Through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see. One chants out between two worlds... fire, walk with me.
An early-nineties television series created by David Lynch (responsible for such films as Blue Velvet and Eraserhead) and Mark Frost (co-writer of the Fantastic Four film). It paved the way for shows like Northern Exposure, which stole its Northwest locale and some limited quirkiness. Ostensibly a hybrid Crime Time Soap/Detective Drama, it quickly took off for parts unknown with a pervasive supernatural element that turned it partly into an Occult Detective story that smacked of slightly off-kilter Magic Realism. Basically, it had a little bit of everything (see Soap Opera and Mix And Match)The series starts off with the discovery of a murdered teenage girl, Laura Palmer. This event in turn leads to the eccentric Special Agent Dale Cooper visiting the town as part of his hunt for a serial killer. Although the murder investigation wraps up partway through season two, a new foe from Cooper's past keeps the plot moving until the notorious "How's Annie?" Cliff Hanger ending of season two (and in fact the series). The 1992 movie Fire Walk with Me (which is arguably both a prequel and a sequel) mostly wraps things up. The show features a rather large and colourful cast with about as many subplots as there are characters, and the story contains quite a few examples of Red Herring Twist and Powers That Be.The series is notable for heavily influencing and inspiring several other examples of media, including a surprising number of video games; as far as games go, they range from the obvious like Deadly Premonition, Silent Hill 1 and Alan Wake, to the less so like Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent and even The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.As mentioned above, the show saw its conclusion with Fire Walk with Me, and has yet to return despite the wild rumors which appear every now and then; David Lynch is adamant the series is over, and wants it left alone. That said, the show finally saw a BluRay boxset release due mid-2014, which contains an exclusive final cut of Fire Walk with Me (by Lynch himself), which adds about 90 minutes of previously unreleased material.
BOB is perhaps the ultimate example of this, being an Ascended Stagehand. Frank Silva received the role of BOB after a filming error by series creator, David Lynch in the pilot. Lynch liked the scene with Silva in the pilot, and decided to make him into a recurring character.
Becoming the Mask: Ben Horne starts a campaign of saving the pine weasel as a way to derail Catherine's real estate plans. Somewhere along the way he actually starts to care, and this leads to extensive soul-searching on his part.
Bi the Way: In the companion book The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, Laura mentions having slept with both Josie Packard and her pimp/madame Blackie O'Reilly, Ronnette Polaski, and a lot of other women.
Book Ends: An exchange takes place between Bobby, Shelley and a German waitress in the diner in the pilot episode, which is repeated almost verbatim in the final episode.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Some of Agent Cooper's investigation methods are unique to say the least. Surprisingly this is tolerated and even factored into serious case work by the officers of the Twin Peak's sheriff's department, who have probably never seen an FBI agent before and don't know any better.
Philip Gerard / The Man From Another Place: "Bob, I want all my... Garmonbozia (pain and suffering)."
Characterization Marches On: Cooper is noticeably more standoffish and reserved in the pilot episode than in every subsequent episode. Granted, he's meeting everyone in the town for the first time, but he's already become much more friendly and gregarious by the following episode, which takes place the next day.a
The Chessmaster: Windom Earle is a rather literal example of this trope. He determines his victims through a game of chess played against Cooper, and even at one point dresses a victim as a giant chess piece before shooting him with a crossbow. By contrast, Pete Martell, who is even better at chess, but lacks the ambition or the capacity for cruelty to really be this trope.
Cliffhanger Copout: Episode Three in the first season ends with Agent Cooper having a dream from which he learns who killed Laura Palmer. Cooper immediately wakes up from the dream to call up Sheriff Truman to tell him that he knows who the murderer is but teases that the answer could "wait 'till morning." Come the next episode, taking place that following morning, Cooper recaps all the events from the dream that ended with Laura Palmer whispering the name of her killer in his ear. Then, once he's asked who the killer is, Cooper nonchalantly responds "I don't remember."
Agent Cooper, who talks to a tape recorder while hanging upside-down by his boots in his room. His superior, Gordon Cole - played by the real Cloudcuckoolander of the series, David Lynch himself - was obviously an influence....
Cole: Coop, you remind me today of a small Mexican chihuahua.
On the Twin Peaks side, Margaret (the Log Lady), the source for at least one of the page quotes and the following:
"Wait for the tea! The fish aren't running!"
Nadine, though played for a kind of awkward tragedy.
To a lesser extent, Audrey, especially in the earlier episodes.
Color Motif: Red usually turns up suggesting danger and sexuality, most obviously in the curtains of One Eyed Jacks and the Black Lodge. You can't trust blue either, which seems to be associated with BOB - he wears denim, is often cloaked in blue light, and in the movie, a possessed Leland laments the appearance of MIKE, BOB's nemesis, "out of the blue".
Companion Cube: Margaret's log, which arguably allows her to communicate with her dead husband, who now inhabits the Black Lodge and is probably Jurgen Prochnow.
Conspiracy Theorist: Agent Cooper is one. Given that this is the Twin Peaks universe, though, the conspiracies he believes in may very well be real, at least in-universe.
Crazy People Play Chess: Windom Earle. When he's not killing people and stuffing their corpses, he enjoys a good chess game. Averted with Pete Martell, who is the best chess player around and is a perfectly sane and kindly old fella.
Criminal Mind Games: The Windom Earle arc. Interestingly, the most elaborate and traditionally Serial Killer-esque aspect of his mind games (the chess game, in which he kills a victim for everyone of Cooper's pieces he takes) is actually just a diversion from his real goal.
Those familiar with David Lynch might find the grandson creepy (or alternately, hilarious) because he looks and acts identical to him, right down to the voice inflections and mannerisms. Which makes sense, as he's played by Lynch's son Austin.
The Cuckoolander Was Right: Played straight with the Log Lady and several other characters. Averted by Cooper in that everyone takes his far-out theories seriously anyway (except for Albert, the only person who actually does have good reason to believe him).
Dark Is Not Evil: The inhabitants of the Black Lodge could not by any stretch of the imagination be called good (they eat pain and suffering, after all) but some of them do help Cooper with his investigation on numerous occasions.
Dawson Casting: Gary Hershberger, 26, and Sherilyn Fenn, 25, played 17 or 18-year-old Mike Nelson and Audrey Horne. Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs), James Marshall (James Hurley), Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer/Maddy Ferguson) were around 23.
Averted with Mädchen Amick who was 19, despite Shelly was probably a bit older than Bobby, and 18-year-old Robyn Lively to play Lana Budding Milford.
By contrast, Gerard and the old bellhop, who are inhabited by much more benevolent spirits. Maybe.
Demoted to Extra: Johnny Horne, Audrey's brother, appears in a few early episodes before disappearing until a late season 2 cameo.
Depraved Bisexual: Josie Packard and Blackie O'Reilly are confirmed as this in The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, and there is heavy hinting for Blackie in the show as well. Although Josie, at least, is a pretty complicated character, and her apparent bisexuality is never played for any particular discomfort or associated with her moral failings.
Disguised in Drag: It's fairly obvious (and not at all odd, considering the show) that the stout Japanese businessman with the impressive moustache is really a woman but it's not obvious that she's Catherine Martell.
Disposable Sex Worker: Averted - the main plot arc is the investigation of who killed Laura Palmer, and Laura Palmer is one of the most developed and fleshed-out characters in the show despite being both a sex worker and a Posthumous Character (she later serves as the protagonist of The Movie). Nor is Ronette Pulaski treated as any less human because of her profession.
Downer Ending: As there is no third season to provide closure, we're left to assume that half the cast is dead and Cooper's soul is trapped in the Black Lodge while BOB makes use of his possessed body.
This was not the intended finale, and the full, uncut movie was meant to offer a bit more closure. Released to the public on the blu-ray set, it gives a few more tantalizing minutes after the end of the series but the Downer Ending still remains essentially unresolved.
The Dragon: Hank, first to Mr. Horne and later to Jean Renault.
Drugs Are Bad: A heavily implied (but not quite anvilicious) aesop. While drugs are indeed a major part of Laura's downfall, her drug use doesn't exactly lead to her problems so much as result from them.
Dysfunction Junction: Laura was the prom queen and overall darling of the town. She was also heavily into cocaine and BDSM prostitution. Plus, you know, she's being repeatedly raped by her demonically-possessed father.
The Eighties: Although both the series and Fire Walk With Me were released during the 90s, and done in a style filled with visual reference to The Fifties, both are set during the tail end of the 1980s.
Foreshadowing: "She's my cousin. But doesn't she look exactly like Laura Palmer?" referring to Maddy. Also, in a way, Laura herself could be considered The Man From Another Place's cousin, since BOB is possessing her father, BOB is the 'familiar' of MIKE, and The Man split off from MIKE like Athena from Zeus.
Godzilla Threshold: When BOB finds another victim, everyone begs Cooper to use any of his kooky methods that they previously disparaged in order to catch the killer.
Government Agency of Fiction: The FBI in the Twin Peaks universe often deals heavily in supernatural cases. These more often than not tend to be just a little more dangerous than the usual kind of work. The movie implies that FBI code for these cases is "Blue Rose".
Government Conspiracy: Dale Cooper is a strong believer in conspiracy theories. Given his own experience...
Major Briggs is sort of a part of one. In one scene, he gives Cooper a piece of very sensitive information and apologizes for not being able to tell him any more. Cooper responds that, as a fellow employee of the federal government, he understands completely.
Grotesque Gallery: Lodge inhabitants include The Man From Another Place (a dwarf, who is actually a severed arm in human form), The Giant (a ... giant, obviously), a one-armed man, and a singer played by Jimmy Scott (who suffered from Kallmann Syndrome).
Leo Johnson is a irredeemable, abusive control freak toward Shelly in Season 1, but suffers much of the same abuse at the hands of Windom Earle in Season 2. His Heel-Face Turn begins when he is reluctant in assisting Windom Earle kill an innocent victim, then sets fellow captive, Major Garland Briggs free and asks him to keep Shelly safe. Bear in mind Leo previously tried to immolate Shelly at the end of Season 1.
Audrey Horne. At first sight she seems to be a spoiled troublemaker who aspires to be a femme fatale (often successfully), but with time it is revealed that she's actually an lonely innocent with good intentions.
Director Todd Holland on Audrey's character: "She's one of my favorite characters because you thought she was such a big slut and she's probably the most moralistic person in Twin Peaks and that's all tremendous fun. The ones like her father feign morality and are incredibly treacherous, but they carry on a good business front."
Albert Rosenfield is an obvious Jerk Ass, but eventually reveals a great love for the teachings of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., and he mellows out.
Humanoid Abomination: Whatever else the inhabitants of the Black Lodge are, they are all surely this — even the seemingly more benevolent ones, such as the Giant.
Idiot Ball: Happens sometimes towards the end of the series with both Harry and Cooper. The greatest offender, however, is Major Briggs, who after establishing that a murderous psychopath is hiding out in the forest is to take a casual relaxing walk in the forest on the way home. Harry and Cooper thinks it's a great idea.
The entire investigative team. They deduce from the first episode that Laura's death was part of a string of killings including Theresa Banks and was to have included Ronette Pulaski and yet they make absolutely no efforts to connect the three girls, and aside from a brief talk with Ronette's parents, they completely ignore anything to do with her. No attempts are made to talk with her friends or any other relatives, this in comparison to the efforts they go to investigating Laura Palmer's life. Essentially they just decide that Laura was the primary target of the attack since she was the one that died.
I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: In Episode 4, Andy drops his gun and it goes off by accident. In the next episode, Bobby gives a braggadocio-filled impression of how he'd handle being caught having an affair while waving a gun around with his finger on the trigger.
Jerk Jock: Bobby Briggs and Mike Nelson, although they both mature a lot by the end of the series. Also see Name's the Same.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Albert defines this. After an amazing speech in which Albert's heart of gold becomes apparent, he and Sheriff Truman — formerly bitter enemies — become close friends and even hug one another in a later episode.
Bobby Briggs, initially a whiny Jerk Jock who's barely any less abusive to Shelley than her husband (and also killed a guy in a coke deal gone bad), becomes a not-too-bad guy by the end of the show.
Jurisdiction Friction: Averted right off the bat in the pilot episode when Agent Cooper specifically asks Sheriff Truman if he is going to have any trouble with this. Played straight with the very crooked Deer Meadow jurisdiction in Fire Walk With Me, though, who learn the hard way not to give Chris Isaak any trouble.
Large Ham: Twin Peaks has at least a few of these, most notably BOB, Windom Earle, Nadine Hurley, and Gordon Cole.
Bobby Briggs definitely has his moments as well.
Ben Horne's always been the kind of person who likes to hear himself speak, but he gets especially in the early second season when he begins to lose his composure as things start to fall apart for him. It begins around the time he gets falsely accused of murdering Laura Palmer and is forced to spend jail time, but he's probably at his most hammy when he goes completely off the rails and thinks he's General Robert E. Lee.
She does it again with the jukebox at the diner in the second episode.
"God, I love this music. Isn't it too dreamy?"
This happens on a radio (which is immediately changed) in season 2 episode 2. Actually, this happens a lot on Twin Peaks in general.
In another season two episode, some melancholy flute music plays over an establishing shot of the abandoned house Windom Earle is occupying, which turns out to be... Windom Earle himself playing the flute. It sounds kind of silly, but it's in fact a pretty eerie moment since he's doing it while waiting for Leo Johnson to come to so he can torture him.
Leitmotif: "Laura Palmer's Theme" and later (in the second season) "Audrey's Prayer" are repeatedly used as love themes. Some characters (Hank Jennings or Windom Earle, for example) have their own themes as well.
Mirror Monster: BOB, perhaps the most iconic example of this in television history.
Missing White Woman Syndrome: All of BOB's victims are white women ( not counting Jacques, whose murder BOB may have had nothing to do with), although this may be simple statistics; rural Washington is a pretty white place.
Occult Detective: The natural result of Agent Cooper becoming aware of the town's less-than-normal qualities. Of course, he started out using such investigative techniques as throwing rocks at a bottle while listening to the list of suspects to determine which leads to follow, which he learned from the Dalai Lama in a dream. Keep in mind, given what we find out in The Movie, Cooper had already foreseen Laura's death and Gordon Cole likely informed him beforehand that he was working on a Blue Rose case. Which means the rules are, to put it mildly, just a little different.
Odd Friendship: Well, most of the town's residents and the agents dispatched there are odd, to say the least, but the trope is best exemplified by Albert and Truman later in season 2.
Old Cop, Young Cop: Windom Earle and Dale Cooper might have been this before Earle went insane.
Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: Played with. In the pilot, several of the more sympathetic characters who indeed did not kill Laura do not call their lawyers when being interrogated by Cooper and Truman. However, while Bobby Briggs is at least initially one of the less sympathetic characters and could be viewed as a "bad guy", he did not kill Laura either - and yet his family's lawyer is present at his interrogation.
Place Beyond Time: The Black Lodge, where Cooper winds up stuck for at least 25 years while still communicating with himself and others through their dreams at various points in time — including before Laura Palmer's murder, which brought him to Twin Peaks in the first place.
"Audrey, you're a high school girl. I'm an agent of the FBI."
Rape as Backstory: All but stated for Leland, who seems to have been abused as a child by BOB, who was likely in the form of someone who lived near (or...in) the Palmers' lake house. Laura faced the same fate of abuse at the hands of BOB, but allowed herself to be killed rather than go on to be possessed.
The "Cooper's Diary" book suggests that Cooper was also sexually abused by BOB (he came into his room) as a child.
Rasputinian Death: Leo Johnson. He survives being shot twice, two axe battles with Bobby Briggs (one of them being right after awakening from a coma from said gunshot), survives being out in the woods with no water, gets electrocuted by Windom Earle on a number of occasions, then finally it is implied Leo met his fate at the hands (fangs?) of a venomous spider.
Red Herring: During the investigation into Laura Palmer's death, the big money for her killer was Leo Johnson. Talk show host Phil Donahue, who devoted an entire hour to Twin Peaks wasn't buying any. He described Leo Johnson as "the biggest Red Herring since Nikita Kruschev". And of course, turns out he was right.
Spy Speak: In-universe, the FBI uses a visual variant of this (seen in the form of Lil the dancing girl) and it is implied they utilize the phrase "Blue Rose" as a code for cases that may involve the supernatural or other bizarre phenomena. Also arguably one interpretation of Gordon Cole's bizarre Word Salad one-liners.
Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male: Nadine is very persistent in her attraction to Mike even after he has made it perfectly clear that he is not interested in her, even forcing a kiss on him in the diner in one episode (and the show makes it very clear that she is much stronger than him physically). Presumably their relationship would not have been Played for Laughs if it had been an exceptionally strong thirty-five-year-old man lusting after an eighteen-year-old woman still in high school.
Stylistic Suck: From what little we see of it, Invitation to Love, the soap opera everyone in Twin Peaks apparently watches, is fairly ridiculous. Considering the fact that it mirrors some events of the show, it may be a case of Self-Deprecating Humor.
"I've got good news. That gum you like is going to come back in style."
Talking through Technique: Windom Earle engages Cooper in a chess game via newspaper, in which for every one of Cooper's pieces Earle takes he will claim another victim. Cooper seeks Pete Martell's help in playing a stalemate game, losing as few pieces as possible. As Earle once played a game of chess with Cooper every day for three years he is intimately familiar with Cooper's playstyle, and so when reading one of Cooper's early moves he instantly recognizes it as out of character for Cooper, and hence surmises that Cooper is receiving outside help and that he is trying to play to a stalemate.
Wild Mass Guessing: Due to the extremely ambiguous nature of Word of God (we're talking about David Lynch here after all), much of what is accepted as canon online (especially on this page) is based on some of the more probable and believable examples of Wild Mass Guessing as to what's going on in the series. Even that isn't exactly saying much...
Wild Wilderness: The setting has a creepy lodge in the middle of the woods that may or may not be there and no one seems to notice it.
Yellowface: A fairly blatant and somewhat racist in-universe example. Surprisingly, most of the main characters fall for it.
You Fail Religious Studies Forever: In the last episode, Ben Horne, displaying the pile of religious scriptures he means to study, follow "the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita" by picking up another single volume which he identifies as "the Talmud." The Talmud would, at a minimum, take up a trunk.
This show's production and television run provided examples of:
Executive Meddling: Responsible for Cooper and Audrey, who everyone involved wanted to end up together, being paired off with two new love interests and suffering a bad case of Love Makes You Stupid in the last few episodes of the show.
"As much as I heard, everywhere I went, 'Who killed Laura Palmer?', I don't think anybody was very happy to find out who it was. They liked to want to know, not necessarily to know."
Weirdness Censor: Many of the residents of Twin Peaks are unfazed by the strange goings on in their town. This is justified as most are simply to absorbed in their own matters to care. For example, Nadine excitedly mentions to a stranger that she finally figured out how to make quiet drap-runners by using cotton balls. During this explanation, she nonchalantly mentions she figured it out while waiting for her husband to be released from intensive care, not elaborating on how he got there. The others are members of the Bookhouse Boys and are already accustomed to the paranormal nature of the town. Subsequently they accept Agent Cooper's strange methods at face value, as his unorthodox tactics appear practical to them.
Wham Episode: The final one, and several others along the way, including Maddy's death at the hands of Laura's killer. Basically, whenever The Giant shows up you know it's going to be one of these.
It is happening. Again.
And of course, the first season finale. Audrey is captured at "One-Eyed Jack's", Nadine tries to commit suicide, Leland murders the newly captured Jacques Renault in the hospital, Leo tries to kill Bobby but is shot by Hank, the mill burns down with Catherine and Shelly inside as Pete rushes to the rescue and Cooper is shot in his hotel room by an unknown assailant.
Mark Frost has talked about how he really wasn't sure the show would get a second season, so he packed every conceivable cliffhanger he could into the first season finale (to the point that it almost became a parody) in the hopes that someone would say, "Okay, I have to know what happens next."