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Locke & Key Wiki
Locke & Key Wiki

The Head Key is one of the oldest Keys created by Benjamin Locke.


The key was created by Benjamin during the Revolutionary War. His sister, Miranda, used this key to fill her head with knowledge on how to fight and kill, as well as removing her own fear, presumably in order to fight against the English.[1]

In 1988, the Tamers of the Tempest tried to incapacitate the recently-possessed Lucas Caravaggio by depriving him of his memories, only for the demon, Dodge, to recover them from Ellie Whedon.[2] Dodge used this key to remove a piece of himself and planted it at her house as a failsafe. After this, he emptied all the contents inside Erin Voss's mind loose inside the Drowning Caves,[3][4] which rendered her catatonic.[5]

Head Key Found

Bode finds the Head Key

Rendell Locke threw the Head Key into Keyhouse fountain,[5] but decades later, it was rediscovered by his son Bode Locke.[6] Bode demonstrated the key's abilities to his siblings;[7] Kinsey used it to remove her fear,[8] while Tyler used it to add his homework's reading to impress Jordan Gates.[9] Dodge briefly used the key to remove all of Duncan and Ellie's memories of him to ensure his identity remained a secret,[10][11] but failed to do the same on Rufus, as the key failed to produce a lock, because Rufus's mind functions differently from others.[11]

Tyler used the key to hide the Omega Key inside his head.[2][12] However, after Kinsey's Fear and Tears infiltrated his mind, Kinsey and Bode discovered the key's location while removing the foreign thoughts from Tyler. To prevent any more loose ends, Kinsey had her thoughts returned to her head, causing her to cry repeatedly.[12] While trapped in the Drowning Caves, Kinsey learned Erin's memories were still inside the Caves,[4] some of them subsequently aided in defeating Dodge.[13] Two weeks later, the Lockes recollected Erin's memories from the Drowning Caves and returned them to Erin and restored her sanity.[14]

Netflix Adaptation[]

In the 1980s, the Head Key is one of the keys utilized by the Keepers of the Keys. When the keys are split up, the Head Key is taken by Erin Voss.[15] After having Duncan make the Memory Key for them, the Keepers use the Head Key to remove all of Duncan's memories of the magic.[16][17] Rendell Locke later uses it to hide the Omega Key inside of his own head.[15] Two years later, while Erin is using the Head Key at the Keyhouse, the housekeeper finds her and accidentally dislodges the key while trying to wake up Erin, inadvertently trapping Erin inside of her own head.[16]

The Head Key is one of the first keys found by the Locke children who put it to extensive use, including Kinsey using it to remove her own fear.

Echo encountering Young Erin Voss

Dodge uses the Head Key to enter Erin Voss' troubled mind.

Dodge later steals the Head Key and uses it to enter into Erin's mind in order to find the Omega Key. Dodge is amused to find out that Erin is trapped inside of her own head and leaves her trapped again when she leaves. However, Dodge's visit into Erin's head appears to bring her consciousness closer to the surface for a brief period of time, allowing Erin to identify Lucas as Dodge to her.[15]

The key is subsequently found by Rufus who turns it over to his mother. Ellie then uses it to show Tyler and Kinsey the truth about Dodge and Lucas.[18]

Months later, Tyler and Kinsey use the Head Key to go into Erin's mind in search of how the Keepers kept their memories after turning eighteen. The two encounter Erin's consciousness who appears as her younger self and has no idea that she has been trapped for twenty-three years. Tyler and Kinsey lead Erin out of her head and Erin removes the Head Key, awakening herself from her catatonic state at last.[19]

Tyler later uses the Head Key to return Duncan's memories to him,[16] but it leaves him in a deteriorating state, causing the Lockes to realize that they need the Memory Key to properly restore Duncan's memories. During the search, Kinsey and Erin find her fear which Kinsey uses the Head Key to return to herself. Erin later uses it again under the close watch of Tyler to retrieve her long-buried memory of Erin's last encounter with Rendell before he hid the Memory Key.[17] After the Memory Key is used on Duncan, the memories that were returned to him using the Head Key are successfully reintegrated into his mind.[20]

Suspicious of Gabe's relationship with Eden and Eden drunkenly stating that she's going to kill her, Kinsey uses the Head Key on a passed out Eden to enter her mind with Scot following her soon after. The two find Eden's mind slowly being consumed by black like a cancer due to her demonic possession. Eden's memories reveal to them her possession by a demon and that Gabe is actually Dodge. Suddenly, a twisted visage of Eden appears on screens around her mind and the mannequins in the room attack Kinsey and Scot. Using the Matchstick Key, Kinsey and Scot manage to fight their way out and discover that even with all of the activity in her mind, it wasn't enough to awaken Eden's separate consciousness. Kinsey removes the Head Key from Eden and leaves to reveal her disturbing discovery to the others.[20]

When Tyler leaves on a road trip, he gives Kinsey the Head Key. Bode later uses it to show his mother some of her happiest memories with his father. When Nina asks to keep her memories of the magic this time, Bode uses the Memory Key on her.[21]


The Head Key allows the user to open someone's head so that thoughts and memories can be inserted or removed from the subject's mind. This function is limited, however, because if a person's mind originally operates differently from most others, such as mental disorders, the key cannot be inserted into the person's mind.[11]Their personality, traits and emotions seems to inhabit their host’s mind. Like Bode’s glee or Kinsey’s fear for example.

Thoughts and personality traits seem to be removable, as Miranda and Kinsey Locke removed their fears, becoming much more confident afterward.[8][1]

The Head Key can be used to "share" memories between people by taking them out of one person's head and placing them into another.[22]

Using the Head Key, items and knowledge can be directly placed into a person's head and later retrieved.[2]

The memories themselves are not always accurate and can be affected by the subject, particularly their state of mind. For example, Bode Locke's recollection of the Lady in the Well was inaccurate, as she appeared more monstrous than in reality.[9]

Though many memories seem alive, they are seemingly invulnerable to dying, or at least drowning.[12][4]

As Erin Voss was being completely emptied out, her mental state degraded and her hair became white.[23]

Netflix Adaptation[]

In the Netflix series, when the Head Key is inserted into the back of someone's head, with the keyhole appearing by the recipient's nape, a door appears in the real world leading into their mind while the person enters a catatonic state and a second version of themselves, a manifestation of their consciousness, appears next to them. Using the door, anyone can enter the person's mind where they can interact with it such as viewing memories which typically take the form of a video. The manifested door and "mindscape" it leads to seems to differ from one person to the next (i.e. respectively, Bode's appears as a large container trunk leading to an arcade, Kinsey's appears as a rotating door that leads to a high-rise and topsy-turvy mall, Eden's being a large gift box that leads to a perfume parlor). A person can also use the Head Key to remove memories entirely or to remove someone's fear; these memories manifest as tangible objects, which, again can be different per person (i.e. Bode's appear as jack-in-the-boxes, Kinsey's being candy boxes, Duncan's as glass paint jars, Eden's as perfume bottles, etc.), that one only needs to peer into in order to peruse the memory stored therein.[24] When something is removed from the person's mind, it takes on a physical form in the real world while the person no longer has it inside of them. If the person is trapped within their own head during a previous use of the key, the second version of themselves will not appear as it is already inside of their mind.[15]

However, use of the Head Key can cause things to go terribly wrong: when Erin Voss was using the Head Key and it accidentally got dislodged from her, she got trapped inside of her own mind for twenty-three years. It was only when she was led back out and removed the Head Key that she awakened. Erin also had no memory of being trapped nor did she realize how long she had been gone.[19][16]

When Dodge uses the Head Key to enter Erin's mind, her consciousness takes on the form of her younger self at the age she was when Erin first got trapped. Uniquely, Dodge appeared to be able to keep Erin's mind from following her out the door simply by shutting it with Erin being unable to open it again before Dodge removed the Head Key. While catatonic, Erin appeared to still be somewhat conscious, reacting with obvious fear to the appearance of the Head Key and Dodge's taunts. As a side effect of Dodge's trip into her head, Erin's consciousness appeared to be brought closer to the surface of her body for awhile: while still mostly catatonic and trapped, Erin now had enough control to speak Dodge's name and point out Lucas in a picture.[15] She subsequently relapses into complete catatonia however and this effect isn't a permanent one.[19]

When Duncan's stolen memories are returned to him using the Head Key, instead of being seamlessly reintegrated into his mind, Duncan experiences hallucinatory flashbacks and severe mood swings that put him into a deteriorating mental state. This is theorized to be a result of his memories of the magic being returned to him as an adult when he's not supposed to remember it at all.[17] Once the Memory Key is used on Duncan, his condition is stabilized and his memories are properly reintegrated into his head.[20]

When Kinsey uses the key on an unconscious Eden Hawkins, her consciousness appears on the floor nearby, also passed out. Due to the demonic possession, Eden's mind appears to be slowly consumed by black like a cancer. Even after Eden's mind attacks Kinsey and Scot, it doesn't appear to affect the real Eden enough to actually wake her up.[20]

If a subject is injured while present inside someone else's memories using the Head Key, the injuries are reflected in real life.[24]

If a person is about to die while the head key is in them, it will be reflected in their head as well. When the key was used on Gordie Shaw, who was stabbed before, his manifested consciousness was also injured and bleeding.The theater lights in his head gradually began to flicker and go out, and the environment began to bleed and dissolve. The door to his head also began to flicker away and even disappeared altogether as Gordie suffered an initial cardiac arrest. When he was revived again briefly, the door also came back flickering, allowing Tyler, Kinsey, Ellie and Gideon to escape in time. When Gordie definitively died, the door also disappeared for good. Sam Lesser, who was still in Gordie's head at that point, died with him as a result, and even the fact that he was in an essentially unkillable echo body couldn't save him.

When the Lockes later killed Gideon's demon and pushed him through his created portal with two keys, causing it to shrink, Tyler also threw the head key in to check if it was really the dropping through of the keys that caused the portal to shrink, which was confirmed by this.


The minds of many characters have been seen with the Head Key. The following are some highlights.

Bode Locke[]

  • Sam Lesser and Al Grubb
  • Bode as a construction worker
  • the Moth
  • a phone number with a Californian area code, presumably the Lockes' old phone number
  • Space Invaders
  • Tyler as a caveman
  • Bode as a stick of dynamite

Tyler Locke[]

  • Sam Lesser telling Tyler that he killed Rendell because Tyler asked him to
  • Rendell, with the bullet hole where his right eye should be
  • Kinsey, Bode, and the paint cans Tyler stepped in that Sam used to follow Tyler
  • Shep Martin being arrested after crashing his car and injuring Kinsey
  • Tyler holding a mask with Sam's scars
  • Three Tyler's doing the gestures of the Three Wise Monkeys
  • The hatchet Nina used to kill Sam
  • The gun Sam used to kill Rendell
  • His teacher dominantly lecturing him while he's naked
  • The well, where he's locked up his own fear in shape of The Dark Lady, as well as all other negative emotions.
  • His Bravery looking like he probably did as a kid, with a big hook he got from his dad.
  • Many naked women.

Ellie Whedon[]


  • Inside of Kinsey's head is never fully shown in the graphic novel, but it looks hollow and Kinsey's Fear and Tears are shown.
    • In the Netflix adaptation, her head is a Mall with each shop-front presenting a different memory. In season two, the surface of her mind is changed to a shallow lake where she is seen relaxing on a swan boat.
      • Some include memories of her father and her father's death.
  • Erin Voss had everything plucked out of her head. As a result, the inside of her head was blank white. When she later made new memories, they would disappear nearly instantly.[25]
  • According to Zack, Duncan Locke's inside is full of colors,[10] which is unusual for adults unless intoxicated. This might be because he's an artist.
  • Rendell Locke's head is implied to be where he hid the Omega Key, as Tyler would later do the same.
  • After being possessed by a demon, Dodge's head is full of gruesome manifestations of his friends being murdered, several figures of himself, and the black door.

Guide to the Known Keys entry[]

Head Key Excerpt

"of alle the keys I have forged from the WHISP'RING IRON, 'tis the key that opens the human mind I most regrait. Miranda had a pervairse fasinaytion whist the key & hast us'd ait to fill her head with all thair is to know about WAR & THE SLAIYING of MEN, & she carrys an arsanall whist her whairever she goes. Yet I am less in dred of what she has put in than what she hast removed. Sometimes it is as if she is now without FEER and indeed is herself more man than I!"


  • The keys have worked differently for Rufus Whedon, including the Head Key which Zack Wells attempted to use on him; not allowing him to alter Rufus' memories. When Zack held the key up to Rufus' neck, no keyhole appeared. This is presumably because his mental disorder makes his mind organized differently.
  • In the graphic novel, the Head Key caused the subject's head to open, however, this was deemed too unrealistic for the Netflix adaptation and changed.[26]
  • When asked what his favorite key was, Gabriel Rodriguez stated that the Head Key was the key that always "stood out to him", regarding it as the most dangerous key.[27]
  • Early on in the production of the Netflix series, the Head Key was briefly redesigned by set designer Henry Fong.[28] However, it was decided that the Head Key would stay closer to its original design in the graphic novels.
Zachary looks for golden necklaces but finds none with bees or keys or swords. The only key he spots is rigged to appear as though it is disappearing into the back of someone's neck, but that key he recognizes as a clever comic-book reference.

–Head Key cameo in The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Locke & Key: Guide to the Known Keys. November 23, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Locke & Key: Keys to the Kingdom #5, "Detectives - Part 1". March 2, 2011
  3. Locke & Key: Clockworks #1, "The Locksmith's Son". July 20, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Locke & Key: Omega #5, "The Fall". June 5, 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 Locke & Key: Keys to the Kingdom #6, "Detectives - Part 2". April 27, 2011
  6. Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft #6. July 30, 2008
  7. Locke & Key: Head Games #2, "Chapter One". February 4, 2009
  8. 8.0 8.1 Locke & Key: Head Games #4, "Chapter Three". April 8, 2009
  9. 9.0 9.1 Locke & Key: Head Games #3, "Chapter Two". March 4, 2009
  10. 10.0 10.1 Locke & Key: Head Games #5, "Chapter Four". May 20, 2009
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Locke & Key: Head Games #6, "Army of One". July 1, 2009
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Locke & Key: Clockworks #2, "Smash!". August 31, 2011
  13. Locke & Key: Alpha #1, "Omega & Alpha", September 11, 2013
  14. Locke & Key: Alpha #2, "The End", December 18, 2013
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Locke & Key, Episode 8: Ray of F*cking Sunshine
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Locke & Key, Season 2 Episode 3: Small World
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Locke & Key, Season 2 Episode 4: Forget Me Not
  18. Locke & Key, Episode 9: Echoes
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Locke & Key, Season 2 Episode 2: The Head and the Heart
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Locke & Key, Season 2 Episode 5: Past is Prologue
  21. Locke & Key, Season 2 Episode 10: Cliffhanger
  22. Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows #3, "Last Light". February 17, 2010
  23. Locke & Key: Clockworks #6, "Curtain". May 16, 2012
  24. 24.0 24.1 Locke & Key, Episode 3: Head Games
  25. Locke & Key: Keys to the Kingdom #2, "White". October 13, 2010
  26. Every Key in Netflix's 'Locke and Key' and What It Does
  27. Boston Comic Con 2013: Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez on Favorite Keys, Dirty Panels (video)
  28. Cheyne, Rory. "Creating Keyhouse for Locke & Key." ADG Perspective Magazine, No.89, May-June 2020, pp.78-85
  29. Twitter favicon@chris_ryall (Chris Ryall) on Twitter
  30. Twitter favicon@erinmorgenstern (Erin Morgenstern) on Twitter