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This article is about Clark Kent's octagonal disc. For information about the Veritas keys, please see Veritas.

Clark's Kryptonian key.

The Key is an octagonal disc that opens and accesses Kryptonian devices designed by Jor-El and the House of El.

Clark routinely uses the key to transport himself to the Fortress of Solitude.[1]

Physical Appearance

The key is an octagonal disc that carries three phrases on its edges written in Kryptonian symbols, one of the phrases being "hope." While the other means "SM" and the longer kryptonian phrase means "BARCODE." [2]

Clark used to keep the key wrapped in a shop rag hidden in his adoptive father's toolbox in the barn. Now he then kept it in a desk drawer in his loft. Later he hid it inside a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which has a specially-shaped slot in the pages to hide it.[3] More recently, he moved it behind a wooden bookshelf in his loft.

Powers and Abilities

The key initially carried Jor-El's essence in the form of an artificial entity of which came from his brain wave patterns, which was transferred into Clark's ship, then to the Kawatche Caves, and finally into the Fortress of Solitude.

The key was the only object that could properly activate Clark's ship, and unlock information hidden in the Kawatche Caves and, in the inner chamber of the caves, establish communication between Clark and Jor-El. When placed in a slot in the altar, the key can also be used to teleport a person to the Fortress. The Key proved capable of teleporting itself. (Legacy)

The key could, like all Kryptonian beacons, emit a strong humming sound. It initially beckoned Clark with a sharp, piercing whine. Ever since Jonathan made his pact with Jor-El so he could retrieve Clark, he's been hearing the voice of the artificial entity through the Key. The key's shape complements the slot in the cave wall.

The key is also capable of reading Clark's mind when he holds the key in his hand. (Apocalypse)

Also, the Key was shown to be highly durable, as it protected Frederick Walden's hand from getting burned in an explosion. (Calling)


Jor-El used the key to open a chamber in the Kawatche Caves in which he stored his memory pendant. Years later, he included the key in the design of the spaceship which brought his son Kal-El to Earth. The key may also be some sort of heirloom or antique to the House of El or Krypton, as Jor-El used it before he built Clark's ship and Aethyr recognized it when she x-rayed Lex Luthor. (Arrival)

Lex possesses the key.

When Clark's ship first arrived on Earth, the key fell out and it lay in Miller's Field for 12 years. Eventually, Eddie Cole told Lex that he saw a ship during the meteor shower, and Lex ordered an excavation of that field. During that excavation, Dr. Steven Hamilton found the key.

The ship drops the key in the tornado.

Lex kept the key on his desk like a paperweight where Clark saw it and immediately realized it was the missing piece of the ship. Roger Nixon had

bugged the Kents' home and heard of the location of both the key and the ship. He then went to the Luthor Mansion and stole the key, took it to the Kents' storm cellar and activated the ship, which released a Healing ray that cured Martha Kent's infertility and flew out of the storm cellar to find Clark. When the ship was struck by lightning in the tornado, the key once again fell out.

Lionel Luthor gained possession of the key after this, and had it in his Metropolis vault. During an attempted robbery that was foiled by Clark, Martha managed to take the key from the robbers without anyone's knowledge. She hid it in a flour container under the sink, but then moved it to the cellar where she displaced kryptonite-contaminated spores and became ill. In the following DCA investigation, the key was discovered and confiscated. When Clark became ill as well, Jonathan infiltrated the DCA facility to get it back. He and Clark placed it in the ship just in time to heal Martha and Clark from the spores' effects.

Clark had the key from this point until he placed it into the wall in the Kawatche Caves. It flew out and embedded itself in another part of the cave wall. It was discovered by Dr. Frederick Walden who also put it in the cave wall, resulting in a blast of energy that put him into a catatonic state. Clark collected the key from Walden's unconscious body and the Kents hid it until Jonathan used it to make contact with Jor-El in an effort to bring Clark home. Lionel Luthor made a copy of the key out of kryptonite in order to try to unravel the secrets of the Kawatche Caves. Whether or not this would have worked is not known as Clark and Pete stole it to destroy Clark's ship. Lionel later believed that he could use the Starblade's metal to once again forge a copy of the key. This failed as well when it was unintentionally destroyed by Lex (as was later proven when Dr. Fate told Clark that Lex would be his greatest enemy) see Absolute Justice and Talisman

Clark holds the key.

Later, Jonathan was strangely drawn to take the key back to the caves, but he was interrupted by Lionel. They fought over the key, but it was absorbed by the wall of the cave. Inexplicably, it turned up in the possession of Dr. Virgil Swann. Nobody knew where the key was until he died and returned it to Clark.

After hearing Clark's complaints through the key, Jor-El used the key to show Clark an alternative universe.

Chloe used the key to get to the Fortress to save Davis Bloome from being sent into the Phantom Zone by Clark, and later used it to teleport the two of them out. Almost 10 months later, Chloe gave the key to John Corben to relieve Clark of his red kryptonite infection and to stop Zod if necessary. After John's mission in saving Clark was complete he used the key again to get back to Smallville.

When Clark got the key back, he left it in the loft for the next couple of months until Jor-El used it to transport Clark with his suit to the fortress. After Kara returned, she took the key back and held it from Kal-El when he was going to use it to speak to Jor-El. She returned the key back after she had convinced Clark to stop.

With the key not needed, Clark hid it once again this time behind the bookshelf. Lois later found it when she was looking for it to go to the fortress to speak to Jor-El. After finding it, she went to the kawatche caves, activated it, and took it with her to the fortress. Clark appeared and took her home along with the key where it stayed hidden from everyone except Clark and Lois. (it is believed they either took it with or hid it somewhere else after they moved).


This is a list of episodes important to the story arc of the key.

Season One

Season Two

Clark finds a keyhole in the cave.

  • Vortex: The key falls out of the ship.
  • Duplicity: Lionel learns about the ship.
  • Skinwalker: Lex notices the octagonal keyhole in the Kawatche Caves.
  • Insurgence: The key turns up in Lionel's vault. Martha steals it and hides it in the flour can.
  • Fever: DCA finds the key in the storm cellar. Jonathan steals it back.
  • Rosetta: Clark uses the key to learn Kryptonian. He accidentally leaves the key in the cave where Dr. Frederick Walden finds it. After he uses it, Clark finds it again.
  • Calling: Dr. Walden steals the key, but Clark retrieves it from his burned hand.

Season Three

Jor-El in the cave.

  • Exile : Jonathan takes the key to the cave and asks Jor-El to help him retrieve Clark.
  • Relic : Jor-El uses the key to open a space to stash the memory pendant.
  • Legacy : Jonathan tries to use the key at the Kawatche caves, but it disappears when Lionel interferes. Somehow, Dr. Virgil Swann has the key.

Season Four

  • Sacred: Clark receives one last letter from Dr. Swann before he died; along with it is the Key. Clark then uses it to go to the cave to speak to Jor-El.
  • Commencement: Hours before the second meteor shower, Clark uses the key to go to the Kawatche Caves to speak with Jor-El.

Season Five

  • Hidden: Lionel, while being possessed by Jor-El's essence, uses the key to transport himself and a deceased Clark to the Fortress, as Jor-El told Clark when he asked him how he got there.
  • Solitude: Clark uses the key to transport himself and Milton Fine to the Fortress of Solitude. Later, Chloe uses the key to get to the Fortress.
  • Reckoning: Clark uses the key to transport himself and Lana to the Fortress.
  • Vessel: Clark uses the key to transport to the Fortress.

Season Seven

  • Blue: Clark keeps the key in a book at his barn which he uses the portal at the Kawatche Caves to get to the Fortress.
  • Traveler: Clark was going to use the key before Pierce and his reinforcements took him away. Chloe used it to get herself and Kara to the Fortress to plead with Jor-El to restore Kara's powers.
  • Sleeper: Clark used it to go to the Fortress to ask about the missing Kara and a mention of Lana in one of Jor-El's transmissions in Swann's journal.
  • Apocalypse: Jor-El used the key to hear Clark say that the world would be better if he had never existed, then used the key to show Clark an alternative universe.

Season Eight

  • Beast: Chloe uses the key to get to the Fortress, and then used it again to teleport herself and Davis away.

Season Nine

Season Ten

  • Lazarus: Jor-El used the key to transport both Clark and the super suit to the fortress when he senses the vanity and over zealous pride attitude in Clark.
  • Supergirl: Clark was looking for the key, but Kara was holding on to it in her hand.
  • Abandoned: Lois used the key to transport to the Fortress in an effort to reconnect Jor-El's and Clark's bond.


Jor-El: (to Clark) The disc in your hand revealed your misguided intentions. I was forced to show you the error of your ways. I sent you to Earth for a purpose, Kal-El, one that cannot be taken lightly.
Season Seven, Apocalypse


  • The Book of Rao from Season Nine looks almost exactly the same as the key, including its shape, width, and length.
  • The key made an appearance in every season except Season Six.
  • The key is made out of a Kryptonian alloy.


  1. Clark is seen using it to travel to the Fortress in multiple episodes: Reckoning, Vessel, Blue, Sleeper. Chloe notices he left it behind in Solitude, and she and Lana deduce that, because the key is still in its place in Traveler, he never made it to the Fortress.
  2. One symbol is identical to the symbol Dr. Virgil Swann sent to Clark in an e-mail in Rosetta, which Clark translated to mean "hope."
  3. Clark is seen taking it out of the toolbox in Rosetta and Legacy. The book hiding spot can be seen in Blue.

See also

Kryptonian artifacts in Smallville
Major Stones of Power (Crystal of Fire, Crystal of Air, Crystal of Water) • Book of RaoOrb
Fortress Crystal of KnowledgeFortress of Solitude (console, dagger)
Ships Kal-El's shipBlack Ship (Black box) • Kara's ship
Kawatche Kawatche CavesMemory pendantAltarKeyPalak
Other Phantom Zone crystalBlack crystalBlue crystalCrystal of ElDax-Ur's shieldMirror box