Hollow Knight is a beautiful action-adventure game about a nameless knight battling his way through hordes of insects in the ancient, subterranean kingdom known as Hallownest. It was the number one pick on our list of best Metroidvania games because of its beautiful scenery, charming character design — and above all — its challenging boss battles (hence this list of Hollow Knight bosses ranked).
We’re all excited with Hollow Knight: Silksong on the horizon, but it might be a while before we have a chance to play it (since we still don’t even have a release date yet!). That makes now the perfect time to dive back into the original Hollow Knight and fight some of its legendary bosses… but which ones are the hardest?
We decided to put together a list of the top 25 Hollow Knight bosses ranked easiest to hardest, so you’ll know which of our exoskeleton-armored friends will give you the most trouble. Keep in mind that the difficulty of certain bosses varies based on your upgrades, playstyle, and difficulty settings.
Top 25 Hardest Hollow Knight Bosses Ranked
Ready to battle some big, beautiful bugs? It’s time to list the Hollow Knight bosses ranked by difficulty!
25. Winged Nosk
The first boss to make it onto our list is the Winged Nosk, added in the free content pack Godmaster. It’s basically exactly what it sounds like. They took the Nosk, a hidden boss from the base game, and gave it wings.
This new version of the beast is much more challenging and combines several of the Vengefly King’s abilities with those of the original Nosk.
Galien’s spirit appears over the remains of his body after you’ve managed to get ahold of the dream nail. He then acknowledges you as a fellow warrior and challenges you to battle.
This undead champion can be pretty tricky. His spinning scythe attack is brutal to avoid as it bounces off the floor and trails you, but Galien is far from the hardest in the game.
23. The Collector
The Collector is a hidden boss in the base game. Defeating it is the only way to get its map.
This sticky-fingered shadow monster lives in the Tower of Love and has a massive collection of bugs preserved in glass jars. One of its attacks is to leap up onto the ceiling, sending these jars raining down on you and releasing the enemy bugs inside.
22. Brooding Mawlek
This one is available as a hidden boss in the base game and as a mini-boss in the Colosseum of Fools. The Brooding Mawlek looks like a Sarlacc from Star Wars covered in eyeballs, spider legs, and praying mantis arms.
This nasty critter has slashing attacks and likes to spit big ol’ infection loogies at you in massive AOE attacks that can be difficult to avoid.
21. God Tamer
The God Tamer is the last enemy you have to fight in the third and final trial of the Colosseum of Fools. She probably wouldn’t be all that hard on her own. She makes the list only because you fight her after all the other gladiators and various enemies have been defeated.
She rides on top of a giant pill bug, leaping into the air and swinging at you with her lance. Her mount will attack you separately, rolling around the arena like a ball and vomiting orange balls of infection at you.
20. Hive Knight
This adorable flightless bumblebee might look like a pushover, but don’t let that fool you. This is the hardest bee I’ve had to fight since Rumor Honneybottoms. The Hive Knight uses his skills to protect his queen’s body, even after she’s been killed by infection.
He’s very quick and occasionally takes a break from stabbing at you with his toothpick to unleash a swarm of hivelings from his mouth.
Some people might have had different experiences than others depending on when they fought UuMuu. That’s because the infected jellyfish was somewhat nerfed in a patch, making it slower and easier to handle.
It’s still not an easy fight. UuMuu emits bursts of electricity and can summon two Oomas to fight alongside it when fought in Godhome. The arena is as much vertical as it is horizontal. Fights like this are why Hollow Knight is featured on our list of the best platforming games.
18. Troupe Master Grimm
Troup Master Grimm was added as part of the second free Hollow Knight Expansion, The Grimm Troupe. Grimm is the ringleader of a strange traveling circus that appears whenever someone lights the nightmare lantern.
Fighting him is no picnic. Grimm launches fiery bats at you, shoots at you like a giant drill, teleports around the arena, and occasionally puffs out his cloak, shooting fireballs in every direction.
17. Brothers Oro & Mato
The Brothers Oro and Mato are a two-for-one dual quest boss fight introduced in Godmaster. You get to them by reaching the final room in the Pantheon of the Master.
You start out fighting Nailmaster Oro on his own, attempting to hit him while dodging his slash attacks. Then Mato joins in, and things get crazy. This fight is especially tricky if you’re like me and have trouble dividing your attention across the field.
16. White Defender
The White Defender was introduced in the Hidden Dreams update. He’s the dream form of the Dung Defender and a much more challenging foe than his waking self.
Most of the White Defender’s moves are just stronger versions of the Dung Defender’s, but there are a few new ones mixed in just to keep you on your toes. He still tosses individual pieces of dung and dives into the ground before bursting out with a bunch of — you guessed it — more dung, but he’ll now pick them up and throw three at a time before bouncing around in a giant ball and shooting out spikes.
Wash your hands after this one.
15. Paintmaster Sheo
Bob Ross isn’t amused by this master impressionist. Paintmaster Sheo is one of the bosses introduced in Godmaster and is the final enemy in the Pantheon of the Artist.
Sheo has a bunch of hard-hitting attacks, most of which involve slashing at you with paint that splatters across the field like a Jackson Pollock.
Next up on our list of Hollow Knight bosses ranked is Markoth the moth! Markoth’s ghost will appear over his body like Galien’s did once you’ve acquired the dream nail, and then he will challenge you to a fight, daring you to draw your weapon against him.
Markoth will teleport around the arena, summon a glowing shield that he sometimes spins like a tornado around him, and shoot at you with a barrage of nails.
13. Hornet Sentinel
This next one is a boss that you have to fight twice — just to be clear, this rank refers to the more difficult second encounter. Hornet is one of the more important NPCs in Hollow Knight and the anticipated protagonist of Hollow Knight: Silksong. She appears to be the same species as the knight and uses a needle as a weapon.
The Sentinel version of Hornet uses similar attacks to when you fought her the first time, only now her range has gotten longer, and she’s much, much faster. She also likes to use traps.
12. Failed Champion
This little ghost is not friendly. The Failed Champion is a hidden boss in base Hollow Knight. He is the faster, stronger dream version of the False Knight.
Champ here doesn’t have too many unique moves. He’ll jump at you and make lots of slam and bludgeoning attacks. His difficulty really comes down to his speed and strength.
11. Soul Tyrant
As Failed Champion was to False Knight, Soul Tyrant is to Soul Master. This deflated Dracula-beetle isn’t to be taken lightly, though.
He’ll summon a few more orbs and make a bigger shockwave with his slam attack, but the main difference again comes down to the Tyrant’s enhanced speed and strength.
10. Traitor Lord
Time for the top 10! The Traitor lord is one of the main bosses of the Hollow Knight campaign. You need to defeat him to reach the White Lady in the Queen’s Gardens.
This imposing Mantis-lord is a challenge right from the start. He’ll dive at you with his glaive-arms, spin them like a blade-tornado and do a few ground pounds here and there for good measure.
9. Sisters of Battle
You’ve been through a few two-on-one fights. How does three-on-one sound? The Sisters of Battle are a form of the Mantis Lords added in Godmaster, and they do not leave a lot of room for error.
These twisted sisters will poke your little knight full of holes with their lances if you aren’t careful. Their combo attacks are particularly dangerous.
8. Great Nailsage Sly
You aren’t scared of an itty-bitty fly, are you? Well, you should be. The Great Nailsage Sly is one of the more technically difficult bosses introduced in Godmaster.
Sly will do various slash and slam attacks with his Buster Sword-sized nail. His speed punishes aggressive combat, so you’re better off trying to bait an attack, then doing your best to dodge and riposte.
7. Watcher Knights
Guardians of Lurien the Watcher, these knights are actually corpses that have been reanimated by infected flies. There are six of them in total, making them a real pain to deal with.
Each individual Watcher Knight would be manageable, but their sheer numbers make this fight one of the more challenging battles. Especially when they start bouncing.
6. Grey Prince Zote
Grey Prince Zote is one of the most frustrating fights in the game, but it’s also one of my favorites. The Grey Prince is the dream variant of Zote the Mighty.
His flailing nail attack might be hilarious to behold, but his slam attacks are hard to predict as he will sometimes pass straight through the floor and then fall back down from the ceiling like he’s using the gun from Portal.
5. Lost Kin
Lost Kin is the dream version of Broken Vessel. Putting them this high on the list might raise some eyebrows since some people seem to have less trouble with them than others. I was in the latter category.
Like most dream variants, Kin is stronger and faster than its snoozing counterpart. They can also summon flying, infected balloons that you need to deal with before you can even start working on your primary target.
4. The Radiance
The Radiance is the final boss of the campaign and the hardest non-DLC boss in the game. She is the god of the Moth Tribe and the source of the infection plaguing Hallownest.
Her Radiance has a whole slew of attacks, ranging from beams of light and raining swords to floor spikes and orb attacks. Maybe try lighting a fire and see if she just flies into it?
3. Pure Vessel
Want to fight the titular Hollow Knight back before he’d been weakened by the infection? Pure Vessel is just that. This absolutely monstrous enemy is the final boss in the Pantheon of the Knight.
Vessel utilizes a long, rapier-like nail and is easily the best swordsman in the game. They also throw daggers, summon pillars of soul and tendrils of void.
2. Nightmare King Grimm
Remember our number eighteen, Troup Master Grimm? Well, there’s an optional final version of him known as Nightmare King Grimm, and he’s the second hardest boss in the game.
He uses all the same moves we know and loathe from the Troup Master variation while being faster and also sporadically summoning massive pillars of flame. I’m still having nightmares about it.
1. Absolute Radiance
The number one spot on our list of Hollow Knight bosses ranked goes to Absolute Radiance. This is one of those fights that makes you question what you’re doing with your life and how it all somehow managed to end up here. Absolute Radiance is the final boss of the Godmaster expansion and easily the hardest boss in Hollow Knight.
She is the purified form of The Radiance and is somehow significantly more challenging than the boss that took our number four spot. Her attacks are faster, stronger, and she now fires a barrage of orbs every two seconds towards the end of the fight.
Be careful not to throw your console if you’re playing this on Switch.
Delve into the Hallownest
We hope you enjoyed our list of Hollow Knight bosses ranked and are just as excited as we are for Hollow Knight: Silksong. Be sure to follow High Ground Gaming for news, reviews, and more lists like this one.