The Cult Following: David Lynch’s Twin Peaks Inspired All Of These TV Shows

Twin Peaks went off the air on June 10, 1991. The show left behind a lot of unanswered questions and a legion of passionate fans. Ever since then, a ton of showrunners and writers have looked to David Lynch and Mark Frost’s cult following phenomenon for inspiration.

There have been a handful of mysteries, melodramas and quirky comedies that are old, new, and some network hits. They borrowed the elements of Twin Peaks and ran with them. All of these well-known series have been built off of Peaks foundation.

Northern Exposure Aired A Few Months After Twin Peaks Premiered

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The CBS program premiered a few months after Twin Peaks. This low-key comedy made it the happier twin to Lynch’s darker show.

The show was filled with eccentrics like outsider Dr. Joel Fleischman or the Log Lady who didn’t feel out of place amongst the other residents of the show. Northern Exposure may be a higher latitude than the Pacific Northwest, but it won 27 awards during its five-year run.

Picket Fences Was A Reliably Engaging Crossbreed Of Many Themes

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There’s David Lynch, then there’s David E. Kelly — the man behind Ally McBeal and Picket Fences. Kelly’s show incorporated police, legal and medical dramas, which was set in a strange small town in Wisconsin.

With a stellar cast of Tom Skerritt, Lauren Holly and Kathy Baker, the program struggled to maintain a consistent prime-time audience.

Wild Palms Had Some Notable Names Involved After Its Predecessor Ended

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Oliver Stone spent most of the nineties crafting JFK and Natural Born Killers. But, the director found time to collaborate with author Bruce Wagner for this Scientology-based reality.

Airing two years after the Peaks finale, the show shared its predecessor’s fixation on Kim Cattrall. Filled with dream imagery and dark glamor, it seems due for a cult comeback any day now. It’s no surprise that Daniel Knauf’s HBO drama about a traveling carnival troupe had some Peaks-like qualities. But, it goes beyond that and you’ll see why shortly.

The X-Files Became Part Of A Nineties Pop-Cultural Touchstone

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In many ways, The X-Files first season felt like a supersized Peaks. Two FBI agents investigating any number of strange happenings in small towns became a pop cultural touchstone of the decade.

Although they never discover anything as surreal as the Black Lodge, David Duchovny was cast two years after playing Peaks cross-dressing DEA agent Dennis/Denise Bryson.

The Sopranos Has So Many Connections With Lynch’s Show

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Creator David Chase has spoken in detail about Peaks being an influence for his show. The connections between the shows really come through in their surrealist dream sequences.

Reflecting the fear and anxiety that trouble the lives of their characters, the shows hint at the dark that threatens their future. And without the backward talking-dwarf in the Red, there might not have been Big Pussy as a talking fish.

Carnivàle’s Connection Goes Beyond Its Crossover Cast Member

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It would be easy to assume that writer-producer Daniel Knauf’s HBO drama about a traveling carnival troupe had some Peaks-like qualities. Carnivàle‘s connection goes beyond its crossover cast member.

This is all thanks to the Peaks influence in the series’ slow pacing and supernatural element themes. Much like Lynch’s show, it suffered from a premature cancellation that left the show with unanswered questions. How could viewers resist an inspiringly sleazy title with four attractive women? Marc Cherry has the answer to that just ahead.

Lost Incorporated Many Aspects To Their Characters

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It’s no surprise that J.J. Abrams genre-bending adventure brought weird mysteries to the mainstream. But, Lost never could have gone very far if Peaks didn’t pave the way.

By the end of the series, it incorporated sci-fi, supernatural, and the psycho-spiritual with a variety of characters. Much like Twin Peaks, the show raised more questions than it ever took the trouble to answer.

Veronica Mars Owes A Ton To The Unorthodox Ways Of Peaks

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Rob Thomas’ teen noir centered around the death of Lilly Kane, the daughter of a local billionaire in the fictional Neptune, California.

The show owes plenty to Twin Peaks for its noir style and unorthodox detective protagonist who gives us the play-by-play of her investigation.

Desperate Housewives Was A Nod To Peaks’ Past

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How could viewers resist an inspiringly sleazy title with four attractive women? Marc Cherry’s dramedy/mystery shared more with Twin Peaks than just being on the same network.

The show’s picket-fence logo was a tribute to the suburban sin and secrets of Lynch’s program. Also, Housewives narrator, the late Mary Alive Young, was voiced by Peaks alumnus Brenda Strong. Just ahead, a British detective series never tackles the supernatural, but the deception of a small-town community with an eerie story.

Fringe Was Conceived By Two Big Twin Peaks Fans

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Writing partners Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s mismatched investigators had nothing but Lynch’s show on their mind. Both writers were big fans of the show, so Fringe tapped into the same dark, off-kilter vibe that mirrored the show that inspired them.

Diehard Twin Peaks fans also appreciated the episode’s title, “Northwest Passage” the name which Lynch originally used for his show.

The Killing Failed To Do One Important Thing

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The murder of Rosie Larsen wouldn’t be the same without the murder of Laura Palmer from two decades earlier.

The first season of this American version of the Danish series failed to resolve the investigation. It’s not impossible to reminisce to the end of Peaks’ debut year, especially when audiences raged at the lack of a conclusion.

Broadchurch Doesn’t Have The Supernatural, But More Of A Murder

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This British detective series never tackles the supernatural but instead focuses on the deception of a small-town community surrounding the death of an 11-year-old that echoes Peaks.

Thanks to its characters’ finger-pointing, paranoia, and fear of their dark sides being dragged out from the dark, Broadchurch’s first season ranks among the best-written stand-alone runs in recent TV history. There’s an interesting aspect to the next masterful show ahead. It left fans wanting a similar aspect like Peaks fans.

Bates Motel Was The Build Up To Psycho

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Just as Peaks took their audience to the other side of the tracks, this underrated prequel on Psycho tapped into the mind of criminal behavior.

The program also shares the beautiful DNA of the Lynch/Frost show. The characters don’t just seem to be born in the wrong era, but flung out of a pop culture vision of a time that never needed it.

Top Of The Lake Features Nothing But Whodunits

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Jane Campion’s New Zealand-based murder mystery has an independent sensibility of her own. But, the resemblance between this and Peaks is eerie, as both feature warped whodunits set in a remote mountain community.

Trade Elizabeth Moss’ big-city detective for Kyle MacLachlan’s FBI agent and it’s a one-to-one exchange.

Hannibal Had Fans Wanting Something More

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There’s an interesting aspect to this masterful show that owes a debt to ABC committing to Lynch’s vision: the concept of auteur-driven television.

As much as Peaks feels at one with the Lynch filmography, this take on Thomas Harris’ cannibal doctor is fueled by one thing. Fans hope this show has the same fate as Peaks: a movie and an eventual reboot. One of the most mind-bending shows on Netflix is still on the way, and it’s so up David Lynch’s alley.

True Detective Did Their Homework Thanks To Peaks

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The incredible first season of HBO’s crime anthology borrowed plenty of Peaks’ atmosphere, especially once Rust Vohle and Martin Hart uncover an increasingly bizarre underworld of a small-town corruption involving “Yellow King.”

“Time is a flat circle,” muttered by Matthew McConaughey’s wrung-out investigator sounds something that Agent Cooper would mutter to himself at the Double R Diner.

Wayward Pines Has That Wholesome-Town-USA Dark Vibe Feel

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Based on novels by Blake Crouch, a U.S. Secret Service agent sets out to investigate the deaths of two fellow agents.

However, the residents of Wayward Pines, Idaho all have something to hide. The title sounds very Peaks-ish and the wholesome-town-USA with a dark vibe? That would be up Lynch’s alley.

The OA Is One Of The Best Mind-Bending Series On Netflix

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Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling teamed up for one of Netflix’s mind-bending series about a blind woman who is discovered after a long-disappearance with her sight restored.

Eventually, she explains how she came with her new identity as the “OA”- a ridiculous tale involving Russian oligarchy. A mysterious woman guarding a secret is so David Lynch.

Legion Has Everything From Supernatural To A Trippy Murder Mystery

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Extra-dimensional spaces aren’t the only thing that Noah Hawley’s brilliant superhero show for FX shares with David Lynch’s trippy murder mystery.

Both take place in a different reality that resembles our own, and both make the most of a mystical boogeyman who’s a real creep.

Riverdale Takes Archie Comics To A Much Darker Side

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An adaption to the classic Archie Comics is nothing but a sexy teen drama with paranormal paranoia.

The previous characters responsible for decades of teen-like comics gets steamy and dark very quick. Fans have the hots for Archie, but that shot of the town’s “Welcome To Riverdale” sign looks eerily familiar.