We're told that Garry's key to the blood safe is the only one, and he gave it to Copper immediately after Copper suggested the blood serum test, and when the cast discovers all the blood plasma has been ruined Copper claims to still have it.

But Garry and Copper both passed MacReady's blood test later in the movie, so neither of them were Things during the events described above. It seems like that rules out everyone as a possible suspect, so I'm not even sure who could have ruined the blood, much less who did.

Is there any evidence as to how one of the Things managed to get into the safe, destroy the blood and lock it back up afterward?

  • I've asked producer Stuart Cohen and director John Carpenter about this. I'll update my answer if and when they reply. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Sep 12 '16 at 23:37

Update: I've asked producer Stuart Cohen and director John Carpenter about this. I'll amend my answer if and when they reply.

TL;DR: We don't know.


Despite the fact that Copper had the keys at one point, there is a much more important incident prior to that. When Split-Face is moved to the storage room, Garry gives Windows the keys to the storage room so he and Bennings can move the gear out of the room. They proceed to do so, and while Windows is away for a moment, Split-Face assimilates Bennings.

If you watch the scene in which Windows discovers Bennings in the middle of being assimilated by the Thing, and turn the volume up, you'll hear Windows drop the keys to the blood storage cooler. He doesn't pick them up again.

When the survivors find the blood cooler open, and the bags of blood destroyed, they accuse one another of being the culprit, but there is simply no way to determine who was really responsible.


I think it's safe to assume that the guilty party was a Thing. As such, here are our candidates:

Known Things:

  • Bennings-Thing: Although it was still in the process of assuming the form of Bennings, it was clearly the best placed to find the keys. However, I don't think it had either the motivation or the time to get the keys, go to the blood cooler, destroy the blood, and then flee the building. Because the men only realize that the Thing replicates its victims after they find Bennings-Thing, the blood test idea had yet to be raised when Bennings-Thing was killed. Thus, aside from the problem of the lack of time, Bennings-Thing also had no reason to destroy the blood supply.

  • Norris-Thing: We don't know when Norris was assimilated, but this is plausible. He knew that a blood test was in the works, so he had every reason to tamper with the blood supply.

  • Palmer-Thing: He was assimilated very early on, knew about the blood test, and had the time and motivation to destroy the blood supply.

  • Blair-Thing: Again, we don't know when he was assimilated, but he was a biologist, so he knew the potential use for the blood. However, he was locked up in the tool shed by the time the blood was destroyed, so he probably didn't do it.


We can rule out most or all of the following:

  • Windows: Not a Thing (he is later attacked by Palmer-Thing).

  • Nauls: Not a Thing (he is later attacked by Blair-Thing).

  • MacReady: Not a Thing.

  • Copper: Not a Thing (he is later attacked by Norris-Thing); came up with the idea of a blood test; discovered that the blood had been destroyed.

  • Childs: Almost certainly not a Thing.

  • Clark: Not a Thing (he is later killed by MacReady).

  • Garry: Not a Thing (he is later attacked by Blair-Thing).

Status Unknown:

In the category of "could have been a Thing, but probably wasn't", we have only one person:

The Best Explanation:

John Carpenter has never commented on this issue, as far as I know, and if he was asked to do so, he would almost certainly say "I don't know", as he does in response to pretty much every question about the movie. Therefore, as in most cases, the best source of information about this subject is the fansite Outpost 311.

The following comes from that site's FAQ section:

Q. Who got to the blood and how?

A: This is a question that has no definite answers, but there is a trail of actual events and logic that brings about some strong speculations.

The keys, which play a crucial role to the sabotaged blood scene, disappear from the action when Windows discovers the Bennings-Thing in mid-assimilation. He had gone to get the keys from Garry, came back, dropped them and ran out of the room. We don't see the keys show up again until right before the scene with the sabotaged blood. Someone obviously found them, used them, and somehow got them inconspicuously back into the action. (A good guess would be by placing them in or near Garry's quarters.) Watch Windows' face as they argue about who had access to the blood. His guilt from dropping the keys and not speaking up about it is a nice touch.

As for who did the deed, when Copper discovers the sabotaged blood it is still pouring out of the fridge, suggesting a very recent incident. (Contrast this to the script and novel where the blood is already fully dried.) Both Palmer and Norris are not present after locking up Blair when the men come up with the idea for a blood serum test. Perfect time to hit the blood supply. The other remaining men, Windows, Nauls, and Clark were most likely at their respective areas. (Clark distracted with his dead dogs and Windows probably recovering from his recent beating.) These two, Palmer and Norris, most likely Things now working together, were up to no good.

1 How reliable is the information on the Outpost 31 site? So reliable that, when the prequel was being made, and it was discovered that the studio hadn't preserved any blueprints for the Norwegian base set, the director of the prequel turned to Outpost 31, and was quickly provided with an exact blueprint of the set by the fans, based on careful examination of the relevant scenes from the 1982 film.

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Spoke with my better half about this: Perhaps the thing can use prior knowledge from previous hosts (such as the Norwegians) To understand that it needs to eliminate the plasma because, perhaps, there were prior attempts of blood testing in the Norwegian station. So the thing only needed to assimilate somebody with a basic familiarity of the station, then use the knowledge it learned from the Norway station to destroy anything that can help the current station do research on how the Thing spreads.

Does this sound preposterous? Remember, the Blair thing was building a flying saucer. Blair doesn't know how to build a saucer, but the aliens that crashed in the antarctic certainly did. Those aliens who were probably infected by the thing, lent their knowledge of space travel to the Thing. So why can't the thing steal scientific knowledge from one human host and transfer it to another? If that's the case, then the Thing could possibly be one of the most intelligent aliens out there, not just a killing machine...

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  • Interesting idea. But how would this explain how the Thing was able to ruin the plasma, even though neither person with the key to the blood safe could have been a Thing? The other answer seems to address this. – Adamant Aug 14 '16 at 9:19

We're dealing with a shape shifting creature with the minds of very skilled and capable men by the time the blood is destroyed.

There are more then just one way to enter a safe, destroy the contents, and leave without a key. Another possibility is that the key to the safe was useless in the first place as the thing is a sum of its whole. And that whole can, as stated above and in the film's and story can change its shape.

Most safes are not sealed. There is actually a wide gap area between the door and the frame. A very motivated thing, any one of them at the time could have waited for the room to be empty, walk up to the safe and reach inside, reconfigure and get it all in a matter of moments or minutes and no one would be the wiser.

Even if the safe where sealed, that seal would only be ment to keep the environment inside and outside segregated from the other while closed. It keeps the cold in and the heat out. Again, a motivated thing creature would find very little pause to get past that seal when reaching into the Safe with out a key.

The keys being lost would make no difference. It's a red herring that is used as a plot device to further the men's distrust of each other to further muddle the identity of the real culprit.

If a key is all you need to get the safe open, a basic locksmithing knowledge will allow anyone to open the safe with a basic tool. If the safe had a combo, the things hearing and nerve sensitivity could be enhanced so that they could just crack the combo of the safe. If both key and combo is required, it will take just a bit longer but it can be done.

I personally don't even think that the safe was opened at all and it was destroyed while it was still shut. I also believe that the real culprit is likely one of the finger pointer when they all discovered the problem.

By this point there is clearly two or more things in the group. According to the story, and vaguely suggested in the film's. The think has a telepathic communication with each other. If that is true, then they like in the story can telepathically read our unguarded human minds with incredible ease and would be able to suss out the plans of the men with a little digging around a few key minds.

This makes me think that at least a couple of these men might have had a sort of natural latent telepathic resistance or ability that they themselves don't know about. Mac being one of those sort giving him the ability to actually surprise the thing.

The point is that they is more then one way to skin a cat, just because the key is accounted for or not at the time of destruction of the blood, that doesn't mean that t was needed in the first place. It's clear that the humans would not have done it and at the time it happened, the outpost take over was well in progress by the time it happened, and they would.

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