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 "I don't know why I keep bothering to steal the keys since you always insist on kicking the door down."

Overheard during Dungeons and Dragons


Along the lines of There Was a Door, an Action Hero proves his manliness by busting down or through a locked door, or hotwiring a car so he can steal it. After he's proven his manliness in this fashion, one of his companions holds up the keys to the door or car in question, which prompts a remark from the Hero.

This includes examples when the hero fails with his tactic, and the companion uses the simpler way, which works. Another possibility is that the companion unlocks the door (or tries it and finds that it wasn't locked in the first place) just before the hero breaks it down.

Contrast Cutting the Knot, where violence is the simple option. Also contrast Interchangeable Antimatter Keys.

Examples of We Have the Keys include:


  • In an episode of The Big O, Roger whips out a technologically advanced morphing key to unlock a door--just before Dorothy kicks it down.
  • In One Piece, Franky goes to the trouble of finding the keys to Caimie's Explosive Leash, only to discover Rayleigh has already removed it by detonating it and pulling it off before the explosion reaches Caimie

Comic Books

  • During John Byrne's run on Fantastic Four there was a notable Avengers crossover involving the return of Jean Grey. At one point, Hercules and members of the FF accompanied Jean to her parents' home to uncover the reason for her resurrection, but their front door was locked. After Hercules smashed the door down, Jean took him to task, pointing out that her folks kept a spare key in a secret compartment inside a fake rock by the front step.


  • In Terminator 2, Arnie punches through a car window then hot wires the car. John Connor flips down the windshield visor to reveal the keys. Arnie actually learns from this experience -- the second time he's required to steal a car, he gets in and flips down the visor. Boom! Keys.
  • In The Matrix Reloaded, Trinity is on a motorcycle with the Keymaker and asks for a download on how to hotwire vehicles, only to have her passenger hand her a key. Both convenient and justified, as the Keymaker is Exactly What It Says on the Tin in addition to his more figurative role.
  • From Two Fast Two Furious: One of the protagonists smashes a car window with his shirt covered fist. His partner stops him and simply opens the already unlocked door.
  • A variant in A Muppet Christmas Carol: Rizzo very reluctantly climbs up a gate and jumps off, and then, realising he's left his jellybeans behind, slips through the bars to get them.

 Gonzo: You can fit between those bars?

Rizzo: Of course.

Gonzo: You're an idiot.

Rizzo: What? Hey, what?

  • In The Bourne Identity: Bourne plans out a complex plot to get information from a hotel information desk. When he doesn't get the phone call from Marie, he assumes that she's bailed on the plan. She then appears right behind him. "I just asked them for it."
  • In Black Mask, at one point the Badass Normal police detective manages to handcuff a Super Soldier who feels no pain to a bar. The super soldier immediately and without hesitation cuts off his own hand. The detective stares at him for a second and then (in the English dub at least) says "Damn. I had the key."
  • In Bachelor Party the hotel manager instructs the security guys to break down the door, then tells them wait, and unlocks it with his pass key.


  • In James Patterson's Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, Max and company steal a van to get to the School. After hotwiring it, taking it for a joyride on the interstate, and proceeding to scare the living crap out of everyone except Iggy, Max slams on the brakes and a compartment pops open. Something falls into her lap. She's afraid it's a bomb... nope, just the keys.
  • Played with in the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Starfighters of Adumar. Wedge Antilles and his fellow pilots are on the run from the citizens of Adumar, and encounter a door. Wedge orders the lock shot out, but fellow pilot Hobbie simply opens the door instead--it was unlocked.

  Hobbie: Worth trying.

  • Animorphs: While in a mansion in battle morphs, Jake tells Marco to open the door. Marco (in gorilla morph) gets ready to smash the door in, when Jake tells him to use the handle. It turns out to be unlocked.

Live Action Television

  • Animorphs - Jake and Marco discuss climbing a fence with barbed wire, then see Cassie standing on the other side of the fence, smugly waving the keys.
  • In Scrubs, Laverne punches and breaks the window of Turk's car to help Carla steal Steven. Carla screams and points out that she has the keys.
  • In the first season of 24, Jack Bauer and George Mason come upon a fence. Jack immediately hops over it, while George rolls his eyes and strolls through the gate.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode A New Man, after Buffy has broken down the door to the magic shop:

 Riley: You shouldn't have done that to the door.

Buffy: I do not have time to play by the rules tonight.

Riley: I have a master key. It opens every shop on main street.

  • In Wallander, Martinsson and Wallander are trying to enter a colleague's locked apartment, and Martinsson enthusiastically offers to kick down the door. Cut to the apartment building's superintendent coming up the stairs with a master key.

Video Games

  • In Dragon Quest IV shortly before joining the hero's party Alena can be seen kicking down the door to a dungeon. This confuses her current companions greatly as she was the one carrying a key to that door. After mulling it over for a bit they conclude that she must just like kicking doors.
  • It's nodded at in Knights of the Old Republic, when you take a quiz to determine which class of Jedi your character will be sorted into. One question involves knowing that what you seek is on the other side of a closed door - the Guardian breaks the door down, the Sentinel picks the lock, and the Consular knocks.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In the X-Men episode "Night of the Sentinels", Wolverine uses his adamantium claws to slice open a locked door. However, after getting inside.

 Beast: Ahem...the guard's keys?

Wolverine: So I'll buy him a new door!

    • Seven episodes later show why they don't bother with keys. When Rogue and Storm try breaking out Colossus, Rogue had the wrong key and simply ripped the door off the hinges.
  • Nanny from Count Duckula, although this is more a lethal combination of absent-mindedness and not knowing her own strength.
  • Invoked in an episode of Generator Rex with an elevator door. The Non-Human Sidekick managed to press the elevator button before any breakage transpired.
  • The Fairly Odd Parents do this when Timmy and Cosmo want to enter Cosmo's mom's house. After Timmy broke the door using Cosmo as a Battering Ram, Cosmo states that he still has the house's keys.

 Timmy: Yes, I knew.

  • In one Kim Possible episode, Ron befriends Professor Dementor's giant dachshunds and gets them to break down the door of his Supervillain Lair. Dementor protests:

 Professor Dementor: Why did you have to break down the door? It wasn't locked! I JUST HAD IT PAINTED!!

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