The Complete Lore of Quirrel – Hollow Knight

An image of Quirrel from Hollow Knight with in background Blue Lake

Getting around the detailed lore of Quirrel in Hollow Knight, like any other character, can be a bit tricky. This bug, however, has an added difficulty: Quirrel has lost his memory, and his journey through Hallownest is based solely on a strange sense of need he cannot explain. 

As we will discover together, Quirrel’s storyline ties heavily with the main lore of Hollow Knight, as he carries something essential for the Knight’s (our main character) quest of facing the Hollow Knight and stopping the Infection. 
In this article we will try to understand Quirrel’s story arc, from his origins to the end of his quest. While I will try to be as comprehensive as possible about his journey, there are voids in Quirrel’s lore left willingly by the developers, Team Cherry, like the very end… which we will gladly speculate together! 

As always, get a drink and sit on something comfortable… here we go! 

Quirrel’s Origins and Role in Hollow Knight’s Story 

To save Hallownest, the Teacher willingly became a seal, but upon herself she enacted an additional protection. 
Though I cannot recall it happening, I played a part in that feat. 
She called me here, now, to reverse that protection. All in aid of you. 

We don’t know anything about how or when Quirrel was born, but we know that he was alive prior to the fall of Hallownest caused by the Radiance and her Infection. He was Monomon the Teacher’s assistant, and probably a researcher himself or her bodyguard. When all the other plans failed, the Pale King enacted a drastic solution to contain the Infection which involved raising an empty vessel, the Hollow Knight, and storing the Infection inside of them. As a failsafe, the Hollow Knight had to be contained inside the Temple of the Black Egg and its door magically sealed by Dreamers, powerful bugs who channel the magical lock while stuck in eternal slumber. 

Monomon the Teacher: Quirrel’s Connection in Hollow Knight 

Monomon the Teacher, Quirrel's Mentor.

Monomon was in charge of research and reported directly to the Pale King. The Pale King designed Monomon as one of the three Dreamers, who gladly accepted the role out of duty, but also out of respect for the Pale King. Evidence of this respect can be found by reading the Elegy for Hallownest, a poem written by Monomon herself: 

In wilds beyond they speak your name with reverence and regret, 
For none could tame our savage souls yet you the challenge met, 
Under palest watch, you taught, we changed, base instincts were redeemed, 
A world you gave to bug and beast as they had never dreamed. 

In case you wonder, it seems like the Pale King gave Hallownest’s bugs the intelligence they possess. If you are curious about the general lore of Hollow Knight, I may advise you this article I wrote about it

Being the chief researcher, Monomon planned a further security system to prevent anything or anyone waking her up and weakening the seal: she locked herself inside a tank and transformed her own mask into the key to unlock it.  

Understanding Quirrel’s Role in Monomon’s Plan Involving the Hollow Knight 

The mask was then entrusted to Quirrel, and while it is not specified officially, I believe that his duty was to keep that mask as far away as possible from Monomon and Hallownest as a whole. When the Pale King started his plan, which initially worked, Quirrel left Hallownest to continue his duty of preserving Monomon and the fate of Hallownest.  

The plan eventually failed: the vessel, the Hollow Knight, was not empty. A glint of emotion destroyed their whole purpose, as explained by the White Lady, the Queen of Hallownest: 

Its supposed strength was ill-judged. It was tarnished by an idea instilled. 

The Infection made its way out of the Hollow Knight and seeped through the Temple of the Black Egg manifesting itself through dreams to the citizens of Hallownest. They went mad, and Hallownest succumbed. 
It’s in that moment that Quirrel, who has now lost his memories, makes his journey back to Hallownest. 

Why Quirrel Lost His Memories: Journey Back to Hallownest 

Why do we seek that place? 
That land of wonders, of promise, of dreams. 


Quirrel lost his memories as one of the possible consequences of what is called “The void beyond Hallownest”. Going away from Hallownest means going away from the Influence of the Pale King and his powers. As mentioned before, increased memories and overall intelligence was something that the citizens of Hallownest acquired only after the Pale King made his way to Hallownest and became its ruler.  

There was still something that drove Quirrel back to Hallownest, though he doesn’t know why or what that is. While we can be poetic and define this “something” as Quirrel’s sense of duty, I think that Monomon’s mask – which Quirrel still wears as a hat – has influenced the bug somehow by instilling in him the need to come back and fulfill his duty. 

Quirrel’s Encounters with Boon and Hornet in Hollow Knight 

While traveling through a wasteland which I believe to be just out of King’s Pass, Quirrel happens to save a cloaked individual from being eaten by hungry bugs who saw him as a good source of food. Meet Boon, a quirky character who doesn’t speak very well… but he’s super nice! As a form of gratitude, he shares his food with Quirrel and they travel together for a while, until eventually splitting up.  

After resting – and dreaming of Hallownest – Quirrel meets a spider that blocks his path. Of course, I am talking about fan favorite’s Hornet, who is going to be the protagonist of the upcoming Hollow Knight: Silksong. I talked about their encounter in this article about Hornet’s lore, but for the sake of completion, let’s discuss it here as well. 

Quirrel Meets Hornet: A Key Moment in the Hollow Knight Comic 

Hornet stops Quirrel from reaching Hallownest because it’s her self-imposed duty to protect the decaying Kingdom. As Quirrel readies his nail to protect himself, Hornet attacks him after noticing his experience fighting stance, thus a possible nuisance for Hallownest. 

After clashing for a while, Hornet strikes Quirrel’s head and hits Monomon’s mask. That causes a reaction of sorts, which activates the mask’s magical properties and protects Quirrel. Hornet, recognizing the mask and its power, stops fighting and allows Quirrel to move forward. Her last words to the bug are warnings to the dangerous encounter he may find in the pale king’s kingdom.  

Quirrel heads up the slope once protected by Hornet and sees the first vestiges of the King’s presence. He has finally reached Hallownest. 

The Knight’s Journey: Key Interactions with Quirrel in Hollow Knight 

Not long after Quirrel enters Hallownest, we start our Hollow Knight adventure as the Knight. The Knight will meet Quirrel on several occasions starting with the Temple of the Black Egg. Each time, he will share his opinions about the place we are in, but there’s nothing remarkable about those conversations. The only interesting dialogues are the ones we can read while using the Dream Nail on him, which usually hint on his link with either Monomon or Hallownest’s past events, like this one: 

What is this feeling?… So familiar. Drawn forward yet repelled. 
And those shapes upon the door…To gaze directly at them turns my mind to fog. 

Or when he talks about the Nailsmith: 

…Who was it that told me of the Nailsmith? I can’t even remember, yet I can almost picture the smith himself… 

By the way, if you plan on playing the game after this article, DON’T KILL THE NAILSMITH. I assure you it’s worth it

Quirrel’s lore becomes more significant once the Knight reaches the Teacher’s Archives. there lies the beginning and the end of his duties. 

The Teacher’s Archive and the End of Quirrel’s Quest 

Despite the sight, I can’t help but feel… familiarity? Something stirs in my mind, though I can’t yet tell what.. 
I’d thought it my lust for discovery that led me here but now there seems something else. 
This building beckons me. 

Something stirs in Quirrel’s mind. What he once thought was an instinct or a will for discovery, now became apparently something more. It got clear for him that somebody called him to the Teacher’s Archive, as we discover if we use the Dream Nail on him: 

…Who are you, that leads me to this place? 

When the Knight enters the Teacher’s Archive, he eventually faces its guardian, Uumuu, a giant jellyfish now overtaken by the Infection. Quirrel will aid debilitating the boss and eventually the duo will defeat it. When reaching the end of the Archives, the Knight and Quirrel find a giant Tank with an obscured being, Monomom, inside… and in that moment, a memory unlocks in Quirrel. While the rest of his past remains hidden to him, he now remembers Monomon, the plan, and its purpose. Knowing why he was there and what had to be done, Quirrel points the mask towards the tank, removing Monomon’s protection.  

He says to the Knight to not hesitate, and that it was Monomon’s decision to end her slumber by putting an end to her life. It was the only way to unlock the seal at the Temple of the Black Egg and confront the Hollow Knight.  

[…] allow me rest a time. With the deed complete, I begin to feel my age. 

The next time we meet Quirrel will also be the last time. 

A Final Encounter: Meeting Quirrel at Blue Lake 

In one of the most peaceful moments I’ve ever experienced in video games, we meet Quirrel one last time at Blue Lake. While staring at the lake, he shares how grateful he is to have experienced Hallownest twice, even though he does not remember most of the first time. If we use the Dream Nail on him here, he says: 

To live an age, yet remember so little… Perhaps I should be thankful? 
All tragedy erased. I see only wonders… 

And thinking about it, I want to agree with him. Remembering the final moments of a kingdom, his home, falling into ruin to a sickness that makes people mad and how he had to leave everything behind to fulfill his duty… Sometimes, it is better to have scars without remembering how the wounds were made.  

If the Knight leaves Blue Lake and goes back there, Quirrel is gone. His Nail will still be there, and that leaves Hollow Knight fans speculating about Quirrel’s ending: did he die? Did he just go away? 

Well, let’s gather some sort of proof. 

Theories and Speculations on Quirrel’s Fate  

There are some elements that may hint that Quirrel dies. The first thing, which focuses on lore, is the fact that Quirrel has lived an unnaturally long life. While the age of some bugs and the timeframe of the events that happened in Hallownest are still confusing, we can guess that Quirrel has, by far, surpassed a normal age. See for example how Elderbug, which in game seems quite old, is in reality born much later than the second wave of Infection that destroyed Hallownest.  

Maybe Quirrel was allowed an extended life to fulfill his role? If this was connected to Monomon’s mask, the moment he used it and it disappeared, his old age may have advanced rapidly. There is some sort of change in his voice when we talk to him in Blue Lake for the last time… like his voice is deeper, older. Or maybe Quirrel’s just tired.  

Another reason, and this can’t be canon because it is part of Hollow Knight’s game files, is the name of Quirrel’s Nail sprite when shown in Blue Lake: quirrel_death_nail. 
Some fans also think that leaving the Nail behind in a place like Hallownest symbolizes a death wish. You know what? You can believe what you want. There is no definitive proof about Quirrel’s whereabout, so it remains open to interpretation! 

I like to think that he remained alive and found a place to live his old age, finally at peace. I am soft like that.  


Here we are, at the end of this article! Quirrel deserved an article for himself, and I finally managed to talk about his story, from his forgotten role to the fulfillment of his duty. I really hope that you enjoyed reading this, and if you want to read more about Hollow Knight, I could advise this article about the lore of the Mantis Tribe. It is written in a more colorful tone, but that really depends on the playlist I use while writing. At that time, I was listening to Mick Gordon’s Doom 2016, so yeah. Colorful. 

As always, I wish you a great day, and I’ll see you in the next article! 

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