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Ranking The Bosses Of Hollow Knight by Difficulty

Ranking The Bosses Of Hollow Knight by Difficulty

Hollow Knight is one of those games with many bosses, and they all are unique. Whether you want just to defeat the main bosses of Hollow Knight or fight the optional ones, there are plenty of them to fight if you enjoy the game enough. We will rank all bosses in Hollow Knight based on their difficulty and other contributing factors.


This article will review Hollow Knight’s bosses and rank them by difficulty. So, here are the bosses ranked. The bosses range from stupid one-trick ponies to utter abominations that will drain your soul.

46. Massive Moss Charger

Although the Massive Moss Charger isn’t the first boss you will encounter and probably not even the second, he is the easiest of the early-game bosses. Hopefully, by this point in the game, you have learned how to jump because all this pile of leaves can do is run at you.

If you time your attacks right, you can stand in a single spot and see this leafy fool get shredded by your nail.

Overall Difficulty: .25 out of 10

45. Gruz Mother

The Gruz Mother will likely be the first boss you come across, and the encounter can catch you off guard if you are just learning the ropes. Anyone with decent object-tracking skills and general knowledge of platformers should get out of this unscathed.

However, be aware, once defeated this freak will spawn a bunch of babies that can kill you. I was embarrassingly killed by those flies.

Overall Difficulty: .5 out of 10

44. Vengefly King

Swoop down, spit stuff at you, repeat. This boss is kind of there to teach you what “tells” are and how to avoid incoming damage. If you are learning that in this game, you are going to have a bad time. A really bad time.

Even without paying attention to him all that much you can defeat him by being mildly aware of your health. Save Zote from his clutches so he can live to fight (you) another day.

Overall Difficulty: .5 out of 10

43. False Knight

This was the first boss that I died to in the game. It was only once, mind you, but he did get me. The slam attacks threw me for a loop the first time, but the falling meteors near the end of his “attack phase” got me.


Once I realized that you could strike them with your nail to deal tons of damage to him, the fight was all but won. The atmosphere and lead-up to the fight are really good, but sadly the boss ultimately does not live up to it.

Overall Difficulty: 1 out of 10

42. Broken Vessel

The Broken Vessel gave me a bit of trouble two or three times, but only because, up until this point, fights were all about quick dodges and making time and space to heal.

This fight is a bit different, and as soon as you catch on, he becomes pretty easy. The trick is to make it small. He makes slight movements during his “spewing” stage because dodging frantically is almost guaranteed to get you hit at least once.

The other tip I can give is to do your best not to heal. Carry as many masks as you can into the fight because his attacks are easily avoided, but he doesn’t let up that much.

Overall Difficulty: 2 out of 10

41. Marmu

He bounces around like a ball. Stand in one spot and whack him. You need a decent amount of timing with your nail strikes and about a minute to beat the easiest of the dream nail bosses.

He sounds super cute, though.

Overall Difficulty: 2.75 out of 10

40. Flukemarm

This is the very definition of an annoying boss fight. Flukemarm is the only boss in the game that can’t move and does nothing but spawn enemies in his (her?) arena the entire time. The enemies he spawns are some of the most annoying in the game.

The safest method is to kill each enemy that flies at you and build up essence, then release a Shade Soul spell and repeat. Honestly, even if you just keep wailing on the boss while paying moderate attention to the position of the mobs, you should be fine.

I prefer to pogo on top of this giant bug sack, and she won’t be squirting any more gnats in no time.

Overall Difficulty: 3.5 out of 10

39. Soul Warrior

This guy could be defined as a tough enemy rather than a boss, as the encounter is over fairly quickly, but he does serve as a good warm-up for when you face his master later on. It is a short but fun fight that shouldn’t be too hard if you have reached this point efficiently.


He is a nice little tutorial to teach quick dodging and reflexes.

Overall Difficulty: 4.5 out of 10

38. Hornet (First Encounter)

This is the first boss of the game that killed me more than one time and really forced me to watch closely and distinguish her moves from one another.


Some of her windups are quite similar to one another which can lead to small mistakes when looking for time to heal. Even if you fail a couple of times here, just fighting the boss a handful of times should start to show her patterns and make the fight easier each time.

Overall Difficulty: 4.75 out of 10

37. Crystal Guardian

Dodge the lasers. Whack him twice. Find a safe spot to heal if you need to. (The far right side of the arena works 90% of the time.) Repeat. I know this isn’t an article intended to be a guide, but not much else can be said for this one-dimensional boss.

Overall Difficulty: 5 out of 10

36. Gorb

A training course in the art of dodging and pattern recognition, both of which are key to defeating some of the hardest bosses of this game. He would feel like a precursor to Radiance’s moveset if it weren’t for the fact that this DLC came out after the main game was released.

Overall Difficulty: 5 out of 10

35. Oblobble

The only real reason why this guy (or guys in the arena) is this high on the list is that he is more or less a test of your spacial awareness and ability to dodge, which can be the most difficult part of platforms for some players.

Trying to use essence attacks on this guy as much as possible is probably a better bet than sticking to his side as you never know what pattern his projectiles will be fired in.

Overall Difficulty: 5.5 out of 10

34. Soul Master

For those of you who are in the middle of this game right now and are thinking to yourself, “I wonder where Soul Master is in terms of difficulty ’cause he was really hard to beat!” he is.

After I beat this guy, I almost assumed it couldn’t get much harder than that and be a fair fight, but man, was I wrong! On my second playthrough, I butchered this guy on the first attempt, even after I had forgotten about his second phase and everything!

The reason for that is simple- this game is hard for non-platformer addicts like me, and it gets even harder after this guy. Stay on your toes, and the student will become the master!

Overall Difficulty: 5.75 out of 10

33. Xero

Xero - Hollow Knight Bosses

I enjoyed this boss’s aesthetic, and I believe that he would be more difficult if it weren’t for the fact that you can hide below his arena and fully heal up anytime you like. If that was an oversight on Team Cherry’s part, then I surely appreciate it!

Although his attack pattern is easy to grasp. Whack him twice, let him fire his swords at you, which you can easily dodge, and be extra careful of these swords’ return flight to him (this can catch you off guard)

Overall Difficulty: 5.75 out of 10

32. Nosk

Nosk - Hollow Knight Bosses

The events leading up to the encounter with Nosk are some of the creepiest yet most captivating that I have ever experienced in games without dialogue. The visual design of this boss is also, once again, very hideous and yet inspired.

That being said, this boss doesn’t meet those lofty standards in terms of difficulty, as he can be cheesed pretty hard using the environment in his arena against him. The only reason he is even this high on the list is the off-putting nature of your first battle with him.

Kudos to you if you were able to feel him in one go!

Overall Difficulty: 5.75 out of 10

31. Elder Hu

Elder Hu - Hollow Knight Bosses

There are only a handful of boss types in this game ( which isn’t necessarily a complaint), and Elder Hu would fall under the “you just have to memorize everything” category.

Timing your dodges out of the way during the attack where the projectiles close in on you is key. He stands above about a third of his peers on the account that you must memorize each attack to survive, making your first attempt incredibly difficult if you go in blind.

Overall Difficulty: 6 out of 10

30. Uumuu

Uumuu - Hollow Knight Bosses

Uumuu is essentially the “Bed of Chaos” of Hollow Knight (apologies to all reading who have yet to play the wonderful Dark Souls game). It is hard for all the wrong reasons, dreaded on each playthrough, and has a stupid name.

Without spoiling anything, your path to this boss is occasionally met with my favorite NPC in the game (besides Hornet). This makes it all the more frustrating and daunting when you have to sit around and wait on him to attack so you can continue the fight.

It is a test of annoying levels of patience and endurance, neither of which I am particularly adept in.

Overall Difficulty: 6.25 out of 10

29. Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight - Hollow Knight Bosses

That’s right. You are reading this correctly. One of the two final bosses of the main game and the game’s namesake is listed here, just under halfway through the difficulty ranking. To be sure, he is intimidating and built up throughout most of the game through lore and what you can piece together about him, but he isn’t all that hard.

His moves do a lot of damage, but almost all of them are highly telegraphed, and even when he moves into a sort-of phase two, not many changes other than a slight speed boost. I died to him only once in my first playthrough and have never even come close to dying to him since.

Fun boss to fight but not that hard to beat.

Overall Difficulty: 6.5 out of 10

28. Mantis Lords

Mantis Lords - Hollow Knight Bosses

Here is where things begin to pick up in terms of the speed of the bosses and the damage they dish out. Fewer mistakes are allowed going forward, and there are also fewer windows for the attack. These locust ladies are a prime example.

The battle begins with one of them coming down to face you, performing various teleporting dashes and occasional downward strikes while stopping periodically to throw her scythe. After she resigns from the battle, the other two will come down and fight you together, following the same regiment of attacks.

Stay vigilant, and these amazing bosses will bow to your nail eventually!

Overall Difficulty: 6.75 out of 10

27. Dung Defender

Dung Defender - Hollow Knight Bosses

Forgoing the cringe-inducing name and method of combat this particular boss has, he is also a fairly fun boss to take on, yet a significant jump in difficulty up to this point in the game.

He has possibly the greatest variety of moves amongst the Hollow Knight bosses, which helps to contribute to his difficulty, especially if you just happened to wander into his map section early without some key upgrades.


He is simultaneously valiant and vaudeville and is one of the more memorable bosses of the game, for better or worse.

Overall Difficulty: 6.75 out of 10

26. Brooding Mawlek

Brooding Mawlek - Hollow Knight Bosses

This might be only my experience talking here because I know a few other players who have completed Hollow Knight, and none of them seemed to have as tough of a time with the Brooding Mawlek as I did. Hopefully, your experience will be the same as theirs.

I had difficulty finding safe zones during AOE (Area of EFFECT) attacks, and avoiding her outward strikes when you got close almost guaranteed a health trade every time I damaged her.

There are a few environment places that you can use to cheese her, like Nosk, but going toe to toe was pretty tough to overcome.

Overall Difficulty: 6.75 out of 10

25. Enraged Guardian

Enraged Guardian - Hollow Knight Bosses

Like the Crystal Guardian but madder, faster, with more laser attacks and more damage. If you overcame Crystal Guardian, you could take this guy down, too, maybe not quite as quickly. You must be extra vigilant for his double-damage dealing attacks, which could quickly fade you to obscurity.

Overall Difficulty: 7 out of 10

24. No Eyes

No Eyes - Hollow Knight Bosses

Part of the difficulty of this fight is in the creepy factor of both the music and the “voice” that you seem to hear throughout the fight. Avoiding the floating ghost apparitions isn’t too difficult initially but gets much more challenging as the fight continues.

This boss is more a platforming puzzle than a “fight.” The only thing you are fighting here is the dread of running into the thing, making that creepy sound.

Overall Difficulty: 7 out of 10

23. Winged Nosk

Winged Nosk - Hollow Knight Bosses

Take one of the more annoying fights in the game and give him wings. Do you know what you have? A more annoying and more difficult fight that just might be the worst re-skin of a boss I have ever seen. Every death to this guy feels cheap, which is not an inspiring feeling to keep someone playing your game.

He has a random firing pattern which is hard to memorize (in a bad way). Every so often, he decides to fly away, leaving you lonely in an arena, draining your energy, and begging him to please come and fight you already. He is a very bad implementation of prolonging chip damage.

Overall Difficulty: 7 out of 10

22. Galien


I honestly couldn’t really really really pinpoint why this guy felt so special to me, but he did. It might be that the crack across his entire body indicates that he was stepped on and squished by something bigger or whether his fight seems so fine-tuned and perfect for my play-style, but I loved this boss.

Dodging his spinning scythe as it moved faster and faster never felt cheap but created a sense of urgency and excitement that was coupled with adequate time to consider what to do next, even on the first attempt—great boss but not the hardest.

Overall Difficulty: 7.25 out of 10

21. Nailmasters Oro and Mato

Nailmasters Oro and Mato

You might notice that the next several bosses are either tied in their difficulty ranking or very similar to each other, and that is because they were really hard to distinguish.

This game crosses a line for me, with most of the bosses left on this list where I had to go into hyper-focus mode even to have a chance against them. (I am not normally overly fond of or great at platformers.)


It took quite a while to defeat these guys because each fighter is a well-rounded boss in offensive and defensive abilities. The real issue was that there were two of them, and I had a hard enough time paying attention to one!

Overall Difficulty: 7.25 out of 10

20. The Collector

The Collector

The difficulty of this boss highly depends upon either your natural ability with the enemies in the game up to this point or your knowledge of most enemy types and their weaknesses.

If you haven’t been storing that information in your brain, you may have a tough time with him as you must outlast wave after wave of increasingly difficult mobs. Hitting him as often and accurately as possible will end the fight a few rounds early, sparing you from some of the harder enemy types he has at his disposal.

Overall Difficulty: 7.25 out of 10

19. God Tamer

God Tamer

All by himself, this boss and his pet probably wouldn’t be too difficult, but the fact that he comes after a gauntlet that can take the average player half an hour puts a lot of pressure on you that isn’t there with most bosses on this list.

Unless you play flawlessly in the arena above battles, you will probably head into this fight with little essence or possibly little health, adding to the nervousness and anxiety. Deep breaths, though, because he isn’t all that hard to deal with if you stay calm and patient.

Ignore the rider, dude. He is a useless distraction. Focus on the big guy; you only need to defeat this behemoth to end the fight.

Overall Difficulty: 7.5 out of 10

18. Hive Knight

Hive Knight

I have seen this guy a little lower on many ranking lists that I have read myself, and I don’t understand it. One of the reasons why I struggled was I had taken a break from the game after finishing it and returned a few months later when this DLC had been made for it.


The Hive Knight is pretty difficult in my book, even setting all that aside. He is incredibly fast, loves to mix up patterns in his attacks, and leaves nearly impossible windows of opportunity for healing. I had a really hard time with this boss on my first playthrough, and even though I found him easier on my second one, he still had my respect going forward.

Overall Difficulty: 7.75 out of 10

17. Grimm


Once again, you are reading that correctly. We are only at number sixteen on our list and already looking at bosses that I consider to be an eight out of ten or above in terms of difficulty.

This game has many fine-tuned yet difficult-to-truly master boss fights that I believe start right here with Grimm. Anyone who has beaten Hollow Knight and its DLC packs will know that the harder incarnation of Grimm is much higher on this list, but that doesn’t mean Grimm is a slacker.

Grimm is a well-rounded, difficult boss and a truly entertaining one that will make you very glad that your nearest bench is as near as possible.

Overall Difficulty: 8 out of 10

16. White Defender

White Defender

Be careful with your boss naming their Team Cherry. I am kidding, but especially regarding a re-skin of a boss based around dung. Like all the other dream bosses, this guy is a faster and stronger version of his original self, but in the White Defenders’ case, they tied his appearance to some lore, which I enjoyed.

His white armor is supposed to represent what he looked and acted like before banishing himself to the sewers out of shame for being defeated in combat. He shows a valiant knight’s ferocity, and at the end of the fight, you end up respecting this beetle even more. So what if he is covered in crap!

Overall Difficulty: 8 out of 10

15. Lost Kin

Lost Kin

Each dream version of the handful of bosses that can be dream-nailed will be harder, but this guy has to have the biggest jump in terms of difficulty.

He becomes a new boss as he can now summon flying minions to home in on you and distract you. The temptation is to dodge them entirely and focus on the boss, but in this case, you should take each one out before they fill up your screen!

I know he is technically family, but I told him to get lost.

Overall Difficulty: 8 out of 10

14. Markoth


This guy isn’t as difficult as he could have been because the patterns of his attacks start to become very easy to recognize and avoid, even on your first go. You should be all set if you can keep an eye on the revolving shield and his projectiles.

But it is impossible to do everything this fight asks of you. You must jump on platforms, track incoming projectiles, find openings through the revolving shield to hit the fool, and then he goes for this weird AOE attack that screws your mind.


You are essentially running around like a headless chicken all over the arena. I hate this fight! Especially the last boss gauntlet version of Markoth freaking sucks!

Overall Difficulty: 8 out of 10

13. Hornet (Second Encounter)

Hornet Second Encounter

This was the first point in the game where I got stuck. Obviously, I had fallen to bosses before Hornet, but for whatever reason, the second fight with Hornet took me to the task.

She leaves behind traps as the fight goes on, and if you do not stop and deal with them, they become extremely hard to avoid as the battle goes on. Focus on them as she drops each one while keeping track of her in your peripheral vision.

This is easier said than done and quite hard to master, but once you do, it will feel so good to progress into what I believe to be the key moment in the story of Hollow Knight.

Overall Difficulty: 8.25 out of 10

12. Paintmaster Sheo

Paint Master Sheo

If I had not already fought some of the harder bosses on this list, I would have to imagine he would have been in my top ten. He is one of the more original bosses in the game and a real blast to fight against.

He only has a handful of attacks, but each hits like a truck, so defense and dodging are far more important than getting in many strikes. I truly love how the arena is splattered in color when you are done to show you what attacks landed where!

Overall Difficulty: 8.5 out of 10

11. Soul Tyrant

Soul Tyrant - Hollow Knight Bosses

A much tougher version of Soul Master. Not much more to say than that. If you have played Hollow Knight throughout a short period, then your muscle memory from Soul Master should kick in and make this guy a doable task. He falls short of being in the “hardest to beat” club.

But you need to put all that your muscles have learned throughout this game and put it into the 6th gear. Speed is of the essence here; this boss will teleport all other the arena giving you very small windows to deal damage.

Once you have the rhythm down, this will be a dance you can’t ever forget.

Overall Difficulty: 8.5 out of 10

10. Watcher Knight

Watcher Knight - Hollow Knight Bosses

Here we go- the top ten! These guys have my vote for the hardest of the hard, and it all starts with the Watcher Knight. Anyone who has fought these guys knows that the name is a misnomer as there are six of these guys if you go straight in.

There is a chandelier that you can drop above the boss’s arena, accessed from the elevator shaft you used to come up to the current floor. This will remove one of the Watcher Knights from the fight and give you a bit more of a fair chance.

Knowing when to relentlessly attack and when to play all-out dodgeball with these guys is key to victory. A great fight falls just short of being a nine out of ten.

Overall Difficulty: 8.75 out of 10

9. Traitor Lord

Traitor Lord - Hollow Knight Bosses

This is my absolute favorite boss fight of Hollow Knight. Without spoilers, the NPC story and companion available for this is worth every second of the side quest necessary to have her.

The fight is glorious as the Traitor Lord is immediately imposing and challenging. He is difficult to get around in his arena, but that is very much by design as the fight is intended to be more or less a fencing duel between you.

With the NPC fighting him as well, you have more leeway to get in a few free hits while he is distracted or to get over/ around him to deliver strikes to his back. The lore behind this boss and the implications for the NPC I just mentioned are heartbreaking pieces of the well-crafted story in an already stunningly deep game.

Say your prayers before starting this battle!

Overall Difficulty: 9 out of 10

8. Failed Champion

Failed Champion - Hollow Knight Bosses

What a great way to start off the ability to fight some of the bosses again through the power of dreams! Team Cherry took a well-designed but easy boss and reimagined his moves and speed to make him more difficult without ruining what made him a cool boss, to begin with.

I looked forward to this fight in my second playthrough so much that as soon as I received the Dream Nail, I raced back to the first area to take him on again! A really hard but incredibly fun boss battle. Whack those meteors, people.

Overall Difficulty: 9 out of 10

7. Great Nailsage Sly

Great Nailsage Sly - Hollow Knight Bosses

This speedy little guy reminded me of the Yoda fight against Count Dooku in Star Wars: Episode Two because it was the younger version of the wise old sage showing off his amazing skills.

Oh yes, and also because he is tiny, crazy fast, and bounces off the walls like a three-year-old after an espresso. (Please never give three-year-olds espresso.) If this little guy had the force, I would give up immediately.

Overall Difficulty: 9.25 out of 10

6. Grey Prince Zote

Grey Prince Zote - Hollow Knight Bosses

You might have noticed that I didn’t include your first fight with Zote on this list because it could hardly even be considered a boss fight when almost every base enemy in the game is more difficult.

What the first encounter lacks, the second more than makes up for. His body slam attack is devastating unless you can get the perfect timing right to avoid the following shockwave. (Tip: Use the wall to double jump up and over it whenever possible.)

Overall Difficulty: 9.25 out of 10

5. Sisters of Battle

Sisters of Battle - Hollow Knight Bosses

Quick summary: Take the previous Mantis Lords fight, have all three of them fight you at once, increase their hit points, and speed, and majorly increase their damage, then add a multiplier to that each time you send one back to her seat.

Tadaa! A really frustrating yet equally exhilarating experience! I hate and love this fight all at the same time!

Scratch what I said about the Soul Tyrant, this is the dance that I will never forget. The music of the fight, the way you inadvertently start moving through the arena after a few failed attempts just elevate this boss to whole other strata.

If I could, I’d put this boss on top of every boss fight ever list.

Overall Difficulty: 9.5 out of 10

4. Radiance

Radiance - Hollow Knight Bosses

If/when you can barely eke out a victory against this guy, you might think, “There is no way anything is harder than that in this game!” You would be dead wrong.

He is hard to be sure. Insanely difficult. But he is possible to defeat and always feels possible to defeat.

At one point, he would have been number one on my list, but after fighting my top three bosses, I rinsed this guy on playthrough two and wondered how I ever even struggled with him.

Overall Difficulty: 9.75 out of 10

3. Pure Vessel

Pure Vessel - Hollow Knight Bosses

If it weren’t for Radiance’s true final boss of the game, I would argue that this is exactly how Hollow Knight should have been all along. But making those two fights back-to-back would be insanely challenging, even for someone good at this game.

Just as with most of the top ten lists here, this is a great fight that will push the limits of your ability in the game and bring immense satisfaction when you defeat the Vessel as he always should have been!

Overall Difficulty: 10 out of 10

2. Nightmare King

Nightmare King - Hollow Knight Bosses

If you have ever fought him, then you understand that this boss will simply not be able to be beaten by many players. That isn’t a brag at all; it is a sad reflection of my life and how much time I am willing to dedicate to beating a virtual vampire circus bug.

Every attack is designed to drain your health in seconds if you slip up, and there are no real designed moments or windows for healing, but if a platforming noob like me can take him down, then I suppose anything is possible.

Overall Difficulty: Existential Crisis at 2 AM out of 10

1. Absolute Radiance

Absolute Radiance - Hollow Knight Bosses

There is no fighting this boss. I wouldn’t even go as far as to call it a fight in the first place. This, my friends, is an exercise in memorization, precision, and efficiency that took me hours to accomplish, and I take pride in that statement.

Even getting to this boss requires an in-depth knowledge of every other boss and their variants, so you were probably already looking for the pain and frustration you will find here. Tight squeezes, perfect timings, and excellent Essence management are all crucial here, and even then, you will get hit by attacks.

One can only pray they get lucky eventually, so good luck to you!

Overall Difficulty: NO GOD! NO. GOD. PLEASE. NO NO!! NOOOO! out of 10