I don’t think anything in my life will ever matter as much as The Hunger Games. Like this is the peak of literature and movies. Nothing will get better than that. While the rest of you move on to ACOTAR or Yellowjackets, I am right where you left me, drooling over Peta.
For many of us, The Hunger Games shaped who we became, whether we like to admit it or not. I don’t know if it was the age we were when it came out, the barely veiled political references, or the insanely attractive cast (go away, Gale). But this film franchise has its claws deep in me. Every single year, I rewatch all of the films, and I gasp/cry/hyperventilate all over again.
So I’ve challenged myself to something no The Hunger Games fan should ever have to do: I will pick only 13 monumentally important moments from the series. This self-inflicted torture is not recommended for anyone at home, although if you do disagree with my selection, be sure to let me know!
1. If It Wasn’t For the Baby
Let’s start with my favorite. The most jaw-dropping moment of the entire franchise. What’s so great about this scene is that it’s not only us (the viewers) who are gasping for breath, but the audience in the film as well!! I don’t know about you but I had a moment of wondering… Wait, is she pregnant?! Did they actually do it??? You go get it, Kat!!!
This ICONIC moment happens in Catching Fire when the tributes are doing their Jimmy Fallon-style talk show before they’re dumped in the arena. Katniss did the whole “Oh, we would’ve had a nice wedding hee hee” and twirled her wedding dress to turn into a Mockingjay. Big slay.
Now it’s time for Peeta, and until now, he’s always been a bit more of a sensitive character, leaving the big games to Katniss. But now he goes full gaslight gatekeep girlboss and tells the audience he would have no regrets, “if it wasn’t for the baby….”
Peeta knew how to work the audience! The little stutter, the hesitation, the sigh… step aside, Meryl Streep. He was like “TMZ, get this down!!!”
They’re hoping the Capital won’t send a pregnant lady into the Hunger Games, but they’re wrong. Apparently, the government who has no issue killing 24 kids each year doesn’t mind adding an unborn one to the list.
Nevertheless, this is a masterclass in acting by Peeta, and my life has never been the same since. I love that it’s making a resurgence on TikTok so I can relive it daily.
2. Who Ordered This Pig?
Okay, now that we have the best moment in the entire franchise out the way (don’t fight me on this, I will go full Cato on your ass!!), we can turn to other life-changing moments in the films.
We’re going back to The Hunger Games, the first film, and our girlie Katniss has to show off her skills for the big boys. But they’re not paying attention! They don’t expect much from this skinny girl from District 12. Yeah, whatever.
Of course, Katniss proves them wrong. Being as vindictive as a girlie left on read, Katniss aims her arrow for the roasted pig they’re all exclaiming over. With Seneca (the Gamemaker, basically that friend who forces everyone to play drinking games and makes all the rules) uttering an absolute banger of a line, “Hey, hey, who ordered this pig? Who ordered this pig?”
Like it’s so simple but the jovial nature of it never fails to make me chuckle. Like men in a locker room but with a roasted animal.
WHO ORDERED THIS PIG? WHO ORDERED THIS PIG?
They have a whole buffet, so why did someone order a pig? How did they order a pig? Is it an all-you-can-eat sushi vibe where everyone has tablets to order things? Then someone was like oh full roasted pig, don’t mind if I do.
Anyway, Katniss manages to steal their attention from the pig with an amazing shot. I just love how petty she is and desperate for attention. Like me too, girl. It’s the same vibe as when your partner is on their phone and you’re bored of your phone, so you sigh loudly or make a snarky comment.
Also, these men are way too excited about this pig, I think we’re missing an inside joke here.
We never even found out who ordered the pig!
3. The Absolute Slaughterfield
Okay, while we’re on the subject of the first Hunger Games film, we need to discuss when they’re first dropped in the arena. Talk about a big yikes. Wowza.
They all get tubed up into the arena, they’re on their little podiums glancing around, and the buzzer sounds. Absolute mayhem follows.
What makes this scene unparalleled is the cinematography and sound. We see it switch between the arena, the control room, the capital, and the districts. This literally shows us the big men behind it being not so big, like the guy counting down without the fake deep voice. It shows us the excitement of the spectacle versus the dread of the families. Gale isn’t even watching, which shows how much faith he has in Katniss. BOO GALE.
Then all sound and music stops. And there’s just this eerie noise as everything begins. Katniss witnesses an absolute slaughterfield. It is violence like she’s never seen before. These kids are as violent as a toddler hopped up on sugar. They’re like crusty white dogs when they encounter any other dog on a walk. Our girl Katniss wastes time getting supplies, almost dies, and runs off.
I think this scene is so important as it shows us the brutality we can come to expect from this film. Before now, it was a fun idea, we were as removed from the games as the fancy people in the Capital, but now it’s devastating and difficult to watch.
It changes how we view the rest of the film and reminds us how real all of this is. I am still shaken by that scene.
4. Finnick in… THAT
Let’s take a little breather after that scene and go for something a little more fun. We’re going to Catching Fire, when we first meet FINNICK!!! I am a Peeta girl (of course), but I have such a soft spot for Finnick. I think we all do. Peeta is our hubby and Finnick is the celeb we’d be allowed to shag without consequences.
Anyone who read the books was on the edge of their seat in anticipation of meeting Finnick. Even if you hadn’t read them, you knew Sam Claflin was going to be in this movie!
He did not disappoint, let me tell you that. The shirtless look really imprinted itself on my memory. The little crunch as he eats the sugar cube. The sexual innuendos he is throwing at Katniss. All of it was a masterpiece. I think this was the true awakening of my sexual desires, so thank you, Finnick, thank you.
5. Joanna Getting Nakey in The Lift
Speaking of sexual awakenings, the raging bisexual in me needs us to also acknowledge our first proper introduction to Joanna. I think this is where I got my type: moody confident brunettes who barely look at me. Yes, please.
Until now in Catching Fire, we haven’t seen much of Joanna except snarky comments (love) until she enters the elevator with Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch.
She insults her stylist for the outfit (I think you look AMAZING, honey) and then asks, “So how does it feel, knowing the whole world wants to sleep with you?”
Katniss ASSUMES this is directed at her, but Joanna clarifies she wasn’t talking to her. Yeah, of course, everyone wants to sleep with Peeta. The whole world can get in line behind me.
Then Joanna asks Peeta to unzip her dress (I caught that expression Peeta heehee) and undresses in front of them all. Peeta and Katniss have the decency to look embarrassed but Haymitch outright oogles her. I can’t blame him.
The elevator reaches her floor, she says “Let’s do this again sometime” and leaves with a wink. I am hers, utterly and completely, after this scene. And my love for Joanna only grows stronger with each scene.
6. Rue’s Death (BRB SOBBING)
It is time to rip off the bandaid and discuss Rue’s death. This death hit us all so much harder than Prim’s in Mockingjay Part 2 (was anyone very affected by that??) and I can’t even think about it without crying. Sometimes it hits me on a random day and I start tearing up. I need to make a note to bring this scene up in therapy.
Katniss and Rue have become allies, they’re protecting each other, and they make a plan to screw over the career districts. But then Katniss hears Rue screaming for her, runs to her, and finds her in a net. Trapped like a deer. Out of nowhere, a tribute comes and kills Rue with a spear. Katniss gets him, but there is no saving Rue.
She doesn’t fight, she just knows she is going to die (literally I am crying so hard right now I might cause water damage to my laptop). Rue tells Katniss she needs to win and asks her to sing for her. Katniss sings a song she used to sing for Prim (confirming Rue is her replacement sister in the arena) and Rue dies.
It’s a slow moment, with the filmmakers really taking their time to drive this as the emotional force of the movie. A real contrast from the quick violence we usually see to remind us that these are children losing their lives. Part of what makes The Hunger Games so special is that the author and filmmakers never want you to get too caught up in the excitement of the fighting, and really want to drive home the message.
Katniss rages, puts flowers around Rue, and then plants a kiss on her forehead. She looks for the cameras and makes the sign of rebellion. Then we get to see the districts reacting to this. Including District 11 starting to fight back and destroy everything, mourning the loss of Rue, and commending Katniss’ choice to humanize her.
The real violence of this scene comes after Rue’s death, when the rebellion at District 11 is handled, but it’s just so powerful and yet vulnerable. I am still mourning Rue to this day.
7. His Favorite Color is Orange
I need a moment to recover from Rue’s death (hiccup), and so we’re going to turn our attention to a slightly more lighthearted moment. I am truly regretting taking on this task, but I’ve gotten this far.
To pass time on their train journey to the capital, Katniss and Peeta decide to get to know each other better. Great idea, since they’ve almost done a Romeo and Juliet suicide pact, gotten engaged, kissed several times, and started a casual rebellion. Peeta asks what her favorite color is and Katniss says green (she likes the forest, we get it). Then Peeta says his favorite color is orange. Not bright orange, but soft like the sunset.
Honestly, it’s such a small moment but it means so much to the character of Peeta. It reminds us that he isn’t a warrior at heart, like Katniss or Gale, but he’s a painter, an artist, a compassionate person. It matters to him to know her favorite color. He wants to understand Katniss better. He loves not only the idea of her, but every single detail he gets to collect of her. Literally I might die alone.
8. I Volunteer As Tribute
The moment that started it all! This list wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the scene that set the wheels rolling, or even the line that really did it.
It’s time to zoom in on The Hunger Games. Prim is chosen as the tribute and she does this slow shuffle to the front. Literally me going to the counter to ask for more ketchup. But then Katniss volunteers in her place and so the iconic line of “I volunteer as tribute!”
First, let’s discuss this scene. The dark colors contrasted with Effy’s brightness. The hoarseness of Prim screaming for Katniss not to go, and then Gale finally pops up to take her away. Thanks for doing SOMETHING, Gale — what’s new, right? Katniss goes to the stage, and her volunteering is celebrated as an accomplishment.
See I totally get it. I have two big sisters and best believe I would jump to volunteer in their place. I think I have a better chance of surviving in the Hunger Games than they do. One is a yoga teacher so I don’t think she’d be down to murder others, but the other runs marathons so maybe I’m delulu for thinking she wouldn’t win without breaking a sweat. My point is that anyone would do that for their sister.
But it’s the line. The line which has become a meme of the ages. I use this line on a weekly basis. If there is something pleasant to do, I’ll jokingly say “I volunteer as tribute!”, e.g. who gets a date with Josh Hutcherson. If there is something unpleasant to do, I’ll sigh and say “I volunteer as tribute” to highlight how taking out the trash is the equivalent of murdering other kids in an arena.
This scene has had the most impact on my daily life, and I guarantee everyone in my life wishes I’d never utter those words again.
9. Peeta the Rock
As we’ve mentioned, Peeta is a PAINTER. He learned how to paint at the bakery by decorating cakes. He uses these skills in the arena. Does he paint rocks to look like frosted cupcakes? No, he somehow finds the tools he needs to paint himself into a fully camouflaged rock… while injured.
There are a lot of unbelievable aspects of this franchise (namely that anyone would call it a love triangle when Gale is one of the options), but this really takes the cake – excuse the pun. Like, I have all the faith in the world in Peeta, but he painted himself into a rock surface so well camouflaged that Katniss could barely find him? With moss and rocks positioned perfectly over himself. Even his lips are perfectly gray. How could you learn this from frosting cakes? Side note: District 12 is legit starving, as if anyone was buying cakes, it was likely just bread, bread, and more bread.
This scene is just another breed, and I don’t know how to compartmentalize it. It’s bread countless excellent memes, and for that I’m grateful — literally, I’m so sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
10. Real or Not Real
Okay, I feel strong enough to discuss the most romantic scene of the entire franchise now. People ask me why I don’t date much, why I don’t want to be in a relationship, and the blame lies entirely on this scene.
It’s always “u up?” or “wyd?” and never “YOU LOVE ME, REAL OR NOT REAL?”
Let’s head to Mockingjay Part 2.
So for an unhinged Glee-style recap: Katniss escaped the Quarter Quell with the rebels but Peeta was taken by the Capital. They tortured him and convinced him he wanted to kill Katniss (who doesn’t at some point?). They manage to rescue Peeta but he is super traumatized. His memories are all a mess, and he doesn’t know what’s real. Kind of like the day after doing Beer Pong with vodka and seeing videos of yourself that you don’t remember happening. Big yikes.
So he and Katniss make this new game of “Real or not real?” to help him distinguish between truth and the torture. For example, he asks if her favorite color is actually green. Like, weird memory for them to make up for him, but sure, okay, whatever helps Peeta baby.
Then in the epilogue, after Katniss is exiled for killing the new president oopsie, Peeta comes back to her. She sneaks into his bed that night (who wouldn’t???) and he asks, “You love me, real or not real?” and she says “Real.”
Excuse me while my single heart breaks into a million pieces. This has changed my life and my standards forever.
11. Not Cinna!!!
Okay, I’ve put it off for long enough. I can’t just focus on the nice stuff as this franchise DESTROYED MY SOUL. Let’s talk about Cinna.
Assigned to be her stylist for the first hunger games, the first thing he does is apologise that this is happening to her. He’s always honest with her, and aims to create a spectacle out of her outfits. He says himself that he isn’t focused on making her look pretty, but rather making an impression so she can get sponsors. He wants her to rake in those big bucks, or at least like soup and antibiotics.
When Peeta and Katniss return for the Quarter Quell, Cinna is back and he’s as lovely as ever. He’s one of those people who just makes your insides feel all warm and gooey. If he ever said anything to me, I’d just giggle nervously.
That’s why his death is all the more heartbreaking. He almost sees it coming when he turns Katniss’ dress into a Mockingjay (le symbol de la resistance), and he looks reserved to his fate. BUT WE WEREN’T READY.
He’s with Katniss, sending her into the arena and saying he’s still betting on her, then when she’s in the tube, BOOM! MEN STORM IN! And they truly start beating the crap out of him. It is so rough to watch, and Katniss is trapped in the tube, sobbing. Right before she is thrown into the arena to fight for her life.
The muffled sound from the tube makes it feel so much worse, as you’re also removed. But the KICKS. Oh my god. I was sobbing right there with her.
I am changed by this scene. I will never be who I was before seeing it.
12. Tick Tock
Another scene from Catching Fire, as it might just be the best film of the franchise (don’t quote me on that!). We’re in the arena (still mourning Cinna, of course) and lots of freaky stuff keeps happening. Baboons are running amok, blood rain pours down, tidal waves, and much more. Basically Global Warming in about five years, with a side order of manic baboons.
There’s something happening, we’re smart enough to tell that, but not smart enough to know what it is. Then the gang gets back together (very found family trope, love it, love it) and that includes Wiress and Beetee. Now there’s a lot of debate about whether Katniss wanted to be allies with those two because she recognized the importance of their intelligence, but this is a hungry bitch from District 12, so honestly I think it was just a big middle finger to the rest.
But this choice pays off, as it is Wiress who realizes that the arena is a clock! Everything happens in a sector each hour. So if they just keep moving around, they’re fine, right? Right?
This was SO COOL to experience for the first time. Like IT’S A CLOCK! TICK TOCK INDEED. This is the Millennial TikTok.
13. NOT FINNICK THOUGH!!!
We’ve come to the end of the list, and so it is time to say goodbye to Sugar Cube, also known as Finnick, also known as would’ve could’ve should’ve been the love of my life.
We’re in Mockingjay Part 2 and the crew are racing through the Capital, when suddenly they’re being chased down by Mutts. These are supposed to be like mutant creations from a lab, but I always imagined them as, like, big wolves, like Jacob as a werewolf without the weird imprinting. Instead, they look a lot like slimy people? Like someone who didn’t shower after rolling around a vat of Jello? Just saying.
I have to assume a lot of what happens in this scene as it is so dark. Not like scary dark (that too), but like literally there is no light. I’ve turned my laptop up to full brightness and I am still squinting. Maybe I’m just getting old, or maybe the lights department took a day off when they filmed this.
They fight the Mutts and sadly Gale survives. They shimmy up the ladder but then Finnick is last, and he gets literally piled on by all the slimy people. He is under a huge heap of them. There is no going back. Not that Katniss tries, she’s just like “Cya!” and carries on. But not me, I’m still there with him, mourning this death despite not quite understanding how it happened due to the lack of any lighting.
RIP FINNICK. I’d rather anyone else die as long as you, Joanna, and Peeta survive — my dream team <3