It’s tough to complain about a season of television that once seemed like it would never happen, but however much fans enjoyed Twin Peaks: The Return, it was noticeably devoid of details in one area: What happened to everybody in those 25 years between seasons? A quarter-century is a pretty long time!
A lot can happen, and indeed it did, as we’ve learned from reading co-creator Mark Frost’s new novel, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier. In the book — which is part of the Twin Peaks canon — Frost explains the fates of numerous characters that you either love or hate, and even goes so far as to answer a few burning questions about The Return’s finale in the process. Read on if you want to know what happened with 11 notable characters, whose outcomes vary dramatically.
Few will be saddened to learn Leo’s story ended almost immediately after the events of the second season. In the midst of being trapped in Windom Earle’s pesky tarantula setup, an unknown assailant shot Leo to death with five bullets, all of which were in close in proximity to his heart. Albert Rosenfield performed his autopsy, and as he dryly noted in his report, “Unfortunately, aside from the killer, it appears that said spiders were the only witnesses.” The FBI concluded Windom must have been the killer, although a few details imply it could’ve been Agent Cooper’s doppelgänger who did the deed.
After graduating high school, Donna left Twin Peaks and severed all relationships with her family to attend Hunter College in New York City. However, an intended life of academia quickly took a different turn: She became a wildly popular and in-demand fashion model, a job that took her to fabulous destinations around the world for photo shoots and fashion shows. She was considered one of the “fresh faces” of the ’90s and was a near-constant staple in gossip and society columns throughout the decade. Donna’s crème de la crème dating life was also enviable, as she eventually chose to settle down with a tony New York venture capitalist who was twice her age. Alas, her life soon took a downward spiral: When her career began to dry up, she took four trips to rehab within five years for alcohol and drug dependency. Her husband filed for divorce, and with barely a pittance from an iron-clad prenuptial agreement, she decided to reconnect with her father, who was living in Middlebury, Vermont, and still practicing family medicine. To this day, she still lives with him and their relationship is a positive one, and she even works as an assistant at his practice. She’s also studying to obtain a degree to become a nurse practitioner.
How’s Annie? We finally find out, and it’s not a happy ending: She’s been mute ever since her Red Room ordeal with Cooper, only softly muttering “I’m fine” every year, once a year, on the anniversary of the day she was found in the woods at precisely 8:38 a.m. Owing to two suicide attempts in the years that followed, Annie’s sister, Norma Jennings, decided to admit her to a private psychiatric hospital near Spokane, where she’s been living ever since. She’s described as “still quite beautiful, her face unlined in youthful appearance, peaceful in temperament, and blissfully detached from everything and everyone around her.” Medical professionals at the hospital say it’s highly doubtful her condition will ever improve.
A year after Leo’s not-so-tragic death, Shelly and Bobby Briggs were married in Reno, Nevada, with no family or friends in attendance. Shelly was in the early stages of pregnancy when they got married, and their daughter, Rebecca “Becky” Briggs, was born a few months later. Thanks to the support of Norma and Bobby’s mother, the new couple were able to purchase a home and live contently with stable careers for many years to come. Frost gives no indication why their marriage eventually fell apart, as witnessed in The Return.
Ben ended up selling the Horne-owned land in Ghostwood National Forest to a privately run prison, which Twin Peaks residents consider to be one of the worst things to ever befall the town. Ben himself has frequently referred to the “ugly, brutish” prison that opened in 2001 as “a blight on our land” despite approving the sale, and there was a noticeable correlation between the prison’s opening and a vast uptick in alcoholism, depression, suicide, and prescription-drug addiction in town. He’s now considered to be a rueful old man who regrets many of his decisions in life.
Unlike Ben, the other Horne brother had a grand ol’ time in his middle age thanks to one thing and one thing only: marijuana. Jerry established his own mini weed empire a decade ago, anticipating Washington state’s eventual legalization of the herb, with the business soon becoming the most successful endeavor in the history of the Horne family. (In fact, his products are “among the most sought after in the marketplace.”) Jerry has since personally developed more than a dozen distinct strains and hybrids, all of which are extremely popular along the Western seaboard. Not to mention, he did so while keeping his signature cool-cat personality in place, which is perhaps best exemplified by this passage in the novel:
Jerry has been known to paddle a canoe out into the middle of the lake, activate the system by remote control, and crank up the volume — as the saying goes — to eleven. The resulting wall of sound from certain recordings is rumored to create whitecaps on the water and terrify most of the indigenous wildlife within a five-mile radius. Dr. Jacoby was once heard to mention, on his pirate radio show, that one winter Jerry’s blasting of Miles Davis’s album Bitches Brew at top volume triggered a small avalanche.
Stripped of his Washington state doctoral credentials following the events of the second season, Jacoby proceeded to live a fascinating, globe-trotting life in the decade to come. This included studying shamanism and alternative medicines in Hawaii, touring America as the “senior spiritual adviser” for the Grateful Dead, and serving as a “resident fellow” at a progressive think tank in Amsterdam. He chose to return to Twin Peaks out of financial convenience at the beginning of the new millennium, where he beefed up on his knowledge of the internet and reinvented himself as Dr. Amp, a character he created to better distribute his “idiosyncratic messianic” vision. Becoming popular on a national level, The Dr. Amp Blast “tossed out political perspectives amid a regular diet of crackpot conspiracy theories, but offered up practical home remedies to counteract their negative effects: alternative medicines, herbal supplements, ancient methods of meditation, and spiritual renewal.” Despite significant monetary gain from his Dr. Amp persona, Jacoby continues to live in a used mobile home in the mountains and donates nearly all of his earnings to progressive causes.
During the trial for the murder of Evelyn Marsh’s husband — remember that arc? — James, despite being innocent of the crime, became so threatened by the defense attorney’s team that he fled to Mexico to avoid potential punishment. He found work as a mechanic, eventually wooing a noted cartel member with his skills. James, ever the fool, took up the man’s offer to be his private mechanic at his mansion, where he lived for a few months before it was raided by a rival cartel, who murdered nearly everyone at the estate. The U.S. government was alerted to what transpired, and although James wasn’t punished for his involvement with the cartel, he was forced to serve six months in an Oregon prison for fleeing the state. A few years later, he suffered a near-fatal accident in West Virginia while exploring the country on his motorcycle, which depleted his bank account and forced him to return to Twin Peaks to live with his uncle, Big Ed. He’s been working at the Gas Farm and the Great Northern Hotel ever since.
Harry never gave up trying to locate his dear pal Agent Cooper, conducting his own investigation with the help of the Bookhouse Boys in the 20-plus years that followed his disappearance. In 2016, he retired as sheriff under the guise of finally wanting some time for himself, although the truth was that he was diagnosed with cancer and was “living and undergoing treatment in a research hospital near Seattle.” Only a select few people in Twin Peaks are aware of Harry’s true circumstances.
Suffering from depression in the aftermath of the revelation that Ben was Donna’s actual father — which subsequently imploded the Hayward family as we knew it — Gersten’s life as a child prodigy unraveled fast. Although she still went on to attend Stanford University at the age of 16, she had to drop out before the academic year ended due to a severe nervous collapse and emotional breakdown. She never recovered from the trauma and dabbled with street drugs and chaotic relationships in the years since, showing little to no improvement.
Similar to Donna, Lana enjoyed a life of fancy in the New York City social scene for many years — they were actually photographed together at an event once — hopping between older men with big bank accounts to support her lifestyle. Interestingly, it’s heavily implied that she dated Donald Trump for a few months, with the novel describing this male companion as “a notorious resident of a certain eponymous tower on Fifth Avenue, was either between wives, stepping out, or merely window-shopping.” (It’s also implied, believe it or not, that Trump was in possession of the jade Owl Cave ring during this same period.) To this day, she’s still looking for older bachelors to seduce for their money.