Favorites: Top 15 Twin Peaks Fish

Here at 25YLSite, we handle a lot of heavy lifting. Analysis, interpretation, deep discussion, introspective interviews… you name it, we’ve got it. “Favorites” is our weekly series that takes a lighter approach to the material we normally cover. Each week, one of our writers will take you through their list of favorites – whether it’s moments, scenes, episodes, characters, lines of dialogue, whatever! – in bite-sized articles perfect for your lunch break, a dull commute, or anywhere you need to take a Moment of Zen. So, sit back and enjoy this week’s offering: Gisela Fleischer lists her 15 favorite fish from the first two seasons of Twin Peaks


The fish are not what they seem.

“Fish?” I hear you ask. Yes, fish. Not owls or taxidermy deer. Not llamas or otters named Annette. Not ducks or myna birds. This is all about fish!

If you take a closer look, there are actually a lot of fish in the first two seasons of Twin Peaks. They’re sometimes visible, but not commented on. Other fish are mentioned or referred to, but not depicted. Some of the fish on my list will be familiar to any true Twin Peaks fan, but my guess is that a few just might surprise you, too. So, yes – out of all the things I could have chosen for a Twin Peaks favorite things list, I did like Pete and went fishing. Therefore, I now present to you:

My Top 15 Favorite Fish from Twin Peaks (Seasons One and Two):


1. Ben’s huge office fish

There it is! Seen many times throughout the first two seasons, this big fish gets to be a witness to a lot of drama acted out beneath it. That is until Ben’s fish is taken down and clumsily carried away by an unnamed deputy. Why did that happen, by the way? Who knows! It might just be one of the lesser-known little mysteries of Twin Peaks. But all in all, it’s not about this fish. Or… Is it about this fish?

But seriously. Why is that deputy carrying Ben’s office fish away? Regardless, it makes for a brilliant and funny moment that comes smack in the middle of the very serious hunt for Maddy’s killer. A classic moment, if slightly less epic and in-your-face (pun intended) than the incident with Cooper and the llama.

2. The Hayward Supper Club fish

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No, not the food. Look again. Yes, there it is, between Leland and Sarah in the back! This Hayward household fish gets to eavesdrop on many memorable moments: Harriet’s poem dedicated to Laura, Gersten’s fabulous piano skills, and Leland’s epic singing followed by his sudden collapse. As viewers, we know more than the Hayward Supper Club attendees. We know that Leland is the killer, and that adds to this scene’s eerie mix of humor, tragedy, and horror. How much the fish knows is unclear and up for debate.

Begin the Beguine!

3. Cooper’s damn good tuna fish sandwich

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“Lunch was $6.31 at the Lamplighter Inn. That’s on Highway Two near Lewis Fork. That was a tuna fish sandwich on whole wheat, a slice of cherry pie, and a cup of coffee. Damn good food!”

With a damn good tuna fish sandwich in his belly, Agent Cooper enters the town of Twin Peaks to begin the painstaking murder investigation. But as it turns out, he’s also beginning his own spiritual journey, which eventually gets him trapped in the Black Lodge for 25 years.

4. The fish in the percolator

Oh yes, of course. This fish is on my list for sure. Not only the fish that ruined several cups of damn fine coffee by “taking a liking” to Pete’s percolator, this fish is also probably the most (in)famous one in the Twin Peaks universe.

5. Twelve rainbow trout

Grand theft fish! Pete’s stolen pickup truck had twelve rainbow trout in the bed, as he angrily points out at the sheriff’s station. Even Windom Earle (who stole the truck dressed as a bad version of the Log Lady) notices the fish and points them out to the kidnapped Annie Blackburn. So, why all the fuss about these twelve fish? As it turns out, they’re actually quite important. The number twelve makes Sheriff Truman connect the Owl Cave Map to Glastonbury Grove, which is the circle of the twelve Sycamore trees where Windom Earle has taken Annie.

What a difference a fish makes…good catch, Pete! But then again, too bad for Agent Cooper, who ended up trapped in the Black Lodge for 25 years after going to Glastonbury Grove. But that’s a whole other story…

6. The fish that aren’t running

“Wait for the tea. The fish aren’t running!” – Margaret Lanterman

Oh, dear Margaret. No other character is even close to the Log Lady when it comes to delivering lines that we have all come to know and love so dearly. This is such stuff as dreams are made of.

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7. The fish that got lost in translation

It’s just so typical. This fish was much bigger when Pete caught it, and we know that’s the truth because Pete tells Sheriff Truman so himself. After its trip to the taxidermist, however, Pete’s fine trophy fish got “lost in translation” and somehow lost its greatness. Darn it.

8. Major Briggs’ abduction fish dinner

Out in the woods. Night. Two men and a bonfire. An open and honest heart-to-heart about the deeper topics of life. The spiritual concept of fear and love. The coziness of preparing a dinner out in the open, a dinner of coffee and – you know it – fish. (Somehow the combination of fish and coffee works this time around, though.)

It’s a perfect example of male bonding to the sound of the burning logs, until the sound of the owl announces a bright light beyond the trees. And then, Major Briggs is gone. Left behind is a confused Cooper standing by the fire with the half-eaten fish still on the plates.

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Hmm. Wait. Doesn’t this picture remind you of something? The fire. That circle of bright stones… In its center the burning logs – scorched, if you will. Almost like oil… The color blue… Wait, isn’t that a smaller, blue version of Phillip Jeffries from Twin Peaks: The Return?! What? Is it about the fish after all?

9. Dr. Jacoby’s epic fish tie

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What to say? This tie is so tacky, it becomes cool. I guess you can say that about most of the outfits in Jacoby’s wardrobe – they’re so crazy, they work! Out of all the clothes and accessories we see Jacoby wear throughout the first two seasons, his fish tie might just win the prize.

10. Anchovies for a hangover

When a dear friend is sick, we do what we can to help them. Now, there are several ways to make a severely hungover friend get better, and bluntly telling them to go throw up is one of them. However, both Agent Cooper and Gordon Cole choose another method to reach the same result.

The concept is simple, really. Just tell your friend you’ve got the perfect recipe to cure a hangover, then list a bunch of ingredients that, when mixed together (even if it’s just the thought of doing so) will make for a truly nauseating, but highly effective remedy.

There’s only one rule: the recipe must include anchovies because it will guarantee a most appalling remedy. Good luck!

11. There’s tuna fish in heaven

After the Packard saw mill burned to the ground, Catherine Martell was missing, presumed dead. Poor Pete says she was “hell to live with,” but is heartbroken. Also, he suffers from smoke inhalation after trying to rescue her from the fire. Pete’s own description of this diagnosis was that he felt “like somebody taped my lips to the tailpipe of a bus.”

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But Catherine isn’t dead. She turns up at the sheriff’s station after a while, telling Harry Truman a teary-eyed story about being saved by a guardian angel and brought somehow to “heaven” – a family cottage up by Pearl Lakes. There she found cans of tuna fish that allowed her to survive until she ran out of them. What heavenly fish… I sincerely hope that Catherine didn’t care about checking the cans for an expiration date.

The story that Catherine presented officially was all a big lie, of course. The unofficial (true) story, one that many of us would probably rather not think about too much, was the story about a “Japanese” man named Mr. Tojamura.

12. The salmon swimming upstream

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Gwen: “And I thought to myself, I thought, ‘My God, just what the world needs, another sperm gun running around loose.’ Right? Women, beware! … Well, I did.”

Andy: “I had mine counted – twice. The first time, they were all dead.”

Gwen: “Oh, man, if I had a nickel every time I heard that one!”

Andy: “Second time, they were jumping like… Like salmon swimming upstream.”

Gwen: “So of course all you could think of was spawning!”

Andy: “Shut up.”

Lucy: “Shut up, Gwen!”

Ah… Self-explanatory. Classic.

13. The red herring

Agent Cooper doesn’t like birds. We know, however, that he can at least enjoy fish (see #3 and #8 on this list for proof of that). But there’s one fish that Cooper doesn’t like: the red herring.

Gentlemen, when Windom Earle arrived in Twin Peaks I assumed he had come for vengeance, for me, but I miscalculated. He has insinuated himself into the lives of people I care for. He has murdered innocents. He has engaged us in subterfuge and red herring, a fish I don’t particularly care for. All of these acts are merely camouflage. He’s been after something else all along: the Black Lodge.

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As a side note, it has always surprised me a little bit that Agent Cooper underestimated Windom Earle’s real intentions. There’s the smaller things – like a mysterious bonsai tree and Cooper’s firm initial belief that Earle will stick to the chess rules – and the biggest: the fact that Cooper acknowledges Windom Earle’s diamond-sharp, brilliant mind and his manipulative persona. Nonetheless, Agent Cooper went all-in to catch the fish, only to find out it was a red herring.

14. Dr. Jacoby’s disco blowfish

“What, now? What? Yes..? Yes. Yes! Oh, yes!”

That was my reaction when I discovered fish #14. I went searching for favorite Twin Peaks fish and ended up going through all of the episodes of seasons one and two. I might as well, right? I have lost track of how many times I’ve seen it all now, but it’s somewhere around the 20+ mark. I consider myself to be very observant with a sharp eye for details. For example, when I was walking around last weekend, I found around 30 clovers, mostly four-leaf, but some with five or six leaves, all in only 20 minutes. That’s why I almost lost it when I came to this Dr. Jacoby scene:

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Why on Earth hadn’t I seen them before? They’re as fabulous as they are tacky, and they’re blinking! But right away, the presence of a tank full of dead, multicolored, bloated-but-hollow, disco-style taxidermy blowfish in Dr. Jacoby’s home made perfect sense to me. Of course, he’s got a bunch of those. Of course he does!

15. The fish that got away

The last fish on my favorites list is the fish that got away. “Gone fishing” is the first line of Twin Peaks, and again (as things often are when fish-related) Pete is the one responsible for it. The morning of February 24, 1989, seemed like a good day for fishing, but Pete’s plans were interrupted when he spotted something on the rocky beach. It was the body of the murdered Laura Palmer. That day, many hearts broke, and the town was changed forever.

But for some, Laura’s murder was a lucky event. A whole bunch of fish were still swimming around that day, happily ignorant of how lucky they were to be alive and well. Laura was dead, Pete never went fishing, and everything was forever changed…

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…until everything was changed, again.

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So, that’s another Twin Peaks mystery to think about. Another puzzling enigma that we might never get a clear answer to. If Laura Palmer didn’t die, and Pete actually got to go fishing, how many fish would have had to die instead of Laura that day?

And maybe the most important question of all: Would one of them have ended up in a percolator?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little dive into the deep together with me and my favorite Twin Peaks fish. Do you have a personal fish favorite that didn’t make it to my list? Let me know in the comments!

Meanwhile…


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One Reply to “Favorites: Top 15 Twin Peaks Fish”

  1. They may not be as obvious in Twin Peaks lore as cherry pie and donuts, but those fish were as pervasive as the taste they left in that percolator. While reading, I thought of the skype conversation between Doc Hayward and Sheriff Truman, and of the doctor’s vivid description of his fisherman’s breakfast of pan-fried trout, scrambled eggs and muffins with huckleberry jam. A meal that one might imagine ordering at the Double R, but as we know, everything tastes better outdoors, and especially along that trout stream. 😉

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