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The Locke Children
The oldest of the Locke children, Tyler does his best to be the man of the house, but is still haunted by Sam Lesser's words.
- The Atoner: The quote at the top of the main page torments him constantly.
- Book Dumb: Though he struggles at schoolwork, Tyler is by far the most cunning of his siblings. He is pretty fast at thinking on his feet, manages to piece together that Zack, Dodge and the Dark Lady are one and the same, and creates a very safe hiding place for the Omega Key: inside his own head.
- Deadpan Snarker : He has a very dry and deadpan sort of wit.
- Gentle Giant: The Giant-ness seems to be something he inherited from his father, who is also built like a truck. Runs in the Family, perhaps. Eventually the giant part became literal, but he wasn't too gentle.
- Genre Savvy: Especially obvious when he gives an irrefutable and logical explanation as to why Kinsey can't be trusted with secrets.
- Heroes Want Redheads: His love interest is a redhead.
- Hypocrite: In a minor way. He constantly gets on the others to be more careful about using the keys and keeping secrets, but he's barely any better about it for most of the first 4 volumes.
- Idiot Ball: Sure, go ahead and tell everyone about the magical key that can unlock people's minds... I'm sure nothing bad's going to come out of that one. Lampshaded by Kinsey.
- Instant Expert: Subverted. Turns out simply absorbing the contents of a textbook doesn't help much in actually understanding it enough to write a paper on the subject.
- Like Father, Like Son: Subverted. He bears a great resemblance to young Rendell, and has a similar taste in women based on his relationship with Jordan. But the final arc of the series is centred around how Tyler has been taught by his father's mistakes and matured into a better man.
- Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Gets a pair of glasses that, according to Kinsey, make him look smart. He comments they do serve a purpose, as they help with his reading.
- Super Strength: He has used both the Giant Key and Hercules Key to acquire this at different points.
The middle Locke child. Tired of being sad and afraid, Kinsey used the Head Key to totally remove her sense of fear and sadness, making her brave to the point of recklessness.
- Anime Hair: Her natural preference is for multicolored hair with some unusual, spiky styles.
- Badass Boast: Her various "I'm not afraid to ___" statements, but especially "I'm not afraid to kill you".
- Blessed with Suck: Completely removing your fears and sadness turns out to have some negative side effects on your social life. When you're not afraid of accidentally hurting people or ruining relationships because of impulsiveness, things can go downhill for you and your social circle.
- Broken Bird: Ultimately averted, but she strayed very close to it early in the story.
- Character Development: Initially she gets over the trauma of her father's death by simply using the Head Key to remove her sadness, fears, and trauma. She eventually comes to realize that this hasn't helped her actually get past her problems and not having any sense of fear is actually causing more problems for her, so she replaces her fear so that she can mature and deal with her problems like a proper human being.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Scot, Jackie and Jamal after they all almost drown together.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Jackie.
- Important Haircut: Changing her haircut from a conventional style to a short cut with a braid and green stripe marks when she starts bouncing back from her father's death.
- Took a Level in Badass: After removing her fears, although it led to some unforeseen consequences.
- Plucky Girl: Actually enforced. She doesn't get scared or sad because she literally can't after using the Head Key to remove her fears and sadness. Deconstructed in that this also means that she lacks the benefits of fears and sadness, such as truly empathizing with others' negative emotions, and avoiding dangers.
The youngest of the Locke family. Has a knack for finding keys. Or maybe they're finding him?
- Annoying Younger Sibling: A mild version, as he is a very active child with two teenage siblings going through emotional turmoil.
- Cheerful Child: Bode is a relentlessly upbeat youngster.
- Children Are Innocent: As the youngest and purest of the Locke children, the keys' magic means that they are revealed to him first. As soon as Dodge possesses him, the keys start revealing themselves to the next candidates of Tyler and Kinsey.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: He's very imaginative, even for a kid his age. Sometimes his siblings and mother have no idea how to understand him or what to do with him.
- Curious as a Monkey: He frequently runs wild with his curiosity. He will find ways to explore anything and everything.
- Deliberately Cute Child: He invokes and exploits this at times, especially after being possessed by the spirit that possessed Dodge.
- Generation Xerox: His relationship with Tyler is extremely similar to Duncan's with Rendell.
- Grand Theft Me: Has been kicked out of his body, which has been inhabited by Dodge, and turned into a ghost no one can see.
- Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: What his teacher thinks of his art. Of course, she didn't know everything there was true.
- One of Us: In-universe. He's a Calvin and Hobbes fan.
The Rest of the Locke Family
The father of the Locke family, Rendell is killed by Sam Lesser (under the orders of Dodge) at the very beginning of the series.
- Back from the Dead: Defied. After the Mending Key fixes her broken dishes, Nina tries to use it on his ashes. It doesn't work, although his soul does become linked to the cabinet. Later Tyler brings Rendell back as an echo in the wellhouse to say goodbye.
- Broken Ace: He was a cool kid at high school, but his arrogance ended up leaving his friends dead or worse.
- Cool Teacher: Was a caring and kind teacher who tried his best to help his students.
- Identical Father: As an adult he just has Tyler's chin, but when we see his teen self he's pretty much just Tyler with a different haircut. Arguably this is a smart choice, as much of Tyler's arc is filling in his father's shoes.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Like all adults Rendell forgot the magic of the keys soon after graduating. He can only half-remember when drunk.
- Posthumous Character: It becomes increasingly clear that Rendell is just as important a character in the series as his children.
- The Reveal: Opening the Black Door was his idea. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!.
The mother of the Locke family. Has been hitting the bottle ever since her husband died and she was raped on the same day. She knew Rendell since they went to college together.
- The Alcoholic: She has turned to alcohol to deal with her trauma.
- Broken Bird: Her husband's death and her rape at the hands of Sam and company really did a number on her.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Constantly. As of the end of Keys to the Kingdom, she's trying to quit, though.
- Horribly and forcibly invoked during Omega, where she's pretty much force-fed several bottles of wine and worse by something that, to her, appears to be her own son. Comes with an extra, horrid sting when Kinsey discovers her in that state and simply thinks her mother has fallen off the wagon big-time and is absolutely furious at Nina.
- Muggle: She has no knowledge of the Keys, and like any other adult, is blocked from learning of them. As a result she is oblivious to a lot of the weirdness that goes on around her.
- Rape as Drama: It's only mentioned explicitly once, by Kinsey. Other than that it is just horribly suggested.
- Weirdness Censor: Like nearly all adults, she has one that keeps her from recognizing the effects of the keys. However, when she has too much to drink, she recognizes and tries experimenting with one key. When she becomes drunk again later she remembers her experiments.
Rendell's brother, Duncan helps take care of the Lockes with their father gone.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Duncan forgot the magic of the keys as he grew up like all adults. However he can temporarily remember parts of it when exposed to obvious magic, such as Dodge or the living shadows.
- Non-Action Guy: Very much so. He's a skinny intellectual and no real use in a fight.
- Straight Gay: Though it's implied he might not always be; he suggests they go to a club (as opposed to a bar) that is known to play Cher (though this may be because he correctly thought the club might be safer).
- However as a kid, he liked to become a girl by using the gender key.
- Tagalong Kid: Was essentially this to his big brother Rendell, and Rendell's friends. They were pretty tolerant of him in most cases, however.
- Tap on the Head: Gets knocked out pretty easily. A beer bottle is one thing, but a plastic gas can?
- The Reveal: It was actually his fault that Dodge got possessed.
Friends of the Locke Children
Ellie Whedon's son and Bode's friend. Has some sort of mental disability, which makes him immune to some of the key's effects.
- Ambiguous Disorder: It's never stated exactly what disorder he's supposed to have, and the symptoms mix and match from several different real life disorders.
- Big Damn Heroes: Grabs Bode!Dodge, takes the Wellhouse Key and throws Dodge through the door, effectively killing him
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: He doesn't always have the best connection with reality as most people define it. On the other hand, he also has a much better perception of some of the supernatural events going on around him than normal people do.
- Disability Immunity: His condition makes him immune to the Head Key.
- Disability Superpower: It also makes him able to talk to ghosts. Of course, writing about mentally handicapped people with extrasensory power might run in Joe Hill's family.
- Third-Person Person: Most of the time he expresses himself through his action figures, referring to himself as "the kid.'' He does seem to know that it's pretend, though.
- Unstoppable Rage: His reaction to learning that his mother's killer Dodge is alive and inhabiting Bode's body? Immediately try to strangle him.
- Urine Trouble: Still wets the bed.
Jackie VedaKinsey's best friend at school, although Kinsey's social problems due to her head tampering drive her off for a time before the two eventually reconcile.
- Ambiguously Brown: Could possibly be Indian, given that Veda is an Indian name, and the mural in her home (we see it when Kinsey picks her up to go running with her new hairdo) depicts a woman in traditional Indian garb (presumably her mother) sitting with a man and a young child (her father and her).
- All Love Is Unrequited: She loves Scot who loves Kinsey and oh...
- Demonic Possession: She becomes possessed by one of the parasites that Dodge unleashes.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: With Scot.
- Dying as Yourself: Dies after the Alpha Key is used to remove the demon.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: She initially has this relationship with Kinsey, although Kinsey's insensitivity due to the Head Key drives Jackie off for a time. They eventually reconcile.
- Only Sane Man: Generally comes off as the most level headed in her group of friends.
Jamal SaturdayOne of Kinsey's friends.
- Black Best Friend: He takes exception to this trope. While Scot is otherwise his best friend, Jamal is infuriated by the thought that Scot may see him as a stock black friend from a tv comedy.
- Cool Loser: Hanging out with him and Scot is "social suicide", but it's never made clear why.
- Deadpan Snarker: Prefers sly and deadpan quips to Scot's Large Ham tendencies.
- Disappeared Dad: His dad died in Afghanistan.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Scot, although their relationship is strained for a time after some experiments with the Keys and a fight over Kinsey's affections. They eventually bury the hatchet.
Scot KavanaughOne of Kinsey's friends. Has a British punk jokester thing going on, although it's unclear if he actually is British or has just very thoroughly adopted the slang and subculture.
- Cool Loser: Hanging out with him and Jamal is "social suicide", but it's never made clear why.
- Cool Shades: He seldom removes his shades, to the point where you'd think they were glued to his head.
- Crazy Awesome: When he removes his sanity using the Head Key, he strips naked in his school's quad and recites Byron.
- Demonic Possession: He becomes possessed by one of the parasites set loose by Dodge.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: With Jackie, after the demon parasite is removed from him.
- Dying as Yourself: Dies after the Alpha Key is used to remove the demon, although thanks to the Hercules Key he lasts for quite awhile and is able to save and help his fellow students.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Jamal, although their relationship is strained for a time after some experiments with the Keys and a fight over Kinsey's affections. They eventually bury the hatchet.
- Hopeless Suitor: He is head over heels for Kinsey, who generally only thinks of him as a friend.
- The Quincy Punk: He may not be in the time era when they were most common, but he's got a dyed mohawk and unconventional/rebel attitude associated with this trope.
Friends and Associates of the Entire Locke Family
Brian RoganDuncan's boyfriend.
- Bury Your Gays: Toyed with. At the end of Head Games when he's run over, but is later revealed to be in a coma, which he eventually wakes up from to deliver important plot-relevant information.
- Hot Blooded Sideburns: He's got big sideburns and is entirely willing to fight it out with nasty, homophobic locals.
- Manly Gay: Though he's a bit on the portly side instead of a muscle man.
- Nice Guy: He treats Tyler basically like his own nephew.
- Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Averted. We don't know his exact age but he's no spring chicken.
- Straight Gay: He doesn't want to go to a club with Duncan, but to a local bar so he can watch the game.
Detective MutukuA local police detective who helps out the Lockes. Seems to have a bit of a thing for Nina.
- Chekhov's Gun: Played with. He mentions to Nina at one point that his mother enrolled him in fencing classes because she had a dream that one day he would need to defend himself with a sword. However, when Dodge attacks him with a rapier, Mutuku just starts knocking him around with a rolling pin while lecturing him about how this isn't a fencing match. That said, while he wasn't actually wielding a sword, knowing how to defend against someone who is using a sword certainly came in handy.
- Determinator: He's an extremely determined man, and will shrug off obstacles and wounds to reach his objectives.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Unceremoniously impaled by a shadow.
- Dual Wielding: Kitchen knife AND rolling pin.
- Great Detective: Or at least a competent and damned dogged one.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: One of the large shadows controlled by Dodge runs him through.
- Improvised Weapon: Unable to use his gun while Dodge is attacking him with a sharpened rapier, Mutuku grabs a knife and a rolling pin that happen to be in the kitchen where he's standing and starts kicking ass and taking names.
Rendell's Old Circle of Friends
Ellie WhedonThe track coach at the Locke's high school. Was one of Rendell's original circle back in 1988, and the one who started the whole mess over again.
- Abusive Parents: Her mother is a major one. Ellie herself is a kind and caring parent.
- Accidental Murder: Accidentally destroys the echo of Rendell's mother when she pushes her out of the wellhouse trying to defend Dodge.
- Break the Cutie: Her experiences as a teen, and the breaking just continued due to her mother as an adult.
- Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Her relationship with Dodge was commented on a few times as this.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Dodge runs her through with a sharpened rapier.
- Matricide: Attempted. In a flashback she comes very close to pushing her mother off a cliff after the evil old woman put a cigarette out on Rufus' neck, but can't go through with it. Dodge had no such hesitation, however.
Erin VossFormerly one of Rendell's circle, she is now a mental patient after Dodge completely emptied out her mind with the Head Key while searching for the whereabouts of the Omega Key. Used to be in love with Rendell.
- All Love Is Unrequited: She nursed a crush on Rendell, but he never noticed.
- Big Damn Heroes: Not her exactly, but her still alive memories distract Dodge long enough to knock the Crown of Shadows off him.
- Empty Shell: Essentially everything inside her head was removed with the Head Key. This was done to such a degree that nothing new seems to be able to form either as the years go by.
- Fate Worse Than Death: What was done to her with the Head Key is absolutely horrific. Now imagine spending decades like that...
- Locked into Strangeness:The trauma of having her head emptied out turned her hair white.
- Mistaken for Racist: Her distressed cries of "WHITE! WHITE!" are taken to be this, but is actually referring to the empty white space she sees whenever she tries to think coherently.
Joe RidgewayDrama teacher at the high school, Joe was the director for the school's legendary production of The Tempest starring Dodge's circle in 1988. He recognizes Dodge when he sees him again, which doesn't work out too well for him.
- Cool Old Guy: A kindly teacher who is getting quite old.
- Full-Frontal Assault: He dies leaping out of the bathtub hitting Dodge with a rocks glass while quoting Shakespeare. Not a bad way to go.
- Go Out with a Smile: He dreams that he's reunited with his wife, both young and beautiful, at the bottom of the river on the glorious summer day she almost drowned.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: He smokes a pipe, of course he's a good guy.
- Irony: He is teaching Kinsey's class Hamlet, while at the same time he is paralyzed with inaction when he sees the ghost of Dodge. He later comments upon the irony.
Dodge, aka Zack Wells
The main villain of the story, Dodge seeks to open the Black Door. He almost did it in 1988, and doesn't intend to fail this time.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: When he uses the Gender Key, he makes for an attractive woman.
- Back from the Dead: Sort of. He is actually a living echo of his former self. As one point his corpse can be seen at the bottom of the Drowning Cave.
- Big Bad: While there are bigger fish, on the other side of the Black Door Dodge is the main villain.
- Big Bad Friend: He befriends Tyler and Kinsey so he can figure out where all the keys he needs are without blowing his cover.
- Demonic Possession: Has a ...*thing* lodged in his soul (if some lines in Clockworks #1 are to be taken seriously, it may be one of the Thousand Young) that guides his actions. Comments by Sam Lesser indicate that the parasite has completely taken over and he simply retains Dodge's memories and personality, ala a Joss Whedon vampire.
- Faux Affably Evil: Knows how to say all the right things, but there is an absolutely vicious, ruthless bastard hiding underneath it.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Continually wowed and confused by modern technology, since the last computer he owned was a Commodore 64. All things considered he adapts fairly well, and thinks that modern technology kicks the crap out of what he was used to in the 80s. Justified - possessed or not, he's only 18, an age where learning and picking up new ideas and concepts is very easy to do.
- Gender Bender: Has no problem with using the Gender Key to switch back and forth from a male and female form.
- Hellish Pupils: Sometimes when the parasite is pissed. Notice that when Dodge sports them, he tend to be a lot more vicious and violent than usual.
- Humanoid Abomination: He looks like a normal human, but is actually something like a spirit that has been taken over by a demon and given physical form.
- Hybrid Monster: Dodge is both a living echo and possessed by a demon.
- Instant Expert: He is so good at fencing because he used the Head Key to absorb a VHS tape of the fencing masters.
- Jabba Table Manners: Displays some shortly after getting possessed, when the parasite is still getting used to new human sensations.
- The Lancer: Was this to Rendell before the demon possessed him.
- Manipulative Bastard: Even when he isn't using the Head Key!
- Mind Rape: Knowing that they can't do anything about the demon and not wanting to kill their friend, Rendell's circle instead use the Head Key to rob him of all his memories of the last three years; the demon is still there but doesn't know about the keys or the Black Door. Ellie explicitly compares this to rape.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Has this reaction when Tyler frees his soul from the parasite.
- Neck Snap: He's fond of killing people with this move.
- Pretty Boy: Was definitely an attractive man, and remains attractive when using the Gender Key.
- Puppeteer Parasite: The thing controlling Dodge's body.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Is initially bound to the well house, but schemes to find a way out.
- Shout-Out: Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl? Trapped in a well? Actually male? Sounds familiar...
- Smug Snake: He underestimates Tyler's intelligence repeatedly, as well as the resourcefulness of the entire Locke family.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Without the Puppeteer Parasite, Dodge was actually a pretty cool guy.
- Weaksauce Weakness: If he passes through the door to the wellhouse...Poof.
- Weapon of Choice: Fond of stabby things, and uses both knives and a sharpened rapier to deadly effect.
A mentally unbalanced classmate of Tyler's, Sam was used by Dodge to kill Rendell Locke.
- Abusive Parents: He definitely had them, which didn't do him or his chances in the world any favors.
- The Atoner: As a ghost, he realizes how he was manipulated by Dodge and attempts to kill him. Sam fails and is tricked by Dodge into being killed by Kinsey in Zack's body, but the information that he passes onto Rufus leads to Dodge's ultimate undoing.
- Back from the Dead: For about a minute before Kinsey re-kills him.
- Chainsaw Good: Forms an astral chainsaw at one point.
- The Dog Bites Back: Attempted and failed.
- The Dragon: To Dodge in Welcome to Lovecraft.
- Empty Shell: According to Dodge, this is what allowed him to contact Sam; an echo's voice can reach anywhere hollow, like caves, wells and Sam's soul.
- Extreme Mêlée Revenge: On the receiving end of this when Tyler bashes his face in with a brick (he gets better) and one in Dodge's body when Kinsey beats him to death with an ice skate. (He doesn't get better this time.)
- Gonk: In addition to abusive parents and being poor, the guy was born with a face that won't be winning any pageants.
- The Sociopath: Dodge heavily implies he is such. Some of his behaviour implies that he is just severely mentally disturbed instead.
Al GrubbA friend of Sam's, Al helps him murder Rendell.
- An Axe to Grind: He uses one when he and Sam attack the Lockes. As seen under Hoist by His Own Petard, he should have kept better track of it.
- Bald of Evil: Has a shaved head, and willingly/enthusiastically takes part in rape and murder.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: "Now where'd I leave my hatchet?"
- The Sociopath: Probably the only wholly evil human character who appears in the whole series. He's just a depraved rapist.
- Teens Are Monsters: Unlike Sam, he's neither crazy or being strung along by an evil spirit. He probably just tagged along for the chance to rape Nina.
ParsonsAn obnoxious orderly at the local booby-hatch, Dodge uses him to find Erin Voss.
- Death by Racism: When his very first line is calling Obama a "halfrican" you know he'll come to a bad end.
- Fat Bastard: He's a portly guy who is a complete jerk.
- Foreshadowing: Of the ironic variety. In one scene, he and a co-worker discuss who would win; Freddy Krueger or Leatherface. Parsons insists that strength and weight are the only things that matter in a fight, and he'd make quick work of any skinny guy with knives. Dodge later shows up with knives and dispatches him effortlessly.
- Jerkass: A creepy orderly who shows multiple forms of prejudice and is a jerk even to people he isn't prejudiced against.
- Orderlies Are Creeps: This nasty racist is not the sort you'd want looking after you.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: As soon as he's done what Dodge wanted...knifeneck!