The Hunger Games series is named after the competition in which Katniss Everdeen competes in twice – once in the 74th annual Hunger Games to protect her sister, Prim, and once in the special 75th Quarter Quell when previous victors of the Hunger Games come back to compete. Katniss is one of many tributes who compete in the Games.
Each year, twenty-four tributes, a boy and girl (aged 11-18) from each district, were brought to the Capitol to fight to the death in the Hunger Games, their battles in the arena broadcast throughout Panem. A sick and twisted decree from President Snow of the Capitol, the Hunger Games acted simultaneously as a spectacle and as a punishment for the Districts.
While there have been 1800 participants in the Hunger Games – twenty-four of which have competed twice – we only know a fraction of those tributes, because The Hunger Games books and movies are told from Katniss’s perspective. However, based on the tributes that Katniss interacts with and learns about, there is still a large number of potential tributes that were considered for this list.
Surviving the Hunger Games does not necessarily mean that an individual is among the top ten most powerful – for instance, Peeta survives two different Hunger Games, but his survival is largely due to other people, namely Katniss, who saves his life countless times in the arena.
There are many ways that an individual can be powerful, and physical strength is only one of those ways. While evaluating competitors, a range of abilities are taken into account, including their ability to survive, their ability with various weapons, their resourcefulness, and their records against other tributes – who are they able to kill and in some cases, who kills them.
Presented by District, here are the 10 Most Powerful Tributes in the Hunger Games:
Gloss competed in and won the the 63rd Hunger Games. He also competed with his sister, representing District 1 in the 75th Hunger Games. Both Gloss and Cashmere were “career” tributes, who had trained for the Hunger Games from a young age, and both won the Hunger Games in subsequent years, Gloss in the 63rd year and Cashmere in the 64th year. Gloss is a professional with a cool and controlled demeanor. In the 75th Hunger Games, even though Katniss shoots him in the leg, Gloss survives and continues to lead the pack of career tributes. He slices the throat of District 3’s tribute, Wiress, which enrages Katniss, who shoots him dead.
While Gloss does not receive much screen time in Catching Fire, he demonstrates his impressive abilities with a knife in the short time he is seen. Additionally, since both Gloss and Cashmere were chosen from District 1, a wealthy district with many winning tributes, it seems likely that he and Cashmere volunteered for the games a second time. His confidence and brutality helped him to kill many other tributes, both in the 63rd and 75th Hunger Games.
Brutus is a “career” tribute who competed in the 75th Hunger Games – Katniss notes in the books that Brutus was around 40, although she does not know what previous Hunger Games he competed in. Brutus was also a volunteer for the 75th Hunger Games, who was eager to re-enter the arena. As a victor of a previous Hunger Games, Brutus probably spent all of his adult life teaching “career” tributes for District 2. His life was devoted to the Hunger Games, even after he competed in them.
Before the 75th Hunger Games, Brutus wanted to be an ally of Katniss’s, but she refused, saying that she did not want allies in the arena. In the arena, he killed the tribute from District 9 and Chaff, a tribute from District 11. Even in his 40s, Brutus is in peek physical condition, and is one of the last tributes standing. After seeing Brutus kill Chaff, Peeta kills Brutus, making Brutus the only person who Peeta has ever killed and the final tribute to ever be killed in the Hunger Games. Brutus is a violent and powerful tribute who is skilled with a spear and in hand-to-hand fighting, and it is clear from his previous Hunger Games victory that he was ready and willing to shed more blood.
Cato is a “career” tribute in the 74th Hunger Games. He leads an alliance between the other “career” tributes from District 1 and 2 and it is almost certain that he would be the victor if Katniss was not competing in the Games. He volunteered for the Hunger Games at the ceremony in District 2, and had likely trained for the Games his whole life. Since he has been trained from birth, Cato is talented and deadly with a sword or a spear. He received a training score of 10, meaning that only Katniss scored higher than him.
In the arena, Cato quickly becomes Katniss’s nemesis. He kills many of the other tributes, including Thresh. In the film, Cato is shown killing more tributes than any other tribute in the 74th Hunger Games. In the final showdown at the Cornucopia, Katniss manages to save Peeta from Cato, who falls from atop the Cornucopia and is eaten alive by the monstrous “muttation” dogs that resemble fallen tributes. Katniss shoots Cato in the head, ending his agony.
Enobaria was a volunteer who went on to win the 62nd Hunger Games, and she returned to compete in the 75th Hunger Games. She won the 62nd Games by using her teeth as a weapon – she bit the throat out of one of her fellow competitors. After the 62nd Games, Enobaria shaved her teeth into points and inlaid them with gold fillings.
At the 75th Hunger Games, Enobaria was the last “career” tribute standing, and the only one of the “career” tributes to survive the Games. Besides her teeth, Enobaria is skilled with a sword, and likely killed many competitors in both the 62nd and the 75th Hunger Games. She also faced off with Finnick, Beetee, and Katniss in Catching Fire and none were able to kill her. Enobaria was one of the six tributes to survive the 75th Hunger Games; she was captured by Capitol troops along with Peeta and Johanna Mason.
Beetee returned for the 75th Hunger Games, meaning that he was a previous victor. Unlike many of his “career” competitors, Beetee’s does not appear “powerful,” but he works in other ways to defeat his enemies. In the Hunger Games that Beetee won, for instance, he created an electronic device that electrocuted and killed the other final six competitors.
In the 75th Hunger Games, however, Beetee’s goal was different. Instead of trying to kill his competitors, Beetee was trying to save them by destroying the arena that the Capitol had built in order to free Katniss. Beetee is able to succeed in his goal, designing and constructing a device to destroy the arena, even as the Capitol watches him build it.
Finnick Odair won the 65th Hunger Games at the age of only 14 years old. Finnick is a skilled warrior who uses a traditional gladiator style called Retiarius, in which fighters use a weighed fisherman’s net and tridents. Finnick is also cunning and charming, which has helped him to attract patrons and fans in and out of the arena. In the 65th Hunger Games, a patron gave Finnick the impressively expensive gift of a trident, which he used to win the games.
In the 75th Hunger Games, Finnick returned to the arena. He killed the first tribute of the games, the male tribute from District 5, in order to save Katniss’s life. Finnick saved Peeta’s life multiple times, knowing what Peeta meant to Katniss, and wanting her as an ally.
Johanna Mason won the 71st Hunger Games and returned to the arena in the 75th Hunger Games. She used her wiles in the 71st Games to appear weaker than she seemed, but in reality, she is fierce with an axe. In the 75th Hunger Games, she kills the District 1 tribute and Gloss’s sister, Cashmere.
Johanna is truly powerful, because her recklessness makes her unpredictable and willing to go to extreme and unexpected lengths. President Snow murdered her family in retaliation for her refusing to follow his orders, but this has only added to her resilience. Johanna is able to defy anyone, because she feels that she has nothing to lose in dying.
Thresh is a contestant in the 74th Hunger Games. In the books, he is awarded a score of 9 before the Games, placing him on par with Cato (though in the films he is given a score of 8). Thresh overhears Clove taunting Katniss and describing how Rue died, and kills Clove, saving Katniss’s life. In that moment, Thresh could have killed Katniss, but he chooses to let her live – this time – because she was an ally to Rue. Thresh is later killed by Cato, but if he had killed Cato instead, it is not clear what would have happened in the arena.
Most people looking at Haymitch at the time of the 74th and 75th Hunger Games would believe that he should be included among the most powerful tributes. However, Haymitch is the only victor (other than Katniss and Peeta) from District 12, and his victory in the 50th Hunger Games was an impressive feat of survival, because there were twice the number of tributes. Haymitch was the only survivor of 48 tributes.
While in the arena, Haymitch managed to kill three “career” tributes on his own – two during his alliance with Maysilee Donner and one after her death in the final fight. Haymitch reached the edge of the arena, and used the arena itself in order to kill the remaining tribute; he ducked so that her axe hit a force field and rebounded into her, killing her instantly.
Katniss has proven that she is the most powerful tribute to ever take part in the Hunger Games. Not only is she an experienced and shrewd survivalist, but she also has deadly skill with her bow. The skills that Katniss used to survive and fend for her family in District 13 become life-saving in the arena. But not only does Katniss survive the Hunger Games (twice), but she helps her friends along the way, including Rue, Wiress, Mags, and Peeta.
Katniss’s true power, though, is not that she is able to best other contestants in the arena, but that she is able to see beyond the rules of the game and fight the true opponent: the Capitol that put the tributes into the Hunger Games to begin with. Katniss’s refusal to bend to the Capitol’s will saves Peeta’s life, and through her stunt with the nightlock berries (forming a suicide pact with Peeta to threaten the chance of no victor), she is able to allow them both to survive the 74th Hunger Games. In the 75th Hunger Games, when Katniss and Peeta are forced back into the arena, she refuses to play by the Capitol’s rules. Ultimately, her power is defiance, which helps to spark the revolution in Mockingjay, and end the Capitol’s reign of terror.
Did we miss any tributes who deserves to be remembered in Hunger Games Hall of Fame? Tell us in the comments! (But seriously, don’t say Peeta – he almost dies from accidentally eating poison berries.)