From Hollow Knight Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Echo of a previous life. Defeat it to retake its power and become whole.

Each of us leaves an imprint of something when we die. A stain on the world. I don't know how much longer this kingdom can bear the weight of so many past lives...

The Shade is an enemy in Hollow Knight. It is the Void within the Knight which is let loose when the Knight's shell breaks.[1]

Behaviour and Tactics

When the Knight dies, a Shade appears in or before the room they died, holding all the Geo that was lost. Until it is killed, the Knight's SOUL meter is broken, limiting it to 66 charge (this does not affect the storage of SOUL in Soul Vessels).

When approaching its location, an off-key music box melody is heard that drowns out all other sounds, signalling its presence. Upon engagement, it floats in the Knight's direction and attacks by swinging its Nail when getting close and using any Spells the Knight has learned. If the Knight moves too far from the Shade's spawn point while it is pursuing them, it turns into smoke and returns to its spawn point.

As the Knight gains Spells, the Shade gains the same Spells. When below the Knight, the Shade uses a dark variant of Howling Wraiths/Abyss Shriek, when above, a dark variant of Desolate Dive/Descending Dark, and when a horizontal distance away from the Knight, it uses a dark variant of Vengeful Spirit/Shade Soul. Though the Shade can originally only cast one Spell, it can cast one additional Spell for each Soul Vessel the Knight has collected.

Hitting the Shade with the Dream Nail defeats it instantly, regardless of its remaining health.

If the Knight died to a boss, the Shade usually spawns in a safe location to be recoverable without triggering the boss battle. If the Shade is in a hard to recover position, try hitting it from a distance with Vengeful Spirit/Shade Soul to draw its attention.

If the Shade is killed, the Knight's SOUL meter is returned to normal and they regain all the Geo that was lost upon death. If the Knight dies before killing the Shade, a new Shade appears at the new death's location and the old one disappears. Killing the new Shade still fixes the SOUL meter, but all the Geo carried by the previous Shade is lost. For example, the Knight has  3000, then dies. The Knight collects  100 along the way and then dies before defeating the Shade that carries  3000. A new Shade spawns on the most recent death location and the new Shade only carries  100.


The Shade's health is calculated as: Nail damage times half of the Knight's max HP at death rounded down.[Note 1]


Shade pin

Found at the location where the Knight has most recently died. A pin of the Shade can be seen on the Map which marks its location.

Alternatively, Confessor Jiji in Dirtmouth offers a service to summon the Shade to her room in return for a Rancid Egg. This is useful if the Shade is very far away from the last checkpoint or in the middle of a hard platforming section.



  • The Shade cannot be read by the Dream Nail.
  • The Shade's Vengeful Spirit/Shade Soul can pass through walls and obstacles, similar to the Knight's Shade Soul, even if it has not been obtained.
  • Once the Void Heart Charm has been acquired, the Shade becomes passive and dies in one hit.
  • The Shade dies in one hit to environmental hazards.
  • If the Shade uses the diving spell and lands in water, the explosion does not occur and it becomes stuck in place, open to attacks.
  • Due to a bug, if the Knight dies due to an environmental hazard (spikes, etc), and their body moves to another room during the death animation, the Knight's Shade does not appear, and all Geo is lost unless the Shade is summoned by Confessor Jiji. Also, the Knight retains 100% SOUL meter even though it appears broken.
  • If the Joni's Blessing Charm was equipped when the Knight died, the Shade will have HP equal to the Knight's Nail damage.
  • Although dying in the White Palace counts as a real death for the purposes of the Fragile Charms and Steel Soul Mode, no Shade is released upon death.
  • The Shade's Hunter's Journal entry is automatically filled upon acquiring the Journal.
  • In the Hollow Knight Beta, the Shade has a blue tint instead of being entirely black.
    • When defeated the Shade would explode into a cloud of ghostly-tinted Geo before being absorbed back into the Knight.
    • While this version of the Shade was active there would be no damage to the SOUL meter.
  • Team Cherry considered Dark Souls' corpse run mechanic when they were deciding on what happens after the Knight's death.[2] The idea of the Shade developed when they finished working on the Knight's death animation, which ends with the Knight's head falling to the ground and cracking. They thought it would be interesting if players had to travel back to the place where they died and had to crack open the skull to retrieve their money. They kicked some ideas around about the skull being possessed by an enemy or suddenly fighting back, which evolved into the idea of leaving behind a ghost of the Knight's previous life that attacks players. This ghost eventually became the Shade.[3]
  • The Shade cannot be damaged by the Defender's Crest and Spore Shroom Charms.
  • When dying to the Collector, a unique Shade spawns inside a jar. The jar must be broken before the Shade can be interacted with in any way.
    • Likely due to a programming oversight, dying to the Collector and then dying in a room with no Shade spawn points causes the Shade to become unkillable until the Knight dies again, defeats the Collector, or summons the Shade via Confessor Jiji.
  • When dying at the Lake of Unn, a unique Shade spawns looking to the west, over the lake. It does not attack when the Knight approaches from the east.
    • This unique Shade behaviour is also maintained when dying at the Lake of Unn and then a room with no Shade spawn points.
    • The Shade does not look west if the Knight has acquired Void Heart, instead it looks at the Knight.


  1. 1.0 1.1 More mathematically: Nail Damage x ([max HP at death / 2]rounded down). This is not affected by the Fury of the Fallen or Fragile Strength/Grimm Troupe content Unbreakable Strength Charms.
    For example, having the Pure Nail (21 damage) and 9 Masks of health would result in:
    Shade HP = (21) x (9/2)
    Shade HP = (21) x (4)
    Shade HP = 84


Hollow Knight Enemy Compendium
EnemiesBossesHealth ValuesColosseum of FoolsGodmaster content Hall of GodsGodmaster content Pantheons
Main Game
Forgotten Crossroads CrawlidVengeflyVengefly KingGruzzerGruz MotherTiktikAspid HunterAspid MotherAspid HatchlingGoamWandering HuskHusk HornheadLeaping HuskHusk BullyHusk WarriorHusk GuardEntombed HuskFalse Knight (Failed Champion) • MaggotMenderbugLifeseedBaldurElder Baldur
Greenpath MosscreepMossflyMosskinVolatile MosskinFool EaterSquitObbleGulkaMaskflyMoss ChargerMassive Moss ChargerMoss KnightMossy VagabondDurandooDurandaAluba
Fog Canyon Charged LumaflyUomaOomaUumuu
Fungal Wastes AmbloomFunglingFungoonSporgFungified HuskShrumelingShrumal WarriorShrumal OgreMantis YouthMantis WarriorMantis Lords
City of Tears Husk SentryHeavy SentryWinged SentryLance SentryMistakeFollySoul TwisterSoul WarriorSoul Master (Tyrant) • Husk DandyCowardly HuskGluttonous HuskGorgeous HuskGreat Husk SentryWatcher KnightCollector
Royal Waterways BelflyPilflipHwurmpBluggsacDung DefenderFlukefeyFlukemonFlukemarm
Crystal Peak ShardmiteGlimbackCrystal HunterCrystal CrawlerHusk MinerCrystallised HuskCrystal Guardian (Enraged)
Infected Crossroads Furious VengeflyVolatile GruzzerViolent HuskSlobbering Husk
Deepnest DirtcarverCarver HatcherGarpedeCorpse CreeperDeeplingDeephunterLittle WeaverStalking DevoutNosk
Ancient Basin Shadow CreeperLesser MawlekMawlurkBrooding MawlekLightseedInfected BalloonBroken Vessel (Lost Kin)
Kingdom's Edge BooflyPrimal AspidHopperGreat HopperGrub MimicHivelingHive SoldierHive GuardianHusk Hive
Queen's Gardens Spiny HuskLoodleMantis PetraMantis TraitorTraitor Lord
Colosseum of Fools Sharp BaldurArmoured SquitBattle ObbleOblobblesShielded FoolSturdy FoolWinged FoolHeavy FoolDeath LoodleVolt TwisterZoteGod Tamer
Warrior Dreams XeroGorbElder HuMarmuNo EyesGalienMarkoth
White Palace WingmouldRoyal RetainerKingsmouldSiblingVoid Tendrils
Story Bosses Hornet (ProtectorSentinel) • Hollow KnightRadianceShadeHunter's Mark
Content packs
Hidden Dreams content Hidden Dreams Grey Prince ZoteWinged ZotelingHopping ZotelingVolatile ZotelingWhite Defender
Grimm Troupe content The Grimm Troupe Grimmkin NoviceGrimmkin MasterGrimmkin NightmareGrimmNightmare KingSeal of Binding
Lifeblood content Lifeblood Hive Knight
Godmaster content Godmaster FlukemungaPale LurkerSisters of BattleWinged NoskNailmasters Oro & MatoPaintmaster SheoGreat Nailsage SlyPure VesselAbsolute RadianceVoid IdolWeathered Mask