We Have the Keys

"I don't know why I keep bothering to steal the keys since you always insist on kicking the door down."
— Overheard during a Dungeons & Dragons game

Along the lines of There Was a Door, an Action Hero proves his manliness by busting down or through a locked door, or hotwiring a car so he can steal it. After he's proven his manliness in this fashion, one of his companions holds up the keys to the door or car in question, which prompts a remark from the Hero.

This includes examples when the hero fails with his tactic, and the companion uses the simpler way, which works. Another possibility is that the companion unlocks the door (or tries it and finds that it wasn't locked in the first place) just before the hero breaks it down.

Contrast Cutting the Knot, where violence is the simple option. Also contrast Interchangeable Antimatter Keys.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In an episode of The Big O, Roger whips out a technologically advanced morphing key to unlock a door—just before Dorothy kicks it down.
  • In One Piece, Franky goes to the trouble of finding the keys to Caimie's Explosive Leash, only to discover Rayleigh has already removed it by detonating it and pulling it off before the explosion reaches Caimie

    Comic Books 
  • During John Byrne's run on Fantastic Four there was a notable Avengers crossover involving the return of Jean Grey. At one point, Hercules and members of the FF accompanied Jean to her parents' home to uncover the reason for her resurrection, but their front door was locked. After Hercules smashed the door down, Jean took him to task, pointing out that her folks kept a spare key in a secret compartment inside a fake rock by the front step.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day:
    • The T-800 punches through a car window then hot wires the car. John Connor flips down the windshield visor to reveal the keys. The Terminator actually learns from this experience — the second time he's required to steal a car, he gets in and flips down the visor. Boom! Keys.
    • Subverted and invoked when the SWAT teams enter the Cyberdyne building. The first team uses a keycard to enter the building normally. The team immediately following them breaks the door's glass out.
  • In The Matrix Reloaded, Trinity is on a motorcycle with the Keymaker and asks for a download on how to hotwire vehicles, only to have her passenger hand her a key. Both convenient and justified, as the Keymaker is Exactly What It Says on the Tin in addition to his more figurative role.
  • From 2 Fast 2 Furious: One of the protagonists smashes a car window with his shirt covered fist. His partner stops him and simply opens the already unlocked door.
  • In The Bourne Identity: Bourne plans out a complex plot to get information from a hotel information desk. When he doesn't get the phone call from Marie, he assumes that she's bailed on the plan. She then appears right behind him. "I just asked them for it."
  • In Black Mask, at one point the Bad Ass Normal police detective manages to handcuff a Super Soldier who feels no pain to a bar. The super soldier immediately and without hesitation cuts off his own hand. The detective stares at him for a second and then (in the English dub at least) says "Damn. I had the key."
  • In Bachelor Party the hotel manager instructs the security guys to break down the door, then tells them wait, and unlocks it with his pass key.
  • In The Pink Panther, Clouseau is about to shoot the lock off of a door, when Tucker says "Don't do that, old man" and casually opens the unlocked door.
  • In Jumanji, Peter is tasked with retrieving an ax from a woodshed. When he finds that the shed is locked, he picks up a nearby ax and starts hacking the door away for a few seconds before realizing what he's holding.
  • Defied in Ricochet, when a pair of bad guys are preparing to rob a place, one of them starts to unlock the door with a key, before John Lithgow's character smashes a window in and asks if they want to just leave a note saying "Inside Job".
  • In Mirror, Mirror, this ends up happening twice to the dwarves:
    "Why do we keep getting locked in our own house!?"
  • In Home Alone, Marv tries to crowbar open the basement door twice to no avail. Then he just turns the doorknob and finds it's unlocked. (Though this is justified since we just saw Harry burn his own hand on the front door doorknob which Kevin had heated red-hot.)
  • In Harper, Allan and Harper have arrived at a house where they think the bad guys are. Allan, who is getting way too enthusiastic about helping in the private detective game, asks if he can knock the door down. He rams the door with one shoulder, and fails. Wincing in pain, he rams the door with his other shoulder, and fails. As he cringes from two hurt shoulders, Harper laughs, and opens the door, which wasn't locked.

  • In The Angel Experiment, Max and company steal a van to get to the School. After hotwiring it, taking it for a joyride on the interstate, and proceeding to scare the living crap out of everyone except Iggy, Max slams on the brakes and a compartment pops open. Something falls into her lap. She's afraid it's a bomb... nope, just the keys.
  • Played with in the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Starfighters of Adumar. Wedge Antilles and his fellow pilots are on the run from the citizens of Adumar, and encounter a door. Wedge orders the lock shot out, but fellow pilot Hobbie simply opens the door instead — it was unlocked.
    Hobbie: Worth trying.
  • Animorphs: While in a mansion in battle morphs, Jake tells Marco to open the door. Marco (in gorilla morph) gets ready to smash the door in, when Jake tells him to use the handle. It turns out to be unlocked.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Animorphs: Jake and Marco discuss climbing a fence with barbed wire, then see Cassie standing on the other side of the fence, smugly waving the keys.
  • In Scrubs, Laverne punches and breaks the window of Turk's car to help Carla steal Steven. Carla screams and points out that she has the keys.
  • In the first season of 24, Jack Bauer and George Mason come upon a fence. Jack immediately hops over it, while George rolls his eyes and strolls through the gate.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "A New Man", after Buffy has broken down the door to the magic shop:
    Riley: You shouldn't have done that to the door.
    Buffy: I do not have time to play by the rules tonight.
    Riley: I have a master key. It opens every shop on main street.
  • In Wallander, Martinsson and Wallander are trying to enter a colleague's locked apartment, and Martinsson enthusiastically offers to kick down the door. Cut to the apartment building's superintendent coming up the stairs with a master key.
  • Happens when the Red Dwarf crew was locked in a dungeon by a lot of clones of Rimmer. While they don't have keys per se, Lister describes laying out a complicated system of traps to escape, while Kryten simply replies, "Or, we could use the teleporter", which they had acquired earlier from a derelict spaceship.
  • On Wings. To defend the Hackett house from a prowler lurking outside, roommate Lowell grabs a shotgun and breaks one of the living room windows with it. An exasperated Joe informs him, "Lowell, the window opens!"
  • Doctor Who's "Day of the Doctor" special sees three incarnations of our hero shut away in the Tower of London together, trying to work out how to get through a wooden door (it's too primitive to hack with a Sonic Screwdriver). After some discussion, they work out a way to do it, but it would require hundreds of years to do the calculations. But, since they're all from different timestreams, if the earliest Doctor inputs the calculations into the Screwdriver, the newest one will have the result stored away in his! They confirm it, congratulate themselves on their cleverness...and then Clara walks in. The door wasn't actually locked.
    • "In The Forest of the Night". A little girl is being chased by wolves, but runs into a tall fence. The Doctor's companion urges her to climb the fence and she'll help her over. The girl ignores her, moving several steps to the side and opening a gate.
  • Jonathan Creek helpfully whips out a set of lockpicks to take care of the fact that his Watson Maddy has had her car clamped. Maddy is both grateful and impressed, but it turns out that she has the key for it herself and uses it as camouflage.
  • The Worst Year of My Life, Again: In the Halloween episode, Alex and Simon scale the fence of Nicola's house in order to sneak into her party and end up falling off. Maddy then tries the gate and finds it is open.

    Print Media 
  • Around the time that Star Wars: Episode 1 debuted in theaters, MAD Magazine featured a strip which parodied an early scene where Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-gon Jin use their lightsabers to cut open a locked door. In the strip, Qui-gon is the only one doing anything, and is clearly struggling... until he's about half-way through, at which point Obi-wan produces the keys.

    Puppet Shows 
  • A variant in The Muppet Christmas Carol: Rizzo very reluctantly climbs up a gate and jumps off, and then, realising he's left his jellybeans behind, slips through the bars to get them.
    Gonzo: You can fit between those bars?
    Rizzo: Of course.
    Gonzo: You're an idiot.
    Rizzo: What? Hey, what?

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Quest IV, shortly before joining the hero's party, Alena can be seen kicking down the door to a dungeon. This confuses her current companions greatly, as she was the one carrying a key to that door. After mulling it over for a bit they conclude that she must just like kicking doors.
  • It's nodded at in Knights of the Old Republic, when you take a quiz to determine which class of Jedi your character will be sorted into. One question involves knowing that what you seek is on the other side of a closed door - the Guardian breaks the door down, the Sentinel picks the lock, and the Consular knocks.
  • In Stacking the various challenges all have multiple possible solutions. Often one of them involves you taking control of a doll that has the keys to the locked door.
  • In Master of the Wind, when Morias gets broken out of prison, Shadehorn the minotaur attempts to smash the bars straight down, before Tyranda points out that they took the keys from the guard earlier.
  • In the Goblin starting zone in World of Warcraft, you rescue Goblins locked in cages by strapping rockets to the cages and launching them into orbit. While doing this, some of them will tell you the guards have the keys; sure enough the guards will occasionally drop a key, but this way is far more fun.
  • Tales of Symphonia has the Toize Valley Mine. Regal tries to tell the party he can simply turn the defense mechanism off because he's the president of the company that owns the mine, but the party doesn't listen and instead takes the thing down with brute force.
  • The Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3 has Shepard getting ready to bust down a door, only for his/her companion to knock on a window and ask the civilian hiding inside to unlock it.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • X-Men:
    • In the episode "Night of the Sentinels", Wolverine uses his adamantium claws to slice open a locked door. However, after getting inside.
      Beast: Ahem... the guard's keys?
      Wolverine: So I'll buy him a new door!
    • Seven episodes later show why they don't bother with keys. When Rogue and Storm try breaking out Colossus, Rogue had the wrong key and simply ripped the door off the hinges.
  • Nanny from Count Duckula, although this is more a lethal combination of absent-mindedness and not knowing her own strength.
  • Invoked in an episode of Generator Rex with an elevator door. The Non-Human Sidekick managed to press the elevator button before any breakage transpired.
  • The Fairly Oddparents do this when Timmy and Cosmo want to enter Cosmo's mom's house. After Timmy broke the door using Cosmo as a Battering Ram, Cosmo states that he still has the house's keys.
    Timmy: Yes, I knew.
  • In one Kim Possible episode, Ron befriends Professor Dementor's giant dachshunds and gets them to break down the door of his Supervillain Lair. Dementor protests:
    Professor Dementor: Why did you have to break down the door? It wasn't locked! I JUST HAD IT PAINTED!!
  • Argost does this to his own door in The Secret Saturdays episode "Once More the Nightmare Factory" even as Munya is approaching with the keys and a long-suffering look on his face. Of course, this might just have been showmanship.
  • The Christmas Special of All Grown Up! had the Rats attempt to break into Chuckie's house to steal back the Christmas tree that Chuckie had accidentally stolen and found that his father Chas was too enthusiastic about the tree to simply ask about giving it up. The Rats break into Chuckie's house through the window. Chuckie tells them all after they do this that he had the keys and could have easily just let them in through the front door.
  • A Running Gag on Phineas and Ferb is Perry the Platypus smashing into Dr. Doofenshmirtz's lair, only for the doctor to bemoan the damage done to his home. At one point he specifically states he gave Perry a set of keys for exactly that reason.
  • Downplayed in Ed, Edd n Eddy. In "Scrambled Ed", Ed and Eddy go to Edd for their daily scam, but Ed tries to open the door by kicking it down, only to get his leg caught in the door instead. It wasn't even locked, and Eddy opens it with Ed still stuck.
    Eddy: "There's a knob, Ed."
  • Hurricanes: Villain example. In "Techno-Team", Stavros Garkos' finance company takes over a laboratory and he decides to break in to mess with a worker's research so she'll have no choice but help him with one of his plans. When he arrives at night, his henchman Genghis is ready to use a crowbar to open the door when he points out that, as the place's owner, he has the keys.