The weird vocal effects used during the "Black Lodge" sequences were achieved by having the actors learn their lines backwards. The result was then played backwards, meaning the lines came out forwards, but sounded bizarre and otherworldly.
The character of Bob came about when David Lynch had a sudden image of set decorator Frank Silva hidden in Laura Palmer's room. Lynch filmed the infamous shot of Silva hiding behind Laura's bed without any idea of what he would use it for. Later, when filming a shot of Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) sitting up and screaming, Lynch noticed that Silva's reflection was visible in the shot, purely by accident. Lynch then came up with the idea of BOB as an other-worldly spirit, giving birth to the series mythology.
Kyle MacLachlan refused to further develop the storyline about his character Dale Cooper's relationship with Audrey Horne ( Sherilyn Fenn), resulting in the writers having to abruptly change and add several second season story lines. As originally scripted, Audrey Horne would have been the one kidnapped by Windom Earle and taken to the Black Lodge in the series finale; the characters of Justice Wheeler and Annie were written in specifically to give Dale and Audrey "appropriate" love interests. At the time, the relationship between Cooper and Audrey was heavily publicized in TV Guide and other entertainment magazines, akin to the press given to later TV "power couples" (such as Mike and Susan of Desperate Housewives). The move alienated audiences and caused a further decline in the show's already suffering ratings. At the time, Kyle MacLachlan attributed his insistence to a belief that the morally upright Cooper would not date an underage girl; however, Audrey was a high school senior who, in the time line of the series, would have graduated in one to two months, and in fact was not "underage"-- in Washington state, the age of consent is sixteen, and Audrey is seventeen in the pilot. Crew members who would later attend the annual Twin Peaks convention would recall that MacLachlan was pressured into the decision by his then-girlfriend, Lara Flynn Boyle, who did not want her boyfriend sharing love scenes with Fenn, with whom Boyle did not get along on set.
The population of Twin Peaks was originally only supposed to be 5,120. However, there was a backlash against rural-themed shows at the time, as networks were fearful that the burgeoning urban and suburban population of America would not be able to sympathize with shows set in small farming or industrial towns, so ABC requested that the sign read 51,201. In a "Visitor's Guide to Twin Peaks" tie-in book authorized by creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, a note tells readers that the population was indeed 5,120, but that the sign had a "typo."
In Germany, broadcasting network RTL canceled the show after 20 episodes due to bad ratings because rival network SAT1 told the audience the identity of Laura's murderer before the first episode aired.
There were plans to spin Sherilyn Fenn's character Audrey Horne off into her own series, that didn't come off. Apparently, Audrey inspired David Lynch for Naomi Watts's character in Mulholland Drive (2001), as Fenn said in an interview in 1997 about the Audrey Horne spin-off, "David was talking about 'Mulholland Drive', he talked about like 'Audrey goes to Hollywood'. She's driving along Mulholland in this convertible car... But it didn't end up happening."
The character of the one-armed man, was originally only to appear in a walk on role in the pilot as an homage to The Fugitive (1963). However, after David Lynch wrote the closed ending for the European version of the pilot, he decided to use the character to recite in infamous "Fire Walk With Me" poem. Highly impressed by the performance of Al Strobel, Lynch decided to make the character integral to the series mythology and give Strobel a recurring role on the show.
The character of Madeleine Ferguson (Laura Palmer's lookalike cousin, played by the same actress) was created because Lynch was so impressed by Sheryl Lee that he wanted to have her on the series full-time.
This series is notorious for having one of the most torrid productions in television history. Though a major cult phenomenon and a ratings smash in the first year, the series was abruptly canceled in its second season. Both Mark Frost and David Lynch attribute this to ABC's constant changing of the show's time slot, as well as the network insisting that the murderer of Laura Palmer be revealed. Lynch also was unable to focus his full attention on the show in its second year, as he was promoting Wild at Heart (1990) at the time. After the Palmer murder was solved, ratings plummeted, and though Lynch returned to the series full time with the intention of further exploring the origins of Laura's killer, ABC canceled the series. The cable network BRAVO then tried to revive the show, even hiring 'David Lynch' to film new scenes for episodes in syndication. Still, audience interest waned. As of 2007, despite the release of the tie-in feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), high sales on DVD and several fan attempts to revive the series, David Lynch has resisted any attempt to do so.
Another parallel with the life of Marilyn Monroe, though probably unintentional. Monroe was a friend of Rosemary Clooney, and was invited to her house for a party in 1955. Clooney had recently had a baby, and took Monroe upstairs to see him. He burst into tears when Monroe first cradled him, until he opened his eyes and saw Monroe, and simply stared back at here, wide-eyed. Monroe ended up spending the entire party upstairs with the baby. That newborn was none other than cast member Miguel Ferrer.
During the series run, two official tie-in books were released as prequels to the series, 'The Autobiography of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper' (ISBN:0671744003) and 'The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer'. The latter book was commissioned by Lynch to be written by his twenty-one year old daughter Jennifer, to whom Lynch revealed all of the series' secrets so that the book could accurately reflect the events of the series. The diary was written with several "missing pages" (which presumably implicate the killer) with the remaining pages making Ben Horne look guilty.
The series was originally to be titled "Northwest Passage". The character of Josie Packard (played by Joan Chen) was originally named Giovanna "Jo" Pasqualini Packard, and was intended to be played by Isabella Rossellini, who was dating David Lynch at the time.
David Lynch's character Gordon Cole was named after an incidental character in the film Sunset Blvd. (1950). Lynch has acknowledged Sunset Blvd. as a major influence, most notably in the similarly named Mulholland Drive (2001).
Dr. Jacoby is based on the late ethnobotanist Terrence McKenna. Their physical appearance is strikingly similar, their dress style is similar and they are both in the liberal arts professions. Dr. Jacoby holidays in Hawaii and has a Hawaiian wife, McKenna lived in Hawaii. Dr. Jacoby has a notable mushroom shaped lamp, McKenna studied and wrote widely on psychedelic mushroom culture.
David Lynch and Mark Frost were originally working on a screen adaptation of the Marilyn Monroe biography 'Goddess'. When they failed to get the rights to the book, the project they embarked upon instead, 'Twin Peaks', contained many elements of Marilyn Monroe's story - particularly the fact that she is killed just before she mentions in her diary that she is going to tell the world the truth about the famous and important man she is having an affair with (Ben Horne).
At the beginning of the shooting of the second season, actress Sherilyn Fenn came down with a bad case of pneumonia, making headlines that the shooting of the series might be affected or that she might have to leave the show. As writer/producer Harley Peyton said in an interview: "It looked like it could give us some really serious problems. It turned out all right. She was tremendous and recovered rather quickly and came back sooner than she had to. We had different directors shooting each day and two directors shooting in a single day and, in fact, got all of her scenes done."
The pattern on the floor of the Black Lodge is an enlarged version of the pattern on the floor of the lobby of Henry's house in Eraserhead (1977), also directed by David Lynch. The pattern also appears on Leland Palmer's sport coat at the end of the first episode, as he dances with Laura's picture.
Sheryl Lee plays two characters: Laura Palmer and her cousin, a blonde and a brunette. In Vertigo (1958)'Kim Novak' plays two characters, a blonde and a brunette. One character is called Madeleine, and James Stewart's character is called John Ferguson. The name of Laura Palmer's cousin is an amalgamation of these two names: Madeleine Ferguson.
In Sheriff Harry S Truman's office there is a buck's head mounted on the wall and a plaque reading "the buck stopped here"; a reference to President Harry S. Truman's famous motto, "the buck stops here."
The pilot was originally shown as one two-hour TV movie, but was later broken into a two-part episode for the series. There was also a theatrical version of the pilot released in Europe. See Twin Peaks (1990).
According to an interview with Joan Chen in a featurette included with the 2007 DVD release, the character of Josie was originally written as an Italian character, with Lynch's domestic partner at the time Isabella Rossellini slated to play the role.
"Twin Peaks" takes place in and was filmed in Washington State. Two major characters in the series share the names of two legendary figures in Washington state history. FBI agent Dale Bartholomew Cooper shares the last name and first initials of D.B. Cooper, the mysterious hijacker who disappeared after jumping out of a plane over Washington State in 1971. Sheriff Harry Truman shares his name not only with the U.S. president, but also with Harry R. Truman, the 83-year-old lodge owner who was killed in the 18 May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens after refusing to evacuate his lodge at the foot of the volcano.
Kyle MacLachlan protested Cooper's love story with Audrey Horne, played by Sherilyn Fenn, because Audrey was too young. Ironically, his next love interest was played by Heather Graham, a baby-faced 21-year-old at the time and 5 years Fenn's junior.
The insurance agent that comes to see Catherine concerning the forged insurance deal is named Walter Neff. The crooked insurance agent played by Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity (1944) is also named Walter Neff.
Dana Ashbrook and Robert Bauer wrote a road movie script called "Driven To It" that David Lynch offered to executive produce in name only in order to help them, but Ashbrook and Bauer couldn't get financing for it.
Ray Wise, Miguel Ferrer, and Daniel O'Herlihy all appeared in RoboCop (1987). However, in Robocop, only Ferrer and O'Herlihy ever shared screen time, whereas in Twin Peaks, only Wise and Ferrer ever share screen time (O'Herlihy appears later).
According to director Lesli Linka Glatter, because the first episode she directed had a convention happening at the Horne's hotel, she decided as a running gag that every time she directed an episode, a different themed convention would be taking place at the hotel.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In her 2011 autobiography, Piper Laurie says that to maintain the secret of whether her character, Catherine Martell, survived the mill fire long into the second season, the producers hatched a plan for her to be on set only in her "Japanese businessman" costume and prosthetic makeup; the rest of the cast and crew were told only that she was a (male) Japanese movie actor named Fumio Yamaguchi who had worked mostly with the acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa, and that Yamaguchi didn't speak much English. Laurie's name was removed from the credits, and she was restricted from telling the press or even her own family that she had not been fired from the show. Several of her costars were fooled at first, including Jack Nance (who played her husband) and Peggy Lipton (who suspected it was David Lynch's then-girlfriend Isabella Rossellini in disguise instead).
In order to prevent information about the killer leaking out, the scene of Maddie's murder was also filmed with Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) as the killer, but that alternate scene was never intended to be shown in any form. Neither Beymer nor Ray Wise knew who the killer was, and an intentionally leaked script indicated both Big Ed Hurley and Ben Horne as the killer.
Although Episode 29 was the last of the television series, many scenes taking place after Episode 29 were originally filmed for the feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992). These scenes included the much-anticipated resolution to the series finale, revealing the fate of Annie Blackburn (who survives but is hospitalized) and Agent Cooper (whose soul remains trapped in the Black Lodge, with the Man from Another Place telling him that he will be there for several years). Due to running time, these scenes were cut, resulting in several main characters of the series not appearing in the film at all. As of 2007, David Lynch has been working with MK2 and New Line to put these scenes out on an upcoming DVD release.