Locke And Key: Every Key In The Comics (And What They Do)

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These are likely to change in the Netflix adaptation.

The long-awaited live-action adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s phenomenal horror comics series Locke and Key is almost here–its release date on Netflix is February 7. Before it arrives, though, what better way to prepare than by exploring the magical, otherworldly keys that make the series great?

Locke and Key follows the Locke family as they move cross-country to take up residence in their ancestral home, Keyhouse, following a terrible family tragedy. At Keyhouse, they uncover reality-bending keys that grant them incredible powers. They’re not the only ones who want that power, though, and the series goes to some extremely dark and horrifying places as the Lockes fight against powerful evil forces.

Yep, Locke and Key is extremely dope–at least, the comics are. And they’re well worth a re-read. The show, starring Connor Jessup as Tyler Locke, Emilia Jones as his sister Kinsey, Jackson Robert Scott as their younger brother Bode, and Darby Stanchfield as their mother Nina, hits Netflix February 7. But if, like us, you just can’t wait to visit the world of Locke and Key, come on a journey with us exploring every key from the comics.

Warning: If you haven’t read the Locke and Key comics, watch out for spoilers below.

When you’re done, check out the news that work on Locke and Key Season 2 is already underway.

1. Ghost Key

The Ghost Key is one of the first keys the Locke siblings (specifically Bode) discover. When used in a certain door in Keyhouse, it allows the user to leave their body and zip around in spirit form.

2. Head Key

The Head Key is one of the most important items in the series. It lets the user open their head like a treasure chest, adding or removing emotions, memories, knowledge, and more.

3. Anywhere Key

The Anywhere Key is simple: It allows the user to travel to any location with a door that they can picture in their mind. If you know what the door looks like, you can travel there instantly–it’s that easy.

4. Echo Key

The Echo Key is more complicated; when used at Keyhouse’s well house, it lets the user summon an “echo” of someone who’s passed away. The echo appears to be a real remnant of the deceased–not an illusion or trick–but they can’t leave the well house (or, at least, that’s how it’s supposed to work).

5. Gender Key

In the original comics, the gender key allows the user to swap their gender. Obviously, the concept of “gender” has evolved beyond binary definitions in recent years, so it will be interesting to see how the show tackles this key, which play a crucial role in the books.

6. Shadow Key

When paired with the Crown of Shadows, the Shadow Key allows the user to control a small army of shadow creatures. It’s one of the most versatile and powerful keys in existence.

7. Mending Key

When used in tandem with the Mending Cabinet, the Mending Key can fix just about anything that’s been broken. However, it does have limits, as Nina Locke discovers.

8. Animal Key

When used in a specific door, the Animal Key lets the user transform into an animal. One character uses it to transform into a sparrow, while another, more menacing individual transforms into a wolf. It’s unclear whether the user selects the animal they want to become, or if it somehow reflects a part of their personality. The key makes a minor appearance in the books initially, but ultimately proves extremely important.

9. Music Box Key

The Music Box operates a magical music box that causes people who hear it to fall under the control of the operator. Amusingly, the music box even makes up its own rhyming lyrics for whatever the user commands.

10. Skin Key

The Skin Key lets the user change their skin color–for example, Kinsey uses it to make herself appear to be African American so she can speak to someone she believes won’t talk to white people. The comics use the key in an intelligent way, sprinkling in some social commentary, but like with the Gender Key, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some changes in the show.

11. Angel Key

Along with a pair of angelic wings attached to a harness, the Angel Key lets the user fly through the air like an angel.

12. Undertree/Squirrel key

The Squirrel Key–or Undertree Key, as it was dubbed for official merch, though it was never named in the comics–allows the user to somehow control Keyhouse’s population of squirrels. This one is only briefly used in the comics, so little is known about it beyond that.

13. Timeshift Key

When used with a peculiar grandfather clock inside Keyhouse, the Timeshift Key allows the users to go back in time to view events of the past. You can’t actually affect anything, but you can see everything that happened at Keyhouse throughout (most of) history, which serves mainly as an exposition tool as the Locke siblings learn about their family’s secrets.

14. Owl Key

The Owl Key has a very specific, but useful, function: It allows the user to control a mechanical owl that can fly through the air, attack enemies, and perform simple tasks.

15. Philosophoscope Key

The Philosophoscope Key lets the user spy on people based on various old-timey settings, including “Beste Teacher,” “Truest Love,” “Usefullest Soulle,” “Untrustworthie Ally,” and “Grave Hazzyrd.”

16. Thorn Key

The Thorn Key, also known as the Plant Key, is another one that was never officially named in the original comics. It appears very briefly, but it seems to let the user control a vicious plant to attack victims.

17. Hercules Key

The Hercules Key combines with a necklace-style object to make the wearer super strong.

18. Giant Key

The Giant Key works as advertised–used with the large keyhole-shaped window on Keyhouse’s facade, it turns the wielder kaiju-sized for epic battles in Lovecraft bay.

19. Bitey Key

The Bitey Key only appeared twice, both times in one-off issues separate from the main story. It turns a door in Keyhouse into a giant mouth that eats anyone who enters it.

20. Teddy Bear Key

The Teddy Bear Key (or possibly Keys, as there appear to be multiple of them) causes teddy bears to come to life and attack. It was used in a single panel during the original comics, so not much is known about it beyond that.

21. Chain Key

The Chain Key causes a large lock called the Great Lock to spew tentacle-like chains that wrap people up. It guards Keyhouse’s catacombs.

22. Harlequin/Masquerade Key

When used with the Harlequin Cabinet, the Harlequin or Masquerade Key reveals hidden contents that include other magical items.

23. Age Key

The Age Key is never used in the main storyline, but is referenced a handful of times. It allows the user to turn into an “old person.”

24. Keyhouse Key

They Keyhouse Key is used for one purpose and only appears in a one-off issue after the main storyline’s conclusion. We won’t spoil what that purpose is.

25. Key to the Moon

The Key to the Moon appears in a single one-off issues separate from and taking place long before the main story. A previous generation of Lockes use the key to open the moon itself, which acts as a door to the afterlife.

26. Riffel Key

The Riffel Key is only mentioned, never seen or used, in the comics. Created by Hans Riffel after World War II, the key is the source of the magical rule that adults have a difficult time perceiving or remembering the effects of the keys.

27. Splody Key

The Splody Key is only described briefly in notes written by young Bode Locke. It apparently explodes.

28. Reali Key

The Reali Key is a meta gag described by Bode Locke; it opens a door that shows Bode a glimpse at his creators, writer Joe Hill and illustrator Gabriel Rodriguez. Bode has no idea what he’s seeing, but acknowledges that the two are “weirdos.”

29. Small World Key

The Small World Key, or Dollhouse Key, appears in a one-off issue set long before the main Locke and Key story. It causes a special doll-sized Keyhouse to come to life–but it doesn’t just reflect the original Keyhouse; it is the original Keyhouse, which leads to some serious complications.

30. IDW Key

The IDW Key is a one-off gag that appears in a side issue. Used in a mysterious outhouse in the woods near Keyhouse, it gives Bode a glimpse at other IDW comics series.

31. Omega Key

The Omega Key is the driving force for the whole series. It opens the Black Door in the caves under Keyhouse–though we won’t spoil what’s behind it.

32. Alpha Key

The Alpha Key is a very special key that appears in Locke and Key’s final issues. We won’t spoil what it does.

33. Additional Minor Keys

Throughout the series, there are several other keys that are only briefly glimpsed, but never described beyond a single appearance. These are listed on the series’ wiki:

  • Yin-Yang Key
  • Question Key
  • Toy Key
  • Illuminati Key
  • Nut Key [GameSpot note: This is likely the Undertree Key]
  • Star Key
  • and two other keys of unidentifiable symbolic design

Source: Game Spot Mashup