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Nightmare Fuel / The Hunger Games

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The Hunger Games, a series of books and a film about children murdering each other for the entertainment of the elite and a threat to the oppressed. You'd better believe there's heaps of Nightmare Fuel.

Spoilers below, and remember: don't step off the platform too early.


  • The Games themselves are this. These books do not skimp on the terrifying deaths.
  • Towards the end of Mockingjay in the sewers when Finnick is killed by mutts.
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  • Throwing teenagers into a death match is bad enough. But turning them into celebrities beforehand, putting them into social situations where they even eat with the people they will eventually kill or be killed by, and even forcing those from the same District to fight against each other, destroying any camaraderie or prior relationship they might have is just plain monstrous. And that's not even getting into what happens to the victors after the Games.
  • Some of the ways the rebels, including Johanna, Darius, and Lavinia, are brutally tortured in Mockingjay, which include cutting off people's body parts one by one until they are dead, delivering electric shocks to the rebel until they have died, and drowning the rebel in water and then electrocuting them.
  • Cato's death, where his flesh was devoured by mutant wolves made out of the bodies (or minds) of the deceased tributes.
    • He was alive the whole time for hours while this all happened to him. He was suffering for an entire night until Katniss shot him out of mercy, not hate as it had been up until that point. But to make matters worse, she and Peeta sat on the Cornucopia waiting for him to die slowly and painfully, just so the people in the Capitol would have their sick show of violence. Only when Katniss couldn't bear it anymore did she do something about it. It seems she didn't realize that, even with the armor, it would take that long for him to die. Plus, she didn't have a clear shot at him before he and the mutts came out of the Cornucopia. And if the mutts really were made out of the dead tributes' body parts as opposed to just looking like them, then Clove, Glimmer, and Marvel—his allies—also killed him, and he was reminded of them right before his death.
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  • "Tick, tock." There is something deeply unsettling about the whole "the arena is a clock" idea.
  • The Hanging Tree song.
    "Are you, are you, coming to the tree... Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me..."
    • Katniss' explanation of the song doesn't help.
    • And neither does watching the events transpire that inspired the song in the first place in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
  • Glimmer's face being melted off from the tracker jacker venom.
  • The giant lizard mutts in the Capitol in Mockingjay. Even before the reader sees exactly what they can do, they're described to smell like blood and roses (Snow's signature scent) and are able to say the word "Katniss" in the most frightening way possible. Oh and they maul and dismember anything in their path, even Capitol citizens, to get to Katniss.
    • In the movie, they look like a cross between Gollum and a Xenomorph.
  • Many of the "pods" in Mockingjay. Particularly the one that does in poor Messalla. His flesh melted off like a wax candle.
    • Another notable trap is the "collapsing street" pod, which causes a large section of street to fold in on itself. Anyone on that street would fall into a pit. If you survive the fall, something, implied to be mutts inside the pit, will do who-knows-what to you.
  • The horrific hallucinations shown by the tracker jacker venom involving ants crawling onto the main character.
  • Catching Fire features a fog that burns your clothes and skin, paralyzes you, and if you are completely submerged, makes you have seizures and die, as sadly demonstrated on an 80-year-old woman.
    • The way she decided that dying was the thing to do at that point and just walked into the fog was awful.
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    • For that matter, any of the endlessly inventive ways of killing people that the Panem scientists have invented - during "Mockingjay", it's clear that the Capitol prefers psychological warfare to flat-out annihilation of opposing forces, even though it's clearly capable of the latter.
      Katniss: No mutt is good. All are meant to damage you. Some take your life, like the monkeys. Others your reason, like the tracker jackers. However, the true atrocities, the most frightening, incorporate a perverse psychological twist designed to terrify the victim. The sight of the wolf mutts with the dead tributes' eyes. The sound of the jabberjays replicating Prim's tortured screams. The smell of Snow's roses mixed with the victim's blood.
  • The fact that many victors, not just Finnick, who are very attractive end up as prostitutes in the Capitol. If they refuse, Snow kills their loved ones. It's just horrible...
    • Imagine if Plutarch hadn’t manipulated Snow into altering the Third Quarter Quell so that they were reaping victors just to get rid of Katniss or Peeta or both? If instead, the plan was to make the districts think that now Katniss & Peeta were spoiled darlings of the Capitol by showering them with gifts, attention... paying for their wedding & bringing them to the Capitol to show them off? They were both young, attractive & coveted by the Capitol populace... and anyone who wanted a night in bed with The Star-Crossed Victors would probably have been willing to pay whatever he asked. People talk about the fact that Snow could have prostituted them individually, which is true... but he had more than enough leverage on them both to have forced them into being prostituted as a couple for anyone that wanted a threesome/moresome/orgy... or even just an outrageous party with them having sex in front of a crowd of total strangers as the starring attraction. After all, the Capitol is analogous to Rome, especially in its uncaring decadence, and slaves used to be required to have sex on display for parties back then, too.
  • President Snow himself. Think about it. His rise to power was mainly due to one thing, poison. He would kill his enemies and even some of his allies. But the most horrible thing is that he would even drink from the poisoned cup himself and his mouth would bleed. That's why he uses roses, to cover up the stench.
  • The hijacking. Both what it does to the victim and what it does to Katniss. The idea of seeing someone you love, who has always loved you, suddenly hate you and have warped memories of many of the significant things you've shared is terrifying.
  • Primrose's death in Mockingjay. She was burned alive and in front of her sister, Katniss.
    • Almost certainly she died instantaneously and didn't suffer. Still horrible, though not quite as much.
  • "By the way, I know about the kiss." Also Paranoia Fuel, because HOW does he know? And how did the Peacekeepers know Katniss went into the woods that time, so they turned on the fence? Was it cameras, spies? And how long has the area been monitored? Did the Capitol know about Katniss, Gale, even her dad hunting, but just didn't care until she became a Victor , the Mockingjay, and a threat? Or has she only been watched since then? Katniss never actually finds out, so neither do we.
    • If so is Prim getting reaped just luck or was it planned as punishment for her family hunting?
  • The jabberjay section of the arena in the Quarter Quell. If you get trapped in there, you just have to sit there and take it as you're bombarded by the agonized screams of your loved ones...for an hour. Even when you realize that the screams are just fabricated, it's still some serious emotional torture to have to listen to that.
    • Most especially true when Finnick points out that Jabberjays repeat sounds... so the victim has to wonder if their loved ones were actually tortured, just so the birds would have screams to copy.
  • The third Quarter Quell in general. Winning a Games, which would be traumatizing enough as it is, and then settling down to a regular life, knowing that at least you're safe from having to fight again no matter how bad things get. Then, all of a sudden, this belief is torn from you, and you have a definite chance of being reaped into an arena where you have to fight and kill your friends out of some desperate need to survive. It doesn't matter if you're senile, hard-of-hearing, addled by drugs, or if you have a family you have to leave behind. If you are alive, you can be picked. How's that for Paranoia Fuel?
    • Quarter Quells in general. Each one adds an additional, cruel rule to the already monstrous Hunger Games. The fact that they're painted as a special festivity makes it even worse.
  • It's mentioned that a previous tribute went insane, and started eating the others.
  • The section of the Quarter Quell arena that Johanna, Beetee, and Wiress got stuck in after Blight was killed. They got stuck in a downpour of hot, thick blood, and they could not escape it. This lasted for a whole hour. It got in their mouths, their eyes, everywhere, so that they're all completely red when they meet up with Finnick, Katniss, and Peeta. And we have no way of knowing if the blood was artificial (this is the Capitol, after all), or if it was actual blood, human or animal (again, this is the Capitol we're talking about).
  • The fact that the children who were behind the barricade happily took the parachutes, believing them to have food or gifts, and were brutally murdered. Some of them did not even die; no, they were only mutilated. And then Prim and other rebel medics came in...and a second set of explosions went off, killing them too. All of this happened on Coin's orders. And Katniss ended up seeing the entire thing in person.
  • Had Katniss not murdered Coin, it's entirely possible that there would be more Hunger Games set up for the remaining Capitol children.
    • Fridge Horror when you realize that Katniss was a hair's breath away from becoming Johanna or Finnick. If Peeta died in the first games, Snow would try to prostitute her the first chance he gets. After all he needs to break her spirit and she's very popular. And on top of that, in the future she'd have to be mentoring children just like Haymitch. Every other district probably has 2 or more previous victors mentoring. District 12 only had 1 winner untill Katniss came along so regardless of her wishes she'd probably enter the mentoring program and watch the kids she trained die year after year like Haymitch did. And what if her sister got reaped again? Or what if one of Rue's younger siblings got reaped? What if she trained the person that would ultimately end up killing someone she loves?
  • The Hunger Games in general. These children finish High School with approximately 12 less school-mates. Haymitch is the only District 12 Victor alive in 74 years which means District 12 lost 147 children to the Hunger Games. And the 12 districts have lost a total of 1,749 children. This is in a country ravaged by war.. In fact we only have the hunger games because the districts rebelled in the first place. Can you imagine being forced into servitude, then as further punishment every year you see 2 children from your district die. Would you want to have kids then? How many families died out this way? How many only-children got reaped? How many families had their entire family reaped? And consider when they get those parachutes in the arena. They're not just saying "I hope you survive". They're basically saying "I hope everyone else dies".
    • President Snow has a granddaughter that he dotes on. Imagine what it would have been like for her; she would definitely have been forced to play in the Hunger games. People who hated her grandfather would have made sure that she was humiliated and killed in an absolutely cruel way. Sponsors? Forget about that; unless they want to prolong her suffering, she might not have sponsors on account of the fact that the audience will be people who were wronged by Snow. And IF she manages to survive that Hunger Game, what's to say that she won't be killed by an assassin? Or worse, forced to go through another Hunger Game, or more? Her life will become a living nightmare...and she's a child.
  • The fact that so many people in the districts immediately wanted to inflict the horrors of the games on children for revenge is just chilling. Fortunately, that does not happen.
  • Mockingjay is filled with these. At one point, Katniss witnesses a group of Capitol refuges get mowed down by rebels, who were apparently aiming at the Peacekeepers. She sees a little girl in a yellow coat, one who had just seen her face scant minutes before, sobbing over the dead body of her mother. More bullets rain down, tear through the little girl, and she dies instantly. Katniss is so horrified she can't even speak at first.
  • The twist of the very first Quarter Quell. The Tributes were voted on by the people of their own District, likely by their own neighbors, friends, and possibly even family members.
  • Gale's desire for revenge in the third book. He desires revenge so much, that as the rebellion drags on he becomes willing to commit atrocities just as bad as those committed by the Capitol. At first he builds snare bombs which are designed to kill medics and noncombatants, but his bloodlust soon culminates in him causing an avalanche in the Nut which kills thousands (not just peacekeepers, but also civilians and rebel spies). He knows that there are civilians and spies in the Nut, and not only does he not care but in fact he also wanted to BOMB THE ESCAPES to ensure nobody survives. The fact that he survived the bombing of District 12 actually makes this worse, as he knows how wrong it is to kill civilians but he still does it.
  • Snare bombs designed by Gale end up being dropped in the final battle, killing Prim as well as a hundred other innocent children.
  • Cray. When starving girls in District 12 are desperate, they end up sleeping with him in exchange for a few coins. Katniss even says that this could have happened to her if she did not know how to hunt.
  • Fridge Horror when you realize that since the first rebellion was quashed and District 13 went underground it has been 74 years of them keeping a low profile. That means there may be people in District 13, living in that bunker, who have never seen the sun or walked on Earth. There could be 73 year olds in there that never felt the sun rays on their face.
    • Actually, it's not that bad. They most likely didn't have to literally stay underground all the time, just not to reveal their survival to other districts. And the surface isn't radioactive or anything, it just makes more sense to live underground than among the ruins.
  • What destroyed civilization before Panem was founded?
  • Watching Snow, who wasn't the nicest person to be around but certainly far from the President we all know in The Hunger Games trilogy, move further and further towards his future personality in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. A boy on the fringes of Capitol society just trying to secure his spot towards a good future ends up with a body count of FOUR (Bobbin, Mayfair, Sejanus and Dean Highbottom) and he's only EIGHTEEN with his power and influence growing. If he can poison and kill at just eighteen, there's no telling what else he did in order to eventually become the President Snow we all meet in the first Hunger Games book.


  • When the mutts first appear in the arena in the movie. All you see are Peeta and Katniss running together through the dark woods, then the mutts jump out at you from NOWHERE. One can only imagine if that was in 3D...
  • All the other incidents of violence — the mutts, Thresh and Clove, Glimmer's death — are all either really violent so as to be almost unbelievable, covered up with a Jitter Cam, or not particularly scary, like Rue's death by spear or Foxface's poisoning. The death of the District 3 boy is so senseless, happens so quickly and is done with such little emotion that it's shocking.
  • The Career tributes, Clove and Cato in particular. One of the most disturbing scenes is after Katniss's leg has been burned and she's soothing it in the lake. The disturbing part: They're glad that they're about to kill somebody. This is also Fridge Horror when you realize that these people probably reflect their districts.
    • Movie!Glimmer comes off as scarier than Cato or Clove because while those two always came across as alway Axe-Crazy, Glimmer acted disturbingly like a normal teenage girl at times which made her creepier.
      • Toss in just a moment before - the Gamemasters had run Katniss right into them. Senaca's thoughts: "Get a cannon ready" - and then exchanges a smile with the operator.
  • The screams of the girl who lit the fire. And still she gets off easy in the film - in the book she was just dying slowly, probably bleeding out, after the Careers left her. Then Peeta went back to end it.
  • The Tracker Jackers. Everything about them, from watching them swarm around Glimmer as she screams to Katniss's hallucinatory run from them, is terrifying. And they're actually Lighter and Softer compared with the book, where Katniss gets a hallucination of Glimmer's face being melted off. And as for the eradication of her features, that was the result of the huge lumps from getting stung.
    • Another more terrifying hallucination is the death of father. He and Gale's father, along with a few others were working in a mine. When they went down the lift, there was an explosion which blasted everyone inside to pieces.
  • A subtler form of Nightmare Fuel: Seeing a boy in the Capitol being given a toy sword in the Hunger Games. The people at the capital have come to see these horrendous Games as mere entertainment, not by advanced drugs or brainwashing, but by mundane methods that we see everyday: parents teaching their children the way the world works. The Capitol isn't protected from the Dystopia outside, it's the core.
  • The death of Clove at the hands of Thresh is terrifying to watch, even for Katniss. After strangling her for a bit, Thresh slams her head against the Cornucopia.. once, twice, and on the third time, he cracks skull open, which is heard rather clearly.
  • It's haunting how everything just slows to a halt when in Mockingjay Part II the parachutes fall from the sky. In the Hunger Games, parachutes mean supplies. The children stick their hands up in the sky, reaching for them, some of them smiling perhaps, it's so sinister because of that hope they gave those kids on top of everything. You can hear them exclaim 'gifts' surprised and elated. Everything looks like it's looking up for them. Then a flash and a bang and everyone's on the ground. Katniss barely stands up and notices her sister amidst the chaos. She calls out to her and her sister notices her and before she can even do anything it goes dark. Katniss couldn't save her sister. None of those people could save their kids. And nobody saw it coming. The entire saga started with Katniss volunteering in the place of her sister to save her from near-certain death and after four movies, after going through all these horrors, the end seemed so close, she was finally going to get vengeance for Rue and for herself and her sister and all the other children. She was there to stop the murder of children. To prevent the Hunger Games from happening ever again. And as she was about to take those final steps... to meet her destiny, when bam, a hundred children dead in a flash. Bam, her sister gone too. She was so close from having the ending she deserved. Everything was so close to being fine.
  • There's a deleted scene in Catching Fire where Plutarch goes into a room with lots of little cubby holes, goes to one, pulls out the paper inside, and replaces it with another. That CONFIRMS that the third Quarter Quell was not originally supposed to be a victors game. What makes the scene even worse is that there are HUNDREDS of these cubby holes around. The Capitol had centuries, if not MILLENIA of Hunger Games planned.
  • The Cornucopia Bloodbath sequence from the first film. The 24 Tributes are placed on pedastals as an incredibly loud pounding noise counts down in sync with the clock that signals the start of the games. Some kids look absolutely BLOODTHIRSTY, ready to kill anything and anyone, others are clearly terrified, scared out of their minds. And then the games start. All sound cuts out, save for an incredibly minimalist and tense score up until Katniss sees the bag that is filled with supplies, at which point it turns somewhat hopeful. Oh, and while this is happening, we keep getting shown incredibly quick cuts to scenes of kids being stabbed, sliced, slashed, bludgeoned, and beaten. The film employs shakey cam so to avoid the R rating, but if you look at stills from the sequence, they're quite graphic, with lots of blood flying.

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