Laura Palmer is Dale Cooper’s Mother and Here’s Why

Every single one of you who just clicked on the link to this article is thinking “What in the ever-loving hell is this woman talking about? There is no possible, conceivable way that what she’s alleging could be true!” And I know that’s what you’re thinking because that’s exactly what I thought to myself when the thought first popped into my head while writing last week’s article on Sarah Palmer.

Dude! My subconscious said to me in latent surfpunk voice. What if Laura is Dale’s mom? No way – Why did I even think that!? 

But it’s not impossible.

And, thus, this article, this most insane, unbelievable article was born. I’m not setting out to prove that it’s true by any means. I don’t need or expect you to believe me. To be honest, I don’t quite believe me. But this is Twin Peaks, and there’s never anything too crazy to be totally inadmissible…maybe.

Like, I said, I was in the car, working on my Sarah Palmer article for part fourteen when I first had the thought. I had gotten to the segment when I alleged that Laura could possibly be ‘the Mother’, and maybe the particular word choice is what spurred the thought into being, or perhaps it was the recent discussion I’d had with some of my 25YL coworkers about the much debated The Autobiography of Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life My Tapes (MLMT) , which I’ve read and dissected thoroughly.

Let me start with why this is even something I’ve considered seriously. I used to think that Dale was special. Don’t mistake me, I still believe that he is , just not as much so as I used to think. After all, Laura is the One. All throughout this season we’ve been reminded that it’s Laura who is the most important. Laura is the most beloved character by Lynch, and Lynch, in turn, is, in a way, Dale. Like in the classic noir Laura, the detective falls for the woman whose murder he is investigating. Some have suggested this of Dale. I wouldn’t go that far; I don’t believe Dale shows any real romantic inclination towards Laura, but their connection is significant, going far beyond any other connection between two characters who have never met in person.  And if it’s really Laura who is so special, then where does that leave Dale?

Dale has always been an empathetic character, especially with regards to women. He understands them, and connects with them. He’s associated with intuition, generally a feminine characteristic, and he has an unhealthy predilection towards blonde women who aren’t generally very good for him (see theories about how Caroline and Annie are the same person, and other suggestions about the curiosity of Annie’s existence here).

In Dale’s dreams, Laura comes to him, speaks to him. But even before he knew of her, Dale dreamed of Laura. We know that from Fire Walk With Me – Lynch’s personal love letter to Laura Palmer. None of this suggests even remotely that they could be mother and son, but these characteristics and elements, most often simply accepted without further thought, are not exactly typical of traditional male, detective characters, even on Twin Peaks. And Dale has never been a traditional male detective character. Nothing about him is conventional (almost) so why should his mother be?

As we’ve previously determined with the recent release of  TSHOTP, when it comes to tie-in literature, anything goes. Timelines, backstories, what constitutes as canon are pretty flimsy in the broad range of Twin Peaks media. Because nothing is ever confirmed or denied, nothing can be written off as an impossibility. Quite apropos for something so transient in nature as Twin Peaks.  

I’m going to ask those of you who haven’t read MLMT to consider the following, and those of you who have, but didn’t like it, to just bear with me.

Before any of the…more off-putting, out-of-character (ooc) elements enter the novel, a few interesting things are revealed, which people have long pointed out are directly written in in relation to Laura Palmer.

  1. Dale, like Laura doesn’t like asparagus (heathens, the lot of them!)
  2. Dale doesn’t like birds (this one is a loose connection)
  3. Dale, and his mother, both dream of a man behind a door, trying to get in

“Had a dream in the middle of the night that frightened me a great deal. A man who I have never seen was trying to break into my room. He kept calling my name and said that he wanted me. He then screamed, and after a moment it turned into a kind of roar as if he were some kind of animal. I told Mom about it and she said that she knew about “him,” and that she has the same dream, and that I must never let the man into my room. I don’t understand what it means.”

Obviously, the suggestion throughout the book is that the man in their dreams is BOB. These are pretty thin arguments to support my thesis, but they are connections nonetheless that wouldn’t have to exit. They are interesting as they are, but they suggest that the connection between Laura and Dale is greater than it appears. It’s the dreams that Dale has (which are likely the least ooc elements of the story) that say more about Dale’s relationship with Laura than any others.

Another selection of particular import is as follows:

May 25, 3 A.M.

Just awoke from a dream where I was visited by Mom. She was not the same as I remember her. She seemed to be younger, barely a woman. Her face was smooth and pale, her hair was long and fell onto her shoulders. She was trying to tell me something, but I was not able to hear her. She reached out, touched my hand, and then was gone. I woke to find myself clutching a small gold ring in my hand. I do not know where it came from, and am sure it was not there when I went to sleep. I believe she was here, and at the same time I cannot believe it. These things do not happen, there is an explanation for this as there must be for everything. The ring is now locked in the drawer of my desk. Mom is dead, and it was only a dream. I will not believe this.

Laura Palmer whispers in the ear of an aged Dale Cooper in the red room

Does any of this sound familiar? The last time I talked about this book in depth, Lindsay and I came to the agreement that Dale was really seeing Laura and not his mother, especially since we know that the Red Room doesn’t follow the laws of time, or any other laws really, as corroborated by Annie’s appearance in Laura’s dream in FWWM earlier in the established timeline. We rationalized it as Laura visiting Dale’s dreams early, and that his mother was simply similar in appearance, which makes sense in context, considering the particular type of women he seems attracted to usually.

But what if, taking all of this into consideration and in addition to what we know of Cooper as a person (his strong relationships with women, connections with blondes), his relative comfort and feeling of belonging in Twin Peaks, and our knowledge of the general time wackiness, as well as the suggestion from The Return of multiple Laura’s, why couldn’t the reason behind his mistaking Laura for his mother simply be because Laura is his mother?

I dare you to actually explain how this could even work.

I’ll take that dare. We know that the Fireman and Senorita Dido are engaged in the creation of beings, particularly Laura, and while we have no evidence which Laura that was, or where she ended up, we know that they appear to be outside of the confines of time.

There are several possible Lauras. Schrödinger’s Lauras, if you will. (After all, she is dead, yet she lives, right?) They’re all the same Laura, but at different stages of evolution.

The first Laura, the child of Sarah and Leland Palmer is the original Laura. We’ll call her Laura Prime. She is the first Laura to exist. The second Laura is Doppelganger Laura. The scream-y one that makes a good gag ringtone. The third is Lodge Laura, or the Laura that Dale meets who takes off her face. The fourth Laura is Gold Orb Laura, who may or may not be Lodge Laura. But I’m not trying to prove that any of this is true, just that it’s possible. We also have no real evidence that Gold Orb Laura is in any way related to the Frogroach/Frogroach girl, so for now I’m going to ignore that assumption.  laura palmer's face in a golden orb The fifth and last Laura is Dale’s mother. This Laura could technically be Gold Orb Laura too, or her own self. At this point, I don’t believe there to be a limit of the possible Laura’sin existence. But how does this work? If we stick with this first iteration of multiple Laura’s it suggests that the Fireman and Co have created Laura’s for certain purposes. I like this idea because it answers the ‘Why Dale?’ question, even though we know that the answer to that question now is ‘Why not Dale?’ just like it’s ‘Why not Andy?’ or ‘Why not Freddie?’

But Dale is special, at least in connection with Laura. Some of ideas about Laura’s role in particular can be traced back to the article The Alchemical Origin of Laura Palmer: Does She Have A Choice Or Is She A Chosen One?. Keep in mind that the Fireman exists outside of time and seeing as I’ve written the timeline from his point of view, time is fluid.

  • BOB is born.
  • BOB inhabits Leland and helps to create Laura Prime.
  • Laura Prime is killed by BOB
  • Laura goes to the Lodge.
  • Dale and Laura meet in the Lodge.
  • Lodge Laura is forcibly removed from the Lodge and becomes the Gold Orb.
  • The Fireman witnesses BOB’s birth and sends Gold Orb Laura into the world in reaction.
  • Gold Orb Laura gives birth to Dale Cooper.
  • Gold Orb Laura gives in to BOB to protect Dale (it’s implied in MLMT that this is why his mother has died).
  • As a result of his dreams/intuition/aptitude, passed down to him from his mother, Dale is set on the path that leads him to Twin Peaks.
  • Dale, as part of Laura, is desired by BOB, a natural vessel considering his lineage.  
  • Laura Prime is killed by BOB.
  • Dale, as destined, comes to Twin Peaks.
  • Dale helps to ‘free’ Laura Prime.  
  • Dale is inhabited by BOB, split into his good self and his doppelganger.
  • Dale spends 25 years in the Lodge.
  • Lodge Laura is forcibly removed from the Lodge and becomes the Gold Orb
  • Dale leaves the Lodge.
  • Dale (and possibly some iteration of Laura) fight BOB and Mother/The Experiment.

I like this timeline best, because, it keeps Laura Prime as the original Laura, which I think is important to the integrity of the story, accounts for all versions of Laura, save her shadow self, or doppelgänger which makes sense, and also gives credence to Dale’s involvement in the entire plot. He’s special, but Laura is still the One.

In the long run, I suppose, it’s not really important whether or not Laura is Dale’s mother. It’s just another theory among many, put forth for consideration and personal enjoyment. From what I’ve been since given to understand by my co-workers, this theory used to float around over a decade ago, and long before I was aware of Twin Peaks. It’s said that there’s no such thing as a new idea, and it certainly seems to be the case here, but as fate would have it, when an idea is come up with by more than one person independent of the other, wouldn’t that lend it a bit of credibility?

Family has always been a crux thematically in Twin Peaks. What constitutes family, how family members can be both kind and cruel to one another, strong, tight-knit families and families falling apart at the seams. Twinning, cousins, half siblings, uncles, mother’s sister’s girls, you name it, Twin Peaks has it, whether, literally, figuratively or coded-ly. Connecting Dale and Laura in such a way would certainly be within the confines of previously established thematic elements and only serves to strengthen that message. Laura’s strength passed down to Dale, both victims of the same demonic entity, and both, ultimately stronger than he, protecting and saving each other. 

The Return has always had many meanings. A return, certainly, to the world of Twin Peaks both for viewers, actors and creators. But first and foremost the Return of Dale Cooper to Twin Peaks. Several times, Dale has been asked this season, where he lives. Where his home is. Perhaps The Return is also a return to the place Dale and Laura both call home.


Thank you to fellow Editors John and Lindsay for allowing me to springboard my ideas off of them haphazardly. Without your insights, my thought process would have rendered this article unreadable and brain-breaking to fathom.


Written by Eileen G. Mykkels


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  1. A fun read. A question: Which Laura was raised by the Palmers and how did she come to be their “daughter”?

    • Hi! Thanks! Glad you liked! Prime Laura is the child of Leland/BOB and Sarah always, in my theory. That’s how she begins. The timeline is from the POV of the Fireman, who views time as it happens for him, the first half is ‘Laura’s’ timeline and the second half is ‘Dale’s’. I hope that makes sense!

    • Hi there! That’s from the entertainment weekly photoshoots from before Season 3 aired. This website is a completely spoiler free zone for the Return.

  2. Why not? It’s a bit dareful theory but everything is possible. But what do you think about Sarah Palmer’s role. The sequence that drives her to drink full suggests that she’s the one who’ve swallowed that kind of frog… Why and what for is that?

  3. Maybe their families are connected in some way. We know that Cooper possesses similar psychic/clairvoyant gifts to all the women in the Palmer family including Sarah,Laura,Maddy and possibly Beth, Maddy’s mother, but they are not related by blood. We know Cooper is infatuated with Laura but in a cute not creepy way, maybe they all have the same magical heritage.

  4. This is great! I’m a big fan of MLMT, and have always had the question of Coop’s mother in the back of my mind. It is exciting to see how you have developed that kernel into this theory. One question: what do you think are the “more off-putting, out-of-character (ooc) elements” in MLMT?

    • Like I said, I don’t even believe me. I highly doubt it’s true. It’s definitely improbable but not impossible.

  5. I think the way Cooper kisses Laura Palmer debunks this theory. He definitely has a connection with Laura but I don’t think he’s her son. Is it possible that Laura’s soul (the gold orb) has been inhabiting different people since the 1940’s after the Trinity experiment? One person being Possibly Coopers mother? This is possible which in a sense makes you right. But more like when one dies another takes her place? Different names, different places? But all having the same soul (gold orb) as Laura? Who knows and there’s no guarantee we will ever know. Lynch doesn’t care about making sure the audience really knows what’s exactly going on or explaining things. And to me that’s the beauty of Twin Peaks! It’s open to so many possibilities.. it forces you to use your imagination.

  6. P.s I’ve just rewatched the Season Two finale and when Caroline Earle appeared in the Black Lodge, she was really similar in appearance to Sarah Palmer. Of course, that could just be coincidence but we know that there’s no such thing in Twin Peaks, which reminds me is it also a coincidence that the Laura or doppelganger Cooper /Richard finds is called Carrie Page, Carrie is short for Caroline, is David Lynch running out of names or has the Black Lodge or even Cooper himself created another woman , another Laura for him to save.
    If Laura really does resemble Cooper’s mother will he go on meeting Laura and trying to save her.

  7. Just another thought. If this were another Science fiction or even horror show we would be shown flash back sequences in the past that show a connection between the Cooper and Palmer families or the Novak family to be exact and maybe how Cooper,Sarah and Laura developed their psychic /clairvoyant abilities or maybe the Palmer family settling in the town that became Twin Peaks. We know that Laura’s ‘dark side’ emerged early because of her ordeal at Leland /Bob’s hands but we don’t see Maddy exhibiting the same behaviour because she probably had a relatively normal life. Instead Lynch is probably going to let us make it up by ourselves. I’ve just read the Secret History of Twin Peaks btw.

  8. Cooper could be Laura’s “ideal” child. Laura wishes in The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer that her aborted child come back to her when the time is right and when she is no longer a child herself. Interesting thought.

  9. If anything Cooper’s near escape from BOB thanks to his mother shows up how Leland and Sarah neglected LAURA’S safety possibly to protect themselves. Maybe they thought BOB would just go away.

  10. My latest theory is that Laura is a witch and she created Dale Cooper as a way to protect herself or failing that appear should anything bad happen to her. After all Cooper openly acknowledges his own ‘gifts- and his connection to both Laura and Sarah Palmer. I’ve also come to the same conclusion that Diana Bishop in A discovery of witches created Matthew Clairmont in the same way, her Shadow prince. Without their witches both seem to fall apart.

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