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


Comments • 16 106

  • The Game Theorists
    The Game Theorists   1 weeks back

    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.

    • NHK LM
      NHK LM  1 hours back

      It was really cool of you to repost this comment. I'm glad that even if the community might get up in arms about stuff so easily that you are able to respond in a way that both respects your audience and the game theorists in general.

    • Melesio Albavera
      Melesio Albavera  1 hours back

      As a java developer, I have never been more deeply offended than at 0:50.

    • GiantPoogiv12
      GiantPoogiv12  5 hours back


    • Santeri Hulkkonen
      Santeri Hulkkonen  14 hours back

      Great to see that you brought this up

    • undertalefan i cant think of anything else to put
      undertalefan i cant think of anything else to put  1 days back

      Lemem guess maybe the whole game theory team wrote this one by one if not whoever did YOU HAVE RLY GOOD HANDS can you teach me how to write a lot :3

  • Beefjerky 69
    Beefjerky 69  29 minutes back


    • Caden vids
      Caden vids  30 minutes back

      *team cherry makes a game about eating cookies*

      *3 hours later*

      Matpat: ... so in conclusion, the big fat guy is hollow knight

      • decusq
        decusq  2 hours back

        Actually Rule of Rose was one of the first games before Dark Souls to make the player piece the story together, so yeah, Rule of Rose did it first in the horror game genre.

        • loukas_prm 1
          loukas_prm 1  2 hours back

          Were is the fnaf theory ?

          • SomePersonIn TheBackground

            "Because Game Theorists...We're Cultured"
            -MatPat 2019

            • 으아아아아아아아아아

              After I watched this video, I thought that the Pale King was actually Shade Lord disguised as Wyrm or something...Idk

              • flametubexz gaming and reviews

                What's the yellow in the opening for the game theory Xbox logo thing. it's been driving me crazy not knowing what it is

                • Declan Nichols
                  Declan Nichols  4 hours back

                  I am just asking, why is issac in the intro? Just wondering

                  • Max McJunkin
                    Max McJunkin  5 hours back

                    hey have you seen "the room"

                    • NPC 46
                      NPC 46  5 hours back

                      Pat you are absolutely scummy af you do no hard work on your theory's anymore

                      • nate joe
                        nate joe  6 hours back

                        now I can see the game change your life then yes you have a right to say that's your favorite game

                        • nate joe
                          nate joe  6 hours back

                          Personally I never see any games or polished game I like a lot of games I could never say one games the best

                          • Where is lamp
                            Where is lamp  7 hours back

                            The Game Theorists: *makes a Hollow Knight video*

                            Mossbag: *heavy breathing*

                            • sherrelle swartbooi
                              sherrelle swartbooi  8 hours back

                              There's a problem the white lady call's you her "spawn" so your there kid but you are royalty.

                              • Georgy Skutin
                                Georgy Skutin  8 hours back


                                • Sam Torres
                                  Sam Torres  9 hours back

                                  Lol idot

                                  • obsidian gaming2112
                                    obsidian gaming2112  9 hours back

                                    Sound like something from fnaf not going to lie

                                    • Tina Kennedy
                                      Tina Kennedy  9 hours back

                                      Wait a minute if he's the king why does he need the king's brand open the door to the void

                                      • INailedIt
                                        INailedIt  10 hours back


                                        • Space Ghost
                                          Space Ghost  11 hours back

                                          You are full of bullshit.....

                                          • MystiInferno
                                            MystiInferno  12 hours back

                                            this is entirely debunked by by a something you see in the knight's memory towards the end of the game.

                                            • LavFlower Gacha
                                              LavFlower Gacha  12 hours back

                                              Matpat what's the yellow for!

                                              • Zeth Lindmark
                                                Zeth Lindmark  12 hours back

                                                The ¨Knight¨ that you play is just the about the higher being thing you missed the Void Entity or with its two names void given form and void given focus and the ¨Knight¨ Transforms into the Void entity and the creature that holds the shade cloak says with the awoken dream nail "...Void... Power... Without unity..."

                                                This dialogue will change when Void Heart is acquired, after which it states:

                                                "...Lord of Shades..."
                                                And when you get the void heart a cutsene will play and it says ¨Born of god and void¨ ( there is more in the cutsene but i dont rememeber) hints in the white palace the pale king (reincarnation of a wryn) made the vessels (also the collector but NOT HORNET!) using molds to form the void and thats the meaning of Born of god and void means.... I guess
                                                a ling to mossbags channel is here -> and i watched all of his hollow knight videos to get what i think is the answer i think?

                                                • Zeth Lindmark
                                                  Zeth Lindmark  12 hours back

                                                  i dont speak or type english so there might be some text errors (ーー;)

                                              • Christian Chambers
                                                Christian Chambers  12 hours back

                                                MATPAT!!! MAKE A VIDEO DEBUNKING MOSSBAGS DEBUNKING VIDEO!!!
                                                YOU HAVE TO!!!

                                                • AngelDemon
                                                  AngelDemon  9 hours back

                                                  Matpat admitted that he was wrong. Look at the first comment.

                                              • Santeri Hulkkonen
                                                Santeri Hulkkonen  14 hours back

                                                Oh no dis all wrong

                                                • Lara Gee
                                                  Lara Gee  15 hours back

                                                  This seems legit, however, in the game there is a scene when your character and the pale king are seen together. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

                                                  • Alekssito
                                                    Alekssito  16 hours back

                                                    2% is right

                                                    • hadrienoss
                                                      hadrienoss  17 hours back

                                                      FAUX !

                                                      • Peg May
                                                        Peg May  19 hours back

                                                        You seem to be on to something. (Dispite the comments). Especially with the Hollow Kight’s “Father?” comment.

                                                        • Captain Alieth
                                                          Captain Alieth  19 hours back

                                                          Yall gotta chill. It's just a theory. I understand constructive criticism and friendly discussions, but no need to get mad bout it. The Hollow Knight fandom isn't toxic, just a bit heated, and you don't gotta hard defend the theory. Accept the flaws

                                                          • Pixel Pudding
                                                            Pixel Pudding  21 hours back

                                                            IS NO ONE TALKING ABOUT THE NEW INTRO

                                                            • José Guilherme Rocha
                                                              José Guilherme Rocha  22 hours back

                                                              Hey, Mat! Congratulations for the amazing theory! I played the game some months ago and I was really surprised by this theory. Although I still agree with Sumwan, that the Knight is his son. Congratulations too for fixing Sumwan's original text.

                                                              • _HeyoimAJ _
                                                                _HeyoimAJ _  22 hours back

                                                                Daniel: (the knight)
                                                                The Cooler daniel: (the pale king)

                                                                • Rupxer
                                                                  Rupxer  22 hours back

                                                                  Ok so cool vid but hornet is not made of void.

                                                                  • ZeroKage69
                                                                    ZeroKage69  1 days back

                                                                    Spiders are not insects mat c'mon, as if this wasn't bad enough already. To be fair though the thing you called a spider does only have 4 legs but regardless.

                                                                    • Cannon Smith
                                                                      Cannon Smith  1 days back

                                                                      Ok so is this game creepy?Cause I kinda wanna play but I’m kinda scared that’s its really creepy.please answer.Also many people don’t believe but I do!😁😄🙂(please don’t judge.)

                                                                      • isaac roa
                                                                        isaac roa  1 days back

                                                                        I love to play hollow night

                                                                        • waalex11
                                                                          waalex11  1 days back

                                                                          Great interesting video.

                                                                          • Fantastic OG
                                                                            Fantastic OG  1 days back

                                                                            Isn’t so sad

                                                                            • awa bercich
                                                                              awa bercich  1 days back

                                                                              This game looks great

                                                                              • zerosuitfan91
                                                                                zerosuitfan91  1 days back

                                                                                Dude, The Knight is pure void. The Pale King is not and likely the NPCs mention him when the Knight is in the presence of them because he made the knight.

                                                                                • Lord Xaphan
                                                                                  Lord Xaphan  1 days back

                                                                                  Sooooo I’m hoping in the part 2 in the video you mention a few things, cause there are a few things you’ve left out that could debunk this theory. There is also A LOT of people mention that you ‘look familiar’ etc.

                                                                                  Edit: I also JUST finished playing the game uncovering secrets and doing everything except certain DLC. (I’ve done the Void Heart 🖤 endings)

                                                                                  • Nico Gaming
                                                                                    Nico Gaming  1 days back

                                                                                    What if instead of the knight being the pale king the pale king made the knight as an experiment but they started bonding which is why we see them both standing together in this video so he sent him away from the kingdom to become what he needed to be no memory or desire to erase the infection and the reason the white lady and his guard think of the knight as the king is because they were so close and the reason he says no cost too great is that he removes his relationship with the knight to save his kingdom

                                                                                    • AdmiralOctopus
                                                                                      AdmiralOctopus  1 days back

                                                                                      I love how this video has been added to the "born of god and meme" playlist.

                                                                                      • _SilverLyn _
                                                                                        _SilverLyn _  1 days back

                                                                                        I’m the type of person that loves a game if the story is great.

                                                                                        I love Hollow Knight

                                                                                        • hadarc01
                                                                                          hadarc01  1 days back

                                                                                          8:12 that poen is about the radiance, look up the full version of it! :)

                                                                                          • Zote The Mighty
                                                                                            Zote The Mighty  1 days back

                                                                                            Now we must analyze the physics of the Crystal heart