- NOTE: This article is about the incarnation of Sam Lesser from the Netflix adaptation. The mainstream version can be found here: Sam Lesser (comics).
|“||Do you know how angry it makes me to be disrespected? I know you know what I'm talking about. So tell me where the goddamn key is or I'm making it two-for-two for dead parents.||„|
|~ Sam Lesser|
Sam Lesser is the secondary antagonist in the first season of Netflix's Locke & Key and a minor antagonist in its second season. He is the overarching antagonist in Welcome to Matheson, a flashback villain in Trapper/Keeper and Head Games, a major antagonist in The Keepers of the Keys, Forget Me Not, and Alpha & Omega, and the main antagonist in The Black Door and Dissection. With a GPA of 3.4, Sam is struggling with the burden of an unreasonable father and a personality disorder. His emotional instability and pent-up desire to strike against a world he sees himself as a lone light in leads him to the wrong side of the law, later proceeding to commit atrocities against the Locke Family. When he begins communing with the enigmatic antiheroine known as Dodge, she eventually kills him for going back on his promise to bring her the Head Key (out of self-defense but mostly deep-seated irritation), ironically avenging the death of Rendell Locke, whom he had murdered in cold blood. In the second season, Sam continues to haunt the Keyhouse grounds as a ghost and, infuriated by the perceived betrayal, aids in the fight against Dodge as much as he can.
He was portrayed by Thomas Mitchell Barnett in his first villainous role.
|“||Can't tell you how many times I wake up thinking I've got to kill my dad today.||„|
|~ Sam fantasizing with murdering his father.|
Born on February 15, 2003, Sam did far better in English and Social Studies than Math and Science. Sam also intended to try for vocational school after graduation. He originates from a troubled background and his father, Randy Lesser is unreasonable, picking fights with him over little things like drinking cola. This leads to problems at home and multiple meetings at school with Rendell Locke, the school counselor.
In the meetings, Rendell talks with Sam; however Sam is unresponsive to the conversation, and Rendell eventually asks Tyler to get close with Sam in order to diagnose his issues. Tyler admitted how he was very angry with Rendell, and Sam implied he had tried to murder Randy before and continued to think about it constantly. Tyler sarcastically asked him to kill Rendell if he ever successfully ended Randy's life. The two continued to hang out; eventually, he was diagnosed with a personality disorder.
Communion with Dodge
Making Contact and Arrest
|“||You're going to tell me what I need to know about Keyhouse!||„|
|~ Sam threatening his counselor's life.|
Around the same time, Sam grew bored during a lecture in science class on how to dissect a small pig and began descrating the corpse and obnoxiously mouthing "Jingle Bells", earning him three weeks of detention. While Sam was mulling this over with Rendell, a demonic entity named Dodge begins reaching out to Sam, telling him that she is there for him. Sam demanded she desist as he could not believe the voice emanating from a picture frame in Rendell's office could possibly be real, but she firmly reassured him she was very much reality and only wanted them to help each other, as she failed to see just how dark his nature was. She requests his help to find the magical keys hidden throughout Keyhouse Manor. Sam obliges upon seeing Rendell's files on him left on his counselor's desk for himself, and eventually, he confronts Rendell in the Madrona neighborhood in Seattle over the location of the keys. Rendell told him his visit was inappropriate and that they could talk on Monday, but Sam responded by unsheathing a pistol. Rendell was apprehensive, but he stood his ground and did not reveal anything. Sam gleefully shot his wife Nina in the leg, urging Rendell to reconsider his lack of submission to his will. A moment later, Tyler came rushing to the doorway, only to realize it was locked and he could not intervene at all.
In an act of pure sadism, Sam foresees Rendell trying to grab his gun and shoots him dead causing Nina to scream in horror, before gleefully attacking his family. He menacingly began calling for Kinsey and Bode, giving them one last chance to give him information on Keyhouse, but Nina retaliated and smote him over the head with a hammer, knocking him unconscious. With Sam struck senseless, the police were able to arrest him without a struggle. Held at the San Lobo Juvenile Detention center, Sam awaited word about whether he would be tried as an adult. The bloody skirmish appeared on The Seattle Tribune and had numerous consequences. It led Mark Cho to commit suicide when Ellie Whedon conveyed the article. The homicide also led to the Lockes moving into Keyhouse Manor.
Escape from Prison
|“||I escaped. There was a small fire. Then a friend helped me get here.||„|
|~ Sam to Nina.|
Following an unexplained amount of time remanded into prison, Sam is fiddling with his armband when a jail guard informs him that he has a visitor. Surprised, he slowly follows him outside and into the cafeteria, where he realizes that Dodge is in a hurry to see him and awaits him in a cafeteria seat, reflecting on her promise to return for him. He regards her jaded enthusiasm nervously as the two proceeded to convey undisclosed words with each other.
Later on, she returns in the dead of night without requesting a formal visit and gifts him the Matchstick Key to aid him in his escape from prison, which he hides until the time is right to reveal himself to the Lockes. He notes she's in better health altogether, but she refuses to disclose how she gets around and reminds him his own choices had brought him down so far, assuring him that second chances do not come around very often and futilely urging him to take a close look at the one being offered to him. She was not nearly as optimistic as during their last encounter because she was aggravated that he killed Rendell and has not directly accepted any help from her beyond being a free man, nor has he taken the narrowest look at his actions yet.
Consumed by hate and filled with vindictive rage, Sam burns away the lock to his prison cell and enacts a dramatic escape from prison. Slowly stepping into the hallway among his sleeping inmates, he sets the walls on fire, deliberately massacring dozens by incineration and hundreds by suffocation, and taking the time to sadistically place arcs of fire deep into the chest of one of the guards when he was half-asleep. With half of the facility completely ablaze, Sam left in time to avoid being singed, smiling with satisfaction at the horror he had wrought. Dodge proceeded to get him some fresh clothes and escort him to Massachusetts by means of her Anywhere Key, at which point he was able to procure a pistol for his mission.
|“||Why did you... why?||„|
|~ Sam's last words.|
Sam Lesser arrived at Keyhouse Manor in the dead of night, his pale face permeated with a cold and malevolent sense of nihilistic purpose that preceded oppression. Duncan Locke departed for the night and drove away, briefly opening the gates around the manor. As they were about to close again, Sam silently stepped through them. He stood still for a moment, gazing intently upon the manor with vile and merciless eyes as he slowly unsheathed his pistol. Stepping forward, he swatted open a glass window by force, heftily stepping inside and removing his hood. Wandering the first floor, he realized his hand had been cut, irking him and prompting him to scrub it with a washcloth lying on the kitchen countertop. Still, Sam lacked a sense of urgency, exploring the manor, eating half of a banana from a fruit bowl, and playing with a phone before perversely pocketing it.
Slowly climbing the stairs and skulking the upper halls, he spotted Nina sitting alone in her bedroom, and upon realizing she did not notice him, he began wandering the hallway in search of Tyler. Peering inside a bedroom, he discerned from the artistically feminine decor that it belonged to Kinsey, who was elsewhere in the manor. He sneaked into Tyler's bedroom, worriedly examined a small scar on his forehead wrought during the massacre, and then changed into one of his jackets. In the meantime, Bode and Kinsey saw the shattered window that had served as Sam's point of entry and began looking for an intruder. Hearing Nina's footsteps, Sam cocked his pistol and pointed it at the doorway, giving Nina a nasty fright. Holding her at gunpoint, he sinisterly warned her not to scream and asked of the Head Key, to her absolute confusion; neither of them were unaware that Bode briefly spied on the both of them from inside the Astral Plane.
Retaliating, Bode presents a fake key, assuming Sam cannot take it, but he effortlessly plucks it from his hand before affirming it would look different. He ties them up and demands the Head Key, however Kinsey and Bode are able to hide it in a stuffed plush toy. They tell Sam that Tyler has the key, and Sam tells them that they can wait until he returns home. Sam keeps the family Locke as hostages and are forced to dine with him.
When Tyler returns, he attacks Sam and the two clash until Sam uses the Matchstick Key to come out on top. It is revealed he does not have the key, and so he too is tied up. Kinsey tells him that they buried the key and Sam takes her and Bode into the woods to find it. They are attacked by Kinsey's fear, however, and Sam returns to the house to threaten Nina.
Sam is eventually able to get the Head Key after it is used on him, making him lay bare his innermost thoughts, which are quite simple. Tyler learns that his father's death had nothing to do with the offhand comment that he made to Sam about wanting him to murder Rendell if he ever made real his malevolent fantasies about murdering Randy. Dodge arrives in the nick of time, floors Tyler and Nina, and congratulates him, asking for the key. However, when a desperate Tyler tells him not to, Sam wonders if her ideals are compatible with his own and demands the full truth from her regarding her moral alignment, going so far as to doubt if he should hand over the key or not. Seeing he is still armed, and sick and tired of his drama, Dodge grabs a nearby knife and stabs him in the abdominal region and takes the key from him forcefully after calling him "fair game". She leaves after imposing on him just how far he was from special, leaving him angrily sobbing in miserable defeat as police arrived, although Dodge had made good time in her departure.
Trapped on Keyhouse Grounds
|~ Sam's astral form realizing the bill always comes due.|
When the police arrive, Sam has no option but to leave through the Ghost Door, which Bode has left unlocked, to escape. He does not know the purpose of the door, however, and finds himself now a ghost. The police shut the door, meaning that Sam cannot return to his body and is now a Keyhouse ghost forever. In the aftermath of his death, the Locke Family's neighbors brought them fresh meals to give their condolences for their experience of watching their nemesis kill the same boy who had murdered their father.
Avenging His Own Death
|“||I don't need any, I'm just glad that it worked.||„|
|~ Sam reassuring Chamberlin Locke he doesn't need Kinsey's gratitude.|
Over the next several months, Sam befriends Chamberlin Locke, a fellow ghost who like him, lives on Keyhouse grounds, but unlike him does so of his own volition. When Chamberlin meets Dodge, Sam somehow realizes that the demoness with the visage of a teenage boy is the same one who silenced his nihilism, and so agreed to ambush her should she return for another interaction with his new friend. On Chamberlin's signal, Sam lunges forward and attempts to take over the warped body of Lucas Caravaggio as the other ghost distracts the demoness. He is successful for a few moments and tortures her and attempts to enforce a suicide, being unaware she that is an Echo and cannot be so easily silenced by sharp objects. After a brief fight, Dodge ejects Sam from her body again, cursing at him as she closes the door on him.
Later, Sam's ghost leads Kinsey and her boyfriend Scot Cavendish to the Angel Key, although they mistake him for Chamberlin. Chamberlin apologizes to Sam for getting the credit, but Sam, apparently remorseful for his evil deeds, reassures Chamberlin that he does not desire credit for his actions, stating that he is simply glad that it worked. The Angel Key subsequently plays a vital role in the final battle with Dodge, including acting as an escape route for Tyler and Kinsey after Tyler finally exorcises Dodge with the Alpha Key.
Sam Lesser is a tall, stocky teenage boy with brown hair and eyes. When in prison, he wears a standard orange jumpsuit. Curiously, he has a tattoo of an omega symbol on his wrist which is never explained. After his death, he became an astral entity, bearing his facial scars and wearing Tyler Locke's jacket for eternity.
|“||Borderline personality disorder? Noticeable decline in achievement since previous term. Has ability to do better work, but lacks determination and interest. Demonstrates an unwillingness to extend or challenge himself. [...] self-discipline and sense of responsibility. Attendance [...] Seems to be indifferent to success or failure [...] effort. Additional study and revisions...||„|
|~ An excerpt of Sam's report card.|
Being highly malignant, destructive, selfish, hypocritical, and treacherous, Sam Lesser appears to be a being of pure malevolence who perfectly typifies nihilism and misanthropy, focused solely on obtaining the Head Key for someone he assumed shared his childish need for misery and destruction simply for their sakes, when in reality, Dodge wanted to help him overcome his psychosis and create a mutual bond, as she even says she wants them to be a family; the same is implied of all three Locke children. Sam's sardonic claim that they could all get along and be a family could be an indication that he knew what she really wanted and continuously denied it to himself. Personality-wise, Sam was confirmed to suffer from a mysterious personality disorder that compounded his psychopathic heart and made him extremely unhinged and selfish, committing intolerable crimes with no apparent end in mind and demonstrating extreme sadism, relishing his status as being armed; and he didn't hesitate to commit genocide with the Matchstick Key. Because he regarded everyone with a cowardly vibe, he attempted to rile up his hostages by throwing Rendell's name around. Even when Kinsey asked about his tattoo, he furiously accused her of disrespect before shoving his pistol's muzzle against Nina's skull.
Much like Dodge, he frequently made sarcastic quips, although it is worth noting that his were more uncultured and thuggish in their respective delivery. His trust for her wavered when Tyler claimed he knew and detested Dodge, leading him to beg Dodge to tell him if he was right about her, which she did in quite an ironic way, leading to his death. Even more ironic was that the man who was always so eager to kill was not at all ready to die, even sobbing angrily as his life force ebbed away. In his postmortem, he failed to leave the Keyhouse in time and paid a horrible price for his misdeeds by being stuck in there (ironically much like Dodge had once been, albeit alive and in a different part of the establishment), presumably remaining in there until the end of time. Subsequently, Sam aided Chamberlin Locke in fighting Dodge from beyond the grave, desperate to get revenge upon his former mistress. Despite never implying he felt anything for the inmates he had burned and the Lockes he had menaced at gunpoint, Sam led Kinsey Locke and Scot Cavendish to the Angel Key, telling Chamberlin that he didn't need the credit for it, that he was just glad that his ploy for revenge worked. By this time, Sam appeared to be resigned to his fate to wander the Keyhouse forever as a ghost.
Sam's evil, twisted, and psychopathic nature originates from his antagonistic relationship with his father along with his supportive yet timid sister, causing him to live a life of mental pain under the shadow of his peers. The constant hostility he and his father showed each other gradually turned Sam into a very cynical person who struggles to see good in others and has no one except his vulnerable sister and rocky friendship with Tyler Locke, which in turn made him vulnerable to the slack end Dodge's complicated agenda. Sam often sought to be the center of attention by using obnoxious (less legally questionable) antics such as mouthing "Jingle Bells" with a dead animal he was supposed to be dissecting in science class. Stated to be completely ordinary and very uninteresting by Dodge, he didn't appear to be a particularly sophisticated villain and held his enemies at gunpoint for a long time by taking advantage of their fear and compassion and Tyler's especially, in stark contrast to the far more complex Dodge doing the opposite by gouging people's reactions to her own compassion and apprehension.
He was also insecure about his mysterious tattoo, reacting with rage when Kinsey coolly questioned it, before later reluctantly telling Nina he thought it turned out well, believing that she simply wanted to wheedle information out of him regarding her late husband. Sam does, however, seem to reluctantly fear Nina, the woman who had sealed his fate in prison, as he called her a “spitfire” and avoided taking her to the forest. When the Head Key was finally used before his very eyes, all of his cowardice all rose up to the surface as he began sniveling before Tyler, spilling the beans about his deal with Dodge to assuage his conscience about double-crossing her.
Interestingly, Sam and Dodge were polar opposites; despite both of them being willing to kill for the keys, Dodge never killed without purpose. While she had eight confirmed kills on her hands (one being entirely accidental), he had murdered dozens. His downfall came with his pathetically begging her to give him more attention, doing insane things to gain attention in any shape or form until the very end.
- Ghost Physiology/Cryokinesis: Sam Lesser gained a few special abilities as a ghost, including malevolent possession and most notably the ability to shroud parts of Keyhouse Manor with ice. He froze Kinsey Locke's teacup and mirror and part of the chimney.
- Pyrokinesis: When armed with the Matchstick Key, Sam could send huge jets of fire to massacre hundreds of people, or dominate a teenager of a slightly smaller muscle mass with minimal effort. Without the key, however, he has no control over the element of fire.
Borderline personality disorder: Sam's biggest weakness is his personality disorder makes him unstable and clouds his judgment and his ability to interact with other people. This also gives him the flaws of arrogance and overconfidence.
|Name||Cause of death|
|Rendell Locke||Gunned down|
|Jail Guard||Impaled by the Matchstick Key|
Sam has also massacred dozens if not hundreds of prisoners with the Matchstick Key in addition to any present administrators or visitors, either through incineration or suffocation.
- Randy Lesser (Father/Attempted victim)
- Lindsey Kesser (Younger sister)
- Dodge (former situational ally turned enemy and Killer; in self-defense)
- Chamberlin Locke (astral partner in Keyhouse grounds)
- Tyler Locke (former friend and hostage victim)
- Rendell Locke † (former therapist and murdered victim)
- Nina Locke
- Tyler Locke
- Kinsey Locke
- Bode Locke
- Everyone (due to his nihilist hate against humanity).
Sam Lesser has been widely panned and ridiculed by critics and audiences alike for his casting and lack of motivation and character, with some deeming him one of the worst teenage villains of all time. Some viewers who have come to sympathize with Sam feel that he is not too villainous and is actually sympathetic and tragic as he comes from a broken home and claims to just want love and acceptance. Despite this, there is no evidence throughout the show that paints him in such a manner. He is nothing more than an abhorrent hatemonger who would do anything to obliterate society at any cost without showing any true loyalty to anyone.
- Sam Lesser lives with his father at 4201 Adelbert Street and has the phone number
- Normally, juvenile prisons in Washington State have 1,300 prisoners on average. That indicates the sum of Sam Lesser's kill count, as no one in San Lobo Juvenile Detention was implied to have survived his attack.
- Sam's role in the original comics is similar to his Netflix portrayal. However, he has an accomplice named Al Grubb that he murders in cold blood, and his origin story has some noticeable differences.