Morphling is a powerful painkiller that is used in the treatment of injuries. It is an expensive drug that is most easily available in the Capitol of Panem and District 13. 

The Definitive Glossary for The Hunger Games

The effects of morphling are similar to the real-life opiate, morphine. It may be a derivative of morphine. Morphling can be highly addictive, causing side effects such as yellowed skin and a sunken appearance.

Morphling’s Effects

Morphling dulls the extremes of all emotions, so instead of a stab of sorrow, I merely feel emptiness. A hollow of dead brush where flowers used to bloom.

Katniss Everdeen in ‘Mockingjay

Morphling is used medicinally as a painkiller. As a result, it helps to reduce the intensity of sensations that are acute, whether physical or emotional. It is used in relieving intense pain during injuries, as well as numbing intense emotional reactions. However, the numbing of emotions is not restricted to unpleasant ones. Morphling deadens all emotions, including pleasant ones.

We seem particularly riveting to the pair from District 6, who are known morphling addicts. Both bone thin, with sagging yellowish skin. They can’t tear their overlarge eyes away, even when President Snow begins to speak from his balcony…

The side effects of morphling include yellowish skin, a sunken appearance that makes the eyes look “overlarge”, extreme weight loss, and sagging skin. Morphling abuse is common amongst many residents of District 6, and cutting off morphling supply results in withdrawal symptoms similar to those of morphine.

Morphling through the Ages

Dean Casca Highbottom used morphling regularly in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Dean Highbottom could not stand the false credit he received for being the architect of the Hunger Games and therefore numbed his pain and sorrow with morphling. As a result, he had yellowish skin and a sunken appearance. Coriolanus Snow later murders Dean Highbottom by stuffing rat poison into a morphling bottle which the Dean later consumes.

Coriolanus Snow is given morphling after he is admitted to the Capitol Hospital for receiving a concussion (from the bomb that exploded at the Capitol Arena). He notes the fact that it dulls his sensations, including any joy that he might have felt otherwise. Sejanus Plinth is also given morphling to help him deal with his breakdowns.

In Catching Fire, Gale Hawthorne is severely whipped by the Head Peacekeeper, Romulus Thread, for illegal poaching. He receives near-fatal wounds as a result. Katniss’ mother, Mrs. Everdeen, uses morphling as a painkiller during his recovery. Her supply of the narcotic painkiller comes from Mrs. Undersee (the Mayor’s wife), who sends it across to Katniss’ house in a vial with her daughter, Madge Undersee.

Morphling is prescribed to Peeta Mellark in Mockingjay to calm him down whenever he becomes too frenzied after his mind is hijacked by the Capitol. Morphling is also used in “reverse hijacking” – a technique invented by Primrose Everdeen, whereby Peeta was given frequent doses of morphling to calm him down while simultaneously introducing pleasant thoughts and memories. The technique worked well enough for Peeta to regain trust in Katniss, although he continued to remain confused between hallucination and reality for years to come.

Morphling Addiction

Sagging skin, sickly green, her ribs as prominent as a child’s, dead of starvation. Surely she could afford food, but turned to the morphling just as Haymitch turned to drink, I guess. Everything about her speaks of waste—her body, her life, the vacant look in her eyes.

Katniss Everdeen about the Morphling girl in ‘Catching Fire’

Morphling dependency and abuse is common in Panem, although it is restricted to the Capitol and District 13 (where people could afford the expensive drug), and District 6. It is speculated that District 6 used morphling in the treatment of transport-related injuries. It is also speculated that the secondary industry of District 6 is morphling production.

The District 6 victors in the Third Quarter Quell were known morphling addicts. As a result, Katniss nicknames them “the morphlings”.

Johanna Mason is prescribed a regular supply of morphling to help her deal with the trauma of being tortured in the Capitol. She develops a dependency on the drug as a result of the constant use. Although the District 13 doctors attempt to wean her off the drug, Johanna steals Katniss’ supply whenever possible. Ultimately, she decides to go off the drug to train for the rebellion and join the front lines. She faces several withdrawal symptoms but is successful in overcoming her dependency.

Katniss Everdeen also develops a dependency on morphling in District 13, although she does not become as addicted to it as Johanna. After assassinating President Coin, she contemplates killing herself by overdosing on morphling. She abandons this thought, however, when she begins singing and finds it difficult to stop.


Why did Peeta paint Rue?

In Catching Fire, Peeta paints Rue in his private training session with the Gamemakers to remind them that they were accountable for the young girl’s death.

Who was the Morphling that saved Peeta? 

It was the female tribute from District 6 (nicknamed one of the “Morphlings” by Katniss Everdeen) that sacrificed herself to save Peeta Mellark in the 75th Hunger Games.

Why did the Morphling girl sacrifice herself for Peeta? 

When Peeta was about to be viciously attacked by one of the monkey muttations (dangerous genetically engineered animals), the Morphling girl lunges forward in front of him, taking the brunt of the attack instead. She does this because she is part of the bigger plan at play in the Third Quarter Quell. As a part of the rebel network, the Morphling girl was trying to keep Katniss and Peeta alive for the upcoming rebellion.

Were the Morphlings in on the plan?

Yes, the Morphlings were most likely in on the bigger plan that was afoot in Catching Fire. This is why the female Morphling sacrificed herself to save Peeta from being mauled to death by the monkey mutts.

Why are the District 6 tributes called morphlings?    

Katniss nicknames the District 6 tributes “the Morphlings” as the duo was addicted to morphling, and could barely function without it. The tributes had most likely turned towards morphling to numb their pain from their previous Hunger Games, just like Haymitch turned towards alcohol.

Who is the male Morphling in Catching Fire?

Actor Justin Hix plays the male Morphling, i.e., the male tribute from District 6, in Catching Fire.

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