|The Hunger Games character|
|First appearance||The Hunger Games|
|Created by||Suzanne Collins|
|Portrayed by||Josh Hutcherson|
|Nickname(s)||The Boy with the Bread
Lover Boy (by the Career Pack)
|Title||Victor of the 74th Hunger Games
(with Katniss Everdeen)
Tribute from District 12
(with Katniss Everdeen)
Two unnamed brothers (both deceased)
|Children||Unnamed daughter and unnamed son|
Peeta Mellark is a fictional character from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Peeta Mellark is portrayed by actor Josh Hutcherson in The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and the soon-to-be completed Mockingjay film adaption.
Collins presents Peeta Mellark as the male tribute from District 12, in the 74th Hunger Games, alongside Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). Then, in the second book, Catching Fire, Peeta is a volunteer for Haymitch in the 75th Hunger Games.  He is a baker’s son and, due to the nature of his work around the bakery, exhibits traits such as extensive strength and cake decorating skills. These skills are significant characteristics that help him in the Games. Collins describes Peeta Mellark in the first book of the trilogy as having "medium height with a stocky build" and “ashy blonde hair that falls in waves over his forehead". In the first novel, The Hunger Games, Peeta shows he has a way with people by engaging with the cheering crowds when he first arrives at the Capitol. Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Peeta's mentor throughout the Games, reacted to this moment by saying, "He knows what he's doing".
As the tributes are headed into the 74th Hunger Games, Peeta confesses a "crush" on Katniss. The two of them become closer throughout the trilogy despite Katniss' half of the relationship mostly being "acting" in order to convince the Capitol and President Snow that the couple are truly deeply in love.
The Hunger Games
At the reaping for the 74th Hunger Games, Peeta is introduced when he is chosen to be the male tribute for District 12, alongside volunteer and female tribute, Katniss Everdeen. During an interview before the games begin, he confesses that he is in love with Katniss; she assumes this is his strategy to gain popularity with sponsors from the Capitol, who are able to send gifts to their favorite contestants during the games. As the games begin, Peeta seemingly teams up with the "Careers," a pack of tributes from the richer districts who always ally themselves together and usually win. The group actively hunts Katniss and the other tributes, keeping Peeta around for the sole purpose of leading them to Katniss. Upon finding Katniss and chasing her up a tree, Peeta convinces the Career pack to wait for her to come back down, as her only other option would be to starve to death. As the Career pack and Peeta are asleep, Katniss drops a nest of tracker jackers on them which scatters the group.
Later on, an announcement is made proclaiming that there can be two winners if both originate from the same district. Peeta has camouflaged himself to hide on a rock formation near the river when Katniss finds him and sees he has suffered a serious leg wound inflicted by Cato's sword. She cleans him up and takes him to safety, realizing that if they play up the love story, she may gain viewers' affections. Later on, a 'feast' is announced, in which items that each tribute needs will be placed on a table for them to take, organized by district. Peeta strongly suggests that Katniss does not go, as he knows that she will be in danger. She agrees to stay with him, but sneaks off when Peeta is asleep to get the items. The medicine gifted to them by the Capitol is strong enough to heal both of their wounds by morning.
After killing the final tribute, a Career from District 2 named Cato, Katniss and Peeta are the last two alive. Instead of being crowned joint victors, an announcement is made revoking the previous revision and allowing for only one victor. Peeta suggests that Katniss go on and kill him to allow herself to return home. Katniss then suggests they commit suicide by consuming deadly berries known as "nightlock." Before the two are able to get the berries into their mouths, a final announcement is made pleading for the two to stop, informing them and the audience that Katniss and Peeta have been named the official winners of the 74th Hunger Games. Later, the two learn that President Snow found their actions as an act of rebellion against the Capitol. After their last interview where the two continue on the act of being madly in love, Peeta comes to the realization that Katniss had staged her love for him.
Peeta and Katniss embark on the Victory Tour, an event strategically timed in-between each Hunger Games, where the victors visit the other 11 districts as a reminder about the Games and for the Capitol to reinforce its power over the Districts. Peeta and Katniss have barely interacted since the Games; Peeta is disappointed with Katniss for faking affection for him and Katniss is confused about her feelings and is uncomfortable to be with him because of her close friendship with Gale Hawthorne, who also has strong feelings for her. During the victory tour Peeta apologizes for his behavior and jokes that both would be willing to die for each other, but don't know each other's favorite color. Before the Victory Tour, President Snow visits Katniss and tells her he is aware that she was faking the affection towards Peeta, and that her actions in the arena have sparked a rebellion - one that can only be averted if she presents her and Peeta’s attempt at joined suicide in the arena as an act of love-crazed teenagers rather than as defiance.
Katniss and Peeta think they are going to become mentors for the Quarter Quell, a special Hunger Games that occurs every 25 years and comes with a change in rules, usually to make them more gruesome than the normal Games. The new twist for the 75th Games is that the tributes will be chosen from living victors. District 12 has only 3 living victors: Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch Abernathy. Haymitch is their constantly drunken mentor who won the 50th Hunger Games (the second Quarter Quell). It's clear Katniss will be the girl tribute, as she is the only living female District 12 victor. Peeta makes Haymitch promise to work to save Katniss, not him. He also vows that if Haymitch is chosen, he will volunteer in his place. Katniss makes Haymitch promise that if Peeta is the male tribute, she and Haymitch will work together to keep Peeta alive, even at the expense of Katniss's life. It is a torn alliance for Haymitch. When Haymitch is drawn as the male tribute, Peeta automatically volunteers to take his place. Many of the other returning tributes are friends with each other, but Katniss and Peeta have a disadvantage. They have met none of them, as they are the newest victors. Peeta hopes to play on their sympathies to gain protection from others in the arena, and support from sponsors for Katniss. To this end he lies to everybody on national television, saying Katniss and he had secretly got married before the Quell was announced, and that Katniss is pregnant. This shocks both Katniss and the whole of Panem.
During the Quell, Peeta comes in contact with a force field and his heart stops. Katniss and Peeta’s efficient ally, Finnick Odair, succeeds in reviving him with CPR. Finnick Odair is the District Four male victor tribute and a stunningly good-looking young man. The three soon band together with a few other tributes: Mags from District 4, Beetee and Wiress from District 3, and Johanna Mason from District 7. Eventually, they find out that the arena is shaped like a clock, with 12 sections, and each section is triggered at the same times each day. Different hours indicated different tortures such as blood rain, acid fog, killer monkeys, and so on. As they formulate a plan to kill the remaining tributes, Wiress is killed and Katniss is attacked by Johanna. However, Katniss is completely unaware that Johanna is just following through with a rebellious plan. Once Katniss regains consciousness she realizes that Beetee had designed a way to destroy the force field surrounding the arena. She triggers it and destroys the field, setting off a chain of events. A rebel-controlled hovercraft arrives and rescues Katniss, Finnick, and Beetee. However, Peeta, Johanna and Enobaria have been captured by the Capitol. Finnick, Beetee, Haymitch, Johanna and a few other tributes were part of a plan to safely retrieve Katniss and Peeta from the arena with hopes that they would take on roles to start a revolution against the Capitol.
Peeta is captured by the Capitol and is tortured physically, emotionally, and mentally. His feelings and memories are distorted with hallucinogenic tracker jacker venom, a mind-control technique. The Capitol uses this method to turn Peeta against Katniss, making him believe that she is not only responsible for the death of his family, friends and the destruction of District 12, but also that she tried to kill him numerous times and that she is not even human, but rather an evil "mutt". This leads him to try and strangle Katniss when he is reunited with her in District 13. While imprisoned by the Capitol, he witnessed the torture and murder of Avoxes Darius and Lavinia. The doctors of District 13 try to undo his hijacking, but the process is slow and turns his terror into confusion, where he is unable to differentiate what is real and what is not, especially when it came to his relationship with Katniss.
When the rest of the victors journey to the Capitol to fight, Peeta is initially kept behind because he is considered too unstable to be sent into combat. However, President Coin changes her mind and sends him not only into combat, but assigns him to Katniss's squadron named "Squad 451". Katniss theorizes that Coin has sent Peeta to remove her as an obstacle to her future as President. Despite the fact that the members of the squadron do not trust him, they help with his recovery by creating a game called "Real or Not Real" in which Peeta will ask them about question about something he believes may be true and the members will confirm whether they are real or a hijacked memory. The squadron eventually comes to the conclusion that President Coin had deliberately sent Peeta to Katniss' squad in hopes that he will go mad and kill her because Coin sees Katniss as a political rival. Unfortunately, during a surprise attack of "pods" (deadly surprises such as flesh-melting light and mines triggered by people passing by), Peeta actually does lose his sanity temporarily in the midst of the chaos and tries to kill Katniss once again, but she rolls out of the way of his gun in an attempt to crush her skull. He becomes responsible at least in part for the death of one of their team members, who he accidentally throws into a barbed-wire net pod during the attack. The squadron repeatedly debate whether or not they should kill Peeta, and even Peeta himself asks to be killed to stop endangering them, but Katniss refuses to when realizing she cannot bring herself to let him die. She even kisses him for a period of time, which actually makes him stable. When Peeta, during a scene of chaos, is once again about lose his sanity Katniss begs to him, "Stay with me." To which he replies "Always", which was his response to Katniss' plea for him to say in her room until she fell asleep in Catching Fire.
Realizing he cannot convince anyone to kill him or leave him to die, Peeta insists on remaining cuffed instead since the pain in his wrists helps him stay focused in reality instead of succumbing to madness. Further on in the Capitol, when the team is escaping from an army of "mutts" (animals genetically engineered by the Capitol), the nightmares in Peeta's mind become so intense that he is on the brink of losing his sanity, but Katniss manages to reach him. After the rebels win the war, Katniss is driven to depression and mental instability due to the death of her sister, Prim. Peeta's hijacking is soon mostly recovered by several doctors and he is considered mentally stable and finally back to his former self. Upon returning home, he plants primroses, the flower which Prim was named after, in memory of her.
In the epilogue, Katniss and Peeta marry and have two children together. It is implied by Katniss that Peeta wanted to have children first and took around 10-15 years to persuade Katniss to start a family. He still has moments where his hijacking will try to take over again, causing Peeta to clench onto something until the attempt passes. He also comforts Katniss whenever she wakes up screaming from her nightmares and when she begins to fear the day they will have to tell their children of their involvement in the Games and war.
Peeta is sixteen years old in the The Hunger Games and has bright blue eyes and blond hair. Katniss describes him as having a "stocky build and medium height with bright blue eyes and ashy blonde hair that falls in waves over his forehead". He had the lower part of his left leg amputated (this was not shown in the movie) after the 74th Hunger Games because Cato sliced open a part of his leg using a sword during the games. Katniss tied a tourniquet around the leg so he didn't bleed to death, but he removed the tourniquet to end his own life to save Katniss. After he left the arena, he was immediately treated with medical care. He lost his leg and received a prosthetic limb, however shortly thereafter he began walking normally.
Peeta's main talents are baking, painting, camouflage, wrestling, and using knives. He is also very strong. His artistic talents developed from helping out at his parents' bakery by decorating the beautiful cakes that Katniss and Prim sometimes looked at in their bakery's window. His larger build and strength also give him an advantage during hand-to-hand combat and wrestling. In the Games, he usually carries a knife, although he rarely uses weapons in battle as he is not as violent as most tributes are. Peeta has a great amount of strength from working at the bakery, first mentioned by Katniss; Katniss says she's seen him lift bags of flour over 100 pounds "right over his head". In Catching Fire Peeta reveals his artistic skills, first painting pictures of the Games, then painting a picture of Rue after Katniss had buried her in flowers (district 11 tribute in the 74th Hunger Games) during his private training session, in order to "hold them responsible, just for one moment, for killing that little girl." Peeta has a talent for speaking to crowds for he can always pick the right words to say to win them over. Katniss mentions that Peeta is "able to turn his pain into words that will change people". Another ability that Katniss admires is how much of a convincing liar he is, used both in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire to cover for her. He can also decorate pastries with skill. Peeta decorates a beautiful wedding cake for Finnick Odair and Annie Cresta's (both victors of the Hunger Games) big wedding in District 13, which, at the same time, served as a therapy for him when he temporarily lost his sanity in Mockingjay after being hijacked by the Capitol.
Entertainment Weekly said that Peeta, as well as Gale Hawthorne, were "thinly imagined". MTV listed five reasons why Peeta is "badass", and that "Peeta gives [Katniss] a run for her money in the coolness category".
On March 23, 2011, Lionsgate began casting the role of Peeta for the upcoming film of The Hunger Games. According to The Hollywood Reporter, contenders for the role included Josh Hutcherson, Alexander Ludwig (later cast as Cato), Hunter Parrish, Lucas Till, and Evan Peters. On April 4, 2011, Lionsgate announced that Hutcherson would play the role.
- Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. London: Scholastic, 2009. Print.
- Collins, Suzanne. Catching fire. New York: Scholastic, 2009. Print.
- Collins, Suzzane (2008). The Hunger Games. U.S.A: Scholastic Inc. p. 25.
- Collins, Suzanne (2008). The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games trilogy. Scholastic. ISBN 0-439-02348-3.
- Reese, Jennifer (28 August 2009). "Catching Fire". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
- Schwartz, Terri. "'Hunger Games': Why Peeta Mellark Is A Badass". MTV. Retrieved May 2012.
- Ayres, Tom (26 March 2011). "Liam Hemsworth 'audtions for Hunger Games'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
- Kit, Borys (25 March 2011). "Lionsgate Testing Actors to Star in 'Hunger Games' Opposite Jennifer Lawrence (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
- Sperling, Nicole (April 4, 2011). "'The Hunger Games': Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth complete the love triangle". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 4, 2011.