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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
"Ghost of Hallownest"
The Knight's Shade

"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

"Not Bug, Nor Beast, Nor God"
-Inscription of the Knight's statue in the Hall of Gods

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". The protagonist of the first game, Hollow Knight.

Near the end of the game, the playable Knight can assume the form of an entity. Additional tropes specifically regarding this entity be found here under the Void Entity entry.

General Character Tropes

  • Alien Blood:
    • Since it is made out of void, the Knight bleeds out black liquid when injured. This is also indicated by the HUD wherein the remaining mask will be surrounded by the void.
    • The Knight's Shade is more obvious as it is basically a floating void entity. When struck with the nail, black liquid splashes around it.
  • 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 chance at fulfilling their duty, and they eagerly take it.
  • 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. Word of God states that they're genderless.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Why did the Knight descend into Hallownest in the first place? The Dreamers suggest that it was called to return by something, but they don't even know if it's the Hollow Knight or the Radiance.
    Dreamers: "What compels its climb out of the darkness? What compels its return to this sacred kingdom? A call from beyond the Seals? By the Vessel, or by that captive light?"
    • Likewise, the Knight is supposed to be completely mindless, with no will to break and no mind to think. However, certain player-decided actions seem to disprove this: It can do quests that serve no direct purpose in completing its own mission (such as saving the grubs and taking the flower to the Mantis daughter's grave) and even act in ways that no one ever requested of them, such as giving the flower to other NPCs like Elderbug. Jinn in the Steel Soul run lampshades this if you refuse to give them a rancid egg.
  • Arc Words: "Void" is heavily associated with the Knight late in the game - it is what they are made of, what they use to defeat the Radiance, the Void Heart charm being unequippable once obtained, and how the Godseekers call the Knight's statue in the Hall of Gods as either the "Void Given Form" and the "Void Given Focus".
  • 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.
  • Badass in Distress: The Knight, shortly after the Cast-Off Shell crumbles while it is still inside. Fortunately, Hornet is just nearby to pull the Knight back into safe ground.
  • Born of Heaven and Hell: Invoked. All Vessels were "born of god and void", but the Pale King makes a special mention or monologue about this phrase when he talked to the Hollow Knight in the past.
  • Cain and Abel: Invoked. The player Knight gets to kill its other sibling Vessels like the Broken Vessel / Lost Kin and the Hollow Knight throughout the story. The latter case is also much closer to the trope, since the Hollow Knight was the Pure Vessel chosen by the Pale King, while the player Knight falls down from the Abyss after finding out that another sibling has already been chosen.
  • 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.
  • Came Back Wrong: By design. Like all other Vessels, the Knight was a child of the Pale King and the White Lady, thrown into the Abyss and revived as a hollow shell full of the void.
  • Charged Attack:
    • You can learn three from the Nailmasters hidden around the world, all of which require you to charge your attack. The Nailmaster's Glory charm reduces the charge time by 1 second.
    • The Dream Nail's normal attack is a charged one. It deals no damage but still fills a good chunk of the soul gauge. It is difficult to use in combat because it requires you to stand still while performing it.
  • Collision Damage: The knight takes damage when it bumps on hostile bugs, but it can also do the same with the Thorns of Agony charm, the Sharp Shadow charm (when dashing), and the super dash ability given by the Crystal Heart.
  • Cooldown: Both the basic dash and the shade cloak's "shadow dash" have brief recovery times before you can use them again. The latter ability is also indicated by a visual effect where void particles converge into the Knight.
  • Crashing Dreams: At the end of a certain dream sequence, you arrive at a platform with a giant moth head looming in the background. The protagonist then wakes, being tended to by an actual moth who introduces herself as the Seer.
  • Cute Mute: Small, charming to the player, and doesn't say a single word throughout the entire game as the Knight is physically incapable of speaking.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Knight is strongly associated with darkness, and is referred to by several characters as "Ghost" and "Shadow". They are nonetheless a heroic figure. 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.
  • Dash Attack: Dash Slash is a Nail Art that can only be performed while dashing.
  • Dead Hat Shot: Following the Knight's Heroic Sacrifice to destroy the Radiance, only their broken Vessel shell is left behind.
  • Determinator: The player knight is exceptional even among its kin. It of course won't give up if the player doesn't. But even in the cutscenes, it refuses to be left for dead in the piles of other failed vessels in the Abyss. It nearly climbs out of the Abyss only to see the Pale King seal the Abyss away with the knight still inside. Offscreen it still managed to find a way out and carve its way back to Dirtmouth.
  • Developers' Foresight: Once you've obtained the Hunter's Journal, the entry for the Shade will automatically be added. This takes into account the Steel Soul mode where you only have one life and won't normally be able to spawn the Shade via dying.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The Knight defeating Nightmare King Grimm and consequently destroying the Nightmare's Heart. Our Player Character doesn't suffer any consequences and the Grimmchild will evolve to its final stage.
    • Defeating the Radiance in either the base game or the Godmaster scenario also counts as this. The Knight beats her back all on its own with the Void only coming in to back them up in the final stages of the fight, and either the Hollow Knight's shade arrives to help it deal the final blow or the Knight ascends into godhood and becomes the Void Entity to finish her off themselves. But considering what happens following the Godmaster version of the fight, this becomes a case of Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Spells in general are difficult to use and beginner players likely need all their soul for healing while focusing on charms that make the nail more effective. But for advanced players (such as those tackling Steel Soul mode or attempting to speedrun the game), spells are incredibly useful for defeating bosses quickly, with the nail being used mostly to replenish soul.
    • You can parry attacks of other blade-wielding enemies with a well-timed slash. However, the opportunity window is so small that it takes a while to practice and you can risk yourself colliding with the enemy. On the other hand, skillful players can use this to their advantage from minimizing damage during some boss fights.
  • Disc-One Nuke: The Howling Wraiths spell becomes this once you've unlocked the Mantis Claw and decided to navigate your way to the Fog Canyon early on. The spell deals twice the damage of the Vengeful Spirit, and its three-way aerial effect can hit a lot of enemies within short range. Among the earliest possible bosses you can fight, it devastates the Soul Master the most.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Earn Your Title: Great Nailsage Sly acknowledges and calls the Knight as a Nailmaster after it has learned the arts of the other three Nailmasters.
  • Easter Egg: If you die on the Lake of Unn before meeting Unn herself, your spawned Shade will not pay attention to you, as it would be looking at the direction of the lake.
  • Elaborate Equals Effective: The Nail, the primary weapon of the Knight, has five distinct forms. It starts as a simple wedge of steel with a handle and some faint cracks; the first two upgrades remove the cracks and adds a V-shaped groove near the handle. The third upgrade adds spiral grooves throughout the blade, imitating a drill bit. But the final form, the Pure Nail, has a complex series of whirling shapes, similar to Damascus steel, but is fundamentally the same blade that you started with.
  • Empty Shell: The Knight's true nature as a Vessel for the infection implies this, 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 shows that the Knight is not 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).
    • There's a concrete line of dialogue near the end of the game that subverts this trope - The Knight manages to transform the Kingsoul into the Void Heart after recovering its memories in the Abyss. The Void Heart's description reads "Unifies the void under the bearer's will." Our playable knight couldn't be hollow from the start since it has a will of its own, and the Void Heart was a result of this.
  • Enemy Without: The Shade bursts out from the Knight's shell after death. It lingers in one place, drains the Geo reserves, limits the Soul Meter copies the currently-unlocked moves, and must be slain in order to retrieve the lost Geo and restore the Soul Meter to its maximum capacity.
  • Equipment Upgrade:
    • Your nail can be reforged by the Nailsmith to increase its damage at the cost of Geo and some Pale Ores.
    • Divine can upgrade the Fragile Charms into their Unbreakable Charm variants if you give her loads of Geo for each.
  • 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 escaped and came all the way to Howling Cliffs after that. In fact, not even the developers themselves know.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The Knight is implied to be the only remaining Vessel left, as all other Vessels were killed in the Abyss.
  • Evolving Weapon: Collecting 1800 Essence and returning to the Seer upgrades the Dream Nail into the Awoken Dream Nail, allowing you to read even the most protected minds.
  • Foil: Zote and the Knight. Both have quite the similar clothing choice (a dark cloak), weapon type (a nail) and a horned white "shell". However, their personalities are opposites; Zote is talkative, has pathetic swordplay that doesn't change throughout the game, and wields a wooden nail that doesn't do any damage even when he hits something with it. On the other hand, the Knight cannot speak, has decent fighting skills at the start but eventually becomes a Nailmaster, and its nail can be upgraded into a pure form that does increasing amounts of damage.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the middle of a fast and tense fight, the Knight's sprite can be hard to see when casting spells. The upgraded, void versions of the spells will have frames showing the knight in their shade form (best explained here), but even the small details such as void tendrils in that form can be hard to notice as well.
  • Full-Contact Magic: Compared to the other spells, the Knight needs to jump first so that it could cast Desolate Dive/Descending Dark.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Hitting your own leftover shade with the dream nail will instantly banish it, making you unable to read any thoughts.
    • The Knight cannot speak. And since it doesn't have a mouth, the prompt for it to interact with other NPCs is "Listen". This is yet another part of the Pale King's designs - "No voice to cry suffering".
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: As the Knight's Shade is a void being, it has a black body with round, solid white eyes.
  • Ground Pound: A spell gotten from the Soul Master does this, which can be upgraded. It is useful for breaking delicate floors.
  • Heal Thyself: As the game lacks health pickups and benches/hot springs can be a trek away, the protagonist can heal by using its soul gauge to focus, but it's left defenseless in the process. This can be partially offset with certain charms, like Quick Focus and Shape of Unn.
  • 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 Mime: Does not say a word throughout the entire game, a fact that is commented on by several characters. So, the command to interact with people is "Listen". Even trying to hit a shade with the dream nail doesn't produce any thoughts from it. Turns out it's hard to speak when you have no voice, and likely not even a mouth. This is part of the Pale King's design for the vessels.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the normal ending, the Knight gives their life to become the new vessel for the infection, while the Dream No More ending sees them give up their individuality to become one with the void, consume the Radiance, and destroy the infection permanently.
  • 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 they really need 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 Dream No More ending where instead of being a new vessel for the Infection, 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.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • Hornet addresses the Knight as "Little Ghost" or simply "Ghost".
    • Bretta calls the Knight as their "White Saviour" when you rescue her in Fungal Wastes. Later variants include "White Wanderer".
    • The Dreamers refer to it as "Shadow".
    • The Seer gives importance on its ability to use the Dream Nail, thus calling the Knight as "Wielder".
    • If you complete the Journal, the Hunter calls the Knight as one of his own, a "Hunter". Otherwise, he refers to them as a "little squib", although this becomes more of a term of endearment the closer the Knight is to filling the Journal.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: The Knight is commonly referred to as "it" in third-person. Justified as the Vessels don't have gender identity, and the friendly NPCs do not know what other pronouns to call the Knight either.
    Steel Soul Jin: ...It refuses to trade...? It has a will... all Its own. Can refuse.
  • Kid Hero: Played with. They're still physically a child during the events of Hollow Knight, but they're at least as old as their sibling, the Hollow Knight. This is probably a consequence of their death and revival by the Abyss.
  • Kill and Replace: What happens in the first two endings – The playable Knight kills the Hollow Knight, absorbs the infection into itself and becomes the next vessel for containing the infection.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Gets viewed as this by Bretta when she is rescued.
  • Laser Blade: The Dream Nail is very similar to one - its physical handle or hilt is merely a pin, but the "nail" part of it is made up of purple essence energy.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: As a consequence of travelling to lands beyond the Howling Cliffs before the start of the game, the Knight is implied to have lost its memories. We get to learn how it is possible soon enough, that the King's gift of sentience to the bugs only applies within Hallownest. And the Knight does manage to recover its memories in the Abyss near the end of the game.
  • Laser Guided Tyke Bomb: All of the Vessels were made to specifically counteract Radiance. The playable Knight in particular is out to take the place of the current Vessel.
  • Late to the Tragedy: The Kingdom of Hallownest is already in dire straits when the Knight decides to return to it from the Howling Cliffs.
  • Leitmotif:
    • The Knight's theme is first heard on the main menu, and recurs frequently throughout the soundtrack most notably being shared with the other vessels, the Broken Vessel / Lost Kin and the Hollow Knight.
    • When you are near your own left-over shade, a short, looping track plays, often dubbed as the "Shade Music Box". A slower version is played like an actual music box tunenote . The Path of Pain cutscene shows the young Hollow Knight (AKA The Pure Vessel) was in the Palace's balcony with the Pale King.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Since our playable character is a Magic Knight who can learn Nail abilities and spells, it is possible to focus on either build with the help of Charms and prioritizing some gameplay mechanics.
    • Nail-focused builds only need to worry about getting close and whacking enemies with the basic attacks, which also doesn't consume soul.
    • Spell-focused builds also have to worry about replenishing soul via other means (such as the Dream Nail) since basic attacks aren't enough. Plus, the timing is also crucial since spells can miss and waste soul. But to compensate, spells can damage enemies and bosses in phases where nail attacks will just bounce off them.
  • Living Shadow: The Knight's Shade, which is made out of void.
  • Magic Knight: Wields both a nail and powerful spells.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Howling Wraiths/Abyss Shriek summons several screaming ghosts above the Knight which damages enemies.
  • Meaningful Name: Hornet nicknames them "Ghost" and "Little Shadow." This is more-or-less what they are; one of the Pale King's children twisted by the Void, as with all Vessels.
  • Memorial Statue:
    • Ogrim will make a dung statue of the Knight after you defeat him five times.
    • A special room in the Hall of Gods is also dedicated to the Knight.
  • Messianic Archetype: Downplayed. The Knight doesn't share the backstory of the Hollow Knight which covered most of the latter's allusions to the Messiah, but our Player Character could visually share a resemblance in the game's first ending, where it serves as the new Sealed Vessel, absorbing all the infection in itself and somehow saving bugkind once more, while also being chained hanging in the temple's center.
  • Mirror Boss: Although it is not a boss, your shade will use all the moves you had when you last died and has HP in direct proportion to your max HP.
  • Mistaken Identity:
    • Sly mistakes the Knight for Oro in the Forgotten Crossroads. This is actually a hint that Sly is the Nailsage.
    • The Knight gets mistaken for one of the infected husks by the Dung Defender, initiating a boss fight. The latter eventually apologizes afterwards.
    • If you wear the Defender's Crest while talking to the White Lady, she will recognize that foul potent smell and mistake you for Ogrim.
  • Mythology Gag: The Knight's design is taken from Team Cherry's first game Hungry Knight. Mister Mushroom even makes a connection between the Knight and that game when you talk to him for the first time:
    Mister Mushroom: "...It's nice that you were able to help your friend. So you're not hungry any more?"
  • Necromancer: In a specific way, however. Their basic spell is to conjure an angry ghost.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Knight is a Shadow Imp Magic Knight.
  • No Biological Sex: Vessels have no biological sex or gender identity due to being Void beings created by the Pale King.
  • No Body Left Behind: When they die, the only thing they leave behind is their mask.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Maybe. 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. It's debatable whether the entity in question is still the Knight, though.
  • No Name Given: It has no official name in-game. It is only referred to using nicknames (such as "Little Ghost" by Hornet), a "Vessel" (much like its siblings) or the pronoun "it". In a meta-sense, the community calls the Player Character much like how Team Cherry commonly labels it - "the Knight".
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: A distorted tune of this nature plays whenever your Shade is nearby.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The Radiant difficulty option in the Hall of Gods turns the Knight into this against the boss fights in that room.
  • One Hit Poly Kill: Vengeful Spirit/Shade Soul pierces through and damages all enemies in a straight line.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: If the Player Character dies, it will spawn a "Shade" on the spot, which is a Living Shadow made out of liquid void, that also shares the upgrades or abilities that the Knight had before. The player isn't the only one, as a Vessel, since there are thousands of other Vessels who died in the Abyss, but had their shades still lingering in that place. In the endings, they also demonstrate the ability to enter dreams and disappear along with the void.
  • 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.
  • Parrying Bullets: The Knight can parry smaller, solid projectiles back at the shooter, for example:
    • A gulka's projectiles can be deflected back at it using a well-timed nail slash.
    • You can protect yourself from the Dung Defender's dung balls by slashing them with your nails.
  • Passing the Torch: The Hunter's Mark is a symbolism of this, passed from the Hunter to the Knight after the Journal is completed:
    The Hunter: I have no offspring, nor subjects, nor worshippers. The sum of my being, my learning, my instincts... I leave it all to you. Good luck, Hunter.
  • Pensieve Flashback: The dream sequence that you enter after using the Dream Nail on the black egg found at the Birthplace is the Knight's past memories. It starts off from the moment our Knight gets thrown in the Abyss and has to struggle and climb its way back up. Unfortunately, the Pale King had already chosen an ideal Vessel so the Abyss had to be closed, forcing our Knight to fall back into the deepest levels.
  • 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 can operate with nary a break for food or sleep.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: It is tiny compared to most of the bosses that can be encountered, and even a lot of NPCs still tower it that they have to look down when interacted with.
  • Player Death Is Dramatic: Exaggerated with the player knight, as not only is the knight's death dramatic, what with it violently disintegrating, but even taking damage is emphasized with a brief freeze-frame and glass-cracking effectnote , a loud thud, and any background music cutting out for a second before fading back in.
  • Player-Exclusive Mechanic: Only the Knight has a self-healing ability. No enemy in the game can heal themselves.
  • Power of the Void: The upgraded versions of the Knight's spells are void-themed. In the path to the Dream No More ending, the Knight becomes one with the Void and wields it against the Radiance to defeat her for good. All of these are made possible since the Knight is a being born of the void.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: In all of the endings, it doesn't end well for the Knight, as it sacrifices its life in order to seal or defeat the infection.
  • Red Baron: Hornet would sometimes expand on the "Ghost" nickname she gives the knight, formally calling it the "Ghost of Hallownest".
  • Reforged Blade: The Old Nail can be completely reforged into the Pure Nail with the help of the Nailsmith. Aside from the damage boost, it will also have a shinier metal with intricate, etched designs when viewed in the inventory.
  • Royal Blood: As a result of being a Vessel, a child of the Pale King and the White Lady.
  • Rule of Three:
    • It is one of the three known vessels (the Knight, the Broken Vessel, and the Hollow Knight)
    • It can learn three unlockable spells (Vengeful Spirit/Shade Soul, Desolate Dive/Descending Dark, and Howling Wraiths/Abyss Shriek).
    • It can also learn three Nail Arts from the three Nailmasters (Oro, Mato, and Sheo).
  • Scarred Equipment: Most official artworks and merchandise feature the Knight's weapon in its broken and cracked "Old Nail" form. This can be completely subverted in-game however, thanks to the Nailsmith reforging it into a stronger, "Pure Nail" form.
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: What the Player Character becomes in "The Hollow Knight" ending, where they take the place of the previous Hollow Knight as the new vessel to contain the infection.
  • Shaping Your Attacks:
    • Vengeful Spirit/Shade Soul conjures and throws angry ghosts at people.
    • Howling Wraiths/Abyss Shriek creates several screaming ghosts above the Knight.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Vengeful Spirit/Shade Soul is just a straight-line projectile spell, but like the Howling Wraiths/Abyss Shriek, it can go through walls and has a fast animation, allowing easy spam tactics.
  • Soul Power: The Knight can fill their soul gauge through various means, mostly whacking other bugs with their nail.
    • They then use souls to heal themselves or projects them in various directions to deal damage.
  • The Speechless: Like all others of its kind, the Knight is this by the design of the Pale King. While the game's art style rarely depicts characters with mouths, it's that in the protagonist's case this isn't just stylistic.
  • Spin Attack: The Knight can learn a horizontal spinning blade attack called "Cyclone Slash" from Nailmaster Mato.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation: The Dream Nail's physical form is only a small hilt resembling a "pin", while the "blade" made out of light only appears once the button is held.
  • Staring Through the Sword: In the official poster for the Hidden Dreams content pack, the Knight shown to be holding the Dream Nail in front of its face.
  • Stab the Sky: The Knight points the Dream Nail upwards as it teleports to a Dream Gate.
  • Stealing the Credit: Zote will wrongfully accuse the Knight with this once he gets rescued from the Vengefly King, claiming that, when the Knight killed the Vengefly King, it interrupted the fight between Zote and his "prey" (when in reality, Zote is in danger), and gets eaten if you don't interrupt.
    Zote: Just what do you think you're doing?! You dare to come between me and my prey? Is it a habit of yours to scurry about, getting in the way and causing bother?
  • Sucking-In Lines: Lines of wind will gather at the Knight when charging the Crystal Heart's super dash ability.
  • Take a Third Option: The Godmaster update adds two more endings that deviate from the choices in the base game, both of which involve the Knight killing the Radiance directly in the dream world (via entering the Godhome), preventing the need to fight their predecessor Vessel just to kill the Radiance (in the "Dream No More" ending). This choice also avoids the consequences of the Knight absorbing all the infection into itself (in "The Hollow Knight" and "Sealed Siblings" endings). Naturally, this instead leaves the Hollow Knight waking up in the Temple of the Black Egg and confronting Hornet outside.
    • It goes even further than this as Godseeker Mode canonically takes place 'after' either of the DLC's endings.
  • Theme Naming: The void-upgraded versions of the spells have names themed after the concept of darkness (i.e. Shade Soul, Descending Dark, Abyss Shriek).
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: The Knight is noted to have a silent, stoic stare.
  • Trapped in Another World: Zig-zagged. This was invoked by the three Dreamers as they teleport the Knight to the dream world in an attempt to trap it there. It was short-lived however, when one of the moths rescued the Knight and gave it the Dream Nail capable of crossing between the physical and the dream worlds.
  • 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 fell back into the Abyss after finding out that a different one had been chosen. 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.
  • Uniformity Exception: At a young age, all Vessels are nearly identical with their siblings save for their horns which come in various shapes and sizes. Among them, the Knight and the young Hollow Knight look almost like each other, if not for the fact that the young Hollow Knight has taller horns and with larger jagged patterns in the middle of each horn. By the time you meet the Broken Vessel, it also looks identical to the playable Knight since both are still in their smaller forms.
  • Victor Gains Loser's Powers: The Desolate Dive is an ability of the Soul Master that the Knight can obtain after defeating the boss.
  • Video Game Dashing: The Mothwing Cloak allows you to dash both on ground and on the air. Later on, you'll get a super dash ability that enables "flight" on a straight horizontal line until you hit a wall (or press jump or dash to stop short). An upgrade to the normal dash will allow you to phase through enemies, and with a certain charm you'll deal damage while doing it.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Happens twice:
    • In the Deepnest, there is a bench covered with web and surrounded by the distant villagers. It is actually a trap once sat on. The knight will wake up in the Beast's Den and must fight its way out.
    • Downplayed in the Kingdom's Edge, the Cast-off Shell will collapse with the Knight still inside. As the Knight loses consciousness, we get to see Hornet carrying it outside.
  • Wall Jump: The Mantis Claw allows the knight to automatically cling to and slide down walls when not on the ground. The wall-jump can be done in limitless successions (allowing you to scale up most walls) until the Knight touches the ceiling or reaches a ledge.
  • Weapons That Suck: After defeating any Warrior Dream or Dream Boss, it will be "absorbed" into the Dream Nail as essences.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: The Vessels were born from both the Void and the power of the Pale King and White Lady.

The Knight's Charms

  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Fragile set of charms give powerful effects but will break upon death and can only be repaired by returning to Leg Eater and paying a small fee. Two of them become very practical on the Dream Bosses, and the trials in Godhome, because the knight doesn't die if it fails these difficult bosses, so it can use the Fragile charms freely. You can also turn them into the Unbreakable set which never break, for a very steep cost.
    • The Sharp Shadow charm allows you to damage enemies by dashing through them with the shade cloak. Although the benefit is an added offensive mechanic to your dash, it also comes with a double-edged sword. The charm increases your shade cloak dash length by 39%. This can make some platforming sections more difficult than intended since most platforms are designed to be traversed with the full length of the normal dash. Having an extended dash may put you at risk when having to dash through spiked walls and platforms. It doesn't also quite help that the shade cloak's recharge speed can be fast, which means that you are most likely activating this charm every time you dash.
    • Heavy Blow greatly increases the knockback distance with the Knight's attacks, pushing the enemies farther away. Sounds good on paper, right? Well in gameplay, it can be very detrimental for those who spec into melee builds focusing on the nail, as you have to get close in order to deal damage with your main weapon, but Heavy Blow will just ruin that and force you to move every time. It's also impractical against flying enemies, especially those with ranged attacks like the Primal Aspids - All that this charm does is just to give these enemies more breathing space to shoot you even more. The charm can only be viable in spell-focus builds and for players who like to spam their spells, but even a spell-focused build is difficult against most lesser mooks. What's worse, Heavy Blow is practically useless against large bosses that are immune to knockback.
  • Battle Aura:
    • Fury of the Fallen makes the Knight emit a red aura if they only have one mask left.
    • Once you have obtained the Void Heart, the Knight will be permanently emitting a faint black shadow when it walks.
  • Body Motifs: Some charms (including Salubra's Blessing) have faces on their icons, indicating who the charm originated or was obtained from. The Unbreakable Heart is a weird case as there are countless faces/masks all over it, even more than Joni's Blessing.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Grubsong is a charm accessible relatively early in the game that gives you soul each time you take damage. It's ludicrously cheap for its effect, only costing a single charm notch, and although it shines in spell-heavy builds and damage-sponge builds, it's hard to find an area where it isn't useful. It is also very beneficial and practice for first-timers who constantly find themselves getting hit by enemies or environmental hazards.
    • Wayward Compass is by far the most useful travel pin; for one charm notch, it actively marks where the knight currently is on the map. For those who aren't the best at keeping track of where they are, this is really useful.
    • Weaversong is a two-notch charm that summons three small spiders that will fight alongside the player. Although they aren't the strongest, they are also invincible and can pierce shields. This makes them incredibly useful for dealing with shielded enemies, as well as good for crowd-controlling weaker enemies.
    • The Grimm Troupe update adds Grimmchild, similarly an invincible companion that adds extra damage and can easily deal with shielded enemies.
    • Most of the charms that focus on the knight's nail, such as Long Nail, Mark of Pride, and Quick Slash, aren't very flashy but are highly effective. The Long Nail and Mark of Pride charms extend the reach of the knight's nail, and Quick Slash makes its strikes faster, substantially increasing its damage per second.
    • The Hiveblood charm is highly recommended in the Platform Hell areas of the White Palace. The difficulty of traversing through fast traps would certainly guarantee your death over and over, but with a limited health regeneration effect, you are technically given infinite tries without having to return to the bench (that is, if you endure 12 seconds of waiting every time you lose a health point). This can also be applied to the harder phases in the Colosseum of Fools, as the Hiveblood charm is the only way for you to recover health in mid-air or when you are forced to climb on the walls, away from the ground spikes.
    • Want a way to technically refill your soul gauge infinitely without heavy risks and without the Kingsoul? Equip both the Grubsong and Hiveblood charms, damage yourself into hazards or enemies, invoke the Grubsong's effect, retreat, wait for your health to regenerate, and repeat.
    • While it deals no damage, the Dream Wielder is by far the most useful tool when farming for soul, thanks to its increased soul absorption and faster attack speed. It also knocks back most enemies on hit.
    • Defender's Crest deals only 1 damage per tick, but it is already enough to kill the Infected Balloons summoned by the Broken Vessel and its Lost Kin variant. This allows you to focus on the main boss without worrying much on its backup.
  • Breakable Power-Up:
    • The Leg Eater sells you three charms (more HP, more geo drops, and stronger attacks) that will break if you die with them equipped. If that happens, you can still buy replacements from him. They also won't break if you lose inside a dream. The Grimm Troupe update offers a way to make the Fragile charms permanent so that they are not lost on death, but it costs a hefty amount of geo and the inability to use that charm until you scrounge up the cash for the unbreakable version.
    • Baldur Shell creates a barrier when focusing. This barrier blocks up to four hits before it breaks, and the Knight must sit on a bench to have it restored.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: Once the Void Heart charm is obtained, it cannot be unequipped and will have zero charm notch cost. It would also permanently lock-out Ending 1 and replace it with Ending 2 by default.
  • Cooldown Manipulation: Dashmaster halves the cooldown of the Mothwing Cloak, allowing the Knight to dash more often.
  • Counter-Attack: Thorns of Agony spawns thorns all over the Knight to deal damage to enemies every time it gets hit. Combining this charm with Baldur Shell makes for a more literal application of the trope, as the Knight will be protected by the shell, but can still attack in retaliation with the thorns.
  • Critical Status Buff: Fury of the Fallen boosts your attack when you only have one mask left. It also causes the beam effect from Grubberfly’s Elegy to be usable at one mask as well as full health.
  • Discount Card: Wearing the Defender's Crest will make the Leg Eater give a 20% discount on his services, while Tuk will also give a free Rancid Egg.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The Kingsoul charm is split into two pieces, one acquired from the Pale King in the White Palace and the other given by the White Lady in the Queen's Gardens. The halves are useless on their own, but by interacting with their keepers, the Knight is able to acquire both pieces and join them as a functioning charm.
  • Fartillery: When equipped with the Defender's Crest, it periodically releases a cloud of brown, poisonous gas.
  • Fastball Special: The Flukenest charm changes the Vengeful Spirit spell 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.
  • Flaming Hair: Invoked by the Grimmchild charm, as its mask icon's top is set on fire whenever the Knight defeats Grimmkins and obtains their flames.
  • Friendship Token: Given by Nymm to the Knight, the Carefree Melody's item description openly states this.
    Token commemorating the start of a friendship.
  • Gambler's Fallacy: How the Carefree Melody procs. The more you get hit, the higher the chance of the charm blocking the next instance of damage (e.g. After the charm has blocked the first damage instance, the next block has a 90% chance to proc if you have been hit 7 or more times consecutively).
  • Green Thumb: Thorns of Agony spawns thorns and vines around the Knight as a form of Counter-Attack every time it gets hit.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: As in literally a "heart". The Void Heart charm gives no gameplay benefits other than being a Clingy MacGuffin that is tied to an ending's route, as well as symbolizing that the Knight now managed to "unite the void under [its] will". This ability to unite the void comes in handy in defeating the Radiance later on.
  • Heroic Suicide: Lore-wise, this is why hatchlings just charge on enemies – They have no desire to eat or live, and are willing to sacrifice themselves just to protect their parent, or in the player's case, the Knight.
  • Hit Stop: While there is already a hit-stop effect when the Knight takes damage, the Carefree Melody charm has a more distinct sound and a longer slowdown effect for a few seconds after it has successfully blocked an instance of damage.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: It isn't explained where the Knight keeps all the approximately 40 charms on their person, but as an added gameplay mechanic, you can only swap charms when sitting on a bench.
  • I Am Legion: By transforming the Kingsoul into the Void Heart, it is 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.
  • Light/Darkness Juxtaposition: The Kingsoul charm starts out purely white at first, then it completely changes into the pitch-black Void Heart charm on the way to the Dream No More Ending.
  • Limited Loadout: Your charm loadout is limited by the number of notches that you can have, and each charm can take up several notches to be equipped. Fortunately, you can find more notches in your travels. There's a mechanic called "overcharming" that allows you to force one more charm even if it goes past the notch count.
  • Living Weapon: The Flukenest is stated to be a living charm born in the gut of a Flukemarm.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: There are two damage negation charms:
    • Baldur Shell spawns a shield only when you are healing yourself, but it interrupts the heal process if you get hit, and is only usable for a limited time until it breaks. You need to sit on a bench to have it repaired.
    • Dreamshield is a passive shield that orbits around the Knight, making it directly uncontrollable. But unlike the Baldur Shell, the Dreamshield can only block projectiles and not direct collision attacks. Lastly, the Dreamshield can damage enemies, but will "fold" for a while, making it useless until it unfolds once more.
  • Magikarp Power: The Grimmchild must evolve throughout the entire Grimm Troupe campaign. At first, it can do nothing against the enemies, but will gain the ability to shoot projectiles on the next evolution. Subsequent evolutions would then increase its damage output.
  • Mook Maker: The "Glowing Womb" and "Weaversong" charms spawn kamikaze flies and spiderlings, respectively.
  • Meaningful Name: While some charm names are self-explanatory, others have subtle meanings that can only be understood via Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Shape Of Unn transforms the Knight into a slug-like creature. Its description openly states that the charm transforms the bearer into the form of Unn, which makes sense because Unn is a slug.
    • Joni's Blessing may be weird at first glance, since the Knight basically just grabs the item out from Joni's corpse. But when Joni's ghost appears, she cannot remember anything, thinks that she has willingly given the charm to the Knight, and is fine with it. Thus, Joni thinks that she allowed the Knight to have her blessing.
    • Carefree Melody references the implication that Nymm is an amnesiac Brumm who was freed from his duties in the banishment of the Grimm Troupe. Now he is free to share his music in Dirtmouth.
  • Money Multiplier: The Greed charm increases the geo dropped by enemies by 20-60%.
  • Mook Maker: Not on their own, but they can create friendly monsters of their respective types by equipping certain charms
    • Glowing Womb (flying mini-knights, or, when paired with Defender's Crest, flies)
    • Weaversong (baby spiders)
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Enemies made out of Void, such as The Collector, do not fill up the player's soul gauge when hit. But a Weaversong + Grubsong charm combo allows the weaverlings to provide 3 Soul every time they hit any enemy, including those that weren't supposed to give Soul in the first place.
  • Necessary Drawback: Some charms with otherwise overpowered abilities have added downsides in them for the sake of balance:
    • Deep Focus allows you to heal 2 masks at a time, but it also decreases your Focus speed by 65%.
    • Joni's Blessing increases your mask count by 40% and adds 1 as a bonus. However, all masks become Lifeblood, which prevent you from healing yourself other than resting in benches.
    • Hiveblood gives you health regeneration, but you must not be damaged within 12 seconds to recover a mask each time.
    • Kingsoul gives you Soul recovery over time, which could have been one of the most useful charms in the game, but then players would regret losing it when it turns into Void Heart. So it was nerfed by requiring five notches to equip (the highest cost of any charm), and recovering so slowly as to be near-useless in boss battles.
  • Non-Player Companion: The game at launch had the Glowing Womb charm which summons kamikaze flies at the cost of soul energy. The Grimm Troupe added Weaversong (pack of baby spiders) and Grimmchild (single familiar that grows through the campaign's storyline.)
  • No Ontological Inertia: Hatchlings spawned by the Glowing Womb will immediately disappear when the charm is unequipped in a bench.
  • Notice This: The bonus geo dropped by the Greed charm have a white sheen and spin faster than the rest.
  • Orbiting Particle Shield: The Dreamshield charm creates a flying shield that circles around the Knight, protecting it from projectiles while also dealing damage to enemies in conjunction with the Knight's nail attacks.
  • Permanently Missable Content: There are mutually exclusive charms that would be permanently replaced by another after completing certain criteria.
    • The Kingsoul is a 5-notch charm that passively replenishes soul. But once it turns to the Void Heart, it will lose those gameplay benefits.
    • The Banishment ending will replace the Grimmchild with the Carefree Melody.
  • Phlebotinum Overdose: Known as "overcharming". If you have at least one empty charm notch, you can still force a charm that won't normally fit the notch count. This is done by attempting to equip a charm five times; on the fifth try it is equipped, an image of glass breaking appears, and a message states that the knight is now "overcharmed" and will take double damage.
  • Plot Coupon That Does Something: The Kingsoul charm has many benefits – A passive Regenerating Mana effect, a key to open the Birthplace in the Abyss, and the key to obtaining the Void Heart charm, which in turn, unlocks the final path to the Dream No More ending.
  • Poisonous Person:
    • The Defender's Crest adds Deadly Gas that puffs out in a smallish cloud once per two seconds, and turns Flukenest into a poison grenade.
    • Spore Shroom allows it to spread toxic spores when charging Focus.
      • These two stack, causing the spore cloud to be more potent, but disapate faster.
  • Power at a Price: Glowing Womb spawns hatchlings at the cost of draining your Soul meter.
  • Power Equals Rarity: Charms have a specified number of notches before they can be equipped. Usually in comparison, the more powerful or beneficial a charm's effect is, the higher the notch cost, and it also happens that the most powerful charms require more effort to find them in the world map, compared to the low notch-cost and cheap charms that are just bought from the shopkeepers. Some of the blatant examples include:
    • Soul Eater (4 notches) versus Soul Catcher (2 notches). Both increase the amount of soul gained when striking with the nail.
    • Mark of Pride (3 notches) versus Long Nail (2 notches). Both increase the range of your nail attacks.
    • Lifeblood Core (3 notches) versus Lifeblood Heart (2 notches). Both grant additional Lifeblood masks after resting on a bench.
  • Powers as Programs: You collect a variety of charms over the course of the game that grant abilities to the knight. However, you have a limited number of notches to use, starting at three. The good stuff will usually use two notches at minimum. If you have at least one notch unused, you can force a charm that requires two or more to fit. However, doing that will halve your defense. 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.
  • Power Up Letdown: In its initial form, the Grimmchild does absolutely nothing but waste 2 charm notches, so you are actually forced to proceed with Grimm's Fetch Quest if you want to make some use for this charm. Fortunately, it evolves as you proceed with the quest, making it one of the most useful offensive charms once it reaches its full capacity.
  • Power-Up Magnet: The Gathering Swarm belongs to the "Auto-Gained" variant of the trope, as it spawns a friendly swarm that collects loose Geo, even from offscreen.
  • Random Number God: The Carefree Melody prevents an instance of damage based on random chance. Fortunately, Gambler's Fallacy is in effect here.
  • Random Drop Booster: Dream Wielder doubles the already low chances for regular enemies to drop essence.
  • Reduced Mana Cost: Spell Twister reduces the spell cost from 33 to 24. With a full Soul gauge, this allows you to cast up to 4 spells in quick succession instead of 3.
  • Reforged Blade: Two charms (Heavy Blow and Quick Slash) are forged from several nails, with their appearances indeed looking like an amalgamation of weapons. The latter is forged from imperfect or discarded nails having irregular or bent shapes.
  • Regenerating Health: The Hiveblood charm restores 1 mask for every 12 seconds passed without taking damage.
  • Regenerating Mana: Kingsoul slowly fills up your Soul Meter.
  • Scratch Damage: Spore Shroom and Defender's Crest only deal 1 damage per tick.
  • Set Bonus: Equipping certain charms with another within the same Theme Naming will yield inherent effects that mostly boost one of the charm's effects:
    • Dreamshield and Dream Wielder. When combined, the shield becomes 15% larger and regenerates faster.
    • Sprintmaster and Dashmaster further increases the movement speed bonus of the former.
    • Grubsong and Grubberfly's Elegy further increases the amount of soul recovered by the former.
  • Shield Bash: With the Dreamshield charm, the Knight can do it passively as the shield orbits around it, damaging enemies upon contact. Or, the player can also actively invoke this trope, since performing Nail attacks would make the Dreamshield bash outward.
  • Spread Shot: Flukenest converts the Vengeful Spirit spell into a short-ranged barrage of 9 flukes. With the spell's Shade Soul upgrade, 16 flukes are spawned instead.
  • Sprint Shoes: Sprintmaster allows you to sprint faster.
  • Standard Status Effects: Being Overcharmed acts similarly to the "Curse" status effect in other games, wherein you'll be taking twice the damage suffered.
  • Sword Beam: Your reward for rescuing all the imprisoned grubs is Grubberfly's Elegy, a charm that allows you to fire waves of energy from your nail while at full health. The projectiles' properties can be changed in conjunction with other charms such as the Mark of Pride (increased size) and Fury of the Fallen (colored red and increased damage).
  • Toilet Humor: Certain NPCs will remark on the smell of the Defender's Crest charm. Most of them react poorly to it, but Leg Eater likes it enough to give you a discount, Dung Defender himself thinks it's the smell of justice, and the White Lady remembers the "potent smell" of her knight Ogrim, the Dung Defender.
  • Translator Microbes: The Spore Shroom allows the Knight to decipher the gibberish language of the Fungal Tribe's lore tablets and Mr. Mushroom's speeches.
  • Try Everything: Some charms have unique interactions with one another, as well as modifying the effects and/or visual properties of spells, some of which include the following listed below, and there are a lot of possible charm combinations that the player can experiment on. Related charms even produce a Set Bonus when equipped together.
    • Equipping the Sharp Shadow with the shade cloak will transform the knight into a six-eyed void creature for a split second.
    • Spore Shroom with Deep Focus doubles the radius of the toxic cloud.
    • Dash Master compounds Sprint Master's increase in movement speed.
    • Shaman Stone increases the width and damage of each spell.
    • Defender's Crest and Flukenest turns the Vengeful Spirit/Shade Soul spell into a poison gas grenade, as mentioned above.
    • Shape of Unn and Baldur's Shell turns the Knight into a snail, and Spore Shroom adds mushrooms to the mix.
  • Two Halves Make a Plot: In order to unlock the path to the true ending, the knight must obtain the Kingsoul, a legendary Dismantled MacGuffin charm that symbolizes a "union between higher beings". The first half is obtained from the White Lady in the Queen's Gardens after some difficult platforming and a tough boss battle, and the second half is found in the White Palace inside the dream realm, after an even tougher platforming challenge than any that came before.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: 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.
  • Zerg Rush: Some of the Knight's charm-summoned creatures (Hatchlings from Glowing Womb, Weaverlings from Weaversong, Flukenest-enhanced Vengeful Spirit) focus on one target at the time.

"Daughter of Hallownest"

"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: 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.
  • Ace Custom: A Reddit AMA with Team Cherry reveals that Hornet's needle is unique, was made for her, and that there aren't many other bugs skillful enough to use it.
  • Action Girl: One of the skilled female warriors of Hallownest.
  • And I Must Scream: In the "Sealed Siblings" ending, Hornet is locked in the Black Egg alongside the Knight, possible becoming something similar to the Dreamers. Unlike the Dreamers, this is not of her own volition.
    • Note that this ending has become considerably less sad now that the extended trailer for 'Silksong' has revealed the existence of butterflies which can break Seals of Binding, implying that the Black Egg Temple is no longer impossible to access.
  • 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.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: What the battle with her in Kingdom's Edge boils down to. If the Knight can beat Hornet, perhaps one of the best warriors in Hallownest, it may pass and be granted the King's Brand.
  • Big Damn Heroes: After the Knight defeats Hornet in Kingdom's Edge, it receives her full trust. In return, Hornet rescues the Knight from being crushed inside the Cast-off Shell and carries it to a safe distance. She flees out of the scene just as the Knight is about to wake up and notice its savior.
  • 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.
  • Boss Remix: Hornet's battle theme is based on the Pale King's leitmotif.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Hornet's weapon is called a "needle", as the silk attached on the handle also makes it obvious. However, it looks and functions like a throwing Kunai. Given the weapon's size in relation to her body, Hornet uses this kunai-looking weapon like a lance at close range.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Initially just a mysterious character in Greenpath, Hornet would turn out to be the protagonist's half-sibling and plays an important part in the Final Boss fight.
  • Climax Boss: Beating her in Kingdom's Edge serves as the start of your path towards the Golden Ending.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: The devs say this is the intention with regards to the development of Silksong’s gameplay. The Little Knight was capable of some movement bursts by using timed nail bounces but mostly had a plodding and methodical style focused on conservation of resources, carefully managing timed self healing, and navigating traps and hazards slowly. Hornet on the other hand is an aerial speedster that is more fragile but can course correct easier and heal on the fly so she tends to spend her game “either at full health or dead”.
  • Counter-Attack: In the second battle, she'll assume a defensive stance to block and counter the Knight's attacks.
  • 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.
  • Dash Attack: One of her basic attacks is lunging foward with her nail.
  • 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.
  • Didn't See That Coming: In the comics, Hornet only stops attacking Quirrel once the latter's mask reacts to her attack and glows.
  • Divine Parentage: Hornet is a child of the Pale King, one of the Higher Beings who is also referred to as a Wyrm.
  • Due to the Dead: In the Beast's Den, Hornet requests to have some time alone so that she could mourn Herrah's death.
  • 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.
  • Flower Motifs: May be white roses, possibly shared with Lace; both Silksong covers for Edge magazine depict Hornet in Lace's white-rose boss arena or surrounded by them.
  • Foreshadowing: Once you acquire the Shade Cloak, Hornet will compare herself to you, subtly hinting that she has a similarity with the Knight - That is, both share a common parent.
    Though our strength is born of similar source, that part of you, that crucial emptiness, I do not share.
  • Furry Reminder: In Silksong, one of her main defensive moves is to scuttle along the ground on all fours (eights?) to make herself a harder target to hit.
  • 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 Pale King of Hallownest and Herrah the Beast of Deepnest, as part of a deal that made Herrah agree to become a Dreamer. Despite that, her loyalty to Hallownest is unwavering. The White Lady feels no animosity towards her for this, either, and even admits to feeling "some affection for the creature birthed".
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • While she has her own duty in Hallownest, there are times when she subtly crosses paths with the Knight in order to guide it to where it is supposed to go, sometimes lending a hand when needed. This also includes the times where she "stalks" the Knight.
    • In the comic, she challenges Quirrel to a fight, just as the latter was about to enter Hallownest. She backs down after seeing Quirrel's mask glow (which is actually Monomon's).
  • 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.
  • Hit Stop: Striking at Hornet during her defensive stance will produce this effect. After a flash and a motion freeze, she will unleash a Counter-Attack on you.
  • In-Series Nickname: Hornet is addressed as "Princess" by the Weavers of the Den.
  • Interface Spoiler:
    • Even if you've beaten her in Greenpath, the Hunter's comment on Hornet isn't unlocked yet in the Journal, hinting that you'll fight her again later on.
    • If you haven't been paying much attention to the story and the lore, then the name of one achievement ("Sealed Siblings") openly spoils that Hornet is a sibling of the playable Knight.
  • Kiai: She punctuates pretty much every single attack with a loud shout.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The Steam page for Silksong calls Hornet a "princess-protector", when the first game made her royal status a secret for a good portion in the early parts of the story.
  • Leitmotif: Her theme is a modified version of the Pale King's theme, underscoring their connection. The first track is aptly titled "Hornet" while her Godhome boss fight has a remixed version titled "Daughter of Hallownest". Both tracks are also used extensively in the background music for the trailers of Silksong.
  • Master of Threads: Hornet can manipulate silk threads for various purposes. She can use it to launch her needle as an extendable weapon, release multiple threads around herself that slice through the air and use a silk string in the same manner as a grappling hook.
  • Might Makes Right: What Hornet believes in, and is also the reason why she tries to halt the progress of the Knight by standing in the way and forcing a fight. Also doubles as a test of strength and resolve, since Hornet knows what the Vessels are, she wants to test if the current, stranger Vessel (the playable Knight) is strong enough to differentiate itself from the rest of the failed Vessels. She does acknowledge your strength every time you defeat her, and after the second fight in Kingdom's Edge she willingly allows you to obtain the King's Brand.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: It's rarely visible outside of a few moves in Silksong, but she has the eight limbs of her Weaver mother.
  • Murphy's Law: For the base game's endings only. Once you acquired the Void Heart, Hornet will be waiting on standby in the Temple of the Black Egg, saying "Don't be surprised. I'll not risk my own life in your attempt, though if the moment presents I'll aid as I'm able." Thing is, she would always go inside once you fight the Hollow Knight, thus always risking her life to aid you no matter what.
  • Mysterious Watcher:
    • At some points, you can see her observing the Knight from a distance, only to quickly run away when you approach. This also serves as a nice Player Nudge in specific areas where the player can easily get lost.
    • She is seen at the ledge of the Abyss, observing how the Knight was able to absorb the liquid void into itself. The trope is subverted this time as you can interact with Hornet, who is currently amused at what happened to you.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Hornet is a Spider Ninja Princess.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Hornet fights using silk as a Razor Floss, or to get around quick. Her mother is Herrah the Beast, from the spider tribe. Both of which indicate that Hornet is actually based on spiders.
    • Word of God stated her name is actually an affectionate nickname from Hive Queen Vespa, who raised Hornet as a stepdaughter. This was a subplot that ended up being cut for time, and is one of the reasons Vespa’s realm feels so disconnected from the rest of Hallownest.
  • Not So Stoic: Will request the Knight to give her a moment alone after the Knight does the inevitable act of killing her mother Herrah. In that same scene, she will also mention this:
    ...What? You might think me stern but I'm not completely cold.
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: Hornet feels no ill will towards the Knight - she's simply testing it to see if it's worthy of Hallownest's legacy.
  • Parental Abandonment: According to the White Lady, Herrah and Hornet were only given a limited time together. Herrah's role as a Dreamer was implied to be the reason for this.
  • Player Nudge:
    • In certain areas where the path would split, opening to optional side areas (i.e. Greenpath and Fungal Wastes), Hornet appears from a corner and runs to the next room, encouraging you to follow her, since she is heading to the direction that you should go next as well.
    • In the City of Tears, she gives a brief plot-relevant exposition along with giving you the task of meeting her again in the "Grave in Ash". Even if it's a Moon Logic Puzzle at first, Hornet is hinting you to find something in the place called Kingdom's Edge.
  • Promoted to Playable: Hornet is the main character of the sequel, Silksong.
  • Razor Floss: Uses spider threads for a variety of applications.
  • Recurring Boss: Fought at two separate occasions throughout the game. Although the second encounter is optional for the first ending, yet mandatory for the second and third endings.
  • Red Baron: The Gendered Child.
  • Royal Blood: Hornet is the daughter of the Pale King and Herrah the Beast. This also makes her a half-sibling of the Vessels.
  • Royal Rapier: Hornet is a graceful and elegant fighter, her needle highly resembles a rapier, and most of her attacks are thrusting attacks. She's also a princess, the daughter of Herrah, Queen of Deepnest, and the Pale King.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: With Herrah's death and the Pale King's disappearance, Hornet is heir to both Hallownest and Deepnest. She's the one who tries to impede the Knight's quest since she is aware that the Knight would only sacrifice itself in the end for a temporary solution.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Hornet, despite her name, uses Razor Floss skills to attack and get around. You later find out her mother is Herrah the Beast, a member of the spider tribe. Also a subversion since Hornet is one of the good bugs.
  • Stealth Pun: Hornet's weapon is explicitly labeled as a needle, and it is attached with silk at the endpoint via a small hole. This makes it literally a weaponized sewing needle. Quite a clever decision from Team Cherry as well, if you also count the fact that Hornet is born from a spider, and spiders like to "sew" their webs.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Hornet's horns resemble those of her mother, Herrah the Beast's. Even the White Lady noted the striking reflection between the two.
  • Summon to Hand: Hornet's needle can be reeled back to her hand thanks to the attached silk.
  • The Battle Didn't Count: She is one of the few bosses to survive their battle with the Knight, twice.
  • Threshold Guardian: She becomes this in Kingdom's Edge, before she lets you through the Cast-Off shell which holds a very important item inside.
    Hornet: Show me you can accept this Kingdom's past and claim responsibility for its future.
  • 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.
  • Trapped in Containment: The Sealed Siblings ending has Hornet locked in the Black Egg with the Knight turned Vessel for the infection, and also with her becoming the new Dreamer sealing the entrance.
  • Uniqueness Value: Various bugs refer to Hornet as the "Gendered Child", since having a gender is considered a remarkable distinction compared to her genderless siblings, the Vessels.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The first fight against Hornet in Greenpath proves that bosses can be just as fast, agile and complex compared to the sluggish giant bosses you've faced in the Forgotten Crossroads. And yes, this fight in Greenpath is mandatory.
  • Wham Line: Once you defeat Hornet in Kingdom's Edge, she will acknowledge the Knight's strength and will, letting them through the Cast-Off Shell. The wham line comes right after that, revealing the nature of the item she was protecting.
    Hornet: Then do it, Ghost of Hallownest! Head onward. Burn that mark upon your shell and claim yourself as King.
  • 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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