It's sort of crazy to consider the massive impact Twin Peaks has had on film and television since its debut in the early 1990s because the series only aired for two seasons. And yet during those two seasons, it became a cultural phenomenon. The series went on to spawn multiple films, novels, and other merchandise. It even returned for a revival series on STARZ in 2017.
The story followed Agent Dale Cooper as he arrived in the strange town of Twin Peaks in order to investigate the murder of a popular high school girl named Laura Palmer. He soon discovers nothing in the town is as it appears. Twin Peaks has inspired hundreds of copycats and its influence can be felt in many modern mystery stories. But where is the cast who played such iconic characters now?
10 Ray Wise - Leland Palmer
As the father of the recently murdered Laura Palmer, Leland was always at the forefront of the investigation, both as a grieving father and a sinister suspect. After his daughter died, his mental health took a severe decline. Over time it came to light there were some genuinely dark secrets beneath the surface of the Palmer family.
Ray Wise, the actor who played Leland, has had a steady career since the series ended. He currently stars as the series regular role of Marvin on the ABC sitcom, Fresh Off the Boat. Beyond that, he is best known for voicing Commissioner Gordon in the DC animated film, The Killing Joke, and as Jack McTaggart in the Jeepers Creepers sequel.
9 Sheryl Lee - Laura Palmer
Despite the fact Laura was dead before Twin Peaks could even begin, her character was vital to the show and Sheryl Lee provided a lasting impact in the haunting role. She also got the chance to act as a living character in Maddy Ferguson. Like other former Twin Peaks actors, Lee has had a relatively low-key since the show ended.
Her most notable post-Peaks role was as Peyton Sawyer's mother in The CW teen drama, One Tree Hill. But she did reprise her role as Laura Palmer in the Twin Peaks revival series. Mostly she has stuck to roles in independent films. Last year she starred in the teen thriller #SquadGoals. Currently, she has a short film called Down to Nothing in production.
8 Kenneth Walsh - Windom Earle
Every special agent needs a partner and Kenneth Walsh played Window Earle, partner to Dale Cooper. Except unlike Dale Cooper, Windom Earle was a master manipulator and an evil mastermind. His character was the dark counterpart to MacLachlan's. While Walsh wasn't back for the Twin Peaks revival he has had a pretty steady career since the '90s.
He's mostly had guest starring and recurring roles in television shows such as The Blacklist and Saving Hope. Recently he starred on the AMC series, Lodge 49, as Larry Loomis. The show was renewed for a second season. Walsh also has a few film projects in the works such as the movie Afterwards and Campton Manor.
7 Lara Flynn Boyle - Donna Hayward
As the best friend of Laura Palmer, Donna was struck particularly hard by her sudden death. She made it her mission to find out what had happened to her former pal. Once Twin Peaks came to a close, Boyle went on to star in the ABC series The Practice for which she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award.
Surprisingly, since all the esteem and praise she received for her roles on Twin Peaks and The Practice, Boyle's career mostly fizzled out. She was relegated to more obscure independent films and hasn't starred in anything new since the 2014 movie Lucky Dog.
6 Sherilyn Fenn - Audrey Horne
When thinking of Twin Peaks, it's near impossible not to recall Audrey Horne. She was arguably one of the most popular characters in the entire franchise. Audrey was best-known for her sly and confident attitude in addition to her infatuation with Dale Cooper. Fenn returned along with many of her cast mates for the Twin Peaks revival where Horne's storyline began with her in an unhappy marriage.
Fenn launched into stardom during the mid-90s and became a sex symbol due to her classic Hollywood looks. Towards the end of the 90s, her career slowed, and it wasn't until the early 2000s that she came back into the limelight with multiple roles in Gilmore Girls and several television films. She has several films currently in production, although they all mostly appear to be low-budget or independent projects.
5 Richard Beymar - Benjamin Horne
Richard Beymar had the difficult task of portraying the morally duplicitous Benjamin Horne. A man who professed to love Laura Palmer more than his own daughter, Audrey. It led to him becoming a major suspect in her murder.
After Twin Peaks wrapped, Beymar kept relatively low-key in his career. He published a book in 2007 and then returned for the series revival in 2017. Other than that he has mostly kept himself busy with documentary films. He directed five different documentaries from 2010 to 2017, one each one he also served as editor and cinematographer.
4 Dana Ashbrook - Bobby Briggs
Due to his closeness with Laura Palmer (he was her boyfriend before her death), Bobby Briggs was one of the main suspects during the investigation into her death. Truthfully he was innocent of the murder, but he did move on quickly to seeing Shelley Johnson.
Dana Ashbrook returned to play Bobby in the revival. Since Twin Peaks ended, Ashbrook has struggled to find a consistent job on television, opting instead to appear in guest spots. He will appear in season two of the Netflix series, Insatiable, and he has two films in the works, Ice Cream in the Cupboard with Jaime King, and a crime thriller called Harmless.
3 Mädchen Amick - Shelly Johnson
Who could forget sweet Shelly Johnson, the waitress who left high school to marry Leo Johnson only to realize he was a monster not long after. Amick's portrayal as Shelly made her incredibly popular in the fandom and she has been a television staple ever since.
While Amick didn't get another series regular gig for some time, she did recur and appear in guest roles in a multitude of popular television series such as Gossip Girl, CSI: NY, Mad Men, Drop Dead Diva, and Longmire. Amick also reprised her role as Shelly Johnson in the 2017 Twin Peaks revival. Currently, she stars as the mother of Betty Cooper, Alice Cooper, on The CW's hit series, Riverdale, which actually shares many similarities with Twin Peaks.
2 Michael Ontkean - Sheriff Harry S. Truman
Ontkean played the pivotal role of Sheriff Harry S. Truman on the original Twin Peaks. It was Truman who hired Special Agent Dale Cooper to come to town in order to investigate Laura Palmer's homicide. In turn, the two men wound up becoming close friends over the course of the extended case.
Sadly, Ontkean was unable to return for the 2017 revival of the series but he has kept pretty busy but maintained a low-profile over the years. Since Twin Peaks, he starred in a number of made-for-tv movies and recurred in shows like North Shore and The Outer Limits. Ontkean hasn't been seen on television since 2008 or in film since the 2011 film, The Descendants. It appears he's focused more on his family life with two children at home.
1 Kyle MacLachlan - Dale Cooper
FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper arrived in the strange town of Twin Peaks to investigate the brutal murder of Laura Palmer during the show's beginnings. He went on to become one of the series' most popular characters. MacLachlan's role as Cooper helped put him on the map. He was nominated for multiple Emmy Awards for his role as Dale Cooper.
Since leaving Twin Peaks he's gone on to star in multiple hit television series such as Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, and How I Met Your Mother. He has worked consistently in both film and TV for the past twenty years. Next for MacLachlan, he will co-star alongside Patricia Heaton in the CBS sitcom, Carol's Second Act, set to premiere this fall.