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The Key is the link. The link must be severed. Such is the will of God.
Knights of Byzantium[src]

The Key was a mystical energy with the power to unlock the gates between dimensions.[1] Under the threat of Glorificus, the Key assumed the human form of Dawn Summers.[2]



The Key was almost as old as the hell-goddess Glory.[3][1] According to Giles's research, the Key was not directly described in any known literature, but it was "an energy matrix vibrating at a dimensional frequency beyond normal human perception."[3] Only those outside reality, such as victims of Glory's sanity absorption, could see the Key's true nature.[3]

A monk claimed that, for centuries, the Key had no form.[2] Glory, having seen the Key very briefly, described it as "a bright green swirly shimmer."[3] Tara, when she was temporarily insane, described the Key as "pure green energy."[4]

The key was also susceptible to necromanced animal detection, particularly those of canine or serpent construct,[3] such as the Spawn of Sobek.[5]

In the 12th century, the Order of Dagon was founded by Tarnis in order to protect the Key.[3] Meanwhile, the Knights of Byzantium sought to destroy the Key so its destructive power would never be unleashed.[1]


In 2000, Glory sought the Key to use it to return to her home dimension. To prevent her from bleeding the dimensions into chaos,[1] the surviving monks of the Order of Dagon performed a ritual to turn the Key into human so Buffy, the Slayer, would protect it. The ritual altered reality with the existence of Dawn Summers along with false memories of her always being Buffy's younger sister.[2] The monks made Dawn from Buffy,[6] making them blood related.[3]

Glory eventually learned that the Key's identity[4] and captured Dawn.[7] On the "Big Day," Doc succeeded in spilling Dawn's blood and activating the Key. However, the resulting tearing of the veils between dimensions was soon sealed back when Buffy stopped her own blood from flowing and sacrificed herself.[6]

Following Glory's defeat[]

Following these events, Dawn believed that she was no longer the Key and, even if she was, she no longer opened anything.[8] Andrew also stated that she used to be the Key.[9] However, when Willow was corrupted with dark magic, she threatened Dawn to turn her back into an energy ball.[10]

After the destruction of the Seed of Wonder and the subsequent end of magic, Dawn fell ill and began to fade from reality.[11] She became physically weak[12] and occasionally turned intangible,[13] while her memories began to disappear.[14] Dawn was brought back when Willow performed the Key embodiment ritual under the new magic.[15]

While in an entirely magic-based reality of the hell dimension of Anharra, Dawn used her Key powers to destroy the demon god-king Kerberon. Giles describes her "god-like" powers,[16] and Dawn become feared an worshiped by Anharran demons as well.[17]

Using the Vampyr book, Spike wrote a magic rule about the Key retaining her power to open portals even on Earth.[18] This allowed Dawn to open a portal through time along with Willow and Illyria,[19] as well as find a place for Harth's demon army to be expelled into during the Reckoning.[20]

Powers and abilities[]

  • Portal creation: The Key primary ability was to open gateways between dimensions. In the Big Day, dimensions bled into each other until her shared blood with Buffy stopped flowing.[6] Dawn used this power to traverse the many dimensions between Anharra and Earth[21] then visit Arashmaharr.[18] In combination with the witch Willow and the Old One Illyria, she could also open portals through time[19] and banish an army of demons into a hell dimension.[20]
  • Force field: Dawn built a magic shield to protect herself, Xander, and a group of demons while running away from the acid rain of Anharra.[17]
  • Senses: Dawn became able to see natural gateways she could open and know what food was safe to eat.[17]