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Hallownest

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hallownest_map.png
Map of Hallownest

In wilds beyond they speak your name with reverence and regret,
For none could tame our savage souls yet you the challenge met,
Under palest watch, you taught, we changed, base instincts were redeemed,
A world you gave to bug and beast as they had never dreamed.
-Elegy for Hallownest by Monomon the Teacher
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The kingdom that the Knight travels through in Hollow Knight. While it was once a prosperous place full of life, it's since been reduced to ruins, with the majority of its population dead, missing, or overcome by a strange madness.


Tropes

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hollow_knight_hallownest_symbol_black_bg_lite.png
Hallownest's Symbol

The great Kingdom of Hallownest stretched itself deep into the caverns, built beautiful and wonderful things and was home to many great bugs and Higher Beings. It was not meant to last however; a mysterious plague took hold in the citizenry and forced them into savagery. The Pale King, monarch of Hallownest and its physical god-figure, did all they could to stave off the end but all in vain - the Kingdom was doomed.

Much time has passed, when the Knight stumbles into the old caverns to seek out its secrets.

Hallownest is interchangeable as a setting/location (i.e. kingdom referring to the territory), as well as a conglomerate of the bugkind (i.e. kingdom referring to the community).

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    Hallownest in General 
Tropes that pertain to Hallownest as a whole, those that combine both Setting Tropes and Characterization Tropes.
  • After the End: When the Knight arrives in Hallownest, it is long destroyed.
  • Arc Symbol: That bug icon shown in the official title screens, main menu, confirmation prompt and auto-save icons? It is a part of the Hallownest Kingdom's Symbol, given that the entire game takes place in Hallownest.
  • Arc Words: "Light". Hallownest was ruled by three figures literally associated with light, capable of blinding eyes, as the records state.
  • Cataclysm Backstory: The setting starts After the End, or when Hallownest was already doomed. The kingdom's fall was brought upon by the Radiance being able to spread the infection once more, ruining the Pale King's plans, yet his works, architecture and technology still function even after the ruin.
  • Dug Too Deep:
    • It's implied that something like this happened at Crystal Peak, though ironically it's the highest point in the kingdom. A statue of the Radiance can be found at the top of the peak, out of reach of the Pale King's attempts to remove her from history, and this was enough for bugs to remember her and begin the infection.
    • At the very bottom of Ancient Basin there is a sealed door with an ominous warning before it. It is the entrance to the Abyss, a place that is dreaded by a number of entities. However, the Abyss did not destroy Hallownest and in fact was instrumental in the Radiance's containment (or destruction, in the best ending), thanks to the Void which the Pale King harvested and used for his Vessels.
  • The Good Kingdom: More light grey than white. The Kingdom of Hallownest was in many ways a beacon in a world of savagery, and the citizen loved their leader and heroes.
  • Rule of Three: There are three known rulers of Hallownest (the Pale King, the White Lady, and the Radiance).
  • Scale of Scientific Sins: Oh boy, They've done most of these sins:
    • Automation - The Tramway system. To the point where the Last Stag feared that a machine would replace their manual labor of transporting passengers.
    • Genetic Engineering - The Pale King infused his children vessels with the void, making them physically hollow, while his attempts were motivated by finding the vessel with no will, no mind, and no voice, trying to make them metaphorically "hollow".
    • Immortality - A sin commited by the Soul Sanctum Scholars who experimented with soul and living beings in a futile attempt to seek immortality. Surprisingly for all other scientific sins that he did, the Pale King opposed these experiments.
    • Creating Life - Apart from the vessels, the Pale King has also managed to create living beings made out of pure liquid void, such as the Kingsmoulds and Wingsmoulds found in his White Palace. The Collector is also heavily implied to be an escaped Kingsmould.
    • Cheating Death - The vessels leave shades when they die.
    • Usurping God - Part of the reason why the Pale King established this kingdom - to unite the bugkind of Hallownest, give them sentience and make them forget the previous ruler who is also a Higher Being (The Radiance)... Which is kinda odd once the Pale King is mentioned to be another Higher Being as well. So, we have a case where a new god usurps the old god.
  • The X of Y: A common naming theme in this kingdom.
    • Whether it's on the characters' titles or nicknames:
      • The Knight – "Ghost of Hallownest"
      • Hornet – "Daughter of Hallownest"
      • Pale King – "King of Hallownest"
      • The White Lady – "Queen of Hallownest"
      • The statues of the Void Entity in the Hall of Gods - "Lord of Shades" / "God of Gods"
    • ... Or as names of geographical locations:
      • City of Tears
      • Temple of the Black Egg
      • Hall of Gods

    Hallownest as a Territory 
Tropes that apply to the kingdom as a setting or location, including those about architecture, or level design.
  • Artificial Outdoors Display: The kingdom is built Beneath the Earth, yet there are still fake "outdoor" weather brought upon by artificial means, intentionally or not:
    • The reason why it's always raining in the City of Tears? That's an after-effect of the architecture, since the city is built directly below the giant Blue Lake.
    • That white "snow" in the Kingdom's Edge? That's not a real snow, the Wyrm's corpse is decaying and constantly producing ash.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: The White Palace, true to its name, has a white/silver color motif, along with the background being made out of white clouds. Apart from the royal retainers, there's a very limited amount of mooks in here, while the real threats come from the environmental hazards and traps.
  • Beef Gate:
    • Kingdom's Edge can be reached with the Tram Pass from Deepnest before you even enter the City of Tears, however, the enemies here will wipe the floor with you unless you have upgraded your Nail, life meter, and Soul meter as high as possible beforehand, and preferably have most of the special skills.
    • Deepnest itself is likely to lay the smackdown on underprepared players, being a dark maze crawling with spiders that one can get hopelessly lost in without the Lumafly Lantern. In addition, the main entrance is guarded by the Mantis Lords, who are very difficult to beat with the default Nail, which is why Quirrel recommends visiting the Nailsmith in the City of Tears first.
  • Beneath the Earth: Hallownest is an ancient kingdom buried deep below the Earth's surface, so most of the game takes place underground.
  • Big Fancy Castle: The White Palace is where the King and Queen reside, and it is a huge place made out of marble and several environmental traps. There's a nursery room as well, while the King's throne is located in the highest room. However, the White Palace that you visit in the game can only be accessed by entering the dream of the Kingsmould in the Ancient Basin (the place where the palace used to be), and it wasn't made clear if the White Palace in the dream world is the real deal or just a copy based on the memories of the Kingsmould corpse.
  • Blackout Basement: Several areas like the Deepnest, the Royal Waterways, and the Abyss are mostly pitch-black and you'll need the Lumafly Lantern to explore them safely.
  • Bleak Level: This game is far from a happy one, but some of its levels are darker and more desolate than others. Most prominently the Deepnest area with all its claustrophobic horrors and the Abyss below the Ancient Basin, where you come across pools of black liquid that are the source of beings like the protagonist as well as a massive tomb of discarded vessels, one of which is the protagonist.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The Hive, which has little if any relevance to the story, lacks a local map of its own despite being considered a distinct region on the world map, is only necessary for obtaining a Mask Shard, two Grubs, and the Hiveblood Charm in a completionist run, and the entrance can be tricky to find.
  • Boss Corridor:
    • The corridor preceding the first fight with Hornet in Greenpath qualifies as this.
    • Optional boss Nosk has a very long and winding one. Fortunately, near the end you can open a shortcut to the beginning, making it much quicker to return to the boss if you lose on your first attempt.
    • The interior of the Temple of the Black Egg is also an example, although by this point of the game, you have the Crystal Heart (super dash) ability to speed through it.
  • Broken Bridge: The gate to the Abyss is locked and can only be opened once you Obtained the King's Brand.
  • Brutal Bonus Level:
    • The third Trial in the Colosseum of Fools is a sharp Difficulty Spike up from the first two. Twenty waves of increasingly tough enemies, the later of which include Mantis Traitors, Soul Twisters, the exclusive Volt Twisters, and a long stretch of fighting Armored Squits and Battle Obbles while walljumping above Spikes of Doom that gives you no chance to heal, culminating with the God Tamer boss.
    • The already Nintendo Hard White Palace has the hidden Path of Pain, which takes you through the ninth circle of Platform Hell.
  • Cash Gate: For some reason, some mechanisms and technologies require you to donate Geo first in a toll before they do stuff, such as constructing benches, opening gates and stagways, or activating tram stations.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: The waterfall in the Glade of Spirits has a secret opening on top which leads to a secret room.
  • City of Adventure: The City of Tears, according to the Elderbug, is where adventurers go trying to obtain riches. Unfortunately, the streets are dangerous, which makes only a few to return with the city's wealth.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Each zone is strongly associated with a particular color, which helps remind the player where they are.
    • Ancient Basin: Warm gray
    • City of Tears: Cool dark blue
    • Crystal Peak: Pink
    • Deepnest: Warm dark blue
    • Dirtmouth: Warm neutral blue
    • Fog Canyon: Light purple
    • Forgotten Crossroads: Light blue (later orange after being infected. Orange is used to represent the plague throughout the game.)
    • Fungal Wastes: Yellow-brown
    • Greenpath: Green
    • Howling Cliffs: Cool dark gray
    • Kingdom's Edge: Pale yellow-gray
    • Queen's Gardens: Blue-green
    • Resting Grounds: Purplish-blue
    • Royal Waterways: Dark blue-green
    • The Hive: Golden yellow
    • Dream World: Yellow-pink
    • The Abyss: Black
    • White Palace: White.
    • Godhome: Bronze
  • Constructed World: This place is a completely fictional setting, where anthropomorphic bugs live yet their technologies and architecture are appropriately sized to fit their needs.
  • Corpse Land: The Abyss contains large piles of vessel corpses underneath. Deep in the Abyss is the Birthplace, which has countless corpses of vessels forming the walls in the background.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: The White Palace is infamous for its moving buzzsaws and spikes within corridors that you must go through.
  • Crystal Landscape: The mountainous Crystal Peak area aboveground next to the town of Dirtmouth, which is filled with pink crystalline caverns that were once mined for their abundant riches. The area is crawling with crystalized bug enemies, and the reanimated remains of the civilized bugs who still dig away endlessly with their mining equipment, long after their own death and fall of their kingdom.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Done to varying degrees. Deserted civilization zones such as the Forgotten Crossroads and City of Tears have dark blue-heavy palettes, the more organic areas such as Greenpath and Fungal Wastes are more vibrant, the Royal Waterways are aquamarine/teal, Crystal Peak is pink-hued, The Hive is appropriately golden brown, and the lowest depths of Hallownest such as Ancient Basin are completely grayscale.
  • Developer's Room: The Shrine of Believers, which contains tablets with messages from each of the Kickstarter backers, and is accessed by using the Dream Nail on the tall moth statue in the Cave Behind the Falls in the Spirits' Glade.
  • Disconnected Side Area: There's a breakable wall in the Fungal Wastes that leads directly to the Moss Chapel, where the Moss Prophet and their vagabonds are found. However, this part is actually a sub-area of the Queen's Gardens, despite appearing to be a dead end. When you do get to properly traverse the Queen's Gardens later on, you will be able to open up a segment that leads to the Moss Chapel.
  • Doomed Hometown: For Hornet and the Knight itself. An unusual case where the Doomed Hometown is the game world.
  • Down the Drain: The Royal Waterways below the capital are a series of dark and twisting sewers.
    • Down in the Dumps: A sub-area added in the Godmaster DLC is the Junk Pit, where you can find mountains of junk, empty treasure chests, and a mysterious locked cocoon. If you granted the Nailsmith his death wish, you can also find his body here.
  • Dying Town: Dirtmouth, it's even made obvious in the area's subtitle of "The Fading Town". The Elderbug is the one keeping it in check, while the rest have gone below or went into hiding. This can be subverted as you progress further on the game, as more residents would show up and set up shop in the town.
  • Eldritch Location: The Black sea of Void in the Abyss. Attempting to cross it as it is will cause Void Tendrils to lash out. It can only be "pacified" by activating the Lighthouse.
  • Empathic Environment: The Resting Grounds initially has a dull, washed-out grey color theme, and also devoid of background music. These change until you get the Dream Nail, which reveals the presence of the peaceful, resting ghosts in that area. It will be vibrant with an overall pink/orange theme, and its background music will begin playing.
  • First Town: Dirtmouth is the first and only non-hostile settlement that you visit, and it is where most of the merchants are located. It also serves as a Hub Level since there is a Stag Station just near the bench.
    • Circus of Fear: The Grimm Troupe DLC has a literal nightmare circus setting up in town.
  • Floorboard Failure:
    • There is one as early as the King's Pass level, where a whole platform collapses as soon as you are near the exit. Fortunately, there's a way back up there, you just gotta take a detour.
    • This becomes common in Deepnest wherein fragile rocks crumble as soon as you step on them. If the floor is slightly lowered and has a different rock pattern, then it is fragile.
  • Garden of Evil: Greenpath, an overgrown ruin that has hedges of thorns and pools of bubbling acid in many parts, and is populated by various nasties hiding in the bushes. Nearby is the Queen's Gardens, which since the fall of Hallownest have been overgrown by similar thorny vines and populated by the Mantis Traitors, who are Zombie Infectee members of their tribe that have been exiled from the Mantis Village in Fungal Wastes.
  • Giant Corpse World: There are three notable examples:
    • The corpse of the enormous Wyrm that was the Pale King's original form rests in Kingdom's Edge, its decay covering the landscape in white ash.
    • The corpse or shell of a giant creature now serves as the exterior of the Colosseum of Fools.
    • The Temple of the Black Egg's entrance looks awfully like a giant fossil of a six-horned bug.
  • Green Hill Zone: Greenpath, the second area of the game, is a luxurious maze of plants with soothing music playing in the background. Compared to other areas, Greenpath is relatively easy to navigate through and to explore, with easy enemies to fight and not too many hazards (Beware of the acid, though). On the other hand, it is also where the player fights Hornet for the first time, known for being quite the difficulty spike.
  • Greyscale of Evil: The world of Hallownest flips this trope on its head; the world is painted in shades of gray, with the influence of the Radiance being represented by an earthy orange. Downplayed since the world of Hallownest also features a blue tint in many of its areas and helpful features.
  • Grimy Water: There's this bubbling acidic water with the same effect on the Knight as Spikes of Doom, booting them back to the nearest platform minus a mask for taking damage, unless they have acquired Isma's Tear, which allows them to swim through it without harm.
  • Hailfire Peaks: Crystal Peak is a combination of a blue-themed Eternal Engine in a pink-themed Crystal Landscape.
  • Healing Spring: There are few hot springs that restore both health and Soul.
  • Hidden Elf Village:
    • Distant Village. Its inhabitants rejected the rule of Hallownest's king and secluded themselves in the furthest corner of Deepnest. They also have a tendency to kill any visitors who happen by.
    • The Mantis Village. It is hidden at the bottom of the Fungal Wastes and inhabited only by warriors who'll kill anyone who intrudes.
  • Hornet Hole: The Hive in Kingdom's Edge is literally a beehive level.
  • Impassable Desert: There's a desert at the base of the Howling Cliffs that a lore tablet says is endless and has "no world beyond", and an Overpowering Constant Wind prevents the Knight from venturing westward.
  • Landmark of Lore:
    • The City of Tears serves as this, especially after Hallownest became a ruin.
      Lore Tablet in Greenpath: The Pilgrim's Way. Travellers of Hallownest, descend through verdant wilds and fungal groves to the city at this kingdom's heart. There all wishes shall be granted, all truths revealed.
    • The Ancient Basin also counts as one, being the site of the vanished White Palace, and The Abyss. It's also full of architecture and artifacts from a civilization before Hallownest. Almost everything in the Ancient Basin is lore-relevant.
      Elderbug: Did you know the caverns continue even below the capital? Few have ventured that deep so the details are scant. Those who made it back told of impossibly old structures and roads formed as though the rock itself possessed a will.
    • The Temple of the Black Egg in the Forgotten Crossroads is the place where the Hollow Knight was sealed away. None of the surviving bugs in Hallownest remember what it is or why it's there.
  • Laser Hallway: Crystal Peak has several laser gauntlets, projected by either static crystal growths or the invincible platform-circling Crystal Crawlers.
  • Lighthouse Point: In the Abyss, there's a lighthouse used to keep the sea of void in check. By the time you get there, it's already deactivated, and you must reactivate the switch to be able to cross.
  • Locked Door: One is in Dirtmouth, but all others are in the City of Tears. Three doors require a simple key (which breaks on use), one door in the Soul Sanctum requires the elegant key and leads to a path where you can upgrade one of your spells, and the Tower of Love requires the love key to open and leads to an optional boss (and three grubs).
  • Lost World: Some places do not show up in maps (with the justification that Cornifer never went to check and chart them), and are usually accessed via secret entrances on the charted levels. For example, the map won't show anything if you're inside the Weaver's Den, or the Beast's Den. The White Palace is an interesting case, as its entrance gates are found in the Ancient Basin, but the palace itself seemingly "disappeared" out of nowhere. However, you can still access the White Palace by entering the dream of the nearby Kingsmould corpe, which would then make the Palace's situation ambiguous whether you've visited the real deal or just someone else's memory of it.
  • Magitek: Although most of its technology is non-functional at this point, a lot of Hallownest's machinery seems to be powered by the magical crystals harvested from Crystal Peak, which the miners continue to harvest non-stop even when infected and going insane, and there's almost no one sane left in Hallownest to use them.
  • Malevolent Architecture:
    • The bugs of Hallownest were quite fond of spikes on their roofs and elevators, as evidenced in the City of Tears. These harm you the same as boiling acid, ravenous worms in Deepnest, or the grasping hands of the void itself.
    • Taken to an almost comical extreme in the White Palace, where it often seems that every hall and chamber is decorated in undulating buzzsaws and most of the surfaces are occupied by thorns or retracting spike traps.
    • Even worse in the optional Path of Pain route added by The Grimm Troupe update. Your reward for this extended and hellish platforming gauntlet is... a two-second cutscene of the Pale King and the Hollow Knight and a Hunter's Journal entry not required for completion.
  • The Maze:
    • Deepnest itself has a lot of tight, overarching paths that could lead you back to where you started. Fortunately, the general area of Deepnest has a map.
    • There are some whole stages that don't have maps at all, which can leave you clueless on where to go next:
      • The Beast's Den is an area within the Deepnest (itself already a maze) that takes the tight paths Up to Eleven. It also doesn't help that this place has a lot of breakable walls that well... lead you right back to a previous path. It's up to you to leave them as a convenient shortcut or an annoyance.
      • The White Palace. Platform Hell and no directions or maps means that you have to rely on the positioning of the traps to know where you are supposed to go next.
  • Medieval Stasis: Since the kingdom is already ruined, the technology left there no longer improves even if they are still functional.
  • Memorial Statue: A lot of historical characters and higher beings are now simply remembered via their statues all over the kingdom:
    • The most prominent one is located in the City of Tears, a statue of the Hollow Knight to commemorate its sacrifice.
    • A statue of The Radiance located at the top of the Crystal Peak, left behind by her moth tribe. It played a crucial role in spreading the infection once more.
    • A shrine for the three Dreamers in the Resting Grounds. They also react to the dreamers' deaths as their masks will also disappear from this shrine.
    • The Pale King has multiple statues and depictions scattered throughout the kingdom, such as; behind a bench in Queen's Gardens, a fountain in Ancient Basin, a dung statue in the Royal Waterways, and a white silhouette in the background of the White Defender's boss fight.
    • Ogrim made dung statues of the other Great Knights who are now dead or missing. They also appear in white silhouettes during the White Defender boss fight. He can also leave a dung statue of the Knight after you defeat him several times.
    • The Hall of Gods is a large room that contains a statue for each and every boss you encounter. A special room is also dedicated to the Knight, or the Void Entity.
    • Several charms are picked up beneath the statues of certain unnamed key figures, such the statues where you pick up the Dreamshield and the Dashmaster.
  • Mouse World: Possibly; all the characters are bugs, arachnids, worms, or mollusks, and although we never see any giant objects or animals to compare them to, there's nothing like trees, rivers, or mountains to compare them to, either, the wilderness areas are made of moss and fungus instead of trees, and all wielded weapons are nails except for Hornet's sewing needle and Zote's wooden weapon. There's a definite possibility that the characters are supposed to be the size of actual bugs.
  • New World Tease: Although you're able to enter Fog Canyon relatively early in the game (it's adjacent to the second zone the player character is required to visit), you'll be unable to progress any further than the first couple of rooms until after you've obtained the Mantis Claw and the Monarch Wings much later in the game. You can't even interact with Cornifer either if you see him, since he is behind a shade gate, which can only be crossed once you obtained the Shade Cloak.
  • Obstructive Foreground: In the Cast-Off Shell, rocks will fall as soon as you head back to the only exit, and they can cover the screen where the Knight is currently at.
  • One-Time Dungeon: The White Palace was originally closed off after you obtained its Kingsoul fragment, but the expansions made it revisitable so you don't get locked out of the Path of Pain. However, the Path of Pain itself does become inaccessible after completion.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: Almost all of Hallownest is dark blue or blue-tinted, providing a sharp contrast with the bright orange plague.
  • Patchwork Map: Just look at the Map of Hallownest shown above and notice how the zones have their own colors yet are joined together.
  • Plot Tunnel:
    • Crystal Peak has one that can be avoided if you save up enough Geo to buy the Lumafly Lantern. If, after acquiring the Desolate Dive, you take the upper entrance to Crystal Peak but don't have the Lantern, you won't be able to see the mechanism for the Cash Gate back to Forgotten Crossroads, and will just have to press on through the dungeon until you either reach the Resting Grounds, which extend the tunnel further but have a Stag Station at the end, or obtain the Crystal Heart, which unlocks a passage back to Dirtmouth.
    • The first visit to the City of Tears also qualifies if you enter through the main gate, which locks behind you, so you can only exit once you either obtain the aforementioned Desolate Dive from the Soul Master, which allows you to bypass the gate, find a Simple Key to unlock the Royal Waterways, which leads to another Door to Before back to Fungal Wastes, or pay to unlock the Stag Station or the Elevator to Before back to Forgotten Crossroads. All of these options require a fairly long and linear roundabout trip from the entrance.
    • A mandatory one occurs in the Beast's Den sub-area of Deepnest, where the residents lure you into sitting on a bench that traps you and you have to escape from a labyrinth guarded by spiders to reach Herrah the Beast's resting place and the exit.
  • Power Crystal: The violet crystals found protruding at odd intervals around the Crystal Peak emit a constant glow that corrupted the miners excavating it and turned them into violent husks. According to the whispering root found here, the crystals absorb and refract light from Radiance.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Various machinery and technologies still function by themselves even if the kingdom is ruined and majority of the workers are already infected. All you need to do is to flip a lever or pay some Geo in toll gates.
  • Remixed Level: Later in the game, the Forgotten Crossroads area becomes infected by the plague and several rooms are partially blocked off by huge walls of pus blobs. The enemies also mutate into more aggressive forms.
  • Scavenger World: For the few adventurers who can survive in Hallownest. There are many relics of great worth in Hallownest and quite a few NPCs are treaure seekers of some kind.
  • Scenery Gorn: Don't let the vibrant colors and hand-drawn art distract you from the fact that most of the backgrounds are littered with dead bugs (some even piled up like mountains of corpses), damaged surroundings, and an overall preference for dark colors.
  • Schizo Tech: The general setting and architecture may look like it's inspired by pseudo-medieval era or Steampunk where armed citizens use bladed weapons, shields, and magic spells. But how else can anyone describe the liberty of having more advanced technologies like tramways, circular buzzsaws in the White Palace, a lighthouse in the Abyss, laser beams from the Crystal Peak, elevators in the City of Tears, and speakers in the Queen's Gardens?
  • Sigil Spam: The four-pronged symbol of Hallownest is everywhere. This is an intentional act by the Pale King, who wanted Hallownest's citizens to revere him as a god. He also wanted to destroy all traces of his rival, Radiance, and he was very nearly successful. Unfortunately, even that wasn't good enough...
  • Small, Secluded World: It seems that the wastes on the surface stretch on for quite far... Hallownest lies alone.
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: Crystal Peak has pistons that act like this. Said hallway traps also have tricky timings and speed.
  • Snow Means Death: Kingdom's Edge is a "snowy" area directly beneath the Colosseum of Fools, and serves as a dumping ground for the many corpses that originate there. Plus, that "snow" isn't real snow at all. The flakes are peeling off the massive, decaying husk of a wyrm.
  • Soiled City on a Hill: What they eventually became. A bit of an aversion, since it was never particularly horrible before being doomed.
  • Springy Spores: Bouncy mushrooms appear as a gimmick in a few rooms. Remember: to use them you don't just jump on them — you point the nail downwards and hit them.
  • Stalactite Spite: There are falling stalactites in several areas, that will trigger as soon as the Knight walks under them. They will kill enemies they hit in adition to being dangerous to the player.
  • Temporary Platform: There are platforms in the Crystal Peak that flip 180 degrees, pointing their spiked crystals that damage the Knight if it stays on top for too long.
  • The Thunderdome: The Colosseum of Fools, in part of housing the Gladiator Games in the upper-right area of the Kingdom's Edge. Winners of the trials are awarded with Geo and other valuable materials.
  • Urban Segregation: The capital of Hallownest, the City of Tears, is split between several towers where bugs live. The wealthier parts of the city are in their own spires, clearly segregated away from the common bug residences.
  • Variable-Length Chain:
    • The elevators in the City of Tears are moved using lengthy chains.
    • The Temple of the Black Egg has several large chains binding the Hollow Knight. Destroying them would simply make them retract to the ceiling, but they will extend once more if the Knight becomes the new vessel for the infection.
  • Wall Around the World: Apart from the natural borders of rock, a plaque states that all citizens of Hallownest shouldn't stray away from these borders, as they will lose their sentience and become beasts. However, since traders, adventurers and warriors seem to come from outside Hallownest, this is a dubious claim at best.
  • World of Silence: What would happen to bugkind if Radiance wins. Take what happens to Myla for example, she becomes eerily silent once the infection fully took hold of her mind.
    • By the time you get there though, the game's world is already ruined, with many of the infected bugs became The Undead, where the few uninfected bugs are living on secluded areas.
    • The kingdom's surface, Dirtmouth, initially starts out like this as well as an empty town, but becomes livelier with residents once you get to rescue them.

    Hallownest as a Community 
Tropes that apply to the kingdom as a conglomerate. These are the story-relevant Characterization Tropes that apply to a majority of characters in Hollow Knight, regardless of their groups, especially those unnamed, generic mooks residing in the central City of Tears, and various wandering bug citizens who aren't categorized under the more specific character subpages.
  • Aerith and Bob: Unique names in this game range from "usual and realistic" (e.g. Myla, Marissa) to "fantasy-grounded" (e.g. Zote, Quirrel, Tiso, Bardoon, Bretta).
  • Alien Blood:
    • The ordinary color for uninfected bugs, beings, and ghosts is white.
    • Infected bugs flash and bleed orange blood.
  • All the Other Reindeer: According to the Hunter, the maggots are the weakest members of the entire Kingdom of Hallownest, looked down by other bugs and forced to do menial labor.
  • And I Must Scream: Try to hit any infected bug with the Dream Nail. Their dialogue suggests that the bugs are still self-aware of what happened to them in one way or another. Some are even crying for help or screaming in agony. All of the bugs in the Infected Crossroads to be precise, feel a burning hot sensation on their bodies.
    Husk Warriors: I can't....Wake up... / Am I...Sleeping? / I'm not...Dead..
  • Anyone Can Die: Once you're infected, you're as good as dead or would have your will subjected to the Hive Mind. And considering that a lot of the bugs you encounter below are already infected, as well as the mountains of corpses on some areas, the death count can rack up quickly in this world.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: If the different noble Husks are anything to go by, the aristocracy of Hallownest's capital were a nasty, Geo-grubbing bunch of cowards.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Most of the critters met in the game are bugs.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Bugs have naturally pitch-black eyes. Subversion happens when they glow orange due to the infection.
  • Body Horror: The advanced effects of the infection plaguing Hallownest cause pus bubbles to take over the victim's body. Some characters are rooted to the ground by the weight, whereas others become abominations specialized in splattering orange goo around.
  • Brought Down to Normal: The price for leaving Hallownest is forfeiting the intelligence bestowed upon insects by the Pale King, according to a text found in an area called the Howling Cliffs.
  • Cast Herd: Most characters are grouped from either or both their in-universe territorial settings/tribes/memberships (e.g. Flukes, Godseekers) and/or the places whom they are encountered (e.g. Citizens of Dirtmouth, Mantis Villagers).
  • City Guards: And many of them. Ranges from normal patrolling guards, flying ones with throwing spears and the Elite Guard, one of the most difficult enemies in the game (and only found patrolling the wealthy district, go figure).
  • Crapsack Only by Comparison: Most bugs held this view of the rest of the caverns - sure, most of them did have predators of some sort, but overall, much of it is quite alright and livable. Even as the Infestation harries the Kingdom, there are shop-owners, smiths and other assorted folk living around, so it can't be that bad.
  • Cultural Posturing: Downplayed. The bugs of Hallownest saw their kingdom as the greatest (and only) civilization, but happily lived alongside other bugs from neighboring tribes.
  • Dysfunction Junction: No thanks to the recent infestation and the fall of the kingdom, the bugkind had suffered in one way or another in the past, much more so for the uniquely-named NPCs and bosses that you encounter.
  • Fictional Currency: The currency unit of Hallownest is a geo, which appears to be a rock with a spiral pattern on it.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: An orange glow in a creature's eyes is a sure sign they're overcome by the plague and will attack you. Although the lack of it doesn't necessarily mean the bug is not infected, as evidenced by the Obble enemies that initially have pitch black eyes, but sport orange eyes when enraged.
  • Hegemonic Empire: A very straight example. The Kingdom Hallownest mostly postured its way as the dominant civilization by making agreements with other tribes who had few other options. Some tribes did resist however - The Weavers was in a shaky truce with Hallownest, the Tribe of Unn allowed structures to be built in their territory, but resolved to hunt everything that strayed from the path and the Hive simply refused and went about their business.
  • Hive Mind: As explained by Bardoon, during the time of Radiance's rule, people were united in mind with no individuality of their own and acted on their base instincts. This changed once the Pale King sealed Radiance and brought enlightenment to them. During the game proper, if you check the miner girl near Crystal Peak at a certain point and read her mind, you catch Radiance urging her to hunt the "Empty One".
  • Idle Rich: Cowardly socialites are a commonly recurring enemy in one section of the City of Tears. They don't pose much of a threat, and are as likely to flee from the player character as they are to actually attack. A swing with the dream nail reveals them to be obsessed with hoarding geo and avoiding the filthy lower class.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Hallownest had more than a few, including the Five Great Knights who were the Pale King's Praetorian Guard team.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: It is said that the people of Hallownest should not head into the wasteland outside the Howling Cliffs and will pay with their memories if they do so. Quirrel, for example, comes from parts unknown but comes to remember who he once studied under: Monomon.
  • Lazy Bum: According to the Hunter's notes on Leaping Husks, the bugs of the old Hallownest did not hunt their own food. Instead, the food was brought to the bugs, that's why the Hunter implies that the general citizens of Hallownest were weak, and it's a reason why the Kingdom crumbled.
  • Light Is Not Good: The disease that drove many of Hallownest's inhabitants to insanity and reanimates the husks of dead bugs is strongly associated with light and radiance, and using the dream nail on husks that are infected will often show them to be obsessed with light. The source of the infection is also a being of light simply called "The Radiance".
  • Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!: One of the reasons why the Pale King built this kingdom. Hallownest is based entirely on this trope. Huge spires, intricate statues, vast travelling networks and beautiful decor on even the simplest door-knob, part of the Pale King's plan to get rid of the Radiance's influence - and look where it brought the Kingdom now, ruin and infection caused by the Radiance herself.
  • Meaningful Name: There are plenty of Cowardly Husks in the City of Tears, some of them even managed to stumble inside the Hive. As the Hunter recalls, the reason why these are named as such, is because they were already cowards by nature. The infection simply moves them by instinct, making them flee whenever they sense someone else stronger than them.
  • Micro Monarchy: A King, a Queen and a princess, plus a handful of retainers.
  • Money Spider: Enemies that you can kill but are not bosses will drop Geo. There's some justification for the regular mooks and husks, as they are the same citizens but unfortunately have physically succumbed to the infection, or have lost their will to the Hive Mind, or both.
  • Mystical Plague: The main threat in the game is a mysterious, terrifying plague that’s turning Hallownest into a Death World. Bugs afflicted with it are driven to violent insanity by it and get reanimated as monstrous husks after dying. It was created by the Radiance, the god who created bugkind, as a "divine" punishment after they stopped worshiping her and your character is an Empty Shell created to try and contain it.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Normal bugs also leave ghosts that can only be seen if the player obtains the Dream Nail. Their existence is left ambiguous and so are the exact details of them in general, since some traits can vary depending on the bug (i.e. some are not aware that they already died, and some are not aware of the passage of time). However, all ghosts are stuck on where their corpses are located. And since they give essence and disappear when hit with the dream nail, they can be assumed as the deceased bugs' imprints or memories.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The undead of Hallownest, some reanimated by the Infection, others corrupted while still alive, are known as Husks, identifiable by their glowing yellow eyes.
    • The Hunter has noted the process of infection by observing a Violent Husk – First they fell into deep slumber, then they wake up with broken minds, then their bodies start to deform.
    • Furthermore, many of the Husks encountered in Deepnest are afflicted by the Corpse Creeper, a Cordyceps-like Puppeteer Parasite that controls their corpse after you strike them down.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The kingdom was unfortunately hit hard by this. The physical manifestation of the plague bears more than a passing resemblance to certain strains of the cordyceps fungus, which are known for their bright orange hue and their penchant for infecting and zombifying insects to act as carriers for their spores.
  • Sleazy Politician: The Hunter recalls that while the Husk Dandies in the City of Tears were greedy and weak, they exert the most influence over the city. He then thinks that it is another reason why the Kingdom fell.
  • Speaking Simlish: Characters have voice acting but they all speak in gibberish. It's most likely their native language, given that the characters are non-human and the game takes place in an ancient kingdom; not to mention the fact that some words are used more than once, such as for battle cries.
  • Spirit Advisor: The former kingdom of Hallownest is home to a number of restless spirits, of both the passive and combative variety. They can't be perceived by anyone who isn't wielding the dream nail.
  • The Undead: The Hunter's Journal reveals that the taller, more sapient bugs are dead husks animated by the infection.

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Groups of Hallownest

Within the caverns you traverse live all sorts of different creatures, civilizations and tribes - and not all of them are related to the Kingdom of Hallownest itself!
See this page for the individual entries of the distinct groups living within the kingdom.

Citizens of Hallownest

While Hallownest's citizenship may be on the decline, there are still a few friendly faces to be found there.
See this page for their individual entries.

Historic Figures of Hallownest

Hallownest's history is deep, and it's past still haunts it a ghost.
See this page for the individual entries of the many historic figures of Hallownest.

Bosses of Hallownest

Hallownest is full of many powerful foes that the Knight must face, some stronger than others.
See this page for the individual entries of the many bosses of Hallownest.

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