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The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ending explained

The Hunger Games prequel takes place decades before the original YA series, but how does the new movie end? That’s where we come in.

A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ending explained: Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray and Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow

What’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ending explained? Bleak, political, and heavy, Suzanne Collins’ dystopian tale didn’t shy away from the dark side of life, and the prequel is no exception. You need only look at the ending to see why.

But let’s quickly start at the beginning. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes focuses on a young President Snow when he was merely a student at the Academy. As a mentor for the 10th Hunger Games, Snow’s history begins right here. The new movie gives us an insight into how he would become one of our favorite movie villains, and the ending certainly leaves room for interpretation. (Warning: major spoilers ahead!)

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ending explained


  • Coriolanus Snow is banished along with Sejanus to District 12 to serve as a Peacekeeper, where he finds Lucy Gray alive and well.
  • When Snow discovers Sejanus plotting an escape with some of the District 12 residents, he sends a message to Dr. Gaul, ratting out Sejanus and sentencing him to death.
  • Coriolanus and Lucy Gray run away, but she abandons him out of fear, meaning he is able to return to the Capitol and take revenge on Dean Highbottom.

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ending explained: Josh Andrés Rivera as Sejanus

After Dean Highbottom banishes Snow to serve as a Peacekeeper in District 12 after cheating in the Hunger Games, he finds himself once again in the company of his tribute (and new lover), Lucy Gray Baird. He’s also there with Sejanus, his now only friend and a morally fraught fellow student, who got kicked out after trying to insert himself in the Games.

Snow and Sejanus seem to enjoy their time as Peacekeepers at first, though Sejanus slowly realizes that things aren’t that much different out here. They’re still forced to enact violence on the district’s community, and the citizens of Pandem are still treated like dirt. Because of this, Sejanus slowly starts to form a plot to help some of the maligned twelvers escape.

A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ending explained: Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow

When Snow discovers this, he’s livid. He’s already lost everything: his wealth, his reputation, and now his home. If their officers find out about Sejanus and his conspiracy, they’ll both be hanged. So, when the two are packing up Jabberjays to send back to Dr. Gaul’s lab in the Capitol, he presses ‘record’ on one of the birds and lets Sejanus talk, letting him implicate himself without even knowing it.

Snow sends the bird off, fully knowing that it’ll put Sejanus’ life on the line. This marks one of the biggest turning points in Snow’s legacy: he’ll put himself before anyone else. Considering how Sejanus is one of his only true friends at this point, it’s a gutting move.

Later, while Lucy Gray and the Covey are performing, Snow notices Sejanus has snuck away. He finds him plotting with Lucy Gray’s ex-bandmate and boyfriend Billy Taupe, the mayor’s daughter, and another District 12 resident named Spruce. There’s also a bag of guns on the table, meaning their plot was intended to turn violent. When Lucy Gray comes in and things get heated, Snow takes a gun and shoots the mayor’s daughter, who threatens to rat them all out. Another bit of red in his ledger.

A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ending explained: Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray and Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow

Billy Taupe goes to attack Snow, but he’s shot by Spruce. Thinking quickly, Snow demands that Spruce hides the guns, knowing his DNA is all over the weapon. He tells Lucy Gray and Sejanus to keep the secret, knowing they’ll all go down together if they get caught.

The Peacekeepers soon find out about the mayor’s daughter, and a search for the guns begins. Spruce is found, though he doesn’t report Snow or Lucy Gray, and a hanging is scheduled. At the hanging, however, Snow sees a beaten, bloodied Sejanus being escorted through the crowd, and he’s brought to the noose.

The recording of him is played aloud, meaning Snow’s message got to Gaul, and Sejanus was arrested. Snow watches as Sejanus begs for his friend, his life, and, eventually, his mother. As he is hung, the Jabberjays around him mimic his last cries, haunting Snow.

A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ending explained: Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray

Lucy Gray, who believes that the mayor will be out to get her following the murder of his daughter, asks Snow to run away with her up North where they won’t be found. Snow agrees, knowing that the guns are still out there and having no idea where Spruce hid them or if he hid them well. If they’re found, he’ll be sentenced to death. The next morning, the two meet at the hanging tree and begin their journey.

They walk until they find an abandoned cabin near the lake, where they take shelter from a sudden storm. It’s here, under the floorboards, that Snow finds the precious guns with his DNA. Snow realizes that with Sejaunus and Spruce dead and the evidence in his hands, all loose ends have been tied up…except for Lucy Gray.

She realizes this at the same moment and tells him she’s going to pick katniss roots by the water. When she doesn’t return, Snow goes out into the woods, gun in hand, looking for her. He quickly grows paranoid and yells into the trees as he looks for her. He soon finds her scarf, which he gave to her, in a heap on the ground. He goes to pick it up, only to find that Lucy has hidden a snake underneath, which jumps out and bites him.

A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ending explained: Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray and Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow

Enraged, he runs through the woods and calls for her, hearing her singing echo through the trees by Mockingjays. He fires off into the trees, trying to shoot them down. Eventually, betrayed and vengeful, he leaves, stopping to sink the bag of guns into the river before returning to the Peacekeeper base. When readying to depart to District 2, he’s told that plans have changed and that he’ll be heading back to the Capitol.

When he arrives back home, he meets with Dr. Gaul, who tells him that she got his message and that she asked the President to pardon him. He can attend university and study under her tutelage, paid for by Sejanus’ parents, who only knew Snow as a dear friend of their son.

We then skip ahead in time when the Snow family is back on top, and his reputation has healed. He’s back to climbing the ranks of the Capitol. In the final scene, he meets with Dean Highbottom under the guise of giving him Sejanus’ possessions, including his Academy diploma and his medication (which he knows Highbottom is addicted to).

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He and Highbottom discuss the disappearance of Lucy Gray, and Highbottom reveals that he came up with the Hunger Games when he was a student as part of a proposal written while he was drunk. While he’d intended to throw it away, he’d woken up to find that Snow’s father, Crassus, had submitted it in his place, meaning that Snow’s father was the reason the Games had started in the first place.

Snow leaves and Highbottom steals Sejanus’ medicine. After a moment, he begins to choke and collapses on his desk, dead. It turns out that Snow had tainted the bottles with rat poison, echoing how he’d given Lucy Gray the same thing so she could beat out the other tributes in the games.

Snow walks into the streets and stares up at the statue outside the Academy, sealing his fate of becoming a monster. Before the credits roll, we hear Donald Sutherland’s voice from the original movies, telling us: “It is the things we love most that destroy us.”

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That’s the Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ending! For more on the franchise that loves a bit of bloodshed, find out how to watch The Hunger Games movies in order, and see what we thought with our The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes review.

We also had a chance to talk to Francis Lawrence about the newest installment, so be sure to check that out. Elsewhere, take a look at our list of the best movies of all time and best teen movies for more drama.