Twenty-seven years ago, David Lynch set the precedent for odd and disturbing television with Twin Peaks. What seemed like a murder-mystery soap opera was in fact a gripping drama full of twists, intrigue, and of course, plenty of shocks. The audiences of the early '90s may not have been quite so desensitized to such confronting subject matter, but Lynch was more than willing to take them there — something viewers of today will get to experience all over again with the new limited event series.
To this day, you'd be hard-pressed to find another show so simultaneously baffling and utterly terrifying as Twin Peaks. Its unique blend of the strange and the horrifying stands up against even the most bold of modern shows, proving to be a daring formula that's stood the test of time.
From bizarre deaths and disappearances to bone-chilling scenes that will haunt viewers forever, here are the most unusual and shocking moments from Twin Peaks:
"She's dead. Wrapped in plastic." The confronting sight of beloved Laura Palmer's peaceful blue face peering out from her makeshift plastic coffin in the pilot episode was the perfect way to establish the tone of Twin Peaks. It set up not only the narrative that would drive the series well into its second season, but made it very clear that the small town of Twin Peaks was not as quaint as it seemed.
It's hardly surprising that a quirky character like Cooper would be plagued by such bizarre dreams, but Lynch really took things to the next level when he first introduced us to the Red Room. Its occupants and their perplexing reverse speech layered yet another baffling mystery on top of this compelling crime.
While there'd been quite a few strange happenings going on in the minds of Twin Peaks' residents, the most terrifying had to be Maddy's vision of BOB, creeping into sight and crawling over the couch with a wicked grin on his face. It was one of the most terrifying moments not only on Twin Peaks, but from any TV show.
Season 1 ended on quite the cliffhanger, and Season 2 returned with Cooper lying shot and bleeding on the floor of his hotel room. Luckily, a waiter — albeit a rather elderly one — arrived just in time with a delivery of warm milk.
But of course, things were not as they seemed. Completely oblivious to the ailing gunshot victim in front of him, he seemed far more focused on the task of delivering the milk; an act which ends with him repeatedly walking in and out of the room to give Cooper the thumbs-up, over and over. Typically, this visitor is replaced by one even more peculiar — the Giant, who delivers three cryptic messages to Cooper as he struggles to remain conscious. Seriously, someone call this guy an ambulance!
The few known details of Laura Palmer's death had been disturbing enough as it was, but the intensity of her brutal murder was about to become all the more real. Ronette briefly awakens from her coma and vividly relives the details of the night Laura died: a dark train carriage, a bloodthirsty BOB, and Laura's savage slaying.
Has there ever been a more perplexing example of character development? Nadine's unsuccessful suicide attempt causes her to suffer from temporary amnesia, turning her from nagging housewife to giddy schoolgirl. Suddenly, silent drape runners are the furthest thing from her mind as she becomes extremely boy obsessed. Not to mention her unexplained and freakish strength!
Those haunting, cloudy eyes; doppelgänger after menacing doppelgänger; that familiar yet ever-jolting reverse dialogue. Twin Peaks created one of the most disturbing scenes on TV with little more than a terrifying-but-creative use of lighting. Oh, and Sheryl Lee's powerful set of lungs, of course. Coop's nightmarish final visit to the Black Lodge may have answered the questions that had been plaguing viewers for episodes, but it still left fans begging for the story to continue.
Leland's back with a new 'do, and this time he's not crying into his hands on the dance floor! Luckily, he's in good company, with Benjamin Horne and his brother Jerry joining the dance without missing a beat. With a manic Leland swinging and serenading, and the Horne brothers worming and tabletop dancing their hearts out to his tune, this scene definitely goes down as one of the most utterly absurd moments from the show.
Of all the delightful characters on Twin Peaks, none were more endearing than the honorable Agent Cooper. A man of simple pleasures and a true gentleman, he brought a much-needed warmth to the small town. Cooper's bright nature is exactly what made the final scene of Season 2 all the more traumatizing.
Back in his room at the Black Lodge after a seriously taxing ordeal, Cooper seems to have only Annie's safety on his mind. Sweet, right? Wrong. He abruptly excuses himself to the bathroom and, locking the door behind him, begins to repeatedly ram his head into the mirror — behind which we can see BOB reflected back at him. He maniacally laughs, blood dripping down his face as he recalls his previous questions about Annie's wellbeing. It would appear that this man isn't our beloved Agent Cooper at all, but perhaps his evil doppelgänger.
Josie may not have been as sweet and innocent as her lover Harry wanted to believe, but even she didn't deserve such a death. Or is it even a death? Following a confrontation with Truman and Cooper she collapses on a bed. Then Josie disappears, replaced at first by a cackling BOB, then by The Man from Another Place, who performs a merry, and possibly sinister jig.
We later see what appears to be Josie's soul trapped in the handle of a set of drawers in the room. Even 27 years later, BOB's mocking question, "Coop! What happened to Josie?" is a question still plaguing Twin Peaks fans.
Josie's fate and these other terrifying moments are only part of what makes Twin Peaks stand alone in the TV landscape. The show is packed with other sad, funny, and even mad events. No one leaves Twin Peaks unchanged, and that's why we're still in love with it.
The new limited event series Twin Peaks premieres Sunday, May 21st at 9/8c – Only on SHOWTIME. Download the SHOWTIME app and start your free trial now.