- "Do you hear that, Coriolanus? It's the sound of Snow falling."
- ―Casca Highbottom, taunting Coriolanus Snow upon expelling him from the Academy[src]
Casca Highbottom was the Dean of the Academy and the unintentional creator of the Hunger Games. When the creation of the games was officially announced, Highbottom served as the public face of the event, beginning a years-long downward spiral that would end with his assassination by future president Coriolanus Snow.
- "The evilest impulse, cleverly packaged into a sporting event. An entertainment. I was drunk, and your father got me drunker still, playing on my vanity as I fleshed the thing out, assuring me it was just a private joke."
- ―Casca Highbottom, describing the creation of the Hunger Games to Coriolanus Snow[src]
In his youth, Highbottom attended the University with Crassus Snow, the father of Coriolanus Snow. While studying under Dr. Volumnia Gaul, whom he loathed, Highbottom came close to failing her class (as his willing participation was virtually impossible). For the class's final project - which saw him paired up with Snow - the students were challenged to create a punishment for one's enemies so extreme that they would never be allowed to forget how they had wronged you. This suited Highbottom, as he had always excelled at puzzles, and in a drunken stupor he conceived what would become the Hunger Games. In the process, Snow got him even drunker, playing on his vanity as he fleshed out the project, all the while assuring him that it was just a private joke. The next morning, Highbottom awoke, horrified to find that Snow had turned in the project to get a good grade. He never forgave Snow for this betrayal.
After The Dark Days, Highbottom was publically credited with the creation of the Hunger Games, though in fact it was Dr. Gaul who pulled out his proposal, introducing him to all of Panem as the architect of the event. That night, he took morphling for the first time, which gradually led to heavy dependence on the drug. He thought that the Hunger Games would eventually die out, due to their horrific nature, but Dr. Gaul took the idea and ran with it. Highbottom even developed a grudge against Coriolanus Snow for his father's actions, maintaining a dislike of the boy throughout his years at the Academy.
10th Hunger Games
Highbottom personally oversaw the creation of the mentor program. By this point, he was often heavily dosed up on morphling, causing Coriolanus Snow to mock him by creating the nickname "High-as-a-Kite Bottom," which quickly spread throughout the campus of the Academy. Snow initially suspected this nickname to be Highbottom's reason for hating him, supposing the Dean had caught wind of it (this later proved incorrect, however, as the grudge Highbottom held against Snow's father was made clear). At the time, there were also rumors circulating that, due to his declining health and addiction to morphling, the board of the Academy was losing patience with him.
Highbottom made television appearances for the 10th Hunger Games, alongside Lucretius Flickerman. He seemed largely bored and disinterested with the proceedings, proving an uncharismatic companion for the weatherman. He was also not amused by Flickerman's magic tricks, or his antics with his pet bird.
Highbottom was instrumental in blackmailing Snow and forcing him to enlist as a Peacekeeper: He presented evidence of Snow illegally assisting Lucy Gray Baird in the arena, cheating to ensure she would be safe against Dr. Gaul's snake muttations. He even appeared to take some level of pleasure in having Snow sent away, continuing to punish the boy for his father's actions.
Snow eventually returned to the Capitol, where Highbottom finally divulged his reasons for hating the boy. This, however, would prove to be the his undoing: Thoroughly tired of Highbottom's obstructive actions, as well as the Dean's opposition and hatred of him, Snow slipped some poison into Highbottom's morphling. The Dean cluelessly took it and died shortly after, becoming the very first victim of the future president's signature murder method.
Though he once possessed a fine physique, Highbottom later became shrunken and draped with sagging skin. Doped up on morphling, he had the appearance of a sleepwalker. His close-cropped haircut and crisp suit only served to throw his physical deterioration into relief.
Behind the scenes
- It's not mentioned if Highbottom was the one who created the concept of and scenarios for the Quarter Quells. Given his disgust with his own creation, it's possible that these were created years later, perhaps even around the time when the 25th Hunger Games occured.