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  • Accidental Innuendo: Grimm refers to the Grimmchild as his child obviously. But when he tasks you with evolving the Grimmchild, he would identify it as your "child" as well.
    Grimm: Look here! How our child has grown, nourished and strengthened by the heat of our passionate dance!
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: See here.
  • Annoying Video-Game Helper: You're more likely to avoid summoning/equipping the Grimmchild when travelling in places with exploding enemies, because he will attack the nearest enemy and Draw Aggro even if you do not want him to. Take for example the Fog Canyon where Oomas home in to the Knight whenever they are hit. Having Grimmchild against them can be suicidal since they deal two masks of damage — and one Ooma's explosion can set off another, causing a potentially devastating chain reaction.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Happens a few times in the game:
    • The Dreamers play an important role in the story and there are achievements for defeating them. You'd think they would be major bosses, but they are actually willing to let you kill them without dishing out even a single blow in return. At least some of them have associated bosses guarding them (i.e. Uumuu for Monomon / Watcher Knights for Lurien). Herrah the Beast doesn't even get that much, though Deepnest itself may be challenging enough.
    • The God Tamer at the very end of the Trial of Fools is a cakewalk compared to the rest of the trial. Somewhat justified, given its position at the end of an absolutely infuriating Marathon Level. If the boss was equally hard, many people would just have thrown their controllers and keyboards in rage, so the Tamer is effectively a Breather Boss.
    • Even the final boss, The Hollow Knight, is surprisingly easy. Its attacks are not too hard to avoid, occasions to heal are aplenty, and it actually hurts itself to help you! This is your first cue that this may not be all there is to the end of the game. Since you have to face The Hollow Knight every time you attempt The Radiance, fighting a hard boss on top of another hard boss would quickly get really infuriating. Also justified from a story perspective, since The Hollow Knight is actively trying not to fight you...
  • Author's Saving Throw: To those who were disappointed at how the Nailmasters were limited to being Cutscene Bosses in the base game, the Godmaster expansion made two additional boss fights dedicated to the Nailmasters. Aside from that, the expansion also included other new boss fights such as Winged Nosk, Sisters of Battle, Great Nailsage Sly, Pure Vessel and the Absolute Radiance.
  • Award Snub: At The Game Awards 2017, it lost the Best Debut Indie Game award to Cuphead.
  • Awesome Art: The hand-drawn 2D atmospheric backgrounds and creative character designs are just gorgeous to look at. The art is even prettier in the animations and cinematic cutscenes, which look like something out of a full-length animated movie or a cartoon series.
  • Awesome Bosses:
    • Grimm, and his upgraded form Nightmare King Grimm, because he encourages you to learn his moves, think fast and react appropriately to each one in order to have a shot at defeating him. While he may be frustrating for beginners, fighting and defeating him is a proof of one's reflexes and pattern recognition.
    • The Mantis Lords are widely seen as one of the most satisfying bosses in the game thanks to the hectic pace of the battle and relentlessness of all three sisters, which is properly reflected in the just as frantic music throughout their fight. It get taken Up to Eleven in the Final Pantheon, where you must fight all three of them at once.
    • The Watcher Knights are notoriously difficult, but they are also extremely fun to fight. You have to face six of them (two at a time, with another awakening each time one drops), and they have fairly simplistic movement patterns, bouncing around the arena and swiping at you if you stay close to one for too long. What makes this fight great is the sheer chaos of having two Watchers active nearly all the time, so that the player has to be constantly on their toes — but fortunately there are brief moments of respite each time one goes down.
    • From the new bosses in the Godmaster update, Paintmaster Sheo stands out as a fun battle that isn't too taxing. He is mechanically unique in that he fights by splashing paint around the arena, leaving splatters on the floor that make it more colourful as the fight progresses. Each colour of paint corresponds to a different attack, so it's relatively easy to read his moves and learn to respond to each one.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • The Pale King. While many agree that killing his children to create the Vessels was wrong, some feel sympathetic towards him due to his desperation to save his people, while others condemn him because of it.
    • Zote. His Jerkass behavior makes a lot of fans hate him, but there's also a camp who find this and his antics hilarious, which is a bright spot in a game filled with bleak environments and dark lore.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The Moss Prophet in the Queen's Gardens (If you find him alive in his spot, that is). He started a cult of moss bugs worshipping the infection itself. What's very out of place is that his dialogue sounds like he's just saying "Go on, go on" in English over and over like Mrs. Doyle. Sadly he's Permanently Missable Content, since he'll die after you defeat the Broken Vessel, and being located in a secret location would mean that players can easily miss him early in the game.
  • Bragging Rights Option: For the Godmaster content, defeating bosses without taking damage and without charms shows that the player can finish a No-Charm Binding in the Pantheons or defeat bosses in Radiant difficulty. There are also some "Meme Charm Builds" common in YouTube demonstrations wherein the player would use Charms that are useless or have no benefits at all in boss fights, such as Wayward Compass, Gathering Swarm, and the Greed charms... All for the sake of memes.
  • Breather Boss:
    • Xero is potentially the "tutorial boss" amongst the Warrior Dreams, since he is located just a few rooms in the Resting Grounds from where you obtain the Dream Nail. Mostly due to Boss Arena Idiocy - The platform where he's in having a safe spot below where his blades cannot hit you, while you are free to heal. His attacks aren't that complex either. To reflect this, he just rewards you with 100 Essence after being defeated.
    • Even easier still among Dream Warriors is Marmu. Located as she is in the thorn-covered platforming challenges and confusing layout that is the Queen's Gardens, Marmu's grave is sitting smack dab in front of a Stag station, no questions asked. Her arena takes place in a wide open area without any risks, her only attack has her bouncing around in predictable arcs, her health is minimal at this point in the game, even with a fully-upgraded Nail, and she takes heavy knockback even from a single strike. Compared to the Traitor mantises you've had to fight just to reach her, this adorable caterpillar is a pushover. Have fun beating up the spirit of a little girl that just wanted to learn how to fly.
    • Nosk, an optional boss in the Deepnest, has a memorably terrifying introduction, but he uses simplistic attack patterns, and there are safe spots for healing next to a raised section of the floor in the center of the arena. While the Hidden Dreams update added a few extra attacks to make the fight less predictable, it doesn't fundamentally change how easy Nosk is.
    • The God Tamer at the end of the Trial of Fools. The majority of the Trial itself can be infuriatingly difficult due to its length and the number of hazards, the boss is surprisingly slow. Even if they are a Dual Boss, the Tamer herself (the rider) has long gaps between her attack times, and said attacks are even slow and predictable. You'll have to worry more about the trilobyte however, since it can spew several blobs from afar, or do a Rolling Attack that homes in your last position. The tactic here is to focus on killing the trilobyte first, since it's an instant victory as the rider will fall in despair when her mount dies.
    • Lost Kin is a pushover by Dream boss standards. It has even fewer attacks compared to the Broken vessel, has very high, predictable jumps that aren't hard to dash through, has the highest stagger rate out of any boss in the game, and doesn't even compensate for its simplistic attacks with double damage like most Dream Bosses. Given it's situated next to a bench along the way to a required upgrade and gives the highest amount of Essence in the game, this might be intentional.
    • The Soul Tyrant is the easiest of the Dream Bosses because the game lets you focus on him – unlike the Lost Kin, who is accompanied by up to six infection balloons, and the Failed Champion, whose arena has a rain of falling rocks – and consistently give you breathing room in his first phase. His aggression and teleportation rate have gone up, and his clock attack has two more energy balls, but his fight never has too many things to keep track of and his attacks aren't radically more difficult to dodge than those of his physical counterpart. He has more health in his second phase – which is essentially a no-heal, all-offensive stage for the player – but the player should also have more Masks, a stronger nail, and the Shade Soul, which balances things out. Considering his increased teleportation rate, this fight should take longer than the original, but it isn't very intense until the last minute.
  • Breather Level: The Resting Grounds, or at least the upper part of it, which is full of worldbuilding and NPC interaction with minimal threats. This is where Xero is located, where the Dream Nail is obtained, where you can encounter Revek and the ghosts in the Spirit's Glade, where the Shrine of Believers is found, where the Seer aids you in collecting essence and provides you with additional lore and exploration. There are even a Soul Totem, a bench, a Stag Station and a Tramway just a few rooms away from the Seer's place, providing a way to fast travel, recover health and save your game, all in one go.
  • Broken Base:
    • The Hidden Dreams update brought up debates about whether it was too small a content pack (only adding a new item, two new bosses, and a new Stag Station) or if it was alright, seeing as larger ones were still on the way.
    • The Godmaster expansion has been similarly divisive. Is it little more than a glorified Boss Rush, or is it meaningful for its other additions and how said Boss Rush ties into the main story? The extremely high difficulty and repetitiveness of Godmaster has similarly split the fanbase: see Scrappy Mechanic below.
    • In a broader sense, the focus on new content in the form of new Bonus Bosses is contentious. While a certain hardcore component of the fanbase likes the added challenge, others feel that adding new bosses only appeals to the hardcore fans, since many or even most players will be put off by the intense difficulty of some of these challenges, especially the Godmaster content.
  • Catharsis Factor: For those who really hate Zote for the Jerkass attitude that he shows the Knight, the player can have fun whacking Zotelings (mooks with Zote's face on them) in the Eternal Ordeal, a secret Mini-Game introduced with the Godmaster update.
    • In the base game, you can always choose to not help him once he gets into a pickle. Players with sufficient foreknowledge can let him die when you first find him, but afterwards you could also leave him squirming in a spider's web for the forseeable future.
  • Cheese Strategy: The so-called "minion build", combining all the charms that send out minions to deal damage (Grimmchild, Weaversong and Glowing Womb) and then staying out of the way of the boss until it goes down, provides a slow but safe victory against some of the game's toughest foes, most notably Failed Champion.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
    • For min-maxers, the Wayward Compass is mostly unequipped when fighting a boss.
    • Since the Knight dies in one hit anyway against Radiant bosses in the Hall of Gods, players opt to ditch any health-increasing/manipulating charms, money-related charms, damage-activated charms, and recovery charms (i.e. Stalwart Shell, Thorns of Agony, Gathering Swarm, Greed, Heart, and the Lifeblood Charms, etc...) and choose to go on the full offensive instead, even if one has to Overcharm.
      • The Grubberfly's Energy is commonly used against these Radiant bosses since the 1-hit restriction equates to maintaining full HP anyway throughout the fight.
      • The Soul Eater charm sees more usage in Overcharmed builds in the Godhome since it's the only 4-notch charm that is generally useful in the Radiant-difficulty boss fights.
      • On the other hand, the Fury of the Fallen charm is considered useless anyway, since it's a full HP or die situation.
    • Even outside of the Godhome, the Greed charms are useless against Dream Bosses and Warrior Dreams anyway, since these bosses don't drop Geo.
    • Several online guides and walkthroughs exist that also have "Recommended Charm Loadouts" for each of the bosses, especially the Nintendo Hard Bonus Boss likes of the Pure Vessel, Nightmare King Grimm, and Absolute Radiance. Some of these tactics include:
      • Using the Dreamshield against Grimm (since the shield makes his "firebats" attack useless).
      • Using the Defender's Crest against the Lost Kin since the boss's summoned infection blobs only have 1 HP anyway, making them easily die from any sources, and the Crest can kill them via an Area of Effect field upon contact.
      • Using the Sprintmaster against agile bosses like Hornet, in order to catch up with their speeds.
      • Using any advantageous tactics that "cheese" the boss but with minimal risks. These tactics are written under the Game-Breaker trope using certain charm combinations.
    • The Hiveblood charm is mostly used in difficult platforming sections such as the White Palace and the Path of Pain. Even though the charm's mechanics are Boring, but Practical, a Regenerating Health means more chances and attempts before dying. Some guides even recommend Grubsong to compensate for the lack of soul resources, especially if these segments lack enemy mooks.
    • For Speedrunners, it's common to use the Dashmaster and Sprintmaster charms since repeated dashing is generally faster than walking, much more with these two charms combined. Additionally, speedrunners would prefer the Japanese or Korean text settings because sentences in these languages mostly use lesser characters than the English version, thus saving more precious time in case the player is required to tread through dialogue.
    • The Fragile charms, in their basic states, see some usage in the following scenarios:
      • In Steel Soul Mode, players don't have to bother getting the three Unbreakable charms anyway, since the Fragile charms work just fine, especially since the goal of the mode is to avoid dying, negating the downsides of the Fragile charms in the first place.
      • Versus the bonus Dream Bosses, since dying in the dream world doesn't break the Fragile charms at all.
    • There are charms treated as must-have in specific builds regardless of the enemy:
      • Once the Unbreakable Strength charm has been obtained, it never comes off in the builds of nail-focused players. That 50% damage increase is just that beneficial in every fight. For nail-focused builds, this charm is mostly paired with Steady Body, Quick Slash, and the range-extending charms Longnail and/or Mark of Pride.
      • For spell-focused builds, the Spell Twister charm because wih a full Soul gauge, it allows players to cast 4 spells instead of 3. It is then paired with charms that generate additional soul, such as Grubsong, Soul Catcher and/or Soul Eater. And if there's still some available notches, players go for the Shaman Stone for increased damage using spells.
  • Complete Monster: The Radiance is the cause of all suffering within Hallownest. She created a race of highly intelligent moths to build an empire; however, she did this with the cost of keeping them stuck in a Hive Mind. When the Pale King appeared, he led them away from her and gave people freedom. Out of jealousy and contempt for the King, the Radiance ended up creating the Infection as a side effect of her anger. When she saw the suffering the plague had caused, turning the denizens of Hallownest into mindless, zombie-like beings in constant agony, she did not care and influenced it further, eventually deteriorating the mind of the vessel she was trapped in, turning him into a Tragic Monster. Driven by utter envy and loathing for the Pale King, the Radiance completely destroyed a thriving kingdom simply because she was no longer in control.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: The Steam Trading Cards have wrong labels on two items:
  • Creepy Cute: A lot of the characters and enemies. They are skull-headed, empty-eyed, bug-like creatures, yet they are just so damn adorable.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: So to get the "Neglect" achievement, you have to ignore Zote being chewed on by the Vengefly King in Greenpath until you get the Mantis Claw. You think you are automatically granted this achievement once you've returned to the same spot later on? Nope. You have to hit Zote's cracked shell with your nail to earn your "reward".
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • There are enemies with explosive attacks that deal 2 damage. Their attacks are usually very fast and have some way of tracking your position.
    • Soul Twisters frequently teleport around to either avoid or pursue you. And when they're not, they're still floating out of your range anyway. They're protected by an orbiting projectile and can fire a homing one when you're close, so taking them on is nearly guaranteed to be a damage race if you're out of Soul gauge for your own spells. Even after opening all the shortcuts at Soul Sanctum, you'll still have to face one of them on your way to the Soul Master.
    • The Giant Hoppers aren't particularly prepossessing — but they are big, fast, and relentless, and they have a ludicrous amount of Hit Points.
    • Crystal Hunters are flying enemies that fire a crystaline projectile, which sprouts a damaging crystal upon impact with any surface. Although the crystals can be destroyed with a single nail hit, they persist for a while otherwise. Crystal Hunters are often found above lethal pits where you typically have to rely on small platforms to stand on. Woe is you if the hunter hits and covers these platforms with crystals, which will happen frequently. To make matters worse, they like to hover out of reach, aren't always alone and providing you do not have damage boosting charms equipped, can survive at least one hit from any nail.
    • Primal Aspids fly, follow you relentlessly throughout the room, frequently gang up on you, and are encountered most often in vertical rooms where you'll inadvertently climb straight up into their ambush. In a game focused on melee combat, they have a long-ranged, three-way Spread Shot projectile attack that's just unpredictable enough that you can easily dodge into the side projectiles while you are actively dodging the middle one.
    • Stalking Devouts are large, elongated spiders that only take damage from the front in the split-second before they attack. They're often found blocking corridors that you need to progress in Deepnest, of all places, deal two mask damage per hit, and are very fast for their size. Due to the range of their attacks, a nail-extension charm is practically essential if you're going to kill it faster than it can kill you. The trick is to approach them from behind or get them into a larger room where you can bounce repeatedly on their head, though this is not always possible. They can also be bypassed with a Shadow Cloak, though that will only help you late in the game.
    • Furious Vengeflies are one of the most aggressive enemies in the game, quickly charging you on sight, with your base attacks doing so little pushback against it that it's likely to reach you before you can kill it. And if that wasn't bad enough, its corpse explodes for 2 damage.
    • While Great Husk Sentries can easily be cheesed to death by baiting them into attacking and then jumping up and hitting them with aerial down attacks (or just dashing behind them and hitting them from the rear,) until you figure that out they're nigh-unstoppable juggernauts that leave you in a world of hurt with every hit until you learn their patterns, and even if you do figure them out, any and every little mistake is sorely punished.
  • Disappointing Last Level: Both the Final Boss and the True Final Boss are physically located inside the Black Egg Temple, which is a sub-section of the Infected Crossroads, which is based on the Forgotten Crossroads. In other words, the final bosses do not even require you to visit a new uncharted area to find them. Instead, you have to do some backtracking since they are found in the first level of the game after you descend into Dirtmouth! The Black Egg Temple itself is actually small as well, only having a darkened hallway before the boss room.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Elderbug, since many a player feels pity for him for keeping the town of Dirtmouth in check, hopeful for any residents to return. Many players even recommend giving him a Delicate Flower since it's one of the most heartwarming things that you can do in this game - lighten up the mood of a depressed NPC so that he can have hope in life again.
    • A lot of people really like Quirrel. He is one of the friendly NPCs who respects the Knight, guides him, and even assists him to defeat Uumuu. Then you can interact with him for one final scene that doubles as a heartwarming and a Tear Jerker - He finally remembers who he was, and spends a moment to gaze at the Blue Lake, reminding him and the player that Hallownest can still be beautiful.
    • What is said for Quirrel can also be said for Cloth, who gets many optional interactions with the Knight, going from a timid warrior scared of common enemies to a confident Action Girl that sadly gives her life to take down the Traitor Lord. The final dialogue with her ghost has been known to make players teary-eyed.
    • The Dung Defender is generally acknowledged as one of the most amusing bosses in the game because of how fun he is, providing a fair and entertaining fight and being a very welcome break from the bleakness. Whoever voiced him was clearly having a blast. It helps he has a greater attachment to the lore, as one of the Five Great Knights, aka Ogrim.
    • Myla is very popular, even though she never leaves her starting location and adds little to the game's story besides being an adorable miner. Probably because her transition from a happy, cute character to an insane zombie is considered one of the best examples of just how tragic the game can be.
    • Grimm. His design, personality, boss music and mysterious motivations quickly gained him a large following. He's also one of the most challenging bosses in the game. Challenging mind you, not infuriating, since he encourages you to learn and read enemy attacks, dodge, and analyze the situation no matter how fast the enemy moves.
    • The Grimmchild is also a popular choice of a charm, much more than the Weaversong which also allows you to summon minions. It's because the entirety of The Grimm Troupe content revolves around evolving the Grimmchild, and that the charm is a Required Party Member for a majority of the Grimm-related quests, that players have developed a sense of affection towards the child, or have gotten used to it. The sound effect that it makes is also quite cute, resembling that of a cat's meow. As a result, it can be quite easy to see a lot of fanart or fanvids of the Knight traveling with the Grimmchild.
    • The Hollow Knight, due to its sympathetic backstory.
    • Bretta gets attention for her cute design, adorably shy personality, and being a Fangirl of the Knight. Even when she switches her affections to Zote, she gets respect for her Character Development if you can finish her sidequest.
  • Epileptic Trees: Since most of the lore are presented in text-based Story Breadcrumbs, it is rife with theories, multiple interpretations and wild mass-guessing within the community. Some of the quirkiest theories ask whether Zote is a failed Knight, if Hornet is made out of Void, if the playable Knight is an Alternate Self of the Pale King (one that sparked a debate and also theorized by MatPat of Game Theory), etc... But in general, mistaking the characters' identities and origins even in ridiculous ways can also serve as a Fandom-Enraging Misconception. Thankfully, there are players like mossbag who make in-depth lore discussions and explanations to clarify, debunk and fix all these theories.
    • Theories regarding Zote can be rather blown out of proportion and Played for Laughs, such as the idea that he could be the very first Vessel, but was so noisy that the Pale King decided to ditch him and made sure that the next Vessels in line won't have the ability to talk, something that applies to the current, playable Knight.
    • Another absurd theory was that the Failed Tramway failed because the Menderbug can't be bothered to go in the Deepnest to help in fixing or constructing it. Others suggest that it failed because he is canonically dead. That last one got Jossed in a Reddit AMA with Team Cherry, stating that the Menderbug will only die if you kill him.
    • Regarding the Pale King. There were debates that attempted to answer whether or not he was already dead, if his corpse found in the dream world rendition of the White Palace is real, if he's still alive but just hiding, or if he had taken into a new form (considering how his original body as the Wyrm can be found in Kingdom's Edge, implying some Resurrective Immortality). Some wild theories claim that the Pale King died inside the White Palace, and their reasoning was that, he was killed by the traps, spikes and buzzsaws he installed everywhere!
    • Another Pale King theory was even taken to higher absurdity levels by some players who claim that the line "No Cost Too Great" refers to the amount of Geo that the King spent in purchasing and installing these traps to the point where the kingdom was ruined not by the infection... but by economic crisis!
    • Why are there Jellyfish (i.e. Oomma and Uumuu) in an underground world filled with insects and fungi? Some fans believe that there is no grounded In-Universe lore or plot point to support their inclusion... other than the meta-level idea that Team Cherry may have just wanted to add clear references to Metroid.
    • Divine ate the Leg Eater so that he will become stronger, more durable, and evolve as the Unbreakable Leg Eater!
    • A meta case from fans who were looking into the game's teased-but-cut content, trying to justify their removal mid-development... So, why did Team Cherry decide to completely scrap the Forest of Bones? They realized too late that insects don't have bones!
    • The Colosseum of Fools being built out of the corpse of a giant bug has sparked theories that this bug was a Wyrm akin to the Pale Wyrm, and that said wyrm turned into Lord Fool the same way the Pale Wyrm turned into the Pale King. Notable evidence is that both the Pale King and the Lord Fool are dead, but still sit on their thrones, and that the Colosseum of Fools and Cast-of Shell are both sub-areas you enter through giant bug corpses.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: There are comparisons with key characters (i.e. the Higher Beings) to various religious figures or stories, due to fans claiming some so-called similarities:
    • The Radiance and the Pale King were thought to be allusions to the Abrahamic God or any other mythological god in literature, for being gods associated with light and that people being influenced under a Hive Mind or an established kingdom is likened to being a part of a religion. What makes people think about this connection more is that there is a believer of the Radiance's infection aptly called "Moss Prophet".
      • The Pale King's goal of erasing the Radiance from everyone's memory is seen as reminiscent to religious-based wars, or various religions imposing themselves by trying to eliminate or change other religions.
      • The Radiance gets remembered once again, no thanks to a statue of the Radiance being found in Hallownest's Crown. That is, a stone idol influnced the bugs. Fans see this as an allusion to deities being sculpted in statues or idols.
      • The Pale King is likened to Zeus for having numerous children and at least two sexual partners. In the myths, this even resulted to half-human, half-god hybrid or "demigod" children. Here, Hornet can be counted as a demigod since her father is a higher being (Pale King) and her mother is an ordinary bug (Herrah the Beast).
      • The circumstances surrounding the Hollow Knight make them an obvious Messianic Archetype - They were The Chosen One among their siblings and once donned a white armor as the Pure Vessel. But the Pale King (its father) planned it as a sacrifice to seal the Radiance within the Black Egg Temple (as well as being chained hanging in the temple's center), in an attempt to save the bugkind away from the infection. What deviates the Hollow Knight's story from Jesus was that it eventually got infected as a consequence of having an idea instilled. Fortunately, its shade also comes back to assist you in defeating the game's antagonist in the third ending.
    • Although the Grimm Troupe is Ambiguously Evil at best in this game, some fans compare Grimm to Satan, since Grimm is themed around red and black, has fire-based powers, is associated closely with Nightmares and rituals, and resembles a bat.
    • The Void Given Focus is associated as a symbolism for Death (since it appears at the end of the journey in Hollow Knight and is instrumental in killing the Big Bad. There's also the implication that the Void itself is seen as a neutral force and that Death spares no one regardless of status). Others compare the said being to the Primordial Chaos or the state of nothingness before the world was created, since it's entirely made out of void and can engulf the screen into pitch-black nothingness.
  • Evil Is Cool
    • The Radiance is awe-inspiringly giant and majestic, with brilliant white plumage and a regal bearing accentuated by her sharp outline. She also wields terrifying power, firing massive light beams, homing orbs, and conjuring golden-white spears and arrows out of thin air. It's not difficult to imagine her as the former god-queen of the entire world, and is still perfectly capable of ruling it again.
    • Though it's debatable as to whether or not he's truly "evil", Grimm's resemblance to vampires and more obscure bugs, wide variety of powers (including shooting fireballs, curling himself into a spear-like shape to dive, teleportation, and a wicked uppercut), amazing music, and mysterious-yet-respectful demeanor has cemented him as one of the most popular characters in the game.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception:
    • There's a misonception that could sprout debates between newcomers and those deep into the game's lore, and this is about the game's title. Does "Hollow Knight" refer to the playable Knight, making it a Protagonist Title? Or does it refer to the current Hollow Knight, making it an Antagonist Title? The ambiguity of the distinctions could result to sides claiming that the title applies to both (since they are siblings), that it only applies to the antagonist (since it is explicitly labeled in the game's Story Breadcrumbs, the monument in the City of Tears, and the final boss's subtitle text), or that it only applies to the protagonist (since Ending 1 has the protagonist Knight replacing the current Hollow Knight, and the icon of the apty named "The Hollow Knight" achievement shows an icon of the playable Knight). Nonetheless, many fans agreed to use what is stated explicitly in the game's text and the name given by Team Cherry. The playable knight simply gets called "The Knight" and the final boss gets called "The Hollow Knight".
    • The setting of the game itself. Yeah the game is titled Hollow Knight, but the kingdom is named Hallownest, not Hollownest.
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • Some take the "Dream No More" ending as canon, and attempt to expand on what happened to the Knight's remaining friends (i.e. Hornet, Elderbug, Grimmchild) after they realized the Knight sacrificing itself to save Hallownest.
    • Character prequels and backstories are also common for fanfics, like what Quirrel and the Pale King might have been up to during the early days of Hallownest. Even the entirety of Zote's identity is open to a lot of well-thought interpretations and fan debates.
  • Fanon:
    • A part of the fandom strongly believes that the Great Knight Hegemol is actually disguised as the shopkeeper / Great Nailsage Sly (like in a theory discussion here), no matter how Team Cherry remains vague or silent in some interviews or AMAs about the character's real identity or Ambiguous Situation.
    • Adding to the above, there's a widely-accepted theory that the living bug mace used by the maggot as the False Knight / Failed Champion is not Hegemol's actual weapon, and it could just be a preference of the maggot. Other depictions of Hegemol in the statues or dreams do not show him using a weapon, and this can be an ambiguous clue that Team Cherry intentionally placed to incite fan theories. The other evidence has Sheo describing Hegemol as someone soft-spoken and with a sense of humor, traits that refer to a kind individual. Using another living bug as a weapon is not an act of kindness, and something that Hegemol may not do, supporting this fanon's points.
    • Gorb is a Godseeker judging from the curved shape of his large head and his obssession with the word "Ascend" (whereas the Godseekers aim to ascend to a higher state).
    • The Delicate Flower's origins and use are unknown aside from being a simple plant. But knowing that it vanished the Void Entity in the Godmaster endings, players believe that the Delicate Flower is a unique item that acts like a Kryptonite against the Void itself and any other void-based creatures. But again, knowing that the Knight still remains okay carrying the flower despite itself being made of void, there's a supplementary theory that suggests the Knight's shell being the barrier that protects against the flower's weakening effects.
    • It was speculated that the Weaversong charm was supposed to be made for Hornet, judging from the Dream Nail dialogues of two Weaver corpses near the charm's original spot.
      "...Princess..."
      "...For protection..."
    • Carver Hatchers share a similar sound effect with Flukes, leading to the theory that Carver Hatchers are a variant of Fluke species.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Quirrel's scene in the Blue Lake may be ambiguous since he disappears afterwards, but when data miners looked through the files and found his weapon's sprite to be labeled as "quirrel_death_nail", there was a huge belief in the fandom that Quirrel is dead. But not everyone is buying it. Who knows, Quirrel might just be swimming underwater in the lake, or have intentionally left the weapon but is still alive!
  • Foe Yay Shipping:
    • One of the popular ships with the Player Character is The Knight shipped with Hornet. Later in the game, they become allies, although since The Knight and Hornet might be considered siblings it may actually be Incest Yay Shipping.
    • Grimm gets shipped with the likes of the playable Knight itself (with some even taking the Grimmchild being given to the Knight as a form of innuendo), or the White Lady (since the Pale King is nowhere to be found, and Grimm is seen as one of the powerful and large male bugs remaining).
    • For endgame characters, there's also a ship of the Void Given Focus with the Radiance. Just look at this image for example.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • There's a good deal of overlapping players from the Dark Souls, Demon's Souls, Bloodborne and Castlevania fanbases, seing as how Hollow Knight was basically inspired by all of them in terms of gameplay and/or story.
    • To an extension, there are also those who've played Salt and Sanctuary along with Hollow Knight since these are two of the popular indie, "2D Souls-like" Metroidvania games in the late 2010s.
    • With Hyper Light Drifter. Both are completely different games but their respective lores have a main similarity: The player characters, the Drifter and the Knight, have a goal of defeating a character who is the cause of an illness or plague, Judgement and the Radiance. Their stories end with some manner of self-sacrifice. Both player characters never speak as well.
    • This is also the case with Dead Cells. Both are 2D platformers known for their difficulty and have the similar premise of a ruined kingdom besieged by a horrible plague.
    • Within the Hollow Knight meme community, there is an influx of mixed content from, of all things, the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure fandom, whether they may be on videos (such as these examples) or meme fanarts (such as these examples).
  • Game-Breaker:
    • Kingsoul + Glowing Womb = Technically infinite hatchlings that can do all the fighting for you even if you idle in battle, but it's for seven Charm slots. Sure it's too costly and situational, but let's say you could cheese some bosses or the Colosseum by clinging to a wall and having your Hatchlings deal damage without most enemies even reaching you. You could also use the Defenders crest to increase the damage caused by the hatchlings as well.
    • Some bosses can be cheesed using certain charms, allowing you to pummel them even before they can fight back:
      • The Crystal Guardian only wakes up from the bench if you hit it with the nail. However, you can actually damage the boss using passive, offensive charms like Grimmchild, Spore Shroom, Dreamshield, Weaversong and Defender's Crest. Take this player's video for example, literally shattering the guardian with a foul odor.
      • Quick Slash + Grubberfly's Elegy = The Massive Moss Charger won't even be able to reach you if you manage to time your rapid-slash sword waves properly. Bonus points if you include Heavy Blow to the combo, for further knockback and to make this boss more of a joke due to how the build makes it too easy to fight against.
      • Grimmchild and the Hatchlings from the Glowing Womb can reach, damage, and kill Nosk offscreen when the boss is crawling on the ceiling.
      • Grimm's first fight can be finished in seconds with the right charm loadout and a disinclination towards self-preservation; by using the Abyss Shriek spell in conjunction with Spell Twister, Shaman Stone, Stalwart Shell, and a couple extra masks and soul vessels, one can burn through his health by first hitting him during his bow, then standing under him during his Flamespawner attack, tanking the hits from his flames and launching Shrieks in retaliation until he's destroyed completely.
    • The Weaversong charm only gives a little extra damage by itself, but paired with Grubsong, you regain some Soul every time the Weaverlings damage an enemy. Add Quick Focus to the mix and you have nearly unlimited healing. This makes most bosses, and the Pantheons, a lot less threatening, although bosses that deal double damage or attack rapidly (such as Sly) are still a problem.
    • For lone charms Quick Slash is bar none one of the best charms in the game. A simple increase to your attack speed lets you deal far more damage, and gain more soul faster then you could before, so much so that it’s considered a must have for several builds. It was even nerfed in a later patch to cost three charm notches instead of two.
    • Fragile/Unbreakable Strength are the most powerful charms in the whole game bar none because they give a massive 50% boost to nail damage for just three charm notches. But it’s kept in check because the Fragile version does break upon being killed and needs to be repaired in a rather remote location. However, this does not apply for when fighting in a dream, in Godhome, and in Steel Soul modenote . And that’s before getting into the Unbreakable version that was available with the Grimm Troupe update, which will never break, removing its only weakness. But it’ll cost you a lot of Geo to get though, 15,000 to be exact, and once you give the fragile version to Divine you won’t be able to use it until you pay her.
  • Gateway Series: Hollow Knight has inspired players to try out Metroidvania games, or even Dark Souls-like 2D games, to the point that you often get to see new Metroidvania titles being easily compared to this game the moment they get announced.
  • Genius Bonus: Knowing that Team Cherry has Shown Their Work in doing insect-related research for this game is one thing, but knowing what real-life insect trivia applied here is another thing. Unless of course, you knew them from science and biology, or that you learned them from other fans. While there are very obvious ones like the Moth Tribe, the Garpedes as references to centipedes, the Lumaflies functioning like fireflies, the slug Unn, the spider tribe in Deepnest, the Bees in the Hive, and the Mantis Villagers, here are some of the more subtle cases, which often reference Seldom-Seen Species:
    • Willoh is from a Seldom-Seen Species of bugs, being a Giraffe Weevil. By extension, it also applies to the Grimmsteeds, as they share the same appearance as Willoh.
    • Squits are based from Mosquitos, making their in-game name a case of A Lizard Named "Liz".
    • Marmu is based from the Puss Moth Caterpillar.
    • Baldurs are most likely based from the Pill Bug, notable for its ability to roll into a ball.
    • As the plot would reveal late in the game, Hornet is not actually a hornet, but a spider, which makes a sense out of her silk-related abilities.
    • The Last Stag isn't really based from a stag, it's actually a rhinoceros beetle.
    • Some character names have some sort of trivia in them as well, like what this Redditor pointed out. Two bugs are named "Caelif and Fera Orthop". The scientific name for the order of insects that includes grasshoppers and crickets is Orthoptera. The scientific name for the suborder of Orthoptera that specifically includes grasshoppers is Caelifera.
    • Most of the Soul Totems' designs are based on the Dragonhead Caterpillar, as seen here.
    • Because of his vampiric motifs, Grimm is most likely based on the Calyptra Moth, a.k.a. the vampire moth.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: For an Australian work, you'd be surprised to know how many East Asian-based fan content such as artworks and videos exist for Hollow Knight on the Internet (since there are a lot of animation videos that even attempt to invoke an anime-related opening theme, ending theme, or even a short series out of the game - Such as these examples). The game also has a strong following on the West.
    • The Google Trends results for the game shows many search queries coming from mostly Taiwan, with Hong-Kong just below Canada and the United States.
    • On July 2018, a survey conducted by Nintendo for the Japanese gamers even had Hollow Knight as the most recommended Nintendo Switch game for that month.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • The Shade enemy that pops out of your body upon death is pretty easy to beat, but it can be something of a distraction depending on where it spawns. It could come up in the middle of an obstacle course, appear on the wrong side of a wall you died close to, or even right on an active mini-boss room! The thing also gets stronger as you collect upgrades through the game.
    • There is an Artificial Brilliance that makes these "bats" harder - Several flying enemies are coded to keep hovering just far enough from your slashes. They can also synchronize their moves just to stay far away when you are in mid-air (i.e. if you jump towards them, it will also be the same time that they will move away).
    • Dirtcarvers seem to designed with this trope in mind. They're everywhere in the Deepnest, are surprisingly bulky, can climb up walls, and can even respawn.
    • Belflys look like bats, but emit an extremely high pitched shriek when disturbed, right before diving into you and exploding for two masks of damage. The best part? If you try to hit them, they will still explode and you will take two masks to the face if you're too close to it.
      • The Colosseum has sections of nothing but bats being dropped on you,often when fighting something else. The explosion lingers for a few seconds, and space can get so tight there that this matters (and, of course, deal two mask damage).
  • Goddamned Boss: The Collector. While its attack patterns are reasonably simplistic, it's also rather fast, doesn't stay still, and often leaps into the ceiling, making getting consistent damage on it a hassle. The fact that it's a Flunky Boss doesn't help; while the enemies it summons can be easily dispatched provided the player has enough nail upgrades, they're also very good at dealing unexpected damage if not taken out immediately (especially the balders, who are both the fastest of the summoned enemies and whose color scheme blends into the background of the arena). As the cherry on top, its introduction is especially long.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • There are a few lines of dialogue that were still present in the game's files, as listed in the Dummied Out subpage, but due to bugs and variable name errors, they do not properly trigger in-game.
    • If your Shade attempts to use a stomp attack (Desolate Dive / Descending Dark) and lands on swimmable water, it stays stuck on that action.
    • If you're lucky, you might suddenly become invincible while fighting certain bosses (this can happen against Flukemarm and Broken Vessel). This glitch disables all actions other than moving around and doing normal attacks. And if it happens at zero HP, you will die when you leave the room, but progress won't be lost.
      • The Colosseum of Fools is among the places this glitch may happen for no apparent reason, and at first it seems like a good thing to cheat out a victory from the place where the game's irritating performance issues tend to bare themselves the most. However, once any of the three challenges ends, you find out even picking up items is disabled by the glitch. You must pick up the reward to leave, so you're forced to quit the game.
    • There's a very specific yet humorous glitch that happens during the fights against Hornet. If your finishing blow to her is a downward aerial slash, or an upward ground slash while she performs her aerial diagonal-dash attack, Hornet's sprite will be flipped upside-down, even while the fight ends.
    • There is a scripted dialogue in the code which would've made the Elderbug clue you in to proceed to Greenpath after you've acquired the Vengeful Spirit. However due to a naming error, that doesn't pop out in the game, and he will immediately hint you to go to the Fungal Wastes instead. Here's the dialogue in question:
      I used to think the kingdom below was all dead cold rock, but I've since been told different. Travellers speak of startling variety in Hallownest's caverns. Even just besides those Crossroads there's meant to be an area full with leafy greenery.
      I told those same travellers about the wonderful grasses that grow around the town. They didn't seem impressed.
    • A Cocoon Pin will already be pre-emptively placed in the Failed Tramway even if the player didn't buy the Cocoon Pins from Iselda.
    • Hatchlings spawned by Glowing Womb do not target Galien.
    • Mosskin and Volatile Mosskin cannot be damaged by the Defender's Crest.
    • The Crystal Guardian / Enraged Guardian has a weird targeting glitch where it may shoot lasers directly at the ground if you stand very close to it.
    • The Soul Master's Desolate Dive Ability may not spawn shockwaves. This was fixed in version 1.0.1.2.
    • The Broken Vessel can still slide towards the Knight even when it is staggered. Sometimes, it cannot even be dream nailed during this situation.
    • Before update 1.0.1.1, the Quick Slash charm costs 2 notches, with the update changing it to 3. However, this only affects newly-created save files. Any pre-existing, older save files before 1.0.1.1 weren't affected by this one specific change.
    • Just like the bug in update 1.0.1.1, the Lifeblood update also changed the Flukenest's notch cost and damage output. But those who play on a save file created before the patch won't be affected by the cost change.
    • The Gathering Swarm cannot collect the Geo rewarded in the Grubfather's room, nor in the Colosseum of Fools.
    • If you time the focus ability to summon the Baldur Shell while a boss performs its stunning scream, the Knight will still be covered with the shell until it takes damage or if the Knight heals again. The shell would still have its defensive properties in this bugged state, however.
    • If, by unfortunate timing, the Knight dies at the exact moment just as the battle before the Aspid Mother's room is completed, the room will remain walled forever, making the Glowing Womb charm unattainable.
    • If the Knight dies while wearing Joni's Blessing, the HUD displays only a single empty mask. This amount would also be reflected as the HP of the Knight's Shade, causing it to die in one hit even without the Void Heart.
    • Dashing through an Ooma with the Sharp Shadow charm's effect will always make the explosive core go to the right no matter what direction the Knight dashed from.
    • There used to be a bug where Dirtcarvers would spawn invisible.
    • Death Loodles can still be damaged by the cloud produced by the Spore Shroom despite not reacting, nor showing any visual flashes that all other enemies do.
    • Normally, only your nail attacks can be used to parry the "bladed" attacks of enemies (attacks that are indicated with white Sword Lines). By extension, your Spells, movement abilities and offensive charms cannot trigger the parry mechanic. However, there is a bug on Nailmaster Oro's Dash Attack, since it can be parried by any source of directional damage, including Crystal Heart and Sharp Shadow.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: With the COVID-19 epidemic, it was common for some fans to compare the lore of this game dealing with the Radiance's Hive Mind infection to that with how the world faces the coronavirus:
    • The name of the virus itself - Coronavirus, with "corona" being the Latin word for "crown". In Hollow Knight, the higher being who became the source of the infection was The Radiance, who had a three-pronged crown on top of its head.
    • The Pale King's method to save the citizens in the Kingdom of Hallownest once more is to seal the infection's source inside the Black Egg Temple. At first glance, it may be a bit overblown, especially since that sealed place is revealed to contain the King's child, the Hollow Knight as well. But the COVID-19 epidemic makes some sense out of this method in retrospect - Lockdowns and Quarantine are necessary to contain infectious diseases and prevent them from spreading farther, and it exempts no one. Even government officials and their family members had to be quarantined for as long as the infected had to be separated from the majority.
    • The Soul Sanctum Scholars were supposed to be the ones researching on how to find the cure for the infection. Unfortunately, they themselves got infected and and assimilated into the Hive Mind that they were trying to defeat in the first place. Several medical workers have already died in the frontlines against the coronavirus, even before the cure can be found.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Since Hegemol is the only Great Knight whose whereabouts are currently unknown, the fanbase believed that he's still alive but went into hiding, presumably as one of the many friendly NPCs whom you've may have already met. After defeating the False Knight and the Failed Champion, we learn that it was just a maggot that stole Hegemol's giant armored shell. Adding to this are some expositions that imply Hegemol's true body was never found, that he was just sleeping when his armor was stolen, and that no NPC nor item makes mentions of him dying. To make things even more ambiguous enough, Hegemol is never depicted in his statues wielding a weapon (which also makes the maggot's usage of the mace questionable). Many fans believe that Hegemol is actually Sly since several criteria match for both, namely if a maggot can fit inside that armor and control it, there is a possibility that Hegemol can be a tiny bug. Sly's weapon is also too long and too large for someone with his tiny size, and having the weapon depicted in the statues would be a massive evidence. Sly also has knightly qualities worthy of being a Great Knight, he is the Great Nailsage after all. Nailmaster Sheo even calls Hegemol as his favorite, and that Hegemol can be kind and soft-spoken. There are some concrete implications for this as well if Sheo is referring to Sly, since Sly was the teacher of the Nailmasters.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The Knight is designed based from his original appearance in Team Cherry's first game, Hungry Knight. In that game, the Knight is hungry and must collect and eat fruits or else he will die. That concept is a bit ironic in the case of this game's lore now that we know the Knight has no mouth nor voice. So, how did he eat fruits back then? By shoving them into his eye holes?
    • There's a manga/anime titled Made in Abyss. Just like the rest of the Vessels, our playable Knight was born (or made) in the deepest part of Hallownest called "The Abyss". Naturally, Hollow Knight fans who are anime lovers took notice of the similar titles and created cross-over fanarts of the two works, such as this one.
  • Ho Yay: Nailmaster Sheo with The Nailsmith.
  • I Am Not Shazam: Truth is, the Player Character is not directly called the "Hollow Knight", he is simply referred to as the "Knight" (by Team Cherry themselves), or goes by other titles such as the "Vessel" and "Ghost". There is also a monument in the City of Tears that acts as a memorial for the Hollow Knight, which looks entirely different than the Player Character. The game has a case of an Antagonist Title from the start since the current Hollow Knight serves as the Final Boss. Well, you can't blame fans for claiming the Protagonist Title trope here, since in Ending 1, the playable Knight could become the next Hollow Knight to contain the infection. Not helping in the confusion of terms is the fact that a Steam trading card featuring the Knight is labeled as "Hollow Knight". So a common reaction from first-timers is similar to this line said by YouTuber Indeimaus here:
    Indeimaus: I'm not the Hollow Knight!?
  • It's Hard, So It Sucks!:
    • In general, many praise the base game to be challenging even if some of the notable boss fights are Nintendo Hard. However, there has been at least one critic who claimed the game to be "frustratingly hard that [he] cannot recommend this game", but fortunately managed to have it clicked in the end.
    • The Godmaster update, being a glorified Boss Rush content pack is itself making a divide in the casual and competitive/completionist players of Hollow Knight. But what takes the cake of complaints is the Pantheon of Hallownest - Wherein you get to fight all of the game's bosses back-to-back (including the challenging bosses like Nightmare King Grimm and Pure Vessel), ending with the Absolute Radiance. Should you fail against the Absolute Radiance, good luck fighting all other bosses again. It's surely a marathon run, but the end-reward cutscene and achievement can be satisfying. While there are those who complain about the difficulty and the nigh-impossible chance of getting the "Embrace the Void" achievement for completing the Pantheon, hardcore players just recommend learning about attack patterns, practice and patience.
    • You'd be surprised to know how many players went for the "Banishment" ending for The Grimm Troupe content... solely out of the frustration that they find it hard to beat Nightmare King Grimm no matter how many hours they spent practicing.
  • It Was His Sled: Well, if you've been reading into a lot of Hollow Knight topics on game news and game journalist sites, you'll know that the Player Character is just called "The Knight" and not Hollow Knight. The latter actually refers to a different character despite being the game's title.
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    Tropes M to Z 
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Hornet gets a lot more serious fanarts and fan videos, given that she's one of the most serious and stoic characters in the game, that players just wanted to exaggerate it... Sometimes being drawn as the Only Sane Woman among her other half-sibling Vessels.
    • Primal Aspids are exaggerated in fan works for being the most annoying, relentless Demonic Spiders that the game has. Fans like to think of ways to make the Primal Aspids even stronger or more ridiculous, by adding more gimmicks and weapons, or outright evolving them into monstrous forms, all for the sake of reminding everyone of how annoying these bugs are in-game.
    • Some do take Bretta's absurd daydreams to heart, and make Grey Prince Zote a badass in the fanworks even if he's just a Joke Character boss fight. Common depictions have Grey Prince Zote capable of going toe-to-toe with Hornet or the Hollow Knight itself.
  • Memetic Loser:
    • Players often make fun of the Pale King, who apparently has an obssession with sawblades (the dream vision of White Palace is full of them, among other traps, possibly to illustrate his paranoia) and ended up botching his own plan to seal away Radiance by treating the Hollow Knight like a son out of guilt for all the dark experiments and sacrifices he had performed in the process. Other reasons include exagerrating the Pale King's involvement with multiple sexual partners (the White Lady and Herrah the Beast) to the point where fans view him as a womanizer of bugs. The player is even required to usurp the King by knocking his corpse out of his throne.
    • Zote also qualifies, for reasons involving the fact that... well, he's Zote.
  • Memetic Molester: Quite a number of Salubra fanarts depict her as a pervert towards some characters, because of how her in-game laughter comes off as creepy to many players, and that she gives her "blessing" by kissing the Knight.
  • Memetic Psychopath: Apart from being a Memetic Loser, the Pale King's obsession with sawblades, spikes and thorns in the White Palace convinced some fans that he is a sadist. This resulted into memes about the King being glad or estatic whenever the "sawblade" topics come into mind. Extreme cases include the King deliberately combining these traps into torture devices.
  • Moe: Several characters, including the player character and the grubs.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • Myla singing to herself in the mines. Enjoy it while it lasts.
    • Marissa's song in the Pleasure House. Hope you didn't Dream Nail her.
    • Cornifer's humming, which means you're close to picking up a map of the area.
    • The Dung Defender sounds so hammy and joyful during his battle that it's hard to not laugh along with him.
    • The short bell ring tune that plays every time you discover a hidden passage or a breakable wall that leads to a secret path or item.
    • The beautiful ascending piano melody that plays after you defeat a boss.
  • Narm:
    • The Soul Master's sound effects often get laughed at because he's basically just saying "Mmmm!", "Hmmm!" and "Mmmhmm!" during his attacks. Take these video comments for example.
    • While the scene where the Hollow Knight is stabbed in the head by Hornet, bringing the Knight into the fight with Radiance is very poignant, many people have noticed that the shout Hornet makes during it sounds like "get good", bringing to mind less the indicator to hit it with the Dream Nail and more a meme from Dark Souls.
  • Narm Charm:
    • The Infected Balloon enemy resembles a bright orange Bedsheet Ghost with a goofy expression. However, given where it spawns and the noise it makes while it flies, it still manages to be decidedly unsettling.
    • Depending on your actions, Dirtmouth's once lonely background music can get overlayed with Zote's constant babbling, Nymm's accordion and Salubra's laughter when the Knight is sitting on a bench (best explained in this video). Sure, the thematic ambience will be ruined compared to how it was went you first visit Dirtmouth, but it can also be a heartwarming moment despite all the noise, since the once-empty town now has more residents and the Elderbug is no longer alone outside.
  • Never Live It Down: Sure, the Pale King might have reformed Hallownest, built a kingdom out of it and gave sentience to the bugs, but there's a reason why he has detractors that made him a Base-Breaking Character - He killed a lot of his children and left them in the Abyss. This has spawned some Black Humor memes about the King being the worst father, or that he enjoys throwing Vessels down in the Abyss by that much.
  • Nightmare Retardant:
    • Corpse Creepers have a creepy design, spawn in the Deepnest, meaning you can hear their skittering long before you can actually see them, and they sometimes have a habit of dropping down on you from above. They also sound like they're furiously tapdancing while they move, which can take the edge off.
    • The Broken Vessel is likely to be the first real sign of just what you're up against, in all of its visceral glory. However, the blob of infection on its head bears a strong resemblance to an orange afro.
  • Older Than They Think: To some, the game is nicknamed "2D Dark Souls", something that was also commonly used to call Salt and Sanctuary before it. But it's not a bad thing! Both the Hollow Knight and Salt and Sanctuary communities are Friendly Fandoms with each other and are well aware of how their 2D Metroidvania games share a lot in common with Dark Souls.
  • Periphery Demographic: Perhaps the initial main demographic in the fanbase are made out of Dark Souls, Castlevania, and general indie game fans due to the effect of Friendly Fandoms and similar genres, but Hollow Knight somehow managed to attract more than that:
    • Anime fans. You'd be surprised to know how there exists Animesque art for the game (see Self-Fanservice), or that the meme community of the game may bring in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure out of nowhere.
    • Fan-artists, especially the starting or learning ones. It gets to the point where the Main Hollow Knight Reddit can be made out of 80% Original Content fanarts. To an extent, 3D modelling and 3D printing enthusiasts are also common, since there are plenty of 3D-printed Hollow Knight characters being showcased on said subeddit.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Deepnest isn't one for those who are claustrophobic, arachnophobic or nyctophobic. The background music is very creepy enough as it is, but the spiders can pop out of nowhere in the already dark backgrounds, and with the stage having a maze-like layout, it's easy to get lost and run into several ambushes.
  • Player Punch:
    • In the Crossroads, you can encounter and kill the Menderbug whose only role is to fix the things that you break offscreen. Your "reward" for doing so is a mere Hunter's Journal entry, and his house will be open afterwards. Then you read his diary and feel yourself to be a scum of the earth for killing the self-proclaimed happiest and most optimistic bug in all of Hallownest.
    • The singing girl you meet early in the Crystal Peak mines goes insane later on and begins attacking you. While still singing in her mind. What really stings is that even though you can help Sly and Bretta from getting zombified no matter how long you take, you can't do anything for Myla.
    • There are several points in the game where someone talks fondly about a friend or relative to you, but ironically you already know or will find that unknowingly to them those people are actually dead. Several spells you learn are from dead relatives of the Snail Shaman, for example, and you can't even give the bad news because the protagonist can't talk.
    • At the Royal Waterways, a guy named Tuk sells you Rancid Eggs for cheap. That would be game-breakingly handy in Steel Soul mode, in which you can sell those for Geo instead of moving your shade to you, right? Well, nope. Tuk is already rooted by the plague when you find him in this mode, having never found whoever he was looking for. He does have one Rancid Egg for you, though.
    • Cloth dies at the end of the Traitor Lord fight, which is scripted to end in a Mutual Kill between the two. You then get to see her ghost thanking you for the help and saying she's going to meet a certain person later, seemingly oblivious to her own death like other ghosts you'd seen by then. However, if you indirectly save Cloth by fighting the Traitor Lord before meeting her, you find this Nola she wants to reunite with is dead and that she really is deliberately looking to die in combat.
    • You get rewarded for saving all those Grubs, but only after the horrible realization that their own father has eaten them. You can even hear them wiggling inside him and suddenly realize that's what the Collector was trying to prevent. Bizarrely, though, you get a charm that suggests this is part of their life cycle. Players have interpreted it as the Grubfather acting like a cocoon for the babies, who'll merge into a single butterfly entity and burst out of him. This interpretation is supported by the fact that the Achievement you get for saving all the grubs is called 'Metamorphosis'.
    • During your travels, you meet a warrior named Tiso who's looking for a good fight at the Colosseum of Fools. He looks like he will be a boss you'll get to fight in there, but that time never comes. After meeting him in the Colosseum's rest room, you never see him again... until you happen to find his corpse lying on some cliff below. What a damn shame.
    • Subverted with Zote, who is a NPC who you can choose to rescue over the course of the game, even though he remains an ungrateful insufferable jerkass through and through. After he's defeated in the Colosseum as a Bonus Boss, however, he steals your fangirl in Dirtmouth as revenge.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Grimm may be Ambiguously Evil, given that his motivations are a result of being controlled by the Nightmare's Heart, and fans generally agreed to view him as a lovable neutral force, thanks to the fact that the entire troupe loves him as their master, and that he moves very gentlemanly. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop the surge of humorous fan works and memes depicting Grimm as an irresponsible dad, a troll or a jerkass (since he doesn't want to take care of the Grimmchild by himself) or as a loud-mouthed bug (based from the screaming that he lets out if you attack him while he's bowing down).
  • Sacred Cow: A lot of avid fans, game journalists, and gaming news outlets love this game and praise it as the "best indie Metroidvania" of all time. It's kinda similar to how Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is also a sacred cow in the eyes of the public when it comes to Metroidvanias in general, Hollow Knight is this for indie Metroidvanias specifically. This acclaim and popularity easily makes gaming news outlets to compare any new indie Metroidvania to Hollow Knight as soon as they get announced.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Similar to La-Mulana, keeping a map is oddly complicated when compared to other 2D metroidvanias. First, you must find where Cornifer is sitting on each area and buy maps from him. Then you see the maps don't update as you go along until you sit on some checkpoint bench so the Knight can write it down. The icon that shows your current location also doesn't appear by default. It is one of the charms that you must buy and equip. Also, you can't update the map if you haven't bought the Quill.
    • The downward slash has a noticeable delay to it and has to have its strikes timed when used repeatedly, making the Shovel Knight-esque platforming sections, as well as certain fights, much more frustrating.
    • If you die at any point during any of the Boss Rushes introduced in Godmaster, you have to start over from the very beginning. For the first three and arguably the fourth, this is irritating but recoverable, but the final one, the Pantheon of Hallownest, requires you to defeat every single boss in the game on a higher difficulty level before fighting two new bosses that are That One Boss in their own right, in one sitting and with no checkpoints (besides the occasional Hot Spring and Bench, which don't actually save your game).
    • If you die with a lot of Geo on hand, you can either go back to kill your Shade yourself or use Confessor Jiji's help, but if you die again on your way to the Shade or Dirtmouth, your new Shade will overwrite the previous one. In other words, you can kiss all of your hard-earned money goodbye. Thankfully, there's a bank where you can deposit your money safely! Unfortunately, if you deposit more than a certain amount there, the owner will run off with all your money. If you track her down, you can get it back, plus some, but you obviously won't have access to a bank anymore.
  • Scrappy Weapon:
    • While the game has its fair share of charms categorized under Boring, but Practical or Awesome, yet Impractical, or simply situational in the Godhome, there is one particular charm that is being questioned for its viability. Baldur Shell grants a protective shell that blocks an instance of damage. However, there is a caveat - The shell will only appear when you are focusing soul (healing yourself), and it is a Breakable Power-Up lasting only up to 4 hits. You think you'd be entirely safe and healed once the shell blocks damage? Nope, getting hit still interrupts your healing process, and you've lost 1 out of the 4 hits of this charm, the only thing that it saved is a mask of health. Due to its limitations, the charm is noted by advanced players to be useless on its own. Sure, Baldur Shell can synergize well with Shape of Unn and Quick Focus, but it's better to actively dodge an attack than to tank it in the first place.
    • The Void Heart. While it's a necessity to get the true ending, obtaining it makes it impossible to use the Kingsoul any longer, which — while still limited in capabilities — has more practical uses in exploration and platforming than the aforementioned charm, especially in Steel Soul Mode, or during the Path of Pain.
  • Self-Fanservice: While the characters are anthropomorphic bugs, it doesn't stop fanartists from making them more awesome.
    • Some of the surprising examples include depicting these Hollow Knight characters as if they are actual humans, sometimes styled like an anime character:
      • Hornet for example, has these kinds of depictions.
      • Grimm being depicted like Count Dracula is common as well, in order to remind one of his Expy status, like this.
      • It doesn't stop there, as fans would also create female anime versions of NPCs such as Zote, or minor bosses such as the Godtamer.
    • How about Hollow Knight characters and scenes being rendered in 3D? Well, Blender users and fans were able to do some of them, like this.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge:
    • While the Delicate Flower Delivery to the Queen's Gardens may serve as That One Sidequest where players are recommended to take the safest routes possible to avoid getting damage, there are those who even try to up the difficulty by traversing through the most hazardous routes in the game before going to the Queen's Gardens. Take this player for example, who brought the flower all the way to the Abyss, the Path of Pain and Deepnest, all without taking damage! Not impressed yet? He doesn't even open the map nor have the Wayward Compass equipped!
    • The Sharp Shadow charm makes most platforming sections more difficult as it increases the length of your dash, in a game where most platforms are reachable by the length of the normal dash (and an excess of it could lead one to fall on traps). But it doesn't stop this player from using the charm in the Path of Pain!
    • The Bindings in Godhome's Pantheons are designed with this in mind, as they would handicap the Knight by limiting its upgrades on chosen aspects (i.e. reduced max health, reduced soul gauge, no nail upgrades, no charms equipped). Players may choose any or all of these handicaps at their own leisure. They do give out a reward however, as completing enough bindings unlock or upgrade the Lifeblood Room in the Godhome.
  • Ships That Pass in the Night: Hornet and Grimm. They never had any direct interactions nor offhand mentions to each other, yet there exists saucy fanarts or fanfics of them together.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The Knight's encounter with Hornet in the City of Tears. With the awe-inspiring music, gorgeous scenery, and Hornet showing the player her first measure of respect, it would be great on its own. But it comes complete with an animated cutscene, and the memorial of the titular Hollow Knight providing a major hint to the story and an epic Title Drop. Many players will cite this moment as the point where they knew they had to finish the game.
    • If there's one phrase that is easily remembered or repeated by Hollow Knight fans (or to many beginners, the only iconic phrase that they know from the game's Jigsaw Puzzle Plot of a lore), it's the Pale King's "No Cost Too Great" (which itself is a part of lines of monologue), that he says during the flashback scene in the Abyss. It got to the point where "No Cost Too Great" became one of the first memetic phrases of the fandom, commonly associated with anything that the Pale King does. For other types of players, that scene is memorable simply because it brings up a revelation regarding three of the main characters' pasts.
    • The last scene with Quirrel in the Blue Lake for a variety of reasons - From a meta sense in the Hollow Knight fandom, it involves a fan favorite character whose situation is so ambiguous that it opens up a lot of fan interpretations, weird theories, lore debates, data mining of in-game files, and of course... memes. It's just that, there's so much to discuss about this one scene in the game, that the fandom has done a lot of content regarding it.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: There's the Central Theme here about the concept of death being an inevitable force, and it's just fine if people have differing opinions about dying. However, two NPCs bluntly state that material wealth isn't something that you can use for yourself when you are already dead.
    Mister Mushroom: ..The dead can't make use of wealth in any case. What would they spend it on?
    Zote: Precept Forty-Two: 'Spend Geo When You Have It'. Some will cling onto their Geo, even taking it into the dirt with them when they die. It is better to spend it when you can, so you can enjoy various things in life.
  • Speedrun: The game has three achievements for speedruns (under 10 and 5 hours, plus under 20 hours with 100% completion).
    • For the record, the game has been cleared in under 34 minutes, even without glitches.
    • On December 2019, there was a Hollow Knight speedru- err... "speedrace" hosted by SpeedGaming. The result? 33 minutes and 47.11 seconds against 33 minutes and 47.16 seconds. Yep, the gap was merely 50 milliseconds!
  • Squick:
    • Grimm refers to the Grimmchild he gives to the Knight as "our child" and says that it matures due to their "passionate dance". Even more so, considering that he refers to the Knight as a child as well. All of these may come across as innuendos, but given that the characters are insects, they can border into this trope as well.
    • Flukemarm's statue in Godhome refers to her as the "Alluring god of motherhood". Yes, apparently the Godseeker thinks of a gigantic, wriggling, constantly babbling maggot-like thing as alluring.
  • Stuck in Their Shadow: Among the Five Great Knights, Isma gets the least content, theories and lore discussions from the fandom - While Ogrim is still alive and present as a boss, Ze'mer being the Grey Mourner who gives That One Sidequest, Dryya implied to have a Dying Moment of Awesome (she was also one of the planned bosses that ended up being cancelled), and Hegemol's own Ambiguous Situation being rife of probable theories (one that also suggests He's Just Hiding!)... Isma is just known as Ogrim's crush, and whose tears make you immune to acid. What makes it worse is that it's quite hard to make sense of what happened to Isma's corpse, since it is in Body Horror levels of having your remains merged with plant growth.
  • Surprise Difficulty: You'd think the minimalistic bug creatures being cute would make the game easy by default? Nope, Hollow Knight can be considered as a Metroidvania mixed with the challenge of the Dark Souls games. Not to mention the Early Game Hell where you still lack a lot of the mechanics to make the game easier. In general, platforming can be tricky, while bosses require you to think and read patterns, since it's very risky to get hit in here.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Tiso dying again in the Pantheon of Hallownest, when he already died near the Colosseum of Fools. Talk about dying in both the physical and the dream worlds.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: The grubs, mostly due to the whimpering sounds and happy noises that they make, which sound similar to kittens. Their mini sizes and simplistic designs were also known in the fandom to be adorable. It got to the point where the official Fangamer merchandise feature a lot of grub items.
  • That One Achievement: "Steel Soul" is earned for beating the eponymous Final Death Mode, but "Steel Heart" ups the ante further by requiring 100% Completion in this mode.
  • That One Attack:
    • Grimm's transition into a floating object that releases a Bullet Hell-style attack can be hard for beginners, since it requires fast reflexes to dodge the upcoming projectiles, and they can be random! Many remember it as the "Pufferfish Attack" as a result of being quite difficult.
    • The attacks of the Traitor Lord and the Radiance that involve a moving wall that can only be dodged with the Shade Cloak and nothing else. Mis-time your dash and you'll be eating up two masks of damage.
    • Or to cut most explanations short... Any enemy attack that deals 2 masks of damage! Yep, good luck waiting for the windows of opportunity where you can heal those 2 masks back quick. God help you if you don't have any soul reserves remaining.
  • That One Boss:
    • Soul Master is effectively a mashup of the worst from Soul Twister and Soul Soldier enemies. He's vulnerable when firing a homing projectile at ground level, but will sometimes throw you off by charging ahead instead. He can also feint a ground pound into another ground pound that tends to be unavoidable once you mis-timed your dash. He'll teleport away unless hit during his own attacks and takes quite a beating, only going down after getting stunned three times. (This assumes you're fighting him when the game intends, after just one nail upgrade.) What's worse is that he's got a second form on top of that. One easier than the first, but that can still squeeze a couple losses from you.
      • To elaborate, he has a fake death animation and leaves behind a fake powerup that will even trigger the usual powerup collected animation, before he comes out of nowhere and rapidly spams his ground pound at you. It's a simple matter to dash to the side if you know it's coming, but that first time will definitely leave you in shock long enough to die. It doesn't help that the music, previously a bombastic and ominous organ piece, is replaced entirely with a Scare Chord.
    • The Flukemarm is big, stationary, and has only one attack: spawning flying flukes to attack. Why is it a difficult fight? Because those flukes are excessively fast and unpredictable, the platforms are placed in such a way that you always need to jump to damage the Flukemarm (even with reach upgrades), if you happen to be knocked into the water you'll be a sitting duck until you get out, and the spawn rate of the flukes is obscenely fast. It's also extremely obnoxious.
    • All of the bosses that can be rematched upon acquiring the Dream Nail have their difficulty increased tremendously. Failed Champion deals 2 masks of damage on every direct hit, while its projectile attacks become bigger and harder to avoid. Soul Tyrant utilizes Teleport Spam to an insane degree, giving you very few chances to hit him while trying to avoid his projectiles. Finally, Lost Kin has its aggression increased tenfold while also spawning flying mobs that harass the player.
    • On the subject of Dream Nail bosses. We also have Grey Prince Zote. While he doesn't offer any rewards outside essence for beating him once, he is necessary for players wishing to see closure to Breta's story arc. First off, he is insanely unpredicable and fast, with moves such as running through the arena flailing his nail and leaping into the air and sending huge shockwaves at the player. He also spits out mooks (including exploding ones that scaled in damage with Grey Prince Zote himself) that can overwhelm the player if not taken care of. And to top it all off, every time you fight him, he grows stronger. By the 10th time you fight him, he is second only to The Radiance in terms of health and deals eight masks worth of damage, meaning any player hit by him without the maximum amount of mask shards or any health boosting charms will be killed instantly.
    • Hornet, dear Lord. For starters, even though the game is non-linear, the game's progression and the fact that she guards the important dash ability means that she'll most likely be the second boss that the player faces, at a point where they probably have few charms or upgrades. As for the fight itself, Hornet is very fast and very unpredictable, which makes her really hard to hit, avoid, or heal against. Also, she can easily corner the player and takes a lot of hits before being defeated. Her rematch, despite the player likely being much more powerful at that point, is just as bad, as she gains the ability to deflect attacks and place barbed obstacles in the arena, while being just as fast and unpredictable.
    • The Traitor Lord fight will infuriate players for a number of reasons. 1) It's placed at the end of a very long and dangerous spiked maze of platforms that can take off chunks of your health before you even reach the arena. 2) The boss's attacks are incredibly devastating, taking off 2 masks of health at a time, and he's fast and, importantly, BIG, so you can't jump over him. 3) He actually needs to be taken down using the new ability you acquired in order to be able to even reach his arena, the Shade Cloak, which negates damage if you dash between attacks or enemies, and has a charm that can deal damage as you dash through. 4) The problem is that the Shade Cloak is often one of the last abilities you unlock, after you've spent the entire game learning to dash away from your enemies' attacks, so good luck getting used to dashing towards the really big and really painful attacks that if you time half a second too soon or too early you'll eat massive damage.
    • The Radiance has an absolutely massive amount of health, very wide variety of Bullet Hell-style attacks, and deals 2 damage with every blow (besides falling off the platform). Given that it's the True Final Boss in an already difficult game, this could be justified.
    • On Radiant Mode in the Godmaster expansion, where a single hit from any source (including falling or spikes) is instantly fatal, Markoth, The Collector, and Uumuu are made massively more difficult due to their Bullet Hell, Flunky Boss, and Throw the Mook at Them battles, respectively.
      • The outcry against these three bosses in particular grew to the point that they were nerfed several weeks after release. Markoth's health was lowered (requiring the player to endure the Bullet Hell for a shorter period of time), The Collector's minions had their hit points reduced (making it possible to one-shot them with certain Charms) and Uumuu received many changes to its movement speed, vulnerability windows and health to make it easier.
  • That One Level:
    • The White Palace gives a sudden detour into pseudo-Platform Hell, which is a positive shock for those who've been enjoying the slow-paced exploration and highly tactical boss fights of the entire rest of the game. By the standards of that genre, it's comparatively forgiving, and if you equip the Hiveblood you have unlimited tries, but it's out of place and many players found it distinctly unwelcome. Technically it's optional, but it's required for the True Ending, so... completionists better prepare themselves!
    • The Soul Sanctum, thanks to the Soul Twisters that are hard to hit, shoot homing projectiles, and will follow you everywhere if you don't deal with them. Topping it off is the Soul Master, who will make you go through the entire level again if you die, as the nearest bench is outside the area. It says something when simply entering the area is a pain in the ass, due to the Soul Twister at the entrance.
    • Crystal Peak. Depending on which part of it you're in, you are either navigating through laser shooters that are invincible to the nail, meaning you have no way to recover Soul; or going through a gauntlet of crushers, with the same issue; or beset by Crystal Hunters, for which see their entry under Demonic Spiders. And you can't even use the central bench in this area until you've defeated the boss sitting on it.
    • Deepnest is one of the largest areas in the game. This wouldn't normally be a problem, as the City of Tears and Crystal Peak are of comparable size, but unlike these areas, Deepnest has very few shortcuts, a single Stagway in a fairly inconvenient location, an abundance of confusing, extremely dark corridors, frequent ambushes from Goddamned Bats, and Stalking Devouts. The sheer length may be the reason why the Dreamer located here is not guarded by a boss, the only area boss is optional, and a tramway connects it to the Ancient Basin.
    • The Path of Pain, an optional area added in The Grimm Troupe campaign, is hidden behind a breakable wall in the previously mentioned White Palace, and turns the Platform Hell up to eleven. It features several long-winded platforming sequences set over spike pits and forces you to master every little trick in the book, including bouncing on sawblades, a mechanic that not even the White Palace thrust upon you. And to really rub salt into the wound, by the end of the death course, with no preparation whatsoever, you drop smack into not a single but dual boss battle. If you get killed, it's aaaaaall the way back to the bench at the beginning with you. And what do you get for completing the thing? A journal entry and a bit of vague lore. Nope, no upgrade, no charm, not even an achievement.
    • Fog Canyon is packed to the gills with explosive enemies and deathtraps, which deal two masks of damage each and can easily cause chain reactions that can kill you in seconds.
    • Adjacent to Fog Canyon is the Queen's Garden, which is a mini White Palace, full of narrow tunnels whose ceilings, floors, and walls are filled with spikes, except with breakaway floors. And there are many flying enemies who pepper you with bullets at range while dancing out of your reach.
    • Take all of the bosses in the That One Boss list and put them back-to-back, and you'll have the Pantheon of Hallownest, an utterly soul-crushing Boss Rush against every single boss in the game, including the more powerful dream versions of certain bosses (like Grimm and Nightmare King Grimm) and the unique DLC bosses like the Pure Vessel. All of this needs to be done in one go, as dying sends you right back to the beginning. And if you want to officially beat the Godmaster DLC, the Pantheon isn't optional, as clearing it is necessarily to get the unique "Embrace the Void" and "Delicate Flower" endings.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • Helping the Grey Mourner requires you to take the Delicate Flower she gives you aaaall the way to a grave in Queen's Gardens at the opposite end of the map, without taking damage. Oh, and you can't use the stagways, nor the dreamgate. The game also auto-saves when the Delicate Flower gets destroyed, just to keep you from cheating with the quit-and-resume option. Thankfully, the flower isn't as unique as she claims and you can come back to pick another. Clearing your planned route of all Demonic Spiders before receiving the flower works wonders, too. But then you have to traverse that route all the way back to the Mourner instead of, say, teleport back through a placed dreamgate there, or the Demonic Spiders will respawn. And to really rub salt in the wound, the final stretch before the grave is a narrow, winding passage full of thorns you have to avoid by precision jumping and dashing.
    • There's a mask shard in the room below the Forgotten Crossroads hot springs that is blocked by a maze of tunneling worms. Overall, not that hard. Assuming you have the mantis claw to climb up into the tunnel leading to it. If you don't, and you try to get it before then, you're in for a world of hurt. Because without the mantis claw, the only way to get up there is by downslash-jumping off of a single solitary vengefly in the room. And the problem is that it's on the opposite side of the room, and to jump off of it into the tunnel you have to safely lure its suicidal ass past three consecutive tunnel worms without it touching any of them even once. It may very well take less time to just do the Fungal Wastes area than to try to get this mask shard early.
    • Getting the Lifeblood Core charm. To do it, one must accumulate at least 15 Lifeblood masks, then travel to the left side of the Abyss's entrance, where a wall only opens if you meet the required number. Collecting 15 Lifeblood masks is a time-consuming task in its entirety, since the player would do either, or both of the following, albeit with some difficulties:
      • Buy the Lifeblood Pin, explore the entire map, and collect all Lifeblood masks from their cocoons scattered throughout the Kingdom. Do this without taking damage (since the Lifeblood masks cannot be healed) and proceed to the destination.
      • Or the player could just do this quest in the end-game, after a lot of the needed upgrades have already been acquired. To wit, at least 7 or more base masks in total (which requires collecting a bunch of Mask Shards), the following charms: Fragile/Unbreakable Heart, Lifeblood Heart, and Joni's Blessing. This includes finding charm notches that would at least fit all of the aforementioned charms, with, or without overcharming. Then the player sits on the bench nearest to the Abyss, (i.e. in the Ancient Basin), and has to proceed to the destination without taking damage.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • As one of the various pieces of planned content that never came to be, Tiso's role in the game doesn't have the "intense conclusion" the Kickstarter campaign claimed it would've. He's killed offscreen after challenging the Colosseum.
      • Since some of Godmaster is dedicated to re-implementing content that was scrapped for the base game, such as the Nailmasters and Nailsage being bosses, plus an alternate winged version of Nosk, there was some hope that Tiso would finally get a fair shake. Nope, he appears for about three seconds in the Pantheon of Hallownest and gets immediately squashed by the Brooding Mawlek.
    • The Moss Prophet is only found in a secret area of the Queen's Gardens and can die later in the story (which means beginners can easily not know about his existence). Apart from his Narmy dialogue, his entire screentime is mostly remembered as one Big-Lipped Alligator Moment. The Moss Prophet could've been built up for an interesting sub-plot since he started a religion worshipping the infection itself. Why did he start a religion in the first place? What was his backstory? How did he gain followers? And most importantly, why is he non-hostile despite being an infected?
  • Ugly Cute:
    • Bretta. A lot of the enemies also count.
    • Booflies in particular are comically fat with equally comically small wings and look oddly adorable. It helps that, aside from the usual collision damage, they're completely passive and harmless.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: At one point, Zote's dream nail dialogue would reveal that deep inside, he's just looking for a validation from his father. It's ambiguous if this statement is true or if he's just making up details just like how he makes up delusions of being a mighty warrior. However, a part of the fanbase thinks that the dream nail dialogue is just another one of his delusions, stating that it doesn't justify why Zote had to mock the Knight at several points in favor of fueling his own ego.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • The Nailsmith could request you at one point to kill him with your nail, since he no longer feels having a new purpose in life. However, what kicks this into the worse possible cases, is that you can really kill the Nailsmith and be rewarded with an achievement. Well, for countries who are against assisted suicide or granting death wishes, this act would be suprising. Fortunately, there's also another way – You can just simply ignore the Nailsmith's death wish, and he will move to Greenpath, forming a new hobby with Sheo.
    • The backstory involving the Traitor Lord's daughter and the Grey Mourner can also be difficult to take in depending on one's social/family norms. For one thing, the romantic relationship between the two were forbidden because the Grey Mourner was an outsider to the mantis tribe. Forcing a child to break up with their lover just because of that can be seen as a sign of racism, if not giving one's child the free will to choose who they want to be with.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
    • Cloth's gender is referred to as female in the game's manual (which is absent in normal digital distribution), male in the original character concept description on the game's Kickstarter page, and not at all in the game itself. As with most characters, telling their gender by looks alone is impossible, and Cloth's voice could plausibly go either way, so there's no consensus in how fans refer to the character.
    • According to the Word of God, The Radiance is female, but this is not mentioned in the game itself, and many people still refer to her as "him" or "it".
    • The Mantis Lords have gotten their fair share of this due to their mostly androgynous appearance and masculine title; the only real way to know is to look at the Hunter's Journal entry for the Traitor Lord, which calls them "sisters", or to fight them in the Godhome, where their rematch against all three of them is called "Sisters of Battle".
      • Though notably, the Traitor Lord is explicitly male in his own Journal entry.
  • Viewers in Mourning: The implication of Quirrel's death in the Blue Lake hits the hardest among all other on-screen and off-screen deaths in this game, since he's the widely-accepted Ensemble Dark Horse with the friendliest affiliation with the playable character.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: A lot of the character designs (especially the protagonist) are very cute and cartoony, with the characters themselves Speaking Simlish to emulate the old cartoons. The game also achieves Dark Souls levels of sheer bleakness and Nightmare Fuel, the encompassing plot focusing a lot on failures, self-sacrifice, facing the concept of death, or a doomed hometown, some stages are covered in dead bodies, the eyes of some enemies practically burn out as they curl up and die, and one kind of enemy is essentially a bipedal maggot that splits in half when it "dies" before it attacks you with both halves of its body. Despite all of the depressing context (and perhaps because all of the characters are anthropomorphic bug people who don't bleed red blood), the game still somehow managed to get an E-10 rating from the ESRB and a 7 from PEGI.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?:
    • Analysis of the lore will make one realize that the backstory and plot of Hollow Knight can be just as dark and depressing, underneath all those simple and cute insect character designs, with some fans even claiming that there are a lot of symbolisms and aesops that are harsh when taken literally. The YouTuber named "mossbag" even said something along the lines of "Whatever Team Cherry is having there in Australia, they're having the good stuff!".
    • Monomon the Teacher's Archives are filled with lore tablets that are seemingly composed of random or made-up English words, some even archaic, that they do not appear to make any sense when taken at face value, and requires a lot of research or word-by-word analysis just to understand what Monomon is trying to write. Other fans claim that this is just one of Team Cherry's attempts at encouraging a community ARG in decyphering the text. Seriously, Not making this up!
  • The Woobie: The Final Boss, the eponymous Hollow Knight. Like the other Vessels, it was created strictly to be an emotionless being meant to contain Hallownest's plague, but was loved just enough by the Pale King that it lacked the necessary emptiness to keep it from spreading. By the time the final battle comes, the Knight is as broken and insane as everybody else, but periodically regains its sanity long enough to start stabbing itself with its own nail to help the player end the madness.
  • Woobie Species: The Vessels have no minds of their own and are seen as disposable tools by their creator, the King. Any of them that didn't fit his expectations to seal away the plague were thrown into the Abyss. Ouch.
  • Woolseyism:
    • Although the Italian translation got several examples that are Lost in Translation, the word for "Wyrm" doesn't exist, so they had to make up a new word - "Uroverme" (which means Ouroworm). This could work since it looks like a giant worm, and that "Ouro" could refer to Ouroboros, something that could get across the draconic aspect.
    • The French translation confirms that the Pale Lurker is female, and not another bug with an Ambiguous Gender.
    • Some translations actually used Gorb's cut dialogue lines, which made him sound more serious than the Cloudcuckoolander persona that he portrays in the final game.
    • Some translations did not use the new inscription for Xero's grave since Update 1.0.2.8 (which reads "Cursed are those who turn against the King"). Instead, the older phrase ("Here lies a Traitor") was used.

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