The Hunger Games Memes & Gems Only Real Fans Get

All these years on, we still love watching “The Hunger Games.” It brings us bittersweet memories and rivers of shared meanings. Only true Mockingjay aficionados can relate. What we have here is an extensive list of jokes, memes, and hidden references, plus plenty of Easter eggs thrown out at you.
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It’s going to be only the most hardcore fans who will catch them all. Check your superfan status with the odds ever in your favor, or just chill with your favorite memories from “The Hunger Games” trilogy.

 A Secret Feminist Symbol

Blink and you miss it. The angel statue in Victor’s Village is modeled after a very famous New York City monument. The “Angel of the Waters” sculpture found crowning Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain was created by Emma Stebbins.

She was the first woman artist to be commissioned by the city. Largely because of that, the 1873 sculpture is known as a feminist symbol. Also, it is believed to be modeled after Stebbins’ lover.

“I’ll Still Cook You”

It’s no secret that Katniss despises her little sister’s cat. When he gets in her way, the protagonist played by Jennifer Lawrence would rather skewer it like game with the zip of an arrow. &

Luckily for Buttercup, Prim adores him. And Katniss could never hurt what she loves so much. In the end, Katniss loves Buttercup too (after some serious venting).

She Said

When Katniss gives the Mockingjay pin to her little sister Prim to assuage her fears about being eligible for the reaping, it is heart-wrenching. Primrose had a nightmare she was picked as a tribute at her first reaping. The luck of the pin saves her, to a point, only because Katniss volunteers to take her place.

Later, before Katniss leaves for the 74th Hunger Games, Prim gives it to her big sister as a good luck charm and as a reminder of home. It gradually takes on the symbol of the growing resistance of the second rebellion.

A Movie Misfire

The blast of the cannon firing is a low and somber note. A passing sense of doom echoing through the arena. But wait. When Rue died, there was no cannon blast. & Alamy Stock Photo

And when Marvel died, the boy who killed Rue, there was no cannon blast for him either, at least in the film. Did movie makers really think fans wouldn’t catch that?

“That Is Mahogany!” Is Not in the Book

This line is one of the most famous and most adored lines from the first movie. Ellie’s flabbergasted reaction to the way the three lower-class District 12s treat the posh décor is perfect. It happened when Haymitch, more concerned about spreading jam on his bread than helping the tributes, almost loses a digit to Katniss’s swiftness.

“That is mahogany!” is not in the book because actress Elizabeth Banks made it up. It was an improvisation that made the final cut.

District 13?

What is District 13? The First Rebellion, championed by District 13, was an uprising that grew to form a military coalition. The insurgency was composed of rebels from all 13 districts of Panem. The armed insurrection unified against the authoritarian government of the Capitol.

After three years of unrest, the First Rebellion began unraveling, marking the onset of the Dark Days which signaled its collapse. Order was reinstated by Snow’s totalitarian regime, but not before District 13 was wiped off the map.

Greek Mythology Link

Suzanne Collins said she was a big fan of Greek mythology growing up. She loved it so much she says that there is no way for it not to have a role in her storytelling. Talking to the “NYT,” she relayed the way the myth of Theseus clicked in her story writing for the Hunger Games.

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In the myth, young Theseus was a prince of Athens when he participated in a lottery. It picked seven girls and seven boys to be thrown into the labyrinth and destroyed by the Minotaur.

The Sewer Scene

In “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II,” the action sequence taking place in the sewers of the Capitol were filmed in an actual sewer. The gruesome environment was a huge challenge for the fatigued cast.


Director Francis Lawrence said that it was shot deep into the 11-month filming schedule and cast morale was abysmal. He says he is happy with the result. “It was on time and on schedule, but it was truly miserable.”

The Rules

One male child and one female child from each of the 12 districts is chosen by lottery, picked from a glass bowl. The event is televised nationally, and citizens are required to watch. Hidden cameras capture every move. There is only one survivor, and victors are to live out their lives in opulence in Victor’s Village. There is only one victor, except when there is a rule change.


Like when Peeta and Katniss both win. Oh, and in the 75th Hunger Games, when the victors become eligible again. Twenty-four Hunger Games champions are ripped from Victor’s Village and led back to the arena because, ahem, the rules are the rules…

TV Inspired

Suzanne Collins. The author shared her inspiration for “The Hunger Games” books with the “New York Times.” In the 2018 interview, she talked about how the concept for the novels came about. Collins said that she was watching TV one night flipping through the channels.


She clicked on a reality television show and then on footage of the Iraq War. That’s when the lightbulb went on. It was exactly what she was looking for to support an idea she had been working on about a just-war theory she wanted to present to young audiences.

Is It Real?

Yes, Katniss, and it cost him a squirrel. Gale shows up in the forest while Katniss is hunting, interrupting her aim on a major kill. It was the first deer she had spotted all year. &

He could’ve sold it to the Peacekeepers, those ominous, Stormtrooper-like militia, but he makes it up by giving her the piece of bread. She’s so surprised she asks if it’s real.

Really Gale, Really?

When Gale talks about running away into the forest, this time around, Katniss says that it is futile. Later, she thinks it’s a good idea, but by then he is bit by the rebellion bug, ready to sacrifice life and limb to take down the Capitol.


They are discussing the impending horrific event. It needs to stop, Gale says. Everybody is watching their favorite tribute getting killed, everyone is crying. Answer? Just stop watching it. Katniss tells him that a boycott of the Games will never happen.

Who Wants to Go to the Hunger Games?

The Careers. Careers come from Districts 1 and 2. In the book, District 4 is a career district, home to Mags, Finnick, and Glimmer. These are the wealthiest areas of Panem and entering the Hunger Games pageant is a great honor, akin to going to the Olympic Games.

Careers train their entire lives, some since birth, so they are generally the strongest, fastest, and most dexterous players. They usually wait until they are 18 before going to battle, another advantage. The annual victor is almost always a Career.

Gamemakers Control Reality

Gamemakers have complete control over the arena and the entire forest. If the action lulls, they can add anything from a weather phenomenon to mutant monsters. Gamemakers are in charge of entertaining the Capitol and keeping the televised action exciting. The central control room is a high-tech, futuristic production room that can virtually shift, shape, and create reality in the arena.

Gamemakers can make it day or night in the arena. They can change the flow of water, which means life or death to a tribute. Gamemakers can even kill a tribute at will.

You Know the Drill

Wait 60 seconds before leaving the platform. Or… Poof. The tribute is exploded to death. We all know they were warned. The Gamemakers said tributes must wait while land mines are deactivated before stepping off the platform.

Katniss said once that one player had to be scraped off the ground after accidentally making a wrong move.

Go Ahead, Underestimate Katniss

What? They weren’t paying attention. To be fair, Katniss missed her first shot, laughably. She got the attention of the Gamemakers who rate the tributes by skewering an apple that was in the mouth of a roasted pig, laid out on an overabundant buffet table.

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She aims, shoots, and threads the arrow through the oblivious conversations of the soiree, stabbing the apple to the wall. It was a bold move. They noticed. Katniss takes a bow and says, “Thank you for your consideration.”


Are they monitoring blood sugar levels? No. As the children file into the reaping ceremony, each eligible tribute must hold out his or her finger to have it pricked by a Peacekeeper. After the prick, the blood is used to identify each person who is then scanned with an electrical device to confirm identity.

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We see Prim terrified of getting her finger pricked. It’s a reminder of the blood sport that awaits and the harsh regime that they are under.

Who Killed Cato?

Katniss did and it was an intense moment. Cato, Peeta, and Katniss were up a tree. Cato held Peeta in a headlock, gripping the boy’s body in front of his own to shield himself from the fatal aim of Katniss’ bow. Cato warned her. Shoot him, and both boys would crash to the ground.


It might seem like an option until you know a pack of vicious wolf mutts is waiting, snarling and ravenous. Cut to the chase—Katniss shoots an arrow into Cato’s hand—he falls to the snorting mutts.

Yo, Superfan, True or False

Wolf mutts resemble lost tributes. True. Control room tech created wolf mutts and they designed each one to individually resemble a tribute who was killed. Mutts were made to be dog-like monsters with long razor-sharp claws able to walk on hind legs and jump high.

There were five of them and each wore a collar with the tribute’s district. Most disturbing were the eyes. The eyes of the mutts were replicas of the fallen player. Alas, this is an example of the book outdoing the movie. In “The Hunger Games,” wolf mutts are vicious animals similar to hellhounds.

The Achilles Heel of Careers

Careers train all their lives to be in the Games, but, according to Haymitch, they have some traits that give an advantage to the poor districts. Careers are not used to starving whereas the competition is.


Being overfed, they are also at a physical disadvantage, like when Cato tries to chase Katniss up a tree but falls to the ground under his own weight. But, at the top of the list, is arrogance.

“A” for  Effort

Haymitch in all fairness did do his very best to save our two leads; Katniss and Peeta. Even though he just appears to be topped up on the juice for most of his screen-time. It becomes clear that he truly does care and only uses drinking as a way of detaching from this terrible reality.

He makes a promise to Katniss that he would volunteer Peeta if he ended up being chosen at the Quarter Quell Reaping. Though reluctant at the beginning, he really does come through at the end.

There Were No Mentors Before the 10th Games

The mentorship of Haymitch makes him one of our favorite characters. In the film, Haymitch Abernathy, played by Woody Harrelson, is a District 12 champion from the 50th Hunger Games.

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Assigned to mentor Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, he has a psychologically agonizing job. His tributes rarely win, probably why Haymitch is a drunk. Katniss and Haymitch have an even more rivalrous relationship in the book by Collins.

Sage Advice

“Embrace the Probability of Your Imminent Death and Know, In Your Heart, That There’s Nothing I Can Do to Save You”. Not helping. This is what Haymitch tells Peeta and Katniss the first time they meet him. Racing to the arena in a first-class train car, the two tributes demand advice since he is their mentor, and that is what he offered.


Peeta talks him into giving real advice. Haymitch says they should do whatever they can to get people to like them. Sponsors. Sponsors. Sponsors. It’s all about the sponsors and their lifesaving offerings.

Peeta Heeds His Mentor’s Advice and Falls Into a Plot Hole

He waves to the fans. As the train approaches the arena, crowds have gathered next to the tracks cheering and screaming for the arrival of the tributes. Peeta smiles and waves to the crowd.

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Katniss, not quite ready to feign spectator appreciation, sits back watching Haymitch praise Peeta. Plot hole. If Peeta wins, Katniss dies.

The Hidden Meaning of Katniss

Katniss is a plant, actually, Author Suzanne Collins said that she came across the perfect name for the bow-wielding heroine as she was researching edible plants for survival training. Katniss, also called the arrowhead plant, was the perfect fit.


As she read about it, she found more and more connections to the character she was developing. She discovered that the word had derivatives from Latin with a tie to the archer, Sagittarius. It’s an aquatic plant with tuber roots and arrowhead-like leaves.

Only Kills for a Purpose

President Snow’s logic: Instate the Hunger Games as a “reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated.” He only kills for a purpose, ergo, let them kill each other!

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The Capitol presides over the gruesome spectacle because it makes sense that only an annual violent event against innocent children will prevent a repeat of the First Rebellion. Spoiler alert: It’s repeated.

Katniss, the Squirrelinator

As a hunter, squirrels are her specialty. Haymitch learns from Peeta that Katniss has a sharp aim. Haymitch asks her if she’s good and she says, “I’m alright.”

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That’s when Peeta chimed in to say his father buys her squirrels and says that she shoots them right in the eye, every single time.

About That Elevator Scene

That elevator action was not a one-take, flawless shot. Far from it. Tribute Johanna Mason, in a bold move to intimidate the competition, stripped down. But filming it ran into a very unintended outcome.

Actress Jena Malone said it was a speedy elevator, which meant she had to get bare in six seconds or less. On one of the takes, a film assistant accidentally sent the elevator to the wrong floor. A patron holding two cups of coffee at the bustling Atlanta hotel was standing there when the door opened. Jena Malone’s bare backside was completely exposed.

I Need a Hero

Styling Katniss as the “Girl on Fire” and the Mockingjay heroine was all Cinna. Cinna, as her stylist, gowned her in a fiery spectacle to match her courage in saving her little sister. He nurtured her image as the symbol of the rebellion all along. Cinna styled the gorgeous wedding gown.


But he didn’t tell the star of the rebellion that it would morph into the fantastic Mockingjay gown. He paid for it with his life.

There Shall be 24 Platforms

Oops. In one shot of the first movie, there are not 24 platforms. Astute Hunger Games fans found only 20 platforms could be counted on the arena grounds. There must be 24.


Because, in this game, before being elevated to the arena, 24 tributes are enclosed in underground glass tubes. Those tubes elevate to ground level, bringing each player to his or her platform. Therefore, there must be 24 platforms.

The Foxface Conspiracy Theory

Accident or planned? Foxface was a very smart 14-year-old from District 5 who excelled at the edible plants’ test. She discovered the nightlock berries that Peeta had collected and stole some from his stash. It looked like an accident.

But we also know she did not want her family to watch her get killed in a gruesome manner. Perhaps she saw the berries as a way out. She was one of the survivors. Before she died, she was in the final four.

Guess Who Was Never Asked to Audition for President Coriolanus Snow

Donald Sutherland. He really wanted the role. Sutherland came across the script for “The Hunger Games.” He was so keen on portraying the power-driven leader that he read the entire trilogy and then penned a letter to director Gary Ross.

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In a detailed, three-page missive, he laid out his vision of the character and his great interest in being totalitarian. He told “GQ,” “I wasn’t offered it. I like to read scripts, and it captured my passion.”

Several Stars of “The Hunger Games” Sustained Real Injuries

Jennifer Lawrence went deaf in one ear. The many diving scenes were causing her a lot of ear infections. Then, a jet from one of the cornucopia scenes punctured her eardrum and she lost hearing for months. Liam Hemsworth fractured his ankle but kept working. Josh Hutcherson took a kick to the head that caused a concussion.

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Lawrence, playfighting, said she could clear his head with a high kick. She missed. Hutcherson said the actress felt so bad about it she was crying.  Sam Claflin broke his finger poking Lawrence with a trident. Don’t mess with Ms. Lawrence!

Finnick Dies. Finnick Dies?

This was not part of the plan. Finnick was a hero. He led the plot to take Snow out. He was a rebel. He was an elite from District 4. He seemed invincible. How could Finnick die? And then to be killed by a pack of ignoble mutts? It’s too much.

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But at least we didn’t have to actually see him die by getting his head bitten off as the book portrays it.


A113 is a Secret Code Placed In Every Pixar Film The animators, who studied together as students, came up with the identification mark. When they graduated to Pixar moviemakers, they stuck it in for fun.


In the scene where Snow is observing Katniss on the monitor, there is a teeny, tiny A113 in the far-right bottom corner.

Fans Did This

On the left, we have the cat who was cast as Prim’s kitty Buttercup for “The Hunger Games.” On the right, we have the cat who played Buttercup in “Catching Fire” and all future installments. Fans spoke up.

They complained that Buttercup looked nothing like the cat in Suzanne Collins’ book series. Casting let the fans have this one.

Jennifer Lawrence Wore Wigs

Everyone knows Jennifer Lawrence is not a natural brunette. Rather than dying her blonde locks brown, costuming rented wigs. But that was not until the final film. In the first two installments, Lawrence’s hair was dyed, and it took such a toll she had to chop most of it off.

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So, she had to wear a wig. At first, director Frances Lawrence adamantly ordered, “no wigs!” But later he felt bad. He said, “We actually fried her hair, which is sad.” In all, five wigs in all were needed. At $6,000 each, her hair was a pricey affair. That’s $30,000!

The Queen of Wigs

Of course, it’s Effie who was the true wig queen. In the sequel to “Catching Fire,” there were 300 wigs, individually designed, just for the Capitol’s favorite super fashionista. Her elaborate costuming and dazzling fingernails were a burden.

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Elizabeth Banks said playing Effie was very difficult. She needed help doing everything, like zipping up her dress, because of her extravagant, bejeweled fingernails. When she was costumed, she had to have a small group of women attend her to navigate even the most basic tasks.

Costuming “The Hunger Games” Was a Daunting Project

Wealthy citizens in Districts 1 and 2 dress as if Lady Gaga teleported to the futuristic land of Panem as the region’s personal stylist. Bright colors and whimsical fashions contrast starkly with dim and dreary looks in the poor districts.

It was an enormous effort to land the costuming effects. In the first film, there were at least 1,800 costumes, just for the Capitol citizens actors and actresses. Costuming borrowed heavily from the Victorian era for inspiration. Over-the-top ruffles, sculpted hairstyles, and large ties were part of it.

The Kiss

Effie admits, “We planned that moment.” The character of Effie was so beloved in the first movie that directors had her play a far more prominent role in the remaining installments. This was not in the book. The not-in-the-book scene that sticks out most is the Haymitch and Effie kiss. Banks talked about how she cleared it with Suzanne Collins and the director.

The Effie actress said that she and Woody Harrelson planned that moment. “We decided to do it, and the director was like, ‘I love it. Let’s try it again.” She was thrilled it made the cut.

Hidden Meaning on the Tunnel to the Games

As Katniss and Peeta ride their chariot into the stadium in “Catching Fire,” there is a sign painted in black letters on the opening of the tunnel. It reads PDL-736. It seems random, but, as it turns out, it was an inside allusion only the cast would get.

The secret is out, and many fans know that it references a hip-hop club that the cast members frequented. The club is Ponce De Leon-736, located in Atlanta, Georgia.

Reaping Rules, Version 1.0

The rules of the Hunger Games allow a person to choose to go to the arena during the reaping. Usually, it’s the Careers who volunteer. But, in rare cases, those from poor districts do sacrifice themselves.


It’s a major plot twist when Katniss shouts out the most famous and significant line in the book and the movie, “I volunteer!” She saves her sister and sacrifices herself. It’s heartbreaking, but without this brave act, there’s no story.

“Hope Is the Only Thing Stronger Than Fear”

Suzanne Collins explores themes of hope and fear in “The Hunger Games” trilogy. But there is one scene about it that is not in the book. It happens just after Katniss scores an 11 rating. Snow and Seneca Crane discuss her feat. Snow tells him hope is stronger than fear, but then he adds some lines that were written into the script.


He says a little hope is good but too much is dangerous. He compares it to a spark that needs to be contained. The lines were not written by Suzanne Collins, but she reportedly loved the scene.

Poverty is Depressing

This ubiquitous image from the Great Depression was borrowed in the making of “The Hunger Games.” It’s called “Destitute pea pickers in California” and it was taken by Dorothea Lange, a photographer assigned to a post in one of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs.

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In the movie, filmmakers try to recreate the destitution the photo expresses. In this scene of the film, Katniss and Primrose’s mother holds her hand to her cheek just as the woman in the famous photograph.

You Kiss Your Tribute With That Mouth?

Filming was often long and grueling for some cast members, and Jennifer Lawrence, being the lead actress of the franchise, obviously had to let off some steam more than her castmates. The steam was often released in the form of bad language.

Getty Images Photo by Kevin Winter/WireImage

In fact, filmmaker Gary Ross said there was a jar on set where people had to deposit a dollar in whenever their potty mouth got the best of them. According to him, about half of the jar was filled by Lawrence.

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