A strange, intriguing and altogether enthralling crime series, Twin Peaks has been mystifying audiences since 1990 when it premiered on April 7th. Creating a wide web of content that enveloped viewers into a world they were not quite sure how to interpret, though were willing to engulf themselves in, creators David Lynch and Mark Frost forever changed the landscape of serial television.
When it was released at the dawn of the 1990s Twin Peaks sowed the seeds for the interest in ‘true crime’ stories that today infest themselves in modern media, throwing a pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces at the audience, asking us to solve the mystery for ourselves. Alongside this initial series, Lynch and Frost also released 1992’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, adding to the bevvy of additional content the show created, swirling a whirlwind of excitement.
Decades later and Twin Peaks: The Return came to Showtime, introducing an entirely new bunch of eccentric characters to Lynch’s strange world of mystery and illusion. With hundreds of characters being used throughout its three series and feature film, let’s celebrate the legacy of one of the best TV shows of all time and rank the top ten characters of Twin Peaks.
The 10 best Twin Peaks characters:
10. Sheriff Harry S. Truman
A defining supporting character throughout each of the three series of Twin Peaks, Sheriff Harry S. Truman is the right-hand man to the protagonist Special Agent Dale Cooper in almost every episode. A charming and dependable member of the small-town community, Truman represents the best hope that Twin Peaks has, besides the outsider knowledge of Dale Cooper.
Becoming one of the most beloved characters in all of Twin Peaks, Truman helped to drive the central investigation forward, whilst still tending to the town’s petty problems.
9. Donna Hayward
A crucial character from the very first episode, Donna Hayward was the best friend of Laura Palmer so proves key to the investigation throughout the first two series in particular. Giving Laura a voice, Hayward was the finest character of the many high-schoolers who appear throughout the show, showing off intelligence as well as a genuine kind-heartedness that was easy to identify with.
Brilliantly captured by Lara Flynn Boyle, and Moira Kelly in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Hayward gives the first series its emotional core and proves a key ingredient in its success.
8. Janey-E Jones
Making her first appearance in Twin Peaks: The Return, Janey-E Jones, played by Naomi Watts, is the wife of Dale Cooper’s doppelgänger, Dougie Jones, with much of her time spent clearing up after her husband’s mess. Well acted by Watts, Jones carries much of the first half of the revitalised series whilst Cooper remains incapacitated at the mysterious Black Lodge.
With genuine charm and warm-heartedness, Jones instantly becomes one of the series’ most loveable characters, particularly as she cares for and looks after a dimwitted Dougie Jones.
7. Diane Evans
Although Diane Evans wasn’t introduced until Twin Peaks: The Return, her influence on the series has been present since the very beginning, with Agent Cooper often recording memos addressing her first name. When she was introduced in the latest series, fans weren’t disappointed, with the enduring appeal of Laura Dern carrying the character to become an instant fan favourite.
Peculiar and devious, Evans works closely with Cooper and Gordon Cole, played by Lynch himself, as they try to solve the mystery of the Black Lodge.
6. The Man From Another Place
Though The Man From Another Place may not be one of the most prevalent characters in Twin Peaks, he is certainly the most memorable, offering a peculiar and sinister impression of the rural town. Appearing only in the zany Black Lodge, the man himself is a little person dressed in a smart red suit, unusual and eccentric, he is often the bearer of bad news when addressing Cooper in this ethereal otherworld.
Despite only appearing at crucial times throughout the course of the show, The Man From Another Place has gone on to become one of the series’s most iconic characters.
5. Audrey Horne
Seductive and mysterious, almost every series of Twin Peaks seemed to suggest that Audrey Horne had something to do with the bizarre mystery that was going on, only for her to prove time and time again that she was more loyal than she seemed. Carrying the peculiar sex appeal of the show, Horne, played by Sherilyn Fenn became an iconic character ever since her appearance in the pilot episode.
Falling in love with Agent Cooper several times throughout the show, the glamour and sophistication of her character became symbolic of the show that remains one of the most stylish TV series of all time.
4. Leland Palmer
*Spoilers* – Both before and after we find out that Leland Palmer was the killer of his daughter, Laura, the character is an absolute joy to watch, insanely prancing around the set after he loses his mind to the grip of the evil force, Bob. Played by Ray Wise, Leland owns some of the most hilarious and iconic moments from series one and series two of the show.
Though the villain becomes all the more fantastical as the show goes on, we prefer the pure insanity and eccentric behaviour of the possessed father, Leland Palmer.
3. The Giant
Appearing only when grave news has to be delivered to Agent Dale Cooper, The Giant is a spectre of grief and Grim Reaper of sorts who announces the deaths of several characters. Also appearing in the Black Lodge and the peculiar purgatory of Twin Peaks: The Return, the towering pale character is a strange totem to the series’ ethereal terror and endearing charm, being both eerily intimidating and oddly comforting.
Along with The Man From Another Place, The Giant takes the role of one of the series’ few otherworldly characters, cropping up time and time again as carriers of strange messages.
2. Laura Palmer
The mystery of ‘who killed Laura Palmer?’ was one that captivated the 1990s zeitgeist, with her character becoming the key to the enigma of Twin Peaks. Whilst you would think the character of Laura would be a mere prop in the series, following her death, actor Sheryl Lee appears several times as Palmer as well as her identical cousin Maddy Ferguson, with her likeness becoming an eerie reminder of the mystery at the heart of this story.
With many iconic moments, there may be no better Laura Palmer scene than at the end of Twin Peaks: The Return when she lets out a terrifying blood-curdling scream.
1. Special Agent Dale Cooper
Invigorated by a powerful obsession with cherry pie, doughnuts, and especially coffee, Dale Cooper is a wise sage who seems to be able to make sense of the mystery, piloting the investigation to find the murderer of Laura Palmer. Leading the whole show, and carrying its endearing identity, Dale Cooper, played by the eternally likeable Kyle MacLachlan, is an iconic character of American television.
“I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange,” speaks Agent Dale Cooper, the fervent detective that leads David Lynch’s dreamlike mystery, a line that well foreshadows both the flourishing future of the iconic series as well as the influential changes that such a programme would have on the landscape of serialised television.