Warning: Unmarked spoilers on this page.
You may put examples from both the book and film adaptations.
- In the backstory for the series, the 13 outlying districts of Panem attempted a revolt against the Capitol. When said revolt was quashed, the Capitol sought a way to punish and control the Districts.
You'd Expect: That, following Dictatorship 101, the Capitol would, after punishing key figures of the failed revolution, invent or inflate an external threat to Panem. They could even paint the rebels as having harmed Panem's ability to defend itself against this threat, which would have the dual effect of discouraging further rebellion and uniting the less revolutionary citizens on the same side as the Capitol.
Instead: The titular event is launched. Each year, one boy and one girl (aged 12-18) from each of the 12 remaining districts is picked at random to compete in a 24-person battle to the death. This is both for the entertainment of the Capitol, and as a punishment to the districts, many of which exist in a state of abject poverty while the Capitol enjoys obscene wealth, comfort and privilege. As any historian will tell you, a ruling class living in luxury whilst brutalising a poverty-stricken proletariat is the perfect recipe for a determined revolution.
Unbelievably: This state of affairs persists for three quarters of a century, until the events of the first book somehow stir the Districts into realising that having their children ritualistically murdered by pampered socialites for zero benefit is simply not a nice thing.
- In the first war against the Districts, the Capitol create disposable genetically-altered birds called jabberjays to spy on the rebels and to collect valuable information.
You'd Expect: That if the Capitol wants the jabberjays to be disposable, they would make the jabberjays sterile, so that there's no risk of them breeding.
Instead: The Capitol create male-only jabberjays to prevent them from breeding. While this works, and the jabberjays end up extinct anyways, the jabberjays are able to mate with mockingbirds and create a new bird species called mockingjays. In addition, the failure of the Capitol to fully kill off the jabberjay lineage lead to the mockingjay becoming the new symbol of the rebellion.
- The Career Districts are districts that train their tributes, who then volunteer for the Hunger Games. Because of this, the Career tributes usually win the Games.
You'd Expect: That the other Districts follow their example. There are benefits to winning the games, such as extra food for the winner's District. Also, with volunteers, the Districts can bypass the tesserae system and allow everyone in the District to get extra food and oil without any extra risk as the volunteers will take the place of those chosen by the reaping. Because of this, the younger kids that could have been reaped are also safe.
Instead: None of the other Districts do this and as a result, let their tributes get slaughtered without any chance of survival.
- The Career tributes are generally regarded as the strongest tributes in the Hunger Games. The usual Career strategy in the Games is to team up with the other Careers, gain control of the food supply in the Cornucopia, and hunt down the non-Careers before killing each other. However, one problem with this strategy is that if the Cornucopia's food supply is destroyed, the Careers usually lose to the non-Career tributes because the Careers struggle with finding food for themselves.
You'd Expect: The Career Districts train their tributes in wilderness survival, so that they know how to find food for themselves if the Cornucopia food supply becomes compromised.
Instead: None of the Career Districts do this, and destroying the Cornucopia food supply remains a viable strategy for defeating the Career tributes up to the 74th Hunger Games.
- Before the Hunger Games begin, the tributes are required to have private sessions with the Gamemakers to demonstrate their best skill, which would then be scored. While any skill can be demonstrated, most tributes generally demonstrate their skills with the weaponry.
You'd Expect: That the observing Gamemakers would have some sort of defence set up against any tribute that decides to attack them with the weaponry in the room.
Instead: The Gamemakers are vulnerable to attack up to the 74th Hunger Games when Katniss fires an arrow in their direction. It is not until the 75th Hunger Games that they set up a force field to prevent unexpected attacks from the tributes.
Unbelievably: No tribute before Katniss had taken advantage of the lack of defenses and attacked the Gamemakers during the private session.
- The Career tributes and Peeta have Katniss trapped up a tree.
You'd Expect: That they'll take advantage of this by burning the tree with fire as How It Should Have Ended suggested.
Instead: They figure that she will have to come down at some time and decide to sleep under the tree with Glimmer keeping watch. However, Glimmer falls asleep too, giving Katniss an opportunity to escape her situation.
For Added Stupidity: Before trapping Katniss, the Careers are shown to be capable of starting and utilizing fire to create torches as shown in their earlier encounter with an unlucky tribute. In fact, after they trap Katniss up the tree, they start up fires to create torches for better lighting. What makes this situation especially frustrating is that before running into each other, Katniss and the Careers had just escaped a forest fire orchestrated by the Gamemakers, so the Careers don't really have an excuse in not thinking up the idea to use fire to burn the tree.
- In the tree that Katniss is trapped, there is a wasp nest containing tracker jackers, which can kill people in a few stings.
You'd Expect: That the Careers notice said nest and reconsider their strategy.
Instead: The Careers fail a spot check and sleep under Katniss' tree.
The Result: Katniss takes advantage of the tracker jacker nest and the Careers' sleep by dropping the nest on the Careers. The Careers are forced to flee, and the tracker jackers manage to kill off Glimmer and the District 4 female tribute from the Career group. Katniss manages to escape and manages to take the bow and arrows from the dead Glimmer, giving her an advantage against the surviving Careers.
- The Careers have an ally tribute from District 3. With the District 3 tribute's skills, they are able to rearm the land mines under the metal plates that acted as the tributes' starting positions.
You'd Expect: That the Careers place the land mines far away from the supplies they gathered from the Cornucopia, so that when the mines blow up, they won't affect the supplies.
Instead: The Careers place some of the mines close enough to the supplies that the mines, if set off, can potentially destroy their own supplies. Even worse, the mines are close enough to one another that with careful aim, one can set off a explosion chain reaction that ends up destroying the Careers' supply pile.
- After observing that the Careers have allied themselves with a District 3 tribute and noting Foxface's strange behavior in her theft of the Careers' supplies, Katniss realizes that the Careers have guarded their supplies with land mines.
You'd Expect: That since Katniss knows how sensitive the land mines are to pressure, she would use rocks or something similar to disturb the mines.
Instead: Katniss uses three of her arrows to cut down a bag of apples, which then spill into the ground and set off the mines.
The Result: Katniss manages to destroy the Careers' supplies. However, she loses three arrows in the process. This later will impact her fights with Cato and the wolf muttations since with more arrows, she would have won the aforementioned battles more easily and with less risk.
For Added Stupidity: Katniss does consider using rocks to set off the mines; however, she drops this idea as she believed the rocks would have set off only one mine at best for some reason. Considering that a small wooden ball was able to disturb the mines, it's a bit strange that she wouldn't at least give the rock idea a shot.
- Peeta is dying of blood poisoning. Because of this, Katniss decides to go to the Cornucopia to partake in the Gamemakers' "feast". There, she will be able to find medicine to cure Peeta's blood poisoning. Later, when the feast begins, the Gamemakers reveal a table in front of the Cornucopia; sitting on said table are backpacks containing each District group's desired item. Katniss then notices with dismay that the District 12 backpack containing the medicine is rather small, meaning that any other tribute going for his or her own District backpack can easily steal the District 12 backpack too.
You'd Expect: That since Katniss has a bow and arrow, she will sit it out and aim an arrow at the table. Any tribute that reaches the table can be shot down, and after shooting down a number of tributes, Katniss will be able to safely approach the table.
Instead: Katniss forgoes her range advantage and runs to the table for her item.
- Katniss runs for the table containing Peeta's medicine, but on her way, she is attacked by a Career tribute, Clove. She fires one arrow at Clove, and succeeds in injuring her, but Clove is still capable of throwing knives, and is VERY accurate. No other tributes have appeared yet.
You'd Expect: Katniss to realise that killing Clove is of greater importance right now, and fire another arrow at her.
Instead: Katniss tries to take her item and then fire at Clove, but by the time she's got an arrow ready, Clove's recovered, and cuts her across the forehead with another knife before taking her down.
- Clove now has Katniss pinned down.
You'd Expect: Clove to immediately kill Katniss with one of her many knives. Then, Cato and she can steal the other tributes' items to give themselves a better advantage against the rest of the competition.
Instead: Clove decides to ridicule Katniss and to torture her.
The Result: Unbeknownst to Clove and Katniss, Thresh overheard Clove mock Rue. This angers Thresh enough to kill Clove. Not only that but Thresh also overheard Clove talk about Rue's alliance with Katniss, which gives him enough incentive to spare Katniss. Thresh then proceeds to take his item and Cato's item.
For Added Stupidity: Cato, who was supposed to be guarding Clove, somehow managed to miss the six feet tall Thresh approaching Clove.
- The Hunger Games are now down to the final four: Katniss, Peeta, Foxface, and Cato. At this point, Katniss decides to replenish she and Peeta's food and water sources. She manages to do well with water; however, when it comes to food, she notices that Peeta's loud footsteps are scaring off the game and possibly attracting attention from the other tributes. In addition, she is worried about Peeta's safety, so she suggests that Peeta climb a tree and keep a lookout while she hunts for food.
You'd Expect: That Peeta listen to her. After all, she is a hunter and has better survival instincts than Peeta, who is a baker.
Instead: Peeta rejects her proposal due to ego problems. For some reason, Katniss decides to drop the argument and show him how to collect roots instead of concealing him in a safe area.
The Result: Peeta makes loud sounds while collecting roots, which attracts a nearby tribute just like Katniss expected. Luckily for Peeta, said tribute is Foxface rather than Cato.
- The Gamemakers have reverted their decision to have two Hunger Games winners, and now Katniss and Peeta are expected to fight each other. However, Katniss and Peeta decide not to fight each other and instead decide to play a game of chicken with the Gamemakers by threatening to commit suicide through consumption of the poisonous nightlock berries.
You'd Expect: That the Gamemakers don't do anything. Katniss and Peeta committing suicide together work as a fitting ending to the Star-Crossed Lovers narrative built around them. If the fact that the Hunger Games can only have a single winner matters that greatly, then they can simply choose the tribute that died last.
Instead: The Gamemakers lose the game of chicken and let both Katniss and Peeta live.
The Result: Katniss and Peeta's success in forcing the Gamemakers to revoke the single-winner ruling incite a new rebellion.
- President Snow has a talk with Katniss Everdeen to convince her to help him quell the potential uprising Peeta and she created by defying the Gamemakers in the previous Hunger Games.
You'd Expect: That Snow not give Katniss all the information about the Districts rebelling. After all, if Katniss knows exactly how bad the situation is, she can choose to make things worse for Snow.
Instead: Snow tells Katniss everything. He tells her that the uprisings in the Districts can become a revolution that will destroy Panem and talks about how fragile the entire Capitol system is. In addition, he tells Katniss that he can't kill her because doing so will just make her a martyr and will just incite the rebellion even further.
The Result: With the information that Snow gives her, Katniss later decides to defy the Capitol and encourage the rebellion by dying as a martyr. Most importantly though, Katniss is able to relay Snows information to Haymitch, who has connections to the rebels and makes great use of said information.
- President Snow is concerned that Katniss is a symbol of rebellion, the spark that will make his dictatorship collapse. To ensure her cooperation, since Katniss agrees that she doesn't want to die or make her family suffer, he coerces her into creating a believable love affair with Peeta. As the Capitol votes on dress designs for Katniss's upcoming wedding to Peeta, Snow starts closing some of the loopholes and introduces more violent soldiers to District Twelve. Which is fine, since it reminds Katniss of her devil's bargain.
You'd Expect: Snow would stop there. Then when the next Hunger Games arrives, he should have Katniss mentor dozens of children who have to go through the games and continue it over the years, to break her gradually. It worked on her mentor Haymitch, after all, and turned him into a bitter drunk. There is no guarantee that Katniss can train every child to kill. Also, at this point, Katniss only defies authority to protect her loved ones or her neighbors. Katniss has already agreed to go through the Happy Marriage Charade with Peeta, be the smiling and pretty bride the way Finnick is a male prostitute, and bury any hopes of having a true relationship with Gale, and Peeta reluctantly goes along with it because he has a family as well to protect.
Instead: Snow engages in Moving the Goalposts, by forcing all of the previous participants in Hunger Games to be redrawn and volunteered at their District, for a so-called "traditional" event called the Quarter Quell. This includes Katniss and Peeta since Katniss is the only female victor from District Twelve.
The Result: Nice Job Fixing It, Villain! ensues. The Capitol has a lot of sympathy for Katniss being forced to cancel her wedding and re-enter the arena, especially when Peeta lies that she's pregnant and they married quietly in their District. Meanwhile, the surviving tributes decide that Katniss and Peeta need to survive the arena and become rebels officially, and sacrifice their lives when Katniss cannot protect them. Thanks to having a rogue Gamemaker on their side, they succeed in busting Katniss out, and making her the Mockingjay rebel that Snow feared.
- President Snow announces a Quarter Quell, whose rules would get rid of the Hunger Games victors and by extension, Katniss and Peeta. Because of how important Katniss is to the revolution, Haymitch, Plutarch, and the other rebels decide to make a plan to save Katniss's life.
You'd Expect: That if Katniss's life is that important, the rebels will rescue Katniss before the Quarter Quell even begins.
Instead: The rebellion waits until three days into the Quarter Quell to rescue Katniss and some of the other victors.
Result: While Katniss did survive long enough for the rebels to rescue her and some of the other victors, there were many notable events during the Quarter Quell that could have resulted in her death if she had gotten unlucky. Furthermore, the rebels were unable to save Peeta and Johanna from the Capitol, something that would give the rebellion trouble in the upcoming war against the Capitol.
- As mentioned before, the rebels have a plan to break Katniss, Peeta, and some of the other tributes out of the Quarter Quell arena.
You'd Expect: That the rebels, such as Haymitch, and/or the Quarter Quell tributes affiliated with the rebellion, such as Finnick or Johanna, will at least give Katniss and Peeta some sort of warning about their plan to escape the arena.
Instead: None of the rebels and tributes bother informing Katniss and Peeta of the plan.
The Result: On the day of the escape, Katniss and Peeta, not knowing the escape plan, decide to abandon the alliance with Finnick, Johanna, and Beetee because the number of tributes in the arena is quickly dropping. Luckily for the rebels, Katniss and Peeta decide to delay their desertion to after Beetee executes his plan to kill Brutus and Enorbaria with the lightning tree, so that they would have a better chance of survival. However, Beetee gets knocked out and in a further stroke of luck for the rebels, Katniss realizes what Beetee's true intentions were and manages to take down the shield around the Quarter Quell. In essence, the rebel's plans had many holes and would have fallen apart at the end without Katniss's assistance.
For Added Stupidity: Haymitch tries to justify the subterfuge by stating that Katniss and Peeta knowing too much about the plan will make them the biggest targets for the Capitol to capture. He also states that in the situation that they were captured, the less they knew about the plan, the better. This still does not make any sense since the Capitol would have tortured them regardless of what they actually knew they as shown in Mockingjay. Also, had things gone more smoothly, the Capitol most likely would have gone after Beetee first rather than Katniss and Peeta since it was his electric wire that took down the force field. In any case, giving Katniss and Peeta some idea of the rebellion's plan would not have done any harm.
- When escaping the fog composed of poisonous gas, Katniss notices some monkeys with orange fur. Said monkeys seem unafraid of her and the other tributes' presence.
You'd Expect: That Katniss, who is a hunter and has some familarity with wild animals, takes note of the monkeys' orange fur and strange behavior and exercises some caution. In addition, she should warn her allies of the monkeys.
Instead: Katniss sees the monkeys' presence as a good thing and forgets about them while Finnick and she find a remedy for the poison.
The Result: It turns out that the orange monkeys were muttations, and Katniss and co. have fallen into another trap.
- After getting rid of the poison, Finnick and Katniss immediately become aware of the many monkey muttations that have gathered around them. They have their weapons, but the problem is that Peeta is unaware of the monkeys. As a hunter who is familiar with wild animals, Katniss knows that making eye contact with the muttations is dangerous.
You'd Expect: That Katniss warns Peeta of the monkeys and tells him not to look up in their direction.
Instead: Katniss is very vague about the dangerous situation they are in and only tells Peeta to walk quietly to Finnick and her.
The Result: Peeta accidentally looks up at the muttations, which triggers them to attack him, Katniss, and Finnick.
- Katniss has been recruited for PR purposes, being the face of the rebellion and a symbol for others to rally behind.
You'd Expect: Every effort would be made to keep her safe. After all, her death would basically crush the rebellion.
Instead: During the bombing run by the Capital, Katniss is left to her own devices and is almost trampled on her way to the bomb shelter, then nearly gets locked out when she has to go back for Prim.
- As part of her PR job, Katniss is sent to a hospital in District 8 to mingle. Snow gets wind of this.
You'd Expect: Since he wants Katniss dead, he would send ground troops to take her out.
Instead: Per his earlier edict that any association with the Mockingjay is a death sentence, he has the entire hospital bombed. Not only does this fail to kill Katniss, since she's left by then and they are warned of the bombing, but only gives her good PR and makes District 8 that much more willing to revolt. Indeed, this entire incident is basically the straw that broke the camel's back. For a Capital that understands that "Bread and Circuses" is the best way to placate the masses, killing a bunch of perceived innocents had no positive outcome whatsoever.
- During the attack on the dam in District 5, the attackers are clearly trying to drag large, heavy crates inside.
You'd Expect: The Peacekeepers would lock the doors. Every second they spend bashing those things open is a second more of them spend dying.
Instead: The doors are left open and the attacks Zerg their way inside, blowing up the dam. Especially made facepalm-worthy by showing the Peacekeepers could have stayed safely on top of the dam and fire downwards without risk.
- During the operation to rescue Peeta and the other hostage Tributes, Katniss tries to goad Snow into talking with her so their jamming signal will keep going through the broadcast.
You'd Expect: Since this entire operation is actually a gambit by Snow to have a brainwashed Peeta kill Katniss, he would make every effort to make it look like it went off without a hitch. The only reason Katniss even tries this tactic is because the Capital is blocking the original transmission.
Instead: Snow takes the bait to indulge in some Evil Gloating, practically spelling out his entire plan and actively admitting that he knows about the rescue team. Which leads into...
- Snow has just admitted that rescuing Peeta is a trap with a hint so blatantly transparent that a 10-year-old would probably take the hint. Hell, even the rescue team admits they only escaped because they were allowed to.
You'd Expect: They take the hint.
Instead: No precautions are taken and Katniss gets brutally beaten by Peeta.
- At the end of the film, Peeta turns out to have been tortured both physically and mentally, and brainwashed into associating all his pain and suffering with Katniss, which makes him want to kill her every chance he gets. Even if you disregard the last part, we're still talking about a seventeen year-old who has been held captive against his will and tortured for months, leaving him terrified and suffering from PTSD.
You'd Expect: They would try to create the most soothing and relaxing environment possible for him to help calm him down and feel less threatened.
Instead: They keep him in a room so heavily lit by spotlights that it borders on torture, stressing the senses and preventing sleep. Any well-adjusted and emotionally stable person would go crazy in there in a matter of hours. On top of that, they keep him in restraints. There is a valid reason for it, but it only serves to make him panic even more. He spent months being imprisoned by people who tortured him and now his so-called saviours are trapping him in a far too brightly lit room, leaving him entirely at the mercy of a bunch of doctors he's never met before and has no earthly reason to trust.
- The rebels have set off avalanches around the Nut, blocking all of its ventilation shafts and entrances. This forces the District Two loyalists out into the District Two square where the rebel forces are.
You'd Expect: That the rebels immediately tell the District Two loyalists to surrender to prevent further loss of life.
Instead: The rebels do not immediately communicate an offer of surrender to the loyalists. Instead, they have Katniss make the offer of surrender. She too delays the offer of surrender and even runs into the open to save a loyalist.
The Result: The loyalists keep fighting against the rebels. At one point, one of the loyalists pulls a gun on Katniss, who is defenseless.
- While held at gunpoint, Katniss is trying to convince the District 2 loyalists to join the rebellion.
You'd Expect: That she pays attention to the loyalists' behavior just in case one of them gets any ideas.
Instead: She turns away at one point to look at the television screens and gets shot for her troubles. If not for her bulletproof armor, Katniss would have suffered a serious injury or even death.
- Coin is the leader of the rebels. It's revealed her motives are less-than pure; she wants to take power when Snow falls, and is concerned that Katniss isn't one hundred percent loyal to her. The thing is that Katniss isn't a politician, as many people lament; while she can lie, she has no poker face and her only motive is to save Peeta, Prim, and Gale from Snow.
You'd Expect: She would do all she could to keep Katniss relatively happy and mentally stable, because you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, as the saying goes. The Mockingjay started a rebellion to protect her sister, not gain power.
Instead: In the climax, Coin pulls some strings to put Prim in the front line and might have used Gale's bombs to kill Prim and other children that Snow was using as human shields. Coin then tries to frame Snow for the deed.
The Result: Katniss suffers a violent Heroic BSoD, with her relationships to Gale and her mother utterly destroyed. An imprisoned Snow is able to convince Katniss that he didn't order the attack that killed her sister because he wouldn't kill children when he had already lost. At Snow's execution, Katniss on the spur of the moment shoots Coin instead instead of Snow, but gets off the hook after her legal team argues that she's shell-shocked and legally insane due to her Trauma Conga Line. The same Trauma Conga Line that Coin helped perpetuate.
- In addition to that, there's the question of what to do with the defeated Capitol people after they've surrendered, but are still very privileged and not broken. Coin has the idea of restarting the Hunger Games, but using the Capitol's children.
You'd Expect: Coin wouldn't bring up the idea to the survivors of the Hunger Games, who just went through hell and back. There are other things the Capitol could do, like community service, or whatever happens offscreen.
Instead: She does.
The Result: Half of the survivors understandably tell Coin "NO!" after what they went through. Katniss seeks a golden opportunity to make Coin think she's on her side and votes yes. And after Coin is killed, the idea dies before it can be renumerated.