[[quoteright:300:[[Film/ConAir http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lockpick_9195.jpg]]]]
->''"Another fine illustration of your need for tactical assistance. Admit it, Michael. You need me. You don't even have your own hairpin."''
-->-- '''Fiona Glenanne''', "[[Recap/BurnNoticeS1E10FalseFlag False Flag]]", ''Series/BurnNotice''

Alice and Bob are in a tight situation; maybe they need to break into a closet, or maybe they have been locked up by the bad guys. Either way, a lock is blocking their... way. Bob's mind is racing. How are they going to get out? And what is that [[WrittenSoundEffect ''click!'']] he just heard? [[DoubleTake Wait a second]]... ''did the lock just open?!''

Alice holds up something. "My Handy Hairpin," she says. "Don't leave home without it."

When a resourceful character picks a lock, be they {{hand|yCuffs}}cuffs, [[LockedDoor doors]] or {{secret diar|y}}ies, with a hairpin, paper clip, or some other everyday object, you get the Hairpin Lockpick. Most often utilized by females as they are way more likely to have a hairpin actually on their person. Note that a hairpin ''can'' be used to pick some locks in RealLife, but unless it's a ''very'' simple lock, you have to break it in half and use one piece as a torsion wrench and the other as the pick.

SubTrope to ImprovisedLockpick. Compare SkeletonKeyCard, MacGyvering and MasterOfUnlocking.


[[folder: Manga and Anime ]]
* In ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing'', Duo does this from time to time.

[[folder: Comics ]]
* Night Nurse in ''Comicbook/DoctorStrange: The Oath'' opens a door this way. The impressed Strange can only comment "You should wear your hair like that more often."
* In ''ComicBook/TheGoldenAge'', ClassyCatBurglar Paula Brooks (Tigress) uses one to break into the SecretDiary of Tex Thompson, revealing that [[spoiler:he is the Ultra-Humanite and that Dynaman is Adolf Hitler's brain in Daniel Dunbar's body]].
* In ''{{ComicBook/Agent 327}}'', a safety pin is standard issue for every Dutch secret agent for exactly this reason.

[[folder: Fan Fiction]]
* In ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10038615/3/A-Jump-To-The-Left A Jump to the Left,]]'' Xander demonstrates that he can pick handcuffs with a paperclip. He also explains that keeping it in the collar of a shirt makes anyone who notices assume it's to keep the collar stiff while also keeping it close enough to grab with your mouth.

[[folder: Films -- Animated ]]
* Abu uses one to free Disney/{{Aladdin}} from his shackles in the dungeon.

[[folder: Films -- Live-Action ]]
* In ''Film/FatalInstinct'', Ned once walks into his office to find [[FemmeFatale Lola]] waiting there for him. When asked how she got in, she says, "Isn't it amazing what a real woman can do with a hairpin?" Cut to the door, the lock of which has been completely destroyed.
* There's a subversion in ''[[Film/ShanghaiNoon Shanghai Knights]]'' where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is attempting to do this but Chon Wang gets impatient and shatters the door window with a lock, reaches in, and unlocks the door.
* Michelle Pfeiffer uses a hairpin to pick Jack Nicholson's handcuffs in ''Film/{{Wolf}}''.
* The father in ''Film/HomeMovie'' teaches [[EnfantTerrible his kids]] how to do this. [[HoistByHisOwnPetard It comes back to bite him in the ass]].
* ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay''. Sarah Conner uses unfolded paper clips to pick the locks on the straps holding her and the lock on the door of her room. Bonus points because Creator/LindaHamilton actually managed to do it for real.
* In ''Film/TerminatorGenisys'', when Reese is handcuffed to a hospital bed, he uses forceps to pick the lock. He succeeds within seconds.
* ''Film/TheSilenceOfTheLambs'': Hannibal unlocks his handcuffs with a pen clip.
* ''Film/{{Colombiana}}''. The hitwoman protagonist uses one to get out of her cell after a GetIntoJailFree ploy. The hairpin appears to be a [[HiddenInPlainSight professional lockpicking tool however]].
* In ''Film/{{Coherence}}'', Mike manages to open the mysterious box with a pin from his pocket. Lampshaded by his line: "Holy shit, it worked."
* In ''Film/ConAir'', Cyrus and Nathan use needles to unlock their handcuffs as part of their GreatEscape plan.
* In ''Film/TomorrowNeverDies'', Bond uses his love interest's earring to unlocks the handcuffs that had them both tied together. Justified as she's a DistaffCounterpart, and the earring is implied to be her version of a Q gadget.
* A variation in ''Film/{{Madeline}},'' Pepito uses Madeline's hairpin to start a motorcycle.
* Another variation in the climax of ''Film/{{Pompeii}}'': when [[spoiler:[[DamselInDistress Cassia]] is chained to the chariot of the BigBad and an epic ChariotRace is taking place, she tears a splinter from the wooden platform of the chariot and manages to unlock her chain with it]].
* ''Film/TheGoldenChild''. When Kee Nang needs to get through a locked door into the house headquarters of a biker gang, she pulls a hairpin out of her hair and jimmies the lock.
* In ''Film/FinalJustice'', Maria uses a hairpin to pick the lock to the door on Don Lamanna's mansion, then says she has been doing this since childhood.

[[folder: Jokes ]]
* The cleaning lady asks the bank director: "Boss, could you lend me the key for the vault?"
--> '''Director''': "Of course not! How did you get the idea?"
--> '''Cleaning lady''': "Well, you told me to clean up ''everywhere'', and today I forgot my hairpin."

[[folder: Literature ]]
* Averted in ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'': One would think [[SpiritedYoungLady Spirited Young Gentleman]] Jerin knew how to do this, but no - he ''carries a set of actual lockpicks'' on his person. At ''all'' times. His grandmothers were spies and his younger sisters greet visitors by searching their luggage for suspicious things. Without them noticing, ''of course''. It runs in the family.
* In ''Discworld/TheAmazingMauriceAndHisEducatedRodents'', because Malicia believes she's the main character in an adventure story, she thinks hairpins are ''better'' at picking locks than actual lockpicks. Everyone else is very surprised when this actually works. It runs in the family.
* In the ''Franchise/DocSavage'' novel "The Lost Oasis," a woman tries to pick the lock on her slave collar with a hairpin after seeing Doc perform a similar feat. She doesn't have the necessary training.
* In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheChamberOfSecrets'', Ron picks the lock on Hedwig's cage with a pin. It turns out the twins taught him, and he teaches Harry.
** In the next book it's mentioned that Harry used this method to get his school things, which had been locked up by the Dursleys.
* If Literature/NancyDrew didn't have those Industrial-Strength bobby pins, she would still be locked in many a closet.
* Subverted in ''Literature/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents'', where the fallacy in this trope is pointed out, and Violet uses an electrical plug as a lock pick.
* Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/{{Misery}}'' has a segment where the author-hero {{lampshade|Hanging}}s that he fortunately learnt how to do this as research for one of his books. King gets to [[ShownTheirWork Show His Work]] by having the character show his work; it's a somewhat recursive book.
* Literature/JudgeDee uses a hairpin from his topknot to pick the lock of a secret passageway in ''The Haunted Monastery''. The BigBad that Dee finds on the other side is surprised, as he has the only key.
* Subverted in the ''Literature/TowersTrilogy''. Xhea spends an entire hour unsuccessfully attempting to pick a lock this way using a filched surgical tool; finally, the tool breaks, and Xhea concludes that the door must be sealed by the strongest lock in the known universe.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' novel [[Recap/NewSeriesAdventuresEnginesofWar "Engines of War"]], the Time Lords created an intricate, sonic proof lock that someone might unlock via a different, cruder method. Cinder breaks out using her bracelet.
* In ''Literature/MaledictionTrilogy'' [[TheProtagonist Cecile de Troyes]] does it several times. Justifies, as the locks are not that complicated (this being [[FantasyCounterpartCulture equivalent of XVIII century or so]]) and she was taught how to do it by her older brother.
* ''Literature/DiogenesClub'': In "The End of the Pier Show", Vanessa uses a hairpin to unlock on the padlock on the abandoned pier, pretty much without breaking stride.

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* A ChekhovsGun in the ''Series/BurnNotice'' episode "[[Recap/BurnNoticeS1E10FalseFlag False Flag]]". Michael borrows one of Fiona's hairpins to get himself out of handcuffs. [[spoiler:He later uses the same hairpin as a replacement trigger bar spring for his pistol to defeat a hitman.]]
* In an episode of ''Music/FlightOfTheConchords'', [[LoonyFan Mel]] uses a hairpin to open the bathroom door. While Bret's in the bathroom.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Friends}}'', Chandler and Joey are trying to open a locked closet door. Joey asks Chandler whether he has a bobby pin; Chandler runs his hand through his hair, then says, "Oh, that's right � I'm not a 9-year-old girl."
* In an episode of ''Series/GilligansIsland'', Ginger says she [[SawItInAMovieOnce did it in a movie once]], and wants to try it on a locked chest. She doesn't get a chance to try it, though.
* In an episode of ''Series/TheManFromUNCLE'', a captured Napoleon Solo steals hairpins from a female jailer with his mouth, and then uses them to pick the locks on his restraints.
* Maddie does it in an early episode of ''Series/{{Moonlighting}}''.
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Thunderbirds}}'', Parker uses one of Lady Penelope's hairpins to open a sophisticated electronic lock on a ''Bank of England bullion vault''.
* ''Series/DoctorWho''
** Used by Victoria in the serial ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS5E6FuryFromTheDeep Fury from the Deep]]''.
** In "The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe", Madge Arwell offers to pick the lock of the TARDIS with her hairpin when the Doctor can't find his key. He points out that it's a multi-dimensional, triple-encoded temporal interface, then is bemused when she succeeds. "Suddenly the last nine hundred years of time travel seem that bit less secure." Turns out she's brought him to a real police telephone box.
* [[Series/TheWildWildWest Artemus Gordon]] utilizes this technique in "The Night of Sudden Death" when he's left locked in a cage by his partner.
* Spoofed as always in ''Series/GetSmart''. Max asks 99 for a hairpin so he can pick a lock, but she doesn't have one. Then Max remembers he has one himself. When an amused 99 asks why a man wears a hairpin, Max indignantly replies that it's for picking locks.
* In ''Series/BreakingBad'', when Jesse is [[spoiler: being held captive by the Neo-Nazis, he picks the lock on his handcuffs with a paper clip.]] It only takes him a few seconds.
* Occurs multiple times on ''Series/{{White Collar}}'' as Neal uses anything at hand to pick locks and get out of handcuffs and Peter even uses the pin from his dry cleaners tag to get out of handcuffs at one point.
* In the ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' episode "Hope And Fear", Captain Janeway uses a microfilament from her commbadge to adjust some nodes in Seven of Nine's Borg circuitry so that she could walk through the force field of the prison they were held in and gain control of the ship that was bringing them into Borg-controlled territory. Despite all the {{technobabble}}, it's basically this trope RecycledInSpace
* In ''Series/{{Continuum}}'', Jasmine Garza picks the lock on her handcuffs using her nipple piercing.
* ''Series/WalkerTexasRanger''. When Sydney and (of course) Alex are kidnapped, the former uses a hairpin to undo their handcuffs. Unfortunately, the bad guys walk in just as they've gotten free and not only smack her and restrain them both again, but order the maid to "make sure she doesn't have any more".
* In the two-part episode of ''Series/{{Castle}}'' "Target"/"Hunt," when [[spoiler: Alexis is kidnapped]], she uses her friend's bobby pins to pick the lock. Castle had learned how as book research and taught her. She does describe using the torsion and pick and actually breaks a few before succeeding.
** In an earlier episode, Castle offers to pick the cuffs when he and Beckett are chained together, but she isn't wearing hairpins.
* In ''Series/{{Haven}}'', as a former criminal, Duke Crocker knows how to pick locks with pins, ballpoint pens, etc.
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest''.
** In the episode where John Reese meets his future LoveInterest Zoe Morgan, she lampshades that he must be one of those guys who can get out of anything with a paperclip. Later when they're captured, Zoe cuts a deal for her life, but secretly leaves a paperclip in Reese's hand. Sure enough, he unpicks his handcuffs and escapes.
** In "YHWH", Harper uses a hairpin to pick the lock on Fusco's handcuffs, shaping it with her teeth first. Fusco finds this kinda hot.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''. In "Adventures in Babysitting", Dean has to work with the 14-year old daughter of another Hunter. He refuses to take her into a demon nest to rescue her father, so handcuffs her to the steering wheel. [[NotSoDifferent Well aware that she had the same training he did]], Dean then insists she hand over her lockpick. However she gets free anyway using a bobby pin.
* In "Chapter Six: The Monster" from ''Series/StrangerThings'', Nancy's mother uses her hairpin to open Nancy's room after her knocking remains unanswered.
* Subverted in ''Series/FatherBrown'' when Father Brown faces a locked door and asks for a hatpin: as an antique model, the key was left in the keyhole on the far side of the door, and he's able to [[PaperKeyRetrievalTrick poke it out and pull it under the door on a sheet of paper]]. Mrs. [=McCarthy=] looks slightly disappointed that he doesn't actually pick the lock with the pin.
* In ''Series/{{Bizaardvark}}'', Belissa escapes from military school by picking the lock on the gate with a hairpin she stole from Paige.
* In a two-part episode of ''Series/{{Hazel}}'', Hazel has to retrieve some tranquilizers from a mobster's desk so she can dope the food of a roomful of crooks with them and, hopefully, escape while they're incapacitated. She sneaks into the mobster's office and discovers that the desk drawer is locked, so she immediately pulls out a hairpin and opens the lock. However, before she can get the pills, she hears someone coming, so she shoves the drawer back in and hides. One of the crooks comes in to get a couple of tranquilizers for his boss. He's surprised that the desk is open, and locks it when he leaves. Thus, Hazel has to hairpin it open ''twice.''

[[folder: Other ]]
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjuT_63Ioig This Youtube video]] shows how it is done.

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* In ''Videogame/BioshockInfinite'' Elizabeth is downright surprised Booker doesn't pick locks, and on being asked why she '''does,''' she explains, "I spent my life surrounded by nothing but books and time. You'd be amazed what I can do." By the time he shows up, the people maintaining her Tower prison/apartment have it sealed with a bank vault door and use Songbird as a guard, so it's no shock they actually let her keep studying how to pick ''simpler'' locks..
* Nico Collard of the ''VideoGame/BrokenSword'' series knows how to pick a lock with a hairpin, and does so in most of the games. Being an IntrepidReporter, it's probably a useful skill to have.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Drakensang}} - The Dark Eye'', you can use hairpins to open chests.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'', ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' and ''VideoGame/Fallout4'', Bobby Pins are your standard lockpicking resource. They're damaged and eventually break when you screw up the LockpickingMinigame, but fortunately, loads of them have survived The Great War intact.
* ''VideoGame/NoOneLivesForever'' has a lockpick disguised as a hairpin.
* More of a jewelry example in ''VideoGame/QuestForGloryII'', but the Hero as a Thief must use the decorative golden pin given to him by the Katta as a mark of friendship earlier in the game to pick the lock of a cell door. Actually, creative lockpicking is something of a recurring theme throughout the series for a Thief hero...
* Twice in ''VisualNovel/HotelDuskRoom215'', Kyle uses part of a coat hanger to pick the lock on his suitcase and a hotel door.
* In ''[[VideoGame/TheBlackwellSeries Blackwell Convergence]]'', Rosangela picks a door lock twice with a paper clip.
* In ''VideoGame/TheBindingOfIsaac: Rebirth'', the Paper Clip trinket allows you to unlock chests without having to use a key (you'll still need keys for locked doors and key blocks, though).
* In ''VideoGame/KathyRain'', Kathy uses a bent paperclip to open her jail cell.
* Parodied in ''VideoGame/ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders''. The group has to unlock two doors using two provided keys, but one of them disintegrates as soon as it's picked up. What do you do? Well, the key in question was pretty big, so you use wire cutters to cut down the hairpin sign from a closed down salon and use the hairpin sign to pick the lock.
* Possible in ''VideoGame/SixteenWaysToKillAVampireAtMcdonalds.'' [[spoiler:The main character has to take them out of her hair, which covers her neck and prevents her from luring the vampire, but gives her access to a plunger to turn into a stake and some duct tape]].

[[folder: Web Comics ]]
* The hairpin from ''Webcomic/ProblemSleuth'' is in the same category of items as keys: All their weapon counterparts are guns (pistol for key, Tommy gun for ring of keys, [[MoreDakka heavy machine gun]] for hairpin). It's also actually used as a lockpick during [[MarathonBoss the final battle]].
* One of the first things Rory from ''Webcomic/DemonFist'' learned in his travels was to always hide a pin in his clothes.
* Prince Zander from ''Webcomic/LatchkeyKingdom'', who by this point has gotten a bit used to being captured, is seen [[http://latchkeykingdom.smackjeeves.com/comics/2394015/castlemania-26/ trying to open a cage door]] with a bobby pin. He fails and breaks the pin, but pulls another out of his hair rather than let that stop him.

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d and {{subverted|Trope}} in one episode of ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'': Ron and Monique are facing a locked door, so Ron asks Monique whether she has a bobby pin. Her response? "I don't know; why don't you ask my grandmother?"
* Producing a hairpin to pick locks was one of the only things Daphne ever did of use in ''Franchise/ScoobyDoo''. Velma, of all people, did this on ''WesternAnimation/TheNewScoobyDooMovies'' when Don Adams was locked in a trunk.
* In ''WesternAnimation/ThePerilsOfPenelopePitstop'' episode "Carnival Calamity," Penelope used one of her hairpins to open the padlock on the loop-the-loop ride.
* Done on a ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' WartimeCartoon about women in the work force. When a factory breaks down, a repairwoman goes into her toolbox and pulls out a bobby pin, which she uses to start the factory up again.
* Parodied in a ''WesternAnimation/RockosModernLife'' version of Hansel and Gretel (called Hansel and Debbie).
-->'''Heffer/Hansel:''' Hey Debbie, don't you have a hairpin or something?
-->'''Rocko/Debbie:''' No, but I have a key. ''(pulls key out of hair)''
* ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures'': Subverted in the last episode of Season 4. When the J-Team is trapped in a cell, Viper tries using a hairpin to pick the lock, but it doesn't work because the lock is magically sealed.
* ''WesternAnimation/StarVsTheForcesOfEvil'',
** Marco says he learned how to pick locks with bobby pins from watching prison movies. In "St. Olga's Reform School for Wayward Princesses", he uses a bobby pin to pick the locks on the school's doors. However, when he is captured and strapped to a chair, he attempts to pick the locks with a bobby pin in his mouth, but he accidentally drops it.
** Subverted in "Total Eclipsa the Moon": After running into a locked door, Eclipse asks Moon for a hairpin. Moon hands her one, then Eclipsa puts it in her own hair and uses a hole in the wall to circumvent the door entirely.
* ''WesternAnimation/CourageTheCowardlyDog'': In "The Mask", Courage locks Eustace and Muriel in their bedroom while he goes out to find Bunny. Muriel eventually unlocks the door with a bobby pin, to Eustace's amazement.
* ''WesternAnimation/HouseOfMouse'': In the short "Locksmiths", Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are locksmiths whose office door is locked and they can't find their key. In one attempt to get out, Mickey uses a hairpin to unlock the door, which opens up to reveal many other doors behind it (including one with the Doorknob from ''Disney/AliceInWonderland'') before Mickey opens up on Clarabelle Cow taking a ShowerOfAwkward.
-->'''Mickey:''' Heh-heh, wrong pick.
* ''WesternAnimation/SallyBollywood'': In "Call My Lawyer", Sally uses a hairpin to the pick the lock on Bob's locker in search of incriminating information.