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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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 effects on your social life.
- Broken Bird: Averted, but she strayed very close to it early on.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Constantly. As of the end of Keys to the Kingdom, she's trying to quit, though.
- Horribly, forcibly invoked during Omega, where she's pretty horrifically 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 and the state she's in and doesn't care, simply thinking her mother's fallen off the wagon big-style.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 disabilitynote , which makes him immune to some of the key's effects.
- Big Damn Heroes: Grabs Bode!Dodge, takes the Wellhouse Key and throws Dodge through the door, effectively killing him
- 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, although Kinsey's social problems due to her head tampering may have driven her off.
- 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: Has been possessed by one of the parasites
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: With Scot
- Dying as Yourself: Dies after the Alpha Key is used to remove the demon
- Only Sane Man: Generally comes off as the most level headed of the group.
Jamal SaturdayOne of Kinsey's friends.
- Black Best Friend: Subverted, this is one of his major complaints with Scot, who is otherwise his best friend.
- Cool Loser: Hanging out with him and Scot is "social suicide", but it's never made clear why.
- Disappeared Dad: His dad died in Afghanistan.
Scot KavanaughOne of Kinsey's friends. Has a British punk jokester thing going on.
- British Accents:
- Or at least, British slang. Jury's out on whether he's actually British or just uses their slang because he thinks it's cool.
- He uses the accent too: he was teaching Bode to speak with one as of "Keys to the Kingdom." Jury's still out on whether it's real or an affectation.
- He refers to his "English flesh" in Alpha.
- Cool Loser: Hanging out with him and Jamal is "social suicide", but it's never made clear why.
- Crazy Awesome: When he removes his sanity using the Head Key, he strips naked in his school's quad and recites Byron.
- Demonic Possession: Has been possessed by one of the parasites
- Dying as Yourself: Dies after the Alpha Key is used to remove the demon
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.
- Manly Gay: Though he's a bit on the portly side.
- 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.
- And of course, knowing how to defend against someone who is using a sword certainly came in handy.
Rendell and Nina'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.
- 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.
- Matricide: Attempted. In a flashback she comes very close to pushing her mother off a cliff after she 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.
- Big Damn Heroes: Not her exactly, but her still alive memories distract Dodge long enough to knock the Crown of Shadows off him.
- Locked into Strangeness:The trauma of having her head emptied out turned her hair white.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Puppeteer Parasite: The thing controlling Dodge's body.
- Shout-Out: Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl? Trapped in a well? Actually male? Sounds familiar...
- Smug Snake: He underestimates Tyler's intelligence repeatedly.
- 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.
- The Atoner: As a ghost, he realizes his manipulations by Dodge and attempts to kill him. He 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 Melee Revenge: Gets one 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.