Why does (former) president Snow laugh when Katniss shoots Coin to death? Is he happy because he tricked Katniss into killing her own ally, or does he laugh because he actually seeks a proper replacement for himself?

I have a feeling that I am overlooking something, because I was really confused when watching the scene.

  • 15
    Because it was funny?
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 19:52
  • 7
    I think he was happy that he managed to get Katniss to kill his enemy. It must have seemed very amusing to someone like him to snatch away his opponent’s chance at power at the very moment of her victory. Don’t forget, by letting Katniss know that Coin was behind the bombing, he was partly responsible for her shooting Coin.
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 19:53
  • 1
    Could it just be, because the situation was a bit ridiculous? Using a person showing signs of psychological trauma as a executioner doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 20:06
  • 4
    Just to clarify, I don't think Katniss was tricked to shoot Coin. She was certainly convinced, but every indication in the book and film leads us and Katniss to believe Coin is responsible for the... uh, "unfortunate accident".
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 21:55
  • 1
    Personally, with his bent for poetry and such, I think he rather enjoyed the irony of it all.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 23:15

4 Answers 4


This is the best possibility he could have hoped for.

He's been soundly defeated, so the death of his enemy is the best 'victory' he's ever going to achieve now. But breaking it down, we can find multiple reasons for him to laugh:

  • Coin, his enemy, having victory torn from her grasp. He's lost the war, lost everything; the best he can hope for out of life is to take some of his enemies down with him. Seeing Coin, in what was supposed to be a great moment of triumph for her, being betrayed and killed is probably the best thing he's going to see in the rest of his life.

  • Knowing that his words to Katniss made a difference. Being a powerless prisoner, there's little he can do any more to affect the outcome of anything. But, like Saruman in Orthanc, he still has the power of persuasion. He must be pleased to know that despite everything, even after his defeat and from within his prison, he's managed to get through to Katniss and convince her.

  • The irony of Coin being killed by her own poster girl. Katniss has been used as a propaganda figure by Coin and the rebellion since the beginning, so it's ironic - and therefore amusing, in a dark sort of way - that she was the one to kill the new President Coin. (Hat tip to Goombaboy for mentioning this first.)

  • The irony of Plutarch turning his coat once again? This is never spelled out explicitly, but it's quite plausible that Plutarch Heavensbee set Katniss up to kill Coin. He's clearly a very astute political player; as a former Head Gamemaker, he could well have been the one who set the scene for Katniss to shoot Snow (with Coin directly behind him, in her line of sight); as a close confidant of Coin, he was no doubt aware of who gave the order for the bombs that killed Prim; and he'd already turned against one president and helped to bring him down, so why not another? This seems especially likely in the film, just looking at his expression after Coin's death.

  • Not to mention, he dies of completely natural causes. His death was inevitable, and he got what he wanted before he died. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 3:57
  • Didn't Plutarch end up ruling? that's your motive, in addition to opportunity Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 12:51
  • 5
    @DVK-in-exile - in the book, Paylor (the rebel leader from district 8) was elected the new president.
    – Adam V
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 13:35
  • 1
    In the film too, I think.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 20:48
  • "But, like Saruman in Orthanc, he still has the power of persuasion." I don't think that's the best analogy. Saruman used his power of persuasion only for ill. However with what we know about Coin, persuading Katniss to take her out was at least a benign act, if not benevolent. Even if the underlying motivation was anger/hatred/vengeance.
    – aroth
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 4:22

It’s open to interpretation, even in the book. But the way I took it was that he was laughing at the irony that the woman who had been the main tool of propaganda against him by his enemies wasn’t actually under their control and turned on their leader (Coin was turning into the next Snow, after all) and killed her instead. Snow was already about to die, seeing Katniss kill the more threatening tyrant instead was worth the chuckle.


It isn't uncommon for a rival to use the middle and lower class to upstage the incumbent, but the middle and lower class are often back where they were after the coup.

Snow gave Katniss a few key pieces of information, and reminded her of other pieces she knew but may not have considered:

  • Coin isn't much different than snow. Both bad, though perhaps different methods of bad.
  • Snow was dead already - politically and soon physically. His death in front of everyone is just more gamesmanship.
  • She won, but she was handing the leadership over to someone just as bad.
  • There was a small window to rebel against the new leader which wouldn't require all the effort that she went through to rebel against the old leader. In fact, Coin undoubtedly knew that after Snow, Katniss was her greatest liability/enemy, and Katniss had already shown significant rebellion in Coin's organization.
  • Coin killed Prim. Coin knew that Katniss would eventually learn this, making Katniss that much more dangerous.

Snow laughed.

Coin manipulated Katniss into becoming the face of the revolution, but at the last moment Snow was able to manipulate Katniss into taking out Coin.

In all this, Katniss is only provided the illusion of free agency, but at every turn her decisions were guided and led down a very narrow path and she really had no choice. Her sister was killed by Coin, and the only choice she really had was to let the old leader die, and get rid of the new leader. By doing so, she allowed the country to have a real choice - something she has been denied her entire life. Yet it was Snow that manipulated her into this path of revenge. Again, she had no choice.

So Snow laughed. He laughed at Coin. He laughed at Katniss. He laughed at the easily manipulated people under his thumb.


I think there is another possible reason that no one else has posted. Snow may have been laughing because he thought he may have gotten some revenge on Katniss. He may have believed that all of the people would have turned against her for killing Coin. So he may have been laughing not just because Coin lost but also because he would be able to get this revenge on Katniss. Luckily, Katniss survived.

  • Hi, welcome to the site. This answer seems a bit speculative, though ("may have" this, "may have" that...). A good answer shouldn't just propose explanations that could be correct. It should attempt to establish which of the various possible explanations is correct, based on the available evidence. Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 2:21
  • 2
    I think this is a reasonable answer. Any answer to this is going to be speculative to some extent - it isn't spelled out explicitly in the book or film, so we have to rely on our own analysis - and this answer does provide some evidence/explanation for its conclusion.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 4:30
  • Welcome Colin. Please take our tour and refer to the help center for guidance as and when. Since it was in essence an opinion-soliciting question (and according to current rules would probably be closed as opinion-based) as there's little to definitively decide the issue, I view this as a valid alternative interpretation (although not mainstream). +1 Welcome to Sci-Fi & Fantasy. Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 5:58
  • The issue I have with this answer isn't just the relative lack of evidence. It's that it just seems to be throwing another theory into the mix, without justifying why this specific explanation is any more likely to be correct than the previous ones. I stand by what I said, which is that in principle, a good answer should attempt to establish what is true, rather than what could be true. If we welcome answers that merely outline what could be true, that opens the door for any number of headcanon-type answers that don't contradict any known facts, but likely aren't correct either. Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 6:32
  • With all that said, note that I didn't downvote this answer or flag it for deletion. I was just trying to provide guidance as to what sort of answer is likely to be well-received around here. Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 6:37

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