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We Have the Keys

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"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 (thus being the Subverted Trope to "Open!" Says Me). 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. Having a Key Under the Doormat is a frequent way of doing this.

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



    open/close all folders 

  • Budget Direct insurance had a parody of the "eccentric genius detective who gets results". In a montage of his investigation the detective Sherlock Scans where the house key has been hidden in the front garden just as the uniformed police use a battering ram to break down the door.

    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.
  • In the Dragon Ball anime, the third episode has Filler where the Pilaf Gang raid Kame House for a Dragon Ball. Pilaf struggles with opening the locked door, prompting Shu and Mai to point out the conspicuously open window next to it by climbing through it.

    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. Captain America says they'll write her parents a check for the broken door.

    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 (1963), 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.
  • 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.
  • Star Wars Legends: Played with in 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • CSI: In "Random Acts of Violence", Gil is searching for evidence in a street when two patrol officers turn up to investigate a possible burglary at an empty and locked house. Discovering the driveway gate is locked, they prepare to climb over it. Gil walks round the corner and finds the side gate is open.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Day of the Doctor" 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 his 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.
      Eleventh Doctor: did you do that?
      Clara: Wasn't locked.
      Eleventh Doctor: Right...
      Clara: [dumbfounded] Three of you in one cell and none of you thought to try the door?!
      War Doctor: It should have been locked!
    • "In the Forest of the Night": A little girl is being chased by wolves, but runs into a tall fence. Clara 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • Played with but ultimately averted in the first installment of the S.W.A.T. series. In all missions where the player is able to interview the home or building owner beforehand, they will provide the keys needed to get inside and the team will use them during the entry. However, if the player does not report that they have the keys to their superiors, the SWAT team commander will initially suggest using a shotgun to breach the door during the briefing. The player character will then automatically mention the keys, and the mission will proceed normally.

    Web Comics 
  • An example from xkcd where they don't have the keys, but there's still an easier solution.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court Annie did this twice. First shows Reynardine/Renard how to use lockpicks she had hidden in the doll he possesses. Later she uses out-of-body projection to open from the inside a door Jack wanted to break.
  • In Captain SNES: The Game Masta, Alex uses his Super Scope to burst a hole in the door to Nexus, which causes problems down the line. He already had the key to the door in the form of a ring. In this case, the person who points out that he had the key was Ryan, witnessing this via some sort of flashback power from the future, with future!Alex sheepily mentioning that, at the time, he hadn't realized he was carrying the key.
  • A variation in The Order of the Stick: Logann charges through a blade barrier, sucking up the damage it deals. As he delivers a Badass Boast, Durkon dispels the blade barrier and heals his injuries.

    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. On a few occasions he wasn't even doing anything evil, so Perry reimburses him for the damage.
  • 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: 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.


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