules of the 75th Games just so happen to target certain people seen as undesirable by the current administration, it raises the suspicion that the Quarter Quells aren't planned out as far in advance as the Capitol would have the citizens believe.
    • In an example of this trope being beneficial to the heroes, Katniss is able to hunt outside the gates of District 12 at the beginning of the first book, in spite of a clear law against it, because her kills are so prized that even the Peacekeepers in charge of enforcing the laws need the meat that she sells.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Katniss begins to see potential loves interests in two guys, Peeta, the baker's son who decorates the cakes and Gale, her hunting partner. Gale is angry with the Capitol for making them participate in the games while Peeta is reflective on how he can maintain his identity in the games despite the Capitol using them.
  • Sex Slave: In Book 3. According to Finnick, this happens to a lot of victors, himself included.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The story begins in the first book with Katniss sacrificing herself to save Prim's life. Prim dies at the end of Mockingjay.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: All of the Victors have some form of poorly represented PTSD. Katniss, having been put through two sets of Games, as well as threats from the government and being manipulated by her own allies, has among the worst. Annie became a wreck after seeing her ally being decapitated.
  • Shipper on Deck: Several characters do this towards Peeta and Katniss, like President Snow as mentioned above, though for some of the other reasons, it's to help make sure that Katniss and Peeta stay on top and ensure a good chance of survival in the Games, since people enjoy good drama.
  • Shooting Lessons From Your Parents: Katniss and Gale both learned their archery and survival skills thanks to their fathers having taken them hunting when they were children, allowing Katniss to have an edge in the games that District 12 tributes rarely have.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Prim's death nearly makes the entire series this, since everything started with Katniss volunteering for the Hunger Games to protect Prim.
  • Shout-Out: Word of God has stated that Katniss' family name is a reference to the Thomas Hardy character Bathsheba Everdene. And Katniss (the "Girl on Fire") is in Squad Four Five One, a reference to Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, which is another dystopian novel with a fire motif.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Katniss remembers a boy who was eliminated from one edition of the games for cannibalism. His name? Titus. There are some other minor characters with names from Shakespeare – Cressida comes to mind, for one, and Lavinia, who has no tongue.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Katniss does this to Peeta in the cave when he attempts to give her an If I Do Not Return speech. He shuts up.
  • Significant Birth Date: Katniss is born on May 8, the date Germany surrendered and World War II ended.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Peeta towards Katniss. He fell in love with her when he was 5 and never fell out of love. Except of course for the brief time while he was hijacked, and even then it seems that a part of him still loved her.
    • Katniss herself appears to be Peeta-sexual, showing no sexual interest in any other man during the course of the novels (including Gale, whom she finds attractive but not arousing) and begins a lifelong relationship with Peeta around the age of eighteen.
  • Sky Face: Invoked. A killed tribute is "honored" by having their face projected against the sky.
  • Slave to PR: A dominating theme. A likable persona for a tribute wins sponsors: for example, Finnick. It culminates in Mockingjay when the rebels bomb a town square full of children, in a Capitol hovercraft, solely to convince everyone in the nation that the Capitol is evil. P.R. is possibly the most powerful weapon in The Hunger Games.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The cynicism side. Far, far, far on the cynicism side, but the last book does express some optimism that the human race can "evolve" to become better and that a brighter future will arise.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Capitol and the districts.
  • Slow Clap: Not exactly an applause, but the whole community of District 12 uses a cultural gesture to show their support of Katniss when she takes her sister's place. District 11 tries this as well and pays the price.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Haymitch and Peeta, two of the most cunning characters in the series, enjoy playing chess together. At one point they are doing so at Katniss' house - when she's not even at home.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Avoided. They exist, they're just the worse alternative.
  • So Happy Together: Finnick and Annie in "Mockingjay."
    • Peeta deliberately invokes this in his pre-Quell interview.
  • Sole Survivor:
    • Only 10% of District 12's population survived the Capitol's bombings at the end of Catching Fire. The Everdeen and Hawthorne families, plus Delly Cartwright, made it, but the Undersee and Mellark (except for Peeta) families did not.
    • There are very few Victors at the end of the series. When Coin calls a Victors' conference at the end of Mockingjay, which pointedly includes everyone surviving, only seven turn up, out of the fifty nine alive before the Third Quarter Quell. Eighteen were killed during the Quell, two (Finnick and Lyme) were killed during the Second Rebellion, and the remaining unaccounted for were killed during the so-called "Victors' Purge" that the Capitol ordered after the Quell was sabotaged.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Annie gives birth to a son several months after Finnick is killed.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Clove talks about Rue, while holding down Katniss near the Cornucopia. Of course, karma sweeps in to save the day, via Thresh.
  • The Speechless: Avoxes are traitors who've had their tongues mutilated as punishment.
  • Spiritual Successor: The books have been compared to an Americanized take on Battle Royale, to the point where a bit of a Fandom Rivalry has developed between the two.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Katniss' prep team, who are simply too naive to be genuinely mean. And though you can't be one hundred percent sure of his financial situation, probably Cinna, who treats Katniss with respect and the games with disgust despite being from the Capitol. And Madge, who is the Mayor's daughter, very kind and is one of Katniss' few friends.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Peeta and Katniss pretend to be this to garner sympathy. Subverted in that they eventually do become real lovers, but manage to get through everything alive.
    • The real star-crossed lovers of the series turns out to be Finnick and Annie. With him being the Capitol's Golden Boy and she being very unstable mentally there was no way they could get to officially be together, until the rebellion. Snow obviously knows about their love affair since he has Annie captured to get back at Finnick for being part of La Résistance. In the third book they are reunited and get married but only have a brief time together before Finnick dies.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Finnick offers Katniss sugar when he flirts with her. "Give me some sugar" is slang for "Let's kiss etc."
    • When Katniss requests to kill Snow, the president of District 13 offers to flip her for the privilege. The president's last name? Coin.
  • Strange Salute: When Katniss volunteers to take her sister's place, the entire crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hands to their lips, and then holds it out to her. Katniss explains that it's an old District 12 gesture that means thanks, admiration, and goodbye to someone you love. It becomes a little more meaningful later on.
  • Stupid Evil: It's never adequately explained why the Capitol decided that forcing two kids from every district to kill each other every year in highly-elaborate battlefields was a better means of preventing rebellion than, say, creating a decent welfare state that would keep the masses complacent and dependent upon the government. The welfare system would probably have been cheaper.
  • Super Doc: Outside the poorer districts, medicine is far more advanced than in our own time.
  • Super Happy Fun Trope of Doom: The role of the Peacekeepers isn't as sweet as it sounds. (Bit like in Real Life, then?) Everything surrounding the Games is treated as fun and entertaining; being a "tribute" is an honor.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The tracker jacker wasps do not give up an attack once pissed off. Running away doesn't help. The only thing that saves Katniss is that they're so drugged from the smoke they don't realize she dropped their nest..
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: When Caesar Flickerman asks Katniss exactly when she first fell for Peeta, she's evasive at first (since at this point she hasn't actually fallen for him yet) and then immediately goes along with his first guess.
  • Take a Third Option: The climax of Games. And Catching Fire. And Mockingjay.
    • In the first film/book more specifically, Katniss and Peeta are the two sole surviving tributes. The game master earlier said that two people could win as a team if they were both from the same district to make things a little more interesting. However, he changes his mind at that point, and tells them that one would have to die. Peeta offers himself as a sacrifice, claiming Katniss had more reason to go home alive. However, Katniss refuses to play into their hand, and brings up the poisonous berries he had accidentally gathered earlier. Katniss knows that PR is king in the Capitol, and having no victor would look bad for the Hunger Games, so she figures if they both threaten to eat the nightlock berries the Gamemaster will change his mind. She ends up being right, although her defiance sets in motion the events of the second two books.
    • Snow believes Crane should’ve done this in response to Katniss’ Third Option of double suicide. Rather than letting both die or both win, Snow would’ve simply killed Katniss. It’s revealed in Catching Fire that Crane pays the ultimate price for his lack of imagination.
    • In the second book, the Quarter Quell involves bringing back victors from previous Hunger Games to compete in a sort of "all-stars" version of the Games. Naturally, Katniss assumes that means that the victors - some of whom are friends, even close - will either have to turn on each other or die. Instead, a group of tributes - who are also underground rebels - end up shattering the forcefield around the arena and getting saved by District 13's forces.
  • Take Me Instead: In the first book, Katniss volunteers to take Prim's place as tribute for District 12.
  • Take That!: In universe, the mockingjay becomes an increasingly unsubtle one of these towards the Capitol.
  • Taking the Bullet: During the Quarter Quell, one of the morphlings is killed by an attack from a vicious monkey that was meant for Peeta.
  • Taking You with Me: Book 1: Cato threatens to take Peeta with him into the jaws of the Muttations if Katniss shoots him with her arrows.
  • Talking Through Technique: Katniss and Haymitch are alike enough that Katniss is able to figure out the hidden message in each of the gifts sent to her by sponsors, not only by looking at what was sent to her, but in some cases when she received it.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Gale is a victim of it in Catching Fire.
  • Teenage Wasteland: Subverted. The kids are all right, adult authority in the form of The Capitol is forcing them to kill or be killed.
  • Tempting Fate: In the first book, Katniss reassures her sister Prim after a nightmare that her name won't be drawn for the Hunger Games...seconds later, that's exactly what happens. And Katniss realizes that if you're referred to as "the girl who was on fire" enough times, eventually you do get actually lit on fire.
  • Theme Naming: Multiple:
    • The Capitol and District 2 use Greek and Roman names to highlight their decadent nature and fondness for gladitorial combat — Seneca, Coriolanus, Cato, Effie (for Euphemia), Brutus, Cressida, Messala, Castor and Pollux. and so on. The nation itself is called Panem, the Latin word for bread.
    • The districts often use names referencing their primary industry. For example:
      • District One names evoke luxury — Gloss, Glimmer, Cashmere.
      • District Four past tributes Finnick Odair and Annie Cresta have names alluding to water, corresponding to their district's industry being fishing.
      • District Eleven's Rue and Thresh (agriculture).
  • There Are No Therapists: The districts don't largely seem to have therapists, leaving the traumatized victors to relive their nightmares yearly as they're forced to participate in the games (though it's implied that Katniss' mother was able to somehow gain access to one in order to get hold of drugs to treat her depression). Exploited by the Capitol to make them broken beyond repair and thus unable to fight back. Subverted in District 13: all refugees are given psychological help and local specialists do everything they can to get Peeta back to his old self after a Mind Rape. Before the final attack on the Capitol, soldiers are checked for possible psychological problems. (Johanna gets sent to a mental facility). Katniss also goes through therapy after her sister’s death.
  • There Can Be Only One: Played straight for seventy-three years. Zig-zagged in the first book.
  • Tired of Running: Katniss: "Life in District 12 isn't really so different from life in the arena. At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead. The hard thing is finding the courage to do it."
  • Title Drop: The first and third books are literally dropped. The best example would be book three, with the end of chapter two, making up the direction for the rest of the book: "I'm going to be the Mockingjay."
    • There's a belated, sort-of one in Mockingjay when Katniss proclaims that "fire is catching". Catching Fire was the previous book.
  • To Absent Friends: The book that Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch create at the end of Mockingjay. Also the "We Remember" propo series.
  • Too Dumb to Live: None of the Gamemakers ever bothered to install any defensive shields between them and the tributes in the Training Center where they hold private sessions to observe and score each tribute's best skill. This results in Katniss firing an arrow at them, which luckily wasn't meant to hit any of them.
  • Tokyo Rose: Under torture by the Capitol, Peeta is forced to make propos urging the rebels—but mainly Katniss—to lay down arms and surrender.
  • Tomboy And Girly Girl: Katniss and Prim, Katniss and Madge
  • Tracking Chip: All the tributes going into the Games are implanted with a tracker so that the Capitol knows where they are in the arena at all times.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The Mockingjay pin that Madge gives Katniss in the first book used to belong to Maysilee Donner, Madge's aunt and a tribute in the 50th Hunger Games. It later becomes Madge's own memento when she and her entire family perish during the District 12 bombings at the end of Catching Fire.
  • Trauma Conga Line: By the end, try to count more surviving characters that haven't suffered one. You won't run out of fingers. This is especially endemic amongst the victors of the games, as the Capitol torments them to keep them from using their elevated status to foment rebellion. In fact, for Katniss, this series is one entire Trauma Conga Line.
  • Trick Arrow: Both the flaming and exploding kinds.
  • Trilogy Creep: While she assisted crafting the cinematic adaptations, Suzanne Collins appeared to be done with the series after releasing Mockingjay. In 2019, however, she revealed that a new entry to the series, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was in the works, although it is a prequel.
  • Troperiffic: Invoked in the games, where the tributes try to appeal to the Capitol and potential sponsors by playing according to recognizable and interesting archetypes.
  • Try Not to Die: Everyone's last words to Katniss and Peeta. "Stay alive."
  • Unperson: The entire 10th Hunger Games is revealed to be this in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Because so many mentors died and the victor ended up MIA, the Capitol opted to forget that the entire games ever happened at all. The only recognition seems to be limited to the the fact that a District 12 tribute won the Games.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: By the time Katniss has realized she's in love with Peeta he's been brainwashed into thinking she's a mutt trying to kill him.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: The event that caused the fall of pre-Panem civilization is never stated. It is mentioned though, that rising oceans consumed vast areas of land. Drought, storms and fires destroyed the remaining agricultural land and people waged war over the dwindling resources. Panem rose from the ashes of that war. Some time later, the districts rebelled but lost against the Capitol. During that rebellion, humankind was on the verge of extinction. One consequence is that planes have to fly low to the ground, since the upper atmosphere is apparently non-existent, another that several types of technology got lost, like satellites etc.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Katniss feels this way, since she's constantly out of the loop.
  • Urban Warfare: The final attack on the Capitol in Mockingjay.
  • Useless Bystander Parent: Mr. Mellark, who never seems to have intervened when his wife physically and verbally abused their sons.
  • Villain Ball: The Capitol seems to hold this on occasion, especially in Catching Fire. There is a lot of Villain Ball discussion relating to the Games themselves, available on the discussion page.
  • Villainous Rescue: When Clove is on top of a nearly helpless Katniss, she decides to taunt the latter a bit, saying how they enjoyed killing Rue. Thresh then shows up out of nowhere, and kills Clove after hearing her confession. He then walks away, saying he was doing this favor just once for Rue, who was the female participant from his district, and one of the few friends Katniss made.
  • Villains Never Lie: President Snow agrees to never lie to Katniss, and as far as the reader is aware he keeps to that.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: President Snow, at least with the citizens of the Capitol. That goes away by Book 3.
    • Coin is presented as the rebel leader fighting for justice. But the truth about her is much harsher than that.
  • Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: There's a joke that Catching Fire and Mockingjay are written almost entirely in sentence fragments. Of course, this is a poorly-educated, emotionally jaded teenage girl narrating …
  • War Is Hell: Absolutely nothing glorious about it. One of the main themes of Mockingjay.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Peeta's ongoing question to Katniss from the end of the first book all the way to the "Real or not real?" question at the end of the last. It was a lie, but is now real.
  • Wealth's in a Name: District One characters have names evoking their district's industry of luxury goods: Glimmer, Marvel, Gloss, Cashmere.
  • Wealthy Ever After: Win the Hunger Games, get upgraded to a nice house in the Victor's Village and more money than you can ever spend in the districts. Whether or not the victors who survive the revolution get to keep the money is not mentioned but they do get to keep their houses.
  • Weapons Kitchen Sink: Inevitable, given the fact that the Capitol just spreads them around in the Arena and hopes for a sloppy death scenario to increase the "entertainment" value. There's a dark aside in Book 1 where Katniss mentions how one year the only weapons provided were horribly awkward maces.
  • Weather-Control Machine: The gamemamers can control the environment inside the arena, from weather to whether it's night or day.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: The ruling class of Panem relies on keeping the vast majority of its population as essentially slave labor despite possessing technology on a level which makes localized weather control possible.
  • Wham Line:
    • "It's Primrose Everdeen."
    • "the male and female tributes will be reaped from their existing pool of victors."
    • "Katniss, there is no District 12."
    • "President Snow used to... sell me...my body, that is."
    • "My lips are just forming his name when his fingers lock around my throat."
    • "And then the second round of parachutes goes off."
    • As a rule, chapters tend to end with lines that are wham on at least a small degree.
    • In-universe, Peeta is the acknowledged master of the Wham Line, particularly when onstage with Caesar Flickerman. In the first book he sets up the Star-Crossed Lovers thing, and in the second he manages an even bigger one: He claims he and Katniss are having a baby. Double so since just before, he claims they're already married, making sure the reader is blindsided by the baby thing.
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: Katniss asks this question regarding the entire population of the Capitol.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The trilogy leaves quite a few questions unanswered:
    • We never learn why Cinna requested District 12 (as he says he did in book 1) and we never find out if Portia did the same. We also have no clue why Cinna doesn't have a Capitol accent or the Capitol sense of style, despite that not making much sense if he's a fashion designer who's lived in the Capitol for his entire life.
      • Cinna mentioned he thought that the coal miner outfits were weak, tired, and unflattering. It's possible he just wanted to do a better job.
    • In Catching Fire, Johanna says everyone she loves is dead. It feels like it's going to be important for her Character Development, but.... Elaboration? Explanation? Don't count on it. There's a popular guess in fanon, though: most likely Johanna's family was murdered by the Capitol, likely for refusing to be used by the Capitol after she won like Finnick was. Based on her personality and what Finnick says about his family being threatened, this seems the logical explanation.
    • In Mockingjay, Katniss gets a bow with "special properties." She never once mentions them again, uses them, or even explains what those properties are, besides the fact that it can vibrate to say hello. This could be the reason it's able to shoot down planes, though.
    • What happened to Old Cray? He somehow disappeared when Thread took over. It's not pointed out what exactly happened to him.
    • Why were Lavinia and her companion fleeing the Capitol to District 12? It's likely they may have been trying to get to District 13 for some reason, but how did a couple of Capitol kids come to be running away when most adults never develop the courage, or even the inclination in most cases?
    • Bonnie and Twill were also trying to get to District 13 in Catching Fire, and wound up being fairly close to where Lavinia was when she was captured. The last Katniss sees of them, they're successfully hiding out and planning their next move, but when Katniss and co. reach District 13 in the final book, Bonnie and Twill are nowhere to be seen. Katniss briefly Hand Waves their absence, commenting that it must be incredibly rare for those who flee to actually reach District 13... then they're never mentioned again.
    • Commander Lyme is introduced in Mockingjay as a former victor and leader of the rebels in District 2. She's built up as if she's going to be important somehow, but when the surviving victors have their meeting towards the end of the book, she's nowhere in sight and is never mentioned (though the reader must assume she's been killed at some point in the interim, as it is stressed that all surviving victors are present).
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Subverted. Katniss sees Peeta as The Heart and thinks his power to love is much better than her ability to kill things. (During the games, it IS useful to gain sponsors.)
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Given the nature of the arena used by the Quarter Quell.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The Districts have a few geographical clues but otherwise the readers don't really learn where they are. That didn't stop people from trying to map it, though. One of the only things agreed on is that District 12 is meant to be Appalachia, most likely the coal-mining regions of Virginia and West Virginia.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Tough-as-nails Johanna Mason is undone by water... because when she was a prisoner of the Capitol, they soaked her and then electrocuted her as part of her torture.
  • Wicked Wasps: The tracker jackers have been twisted by Capitol biotech beyond any level of aggression that real wasps would display; they act less like territorial animals and more like insanely aggressive living weapons. They can track targets for at least a mile, their stings instantly create agonizing plum-sized lumps, and the hallucinations caused by their venom can drive a person insane. They were created to be an equivalent to land mines to be spread around rebel territories, and have been kept around by the Capitol as a symbol of their power over their subjects.
  • Will Not Be a Victim: Invoked and then exploited. It's how Johanna won the Hunger Games.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Left ambiguous throughout the series if Katniss will end up with anyone at all. For one thing, she doesn't want to fall in love, get married and have children that might end up in the Hunger Games, so she resists her budding feelings for Peeta. Gale professing his romantic feelings confuses her and a minor triangle plays out for a few chapters of the second book, then ultimately she chooses to be with Peeta but doesn't start a family with him until fifteen years after the end of the war. The movies play it up like a big triangle by adding scenes that allude to Katniss having feelings for Gale and remove the majority of the scenes that shows she's falling for Peeta, presumably to cash in on the shipper war hype of Twilight but it's mostly lead to a negative response and was toned down for the third film.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: All the characters who participated in the Hunger Games, especially the Careers, had little choice but to participate in what amounts to mass slaughter. Even Cato and Clove, the most ruthless characters in the first book, were to some degree pitiable, especially the former in the film.
  • World of No Grandparents:
    • It's stated a few times that the family of Mrs. Everdeen ran an apothecary in the town. Yet, when she underwent catatonic after her husband died, nobody stepped in to take care of Katniss and Prim, who were in danger of being thrown to a community center until the former forced herself to become the family's breadwinner.
    • In fact, there are only two known grandparents in the whole series: Greasy Sae, whose mentally ill granddaughter is mentioned a few times; and President Snow, whose granddaughter is mentioned by Johanna as a potential tribute for the Revenge Hunger Games. If Katniss' mother lives until the epilogue, then add her. Justified as most of Panem's population barely earn enough a living to sustain two generations, let alone three.
  • Would Hit a Girl: There are just as many girls as boys in each Hunger Game, ensuring a lot of boys hitting girls. Marvel kills Rue, and Thresh kills Clove.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Everyone in the Hunger Games is between the ages of 12-18.
  • Wreathed in Flames: Part of Katniss' symbology (along with being a mockingjay).
  • You Bastard!: Look at the Capitol and then look at you. The book is even stylistically written in a fashion that gets the reader compelled by the violence and the romance but with undertones that this sort of enjoyment is wrong. In fact, anyone who still loves the series for all the shallow reasons is flipped off in Mockingjay, when all their favorite characters die off and their badass heroine becomes a PTSD-stricken shell.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The people living in the Capitol dye their hair some pretty wild colors.
  • You Have Failed Me: Snow has Crane killed after Crane declares both Katniss and Peeta winner of the 74th Hunger Games. Otherwise they both would have committed suicide, and there would be no winner, likely angering many people in the process, especially in the districts, which President Snow warned him about earlier. Snow thought a better solution would've been to simply kill Katniss.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Leads to Cato snapping the neck of District 3's boy in the first book. President Coin attempts this with Katniss towards the end of Mockingjay.
  • You Killed My Father: Katniss understands that if the conditions were not so bad in the coal mines due to the decadent lifestyle in the Capitol and the corrupt government, her father would not have died in the mine accident. And in Mockingjay, President Coin has Prim killed.
  • Your Favorite: Katniss at one point receives food including the stew she stated in an interview was her favorite thing about the Capitol. In Mockingjay, Peeta finds a can of the same stew and presents it to Katniss when the team scavenges a meal.

It's like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more than twenty years.
But there are much worse games to play.

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