15 Elaborate Fan Theories About 'The Hunger Games' That Make A Lot Of Sense

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Vote up the theories that make the most sense.

The Hunger Games trilogy quickly cemented itself as a staple in young adult fiction when it hit bookshelves in 2008. Thanks to an excellent set of films based on the books, and a prequel novel, its fanbase has only continued to grow as new generations discover the films on streaming services. With that comes fresh eyes to the dystopian series and a bevy of elaborate fan theories that OG readers never even imagined.

This is a list of elaborate fan theories about the Hunger Games franchise that were shared online. Take a gander down below and be sure to vote up the theories that make the most sense!

  • 1
    1,236 VOTES

    The Games Serve A Dual Purpose

    The Games Serve A Dual Purpose
    Photo: The Hunger Games / Lionsgate

    From Redditor u/Burnnoticelover:

    President Snow isn’t an idiot, he knows that his method of ruling is bound to cause a rebellion eventually, especially with District 13 lying in wait.

    Now as any dictator can tell you, you the only people you need to keep happy are the ones you’re afraid of. But how does Snow decide who to fear? Easy. Every year, he rounds up a smattering of kids from each district, and drops them into a controlled environment so that the Capitol military can see exactly which districts are a threat. Who is giving their children combat training? Survival training? How would the average members of each district population fare in battle? It would be incredibly easy to get this vital information just by watching the games.

    Districts 1 and 2 don’t dominate the games because they’re treated well, they’re treated well because they dominate the games. Snow realizes he needs to keep them happy, because he constantly watches their fighters kick everyone’s ass.

    They use the reaping to gather a (mostly) random sampling. Giving extra food for entering your name multiple times ensures that they can see the skills of the truly desperate (those most likely to join a rebel militia) and allowing volunteers lets them see how the glory hounds and tough guys fare (those most likely to lead a rebel militia).

    From there, they offer training to see how quickly the average fighters from each district would adapt to combat training. How educated are they? How fast do they learn? Are weapons new to them, or do they have experience? They even test media savvy and ability to rally Capitol citizens to their cause with Caesar Flickerman’s show.

    When they’re actually in the arena, not only is the Capitol assessing the fighters performance in different environments (why do you think they keep changing the map?), but they’re also testing counterinsurgency weapons. That’s why there’s always new environmental hazards every year. They’re seeing how effective they are against armed, twitchy revolutionaries. Fireballs? 86 them, they didn’t hurt anybody. Mutant animals that remind the fighters of fallen allies? Keep those, they were good. That’s why we see all those traps in the Capitol. They were the ones most effective against the tributes, so they were recycled into city defense systems.

    1,236 votes
  • 2
    977 VOTES

    The 75th Hunger Games Arena Was Designed With Finnick In Mind

    The 75th Hunger Games Arena Was Designed With Finnick In Mind
    Photo: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire / Lionsgate

    From Redditor u/ajdeitsch

    So I was rereading the books and rewatching the movies due to this whole quarantine thing. Personally, Catching Fire has always been my favorite book and movie so this got me thinking...

    Was the arena in the 75th Hunger Games designed for Finnick?

    This may sound like a bit of a stretch but here me out, I think this has some credibility. Plutarch obviously knew that if he wanted to get Katniss out of that arena alive, she would need protection from other tributes, which is why we see many of the tributes joining her “alliance.” Plutarch most likely knew that Katniss would immediately go to the Cornucopia and attempt to grab a bow. Knowing this, Plutarch wanted to eliminate the chance of Katniss getting killed during the bloodbath at the cornucopia. To combat this, he redesigned the Cornucopia to be in the middle of the water, where he KNEW Finnick would be the first or second tribute to get there due to his background from District 4.

    Plutarch most likely knew that Finnick would be able to fight off any other tribute if they went after Katniss during the bloodbath, as we see when he throws his trident into the chest of (I think) the District 5 Male at the beginning of the Games.

    Knowing all of this, Plutarch decided that the best chance of Katniss getting out of the bloodbath alive, would be to have Finnick be there for her protection. Knowing this, it is very possible that Finnick and possibly the other tributes in on the rebel plan knew what the arena was, and already had a plan set in place. It is very plausible that Finnick knew he would be first or second to the Cornucopia, and knew that his job was to get Katniss out of there alive.

    There is actually a deleted scene from the Catching Fire movie, someone also brought this up in the replies. It shows Plutarch burning the original envelope for the 75th games and replacing it with his own.

    [Also] On page 324 of Catching Fire, Katniss and Finnick are the first two to the Cornucopia. Finnick asks Katniss “Do you like the arena?” And Katniss replies with “Not particularly. But you should. They must have built it especially for you.”

    977 votes
  • 3
    538 VOTES

    Child Labor Is A Huge Thing In Panem

    Child Labor Is A Huge Thing In Panem
    Photo: The Hunger Games / Lionsgate

    From Redditor u/atleastmymomlikesme:

    We know that kids in District 12 aren't put to work in the coal mines until they are already adults at age 18. But Katniss theorizes in Chapter 23 of Catching Fire that this is unusual since most children in Panem seem to already know something about their district's trade by the time they are old enough to be in the Hunger Games. I think it's safe to assume that the age that kids begin work varies from district to district in accordance to how dangerous the district trade is for young children. So if this is true, what do you guys think the starting age is for each district? To give you a few jumping off points, here's a couple bits of evidence from the book:

    • District 7 is implied to start teaching woodcutting very early on, as Katniss guesses that Johanna has been "tossing around axes since she was a toddler". But take that with a grain of salt since Katniss doesn't actually know the know the real starting age for certain.
    • District 8 seems to let teenagers work in their textile factories. We know that Bonnie already has a factory job even though she's still in school and is described as looking about the same age as Katniss (16/17). The books never specify whether younger children are also allowed into the factories or not. Personally I'd argue that they probably are considering that Panem is based on the United States, which has a dark history of child labor within textile mills in particular.
    • District 11 definitely "employs" children as young as 12, and probably much younger than that too. Rue is already working at age 12 and mentions that all students (presumably as young as 5) have to leave school during Harvest Season to go and work in the fields instead. Bringing in historical context again, I think 5 makes sense as a starting age considering that it mirrors how young some real life African American slaves were forced to work.

    I always assumed that career districts only trained a tiny fraction of their children. Training everyone seems like a waste of resources considering that only two of the kids are going to get to actually go to the Hunger Games each year. Although District 2 might be an exception since their military industry could benefit a lot from having a large number of children trained in combat.

    But yeah I'm sure that wealth is definitely a factor and that the richer districts probably use child labor less often, if at all. No reason to sign your young child up for a difficult job if you're already well off enough to survive without that extra income.

    538 votes
  • 4
    521 VOTES

    Career Tributes Weren't Just Training For The Games

    Career Tributes Weren't Just Training For The Games
    Photo: The Hunger Games / Lionsgate

    From Redditor u/Jokerang:

    TLDR: The Career academies in Districts 1 and 2 didn't just train volunteer tributes for the Hunger Games, they were also training the next generation of high ranking Capital enforcers and lapdogs.

    My theory was a little bit inspired by this one, which I find pretty convincing: “President Snow uses the Games not just as a massive propaganda exercise, but as a way of measuring each district's ability to launch a revolt by getting an idea of how dangerous their young adult population is. I couldn't help but think of The Dictator's Handbook, which talks about how a head of state, regardless of whether they lead a democracy or authoritarian state, needs to appease and get along with the right power brokers and other influential people, who in turn will take care of local problems in their own sectors of influence in the country.”

    In the USA, for example, a president would need to get the right combination of congresspeople, senators, and governors to ensure his/her policy plans are successful. In a dictatorship it's much more simple: the dictator just needs to bribe/pay off the right generals, politicians, etc to make sure they're content, help the dictator in keeping the common people down, and don't have an excuse to want to overthrow the current regime.

    In Panem, Districts 1 and 2 are the allies/powerbrokers that Snow needs to keep in his pocket to ensure his rule. These districts specialize in important things (1 produces luxury goods, implying a rich population, while 2 produces most of Panem's Peacekeepers) that clearly gave them an edge in early Games. As the other fan theory I linked stated, "Districts 1 and 2 don’t dominate the games because they’re treated well, they’re treated well because they dominate the games. Snow realizes he needs to keep them happy, because he constantly watches their fighters kick everyone’s ass." It gets to the point where 1 and 2 are allowed to have Career academies that train kids for the Games, even though it's technically illegal.

    This leads into my speculation. Presumably the students of these academies either come from rich families who can afford to get their child the best training possible for the Hunger Games, or simply have so much potential that the people who run the academies won't want to pass them up. But here's the thing: only two kids from each district can volunteer a year. Assuming an academy has at least two kids (one boy, one girl) for each age between 12 and 18, that's a minimum of 14 kids. This seems like a pretty small number, even for what would be one of the most prestigious schools of this world, and I would assume there would be more students than that. This leaves the likelihood of many potential Careers not getting a chance to volunteer for the Games. For every Cato and Clove sent to represent District 2, there's probably a lot more trained killers that were a hair away from being the right person to volunteer. So what do the academies do with the extras that didn't make the cut?

    My guess is that they direct the rest of their graduates into roles that serve the Capital, high ranking positions that ensure their loyalty to President Snow while also putting their "talents" and education to good use. I imagine a good number become Peacekeeper officers with perks, similar to how West Point graduates become second lieutenants and many go on to become generals and other officers of note. Possibly they might also be directed to police roles, bureaucrats of note, judges and prosecutors, or other jobs in the Capital and beyond that Snow feels needs a loyal and reliable person for. As for the District 1 and 2 victors: they are the only victors largely left alone by Snow, not prostituted or fed drugs/alcohol/etc to keep them in line. All of this fall in line with the basic premise of the Dictator's Handbook: all rulers depend on a coalition of supporters to keep themselves in power, and in Panem this coalition is the Capital + Districts 1 and 2.

    I would also assume the Career academies feed their students a lot of Snow's propaganda: the Games are glorious and necessary, the Capital's rule is a good thing, the other districts need to be kept in the dirt/know their place, etc. The Career pack's actions and personalities in the first book/movie seems to indicate this: they joke about killing the tributes from "weaker" districts, taunt Katniss, relishing in their kills as opposed to getting the job done quickly, etc. I imagine they were emotionally and mentally conditioned not only to be prepared to kill, but to almost enjoy it, as opposed to “dirty job but someone's got to do it.”

    521 votes
  • 5
    638 VOTES

    District 11 Is A Failed Career District

    District 11 Is A Failed Career District
    Photo: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire / Lionsgate

    From Redditor u/atleastmymomlikesme:

    So we learned a lot of new things about Panem from [The Ballad of Songs and Snakes.] One detail that stuck out to me was that even in the very early Hunger Games, certain districts were already considered to be better than others. Snow seems to consider District 1 and 2 to be the best of the best, though he also gives an honorable mention to District 4 and... District 11?! One of these things is not like the others.

    We know that 1, 2, and 4 will later go on to be labeled "career" districts because they have greater resources and excel at preparing their children for the Hunger Games. But District 11 is very much not part of that group by the time the 74th Games roll around. In fact, 11 sounds like was on the opposite end of the spectrum throughout the original trilogy. District 11 is so damn poor that it shocks even Katniss, who lives in what is supposedly the MOST impoverished and underperforming district (District 12). Definitely not the ideal environment for churning out victors.

    So what gives? How did District 11 go from giving the careers a run for their money before the 10th Games to barely being able to feed themselves by the 74th? We can only guess, but Katniss may have given us a clue.

    Based on her description of it, District 11 isn't just shockingly poor by her standards, but shockingly oppressed as well. They suffer harsher punishments, a larger number of Peacekeepers, and a more fortified fence than what District 12 has to deal with. Unfortunately for 11, this might be the worst possible environment to conduct career training in. Katniss confirms on several occasions that training for the Hunger Games is against the law. Obviously it still happens anyways and everyone in Panem knows it, including the Capitol. So it's implied that districts are only able to train careers if they are in good enough standing with the Capitol for it to turn a blind eye to their crimes. It's doubtful that the over-policed District 11 that Katniss visited in Catching Fire would be allowed to get away with that.

    And that may very well be our explanation right there. What if District 11's absurd police presence hadn't always been there? What if they used to be permitted to train their tributes but somehow lost that privilege over time? After all, it would hypothetically only take one failed mini-uprising for 11 to lose favor with the Capitol and doom themselves to become one of the poorest and over-militarized districts in the nation. Considering the fact that District 11 rises up against (and then successfully breaks free from) the Capitol before any other district, it's even more plausible that its citizens have attempted their own uprising in recent memory.

    TL;DR: District 11 was on track to become a wealthy career district but they had a failed independent uprising sometime between the 10th and 74th Hunger Games that pissed off the Capitol and ruined it for them.

    638 votes
  • 6
    438 VOTES

    The Capital Is In The Rockies Because It Sits On A United States Continuity Of Government Operation

    The Capital Is In The Rockies Because It Sits On A United States Continuity Of Government Operation
    Photo: The Hunger Games / Lionsgate

    From Redditor u/4dpsNewMeta:

    For those who do not know, continuity of government is basically how the government plans to continue functioning even in times of war and crises. We know that before Panem existed, the world went through several catastrophic environmental disasters (that presumably put Washington D.C completely underwater) and a global conflict that maybe involved nuclear weapons in it. During the Cold War the United States planned for the government to completely relocate to several locations in the event of an attack or invasion. Most notably, the Cheyenne Mountain Complex in the Rocky Mountains, is equipped to deal with a variety of attacks from which the government could coordinate ICBM's and other aerial weaponry during the war.

    My basic theory is that in the event of environmental disasters flooding the coasts and a catastrophic nuclear conflict breaking out across the world, the United States government retreated to the Cheyenne Mountain Complex or some other top-secret Rocky Mountain bunker. Eventually (obviously) the United States government completely ceased to exist. But their operations remained at the bunker. It became the most powerful post-conflict state because its secure location shielded it from conflict and it had unrestricted access to all the powerful technology and weaponry stored in the bunker. It attracts refugees, and eventually, the above-ground facilities began to morph into a city, and then, after subjugating the other districts, into The Capital that we know and hate.

    I also find it interesting that the most important parts of Panem are as follows: The Capital, then District 1 and District 2. District 1 is said to be located directly northwest of The Capital. It is basically in modern-day Montana. Why is District 1 the most important district? Luxury goods? I don't really buy it. In the event of some sort of conflict, the United States stores it's intercontinental ballistic missiles in.....Montana. And we know the Capital does have nuclear weapons. Interesting.

    438 votes