Game Theory: The Secret Identity of Hollow Knight's Hero (Hollow Knight)

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Published: 1 week ago
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A game that grabbed my attention recently is Hollow Knight, the indie darling about insect creatures in masks being terrorized by a creature corrupted by Randiance. This game is LOADED with theory material but what grabbed my attention most was the character we play as - the Knight. There is so much we don't know but the clues are EVERYWHERE! Today Loyal Theorists, we are unmasking the secret identity of the Knight or Hollow Knight!

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#HollowKnight #PaleKing #HollowKnightTheory #Silksong #Explained #Lore #Theory #GameTheory

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Writers: Matthew Patrick
Researcher: Alan Baker
Editors: Alex "Sedge" Sedgwick, BanditRants, and Tyler Mascola
Assistant Editor: AlyssaBeCrazy
Sound Editor: Yosi Berman

MossBag's Hollow Knight video,


comment  Comments

The below comment is from the channel Sumwan who did an incredible job critiquing this episode. Unfortunately, the comment got lost (YouTube has an algorithm that is constantly "turning over" comments on high-view videos) and despite digging around for hours looking for it, I couldn't find the original. But the work that she put in was SO thorough that I wanted to make sure it got seen, so here it is!

**Original Text from Sumwan**
I've seen this claim many times and it really does not make any sense. Not only does it contradict evidence in the game but it is very misleading. I'll go through the points one by one and explain why:

6:35 “We too might be in the ranks of a higher being”

The Knight is the child of the Pale King and the White Lady, who are both higher beings. It makes sense that the Knight is able to read these higher being tablets. This doesn't mean that the Pale King IS the Knight.

7:20 “Does it really sound like we're just some failed experiment cast into the depths of this world?”

No, it doesn't sound like that. The Vessels are the children of the Pale King and the White Lady who are born from eggs in the Abyss, which gave them a Shade. The Vessels are not just “failed experiments”.

8:12 “This poem is addressed to the Pale King”

It literally says “elegy for HALLOWNEST”. This poem is about Hallownest. “Under palest watch” refers to the Pale King, but the “you”, is most definitely Hallownest.

8:30 “In the beginning of the game's lore, all bugs were basically a hive mind controlled by the moth god Radiance”

This information is not supported by anything. Only the Radiance's descendants, the moth tribe, worshipped her. Nowhere is it stated that the Radiance controlled everything else. The Mantis Tribe, the Mosskin, Deepnest, and the Hive were all separate tribes and already had minds before the Pale King.

8:51 “This isn't just a poem about the Pale King, it is directed TO the Pale King”

It is about Hallownest and it is direct to Hallownest (elegy for Hallownest).

8:55 “What do we see appear on screen just moments later? Our Knight”

After the poem we see THE HOLLOW KNIGHT, not the Knight. The Knight scene appears after we see the Radiance break out of the Hollow Knight. Team Cherry is NOT drawing a parallel between the Knight and the Pale King. The poem is about Hallownest. It is FOR Hallownest. And the scene with the Knight does not appear right after the poem.

10:27 “Elderbug says we are seeking our dreams in perhaps a very literal sense.”

The context of this sentence matters. Elderbug is talking about how all the previous travellers went down into Hallownest to follow their dreams. He does not actually know if the Knight has any “dreams” themselves.

11:00 “Elderbug wondering if he's seen a ghost is another potentially clever play on words”

No it's not. Elderbug is just referring to how he thought maybe he didn't see anyone pass him because the Knight left so quickly. This dialogue has no other meaning besides that.

11:36 “White Lady: Is it more than simply a Vessel? I almost feel like I'm once again in the presence of my beloved Wyrm”

The White Lady only says this because the Knight is wearing the Kingsoul. The Kingsoul reminds her of the Pale King, not the Knight themselves. Also, the White Lady literally calls the Knight her spawn when they visit her with Grimmchild equipped: “Success then for the scarlet heart, and irony, to use my spawn to grow its own.” Are you saying that the White Lady gave birth to her own husband?

11:46 “Your noble bearing reminds me of our dear King”

No surprise there since the Knight is the child of the Pale King.

12:05 “The bugs in White Palace bowing as you approach them is just screaming that you're the king”

White Palace is a whole other issue, but this is really not concrete evidence. Also their dream nail dialogue makes no sense if it refers to the Knight.

12:19 “10/10 Royal Retainers can't be wrong. You are royalty”

You're actually right there. The Knight IS royalty, since they're the child of the King. Not because they ARE the King.

13:28 “This line of “more transformation” seems to imply that the Pale King's death would only lead to yet another form”

Not really. Bardoon says that the Pale King's death in Kingdom's Edge was not an actual death, but that it was more like a transformation. This does not mean that the Pale King can transform again after he became his bug shape. A caterpillar transforming into a butterfly also cannot transform into another being again.

13:49 “It's an ancient force that opposes the blinding light of [the Radiance]”

Not just the Radiance's light, but the Pale King's too. He is referred to as a light in multiple places:

The Seer:
“But another light appeared in our world... A wyrm that took the form of a king.”

The Pale King calls himself a light in the throne room lore tablet:
“No blazing kin. Only one light shall shine against the dark.”

As does the Teacher’s Archives lore tablet:

Other bugs talk about the Pale King emanating light:
“Though even its pure aura is no match for the light of our dear King.” (Eternal Emilitia)
“I've heard he was a glorious bug to behold, bright and radiant in visage, so much so it hurt to look at him.” (Last/Old Stag)
“That lingering power alone was beacon enough to draw Us to Hallownest. How bright it must have been to mortal bug stood before it.” (Godseeker)

14:45 “The Pale King used Void to fight time itself. He wants to use the Void to attain eternal life. He births himself as a Void-based creature”

Not literally time. Time here is capitalized, and it is more likely to just refer to the Radiance. Locking up the Radiance is generally seen as being what has caused the Kingdom to remain in a stasis:
“Bear witness to the last and only civilisation, the eternal Kingdom. Hallownest””
“Eternity in promise and charge in progeny cursed.”
“Now this Kingdom's stasis becomes the Wyrm's legacy.”
“Though this hive exists within Hallownest, we play no part in its attempt at perpetuation.”

It is not literally time. He is a higher being, he does not need to use the Void to “achieve eternal life”. Not to mention that the Void opposes his own powers too (see previous point).

15:25 “It seems to suggest that this egg [in White Palace] is where version 1.0 of the Pale King hatched into its upgraded form”

It does not. The Pale King became his current bug form in the Cast-Off shell. The Wanderer's Journal even mentions that too on page 111: “Deep within the maw of the [Cast-Off Shell], a pale, broken egg of some sort hints at such a rebirth.” Not only that, but the egg of the Knight in the Abyss would be DEADLY for the Pale King. Void opposes his power, it would simply kill him if he were to become corrupted by the Void like the eggs of the Vessels were.

15:40 “Elsewhere in White Palace there is a nursery playing this song on the music box (shade theme). The sound that accompanies our Knight's past life coincides with the same sound from a nursery housed in the Pale King's palace.”

Yes, this is true, but not because of the reason you're describing. It's because the Hollow Knight grew up in White Palace (see Path of Pain scene). This nursery was probably for them. And since the Hollow Knight is a Vessel too, it makes sense that the Shade theme place for that area.

16:21 “The existence of a connection between our Knight and the Pale King seems undeniable”

Yes, it is undeniable. The Knight is the child of the Pale King.

18:13 “In cut dialogue that was datamined from the game, it shows that the Hollow Knight says “father”.

Cut dialogue is not evidence. The "Father?" is cut dream nail dialogue. It was cut for a reason. We don't know when this line was written, in which context it would be used exactly, maybe the Hollow Knight's fight was different at the time, etc.

19:20 “Losing his memory helps make him purely hollow”

It does not. Quirrel lost his memory and this does not happen to him. Not to mention that the Knight is not hollow. There are multiple places where the Knight is said to have a will:

Steel Soul Jinn: "...It refuses to trade...? It has a will... all Its own."
Void Heart description: "Unifies the void under the bearer's will."
Description of a pure Vessel: "No will to break."

Lastly I'm going to address some fundamental problems with this entire theory that you did not address or seem to have forgotten about.

The most obvious evidence that contradicts that the Pale King is the Knight is that the Knight and the Pale King are both seen at the same time. This is during the Birthplace memory cutscene where the Hollow Knight is led out of the Abyss by the Pale King. This is a memory of the Knight themselves since the Knight dreamnails their own reflection to access this memory. Furthermore, the achievement for acquiring Void Heart also says:

"Remember the past and unite the Abyss"

This supports the fact that it is the Knight’s memory. Therefore, the Pale King cannot be the Knight, since they were alive at the same time.

Secondly, the Knight is the child of the Pale King, not a transformation. The lore tablet to the right of the throne in White Palace says that the Vessels are the progeny of the Pale King, and the Pale King also says that the Vessels are "born of God and Void", the God obviously referring to him and the White Lady who are both higher beings. Since the Knight is the child of the Pale King (and the White Lady), the Pale King cannot BE the Knight.

None of the points that were brought up align with the evidence that is in the game, and it even contradicts it in various places. To put it quite simply, the Knight is NOT the Pale King.

4 days ago

@Lymphocyte - i'm pretty sure she was just being direct because she knows the facts and wants to leave no gap for dispute but w/e

3 hours ago

@dialog_box From what I see, reading her being so explicit on explaining why he's wrong and saying it so directly made me think she was angry.

4 hours ago

@BatmanOn a shorter version of a previous comment. MatPat theorized the For Honor series on which of the historical factions in the game would be the best Knights, Vikings or Samurai. He based his research in what he said as true facts. Yet It was poorly researched, therefore misinforming his audience about real history making many others angry. In today's context we know it's just a game and we have to calmly tell him about his errors rather than hate him. However MatPat is known to ignore criticism, it would take a much bigger move than just pinning a critiquing comment to stop their anger. They no longer trust him and say it's just an excuse. Personally I think labelling yourself as a theorist and theorizing lore like your an expert is an insult to them especially if done multiple times in many different games.

I don't plan on making him stop this content but improve it. He has to make a good theory in the first place and stop breeding new haters. If the theory is for dumb fun and entertainment, tell your audience because there are fans who take his word like gospel and think they really know the game. In the end MatPat does not deserve the hate, he's the one who took the time to popularized many games in the first place but he also has to think what the community feels before it.

9 hours ago

@Robert Evans it's confirmed doh 👀

10 hours ago

@Brett Jagroop please no he will start thinking the prisoner is actually the king

11 hours ago

It's basically completely confirmed that the player character is one of the pale king's children

52 minutes ago

i just notest somting on the steam page of hollow knight silksong
at the abaut the game page it says "Become the Princess Knight"
that means that you as the player and hornet are conekted

1 hour ago

Those are some tame rude comments

2 hours ago

Mossbag: am i a joke to you?

3 hours ago


Galatians 4:16

3 hours ago

Even though this theory has probably been debunked already I still like to watch it and enjoy the effort you put in the videos.

Because of you I bought the game Mat, so thank you.

4 hours ago

matpat needs to revisit doki doki literature club to figure out how tall all of the girls are. itll be interesting to see what he thinks

4 hours ago

Matpat: “the vessel is the pale king”
Everyone: “Ding dong your theories wrong”

4 hours ago

Matpat can you make a theory on a mobile game called sky:children of light? please

5 hours ago

don't touch my hollow knight you heathen

5 hours ago

what a nerd 4:00

6 hours ago

Yessssss do more hollow knight please

6 hours ago

mossbag dislike

7 hours ago

4:13 i can read it that in only an hour you know!?

7 hours ago

Before :I pray for a hollow knight theory

8 hours ago

It's amazing that this video has as much thumbs up as it does considering it's pretty much the equivalent of the flat earth theory of the Hollow Knight lore.

9 hours ago

who here is excited for silksong

10 hours ago

I just expect to be able to complete all pantheons before it releases!

8 hours ago

Brave of you to assume I have money

11 hours ago

MatPat: "The knight is the Pale King."

What the HK community is thinking: "MatPat, while you theory is understandable, you simply haven't put in the time to analyze the totality of this game and comprehend it fully. Hundreds of thousands of hours have been spent sifting through this stuff by fans communicating and studying this for about two full years. We are thankful that you have spent the time to analyze this game and make this video, however, we think that it would have been better to consult a few high profile lore experts in the community before coming out with this video."

What comes out of our collective mouths: "REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE"

11 hours ago

The character we play as is named ghost

11 hours ago

why is it so long, this could have been 5 minutes lmao

12 hours ago

I think that the new intro sucks

13 hours ago

Matpat, please don't get discouraged by the response video. I don't like the you are absolutely wrong in your face attitude it presents. Everyone is allowed to have a opinion or a theory even its wrong. You should not be torn down like this for making mistakes. It is okay to make mistakes. It is not okay for others to rub it in your face like a child who thinks everything they say is right.

13 hours ago

Love the new intro, keep it up mat!

13 hours ago

I’m really glad game theory did a video on hollow knight (since it’s one of my all-time favourite games), but this video contains MASSIVE spoilers for the game without a spoiler warning. not cool, matpat

15 hours ago

I think matpat paid tooo much attention at school

15 hours ago

You should be embarrased about this one, you didnt care about being accurate and just wanted to churn out a 20 minute video no matter how wrong it was.

15 hours ago

@Blue Potato that Couldnt some theories are good some are bad this ones bad, if he cares about the quality of his content he should be ashamed of cutting so many corners to get a formulaic 20 minute video thats outright wrong on several levels.

8 hours ago

You are right about one thing. He doesn't care about being accurate. Because at the end of the day, his videos are about being thought provoking and looking at things in a not necessarily correct light. In every single video EVERY SINGLE ONE he says "But hey, thats just a theory*" because it is. And they're supposed to make you think, laugh, or elicit some other emotional response, but not *hate (well usually some are hateful against some people but they are usally murderers.)

8 hours ago

failed opportunity to say "METHINKS NOT"

16 hours ago

Honestly, this sounds cool to be the king.

16 hours ago