The Keys of the Locke family are a variety of magical keys that are found hidden throughout the Locke family home, Keyhouse Manor. The original Keys were crafted by Benjamin Locke during the eighteenth-century Revolutionary War. After Benjamin, many more keys were made by others, including: Harland and Tyler Locke, even Hans Riffel.
During the war in 1775, soldiers discovered and opened the Black Door in the Drowning Caves, thereby releasing demons. In order to seal the door shut, Benjamin crafted a padlock and a key from Whispering Iron — which he claimed had been tempting him. He later crafted numerous other keys, as did many of the Lockes that came after him; these keys remained with the Locke family and were often used by them.
It is implied that the Children of Leng whose bodies were used to make the Keys are still alive in some way, because the Keys can still whisper when they are lost and want to be found. Chamberlin Locke believed that the Children of Leng that have been turned into Keys want a human to use them as weapons.
In 1775, Benjamin Locke, with collaboration from his sister, Miranda, began the practice of forging keys from Whispering Iron, starting with the Omega Key. The process required alchemy to bestow them magic, and only the person hearing the whispering from the Whispering Iron could make the key because "making a key is a conversation between the Whispering Iron and the key maker."
Duncan learned how to make keys from the ghost of Chamberlin Locke. While teaching Tyler how to make a key, Duncan tells him that a key gets its magic from the intention of the key maker and that he needs to close his eyes and focus on the intention of what he needs the key to do. Once the key maker has focused their intention for the key, they add their blood to the melted-down Whispering Iron before pouring the molten metal into the key mold. Once its in the mold, the key can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours to harden, as every key is different. He also tells Dodge that the blood used to make the key must be Locke blood for it to work. This may because they are descendants of Benjamin Locke, the first person to create the keys who showed no sign of magical talent before making the Omega Key and in fact needed his sister's help to figure out the alchemical process.
Similar to the comics, the keys were implied to be active in some form, since they would whisper at specific instances in order to be found by the Lockes. After being led to the Memory Key by the whispers, Tyler suggests to Gabe and Logan that the keys only lead the Lockes to them when they need the particular key in question the most. When asked about the nature of the keys, Duncan stated that while the Whispering Iron is from the demon world, its power can be reshaped to bring about the darkest evil or the greatest good "and you as the maker get to decide." Kinsey also theorized that the keys allow people to find them for purposes that are neither good nor evil, but they simply desire to be used.
The keys have a supernatural type of ownership with the Lockes. Demons such as Dodge are unable to take the keys from the Lockes by force, and must be willingly given to them. This principle was exclusive to demons, as humans outside the Locke family could also take these keys without asking for permission. Since Sam Lesser took keys from the Locke children, then Dodge took the same keys from him without his permission, a demon's inability to take keys only applied if the owner was a Locke; and in extension, served to indicate humans that were possessed. Should a demon manage to take a key from a Locke, it burns and presumably causes extreme pain to them. While Gideon had the same limitations, he got around them by using Samuel Coffey and James Bolton to steal the keys for him. However, people who were married into the family, such as Nina Locke, are not recognized by the rule. Demons that switched bodies with a human through the Ghost Key can take keys willingly, as a time-displaced Dodge was able to take a key in Bode's body.
When the keys were in the hands of Gideon, he could channel their power to open localized cracks to the demons' realm. The size of the cracks was determined by the number of keys he had on hand, with the more keys he had widening the gateway. By returning the keys through the portal, the crack would mend itself and close its connection to Earth; however, this process did not appear to require all the keys returned, since the Lockes could still hear whispers inside their house while suggesting more keys were still hidden inside the manor.
- indicates that the key solely appears in the Netflix series; they are not mentioned nor appear in the graphic novels.
- indicates that the key appears in the graphic novels, but was redesigned and/or renamed in the Netflix series.
- indicates that the key first appeared in the Netflix series, but was later integrated into the graphic novels.
These keys have not made an appearance in the official comics but appear in merchandise, promotional tie-ins, and/or non-canon materials.
- Audible Key
- Biblio Key
- Jetpack Key
- Phoenix Key
- Snow Angel Key
- Ankh Key
These keys can be seen in art but were unused. Note that the names are not official.
- Yin-Yang Key
- Toy Key
- Illuminati Key (Seen in the Glass Ceiling and Welcome to Lovecraft 6)
- Freemason Key (The bow of the key is decorated with a Freemason Square and Compass, in the center is a flower instead of a "G", outlined in a laurel wreath. Appears only in the Glass Ceiling)
- Scepter Key
- Compass/Star Key
- Two other keys of unidentifiable symbolic design
Locks that hint at potential Keys
These are locks that are seen in the art that could hint at the existence of potential Keys. Names are not official.
- Radio Key (lock seen in Dog Days). A keyhole shape can be seen on the old fashioned radio that the two sons of Mary Locke listen to with their dog.
- Stained Glass Key (lock seen in Omega 2). Assuming the keyhole on the Glass Ceiling is an actual keyhole and not just an image. Much like how the keyhole for the Giant Key was also a glass window.
- Cat Key (lock seen in Small World). A lock can be seen on the collar worn by Jean and Mary Locke's pet cat, Tiberius.
- The Keys to Omega Doors #1-#10 (locks seen in Crown of Shadow #2: "In the Cave" & Clockworks #4: "The Whispering Iron"). While exploring the Drowning Caves, Kinsey Locke and her friends encounter an Omega Door marked with a #1 that they cannot open. This is shown to be a door separate from the Black Door, as the Black Door is deeper in the caves and is marked with a #11. This door reappears in a flashback to Rendell Locke and the Tamers of the Tempest on their way to the Black Door. Omega Doors marked with a #5 and #3 are also seen. This implies that there are at least 10 Omega Doors (not counting #11) in the caves which may have their own Keys. It is unknown if the Omega Key has anything to do with these doors.
- Penny-farthing Key (lock seen in Golden Age 9: "Hell & Gone #2"). One of the items in the Harlequin Wardrobe in 1927 was a Penny-farthing bicycle with Keys as its wheel spokes and a lock on its handle.
- According to Israel Skelton, founder of Skelton Crew Studios, the Biblio Key and the Snow Angel Key will make an eventual appearance in the comics.
- Despite the keys' wide variety of powers, a common trait among each key is a limitation that restricts or even negates their applications. These include but are not narrowed down to:
- The Anywhere Key can take the user to a place they know or can visualize, but cannot take them to areas they are not aware of. In the Netflix series, the key requires the user to have seen the door to their destination, such as Kinsey having never seen the upper interior of the Eiffel Tower.
- The Head Key can allow the user to access their own thoughts or the thoughts of others, but it does not give the user control over these thoughts, only awareness of them. Furthermore, while sapient emotions can be removed, they cannot be killed, for some feelings cannot exist without others since it would be paradoxical. Also, there is no guarantee to the accuracy of these memories nor will users understand the information they perceive, as shown when Bode's recollection of the Dark Lady was more monstrous than she was in reality. In the Netflix series, Kinsey and Tyler watched Lucas Caravaggio being assaulted by Rendell but could not understand the context behind it.
- The Mending Key can restore the state of items that were broken, although it cannot revive the dead. For example, in the case with Rendell's urn, it restored the vase, but his ashes remained. It also cannot remove pre-existing conditions, as it could delay Ian Locke's seizures but not the tumor that was causing them.
- The Shadow Key can summon living shadows, but it cannot be used in daylight, only under cover of night.
- The Alpha Key can "unlock" a demon from their host's soul, killing the demon and freeing the host. However, the separation is fatal to the host so using the Alpha Key is a death sentence for those that it is used on. In the comics, this includes hosts that are Echos. In the Netflix series, Echos are immune to this fatal effect of the Alpha Key as a part of their being invulnerable to physical harm.
- In the Netflix series, the Identity Key can turn the user into brand-new people such as "Gabe", but it cannot be used to turn into already existing people such as Kinsey Locke.
- In the Netflix series, the Memory Key allows adults to keep their memories of the magic, but they are forced to live with the pain that the memories come with.
- Locke & Key: Clockworks #1, "The Locksmith's Son". July 20, 2011
- Locke & Key: Clockworks #4, "The Whispering Iron". February 1, 2012
- Locke & Key: Guide to the Known Keys. November 23, 2011
- Locke & Key: ...In Pale Battalions Go... #1. August 26, 2020
- Locke & Key, Season 2 Episode 8: Irons in the Fire
- Locke & Key, Season 2 Episode 9: Alpha & Omega
- Locke & Key, Season 2 Episode 7: Best Laid Plans
- Locke & Key, Season 2 Episode 5: Past is Prologue
- Locke & Key, Season 3 Episode 1: The Snow Globe
- Locke & Key, Episode 5: Family Tree
- Locke & Key, Season 2 Episode 2: The Head and the Heart
- Locke & Key, Season 3 Episode 5: Siege
- Locke & Key, Season 3 Episode 4: Deep Cover
- Locke & Key, Season 3 Episode 8: Farewell
- Audible Key bookmark
- Biblio Key on Skelton Crew Studios. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017.
- Alpha #2 (Jetpack Key Edition)
- Jetpack Key Giveaway
- Ankh Key on Skelton Crew Studios
- Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows #2, "In The Cave". December 16, 2009
- Locke & Key: Hell & Gone #2. September 28, 2021
- Skelton Crew Studios: Biblio Key
- Skelton Crew Studios: Snow Angel Key
- Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows #1, "The Haunting of Keyhouse". November 11, 2009
- Locke & Key: Keys to the Kingdom #2, "White". October 13, 2010
- Locke & Key, Episode 1: Welcome to Matheson
- Locke & Key: Head Games #3, "Chapter Two". March 4, 2009
- Locke & Key, Episode 9: Echoes
- Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows #6, "Beyond Repair". July 14, 2010
- Locke & Key: Open the Moon. November 23, 2011
- Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows #4, "Shadow Play". March 17, 2010
- Locke & Key: Alpha #1, "Omega & Alpha", September 11, 2013
- Locke & Key: Alpha #2, "The End", December 18, 2013
- Locke & Key, Season 2 Episode 10: Cliffhanger
- Locke & Key, Season 2 Episode 1: The Premiere