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Character Spotlight: Twin Peaks Dale Cooper

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Twin Peaks set the television world on fire in the 90s. While only two seasons aired, the quirky and engaging drama created by Mark Frost and David Lynch garnered a cult following.  It all started with a fervoured search for who killed teenage dream queen Laura Palmer and ended on an ambiguous cliffhanger, challenging viewers to figure out what was really in the forests of Twin Peaks and what our hero, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper’s, ultimate fate was.


The series was so captivating because it was the first of its kind to blend experimental supernatural surrealism with a thrilling murder mystery wrapped in exaggerated soap opera-like themes. It was one of the first shows to capitalize on world and character building, along with featuring impeccable cinematography that offered viewers movie quality television, a rarity in the 90s.

In October 2014 Frost and Lynch announced they would return to the beloved series and continue from its jarring conclusion 25 years later. The limited return will air on Showtime either later this year or early 2017.

Lynch renegotiated his contract in 2015 to direct all new episodes with Showtime following drama that surfaced regarding funding disputes. A campaign led by actors of the show lobbied for Showtime to work with Lynch.

In anticipation of its return, let’s revisit the town and become reacquainted with the man who started the investigation, FBI Agent Dale Cooper.

dale cooper

Dale Bartholomew Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan, is the protagonist of the series. He is an FBI agent who arrives in the town to investigate the brutal murder of popular high school student Laura Palmer.

He brings with him a bag of tricks and eccentricities, ultimately falling in love with the town and building a good reputation with the natives.

He is notable for his upbeat quirky attitude and positive demeanor and mannerisms, giving ‘thumbs up’ when satisfied. He often offers sage-like nugget’s of wisdom and has a distinct sense of humor. He loves a good cherry pie and a “damn fine cup of coffee.”

One of his most noteworthy habits is recording himself into his micro-cassette recorder speaking to a mysterious woman called ‘Diane.’ His tapes often contain everyday observations and quips on his current case.

Much of his work while searching for Palmer and discovering the underbelly of Twin Peaks is based on intuition and even dreams; this is in stark contrast to other detectives who use logic to solve their cases.

The basis behind his methods comes from his profound interest in the mystical, particularly in Tibet and Native American mythology.

However, nothing is as it seems within Twin Peaks which leads Cooper to mysterious places called the Black Lodge and the White Lodge.  In his quest to figure out what’s really behind the veil of the town he discovers secrets that are not of this world.

Because Cooper’s impact ripples through most of the town, this article will focus on his main relationships.


The Palmer Family

Leland Palmer, played by Ray Wise, was an attorney, with his primary client being local businessman Benjamin Horne. He is well-known and respected in the town of Twin Peaks. Together with his wife Sarah and his daughter Laura, his family seemed to be picture perfect.

When Laura is murdered, Leland’s psychological foundations begin to crumble. He begins to act erratically which is quickly chalked up to intense grief.

Sarah Palmer exhibits some paranormal powers, and she is known for, on occasions predicting the future or seeing people no one else sees.

During the series it is hinted that Sarah may have experienced some sort of nervous breakdown sometime prior to the start of the show, increasingly crumbling to the bizarre events that plague her family.

Sheriff Harry S. Truman

Playing the straight man to Cooper’s otherworldly methods and charm, Sheriff Truman, played by Michael OXXXXX works closely with him during his stint in the town. The pair form a deep bond, with Truman believing Cooper to be eccentric but well-meaning, and accepting that they approach the same goals through different means. Cooper opens Truman’s mind to unknown possibilities while working to find Palmer’s killer.

Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill

Deputy Andy Brennan

Audrey Horne

Attracted to the allure of Laura Palmer and her mysterious murder, Horne develops a crush on Cooper and insists on assisting with his investigation. She does and risks her life infiltrating a sketchy place Palmer was rumored to work. Her father is a local cutthroat businessman and owner of the The Great Northern Hotel, Hornes, and One Eyed-Jacks.



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