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...

Dialogue Bottom.png

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 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 will turn into smoke and return to its spawn point.

As the Knight gains Spells, the Shade and will be able to use the same Spells. When below the Knight the Shade will use 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 will use a dark variant of Vengeful Spirit/Shade Soul.

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

If the Knight died to a Boss, the Shade will usually spawn 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 or Shade Soul to draw its attention.

If the Shade is killed, the Knight's SOUL meter is returned to normal and they will regain all Geo that was lost upon death. If the Knight dies before killing the Shade, a new Shade will appear on the spot of the new death's location and the old one will disappear. Killing the new Shade will still fix the SOUL meter, but all the Geo carried by the previous Shade will be lost. For example, the player has Geo.png3000, then dies. The player collects Geo.png100 along the way and then dies before defeating the Shade that carries Geo.png3000. A new Shade will spawn on the most recent death location and the new Shade will only carry Geo.png100.


The Shade's health is calculated by Nail damage multiplied by half of the Knight's hp at death rounded down. More mathematically: Nail Damage x ([max hp at death / 2]rounded down)

Ex. having 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


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.



  • Cannot be read by the Dream Nail.
  • Once Void Heart has been acquired, the Shade becomes passive and will die in one hit.
  • The Shade will die in one hit to environmental hazards.
  • If the Shade uses the diving spell and lands in water, the explosion will not occur and it will become stuck in place, open to attacks.

Shade in the beta version

  • 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 will not appear, and all Geo will be lost unless the Shade is summoned by Confessor Jiji. Also, the Knight will still retain 100% SOUL meter even though it appears broken.
  • If Joni's Blessing was equipped when the Knight died, the Shade will die in one hit due to the Knight technically having only one mask of health.
  • The Shade's Hunter's Journal entry will be automatically filled upon acquiring the Journal. This is likely intended for Steel Soul Mode as the Shade is impossible to fight there and the journal entry is necessary for the Hunter's Mark.
  • 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.


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