Ranking: Every Twin Peaks Character from Evil to Good

A guide to the sinners and saints of David Lynch and Mark Frost's strange world

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, artwork by Kristin Frenzel

    Artwork by Kristin Frenzel (Buy Art Prints + More)

    On Sunday, May 21st, Showtime will take us back to the small logging town of Twin Peaks. In anticipation, Consequence of Sound will be reporting live from The Great Northern Hotel with some damn good features all week. Today, we revisit the show’s eclectic cast of characters and sort out where they truly belong: the Black Lodge, the Red Room, or the White Lodge.

    It’s a strange world, alright, though nowhere is stranger than Twin Peaks. Even more bizarre are the characters within the fictional logging town. Through two seasons and one twisted film, David Lynch and Mark Frost’s iconic series has seen its share of good samaritans, rotten apples, and hot garmonbozia. Some have slept snugly in beautiful homes nestled in equally beautiful neighborhoods, while others have slummed it in the slummiest bars until the morning sunshine drains out the darkness.

    But, then there’s the indefinable, the haunting spirits and terrifying shape-shifters dwelling within the area’s thick Douglas firs. As Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) warns Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) early on, “There’s a sort of evil out there. Something very, very strange in these old woods. Call it what you want. A darkness, a presence. It takes many forms but … its been out there for as long as anyone can remember and we’ve always been here to fight it.”


    This concept has always been paramount to the conceit of Twin Peaks. In Chris Rodley’s Lynch on Lynch, the legendary filmmaker explains how he dreamed up the series alongside Frost, saying:

    “For as long as anybody can remember, woods have been mysterious places. So they were a character in my mind. And then other characters came to our minds. And as you start peopling this place, one thing leads to another. And somewhere along the line you have a certain type of community. And because of the way the characters are, you have indications of what they might do, and how they could get into trouble and how their past could come back to haunt them. And so you have many things to work with.”

    As Lynch’s brazen filmography suggests, there’s a flip side to every coin, but light and darkness — or rather, good and evil — doesn’t always boil down to something black and white like heads or tails. More often than not, the two elements twist and turn at every move, and that murky road is how every citizen, passerby, or inter-dimensional tourist gets around in the unpredictably beautiful world of Twin Peaks.

    With so many characters to remember, and several more to come, we decided to gather who we already know and figure out where their souls might belong: the violent confines of the Black Lodge, the purgatorial confusion of the Red Room, or the oft-discussed yet rarely seen White Lodge. To quote the Log Lady, “Life, like music, has a rhythm. This particular song will end with three sharp notes, like deathly drumbeats.”


    Shall we, doc?

    –Michael Roffman

    Editor’s Note: Stay safe by picking up one of our custom face masks. A portion of the proceeds will benefit MusiCares’ COVID-19 Artist Relief fund supporting independent musicians.

    The Black Lodge


    Played by: Frank Silva

    First Appearance: “Pilot”, 4/8/1990 (technically via reflection); “Traces to Nowhere”, 4/12/1990 (official)

    Damn Good Quote: [via Leland] “Leland, Leland, you’ve been a good vehicle and I’ve enjoyed the ride. But now he’s weak and full of holes. It’s almost time to shuffle off to Buffalo!”

    Diane… Killer Bob is the Randall Flagg of Twin Peaks, and wouldn’t you know, they both love denim. By the “fury of [his] own momentum,” Bob represents the purest form of evil, a nasty, seemingly unstoppable entity from the Black Lodge that possesses human beings and makes them do his bidding. What bidding is that exactly? Well, if we take his most recognizable vessel, Leland Palmer, into consideration, that could range from harmless activities like mugging any common hallway mirror to, you know, raping and savagely beating family members to death. There’s really no limit to Bob’s reach — he even possesses owls, for Christ’s sake — and those who cross his path are pretty much guaranteed to suffer in some way, shape, or form. No set dresser has ever been responsible for more nightmares than the late Frank Silva. –Michael Roffman

    The Black Lodge

    Leo Johnson

    Played by: Eric Da Re

    First Appearance: “Pilot”, 4/8/1990

    Damn Good Quote: “Shelly, sit down here a minute and help me out.”

    Diane… A few characters on Twin Peaks define the expression “evil incarnate.” While Leo is not such a character, he is somehow worse than many of them: he’s an evil human being. I know it must be tough for Leo to run around a small town with an extended-bang-and-ponytail-combo, likely upset that he had to leave his sax behind on the beaches of The Lost Boys (I still believe!). I understand that being on the road full-time can be a stressful gig. These things do not give Leo an excuse to blow off steam by cheating on his wife Shelly with teenage prostitutes. He also chose to run drugs for French-Canadians and deal to high schoolers. Have I mentioned that he is emotionally and physically abusive towards the aforementioned Shelly? Leo’s such a bad cat that unlike other slimeballs in Twin Peaks he doesn’t even have a false face. He’s all asshole all the time, and no last-second redemption could save him. –Justin Gerber

    The Black Lodge

    Jacques Renault

    Played by: Walter Olkewicz

    First Appearance: “Rest in Pain”, 4/26/1990

    Damn Good Quote: “Hey, slow pokes. Guess what? There’s no tomorrow. Know why, baby? ‘Cause it’ll never get here.”


    Diane… “I am the Great Went!” Jacques Renault cries in the Power and the Glory as he watches the high schoolers he pimps out get felt up by a couple of scumbag Canadians. See, Jacques isn’t just a monster, he’s a monster who believes himself to be a god. And, in Twin Peaks, at least, he sorta is. He’s got drugs, he’s got women, and he’s in league with lugheads like Leo Johnson, millionaires like Ben Horne, and cold-blooded killers like his own brother, Jean. We watch him jam his tongue in Laura’s mouth, then, later on, tie her up on the night of her death, effectively serving her up for her possessed father to usher her into the Black Lodge for eternity. The entire Renault family is rotten, but Jacques is the moldiest of them all, a repugnant and corrupt monster with an insatiable appetite for power and debauchery. Good riddance. –Randall Colburn

    The Black Lodge

    Jean Renault

    Played by: Michael Parks

    First Appearance: “The Man Behind Glass”, 10/13/1990

    Damn Good Quote: [to Cooper] “Before you came here, Twin Peaks was a simple place. My brothers sold drugs to truck-drivers and teenagers. One-Eyed Jack’s welcomed curious tourists and businessmen. Quiet people lived quiet lives. Then a pretty girl dies. And you arrive. Everything changes. My brother Bernard is shot and left to die in the woods. A grieving father smothers my surviving brother with a pillow. Arson, kidnapping. More death and destruction. Suddenly the quiet people here are no longer quiet. Their simple dreams have become a nightmare. Maybe you brought the nightmare with you. And maybe, it will die with you.”

    Diane… If you couldn’t gather from above, the Renault family aren’t exactly the Waltons. As the eldest of the three brothers (we decided to omit baby Bernard out of respect for his downright obsolescence), Jean brings a certain class to the drug-dealing family name, which is often smeared with sweat, filth, and depravity by the aforementioned Jacques. Maybe it’s because the late Michael Parks oozed with such smoky finesse in every one of his roles — no matter if he was playing a faithful cop or a delirious walrus scholar — but there’s a palpable cool to Jean. He speaks patiently, he carries English caramels, and he doesn’t think twice about shooting anyone on the spot (see: Emory Battis). Still, the guy’s bad news, baby, and if Jacques were any kind of gentleman, it’d be Jean at the top of the poisoned Renault family tree. –Michael Roffman

    The Black Lodge

    Windom Earle

    Played by: Kenneth Walsh

    First Appearance: “Double Play”, 2/2/1991

    Damn Good Quote: “And if harnessed, these spirits, this hidden land of unmuffled screams and broken hearts, will offer up a power so vast that its bearer might reorder the earth itself to his liking. This place I speak of is known as the Black Lodge, and I intend to find it.”

    Diane… Coop’s hunt for mentor/former partner/psych-ward escapee Earle became the cornerstone of Twin Peaks in the post-whodunit era of the show’s brief history. He had a lot to live up to, and while he never reached the depths of your BOB’s or Renaults, he sure did give it his all. While Coop is often portrayed as “kooky”, his ex-partner is an all-out psychopath. Earle’s path of murder started in the ‘70s, carried over into the ‘80s with the murder of his wife, and ended with a murder or two in Twin Peaks. He made his presence felt by stalking the local ladies (complete with disguises) and in the biggest twist of all, he made Leo a sympathetic character by throwing a shock collar around his neck! His obsession with the Black Lodge is understandable (aren’t you curious?). The means he goes to in order to find it are not. Besides, who would ever side with Coop’s arch-nemesis? –Justin Gerber