Deadly Premonition and Twin Peaks comparison

The similarities between the Twin Peaks and Deadly Premonition have been much discussed, particularly during the games early development. As a huge fan of both the TV show and game respectively I felt it was time for me to do a detailed analysis of the Twin Peaks quirks that might have made it into Deadly Premonition’s final form. What is clear though is that although both Twin Peaks and Greenvale share some ideas in common – what the creators did with these similar settings prove to be very different overall and of equal and commendable merit.

Similar beginnings

It’s startling how much Deadly Premonition and Twin Peaks share narratively at the start. Both begin with the discovery of a murder victim. The situations differ slightly Laura Palmer is found on the shore of a beach, and Anna Graham is found tied to the branches of a very distinctive tree.

Laura Palmer's body, wrapped in plastic.Anna's corpse hung with arms wide in the branches of a tree.

Although the details of the murders share little in common, the images of both are striking and go on to define the mood of their respective stories. Interestingly both Laura and Anna are found by similar characters – Jim Green and Pete Martell. Both are keen fishermen (and Pete has a obsession with chess such like Deadly Premonition’s doctor Ushah Johnson).

Pete Martell discovers Laura's body on the beach.Jim Green walks in the forest

Both game and show have special agents who are introduced to us in the first instance by the long, and varied drive to the countyside. Dale Cooper speaks into his dictaphone while Francis York Morgan chats on his mobile phone. Both conversations are used to reveal details about the nature of their eccentric characters. Both have distinctive (almost macho) audio cues to introduce their arrival to each audience.

Dale speaks into his dictaphone while driving into Twin Peaks.York's introduction scene in Deadly Premonition, as he smokes on the phone while driving a car.

It seems that both agents are on their respect cases due to distinctive clues left on the victims bodies. This ties in their murders to similar cases that have happened elsewhere in the country, (this helps match the pattern of the murders to the profile of a serial killer). The details of both of these clues are related to the agents in similar autopsy reports delivered to them by each towns respective local physician.

Cooper and the Sheriff at in the hospital morgue, examining Laura Palmer's body.Anna's corpse lies on the autopsy table with Doctor Ushah and York stood around her.

Anna has red seeds within her mouth, while Laura has a paper letter embedded under her finger nail. As a result both agents have an immediate personal and professional interest in the death of both women as these tiny details have the hallmarks of cases both agents were previously unable to solve.

The letter B printed on paper, found under the fingernail of one of the bodies.The red seeds found in Anna Graham's mouth.

The two Special Agents

Agent York and Agent Cooper speak to unseen characters in a frequently strange monologue, whether or not Zach or Diane exists is completely ambiguous for most of the story, and is one of the main narrative threads keeping both Deadly Premonitions and Twin Peaks side and main story arcs together.

Cooper dictates to an unseen Diane using his dictaphone.York enquiries aloud to an unseen Zach.

On an interesting side note both Dale and York have an obsession with coffee, even their appreciation of anyone’s coffee making skills are worded in similar ways. Also both characters also take inspiration from their dreams or daydreams, with clues for their respective cases arriving during moments of make-believe or increased awareness. Moments of epiphany occur for both characters while consuming coffee.

Cooper sips coffee in the hotel.York glances into a cup of coffee.

Continuing the theme of dreams and day dreams, both lead characters occasionally withdraw into a “red room” to help organise their thoughts. Dale’s red room is festooned with comfortable chairs, patterned floor and heavy red curtains while York’s red room is serves a similar purpose but contains more natural imagery – red leafed trees, seeds and heavy doors allowing him to proceed through the rooms and uncover more story.

A full shot of the red room, complete with striped zig-zag floor, red curtains and three guests.A young York walks through a red forested corridor.

York’s room in particular is used to house “alternative” versions of the main characters in Deadly Premonition, who impart details of the case or information about themselves which they would not otherwise reveal in the real world. The red room in Twin Peaks is the main location where Dale sees Laura Palmer (whereas Anna frequently appears as a spirit in front of York to help guide him). The red room also serves as a place for both leads to meet unusual characters they are yet to meet.

Laura Palmer visits Cooper in the red room.Anna's smiles in the red forest room.

Setting the scene

Greenvale and Twin Peaks are pitched as similar locations. Both set in the American North-West, and explore the story of small and peaceful town, where everyone knows everyone and crime rates are low. Each town is nested in the mountainous pockets near Washington state with miles of winding road connecting the main landmarks interspersed with woodland.

A famous shot of the Twin Peaks town sign.York stands in front of an open stretch of road with the Greenvale town sign on his right.

Each town has a distinctive sign, welcoming each agent to the area and their introduction to the details of each case is via the sheriff’s station. The setup of both stations are remarkably similar. Both agents arrive at these matching sheriffs stations early on in the story, and the sheriffs office is a great example of a key setting being used to flesh out the detail of the central cast of characters.

Front shot of the Twin Peaks Sheriffs department.The front view of the Greenvale sheriff's department.

Both have their gun practice ranges in the basement, with this location featured well in both stories. While the similarities between the teams don’t amount to too much. That said Deputy Thomas MacLaine shares a great deal of personality with Andy Brennan. Both have similar, lanky builds and are shy and enquiring compared to the other characters. Both Andy and Thomas are moved greatly by the murders that happen in their towns, frequently breaking down on the job rather than maintaining a professional veneer.

Andy sobs while on the phone.Thomas weeps in the bar after Anna's death.

After their first eventful day in their relative towns, both agents are recommended to stay at the local hotel. While the locations and names of the hotels are different, the exterior shots of both hotel signs are similar. Interestingly York is one of the only guests in the Great Deer Yard Hotel, whereas the Great Northern Hotel is always packed to capacity and bustling full of people.

A shot of the Great Northern Hotel sign.York stands next to the Great Deer Yard hotel sign.

Both agents use their downtime in bed to process the previous days events, primarily through the use of their monologues to Zach and Diane. This allows the audience to understand how they have interpreted the days events and what they are thinking at that moment.

Cooper lies in bed thinking about the days events.York lies on his back in bed, with his eyes closed.

Interestingly the picture hung above York’s bed bears a striking resemblance to the Great Northern exterior shot. The waterfall is obvious (complete with the smaller waterfall caused by a line of rocks at the edge of the precipice). The surrounding buildings and trees match almost perfectly.

Exterior shot of the front of the Great Northern Hotel, complete with waterfall.A painting on Twin Peaks's Great Northern hotel above York's bed in Deadly Premonition.

While of the subject of location similarities, both Deadly Premonition and Twin Peaks have lumber mills, play a huge role in both stories (although it had greater importance and resonance within Twin Peaks, which centres around the town’s lumber industry).

Twin Peak's lumber mill in the daytime.The Greenvale lumber mill against a dark and brooding sky.

They also feature old fashioned ma and pa diners and themed bars. The position of the signs, car parks and entrances match almost entirely. Interestingly the couple that own the A&G Diner (Nick & Olivia Cormack) share a number of character traits with the owners of the Twin Peaks Double R Diner (Norma & Hank Jennings). Nick is an early suspect for the murders (spending a night in the cells) whereas Hank is a known criminal. Both men have longer suffering partners, who continue to keep the diner going during their absence.

A shot of the R & R diner, complete with neon sign.The sign for the A & G diner.

The two main bars in the town the Roadhouse and Galaxy of Terror both have resident club singers, who both dress primarily in red. Carol MacLaine in Deadly Premonition and an unnamed vocalist (played by Julee Cruise).

Julee Cruise sings a song in the Roadhouse.Carol sings a tune on the red curtained stage of the Galaxy of Terror.



Digging a little deeper into the narratives of both stories the theme of duality comes in time and tie again. Both Laura and Anna living double lives, so deep rooted and complex that their other, less innocent lives only come into focus once the investigation into their murders begin. Both had fallen deep into the seedy underbelly of their towns which other residents were either happy to ignore or blissfully unaware of.

Laura and Anna embrace sexual freedom (often with much older men) and drug taking (although in Anna’s case this is heavily implied). While simultaneously maintaining the pristine image of the homecoming queen. Both leave behind distraught mothers (Sallie and Sarah) who break down into a reclusive cycle, emotionally tormented on two fronts; initially by the despair over the deaths of their daughters, but with the added discomfort of knowing neither were as innocent as they would have them believe.

Sarah Graham mourns the loss of her daughter.Sallie Graham mourns the death of her daughter by holding a picture of Anna.

The girls accounts of their misdemeanors are chronicled in cryptic diary entries hidden in their rooms. This part of Anna’s story is an optional side quest, but does reveal some of her ongoing motivations leading up to her murder. The same is true for Laura’s diary, although both women write about mundane details of their lives, the more sordid details are written in code or abbreviated to hide each entries meaning.

A screenshot of lined paper with the words This is the diary of Laura Palmer written in blue ink.Becky and Agent York discuss Anna's diary.

They also both process lockets which they were well remembered for wearing, but neither locket is found on their person when their bodies are discovered. Both pieces of jewellery become crucial clues further on in their cases. Both necklaces are passed between other characters who attempt to hide it or keep it as their own, as this important piece of jewellery acts as one of the last physical ties between the victims and the people around them.

Dr. Jacoby lies in a hospital bed while holding Laura's necklace.Becky holds Anna's necklace aloft.

Then there are the numerous visual metaphors which both game and TV show share. Such as the deer heads which feature prominently in the decor of the Sheriff’s office, and becomes an important (but different) plot point in both stories.

A close up shot of a wall-mounted deer head.A famous shot of Deadly Premonition's  wall-mounted deer head.

Getting together

A town meeting is used in both the TV show and game to introduce the agents to the community and for both Dale and York to provide some limited details of the murder and some safety information for the other residents. This meeting primarily exists in order to introduce the wide cast of characters to both audiences.

Cooper talks at the Twin Peaks town meeting.York and the rest of the Sheriff's team at the Greenvale town meeting.

This is for example where both audiences meet both “oddball” characters (Pot Lady and Log Lady). Both women carry around inanimate objects which they talk to. They encourage York and Dale to talk to the objects in their arms – revealing that each object has importance significance to the case.

Twin Peak's log lady sits at a table in the diner.Deadly Premonition's pot lady - Sigourney -  holding her famous pot.

In Deadly Premonition this is the first occasion that we meet Quint Dunn, who is an early suspect for the murder, this is a similarity he shares with James Hurley. In fact both men ride motorbikes. Around the time of the murder both men were pursuing relationships with the victims best friend.

James Hurley prepares to drive away on his motorbike.York interviews Quint who stands resting against a wall.

These are of course Becky Ames and Donna Hayward, both deeply moved by the murder of their companions, both try to find out more details about what happened as as a result find themselves deeply embroiled with both embroiled in both the ongoing investigation the more obvious dark underbelly of the town.

Laura's best friend Donna Hayward.Becky Ames talks to York in the red room.

Inspiring creativity

While Deadly Premonition does share a great deal with Twin Peaks at its onset. What the game does with these shared ideas culminates in a completely original experience. Despite it’s shared inspiration it is clearly an imaginative title with few gaming equals when it comes to such an open and bountiful gaming stage. The similarities here do a great disservice to the numerous and wholly original ideas that it uses and explores. Cheerily enough the last similarity between the show and the game is the fact that both Deadly Premonition and Twin Peaks are both cult hits, admired by their respective (and shared) fans and lauded for the great leaps of faith both had taken during their inception.

I love both experiences dearly for doing remarkably different things in similar settings, but hope you found the comparison interesting.