Gale Hawthorne is an 18 year old boy who lives in the Seam of District 12. He is Katniss' best friend and her hunting partner. They meet while Katniss is attempting to hunt to feed her family (about 6 months after her father was killed in a mining accident). While she examines the craftiness of a snare made by Gale, he accuses her of stealing from his trap. The two talk and eventually bond, realizing that both their fathers had been killed in the same accident leaving both, as eldest siblings, to assume responsibility for their families. Gale is described by Katniss as muscular and very handsome, and catches the attention of girls in District 12. Both Gale and Katniss bear the stereotypical resemblance of those from the Seam; dark, olive skin, and grey eyes. He has three small, younger siblings and is expertly skilled with snares and hunting with bow and arrow.
In the second book, Catching Fire, Katniss returns to District 12, but their relationship cannot continue as it was, since Katniss and Peeta must play the part of lovers due to threats from the Capitol. Gale confesses his love for Katniss after she asks him to run away with her. Soon after, he is brutally whipped in public for hunting on Capitol land. He and Katniss prepare to fight as it becomes clear that a rebellion is about to begin; however, Katniss (along with Peeta) are selected for the Third Quarter Quell and must leave District 12 to return to the Games. Once again, Gale is forced to say goodbye to Katniss as she fights to the death.
In Mockingjay, Gale fights in the rebellion in an epic war. District 12, is destroyed, and Gale leads approximately 10% of the population to safety. The survivors are forced to move to an underground city, which is what is left of District 13. Once the people of District 13 are aware of Gale's heroism, they reward him with a higher ranking and a communicuff (which is later taken from him as punishment of helping Katniss in the war). Toward the end of the book, his relationship with Katniss deteriorates because he feels responsible for the death of Prim, Katniss' sister (caused by a bomb he had constructed). He mentions that he would always remind Katniss of Prim's death, whch Katniss silently agrees with. Afterwards, Gale decides to remain in District 2.
Gale is portrayed by Liam Hemsworth in the 2012 film.