The Hunger Games were a morbid and brutal competition which took place annually in the country of Panem. Every year, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 were selected from each of the twelve districts as tributes, who train for a week and then are sent into an outdoor arena to fight to the death. The event was nationally televised as mandatory viewing for all citizens. The last living tribute is declared the victor and is allowed to live in comfort back in their district. Seventy-five years before the 74th Hunger Games, the thirteen districts of Panem revolted against the Capitol. Together, they stood strong, but when District 13 was supposedly obliterated by the Capitol, resistance became impossible, as District 13 was the driving force behind the rebellion . The remaining districts submitted to the Capitol and lost their hope for change.
Every year since the rebellion, the Capitol forced 24 children into the arena and used hidden cameras to televise the events in order to both entertain the Capitol citizens and remind the twelve districts how they are completely at the Capitol's mercy. Only one tribute can win the games, with the exception of the 74th Hunger Games, where Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark of District 12 both won because of their joint attempted suicide.
Every year, each district holds a reaping ceremony "Lottery". Two large glass balls contain slips of paper with the names of each child through the ages of 12-18. However, they can choose to add their name more times in exchange for tessera, which is a small ration of oil and grain. Each tessera has enough oil and grain to supply one family member with food for one year.
The district's representative/escort (e.g. Effie Trinket for District 12) picks a name out of the balls, one of which is for girls and one for boys. The tributes whose names are chosen are then entered into the Hunger Games, unless someone is willing to volunteer - a normally quite rare phenomenon unless it is in one of the "Career Districts" (1, 2, and 4 in the novel), districts in which children have been training their whole lives to enter the Games.
When a victor comes home, they are no longer eligible to participate in the Hunger Games even if they are still young enough to have their name drawn in the reaping. The exception to this rule was the 75th Hunger Games (the 3rd Quarter Quell). Another year where there was an exception, was the 25th Hunger Games (the 1st Quarter Quell) when the districts were required to choose which tributes were to enter the Games.
Each living victor from each district is given the task of mentoring the next tributes for the Games. If there is only one living victor, he/she will be the mentor for both tributes (ex. Haymitch mentors both Katniss and Peeta for the 74th and 75th Hunger Games). Any living victor is invited to the Capitol to come alongside the tributes and to watch the Games live. Mentors are expected to come in order to sort out the complications of sponsors and sending the gifts into the arena.
Each tribute is allowed one token from their district, to represent and remind them of home, however, they must not be able to be used as weapons. They are very carefully examined and checked for any hidden triggers. In the 74th Hunger Games, Glimmer, the female tribute from District 1, had her token, a ring, confiscated because it carried a hidden poisoned spike. Katniss' token was a golden pin given to her by Madge Undersee, showing a mockingjay in both the 74th and 75th Hunger Games. In the Launch Room, prior to the Games, Cinna states that it could hardly get past the review board, and that it was almost confiscated because some people believed that it could be used as a weapon. It is mentioned that several years prior to the 74th Hunger Games, one girl's token was a small wooden ball which she dropped while on her starting plate, activating the mine underneath her feet. Katniss said that "they literally had to scrape bits of her off the ground'. Rue's token was a necklace made out of grass with a star or flower (Katniss was unsure) shaped charm on it. Finnick Odair's token for the 75th Hunger Games was a golden band from Haymitch, to signalize Katniss to trust him in the arena.
As tributes battle in the arena, quite often they can become helpless (ex. Peeta Mellark with blood poisoning, Katniss' leg burn, etc.). This is simply because of the Cornucopiabloodbath, since the tributes are fighting over the items they need to win the Hunger Games. Many of the tributes are left with limited or no items they wanted from the Cornucopia. Wealthy viewers or groups of people can pool their funds and send items into the arena should a tribute need something, such as food, shelter, weapons, or medicine. In the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss received burn medicine and food - most notably a loaf of bread from District 11 that she assumes was intended for Rue before her death. Katniss is extremely touched by this unheard of gesture as never before has a tribute received a gift from another district.
The bloodbath is what starts the excitement in the Games. On average, roughly half of the tributes die at the initial battle that takes place at the Cornucopia, near the starting point of the games. Spilling from the Cornucopia and strewn on the ground among the tributes are various items including weapons, food, water, and other supplies. Some tributes venture into the opening scramble for these valuable items, while others use it as part of their strategy for slaughter.
If the Gamemakers feel that there has not been enough bloodshed recently, they will invite all of the tributes to the Cornucopia for a feast. Normally this feast features something desirable to the tributes, like food, armor, medicine, etc., though Katniss states in the cave that sometimes there is only a loaf of stale bread to fight over, so they will be more likely to go. Some still choose not to because these feasts usually result in a bloodbath. Attendance is not mandatory.
Every twenty-five years, the president of Panem selects a card from a box made during the original establishment of the Hunger Games that makes a change in the rules of the reapings. For the first Quarter Quell, or the 25th Hunger Games, each district had to choose the children who went into the arena. For the second Quarter Quell, or the 50th Hunger Games, twice as many tributes had to be reaped to go into the arena (It can be assumed that four children were reaped from each district that year; Two boys and two girls). That was the year Haymitch Abernathy won. For the third Quarter Quell, or the 75th Hunger Games, the tributes were reaped from the pool of existing victors. Katniss Everdeen was despaired when she heard this because her status as the only living female victor from District 12 assured her return to the arena.
List of Hunger Games
1st Hunger Games
The 1st Hunger Games was held shortly after the destruction of District 13, when the First Rebellion was put down by the Capitol, signaling the start of the Dark Days. The first twenty-four tributes were reaped from the surviving twelve districts. The winner of the 1st Hunger Games is unknown.
11th Hunger Games
The 11th Hunger Games was won by Mags Flanagan of District 4. It is said that Mags had the ability to make baskets so tightly woven, so that even water couldn't seep through. This, along with her ability to make a fishhook out of seemingly nothing, most likely contributed to her victory.
- Mags Flanagan - District 4 (Victor)
25th Hunger Games (First Quarter Quell)
The 25th Hunger Games was the first Quarter Quell in the history of the Games, and each district had to elect its own tributes. The victor of these Games wasn't alive when the third Quarter Quell started, though Mags and Woof were both older than the said victor.
38th Hunger Games
The 38th Hunger Games included Porter Millicent Tripp of District 5, who won the Games despite sustaining a broken neck in the final showdown of the Games.
- Porter Millicent Tripp - District 5 (Victor)
45th Hunger Games
The 45th Hunger Games included Chaff, of District 11. It ended with Chaff being victorious, though losing his left arm from the elbow and below in the process. He refused to get a prosthetic replacement from the Capitol.
The 50th Hunger Games included Maysilee Donner and Haymitch Abernathy of District 12. There were forty-eight tributes rather than twenty-four as stated for from the special rule of the Quarter Quell. Maysilee and Haymitch made an alliance to help each other survive. This lasted until the top 5 tributes. Maysilee was killed by candy pink bird muttations with spear-like bills, two tributes were eaten by carnivorous squirrel mutts, the next was killed in combat (who killed him/her is not specified) and Haymitch managed victory by using the arena's forcefield to deflect an attack from the Career girl from District 1, which killed her instead. She threw her axe at Haymitch and he ducked, allowing the axe to hit the forcefield and ricochet, killing her and making Haymitch the victor.
Enobaria of District 2 won the 62nd Hunger Games, killing one of her former allies from the Career Pack, by ripping open their throat with her teeth. This later became what Enobaria was best known for. She was encouraged to surgically alter her teeth, so they now end in points and are coated in gold, making them a flashy and deadly weapon.
Finnick Odair won the 65th Hunger Games due to his proficiency with weapons, being from District 4 and therefore a Career Tribute, as well as his good looks that helped him acquire sponsors. He received a trident from sponsors, which Katniss believes is one of the most expensive gifts ever given during the Games. Being from the fishing district, he was skilled with the weapon and used handwoven nets to capture tributes and then stab them with his trident.
The 67th Hunger Games were won by Augustus Braun of District 1, who was known as the "Cavalier Career", and hailed as "Panem's Favorite Son." Augustus was highly popular after his victory and during his Victory Tour was paraded around as a symbol of reconciliation with the Districts.
It is mentioned in The Hunger Games: Tribute Guide and by Atala that this year's arena was burning desert. The victor of these Games is unknown.
70th Hunger Games
Annie Cresta of District 4 won the 70th Hunger Games. It is assumed she followed the typical Career Alliance strategy, but when her fellow District 4 tribute was decapitated, it left her traumatized and hid for the remainder of the game. She won only because a dam broke in the arena and flooded it; Annie was the best swimmer (being from District 4) and outlasted all the remaining tributes.
Johanna Mason of District 7 won the 71st Hunger Games. Johanna won her games by pretending to be weak and fragile; but in reality, Johanna was a cold hearted killer and easily won her Games as the other tributes didn't see her as a threat.
Effie mentioned that both tributes from District 12 ate like savages and had no sense of etiquette or manners. This angered Katniss, as both were from the Seam and therefore they had never had a decent meal in their lives. Katniss mentions that Caesar's hair and make-up color was crimson and appeared to be bleeding.
In the film, Caesar Flickerman and Claudius Templesmith watch a rerun of these games. The 73rd Hunger Games seemed to be set in a ruined city; Ceaser comments that the arena was one of his "favorites." These games were supposedly won by a career tribute, who in the film Katniss watched is seen killing another tribute.
If the tributes' uniforms were the same color for the districts as it was in the 74th Hunger Games, then the victor of the 73rd Hunger Games was the male tribute from District 2, who killed the male tribute from District 10 to win the Hunger Games.
For the 75th Hunger Games, the tributes were reaped out of their district's pool of victors. This was the final Games in Panem. Also, there are six tributes who survived after the destruction of the arena.
Unknown Hunger Games - Katniss mentioned in The Hunger Games that she remembered a Game from when she was younger where tributes had to bludgeon each other with spiked maces as they were the only available weapons.
Unknown Hunger Games - Katniss mentioned in The Hunger Games that she remembered a Games from when she was younger where the tributes were tossed into a landscape filled with sand, boulders and scruffy bushes. Many of the tributes were either bitten by poisonous snakes, or went insane from thirst.
Unknown Hunger Games - Katniss mentioned in The Hunger Games that she remembered a Game where the arena was a woodless landscape. It was freezing cold and most of the tributes died from hypothermia because they had no wood to make torches, fires, or anything to keep them warm. These Games were considered unsatisfying in the eye of the Capitol for all the bloodless deaths and lack of action, therefore giving a certain chance of having means to make a fire in following Games.
Unknown Hunger Games - Katniss mentioned in The Hunger Games that she remembered a Game from when she was younger where a female tribute dropped her token, a small wooden ball, on the ground before the gong sounded, and she was blown apart by explosives and had to be collected in parts.
Unknown Hunger Games - Katniss mentioned in The Hunger Games that she remembered a Game from when she was younger where the stylists from District 12 sent both tributes out completely naked and covered in black powder to simulate coal dust for the Chariot Rides through the Capitol. Their appearance did not endear them in the eyes of the Capitol, and neither tribute received any sponsors and both died as a result.
Unknown Hunger Games - Katniss mentioned in The Hunger Games that she remembered a Game where the victor only received a 3 as his training score.
Throughout the history of the Hunger Games, there have been a total of 1824 tributes that have participated in the seventy-five Hunger Games ever held (24 tributes x 75 years + 24 extra in the Second Quarter Quell). However, there were only 1800 unique tributes (because the 75th Hunger Games had repeat tributes). By the end of the war (in Mockingjay), 1793 of them had died (99.61% of all tributes): 1743 in the Games as tributes (97.21%), and the other 50 tributes (2.79%) either died in the Victor's Purge during the War, or before the war, leaving only 7 remaining tributes (0.39% of all tributes) that have witnessed, participated, and survived the Hunger Games.
There were two other "Hunger Games" that technically never occurred, but were seen as hypothetical. The defensive system of the streets in the Capitol consisted of pods that unleashed death traps when activated. When looking at the schematics of the Capitol, it looks eerily similar to the set-up at the Cornucopia before the combat starts at a regular Hunger Games. Plutarch Heavensbee, Katniss, and possibly even other former tributes took note of this, as Katniss and Finnick recited the infamous line, "let the 76th annual Hunger Games begin". In addition, prior to Snow's assassination,, Katniss was pulled into a meeting where surviving tributes and leaders took votes on whether or not to hold another Hunger Games, this time with Capitol children. Peeta, Annie, and Beetee voted against it while Johanna, Enobaria, Katniss, and Haymitch voted for it - though Katniss and Haymtich voted yes so President Coin would believe she had Katniss on her side. It was never actually held following Coin's and Snow's assassinations. This proposed Hunger Games could have been considered the actual 76th Hunger Games and from an inside perspective, the 77th Hunger Games.
In the book, Katniss said that after the Hunger Games were abolished, memorials were set up.
It has also been said that after a Hunger Games had ended, the associated arena became a tourist attraction where people could vacation and re-watch the Games, tour the catacombs, visit the places deaths took place and do re-enactments of the most bloody scenes.
In Mockingjay, when Katniss asks what day, she learns it's a week until "September. That means Snow has had Peeta in his clutches for five, maybe six weeks." Due to this, we can also conclude that, since Peeta was captured at the end of the 75th Hunger Games, that the Games start in middle to late July.
Katniss mentions in The Hunger Games that the Games start at 10 o'clock.
It is very likely that The Hunger Games is loosely based on the Roman colosseum. This would fit in with Capitol citizens names such as Portia, Cinna, Flavius and many more.
Many victors suffer from PTSD. Annie Cresta, the Morphlings, and Haymitch were most affected, as Annie has mental problems, the morphings use morphling, and Haymitch began drinking after their respective Hunger Games.