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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...

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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 Geo.png 3000, then dies. The Knight collects Geo.png 100 along the way and then dies before defeating the Shade that carries Geo.png 3000. A new Shade spawns on the most recent death location and the new Shade only carries Geo.png 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 dies in one hit due to the Knight technically having only one Mask of health.
  • 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.

Shade in the beta version

  • 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]


  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 Icon.png 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


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Main Game CrawlidVengeflyVengefly KingGruzzerGruz MotherTiktikAspid HunterAspid MotherAspid HatchlingGoamWandering HuskHusk HornheadLeaping HuskHusk BullyHusk WarriorHusk GuardEntombed HuskFalse Knight (Failed Champion) • MaggotMenderbugLifeseedBaldurElder Baldur

MosscreepMossflyMosskinVolatile MosskinFool EaterSquitObbleGulkaMaskflyMoss ChargerMassive Moss ChargerMoss KnightMossy VagabondDurandooDurandaAluba

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XeroGorbElder HuMarmuNo EyesGalienMarkoth

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Hidden Dreams Icon.png Hidden Dreams Grey Prince ZoteWinged ZotelingHopping ZotelingVolatile ZotelingWhite Defender

Grimm Troupe Icon.png The Grimm Troupe Grimmkin NoviceGrimmkin MasterGrimmkin NightmareGrimmNightmare KingSeal of Binding

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Godmaster Icon.png Godmaster FlukemungaPale LurkerSisters of BattleWinged NoskNailmasters Oro & MatoPaintmaster SheoGreat Nailsage SlyPure VesselAbsolute RadianceVoid IdolWeathered Mask