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Locke & Key Wiki

The Riffel Rule is the effect of an unknown key made by Hans Riffel. It is what disables an adult's ability to directly see magic, specifically the effects of the keys.[1]


The rule came into effect sometime after 1942, possibly after Hans Riffel used the Hercules Key to seriously injure or kill some men during World War II.[2] Until Tyler Locke, Riffel was the final person to use the Whispering Iron to make a key.[1]

It is uncertain whether the Riffel Rule is still in effect after Keyhouse burned down in 2012, however it can be assumed it still is if the Riffel Rule key is still the key to the front door of Keyhouse.[3]

Netflix Adaptation[]

Although not referred to by name, the Riffel Rule is seen in effect multiple times on Nina Locke, causing her to forget all of the magic that she has seen which oftentimes proves to be a blessing as Nina has several traumatizing experiences with the magic.

After Nina relapses into alcoholism, her memories of the magic returns and she discovers a new key herself. However, after she stops drinking and sobers up, the memories go away again.[4]

When Ellie Whedon shows Tyler and Kinsey the history of the Keepers of the Keys using the Head Key, the two question her on how the Keepers had remembered after they turned eighteen. Ellie simply says that they had found a way to remember, but she doesn't elaborate on it.[5]

Months later, Jackie Veda's memories of the magic starts to fade three weeks before her eighteenth birthday. Upon being reminded, she recalls the magic, but it leads to a traumatizing experience at one point.[6][7][8][9]

With Tyler himself only being three months from his eighteenth birthday, he desperately begins seeking a way to retain his own memories and to save Jackie's. Recalling that the Keepers of the Keys had found a way, Tyler and Kinsey seek out the memories of the catatonic Erin Voss, the last of the Keepers. The two free Erin from being accidentally trapped inside of her own head for twenty-three years,[7] but she initially refuses to explain as Erin believes that its better for the magic to be locked away. During this time, Duncan's memories of a giant spider attack vanish due to the Riffel Rule, but it leaves him noticeably more hostile and confused towards Erin. Erin finally reveals that, before physically extracting Duncan's memories of the magic using the Head Key, the Keepers had him make the Memory Key which had allowed the Keepers to bypass the Riffel Rule and retain their memories.[8]

After Tyler returns Duncan's stolen memories to his head, they fail to properly reintegrate, leaving Duncan with hallucinations and severe mood swings. The Lockes and Erin suspect that it's due to the Riffel Rule - having put the memories of magic into an adult - and come to the conclusion that they need to use the Memory Key on Duncan in order to fix the problem. However, Erin doesn't know where it is, forcing them to search for the key.[9] After Tyler locates the Memory Key, he uses it on Duncan, causing his problems to vanish and his memories of the magic to be properly restored. Afterwards, the Riffel Rule stops affecting Duncan.[10]

After being rescued from the Drowning Caves by Bode and Jamie, Josh Bennett forgets the whole experience, including why he even came to the caves in the first place.[11]

Following the defeat of Dodge, Tyler chooses not to use the Memory Key and to instead allow the Riffel Rule to take away his memories of the magic due to how much heartbreak it has given him. Bode later uses the Head Key to show Nina some of her best memories with his father. After Nina expresses a desire to remember the magic this time, Bode uses the Memory Key on her so that she can.[12]


The Riffel Rule interferes with an adult's perception of magic incurred by the keys.[1] The Rule defines an adult as someone who either reaches the age of 18[13] or has graduated from High School.[14] Memory of the keys is also disabled by the Rule.[14] It takes effect upon entering Keyhouse Manor through the main door on the west side of the building; this is because the key that enforced the Riffel Rule is the key for the "front door" of Keyhouse.[15]

Another part of the Rule is allowing the Keys to reveal themselves to a child whose heart is free of malice.[1] This was most likely put into place because of 14 year old, John Locke's attempts to use the Keys to participate in WWI because he wanted to "kill some Germans" and do right with the Keys.[16][17]

The purpose of the rule was to prevent adults from discovering, using, or abusing the powers of the Keys.[1]


The Riffel Rule only seems to apply to adults when they're in a clear state of mind.

  • Rendell Locke, as an adult, would frequently mention details of Keyhouse when drunk.[18]
  • Nina Locke, when drunk, was able to see and understand the effects of the Mending Key.[19][20] She was also able to see and hear the ghost of Bode Locke.[21]
    • In the Netflix series, Nina was further able to recall her experience within a mirror, as an effect of the Mirror Key while drunk.[22]
  • Ellie Whedon, who's mortally injured, was able to recall memories that had been removed from her mind using the Head Key.[23]
  • In the Netflix series, the Memory Key allows a person to retain their memories of the magic and bypass the Riffel Rule, something that the key was specifically created for. Once the key has been used on a person, the Riffel Rule is shown to no longer effect them.