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.
Owing to its rebellious nature, the dual victory of Everdeen and Mellark in the 74th Games sparked widespread unrest, particularly the outlying districts of Panem such as District 8 and District 11. The unrest grew into uprisings in various districts, which cumulated, after several months, into a full-scale rebellion. The 75th Hunger Games (Third Quarter Quell) was the final Hunger Games held in Panem, and the sole Hunger Games to end without a winner. Instead, the arena was destroyed by Katniss Everdeen, and following this, a few of the remaining tributes were rescued by District 13, thus beginning the Second Rebellion.
After the invasion of the Capitol and the overthrow of Coriolanus Snow's regime, the interim government discussed a potential 76th Hunger Games (using Capitol children) which was narrowly approved by the remaining Hunger Games victors. However, the 76th Hunger Games were never held, due to the deaths of both interim President Alma Coin and deposed President Snow. Following an emergency presidential election, the Hunger Games were abolished permanently, with the destruction of arenas and their replacement by memorials taking place.
The Hunger Games were the creation of Casca Highbottom, but also indirectly by Crassus Snow and Dr. Volumnia Gaul. During Highbottom and Snow's final days at the University, she served as a professor there and assigned her class a final project: to create a punishment for one's enemies so extreme that they would never be allowed forget how they had wronged them.
Being best friends, Highbottom and Snow paired together for the project. Highbottom, having a mind for puzzles, began brainstorming the Hunger Games, something which Snow assured him was just a private joke between the two of them. Highbottom, however, was drunk and Snow continued to ply him with alcohol, playing on his vanity as he fleshed out the project. Snow then turned the project in to Dr. Gaul while Highbottom was sleeping off the alcohol, leaving Highbottom to awake horrified at what had happened and meaning to rip it to shreds. Gaul held on to the project and then, following the end of the war, pulled out the proposal and introduced Highbottom as the architect of the Games. Highbottom thought it would die out quickly, being so ghastly, but Dr. Gaul took it and ran.
Originally, the Hunger Games were primitive, and quite flawed. The tributes arrived to the Capitol in cattle cars, unlike in later installments where tributes were pampered. Upon arrival to the Capitol, tributes were held in old stables, until the 10th Games where they were kept in the Capitol Zoo. Here, they were underfed and often mistreated by Peacekeepers. In the 10th Hunger Games, this led to several tributes dying before the Games had began. The first ten installments of the Games were held in the Capitol Arena, an old stadium converted to a fighting arena. Basic weapons were provided, however, food and other supplies were not. Tributes were left in the arena to kill one another, until a lone Victor remained. However, unlike later Games, the winners of the first ten games were not showered in riches and given a home in the Victors' Village. They were simply returned to their home District and back to the life they formerly lived.
- Main article: The Reaping
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 and entries are cumulative from year to year. The exception to this rule was the 25th Hunger Games, the First Quarter Quell, in which each District was forced to elect the male and female tributes that they would send to the Capitol.
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, 1 and 2 in the film), in which children have been training their whole lives at a special school to enter the Games. The one exception to the traditional one boy, one girl per district, total of twenty four reaped tributes rule was the 50th Hunger Games, the Second Quarter Quell. In these games each District were required to double the amount of tributes and reap two girls and two boys for a total of 48 tributes to complete.
Victors from previous Hunger Games are no longer eligible to be reaped or volunteer for subsequent games, even if they are still age eligible. The exception being the 75th Hunger Games, the Third Quarter Quell, in which the reaping of potential tributes was restricted to each district's pool of existing victors.
- Main article: Mentors
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 (e.g. Haymitch Abernathy mentors both Katniss and Peeta for the 74th and 75th Hunger Games). Any living victor, mentor or not, is required to visit the Capitol to watch the Games, visit the residents, and make Capitol TV cameos, but the mentors come alongside their respective District tributes and to watch the Games live. Mentors are very important as they give advice to their tributes, assist in the forming of alliances, politic for their tributes, secure sponsors, and control the sending of any gifts into the arena. A good clear minded mentor is imperative to the success of their tributes with very few exceptions.
- Main article: Token
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 advantages. 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 in the book and by her sister Primrose (Katniss actually bought the pin in the Seam from Greasy Sae and gave to Prim for good luck originally before the 74th Games reaping) in the movie, showing a Mockingjay in both the 74th and 75th Hunger Games. In the Launch Room, prior to the 74th 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 killing her before the Games officially started. Katniss states 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 signal Katniss to trust him in the arena. Peeta's token for the 75th Games was a golden trifold necklace with pictures of Prim, Katniss' mother, and Gale.
- Main article: Sponsors
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 Cornucopia bloodbath, 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. Most items are very limited and small but during the 65th Hunger Games, Finnick Odair received what as recalled to Katniss one of the most expensive sponsorship gifts she had ever seen, a trident.
- Main article: Cornucopia bloodbath
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. Usually, the Career tributes are the ones who get most of these supplies.
- Main article: Feasts
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, though the Gamemakers may try to tempt the tributes with something vital to their survival.
- Main article: Quarter Quell
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 victor of the 1st Hunger Games is unknown.
10th Hunger Games
- Main article: 10th Hunger Games
The 10th Hunger Games was the first Hunger Games to introduce mentors for the tributes, recruiting twenty-four of the Capitol Academy's best and brightest seniors. Additionally, this Hunger Games was the first to introduce a sponsorship program, where mentors could provide food and water to tributes who had received bets from viewers. Many tributes and their mentors were killed before the games officially began, following an explosion in the Capitol. Future Panem President Coriolanus Snow served as the mentor for the victor, Lucy Gray Baird of District 12.
- Facet - District 1
- Velvereen - District 1
- Marcus - District 2
- Sabyn - District 2
- Circ - District 3
- Teslee - District 3
- Mizzen - District 4
- Coral - District 4
- Hy - District 5
- Sol - District 5
- Otto - District 6
- Ginnee - District 6
- Treech - District 7
- Lamina - District 7
- Bobbin - District 8
- Wovey - District 8
- Panlo - District 9
- Sheaf - District 9
- Tanner - District 10
- Brandy - District 10
- Reaper - District 11
- Dill - District 11
- Jessup Diggs - District 12
- Lucy Gray Baird - District 12 (Victor)
11th Hunger Games
- Main article: 11th Hunger Games
The 11th Hunger Games was won by Mags of District 4. It is said that Mags had the ability to construct baskets so tightly woven 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 - District 4 (Victor)
25th Hunger Games (First Quarter Quell)
- Main article: 25th Hunger Games
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
- Porter Millicent Tripp - District 5 (Victor)
45th Hunger Games
- Main article: 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.
- Chaff - District 11- (Victor)
50th Hunger Games (Second Quarter Quell)
- Main article: 50th Hunger Games
The 50th Hunger Games included Maysilee Donner and Haymitch Abernathy of District 12. Being a Quarter Quell, a special amended rule was enforced. Each district would be required to reap two eligible girls and two eligible boys as tribute into the Games. This was to be a reminder that, allegedly, for every one Capitol death, the Districts lost two during the first rebellion. Maysilee and Haymitch made an alliance to help each other survive. This lasted until five tributes were remaining. Shortly after parting ways, Maysilee was killed by candy pink bird muttations with spear-like bills, placing her fifth and leaving four tributes left. Then a tribute was eaten by carnivorous squirrel mutts, the next was killed in combat by the District 1 girl tribute. This left Haymitch and the District 1 girl for the finale. Haymitch, though badly injured and literally holding his innards inside his stomach, managed victory by using the arena's forcefield to deflect a thrown axe from the Career girl which rebounded killing her, leaving Haymitch as the Victor. The Capitol leaders and Gamemakers thought Haymitch made them look foolish with this stunt and deprived their audience a proper finale, and promptly had his family and his girlfriend killed as a result.
- District 1 female - District 1 (2nd place)
- Haymitch Abernathy - District 12 (Victor)
- Maysilee Donner - District 12 (5th place)
62nd Hunger Games
- Main article: 62nd Hunger Games
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.
- Enobaria - District 2 (Victor)
63rd Hunger Games
- Main article: 63rd Hunger Games
Gloss of District 1 was the victor of the 63rd Hunger Games. Being from a Career District, it can be assumed that Gloss was in an alliance with the other Career tributes.
- Gloss - District 1 (Victor)
64th Hunger Games
- Main article: 64th Hunger Games
Cashmere of District 1 was the victor of the 64th Hunger Games. It can be assumed that Cashmere was in a Career Alliance. Her brother, Gloss, won the previous Games.
- Cashmere - District 1 (Victor)
65th Hunger Games
- Main article: 65th Hunger Games
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.
- Finnick Odair - District 4 (Victor)
67th Hunger Games
- Main article: 67th Hunger Games
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.
- Augustus Braun - District 1 (Victor)
69th Hunger Games
70th Hunger Games
- Main article: 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.
71st Hunger Games
- Main article: 71st Hunger Games
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, allowing her to wait until other serious threats had been dealt with and then mounting her own attack on the weakened survivors.
73rd Hunger Games
- Main article: The 73rd Hunger Games
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; Caesar 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 by bludgeoning the remaining tribute with a brick.
Katniss also 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. Considering the tributes' outfits this year consisted of an armored undershirt, this probably meant conventional weapons were not offered in these games since everyone had body protection.
This was Seneca Crane's second year as Head Gamemaker.
74th Hunger Games
- Main article: 74th Hunger Games
Katniss and Peeta were both the victors, the first and only time this happened.
- Marvel - District 1
- Glimmer - District 1
- Cato - District 2
- Clove - District 2
- District 3 male - District 3
- District 3 female - District 3
- District 4 male - District 4
- District 4 female - District 4
- District 5 male - District 5
- Foxface - District 5
- District 6 male - District 6
- District 6 female - District 6
- District 7 male - District 7
- District 7 female - District 7
- District 8 male - District 8
- District 8 female - District 8
- District 9 male - District 9
- District 9 female - District 9
- District 10 male - District 10
- District 10 female - District 10
- Thresh - District 11
- Rue - District 11
- Peeta Mellark - District 12 (Victor)
- Katniss Everdeen - District 12 (Victor)
75th Hunger Games (Third Quarter Quell)
- Main article: 75th 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.
- Gloss - District 1
- Cashmere - District 1
- Brutus - District 2
- Enobaria - District 2 (Survived)
- Beetee - District 3 (Survived)
- Wiress - District 3
- Finnick Odair - District 4 (Survived)
- Mags - District 4
- District 5 male - District 5
- District 5 female - District 5
- Morphlings - District 6
- Blight - District 7
- Johanna Mason - District 7 (Survived)
- Woof - District 8
- Cecelia - District 8
- District 9 male - District 9
- District 9 female - District 9
- District 10 male - District 10
- District 10 female - District 10
- Chaff - District 11
- Seeder - District 11
- Peeta Mellark - District 12 (Survived)
- Katniss Everdeen - District 12 (Survived)
Unknown Hunger Games
- 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. Judging by the first film, it is possible that this was the 73rd Hunger Games.
- Unknown Hunger Games - Katniss mentioned in The Hunger Games that she remembered a Game 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 from a few years ago where the District 6 male, a boy named Titus, went insane and begun to eat the tributes that he killed. Eventually, Titus was taken out by an avalanche that was speculated to have been designed by the Gamemakers.
- 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 pack of hideous reptiles destroyed the Career tributes' food supply. She also mentioned another year (possibly the 70th Hunger Games) where the food supply was washed away in a flood caused by the Gamemakers.
- 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 where the victor only received a 3 as her training score. It is possible that she is referring to Johanna Mason.
- Throughout the history of the Hunger Games, there have been a total of 1,824 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 1,800 unique tributes (because the 75th Hunger Games had repeat tributes). On the eve of the Third Quarter Quell, there were 59 living tributes out of the 75 in total that have won. By the end of the war (in Mockingjay), 1793 of them had died (99.61% of all tributes): 1,743 in the Games as tributes (97.21%) and 50 having died before the war or during the Victor's Purge during the War (2.78%). This leaves 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 Haymitch 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, it can be concluded 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, Chaff, and Haymitch were most affected, as Annie has mental problems, the morphlings became addicted to morphling, Chaff and Haymitch began drinking after their respective Hunger Games.