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Locke & Key is an American supernatural series released on Netflix. Based on the comic book series of the same name created by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, the show centres on the Locke siblings as they move into their ancestral home following a tragedy.
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Just before the story began, the Locke family were attacked by a classmate of the kids, resulting in patriarch Rendell's death. In the wake of this tragedy, his wife Nina moves with her three children, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode to her husband's ancestral home, Key House, in Matheson, Massachusetts. It quickly becomes apparent that there is more to Key House than they initially believed. Hidden around Key House and other places are magical keys that have an array of special powers or grant abilities to the user, but adults cannot retain memories of seeing this magic. The more keys they find, the more the Locke siblings discover they are not the only ones aware of them. This leads to an unraveling mystery that reveals the history of the Locke family, darker secrets under the city of Matheson and why their father was murdered.

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The show premiered on February 7, 2020, followed by a second season on October 22, 2021 and a third and final season on August 10, 2022.


Tropes in this series include:

  • Abusive Parents: Sam Lesser's father abused Sam and his little sister.
  • Adapted Out: A few so far:
    • Al Grubb, Sam's friend and Nina's rapist in the comics.
    • Jamal Saturday, Scot's best friend and Kinsey's boyfriend.
    • Jordan Gates, Tyler's romantic interest.
    • The Giant Key is not included in the show.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication:
    • It's revealed in the comics that the reason why adults can't perceive or memorize magic is because Hans Riffel deliberately altered Keyhouse to that end in 1942, having seen the devastating results of ambitious adults trying to harness the magic of the Keys. In the show, it's portrayed as an intrinsically magical element with no real explanation for the arbitrary deadline.
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    • In the comics, it's explained that Dodge's nature as an Echo allowed him to extend his consciousness into empty places while still trapped in the Well, hence why he was able to communicate with Sam long distance - as Sam's soul is empty and purposeless. In the show, it's never explained how Dodge managed to communicate with Sam via the Wellhouse painting in Rendell's office or why this is never used again.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: In the original comic books, the story ends with Dodge being defeated, Lucas Caravaggio's soul being put to rest, though at the cost of Keyhouse burning to the ground; worse still, several of the Locke family's friends and loved ones are killed, resulting in much grief. However, Tyler keeps the surviving Keys and eventually goes on to rebuild the house with the power of Whispering Iron. In the show, Gideon is defeated, Keyhouse survives, and only two minor characters die - but the Keys have to be sacrificed in order to close the rift that Gideon opened... but it's also indicated that there might be Keys left unaccounted for in the house.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Sam Lesser in the series. In the comic book he was a Gonk with an oddly-shaped jaw and an unpleasant-looking gaze; also, following his first attack on the Lockes, he was left with extensive facial scars courtesy of Tyler beating him senseless with a brick.
    • The Black Door and the entities that lie beyond it. In the comics, what lies beyond the archway is a swirling mass of pitch-black flesh and Supernatural Gold Eyes; in the show, it's a luminous blue galaxy-like lightshow, conveying unearthly beauty rather than Lovecraftian horror - though both are equally monstrous.
    • In the comics, using the Hercules Key not only gives the wielder Super Strength but also temporarily imbues them with the muscles to match - resulting in the amusing sight of Bode sporting the physique of an adult bodybuilder despite still being a kid. In the show, there's no muscular growth at all and the users look completely normal.
    • When Dodge uses the Ghost Key, their true nature is revealed by a parasite latched onto their spirit; in the show, it just looks like an oversized leech easily lost amidst the ghostly visual effects, but in the comics, it's a grotesque bio-organic key protruding from their back, complete with a huge yellow eye on the handle.
  • Adaptational Back Story Change:
    • When Dodge visits Erin Voss, she doesn't know what happened to Erin or how she ended up hospitalized and catatonic. This is very different from the comic, where Dodge was directly responsible for Erin's mental issues - having literally emptied out her mind using the Head Key.
    • Also Nina's reason for drinking is different because Al Grubb doesn't exist in the show.
    • Most prominently, the true nature of the demons and the world behind the Black Door is kept vague and never elaborated upon... but in the comics, they're officially identified as literal Lovecraftian monstrosities - to the point of even speaking in Lovecraft's classic Black Speech.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • In the comics, the Head Key allowed the wielder to literally open their skull, granting them access to a miniature Mental World that they could reach into and alter at will. The show expands on its power by simply creating a door into the mental world large enough for the wielder to enter and explore.
      • On a similar note, the manifested emotions and memories accessed with the Head Key are - in the comics - tiny and easily contained in a bottle. In the show, they're full-sized and can be extremely dangerous to anyone in their path, as is the case with Kinsey's Fear, and Eden's Murderous Mannequin army.
    • The demons behind the Black Door. In the comic books, when they emerged from the door, they became Whispering Iron immediately and could only possess people who were lured into breaching the door threshold. In the series, they shoot out like bullets actively trying to possess hosts.
    • On a similar note, in the comics, people who have been possessed by the demons aren't stronger or more resilient than ordinary human beings; the demon posse Dodge assembles in the finale are dangerous because they've been empowered by the Keys that Dodge has stolen so far. In the show, demons are so strong that that even wielders of the Hercules Key struggle to outfight them.
    • The "echoes" conjured by the Echo Key. In the comics, echoes are not invincible and can still be killed even without having to force them over the wellhouse threshold, a point that Kinsey proves by beating Dodge to death. In the show, echoes are well and truly indestructible against anything short of crossing the threshold: using the Alpha Key on Dodge cleanses the demon from his soul, but it doesn't kill him like other possessed hosts.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Minor variant; In the comic books, the demons don't merely control the individuals they've possessed, but effectively rewire their souls. Through this, the host perceives atrocities as pleasure - essentially making the possessed complicit in the horrors their demons commit, hence Dodge's My God, What Have I Done? moment upon being exorcised with the Echo Key. In the show, demonic control is straightforward possession, with the victim being fully aware of what the demon possessing them is up to but powerless to resist - and therefore having no involvement in what the demon does.
  • Adaptational Name Change: In the comics, the town was called Lovecraft. Here, it's Matheson - another major author of horror and fantasy.
  • Adaptational Timespan Change:
    • Variant; in the comics, Sam Lesser escapes from prison and attacks Keyhouse at Dodge's command, allowing Dodge to trick Bode into handing over the Anywhere Key and allowing her to escape; in the show, Dodge escapes from the Wellhouse first, then breaks Sam out of prison and sends him after the Lockes.
    • In the original comics, there was more time between Dodge's turn to villainy and his first death, with several days and a massive battle in the Drowning Caves playing out in the meantime. In the show, Dodge murders Kim and Jeff and is murdered in return on the same day he gets possessed.
  • Adaptational Ugliness:
    • The shadows created by the Crown of Shadows are quite varied in the comics, taking the form of Roman legionnaires, samurai, wolves, bears, mythological creatures, Peter Pan, and many other shapes. In the show, they're limited to scuttling, Gollum-esque humanoid forms.
    • In the comics, people possessed by the demons look relatively normal even when their disguise slips, their Game Face being restricted to Supernatural Gold Eyes; in the show, the Game Face is more openly monstrous, exhibiting Black Eyes of Evil, needle-sharp fangs, and distorted flesh.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • In the comics, setting foot beyond the threshold of the Black Door was a one-way ticket to possession, and getting any further inside was indicated to be a Very Bad Thing. However, in season 2, Ellie somehow returns after spending most of the season trapped behind the Door; not only is she unharmed and completely sane, but for some reason, she hasn't even been possessed.
    • In the season 2 finale, Dodge acquires an army of demons to pit against the Lockes and their allies, only for the Lockes to even the odds with the Keys, forcing Dodge to enter the fray with the Crown of Shadows. In this scene's comics counterpart, Dodge had acquired all the Keys and given several to his various lieutenants - including the Angel Key and the Hercules Key - leaving the Lockes just about helpless until Tyler reveals the Alpha Key.
  • Adorably-Precocious Child: Bode is still very much a kid, but shows more initiative and interest in the keys than Tyler and Kinsey, often being the first to find the keys and know what they do. Tyler and Kinsey are a lot more cautious and try to keep Bode out of certain conversations, which he does not appreciate.
  • Adults Are Useless: Enforced, as a function of the magic is that adults immediately forget what they saw or what happened to them. The exceptions seem to be those who explicitly find other ways of retaining their memories, revealed to be a special Memory Key made to prevent this from happening. This means Uncle Duncan, who was privy to the magical exploits of Rendell, spaces out whenever someone asks anything about his childhood.
  • Alpha Bitch: Eden starts off as the stuck up princess at school, also The Prima Donna when it comes to acting projects. She shows more depth after a while, becoming a Lovable Alpha Bitch.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Rufus seems to have some developmental problems, sports childlike vocal patterns and a hyperfocus on certain topics, though his tendencies are not nearly as pronounced as they were in the comic. It's worth noting that the actor is autistic.
    • Sam Lesser has obvious psychopathic behaviors, but a flashback in high school shows him as very socially awkward, hinted as a result of a bad home life. Using the head key on him gives him a My God, What Have I Done? response, implying deep down he wasn't in control of himself.
    • Erin Voss is in a psychiatric hospital in a mostly catatonic state. It's never explained exactly what is wrong with her, but implied to be from head trauma. Turns out that she accidentally got trapped inside her own mind while using the Head Key, leaving her body catatonic.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • It's eventually revealed that the victims of possession were actually conscious the whole time and unable to do anything about it, as hinted at by Jackie saying she thought she couldn't be saved moments before she dies, and confirmed by Lucas saying he remembered everything he did while possessed.
    • In general, the effects of the Music Box Key is this: the person being controlled has no idea why they are acting in a certain way and have no control over the body. They can still speak but otherwise can't act, unless of course the music box is used to control what they say as well.
    • Erin Voss went inside her own head using the Head Key and was mistakenly trapped inside when a maid walked in on her static body and the key fell out. Her body became catatonic and her Mental World seemed to become overgrown with vegetation, and over 20 years her teenage self became quite unhinged.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The kids think they won by throwing Dodge into the realm past the Black Door, but Dodge actually used the Identity Key to make Ellie look like her and that's who they tossed in. In opening the door, one of the bullets struck Eden in the arm and a demon takes over her body, while another turns into more whispering iron, which was Dodge's goal in the first place.
  • Batman Gambit: Dodge managed to manipulate the kids into opening the Black Door by confronting them with the powerful Crown of Shadows but feigned being defeated by the Matchstick Key. The kids determined throwing her in the Black Door was their best option to defeat an echo, but she had used the Identity Key to make Ellie look like her and they threw Ellie-as-Dodge into the void instead. Dodge's end goal was always to just open the door so more demons would shoot out and provide Dodge with more whispering iron, with the bonus of Eden getting struck by one and become his lackey.
  • Betty and Veronica: Scot is Betty and Gabe is Veronica for Kinsey. She ultimately chooses Gabe.
  • Big Bad: Dodge
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The first season ending sets one up with Gabe, who is really Dodge/Lucas, and Eden, who was possessed by a demon from the Black Door.
    • The second season portrays Eden as Gabe's lackey and continues her Butt-Monkey status, even as a demon. Gabe makes a proper Legion of Doom using the Demon Key, with Javi replacing Eden as The Dragon.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Tyler is very protective of his siblings.
  • Big Eater: The first thing Dodge does after being freed from the Wellhouse is indulge in a very large meal. Whenever she eats, she always eats a lot. Eden is also shown eating ravenously after being infected by one of the "bullets" from beyond the Black Door.
  • Big "NO!": Shouted by Dodge - actually Ellie Whedon made to look like Dodge - as she is tossed into the Black Door.
  • Bittersweet Ending: After dealing with Gideon, they find the only way to seal the portal he created is to drop all of the keys inside. Before doing this they use the Timeshift Key to spend time with Rendell in the past, and then willing give up all the keys. They still grieve all the friends and loved ones who have died and no longer have the wonders of the keys to use, but have learned to move on with their lives.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Kinseys' Mental World is entered through a revolving door into a mall-like structure, but which progressively gets more M.C. Escher-esque the further up you go.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Joe Ridgeway is the first character to die, although this is ignoring minor characters as well as Rendell in the backstory. This is actually made MORE notable in that the also black Detective Matuko is introduced in the following episode investigating his death, and develops a similar relationship with Nina as Joe did.
  • Blood Magic: The keys are made using whispering iron and the forger's blood.
  • Bottle Episode: The episode "Dissection" takes place primarily in Key House, with only a few scenes in a convenience store parking lot and flashbacks to their old school in Seattle.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: After almost drowning in the Drowning Caves, the Savini Squad breaks their friendship with Kinsey and Gabe. They reconsider.
    • In the final episode of Season 2, Tyler decides to go on a trip for his eighteenth birthday and forget everything about magic, mostly out of grief for losing Jackie, leaving only Kinsey and Bode as the Keepers of the Keys.
  • Butt-Monkey: Kinsey, Scot and Gabe use the Music Box key on Eden to embarrass her.
    • Later, she is specifically attacked by Kinsey's fear.
    • She is also possessed by a demon from the Black Door, adding to her unfortunate situation.
    • Even her demon self gets this treatment from Gabe!
  • Call-Back: While talking to Josh, Tyler mentions that he sometimes remembers random facts about Matheson, but doesn't remember where they came from, suggesting he never took the book about the town out of his head after first using the Head Key.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Enforced where the protagonists live where the call is taking place. The magic keys are hidden all over Keyhouse and literally whisper out to the Locke children to be found.
  • Came Back Wrong: Ellie used the Echo Key to bring back Lucas' spirit, assuming that whatever possessed him from the Black Door would not be part of it. She was wrong, and describes the demon as "bonding" to Lucas.
  • The Cameo: Both Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez cameo as paramedics. Tom Savini also cameos as the locksmith Bode goes to.
  • Canon Immigrant: Several created for the show:
    • Eden Hawkins, Jackie's friend.
    • Logan Calloway, a friend of Tyler.
    • Gabe, another love interest for Kinsey, seemingly replacing Jamal Saturday.
    • Jeff Ellis, one of Rendall's high school friends who died years ago.
    • Chamberlain Locke. While he was a Locke family member, he never appeared as an actual ghost, as shown in the series.
  • Celestial Deadline: The kids knew in Season 1 that adults somehow can never remember magic, even after they see it. The season 2 premiere establishes that the memories fade when someone turns 18, and that Jackie's ability to retain memories of the magic was becoming spotty as she approached her birthday. Because of this and that Tyler will be turning 18 a few months later, they have to race to find a way to change this before he forgets.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • When viewing Duncan's memories, Kinsey sees a key that can be used to change one's appearance. Dodge, originally Lucas, has been using that exact key to create her female alter-ego. And Gabe.
    • Bode finds the skull of a rat above a cabinet but about the size of a moose head, which causes some confusion among the kids. They later discover the Small World Key and the Key House model that can cause size changing events, and the family has to confront a giant spider that crawled into the miniature. Once taken care of, they realize where the skull came from.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Kinsey digs up her "fear" emotion and uses it as a distraction to get away from Sam.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The Hercules Belt allows its user to gain Super Strength when it connects to the Hercules Key. There's also a harness that needs to connect to an Angel Key to gain wings.
  • Cool Key: The premise of the series is that the Key House is filled with keys that grant amazing powers.
    • The Matchstick Key: a key which allows the user to ignite anything.
    • The Anywhere Key: allows the user to travel through one door to any other in the world, only the user must have had to have actually seen the door to travel to it.
    • The Mirror Key: lures the user into a mirror world by a reflection of themselves.
    • The Head Key: creates an entry way into someone's mind that allows them to view memories but also alter them. The entry way differs from person to person; a bright, colourful toy box for Bode, a revolving door into a mall for Kinsey, the door of their home in Seattle for Tyler.
    • The Ghost Key: allows the user to become a "ghost" who can fly and be unseen by other people.
    • The Music Box Key: when used in tandem with a special music box, the key allows the user to control the actions of another.
    • The Mending Key: a key that, when used alongside a cabinet, can repair anything put inside of it. This is of course within reason, as Nina desperately wondered if putting Rendell's ashes in the cabinet would bring him back to life.
    • The Plant Key: a key that allows the user to conjure and control plants. These plants can pull desired objects into the ground and preserve them until the key is used again.
    • The Identity Key: a key that allows a person's physical appearance to be changed.
    • The Echo Key: a key that unlocked the Well House. Should a person call a deceased person's name down into the well they'll come back as an "echo".
    • The Shadow Key: when used with the Crown of Shadows, allows the user to manipulate shadows.
    • The Omega Key: The first key made and it opens the Black Door.
    • The Hercules Key: a key that needs to connect to the Hercules Belt that allows its user to gain super strength.
    • The Small World Key: A key to a dollhouse replica of Key House, which allows the wielder to interact with the actual manor. Things that are put into the doll house appear in a giant size at Key House.
    • The Memory Key: a key that allows the user to retain their memories of magic into adulthood.
    • The Chain Key: When used with the Great Lock, it creates a chain that can attack or restrain any target the wielder wants.
    • The Demon Key: A key Doge forces Duncan to forge that allows people to be possessed by a demon.
      • The first attempt at a Demon Key makes people explode into goo.
    • The Alpha Key: A key forged by Tyler that can purge a demon from a human host, but also kills the hosts as a side effect of the demon liquifying.
    • The Angel Key: A key that needs to connect to a harness that allows its user to gain wings to fly.
    • The Animal Key: A key that connected to a pet tunnel in the house that turns the user into an animal. Each user has a specific animal they turn into; Bode turns into a sparrow, Kinsey turns into a cat, and Ellie mentions turning into an owl.
    • The Snowglobe Key: Key House becomes a gateway to a snowglobe where it is perpetually winter.
    • The Timeshift Key: A key inserted into a grandfather clock that sends the user back in time for a specific amount of time. This is more of a Mental Time Travel, as the clock has features designed to ensure a Stable Time Loop. Anyone interacted with in the past won't remember it and anything or anyone that is brought forward in time will disappear after the timer inside the clock the key is used with runs out in order to prevent a paradox from happening.
    • The Harlequin Key: used with a special chest that is magically unable to be broken into when locked.
    • The Creation Key: draws things that then become real; they can be disposed of by touching them with the key.
  • Cool Old Guy: Joe Ridgeway, an English teach at the Locke's school, and the ghost of Chamberlain Locke.
  • Composite Character:
    • Scot Kavanaugh in the adaptation is a composite of the comic book version of Scot, retaining his affectation of horror movies and music, and his best friend Jamal Saturday, who also has a romantic relationship with Kinsey.
    • As for the keys, the Identity Key is a composite of the Skin Key and the Gender Key with some additional abilities.
    • In the comics, the Anthropomorphic Personifications of Kinsey's sorrow and fear were two distinct entities. Here, they're merged into a singular grief entity.
  • Covered in Gunge: Kinsey ends up being the lead in a horror movie directed by Scot, and after the monster kills someone she gets drenched in fake blood. This, of course, causes some questions when she returns home.
  • Creator Cameo: Producer and creators of the original comic Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez shows up in the last episode of the first season as a paramedic.
  • Death by Adaptation: Erin Voss. In the comics, she is the only surviving Keeper of the Keys. In the show Gabe kills her.
  • Demonic Possession: Lucas is possessed by one of the demonic "bullets" that emerge from the Black Door.
    • At the end of the first season, the same thing happens to Eden.
    • Revealed during the Revolutionary War flashback that British Captain Frederick Gideon willingly let himself be possessed, after seeing one of his soldier's possessed and the power it gave him.
  • Demoted to Extra: While not exactly a main character in the comics, Duncan was featured much more frequently than he is in the first season. He has a much larger role in season 2.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • In the comic, Joe Ridgeway is ambushed in his home while taking a bath, and after smashing a glass into his attacker's face, is shot in the chest by Dodge - later made to look like a Bath Suicide. In the Netflix series, he has no chance to defend himself, being instead suffocated with garbage bags to make it look like a different kind of suicide.
    • Detective Daniel Mutuku. In the comics, he is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by one of Dodge's shadows. In the show, Tyler uses the Alpha Key to remove the demon from him, which still ends up killing him.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Dodge uses her physical appearance for her benefit.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Eden tries this, eventually culminating with bringing back the echo of Captain Frederick Gideon. She tells him she is in charge. He responds by picking her up and throwing her down the well.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After Sam's second attack on the family, Nina falls off the wagon after being 6 years sober.
  • Eldritch Location: The location beyond the Black Door. It is a swirling blue void filled with demons trying to escape. As seen with Ellie Whedon being thrown in, it looks like she is pulled down into the void despite being horizontal with the door when thrown in.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The final episode of the third season ends with the Lockes sacrificing all the keys in order to close the portal that Captain Gideon opened, but whispering can be heard in the last few seconds before the credits...
  • "Eureka!" Moment: In the season 2 premiere, Tyler is confused when he brings up using the keys for the movie and Jackie doesn't seem to know what he's talking about. While she does remember, it hits Tyler that Jackie is about to turn 18, which makes her an adult and adults can't remember the key's magic...then realizes he turns 18 in three months...
  • Everyone Has Standards: Scot calls out both Kinsey and Gabe for going overboard in their revenge prank against Eden.
  • Fate Worse than Death: For Ellie Whedon, forcibly transformed into looking like Dodge and then being thrown into the void behind the Black Door. She barely had time to scream.
  • Final Girl: Discussed by Scot in regards to his horror movie "The Splattering". This is deconstructed by Kinsey, who actually had to deal with hiding from a crazed murderer and was too afraid to step up and fight back.
  • Flipping the Bird: In the first episode Duncan expresses passive anger towards Key House and flips it off just before leaving. Bode sees him do it, and Duncan tries to cover saying it's another way of waving goodbye. Bode ends up using it several times throughout the series, after initially believing Duncan at his word.
  • Forced into Evil: Lucas/Dodge forces Ellie to help him, by threatening to hurt her and Rufus.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Eden Hawkins has shades of this, thanks to her attitude. The Savini Squad don't really care for her and Kinsey, Scot and Gabe use the Music Box key to try to embarrass her.
  • Generation Xerox: By the end of the season more information about Rendells' group comes to light and how they called themselves the Keeper of the Keys. About the same time Tyler, Kinsey and Bode bring in Scot, Jackie, Gabe and Eden as allies, and they start seeing their responsibilities with the keys in a similar fashion.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Dodge throws the child who gave him the Matchstick Key onto subway train tracks as a train runs over him but the actual death is not seen.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: There is an underlying treasure hunt for the keys, but there was no official record of every key that has been forged so the kids are never sure where a key is or what it does.
  • Grand Theft Me: In season 3, after Bode travels back in time to when Dodge was still alive, she ends up coming into the present with him, and ends up possessing his body with the Ghost Key while he is stuck outside it.
  • The Hedonist: Dodge. She eats a lot, indulges in stealing clothes and jewelry from museums, simply to change her look, takes enjoyment with very high class living conditions and engages with a hapless bystander with an offer of sex with the intent to kill them. As Gabe though, he is much more reserved
    • It seems all demons at a minimum indulge in eating large amounts of food. Eden takes this up to eleven. She is near constantly eating and drinking to excess.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sam Lesser as a ghost helps the Lockes stop Dodge by leading Kinsey to the Angel Key. He later hijacks the body of one of Gideons enforcers and helps them escape and head off Gideons attempt to recover the Creation Key.
  • Heroic Suicide: The first scene of the series is Mark Cho immolating himself with the Matchstick Key. As we find out in Episode 9, this was because he knew Dodge would be coming for him, as he was the only one to know where all the keys were hidden, and this would deny her that knowledge.
  • He Knows Too Much: Joe Ridgeway saw Lucas with Ellie Whedon at her house and took a picture of him. Lucas kills him to continue operating in secret.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Season 1: Episode 7. Tyler recovered the Anywhere Key from Dodge and almost convinced Sam to perform a Heel–Face Turn. Then Dodge appears before the police arrives, stabs Sam and takes the Anywhere and Head keys.
    • Episode 10. The Lockes defeated Dodge and her shadows and they and their friends trap Dodge behind the Black Door. Unfortunately the "Dodge" they trapped was really Ellie Whedon, who Lucas shapeshifted via the Identity Key. It is also revealed Gabe is really Dodge/Lucas and always has been. Lastly, Eden has been possessed by a demon as well.
    • Season 2: Episode 9: After Gabe uses the Demon Key on Jackie, Tyler creates the Alpha Key to free her. It works... but it proves to be just as deadly to the human host as it is to the demon. Jackie suffocates due to demon solidifying within her body and dies in Tyler's arms.
  • Hypno Ray: Anyone who stares beyond the Black Door, even through the keyhole, is compelled to go through the door.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: After Jackie's death and defeating Dodge, Tyler prepares a road trip for his eighteenth birthday knowing he will forget about the magic in that time and refuses to use the Memory Key reasoning he was ready to move on from the Key magic.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Sam wants to be special and believes he is, further fueled by Dodge's insistence he is. As she stabs him, she reveals he is not and was lying to him from the start.
  • Immune to Bullets: Echoes like Lucas can't be killed by being shot, as Ellie found out when she tried to shoot him.
  • Imposter-Exposing Test: An easy way to tell if someone is really Dodge, or at least one of his possessed underlings, is to offer them the Key, which they can't actually take.
  • Internal Reveal: After the season one finale, the kids believe they got rid of Dodge. The second season spends plenty of time showing Gabe and Eden conspiring against them, but in episode five Kinsey goes into Eden's head, realizes she was possessed by a demon and sees a memory of Gabe turning into the female Dodge form.
  • Invisible to Adults: Adults are not capable of remembering the effect of the magic keys. Even if they see and experience it firsthand, they magically forget their experiences a few seconds after seeing it. Subverted with Rendell, Ellie, and Mark, who somehow figured out a way to keep their memories of the keys into adulthood.
    • The only other way adults are able to temporarily remember the magic is if their brains are altered, like by being drunk or using drugs.
    • Under Rendall's instructions, Duncan forges The Memory Key specifically to combat this trope. This is how Rendall, Ellie, Mark and Erin all remember magic.
  • Killed Off for Real: Sam is stabbed by Dodge and falls out the Ghost Key door, separating his soul from his body. The police arrive, taking Sam's dead body away and closing the door, trapping Sam as a ghost.
    • In season 3, Sam possesses one of the soldiers Captain Gideon makes an echo of, but dies for real when Gordie Shaw dies while he is still inside his head.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Memories of the Key Magic will fade in adults a few moments after being exposed to it. This generally enforced Adults Are Useless while simultaneously cleaning up loose ends of anyone else catching bizarre events. The second season ends up deconstructing this. Duncan had memories of tragic events removed using the Head Key in addition to the Key Magic amnesia, which left him with large gaps of his childhood he doesn't remember. This made him very apathetic, sometimes hostile regarding his childhood and he doesn't know why. Restoring his memories while still having Key Magic amnesia left him extremely disoriented as he couldn't make sense of the tragedy without further context, and the kids had to locate the Memory Key to fix this. Nina probably deals the worst with this. Since Rendell's death, Joe Ridgeway's death and Sam's involvement is all connected to the Key Magic, the kids have found some sense of closure by unraveling that mystery. But since Nina can't remember any of that, she feels like her family is moving on with their lives and can't understand how.
  • Left Hanging: Some season 1 mysteries are left unresolved, to be resolved in later storylines:
    • How did Erin Voss become trapped in her own mind?
    • What happened to Kinsey's fear entity?
      • Eden and Gabe trapped Kinsey's fear in a cage and keep it as a pet. Later on it escapes and is absorbed by Kinsey.
    • Sam, while technically dead, still exists as a ghost.
      • He reappears working with Chamberlain Locke trying to stop Dodge. He later helps Kinsey find the Angel Key.
  • Lighter and Softer: The adaptation is significantly more family-friendly than the comic book it is based on, for while it occasionally leans into Black Comedy and features some grisly murders, the tone is significantly lighter: the demons are not the Lovecraftian Children of Leng; racism, homophobia, and sexual assault are not featured at any point in the show; the sympathetic elements of the villains are more pronounced; and, of course, there are far fewer deaths by the end of the series.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The original comic was tied in tightly to some of Lovecraft's stories, but the existence of the keys gives the characters some power against the demons behind the Black Door.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum:
    • In this series, the keys are loyal to the Lockes. Dodge has to trick Bode into giving her the Anywhere Key but he catches on they need to be given to her willingly. This does not apply to non-Locke family members, as Sam finds out.
    • Duncan was forced to create the Demon Key by Dodge, which can infect any person with a demon who is completely loyal to the holder of the Key. During an action sequence Duncan desperately yells "Stop!" and suddenly all the infected responded to his command. He reasons that being the one who forged the key gave him an override to Dodge's control.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Eden Hawkins was initially the standard Alpha Bitch, a PrimaDonna who edged out Kinsey out of spite. But while she can be vain and intimidating, she is not really malicious and expresses discomfort when she learns what Kinsey thinks of her. It surprisingly doesn't take much for her to become an ally, especially after learning about the magic keys. She also helps the Locke children dispose of Dodge by trapping her behind the Black Door.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The keys have different uses and different slots to be inserted in, which leaves the characters trying to figure out the individual mechanics of each key. Bode successfully uses the Anywhere Key to go to the ice cream parlor, but when trying to show Kinsey by going to the Eiffel Tower it doesn't work because it's not a door he's familiar with (however, you can still travel through doors you've only seen in pictures). The Identity Key can only turn your appearance into an original persona, meaning it can't be used to impersonate a real individual.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Dodge is one, especially concerning Sam. She plays on his insecurities and fears to get him to do exactly what she wants.
    • As Lucas, he also emotionally manipulates Ellie, his former high school girlfriend.
    • As Gabe he was able to gain the trust of the Lockes and gain the upper hand on a Love Triangle between him, Kinsey and Scott. This was after half a season of the audience not knowing his real identity.
  • Mental World: The Head Key is inserted in the back of your neck, after which a duplicate body is created along with a door you can enter that leads to a physical representation of the person's mind. Each doorway, the space and artifacts that contain their memories is different depending on the individual. Bode's was a large chest leading to a room filled with various toys and electronics. Kinsey's was a revolving door that lead to a mall. All we see of Tyler's is that it is the door to their home back in Seattle. Erin Voss' mixes the Matheson Academy with the basement of Key House, with memories seen in VHS tapes and eventually her teenage self was trapped inside. Edens' had a designer bag leading to a jewelry/beauty store with herself as the model on monitors, her memories contained in perfume bottles and a thick black goo spreading among the display representing the demon that has possessed her.
  • Mind Rape: Erin Voss went through a form of this, leaving her in a near catatonic stupor. Somehow her Head Key self, of high school age, was imprisoned in her mind. It's implied in Lucas' initial attack she suffered severe brain damage.
    • Duncan also suffers through this. He saw Lucas killing Kim and Jeff, Rendell's friends, and Rendell killing Lucas. Rendell removed Duncan's memories of the events and the keys to protect him.
  • Mirror Self: Via the Mirror Key, a person sees a reflection of themselves beckoning into the mirror world. The reflections are Ambiguously Evil as they all have a slight Slasher Smile with the intent of trapping their victims in the mirror.
  • Missing Mom: Ellie as of the season 1 ending. Since the Locke kids inadvertently threw her behind the Black Door, she is going to be missing forever. Or so it seemed until she somehow returned in Season 2.
  • Movie-Making Mess: Kinsey finds herself being included in the Savini Squad, a group of filmmakers lead by Scot. Their main project is a horror film called "The Splattering" and Scot is always lamenting how he wants it to look better than the No Budget B-Movie it is.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Eden is the Alpha Bitch and tends to walk around in a tight, high cut shirt, and several scenes show her in just her bra.
  • Mundane Utility: In "the Premiere", Body uses the Hercules Key & Belt to move a heavy piece of furniture, and Tyler uses the Matchstick Key to start a beach fire.
  • Mythology Gag: A few references to the comic:
    • Duncan's childhood memories are kept in paint jars. This is similar to the same use of the jars from the comic used to hold a person's memories or emotions, which are physically much smaller compared to the Netflix version. This also makes Duncan an Expy of Erin Voss, whose memories were also forcibly removed in the comic.
    • Dodge's Shadow Queen form has yellow Hellish Pupils, which the comic book version of Dodge/Lucas had whenever he was about the commit a particularly evil act.
  • Never Suicide: Joe Ridgeway is found by Nina suffocated to death. A flashback reveals it was Lucas who killed him.
  • No Body Left Behind: After strangling Erin, Gabe uses the Plant Key to drag her body away. The Lockes, especially Duncan, are distraught with not being able to do anything to help her.
  • Not Quite Dead: Kinsey stabbed and buried her "fear" only for it to be alive later on. This is because emotions can't be killed, only buried.
    • Sam Lesser qualifies. He was almost dead after Dodge stabbed him but he stumbled through the Ghost Key door before actually dying. Subverted when the door is closed, leaving him unable to return and trapped as ghost, effectively killing him.
  • Once More, with Clarity!:
    • The episode 9 flashback reveals key events. It was Ellie who found out about Rendall's death and she called Mark Cho, leading to his Heroic Suicide. After Dodge got the Anywhere Key from Bode, she went to Ellie as Lucas. On Lucas's request, Ellie broke into the Locke house to find the Crown of Shadows. Lastly, it was Lucas who killed Joe Ridgeway via suffocation, with Ellie as an unwitting accomplice. He left her behind, with her nearly being found by Nina.
    • The closing moments of the season finale show that when Dodge was crying out "no!" before being sucked into the portal, it was actually Ellie made to look like Dodge while the real Dodge posed as Gabe, all to trick the kids into using the portal so one of the bullets could strike Eden.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Bode and the other Locke kids call Dodge "the Well Lady" until they learn her true name thanks to Sam.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: On a minor level, the Locke kids seem to have a biometric pass to use the keys they find around the house, but Dodge is unable to take a key without it being willingly given by them. The Locke's initially think this is applicable to everyone, but learn it only applies to demons from the black door. A regular person can steal a key, and thereby Dodge is free to take it from them. Dodge describes it as the keys being loyal to the Lockes. Gideon calls forth echoes of former soldiers who are not possessed by a demon in order to get around it.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In season 2 Eden's sudden wilder attitude of getting drunk and blowing off her studies are red flags to the others she's not herself.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Echoes created via the Echo Key are dead echoes of people. They are not really alive and can't be killed in traditional ways. They learn that demons that possessed human hosts are bonded to their spirit, and will return with them as echoes.
    • When using the Ghost Key, a person who enters the door the key is inserted in becomes a ghost that can't be seen by anyone else.
  • Our Souls Are Different: When using the Ghost Key, the soul is separated from the user's body, making it appear the person is dead. As long as the door the key is used on is open, the person can return to it. After being stabbed by Dodge, Sam stumbles through the Ghost Key door and becomes a ghost. Police close the door on him before he can return, trapping him as a ghost.
  • Parking Payback: Early in the first season, Javi and Brinker are found to be in the habit of parking their car in a disabled space, firmly cementing them as frat-boy douchebags that Tyler probably shouldn't be hanging out with. Not long afterwards, Logan Calloway - a disabled student with prosthetic legs - stops by and carves a long, jagged line in the side of the car.
  • People Puppets: The Music Box key controls people like this. It is best seen with Eden, who Kinsey commands to move against her will.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Rendell Locke's murder by Sam.
  • Portal Door: The Anywhere Key allows the user to travel through one door to any other in the world, only the user must have had to have actually seen the door to travel to it.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Season 1 of the series adapts the comic's first three story arcs "Welcome to Lovecraft", "Headgames" and "Crown of Shadows", along with elements introduced in later arcs, while expanding on the Lockes' home and school lives.
    • In the series, Ellie Whedon is the one who shows Tyler and Kinsey the events of 25 years ago, instead of discovering this via the Timeshift Key.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • At the end of the first season, Rufus goes to stay with his aunt and uncle after Ellie goes missing. Bode asks him to send a picture of the house's door so he can visit with the Anywhere Key.
    • At the end of the second season, Scot goes back to the UK to attend a filmmaking school, appearing in only two episodes of the third season.
  • Race Lift: The series' version of Erin Voss is white, while Ellie Whedon is black - excising most of the commentary about racism featured in the comic issues where Erin was introduced.
  • Reality Changing Miniature: Josh Bennett owns a doll's house version of Key House, which he acquired during his studies into Matheson's history. Bode and Josh's daughter Jamie learn that, when unlocked with the "Small World" key, it becomes an interactive version of the real thing. The miniatures within it affect the ones in the real house, as Bode discovers when he accidentally breaks his bed in half, and objects placed inside it become giant versions within the real house, as demonstrated with a gummy candy — and unfortunately, later, a spider.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Gabe shows up out of nowhere as a previously unknown part of the student filmmaker group, and becomes a rival love interest to Kinsey. Gabe is revealed to be another form taken by Dodge, used to further manipulate the kids to their own end.
  • The Reveal: Gabe was Dodge all along, the person they threw behind the Black Door was actually Ellie and Eden was hit with one of the glowing bullets and is now possessed. Season 2 emphasizes that Gabe never truly existed as the key can't turn anyone into a real person but a made-up persona.
    • Before this, Erin Voss revealed to Kinsey that Dodge and Lucas, who died 25 years earlier, were the same person.
  • Sanity Slippage: In season 2 Duncan after the kids and Erin put his memories from his childhood back in his head. Due to having lived for so long without them, his mind had adapted and accepted most of his childhood as a kind of vague blur. With the memories returned, but him being an adult, he couldn't properly process them due to adults not being able to remember magic. So now he has memories trying to reintegrate themselves while also being actively being repressed by the universal Weirdnes Censor. Thankfully the Memory Key removes the no-magic-for-adults rule and the memories are able to successfully reintegrate themselves.
  • Sarcastic Confession: A variant. Eden's mom came to visit and confessed that her father ran away with his secretary and they have separated. Eden, because she is possessed by a demon, says that she should kill him, and goes into detail about bludgeoning him to death. Her mom treats it as an exaggeration, and one that makes it seem that Eden is on her side of the situation.
  • Scenery Porn: In the first season Kinsey's Mental World was represented as a mall. In the second season she has redesigned that space to be a scenic mountain lake with unnatural, ethereal colors shining from both the horizon and the lake itself.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: Played with. We are introduced to the "Well Lady" at first as an attractive, dark haired woman (played by Laysla De Oliveira) and is given the name Dodge. As it turns out, Dodge was a known persona for Lucas via the Identity Key, which Erin Voss shares with the kids and becomes the first step to unraveling what is happening. Dodge is basically the standard appearance for this enemy of the first season, as fooling the kids into throwing that persona into the Black Door means that they end up taking a new standard form in Gabe in the second season.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog:
    • Ellie Whedon was already The Woobie. Her boyfriend was possessed by a demon, killed two of their friends and was killed by another one. For years she felt something was missing until she used the Echo Key to bring Lucas back. This led to her being emotionally manipulated and physically abused until she had enough and tried to fight back, only to fail. Lucas used her as part of his plan, using the Identity Key to make Ellie look like Dodge and making the Locke children and friends think they really defeated Dodge. The children ended up throwing Dodge, really Ellie, screaming into the void behind the Black Door forever.
    • Early in Season 2, while seeking information from Erin's mind, Tyler and Kinsey learn that she was accidentally imprisoned inside her own head over two decades earlier, and set her free. While she's upset at having lost so much time, she has every intention to make up for it, and is soon making plans for her future — only to be brutally murdered by Gabe just a few days later.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • Dodge was initially stuck in the Wellhouse until Bode brought her the Anywhere Key.
    • Whatever lies beyond the Black Door is interested in crossing through.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • At the end of Season 1, Dodge has lulled the Lockes into a false sense of security and gained their trust as Gabe, while Eden has also been possessed.
    • Season 2 ends with the demons defeated and Lucas freed from the demon. After Body shares the Head Key with Nina so she can relive some happy memories, she says she does not want to forget about it, implying that Body will use the Memory Key on her so she will remember magic. It ends with Eden summoning the echo of Captain Gideon, Josh's ancestor, who is looking to be the new Big Bad.
  • Slasher Smile: Gabe sports a very good one once you find out their true identity.
  • The Sociopath: Dodge doesn't care who she hurts or uses in her goal.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Ellie Whedon. In the comics, she is killed by Lucas. In the show, she returns from the Omega Door and is both turned back to normal and reunited with her son. Erin Voss seemingly dies in her place instead.
    • Lucas. In the comics, he dies after Tyler removes the demon from him. In the show, as an echo, he is able to survive his exorcism.
  • A Storm Is Coming: The last shot of Season 1 shows a thunderstorm approaching Matheson, right after it's revealed that Gabe is a disguised Dodge, and Eden has been possessed.
  • Story-Breaker Power: The Anywhere Key is generally seen as the most useful and versatile of the keys. The ability to slip in and out of any location at any time makes it near impossible to track someone. It was one of the first found and one of the most fought over, even though the Matchstick Key is probably more dangerous.
  • Super Strength: Lucas/Dodge, as a result of the demonic possession, has enhanced strength.
    • When inserted into it's belt, The Hercules Key gives super strength to the belt's wearer.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: After being introduced to the Head Key and discovering a monstrous manifestation of her fears and insecurities, Kinsey decides to go back inside her head, "kill" the entity, take it into the real world and bury it. The next day she starts acting more carefree and outgoing, but saying and doing things that are unkind, even cruel because her sense of restraint and empathy became disconnected. The entity turns out to not be dead and attacks Eden, someone Kinsey fears. She realizes that "burying" her emotions was not improving things and was only causing further problems for herself and those around her. She later brought the fear entity back inside her head, as it was better to deal with her feelings one step at a time in a mundane fashion.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Gabe gets this impression after dealing with the newly possessed Eden, as she retains her vapid impulses and lack of a filter. In truth she is also calling him out on a perceived Complexity Addiction, and proves to be correct that he is developing affection for Kinsey. Once the Demon Key is in reach he kicks her to the curb, but she proves to be a bigger problem to his plans than he expected.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: A number of side effects from the keys can be used as fairly effect prisons. Using the Head Key things have been stored inside their own mind. The Mirror Key creates a never ending labyrinth past a mirror threshold that is near impossible to escape on your own even with the key inserted. The Snowglobe Key accesses a snowglobe, which was used to trap a couple of human-possessing demons long ago.
  • There Are No Therapists: It is fairly clear regarding the fallout from Rendell's murder Nina has PTSD, Tyler is repressing a Hair-Trigger Temper and resents being forced into a father-like role, and Kinsey is depressed dealing with Survivor's Guilt. Joe Ridgeway, being a Cool Teacher, at least recognizes the issue with the family and makes an effort to talk with Tyler about it.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Kinsey after removing her fear. Apparently removing this emotion also got rid of hesitations and mental filter, resulting in her saying mean spirited things and acting more selfish.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Sam Lesser veers off into this. Him killing Rendell Locke, his own father and attacking the Locke family twice qualifies as this. Though because of his abusive father and manipulations by Dodge, he was also Driven to Villainy.
    • Bode is confronted by Dodge, who threatens him and the family, which leads to him bringing a blacksmith hammer to school for protection. Nina gets called in to help deal with the situation.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The Locke siblings consist of brothers Tyler and Bode and sister Kinsey.
  • Unobtanium: The Keys are made from "Whispering Iron," which are small metal pellets that are fired from beyond the Black Door. If a person is struck by the iron when launched through the door they become possessed by a demon, otherwise it falls to the ground harmlessly. While numerous pellets do pass through the doorway making the keys is not an easy process, wasting limited resources with each failed attempt. The doorway itself is generally kept closed and can only be unlocked with the Omega Key.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Bode didn't know giving Dodge the Anywhere Key would result with so much death.
    • Earlier, in a fit of depression, Ellie Whedon used the Echo Key to summon an echo of Lucas.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Sam Lesser used to be one, taking care of his little sister from his abusive dad.
  • Use Your Head: Rendall and Erin kept the Omega Key in Rendall's head for safety. Tyler and Kinsey find it in his ashes.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Thanks to the Identity Key. Dodge uses this to transform into her original self, Lucas, and switch back and forth. As well as creating the identity of newcomer Gabe.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Ellie Whedon returns after a near cave in opens the Black Door. How she survived for so many months, let alone not possessed by a demon, is not explained.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The shadows created by the Crown of Shadows can be defeated by light from the smallest light source, like a match.
  • Waxing Lyrical: When Lucas puts on the Crown of Shadows and gains control of the spectres he says "Hello darkness, my old friend." from The Sound of Silence.
  • Wham Shot: At the end of season 1 finale, Gabe walking up some stairs uses a key to transform into Dodge.
  • What Are Records?: In season 2, when Duncan and Bode come upon Rendell's old cassette tape collection.
    Bode: What are they?
    Duncan: Seriously? These are what cavemen like your dad and me used to listen to music on.
    Bode: Oh, are they... what did you call them... iPods?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After being freed from the demon, Lucas remains as an echo, but it is unclear what happens to him by the end of season 2.
  • We Can Rule Together: Once Gabe has the Demon Key he starts making numerous lackey's who are obedient to his commands, but despite not needing her permission he still wants to convince Kinsey to willingly become possessed.
  • Weirdness Censor: One that is magically enforced. Adults who experience the magic of the keys will forget its existence within a few seconds, though they might be curious about the physical evidence left behind. The kids learn of the Memory Key that is designed to allow adults to retain memories of the magic.
    • There do seem to be some natural exceptions however. Rufus, due to his particular disorder giving him a more child-like personality, despite being in his early twenties can freely talk about and remember the keys and magic, including remembering seeing two Dodges even while concussed and half conscious. While not remembering initially, he is able to recall after some help from his therapist. A feat that shouldn't have been remotely possible if he was indeed able to be affected by the memory altering.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Dodge, who has no problem threatening Bode and throwing an unfortunate child under a subway train, after getting the Matchstick Key from the child.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Sam for Dodge, who stabs and kills him.
    • Also done for Ellie, after she tries to help the Locke children against Dodge. For her troubles, she is forcibly changed to look like Dodge and is mistakenly thrown behind the Black Door into the demonic void.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Thanks to the Head Key, anything taken out literally becomes real in the physical world.
    • Also works as an inversion. Anything put inside your head space is stored as a memory inside your mind. Demonstrated when Tyler throws a book about England into his head space and is able to recall facts from it as if he had memorized it.

Alternative Title(s): Locke And Key

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