'Locke & Key' key
Source: Netflix

Why Do Adults Forget the Magic of the Keys in 'Locke & Key'? Here's What We Know


Oct. 25 2021, Published 9:39 a.m. ET

There’s nothing more magical than the magic of television, and Locke & Key is masterful at opening the door to its many secrets. The Netflix fantasy series brings the comic books to life in a way that’s visually stunning and mysterious enough to keep us hooked.

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The magic in Locke & Key isn’t always easy to understand, which makes sense. Magic isn’t rational. Locke & Key seems to suggest that it is the very irrationality behind the magic that makes it believable. While this partly explains why adults forget the keys in Locke & Key, there’s actually a more straightforward explanation, according to the comic books.

'Locke & Key' key
Source: Netflix
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Adults forget the keys in ‘Locke & Key’ due to the Riffel Rule.

In the comic books, there’s an unknown key that was forged by Hans Riffel back in the 1940s. While this hasn’t been fully fleshed out in the Netflix series, it explains a lot about why adults seem to forget the keys and all the magic related to them. It also gives some more history to the magical keys we’ve grown to love.

In the story, the Riffel Rule came into effect in 1942. Basically, Hans Riffel had used one of the magical keys, presumably the Hercules Key, to cause harm to men during WWII. So, he forged the Riffel Rule key as the main key to Keyhouse, which will disable any adult’s ability to detect or remember the magic of the home.

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Nina in 'Locke & Key'
Source: Netflix

Why would he do this? He realized that giving adults the power of the keys often does more harm than good. The younger and more uninhibited someone is (which explains why an adult under the influence of alcohol can recognize the keys' magic), the more open they are to magic. The whole youthful innocence trope comes into play heavily here (but we let it slide).

Adults have too much malice and outside influence making impressions on them, so it’s safer if adults forget the magic of the keys.

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Even though adults forget the keys in ‘Locke & Key,’ there is a way to remember them.

Season 2 of Locke & Key revolves around Tyler and his siblings discovering even more secrets of Keyhouse and their father’s past. However, throughout the season, Tyler knows he’s nearing 18 years old and that he’ll soon forget the keys. As he searches for a way to remember the keys, he finds what he’s looking for.

There’s one adult who remembers the keys: Ellie. In the comic books, this is because the head key had been used to alter her memories in the past, so the Riffel Rule is not in effect for her. But there’s another way to bypass the effects of the Riffel Rule. In the past, Ellie and the Keepers forged another key out of whispering iron called the Memory Key.

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Tyler in 'Locke & Key'
Source: Netflix

The Memory Key allows adults to “unlock” their memories of the magical keys. However, we see in Season 2 how the Memory Key can actually do more harm than good. Every key has its dark side, and the Memory Key is no exception. Will we see Tyler unlock more Keyhouse secrets in a potential Season 3 using the Memory Key?

The first two seasons of Locke & Key are now available to stream on Netflix.

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