Twin Peaks Wiki

This is an article about the 1990-1991 television series. For the revival television series, see Twin Peaks (2017). For the eponymous town, see Twin Peaks, Washington.

Twin Peaks is an American television serial drama created by Mark Frost and David Lynch. The series initially follows the investigation – headed by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) – of the brutal murder of a popular teenager and homecoming queen, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). The pilot was first broadcast on April 8, 1990, on the ABC Network, which led to another seven episodes being produced, and a second season, which aired until June 10, 1991. The show's name came from its setting, a small fictional Washington town. Exteriors were primarily filmed in Snoqualmie and North Bend, Washington; most of the interior scenes were shot on standing sets in a San Fernando Valley warehouse (excluding the pilot, which was filmed in Washington state).

Twin Peaks became one of 1990's top-rated shows, a critical success both nationally and internationally. Reflecting its devoted cult fan base, the series became a part of popular culture, referenced in other television shows, commercials, comic books, video games, films and song lyrics. Primarily due to constant schedule changes, viewer rating declined. This led to ABC insisting that the identity of Laura's murderer be revealed midway through the second season, a ratings ploy which interfered with several other long-running story lines. In 1992, the series spawned a prequel, the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, a commercial failure in America. In 2007, Twin Peaks was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME."

On October 6, 2014, the Showtime cable network announced a Twin Peaks limited series to be produced in 2015-2016 and premiere on Showtime in 2017. All eighteen episodes are written and produced by Lynch and Frost and directed by Lynch. The series is set twenty-five years after the events of the original series and premiered on May 21, 2017.

Plot synopsis[]

Main article: List of episodes

Note: The series is set in 1989, with each episode—barring occasional exceptions—representing a single day in the chronology.

Season 1[]

On the morning of February 24, in the town of Twin Peaks, Washington, logger Pete Martell discovers a naked corpse tightly wrapped in a sheet of clear plastic on the bank of a river. Following the arrival of Sheriff Harry S. Truman, his deputies, and Dr. Hayward on the scene, the body is discovered to be that of homecoming queen Laura Palmer, a figurehead of youthful innocence and purity in the Twin Peaks community. The news of her death spreads rapidly among the town's residents, particularly Laura's family and friends. Meanwhile, just across the state line, a second girl, Ronette Pulaski, is found walking along the railroad tracks in a fugue state. Because Ronette was discovered across the state line, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is called in to investigate. Cooper's initial examination of Laura's body reveals a tiny typed letter 'R' inserted under her fingernail. At a town hall meeting that night, Cooper informs the community that Laura's death matches the M.O. of a killer who murdered Teresa Banks, another girl in Southwestern Washington the previous year, and that evidence indicates the killer lives in Twin Peaks.

Cooper's investigation quickly reveals that Laura was living a double life. She was cheating on her boyfriend, football captain Bobby Briggs, with biker James Hurley and prostituting herself out with the help of Leo Johnson, a local truck driver, and Jacques Renault, a pimp and drug dealer. Further, Laura was addicted to cocaine, which she obtained by emotionally blackmailing Bobby into doing business with Jacques.

Laura's death sets off a chain reaction of events around town. Laura's father, Leland Palmer, a prominent attorney, suffers a nervous breakdown. Her best friend, Donna Hayward, begins a relationship with James Hurley and, with the help of Laura's cousin, Maddy Ferguson, sets about investigating Laura's psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Jacoby, whom they discover was obsessed with Laura. He is revealed to be innocent, and a plan to break into his apartment ends with Jacoby being attacked in a park and hospitalized with no memory of the event except the smell of burning oil. Benjamin Horne, the richest man in Twin Peaks, sets about the final phase of his plan to destroy the town's lumber mill and murder Catherine Martell, who runs it, so that he can purchase the land at a reduced price and cement his position as the town's undisputed economic power. His increasing neglect of his sultry, troubled daughter, Audrey Horne, leads to her falling in love with Cooper, for whom she begins spying around town in an effort to gain his affections by helping him solve Laura's murder.

His second night in town, Cooper has a surreal dream in which he is approached in the basement of the Twin Peaks hospital by a one-armed man who calls himself Mike. Mike identifies himself as an otherworldly being, and then tells Cooper that Laura's murderer is BOB, another entity like himself. Cooper then sees BOB, a feral, gray-haired man in denim who vows to keep killing. Cooper then sees himself twenty-five years older, sitting stationary in a room surrounded by red curtains which emit an otherworldly light. Across from him are a dwarf in a red business suit ("The Man from Another Place"), and Laura Palmer, whom The Man identifies as his cousin. After engaging in an apparently coded dialogue with Cooper, the Man rises from his chair and dances around the room while Laura whispers something in Cooper's ear. The next morning, Cooper convenes with Truman and recalls the dream, telling him that it was symbolic, and that if he can decipher the symbols, he will know who killed Laura.

Cooper and the Twin Peaks Sheriff's department track down the one-armed man from Cooper's dream, who turns out to be a traveling salesman named Philip Gerard. Cooper questions Gerard about his associates, and discovers that he does indeed know a Bob, who is revealed to be the vet that treats Jacques Renault's pet bird Waldo. Cooper takes this series of events to mean that Renault is the murderer and, with Truman's help, he tracks Renault down to a brothel owned by Ben Horne. Cooper confronts him there, and tricks Renault into meeting him on U.S. soil at the water treatment plant. Shot during his arrest at the plant, Renault is hospitalized. Leland Palmer, after learning that Renault has been arrested, sneaks into the hospital and murders him. The same night, Ben Horne orders Leo to burn down the town mill with Catherine trapped inside; afterward, Ben has Leo gunned down by a hitman to ensure he won't talk. Returning to his room following Jacques' arrest, Cooper is shot by a masked gunman, ending the season on a cliffhanger.

Season 2[]

Cooper is shot, left lying in the room. In his injured and semi-lucid state, Cooper experiences a vision in which a Giant appears to him. The Giant reveals three things to Agent Cooper: "there is a man in a smiling bag", "the owls are not what they seem", and "without chemicals, he points", finally telling him "you will require medical attention." The Giant then takes Cooper's gold ring, explaining that when the three premonitions are understood by Cooper, his ring will be returned.

Meanwhile, Leo Johnson undergoes surgery, having survived his shooting rendered severely incapacitated. Catherine Martell survives the fire but uses the opportunity to fake her own death in order to plot revenge on Ben Horne. Leland Palmer, whose hair has turned white overnight, returns to work after Renault's death, rejuvenated by Renault's murder.

Cooper learns that Phillip Gerard is the host to Mike, who turns out to be a demonic "inhabiting spirit" who used to retain the services of BOB, a lesser demonic entity, to help him kill humans. Mike reveals that BOB has been possessing someone in town for decades, although he neglects to tell Cooper who. The discovery of another diary that Laura kept, taken by Donna and Maddy from Harold Smith, reveals that BOB, a "friend of her father's", began sexually molesting and raping her as a child, and that she delved into drugs as a means to cope with the abuse. Cooper begins looking at Leland's friends and associates before telling Harry that he believes the killer is Ben Horne. Confronted, Horne confesses to Cooper and Audrey that he was having an affair with Laura, but that he wouldn't kill her because he was in love with her. Shortly thereafter, Maddy Ferguson is found dead and wrapped in plastic with fur from a stuffed animal in Ben's office stuck to her body. Arrested for Laura's murder, Ben is visited in jail by Catherine, who mocks him with the knowledge that she and Ben were together the night of Laura's murder, and that if she chooses she can exonerate him.

Worried by holes in the case, Cooper gathers together all of his suspects—including several red herrings, convinced that he will receive a sign to help him identify the killer. When offering Leland Palmer a piece of gum, a spirit which appeared to Cooper just after the shooting but before the appearance of the Giant utters a phrase Cooper heard the Man From Another Place say in his dream; the Giant appears to Cooper, confirming that Leland is BOB's host and the killer of Laura and Maddy. Cooper and Truman apprehend him, after which BOB assumes total control over Leland's body and confesses to a series of murders before forcing Leland to commit suicide. Dying in Cooper's arms, Leland, free of BOB's influence, tells Cooper that BOB has possessed him ever since molesting him as a child. He begs for forgiveness before seeing a vision of Laura welcoming him into the afterlife.

The next morning, Cooper, Truman, and other law enforcement personnel question whether Leland was truly possessed or mentally ill. The men all express worry that the former may be true and, if so, that it means BOB might still be stalking the community of Twin Peaks, looking for a new host.

With the murder investigation concluded, Cooper is set to leave Twin Peaks when he is framed for drug trafficking by the criminal Jean Renault and temporarily suspended from the FBI. Renault holds Cooper responsible for the death of his brother Jacques, who was murdered by Leland Palmer while Renault was in police custody at the hospital. After Renault is killed in a shootout with police and Cooper is cleared of all charges, his former FBI partner and mentor Windom Earle comes to Twin Peaks to play a deadly game of chess with Cooper, in which each piece of Cooper's that he takes means someone dies. As Cooper explains to Truman, during his early years with the FBI alongside Earle, Cooper had begun an affair with Earle's wife, Caroline, while she had been under his protection as a witness to a federal crime. Earle went mad and killed Caroline, tried to cut Cooper with a knife, and was subsequently committed to a mental institution. Now having escaped and come to Twin Peaks, Earle hides out in the woods so that he may go about plotting his revenge scheme.

As this is going on, Cooper continues to try to track down the origins and whereabouts of BOB and learns more about the mysteries of the dark woods surrounding Twin Peaks. It is here he learns of the existence of the White Lodge and the Black Lodge, two mystical, extra-dimensional realms analogous to Heaven and Hell whose gateways reside somewhere in the woods. Cooper learns that BOB, The Giant, and the Man From Another Place all come from one of the two lodges.

Cooper also falls in love with a new girl in town, Annie Blackburn. When Annie wins the Miss Twin Peaks contest, Windom Earle kidnaps her and takes her to the Black Lodge entrance in Glastonbury Grove. Cooper realizes that Earle's real reason for being in Twin Peaks is to gain entrance into the Black Lodge and harness its power for himself, and that his "chess game" has been an elaborate decoy. With the help of the Log Lady, Cooper follows Annie and Earle into the Lodge, which turns out to be the red-curtained room from his dream. He is greeted by the Man From Another Place, the Giant, and the spirit of Laura Palmer, who each give Cooper encoded prophecies about his future and demonstrate the properties of the Black Lodge, which defy the laws of time and space. Searching for Annie and Earle, Cooper encounters doppelgangers of various dead people, including Maddy and Leland Palmer, who taunt him with strange, false statements. The doppelgangers eventually lead Cooper to Earle, who demands that Cooper give up his soul in exchange for Annie's life. Cooper agrees and Earle kills him. Seconds later, Killer BOB appears and reverses time in the Lodge, bringing Cooper back to life. BOB tells Earle that he cannot take human souls and then kills Earle and takes his soul. BOB then turns on Cooper, who for the first time in the Lodge experiences fear. Cooper flees, pursued by BOB and a doppelganger of himself.

Days after entering the Lodge, Cooper and Annie are discovered in the woods by Sheriff Truman. Annie is hospitalized, but Cooper's injuries are minor enough that Doctor Hayward is able to treat them in Cooper's room at the Great Northern Hotel. Upon waking, Cooper asks about Annie's condition, and then weirdly states he needs to brush his teeth. When Cooper enters the bathroom and looks into the mirror, his reflection reveals that he is now inhabited by BOB. He then rams his face into the mirror and while laughing, rhetorically continues asking about Annie.



David Lynch, who had experienced previous success with the acclaimed The Elephant Man (1980) and Blue Velvet (1986), was hired by a Warner Bros. executive to direct a film about the life of Marilyn Monroe, based on the best-selling book The Goddess. Lynch recalls being "sort of interested. I loved the idea of this woman in trouble, but I didn't know if I liked it being a real story". Mark Frost worked on The Goddess screenplay with Lynch. Even though this project was dropped by Warner Brothers, Lynch and Frost became good friends, and wrote a screenplay titled One Saliva Bubble, with Steve Martin attached to star in it. However, this film was not made either. Krantz had been trying to get the filmmaker to work on TV since Blue Velvet but he was never really that interested in the idea. Krantz took Lynch to Nibblers restaurant in Los Angeles and said to him, "You should do a show about real life in America – your vision of America the same way you demonstrated it in Blue Velvet". Lynch got an "idea of a small-town thing", and though he and Frost were not keen on it, they decided to humor Krantz. Frost wanted to tell "a sort of Dickensian story about multiple lives in a contained area that could sort of go perpetually". Frost, Krantz and Lynch rented a screening room in Beverly Hills and screened Peyton Place and from that developed the town before its inhabitants. They drew a map and knew that there would be a lumber mill located in the town. Then, they came up with an image of a body washing up on the shore of a lake. Lynch remembers, "We knew where everything was located and that helped us determine the prevailing atmosphere and what might happen there". Frost remembers that he and Lynch came up with the notion of the girl next door leading a "desperate double life" that would end in murder.

Lynch and Frost pitched the idea to ABC during the time of Writers Guild of America, East strike in 1988 in a ten-minute meeting with the network's drama head, Chad Hoffman, with nothing more than this image and a concept. According to the director, the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer was initially going to be in the foreground but would recede gradually as viewers got to know the other townsfolk and the problems they were having. Lynch and Frost wanted to mix a police investigation with a soap opera.

ABC liked the idea and asked Lynch and Frost to write a screenplay for the pilot episode. Frost wrote more verbal characters, like Benjamin Horne, while Lynch was responsible for Agent Cooper. According to the director, "He says a lot of the things I say". Originally, the show was entitled Northwest Passage and set in North Dakota, but the fact that a town called Northwest Passage really exists prompted a revision in the script. They filmed the pilot for $1.8 million with an agreement with ABC that they would shoot an additional "ending" to it so that it could be sold directly to video in Europe as a feature if the TV show was not picked up. However, even though ABC's Bob Iger liked the pilot, he had a tough time persuading the rest of the network brass. Iger suggested showing it to a more diverse, younger group, who liked it, and the executive subsequently convinced ABC to buy seven episodes at $1.1 million apiece. Some executives figured that the show would never get on the air. However, Iger planned to schedule it for the spring. The final showdown occurred during a bi-coastal conference call between Iger and a room full of New York executives; Iger won, and Twin Peaks was on the air.


The episodes of Twin Peaks have a distinct structure: following a recap of events relevant to the upcoming narrative, the series begins with the music piece "Falling". This is accompanied by a shot of a Varied Thrush, and then of the Packard Sawmill. The opening credits generally appear alphabetically, with the exceptions of Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Ontkean, whose names appear first. The majority of episodes end with a suspenseful twist or cliffhanger, revealed just seconds before the ending. With rare exception, the credits always rolled over a photograph of Laura Palmer, accompanied by the piano piece "Laura's Theme".


Main article: Music of Twin Peaks

Composer Angelo Badalamenti, a frequent contributor to Lynch projects, scored the series and provides the leitmotif "Laura's Theme", the famous title theme, the entirety of which was improvised by Badalamenti with Lynch, and other evocative pieces to the soundtrack. A handful of the motifs were borrowed from the Julee Cruise album Floating into the Night, which was written in large part by Badalamenti and Lynch, and was released in 1989. This album also serves as the soundtrack to another Lynch project, Industrial Symphony No. 1, a live Cruise performance also featuring Michael J. Anderson ("The Man from Another Place").

The song "Falling" (sans vocals) became the theme to the show, and the songs "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart," "The Nightingale," "The World Spins," and "Into the Night" (found in their full versions on the album) were all, except the latter, used as Cruise's roadhouse performances during the show's run. A second volume of the soundtrack was released on October 23, 2007, to coincide with the Definitive Gold Box DVD set.

Filming locations[]

The towns of Snoqualmie and North Bend, Washington, which were the primary filming locations for stock Twin Peaks exterior footage (many exterior scenes were actually filmed in wooded areas of Malibu, California) are only about an hour's drive from the town of Roslyn. Lynch and Frost went on a location scout to Washington state and a friend of Frost's recommended Snoqualmie Falls. They drove there and found all of the locations that they had written into the pilot episode. This town was the setting of the series Northern Exposure, which debuted in 1990, and focused on the eccentric populace of a small Alaskan town. A scene in the Northern Exposure first-season episode "The Russian Flu" was shot at Snoqualmie Falls, which was also featured in the opening titles sequence of Twin Peaks. The background behind the actors of Invitation to Love is not a studio set, but the interior of the Ennis House, an architectural landmark of Frank Lloyd Wright in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles.

Improvisation elements[]

At several points during the filming of Twin Peaks, Lynch improvised by incorporating on-set accidents into the story. The most notable of these occurred when set decorator Frank Silva was accidentally filmed in a mirror during Sarah Palmer's vision at the end of the pilot. When David Lynch suddenly saw Silva's face, he was frightened and liked the effect so much he kept it in the show and cast Silva as "BOB", the mysterious tormentor of Laura Palmer.

During the filming of the scene in which Cooper first examines Laura's body, a malfunctioning fluorescent lamp above the table flickered constantly, but Lynch decided not to replace it since he liked the disconcerting effect that it created. Also, during the take, one of the minor actors misheard a line and, thinking he was being asked his name, he told Cooper his real name instead of saying his line, briefly throwing everyone off balance. Lynch was reportedly pleased with the lifelike, unscripted moment in dialogue, and kept the mistake in the final cut:

ATTENDANT: I have to apologize again for the fluorescent lights. I think it's a bad transformer.
COOPER (Kyle MacLachlan): That's quite all right.
TRUMAN (Michael Ontkean): Agent Cooper, we did scrape those nails when we brought her in.
COOPER: Here it is. There it is. Oh my God, here it is!
COOPER (to attendant): Would you leave us, please?
COOPER: Uh... would you leave us alone, please?
ATTENDANT: Oh. Certainly.

Another example is during the rock throwing in season one. When Kyle MacLachlan was directed to break the bottle, and then did so on the first take, Kimmy Robertson was unable to hide her glee and then cheered in joy.

Cooper's dream at the end of the second episode, which became a driving plot point in the series first season and ultimately held the key to the identity of Laura's murderer, was never scripted; the idea came to Lynch one afternoon after touching the side of a hot car left out in the sun: "I was leaning against a car — the front of me was leaning against this very warm car. My hands were on the roof and the metal was very hot. The Red Room scene leapt into my mind. 'Little Mike' was there, and he was speaking backwards... For the rest of the night I thought only about The Red Room". The footage was originally shot along with the pilot, to be used as the conclusion were it to be released as a feature film. When the series was picked up, Lynch decided to incorporate some of the footage; in the third episode, Cooper, narrating the dream, outlines the shot footage which Lynch did not incorporate, such as Mike shooting BOB and the fact that he is twenty-five years older when he meets Laura Palmer's spirit.

Cast and characters[]

Main article: Twin Peaks (1990-91) cast

Twin Peaks is well known for its array of quirky and bizarre characters, especially the lead Agent Dale Cooper, portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan, whose eccentric personality and fondness of coffee and cherry pie served as hallmarks of the series.

Twin Peaks features members of a loose ensemble of Lynch's favorite character actors, including Jack Nance, Kyle MacLachlan, Grace Zabriskie, and Everett McGill. Isabella Rossellini, who had worked with Lynch on Blue Velvet, was originally cast as Giovanna Packard, but she dropped out of the production before shooting began on the pilot episode. The character was then reconceived as Josie Packard, of Chinese ethnicity, and the role given to actress Joan Chen. It is also notable for the casting of several veteran actors who had long been absent from the screen, including 1950s movie stars Richard Beymer, Piper Laurie and Russ Tamblyn, and former The Mod Squad star Peggy Lipton. The main character of the series, Dale Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan, would appear in all thirty episodes of Twin Peaks, including the pilot.

Due to budget restraints, Lynch intended to cast a local girl from Seattle, reportedly "just to play a dead girl". The local girl ended up being Sheryl Lee; Lynch stated: "But no one — not Mark, me, anyone — had any idea that she could act, or that she was going to be so powerful just being dead." Indeed, the image of Lee wrapped in plastic became one of the show's most enduring and memorable images. And then, while Lynch shot the home movie that James takes of Donna and Laura, he realized that Lee had something special. "She did do another scene — the video with Donna on the picnic — and it was that scene that did it." As a result, Sheryl Lee became a semi-regular addition to the cast, appearing in flashbacks as Laura, and becoming a recurring character: Maddy Ferguson, Laura's similar-looking cousin. The character of Philip Gerard's appearance in the pilot episode was only originally intended to be a "kind of homage to The Fugitive. The only thing he was gonna do was be in this elevator and walk out", according to David Lynch. However, when Lynch wrote the "Fire walk with me" speech, he imagined Al Strobel, who played Gerard, reciting it in the basement of the Twin Peaks hospital—a scene that would appear in the European version of the pilot episode, and surface later in Agent Cooper's dream sequence. Gerard's full name, Phillip Michael Gerard, is also a reference to Lieutenant Philip Gerard, a character in The Fugitive. Lynch met Michael J. Anderson in 1987. After seeing him in a short film, Lynch wanted to cast the actor in the title role in Ronnie Rocket, but that project failed to get made.

Richard Beymer was cast as Benjamin Horne because he had known Johanna Ray, Lynch's casting director. Lynch was familiar with Beymer's work in the 1961 film West Side Story and was surprised that Beymer was available for the role. This would also be the first project to reunite Beymer and Russ Tamblyn since West Side Story, in which Tamblyn played the character of Riff. As the series progressed, Lynch relied on the character to act as a red herring, leading fans to believe that Horne was Laura's real killer; he ultimately filmed a scene depicting Ben Horne transforming into Killer Bob and murdering Maddie Ferguson. The filming of the scene was loosely guarded, so that rumors of Ben being revealed as the real killer would spread and fans would be surprised when Leland was revealed as the real killer. Lynch was particularly impressed with Beymer's willingness to go along with the ruse, commenting that he filmed his scenes as though Horne were the real killer, despite knowing that he was not.


Before the two-hour pilot premiered on TV, a screening was held at the Museum of Broadcasting in Hollywood. Media analyst and advertising executive Paul Schulman said, "I don't think it has a chance of succeeding. It is not commercial, it is radically different from what we as viewers are accustomed to seeing, there's no one in the show to root for." Initially, the show's Thursday night time slot was not a good one for soap operas as both Dynasty and its short-lived spin-off The Colbys did poorly. Twin Peaks was also up against the hugely successful sitcom, Cheers. Initially, the show received a positive response from TV critics. Tom Shales, in The Washington Post, wrote, "Twin Peaks disorients you in ways that small-screen productions seldom attempt. It's a pleasurable sensation, the floor dropping out and leaving one dangling". In The New York Times, John J. O'Connor wrote, "Twin Peaks is not a sendup of the form. Mr. Lynch clearly savors the standard ingredients...but then the director adds his own peculiar touches, small passing details that suddenly, and often hilariously, thrust the commonplace out of kilter." Entertainment Weekly gave the show an "A+" rating and Ken Tucker wrote, "Plot is irrelevant; moments are everything. Lynch and Frost have mastered a way to make a weekly series endlessly interesting". Time magazine said that it, "may be the most hauntingly original work ever done for American TV". The two-hour pilot was the highest-rated movie for the 1989–1990 season with a 22 rating and was viewed by 33% of the audience. In its first broadcast as a regular one-hour drama series, Twin Peaks scored ABC's highest ratings in four years in its 9pm Thursday time period. The show also reduced NBC's Cheers's ratings. Twin Peaks had a 16.2 rating with each point equaling 921,000 homes with TVs. The episode also added new viewers because of what ABC's senior vice-president of research, Alan Wurtzel, called, "the water cooler syndrome", in which people talk about the series the next day at work.

However, the third episode of the show that aired on the Thursday night time period lost 14 percent of the audience that had tuned in a week before. That audience had dropped 30 percent from the show's first appearance on Thursday night. This was as a result of competing against Cheers which appealed to the same demographic that watched Twin Peaks. A production executive from the show spoke of being frustrated with the network's scheduling of the show. "The show is being banged around on Thursday night. If ABC had put it on Wednesday night it could have built on its initial success. ABC has put the show at risk". In response, the network aired the first-season finale on a Wednesday night at 10 pm instead of its usual 9 pm Thursday slot. The show achieved its best ratings since its third week on the air with a 12.6 and a 22 share of the audience. (Each rating point in the A. C. Nielsen television survey represents 921,000 homes.) On May 22, 1990, it was announced that Twin Peaks would be renewed for a second season.

During the first and second season, it was the search for Laura Palmer's killer that served as the engine for the plot, and caught the public's imagination, although the creators admitted this was largely a MacGuffin; each episode was really about the interactions between the townsfolk. The unique (and often bizarre) personalities of each citizen formed a web of minutiae which ran contrary to the quaint appearance of the town. Adding to the surreal atmosphere was the recurrence of Dale Cooper's dreams, in which the FBI agent is given clues to Laura's murder in a supernatural realm that may or may not be of his imagination. The first season contained only eight episodes (including the two-hour pilot episode), and was considered technically and artistically revolutionary for television at the time, and geared toward reaching the standards of film. It has been said that Twin Peaks began the trend of accomplished cinematography now commonplace in today's television dramas. Lynch and Frost maintained tight control over the first season, handpicking all of the directors, with some that Lynch had known from his days at the American Film Institute (e.g., Caleb Deschanel and Tim Hunter) or referrals from those he knew personally. Lynch and Frost's control lessened in the second season, corresponding with what is generally regarded as a lessening of quality once the identity of Laura Palmer's murderer was revealed. Although both men had known from the series' inception the identity of Laura's murderer, Lynch never wanted to solve the murder, while Frost felt that they had an obligation to the audience to solve it and this created tension between the two men.

Its ambitious style, paranormal undertones, and engaging murder mystery made Twin Peaks a surprising sleeper hit. Its eccentric characters, particularly Kyle MacLachlan's Dale Cooper, were unorthodox for a supposed crime drama previously known to American audiences, as was Cooper's method of interpreting his dreams to solve the crime. Following the cliffhanger finale of the first season, the show's popularity reached its zenith, and "Peaksmania" seeped into mainstream popular culture (such as Saturday Night Live, in which Kyle MacLachlan hosted and performed a sketch that parodied the show).

Critical acclaim[]

For its first season, Twin Peaks received thirteen nominations at the 42nd Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Kyle MacLachlan), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Piper Laurie), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Sherilyn Fenn), Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series (David Lynch), Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series (Harley Peyton), Outstanding Art Direction for a Series, Outstanding Achievement in Main Title Theme Music, Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore), Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics, and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series. Out of its thirteen nominations, it won for Outstanding Costume Design for a Series and Outstanding Editing for a Series – Single Camera Production.

For its second season, it received four nominations at the 43rd Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Kyle MacLachlan), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Piper Laurie), Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series, and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series.

At the 48th Golden Globe Awards, it won for Best TV Series – Drama, Kyle MacLachlan won for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series – Drama, Piper Laurie won for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV; while Sherilyn Fenn was nominated in the same category as Laurie.

Twin Peaks was ranked on TV Guide magazine's 2002 "Top 25 cult shows" at No. 20, and one of the "Top 50 Television Programs of All Time" by the same guide at No. 45. In 2007, UK broadcaster Channel 4 ranked Twin Peaks #9 on their list of the "50 Greatest TV Dramas". Also that year, Time included the show on their list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All-Time".

Declining ratings[]

With the resolution of Twin Peaks main drawing point (Laura Palmer's murder) in the middle of the second season, and with subsequent storylines becoming more obscure and drawn out, public interest finally began to wane, and "Peaksmania" seemed over. This discontent, coupled with ABC changing its timeslot over a number of occasions, led to a huge drop in ratings after being one of the most-watched television programs in the United States in 1990. On February 15, 1991, ABC announced that the show had been put on "indefinite hiatus", a move which usually leads to cancellation.

This wasn't quite the end, though, as there was still a large enough fanbase for viewers to begin an organized letter-writing campaign, dubbed COOP (Citizens Opposed to the Offing of Peaks). The campaign was successful, and ABC agreed to another six episodes to finish the season. In the final episodes, Agent Cooper was given a love interest, Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham), to replace the intended story arc with Audrey Horne. The series finale did not sufficiently boost interest, despite being written to end on a deliberate audience-baiting cliffhanger, and the show was not renewed for a third season, leaving the cliffhanger unresolved.

David Lynch himself returned to direct the finale of the series, annoying a few of the actors and writers, as they had previously felt "abandoned" by him. The writers, for their part, didn't appreciate his changes to their scripts. He later expressed his regret at having resolved the Laura Palmer murder, stating he and Frost had never intended for the series to answer the question and that doing so "killed the goose that laid the golden eggs". Lynch directly blames network pressure for the decision to resolve the Palmer storyline prematurely. Later, David Lynch, having been long unhappy with ABC's "meddling" during the show's production, sold the whole show to Bravo for a small, undisclosed sum. Bravo began airing the show from scratch again, along with Lynch's addition of introductions to each episode by the Log Lady and her cryptic musings.

Themes and style[]

As with much of Lynch's other work (notably Blue Velvet), Twin Peaks explores the gulf between the veneer of small-town respectability and the seedier layers of life lurking beneath it. Each character from the town leads a double life that is slowly uncovered as the series progresses. It attempts to expose the dark side of seemingly innocent lives. The show further resembles Lynch's previous and subsequent work, in that it is difficult to place in a defined genre: stylistically, the program borrows the unsettling tone and supernatural premises of horror films, and simultaneously offers a bizarrely comical parody of American soap operas with a campy, melodramatic presentation of the morally dubious activities of its quirky characters. Finally, like the rest of Lynch's oeuvre, the show represents an earnest moral inquiry distinguished by both weird humor and a deep vein of surrealism.

A popular feature of the series was Frost and Lynch's trademark use of repeating and sometimes mysterious motifs—trees (especially fern and palms), water, coffee, donuts, owls, logs, ducks, fire—and numerous embedded references to other films and TV shows, such as The Twilight Zone (mysteriously malfunctioning electrical equipment), and The Patty Duke Show (the phenomenon of identical cousins).

Invitation to Love[]

Invitation to Love is a fictional soap opera in Twin Peaks. It is seen briefly on TV screens in all seven episodes of the first season and was shot in the Ennis House. The show sometimes acts as a commentary on events unfolding in Twin Peaks itself, highlighting some of the more outlandish or melodramatic elements of the show. The most obvious example of this "show-within-a-show" commentary can be found when Maddy Ferguson, the near-identical cousin of Laura Palmer, first arrives in Twin Peaks. Just before Maddy first appears on the show, an episode of Invitation to Love is shown in which it is revealed that there are identical twin characters in Invitation to Love who are played by the same actress, much as Maddy and Laura Palmer are almost identical, and are both played by Sheryl Lee. It is also implied in the brief snippet of the show that is shown that Jade and Emerald, the two characters in Invitation to Love, are characters with very different personalities, much as sweet and innocent Maddy is diametrically opposed to the dark and secretive Laura in Twin Peaks.

Another example can be found in the final episode of the first season, when Leo Johnson is shot in a dramatic fashion, and a similar event is shown happening to the character of Montana in Invitation to Love. Lynch later reused the motif of a show-within-a-show in his film Inland Empire (2006), which incorporated a secondary series, Rabbits.


The popularity of Twin Peaks led to a merchandising industry; ranging from books and audio tapes of the series. In addition, there have been DVD and VHS releases of the series.

Home video releases[]

The pilot episode, first shown on TV in the U.S., was released on home video in Europe in 1990. The European version is 20 minutes longer than the TV pilot, with a different ending added to bring closure to the story. The Red Room dream sequence that ends episode two, where Cooper encounters the Man from Another Place and Laura Palmer, was originally shot for this film. Lynch was so happy with the material that he incorporated part of it into the second episode of the regular series (that is, the third episode shown in the U.S., including the pilot) as a dream Cooper has about the case (at the start of episode three, Cooper gives a scene-by-scene account of the European ending, including references to events seen only in the international pilot and not the dream-sequence version, such as Mike shooting BOB). This version of the pilot was also offered by Warner Home Video in the United States, resulting in a rights-entanglement which prevented the broadcast version of the pilot being released for a number of years.

On December 18, 2001, the first season (episodes 1–7, minus the pilot) of Twin Peaks was released on DVD in Region 1 by Republic Pictures, which had an output deal through Artisan Entertainment, now part of Lions Gate Entertainment. The box set, titled Twin Peaks: The First Season was noted for being the first TV show to have its audio track redone in DTS. The Region 1 release was heavily criticized for not including the key pilot episode, which could not be included due to the fact Lynch sold the rights to it to Warner Home Video in order to facilitate its video release in Europe. When the series was released on video in the US (twice by Spelling Entertainment's Worldvision Home Video), the pilot episode was excluded both times. In turn, Warner Home Video released the pilot on video; however, it was actually the European version, and was labeled as having "bonus footage". The televised pilot episode is included in the UK (Region 2) DVD release from Universal Home Entertainment. A DVD collection of Season One was released in Australia by Paramount Pictures, in 2001. In 2006, Twin Peaks: The Second Season was released by the same distributor in two parts (Collections 1 and 2). In addition, the entire series was released in Australia in a box set collector's edition.

The first season DVD box set is known to have production errors, which cause many DVD players to freeze. One known track glitch occurs during the opening credits of episode 2. Another glitch occurs fifteen minutes into episode 4, during Donna and Audrey's scene in the high school girls' restroom. The European DVD box set of season two has an audio flaw where in episode 12, the center and right channels have been flip-flopped. The release of Season Two was complicated by the sale of Spelling Entertainment (which included both Republic Pictures, and the predecessor company, Worldvision Enterprises, the series' former distributor)—and later the transition of video rights—to Paramount Pictures|Paramount/Viacom in 1998; and the 2006 split of Viacom into two separate companies; this saw the rights go to CBS Corporation/CBS Studios. Also, Lynch oversaw the transfer from video to DVD personally, but was delayed by the production of his new film, Inland Empire.

The first season was released on DVD by Artisan Entertainment, the video licensee for Republic, but Artisan/Lions Gate's rights expired in September 2005, and thus were transferred to Paramount. As a result of the 2006 corporate split of CBS and Viacom, CBS Studios (which ended up with Republic Pictures' and Spelling Entertainment's TV holdings) now owns the rights to the Twin Peaks series, with CBS Television Distribution handling syndication, and CBS Home Entertainment owning the DVD rights (although CBSHE releases are distributed by Paramount). The second season release was postponed several times, from September 2004, to early 2005, and then to September 2005, to early 2006. Season Two was finally released in the United States and Canada on April 3, 2007 via Paramount Home Entertainment/CBS DVD, which now acts as home video distributor. In Germany, Season Two was released in two parts on separate dates in April 2007. Part 1 went on general release on January 4, 2007, including the "broadcast" version of the pilot episode. North American rights to the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me film are owned by New Line Cinema, a division of Time Warner (which also owns Warner Bros.), and is available on video and DVD through New Line. In Canada, the DVD was distributed through Alliance Atlantis, which holds all Canadian rights to the New Line library.

On October 30, 2007, the broadcast version of the pilot finally received a legitimate U.S. release as part of Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition. This set includes both versions of the pilot. The Gold Box set also includes all episodes from both seasons, deleted scenes for both seasons, and a feature-length retrospective documentary. Entertainment Weekly gave the box set a "B+" rating and wrote, "There are numerous fascinatingly frank mini-docs here, including interviews with many Peaks participants; together, they offer one of the best available portraits of how a TV hit can go off the rails". On March 22, 2010, both the second season DVD and the Definitive Gold Box Edition DVD were released in the UK. This is the only Spelling TV series to still be distributed on UK DVD by Playback/Universal after other series began to be released by Paramount in 2006.

On July 24, 2014, the series was released on Blu-ray alongside the film as Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery. This version has all of the episodes remastered in HD with the sound in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. This release contained several hours of never-before-seen special features in addition to some released on the Definitive Gold Box Edition. A version lacking a disc of special features was released on September 20, 2016 as Twin Peaks: The Original Series, Fire Walk With Me & The Missing Pieces.

Upcoming releases Twin Peaks: The Television Collection and Twin Peaks: From Z to A will included both seasons of the original series as well as the 2017 series, with the latter also including Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

Books and audio[]

Main article: Twin Peaks books

Many books have been written from or about the television show Twin Peaks. During the show's second season, Pocket Books released three official tie-in books, each authored by the show's creators (or their family), which offer a wealth of backstory.

One of these books, The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer written by Jennifer Lynch, David Lynch's daughter, is just that, the diary as seen in the series and written by Laura chronicling her thoughts from her twelfth birthday to the days leading up to her death, including the missing pages which an unknown vandal tore out. Kyle MacLachlan also recorded "Diane..." - The Twin Peaks Tapes of Agent Cooper, which combined audio tracks from various episodes of the series with newly recorded monologues.


Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me theatrical poster

Main article: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me can be viewed as both prologue and epilogue to the series. It tells of the investigation into the murder of Teresa Banks and the last seven days in the life of Laura Palmer. These two connected murders were the central mysteries of the television series. Thus, the film is often considered as a prequel, but it is not intended to be viewed before the series and also has sequel qualities; this includes an explanation of Cooper's fate at the end of the series. Most of the television cast returned for the film, with the notable exceptions of Lara Flynn Boyle who declined to return as Laura's best friend Donna Hayward, who was replaced with Moira Kelly, and Sherilyn Fenn due to scheduling conflicts. Also, Kyle MacLachlan was reluctant to return as he wanted to avoid typecasting, so his presence in the film is smaller than originally planned.

Fire Walk With Me was received poorly, especially in comparison to the series. It was greeted at the Cannes Film Festival with booing from the audience and met with almost unanimously negative reviews by American critics. It grossed a total of US$1.8 million in 691 theaters in its opening weekend and went on to gross a total of $4.1 million in North America.

Reception of the film has become more positive in recent years, with many fans even considering it to be superior to the series that spawned it.


Main article: Twin Peaks (2017)

In 2014, it was announced that Twin Peaks would be receiving a limited series on Showtime in 2016, later delayed to 2017. Lynch, Frost, and much of the cast are returning for this series. It began production in September 2015 and wrapped in April 2016, and premiered on May 21, 2017.