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Characters / Hollow Knight Protagonists

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The main characters of Hollow Knight and Hollow Knight: Silksong.

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     The Knight

"I'm impressed little ghost. You've burdened yourself with the fate of this world, yet you still stand strong."
-Hornet, outside the Black Egg Temple

The titular character and our protagonist. A mysterious warrior with unclear motivations and a quiet demeanor, diving into the depths of Hallownest with nothing but the cloak on their shoulders and a blunted nail. Has no true name but is usually called "the Knight".

  • Ambiguous Gender: The Knight's gender is never specified, and the Dreamers and the White Lady call the Knight "it". Justified... in a way. The Knight is a Vessel made by the King and born in the Abyss, where they are said to have died and were reborn as a Void being.
  • Always Someone Better: The Knight was one of the few Vessels that managed to climb out of the Abyss — a shame they got there second, as the Pale King already chose a pure Vessel. The Hollow Knight weakening allows them to have a second change at fulfilling their duty, and they eagerly take it.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The Knight's current status as of both Godmaster endings. After defeating the Absolute Radiance, the Knight breaks their shell and a monolithic shadow appears in their place, finishing off the Absolute Radiance. Is only the Knight in control of this being? Or are the shades of their siblings part of it too?
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Godseeker more or less allows The Knight to do this after getting past the various pantheons and defeating Radiance directly. They seem to go Mad With Power and take over Radiance's plague normally, the Godseeker's physical body as a catalyst to burst from. However, giving the Godseeker a Delicate Flower prevents this, allowing the two to ascend together, turning into light. After this, The Godseeker praises The Knight as the "God of Gods" she was looking for in the first place.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: The Knight learns Sheo's charged attack technique by watching him paint dramatically on a canvas.
  • Badass Adorable: A cute little bug, who constantly fights creatures ten times bigger than them and can challenge and defeat the local Goddess.
  • Casting a Shadow: The upgraded version of all of the Knight's spells are darkness-themed, overlapping with Power of the Void to a certain extent. This is an early hint at the Knight being a child of the Void.
  • Cute Mute: Small, charming to the player, and doesn't say a single word throughout the entire game.
  • Divine Parentage: The White Lady aka the Queen of Hallownest directly refers to the Vessel as "her spawn", and recognizes a "piece of herself" within the Knight that allows her to see them clearly despite her blindness. Within the White Palace, there is a secret room that reveals what looks like a cradle next to a tall chair with an imprint that resembles the White Lady, and a constant tune plays in the room that is the same tune played when the player approaches their Shade. An Ending Achievement also confirms that Hornet and the Knight are siblings, with the Pale King as their father. By extension, all the thousands of Vessels and left-behind Shades in the Abyss were once the Pale King and White Lady's brood, sacrificed in attempts to create a perfect Vessel for the infection.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Knight is strongly associated with darkness, and is referred to by several characters as "Ghost" and "Shadow". They later turn out to be a being of the Abyss, which is also this trope; the Void is a completely neutral wellspring of potential creation that is primarily used to stop the plague, and the worst sentient product of it turns out to be a misguided Well-Intentioned Extremist who may or may not have been right. This contrasts the Big Bad of the game, who is firmly Light Is Not Good.
  • Dream Walker: First, the Knight is imprisoned to the Dream Realm by the Dreamers, only to escape with the Seer's help and after receiving the Dream Nail, which lets them read minds and enter the Dream Realm for special boss fights.
  • Empty Shell: The Knight's true nature as a Vessel for the infection makes them one, as the King of Hallownest intended for the Vessels to be without thoughts or emotions.
    • This is played with, however, as a certain NPC's dialoguenote hints that The Knight may not be completely hollow, just like their predecessor. There's also the fact that they can take part in some sidequests completely unrelated to their mission (like saving the grubs and challenging the colosseum), although it is unclear if this is an intentional hint or just a Gameplay and Story Segregation.
  • Escaped from Hell: Upon their birth, the Knight attempted to rise out of the Abyss but fell after another one was already chosen to become the Vessel by the King. Oddly, the game gives no explanation or hint of how the Knight came all the way to Howling Cliffs after that.
  • Fastball Special: "Vengeful Spirit" conjures and throws angry ghosts at people. The charm "Flukenest" changes it into a handful of fluke worms. This stacks with "Defender's Crest" to fire one huge fluke that explodes into a cloud of Deadly Gas.
  • Fartillery: When equipped with the charm "Defender's Crest", it periodically releases a cloud of brown, poisonous gas.
  • Heroic Mime: Does not say a word throughout the entire game, a fact that is commented on by several characters throughout the game. Turns out it's hard to speak when you have no voice, and likely not even a mouth.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Or nails, as the case may be. It starts out old and blunt, but can be upgraded by giving the Nailsmith the right materials.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the normal ending, The Knight gives their life to become the new vessel for the infection, while the true ending sees them give up their individuality to become one with the void, consume the Radiance, and destroy the infection permanently.
  • I Am Legion: By transforming the Kingsoul into the Void Heart, they are the first and only Void being to unify and control the Void, commanding it to devour Radiance.
  • I Am What I Am: Downplayed, considering the Knight is an Empty Shell, but their accepting both their emptiness and the fact that they never truly became the Hollow Knight during their visit to the Abyss seems to be part of how they managed to turn the Kingsoul into the Void Heart.
  • Informed Attribute: Some characters state that The Knight is an emotionless shell like they are supposed to be, but depending on the player's actions, they have the potential to be kind, vengeful, thoughtful, heroic, curious, sad, respectful, determined, etc. In terms of story, all the player really needs to do is kill the Dreamers, then the Hollow Knight to take their place; everything else the game has can be ignored for the most part. This is reflected in other endings such as the true ending, where instead of being a new vessel, the Knight instead Takes a Third Option and destroys the root cause of the plague instead of doing their duty and make sure they do not potentially start a new cycle of infection. In another set of endings, they take the fight directly to Radiance without killing their predecessor in the process.
  • Laser Guided Tyke Bomb: All of the Vessels were made to specifically counteract Radiance. The playable Knight in particular is sent off to take the place of the current Vessel.
  • Magic Knight: Wields both a nail and powerful spells.
  • Mook Maker: Not on their own, but the charms "Glowing Womb" and "Weaversong" create friendly monsters of their respective types (flying mini-knights, or, when paired with "Defender's Crest", flies, and baby spiders).
  • The Necromancer: In a specific way, however. Their basic spell is to Fastball Special an angry ghost.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The Knight can carry around Fragile Flowers to help the Grey Mourner and to gift certain other characters with. However... It turns out those flowers somehow amount to kryptonite for beings of void. If the Knight happens to gift one to the Godseeker, then the flower ruins their attempt to burst out of her as a mass of darkness at the end of the Godmaster campaign.
  • Perpetual-Motion Monster: A heroic example, as revealed in flashbacks of the Knight's origins; although the Vessels created by the Pale King aren't invincible, they were supposed to not have a mind or a will to break and will serve their intended purpose unflinchingly and single-mindedly with nary a break for food or sleep.
  • Poisonous Person:
    • The "Defender's Crest" charm adds Deadly Gas to some of the Knight's abilities.
    • "Spore Shroom" allows it to spread toxic spores when charging Focus.
  • Power of the Void: In the path to the true ending, the Knight becomes one with the Void and wields it against the Radiance to defeat her for good.
  • Powers as Programs: Can equip badges, referred to as "Charms", to augment their abilities. These can interact in certain ways. Defender's Crest, for example, grants them Fartillery, and it interacts with "Flukenest" to turn the Knight's "Vengeful Spirit" spell into a poison gas grenade.
  • Parental Abandonment: It is eventually revealed that the Knight, Hollow Knight, and all Vessels and Shades are siblings, and at one point the offspring of the Pale King and the White Lady. It is not clear exactly what the Pale King did to his children in his desperation to create the perfect Vessel to contain the infection, but he left thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of Vessel corpses and wandering Shades in the Abyss. Eventually, he sealed them away and refused to return to them once he thought he had the perfect Vessel. The Knight somehow managed to escape and make their way to the Howling Cliffs at some point.
  • Soul Power: The Knight can gain souls through various means, mostly whacking other bugs with their nail. They then uses souls to heal themself or projects them in various directions to deal damage.
  • The Unchosen One: The Knight is a vessel who tried to crawl out of the Abyss to be selected by the Pale King for their quest to seal away Radiance. Upon reaching the top, they found that a different one had been chosen and fell back into the Abyss. The game begins as they surface an indeterminate amount of time later, seeking to complete their task after being called back to Hallownest by either the Hollow Knight or the Radiance.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: The Knight is noted to have a silent, stoic stare.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The charm "Shape of Unn" allows them to become a slug when charging up a heal. This stacks with other charms to turn them into a snail or fungal husk. Their face always stays the same regardless of the transformation.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: The Vessels were born from both the Void and the power of the Pale King and White Lady.


"Though our strength is born of similar source, that part of you, that crucial emptiness, I do not share. Funny then, that such darkness gives me hope. Within it, I see the chance of change. A difficult journey you would face, but a choice it can create. Prolong our world's stasis or face the heart of its infection."
-Hornet, in the Abyss

"I have seen this nimble little creature. I thought her prey and pounced at her, but with a flash she stabbed me with her flying stinger and darted away. Could she be... a Hunter?"
-Hunter's Journal

A mysterious wanderer wielding a needle and thread. She confronts the Knight at various points, attempting to force them to abandon their quest for unknown reasons. Also the protagonist of the second game, Hollow Knight: Silksong.

  • 11th-Hour Ranger: As mentioned above, she'll throw her life on the line to hold down the Hollow Knight to allow the Knight to strike at them with the Dream Nail, enabling them to face the source of the infection.
  • Anti-Villain: She is determined to prevent the Knight from completing their quest, because she knows that simply replacing the plague's vessel is only a temporary solution that ultimately won't solve anything.
  • Boomerang Comeback: An entirely justified example: After she hurls her needle at the Knight, it'll come back because she's tethered it with silk, and is winding it in.
  • Counter Attack: In the second battle, she'll assume a defensive stance to block and counter the Knight's attacks.
  • Char Clone: Has a lot of elements of the archetype: She's The Rival to the Knight, challenging them in combat while giving them occasional advice; she wears a red cloak; her Razor Floss gives her a distinct advantage over the Knight in terms of speed and maneuverability; and, to top it all off, her being the child of the Pale King and Herrah means she's the Knight's half-sister.
  • Damsel out of Distress: At the beginning of Silksong; a group of bugs from Pharloom capture her for unknown reasons, but she manages to break free sometime on the way to the Kingdom.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: She starts out very hostile to the Knight, but becomes more civil to them as it seems more and more likely that they can actually destroy the infection for good, to the point where she risks her life to help them in the final battle. At one point, she even reveals her parentage to the Knight, something she has kept silent about until then.
  • Early-Bird Boss: Absolutely brutal in that regard, since she guards the item that allows the Knight to dash. Without it, they cannot even access the Charm store to get any useful charms that would help you fight her. And she is much, much more relentless than the False Knight. This turns her into one of the hardest bosses in the game despite being only the second boss.
  • Had To Be Sharp: Implied. She's the daughter of Deepnest's Queen, and given what Deepnest is like, it's no wonder as to why she's so nimble and skilled at fighting.
  • Heroic Bastard: She's the result of a union between the King of Hallownest and Herrah the Beast, as part of a deal that made Herrah agree to become a Dreamer. Despite that, her loyalty to Hallownest is unwavering.
  • A Hero To Her Hometown: Downplayed in terms of Hallownest not knowing much about her, considering there aren't many bugs left in the kingdom to notice her deeds in the first place, but she seems to be almost unanimously adored in Deepnest; Dream Nailing the Weavers reveals they thought of her in their dying moments, and Herrah genuinely loves her and upholds her duties as a Dreamer for Hornet's sake.
  • Kiai: She punctuates pretty much every single attack with a loud shout.
  • Promoted to Playable: Hornet is the main character of the sequel, Silksong.
  • Razor Floss: Uses spider threads for a variety of applications.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: With Herrah's death and the Pale King's disappearance, Hornet is heir to both Hallownest and Deepnest.
  • Recurring Boss: Fought at two separate occasions throughout the game.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: One of her new items in Silksong is a "Pimpillo", which is thrown and explodes on impact or after a short time.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Hornet is much more aggressive and uses new attacks the second time she is fought. As the protagonist of Silksong, she'll have the opportunity to face an entire kingdom of foes, upgrading her gear and training herself further.
  • Trap Master: In the second battle, she will use her threads to place spikes across the arena, limiting the Knight's movement. They can be knocked down.
  • You Killed My Father: Her mother is Herrah the Beast, one of the Dreamers that the Knight has to slay to open the Black Egg. Subverted in that she does not hold it against them, accepting that her mother's death was necessary.

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