The following contains major spoilers for Locke & Key season 1.
The selling point of Netflix’s Joe Hill comic adaptation Locke & Key isn’t all that mysterious. Like Ben Wyatt once said of the cones in Cones of Dunshire, Locke & Key is all about the keys.
Locke & Key follows the Locke family as they move into their father’s old ancestral mansion known as Key House in Matheson, Massachussetts (known as Lovecraft, Massachussetts in the comic series). The estate isn’t just named Key House as a charming homage to the family’s “Locke” name but also because of the many literal, magical keys strewn throughout the premises.
As a mysterious woman in a well tells young Bode Locke, there are keys in this house capable of doing great things. Some keys allow the user to teleport anywhere in the world. Others fix broken things. One even opens a portal to hell. It’s up to the Locke children to find, use, and protect all these keys.
While the comic series introduces close to 40 keys, Locke & Key season 1 gets things started out with 12. Gathered here are all 12 keys introduced in Locke & Key‘s first season, along with the particulars of their discovery, and a description of the magical properties they contain.
The Matchstick Key
Found: Episode 1, 2:30 -It’s unknown who originally discovered the Matchstick Key but we first see it in the possession of Mark Cho.
Though it’s the first key introduced, The Matchstick Key doesn’t even get a name until Locke & Key‘s penultimate episode. Up until that point, this is simply just the key with fire-starting properties. As one of the most overtly martial keys, The Matchstick sees quite a bit of use. After Mark uses it to commit suicide (because details about the other keys’ whereabouts in Key House are in his head, just waiting to be extracted by demons) some local brats pick it up. Dodge regains control of the key by…literally murdering a child.
Dodge then passes along the key to Sam Lesser to help him escape prison and come terrorize the Locke family once again. When it comes time to battle Dodge and her shadowy forces, Bode has possession of the key and even attaches it to the end of his knockoff lightsaber to create a more fearsome weapon. The Matchstick Key has no obvious analogue in the comic book series and seems to be entirely a show-creation.
The Anywhere Key
Found: Episode 1, 33:00 -Bode finds the key in Kinsey’s bracelet.
The Anywhere Key is one of the two keys (the other being The Omega Key) that Rendell Locke took ownership of after his high school friends and guardians of the keys disbanded. Rendell placed the key inside a bracelet and gave it to his daughter Kinsey. Later on it becomes the second ever key that Bode discovers in Key House.
Bode uses the key to get some ice cream but later hands it over to Dodge so that she’ll help Bode get his mom out of the Prison of the Self. Dodge uses the key to great effect, getting out of her well prison and traveling the world. Yet she always finds some time to use it to drop by Key House and terrorize Bode some more.
The Mirror Key
Found: Episode 1, 38:00 – Bode finds this key stuck in the sink drain.
Like The Matchstick Key, The Mirror Key also seems to be a non-comic invention of the show. When used on a mirror, The Mirror Key opens up a dimension known as the Prison of the Self. Getting out of the prison is notoriously difficult (as evidenced by some bones scattered along the ground) but thanks to Tyler’s quick-thinking he is able to rescue his mom, Nina.
The Mirror Key doesn’t factor much into the rest of the season.
The Head Key
Found: Episode 2, 6:30 – Bode find The Head Key in a vacuum cleaner bag.
The Head Key has a strong case for Locke & Key‘s MVK (Most Valuable Key). The Locke kids use this thing constantly. After a trip to a key store, Bode notices a keyhole open up on the shopkeeper’s head (played by Tom Savini!) when in the presence of The Head Key. Bode correctly deduces that the key is to be placed into the back of someone’s head so that they can root around their own subconsciousness.
All three Locke children find great uses for this trick. Bode has fun revisiting memories of his father, Kinsey confronts the monstrous manifestation of her own fear, and Tyler uses it to gain knowledge about Great Britain to impress a girl (say what you will about Tyler Locke but his priorities are always on point). Later on in the season, Ellie Whedon uses the Head Key to help show the kids the details of her past with their father. Rendell also presumably used the Head Key to hide The Omega Key in his head.
The Ghost Key
Found: Episode 3, 28:30 – Bode (the champion key-finder) finds this one in a portrait of one of his Locke ancestors.
Not only does The Ghost Key have one of the cooler hiding spots, but its use is also just tremendously cool in practice. The user of The Ghost Key opens the Ghost Door and once they step through, become a ghost. Like literally – their body slumps over dead and their Casper-like specter gets to fly around the Key House grounds.
Bode has a blast trying out this ability and later uses it to see that Sam has invaded their home and taken Nina hostage. Sam’s use of the key eventually traps him as a ghost on the Key House grounds forever…unless someone recovers his body from the morgue and brings it back to Key House.
The Music Box Key
Found: Episode 5, 2:00 -Finally Kinsey and Tyler get in on the key hunt. They find this inside a piano.
Though its name and appearance is innocuous, The Music Box Key may be among the most powerful keys of Key House with the most evil applications. When used on a music box, the keeper of the key can force any individual to do anything. It’s like an Imperius Curse in key form. Kinsey pretty quickly proves that she is not a responsible user of the key when she uses it to utterly humiliate her high school rival.
Surprisingly, The Music Box Key doesn’t factor much into the Lockes battle with Dodge. Perhaps Kinsey was rightfully horrified at the kind of person the key makes her and opted not to use it again…even in a battle against a demon.
The Plant Key
Found: Episode 5, 39:00 -Kinsey and Tyler also find this key when they’re drawn to a cemetery on the Key House grounds where the key is inside an urn.
This key never actually gets a name in the series. We’re going to go with The Plant Key based on its flower shape and a similarly named key in the comics but “The Memory Key” could be just as valid. The Plant Key in the comics gives the user dominion over plants. It would seem as though this operates similar but in a more limited scope.
When placed inside a glowing keyhole in a tree, The Plant Key raises dozens of memories from the cemetery grounds at Key House. It is unknown whether key-users manually place memories within the ground there or if the land just naturally harvests them. Either way, Tyler and Kinsey learn some uncomfortable truths about their father by using the key.
The Mending Key
Found: Episode 6, 16:00 -Bode finds The Mending Key when he is drawn to a sewing room.
Though Bode is the one to find The Mending Key, he is not the one who learns how to use it. In a stunning upset, that honor goes to the Lockes’ mother, Nina. Nina discovers that when used on a particular cabinet, the key will repair whatever is inside it. Much to Nina’s despair, that mending power does not extend to dead human beings.
The Identity Key
Found: Episode 8, 39:00 – Unknown who originally discovers this key but we first see its use when Dodge uses it to change her identity back to Lucas.
The Identity Key is another invention of the show…sort of. The Identity Key has the exact same appearance as The Skin Key from the comic. But while The Skin Key changes the race of the user, The Identity Key changes the user’s whole identity. This proves useful to both the show and Dodge, as she is able to adopt the identity of Lucas Carvaggion and others at well.
Another similar key from the comics is The Gender Key, which as its name implies, changes the user’s gender. The Identity Key seems to be an amalgam of the Skin and Gender Keys but is more flexible than both.
The Omega Key
Found: Episode 8, 43:00 – Tyler finds the Omega Key in his dad Rendell’s ashes. Rendell had previously placed it in his own head for safekeeping.
The Omega Key is likely the most powerful key in Key House despite having the most limited application. Like many keys, The Omega Key simply opens up a door. It’s just that the door it opens up is The Black Door in the caves near the house. Rendell and his friends first used the key when they were children, unwittingly opening up a portal for demons to enter into our world.
Years later, Rendell’s children use it to open the door once again and throw who they think is Dodge in. Of course as we find out by series’ end, they weren’t quite successful in their mission and Dodge continues to operate in our world.
The Echo Key
Found: Episode 9, 37:30 – Unknown who originally found the key but it was entrusted to Ellie when the original keepers of the keys went their separate ways.
The Echo Key was one of two keys (along with The Identity Key) entrusted to Ellie Whedon when the original group of key-keepers broke up. The Echo Key can bring people back from the dead as an echo of their former selves and Ellie proved to be an irresponsible warden of it.
Still devastated over losing Lucas all those years ago, Ellie uses the Echo Key in the Wellhouse to bring Lucas back. But instead of bringing Lucas back, Ellie only succeeds in bringing back Dodge, the demon who possessed Lucas when he died. The Echo Key works much like it does in the comics, with an echo being manifested at the bottom of Key House’s well. The Echo becomes trapped in the Wellhouse unless it has access to The Anywhere Key.
The Shadow Key
Found: Episode 9, 38:15 – Bode finds this on the keyring his uncle gave to his mom when they took over ownership of Key House.
The Shadow Key becomes an important weapon for Dodge in her battle against the young Lockes. When placed into the Crown of Shadows, The Shadow Key allows the user to summon shadows to go to war on his or her behalf. These shadows are spooky and fearsome, yet like all shadows are defeated by even the smallest bit of light. The Locke children make relatively quick work of Dodge’s shadow army.