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


    The Black Lodge

    Thomas Eckhardt

    Played by: David Warner

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

    Damn Good Quote: “I don’t believe in ghosts.”

    Diane… Thomas Eckhardt is a bar of goddamn soap, the kind of cheesy, conniving character that could only thrive on daytime TV. If he had a mustache, he would most certainly be twirling it. Get this: He’s a South African emigré in Hong Kong who arranged the murder of his ex-business partner (via BOAT EXPLOSION!) with his young, exotic lover. After showing up in Twin Peaks, Eckhardt is swiftly killed by that same exotic lover, yet wreaks posthumous havoc via garrote, hallucinogens, and a PUZZLE BOX that leads his enemies to a safety deposit box with a goddamned BOMB in it. Guy’s got more blood on his hands than a pig butcher. He’s also responsible for splaying Pete Martell’s guts all over poor Audrey Horne so let’s just say there’s a special place in the Black Lodge for him—hopefully we won’t have to see it in the new season, though. Guy is awful. –Randall Colburn

    The Black Lodge

    Hank Jennings

    Played by: Chris Mulkey

    First Appearance: “The One-Armed Man”, 4/26/1990

    Damn Good Quote: “You know there’s a saying in the joint. It’s not Oriental philosophy, but it has a similar kind of logic that appeals to my spiritual nature. Once you’re in business with somebody, you’re in business with them for life. Like a marriage. Til death do you part.”

    Diane… Hank’s got his fingers in so many pies: cherry, apple, huckleberry, you name it. After 18 months in prison for a crime that belied a much greater one, Hank comes out feigning rehabilitation for his ex, Norma, but cavorting behind the scenes with no-gooders like Leo Johnson, Ben Horne, and Josie Packard. Still, there’s something almost clinical about Hank’s work, as if crime to him is more of a talent to him than a compulsion. Rarely does it seem it ever gets personal to him. Despite his two-faced nature, Hank still seems genuinely invested in rekindling things with Norma, as well as in the revitalization of the Double R Diner. Though this wrinkle in his personality doesn’t redeem Hank’s many misadventures—shooting Leo, for instance, or his involvement in the Packard Sawmill’s arson—it does give him a level of dimension that’s unseen in other denizens of the Black Lodge. –Randall Colburn

    The Black Lodge

    Catherine Martell

    Played by: Piper Laurie

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

    Damn Good Quote: “Where there’s a key, there’s a lock.”

    Diane… Deception is everything to Catherine; it’s in her blood. She’s the younger sister to Andrew Packard, aka the villainous, would-be dead, former owner of the Packard Mill, and yet also wife to Pete Martell, aka the lovable town do-gooder whose family once feuded with the Packards before they absorbed the Martell Mill. That rare mix of light and darkness works to her advantage, though, as she snakes her way through Twin Peaks on Martell’s goodwill — and occasionally garish Japanese disguises (meet: Mr. Tojamura) — while sinking those Packard teeth into anyone she deems a problem. That could be anyone from fiendish sister-in-law Josie Packard, who stands to gain everything from her brother’s will, to secret side piece Benjamin Horne, who has his own devious intentions with the Packard Mill (keyword: Ghostwood). To be fair, she did save Shelly Johnson from the fire at her Mill, but one could argue that heroic moment provided an enviable silver lining for her. As you can see, Catherine leads a very pretzeled lifestyle, but she eats it all up with a side of mustard and a wicked smile. –Michael Roffman

    The Black Lodge

    Leland Palmer

    Played by: Ray Wise

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

    Damn Good Quote: “We have to dance for Laura!”

    Diane… Well, here’s a tough one. We all know Leland committed his worst crimes when possessed by BOB, but it’s not really so simple, is it? The show might lead you to believe that, that Leland was a fundamentally decent person who was driven to violence by, ya know, the influence of a demonic spirit. But Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me complicates that, doesn’t it? Was Leland possessed by BOB when he was cheating on his wife with Teresa Banks? Was he under the influence when arranging orgies with underage girls? When Teresa Banks blackmailed and Leland bashed her skull in, was that BOB staking his claim on this soul or was that a desperate, middle-aged man’s bid at self preservation? Was Leland molesting his daughter? Did Leland’s dark soul invite BOB in? Or had BOB been there all along? Laura’s diary describes BOB as a “friend of her father’s” who’d been visiting since she was 12; this would serve the narrative that BOB had long been possessing Leland. Still, there’s plenty of evidence that points to Leland himself being deranged; just look at his behavior at Laura’s funeral and elsewhere, where his grief can be read as either an elaborate, mocking performance, a slip from sanity, or a man trying to overcompensate for his own sins. One thing’s for certain, however: Life was hell for Sarah Palmer. –Randall Colburn

    The Black Lodge

    Ben Horne

    Played by: Richard Beymer

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

    Damn Good Quote: “Admiration is for poets and dairy cows, Bobby.”

    Diane… It might be easier to name the people Ben wasn’t trying to screw. A shrewd businessman for whom ethics and general decency waved bye-bye long ago, Ben’s crimes are numerous, ranging from his funding of an underage brothel and involvement in the recruitment of those underage girls (not to mention his enjoyment of “breaking them in”) to his backstage machinations with bad boys like Jacques Renault, Leo Johnson, and Hank Jennings. Horne was also screwing half the town, forging so many alliances that, as the show went on, it became harder to track just who was the victim in any given scenario. Truman had every right in the world to think Ben was the one who killed Laura.

    After his false conviction, Ben suffered a mental break that spurred delusions of the Civil War. After being cured by Dr. Jacoby, Ben sought some kind of redemption by trying to halt the toxic Ghostwood construction project (which he’d previously schemed to make happen) though it’s unclear whether his efforts had any positive effect. In the end, his legacy remains that of an opportunistic, self-absorbed, predatory douchebag, though that’s easy to forget whenever the show allowed us to glimpse he and his brother, Jerry, as children, giggling as a woman danced in the dark before them, rhythmically waving a flashlight. Ah, shattered innocence. –Randall Colburn


    The Black Lodge

    Blackie O’Reilly

    Played by:Victoria Catlin

    First Appearance: “Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer”, 4/18/1990

    Damn Good Quote: “She’s ready for her close-up now.”

    Diane… Blackie, or Black Rose, O’Reilly isn’t in the Black Lodge because she’s the Madam of One-Eyed Jack’s. Were she at all concerned with the safety and well-being of the sex workers under her care, that likely wouldn’t prove much of a factor in our assessment. We also do not deny that Blackie had a tough old life, saddled as she was with both heroin addiction and the regular presence of the Horne brothers, who make terrible employers and even worse drinking companions. Still, some acts you just don’t come back from, and injecting a high school girl with heroin against her will is one of them. The fact that Benjamin Horne did the same (or something similar) to her? That makes it worse, not better. –Allison Shoemaker

    The Red Room


    Played by: Brenda Strong

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

    Damn Good Quote: Sadly, Jones’s best line happens off-camera. The South African Consulate? In Twin Peaks?

    Diane… Jones isn’t around for long (and while the character may be minor, it’s a shame that Strong, who’s a hell of an actor, didn’t get more to do). She’s just here to do her job, serving as Thomas Eckhardt’s assistant/will executor/private assassin. That she does so with such obvious glee makes her brief appearance somewhat memorable, but it’s her final dramatic act – an attempt on Sheriff Truman’s life by means of hallucinogenic lip stuff, lingerie, and a garrotting wire hidden in a piece of jewelry – that truly earns Jones a place in the Lynch hall of fame. It’s a moment in which Twin Peaks becomes The Americans all of a sudden, and for that, Jones, I salute you. –Allison Shoemaker

    The Black Lodge

    Malcolm Sloan

    Played by: Nicholas Love

    First Appearance: “The Black Widow”, 1/12/1991

    Damn Good Quote: “I’m sorry, am I being obscure?”

    Diane… Oh, boy. The worst sub-plot in the Great Northwest ties poor old James Hurley up with a pack of assholes, Malcolm Sloan chief among them. For a full rundown of the evil acts committed in his brief run on the series, see Evelyn Marsh’s entry — then just subtract the late-arriving moment of redemption and add a controlling nature, an additional attempted murder, and an all-around air of general insufferability. That his storyline is the absolute worst is a minor thing, compared to his other sins, but the fact that all that evil is also super duper boring makes it so much worse. –Allison Shoemaker

    The Black Lodge

    Evelyn Marsh

    Played by: Annette McCarthy

    First Appearance: “Masked Ball”, 12/15/1990

    Damn Good Quote: “Men are always alright, right up until they pull the trigger. And then we watch the neighbors solemnly march out to the news cameras to tell us: ‘He was such a nice, quiet guy.’”

    Diane… The Evelyn/James storyline answers the question: What if things had gone south for Bruce Springsteen in his “I’m on Fire” music video? Let’s check off the evil deeds Evelyn commits during her (mercifully) brief run on the series: 1.) cheats on husband with co-conspirator/lover, 2.) cheats on husband with high schooler, 3.) frames high schooler for husband’s murder, 4.) kills aforementioned co-conspirator/lover. How many laws does she break in five episodes? Is James even 18? While she ultimately saves James in the end, it’s too little too late. Such is the fate for many in Twin Peaks. –Justin Gerber

    The Black Lodge

    Emory Battis

    Played by: Don Amendolia

    First Appearance: “Cooper’s Dreams”, 5/3/1990

    Damn Good Quote: “Laura was a wild girl. She always got what she wanted. Just like you, Miss Horne. Just like you.”


    Diane… Emory Battis is a mild-mannered middle manager on the surface, a sweaty, eager-to-please supervisor at Ben Horne’s department store. Ah, but looks can be deceiving. Battis is actually a key part of One-Eyed Jack’s recruitment of underage escorts, in charge of both the choosing and grooming of the girls. We don’t see the depth of his depravity until season two, when he serves as cameraman for Blackie’s injection of heroin into young Audrey Horne. Later, he raises a hand against her, an action that even the diabolical Jean Renault finds unacceptable. Renault shoots the spineless bastard dead, banishing him to an afterlife that we’re fairly positive won’t include pearly gates. –Randall Colburn

    The Red Room

    Josie Packard

    Played by: Joan Chen

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

    Damn Good Quote: “On top of the morning to you, Pete.”

    Diane… Josie’s background is far more interesting than the Josie we get in Twin Peaks. As the daughter of a high-ranking enforcer of the Siu-wong triad and a prostitute named “Lace Butterfly,” Josie grew up in the Guangzhou province of China, where she attended private schools and did fun things like learn six different languages, start prostitute rings, and establish a fashion label that served as a front for her own drug ring. She probably even killed her father. Interesting, right? Sadly, that wicked Josie never arrives in Twin Peaks, where her inherent vices are marginalized in favor of hush-hush dialogue, a Red Shoe Diaries romance with Sheriff Harry S. Truman, and ludicrous subplots involving the Mill. Hell, even her boldest power play — tapping the likes of Thomas Eckhardt and Hank Jennings to kill her husband, Andrew — happens off screen. Essentially, she’s a spiderwoman who’s lost her venom, and although she occasionally steps into the light, she’s still a spider crawling in the dark. That’s not good for anyone. –Michael Roffman

    The Red Room

    Jerry Horne

    Played by: David Patrick Kelly

    First Appearance: “Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer”, 4/19/1990

    Damn Good Quote: “Ben, as your attorney, your friend, and your brother, I strongly suggest that you get yourself a better lawyer.”

    Diane… It’s a good life being Jerry Horne. While his brother Benjamin holds down the fort at the Great Northern Lodge — both literally and metaphorically given the whole Civil War subplot (ugh) — Jerry gets to take trips to Paris, dance around with loaves of sourdough bread (with Brie and butter, no less), and jump “first in line” with any new inductees at One Eyed Jack’s. Okay, so that last part is pretty lascivious, and the fact that he’s a blatant mover and shaker for the town’s ugliest souls suggests a lack of moral fiber, but man, this guy loves life so much that it would be a crime to toss him in with the rest of the Mill jerks. Plus, he’s a great brother, all things considered, even if his skills as an attorney are second to Charlie “Bird Law” Kelly. –Michael Roffman

    The Red Room

    Bobby Briggs

    Played by: Dana Ashbrook

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

    Damn Good Quote: “You wanna know who killed Laura Palmer? You did! We all did!”

    Diane… Bobby is a delightful mess, but at least he’s trying. At first glance, he’s everything you expect from a teenager: rebellious, angsty, lanky, and agitated. But inside, he’s a tortured soul who surprisingly loves more than he hates, even if his anger gets the best of him all too often. As boyfriend to Laura Palmer, Bobby indulged his dark side, distributing drugs for Leo Johnson as a way to fulfill Laura’s cocaine addiction, as he later confesses to Dr. Jacoby. Of course, he consciously leaves out the fact that he also killed a man during this period — a drug supplier in the woods (as seen in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and only hinted at in the series) — but that’s okay because the guy was a scumbag, right? Eh, we’ll let you be the judge of that. Nevertheless, Laura’s death serves as a wake up call for Bobby, who tries to turn things around, even if that includes a series of odd jobs with Benjamin Horne and swiping Leo’s disability checks with Shelly Johnson. There’s hope for him, though; after all, he’s the son of Major Garland Briggs and there’s really no better role model than that guy. –Michael Roffman

    The Red Room

    Mrs. Tremond/Chalfont and Grandson

    Played by: Frances Bay and Austin Jack Lynch/Jonathan J. Leppell

    First Appearance: “Coma”, 10/6/1990

    Damn Good Quote: “This would look nice on your wall.”

    Diane… While Mrs. Tremond and her weirdo grandson had a limited time on screen in the Twin Peaks universe, they certainly made their creepy presence felt. In the series, they are an oddball pairing under the family name Tremond who Donna encounters during a Meals on Wheels drop-off (think magic). In Fire Walk with Me, we discover that they previously lived in the mysterious trailer park under the name of Chalfont, but are more importantly co-inhabitants in the Red Room! You could look at Mrs. Tremond’s warnings to Laura as helpful and, dare I say, saintly. However, when you’ve got a “grandson” hopping about wearing a white papier-mâché mask? Signs point to “unclear.” –Justin Gerber

    The Red Room

    Mike Nelson

    Played by: Gary Hershberger

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

    Damn Good Quote: *barking at James Hurley through prison bars

    Diane… Mike Nelson is the archetypal jock: handsome, beefy, and imposing in his fitted varsity jacket. Anyone who wasn’t top dog in high school will likely hate him the moment they see him and, frankly, their instincts would be on point. Mike is bad news, a cocky bully who’s also no stranger to Twin Peaks’ underbelly, having been a dealer of coke alongside his best buddy, Bobby Briggs. Mike crosses the line, however, in the way he verbally and physically knocks around his girlfriend, Donna Hayward. It isn’t until the end of the series, when he shacks up with Nadine, an older woman who proves time and again that she can whoop his ass, that the whippersnapper learns a little respect. –Randall Colburn