Ornstein and Smough

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Ornstein and Smough
Dark Souls character
Ornstein and Smough.png
Ornstein and Smough, as seen prior to their battle.
First gameDark Souls (2011)
Created byHidetaka Miyazaki
Designed byHiroshi Nakamura

Ornstein and Smough are a duo of boss characters from the action role-playing game Dark Souls. Independently known as Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough, they are fought together, and often regarded as the hardest boss in the game. Consisting of one of the Four Knights of Gwyn who formerly hunted dragons, and an executioner of superhuman size, they were assigned to protect the Lordvessel from intruders and function as the final boss of the Anor Londo level. The boss battle has received a great deal of notoriety for its difficulty and the unusual ways players have beaten it.


Ornstein and Smough possess vastly different physical traits. Ornstein is slightly larger than human-sized, extremely fast and wields a spear, while Smough is several times taller than a human, wields a tremendous hammer, and walks slowly unless he is charging. Both of them wear golden armor which emphasizes their height - Ornstein's helmet is leonine with a hole in the mouth, while Smough's armor distorts his muscular body into an obese figure with a cherub-like face, although he sees out of the neck.

Both of the characters are fought in a long, rectangular and empty cathedral, with parallel sets of pillars on either side. The player can either attempt to block Smough with the pillars while attacking Ornstein, or attack Smough while dodging Ornstein, a more difficult task when alone. If Ornstein is defeated first, Smough crushes him with his hammer, reflecting his disdain for not being inducted into the Knights of Gwyn due to his cruelty, and gains the power of lightning. If Smough is defeated first, Ornstein suddenly grows to immense size while retaining his former speed. When the second boss is defeated, the player can purchase the armor of that boss, and in Ornstein's case, obtains the Leo Ring.

A boss identical to Ornstein appears in Dark Souls II, called the "Old Dragonslayer", although this fight has been criticized as a "carbon copy" that lacked creativity.[1] Ornstein's spear can be created in Dark Souls II, and his spear and armor can also be found in Dark Souls III as treasures.


The name of Dragon Slayer Ornstein was likely based on the composer Leo Ornstein.[2] Smough's armor was designed to appear as though it was created by a demented person, reflecting his personality, and he was designed first, with Ornstein being introduced much later in development.[3] Miyazaki forced the game's designers and programmers to make Smough's armor equippable, making them "really angry".[3]


Chris Carter of Destructoid called Ornstein and Smough one of his most memorable boss fights in video gaming, saying that he was "not prepared" for the challenge and was forced to retreat after he realized that Ornstein became larger after Smough was defeated, eventually prevailing over the bosses in the reverse order after a "soul draining" encounter.[4] GamesRadar+ called the fight the third best in the entire Souls series, behind Sif and Knight Artorias, stating that it induced a "roller coaster of emotions" that was "the Dark Souls experience distilled into one fight".[5]

Dave Cook of VG247 called the "feeling of jubilation" when he beat Ornstein and Smough "unmatched in all my years as a gamer", also praising the Dark Souls community for helping him to defeat the bosses.[6] Mark Serrels of Kotaku stated that he felt "pure zen" when he beat the boss, due to being confident that he was going to win after many repeated attempts.[7]

Dragonslayer Ornstein was modded into Darkest Dungeon as a playable character by a fan.[8]

Unusual control methods[edit]

Fans of Dark Souls have beaten Ornstein and Smough using many non-standard control devices. Benjamin "Bearzly" Gwin beat the bosses using one hand on his controller, a Rock Band guitar and drum controller, a Donkey Konga bongo drum controller, and voice control.[9] Separately, Twitch Plays Dark Souls beat the bosses after 28 days, using a voting-based system for the stream's viewers to choose controller inputs.[10]


  1. ^ "An alternative view on Dark Souls 2 - VideoGamer.com". VideoGamer.com. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  2. ^ Stanton, Rich (2014-03-13). "The Real Dark Souls Starts Here: 13 Real-Life Inspirations for Lordran". IGN. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  3. ^ a b "Dark Souls 1 - Design Works Interview - Souls Lore". soulslore.wikidot.com. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  4. ^ "The Memory Card .101: Ornstein & Smough". destructoid. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  5. ^ "Prepare to die - these are the 15 greatest Dark Souls bosses". gamesradar. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  6. ^ "Dark Souls: Ornstein & Smough RIP - VG247". VG247. 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  7. ^ Serrels, Mark. "Five Emotions You Feel Killing Bloodborne Bosses". Kotaku. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  8. ^ "Darkest Dungeon mod adds one of Dark Souls' toughest bosses as new class". pcgamer. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  9. ^ Grant, Christopher (2015-08-10). "Watch someone beat Dark Souls' toughest boss using only his voice". Polygon. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  10. ^ Frank, Allegra (2015-09-11). "After 28-day struggle, Twitch beats Dark Souls' hardest boss duo". Polygon. Retrieved 2018-02-20.