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Lynch Mob: 30 Best ‘Twin Peaks’ Characters

From Laura Palmer to the Log Lady, these were the residents of David Lynch’s otherwordly series that turned ‘Twin Peaks’ into a TV landmark

twin peaks

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 10: TWIN PEAKS - Season One - 11/10/1989, Homecoming Queen Laura Palmer is found dead, washed up on a riverbank wrapped in plastic sheeting. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is called in to work with local Sheriff Harry S.Truman in the investigation of the gruesome murder in the small Northwestern town of Twin Peaks, Washington. , (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

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"Let's rock!" When co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost announced on Monday that they were reviving their masterful mystery series Twin Peaks for a new nine-episode season airing on Showtime in 2016, fans reacted as though a murdered loved one had been brought back from the dead. The show's surreal imagery fueled parodies everywhere from Saturday Night Live to Sesame Street. its feature-level filmmaking paved the way for New Golden Age of Television standouts like The Sopranos and Mad Men, while the constant seeding of cryptic clues throughout episodes helped set a precedent for series like The X-Files, Lost, and True Detective.

But in the end, it's the characters that keep people coming back to this strange small-town saga: Laura Palmer, the homecoming queen with a dark double life; Agent Dale Cooper, the idealistic investigator sent to catch her killer; and the countless inhabitants of the both the town where she lived and the supernatural realm – the Black Lodge – lurking beneath its surface.

To celebrate the series' return, we narrowed down the sprawling cast of both the TV show and its feature-film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me to a quick and dirty list of 30 – the characters essential to understanding the show's undying appeal. Pour yourself a damn good coffee and fire walk with us.

audrey horne twin peaks

American actress Sherilyn Fenn (as Audrey Horne) sits in a classroom set with her chin in her hands in a scene from the pilot episode of the television series 'Twin Peaks,' originally broadcast on April 8, 1990. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

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Audrey Horne

The pilot wasn't even over before young Audrey Horne danced her way across the lineoleum floor of the Double R Diner and into the annals of TV chic. Iconically glamorous and sophisticated, Audrey seemed to effortlessly inhabit a cool-girl role that Shelly, Donna, and Laura could never access, and was key to the show's crazysexycool pop appeal. But her dangerous investigations into the underside of Twin Peaks, and her crush on and admiration for Agent Cooper, revealed a person as vulnerable – and good-hearted – as anyone on the show.

twin peaks bob

TWIN PEAKS - Show Coverage (Off Screen) - Shoot Date: May 9, 1990. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) FRANK SILVA SEEN ON TV SCREEN

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The story is almost too good to be true: While shooting the pilot, David Lynch was so struck by the image of a crew member crouched behind Laura Palmer's bed that he insisted on filming it, despite having no idea what he could possibly use it for. Later, while shooting Sarah Palmer awakening from a nightmarish vision, he discovered he's accidentally captured that same crew member's reflection in a mirror seen in that very shot. The rest – the identity of Laura Palmer's murderer and the single most frightening character ever to appear on TV – is history.

twin peaks Leland Palmer

American actor Ray Wise (as Leland Palmer) speaks on a telephone in a scene from the pilot episode of the television series 'Twin Peaks,' originally broadcast on April 8, 1990. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

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Leland Palmer

You'd have to turn to James Gandolfini to find a performance of fatherhood as nuanced, heartbreaking, and horrifying as Ray Wise's portrayal of the Palmer family patriarch. Is he a decent man broken by grief? A victim turned victimizer despite his best efforts? A monster preying upon the powerless beneath a veneer of suburban sanity? He was all these things, and in Wise's wide-eyed face you can see each facet of his personality fighting to hide itself from the others. No matter where you see him show up now, the menace of Leland Palmer oozes off him like the stench of burning oil.

twin peaks dale cooper

American actor Kyle MacLachlan (as Special Agent Dale Cooper) holds a portable cassette recorder as he drives a car in a scene from the pilot episode of the television series 'Twin Peaks,' originally broadcast on April 8, 1990. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

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Agent Dale Cooper

Coop! Even though it's unlikely that the likes of Tony Soprano, Don Draper, Walter White, and Tyrion Lannister would exist without the creative example set by Twin Peaks,