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The books:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Not even an Ax Crazy Jerkass like Cato deserves to be Eaten Alive by Mutts for over twenty hours.
    • While she's not really a villain, just a competitor in the games, Foxface's death gets this sort of reaction from Katniss, who thinks that she was an admirable player and that it was something of a shame that she had to die so randomly.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Was the anguish Cato expressed over Clove's death a Pet the Dog moment, or was he just pissed that he lost his last remaining ally?
    • Katniss: Determinator or Byronic Hero Villain Protagonist? Unreliable Narrator or victim of bad writing?
      • Her approval over The Capitol Games: Was it a Batman Gambit to catch Coin off guard or did losing Prim break her?
    • President Coin: evil Complete Monster or revolutionary leader doing what she felt she had to in order to keep a new prospective country stable?
    • Johanna: flavours of Jerk with a Heart of Gold or Alpha Bitch? A good chunk of the narrative displays her negatively (in Catching Fire anyway), but many of her words and deeds suggest otherwise.
    • The majority of the Career Tributes in general: Complete Monsters or human sacrifices raised to die and therefore the most tragic casualties of the Games?
    • Gale: Tragic Unlucky Childhood Friend whose long friendship with Katniss entitled him to believe a romance was possible, or manipulative Dogged Nice Guy who had no right to be pissed about Katniss "only" being his best friend?
  • Broken Aesop: If the message of the books, particularly the first, is that we shouldn't glorify violence, then why are the career tributes presented as Complete Monsters with no humanity or justification for their actions (like being raised in an environment where violence is glorified) and as an audience we are meant to cheer for their deaths? The film actually did this better...
  • Broken Base: Mockingjay pretty much splits the fanbase into three sections. The first loves the book because of how well it portrays the real life implications of war. The second partially dislikes the book because so many horrible, horrible things happen to Katniss and/or such and such character dies, but otherwise they're okay with it. The third dislikes the book because they perceive the quality of the writing as having decreased.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Cinna, Finnick and Rue. Especially Rue. She only appears in one book, but she's impossibly beloved by fans. Some fan-circles seem to adore her more than they do Primrose Everdeen.
    • Foxface is a notable example; she only appears for a few scenes in the first book, doesn't get any lines and doesn't even get her real name revealed, yet fans love her for how cunning she is and because she's more identifiable than a sword badass/archery badass/knife badass/rock badass etc.
    • Thresh is pretty popular as well.
  • First Installment Wins: The series is called "The Hunger Games" trilogy for a reason.
  • Follow the Leader: A common criticism among bloggers is the fact that the storyline is supposedly identical to Battle Royale, another book following children in a fight to the death, though the similarities pretty much end there.
  • Fountain of Memes: Peeta. The most popular are pointing out that he was on fire too, bread puns due to his family being bakers, and Advice Peeta..
  • Heartbreaking in Hindsight: The long-running "girl on fire" motif, after Katniss is severely burned in an explosion towards the end of the third book.
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: "Toast" for Peeta/Katniss is being widely accepted by the fandom. (And fits much better than Katpee or Peeniss). The girl on fire and the boy with the bread, anyone?
  • Memetic Badass: Thresh. Inevitable for a guy who spent half the time he appeared crushing heavily armed people with nothing but a rock.
  • Moral Event Horizon: President Coin when she kills Prim and tries to set up another Hunger Games.
  • President Snow when he decides to make a special Hunger Games where the victors from the previous Hunger Games are forced to kill each other. Granted, not everyone was averse to the idea of competing in the games again (not the career tributes anyway), but they were in the minority.
  • Older Than They Think: While people point to similarities with Battle Royale, the concept of a government-run competition in a dystopian future in which the participants are killed for the spectatorship of others has existed as far back as Stephen King's The Long Walk and The Running Man. (King himself pointed this out in his positive review of the first book). And even further back than that if we include the Real Life gladiatorial fights in Rome.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: One of the running jokes in the Fandom is that the name for Katniss/Peeta would be either Katpee or Peeniss.
  • Purity Sue: Some fans think of Prim as this, since the narration is told through her protective big sister who naturally focuses on how good Prim is rather than her faults.
  • Seasonal Rot: Catching Fire and especially Mockingjay have been accused of being this.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: The Katniss/Peeta vs. Katniss/Gale debate bears a shocking amount of similarities to the Bella/Edward vs. Bella/Jacob debate. This is likely because Stephenie Meyer has personally endorsed the books, causing her fandom to become interested in them (often to the discomfort of those who read the books beforehand).
  • Spiritual Licensee: The books have been compared to an Americanized take on Battle Royale, to the point where a bit of a Fandom Rivalry has developed between the two.
  • Squick:
    • The description of Glimmer's death by tracker jacker wasp venom in Book 1.
    • Cato's final hours before being put out of his misery, being mostly eaten by muttations.
  • They Copied It, So It Sucks: Many detractors dismiss it for being "a Battle Royale ripoff."
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Katniss's relationship with her sister is never really explored, when it was supposed to be the driving force in the first book.
    • In Catching Fire, the opportunity was wasted for Katniss to be a mentor, and show us what things are like for the other victims of the games. Failing that, the opportunity was wasted for Katniss and Haymitch to go in together, and give us a different flavour to the games/alliance thing, instead of rehashing the first game's plot of having Katniss protect Peeta and vice versa.
  • Too Cool to Live: Finnick, Thresh and Foxface.
  • Unfortunate Implications: Thresh is the only one of the tributes incapable of correct grammar, although it can be interpreted as Thresh being extremely angry over Clove taunting Katniss about Rue's death.
  • What Do You Mean It's for Kids?: The age recommendation for these books - 11, 12, 13 - is surprising to some parents, reviewers, and even older teen readers. Maybe it's the inclusion of decapitation, suicide, torture, mutilation, child prostitution; death by fire or venom, being buried alive, and other psychologically and emotionally disturbing content that raises their eyebrows.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: Which form of symbolism is open to your interpretation; everything from gossip magazines/watching fellow humans who are stars break down, to gross out reality television of the point and laugh variety, to simply how much violence gets allowed on tv and into movies and reality television, basically Toddlers and Tiaras times Survivor times Lindsay Lohan with a Crime Show or Reality Show twist.
  • The Woobie:
    • Virtually anyone, with special mention going to non-career Victors.
    • Of course, even some of the Careers get shades of woobieness, most notably Finnick.
    • During the part of the last book where Katniss, Peeta, Finnick, Pollux, and myriad others were in the sewers under the Capitol, it was surprising to realize that out of the four mentioned above, Katniss had actually had it best so far. Peeta was tortured viciously for six weeks with tracker jacker venom, until most of his happy memories were twisted into terrifying ones, and he couldn't tell what was real and what wasn't. Finnick was forced into prostitution at an age no higher than sixteen, on pain of the deaths of his loved ones, and spent nearly two-thirds of the last book so worried about Annie that he could barely function. Pollux, though a minor character, still managed to be a woobie, what with his being an Avox who spent five years doing forced labor underground, during which he didn't see the sun once. Then his brother Castor gets killed.
  • X Meets Y: Battle Royale meets Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The movies:

  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Cato. In the book, he's portrayed as a psycho Blood Knight who enjoys killing other tributes right down to when he dies. Here, he's more or less the same... until he's about to die. We then learn that his motives were to bring honor and respect for him and his District. He was also a career tribute, meaning that he was trained to kill from a very young age, and likely had no choice in the matter. Killing was all he knew. Combining all of these, plus his behavior at the end, implies that he was craving respect and recognition from people, which, in turn, implies that he was abused, neglected, unappreciated, ignored, or possibly all of the above. This may show that he feels the only way to be loved is to win. What's even sadder is, that assumption may have been true.

 Cato: Oh no, I can still do this. I can still do this. One more kill. It's all I know how to do.

    • Foxface wasn't really a villain in the book, mostly just being a parasite on the Careers, stealing their food and generally being sneaky. In the movie, we have a scene between her and Katniss where they bump into each other while running from the slaughter at the Cornucopia, look at each other in terror for a second, then silently run off in separate directions. This makes her seem a bit more like Katniss herself. Katniss even seems glum when finding out that Foxface is dead, and from a rather random death too.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Foxface's death in the movie is done in a way that many have suspected that it was no accident, but a deliberate suicide. Since she was weak and starving anyway, and knew she couldn't match the other remaining four tributes, she opted for a quick, painless way out instead, and covered it up as an accident so that her family back home didn't get in any trouble.
  • And the Fandom Rejoiced: The casting of Amandla Stenburg and Dayo Okeniyi as Rue and Thresh, respectively, as well as Woody Harrellson as Haymitch.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: A few background characters who were largely overlooked in the books have received a lot more attention from the fans thanks to the film:
    • Seneca, almost entirely because of his beard.
    • Effie, mainly due to the Memetic Mutation.
    • Ceasar Flickerman, due to being played by Stanley freaking Tucci. And because of his awesome theme music.
    • Very soon after the movie was released, Google was bombarded by searches for Isabelle Fuhrmann, the actress who played Clove. Despite being mostly a One-Scene Wonder, Fuhrmann has been widely praised for her ferocious portrayal of the character, some even calling her superior to how they imagined Clove in the books.
    • Glimmer, to a slightly lesser extent, mainly due to her looks.
    • Also, Foxface again, who is here played by Jacqueline Emerson.
  • Fan Dumb:
    • Apparently, a number of Hunger Games fans were surprised to find out that Rue was black, despite reading the source material, which described her physical appearance as having "dark brown skin and eyes". Alone, this isn't too bad, if you can look past their laughable reading comprehension skills. However, couple this with their racist tweets, the beyond horrible implications behind their statements, and their straight-up ignorance to the fact that such racial discrimination is simply not okay, it's both sickening and embarrassing. Made even worse when you consider that the reviews have largely praised the performances of both Amandla Stenberg and Lenny Kravitz. It's not even their acting ability they're taking objection to. It's solely their skin color.
    • On the other side of the coin, many fans were absolutely certain Katniss was brown-skinned. While in the books she describes herself as "olive", and she is in the film, the casting call for the film contained some Unfortunate Implications, calling specifically for a "Caucasian" actress. This angered many of these aforementioned fans and caused them to cry racism. However, there is evidence that says they were just following the book:
      • Both a UK and several international covers clearly show a white woman. The books are ambiguous, but the covers aren't. There has been some debate on how accurate the covers have been, though.
      • From a biological standpoint, if her mother was white and her sister resembles her greatly, Katniss' father would have most likely been white as well and Katniss takes after her father. Though blonde hair and blue eyes are admittedly not traits exclusive to "purely" white people, population of District 12 was isolated since at least before the Dark Days which pretty much rules out any mixed race. This evidence was and continues to be ignored by those who insist that Katniss is not white.
      • Not to mention in this article, the author, Suzanne Collins, was in the casting process and says that she was thrilled Jennifer Lawrence accepted being Katniss.
    • There has also been cries of Jennifer Lawrence being too curvy for the role of Katniss, who is described as being very thin and malnourished. The male actors have also been criticized for being far too healthy-looking and muscular, though to a far less extent.
  • Fashion Victim Villain: Capitol's bizarre fashion sense, already Lampshaded in the book, is trumped up in the movie. Effie Trinket's first appearance brings it oddly close to Uncanny Valley (as she's surrounded by the "normal" fashions of District 12.) In general, the fashion trends of the Capitol seem to draw a distinct comparison to Victorian England, so as to better serve the whole Roman-esque "supposedly sophisticated and civilized society that's actually rather barbaric deep down."
  • He's Just Hiding Some don't believe Thresh truly died because it wasn't seen, and others believe Foxface was just so smart that she was able to convincingly fake her own death.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Misaimed Marketing: Given it's the year's first smash hit, it received merchandising. Given it's based around teenagers killing each other in a Crapsack World, it's mostly nonsense.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Clove sadistically taunting Katniss about Rue's death.
  • Narm: The Quarter Quell arena outfits basically look like dance leotards.
  • What Do You Mean It's for Kids?: The premise sounds like it's not for kids, but the books the film is based on are classified as Young Adult fiction, and the movie's rating and level of violence are toned down in keeping with that ( the scene where Rue is killed, unpleasant as it is in the film, is even worse in the book).
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Political?: Somewhat subverted as it clearly does make some political points. However, much like Firefly, both sides of the American political spectrum have loudly declared that the Capitol represents the other party and Katniss represents themselves the minute the movie came out. Several issues are discussed, including socio-economic inequality, media manipulation, government corruption and incompetence, and Bread and Circuses style politics. Although they do parody American pop culture and especially reality TV, the books and movie are much more about imperialism and one culture dominating another than any one nation's domestic politics. It would be more accurate to say that the Capital and Districts are actually Rome/Gaul Britain/India or maybe Russia/Chechnya.
  • What the Hell Costuming Department: Effie and other Capitol-dwellers' clothes may be accepted as the fashion in-universe, but they sure worked hard to make them look absurd to us.