The Hunger Games universe is a fictional dystopian society in which the The Hunger Games trilogy, a series of young adult novels by American television writer and novelist Suzanne Collins, is set. The novel The Hunger Games, the first in the series, was adapted into a film released in 2012, with adaptations of the following novels planned.
In the novel The Hunger Games, at an unspecified time in the future, the nation of "Panem" has risen from the ashes of a post-apocalyptic North America. Panem's seat of power is a utopian city, called "The Capitol," located in the Rocky Mountains. Outside of the Capitol, the nation is divided into twelve districts under the hegemony of an authoritarian, totalitarian dictatorship, headed by the tyrannical and cruel dictator President Coriolanus Snow. A pre-novel thirteenth district once existed but was destroyed by the Capitol 75 years before the beginning of The Hunger Games narrative during a national rebellion called the Dark Days. However, in Mockingjay, it is revealed that the thirteenth district retreated underground after a brutal rebellion that ultimately failed. This was the main source of the rebellion that happened in Catching Fire and Mockingjay. The Capitol developed the Hunger Games as an annual event to punish the citizens of Panem for their rebellion and to remind citizens of consequences for rebelling against the absolute power of the Capitol.
As revealed in the novel Mockingjay, the name Panem comes from the Latin phrase "Panem et Circenses" which means "bread and circuses."
The Capitol is the seat of Panem's brutal, totalitarian government and is located in the western Rocky Mountains of the former United States and Canada. The Capitol is surrounded by twelve outlying districts over which it rules absolutely. The Capitol is the home of the dictatorial President Coriolanus Snow and several major characters.
Citizens of the Capitol are far removed from the deprivation and open oppression of the twelve Districts, and are generally preoccupied with extravagant fashion, parties, and mass entertainment like the Hunger Games. Most Capitol citizens depicted in the novels appear either oblivious of, or totally unconcerned with, the poverty and desperation that prevails elsewhere in Panem. Compared with the Districts, the Capitol is extremely wealthy and technologically advanced, with citizens enjoying a very high standard of living. Visiting tributes, who have grown up with the constant threat of starvation, are shocked by what they consider wasteful decadence in the Capitol. For example, the selection of dishes served at parties is commonly far greater than one person could sample, so it is usual to provide emetic beverages to induce vomiting, allowing guests to continue eating. Due to this extravagant lifestyle, it is rare for Capitol citizens to join the Peacekeepers, as it requires its soldiers to avoid marriage for twenty years and is often considered a punishment to avoid spending time in jail. In addition, residents of other districts who are considered criminals or traitors may be forced into servitude in the Capitol and converted into Avoxes, which is a brutal form of punishment in which the offender's tongue is surgically removed and therefore can no longer speak.
Citizens of the Capitol are culturally distinct from those of the Districts, speaking with a characteristic accent and choosing first names of ancient Greco-Roman derivation, with the city itself having a distinctly modernized version of Roman architecture. In the books, the Capitol buildings are described as "candy-colored", rising in a rainbow of hues. The fashions of the Capitol are exotic and ostentatious, with citizens dyeing their skin and hair vivid colors, adopting tattoos, and undergoing extensive surgical alteration in the name of style. The Capitol accent is distinctive, said to sound "silly" and effete to people from the Districts; the accent is described as being "high-pitched with clipped tones and odd vowels". The letter 's' is a hiss and the tone rises at the end of every sentence, as if the speaker is asking a question.
Residents of the Capitol cannot be chosen as tributes for the Hunger Games, as the Games were instituted as a punishment for the twelve remaining districts of Panem for their failed rebellion. At one time there were thirteen districts, but District Thirteen was destroyed by the Capitol for possible use of weaponry (they were the nuclear weapons district for the country). The Games are an annual cause for celebration in the Capitol; citizens gamble on the tributes and sponsor their favorites in the arena, providing water, food, weapons, and other necessary provisions. Past victors are often able to cultivate celebrity status in the Capitol. Despite the bloodthirsty nature of the Games, the people of the Capitol are shown to be vulnerable to sentimentality and melodrama, becoming emotionally invested in the tributes, a fact ultimately manipulated by Katniss and Peeta.
To promote the release of the film, Lionsgate set up a fictional website for the Capitol. They also developed a virtual tour of the Capitol and a Panem-inspired Tumblr fashion blog called Capitol Couture. The studio also created a Capitol TV network on YouTube that showcases "official" Capitol productions as well as fan-made videos.
Peacekeepers are the combined military and police force in Panem. They wear black trimmed white uniforms consisting of a helmet, a standing collar, waist length tunic and trousers which are tucked into high black boots. In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, their appearance is different from the first movie with a full helmet, darker visor and heavier looking armor. Peacekeepers are usually residents of the Capitol and District 2 who sign up for 20 years during which they may not marry nor have children. Peacekeepers maintain order and suppress dissidence through coercion and brutality. They are led by a district Head Peacekeeper who is the commander of each garrison and they ensure that the Capitol's laws are obeyed and punish those who break them. Punishment by Peacekeepers normally consist of public whippings. Peacekeepers are usually equipped with automatic weapons such as machine guns to further discourage social disobedience among the Districts. Originally, the Peacekeepers in District 12 were lax, but in Catching Fire, the Head Peacekeeper, Cray, was replaced by the much stricter Romulus Thread.
District 1 specializes in producing luxury items such as jewelry. Children living there take pride in representing District 1 in the Games, and are often among the group of tributes nicknamed "Careers", who illegally train for the Games from a young age. Katniss calls them "the Capitol's lap dogs" in The Hunger Games book. Once the Games begin, the tributes from the Career-heavy districts (typically Districts 1, 2, and 4) tend to form an alliance until they are forced to fight among themselves to determine the winner. Along with District 2, District 1 is heavily favored by the Capitol and is fairly wealthy compared to the rest of the districts.
In The Hunger Games, both tributes from District 1 (Marvel and Glimmer) join the "Career" pack. Glimmer is eventually killed by tracker jackers (mutant wasps), which were dropped on the Careers by Katniss. Marvel is killed by Katniss after he kills Rue. In Catching Fire, the District 1 tributes are siblings Cashmere and Gloss, who are killed by Johanna Mason and Katniss respectively.
District 2 is in charge of masonry and weapon making, though it was revealed in Mockingjay that it is also a center of training for the Capitol's army of Peacekeepers. District 2 is a large district in the Rocky Mountains, not far from the Capitol itself. Its citizens have better living conditions than most other districts; support for Capitol control is stronger here than in any other district. Some citizens of District 2 give their children names of Ancient Roman or Greek style, like those common in the Capitol. District 2 tributes often volunteer for the Games even when not selected in the drawing (this is said to make the Reapings very difficult). As such, their tributes are among those referred to as "careers". Like Districts 1 and 4, these tributes train for the games. Usually, this is illegal but because of the support District 2 gave for the Capitol, they are let off, along with District 1 and District 4, the other richer districts.
In the 74th Hunger Games, District 2's tributes, Cato and Clove, were formidable opponents. Clove came the closest of anyone to killing Katniss, but was interrupted and killed by Thresh, after saying loudly that the careers killed Rue, the female tribute from Thresh's district. Cato avenged her death and was the final tribute to be killed when Katniss shot him with her bow through pity after he was shredded beyond repair by wolf-like muttations. In the 75th Games, District 2's tributes were Brutus and Enobaria. Brutus was killed by Peeta in the arena; Enobaria survived the Games and the rebellion to be one of the last seven victors left after the war.
The district is made up of many small villages, each based around a mine. In the midst of District 2 is a central mountain (referred to as "The Nut" by Katniss) which contains the command and control center for the Capitol's defenses. Originally, District 2 specialized only in mining and stone-cutting, but after the Dark Days it was also tasked with production of weapons.][ During the Dark Days, District 2 was the Capitol's staunchest ally and received preferential treatment from the Capitol after the rebellion, along with District 1. Katniss states that many of the other Districts loathe District 2, referring to them as "the Capitol's lap dogs". In the third book, during the second rebellion, District 2 is the last to fall to the rebels as District 2 had the strongest Capitol influence and had many peacekeepers. The rebels were loosing in the district until the fall of The Nut, and Katniss' speech to the people of District 2.
District 3 specializes in the production of electronics. Most of its inhabitants work in factories and are very adept in skills such as engineering, which its tributes have used to their advantage in the Games. In The Hunger Games, the male tribute from District 3 managed to reactivate the land-mines surrounding the Cornucopia so they could be used to protect the supplies of the Careers. One of the previous victors to come from District 3, Beetee, won his Games by setting a trap that electrocuted many of the other tributes. He also used his skills after being chosen to compete in the 75th Hunger Games in Catching Fire. The other Victor chosen to compete in the 75th Hunger Games was a woman named Wiress, who discovered that the arena operated like a clock and told Katniss how to detect force fields, after she pointed (or at least started to point) out the force field put up between the Game Makers and the victors.
Although District 3 seems to have technological advantages over other districts, it is actually very poor and typically doesn't do well in the Games.
District 4 is a coastal district that specializes in fishing. It is another wealthy district in which children often train to become Career tributes. It is said that District 4 has the most "decent-looking" people. The most popular bread baked in this District is a salty, fish-shaped loaf tinted green by seaweed.
In The Hunger Games, the male tribute from District 4 was one of the eleven to die in the initial bloodbath at the Cornucopia; in the film he was depicted being killed by Cato after an attempt to flee. In the book, the girl was shown as a career and killed by the Tracker Jackers alongside Glimmer; however, she did not appear in the film and most likely died in the initial bloodbath. In Catching Fire, Katniss finds important allies in Mags and Finnick, the District 4 victors chosen for the Quarter Quell. Mags is an elderly victor who mentored Finnick in his first Games and could make a fishing hook "out of anything." She volunteered for the Quarter Quell, taking the place of Annie Cresta, an unstable past victor who won her games by being able to swim the longest after the arena was flooded. During the third Quarter Quell, Mags was killed by a mysterious neurotoxin. As for Finnick, Katniss describes him as "beautiful" and mentions that he won the games at the young age of 14. In Mockingjay, Finnick is killed by lizard/human mutations during the second rebellion.
District 5 specializes in electricity, which Caesar Flickerman referred as the 'Power Plant Workers' in the film.
The female tribute from District 5 in the 74th Hunger Games is nicknamed "Foxface" because she looks similar to a fox, with a slim face and sleek red hair. She was one of the last to die, due to her cleverness, avoiding any form of contact with other tributes. She also stole a small portion of food from the Careers' supplies, dodging the bombs set up by the Careers shortly before her death. She died by eating poisonous berries nightlock after watching Peeta harvest them, assuming they were safe to eat. No description or name was given to the boy from District 5, except that he was one of the 11 who died in the blood-bath the first day. In the movie it was shown he had a spear to kill Thresh, but Thresh easily blocked the spear with a pack he had picked up and hit him with a sickle. In the 75th Hunger Games, Finnick killed the male tribute with his trident at the Cornucopia on the first day. It is not told how the female tribute died. The "Power Plant Workers" do indeed work on power plants to create electricity, but also in factories creating machines and the like. The hours are long and pay is not very good. Conditions are harsh and unforgiving.
District 6 specializes in transportation, serving as a hub for the transport network. Not much else is known about this district other than that both tributes in the 75th Games protected Katniss and Peeta, enjoyed painting (as shown in pre-Games training, when the two would paint bright colors on each other][) and were both addicted to "morphling," a morphine-like pain relief medication, with the book suggesting that morphling addiction may have been a district-wide issue.][ During the 74th Hunger Games, both male and female tributes were killed during the first day. In the film the male was targeted by Cato, who accused him of taking his knife during a pre-Games training exercise (though it was actually stolen by Rue). The female tribute was killed by Marvel with a falcata (a blade weapon). In the Quarter Quell, the male tribute dies on the first day and the female tribute dies when a monkey muttation bites her on the chest and ruptures her internal organs as she blocks it from Peeta, who was its initial target. Peeta allows her to paint flowers on his face with her blood, and describes many colors to her as she dies.
District 7 specializes in lumber and paper. Apparently a large proportion of District 7's forest consists of pine, Johanna Mason comments that pine needles "smell like home."
District 7 victor Johanna Mason won her Games by feigning weakness early on in order to catch opponents off-guard. In the 75th Hunger Games, Johanna was one of Katniss's allies – and part of the conspiracy to break out of the arena. Her district partner, Blight, was also part of the conspiracy, but he died after he accidentally walked into the nearby force field during the blood rain hour of the Arena, which electrocuted him (this led to Wiress becoming mentally unstable). After watching Johanna throw an axe into the Cornucopia, Katniss speculated that Johanna had probably been throwing axes since she was a toddler. It is believed that President Snow killed all her loved ones when she wouldn't let herself be bought by rich Capitol citizens. During the end of the game, Johanna attacked Katniss to remove the tracking device from her arm, but was revealed in Mockingjay to have been one of the tributes captured in the escape. During captivity in the Capitol, she was tortured by being soaked in water and then electrocuted, but was later rescued and taken to District 13. After that, she became hydrophobic and during the tests conducted to assess the strength and weakness of the soldiers, Johanna loses control of herself when the lookalike Capitol streets are flooded with water. Johanna also steals some of Katniss's morphling to avoid dreaming about her imprisonment. She and Katniss became friends and roommates over the course of the rebellion.
District 8 specializes in textiles (including at least one factory in which Peacekeeper uniforms are made).
District 8 was one of the first districts to rebel, as Katniss saw on Mayor Undersee's television. Two people from District 8, Bonnie and Twill, escaped during one of the uprisings and informed Katniss of the theory that District 13 still existed. It is implied that security is strict in District 8 following the uprising, and the citizens are desperate for hope. In Mockingjay, Katniss visits a hospital in District 8, which is later bombed by the Capitol. The leader of District 8, Paylor, is able to command fierce loyalty from her soldiers who follow her orders in preference to those of Alma Coin, the president of District 13. Paylor later becomes President of Panem.
In the 74th Hunger Games, the male tribute from District 8 died at the Cornucopia at the hands of Marvel; the female tribute was attacked by the Careers on the first night and "finished off" by Peeta when her death did not occur immediately, as indicated by cannon blast. In the 75th Hunger Games, both tributes from District 8, Woof and Cecelia, died in the initial battle at the Cornucopia. Woof was an elderly, senile tribute in his 70's. Cecelia was a young mother of 3, and was noted to be about 30 years of age. It is later revealed that Cecelia was to be an original member of the arranged alliance to save Katniss and Peeta from the second arena; however, she did not survive the initial bloodbath. Woof also had knowledge of the plot.
District 9 specializes in grain. It is mentioned once that District 9 has many factories. The District 9 boy tribute in the 74th Hunger Games is described as having hazel eyes, but whether that is a common trait in his region is not stated. He and Katniss struggled over a backpack of supplies until he was knifed in the back by Clove, the District 2 female tribute. District 9 is the only district to lose both tributes in the initial bloodbath phase of both the 74th and 75th Games.
District 10 specializes in livestock. Katniss does not note any major tributes from District 10, except one boy with a crippled leg who is mentioned several times. In Mockingjay, Katniss meets Dalton, a male from District 10 who made it to District 13 on foot a few years ago. He reveals why District 13 is eager for new arrivals. He explains to Katniss that there was some sort of pox epidemic that killed many people and left a lot more infertile. He tells her that they need the refugees in order to expand their population. At the 75th Hunger Games, Katniss notes that the District 10 tributes, who are dressed as cows, have flaming belts on as if they are broiling themselves, a poor imitation of Cinna's techniques to showcase Katniss at the 74th Hunger Games.
District 11 specializes in agriculture. It is located somewhere in the South and is very large. The people are housed in small shacks and there is a harsh force of Peacekeepers. Common traits are dark skin and brown eyes. According to Rue, many tracker jacker nests were left there, leading the workers to keep medicinal leaves on hand. In the orchards, small children were sent into the branches to pick the highest fruit. Sometimes during the height of the harvest they were given night-vision goggles to allow them to work after dark. The district also contained fields of vegetables. The inhabitants apparently have extensive knowledge of herbs.
Thresh and Rue are the tributes from District 11 for the 74th Hunger Games and play important roles. Rue was Katniss's ally and her best friend in the arena. She was good at hopping from tree to tree, but was killed by District 1's Marvel. Thresh was a powerful contestant whom Katniss admired for his physical size, his pride and his refusal to join the Careers. Thresh saved Katniss from Clove, whose skull he smashed with a rock, and spared Katniss because of her friendship with Rue. While the novel is not clear as to the circumstances regarding his death, it is implied Thresh was killed by Cato. In the movie, Katniss and Peeta see Thresh's name up in the sky shortly after the wolf muttations are released into the arena, suggesting that the wolf mutts killed him. The District 11 tributes for the 75th Hunger Games are Chaff and Seeder, both of whom know of the rebellion. Chaff is an old friend of Haymitch's, and had an arm cut off during his Games. Although the Capitol offered an artificial one, he refused the offer. Seeder tells Katniss that Rue's and Thresh's families are safe. During the games, Seeder is killed during the initial bloodbath (it is not known who killed her), and Chaff is killed in the free for all on the last day. In Mockingjay, Peeta tells Caesar Flickerman that Brutus killed Chaff and he (Peeta) killed Brutus. It is implied that Chaff died attempting to help Peeta.
District 12 specializes in mining (mainly coal) and is the farthest from the capitol. They are at a disadvantage in the Hunger Games because they don't learn their district specialty until they are 18. Katniss, Peeta, and other major characters come from District 12. It is located in the Appalachian Mountains, and the district itself is split into two distinct housing areas and social classes. "The Seam" is a slum where those who work in the coal mines live, whereas the mercantile class lives in the town, centered around the "Square". Both classes are easy to distinguish physically and generally socialize amongst themselves. Those from the Seam generally have dark hair, grey eyes and olive skin, and those from merchant families typically have blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. Katniss and Gale are from The Seam, whereas Peeta is a baker's son from town. It is unclear if this class divide exists in other Districts or is unique to District 12. On the victory tour in Catching Fire Katniss mentions that she cannot see where the well to do live in District 11; as it surely isn't the square where their speech is being held. She also notes that many members of the crowd during the Victory Tour seem even poorer than the Seam inhabitants in 12.
District 12 is very poor and starvation is a major issue for the citizens. Due to the lack of food, the local Capitol authority figures – the Mayor and Peacekeepers — often bend the extremely strict Panem laws. The electric fence surrounding the district to prevent access to the woods is usually turned off, and Katniss and her friend Gale often hunt there for food for their families or to raise money by selling their catches on the local black market. The black market, located at an old coal warehouse named the Hob, was where many of the citizens made their money. The Hob was destroyed by the Peacekeepers (whose local commander was replaced) in Catching Fire. This was followed by the bombing of the entire district after the escape of the tributes during the 75th Hunger Games. However, Gale managed to evacuate about 10% of the population—"a little under 900 people"—to District 13.
District 12 has won only two Hunger Games prior to the events of the first book; its only living victor, Haymitch Abernathy, survived the second Quarter Quell, where there were twice as many tributes as usual.
After the war, it is hinted in Mockingjay that District 12 will produce medicine and start growing some food for Panem instead of producing coal.
Before the Dark Days war, District 13 specialized in nuclear technology and mining graphite. During the Dark Days, they were one of the major forces of the rebellion. Near the end of the Dark Days they managed to take control of the nuclear arsenal. District 13 was supposedly bombed and destroyed before the first annual Hunger Games at the end of the Dark Days war, but it was hinted in Catching Fire that they had survived, and in Mockingjay it is confirmed that District 13 had become, literally, an underground district when the population retreated to bunkers. After the Capitol and District 13 agreed to leave each other alone under the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, the Capitol spread the story that District 13 had been destroyed; District 13 had control of the nuclear weapons stockpile and the Capitol did not want a nuclear war. This underground district has its own farms that it maintains in order to survive after the Capitol destroyed everything above ground so as not to arouse the suspicion of the other districts. This was a risk that, according to Katniss, the Capitol had underestimated. District 13 is a week away from District 12 on foot.
In Mockingjay, District 13 is the center of the new rebellion. The lifestyle in District 13 is very strict because of their circumstances. When a citizen wakes up, they are given a temporary tattoo of their personalized schedule for the day. They are very thrifty and ration food carefully — even a small thing wasted is heavily frowned upon and minor theft is punished by detention. Everyone over the age of 14 is addressed as "Soldier" because almost everyone in District 13 is being trained for a military rebellion against the Capitol. The leader of District 13 is President Alma Coin who aspires to succeed Snow as President of Panem and has orchestrated the events in books two and three to circumvent District 13's truce with the Capitol. Coin sends Peeta with some troops with orders to kill Katniss in case she supports someone else to be president. Katniss later kills Coin because she had the Capitol bombed, an event that killed Katniss's sister, Primrose Everdeen. It is also revealed that Coin wanted the Capitol to suffer just like the Districts did by continuing the Hunger Games, but only with the Capitol children being forced to play.
Every year since the Dark Days (which occurred 75 years before the events of The Hunger Games), the Capitol hosts an event called the Hunger Games. The Games consist of a gladiatorial combat fought amongst twenty-four children (tributes) aged 12–18, with one boy and one girl chosen by lottery from each district.
When a citizen turns 12 years old, his or her name is automatically entered in the "reaping," a lottery from which the tributes are drawn. For every year until they turn 18, they are entered an additional time. Since many families live in poverty, one may be able to receive additional tesserae (one person's meager supply of grain and oil for a year) in exchange for extra entries in the reaping. Therefore, for each tessera, one extra entry is placed in the reaping ball. For example, if a family has three members, a 12-year-old child could opt to take three extra tesserae: two for their family members and one for themselves; thus their name would be entered four times (one is the required entry, and the extra three are for each tessera). Since all entries are cumulative, if the citizen keeps taking the extra tesserae yearly, they would have their names entered 20 times by the age of 16, 24 by the age of 17, and finally 28 times by the time they are 18.
On the day of the reaping, one spokesperson from the Capitol, known to the Districts as an "escort", visits each district and chooses at random one name from each of the two reaping balls, one for male tributes and the other for females, selecting the two tributes who are to compete. However, any other citizen of the same gender aged 12 to 18 can volunteer to become a tribute, taking the place of the child originally reaped (as Katniss did for Prim in The Hunger Games). In Districts 1, 2, and 4, some children spend years training specifically for the Games and then volunteer to compete.
Following the reaping, the tributes are taken immediately to the Capitol, where they are given a makeover by a team of stylists in order to look appealing for a TV audience. Female tributes are usually waxed to remove all their body hair. One stylist in particular designs a costume for them to wear in the tribute parade, which reflects the resource their District provides for the Capitol. They are then put in horse-drawn chariots and attempt to impress Capitol citizens while they ride down the Avenue of the Tributes. Afterwards, they learn strategy with mentors drawn from their District's pool of past victors (for Katniss and Peeta, Haymitch, who is the only living victor from District Twelve) and train in combat and survival skills with the other tributes. On the last day of training, they demonstrate their skills before a team of judges, including the Gamemakers, who then score them on a scale of 1 to 12 according to their performance and skill. These scores are made public to show who has the best chances of surviving, which can attract Sponsors and influence the betting; tributes awarded the highest scores are often targeted first in the arena because they are considered to be the largest threats. Time in the Capitol is also spent courting the cameras; on the eve of the Games, each tribute dresses formally and appears on television for an interview, where they attempt to attract Sponsors by being charismatic.
On the morning of the Games, the tributes have a tracker chip inserted in their skin so the Gamemakers can track them. And then the tributes are flown to a dedicated location, called the Arena. A new Arena is built every year, while past arenas become popular tourist attractions for Capitol citizens. Each tribute is given a futuristic jacket to wear, which adapts to the temperature of the environment, and then confined to an underground room, referred to in the Capitol as the "Launch Room" and in the outer Districts as the "Stockyard," until game time. The tributes are then lifted into the arena by glass tubes, emerging onto metal plates surrounding a giant, supply-filled horn made of solid gold and referred to as the Cornucopia. A sixty-second countdown to the start of the Games begins, during which any tribute who steps off his or her plate will be killed immediately by land mines planted in the ground around the plates. The power of the landmines is immense, according to Katniss, when she mentions that one year, a girl from District 3 dropped her token, a little wooden ball, and 'they literally had to scrape bits of her off the ground.'
The Games begin with the sound of a loud gong. Most tributes make for the Cornucopia to find food, water, weapons, tools, or other useful items; the most valuable and useful items, including weapons, are often placed closest to the Cornucopia itself. The initial competition for supplies usually results in intense fighting, with a significant number of tributes killed in the first few minutes or hours of the Games. In most Games, a well-stocked, often well-trained group of tributes band together to hunt down other individuals, until they are the only ones left to fight each other. The alliance is generally agreed upon before the Games begin. These tributes are dubbed "Careers" because of the fact that they are often trained for an extensive portion of their childhood in combat and other survival skills. The "Careers" usually come from Districts 1, 2 and 4, and are generally disliked and considered brutally aggressive by many of the other Districts.
If one or more tributes does not move fast enough, avoids conflict for too long or is too close to the edge of the Arena, the Gamemakers will sometimes create hazards to make for more entertaining programming or to steer the remaining tributes toward each other. Another common occurrence is a "feast," where a boon of extra supplies or food is granted to the tributes at a particular place and time (usually the Cornucopia), though whether it is a lavish feast, carefully regulated supplies, or a single loaf of stale bread for the tributes to fight over is up to the Gamemakers. In the first novel, the Gamemakers told the tributes that the feast would provide them with something they direly needed.
The last living tribute is the victor. After the Games, the victor receives extreme medical treatment in the Capitol to recover from all the injuries during the Games, followed by a final celebration during which they are interviewed and crowned victor by the President of Panem. Once the festivities are over, the victor returns to live in his or her District in an area called the "Victor's Village", where houses are well-furnished and equipped with luxuries such as hot water and telephones. All families in the victor's District receive additional parcels of food and other goods for a year. Around six months after the Games, the victor tours the twelve Districts, starting with District 12 and going down the numbers to the Capitol. The tour ends in the victor's district, which has been skipped. In every District, the victor is given a celebration and ceremony, usually accompanied by a victory rally and dinner with senior district officials.
It is implied that there are no official rules for the Games except for not stepping off the plate until the conclusion of the sixty-second countdown. In the first novel, Katniss mentions that there is an unspoken rule against cannibalism in the Games. This rule came to be after the 71st Hunger Games, when a District 6 tribute named Titus resorted to cannibalism to survive in the arena. He was subsequently killed by an avalanche created by the gamemakers. There is some speculation that it was created specifically to kill him, to ensure that the victor was not a mad cannibal. During the 74th Hunger Games, the rules are altered during the Games to allow two tributes from the same district to win. However, when Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, both tributes from District 12, are the only two tributes remaining, the rule is revoked in an attempt to have them fight one another to the death. This ultimately fails when they attempt to poison themselves in unison, and at the last moment the rule is reinstated, allowing both of them to become victors. Though described as an act of love for one another in the publicity after the Games, the establishment in the Capitol saw it as an act of defiance. By refusing to respect the prescribed rules, the District 12 tributes were believed to have manipulated and outwitted the Capitol, and encouraged an uprising in the Districts in the process.
The Quarter Quell is a special Hunger Games that occurs every 25 years. Each Quarter Quell includes a new twist to the rules, supposedly prescribed at the end of the Dark Days when the Hunger Games were first created. The rule changes serve as a reminder of some aspect of the rebellion. Officially, whoever came up with new rules assumed the Hunger Games would go on for centuries and wrote rule changes for many Quarter Quells. It is hypothesized in the series that the rules are made up at the time to serve the Capitol's purposes. No one outside the government really knows. The President selects the year number from a box of envelopes and announces the rule change live on television.
In the first Quarter Quell (the 25th Hunger Games), the usual random selection did not take place. To remind the districts that they chose to rebel, each district had to vote to choose which boy and girl would compete in the Games.
In the second Quarter Quell (50th Hunger Games), two boys and two girls were reaped in each District, doubling the total number of tributes to 48. This was to remind the districts that two rebels died for each Capitol citizen during the rebellion. The victor was Haymitch Abernathy, who won by discovering the properties of the force field surrounding the arena and using them to his advantage during the final battle with a girl from District 1, causing his attacker's thrown axe to fly back and hit her in the head. The Capitol believed it had been humiliated by Haymitch's actions and retaliated by killing his family and girlfriend shortly after the Games. President Snow ruled Panem during that year's games.
In the third Quarter Quell (75th Hunger Games), described in the novel Catching Fire, the rule change determined that the tributes from each district were to be chosen from among its surviving victors. At the time of the third Quarter Quell, 59 victors are still alive. This Quell's message was that not even the strongest among the Districts could hope to defy the Capitol. The only living female victor from District 12 was Katniss Everdeen, which meant that she would automatically go back to the arena. She believed that this rule was made intentionally to ensure her death, as the Capitol was not happy with her actions in the 74th Games. Of the two male victors in District 12, Haymitch's name was drawn, but Peeta volunteered to replace him. The 75th Games had no winner: on the third day, with six tributes remaining, Katniss destroyed the force field surrounding the arena by taking advantage of a lightning strike with wires tied around her arrow.
Unbeknownst to Katniss and Peeta, half of the other tributes in the 75th Games were part of a conspiracy (which also involved some high-ranking officials from the Capitol) to escape from the Games and help initiate a new rebellion orchestrated by the survivors of District 13. Katniss was rescued from the arena as planned and taken to District 13, along with the surviving tributes from District 3 and 4, Beetee and Finnick. In the confusion of the force field explosion, the remaining tributes – Peeta, Enobaria from District 2 and Johanna from District 7 – were captured by the Capitol. Annie Cresta was also taken to the Capitol as an attempt to get at Finnick, who loved her. Annie had been a previous victor and was reaped for the 75th Hunger Games. But an elderly woman named Mags volunteered for her, not wanting Finnick to kill his lover.
The location of the arena varies from year to year. Past arenas have included volcanoes, avalanche zones, and dams; the terrain has included woods, meadows, scrubland, deserts and frozen tundra. One of the previous Games took place in the ruins of an abandoned city. Upon the conclusion of the game, the arena is preserved as a tourist attraction for Capitol citizens.
The arenas devised for the Quarter Quells appear to be especially spectacular. The second Quarter Quell took place in a beautiful meadow with flowers and a fruit-bearing forest and mountains, but everything was designed by the Gamemakers to be poisonous, including all of the food and water. In the third Quarter Quell, the Cornucopia was placed on an island in a saltwater lake, with the surrounding shore divided into 12 segments that resembled a clock, with every hour featuring its own deadly attack, limited only to that slice of the arena during that time of day. The only area where there was no attack was the Cornucopia and the saltwater lake. This proved to be an important location for Katniss' allies.
The Gamemakers have complete control of the arena environment and can create any hazard they wish. In The Hunger Games, they set the forest on fire and switched between day and night at will. In the 75th Hunger Games, the Gamemakers divided the arena into twelve segments, each containing a different terror which only activated at a certain hour. For example, at noon and midnight, an hour-long electrical storm would take place in the first segment. Other dangers encountered by the tributes included blood rain, carnivorous monkeys, insects, a tidal wave, a fog-like gas that caused chemical burns to the skin and nerve damage, and a section of the jungle in which tributes were trapped with jabberjays that imitated the screams of their loved ones. The center of the island could also rotate, disorienting those attempting to master the clock strategy.
After the rebellion, the arenas were destroyed and replaced by memorials.
The Victory Tour is a trip across all of the districts of Panem to honor the victor of each Hunger Games. The tour is usually held six months after the game to keep the horror of the games fresh in the minds of those living in the districts. The Victory Tour usually starts at District 12 and then goes in descending district order to District 1. The victor's district is skipped and saved for the very last. In Catching Fire the tour starts in District 11 because the victors live in District 12. After attending celebrations in the Capitol, the victor returns to their home district for celebrations paid for by The Capitol. In Catching Fire Katniss looked forward to the feast in District 12 during which everyone could eat their fill. Before the tour, the victor's prep team and stylist prepare the victor to show off for the crowds of people just as when they appeared in the Capitol before the games. After their victory in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta try to convince President Coriolanus Snow that they are in love with each other in their Victory Tour.
A wild bird, the size of a wild turkey and known to be edible, as Katniss hunts it in the first book of the series. From the quantity of fat noted, grooslings may be related to geese ("gosling" is a young goose) but may also be related to grouse. Rue states that it is commonly found in District 11. They were also spotted and hunted frequently in the 74th Hunger Games. Katniss and Rue feasted on grooslings.
Jabberjays are small, crested black birds bred during the Dark Days by the Capitol. They were engineered to be able to remember human conversations and repeat them verbatim with human voices, and thus to be able to spy on the rebels with small likelihood of arousing suspicion. Upon discovering the birds' purpose, the rebels fed lies to the jabberjays, upsetting the Capitol's plans for espionage. The birds were promptly abandoned by the Capitol and left in the wilderness to die. Because the jabberjays were exclusively male, it was thought that they would die off in the wild. However, when released they bred with female mockingbirds and created the hybrid species of mockingjays, which no longer had the capability of reproducing human speech, but they could repeat back the tunes of songs that they heard humans sing.
During the third Quarter Quell, one of the hours in the clock-like arena featured jabberjays that voice screams. While Finnick hears the screams of Annie, the insane girl he loves, Katniss hears both Prim and Gale's screams. Katniss attempts to escape the sound by shooting all the screaming birds, but eventually gives up. To add to their torture, the Capitol temporarily puts up invisible force fields to keep them within screaming distance of the "horrible" birds.
The tracker jackers are genetically altered wasps created in the Capitol during the Dark Days. Tracker jackers are gold in color. Disturbing the nest causes them to chase or 'track' the offender, and the stings bring on extreme pain, hallucinations and often death. Katniss drops a tracker jacker nest on several tributes during her first Hunger Games, causing the death of two: Glimmer, the girl from District 1 and the unnamed female from District 4. Katniss and several other tributes are stung and hallucinate after the attack. Katniss later explains that the venom from the tracker jackers manifest all the things she dreads the most and she has trouble believing what is real. Tracker jacker venom is what was used on Peeta by the Capitol, in a technique known as 'hijacking'. The venom itself targets the part of the brain that controls fear and confusion. The Capitol used the venom to bring forward a memory Peeta held, administer the venom to infuse fear and doubt into the memory, and then save it in its revised form, which causes Peeta to feel threatened by Katniss and attempt to kill her and also to distort his memory of what is real and what is false.
Wolf mutts appeared at the end of the 74th Hunger Games to draw Katniss, Peeta, and Cato into a final fight. The wolf-like creatures mimicked the deceased tributes, particularly in fur and eye color, but also with collars which match the tributes' district numbers. One wolf Katniss identifies as Rue, and others as Glimmer, Foxface, the boy from District 9, and Thresh. They were created by the Gamemakers to draw the three remaining tributes together for the finale. Peeta later creates a painting of the wolf mutt supposed to be Glimmer. It took him three days to find the right shade for sunlight on white fur. He "kept thinking it was just yellow, but it was so much more than that." When he is shot in the hand with an arrow, Cato falls off of the Cornucopia; Cato's fight for survival against the mutts goes on for several hours before Katniss shoots him in the skull with an arrow out of pity. He would not have survived for so long without his suit of body armor and a hidden sword or knife. In the film adaptation, the mutts resemble rottweilers.
These mutts are seen in Mockingjay in the underground tunnels of the Capitol, supposedly created especially to hunt Katniss down as their voices hissed her name. They are human-sized and described as having tight, white skin, long sharp claws and teeth. They also smell of roses, thought to be so because Katniss hates the smell of the Capitol's altered roses, due to their association with President Snow. They can jump extremely far and are capable of decapitating their victims with a single bite. Katniss has a Holo device self-destruct by repeating 'nightlock' three times, and then throws it into the underground tunnel to kill the mutts. These mutts are responsible for the death of Finnick Odair, Jackson, Castor, Homes and Leeg 1 by decapitation.
There were also muttation monkeys with razor-sharp claws and orange fur that would attack during the 4th hour of the "clock" in the 75th Games. They attacked the tributes in packs when Peeta glanced up at them, but the woman victor from 6, or 'female morphling', as Katniss calls her, jumps in front of Peeta to save his life, as she was part of the alliance formed to defend Katniss and Peeta with their lives. On the clock, the monkeys are the 3:00–4:00 section.
Mockingjays are the result of the genetically created Capitol jabberjays mating with female mockingbirds and creating a unique species. After the emergence of mockingjays, their jabberjay progenitors became "as rare and tough as rocks," as Katniss stated in Catching Fire. Mockingjays lost the jabberjay's ability to enunciate words, but can copy perfectly, down to the last note, any human tune. If a singer with a voice the mockingjays respect sings, they will fall silent. Katniss, Peeta, and Peeta's father note this throughout the series. Katniss, her father, Pollux (avox), and Rue are singers that have caused mockingjays to fall silent as mentioned in Mockingjay and The Hunger Games. District 11 is known to have an especially large mockingjay population, as confirmed by District 11 tribute Rue who has special mockingjay friends.
Mockingjays acquire a symbolism throughout Panem following the 74th Hunger Games. For the rebels it is a symbol of rebellion. At the beginning of The Hunger Games, Katniss was given a mockingjay pin by Madge Undersee, the daughter of District 12's mayor. She recognized the bird not immediately but while she was waiting for guests to say their final goodbyes before the opening of the Games, and said that it was a huge "slap in the face" to the Capitol, because mockingjays were never intended to exist. The pin was thought to be a weapon by the Game Makers, but was accepted. Katniss wears the pin as her token in the Games, and by Catching Fire it becomes a symbol of rebellion. In Mockingjay, Katniss becomes the titular character, a person who speaks to the districts for the rebels, and she wears a mockingjay-inspired costume and the pin.
Nightlock is a wild and extremely toxic berry. The plant will kill almost as soon as it is ingested, and it becomes a major plot device in The Hunger Games, first appearing as the berries Peeta has gathered. Katniss doesn't know he has picked them but once she sees them she identifies them as nightlock. Luckily, he has not eaten any before one of the remaining tributes, District 5's "Foxface" (as Katniss calls her), steals them and eats them, dying immediately. Katniss and Peeta take some with them, hoping that Cato falls for the same trick as Foxface. The berries appear again at the climax of the novel, where the previously-instated rule of a District's two tributes being allowed to win together is revoked. Instead of battling each other, Katniss suggests that they eat the berries at the same time, hoping that the Gamemakers will change their minds and allow both of them to live. Their plan works, and both Katniss and Peeta are announced as winners before they swallow the berries, the Capitol having decided that the Hunger Games would be ruined if no one survived.
The plant nightlock likely takes its name from the real plants nightshade and hemlock, both of which are deadly poisons. These berries may refer back to Collins' previous allusions to the story of Romeo and Juliet, because of her use of the phrase "star-crossed lovers" and the suicidal nature of Romeo and Juliet's death.
In the last Hunger Games book, Mockingjay, District 13 makes a pill out of this mysterious plant and gives one to each person in the plan of rebellion. The participants in this plan are to swallow it immediately if they are captured so that the Capitol's guards cannot torture any information out of them.
In the 74th Hunger Games, Rue uses leaves to treat Katniss' tracker jacker stings. Katniss recognizes the leaves as something that her mother used; albeit in a different way than Rue. While Rue utilizes the leaves by chewing them into a pulp, then applying them directly to the tracker jacker stings, Katniss' mother stews the leaves to make an infusion which the patient then drinks.
Katniss later applies the leaves of the same plant to Peeta's leg wound, caused by Cato in the 74th Hunger Games, in the hope of warding off infection and causes pus to run out of his leg and swelling to go down temporarily.