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Open Sesame

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Comic-book adaptation by Chad Grothkopf.

"Sesame is a word that opens a lot of doors where I come from."
Kippi ben Kippod, Rechov Sumsum

A door, gate, portal or area is secured by a magic lock that uses a sound to open the lock, including a spoken phrase. In modern setting or science fiction, the lock might be a biometric scanner.

The fact that it sounds an awful lot like "Open Says-A-Me" is a coincidence: the phrase is directly translated from Arabic "Iftaḥ yā Simsim", and the pun doesn't work. The use of "Sesame" ("Simsim" in Arabic) just happens to be a random word, which makes sense; why would you make the magic words to a secret chamber of riches something which anyone could figure out? note 

Of course, the story is too familiar these days for it to be used as a password in a serious sense, making the phrase something of a Dead Horse Trope, only Played for Laughs.

For musical passwords, see Songs in the Key of Lock. Don't confuse with Speak Friend and Enter, which is when a seemingly complex puzzle has a simple solution.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Used as the basis for two gadgets in Doraemon. One is a jar of literal 'open sesame', where if you sprinkle the sesame on any locked object it'll open. Another one instead gives any openable object biometric authentication (only the person who sprinkled the sesame can open the object, and if you've got a cold causing your voice to change it's not going to work). We're not told what happens if you use the first kind of sesame on an object secured by the second kind of sesame.
  • The Lupin III: Part II episode "A Safe Bet" has Lupin desperately trying to open a specially-made safe that contains the antidote to a poison he has been given. After trying every trick he knows, he gets so frustrated he wonders if opening it isn't something as stupid as yelling "Open Sesame!" It is.
  • Featured in Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, which has most of its design roots in Arabian Nights to begin with.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 3 episode 8, Careful S. chases Kalo to a cave that has its door voice-activated. Careful S. tries the voice command "open sesame" to no avail, then tries "open pumpkin", "open watermelon", and "open fruit platter". The fourth one prompts the door to open.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Smurfs story "The Smurfs And The Book That Tells Everything", Brainy uses a spell given to him by the book that only allows it to be used when it hears only Brainy announcing his name.
  • An early Captain America (Tales of Suspense) story has a prison breakout where the cons can't open the main security door because they aren't aware that it only opens when you say "Captain America" to it. A sequel story included the obvious security problem, as the door accidentally opened when someone said Cap's name.
  • In one Cavewoman mini-series, the phrase needed to open a magical portal is "Oh my God! I don't want to die!". As the portal is guarded by flesh-eating yetis, this has resulted in a lot of intruders accidentally saying the activation phrase.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The RKO 1955 action-comedy Son Of Sinbad has the wives and daughters of the original Forty Thieves, seeking vengeance for their slaughtered families, living in a cave worked by this means... sort of.
    "Open Sesame!" [door opens, woman enters with friend]
    "Close Sesame!" [door closes, woman picks up a carrot, walks around a wall]
    "Good girl, Sesame." [gives the carrot to Sesame; Sesame is a trained mule]
  • Sneakers has a voiceprint lock that requires a specific phrase; unlike in Shadowrun, it ends up being possible to beat the lock with a tape recorder.
  • The Bourne Ultimatum has Noah Vosen keep all his incriminating documents in a safe with a voiceprint lock. Rather stupidly, the phrase he uses is his own name and he answers his phone in the exact same way.
  • At the end of The Hot Rock, Dortmunder finally gets the sought-after diamond after a bank guard was given a hypnotic suggestion. He casually utters the key words "Afghanistan banana stand" to the guard - there's some tension as the guard doesn't act hypnotized, but he does follow instructions and hands over the diamond.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, when the Fellowship tries to enter Moria through the enchanted gate that's inscribed "Speak friend and enter". Which actually TELLS you what to say.
  • Curse Of The Crystal Eye naturally uses the phrase to open the 40 Thieves' cave, along with the titular huge diamond.
  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein: Desperate to escape back through a secret door that opened onto the Frankenstein Monster, Wilbur (Costello) resorts to frantically yelling "Open sesame, open sesame!" Inexplicably, this works.

  • The name of this trope comes from the tales of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", where the 40 Thieves hide their stolen loot in a cave. The entrance uses a rock that moves only when you say, "Open Sesame" (Ali Baba follows them there). The jealous man who follows Ali Baba ends up trapped because he can't remember the name of the grain, and is caught and murdered by the thieves.
    • Older Than Radio: Though often included in editions of The Arabian Nights, the oldest known version of Ali Baba is an 18th-century French translation by Antoine Galland.
  • In the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, a gate in the Caves of Fire and Night is protected by a spell like this; originally the key was just "open sesame" but the dragons had to keep making it more complicated. The one we hear is a rhyming couplet followed by the word "alberolingarn".
  • Atlas Shrugged has Galt saying a phrase to get into the power house.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, the door to the mines of Moria has one of these, with the inscription, "Speak friend and enter". Which actually TELLS you what to say.
  • In the Crosstime Traffic book The Valley-Westside War, the password for entering the secret crosstime chamber is Mellon, referencing the entrance to Moria. A character from the post-apocalyptic world is able to figure it out, though, since LOTR was published before 1967 (when the nuclear war happened), and copies still exist.
    • The character was planning on trying "Open Sesame" next if Mellon didn't work.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Ben Caxton's apartment had a door lock that opens when a specific phrase is spoken.
  • The Battle School lockers in Ender's Game have voice-activated locks.
  • Harry Potter: Want to get into the Chamber of Secrets? Then you'd better know how to speak Parseltongue! Apparently, just making the correct noises without knowing the language also works, as Ron did years later.
  • In The Language of Power, the fourth book in the Steerswoman series, the wizard Jannik has a voice-activated lock on his computer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Mission: Impossible requires the mark the IMF is seeking to open the warhead room by saying the words, "January Suborbital Denomination."
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Invasion of Time", there was a hidden doorway that opened when a particular phrase was spoken. The phrase was "There's nothing more useless than a door with a voice lock."
    • In "Battlefield", the door is keyed to the Doctor saying "Open up — it's me."
    • Played with in "The Doctor's Wife", where Amy and Rory are told that the key to a door is "crimson eleven delight petrichor", but saying it doesn't work: the door has a telepathic interface, and the key is to think the meaning of each word in turn.
  • Legends of the Hidden Temple: When a player enters the Room of the Secret Password, they must find a tablet with one of three possible passwords ("Long Live Olmec!"; "Open Sesame!"; Klaatu Barada Nikto!") and yell it out; if the password is correct, the doors will unlock.
  • An episode of Leverage has a safe with a voice activated lock. The thieves get in by being able to record every possible sound from the safe's owner by getting him to say the name of a very complicated French dish, then have him drop the F-bomb when he realizes it's raw shrimp.
  • An episode of The Muppet Show has a sketch involving Fozzie Bear trying to get into Ali Baba's cave. "Open Sesame" is repeatedly invoked, and eventually results in a whole bunch of Sesame Street characters emerging from the cave.
  • Used in a skit in Sesame Street itself too. Kermit in his TV news reporter outfit, is interviewing Ali Baba, who cannot remember the famous password; eventually, he leaves, and Kermit signs off to the camera, telling viewers to tune in next time when they "Open Sesame Street News"... Which accidentally opens the door. (Causing Kermit to be mugged by the Forty Thieves.) Incidentally, the title of Sesame Street is actually a reference to the phrase, since the show (like the phrase) is meant to open new worlds to children.
  • In the opening episode of UFO (1970), Alex Freeman activates the lift to SHADO's Elaborate Underground Base by doing a Large Ham recitation from Romeo and Juliet into a receiver disguised as a humidor case. Once his voiceprint is verified, the office starts sinking into the ground.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The lift to the Initiative's Elaborate Underground Base is activated by a similar method, which causes problems when demons steal the voices of everyone in Sunnydale. Two Initiative soldiers enter the lift and can't give voiceprint verification, causing the lift to fill with Deadly Gas. Fortunately the scientists down below realize what's happening and get them out in time, silently pointing to the sign saying IN CASE OF EMERGENCY USE STAIRS.
  • The Outer Limits (1995), episode "The Haven": the ultra-secure, ultra-private apartments in the titular residential complex are so heavily automated that even the kitchen cabinets can't be opened or closed unless the resident tells them to. This backfires when the male lead can't even get into his own fridge when the system stops working.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Paradise Syndrome": the sonic key to open the "temple" containing the planet's asteroid deflector happens to sound exactly like Kirk calling the ship, and Scotty answering.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Shadowrun Tabletop RPG, voiceprint locks are designed so simply tape recording and using the voice of an authorized person won't work.
  • In the BattleTech universe, the standard activation sequence for a 'Mech involves a voiceprint match followed by a code phrase.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, the wizard spell Knock will open any door, and requires only a verbal component. The player character is justified in going up to the door and saying "Open Sesame".

    Video Games 
  • Kashuan Keep in Final Fantasy II can only be opened by either the voice of a member of the Kashuan royal family or the ringing of the Goddess's Bell.
  • Sonic tries this phrase in Sonic and the Secret Rings to try and enter Erazor Djinn's Final Boss room. Given he's in the Arabian Nights, it'd qualify as a Genre Savvy move, but it doesn't work as the door requires the seven World Rings to open.
  • The PC adventure King's Quest V has a treasury used by a band of thieves open with the very same phrase as the title of this trope, most likely as a shout out to Arabian Nights, given the series' tendency to reuse fairy tales in their plots.
  • "Opensesame" is the Cheat Code in Deus Ex to unlock any door you target.
  • In Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia, Lyner attempts this and several variations in the Musical Corridor, and the door opens... because someone was coming through in the other direction.
  • Subverted in The Stanley Parable: at one point, you are presented with a door that has a voice receiver, and the Narrator tells you the password. However, due to Stanley being a Heroic Mime (or the game not supporting voice input, whatever), the door cannot be opened. The Narrator interprets your silence as mockery, and grows more agitated.
  • In the Original Campaign of Neverwinter Nights, one of the side-quests involves holding a conversation with a child standing outside her house. She tells you that a secret passage opens behind a certain piece of furniture in her house when someone says "Hal-u-eth" (the name of a famous historical figure in the game). If you use the piece of furniture and you have this information, you get the chance to say "Halueth" and you get sent to the side-quest area.
  • Uninvited: The subtly-named "O Sesame" spell. Acquired by using "Dolldoll" on the gypsy doll and used in the chapel to open the way to the stone wall maze.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In Phaeton the door to the Dungeon of Flames is opened with "Open Sesame", no matter what language it is spoken in. The dungeon is also implied to be the former cave of the forty thieves.

    Western Animation 
  • The Looney Tunes short Ali Baba Bunny involves Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck accidentally tunneling into the cave of a wealthy sultan. When the sultan's guard, Hassan sees this, he tries to invoke the phrase in order to open the cave and capture them, but finds that he's forgotten the proper word:
    Uh...Open, sarsaparilla? Open, Saskatchewan? Open, septuagenarian? Open, saddle soap?
  • Occurred in Denver the Last Dinosaur which also require a dance.
  • In one episode of Dexter's Laboratory, the titular laboratory only opens when you use the spoken password "Star Wars". Any other phrase, such as omelette du fromage, won't work and will only increase the security around the lab including the self-destruct.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In the episode "Jellyfish Hunter", Mr. Krabs used a voice-activated lock on the enclosure with all the jellyfish he had SpongeBob capture. However, while telling SpongeBob about the lock he says "The door is voice-activated, and will only open if I say 'open'." You can guess what happens next.
    • Averted in "Survival of the Idiots" where SpongeBob and Patrick are trapped in the hibernating Sandy's wintery tree dome. Patrick takes a deep breath, throws out his arms, and says "Open Sesame! ... Well, I've done all I can do."
  • The Arabian Knights cartoon on The Banana Splits Show. The entrance to the title characters' cave was covered by a rock that slid aside when one of them said "Open Sesame!"
  • In Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves, Popeye pursues the Forty Thieves when they kidnap Olive and Wimpy to their cave and has some difficulty remembering the magic word he overheard them use to open the door, so he just cuts a hole into the stone door with his pipe. Later, when Popeye is beset with the thieves and can stand no more, he takes out his spinach can and says to it, "Open, says me!" and it magically opens.
  • In the Scooby-Doo episode "Go Away, Ghost Ship" a hidden warehouse is guarded by a (mechanical) talking skull that demands a password. Since this is an episode with ghost pirates, Velma tries "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum," which doesn't work. Shaggy tries "Yum yum yum and a liverwurst a la mode" as a joke and it does.
    Shaggy: Wow, some password!
  • In Danny Phantom, the password Jack programmed into the Fenton Portal's security is 'Open Sesame'. The Guys In White are shocked that the password is something that simple.
  • Throughout the second half of the short, "When You're Hot..." from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Going Places", Plucky unsuccessfully attempts to open a box that says, "OPEN IN CASE OF FIRE" to put out a fire at Acme Looniversity. When Buster tells him to get the box open, Plucky tells him, "I've tried everything except saying, 'Open Sesame!'". Turns out, saying "Open Sesame!" opens the box.
  • In The Transformers, Dr. Arkeville's secret laboratory hidden within a cliff face only opens when he says this command. Lampshaded by Starscream.
    Arkeville: I, Dr. Arkeville, genius of science, say... OPEN SESAME!
    Starscream: How original.
  • A skit in Right Now Kapow involves the leader of the Forty Thieves forgetting this password. Under the threat of execution by the thieves, he reveals personal information to a tech support hotline to reset the password. Unfortunately, resetting the password also resets the contents of the cave, leaving the empty-handed thieves to take out their frustration on him.
  • The Owl House: When Eda first brings Luz to the Owl House, Hooty the owl face on the front door asks for a password, though Eda has no patience for this and pokes him in the eyes. Hooty complains that she never wants to have any fun, then opens his mouth to let them through.


Video Example(s):


Well, I've Done All I Can Do

Patrick tries to open Sandy's frozen door by saying "Open Sesame". It doesn't work.

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Main / OpenSesame

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