"When I was a kid, I would get these headaches, and I went to the doctor, and they said that I needed glasses. I didn't understand that. It didn't make sense to me because I could see fine. And then I get the glasses, and I put them on, and I'm in the car on the way home, and suddenly I yell... Because the big green blobs that I had been staring at my whole life, they weren't big green blobs. They were leaves on trees. I could see the leaves. And I didn't even know I was missing the leaves. I didn't even know that leaves existed, and then... Leaves! You... are glasses. I am so gay. I am so, so, so gay! I am extremely gay!"Every once in a while, you'll come across a character who has a very strong connection to a major character of the same sex. This new character will be very physically attractive and their other personality traits will appeal to the established character. Congratulations! You have just met a Closet Key. A Closet Key's initial purpose is to indicate to the audience, and sometimes to the established character they meet, that the said established character is gay. Fortunately, the Closet Key is usually gay too, so the relationships aren't instantly tragic. Also, it is not necessary for either character's sexual orientation to be explicitly mentioned in the text; the trope can be used as a method of "gay coding" which leaves room for much debate. Usually a Pretty Boy for men, but not always. At an extreme level you have the Relationship Sue. Truth in Television. Sometimes, in real life, people are unaware of their true sexual orientation because they keep it buried and rationalize the feelings they do notice as normal for heterosexuals... until they meet someone of the same gender that they feel an attraction to and connection with which is too great to ignore. Also see Stupid Sexy Flanders, which is what the Closet Key might initially invoke (and may continue to invoke in avidly heterosexual characters/audience members). In a sense, this is the inverse of the Last Het Romance in which a heterosexual character or relationship that (through its lack of chemistry or je ne sais quoi) helps the gay character realize they're gay and out themselves.
— Erica to Callie on Grey's Anatomy
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Anime & Manga
- Griffith of Berserk is pretty and charismatic enough to cause numerous Stupid Sexy Flanders moments among men, even with main character Guts. This even extends to some men developing feelings for him which he uses to further his goals.
- In Future Diary Akise Aru has clearly found his Closet Key in the form of Yukiteru. Too bad for him Yuno doesn't approve.
- Akira and Miller in Kaguya Hime inspire crushes in both males and females just by simply making an appearance in other characters presences. Their pheromones coupled with good looks are that enticing.
- Kaworu from Neon Genesis Evangelion is slightly different in that his appearance doesn't serve to identify Shinji as gay, but as bi, since he was previously shown to be very attracted to his pretty female co-workers and engages in... disturbing activities in the proximity of one of said coworkers in the next episode.
- Johan of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX according to the rabid Subtext-ers and Freud. In the second episode he appears, he instantly steals Sho's previously held role of "the hero's inseparable best friend."
- Fujiwara Zakuro from Tokyo Mew Mew. Before, Minto was just a snobbish Ojou who was a Lonely Rich Kid partially by choice and didn't show any sort of interest in anyone. Then she's caught with armfuls of photo books and fan club merchandise, and when confronted, goes on to describe this beautiful model in great detail with hearts in her eyes.
- Gravitation has an indirect (and likely not intentional) example in Tohma Seguchi, introduced as childhood idol and fulfiller of Shuichi's dreams. It takes the story about three chapters to make it clear that Tohma's real purpose in the story is that of Yuki, Shuichi's ladykiller boyfriend whose first and only love was a man, and never shows interest in women once Shuichi has settled in his life. Tohma is easily the campest man around with his fabulous hats and gloves, feather collar, questionable dressing choices and frequent displays of an uncharacteristic possessiveness towards Yuki - and his true nature, as well as his actual purpose in the series, does not become evident until Yuki's tragic first love sets the Character Development running.
- It's pretty clear in Monster that Roberto considers Johan Liebert to be his Closet Key. Given that it's Johan, you can bet that he's going to use Roberto like a box of tissue and dispose of him the moment he outlives his usefulness ( he does).
- Gilbert Cocteau in Kaze to Ki no Uta. On meeting him for the second time the protagonist, Serge, pointedly reflects "I didn't notice in the fog what he was really like. He's so beautiful! With those crimson lips and boldly arching brows..." Indeed, at first he comes across as an Expy of the Trope Namer (until we learn more about him, that is).
- In Octave, Yukino never entertains the idea of entering into a relationship with another woman. That is until she meets her Closet Key, Setsuko, who's set up to be Yukino's perfect girlfriend.
- In Full Metal Panic!, it's made increasingly obvious that Gauron finds Sousuke to be his perfect, ideal Closet Key. Sousuke's personality traits (or lack thereof) are precisely what Gauron, in his screwed up mind, finds to be the perfect match for himself. The moment Gauron first saw Sousuke, he did a double take, parked his jeep, and tried to pick him up. This might sound a tad creepier when one realizes that Sousuke was 12 years old and Gauron was 40-50. In the light novels Sousuke also has male character Lemon looking at him in this manner as we find out he's bisexual based on his behavior towards Sousuke.
- Challengers has Morinaga eventually appear as a Closet Key for Tomoe's violently homophobic older brother Souichi. The Tyrant Falls in Love more or less explores Souichi's very gradual recognition of this.
- Nana, of all series, seems to finally be going in this direction in the manga:
Hachi: I will look for Nana. Not because I want to make her "understand" anything. Because I love her.
- In the Fumi Yoshinaga manga Ichigenme... The First Class is Civil Law, main character Tamiya meets love interest Tohdou, who introduces himself with a kiss... but Tamiya is just irritated. His real Closet Key is a substitute professor who gives him one-on-one tutoring, and it's only after he's had a confusing encounter with him that he realises he's gay.
- In Shoujo Sect, Shinobu appears to have this effect on the other students at her all-girl school, which she relentlessly abuses to create a harem of pretty girls.
- Kimochi no Katachi: Satsuki towards Kano.
- Azumi is Chizuru's in Hen.
- In Prism, Megu finds out that the boy she spent a romantic day with in grade school is actually a (now very pretty) girl. Although initially disappointed, she falls in love after a surprise kiss, and her enthusiasm just goes up from there.
- The titular Revolutionary Girl Utena has inspired lots of crushes in girls by simply existing. Also, as Utena gets to know Anthy she falls in love with her despite believing she's straight.
- Ciel's Bishōnen looks in Black Butler are shown and commented on often and he has inspired interesting Ho Yay feelings in fellow males. In particular Baron Kelvin falls in Love at First Sight after meeting Ciel and quickly leaves his wife.
- Masataka of Sakura Gari expresses attraction (he gets aroused) upon being hit on by Souma who is quite the gorgeous Bishōnen.
- Count D wants to be this for Leon in Petshop Of Horrors. Leon becomes properly obsessed with him, but not in a healthy or romantic way, and it's left vague whether or not Leon ever stops identifying as straight.
- Sekirei gives us two bisexual variants. Minato and Homura are this to each other, while Mikogami is this to Mutsu.
- In Strawberry Shake Sweet, Julia is so deep in the closet note that it takes her one full chapter just to realize she's fallen for her new assitant Ran. It's only after this realization that she starts noticing all the wacky lesbian hijinks going on around her.
- Wandering Son:
- A transgender variant occurs in Wandering Son with both Nitori and Takatsuki. It's implied Nitori was always feminine but she didn't start wearing female clothes or going out as a girl until meeting Takatsuki, and vice-versa.
- Falling for Shii as a preteen helped Yuki realize that she liked boys and that she wanted to be a woman when she grew up.
- Kaede is Akina's key twice over in Don't Become an Otaku, Shinozaki-san! for both being interested in girls and being an otaku. As Akina's still in denial on both points, it's a toss up as to which is the bigger closet.
- Adekan: Shiro appears to be this to many people. In particular, Wakabayashi says he's straight but he has made Shiro his imaginary sex slave, naked and complete with collar.
- Yuureitou: Both Tetsuo (biologically female but identifies as a straight trans male) and Amano (straight male) change their preferences to include the other after they meet and slowly fall in love.
- Yuri!!! on Ice: Yuri and Victor are shown to be this to each other. Victor realized it in the past when Yuri grinded against him while drunk and asking him to be his coach and Yuri realized it after spending more and more time with Victor.
- In Neil Gaiman's Marvel 1602-continuity, Angel is canonically gay (with the disguised (in drag) John/Jean Gray serving as his Closet Key, at least in the sense that "he" is the character by attraction to whom Angel's homosexuality is indicated). In other words, Angel thought Jean was a guy (there was much reason to) and still had the inner hots stirring.
- In The Desert Peach, the eponymous Pfirsich Rommel is the Closet Key to his "fiancé" Rosen Kavalier. Rosen sees Pfirsich at a cafe and declares he want to have him; Rosen's friend knows he a complete horndog, but have never known him to fall for a dude before. Rosen claims he doesn't care that Pfirsich is a man, and gay sex eventually follows (rather bad such, since Rosen isn't skilled and cheerfully rushes on as he would with a woman).
- In Doctor Who Magazine, companion Izzy sort of knows she's gay but doesn't admit it to herself or anyone else. She has a few honest moments on the brink of death, and develops Les Yay friendships with fellow companions Fey (a queer androgyne) and Destrii (who goes for Anything That Moves), but is still terrified of her sexuality. Both serve as a Closet Key for her: she realizes that her own problems are nothing compared to Destrii's when the two get into a violent Mind Meld, and decides to stop lying to herself because of that. After which she immediately has a nice proper snog with Fey.
- In Runaways, it's never been explicitly stated that Klara is gay, but there is a scene with her desperately trying to argue that lesbianism is wrong even as her new friend Molly literally tries to break through the barriers that Klara is literally putting up around herself. The barriers hold, but at the very end of the arc, Klara finds Molly again, and this time puts up no protest as Molly embraces her, and thereafter is supremely loyal to her. Make of that what you will...
- In Ms. Marvel (2014), Nakia ends up being this to Zoe.
- In X-Statix, Phat initially postures as a straight man, but after the death of openly-gay teammate Bloke, he begins to question his own sexuality. A brief fling with the then-closeted Vivisector convinces him that he is, in fact, gay.
- Sonya is this for Firen in Tank Vixens.
- Maya ends up being this for Ritsuko in Nobody Dies. It works because of two factors. First, since Yui didn't die, Gendo is off the market. Second, Ritsuko helped come to this conclusion via the sight of Maya shaking her groove thing in a plugsuit. Still took a few dozen chapters before anything serious came of it.
- In Kira Sweetheart L to Light:
This was L's fault. What with that long dark hair and slender frame and the way he'd curled his toes cutely into chair cushions as he'd lick the frosting off a doughnut with that talented tongue of his that tasted so nice...ARRRRGH!That was just it. L was... girly and confusing. His habits arousing protective instincts even in his enemies... Yeah, that must be it! Well played, Ryuuga. Well played.
- In the pro wrestling story, A Ring Of Their Own, Beth Phoenix is this to Layla, including sing-songing "I turned you gay" at her.
- In If Them's the Rules, Harry is unfortunately one to Arcturus Black despite not being particularly handsome or beautiful.
- Draco was Harry's key in Surviving. Harry described it to Blaise Zabini as Draco "finding his inner gayness."
- Happens a lot in The History Boys fandom, especially with Posner and Scripps.
- In the Crack Fic A Charmed Life Ryuk is this for Light.
- Ranma seems to act as one for Louise (though in her case she's bisexual) in Zero Interface in a rather odd way. Due to their connection, Louise feels every emotion that Ranma does. So when he starts having lustful thoughts towards Kirche, so does Louise. This leads to Louise walking in on Ranma and Kirche making out only for her to make out with both of them.
- In Xendra, Xander/Xendra causes Willow to eventually realize she's bisexual. While initially, she was very put off by the idea of doing anything romantic or sexual with another girl, Willow does develop an attraction to Xendra. She's just horribly conflicted due to her overbearing mother not approving. She eventually gets over this and has no problem being involved with either form.
- Doing It Right This Time: Asuka did such a good job of helping Rei Clean Up Nicely it gave her a crisis of sexual identity!
- In To Romance a Magician, Twilight Sparkle believed herself to be a heterosexual with a lot of natural self-control. Until she realized that same self-control completely went out the window when a certain boastful magician was concerned.
- While initially believing it to be a cause of If It's You, It's Okay, Rei eventually causes Asuka to realize she's bisexual in Neon Metathesis Evangelion when she checks out some other girls in the locker room and finds herself interested.
- In Tickles your Fancy (NSFW), it is mentioned that the morning after Beast Boy's first gay experience, his partner woke up swearing off girls (and, as of the time of the story, is in a most dedicated and loving relationship with another guy), while BB himself woke up determined to further explore his Extreme Omnisexual side.
- The Unwanted Harem, all stallions chasing after the same man, of A Stallions Man generally don't acknowledge when Barrett says in no uncertain terms he's straight as an arrow, but the few who do try to invoke this trope as they are certain they can change his mind, so him repeating it really solves nothing. Dusk Shine is especially keen on this, because somehow Barrett himself was Dusk's closet key and when Dusk was overwhelmed at being rejected, Barrett gave him a pity kiss, so now Dusk is extremely confident, to an unbearable & even depraved extent, that he himself is Barrett's key in turn, as he refuses to believe Barrett couldn't have done it without returning his feelings. Why? Rule of Funny, of course!
- Ranma, or rather Ranko, in Ranma Saotome, Chi Master causes Akane to realize she's bisexual as she finds herself fantasizing about him in both forms.
- The introduction of Juliet in Heavenly Creatures. Not only do her personality and interests perfectly compliment Pauline's, she is constantly shot in a romantic/idealised way, never more so than when Pauline visits her house for the first time. Whatever the true story was, the film frames it as a love story between Pauline and Juliet- and Juliet is most certainly the Closet Key.
- Tombstone: Billy, played by Jason Priestley, has a reaction along these lines to the lead actor of a traveling theater company, played by Billy Zane. He's enraptured by the actor's performance, inviting him to sit at his table in the saloon; his Heel–Face Turn is later prompted by the man's murder.
- Luce, in the film Imagine Me & You, is this to the main character Rachel. They meet on Rachel's wedding day, and the rest of the film is Rachel's increasing denial about her feelings.
- The two male leads in Brokeback Mountain, for each other. Or at least Jack, for Ennis. There's some evidence to suggest that Jack had accepted his own sexuality even before meeting Ennis.
- Naomi and Michelle for each other in The Secrets.
- Carol is this for Therese.
- Mishima A Life In Four Chapters has an interesting variation where the key in question is actually an object. The famous painting of a bare-chested Saint Sebastian being pierced by arrows that prompts Kimtakes first act of masturbation.
"I trembled with joy, my loins swelled, my hands unconsciously began a motion I have never been taught."
- The key for Zac from C.R.A.Z.Y. is his cousin's boyfriend Paul. However it's another interesting variation in that he denies that he's attracted to Paul, even to himself. So it's more like Zac just puts the key in his pocket and looks at it from time to time, but refuses to open the door.
- In Plan B Bruno tries to invoke this trope with the reportedly bi-curious Pablo to make him confused enough to break up with Laura so that he can get back together with her. He succeeds, but discovers that Pablo has become his own Closet Key — or at least a Sometimes You Just Fall In Love With Another Guy Closet Key — too.
- In Out At The Wedding Risa is this to Jeannie. Jeannie was in denial about being gay and the movie begins with her marrying her boyfriend. Eventually she begins falling for Risa and by the end she's broken up with her husband.
- In When Night Is Falling, uptight conservative teacher Camille Baker meets free spirited circus performer Petra Soft, whom she eventually falls in love with.
- In Cupcakes Straight Gay Assi falls for Camp Gay Ofer. They keep the relationship a secret for a year, but eventually Assi gets the courage to come out publicly and stand up to his rich parents, who want him to maintain his image as the eligible presentor of the family company.
- An unfortunate example occurs in The Children's Hour. Possibly in denial, or confused, about her feelings for several years, it takes a child's Malicious Slander to make Martha realize that she's gay. It doesn't help her stress and only makes her feel more guilty and terrible.
Martha: There's always been something wrong. Always, just as long as I can remember. But I never knew what it was until all this happened.Martha: (...) I never felt that way about anybody but you. I've never loved a man. I never knew why before. Maybe it's that.Martha: It's funny. It's all mixed up. There's something in you, and you don't know anything about it because you don't know it's there. But then suddenly one night, a little girl gets bored and tells a lie, and there for the first time you see it. Then you say to yourself, "Did she see it? Did she sense it?"
- In Adaptation. by Malinda Lo, Reese's attraction to Amber makes her realize she is bi.
- Michael Chabon:
- In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, known gay character Sammy Clay encounters radio actor Tracy Bacon who is described as "well over six feet tall, broad-shouldered, with a dimple in his chin and glossy blond hair" with "distinctly visible" muscles. While Sammy's attraction to Bacon is not a revelation to himself nor the reader, it does open the closet doors to Sammy's family; Sammy's mother knows after one dinner with them that their interest is romantic, even before Sammy himself notices.
- In The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Arthur Bechstein constantly describes Arthur Lecomte's apperance in obsessive detail, commenting on his shoe brand, the stubble on his jawline, the color of his chest hair and the way he blushes, among other characteristics. He even admits that he's fixated on him hours after meeting him, after a page-long soliloquy on Lecomte's homosexuality. It doesn't really come as a shock to anyone when they do it, though it takes about 2/3rds of the book to get there.
- Harry Potter: J. K. Rowling's revelation that Albus Dumbledore was in love with Gellert Grindelwald is not surprising in light of this trope. At almost every opportunity in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Grindelwald is variously described as a "handsome," "merry-faced" man whose "golden hair fell in curls to his shoulders." He was also the nearest Dumbledore ever had to an equal, in intellect and talent, besides Voldemort.
- Second Apocalypse: Due to this trope, an attentive reader may guess that Cnaiür is closet gay long before the text finally says it relatively plainly.
- Tayend from The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan is a pretty classic example of this. The very first thing the reader learns about Tayend is that he's beautiful. His long blond hair and form-fitting clothes are described constantly, and all from Dannyl's point of view. Dannyl's open-mindedness does make the situation a little easier.
- This is actually a pretty unusual example, as Dannyl was once aware that he was gay, he'd simply started subconsciously used magic to suppress it to the point where he "forgets" and Tayend was on hand to remind him again.
- In the novel version of The Color Purple, Celie describes the epiphany she has while bathing the sickly singer Shug: "The first time I got a full sight of Shug Avery's long black body [...] I thought I had turned into a man."
- Kitty Butler of Tipping the Velvet is a rare female instance of this trope. Since she's a masher- a music hall artiste who dresses as a man- she appeals to the heroine in both male and female guises. Thanks to this being a Sarah Waters novel, the relationship is not left to subtext.
- Middlesex: The Object (short for "The Object of My Desire,") serves this purpose for Calliope, hence the nickname.
- In James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain, the protagonist John Grimes spends a lot of time admiring his Sunday School teacher, Elisha, especially his "leanness, and grace, and strength" and would often be too distracted to follow the lesson. Baldwin, who was himself gay, freely admitted that the novel is semi-autobigraphical.
- Cece is this to Holland in Keeping You a Secret. That's the whole point of the book.
- Heralds of Valdemar: In The Last Herald-Mage trilogy, Herald-Mage trainee Tylendel is this for Vanyel; in fact, he's the reason Vanyel discovers that homosexuality even exists, his homophobic family having done their best to prevent him from ever learning about it.
- Clive Durham from Maurice. He helps Maurice realize his homosexuality. However Forster really only describes his physical appearance once (and very vaguely too).
- In Odd Girl Out, Laura admits that "her own high school crushes had been on girls," but she doesn't believe they meant anything. Her relationship with Beth helps her accept that she really is homosexual.
- In Luck in the Shadows and Stalking Darkness, the first two books of Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series, Seregil is this to Alec, first introducing him to sexuality in general, then easing him into the strange notion of bisexuality as a social norm, then they fall in love. It takes until the middle of the second book, but the way is pretty clear from the beginning, with Alec getting all kinds of confused when seeing Seregil in drag, and later choosing a female prostitute who reminds him of that look.
- In The Heritage of Hastur (of Marion Zimmer Bradley's voluminous Darkover series), Danilo Syrtis is this for Regis Hastur (in more ways than just the sexual — Danilo's magic power is to release that of others, and since in this Verse magic is linked to sexuality, well...); technically Regis is also the Closet Key for Danilo, in an If It's You, It's Okay kind of way.
- In Tanya Huff's Smoke and Shadows trilogy, protagonist Tony Foster proves to be this for his crush, actor Lee Nicholas.
- Annie for Liza in Annie on My Mind. Liza didn't have any particular interest in dating until she met Annie. She quickly fell for her and realized she was gay.
- Sammy for Wayne in The Book of Joe.
- Lara is this for Bree in Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan.
- Rafael for Skylar in Gives Light.
- Battle Hall Davies (yes, that is her real name) for Nicola in Empress of the World.
- Heart In Hand:
- Alex, for Darryl. Although Darryl does not express attractions to other men even after meeting Alex, he identifies as gay by the end of the story.
- Darryl for Alex is a downplayed example. Alex states that he has "fooled around" with male partners before, but it's implied that Darryl is the first time he had fallen in love with a guy, and that Alex did not consider himself bisexual before.
- Robby is this for Austin in Grasshopper Jungle. It really sparks after Robby convinces Austin to kiss him, so he, Robby, could at least know how it fells to kiss another guy.
- At various points in the Cut And Run series the protagonists discuss what each of theirs was. In the seventh book after Zane tells Ty and the rest of Sidewinder his story, he finds out his closet key was actually Ty the whole time.
- Ethan for Alek in Michael Barakiva's One Man Guy.
- The Picture Of Dorian Grey: Dorian is this for Basil.
- Heretical Edge: Flick realizes she's bisexual after finding that she's looking Avalon Sinclaire and Shiori Porter the same way she's looking at the guys on the team.
- In Shiori's backstory, she ran into the rare Incompatible Orientation version with a friend named Gabby.
- Susan to Ellen in Ellen.
- Obligatory Buffy the Vampire Slayer example: Willow is, aside from a few hints, considered entirely straight; then, after her break-up with Oz, she meets Tara, and suddenly is no longer interested in the "stubbly" side of things.
- Chris Keller for Tobias Beecher in Oz. While Tobias points out that he has been in sexual relationships with men before (usually without his consent, not that he's willing to refer to it like that), he never loved another man before Keller and finds it difficult to understand how they can connect like a "man and a woman" would.
- In Emmerdale, Robert Sugden slept with both men and women but insisted he was straight up until he met and fell madly in love with Aaron Dingle. After fighting his feelings for about one and a half years, he eventually started a relationship with Aaron and eventually admitted his bisexuality, saying "I just want to be myself now, with you."
- In Everybody Loves Raymond, Robert tells Ray about a fellow police officer who had no idea he was gay until he met his Closet Key on vacation in Hawaii. Ray then considers the possibility that everyone has a Closet Key, and that neither of them have met "Mr. Right". This mentality lasts at least until the end of the episode: when confronted with an extremely attractive UPS worker, Ray is extremely uncomfortable until he leaves. At which point, he passionately kisses his wife just to make sure.
- Brittany to Santana. An odd example where the two of them already had been best friends and sexual partners for a while when the Key-moment happened. What happened was this: Brittany and Santana were playing the Friends with Benefits-game, having numerous male partners while "just having fun" with each other behind closed doors. This worked until Brittany got a serious boyfriend, and asked Santana to stop her bullshit and explain what she meant to her. A lot of thinking made Santana realize that she was only interested in Brittany, and that all those guys had been her way to hide her feelings from herself.
- Kurt is this for David Karofsky.
- Another odd example is, again, with Kurt. In the first season, he had a crush on Finn, and despite Finn being straight, Kurt kept trying to seduce him anyway. He ended up trying to turn himself into Finn's Closet Key, and was somehow convinced that he could somehow turn Finn gay for him - and he ended up doing some pretty manipulative things to try and make this happen. It didn't work, but considering that they're now step-brothers and happy with that, then you could argue that that's a good thing.
- Jack is this for Ianto. Ianto's a bit bothered by it, as shown in season 3, and claims that he'd never experienced attraction to a man before. They become a proper couple.
- In the episode "Captain Jack Harkness", Jack seems to have ended up being this for the original guy named Captain Jack Harkness in the few hours they met. Maybe the man already knew he was gay, but in either case, Jack's gentle encouragment (secretly knowing it was the guy's last night on this mortal coil) caused him to gather up his courage, kiss The Beard goodbye, and go for it with Jack.
- It also appears that Ianto never had any other male partner before starting an at first mostly physical affair with Jack because he smelled so irresistible / before setting out to seduce Jack and trading sex for a place at Torchwood 3 to help his girlfriend. Either way, it led to genuine love and devotion, once the girlfriend was dead and gone, so Jack must have meant something special to him, in any case.
- Callie is this to Erica in Grey's Anatomy, although the metaphor she opts for in a heartbreaking monologue is "glasses," referring to the stunning clarity provided to her the first time she got glasses as a child. Erica, in turn, shows Callie that she is Bi the Way...and then tells her that "you can't be kind of a lesbian," and then leaves the show forever because the powers that be didn't think their relationship "sparkled" enough. She is then replaced by the younger, bubblier and cutesier Arizona, to whom Callie is now Happily Married.
- Not so Happily Married any more though.
- Noah's Arc: Noah is this to Wade.
- As the World Turns: Luke is this for Noah while Kevin was this for Luke.
- ER's Kerry Weaver was apparently completely unaware that she was gay until meeting Lipstick Lesbian Dr. Kim Legaspi. Even then, it's not until Kim points out Kerry's behavior—frequently calling on her for consults, etc, that Kerry realizes that she's been acting like someone with a crush. They soon begin a relationship but break up due to Kerry's constant wavering. Not until several months later does Kerry blurt out that she's a lesbian, and even then, it's not to Kim, it's to someone making derogatory comments about her. Although it doesn't work out between the two, following this, Kerry pursues several lesbian relationships with ease, even "marrying" and having a child with one woman.
- Played for Laughs in the The Mighty Boosh episode The Party, after Vince kisses a desolate Howard to pretend that they're a couple, in order to save himself from getting killed from the head shaman (whose wife had previously flirted with Vince). Caught in the moment, Howard temporarily declares himself as gay, stating that Vince was the key to his self-discovery. However, he quickly forgets about it when he sees a woman whom he was after since the start of the episode. Vince initially appears jealous, but quickly gets over it and leaves with a woman as well. Like most events in the series, this is never brought up again.
- Vince believes himself to be everyone's closet key.
- Teased, then averted by Claire and Edie in Six Feet Under. Claire is coming off of several bad relationships with men when she experiments with lesbianism with Edie, but it doesn't work out. She comes to the conclusion that it was partly If It's You, It's Okay, partly Even the Girls Want Her and partly that she was just feeling temporarily disillusioned with the opposite sex, but ultimately she is still more or less completely straight.
- Several examples from Degrassi:
- Paige and Alex are each other's closet keys, with Alex explicitly being a lesbian and Paige either being bisexual or a case of If It's You, It's Okay. After being friends for a while, they kiss after a fun party and end up dating.
- In a roundabout way, Peter (who is straight) acts as a closet key to Riley, though Riley was in firm denial about it for a long time.
- Fiona realizes she is gay when she realizes she has a crush on her best friend Holly J. Later on, she works as a closet key for Imogen when they start dating.
- Miles, who previously thought he was straight, starts a relationship with his best friend Tristan after impulsively kissing him and being surprised that he liked it. Now Miles is very proudly bisexual.
- Zoe realizes she likes girls after developing a strong crush on her new best friend Grace, whose sexuality is yet to be determined.
- On Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, White Josh is this for Darryl. Darryl has an ex-wife and a daughter, but when White Josh kissed him on the cheek, suddenly he started having feelings. At first he insisted that he wasn't gay...and then later on realized that he was bisexual. He and White Josh are now a couple.
- Supergirl: In season two, Maggie Sawyer ends up being this for Alex Danvers.
- Hannibal and Will are eventually this to each other and other men.
- In "I Kissed A Girl" by Jill Sobule, the protagonist and her friend Jenny are both in relationships with men but are uncertain about their feelings towards them. While hanging out together they end up kissing. It's unknown if anything happened between her and Jenny, however the protagonist is certainly changed by the kiss:
I kissed a girlAnd I might do it again
- Hanschen is this to Ernst in Spring Awakening.
- The Knight of Chiffreville is this to Don Juan in the french re-writing of the famous play.
- Allison's roommate Joan in the musical adaption of Fun Home helps Allison figure out her sexuality by kissing and having sex with her, which leads to Allison singing about how amazing she feels and that she's finally not afraid of her feelings towards women.
- Played with in Persona 4. Naoto at first appears to be Kanji's Closet Key, but then it turns out Naoto's a girl. When he discovers this, Kanji has already decided that he's comfortable with his sexuality, so it's less of a eureka moment and the game is ambiguous enough to leave Kanji's sexuality as, well ambiguous. Is Kanji gay but has a If It's You, It's Okay thing for Naoto? Was he straight all along but actually confused thanks to his love of sewing and cute things? Is he bisexual? None of the above? Heck, the game doesn't even says outright if Kanji and Naoto ever got together or not after it was all over.
- One could say that Big Boss is this to Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Also it's suggested that Raikov is this to Volgin.
- In Gone Home, Lonnie ends up being this to Sam. Or at least she is the person that Sam dared to open up to since she late at the game refers to herself (and her sister) "having known since She-Ra". And possibly vice versa, but it's less clear whether Lonnie was aware of her sexuality before meeting Sam.
- Janey Springs for Athena in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, though Janey's much more intent on pursuing Athena than most examples. Potentially crossed with Single-Target Sexuality, since Athena's detached personality and less than emotionally-healthy upbringing mean that Janey's the first person in the series in whom she's shown any romantic interest whatsoever. In Tales from the Borderlands the two have become an Official Couple.
- The Player Character of Stardew Valley can easily be this: all of the possible love interests can be romanced by a character of either sex, but several of them will note that they've never felt this way about another guy/girl before.
- According to the creators of Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, Roth was one for Jacob Frye, with the "Take That!" Kiss being the moment when he released his bisexuality.
- Ash of Misfile might be a double unlock. Emily is ambiguous since she herself isn't sure if her attraction to Ash is regardless of her gender or if her being female is a factor. Missi, on the other hand, didn't know about Ash once being male and became interested in girls through her as a result.
- In World of Fizz, Dawn reveals early on that she had a crush on Kelli since the first grade, and the two later enter into a relationship.
- Cuanta Vida: Bleu for BLU Scout (doesn't stop him from calling Bleu homophobic names, though.
- Possibly alluded to in Rip and Teri, when Tatanya uses the book The Picture of Dorian Gray as a conversation topic while trying to ascertain whether Teri likes women.
- Ellen in El Goonish Shive, a magical Opposite-Sex Clone of Nanase's ex-boyfriend Elliot. Ellen's creation involved a glitchy Magitek device capable of turning men into beautiful women with "super pheromones", combined with an ancient magical artifact ostensibly designed to remove curses, but actually spawning a clone of the victim's cursed form in the process. When Nanase started spending time around Ellen, she assumed any physical attraction she felt was the result of those pheromones, but Susan eventually informed her that the pheromones had worn off before Nanase met Ellen, triggering Nanase's Suddenly Sexuality realization. note
- Best Friends Forever' has a confusing situation, since you don't really know who between Vincent and Teddy are in love with each other, or even if there are such feelings between them, it's later revealed that Teddy was this to Vincent.
- Star Fighter implies that Keeler is this to Encke, though their very relationship has only ever been implied so far.
- Questionable Content: Photos of fetish model Veronica Vance helped Dora realize she was bisexual. Now, years later, she was dating Veronica's son, though the two eventually broke up.
- Penny and Aggie: Aggie, for Penny. Lisa, for Sara and Aggie.
- The author of Niels heard this phrase used to describe the title character and decided to run with it.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Kat and Paz appear to be this for each other. At one point, Paz mistook Kat's compliments for flirting, which led to a fairly awkward moment at the time. But later we find out that this caused Paz to realize she actually likes Kat. So Paz asked Kat out... and Kat said yes.
- Played with in Exiern. If this◊ two-page spread is any indication and Peonie is implying what it sounds like, Denver may retroactively be one for Tiffany. The twist is that by the time they meet, Tiff had already been afflicted by her Gender Bender curse, and was changed from a closeted gay man to a straight woman.
- Ménage à 3 has two slightly variant versions:
- When she first appears, Sonya thinks that she's straight, but Zii rapidly seduces her. She continues to insist that she's "not a lesbian" with an exception for Zii, but it's obvious to anyone who knows what the words mean that she's a functional bisexual, with Zii as her closet key.note
- At the start of volume 10, Gary turns out to be James' closet key — the twist there being that Gary himself is basically straight. It Makes Sense in Context.
- Leslie may have been a very slow-acting version of this to Robin in Shortpacked!. Robin's first girl-crush was Amber, but Robin only realized this herself after she started dating Leslie (and she continued to identify as "straight with an exception" for a good while after that).
- Dumbing of Age:
- Billie may have been this for Ruth, who admits they "found out I was into girls" together.
- Ethan seems to have become this for Danny. They first meet because of their shared concern for Amber, but hit it off due to their nerdy interests and Danny's banter starts sounding flirty quite quickly. One Suggestive Collision later...
- Once again, Leslie seems to be this for Robin. It's more complicated this time due to Robin's status as a conservative politician in the more realistic setting.
- It wasn't until falling for Qiu Tong that Sun Jing began thinking she was a lesbian in Their Story.
- Spinnerette realized her feelings for her teammate Mecha Maid after the latter's Anguished Declaration of Love, having considered herself straight up until then (and a lesbian after). Although, with how Bottom Lefty had been acting around Mecha Maid, the closet was fairly transparent.
- Karkat from Homestuck seems to have been this for Dave Strider.
- The titular character of Omocat's "Pretty Boy" is this for the other protagonist, a Lovable Jock. They eventually end up Happily Married.
- ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST is this for Artie in Narbonic. Antonio is straight, but he's the first person Arite has a crush on.
- Duke Devlin from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. This is what Joey Wheeler says of Duke: "What does he have that I don't got?... Besides the fangirls?... And the pretty hair?... And those gorgeous green eyes?" Duke then reminds Joey about his "sweet ass," and Joey admits, "Yeah, and a sweet ass too! But other than that, he's got nothing."
"Warning: This episode contains copious amounts of Duke Devlin. Women with heart conditions are advised not to look directly at Duke Devlin. This also applies to women without heart conditions. See? See how pretty he is? He's VERY pretty. I want to run my fingers through his hair, and I'm just a voice. Anyway, enjoy your crappy anime cartoon."
- Also, Florence for Marik. There were indications he was gay before they met (in flashbacks, anyway), but the two have a ridiculous amount of UST going on, and in Marik Plays Bloodlines part 6, Marik finally admitted that he was gay and had a thing for Florence. Florence, on the other hand, has been out all along.
- The Tumblr image gallery "Am I Gay?: A Journey of Self-Discovery with Shang" has fun with the Sweet on Polly Oliver aspect of Mulan by giving the story from Shang's perspective. Before he learns the truth about her actual gender, he thinks of "Ping" as his Closet Key.
- In-universe, Malcolm has a crush on The Nostalgia Critic, and tells Hyper that he's trying to come to terms with new feelings.
- Subverted in Daria. Despite initially freaking out when guest star Allison makes a pass at her, Jane visibly begins warming up to the idea soon after. However, much to the chagrin of fanfic writers everywhere, learning just how much of a self-serving bitch Allison really is finally puts Jane off girls.
- Asami is the closet key for Korra in The Legend of Korra, and possibly vice-versa as well. While the romantic nature of their feelings for each other is only revealed in the finale, it's apparent this trope played a bit of a role for Korra, as she was much quicker to realize her opposite-sex attraction earlier, while this one took a lot more time before she seemed to figure it out.
- Craig and Tweek from South Park may just fit this trope. As of the episode "Tweek x Craig", the two ended up in a relationship together to keep the town happy, despite previously stating that they're not gay. However, by the end of the episode the two begin smiling at each other in a way that seems... more than friendly. Couple that with the fact that about a minute before, Craig's dad gave him a speech about how he loves Craig, even if he is gay, and you've got this trope.