Locke & Key

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Locke & Key TV Poster Image
 Popular with kids
Suspense abounds in creepy graphic novel adaptation.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 29 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 51 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Viewers see Locke siblings become closer, more reliant on and protective of each other as they share this unexpected experience. Story deals thoughtfully with issues like grief, regret, anger after shock of losing a loved one. Though their paths are different from Nina's, both Locke kids and their mom search for resolution to their emotional turmoil after Rendall's death. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nina shows psychological strength in moving her family across the country and attempting to create a new normal after loss. All the Locke kids make poor judgment calls at points, which threaten their safety to some degree, but what stands out even more is how they trust each other when they need to.


Violent deaths (a shooting, a suffocation, a man stabs himself with a key and is engulfed in flames, etc.) are central to this story. Tales of drownings and other accidents in the past. Flashback scenes revisit Rendall's death and Nina's gunshot injury, show the kids' fear and grief related to those events. Some creatures are scary, including Echo, who tricks people into helping her before turning on them. Fistfights, other skirmishes pop up between teens as well.


Infrequent scenes show teens making out in various levels of undress; no nudity. In one case, a woman is shown in her bra and panties asking a man to choke her during foreplay. Talk of getting laid, dry humping, other sexual terms.


"Bulls--t," "s--t," "hell," "ass," "a--hole," "Jesus," and "d--kwad." In one scene, Duncan gives the middle finger in the direction of his childhood home.


Series is based on graphic novels of the same title.


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens smoke marijuana, drink at parties. In one scene, Tyler arrives home from a party and mentions being high, but there's little consequence for the actions. An adult drinks to the point of drunkenness. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Locke & Key is based on the same-named series of horror-themed graphic novels. There are violent moments throughout the series, both in the present and in flashbacks to a defining moment in the characters' lives when a family member was shot and killed. In other scenes, a woman chokes a man to death, there's a lengthy fistfight, and there's a death by fire with suspicious causes. Language includes "bulls--t," "a--hole," "hell," "Jesus," and name-calling like "d--kwad." There's also teen sexuality (no nudity) and underage drinking and smoking. That said, the show is exceedingly well crafted to appeal to both teens and adults, and the villain's sinister, mysterious nature makes for a riveting watch. Need another reason to like it? The Locke kids' relationships start off realistically strained but improve as they face the uncertainty of their challenges together, which helps them better cope with a tragic loss.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAptlyNamed February 25, 2020

An decently executed show for teens and adults, really confusing tone

So before introducing this to my 5 and 10 year old daughters, I researched and found various articles in which the show was described as "family friendly... Continue reading
Adult Written byFamily Friendly February 28, 2020

Family Friendly?! No.

This show has alcohol, sex, and incessant cursing. Not to mention taking the Lords name in vain, which for some reason is NOT recognized as “curse words” anymor... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byshoelace102 October 21, 2020

Don’t Read the Graphic Novels, Watch This!

The graphic novels are slow and pretty inappropriate even for teens my age. I suggest watching the show instead. It is amazing and full of plot twists.
The only... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybigchungus4 May 3, 2020

Great show, For mature teens

This show is great, It can be scary for some people. It has some sex scenes, but no nudity, kissing is frequent and bullies are shown, there is a witch, there i... Continue reading

What's the story?

In LOCKE & KEY, when the Locke family relocates to their ancestral home in Massachusetts following the untimely death of their husband and father, Rendall (Bill Heck), they find themselves engulfed in a supernatural mystery that goes back generations. Nina (Darby Stanchfield) hopes the move will offer a fresh start for herself and her three kids -- Tyler (Connor Jessup), Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) -- but Rendall's childhood home brings the Locke family face to face with the ghosts of his past and an evil spirit that's very real in the present. As the family learns some of the secrets Rendall kept hidden, the Locke kids unearth and collect a series of magical keys with untold power that the spirit is bent on stealing for herself.

Is it any good?

This thrilling series raises more questions than it answers from the unnatural death in the very first scene, and it doesn't stop there. Watching it is like riding a rollercoaster with more uphills than downhills; you always feel like you're headed toward a resolution of some kind, but instead every turn just brings more intrigue and suspense. This series excels at revealing just enough insight at just the right times to keep your interest and tempt you to come back for more.

You needn't be a horror or sci-fi geek to appreciate Locke & Key. The storyline that follows the family's healing process after a painful loss and traumatic experience is every bit as compelling as the one about a living, breathing spirit who threatens them in the present and has uncertain ties to their family's past. That said, it's a fairly gritty watch and has a definite creepiness that tingles a bit, so young teens who are sensitive to that kind of content may want to be wary of this one.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Locke & Key's use of violence (or lack thereof). Is visual violence necessary to the story to keep it interesting? How does it use suspense and the suggestion of fear to offset the need for physical violence while maintaining the show's intrigue?

  • As you get to know the characters better, what strengths do you see in Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode? How does each demonstrate courage in their own way? How do their memories inspire how they live now?

  • If you've read the graphic novels, how would you rate this adaptation? In general, do you like the trend of turning graphic novels or animated characters into live-action series or movies?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries

Themes & Topics

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