I’ve always been a huge fan of the Heartless since the first day I saw them. There was a brief period of my life sometime long after Kingdom Hearts had come out, where I started looking up all the different Heartless that existed at the time and became mildly obsessed with them. This was what made me scramble to finally pick up the series for the first time. Yes, my life revolves around monsters this much.
Then Kingdom Hearts II came around and introduced even more Heartless, but I didn’t like a lot of them quite as much because they seemed more simplistic and silly overall. There were plenty of gems in there, though, and among them is my favorite Heartless of the entire series and one of my top monsters of all-time: Dark Thorn. I know there’s a gaggle of literally Halloween-themed Heartless thanks to Halloween Town, but excluding them, I think Dark Thorn is easily the most Halloweeny Heartless because of his gothic feel and location in Beast’s Castle. Let’s have a closer look at this guy:
Bestial monster? Check.
Encountered in an old spooky castle? Check.
Possesses inanimate objects? Check.
Glowing eyes and toothy grin like a jack-o-lantern? Check.
Dark Thorn is great for Halloween. He’s first encountered in a ball-like form known as the Shadow Stalker, which looks very close to the Darkball Heartless from the first game, but functions more like the Possesser; the fight consists of the Shadow Stalker possessing parts of the ballroom you fight it in and attacking you with them. The similarity to the Darkball is curious though, given it’s the only new Heartless in Kingdom Hearts II that resembles one in the first game so closely.
Anyway, after the Shadow Stalker is defeated it turns into the epic beast known as Dark Thorn, who is effectively a dark, twisted Heartless answer to Beast himself. Big with muscles, hairy mane, hunching posture… he even has some thorns wrapped around his arm in contrast to Beast’s story with the rose. Except he’s obviously much cooler than Beast. Dark Thorn’s design and attitude is a great mix of ferocity, grimness, and quirkiness, like all the good Heartless designs are. He’s epic, though sadly too easy to beat.
No idea why his name is so similar to that of the Nobody, Twilight Thorn, though. Coincidental? The Hunter of the Dark (fan name; this one has no official name) from Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep also seems to be a nod to Dark Thorn, or maybe he’s just similar because they take after the same recurring Heartless design elements.
Anyway. Awesome monster, and an especially impressive design for being able to stand out amongst the other great Heartless designs of the series. Tell me what you think of him!